The web has enabled millions of companies to diversify their business and gain visibility through e-commerce. In 2021, except for a few niche sectors, it has become a highly competitive universe. The search engines are saturated with millions of results and in general, it is the usual behemoths that manage to pull through. But this doesn't have to be the case. With the right branding and multi-channel strategy, it is always possible to gain awareness and stand out from the competition.
A brand strategy is a long-term plan designed to appeal to consumers and make them prefer your brand to another. A brand strategy is different from "branding" elements, which is largely based on visual elements. It is built around intangible elements that gradually enter the minds of consumers throughout the life of the brand.
In e-commerce, the brand strategy is partly based on keywords that illustrate, in a fine and measurable way, the intentions of Internet users, their needs and their expectations. SEO (organic search) and SEA (paid search) are based on these queries that can be analysed using specific tools, such as the Google Ads Planner, SmartKeyword, SEMRush, Ahrefs, etc.
Branded queries in SEO and SEA
A branded query is a keyword typed in by Internet users containing the brand name. In this case, it is therefore consumers who already know the brand that are at the origin of these keywords. One might therefore think that there is no need to focus on this type of query. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different. The arrival of marketplaces such as Amazon, Cdiscount and many others has profoundly changed the search results (SERP). Now, even keywords containing your brand name are subject to competition from external sites and sometimes even retailers. This is the case, for example, for brands such as Béaba or Magimix, which have their own online shop and face competition from physical and online retailers (Aubert, Autourdebébé for Béaba and Darty, Boulanger or Amazon for Magimix).
These brands must therefore capitalise mainly on the branded queries for which they are the most legitimate. On the other hand, they have more difficulty in capturing generic keywords, as Google judges that the sites of retailers (which offer several brands) are those that should appear on the first page. Only a long and rich history of the domain can possibly help this type of brand to position itself on generic queries.
Analysis of branded queries
Only an analysis of the "branded" keywords can highlight the different optimization avenues in SEO and SEA.
Analysing branded queries in SEO
It is essential to start with a keyword research targeting brand + generic keyword queries, followed by a competitive analysis. In concrete terms, this involves listing all the keywords typed in (or likely to be typed in) by Internet users and drawing up a map of the competition. If your site is well designed, receives good backlinks and offers relevant content, you should generally be in the lead on a good proportion of the branded queries. If not, you will probably be surprised to find that many other sites are ranking before you.
Actions to be taken for your e-commerce in SEO and SEA
Are you facing competition from marketplaces or from your resellers? Don't be discouraged! You own the brand's domain name because you are the brand! You are therefore the most legitimate to appear at least in the Top 3 on Google and other search engines.
Optimise your SEA campaigns to gain visibility on branded keywords
In SEA, the rules of the game are not always fair. It is indeed possible to buy the brand name of a competitor. The reason is simple: it raises the stakes! This vile Google Ads strategy forces you to buy your own brand name. This way, you regain full control over your brand for a very low cost compared to other types of queries. Of course, the idea here is to extend this action to all queries that include your brand name. You can rely on the data provided by the Google Search Console.
SEO actions to gain visibility in a sustainable way
In SEO, we are far from the "one shot" actions of SEA. It is an important in-depth work, dealing with the different levers of SEO (technical, content, popularity). It is therefore impossible to draw up an exhaustive list of actions to be implemented because there are as many strategies as there are sites. However, here are the main areas of improvement for your SEO branding strategy:
- Improve title tags by adding your brand name after the category or product name;
- Enrich the content of the site with pages focused on the brand: history, field of intervention, etc. ;
- Acquire backlinks with branded anchors;
- Exploit other acquisition channels that have an indirect effect on SEO: social networks, affiliates, forums;
- For brands that are already known, look for the number of impressions of seasonal queries (e.g. brand + sales). These are the easiest queries to rank on in general.
Non-branded queries in SEO and SEA
Unbranded queries are keywords that do not contain your brand name. They are therefore much more competitive, both in SEO and in SEA, and require a different development strategy.
Generic queries and pixel position
The pixel position determines the number of pixels between your site's position on the results page and the top of the page. A low pixel position means that your site is at the top of the page. By extension, it also means that there are few (or no) paid Google Shopping and/or Google Ads results.
Do you have to reduce your SEA spend on SEO keywords?
You may have thought that ranking 1st in organic search would be enough to save hundreds or thousands of dollars in Google Ads? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. In e-commerce, some queries are so competitive in SEA that the results show Google Shopping and 4 Google Ads (and sometimes even Google Maps).
Conclusion: your first position in organic search is then below the waterline, especially on mobile. And we know that users focus mainly on the first search results. Keeping some Google Ads even if you are 1st in organic rankings is therefore a necessity. This does not mean that you should give up on the idea of entering the top 3. SEO is still the most profitable investment that will ensure your visibility in the long term. Moreover, organic results do not display the same pages as those selected by SEA. Therefore, by maintaining an SEO and SEA strategy, you increase the number of different pages on the results, thus multiplying your chances of converting.
Analyse SEO and SEA conversions to measure the effectiveness of your branding strategy
Beyond organic or paid traffic, the conversion rate is the most representative KPI of an online visibility strategy and particularly in e-commerce. The click-through rate in SEO and SEA is also a KPI scrutinised by experts as it illustrates the relevance of ads and results. You can find all this data on Google Analytics which is a real mine of information for your e-commerce.
In BtoC e-commerce, a brand strategy is mainly based on the user's intent. The days of product-based marketing campaigns are over. From now on, studying Internet users' behaviour and the keywords typed on the web is the key to a successful branding strategy, both in organic and paid search.