Enterprise Ecommerce

Keyword Research: How HairCareXtras Grew Revenue 300% in 4 Steps

/ 4 min read

In the Crash Course on Business Analytics for Ecommerce series, we’ve been covering how to use analytics to better your business—but sometimes it can be difficult to take theory and apply it to your own store. To show you how to increase your store’s sales, we’ve been showcasing Bigcommerce clients’ actual stories. Today, we’re covering how  HairCareXtras increased their revenue by 300%, step by step:

Step 0: Have a measuring system

What gets measured, grows, as the saying goes. HairCareXtras, like MightySkins (our previous case study in the series), uses Google Analytics, but if you want to use something else, here’s a few options.

Step 1: Set up a baseline and clear goals

To create an effective data-based strategy, you need to figure out where you’re at now, and then determine where you want to go. If you haven’t been using analytics already, you might not have access to all of this information, and if that’s the case, it’s okay to use your best guess—it’s better than nothing.

To get started, look at:

  • Number of new customers a week
  • Number of sales by product
  • Average value of product orders
  • Lifetime value of your customers

Once you know where you’re at right now, it’s easier to set realistic goals. HairCareXtras set both a desired goal (the ideal) and then a “bare minimum” goal (which was usually the desired goal divided by three).

Step 2: Pretend you’re the customer

Once it comes to working on your search terms (both paid and non), you’ll want to search like you’re the customer.

Google has two tools that are useful for this:

  • The auto suggest tool that anyone can use, pictured below. Simply start typing a search term that you think a customer would use and look at the suggested searches that show up underneath the search bar. Then check out the “related searches” at the bottom of the page
  • For the second tool, you need to sign up for a Google Adwords account (it’s free) and then look for the Keyword Planner tool.

HairCareXtras used these two tools to get an idea of what keywords people were actually searching for. It doesn’t make sense to optimize your content (or use paid search strategy) for keywords that aren’t actually being used. In the below example, it looks like customers are probably looking for things like “aerogel hairspray where to buy.”

auto suggest

Suggested searches can give you a peek inside your customers’ searches.

Step 3: Experiment with paid search

Once they had a list of probable search terms, the HairCareXtras team wanted to start buying traffic for those terms through Adwords, but wanted to make sure that the traffic volume would keep to a manageable level while they investigated what types of searches resulted in people buying. They used these tactics to help determine that:

  • Lock down the search network to just Google Search
  • Set the region to just the USA (or to specific states if that makes sense for your product)
  • Used the keyword match tools to limit where the ad shows

When it comes to the keyword match tools, using [brackets] narrows the search to only exact matches, and using “quotation marks” narrows it to phrase matches. So, for example, if the customer searches for aerogel hairspray wholesale:

  • If your keywords are set to aerogel hairspray with no punctuation, the ad will show because it has two of the words
  • If the keywords are set to “aerogel hairspray”, the ad will show because the two words are next to each other in the search term (but if the customer had searched for aerogel wholesale hairspray, the ad wouldn’t show)
  • If the keywords were set to [aerogel hairspray], the ad wouldn’t show because it wasn’t an exact match of the customer searching for just those two keywords

The idea behind this is that you can track what types of search terms lead to actual purchases before you spend more money on keyword traffic–so you’re only spending money on the most effective keywords. In their case, they learned that “aerogel hairspray” converted much better than “aerogel hairspray where to buy,” so they turned off the ads that had the keyword “where” in it.

For more about adding Google Adwords conversion tracking to your Bigcommerce store, check out this knowledgebase article.

searches related

Step 4: Optimize for organic traffic

Once you have an idea what search terms lead to purchases, you can optimize your site for organic traffic for those same search terms. As mentioned above, HairCareXtras realized that people searching for “aerogel hairspray where to buy” didn’t convert to buyers, so they didn’t optimize their pages for that keyword string and just focused on “aerogel hairspray.”

Here’s a few resources that go more in-depth on how to optimize your ecommerce store for keywords:

Step 5: Make changes–but slowly

This is where staying patient comes in. Once you see that a change appears to be working on one page, it’s easy to get excited and roll those changes out sitewide—or get excited about possibilities and change more than one thing at once. If you change multiple things and see a positive effect, you won’t know what specifically caused the results, which means you’ll have a hard time replicating them.

Wait for a few weeks, track results, and see what works. Once you’ve found out what consistently causes an increase in revenue, then you can change things across your site. After you make those changes across your whole store, it’s time to start back at step one with new measures for “today” and setting a new target.

It is a long game and it might not seem exciting or flashy, but it works—six months from starting this strategy, HairCareXtras’ results included:

  • A year to year new customer increase of 200%
  • A 40% improvement in overall conversion rates
  • An over 300% growth in revenue

Since it’s going to take at least a few weeks to get usable data, start today by picking an analytics tool and setting it up, whether that’s Google Analytics or one of the other options covered in a previous post in this series. And while you’re waiting on this strategy to pay off, you can read more about how analytics can help you sell more online. Have fun and good luck!


Michelle Nickolaisen

5'1" of concentrated sass. Speaker & freelance (business/marketing/productivity) writer. Lover of dark chocolate & notebooks, enthusiastic nerd. I also write at Bombchelle.com about productivity, systems, and business savvy for freelancers & entrepreneurs.

View all posts by Michelle Nickolaisen
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