Unlocking Success: How Search Terms Power Marketing in Online Retail Shops

Do you know what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the orange retro dog lamp in one of Samsung’s latest ads? How poor the retail shop’s SEO is if no searches come up?

But why would SEO and search terms matter so much? According to the dropshipping giant Oberlo, 22% of e-commerce traffic comes from organic SEO, bested only by direct traffic. Sounds great, but why should you care about it?

Backlinko found that 44% of buyers begin their e-commerce journey with a Google search. In other words, if you’re not ranking well on Google, you leave cash on the table.

That’s what we’ll try to change with today’s article. We’ll discuss the significance of search terms and how you can leverage them to boost conversions. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find everything from content creation for retail shops to identifying trends, gap analysis and competitive insights, and applying search terms in other communication channels.

Let’s start with the basics!

The Significance of Search Terms

Buying intent plays a vital role when optimizing your e-commerce site. You want to rank high on high-volume keywords, but more than that, you want to rank high on keywords your target audience cares about.

What’s the point of competing with thousands of websites for the keyword “retro dog lamp” when your audience searches for “retro dog lamp prices”?

For the sake of the example, let’s say that the first keyword has a volume of 1,600 monthly searches, whereas the second variation – just 780 monthly searches. The first option probably seems better.

But what does it indicate? Maybe people are searching for a specific product. Or they’re browsing for funny gifts. Maybe they’re searching for unique pieces for a mood board dedicated to an interior design project.

If someone’s making a mood board, they’re not ready to purchase.

Thus, if you invest time and effort in ranking high for “retro dog lamp”, you might be competing with websites that align with the audience’s intent better than you.

Let’s consider the second keyword now. What does the “prices” clarification indicate? It shows the intent behind the search – to find options to purchase. Other examples of clear intent would be keyword variations like “buy retro dog lamp” or “purchase retro dog lamp online”, etc.

When you rank on variations, you compete only with other retail shops. But the best part? Your pages will correspond with customer buying intent. When you provide the answer they’re looking for, you greatly improve the user experience.

But most importantly – you answer their transactional search intent. By aligning with the audience’s expectations of the results they’ll find after a Google search, you’re one step closer to converting them.

Importance of the Search Box in an Online Shop

There are very few online shops without a search box. Actually there are some real use cases where a search box is not necessary:

  • your shop only sells a couple items
  • you have a very curated list of products and very well organized in categories or collections
  • subscription based services

1. Enhanced User Experience

A search box empowers users to bypass navigation menus and directly find the products they’re interested in, significantly improving their shopping experience. It’s especially crucial for stores with extensive inventories, allowing customers to quickly locate specific items.

2. Increased Conversion Rates

Shoppers who use the search function are typically closer to making a purchase decision, as they already have a clear idea of what they’re looking for. By facilitating a smooth and efficient search experience, you can significantly increase the likelihood of conversion.

3. Valuable Insights into Customer Behavior

Search queries provide a wealth of data on customer preferences and shopping behavior. Analyzing these queries can reveal popular products, emerging trends, and areas where your catalog might be lacking, guiding inventory decisions and marketing strategies.

4. Improved Product Visibility

Not all products get equal exposure through homepage features or category navigation. The search box ensures that every item, regardless of its placement on the site, can be easily found by interested customers.

5. Competitive Advantage

A well-optimized search functionality, especially one that includes features like autocomplete, corrections for typos, and personalized results, can set your online shop apart from competitors. It reflects a commitment to customer satisfaction and can be a decisive factor for shoppers choosing between multiple retailers.

We’ll see how in the next section!

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Leveraging Search Terms for SEO

There are 4 types of search intent invested in search terms:

  1. Navigational – these search terms indicate that a user wants to find a specific page.
  2. Informational – these show that the user wants to learn something on a given topic.
  3. Commercial – these demonstrate the customer’s research so far;
  4. Transactional – these indicate that a customer’s ready to purchase.

