eCommerce SEO

The End of Keyword Data: Google Restricts All Searches

Last week, Google made a switch to send all searches through Google SSL search.  Previously, only users signed into their Google account (gmail, youtube, etc.) had their searches passed through a secure search, and encrypted.  Now, all searches will be encrypted, and no keyword data will be shared.

Why does this matter?  Well, I’m sure you have noticed the large portion of traffic from “(not provided)” in your Google Analytics.  Get ready to notice that a lot more, as Google has cut off all keyword data.  This means that Google searches will not pass data through to your website, removing your ability to see what keywords are driving traffic to your website.  Well, other search engines like Yahoo and Bing will still populate Adwords with keyword data, but not from Google.

So it just became a whole lot harder to determine what your site’s major keywords driving traffic are, which keywords are converting to sales, as well as any other keyword-related research you may have enjoyed doing in the past.  I’ll let that sink in…  No more keyword data in Google Analytics. A sad day for keyword data junkies.

Now, luckily, Google is still displaying keyword data in Webmaster Tools for a 90 day history.  However, the data is notoriously inaccurate, especially the average position, but it does at least give you an idea of what search terms are driving people to your website.

In late August, Google also made a change to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which allowed you to research keywords and gather data on the number of broad and exact searches were made for a particular keyword or set of keywords.  This was an excellent tool to use for keyword research for your niche [...]

By |October 3rd, 2013|eCommerce SEO, Search Marketing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The End of Keyword Data: Google Restricts All Searches|

How to Analyze Links and Recover from a Penguin 2.0 Penalty

Google’s Penguin 2.0 update was released on May 22nd 2013 and tightened the standards for link building. Links from domains that are irrelevant, low authority (i.e. page rank 0 or N/A), or spam give little to no benefit, and if the problems on a website are egregious, it may receive a penalty. Many websites who have these types of links, even if they were built years ago when spam was more tolerated (or rather, went unnoticed) by Google and other search engines, experienced a drop in keyword rankings as well as overall traffic to their website.

Do I have a Penguin 2.0 Penalty?

If your website experienced a significant drop in keyword rankings and traffic the week of 5/22/13 which continued to drop over the course of the next two or three weeks, you probably received some form of penguin penalty. It could just be that some of your poor quality links are no longer being counted, and therefore your site’s authority and/or keyword rankings dropped which caused the drop in traffic. Or, it could be a more serious issue where Google placed a penalty on your specific website because it believes you were over-optimizing and over-spamming your website with poor quality links from poor quality and irrelevant domains.

I have a Penguin 2.0 penalty… What do I do?

The best thing you can do right away is to analyze your link profile to determine which of your links are low quality and/or spam. The most simple and “dummy proof” way to do this is export your links from your Google Webmaster Tools and review them 1-by-1. First, check the page rank of each domain. Links from any page rank “N/A” domains should be removed immediately. You can [...]

By |July 8th, 2013|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on How to Analyze Links and Recover from a Penguin 2.0 Penalty|

Google Penguin 2.0 Update Launched in May 2013

Unless you were negatively impacted by Google’s Penguin algorithm update!

The Google Penguin algorithm update was initially launched in April of 2012 and evaluates domains that are linking to a site and evaluates them based on a set of criteria which is basically: 1) Is this site spam? 2) Is this site relevant to the other sites it links to? and 3) Is there over-optimized anchor text or keyword stuffing? Basically, they tightened the noose on all of these standards, which means links from domains Google views as “spam” will be devalued.

Penguin 2.0 is now a part of Google’s regular indexing process, and will not require manual updates like previous versions of Penguin prior to March 2013. This is an overall positive change for a few reasons. The first of which is poor link building practices will no longer be effective in the short-term because previously Penguin had to be manually updated in Google’s index, so you could get a positive boost from bad links between data refreshes at Google. This way there should be no surprises or sudden negative drops in traffic or keyword rankings. Another positive outcome from the Penguin 2.0 update is that more people are realizing black hat SEO is not worth it because it will only get you into trouble with Google and potentially sabotage your keyword rankings and site traffic. Google has effectively made it harder for black hat SEO to succeed, and is enforcing positive SEO practices.

