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Congratulations, all of your hard work has finally paid off. After spending a lot of time and energy on your SEO efforts, you have reached the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is great news for your company — 60 percent of all organic search traffic goes to the top three rankings in the SERPs. With all this traffic to your website, it can be easy to just coast and enjoy your success.

The problem with that is that the SERPs are not static. Just because you reached the top of the SERPs does not mean that you will remain there. SEO is constantly evolving. You can’t just ignore what got you to the top position. You have to stay up to date with the latest trends in order to defend your position. Google isn’t going to stop working.  You can’t either. So what do you do when you reach the top of the SERPs? Here are six things you need to make sure you continue doing.

How to Maintain Your SEO Rankings

1. Continuously Update Your Site

Your website is everything, especially for eCommerce retailers. It’s how prospective customers learn about your company. It’s how they find the information they are looking for. It’s how you convert people into customers. It has to be top notch. Therefore, you always want it to be the very best it can be. Continuously updating your site ensures that your customers are getting the best experience possible. It’s also important in the eyes of Google. Google does take into consideration how current your content is.

Go through your site and make sure it is visually appealing — not only to you, but to potential visitors. Make sure it is easy to navigate and is laid out properly. This will help to reduce your bounce rates and keep visitors on and engaging with your site. After your site is visually good, then work on other aspects.

  • Add videos and images to your site. Video has been found to be much more engaging than text alone.
  • Create new landing pages and update your current ones. If there aren’t at least 200 words on your landing pages, add more.
  • Add new content all together. Keep adding content to your website to make it fresh and to continue engaging visitors.

2. Make Sure Your Site is Speedy

Your site speed is incredibly important — especially for mobile sites. Google considers the speed of your site when ranking for the SERPs. The search engine wants searchers to be able to have the best user experience possible, and when your site doesn’t load fast enough, searchers become frustrated and will go somewhere else to find what they are looking for. Since a majority of searches are now coming from mobile, it’s important that your mobile speed is fast too. Google recommends load time should be less than one second for mobile sites.

There are several things that you can do yourself in order to speed up your site.

  • Hosting – You can try looking into a faster hosting service. Take into consideration what you need from your site when looking at servers.
  • Images – You can optimize and compress the images on your website. In Photoshop, if you “Save For Web”, you can greatly decrease the size of the image, which will help your site run faster.
  • Redirects – If you have a lot of redirects on your site, this can confuse your server and slow it down. Try to minimize your redirects if possible.
  • CDN – Use a CDN, or content delivery network, in order to serve multiple locations faster and more efficiently. To learn more about CDNs, read on here.

Also, try out Google PageSpeed, which will help to identify any issues that are causing your website to slow down and how you can fix them.

3. Get Technical

At one point, you probably either went in and looked at your technical SEO or had an expert take a look at it. But optimizing technical aspects of SEO shouldn’t be a one-time thing. You need to continue to update as best practices and trends change.

  • Make sure that you incorporate your keywords into the names of your pages. For example, we wouldn’t want to call our About page just “About.” Instead, we might use something like “About_Charleston_Search_Marketing.” The title still has “about” in the page name, but also some of our top keywords.
  • If the images on your site have bland names, go back in and rename them using your keywords. Also, add alt tags to your images, but make sure that your keywords are included. For example, if you are a contractor, your alt tag might read something like “Atlanta_Contractor_Yourname.”
  • You want to make sure that you update your meta tags regularly. Go through them and replace any keywords that are irrelevant or outdated. Also, make sure that you don’t use keywords or keyword phrases that aren’t used on the page.

4. Keep Building Links

Link building is a huge part of SEO, but it shouldn’t stop when you reach the top of the SERPs. You need to keep building backlinks to your site, as well as outbound and internal links.

When it comes to your backlinks, it’s about quality not necessarily quantity. If you have already ranked for a certain keyword, then you don’t want to keep building excessive backlinks to that page. In fact, Google can detect this and can punish you if you are building links too fast. You can also be punished if all of your links point to just one particular article.

While backlinks are very important to your site, outbound and internal links can be just as powerful. Outbound links that are sent to authority brands can help Google by showing the search engine that your site is relevant. However, you want to make sure that the external pages you are sending people to are providing valuable content. Internal links can be a very useful strategy that can help Google and other search engines better understand the focus of your pages. In addition to helping search engines, internal linking helps to keep users on your site longer by providing them with additional site content.

5. Build Your Brand

There are a lot of people who will roll their eyes when they hear the word branding. They think it is a complete waste of money and time. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to have a solid brand in order to really succeed. Don’t believe me? Whether you like it or not, Google does take into consideration the reputation and brand of a company when ranking sites. Think about Amazon. The company has such a strong brand that it can outrank manufacturers in the SERPs. Think about that. This eCommerce site can out rank the manufacturer that makes the products that it sells. This is because Amazon has built a brand that is way more recognizable than the manufacturers.

In reality, you should already have a brand identity if you are reading this article. You need to have a strong idea of who your company is, what you stand for, and how you want to convey that to your potential customers and your existing ones. What makes you different from your competitors? Do you have standout products or services? Think about these points and your voice and always strive to remain consistent.

6. Socialize

Social media is another thing that a lot of people will roll their eyes at and completely overlook. Hate to break it to you but social media does play a part in Google’s ranking system. We don’t know how exactly or if it’s direct or indirect, but Google has made it clear that social media can play a part in a company’s overall success in the SERPs. The more links that you receive on social media channels — like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — the more visible you will be and the more it will help Google to rank you.

