October 15, 2014, 1:00 PM

Search marketing trends for 2015 include more PLAs

As retailers focus on how to spend wisely with Google, including through its Product Listing Ads, they also continue to fight for top rankings via natural search, an exclusive Internet Retailer survey shows.

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The coming months will bring even more focus on ranking high in natural search results for the e-commerce professionals at Giggle.com.

The 10-year-old multichannel baby products retailer has a relatively small staff and online marketing budget. That’s one reason it fiercely competes for free listings on search page real estate increasingly crowded by Google’s paid search products, including Product Listing Ads, says Shawna Hausman, vice president of e-commerce and digital marketing. “There is considerably less space for organic search,” she says. “It’s become much more competitive.”

Giggle joins other retailers in trying to gain new customers through natural search. After all, this year’s exclusive Internet Retailer search marketing survey finds that 46.2% of respondents report increased traffic to their e-commerce sites over the past year through natural, or organic, search.  The full findings will appear in the forthcoming November issue of Internet Retailer magazine

Giggle, using technology from BloomReach Inc., aims to earn more search visibility by, among other tactics, creating more unique content on its web site. Indeed, adding content in such a way, which helps to persuade Google’s mathematical search formulas that a site is credible and appealing, stands as the most popular program for survey respondents seeking to boost their search optimization efforts. 68.5% of respondents cited better content, beating out rewriting keyword descriptions (67.1%) and employing phrases used by shoppers when they search (63.0%). 

Internet Retailer bases its findings on anonymous responses from 95 participants, of whom the majority, 67.7%, identified themselves as working for web-only retailers. The survey ran from mid-September until mid-October. The survey results came in as e-retail marketers grapple with such issues as Google encrypting searches, making it more difficult to track the effectiveness of keywords in organic search; Google placing competitors’ search ads nearer a retailer’s own search results in a program called “search within a site”;  and more online consumers using mobile devices for shopping, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

Emily Helander, product marketing manager for online marketing firm Kenshoo Ltd. boils down the current state of the search marketing world to this: “Competition will continue to stiffen with retailers fighting for real estate on smaller screens and across multiple channels which will make it critical for retailers to find ways to keep their brands visible.”

Survey results point to the power of search marketing:

• 32.9% of respondents report earning 50% or more of their online sales through their paid search and organic search programs combined.

• 40.3% of respondents say their search marketing budgets have increased in the last year. That compares with 16.9% who reported a decrease and 42.9% who reported no change.

• 53.3% of respondents plan to increase their pay-per-click search spending in the coming year.

Count web-only jeweler Allurez.com among the retailers looking to increase its spending on paid search. “It is becoming harder and harder to rank organically as Google keeps changing its algorithm,” says a spokesman for the retailer.  “Also they have been putting more of an emphasis on sponsored results, and so we have no choice but to spend more on paid search. Also ever since Google Shopping stopped being free, we also had to spend more on this platform.” 

For more information, please read the November issue of Internet Retailer magazine. You can obtain a free Internet Retailer subscription by clicking here.

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