BigCommerce store owners be wary: Google always has some surprises up its sleeve. Panda Update 3.2 pushed us back a few positions just to let us regain them in the following days. One thing is to have a presentation website and another one is to have an e-commerce store. SEO is an essential activity that needs to be continuously nurtured.
SEJ outlines the importance of SEO in 2012 especially for e-commerce stores and makes it clear that optimization is more challenging than ever. I would argue that geeks like us certainly find some fun in having to figure out what what changed since Google makes over 500 changes to the algo each year. The same cannot be said for BigCommerce store owners.
Since Google prepares the future of search we'll have to take a closer look at what it's doing.
Google and The Knowledge Graph
Since Google public DNS server serves 70 billion requests per day it has a pretty big database of what people want and how they search but still can't understand their requests.
Yes, the almighty Google does not understand you, but it tries to give the closest results to match your queries. This is why The Knowledge Graph brings to our attention the usage of entities that mean something and that have attributes, namely it will use Artificial Intelligence.
As expected some webmasters have raised concerns about Google's Knowledge Graph and the first fear would be that, if it succeeds, Google will deliver straight-to-the-point answers to your queries and that it won't need to show any other results.
As one of the above mentioned webmasters put it bluntly: "If someone comes to your site to read your answer to a question there is a chance that they'll click on one of your ads, or do something else. There is zero chance of that happening if they never get to your site. "(FrantikFfish) If this happens then the future of SEO will be interesting to say the least. Anyways, Google has something big prepared and it might prove even harder than ever to get on that first page we all dream at.
In the mean time we should not stop doing what we do best since these changes will take some time to be brought into the wild. If you thought that being social was not a requirement, then think again. Google says it's good for SEO to have social engagement. so, keep that mind.
SEO say, SEO do: outbound links and 10 tactics to get more traffic
I link out a LOT. On my personal blog, and in our company blog. Since we embrace the interconnected web we link out often. Also, we know that giving free resources and tips for SEO, Bigcommerce templates or custom designs will help creating a better bond with our clients.
Why is it good to have outbound links? Well, the first reason is that you can help establish relationships. The web was meant to be built on relationships. The second reason is that pages with outbound links do not hurt your rankings(unless you use your keyword in the anchor text of those links). The study is a bit more than the last phrase, but at it's core it says that, while linking out, if you are using as an anchor text a keyword you want your page to rank for then it would be better to use "click here" instead of that keyword.
In other words, if I want to rank this page a bit higher I should not use my keyword in the anchor text of the links. Interesting, isn't it?
I am glad that there are people doing researches like this and also provide tactics here and there. From that point on it's a matter or continuous learning and testing.
SEJ presents 10 tactics to increase blog traffic and they are valuable pieces of advice. Why would BigCommerce store owners be interested in SEO for blogs? Well, looking further in the article you can understand that those tactics are simply the ones that you can use to promote your own e-commerce site.
In the above link you can see that common sense tells you that you need to get in contact with relevant people and hang out where your customers would be. Also, the design of your website needs to be clean and validated. Join social networks and connect your accounts with your site. For example, you can connect your website with your Google+ account. Given the fact that Google serves personalized results every bit counts.
Goodies from the tip box: CTA buttons, free shipping and the awesomeness of Google AnalyticsDuring the last week I found a lot of links to good pieces of advice and had a hard time to select the most relevant of them. I said I link a lot, but try to keep the outbound links to a minimum.
This time I got two interesting website optimization tips that can be implemented as of now:
- Use Compelling Call To Action (CTA) Buttons - Hubspot knows it's work in the world of internet marketing. I like their tutorial particularly because it is easy to understand and implement. A call to action (CTA) button is a piece of graphic in your site to make people do an action: subscribe, click, download. A CTA button has to stand out, to be big enough and to suggest the action you want people to do, Check out our Request A Quote button from the top right of the site. It attracts visitors attention in the first few second he/she lands on our website.
- Free Shipping Is Always a Seller - SEJ gives the example of Amazon Prime that offers free shipping. In 75% of the cases customers will buy more to qualify for free shipping so why not make use of this option? In your BigCommerce store you can enable a discount rule in Marketing -> Discount rules. You can use the option : Free shipping on orders over $X.
From the tip box we have two very well documented articles on Google Analytics. The built in tool of Google Analytics prove a wealth of information that can help you understand better the need of your customers and how to optimize your store to rank better:
- Create your own dashboard and custom alerts - It is easy to understand visitors and how they behave in your site once you get to filter (yes, that's the word and tool) all the data that Google show you there. This can be done with the usage of your own dashboards with widgets to show the most relevant information that you could be interested in. Also, the article shows how to create goals and custom alerts. Alerts can land in your inbox and inform you daily about the situation of your site. Nice and handy tool, indeed.
- Visitors flow - If you go to Standard Reporting - Audience (on the left) - Visitors Flow you will be greeted with a nice graphic that shows how the visitors are moving through your site. The SEJ article point out that before this tool was enabled in the store you needed to do some research to see how and where people wend throughout your site. Now it's simpler than ever. Looking at the visitors Flow I could see clearly that, wherever our visitors went, most of the time they wanted to see our modifications and designs we do for BigCommerce stores. Nice to know that without even having to look at the tables.
Wait, there's more: precious AdWords tips right here
Rand Fishkin, from SEO Moz, triggered an alarm signal regarding Keywords Research Tool from AdWords. When he searched for "blog traffic" and compared the data pulled out from AdWords Keyword Tool he found out that you need to enter some more broad terms to match the data from AdWords to that of Google Analytics.
As Rand Fishkin says:"Running discovery-focused searches in AdWords may not show you all the valuable/high-volume keyword phrases connected to a word/phrase." Make sure to read the above post about this.
If you are running AdWords campaigns then you need to check the video tips given by Brian Rauschenbach (Add Three), on SEO Moz. Running plain A/B tests will help you get a better ides than using several variations of the ad copy since you will get more precise data.
Having the right format for the display URL, the right description or, maybe, using the word FREE in the ad copy will help you get more links. but more on this in the link above. Be sure to write those pieces of advice down.
Why would we need so many tips and ticks for this SEO thing? Well, since we are on Google's turf it is understandable that we need to obey its rules. Of course, we do not like change and would like to outmanoeuvre Google in each of it's steps. Well, that won't happen too often.
Plain old SEO is still good and creating relevant content will help sites still rank better.