Make sure you are posting relevant and engaging content on your social media channels. Don’t post just to post. You want to actually be providing value to your readers. That way they will share your content and engage with it. Also, promote your content. Ask your readers to share it by suggesting, “If you liked this content, share it with your friends.” Add share buttons to your articles. That way it’s easy for readers to pass it along. The more you get your content out there, the more successful you will be.

Author : Ronald Dod

Source : https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/01/maintain-your-seo-rankings.html

Published in Market Research

How significantly did the Possum update impact local search results in Google? Columnist Joy Hawkins shares data and insights from a study she did with BrightLocal, which compared local results before and after the update.

 

In the local SEO community, Google’s recent Possum update was a very big deal.

To those of us who regularly track the search results for local businesses, it was obvious there were massive changes on September 1. The SEO community as a whole has been relatively quiet about this huge update, and I believe this is because this update primarily impacted the Local/Maps search results and not organic.

SERP trackers like MozCast and Algoroo do a fabulous job of tracking changes in the search results, but this algorithm update didn’t seem to make any massive impact in the charts. I believe that is because local queries that trigger a 3-pack are only a fraction of what these programs track. In all likelihood, the majority of the SERPs they track would not contain a 3-pack — and therefore, big changes in the 3-pack wouldn’t necessarily show on the radar.

I wanted to know exactly how much of a shake-up this algorithm was when it came to just Local/Map results, so I reached out to Bright Local to track ranking for our clients. They track both organic ranking and ranking in the Local Finder (the list of local results you get when you click “more places” under the 3-pack). And our ranking reports scan daily, so it would be able to pick up any major changes, regardless of the day when it happened.

I asked them to look at the ranking trackers for 1,307 different businesses, which were tracking 14,242 keywords. Then we compared the difference between September 7 and August 31 (the date before Possum).

What we ended up finding was that, across all the reports:

  • 9% of the keywords had the business pop into the Local Finder when they weren’t there previously.
  • 11% of the keywords showed the business had increased in position by three or more positions.
  • 15% of the keywords showed the business had increased in position by one to two positions.
  • 35% of the keywords showed no change in position for the business.
  • 15% of the keywords showed the business had decreased by one to two positions.
  • 14% of the keywords showed the business had decreased by more than three positions.

 

Possum-Chart.png

 

In other words, 64% of keywords saw some type of change.

As we know, SERPs can change daily without an algorithm update, but the important thing to note here is the vastness of the change. For example, 34 percent of the keywords saw some type of significant change, with a “significant change” being defined as a business shifting three or more positions or a business appearing in results when previously they weren’t even listed in the top three pages (60 positions) in the Local Finder.

For those of you who like visuals, here is a snapshot of the Local Finder results for “Personal Injury Lawyer Las Vegas.” On the left is how it looked August 31. On the right is how it looked following the Possum update. The red arrows show how a business fell in positioning, whereas the green arrows show an increase in position. The red and green boxes are businesses that either vanished or popped into the Local Finder due to the update.

Ranking-Changes.png

So, what now?

I have spent the last couple of months analyzing dozens of specific scenarios for businesses to try to find patterns in what changed. Some of my findings have been included in recent articles I’ve written (This one shows some patterns, and this one shows some things that impact the filter).

For now, it’s crucial for local SEO practitioners to spend time analyzing changes to help figure out which Local Ranking Factors changed as a result of Possum. So far, I have been realizing that the answers are becoming harder and harder to find as Google’s algorithm becomes more complex — and it’s no longer as easy as “getting the most reviews” or keyword-stuffing categories, which worked phenomenally several years ago.

Source : searchengineland

 

Published in Search Engine

 

Columnist Christi Olson describes the changing face of search engine results pages and how new technology and functionality is benefiting both searchers and advertisers.

 

Hold on tight! Search is continuing to evolve, from queries typed into a search box on a desktop to a conversational experience using more natural language on a mobile device.

A far cry from its early days, search is now pervasive, always with us no matter where we are: on our phones, in our cars, on our game consoles and on our TVs.

Search is no longer just sending users to websites; search engines are now surfacing information directly in the search results, learning from our interactions to help us take action and get tasks completed more quickly than ever before.

New actions in the SERPs and on the go

In a continuous effort to deliver highly relevant, contextual results, search engines are adding new functionality by the day. Users can make dinner reservations, check weather, convert measurements, do translations, comparison shop and get movie times — all directly within the search engine results pages (SERPs).

These actions benefit both users and search advertisers. As advertisers continue to work toward incorporating more structured data into their websites and ads, the engines can more easily surface information in new ad formats. This enables the engines to front-load the SERPs with business profile information such as business hours, click-to-call, sitelinks and deep linking into apps.

As searchers do more and more of their searching on the go, engines are leveraging cloud and mobile technology to deliver innovative experiences. Engines are also integrating with third-party sources to support hyper-relevant, hyper-fast activities.

Below are some recent examples of new developments that are benefiting searchers and advertisers alike:

Catch an Uber

Bing’s “Get a Ride” icon appears on business iOS mobile listings and allows searchers to catch an Uber ride directly to a business. The link will auto-populate a searcher’s location and destination, then signal Uber for a ride. (Disclosure: Microsoft Bing is my employer.)

bing-uber-getrideextension

This is a great example of how a business’s structured data from theirlocation extensions allows for creative ad formatting within the engines.

