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Why Your Ecommerce Manager, SEO Agency & Web Developers Should Talk…

February 21, 2018

We’ve worked with one of our clients, Planet Organic, for over three years now, working alongside their ecommerce platform developer, Paraspar, throughout.

Our role and relationship with both Planet Organic and Paraspar has evolved and changed over time. When we first started working with Planet Organic, we were engaged to manage all of their digital marketing activity, which evolved over time to include social media management. Today we’re still managing all customer acquisition and revenue-generating digital marketing channels, but are more involved in the strategic and commercial management of their ecommerce operation, including the day-to-day ecommerce management of their website.

Learning to play nicely…

When we were first introduced to Paraspar, it’s fair to say that some eyebrows were raised that an agency who also build ecommerce websites were going to be so active in facilitating a client relationship between platform provider and end-client. However, we quickly realised that we both had lots to bring to the table with the same goal in mind; to help Planet Organic grow their online business through best-in-class digital marketing and ecommerce platform developments. Today, we probably speak to Paraspar directly more than we speak to Planet Organic, as we’re their eyes, ears and voice when it comes to that relationship – we act on their behalf to get the most out of web development projects and ecommerce features.

And it’s partly because of this open, honest, and collaborative three-way relationship that Planet Organic continue to grow online.


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ParasparCollaboration is key…

A recent project that has been a great example of this shared expertise is Smarter Search.

A look through my inbox suggests that this was talked about with Paraspar as a potential project as far back as October 2015, but was parked in favour of more immediate needs and requirements. Conversations were sparked up again in early 2017, and a project was proposed in April 2017, which was signed off in a revised form in the summer, to commence development later that year. It was a beast of a project, affecting the whole site, essentially replacing the way users search, browse, and navigate the site, and allowing for all-new features and functionality for us to use to help improve both the user experience, conversion and SEO potential of the site. Smarter Search was deployed and made live on the Planet Organic website in early February 2018.

One of the ways that we planned to leverage the new, powerful search and merchandising tools was to create multiple ‘Automated Categories’ to allow Planet Organic to present a new take on their category structure, in order to better capture demand and facilitate conversion.

I’m sure you can appreciate that on a website with over 5,000 products, across over 150 categories, from over 100 brands, and 6 specific dietary requirement attributes, there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat in terms of data presentation, categorisation and merchandising. Since the launch of their Paraspar-developed ecommerce website, a user had been able to browse categories, such as ‘Groceries’ or ‘Skincare’, and apply, if they wished, a ‘Dietary’ preference, of either ‘Dairy Free’, ‘Gluten Free’, ‘Organic’ (everything…), ‘Vegan’, ‘Vegetarian’ or ‘Wheat Free’. This had always been a requirement of the site, as they’re a ‘supermarket’ that caters to specific dietary needs and preferences, as well as the health-conscious, more ‘casual’ customer.

However, browsing by dietary requirement was often a little cumbersome; some categories would show very little product, and from an SEO standpoint, the URLs created were not user-friendly, crawlable, indexable, or able to house unique content,. This mean that, although Planet Organic stock over 3,500 products with the ‘Vegan’ attribute, that their rankings across high-volume ‘vegan’ terms were remarkably poor.

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The research phase…

So, we set about creating the mother-of-all research projects for Planet Organic; taking all of their categories and sub-categories, all of their brands, and all of their available dietary requirements, and came up with a way of conducting keyword research for all possible combinations of the three.

For example:

  • [dietary] + [category]
  • [dietary] + [brand]
  • [brand] + [category]
  • [dietary] + [brand] + [category]
  • etc.

On conducting initial keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner, we were immediately drawn to the combination of [dietary] + [category], as there seemed to be lots of untapped potential there, for terms such as ‘Vegan Chocolate’, which commands an average monthly search volume of over 12,000 in the UK, ‘Gluten Free Bread’ (9,900 avg. monthly searches), ‘Dairy Free Chocolate’ (5,400 avg. monthly searches) etc.

We took our initial research and spliced it to only show us those relevant combinations, then set about checking the Planet Organic website for how many products they had that could fall into that category; i.e. how many items in the ‘chocolate’ category were tagged as ‘vegan’, and at the same time dumped our list of phrases into MOZ so that we could see where they currently ranked (and in order to track progress).

Once both of these processes were complete we had ourselves a nice index of Search Volume, # Of Products and Current Rank. We could then prioritise our efforts on those searches that yielded a high volume of searches, where Planet Organic stocked a lot of matching products, and they had a poor rank, therefore maximising the impact of this website development project, and using it for both SEO, PPC and Conversion Rate Optimisation purposes.

Planet Organic Launches ‘Vegan Shop’

The build phase…

Our initial hit-list includes around 200 new categories that we need to create, across the soon-to-be-created Dairy Free Shop, Gluten Free Shop, Organic Shop, Vegan Shop, Vegetarian Shop and Wheat Free Shop, which will allow customers to shop from all suitable products and a curated selection of categories for the first time. Luckily for us, we’d worked with Paraspar throughout the project scoping and development to ensure that they were aware of our end-use desires for their new piece of tech, which means that when it comes to the creation and management of these new categories, it couldn’t be simpler; we can create a new category, with 100’s of products, in less than 5 minutes, and we can visually merchandise the category until our heart’s content should we wish.

We’ve made a start with what we think will be the most impactful sub-set of new categories in terms of conversion, UX and SEO potential; the Vegan Shop, which covers 59 of our researched phrases, commanding a cumulative 100,000 avg. monthly searches, only 3 of which Planet Organic ranked in the Top 50 search results for.


Initial results…

It’s very early days, but our fledgling use of Paraspar’s Smarter Search-enabled Automated Categories is doing exactly as we’d hoped – Planet Organic are beginning to rank for competitive terms, in their niche, for the first time; including taking first-page positions out of nowhere.




Of course, as we’re on the hook for the P&L of the Planet Organic ecommerce business., as well as the day-to-day ecommerce and digital marketing management, we won’t be happy until we make sure that we can yield a return on their investment in this project. That said, we believe this is just a matter of time, as through a combination of improved rankings resulting in an increase in Organic traffic, and using these new category pages for targeted paid search, we’ll have a higher Quality Score and conversion rate.

We can also use these new categories for segmented email marketing campaigns; sending favourable members of their email database to categories we know they’ll resonate with, and surfacing these categories throughout the user journey when people search or browse for relevant terms and phrases.

We’re confident that the combination of Paraspar’s ecommerce development combined with our implementation of a research-driven, user-experience-enhancing, search engine optimised new take on product presentation, meaning that Venture Stream, Paraspar and Planet Organic will all be calling this a great partnership for years to come.

Written by Andy

Andy is Venture Stream’s Chief Operating Officer and has over 15 years’ experience in ecommerce consultancy, design and retail marketing.

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