Google Strikes Back

Amazon attempts to rebound in 2022 while Google gains ground through new partnerships and updates to their platform.

Google challenges Amazon in 2022
After years of consistent market share loss, Google was finally able to capitalize on Amazon’s troubles in 2021.

Amazon’s seemingly insurmountable stranglehold over the eCommerce industry appears to be showing signs of fatigue as of late. 2021 was Amazon’s worst year since 2014; company growth slowed due to rising labor costs, loss of market share, decreasing profits, and an increasing negative sentiment among the public. As such, the retail giant had a rather turbulent year in the S&P 500, NASDAQ Composite, and underperformed against every other FAANG stock. Even worse news for Amazon, a November 2021 study conducted by Morgan Stanley stated that 57% of shoppers were turning to Google for new product searches instead of going straight to Amazon. This was up 54% since May of 2021. Additionally, the number of Amazon Prime subscribers fell by over 3% during the period as they also turned to Google. Google searches by Amazon Prime members also jumped 56% from 51%. Morgan Stanley analysts consider these results to be strikingly unprecedented since Google has historically been bleeding market share to Amazon for years.

Much like Amazon’s unstable stock performance, there are several theories behind Google’s slow-but-steady rebound against Amazon. Morgan Stanley particularly cited Amazon’s supply shortages as a major contributing factor; Google sources inventory from multiple vendors and merchants and shoppers are more likely to find their items (or an alternative) through Google versus Amazon. But perhaps the most impact came from Google themselves. Recent updates and additional features to Google’s own platform and shopping services have also improved the merchant-retailer-Google connection, including a change which now allows free Google listings for merchants and incorporating product search capabilities to Google Lens. Google has also reached out to the millions of daily YouTube visitors with a week-long video marketing event in November that featured notable social media influencers selling products through the service.

How Non-Amazon Businesses Can Use Google to Take on Amazon

Before Google became the multibillion-dollar technology and media enterprise that it is today, it started life as a simple search engine operated out of a garage in San Francisco’s Bay Area. That search engine, now called Google Search, is the most-visited website in the world and holds 92% of the world’s search engine market. Google has become part of everyday life in the 21st century; people use it as often as the kitchen sink. That said, Google might also be taken for granted as there are still many on the Internet who either struggle with learning the ins and outs of Google Search or those who haven’t realized its marketing and advertising power.

Mastering the art of Google SEO can be difficult and there’s a lot of work involved in formulating the best Google strategies. That’s why Diztinct offers comprehensive SEO services to help eCommerce business owners get the most out of Google. But before going all-in on SEO, there are 5 easy tips that anyone can do to organically improve their website’s rankings and build the foundations for a strong and effective SEO campaign.

Improve Page Loading Speed

Consumers turn to Internet shopping for speed and convenience and if a website fails to do either (or fails at both), don’t expect that company to do much business. To better understand the importance of page loading speeds, here are 12 statistics organized by Hubspot:

  • The first 5 seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates.
  • Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time (between 0-5).
  • The average mobile web page takes 15.3 seconds to load.
  • Nearly 70% of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer.
  • Of all the people surveyed, half said they’d be willing to give up animation and video for faster load times.
  • As page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%.
  • The probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.
  • The highest ecommerce conversion rates occur on pages with load times between 0-2 seconds.
  • Website conversion rates drop by an average of 2.11% with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0-9).
  • The optimal average request count — the number of individual pieces of content needed to display the entire web page — is fewer than 50.
  • By compressing images and text, 25% of pages could save more than 250KB and 10% can save more than 1MB (which contributes to page load times).
  • Today, even though most web traffic occurs on 4G instead of 3G, the majority of mobile sites are still slow and bloated due to too many page elements.

Google punishes websites that are slow to load by pushing them back within their search engine results pages (SERP/SERPs). This hurts both the business and the shopper; the business is unable to reach the shopper and the shopper will be less likely to interact with the business as it’ll be hidden among the other competitors.

In our article, Top 5 Tips for a Faster Website, we cover 5 easy ways to boost page loading speeds:

  • Optimize images for web use
  • Limit the use of apps, add-ons, etc.
  • Reduce render blocking files
  • Minimize Javascript, CSS, HTML5/6
  • Limit the amount of redirects

Link building is a key component to organically improving your SEO ranks, as well as promoting public awareness and business growth. There are two ways to go about link building through internal links and external backlinks. Internal links are the easiest as it involves linking pages back and forth to each other within the same domain. Internal links can be used to improve site navigation by linking similar pages or content together or by way of a hub, like a landing page. Google’s algorithm favors websites that use internal links and users are more likely to interact with websites that promote engagement and continued browsing. External backlinking is a bit more difficult, however. With external backlinking, another website has to display a link back to your own website. Typically, this is done by sharing content; a website may opt to share content from your website that will garner interactions. The most effective backlinks are those by reputable websites, but this also opens the door for link spamming from unsavory sources. This method requires a lot of time and patience to sift through the valid from the invalid backlinks.

