Can a small business maintain a successful online store without organic search engine traffic? It’s a good question, and one some business owners are being forced to answer. The recent Google updates have made it more difficult to know exactly how to promote a site, and engage your visitors without getting into troulbe with the Big G.
I’ve even heard of some marketers simply throwing in the towel. But rather than give up, let’s take a look at the alternatives:
You can look at alternative platforms and forego having a website entirely – this is certainly an option, and I sell on Amazon and other sites myself. It works, depending on the what you’re selling and what the platform is. But there are downsides…Amazon takes a brutal cut, pricing competition on eBay is legendarily cutthroat, and many other third party sites simply don’t get enough traffic to make a difference.
You can always buy traffic using Pay Per Click programs. That can run into serious cash quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing, though, and for some niches the numbers just don’t make sense.
But what about social traffic? Sure, Pepsi has an amazing social presence, and so does Zappos, but what about smaller businesses? Can we make it without search traffic? I’m about to launch an experimental site designed to find out.
An Experiment in Social E-commerce
Goal: To launch an new e-commerce site and generate $1000.00 per month in sales in 90 days or less, without relying on (or even paying much attention to) search engine rankings.
Platform: For this site, we’ll be using Big Commerce, due to its social features. Not only does it feature Social Shop, an app that creates a Facebook store, they recently integrated a Pinterest button as part of their product display, and it supports Add This, among other social features.
Products: Consumer products, ranging from $15.00 to $350.00, with a target order amount of at least $100. The target demographic is women 25-65, and people buying gifts for women.
Methodology: The site will be built out in its entirety, adhering to best practices for ecommerce – which in my workd means every piece of information available about the products goes on the site.
With a Facebook page and a Pinterest account, we will start to draw some traffic. As to whether it will convert, well that remains to be seen. Once we’re up for a few weeks, it will be time to start tweeting.
My own expectations are for maybe a 50 / 50 mix of search engine and social traffic initially, skewing more towards social after a few months.