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The toughest struggle most small businesses face is promotion. If you’re expanding online, the question of how to drive traffic to your online store is your top priority.

In this guide, we’re going to be talking about ways for you to get as many members of your target audience as possible to visit your online store, where they’ll hopefully convert to customers.

How To Drive Traffic To Your Online Store: The Ultimate 5-Step Guide

1. Organic Traffic and Your Ecommerce Blog
2. Social Media Pros and Cons
3. How to Drive Traffic to Your Online Store using Video and Livestreaming
4. Using Referral Traffic to Drive Traffic to Your Ecommerce Site
5. Selling Online with Paid Traffic

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Pinterest graphic for an article about how to draw traffic to your online store in 5 steps from Selz the ecommerce platform for growing business

We’re going into detail about SEO strategy, using social media, making the most of referral traffic, and paying for traffic. First up, it’s everything SEO.

Traffic isn't just something you get stuck in! These tips will help you learn how to drive traffic to your online store for more sales and higher conversions

1. Organic Traffic and Your Ecommerce Blog

Let’s face it. There’s no point having the world’s best online store if no one ever visits it; there will be some metaphorical cobwebs and your business won’t be making any money. You need to make sure that your target audience visits and buys from your online store.

The importance of an SEO strategy for selling online

You can increase your website traffic with a targeted ecommerce SEO strategy. Google receives over 40,000 search queries a second, over 3.5 billion searches per day. You need to make sure your online store is served in the searches relevant to your business.

To do this, you need a keyword-informed strategy. When you know the relevant words and phrases that are being searched for, you can create keyword targeted content to increase your organic traffic, like blog posts.

Keyword Research is Important

To do your research, enlist the help of a tool like Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner. In his guide to increasing blog traffic, entrepreneur Ryan Robinson recommends chasing “long tail” keywords, which are longer phrases with lower competition. In essence, this is the difference between trying to rank for “buy t-shirts” and “buy superhero t-shirts online”.

If you’re still unsure of your best keywords, check out your competitors. Look at their advertising and content to see if it makes sense to match their efforts or to fill a niche that they aren’t targeting yet.

Once you know the search terms you should be targeting, you can optimize your blogs so they start ranking for those keywords.

  • 91% of searchers don’t venture past the first page of search results, so ideally, that’s where you want your blog to appear.
  • 50% of searchers don’t look past the top 3 results so you want to rank as high on page 1 as you possibly can.

Ecommerce blog posts

You don’t have to be a technical SEO whiz to get your ecommerce blog posts ranking for your target keywords.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Include the keyword in your title
  • Include the keyword in the first paragraph
  • Include your keyword in at least one sub-heading
  • Make sure your keyword constitutes roughly 1.5-2.5% of your total word count (be careful not to fall into the trap of ‘keyword stuffing’ – you want your keywords to flow as a natural part of your post)
  • Make sure all images have the alt text field filled in and with the keyword included

Use anchor text (this means link text in your blog post to other parts of your online store, but make sure the links are relevant to your blog’s topic!)

Make sure your ecommerce blog post has a title tag and a meta description and that your keyword is included in both.

Another consideration is that Google has started ranking content based on how user-friendly it is to view on mobile devices. Double check that your ecommerce blog looks good on mobile before you post it.

Lastly, to get a visitor from your blog post to your online store, make sure to include a clear call to action.

It only takes some research and time to drive traffic to your online store

2. Social Media Pros and Cons

Now that we’ve covered organic traffic and how a focused SEO strategy can help you get the right visitors to your online store, let’s look at another free channel: social media.

Why use social media to drive traffic to your ecommerce site?

There are over 2.7 billion social media users in the world.

Social media platforms make it easy to connect with the online communities that have the power to influence the people that will become your most loyal customers.

There’s lots of scope for using social media platforms to increase the number of visitors to your website and there are also different ways you can do this.

Do your research

First things first, you need to do your research. These may well be the most popular social media platforms in general, but that doesn’t mean they will be the most successful in encouraging your target audience to visit your online store.

You should start out by finding out which social media platforms are most used by the people most likely to purchase from your online store.

Capitalize on your following

If you’ve already built a large following on social media then try sending out some posts with a link to your online store and a reason why it should be visited. Engagement is key. If your content is valuable, your reach will grow organically.

If you’ve got an established following of your target audience, you should hopefully gain some highly qualified visitors to your online store.

Raise awareness of your online store

There are ways you can expand your reach on social media for free. An effective way to do this is by using hashtags. Do some research into relevant, actively used hashtags and include these in your posts to expand your reach.

