How Product SEO Helps Take Hundreds of Hypermarkets Online


Reading time: 6 minutes

Tags: SEO, Marketing


What the article is about:

  • How to prepare a retailer for e-commerce launch step by step;
  • How to avoid problems that may arise in the work on the site and the site’s admin area when starting e-commerce;
  • How to refocus on a product-based SEO approach and calculate a budget.

Who is the article for?

  • For business owners and top managers – to understand what features are important to consider when launching online retail.
  • For SEO-specialists – to understand how to look for points of growth of the project and what mistakes can be avoided in the IT-improvements of the site.
  • For marketers – to understand the role of product solutions in SEO and synchronization of offline and online channels.

At the beginning of 2020, the Lenta website was a catalog of goods. The site had a lot of problems: it was possible to get to it only after determining the user’s geolocation (by choosing a city and a store), the product can only be added to the “shopping list”, and most importantly, with a huge amount of assortment, the site did not have filter functionality. To launch e-com retail, Lenta had to work hard with a general strategy, understanding business needs and changing its approach to classic SEO. How to gradually prepare for the transformation of a website into e-com, what pitfalls you need to consider and how to change your approach to SEO, we will tell you in more detail below.


Lenta is the first largest hypermarket chain and the fourth largest retail chain in the country. It operates 248 hypermarkets in 88 cities throughout Russia and 131 supermarkets in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Siberia, the Urals and Central regions. Source: INFOLine agency.


How to launch an e-commerce website? Phased preparation

The transformation of offline retail took place in 4 stages.

1. Analyzing the project

How to start launching an e-coma? The first important stage is analytics before the start of the project. At Lenta, it went through three steps: conducting competitive analysis, using business intelligence, and product SEO analysis.

  • What to watch from competitors? Online assortment, winning site elements, structure, usability, content – all this will help you make decisions in your own project. You can track the competitive environment using the site visibility rating data.
  • Why do you need business intelligence? Without it, nothing can be measured, calculated (we will tell you more about how to do this below), as well as analyze and visually present the obtained data on the project in convenient reports and dashboards.
  • What is SEO “production”? The analysis includes not only technical, but also the search for growth points, which is facilitated by the implementation of BI reporting on the SEOWORK platform. We have already written about the profit when implementing BI reporting for business and finding new opportunities for analytics in SEO. We advise you to learn about advanced cases by reading the article.
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Each stage of work involves the use of specific tools – to make processes more efficient and speed them up. The “Lenta” uses SEOWORK. It helps you import SEO data into BI systems, get it in custom dashboards and minimize the loss of useful time.

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2. Building CJM

The next step was to develop the user experience on the site. Lenta has built more than 50 CJM maps to understand the logic of user routes on the site and to track behavior when performing various actions. This helped to determine where and how the user moves around the site, to decide what functionality he needs for this.
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In the course of the analysis, Lenta came to the conclusion that the following functionality is especially important on the site: authorization, the ability to create a loyalty card, the correct operation of the shopping cart on the frontend and backend to promptly make changes at the request of users.

Expert opinion

Elena Hakobyan, SEO Product Manager at Lenta:

Akopyan.jpgTip: when working with CJM, use an SEO specialist, since some elements on the site (banners, determining the user’s geolocation, etc.) can block access to the functionality and prevent the correct indexing of pages.

3. We work out the structure of the site and develop filters

Next, we build the site structure taking into account the following data:

  • site assortment
  • competitor analysis
  • demand in different categories
  • assembled semantic core and its clustering

Expert opinion

Elena Hakobyan, SEO Product Manager at Lenta:

Akopyan.jpgImportant! When working on filters, keep in mind that characteristics need to be unified within each product category. Since there are a lot of products on the site, the manufacturers themselves were filling in the characteristics, and each did it according to his own logic. As a result, the same characteristics were called different words. For example, the characteristic for coffee in different cards was listed as “espresso”, “espresso” and “espresso (espresso)”. This resulted in an incomplete sample. And it takes a lot of time to fix it.

All this helped the team to work out categories by levels and understand how to work with product filtering, fill in product characteristics, and create a site structure. After we have decided on the structure of the site, we collect data about competitors and analyze the product range in terms of product categories and product cards. As a result, we found out that at the category level, short product names, product announcements and the main photo, as well as tooltips and other hover effects are important. The most important thing in product cards is: characteristics on the basis of which filters are collected, then – product photo, product description text, reviews, product name.