You can use different tools to make detailed keyword research and optimize your website’s content accordingly. Apply navigational search terms to optimize high-level categories and pages. Use informational and commercial search terms to develop your blog.

But most importantly – optimize product pages and elements like Title Tags and Meta Descriptions with transactional search terms. Remember that you’re running a retail store. You want to drive Google searches with transactional intent straight to your product pages.

If you optimize them accordingly, you’ll improve the chances of ranking money pages higher. As a result, you’ll drive more organic SEO traffic to the store and convert more visitors. Why? Simply because you were the first to answer their query in the most suitable way possible.

Strive to rank at the top! According to Backlinko, the first result on the first page of a Google search gets 27.6% of the traffic, making SEO a crucial component of retail success. If you fail to rank high, you risk getting ignored.

But conversions don’t come only from product pages. Next, we’ll explore how you can answer different types of search intent through content and still convert. Keep reading!

Content Creation and Blogging

Powerful SEO tools like Semrush help you make keyword research according to customer intent. Features like their Keyword Magic Tool or the Keyword Planner in Google Ads can lead you to the so-called broad match keywords.

Search for broad match keywords to discover topics of interest and create topic clusters to help your ranking. While you should focus on optimizing product pages according to transactional search terms, you can expand your presence on Google by targeting other keywords and search intent types.

Let’s go back to the Samsung-inspired “retro dog lamp” example. What questions and topics might occupy the users’ minds? Here are two quick ways to find out:

  1. Check out the “People also ask” section in the SERP (search engine results page) after you Google a specific search term.
  2. Check out the “Related searches” section at the bottom of the SERP.

That, along with traditional keyword research, can provide insights into consumers’ interests and the topics they care about outside transactional and commercial searches. That approach can help identify emerging trends and hot topics within your niche.

As a result, you can develop a content strategy for your blog to target low-competition keywords of great value for your business. That way, you can stay relevant and provide value for your audience, in addition to ranking on transactional search terms with product pages.

The best part? If you develop a blog and rank it well, you can use it to direct traffic to money pages.

Personalized Product Recommendations

Specific search terms can also help with personalizing communication and product recommendations. They give insights into individual preferences and specific interests you might otherwise ignore.

When you do keyword research and gather search terms and topic clusters, you can gain a deeper understanding of what people are searching for. Are they after any dog lamp or are they determined to get a retro one?

That’s an important distinction. When you pay attention and proactively analyze search term data, you can personalize messages and tailor your communication according to customer insights.

Do you need help with Product Recommendations?
Across customer journey, product recommendation play an important role to increase conversion rate. See how we can help

That’s another way to make personalized product recommendations, in addition to a product recommendations engine like the one on the VibeTrace platform.

But why does personalization matter so much? Personalized recommendations resonate with customers on a different level. That results in an enhanced customer experience, which leads to improved conversions.

Additionally, when you personalize product recommendations, you can boost the average order value (AOV) and the customer lifetime value (CLV) through successful upsell and cross-selling suggestions. That further reinforces customer retention and helps you achieve sustainable growth and long-term profitability.

Identifying Trends and Seasonal Patterns

Search terms provide a great source of inspiration for seasonal campaigns. Google Trends is a powerful tool that can help you discover these trends, and it’s free.

Just input a keyword or topic relevant to your niche. You can then limit the results by location, time, and even within a specific niche if you want to narrow it down as much as possible.

For the sake of our guide, let’s go back to the dog lamp example and use it with Google Trends.

I ran a search for the past 12 months, and as you can see, there’s been a recent spike in searches. I can only assume that’s because the Samsung ad’s starting a hype.

I can further reinforce that conclusion by checking out the related searches.

The retro orange dog lamp certainly is on the rise in popularity. If I had a store selling these or similar lamps, I might want to get on the hype train and ride the wave toward sales. The fact that I’ve spotted the trends gives me time and enough ideas to create targeted content.

That trendspotting approach isn’t limited to seasonal or holiday trends. You can use it with anything related to your niche. If you’re proactive and stay on top of trends, you can spot them as they form.

