Winning in the retail world has always meant dominating the brick-and-mortar shelf. Retail professionals are focused on KPIs such as share of shelf, shelf positioning, etc. because of their proven effect on sales.
With the ever-increasing importance of category searches in the e-commerce buying process, brands must dominate the digital shelf to turn online shoppers into buyers. This means placing their products very high in search results to drive traffic to their product pages.
In this article, we will see how brands can actually put a few numbers on their search performance and get to the bottom of what drives their performance up or down.
1- Measure your Search Ranking Score
At BlueBoard, we define the Search Ranking Score as the percentage of products that are yours in the first page of results for a given search expression at a given e-tailer.
Ex: when looking up "waterproof bluetooth speaker" on Bestbuy.com, 8 out of 27 products on the first page are JBL products. This means that JBL has a 30% Search Ranking Score on Bestbuy.com for this search expression (measured Jan. 9, 2019).
Whether it's retailers or e-tailers, there is always a strong correlation between shelf occupation and sales performance. Putting your brand at eye-level on the digital shelf means being on the first page of search results. There could be hundreds of results pages for a single keyword on Amazon, but studies showed that 70% of users don't ever click beyond the first page (Millward Brown). Sales are strictly correlated to first-page impressions.
You should research your Search Ranking Score on all pairs of retailer/keyword to:
- quickly identify keywords where your products perform,
- find out the search expressions where you need to improve,
- plan actions to improve your performance on specific keywords or specific retailers.
As online retailers are getting better at blending sponsored listings into organic results, you should include ads in your scores. This will help you decide if your brand needs to run sponsored listing campaigns or just focus on improving organic results.
2- Compare your search performance against competing brands
Look into the Search Ranking Score of your competitors.
After finding out your own Search Ranking Score, you should start measuring the Search Ranking score of your competitors. Just like for your own brand, do so with every relevant pair of 1 keyword + 1 e-tailer.
For the sake of simplicity, you should focus on your known competitors and only include new brands to your analysis when they reach a given score threshold on multiple sites.
The findings from this analysis will let you benchmark your performance against that of your competitors. It will let you know which brands are fighting for the same impressions as you. Your top competing brands may be different from e-tailer to e-tailer.
3- Plan corrective actions
The factors that determine the position of a product in the search results are plenty. The top ones are:
- Presence of the keyword in the product name or on the product page,
- Sales velocity,
- User reviews (volume and score),
- Price positioning,
- Product page presentation,
- Sponsored campaigns.
See our Amazon A9 article for a list of the top factors that influence the rank of your products in Amazon search results.
Once you have identified your weaker areas, you should plan corrective actions to improve your search performance. Actions may include:
- rephrasing your product page titles and contents,
- increasing your number of reviews,
- discounting some products,
- improving your product page contents,
- launching sponsored campaigns.
4- Monitor evolutions
Once you have implemented corrective actions, monitor how your search performance evolve.
Although e-commerce algorithms are getting more complex, they remain much simpler than Google's algorithm. This makes them rather sensitive and your brand's search performance can change from day-to-day. This means that you need to track the Search Ranking Score on a daily basis and visualize it as a graph.
By frequently monitoring the Search Ranking score, you will quickly see:
- which of your actions are paying dividends in terms of search position,
- if your paid campaigns are actually improving your search performance,
- which competitors are taking actions on their own,
- where the market is headed in terms of trends,
- which brands are losing ground in their categories.
5- Get to the bottom of things
When you notice significant changes at the brand level, you should always check what happened at the product level. Which products made their way to the first page? Which left? Did it happen because of a product launch or a promotion? Was it a change in wording on the product page?
You should keep a history of the first page of results to be able to compare it to the current state and understand the evolutions.
In Shelf Performance module, BlueBoard will help you monitor the Search Ranking score of your brand for your choice of keywords and retailer, as well as keep a full history of all search results for future reference. Get in touch with our sales team to see this tool for yourself!