The direct-to-consumer (DTC) business model has exploded in popularity in recent years, largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But this boom has driven up the costs of using performance marketing channels throughout the eCommerce space. As a result, more and more online-only businesses are shifting their focus to SEO and content marketing as a more sustainable alternative for generating traffic and revenue.
If this describes your own DTC business, you may be wondering: “Should I leave SEO and content marketing to my in-house team, or should I outsource the work to a crew of specialists?”
This post aims to give you a primer on what it’s like to work with a DTC SEO agency. We’ll look at what kind of services a DTC SEO agency provides, explain how they help eCommerce businesses earn more traffic and customers, and consider what you should look for in an SEO agency if you’re thinking about teaming up with one.
So let’s start with some basics.
What is a DTC SEO agency?
A DTC SEO agency increases traffic to DTC eCommerce websites by helping them grow non-branded visibility on Google.
Most SEO agencies use a combination of content marketing, on-page and technical optimization, and strategic link building to boost their clients’ organic visibility. This, in turn, attracts more qualified prospects to their clients’ online stores.
DTC vs. B2C SEO Agency: What’s the difference?
A DTC SEO agency serves eCommerce clients that operate under a DTC business model. These clients sell their products or services directly to individual consumers without any third-party intermediary.
A B2C (business-to-consumer) SEO agency serves clients that sell their products or services via a go-between, such as a retailer or a wholesaler.
SEO agencies will often have both DTC and B2C clients on their rosters.
What services does a DTC SEO agency provide?
A typical DTC SEO agency will provide a comprehensive package of technical SEO, content marketing, and digital outreach to ensure their clients’ SEO strategies have the best possible shot at long-term success.
Here’s an overview of the basic services DTC SEO agencies provide:
- SEO project management
- Competitor and market analysis
- Keyword research
- Technical SEO audits
- On-page optimization (including product listing pages (PLPs) and product detail pages (PDPs))
- Content audits and gap analyses
- Content strategy, editorial planning, and content production
- Link strategy and link building (Digital PR)
- Performance tracking and troubleshooting using tools like Google Analytics, Tag Manager, and Search Console
- Regular reporting
Here at Break The Web, we focus our DTC SEO services on the following core areas:
The goal here is to understand the market demand within your niche. What kind of content are your ideal customers searching for in Google? Are they mainly looking for top-of-the-funnel content (like an introduction to a key concept), or are they seeking bottom-of-the-funnel content (like case studies or customer stories)?
Once we have a solid understanding of what your target audience is looking for, we can develop ideas for new content to boost your brand awareness and nudge prospects further down the conversion funnel.
Technical SEO is all about ensuring your website is easily accessible to search engines and users alike. The better your site performs from a technical standpoint, the better the user experience and the easier it will be for search engines to crawl and index your content. We improve technical performance by implementing best practices such as canonical tags, faceted navigation, and permalinks.
On-page optimization is the practice of boosting the topical relevance of a given page by ensuring that important on-page elements (like the URL, title and header tags, and meta description) reflect the target keyword and search intent that underpins that piece of content. This is crucial for signaling to Google and search users what the page is about and who it’s designed to serve.
Schema markup (or structured data) provides search engines with additional context about the content on a page. It’s particularly important for eCommerce websites since it enriches your search results with additional, useful data (rich snippets).
For example, when you implement schema markup on your product pages, search users can see information like product ratings, review count, images, and estimated prices directly in the search results.
When conducting a content audit, our first goal is to ensure that each piece of existing content on your site has a strategic purpose (outdated or redundant content can devalue your overall website quality).
The content audit also helps us identify any opportunities for further on-page optimization, internal linking, and content restructuring to help increase traffic.
Finally, the audit reveals gaps in your existing content that we can then begin to fill by creating briefs and/or producing new content.
Another essential ingredient for improving search engine visibility is building a high-quality backlink profile. Google judges your website’s relevance, trustworthiness, and authority based on the number of links pointing to your site from other reputable sources.
We facilitate this through digital PR, which involves manually reaching out to topically-relevant publications to get the word out about your brand.
One of the things our DTC clients value most about working with us is the extensive experience we bring to bear on all our eCommerce SEO projects. We also believe collaboration and transparency are key to building the best client partnership possible.
How does a DTC SEO agency help eCommerce brands maximize traffic and revenue?
But you can easily exceed these numbers if you choose to design and implement a well-rounded, carefully-targeted organic search strategy.
A DTC SEO agency will help boost your organic traffic by uncovering opportunities for creating high-value content that your ideal customers are searching for at different phases of the buyer’s journey. It’s simple: the more high-value content you create based on what your target customers are searching for, the more likely they are to discover your site through Google.
An SEO agency will also improve your site’s traffic potential by ensuring your site adheres to technical and on-page SEO best practices. Proper technical hygiene and on-page optimization ensure the content on your site can be easily discovered and indexed by search engines, and improve your visitors’ user experience.
