In my travels along the social commerce road so far in South Africa, I’ve often been told that SEO plays no role in bringing in traffic to to group buying site.
There are generally two kinds of sites, when you look at traffic: those where you want to rank well on SERPs to get the traffic in, and those where you pay through your nose on Google or Facebook to bring visitors. Unless, of course, your website has such an attractive deal on it, you might say.
Group buying has traditionally taken the latter stance – pay for a massive PPC campaign and forget the SEO. In Groupon’s case, get popular enough to make Google want to buy you. After all, one can’t rank for every search term out there.
But actually, SEO is quite important for any website. It may mean those extra 50 subscribers per day, or getting noticed in the right place. Here’s what the experts seem to think:
A group buying site will rank better for PPC terms if it’s followed SEO from the beginning. Yes, that’s right, while you are paying for PPC, if you have a better quality score on the keywords, you’ll end up paying less. Any SEO “guru” would tell you to include a major keyword in your domain and URLs, so for those without the word “deal” in their domain, you start off at a disadvantage.
Neil Pursey, CEO of Webgrowth, an SEO consultancy in South Africa, points out: “Updated group buying sites are constantly churning out fresh and original content. Google will notice this, so over time if the group buying website is optimised correctly it can start appearing for searches like ‘restaurant specials’ or ‘accommodation specials’.”
Any site has to make sure they have the right keywords on their pages – you will eventually rank better and also feature with unique proper noun keywords. Type the name of a business who has run a deal recently, and see where that deal comes up on Google.
“A benefit to the advertiser is that there is usually a link back to their website from the advertisement page, so not only is it benefitting them from a branding perspective but also from a SEO perspective,” explains Pursey
“Group buying sites should be (if not already) be using this benefit as one of their sales tools. Group buying sites can play a large role in helping advertisers SEO their own sites.”
SEO has always involved good, original content. To copy text from another site starts you on a downhill road. Once again, following the right SEO and making sure even alt tags on images are done right, could get you the extra exposure you need.
SEO that you can’t control also matters – Google tends to give preference to news, customer references (good and bad) and posts with many comments. Your own brand therefore can see-saw based on who is saying what out there. Just type in group buying south africa into Google, and see what people are saying about your favourite site right now on various blogs.
It’s foolish to ignore SEO and group buying sites need to understand that.
Author | Jess Green
Jess Green is a serial entrepreneur, previously exiting UbuntuDeal.co.za to Tiger Global LLC through bidorbuy, and now founding Perk, a mobile retail engagement app. Jess loves the tech scene, and serves as Investor Relations on the SiliconCape Exco. More