Order a pizza

Amazon Echo’s virtual assistant, Alexa,allows searchers to order a pizzathrough a “home automation hub.” It is a 100-percent voice-commanded interaction through integration with a third-party app from Domino’s. It does require setting up an online pizza profile and payment info, but this new technology redefines the possibilities of a voice query.

Book a hotel

Google’s Hotel Product Ads (HPAs) appear on both desktop and mobile devices to help users quickly find and price comparison shop for a hotel — all within the SERPs. It auto-populates hotels based on your location and offers advanced filtering for price, quality, ratings and deals. Then, you can choose to complete the booking process by clicking through to the appropriate website.

By placing this functionality directly in the SERPs, search engines remove a step for users, easing the booking process. This relatively new ad format brings us one step closer to being able to book a hotel directly in the SERP. Such streamlined functionality showcases the realm of possibilities across other industries.

The future of search is here

Search is quickly redefining itself as an always-on participatory partner. Users are enjoying a new level of search that goes far beyond returning links on a page — we’re moving toward streamlining processes to help users take actions.

Advertisers should be sure to maintain their business profiles within the engines and continue to leverage structured data and data feeds to support new and innovative search experiences. You never know what opportunities the future holds!

Source : searchengineland

 

 

Published in Search Engine

How should brands with multiple brick-and-mortar locations structure their web properties? Columnist Andrew Beckman weighs in. 

Enterprise brands with a major brick-and-mortar presence have a unique challenge in digital marketing: connecting with consumers online, with the intent of ultimately encouraging them to visit a physical business location to make a purchase.

By creating a more user-focused experience that includes individual location landing pages for physical business locations, franchise systems and multi-location brands can turn user queries into business visits.

Developing location pages that are an extension of the primary brand domain allows brands to capture valuable real estate on search engine results pages (SERPs) and rank more prominently on hyper-local search terms above online directories like Yelp, Insider Pages and more.

Often, during the initial research phase of the customer journey, a consumer is looking for a product or service but is brand-agnostic. Leveraging this type of local SEO strategy can help drive in-store sales from these brand-agnostic consumers by tapping into coveted geo-specific, non-branded search terms and phrases.

However, many brand teams and franchisors have adopted a policy of allowing their franchisees and location owners to create their own landing pages and website domains instead of creating location pages on the primary brand domain. This type of independently executed approach can be found across a variety of industry verticals, and it can lead to the creation of domains like this: 

lawn-doctor-geo-url

As you can see, the domain is branded, but with a geo-modified URL.

Another version of this singular approach can involve using a non-branded, geo-modified domain, like this one for a men’s salon in Glendale, Colorado:

sport-clips-geo-url

There has been a debate going on for quite some time as to whether brands should take an approach that manages local SEO from the top down or allows individual locations to manage SEO on their own — a “centralized strategy” vs. a “decentralized strategy.” Let’s take a look at both approaches and evaluate the pros and cons.

Decentralized strategy

Establishing a decentralized strategy essentially involves allowing your individual franchisees to run their own digital marketing programs by themselves, with no guidelines, management or oversight by the brand or corporate teams. This approach can include both paid and organic media strategies and is often summed up in a fashion that resembles a “wild west” scenario with each franchisee responsible for its own local digital marketing.

When it comes to SEO specifically, the use of many domains — such as xyzdenver.com and xyzdallas.com — creates the challenge of having to manage each domain separately, costing the brand the opportunity to build valuable ranking authority around one primary domain. Each property also ends up needing its own web analytics setup, content strategy and more. Multiply that by thousands of locations, and you’re looking at a scenario that requires a massive amount of resources to manage.

Furthermore, if these sites are managed by a third-party vendor who decides to delete those previously indexed URLs when your relationship ends, you could find yourself in serious trouble trying to gain back the SERP equity you’ve lost.

The “holy grail” of search engine marketing is to drive incremental visits from consumers who are not familiar with your brand and thus tend to find you when searching with geo-modified and/or non-branded terms, such as “hardware store near me.”  Trying to compete for these desired phrases on thousands of different domains creates a vastly more complex world for your SEO practice. It necessitates vast amounts of content production to populate and maintain multiple sites.

Additionally, this strategy means that valuable links to your brand will be spread across many local domains instead of being concentrated on one central source. This creates an environment that ultimately doesn’t build a tremendous amount of ranking authority because the search engine signals are being spread too thinly across multiple domains.

Note: Some multi-location brands have employed a tactic that leverages subdomains for location pages, where the local property shares a root domain with the main brand website but is sitting on an entirely separate IP block. There is some debate over whether Google treats these subdomains as separate websites versus a single website, and it seems to depend somewhat on how the subdomains are set up. Use caution if employing this strategy.

Centralized strategy

Establishing a centralized strategy involves ensuring the franchisor or brand management team is in ultimate control over the decision-making on key aspects of both national and hyper-local strategies. These key aspects can include the brand position, messaging, important seasonal and direct marketing initiatives and more.

When a single primary domain continues to build authority over time, you afford yourself a much better opportunity for improved link acquisition, which is one of the main signals that helps drive up your rankings by allowing you to appear higher on non-branded geo-modified queries.

From a local search standpoint, it’s also important to create metro and location pages so that your brand appears in SERPs for non-branded and geo-modified phrases. Those pages (e.g., Google Maps, Apple Maps) can also be associated with your local business listings by using the appropriate location URLs. It’s important to ensure that those pages also have the appropriate content, metadata and structured data in place to appear on organic local search queries.