As a result, you and your goods will be there when specific searches peak. You’ll be able to quickly align your offers and optimize money pages according to the trends to meet given customer needs and requirements.

Tailoring PPC Advertising

Search terms play a pivotal role in running Google Ads. Those can appear above, below, and even to the side of search results in the SERP. If you want to run them, you need careful keyword research.

Why? Imagine you’re selling dog lamps, but you run an ad promoting just retro lamps. People who care about retro lamps might see the ad, but they might not care about dog lamps specifically and never buy from you.

Alternatively, your ad won’t display for people who search specifically for dog lamps. Either way, you’re losing money because you won’t be making returns on your investment.

That’s where keyword matching and specific search terms come into play. With Google Ads, there are three types of keyword matching:

  • Broad match – when you choose this keyword matching type, your ad will display for searches with related keywords. That might allow people with no actual interest in your goods to find your ads.
  • Phrase match – this narrows the possibility of displaying an ad. Ads with this type of keyword matching might show on various searches that include the search term.
  • Exact match – this narrows the possibility of displaying an ad for a specific search even further. Ads might appear on synonymous searches. For example, an ad with phrase matching for [dog lamp discounts] might display on searches for dog lamp deals or cheap dog lamps.

To optimize ad spend, you can create targeted ad groups for specific search term clusters. That can result in ads with better targeting and more relevant copy and visuals. Ad groups allow tailored messaging that correlates with customer intent and specific queries.

As a result, ads can have a higher rating, display higher in SERP, and cost less per targeted action.

Gap Analysis and Product Expansion

Search term analysis also helps you identify opportunities for expanding product offerings. Keyword research, especially when searching for broad matches, can reveal unexpected pain points, needs, and interests.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re selling metal straws. They’re quite popular these days. But a straw that can’t bend creates another need. And you notice it while researching keywords. Instruments like Semrush help you immediately notice gaps in your product offerings.

As you can see from the example below, people are now searching for collapsible metal straws. More interesting is their intent – transactional. That means they’re ready to buy if a result in the SERP aligns with their search.

That insight into customer needs and requirements helps you identify gaps in your products and areas for product expansion and future growth.

Competitive Insights

Analyzing search terms related to immediate competitors is another strategic approach that helps you uncover potential for growth. By targeting their keywords, you can start appearing in the same results as them and find new ways to position your business. To do that:

  1. Make a list of your immediate competitors;
  2. Analyze keywords on important and money pages;
  3. List and compare search terms they rank for;
  4. Check the search intent behind said keywords by running a search yourself;
  5. Consider the potential to rank your content for the same keywords.

Instruments like Semrush and Ahrefs help you carry out content gap analysis to find new keywords and leverage the search intent behind them. Once you identify valuable keywords, check your content.

If you don’t have existing pieces targeting these new keywords, consider creating targeted content. If you do, work toward further optimizing and improving its performance.

That way of benchmarking against competitors gives you insight into your market share and visibility relative to the competition. Based on such analysis, you can evaluate their performance and potential advantages or weak points you can exploit.

Search terms and keyword research provide you with means to discover potential weak spots in your business positioning and performance, as well. As a result, and if you turn this into an ongoing practice, you’ll remain competitive in a rather dynamic field.

Customer Segmentation According to Search Terms

Keyword research and finding valuable search terms can help you create the so-called keyword clusters. Those are two techniques that improve the performance of existing pages and can help you enrich your content:

  • Keyword Mapping refers to the technique of assigning keywords to specific pages, categories, and entire sections of a website;
  • Keyword Clustering refers to grouping semantically close keywords and using them to enrich content through them.

The process of clustering increases the potential of segmenting an audience. Keywords reveal the intent behind specific searches, and you can outline specific segments based on intent.

Need help with Customer Segmentation?
Based on a powerful CDP, you will be able to segment customers on RFM status, CLV or many other elements for successful Marketing Segments.

That, in turn, helps you better align your pages, messages, and content to customer needs and preferences. You can meet their intent with specific offers built around certain search terms.

