While SEO will remain the mainstay for driving traffic to anywhere on the Internet, referral traffic is the next best thing. Not only is referral traffic quicker than the longer-term strategy of search engine optimization, it comes from many different sources. And lots of these methods are also decidedly cheaper, making referral traffic a better bet for ROI, especially in the shorter-term.
Strangely, most marketplaces that bring in their own traffic via SEO and social media list these visitors as direct traffic when they arrive at your store. In a way, they are correct to do so – especially as many shoppers bookmark their favourite marketplace platforms. However, this can be confusing if you like to analyze your visitor data.
Forums frequented by sellers on Amazon, Etsy and eBay often relay this confusion; what is becoming obvious is that new internal search algorithms are making it very hard for sellers to get ranked high on in-marketplace search result pages. Rather than finding out how to rank or use services from experts, like the etsy ranking tool from Etsy Geeks, they advise each other to concentrate on referrals from their own and partner websites. In other words, aim for more referral traffic.
But as with all marketing goals, implementing multiple channels is essential. You simply cannot ignore search engine optimization in eCommerce. A combination of SEO (both on Google and within a marketplace), social media marketing, email marketing, guest blogs and own content (both of which increase SERP ranking when written well), forum participation, ads, influencers and paid traffic always brings the best results in terms of visitor numbers and conversion – but not necessarily the best ROI. For smaller stores owned by less tech-savvy individuals, the idea of hiring marketing talent to increase sales might not seem worth the hassle or the cost.
Even so, a store without its own website is an unsuccessful store, whichever marketplace you are on. Simply depending on the huge volume of traffic generated by the biggest platforms when paired with a difficult-to-navigate ranking algorithm puts sellers at a disadvantage. There is so much competition. And the fact that positive feedback increases ranking produces a vicious circle for new stores – how do you get the reviews if you can’t get the numbers and how do you get the numbers if you don’t have many reviews?
The answer? An online presence outside of the store to which you can refer every visitor directly to your shop – and not to the marketplace search bar.
And here is where referral traffic can make all the difference.
It takes time and money to drive traffic via SEO. If you have ever tried to look up the different scoring aspects of the Google algorithm, you’ll know how many factors play a role. And once you’ve achieved first page ranking for your selected keyword, chances are the algorithm will change and you’ll have to rethink some of your SEO strategies.
Referral traffic, on the other hand, comes from someone who has already done their SEO research. Your research focuses on selecting the right people, pages and providers which attract targeted visitors who can then be encouraged to land on your linked website and store pages.
Whatever marketing strategies you incorporate, it goes without saying that your website must be attractive and engaging to your audience. To redirect these visitors to your store, they must be interested in the types of products you sell. Having referral traffic directed to a specific page that offers discounts and easy links to your store is essential. If you choose to boost your website traffic through a paid traffic provider, conversion rates might not be as high but the sheer volumes you invite will both increase rankings on Google and – for those you persuade to visit your store – also raise your popularity and visibility for marketplace algorithms. Bear in mind that paid traffic should be Ad-Sense safe if you host Google ads. You can find this at Ultimate Web traffic.
Probably one of the best ways to get referral traffic to your store that does not require a website is through influencers. However, top influencers can be pricey. You also need a good mix of popular and less-popular reviewers spread across various channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and personal blogging websites.
In many cases, it is cheaper to host your own website and spend time creating interesting guest content (in addition to your own) to post on quality websites that contain direct links to your website and store. Those readers that select your website link are probably looking for more information about your company and products, so ensure you provide this data. The ones that go directly to your store are more likely to make a purchase. But once on the marketplace platform, they may wish to look at similar products sold by your competitors and in this scenario, your marketplace is no longer your friend. Browsing the competition is incredibly easy. This is why the pillars of content design also apply to your store. Transparency, unique photographs and even videos to show how certain items work or perform must be integral to both your store and your website content.
Social media accounts should be designed to drive traffic directly to your store and your website. To test which redirect best suits your referral audiences, analyze specific traffic from different networks using analytics software. Analytics must play an integral role in your marketing strategy to help you select those marketing channels with the highest ROI and results. According to HubSpot, about 64% of marketers actively spent time in SEO in 2020 but only 17% used landing page A/B tests to improve conversion rates. Whenever you send visitors to a website, you need to provide an engaging landing page for each target group. The often spontaneous visitors that arrive on your site from social media networks will, on the whole, react very differently to visitors that land on the same page from a trusted authority website that attracts other niches. Creating multiple landing pages will always produce the best results – especially when you ship to customers across the globe. A careful human translation of a landing page will avoid the many potential faux pas of overly-literal machine translations that can make a simple CTA look very unprofessional. And as HubSpot also reports, landing pages are the least popular type of signup form but have the highest conversion rate – so take time to create the best design for each of your referral target groups.
After reading through this article you may be wondering if selling on an online marketplace is worth the hassle. However, very few websites are able to attract the volumes of organic and direct targeted traffic that chooses to land on a well-advertised selling platform. By giving your customers the opportunity to buy directly from your website or via your marketplace host, you automatically increase order numbers. How much this increases is up to your combination or strategies, content, UX and product.
A website that links to a marketplace store is the equivalent of adding a website to a physical shop or a website to a physical market stall. For most sellers, the predominant question is which channels suit your business best. And to know this, you need to try them all. What can’t be ignored is the importance of SEO that will remain the number-one marketing strategy until Google puts its ranking algorithm to rest – which won’t be this decade. And for SEO, you are obliged to publish a website and make it popular.
If you can do that, depending solely on sometimes illogical and always highly-personalised marketplace algorithms becomes so much less of a challenge.