When using the centralized approach, an ideal location URL would look something like this:https://www.yourbrand.com/new-york-city-ny/325-manhattan-midtown-east.

Notice the location page is set up in a subdirectory of the root domain (not a subdomain) so that the root domain can assist this page with internal linking strategies to drive more ranking authority. If your brand is selling products in a physical store, creating pages under the primary location page to show things such as updated inventory by store location can help give the consumer more useful information as they decide where to make a purchase.

Furthermore, creating metro pages within the main brand domain also allows a brand or franchisor to go after larger geographical and regional phrases, such as “Brooklyn athletic club,” by populating several locations under one domain and structuring the content to focus on those larger regional phrases.

An example of this type of metro page structure looks something like this:https://www.yourbrand.com/metro/new-york-city-ny.

In doing so, your brand now has hyper-local, regional and state-level structure in place to compete on all geographical levels.

In conclusion

Local landing page subdirectories can be very beneficial for the overall health of your local SEO strategy, particularly if your brand has a multitude of brick-and-mortar locations. As Google continues to evaluate and leverage different ranking factors, centralizing your efforts with a focus on one primary domain will benefit lower-level location pages, giving the physical business locations a sound SEO foundation that is set up to allow for more prominent organic rankings.

As search engines continue to refine their ranking algorithms, the battle to drive greater traffic from the SERPs becomes more critical as time goes on. Having a solid, centralized foundation that focuses on developing individual location pages can give your brand the edge in helping capture the attention of brand-agnostic consumers in an attempt to turn them into your customers.

Source : Search Engine Land

Published in Search Engine

Google SERPs continue to change regularly to better reflect the needs of the end-user. For brands to successfully attract organic traffic, they need to be able to keep up.

Considering that our research at BrightEdge shows that an estimated 51% of the traffic to your site arrives through organic, the changes in the SERPs remain a pressing concern for all brands.

The position of a result on the SERP, as well as the different rich results that appear at the top, all impact how many clicks each website receives.

What customers want to see when they type in a particular query will heavily influence where they click and the types of results that will satisfy their needs.

Google has been working to better understand intent so they can improve their user satisfaction. Brands that are able to similarly cultivate their understanding of user intent will therefore see improved positioning in the SERPs and present greater appeal for the users themselves.

Recent changes we have seen in the SERPs

Google attracted considerable attention for their changes to the SERP earlier in the year when they removed the ads along the side bar and increased the allowed space for the ads above the organic results on certain queries.

What brands need to be paying even more attention to, however, is the increased emphasis by Google on the intent-focused SERP.

69-ctr

Source: http://www.brightedge.com/sites/default/files/BrightEdge-Research-Demystifying-Google-SERP-Layout-Changes-2016_0.pdf

We have all been seeing signs of this for years. Google interprets certain queries as being indicative of certain desires. That is why when you phrase your query one way, you might get images of the keywords, but another might get you the local 3-pack.

Micro moments

Lately, Google has also been drawing our attention to the idea of micro-moments.

Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device increasingly a smartphone to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped. This is allaccording to Google.

It is important to see this shift not just as another optimization checklist, but rather a new worldview in the arena of SERP and optimizing keywords.

Brands that learn how to operate within the intent-focused SERP, taking micro-moments into account as they design their strategies, will be able to harness more traffic, revenue, and reach than those that do not.

This new system requires brands to understand their users on a more intimate level so they can design their strategies and their sites to better address their needs.

How is this intent-focused understanding impacting the SERPs?

Google has been working to create SERPs that align with user intent for a while. The recent emphasis on the micro-moment has taken this a step further.

Google focuses on four main types of micro-moments that brands should familiarize themselves with to succeed.

  • The I-want-to-buy moment
  • The I-want-to-know moment
  • The I-want-to-go moment
  • The I-want-to-do moment

Google is working to understand what people seek when they type in queries that fall into one of these categorize. T

hey then answer these queries using any one of a number of different combinations of features such as maps, PPC, organic results, and images.

Google also recently introduced the new AMP pages, the quickly-loading mobile pages that help to provide users with rapid answers while on the go. The push for news-oriented sites to markup their pages for AMP reveals the dedication of Google to improve the I-want-to-know micro-moment experience.

micro-moments

Source: https://think.storage.googleapis.com/docs/4-new-moments-every-marketer-should-know.pdf

They have also recently been experimenting with different rich cards and answer boxes along the top for certain queries.

Recipes, for example, which presume an “I-want-to-know” moment, will display an answer box with a popular recipe and image at the top.

It is also interesting to note the difference between the queries “bedroom ideas” and “how to decorate a bedroom.” “Bedroom ideas” is viewed by Google as more of an I-want-to-know moment, with images featured on the SERP. When you add in “how to decorate”, however, Google starts to include ads along the top in addition to an answer box, appealing to those who are interested in purchasing furnishings.

For websites to function within this intent-focused SERP, they need to use hybrid marketing departments.

PPC and SEO people need to be able to come together to create an online presence that will be displayed favorably on the search results pages above and below the fold.

They can use the right times to develop different types of content to ensure that their material is meeting the intentions of users. The better users are able to understand user intent with the different micro-moments, the better they will be able to prepare their sites and their content to appear well on the various SERPs.

How do brands adapt to the intent-focused SERP?

