DAVID FAIRHURST 119 I have seen cases where keyphrase research highlights a retailer trading in a vertical that is too competitive, poorly searched for and has little in the way of merit to offer that retailer a decent return for their hard work in creating and maintaining an e-commerce website. It’s difficult, but I have had to tell clients that perhaps they should be focusing their efforts on a different trading vertical or, at the very least, think of some sort of differentiator for their business! USER INTENT AND LONG-TAIL KEYPHRASES There used to be a strong correlation between the preciseness of a keyphrase and the likelihood of ranking for that keyphrase resulting with a purchase on a website. Ranking for product-focused long-tail keyphrases was therefore a prerequisite for gaining those all important add to baskets and sales. Whilst this is still true to some degree, user intent is now not only limited to these more product-focused keyphrases since the introduction of Google Universal Search and the mass uptake of smart speakers and virtual assistants. User intent is now much less easy to pin down, especially as systems like Amazon Echo, Siri and Google Home are not restricted to exact searches. It’s now quite common for these systems to do a voice search like “the brand of beer that is in the Rovers Return” and come back with exactly what the searcher is looking for in top results. Even though neither the brand nor the product name is mentioned in the search, the correct result is nevertheless returned by these systems. In this case, how would Google or Amazon know how to return the correct result? The answer is not only mentions of the brand and product on user forums, blogs and news sites but also if you’re a smart retailer in what we call long-form content. LONG-FORM CONTENT FOR RETAILERS Long-form content is, as the name suggests, content that has a bigger word count and perhaps has more supporting images, videos and other supporting parts than regular content on your website. There is a strong correlation between top ranking for competitive keyphrases and the length – and therefore perceived expert status – of content, but long- form content can perhaps have a bigger effect for less competitive keyphrase rankings. FOCUS ON THE NOW What I am suggesting is more frequent keyphrase research that focuses on what is important for e-commerce in any particular time frame. This highlights what to focus on here and now instead of just focusing on the long-term strategy. Doing this means that a retailer can not only capture seasonal trends and focus on what is selling at that moment but also cut down on wasted effort. For the resulting, much smaller set of short-term focus keyphrases, write some well-researched and interesting content to bring in not only visits from search engine users but also to stimulate other webmasters and social media users to link to that piece of content. Over time, overall rankings, site visits and conversion rate will grow. If you’re smart, you’ll also continue to take the approach of optimisation of all category and product pages in the website. This will give the best of both worlds: rankings for the category page and product page titles and for the more focussed goldmine keyphrases that you have put effort into optimising for. David Fairhurst is head of creative online marketing at Intelligent Retail. David has been involved with SEO and web development since 1999 and has spoken at many different retail and SEO conferences, including Spring Fair and SES London. Call David on +44 (0)845 680 0126 .