You’ll be able to highly personalize marketing messages, tailoring them to the specific intent behind a certain query. Such tailored campaigns increase engagement, boost conversions, and help foster strong customer relationships with the individuals within the segments.

And that leads me to another key point – enhancing the user experience as a direct result of search term analysis.

Enhancing User Experience

Common search queries can reveal plenty about how optimized a retail shop is. If search terms related to specific pages on your website are commonplace, it means people have a hard time finding what they need on your website.

In addition, a 2022 research by Forrester discovered that 43% of retail store visitors go straight to the internal search function. Poorly optimized search functionality can deteriorate site usage and might drive people away.

That corresponds directly to the internal categorization and filtering system. You can enhance site navigation by building a thoughtful structure with relevant categories and sub-categories that align with customer intent.

Additionally, you can further reduce customer frustration and streamline the entire customer journey by providing rich content filtering options. That way, visitors will quickly find what they’re most interested in.

Improving your site structure and providing enough filters for customers to refine their search are simple yet powerful ways to improve customer satisfaction and keep visitors browsing.

Customer Support and Feedback

Once you’re aware of the quality of the user experience you offer, you can take actionable steps to improve it. And that includes more proactive and comprehensive customer support and the incorporation of relevant feedback.

Search terms can act as an indicator of potential customer difficulties that might result in dissatisfaction. Leverage that knowledge to provide relevant and timely information and support in various ways:

  • Through readily available content pages, detailed and optimized policy pages, and comprehensive FAQ sections;
  • Through onboarding emails and educational resources, depending on the goods you offer;
  • Through improved navigation and straightforward steps in the customer journey.

You can analyze popular search queries through keyword research, with the help of chatbots trained on specific topics, through the analysis of feedback loops and surveys. That will help you identify where a proactive approach might be necessary in terms of support.

You’ll be able to alleviate the customer burden and save them time on searching for help or answers. The end goal – stronger customer relationships based on trust and transparency.

Marketing Campaign Strategies

Carrying out keyword research, keyword clustering, and analyzing search terms based on intent, volume, and ranking difficulty is a must in today’s competitive landscape. They provide a comprehensive strategic approach for executing targeted marketing campaigns based on trending search terms.

As you already saw, search terms play a role in more than just ranking high in the SERP. They must be present in every targeted campaign if you aim to be relevant and align with customer expectations, needs, and intent. For example:

  • Feature relevant search terms in your paid ads, whether on search engines or social media platforms. Keywords signal to the audience whether they’re relevant to them or not;
  • Grab the attention of your email segments with relevant keywords based on their intent. Don’t hesitate to create segments based on keyword clustering to make email marketing even more relevant;
  • Don’t forget to search for relevant keywords and search terms on social media platforms leveraging hashtags. Remember that virtually every social media is a search engine, uses its own ranking system and algorithms, and can be browsed through keywords. Ensure you find search terms relevant to your business to position your retail store successfully.

Trends are fleeting, while SEO is a marathon that takes time. Instead of struggling to rank a page for a specific trend before it passes, focus on featuring relevant search queries in targeted campaigns across your communication channels.

You can use that keyword-centric approach to send out timely messages. You can immediately react when you spot an emerging trend to capitalize on it. Communication channels other than content marketing and SEO allow you to effectively engage with customers, grab their attention, and convert them while specific searches are still trending.

Just like with the orange retro dog lamp.

To Wrap Up

Different search terms and short-tail and long-tail keywords all play a pivotal role in the success of retail stores in today’s highly competitive environment. If 20 years ago, there were just 3 other competitors you were sharing the market with, today it’s easier than ever to open an online store.

You can’t rely on originality and discounts to attract clients. To attain sustainability, you want to align your business with customer intent. Whether on social media, through paid advertising or email marketing, on your website, or the search engine result page, you want to be relevant.

You can achieve that by featuring relevant search queries and keywords with high potential in your communication and messages. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to start implementing search term strategies for your retail business!

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