1) Study the intentions of users within the different micro-moments

Brands need to become intimately familiar with what people are likely looking for when they are in these high-intent moments. Look at your consumer data, particularly your mobile data, and what brought people to your site, what types of people converted, and what types of content were most successful.

Consider all the types of micro-moments that will apply to your business in different situations. A retailer, for example, might want to focus most of their energy on the I-want-to-buy moment and the I-want-to-go moment if they have a brick-and-mortar store in addition to online listings.

They should not neglect, however, the I-want-to-know moments that might appeal to users early in the buyer’s journey.

Source : Search Engine Watch

Published in Search Engine

In today’s competitive business landscape, higher SERP ranking has become one of the most important challenges to e-commerce sites. Let’s have a look at some reports of renowned online marketers. According to a data generated by Custora, 26% of ecommerce orders come from search engine traffic. Kissmetrics reports that 30.5% of all ecommerce traffic originates from search engines and according to NChannel, 44% of online customers start their shopping experience with search engines.

Therefore, it can be concluded that it’s hardly possible for e-commerce businesses to sustain without SEO. If you don’t have a solid grasp of SEO tricks and tips, you won’t be able to make it to the top, thus missing out on significant revenue. To many people, ecommerce SEO may seem quite simple but under the hood, there are lots of interrelated factors that have to be monitored and modified in a planned way to increase conversion rate. In this comprehensive guide for e-commerce sites, we’ve jotted down seven highly useful techniques that can be used to leverage SERP visibility.

  1. Keyword Research

Keyword research is of immense importance when it comes to developing a successful ecommerce SEO campaign.

  • Researching the big daddy first – Amazon: Let’s see how you can utilize the largest online ecommerce site Amazon for keyword research. First, type your product’s keyword in the Amazon’s search bar. Now, Amazon provides a list of long tail keywords that not only convert better but are less competitive too. Repeat the procedure to find keywords for your important products. These procedures are a result of researches conducted by Backlinko, which is a leader in building next-level SEO techniques. It’s common for a number of ecommerce site owners to optimize the category pages through random keywords. Though this process has some advantages, it’s not absolutely perfect. It’s important to note here that though category pages might not have benefits over product pages, they too generate some sales. Therefore, take your time to find unique category page keywords.
  • Researching Google Keyword Planner: With Google Keyword Planner, you can make well-informed decisions about the keywords ideal for your business. This tool provides a comprehensive range of features to help you pinpoint a keyword’s popularity status, generate lots of keyword combinations in no time and remove low-volume searches. It isn’t a paid search tool and the data generated by it is immensely useful for ecommerce SEO. Keyword Planner enables you to research the following:SEMRush: SEMRush helps you to identify the keywords that are doing well for your rivals. To complete your keyword research, you need to maximize its reach and to maximize the reach, you should incorporate a mix of keywords used by your competitors too (that suit your business well). SEMRush measures the SERPs for the rankings of keywords you’re looking for. Once you’ve identified your keyword ranking, review the sites with bigger keyword footprints. You should stay away from incorporating smaller brands because of their comparatively smaller presence in SERPs.
    • Average monthly search amount for a certain period.
    • Keyword ideas based on your landing page, product category or a specific phrase.
    • Trends of search volume for keyword(s) over time.
  • Watch out for keyword cannibalization: Keyword cannibalization is a critical problem that occurs when the architecture information of a website heavily depends on a single key phrase or word. In some cases, it can happen unintentionally and due to a number of reasons like pagination. Though some webmasters intentionally optimize various pages with a single term to strengthen SERPs visibility, in reality, this effort leads to lower SEO effectiveness.

  1. Making improvements to the website

html

It’s very important for you to improve your website as much as you can. An improved website not only helps in search engine crawling, indexing and its ranking but enhances visitor experience as well.

  • Checking for existing site errors using Screaming Frog: Identification of existing site errors greatly helps ecommerce site owners to understand and rectify any poorly functional component or area of their websites, thus enhancing the sites’ online performance. With this check, you can have in-depth insights of your website and tweak the components obstructing your website’s present performance. Normally, a complete site audit seems to be an uphill and time-consuming task but tools like Screaming Frog has made the task easier for pros and newbies alike. Screaming Frog comes with an extremely user-friendly interface that helps you perform site audits easily to identify any existing errors.
  • Changing the Title Tags and Meta Description of the products: Unquestionably, primary keyword of your product/service has to be there in the title tag of your page. But if you want your product/service to be present in long tail searches, add modifiers like ‘best’, ‘cheap’, ‘review’, ‘online’ etc. Rather than making a simple title tag, add words that people generally use when searching for similar products/services you offer. Meta description is the text that appears under the hyperlink of your page when it appears on SERP. Leverage this by inserting attractive text as meta description for your products.
  • Optimizing the images and their tags: Just because the word out there in the market states that the crawlers from Google are not that adept at dealing with images and cannot understand the context they have been used in, people generally presume that this one concept of having the Alt tags for images can be overlooked. This is not so, and in disobeying this simple rule they might miss out on the little brownie points that Google might have vested upon them. Learning about the image optimization technique is a chance that you give your site to get friendlier with the search engine gods. Miss it and you miss your points as well.
  • Getting the rich snippets right: Adding rich snippets is probably the easiest way to show up on Google’s first page. As an ecommerce site owner, you can leverage one of the most attractive rich snippets namely reviews. Implementation of Schema markup on the ecommerce product pages helps you to obtain eye-catching snippets. Schema markup is a kind of special code that needs to be added to specific pages on your website. This code provides the search engines with better understanding of the page’s content. Remember that it’s not guaranteed that search engines will exhibit the rich snippets but addition of appropriate Schema markup increases the chances.
  • Internal linking: Google rates websites with valuable internal links favorably. The lesser clicks a visitor has to make to reach a desired page, the better. Therefore, it makes sense to link each page to other relevant pages in your site. Use of breadcrumbs not only improves a visitor’s journey across your site but also helps Google navigate throughout the site.
  • Page loading speed: Once the errors have been taken care of, you should concentrate on improving the page loading speed. With a slow-loading website, it’s not possible to hold visitors for a long time. If your website takes more time to load than it should, you have to try to improve the site’s speed. Reduction of file and image sizes, use of a different CMS and buying more server space are some useful solutions.

