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You get what you pay for

Recent launches of transactional websites by a number of high street retailers, increasing competition in the online market, has made the need to appear high on search engine listings even more vital.

While retailers must work hard on search engine optimisation (SEO), they must not ignore the importance of paid search results.

A recent investigation by digital strategy consultancy QuBit Digital in the run-up to the launch of Zara’s website showed that the chain was not yet appearing on paid search listings, which normally appear on the right-hand side or at the top of a Google search page.

Graham Cooke, managing director of QuBit Digital, says: “With any high street retailer coming online, it is imperative that they are just as focused about getting customers into their online store as they are with their traditional stores. ‘Search’ is the front door to an etailer’s store and they need to ensure they have a strong presence on search engines.”

While Zara appears high up in terms of brand name in a natural search, it will often appear below paid search results, putting rivals higher in the listings. Even if a site is not yet live, customers will be satisfied if they link through to a landing page that explains simple details such as when the site is due to go live. This will also build the momentum and excitement ahead of the upcoming site launch.

Once a site is launched, generic terms such as “short pink dresses” should be investigated as part of search term strategies, as these can often be a great opportunity for smaller retailers to appear higher on search engines than their larger competitors.

Not having a paid search strategy can have a real impact on online businesses, but once implemented it must be maintained. Says Cooke: “Paid search should be monitored daily, from which ads users are clicking on, to which clicks result in sales. Without paid search, retailers are missing a huge sales opportunity.”

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