Shopify has risen to be one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms in recent years. In June 2019, Shopify announced that more than 820,000 merchants are now using Shopify, and the number is still rising.
However, one of the key challenges for any of these businesses is how to generate enough traffic to our Shopify store. If we can’t generate a steady and growing amount of traffic to our Shopify store, we won’t generate sales.
Organic traffic is an extremely important aspect of any eCommerce store. On the other hand, it is often the most difficult challenge to tackle. Of course, there are ways to generate paid traffic reliably, for example via PPC ads, but they can be very expensive and might disrupt our profitability instead.
This is why in this guide, we will discuss how we can get free traffic to your Shopify store
Without further ado, let us begin with the first tip.
Tip #1: Optimize your Shopify Site Structure
One of the best methods of driving organic traffic to your website is through SEO, and optimizing the structure of your site to organize its content is a very important factor in successful SEO strategy.
This has to do with today’s state of SEO where longer dwell-time and better user experience would translate into higher SERP ranking. When your shoppers can easily and quickly find what they are looking for on your site, they will spend more time on your site, which will help boost your site’s SERP ranking.
The general principle is to make your site’s navigation as simple as possible. Avoid using too many categories and subcategories, and this will also help Google’s (and other search engines’) crawler bots to index your site and your products.
Structuring your site is relatively easy with Shopify, and in general, you should only use one tier of category (Home->Category pages-> Product Pages), or at the very maximum, two tiers (Home->Category Pages->Sub-Category Pages->Product Pages).
Again, keep in mind that the focus is to make it as easy as possible for your customers to navigate the site. You should also include a search box on your pages and make it as easy to find as possible.
Last but not least, don’t forget to include the ‘About’ and ‘Contact Us’ pages on your site.
Tip #2: Optimizing Your Shopify Site for SEO
There are two ways to bring traffic to your Shopify site from the search engines: paid, in the form of PPC ads especially Google Ads, and organic, via SEO.
Since our focus here is generating free traffic, then here we should mainly focus on optimizing our site for SEO.
The most important factor in SEO optimization is to know what our target audience is searching for, via keyword research. In general, we should target keywords that are:
- Relevant for our target audience with high enough monthly search volume
- Relevant and valuable for our brand and our products
- Based on your timeline and budget, the competition for the keyword must be manageable
As an eCommerce site, you should also target branded keywords, keywords that include your brand name and product names (and their variations). Build a list of your valuable keywords, and include these keywords in:
- Product titles
- Product descriptions, but make sure it’s as natural and comprehensive as possible for your human readers
- Alt tags on product photos and images
- Product page’s URL
Another important approach to improve your Shopify’s site SEO is to create your content, as we will discuss below.
Here are some other optimizations you should implement on your site for SEO:
- Improve your site’s load speed. As a general rule of thumb, your site should load in less than three seconds, or most of your visitors will bounce.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. If you are with Shopify, in most cases this won’t be an issue.
- Pay extra attention to your Shopify’s store titles and META descriptions, including the right keywords accordingly.
Tip #3: Content Marketing
Most eCommerce stores don’t feature any blogs or other forms of additional content. So, if you have a performing blog, you are already ahead of most of your competitors.
Content has two major benefits: it can provide value for your potential shoppers so it will keep them on your site, and second, content can significantly help your SEO.
Image: having a blog can significantly improve your conversion rate
Here are some types of content you might want to consider:
- Education about your products, like tips on how to use the products as a solution for their problems
- Product reviews. You can, for example, encourage existing customers to write testimonials/reviews about what they bought and offer an incentive
- News and trends surrounding your niche.
After you’ve published your content, don’t forget to promote them using as many channels as possible: share them on your social media platforms, include them on your email newsletter, and so on. In fact, sharing content regularly on social media can be another great and free source of traffic to your Shopify store (we will discuss more about social media on the next tip).
Consistency is also important in implementing content marketing on your Shopify store: create an editorial calendar and decide on how often you are going to publish your content regularly.
Another important approach is to try guest posting on publications and websites related to your niche. Guest posting is, simply put, publishing your blog content on other websites with your name as the author (if not, it’s ghostwriting). Depending on how strong your personal branding is, you can also pursue opportunities like getting featured on podcasts and/or YouTube channels related to your store’s niche.
There are two benefits of guest posting:
- You are reaching their audience (which has the potential of being your audience)
- You can generate valuable backlinks in the process
The site publishing your guest post, on the other hand, can get high-quality content for free. You can start by searching for “-your niche- sites that accept guest posts” and similar queries on Google to find these opportunities. Most of them have their submission guidelines, so you can simply follow them and pitch your blog ideas.