  1. Content for your products

content

Many ecommerce business owners underestimate the importance of valuable content for their products and the focus mainly encompasses the technical aspects of the site. But in reality, valuable content for products is equally significant to increase your conversion rate.

  • Product description: You can simply copy and paste the product descriptions from the manufacturer’s website or can repeat existing content but this is neither desired nor effective. Rather, you should concentrate on writing unique product descriptions which will help you boost the conversion rate. While writing product descriptions and texts for images, include targeted keywords which will help to increase relevance scores of the pages.
  • Consumer generated content:Encourage your customers to leave reviews for your products. That’s because more reviews are synonymous to more content and continuous reviews mean fresh content, which greatly would help in improving your site’s SEO. Besides, customer reviews act as original proofs to your prospective customers when it comes to becoming assured of the quality of their desired products. You may receive negative reviews which you may think as detrimental for your ecommerce business but in reality, these reviews help you improve your site and in turn, boost your future sales. You can feed customer reviews into the rich snippets and increase visitors’ movement across your site.
  • Removing duplicate content: Many ecommerce business owners face issues with duplicate content when it comes to their websites’ mobile versions. Duplicate content not only cause SEO issues but also affects SERP ranking adversely. Use of responsive website design could give an ideal solution to this problem. A mobile responsive website seamlessly works on any device including desktop and mobile phones. Use of advanced SEO techniques such as canonical tags helps you weed out duplicate content issues. Canonical tags help search engines to understand that a certain page is an exact copy or a copy with little variations and thus, the page shouldn’t be treated as a unique one. Use duplicate content checkers to identify and take preventive measures to avoid having similar content from other websites.

  1. Social media

Ecommerce SEO techniques always remain incomplete unless you make your product pages socially sharable.

social media

Addition of social sharing buttons helps your products to increase their social exposure. You can also add custom sharing phrases like asking questions for the same purpose. Leverage social media to monitor your brand through Google Alerts is another useful strategy, which would let you obtain quality links related to your site. Remember to include targeted keywords in your Google Alerts to keep a track of your competitors’ activities.

  1. Outreach and link building

To increase SERP visibility and awareness of your brand, you should use content outreach and link building. These help in identifying individuals, influencers and organizations related to your industry and connecting with them, thus building a healthy relationship.

influencer

  • Product reviews: Connect with bloggers by following their blogs regularly and keep in touch with them through emails and social media platforms, share their posts, leave important comments to develop relationships. Request them to review your products and offer enticing incentives in return.
  • Video reviews: Submission of video reviews of your products can help you increase SERP visibility of your product pages. Video sites like YouTube, Metacafe and Vimeo are considered to be good traffic sources when it comes to prospective customers looking for visually engaging reviews. This can also help in boosting organic and relevant traffic because of their high trustworthy nature.
  • Competitor’s link: A successful ecommerce SEO campaign strategy should include analyzing the competitor’s link as it helps you to understand the keywords responsible for their higher ranking. Try to obtain links from authority domains or pages where your rivals are acquiring links from. Use tools like ‘Open Site Explorer’ to track the links of your competitors. Before engaging with the sites, remember to remove any site with low DA score from the list as this may affect your SEO performance.
  1. Google product search optimization

google

Though your ecommerce site’s product pages can show up in standard web search, there is a more useful way to increase your SERP visibility. Google product feed is a data source of the meta data of your products that you submit to Google’s Merchant Center. Remember to submit adequate information about your products to the product feed to make them more useful and specific to user searches. Here’s how you can optimize the product search.

  • Submit a comprehensive product listing with as many specific details as you can.
  • You can manually submit individual products or else, if you want to submit the entire product database, do so using Google’s API.
  • Include images in the listing.
  • Ensure that your feed stays up-to-date.
  • Consider Google Base to improve your search listings’ quality.
  • Modify your content in accordance with seasons like holidays, winter etc.
  • Use standard categories.
  • Link your Google Merchant Center account to AdWords account and consider using Google’s Product Extension Ads to attain more control over your SERP visibility. In AdWords, you can include your product data feed to promote your products straight away in your ads. These will feature as product extensions.

  1. What do I do with obsolete/expired products?

expired

Every ecommerce site has some products that have expired permanently. It mainly happens in fashion clothing or consumer electronics when older products/styles are replaced with newer products/styles. Though you can simply remove that specific product page, it will affect your SEO performance. Here are some useful solutions that you can try in this regard.