Alt Tag Optimization

When used in conjunction with media such as videos or images, alt tags improve the chances of your content being picked up by search engine crawlers and robots. That’s because crawlers and robots cannot identify media types by themselves; they rely on alt tags to translate the media type into text which will then be displayed in the Google SERPs along with relative content. Alt tags are also a part of web accessibility. Users that view a webpage through a screen reader will be able to take in the visual content by way of a text description. The most effective alt tags are short, specific, and relevant. Alt tags are also another way to take advantage of tracked keywords.

Create Shareable Content

Not only is eCommerce becoming more dependent on content, but so is the Internet in general. Regular content creation and distribution is important for good basic SEO practices and Google ranks sites that have regularly created content higher within their SERPs than websites that don’t. But you shouldn’t create content just for the sake of creating content. Google will also factor in low-performing and irrelevant content when determining your page’s SERP rank. High quality content is content that promotes participation from viewers. It has to be attractive to both Google as well as a target audience within the general public. People will want to read/view your media, they will want to share it with others, and they will want to return to your website on a regular basis for more. Types of sharable SEO content include product images, product pages, blog articles, videos, infographics, and lists. Shareable content is also a good way to promote external backlinking from other websites.

Be Active on Social Media

A business in eCommerce today wouldn’t be complete without at least one active social media account, but there are still those who are slow to adopt the new philosophy. Through social media, you can reinforce brand awareness, assure that your existing customers are taken care of while reaching out to new ones, generate leads, and increase conversion rates. According to studies, social media activity can increase sales by up to 32% for online sellers.

But having a social media account with any of the major providers (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) isn’t enough to gain traction with SEO. You have to be regularly active on your social media accounts in order to organically boost your public exposure through Google. That means producing shareable content on a regular basis and interacting with other users through “liking” and sharing posts. Even then, the social media channel itself still won’t be enough to contribute to improved SEO ranks. It’s the consistent schedule of produced content and consistent interactions that will lead Google to promote your (if enabled) social media content within the SERPs. The social media content itself should be relevant to your website and this is where the connection between your brand and the public will be made.

BONUS: Google Partnerships with Shopify and BigCommerce

Another step that Google has taken in their battle against Amazon is partnering with two major eCommerce platform providers, Shopify and BigCommerce.

Back in May, Google and Shopify announced a joint-partnership that granted over 1.7 million small and medium businesses (SMB) on the Shopify platform the ability to reach new customers through Google Search and other Google services. This is in addition to Shopify’s pre-existing partnerships with Facebook, TikTok, and Walmart. This is huge news for Google, Shopify, and Amazon. For starters, SMBs make up over 95% of firms and between 60%-70% of employment and a large share of digital advertising revenue will come from SMBs. SMBs have greatly increased their use of eCommerce due to the COVID pandemic, which results in increased spending on digital advertising. Second is Shopify’s already-standing partnership with Walmart. Walmart is Amazon’s direct competitor and while Amazon struggled throughout 2021. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail juggernaut was able to cut into Amazon’s market share with their Walmart+ service and almost 40% of 3rd party sellers on Amazon are planning to open up marketplaces on Walmart.com. Lastly, Shopify is the most popular and most widely-used eCommerce platform in the US market. Pairing the biggest search engine in the world with the biggest eCommerce provider in America can spell trouble for Amazon’s reign as the current eCommerce industry king.

Last October, BigCommerce rolled out their brand new Ads and Listings on Google app, the latest product from the BigCommerce/Google alliance. Through the Ads and Listings on Google app, US-based SMBs on the BigCommerce platform can connect their stores to the Google Merchant Center and add listings for free. Merchants can also use Google Ads campaigns to reach more customers, build effective campaign strategies, and provide a consistent experience across channels.

Ads and Listings on Google is a logical next step for our omnichannel merchants to further reach and attract new customers who rely on Google’s powerful shopping capabilities to drive traffic and growth,” said Sharon Gee, vice president and general manager of omnichannel at BigCommerce. “As more retailers enter the ecommerce landscape, the more crowded it will be for them to reach the right shoppers across the channels they’re searching in. Ads and Listings on Google gives merchants a true advantage to get discovered without ever having to leave their BigCommerce store.” ~BigCommerce, official press release (October 21, 2021)

With the addition of Ads and Listings on Google, BigCommerce further cements its relationship with Google by joining the roster of native applications that help merchants centralize, track and analyze store information. The Big Open Data Solutions from BigCommerce give merchants access to Google BigQuery, Google Data Studio and Google Analytics, enabling them to attract new customers, create personalized shopping experiences, optimize operations, and increase revenue.

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