E-commerce SEO: Competing with Distributors

Posted on in Blog

I was tasked this month with writing a blog that put a funny spin on SEO. Funny + SEO, I thought—impossible. Then Oneupweb launched the How S.E.O Killed the Corn Farmer campaign and I was quickly proven wrong. Thanks a lot Oneupweb marketing team. And while we all can appreciate the wit and humor my team conjured in that campaign, there was actually a very serious moral to the story—and all online marketing stories.

The fact of the matter is, that even today, in a time where SEO is a necessary staple of most companies’ marketing mixes, many are missing the boat—even when it comes to their own branded products.

This blog post is devoted to e-commerce companies—more specifically, e-commerce companies whose own products are sold on various websites and often compete with their own distributors. A very large-scale example is Nike.

But I’m not talking to the Nike’s of the world (although they could probably benefit from this message in some way). I’m talking to the small to mid-sized businesses who are struggling with selling their very own products from their own websites.

SEO is critical in these situations, and marketing managers have some unique challenges that other companies may not encounter. While selling products through distributors is not a bad thing, it’s also very important that the corporate website perform as well. Also, because this website represents the brand online, you just need to be there.

Imagine you’re the marketing manager of one of these companies and you do a search for one of your own products—the branded name—and other websites position ahead of yours. What does that mean for business? What does it portray to your customers?

I’m here today to offer up a few SEO freebies. They’re simple, but they’re fundamental techniques I’ve seen ignored by MANY organizations.

  • Help the search engines find your product pages. Search engines are getting much better at indexing dynamic URLs. We all know this. If your URLs are pretty good, leave them alone. Chances are, you’ll be alright, especially if they’ve been live for awhile. If they’re so-so, or really bad, consult with an SEO firm to determine the best way to rewrite them (if you should at all) and set the linking up properly. Yes, there are ways to make the situation worse.
  • Whether you’re working with a friendly CMS or not, it’s still important to create unique title tags on your product pages. Again, the right SEO firm can likely help with this by authoring each title and meta tag, or by helping to create a plan to dynamically generate them. Tip: if you’re having trouble positioning for your own branded product names, begin the title tag with the exact product name.
  • When you’re an e-commerce brand that has many distributors selling the exact same products on other websites, most often, they also have the same product descriptions. This is not in your best interest. Have one version of each product description for the corporate website, and one version for distributors. Don’t have the human bandwidth? Call Oneupweb. We’ll help you.
  • My final SEO recommendation isn’t SEO-specific, but is so important to growing online sales. BE PRICE COMPETITIVE. #1 in search results or not, if the visitor can click the next result and find the product for 15% less with free shipping, they’re going to buy it there. Simple as that.

Okay, that’s it for today. Contact us for more. We’d love to hear your story—even if it’s not about a corn farmer and his death by SEO.


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