Your friendly Captain-obvious-inspired search marketer might argue you shouldn't have done so when you depended on your organic rankings so much — but they're almost certainly vulnerable too. Let's face it. It's just plain difficult to get natural referral traffic when you're ultimately just another guy selling commodities. OK, so don't be just another guy selli … nevermind. They're hypocrites. So what can you do?

1. Move Goods On eBay With Help Of Automation

eBay, except for some upfront infrastructure costs and smaller up-front listing costs, is pay-per-conversion. That should make you salivate. Unfortunately, it's generally a total pain to sell on eBay. Automation with their API can streamline it substantially. We offer our eBay integration module as an option for our eCommerce customers. The module lists items from their product database with a few clicks, and it can auto-relist as well. It's certainly a bear to set up, but once it's running, it's as beautiful as Captain Obvious herself. You can save time (and money — Captain Obvious speaking again) by automating monotonous work.

Templatized listings improve your image and make your manually-listing competitors look amateur. Lastly, it can help by generating more volume even if margins are tighter.eBay used to be a place where you sold the baseball cards in your attic. It's now basically just another venue to sell — whether it be baseball cards or your particular commodities. If you're not selling on eBay, you're not exploiting a potentially very profitable venue with a quasi-pay-per-performance cost schedule.

2. Shopping Feeds + ROI Tracking

Google Shopping is 100% free. So if you're not doing that, start there. Then move to the non-free feeds. You can target only those products that seem to convert or for which you have some sort of deal. Make sure your categorization is correct, as this can make a difference. Our shopping feed module maps product categories to feed categories automatically based on some configuration settings. It also lets you exclude certain listings for paid feeds that aren't profitable. Then you can integrate with Google Analytics and optimize from there. We find this to be easier and less risky than dealing with PPC.

3. Wait Patiently; Improve Site For People

It's not so obvious that this is the best time for usability experiments, but it might be. Ultimately it's people who convert, not search engines — and there's always room to improve your checkout page. We often suggest redesigns, reskins, and improvements when rankings fall. It's not necessarily the obvious time you think to do it, but it's frequently the best time to make changes that you'd otherwise hesitate to do.

For example, here's a new checkout mockup we're prototyping —

credit card entry prototype

One could speculate on how this might improve conversions. I guess we'll find out.

None of this stuff is a secret — but the automation and the "implementation-optimization-technology" aspect is what we tend to focus on over here. So the next time it happens, and everyone says "see, you shouldn't have relied on Google for all your traffic" tell them to shut up and link them to captain obvious up there.

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