Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A to Z Guide for Holiday Ecommerce SEO

The holiday season is upon us, which means that your ecommerce site needs to be prepared to "deck the halls" of search engines with their products.
My early gift to you is an (almost) A to Z guide of SEO tips and tricks designed to optimize ecommerce sites to prevent them from landing on the search engines' naughty lists.
Auto fill forms where possible (when you have the information), and provide drop downs and selection fields to make it as easy as possible to fill out.
Build text for users into every page, where it makes sense, to support a well-defined content strategy.
Create custom dashboards in Google Analytics for ecommerce-specific metrics' reporting.
Don't have unique pages for small product variations. Instead, list small variations within main the product page.
Ensure titles and meta data are unique, descriptive, and to improve both user understanding and search results' page engagement.
Focus on URL structures that are readable and logical for both users and search engines.
Give reviews visibility and prominence on the site.
Have product sun setting and out of stock strategies in place to reduce 'page not found' errors.
Integrate social sharing options (not just social profile icons) into your site, especially on products, categories, buying guides, and content pages that host shareable content.
Kill thin pages that have little value to users and, instead, redirect to relevant pages that do provide value.
Link to popular products from your home page. Rotate bestsellers and random products in homepage linking modules too.

Markup on-page entities and product attributes using, or other ontology guidance.

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A Little Usage of Duplicate Content Won't Hurt Rankings

Duplicate content is always a concern for webmasters. Whether it's a website stealing content from another site, or perhaps a website that hasn't taken an active role in ensuring they get great unique quality content on their site, being duplicated out of the Google index is a problem.
In the latest webmaster help video from Google's Matt Cutts, he addresses how Google handles duplicate content, and when it can negatively impact your search rankings.
Cutts started by explaining what duplicate content is and why duplicate content isn't always a problem, especially when it comes to quoting parts of other web pages.

It's important to realize that if you look at content on the web, something like 25 or 30 percent of all of the web's content is duplicate content. … People will quote a paragraph of a blog and then link to the blog, that sort of thing. So it's not the case that every single time there's duplicate content it's spam, and if we made that assumption the changes that happened as a result would end up probably hurting our search quality rather than helping our search quality.

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How to build your Internal Content Marketing Strategy?

You know that story about the cobbler's children not having shoes and walking barefoot uphill in the snow? It's a heartbreaker and it's one we can all relate to. We all know what it feels like to kill ourselves for someone else, only to let our own needs go unmet.
Whether you work in an agency setting writing content for others all day while your own blog sits dry, or you're in-house writing content for every department but yours, it can be difficult to keep your own content marketing goals on track when competing with other business goals. But having a strategy helps.
Your content strategy will get your car back on the road and power you toward where you need to go. But only if you build it.

Determine Your Goals

Align the content you're creating with the goals of your business, whether the goals are to:

  • Generate leads.
  • Shorten the sales cycle.
  • Retain customers.
  • Build your brand.
  • Show off your voice.
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Matt Cutt on Search Spammers

In episode number 227 of This Week in Google on the TWiT network, Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts answered some questions from the hosts Leo Laporte and Jeff Jarvis. In one question, Matt explained that Google aims to “break the spirits” of spammers in order to encourage them to change their course of action.
The question was posed to Matt from Jeff Jarvis, a well-known journalist and professor, asking him what he learned about the psychology behind spam and spammers. Matt responded that to reduce spam, it is not just about denying the primary goal of earning money but frustrating them to a point, where you break their will and desire to spam.
I transcribed the exact words and how Matt said it:

If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is sort of break their spirits. There are lots of Google algorithms specifically designed to frustrate spammers. Some of the things we do is give people a hint their site will drop and then a week or two later, their site actually does drop. So they get a little bit more frustrated. So hopefully, and we’ve seen this happen, people step away from the dark side and say, you know what, that was so much pain and anguish and frustration, let’s just stay on the high road from now on.

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