Just make sure you add value to these conversations. If not, you could face criticism for spamming and risk people becoming annoyed with your brand.

Use visual content when selling online

40% of people will respond better to visual information than to text. Including images and videos on social media increases the chance your post will be shared or engaged with. Getting your post shared is another way to raise awareness of your online store.

online store

Repurpose ecommerce blog content

If you’re pushed for time, why not repurpose some of your blog content for use on social media?

Try turning small snippets into social media posts and link back to the original blog for further info. You could also consider other, more visual ways to display information from your ecommerce blog, like an image or infographic.

Just remember to include a clear call to action from your blog post to your online store.

3. How to Drive Traffic to Your Online Store using Video and Livestreaming

Let’s start with the facts:

  • 52% of users will stick around for longer on a website if it features a video
  • Businesses that use video grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t
  • Due to the nature of our brains, we’re more likely to retain information that we learn visually

The power of video for selling online

One way you can use video to drive traffic to your online store is by teasing your video on another channel (like social media), with a link to your website where the whole video can be watched. Post a snippet or share a still image as the teaser.

Videos are all about increasing engagement. You can use them to:

  • Promote the products in your online store
  • Demonstrate how you create and develop your products and services
  • Provide your audience with advice and training

Alternatively, you could create videos that are relevant to your target audience but don’t advertise your products and services specifically. Instead, the video entertains or informs your audience.

They’ll still find their way to your online store because of the clear call to action and link at the end of your video.

Live video can be a powerful tool to drive traffic to your online store and your ecommerce blog

Jump on the live streaming bandwagon

Live streaming is a popular method of communication with businesses. It’s not hard to see why: users of Facebook spend 3x more time watching live videos than traditional videos.

Live streaming is a way to create a buzz around your business and raise awareness with people who might not have otherwise discovered your online store.

Live content is, by definition, more exciting than pre-recorded videos as it’s in the moment. That gives it an exclusive feel.

Supplement your live streaming efforts by creating a hashtag to start a discussion around your video, and encourage your audience to tell their friends and family or share the link through other channels (like email).

Repurposing your videos

You can use your videos and live stream recordings time and time again. As long as your video isn’t only relevant to a specific event or moment in time, you can share it on social media again to save yourself continuously creating new content.

There are new users to the internet all the time. Don’t be satisfied with using your video as a one-hit wonder. Think about who else might enjoy watching it and then find their way to your online store.

Repurposing video can create an increase in your traffic and hopefully your revenue too.

Why not take a shot at creating a video? It doesn’t need to be a perfectly edited piece; have a go with your mobile camera and share on social media to see what sort of engagement you can attract.

4. Using Referral Traffic to Drive Traffic to Your Ecommerce Site

Ready to talk backlinks and guest posting? Jump on in, the water’s great!

What are backlinks?

A backlink is a link on someone else’s website or somewhere else on the internet that links back to your website.

Backlinks are also sometimes called the following:

  • Inlink
  • Incoming link
  • Inbound link
  • Inward link
  • Citation

How can backlinks help your online store?

Now you know what a backlink is, let’s talk about how they can increase the number of visitors to your online store.

Backlinks are a tool to help you gain what is known as ‘referral traffic’ to your online store. Backlinks will help you increase awareness with an audience that might not have come across your business otherwise. You are effectively capitalizing on another website’s traffic.

Backlinks are also a way for you to improve your SEO, which will affect how highly Google ranks your online store in organic search listings.

A backlink is most valuable when it’s on a website that’s well-respected, highly trafficked and also relevant to your business.

You should secure backlinks to your website through relationship building and not by paying for a mass of links from all different types of websites that could be irrelevant to your business.

This is frowned upon by Google and won’t help your search ranking.

Guest blogging

The opportunity to write a guest blog post on someone else’s website is another way to increase awareness (and to gain that link back to your online store.)

Guest blogging is a two-way street. It’s good practice to offer the other party the chance to guest blog on your website too. Make sure this doesn’t affect the quality of your ecommerce blog and only participate in guest post exchanges relevant to your readership.

It is also a good idea to share your expected blog criteria, including things like word count and tone of voice. To protect your website’s search ranking, make sure that the guest blog is original content and doesn’t include any low-quality spammy links.

Creating content for referral traffic

Relationship building isn’t the only way to gain backlinks. You can also get referral traffic by creating content that others feel compelled to share and link to.