4. Calculate the budget for SEO

In-house SEO starts with a budget to understand how much money is needed to complete a project. To justify, management should start with the following data:

  • growth point analysis
  • search for problems on the site
  • understanding what the demand is
  • analysis of current traffic
  • calculating unit economics
  • ROPO analysis
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Let us dwell on the last two points in more detail.

Calculating unit economicsto understand how much money we spent on one user who came to us (Customer Acquisition Coast – the cost of attracting a customer or CAC) and how much money we will earn per user (Average Margin Per Paying User – an indicator of profitability or AMPPU).

Expert opinion

Elena Hakobyan, SEO Product Manager at Lenta:

Akopyan.jpgThe SEO channel is considered one of the cheapest in terms of user acquisition. For example, 4 million users, conversion is 2%, we spend 60 kopecks, and we earn 8 rubles. We take consulting, analytics, IT development and other expenses together, as well as all the services we use. These costs certainly turn out to be cheaper than other types of advertising.

The next item is ROPO analysis. It allows you to find out the relationship between online search and offline purchases, especially if you have a buyer’s card. The problem is that there are users on whom we spent money and time for online attraction, but buying it goes offline, and the purchase is not credited to the online channel. How can you track such users? By customer card using ID: all user actions are tracked from entering the site to buying offline.

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As a result, we get data – according to statistics, from 100% of buyers who went offline from online and made a purchase there:

  • 50% came from organic
  • 16% came directly to the site
  • 14% came from advertising

Learn more about ROPO analytics on the example of a case from the pharmaceutical business you can in our article.

How does the in-house SEO product approach work?

The product approach to in-house SEO works according to the following principle: there are tasks that are advisory in nature, and there are tasks that are mandatory.

Recommendations include usability and design improvements that are generated based on analytics. Assortment and content recommendations are based on competitor analysis.

Mandatory work is IT-improvements and work with the structure of the site. And here it is very important to think over the admin panel as much as possible “for yourself”: the impossibility of subsequently making changes promptly can prevent a quick start of the e-com.

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It should have the following features:

  • quickly set up tags, redirects to any pages, title,
  • independently change the canonical for the pages,
  • quickly make adjustments to any pages (for example, for filter pages, characteristics, tags, etc.).
  • it is advisable to work out the possibility of mass editing of pages, and not each separately – for example, by uploading an Excel file to the admin panel.

The filter functionality should have its own admin panel, which can collect products with the same characteristics. This way you can collect product groups into tags, which will make it easier to search for a specific product group among a large assortment. For example, for “Lenta” the tag “sweet for tea” or “fruit for a diet” was relevant.

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Also, in the admin panel of the site, two important points should be taken into account: the massive opening of pages for indexing and operational work at the speed of the site.

How to apply SEO data when starting pickup by city?

Before launching self-pickup in cities, you need to analyze traffic: store traffic and demand in the city. It is important to consider the risks at every stage of the work. For example, what might happen if a website doesn’t perform well in a given city? Check all work through testing: from ordering to assembly and shipping, find errors, debug work. After that, we get a strategy for opening stores.

Advice! Lenta made a mistake with advertising to the audience: there were many stores, but pickup was only in one of all stores in the entire city. The advertisements launched seemed to be misleading. Therefore, now the user can choose stores with and without self-pickup. According to statistics, only 1% of users on the site then pick up the order in the store, but Lenta is going to improve this indicator.

Results and achievements of “Lenta” in e-com

What has Lenta come to at the moment:

  • E-com launched in 253 stores
  • Growth of organic traffic to the site year-on-year + 49%
  • Now you can arrange self-pickup on the website

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In the future, Lenta plans to create a competitive online store, deliver on the site and bring the remaining stores online. Content management, website design and mobile first indexing remain a priority. Classic SEO in the company has grown into a single coherent complex of a coherent strategy, business understanding, product approach and analytics. Moreover, the quality of processes with product SEO is growing at all stages of development and planning.

The team came up with the following insights:

  • It is important for the SEO team to understand the specifics of business processes
  • A common strategy needs to be developed with all departments

It is important to do ROPO analytics, analyze offline and online, as well as justify this to the management, since one is useful to the other.

The growth in traffic affects the growth in sales. High-quality traffic comes when SEO is not a separate tool, but a set of work with departments in a team and the study of all stages of the project (then there is a high-quality catalog, structure, analytics of CJM, ROPO). All together dictate the relevance of the approach to SEO as a product and the use of SEO in the product logic.

Author - Matvey DemchukThe article was prepared by Matvey Demchuk. Graduate of the Higher School of Economics (Faculty of Communications, Media and Design). Interested in marketing, technology and science. He is fond of sports, reading and nature.

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