BigCommerce SEO Bible - Social Signals and SEO in 2012

Manuel C. Published on 30 December, 2011

With only two days to 2012 we look back at the fact that search engine optimization knew a big turnaround in 2011 due to Panda update which had as collateral victims some of the BigCommerce stores. Duplicate and poor quality content made those stores fall down like rocks and even made clients thinks that there is something wrong with the templates.
We outlined in our BigCommerce SEO Bible series that there are some issues with the templates, but those are NOT the cause of such dramatic drops in rankings.
Since our company deals with tech support and template design and modifications we know for a fact that you can have the best design possible, but if you don't have valuable content then no effective SEO can be done on that site. Regarding design and ranking it is good to know that if you change abruptly the look of the store from one design to another then you will get hit and drop in rankings.

The social web and Bigcommerce stores

Search Engine Journal presented five SEO facts for 2012 and being part of the social web is a requirement if you want to have your store listed as high as possible in SERPs.
A known fact is that if you first publish a page in your store and then promote it in Facebook or Google+ wall you will see those statuses showing up sooner and ranking higher than your original page.
It is now a year after Matt Cutts said that social signals will be used in rakings.
That doesn't mean that if you have Social Shop enabled in your BigCommerce store you will get more traffic coming. Social Shop is for selling within Facebook. It was build on the idea that you go where the customers are and thus help them find and pay easier for your products.
What is important about social signals for SEO is the fact that, during the process of creating your Social Shop, you create a page.
That Facebook page is valuable for several reasons:

  • you get feedback - this is the most important reason to have a Facebook page. Feedback helps you create better products and bond with the customers
  • links to your store count towards SEO - link posted by you in the page's wall will be indexed and help you rank better
  • viral aspect - if you have an interesting product people might like it and share it a lot. More shares bring more visitors, but also increase the authority of the site.

Since we have now pages in Google+ and in Twitter it is a good idea to spread as far as you can, but you need to know that you will have to be active in those pages. The simple fact that you are on social networks won't help if there is no engagement.
In your store you can enable usage of social sharing by going to Settings - Store Settings - Sharing. These will help spreading the word. The more shares the better, but try not to spam with too many shares.
While having a Facebook page can be good there are still some tips and tricks to be learned. This is why you need to check out Facebook Pages Insider's Guide.
Also, Google+ pages are another side of the story. Build on the same model as Facebook pages the G+ pages have their own guide to start with.

2012 is the end of the world for poor content and zero social engagement

Yes, it is a known fact that search engines need to refine their results, but if you keep on the straight line and work very much on creating value added content and follow the basic SEO rules outlined by Google them selves then you will have a winning stance.
I like the way Search Engine Journal showed us the future of SEO for 2012:

  • content rules - it is not about content itself. We talk here about original content (no copy&paste here), fresh content (freshness is a factor taken into account by Google) and rich content (images, videos and javascript that enriches user experience will get you a better chance in rankings)
  • organic backlinks are awesome - like how SEJ said that these type of links will always win. Google can detect if you buy too many links and can simply not take them into account or drop you in search results. The conclusion: do NOT participate in link building schemes. You will lose.
  • personal search - search results given by Google are already presented in a filtered format and you can have different results for a keyword than your colleague. This is a bit tricky and we need to see a bit more the development to find out how store owners can use this to their advantage.
  • be everywhere - BigCommerce has mobile versions of the store so this point is covered. Given the fact that people search and buy more and more from mobile devices being where they are is definitively a good idea. For now BigCommerce does not offer access to the mobile templates, so we cannot do any changes. In the fight for better rankings on the mobile web we will need to test tactics and guide to rank better in SERPS on mobile.
  • be social, exist - at this point I think it is pretty obvious that being social gives results not only on SEO part but also increases your brand's awareness and can get you loyal following. Remember, engagement gives you authority. In return authority brings you devoted clients and better rankings.

The question still remains: since you offer the same product as hundreds other sites, what do you do to be different?

Still not enough? It never is. Not with SEO.

SEOMoz has a nice series of videos named Whiteboard Friday in which Rand Fishkin and Kenny Martin outlines some of the best SEO practices and pieces of advice that you can employ in the very minute you see those videos.
2012 will be harder, faster and tougher in regards to rankings and store owners need to be very careful at even the slightest details if they want to get people knocking at their store's door.
This is why we, at Spring Merchant, wish you a Happy New Year and hope to see you ranking well. I will leave you with a very useful video about advanced on-page optimization:


Manuel C. Published on 30 December, 2011