To do this, your content needs to be original, interesting, relevant and shareable. Show how your products can be useful to your readers, and find ways to make the products you sell interesting.  You may want to create content like:

  • Product reviews
  • Tutorials
  • News about your niche
  • Answers to common customer questions

Check out this article for more content ideas.

You also need to make sure your content is noticed by the people that will share and link to it. Take a look at your keyword list and use relevant keywords in your content. Link to external sites that have respected expert information about your products and niche, and link internally to popular and relevant content to keep readers on your site.

You can promote your content through your own social media channels as well as in your other online communities.

Find out who the respected bloggers, journalists, and influencers are in your niche. Email and social media are a great way to directly contact businesses and influencers that might be intrigued by your content or may have expert advice to add value. Make a real connection first, many influencers get tons of questions like this every day!

The millions more people who shop online each year could be part of the paid traffic as you figure out how todrive traffic to your online store

5. Selling Online with Paid Traffic

Our final suggestion is to direct traffic to your online store with paid traffic.

We’re not suggesting that you do anything underhand like buy a bunch of dodgy backlinks. Instead, you can make use of today’s online advertising channels, one of which is paid social advertising.

Paid social advertising

More and more businesses are cottoning on to the power of social advertising, with budgets doubling worldwide over the past 2 years.

All of the top social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter facilitate paid advertising.

They use something called ‘native ads’ and these see good engagement because they are presented in the same format as other posts and content on the platform. It might not be obvious that they are an ad at first glance.

You can get really targeted with the audience you want to display your ads to. It’s a great way to increase your reach and gain website visitors, who might not have otherwise come across your online store.

Our big tip is to monitor your budget often. When other businesses start bidding on the same audience as you, the bid range will increase. You need to make sure your bid is within the right range or your ads won’t be shown to your audience.

It’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on your campaign and turn off ads that are low performing. This will help you make sure that you’re spending your budget in the best way possible.

Shopping Direct on Social Media

Many platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have launched functionality that makes it possible for customers who are fans of your social media accounts to buy directly from those platforms. Many small businesses have seen a huge boost in sales when they take advantage of these opportunities.

online store

How to drive traffic to your ecommerce site? With Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Another way to reach a wider audience is to use pay-per-click advertising.

PPC involves bidding on keywords that your target audience are searching for.

Your PPC spend could include Google Shopping or Google Ads. A recent addition to these marketing opportunities, Google Smart Shopping, removes the guesswork and constant monitoring of most PPC. The conversion numbers are also impressive. You can learn more about Google Smart Shopping here.

It’s important that you do some keyword research as a starting point because you want to find the most searched for keywords, as well as those most relevant to your online store. You don’t just want quantity as you direct traffic to your online store, you want quality.

The relevancy of your keywords will affect how qualified the visitors you acquire to your online store are and the more qualified the visitor, the higher the chance they’ll make a purchase.

Once you know your keywords, you can draft powerful ad copy that will entice your target audience to click the link through to your online store.

Remarketing for selling online

Another option to drive traffic to your online store that’s sure to increase sales is remarketing.

Remarketing is all about targeting contacts that have visited your online store but didn’t make a purchase right away.

To re-engage them, you can ‘follow them around the internet’, displaying relevant ads to entice them back to purchase from your online store.

Be sure to specify the frequency that your ads should be shown. You don’t want to end up bombarding your target audience.

online store
Statistic Credit

We hope this article has given you lots of ideas about how to increase your reach and drive as much traffic as possible to your online store. Try more than one – you never know what ecommerce strategy will work best for you!

This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

About the author

Jo Gifford

A widely read contributor to Huffington Post, Selz, Regus, Prowess, YFS Magazine and many more interwebz rabbit holes, Jo is a respected UK voice on life as a pocket-sized enterprise owner.

Jo’s background – a seasoned blogger, copywriter, podcaster, and graphic designer with an MA and research interest in creative thinking for small business – makes for an eclectic and colourful killer content approach.

6 comments

  1. Judson Magil

    Really informative, thanks for sharing this!

  2. Greg T

    Wow! This is so much valuable info. Bookmarking this.

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Thanks so much for commenting, Greg! It is such valuable information for authors.

  3. Katie

    This is super helpful. I have been struggling with this part of the online selling game for a while. Can I do all this using Selz too?

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      I’m glad you found this so helpful, Katie. You can absolutely use all of these tips to increase traffic to your online store with Selz! When you start a Selz store, you can add a blog to your site, promote on social media, add videos and more!

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