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13 September 2011

Online shops and the Olympics


by Albert Pusch.

With the Olympics less than a year away, brands and retailers need to start planning now for how they can capitalise on this for their online shops. Although there are stringent guidelines for companies looking to associate themselves with the Olympic brand from a promotional perspective there is still a lot that retailers can do to ensure that they are maximising their search potential around this time.


The reason brands need to start thinking now is because they will need to do a large amount of research before the event to ensure they know what brands and products are associated with the Games, and then plan an editorial strategy around this for the ones that they carry.

Much of this revolves around creating branded landing pages and other content that can be used as marketing triggers for those brands, so that people searching for Olympics-related items or athletes will get a relevant and satisfying search result and then, ideally, be driven to a purchase. These landing pages should work for external searches (through search engines like Google and Bing) as well as pushing products when people use on-site search. While brand campaigns like these used to be expensive and labour intensive to create, they can all now be easily managed through tools for on-site search and navigation.

So, why are landing pages so important?

Landing pages can act as a key trigger for converting site visitors to customers by underlining that the person searching has come to the right products or offers and they can also carry prominent calls to action to directly drive sales. With customers being presented with so many options these days in online shops, and with the web making it so much easier to check other sites and compare them, creating the best possible experience for your customers is essential.

Landing pages can be an important tool in this process, for example if someone searching for Adidas items is presented with a fully branded Adidas page rather than just a list of Adidas products they are likely to build a stronger bond with your shop as they will perceive that it is catering much more to their needs, this can also engender a geater sense of trust.

When it comes to how this works with the Olympics, retailers need to look closely at what items are being pushed by what brands. This means they need to have a good understanding of not only who the big sponsors are and what products they’re going to be pushing, but they also need to know who the big sporting names are and what products they use and are associated with. This content should then be built into landing page content, as well as web-based articles (along with links to the landing pages) to maximise SEO driven sales.

A good example of how this can work for brands, was highlighted during the Fifa Women’s Football World Cup in Germany earlier this year. US goal keeper Hope Solo became famous for being the best looking woman in the tournament, and her search volumes increased dramatically with her search volume index on Google Trends peaking.

If you’d written something even before the Cup started this would have shown up well in Google rankings and been an excellent source of traffic to your site, as well as a powerful sales driver for brands such as Puma with which she is associated If you have a flexible on-site search and merchandising tool, then you can react immediately to the new “star” of the Games, by for example re-directing searches to relevant products or creating merchandising campaigns (such as for Puma and Nike when searching for Hope Solo Shoes).

The brands that certain athletes use are very important for people and they will start searching for information on both the brands and the name of the individual in the build up to the Games next year. So you should increase the amount of relevant keywords you put into your content to reflect this and drive traffic to your site from Google.

However, relevance is the key; just simply stuffing your landing pages with keywords will look like exactly what it is – a blatant attempt to drive sales – and search engine penalties might have negative affects to your site. Instead ensure that the page visitors land on actually has something that they will find interesting, not only does this help engage them but it also shows you’re up to date with what’s going on.

Pictures are also a good source of Google traffic, so retailers should invest time and budget beforehand ensuring that they have images of some of the top – or at least most high profile – athletes. Furthermore, they should ensure that the pictures are named using the person’s name and not an alphanumeric reference code as a lot of sites will have.

Another good source of SEO is to start creating material to help people make the most of the Olympics, whether it be designing fun maps of where all the events are or writing “how to…” articles, such as How to run as fast as Mo Farah or How to Find Cheap Accommodation During the Olympics. This will really help drive traffic to the retailer’s site and the landing pages can include strong calls to action for related items or products the retailer is keen to push.

Everyone will have some sort of Olympic design on their site, so the reality is that if you want to stand out, you need to go a further and deeper. And creative use of content can really help you achieve this.

Albert Pusch is head of marketing at FACT-Finder.

Also read Social Coupons--bringing virtual interactions in-store


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