  • Redirect to the parent category: If you’ve relevant products that serve similar purpose like the expired product, you can redirect your visitors to your parent category.
  • 301 Permanent redirect: If you’ve replaced the expired product by a newer one, use 301 permanent redirect that redirects the expired product’s URL to the newer product’s URL. It also helps Google understand that you want the newer URL to get ranked instead.
  • Reuse URLs: If your ecommerce business consists of generic products, you can reuse the URLs to increase your SERP visibility and retain the page’s authority.
  • Complete delete: In case you want to permanently delete an expired product’s page like deleting the URL, page and the content, use 410 status code that informs Google about the permanent removal of the page.
  • Preserve informational pages: Certain informational product pages should be reserved to act as a valuable guideline for existing customers who may look for certain information, service and help through these pages.

Ecommerce businesses often face issues when dealing with ‘out of stock’ products. Here are three easy ways to resolve this.

  • Clearly display ‘out of stock’ messages to let the users know the unavailability of the products.
  • Display ‘shop more’ messages that encourage visitors to look around your website.
  • Display ‘related products’ messages that help users find similar products.

Conclusion

Ecommerce site optimization is a bit different from the way general web marketers work to increase SERP visibility of various websites. For an ecommerce site, improving SERP visibility may be triggered by various reasons but the ultimate goal is to increase conversion rate. It’s important to note here that SEO for ecommerce sites isn’t a one-time occurrence; it’s an ongoing process instead. Major search engines keep modifying their algorithms to bring the best suited results to the searchers. So, you’ll also have to keep yourself updated about the modifications and change your strategy accordingly to reap the benefits of higher SERP visibility. Though various other strategies are there to leverage SERP visibility, the above mentioned ones are proven and the most-used when it comes to improving your ecommerce site’s performance.

Source : http://www.business2community.com/

Published in Science & Tech

 

Columnist Jordan Kasteler notes that strong search performance requires more than just ranking well in organic results. The tools listed here can enhance your existing listings and help you to appear in other places on the search results pages.

 

It’s no secret that Google is in a constant state of change. The “ten blue links” that used to comprise a search engine results page (SERP) are diminishing in importance, and new features are becoming more essential with every passing month. From image results and local packs to site links and knowledge panels, Google is reshaping search marketing.

Clearly, focusing only on your website is no longer effective. Ranking higher than your competitor in Google’s organic rankings is less meaningful if that competitor is displayed in, say, an answer box. The current name of the SEO game is acquiring as much page real estate on the SERPs as possible.

For example, a best-case scenario for search would be to do well in AdWords results, land a featured snippet, get a spot in a local pack and rank high in the organic listings. It also helps to have a presence in the Knowledge Graph and be seen in video snippets, images and news feeds that show up on Google.

To really create a competitive edge in this changing SEO landscape, don’t hesitate to get a little help from some friends — and by friends, I mean tools that help you leverage SERP features.

Here are a few such tools that can sharpen your SEO sword:

1. Yotpo’s Search Enhancements

Do you work in e-commerce? If so, you’ll definitely want to look into Yotpo, which focuses on integrating reviews into your website for greater SERP visibility. Its helpful, SERP-enhacing features include:

  • inline SEO: Includes reviews as part of a website’s content. The goal is to give an online store fresher content and a wider variety of potential keywords to rank for.

yotpo inline seo

  • Google Product Listing Ads with product ratings: Yotpo can help your Google Shopping and search results display product ratings, which can make your listing stand out from the competition.

Google Product Listing Ads

  • rich snippets: Yotpo helps an online business become more visible on SERPs through review and rating rich snippets.  

Yotpo Rich Snippets

2. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

Structured data is one element that really revs up today’s SEO. Because it labels a website’s data to make the website look better to Google, structured data boosts visibility and helps skyrocket traffic. Although Google doesn’t consider it mandatory for high ranking, using structured data is certainly recommended.

Are you using structured data effectively? Are there any errors that need to be fixed in your schema markup? The good news is that you don’t even have to ask these questions. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool will tell you if anything is out of place, making it easy for you to fix any issues.

Google structured data testing tool

3. Data Highlighter

This ultra-handy webmaster tool “teaches” Google about how you structure your website’s data. It lets you quickly and easily tag your site’s data fields so Google can better display your website in as many SERP features as possible.

Google Data Highlighter

4. Schema-friendly WordPress themes

To really make your SEO activities much easier, do yourself a favor and take advantage of the manyfree WordPress themes with schema markup built right in. There are schema-friendly themes for many kinds of industries, formats and blog platforms. When creating a blogcompare blog sites to know the best fit for you.

mythemeshop seo wordpress themes

 

 

5. Schema markup WordPress plugins

Also, as you may have suspected, several schema markup plugins are available. A few of them include:

  • Schema App Structured Data: This tool allows you to edit your WordPress site’s schema markup directly, even if you have zero coding knowledge.

schema wordpress plugin

 

 

  • WP Rich Snippets: This is an excellent plugin to explore if you run a review site. It helps you mark up your content so your site will be as accessible as possible to Google.

Wordpress rich snippets

 

 

All in One rich snippets

6. Moz Pro’s Advanced SERP Feature Tracking

Moz offers an excellent tool to help you stay aware of the vast SERP feature environment. They market their Advanced SERP Feature Tracking tool as containing the most comprehensive data set on the market.

This tool provides analysis of featured snippets, image packs, in-depth articles, local packs, knowledge cards and knowledge panels, site links and more.

Moz SERP features

 

 

7. Rank Ranger’s Google SERP Features Tool

Rank Ranger’s SERP Features Tool tracks the presences of various SERP features over time. How often is a particular feature appearing? Is its presence within the SERPs generally increasing or decreasing?

