In 2017, SEO and PPC practitioners need to think outside the box, especially when it comes to eCommerce sites.  In order to stay ahead of competitors, we need to invent creative ways to provide unique value through search engines.  Ecommerce SEO isn’t just about rankings anymore. It includes ROI (revenue) from category pages, product pages, and beyond.  At Greenlane, we like the idea of arming eCommerce teams with actionable data.

Who could benefit from actionable data more than merchandisers?

In retail, merchandisers decide what products a store should carry.  They are often the trend setters.  But they often operate in a universe separate from the digital marketing teams. While I don’t pretend to know the intricacies of their profession, I do know that search marketers are phenomenal at mining searcher data, understanding intent, and developing campaigns based on needs. In my experience, merchandisers didn’t know this data is freely available.  We provide that extra layer of data for some of our clients’ merchandisers.

Imagine saying this in an online retail company meeting: “In 2016, during Q3, people started searching for ‘untucked shirts’ like never before.  There is search demand, and competition is starting to build, so it may be time to throw our hat into the ring!”

Then flash this fancy chart as proof:

Google Trends

If you’re like most eCommerce sites I’ve seen, you live in a silo ripe for knocking down.  This information can only help merchandisers, as well as trickle into an improvement in company sales, conversion rates, and digital marketing success.  Wins for everyone!

How To Gather Trends Data En Masse

In this task, we’re going to look at quickly gathering two data points.  Keywords (to serve as a proxy for products or product types) and Google Trends data.

Keyword Research

Like all eCommerce SEO campaigns, keyword research is at the heart of this task.  There are hundreds of great tutorials about the various keyword discovery techniques.  To make it valuable to your merchandisers, you need to focus on terms that are relevant to the products the site already sells.  But ask if merchandisers would like expanded keywords!

For example, if your website exclusively sells belts, would they find information about other products that hold up pants (like suspenders) of any value?  It doesn’t make sense to grab “all the junk” only to purge it later.  I recommend targeted keyword research, which can easily be done with just a few simple questions to your merchandisers.

If you’re a beginner to keyword research, here are a few resources to get you started:

To identify categories of a website, I’ll often lean on a site crawl with a tool like Screaming Frog (with some well-crafted excludes) to start my spreadsheet.

screaming frog

E-commerce Trends Data

Once you have a good list, it’s time to get the trends data.  I immediately think of two sources – Google Trends (which I used in my graph screenshot example above),  and SEMrush.

Both have pros and cons.  Let’s use the keyword “open space office furniture”.

Google clearly has data on this word (you can get some from Keyword Planner).  But, they elect not to show it in Google Trends:

Google Trends example

Yet in the case of this keyword, you’ll see a bit more from SEMrush.  Not many searches represented, but still searches nonetheless:

SEMrush trends

Another clear difference between Google Trends and SEMrush – it’s much, much easier to see longer periods of time with Google Trends.  You can go back to as far as 2004.  SEMrush doesn’t give you that kind of depth.

Google Trends

How Can We Get The Data?

Here’s where Google Trends has an edge.  This data can be exported.  Take a look:

google trends export

The monthly numbers are listed in a column:

Google Sheets Export

With a bit of Excel work, you can chart the trend any way you’d prefer:

Exporting data from SEMrush gives you a trend column as well, with comma-separated values .  Here’s what you’ll see in an SEMrush export:

semrush export

Just like above, you can format this into any snapshot view you’d prefer:

semrush export

What Next?

With this data, your merchandisers can make improved purchasing decisions that consider timelines.  As an SEO, you can sync with your merchandisers and decide the best time to begin pushing the products with better coordination.  As a PPC’er, you can also sync with your merchandisers to start setting up paid search campaigns with better coordination.  It’s a win-win-win and helpful for developing future strategies for digital commerce.

Bill Sebald
Bill Sebald
Follow me on Twitter - @billsebald

I've been doing SEO since 1996. Blogger, speaker, and teacher at Philadelphia University. I started Greenlane in 2005 to help clients leverage search marketing to hit business goals. I love this stuff.

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  • Awesome ideas here Bill, love the concept of breaking out of the silo to share this data with merchandisers first.

    I imagine you could also match up these trends with what the brand is seeing in their own search console data and see if they line up.

    • Their own search console data will show what they’re already getting traffic for. I like this exercise because it shows what’s hot out there that may not already be on your radar.

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