BigCommerce, The Death of Meta Keywords and Search plus Your World

Manuel C. Published on 12 January, 2012

BigCommerce store owners are still confused about meta keywords and, since Google is a very dynamic company, whatever you say about SEO it's got to contain the words: "ever changing".

Our company, Spring Merchant, creates BigCommerce designs for our clients and we can be lucky to work in such an environment because when you use a HTML code or a style sheet it's very probably that it will stick for a long time and will not need tweaking every time the folks in charge of search engines decide to simply change the algorithm and then drop sites like flies.

What's the deal with The Death of Meta Keywords?

Well, you heard it: meta keywords do not count towards SEO for your store. The question in BigCommerce forum was somewhat legitimate, but since this is a known fact since September 2009, when Matt Cutts anounced this publicly, you might have guessed that this is already an universal truth.

But sadly, no. When you read Google SEO for beginners it won't state that the meta keywords aren't important anymore.

So, those many questions about how should be the keywords be written in the meta tag, about length of the keywords and so on aren't quite that relevant. Better to use that time to do something else, more useful. Yes, you can still fill them in your store, but do not overdo it.

You can insert automatically a few keywords related to your products, but if you write down too many keywords then this might be seen as a sign for spammers.

So, what should you do? Well, since the world of search engines is so dynamic you may still need to fill in 2-3 keywords for every products, but do not fiddle too much with them.

Your main focus will be to use the keywords properly and in the right places: url, title tag, meta description, h1 heading, first phrase under the heading, in the content, in the anchor texts, alt attributes for images and so on.

Keyword and content advice from the leaders in SEO world

Since I like to read a lot about the search engine optimization I got to understand and learn many interesting things and among them that you need to continually be on the watch for what your possible customers might be searching around the internet.

This is why I am subscribed to a few important blogs and sites that keep me on check with the latest trends and pieces of advice. Are those pieces of advice important for you, a BigCommerce store owner? Yes, indeed, because your online store is seem as a regular website and you need to comply and tweak the pages from time to time.

Since your business needs to sell products (or an experience, but that is another discussion) to regular people you will need to see what words they use to search for the items they want. The terms you use to describe your products and business might not be the same as the words people type in the search box.

A nice read is offered by the post from Search Engine Land about search ranking and choosing good keywords. You may have encountered this question too: why is my conversion rate so small although I rank so well in the search results?

Well, it may have to do with:

  • the wrong keywords used - whatever products you sell, do not use industry vocabulary, use instead the most common words you can think of when referring to products you sell in your store.
  • search volume and intent - if you sell exotic food you might notice that the searches for "exotic food" are decreasing and people are more likely to search for "tropical food". Use the later instead in your keywords.
  • your links in search result page - if you have only the site title in the links and the description is sketchy, then people will avoid clicking on that link.

On a related topic, Search engine Land lists five questions for keyword research and from among them I like this one the most: "In your opinion, what is it that makes your product/service special? What differentiates you from your competitors?"

What makes your store special? There are a lot of other one that sell the same things as you. When writing down content for your products and using keywords you will need to see how your store is better than any other one.

Spring Merchant is different than other companies because, in regards to design and website creation, we have the ability to cover HTML, CSS (CSS3), PHP, Python, Javascript (JQuery), WordPress, CMS and ecommerce platforms, although right now we offer services only to BigCommerce store owners. Being able to cover large portions of website creation area gives us the edge to change platforms from one day to another. That's a big win on your side.

Regarding content you may still want to know that Google loves pages with a LOT of text, like this one. Having posts/pages with more than 1000 - 1500 words regarding a given topic will help. Do not forget to read about this on Webmaster World. If you insert some lists, images and other rich content then that will help even further. The reason behind this is that in this way you will offer a richer experience to your customer/visitor. The need of lots of text has been outlines by a research done by SEOMoz too. They saw that a typical Google+ profile page has well 2500 words when a Twitter or Facebook profile pages have only between 200 and 500 words.

Search plus Your World is pushy at best

By now it is not a surprise that Google has gone full steam ahead with their intent of getting us on Google+. They do not want to fail this time too so they feed us a lot of results with links to Google+ profiles and pages.

Google's official statement is that when making the searches more personalized (localized and personalized) you will be able to make better choices based upon the choices and recommendations of the people in your network or circles.

Usually this is a good idea, but when most of the results in SERP lead to Google+ you cannot avoid thinking that they are simply screaming to us to get on their network.

BigCommerce store owners have long forgotten to look at Google as being the Search Fairy and see in it a businessman. Having your pages listed in the search results page means that you need to take great care of what the landlord tells you to do. And right know that means clearly that you need a Google+ profile and then a Google+ page for your store.

See below the results I got when searching for "Computer". On the right hand side you can see suggested profiles, among them being Leo Laporte (I'm a big fan of him).You may want to be listed there when someone searches for products related to what you sell.

Google inserts Google+ profiles in search engine results page

It will be very interesting to see the reactions regarding the pushy attitude of Google. Twitter has already complained about it. Yes, it seems that the results aren't anymore as "natural" as we knew them. We need to keep a close eye on the development of these events because BigCommerce SEO depends 100% of the results they might yield.

If you ask why does Google these many changes and see to favor their own network, then please read this great post from Aaron Wall about Google's Transparency.

Another week in SEO is behind us. Bonus: link bait and anchor text tips

If you'd like to promote your site or online store then you need incoming links.

It is not an easy job to get these links and this is why you may need to learn something about link bait tactics outlined by SEOMoz. These tactics involve giving great resources for free, resources that people will link to and which are online, on your site. Whatever it is people like free stuff, but when it's awesome and free then be sure that you'll get the links that you need.

I will leave you with the video below in which Rand Fishkin gives amazing insights about how the anchor texts should be and how they work. Some neat facts: if you insert several links to a given page, only the anchor text first used is relevant and more links form a given page to a given page do not send over more authority. Enjoy!

Manuel C. Published on 12 January, 2012