In order to be found an item needs to return in search results, however ensuring its inclusion on the first page of search results is equally as important to product Discoverability.
People do not click through multiple pages of search results; many people won’t even scroll down. If your item is not visible on the part of the page they can see on their screen – above the scroll – they may simply purchase another item. A Nielsen Norman Group study found that website visitors spend 80 percent of their time looking at information above the page scroll and, although they do scroll, they allocate only 20 percent of their attention below the scroll.
A Caltech neuroscience study found that at rapid decision speeds (when in a rush, distracted or disengaged), visual impact influences choices more than consumer preferences do. This means that when online shoppers are in a hurry, they will think less about their personal preferences and instead base choices on what they notice first.
This bias gets stronger the more distracted or disengaged a shopper is and is particularly strong when they don’t have a strong preference among different options. If the visual impact and presence of a product can override consumer preferences, especially in a time-sensitive and distracting environment like online shopping, then strategic changes to search results and a website’s design can significantly impact a shoppers’ attention and behaviour.
How do I influence Discoverability?
Start by making sure your product is accurately optimised on a retailer’s site:
- Does the product name include your brand name?
- Have words been shortened to fit the product name character limit which would affect search?
- Are key attributes or search terms missing in the tags or description of your product?
- Is the search on the retailer’s site working properly?
Brand View has seen many examples where search results have been tailored and manipulated on a retailer’s site and returned unusual results. Depending on the retailer and who manages the website for those products (in some cases this is the ecommerce team and in other retailers it’s the buyers) they can often change the search position of products on the page.
- Does your product return on the first page? Changing the keywords on product name/description can help influence
- Is your product available to purchase or out-of-stock?
- Is your product presented in multiple locations on the retailer’s website?
- Are all products (both yours and competitors) correctly returning when you type in the product category?
In our experience adopting a category captaincy position on this and working with retailers on the category as a whole will yield greater results.
An alternative, but far more expensive, method of ensuring your product is placed for certain key search terms, is through paid or sponsored keywords. On certain retailers’ sites a manufacturer can pay to get one of the top links on the page (much like Google AdWords).
In the case of Sainsbury’s, the results say “Sainsbury’s Recommends” or “Why Not Try”. Similarly, Walmart suggests complementary products with its “Buy Together & Save” scheme.
Remember, a shopper is further down the path to purchase on a retail site than they are when searching via Google or similar. They’re a lot closer to making their final decision, so it’s extremely important for suppliers to own and dominate the keyword searches that lead to their brand and/or relevant category.
Three Pepsi products return when shoppers search for ‘2 litre coke’ in Sainsbury’s, 1 November 2016
Brand View track and monitor sponsored links to enable clients to understand which competitor has paid for certain search terms and equally to check retailer adherence and compliance when a client has themselves paid for a sponsored link.
Advertisements related to a shopper’s recent product search query or content on the page typically rank first or second on search results pages on a retailer’s site. Products will be targeted to shoppers searching for similar or related items. Brands also engage in cross-promotion, forcing sponsored products to return when a shopper is searching for a product in a different category, e.g. bacon can appear when searching for bread.
Manufacturers can also use sponsored keyword searches so that they appear when competitor search terms are used.
Another strategy brands can pursue is to pay for banner advertising; banner ads are typically linked with a search term, which results in items being advertised next to the products.
Some brands aggressively buy banner advertising space for competitor search terms. For example, in October 2016, Fanta Zero banner adverts were featured at the top of the first page of results when a shopper searched for ‘fizzy drinks’.
Ocado website, 31 October 2016
Buying banner adverts for more generic search terms, e.g. “water”, is far more common. Yet, due to the cost involved, this is often reserved for the bigger players.
Brands that target shoppers who are further along the path to purchase on retailers’ sites, can dominate the category. As well as banner ads, retailers such as Walmart also have ‘sponsored listings’ which appear on product pages, as well as category pages, to further boost brand visibility.
Another strategy brands can pursue is to pay for banner advertising; banner ads are typically linked with a search term, which results in items being advertised next to the products. Brands that target shoppers who are further along the path to purchase on retailers’ sites, can dominate the category. As well as banner ads, retailers such as Walmart also have ‘sponsored listings’ which appear on product pages, as well as category pages, to further boost brand visibility.
To find out how to boost your Discoverability, enhance product Representation and increase shopper Engagement, continue reading the Brand View Whitepaper ‘Discoverability, Representation and Engagement: the foundation of ecommerce success’.