According to Range Ranker:

This free research tool can be used to benchmark and explore the presence and trending of Knowledge Graphs, Ads, Images, Local Pack, News Pack, Related Search and Organic Results counts, plus special page indicators (e.g., breadcrumbs, events, HTTPs, ratings, notable online, image and video thumbnails, search box, sitelinks, Twitter pack, etc.)

Rank Ranger SERP features

Rank Ranger also provides a helpful guide to all the existing Google SERP features, including visual examples of each, here.

8. STAT

This is an excellent tool for discovering if any of your keywords trigger SERP features such as answer boxes. STAT tracks 20,000 websites and 218,000 consumer products daily.

STAT tool

9. SEMrush

SEMrush is useful when you need competitive data. Use it to find out if the keywords your competitors rank for trigger any SERP features like featured snippets, local packs, Knowledge Graph panels, Google News and so on.

SEMrush tool

Don’t go it alone!

Effective marketing has always been a complex endeavor, and Google’s constant innovations don’t make things any easier. But with change and innovation comes progress.
Scott Lazerson

Staying current with SEO best practices will only give you a competitive advantage, and that’s where these tools come into play.

To be the best SEO practitioner, always be on the lookout for valuable tools that can make you more proficient. Experiment every day, use the apps that work for you, and know when to abandon the ones that aren’t improving your processes. Just like a good mentor, new tools can help you reach higher levels of success.

Source : http://searchengineland.com/

 

 

Published in Search Engine

David Collins, columnist and Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer at The Great National Hotels and Resorts Group discusses how things are about to become equally challenging and interesting for hotel marketers.

Earlier this year, Google ‘unveiled’ plans to change the layout of their search engine results pages (SERPs for short) whereby no longer would they feature ads on the right hand side of your desktop results page. In truth, this was by no means a sudden change; Google had been testing this revised layout as far back as 2010. The impact however has been nothing short of transformative since this took effect globally from mid-2016.

I’ll explain this more below but first let me tease out what exactly Google have done in the interest of ‘improving user experience’.

So basically Google have unilaterally decided that paid search ads will no longer appear on the right-hand side of search results for desktop users, and that up to four paid search results will instead appear at the top of the page. This was a maximum of three previously and the new format mirrors the mobile search experience which has obviously grown in relevance in recent years.

By the way, paid search ads that fall below the 4th rank now appear at the bottom of the SERP which in itself is also a big deal in terms visibility and capturing traffic.

The rationale cited for all this is that it will allow Google to provide more relevant results for end users and also provide better ad performance for advertisers by delivering a more dynamically intuitive search/shopping experience. Users have an increasingly lower tolerance for fruitless searches and this is aimed at targeting consumers during what Google terms as ‘micro-moments’ … a fancy term for where someone may be on the sales curve.

So far so good. Getting users to the information they’re looking for faster and more efficiently is a good thing. No argument there.

The problem however is simply this: organic or naturally occurring rankings are getting less and less of a look-in. Why? Because paid search ads are taking up more space on SERPs with the result that hoteliers have to spend more on paid search to maintain prominence above the fold and also become more sophisticated in their approach to site content so as to hold onto organic traffic and rankings.

Eventually it is likely that organic listings will simply disappear – this is already happening on mobile SERPs – and desktop will follow as sure as night follows day.

In the absence of any real competition (BING, Yahoo, etc. … really?), the temptation for Google is simply too great to monetise completely all search activity and whereas you can’t blame them, after all they are in the business of business, they currently enjoy a virtual monopoly and this might be construed by some as an abuse of their position. In fact, I am staggered at the lack of concerted, coherent objection from the travel and hospitality industry to this latest move but equally don’t be surprised when FaceBook wade in to carve out a piece of this increasingly lucrative ‘search’ pie.

So what can be done to avoid having to jack up your PPC budget? In truth, very little. Unless consumers suddenly change their behaviour from depending on Google for search, hotels are going to have to buckle up for the ride: your competitors will be doing everything they can to ensure visibility and you must do the same. Only better.

And that also means retaining customers better than ever before; you’ll be paying more to get them to your site as a result of changes to search so it’s critical that you maximise your ROI. Which is why content marketing is now coming into it’s own.

Typically we as hoteliers tend to see loyalty schemes and reward programmes as the solution to retaining clients. In truth whereas these may have worked in the past, end users today seem to prefer instead to be engaged by brands in a more intuitive, personalised way, one which recognises their likes, dislikes, preferences, etc.. This in turn makes for a more meaningful, robust relationship and digital enables this thankfully in spades.

Just a word of warning here however, what content marketing is not is excessive promotional messaging. Instead it should be relevant, meaningful communication with your customer base – a short video piece, a personalised landing page, an engaging blog – that sets you apart as a brand and connects with your audience …

Things are about to become equally challenging and interesting for hotel marketers.

About David Collins: David draws his expertise from an intimate knowledge of the Irish and UK hotel industry with a proven track record of over 25 years in brand development, digital distribution and channel marketing. David’s work is well known in both Ireland and the U.K. where he has been instrumental in building some of the largest hotel brands, most recently the Great National Hotels and Resorts Group, currently one of the fastest growing hospitality groups in Europe.

Source : http://www.hotel-industry.co.uk/2016/08/googles-serp-changes-a-watershed-moment-for-hotel-brands/

Published in Search Engine

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