Social Shopping: Build Long-Term Traffic and Trust

This has been an interesting year in traffic. Normally during peak holiday seasons, traffic can be predicted by the hour and a normal level of growth can be seen. But with this year's strange economic shift, traffic isn't consistent anywhere, and it's been difficult to predict the day-over-day patterns.

This topic can quickly become a tiresome conversation with large business senior executives. While I can't provide you any advice on how to calm them down, at least you can tell them they aren't alone. Everyone is seeing this strange shift in traffic and revenue this season.

With a predicted slow year on the horizon, what can you do to be better and different in this market? This is an important question to answer, especially in Q1, when the e-commerce segment is very slow, so think about these types of strategies carefully.

Social Shopping: From Apple to Zappos

One option is social shopping. This concept is great, and if you can hit it, it will drive a ton of direct traffic to your site that should convert very well over time.

However, social shopping won't bring overnight success. People have a hard time developing warm and fuzzy feelings over a brand that doesn't have a face. Very few brands have accomplished this.

Sure, Apple and Zappos, come to mind because they have great products and put a huge focus on service. That trust builds a level of connection, making it much easier to build and maintain a brand in the long run.

Build Your Site Around a Person

Put a face on the site that customers can connect with in terms of recommendations and advice. Make sure that the person, rather than the corporation, becomes the target for trust.

This form of social shopping works very well, especially if you have a small e-commerce site that focuses on a specific category (e.g., cycling). Several companies do this very well to the point that manufacturers send reviewers free items before they come out in the hopes of getting the word out about new products.

Rob Snell has a great strategy when it comes to building sites around a person. One of the example sites he talks about is Gun Dog Supply. You see personal recommendations from the owner of the site in terms of what products to buy, which builds a strong fan base.

I like to call this the "nut case talk radio factor," because people who listen to fanatical talk radio tend to buy everything that is recommended. Building a level of trust gives you the ability to steer the buying patterns of your customers.

Build Trust, Gain Customers

Some blogs do really well for the same reason. It's not the name -- it's the content that comes from the trusted writers who have built a great fan base.

Engadget is a great example of a blog that has a tremendous fan base and is well written. They could easily turn their site into a shopping site that will drive a ton of sales if they wanted to.

These are the types of needed services that resellers aren't doing. Maybe 2009 is the time to start.

We want to know what you think! Take the Search Engine Watch Readership Survey and help us give you more of what you want. It takes only 10 minutes, and you'll be entered into a drawing for a cool prize (see site for details).

About the author

Aaron Shear is a partner in Boost Search Marketing, an enterprise-level global consulting firm. Offering expert advice to many of the most trafficked sites around the world. Aaron has been optimizing websites since the late 90's, and has provided hundreds of businesses with countless top SEO and SEM returns.

Previously Aaron was the Global Director of SEO with Shopping.com, an eBay Company. At Shopping.com Aaron spearheaded the global optimization efforts of Shopping.com, Dealtime and Epinions. Prior to that, Aaron was the CTO at SEO Inc., where he spearheaded optimization efforts with clients such as IGN Entertainment, VEGAS.com, Sierra Trading Post, Sony Motion Pictures, Archer Daniels Midland, and Alliance Business Centers Network.

Before becoming an SEO Aaron worked at Inktomi, as a Technical Account Manager, where he learned SEO from the creators of the search engines first-hand. Aaron's primary responsibility was managing client relationships such as MSN, IWon, Hotbot and HP to name a few.