I consider myself a “comfortable online shopper.” As long as the site I’m shopping on looks reputable, I have no issue with typing in my credit card number and clicking away, assured that everything will go as planned. And for the most part, shopping online has been an enjoyable experience for me. It’s also one that affords me the opportunity to buy things I might not otherwise be able to, such as brand-name items that aren’t available in stores near my home or uniquely crafted jewelry from Etsy.
I mention my online shopping experience to let you know that I’m not a newbie to eCommerce. I know the various ways to search, I know what to look for in a store and what to avoid, I even know when a meta description looks shady. In fact, there’s possibly no one better prepared to take on the task of finding exactly what they’re looking for online than an SEO specialist (aka moi).
Recently, however, I lost my way. It was me against the rocky waters of the Internet, and I was afloat without my keyword paddle.
One minute I was on YouTube enjoying some videos from my younger years, and the next minute I absolutely had to have an Adidas® track jacket like the one Missy Elliott wore in her “Gossip Folks” video. The only problem was that I didn’t know how to find one.
Because I buy shoes and makeup online more often than I buy them in stores, I know how to search for these items and find exactly what I’m looking for. But I don’t buy Adidas track jackets online very often . . . or, ummm, well . . . ever.
I knew I could go to the mall and pick up an Adidas track jacket, but I wasn’t after just any Adidas track jacket. I wanted one just like Missy Elliott’s.
I wanted the stripes down the sleeves, the oversized, perfectly centered logo on the front, the high neck, the retro styling, the whole look. So after searching in vain through site after site and page after page of sites offering Adidas track jackets that bore little resemblance to the jacket of my dreams, I pouted a bit.
But then a little lightbulb went off . . . a little Google AdWords Keyword Tool lightbulb.
I should let you know that I’m a total keyword nerd. I love keyword research. I feel like I get a tiny peek inside people’s minds and see the way they think. And now I needed that tiny peek to make an Adidas track jacket mine.
Surprisingly, I hadn’t considered using the tool (for my own shopping purposes) that I use countless times a day when I’m researching keywords for my clients. I also hadn’t considered that when I was shopping for shoes and makeup—items that I know how to search for—I was helping provide the merchants who sell those items with ideas for optimization. With lightbulbs going off all over the place, I headed over to the Keyword Tool before it got too bright in my brain to think.
It was that keyword research that led me to at least five Adidas track jackets that I never knew existed . . . and that I now needed in my repertoire. (Seriously, how cute is this Adidas Supergirl Track Top!) Incidentally, “Adidas Supergirl Track Top” gets about 2,400 searches monthly, while “Adidas Supergirl Track Jacket” gets only about 260. Although it looks like a jacket to me, if I want to find it on the most sites—and the sites that invest time and effort into optimization—searching the “Top” variation is probably the best.
Why should I care if the sites invest in optimization? Well, my job, of course, depends upon such things. In addition, I have found that some of the best-optimized sites on the Internet are some of the best sites in other ways. Their products are in stock, they ship quickly, the items I order arrive as described, and the checkout processes are secure and easy to navigate.
I think of it the same way I think about a brick-and-mortar store. If the store is clean, is well staffed with informed employees, offers a full assortment of sizes and styles, encourages an enjoyable shopping experience, and so on, I know that I’ll find what I’m looking for, and I also know that the store owner takes the time necessary to set their store apart from others and to highlight the items they want to be known for. They’ve applied “SEO” to their operations, with the brick-and-mortar version being “Shopper Experience Optimization.”
And chances are, I’ll find myself in those stores again and again, preferring them to the competition with dusty merchandise and a pile of broken packages. I don’t want a dusty Adidas track jacket. I don’t want a broken zipper on my track jacket. I don’t want to settle for a Large when an Extra Large will be more comfortable. I want what I find when I shop wisely. Except now . . . I want five!
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