Tip #4: Social Media Marketing
Social media is where our target audience is nowadays. So, it would only make sense that we should improve our social media presence if you want to generate more organic traffic.
It’s important to note that there are three main ways to generate traffic from social media:
- Organic: growing our own follower base and share our content
- Paid: using paid advertising options offered by the respective social media platform
- Influencer: working with influencers to promote your content and/or your product
Since we are going to focus on ways to generate free traffic, then we will mainly discuss organic social media marketing here. However, if you do have the budget, using paid social media ads and influencer marketing can be a cost-effective solution to generate more traffic.
If you are selling B2C eCommerce products, Instagram is a great place to promote your product, and there are also features like Instagram Shopping where you can integrate your Shopify store on Instagram to sell directly on the platform. Since your shoppers are not forced to leave Instagram when they are willing to purchase your product, it can help push down the abandon rate.
Pinterest is another great platform that is often used in eCommerce marketing, so you might also want to integrate it into your strategy.
Quora—although not as big as a few years back—, can also be a great way to generate free traffic to your Shopify store. Find questions that are relevant to your target audience, and you can provide informative answers that link to your eCommerce store or (preferably) content on your site that is related to the question.
Tip #5: Email Marketing
While email marketing might not be that effective in generating new unique traffic, it’s still an important channel to reach out to existing customers (and encourage them to make another purchase), as well as those who have abandoned your shopping cart.
In general, you can implement email marketing on situations like:
- New sign-up: pretty self-explanatory, you should greet new arrivals on emails to help them to be more aware of your brand and to encourage them back to your Shopify store as soon as possible.
- Cart abandonment: a very important touchpoint to address. Send reminders for potential shoppers who have left items in their cart, this can be very effective in encouraging repeat visits.
- Special offers: everybody loves discounts, so inform your email subscribers with upcoming discounts, as well as for seasonal sale offers.
- New/popular products: your shoppers love social proofs, so they’ll want to see new product launches and popular products.
- Content: if you have implemented your content marketing, as discussed above, you can use your email newsletter to push your content
When done right, email marketing can be a very effective channel to grow your organic traffic, especially in encouraging return visits.
Tip #6: Getting Social Proofs
This might not be a totally free method to generate traffic, but in this age of social media, getting social proofs from relevant people in your niche, as well as from your existing customer base, are very important.
You can start by reaching out to popular review websites and influencers in your niche. No matter how small your niche is, these days it’s very likely that there are relevant influencers in it. You can offer a product sample to the reviewer and ask for an honest review. Some reviewers might ask for financial incentives, so you might want to consider whether it fits your budget.
If you can get a review from relevant influencers or publications in your niche, it can be a very valuable source of traffic for your Shopify Store.
For your existing user base, you can run simple contests and giveaways, for example offering discount codes for those that review your product on their social media posts. Be as creative as possible, and make the contest fun.
Tip #7: Leverage Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Word-of-mouth, or customer advocacy, can be a very powerful way to generate more traffic and build brand awareness.
This is especially effective if your product is ‘shareable’ on social media, and admittedly not all products are like this.
For example, we’d gladly brag about purchasing a new car on our social media, but we probably wouldn’t announce buying a new tractor for our farm.
Here are some tips on how you can leverage word-of-mouth marketing:
Sell a unique product that provides actual value
People love to share a product that works as a solution to their problems. For example, we’d gladly share a diet product that helps us lose 20 pounds in a week (if any). For this:
- Understand your target audience, their needs, and the problems they are facing
- Deliver quality products
- Deliver proper customer service
- Be consistent with your branding to set a lasting experience
In this age of Instagram, it’s important to make your product’s experience as visual as possible. Use as many photos and/or videos as you see appropriate without cluttering your site, and always try to find unique ways to display your products so people would want to share them.
An effective approach is to create useful how-to videos related to your product, so people might share them.
Leverage User-generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content like genuine reviews by your customers, photos, and videos shared on social media can be very effective not only in driving traffic to your site but also in encouraging people to convert.
- Reward UGC content on social media with discounts or freebies, or run a giveaway/contest altogether
- Reserve a spot on your site to show UGC photos
- If opportunities arise, create your own hashtags that your users can use to share your product.
The tips we’ve shared above are among the most effective in generating traffic to your Shopify store for free. However, they are certainly not the only ones, and you can be creative in growing your eCommerce business using various other tactics, with those we’ve discussed above as your foundation.
Don’t forget that above anything else, you should make sure to always deliver quality products according to your promises, and also provide customer service excellence.
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