DTC SEO specialists can also increase your organic visibility by improving the quality and quantity of links pointing to your domain. The better your backlink profile, the more credible and authoritative your site will appear to search engines.
When taken together, these core SEO activities maximize your ability to reach your ideal customers through organic search, lowering your cost per acquisition (CPA) and increasing your profit margins.
The benefits of working with a DTC SEO agency
So why not let your in-house marketing team take the reins of your SEO and content marketing strategy?
Well, let us be the first to say that if you’re fortunate enough to have a crack team of experienced, SEO-literate marketers on staff, you should definitely go for it!
But in reality, most in-house marketing teams simply lack the bandwidth or expertise required to plan, implement, and review the various workstreams involved in conducting a successful SEO campaign.
The SEO process consists of many interconnected activities – from keyword research to content ideation to backlink acquisition – each requiring non-stop tweaking and testing to achieve sustainable, positive results. Even seasoned digital marketers can find this prospect a little overwhelming.
Moreover, ensuring your SEO campaigns are strategically sound and well-executed is particularly important as a DTC eCommerce company.
Unlike other B2C businesses, you don’t have the luxury of piggybacking off the organic visibility of well-established, third-party retailers. Instead, you have to plant a flag in your specific corner of the organic search market through high-value content and deliberate keyword targeting. That is how you rise above the competition.
Partnering with a DTC SEO agency lets you outsource these difficulties to the experts. By leaning on the experience and know-how of a dedicated team of eCommerce SEO specialists, you’ll give your team more breathing space to work on other crucial aspects of your business.
What should you look for in a DTC eCommerce SEO agency?
Let’s assume you’re sold on the idea of teaming up with a DTC SEO agency. The next question is: what should you look for in a potential suitor?
In our view, any agency worth your business should at least meet the following criteria:
- A proven track record: They should have numerous case studies demonstrating their history of delivering concrete SEO results for eCommerce businesses. Some key performance metrics to look out for include improvements in organic impressions, organic traffic, and conversion rates.
- Full transparency: They should be more than willing to explain how they go about their work, what factors are likely to determine how quickly you’ll see results, and how much it will cost. They should also set clear expectations about how they approach both project and client management.
- A clear and coherent process: They should have a well-defined framework for all SEO projects, including dedicated workstreams for discovery, research, content planning and production, on-page and technical optimization, link building, and frequent performance reviews.
- A collaborative attitude: They should show a keen interest in your specific marketing objectives, information about your ideal customer, and brand voice.
- Up-to-date SEO knowledge: SEO is an ever-evolving industry. Not only should your agency have no trouble explaining fundamental SEO concepts to you, but they should also have their finger on the pulse of any recent changes to search engine algorithms and industry trends.
If any agency you’re considering falls short of these standards, it may be worth seeking an alternative option.
What your growth strategy could look like if you worked with us…
Now that you’re clear on the potential benefits of pairing up with a DTC SEO agency, what can you expect from working with one?
At Break The Web, we realize that each client comes to the table with a unique set of challenges. Some clients just don’t have the internal bandwidth to handle the intricacies of SEO, others find the whole concept confusing, and others simply lack the technical expertise to do it themselves. This is why every client we take on gets a bespoke SEO strategy to fit their needs.
When it comes to all-encompassing SEO projects, we build our framework on the following five pillars:
- Discovery: We take the time to understand everything we can about your business, including your goals, competitors, and what your ideal customers care about.
- Research: We look for opportunities for any quick wins on your site and lay the ground for long-term success by conducting in-depth keyword and content research.
- Creative: We develop Grade A content mapped to your target keywords, providing genuine value to your readers wherever they are in the buyer’s journey.
- Optimization: We optimize everything we can across your domain, from site structure to mobile-friendliness.
- Trust: We strengthen your site’s backlink profile to improve its domain authority (and traffic potential!).
And here’s what a corresponding SEO roadmap could look like:
While we can’t guarantee you results with 100% certainty (and you should treat any SEO professional that says otherwise with extreme caution!), our framework has consistently delivered results for our DTC eCommerce clients.
For example, when working with compression legwear specialists VIM & VIGR, we deployed a multi-pronged strategy of content development, on-page optimization of category and product pages, technical fixes, and digital outreach to deliver a 206% increase in organic traffic.
Should you hire a DTC SEO agency?
SEO is one of the most effective acquisition channels available to any DTC eCommerce business. If executed properly, organic search marketing will draw a consistent stream of qualified visitors from all stages of the buyer’s journey to your website for you to nurture and convert into loyal customers.
But implementing a winning SEO strategy in the DTC eCommerce space is no mean feat.
Competition is fierce, the search landscape is constantly shifting, and the multiple workstreams that make up an SEO campaign need constant care and attention. Most eCommerce companies simply don’t have the personnel or bandwidth to successfully manage these demands on their own and stand to benefit from outside specialist support.