Submit Digital has always embraced White hat SEO and doing what is right for our clients, their businesses, and of course their websites. There is no cheap substitute for quality content writing, meaningful link building, and technical expertise. If you think your [...]

By |June 7th, 2013|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Google Penguin 2.0 Update Launched in May 2013|

March 2013 Major Google Penguin Update, Or Not?

Google’s Penguin updates started in February of 2012 and have been deemed the “over-optimization” updates because the expressed goal of Penguin was to stop websites from “over optimizing” in the form of poor quality links from poor quality (and unrelated) websites. The way Penguin basically works is two-fold. First, it looks at a website and even pages on a website to determine if they are being over optimized or are spam – does the site or page have repetitive keywords (keyword stuffing) in the content? Secondly, Penguin checks to see if there are too many inbound (and outbound) links with the same or similar anchor text, which is another spam flag. If penguin determines a page, or worse an entire site, to be an over-optimized spam page, the power of that page is significantly diminished as a “penguin penalty” is placed on it. Penguin has always been a manual update, meaning it is not a part of Google’s indexing algorithm process. That is why Penguin updates have been rolled out periodically and the impact is felt by offending websites immediately after an update.

Google announced a “significant penguin update” in March of 2013. More specifically, that update was set to occur on Friday March 15th or Monday March 18th. It seems that this major update did take place, however Google has not confirmed or denied it yet, other than their original announcement that the update would indeed take place. This Panda 25 update integrated the Penguin algorithm into Google’s normal indexing and algorithm process. So, this means Penguin is effectively functioning all the time now, and will no longer need manual updates to integrate Penguin data into Google’s results.

So, while the SEO community was bracing [...]

By |March 27th, 2013|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on March 2013 Major Google Penguin Update, Or Not?|

Deleting Bad Links: Link Un-building

After Google’s Penguin update, many common link building practices were made unviable, and even devalued the sites and keywords they once promoted.  Many sites that previously had top rankings for their industry keywords found themselves wiped off the Google map because of poor quality links and/or a Penguin “spam flag.”  If you noticed a sudden drop in rankings on or around April 24th and/or May 25th, you are probably impacted by Penguin.  Google also sent out unnatural link notices around those dates, so if you received one of those, you definitely have a problem.  If you received a notice from Google around July 19th, you can probably ignore it because Google admitted to sending out notices on that date by mistake.

This does not necessarily mean you have to rush out and start trying to remove all of your old links.  Removing links is a time consuming and frustrating process that you may not always have to do.  Certainly prioritizing those efforts to remove the links hurting you the worst is a solid strategy.  Deleting links should be a last resort, and not something you should do right away, and definitely not without doing some research first.

There are three reasons to remove links.  The first is if you received an unnatural link notice from Google.  The second is if you have any de-indexed links as these will hurt the most.  The third is if you received a Penguin spam flag, which as noted above, would come in the form of a drastic reduction in keyword rankings on or around 4/24/12 and 5/25/12. Despite which reason you have for removing links, the same approach should be used.

If you received an unnatural link notice from Google, it [...]

By |August 1st, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Deleting Bad Links: Link Un-building|

Effective Link Building

Link building is arguably the most important factor for SEO. However, there’s a right and wrong way to build links, as well as good and bad sources. You could also have great links, and a lot of them, but it won’t do you much good if your site isn’t optimized with proper written content, meta-titles, descriptions, etc. So, while link building is important, it’s still just one piece of the SEO puzzle that needs to be managed.

In the not so distant past, link building was all about quantity regardless of quality. The sites with the most backlinks received the highest keyword rankings and authority. Link exchanges, forum commenting, blog commenting, and other links now viewed as poor quality worked extremely well, and were very cheap to obtain. Many overseas SEO companies popped up in India and other countries which would literally build thousands of links per month, and it worked! The game has certainly changed….

Nowadays, these types of poor quality links will most likely end up hurting your rankings, and lowering your site’s overall authority and recognition from Google. The Panda and Penguin Google algorithm updates made these links obsolete, and dangerous. However, that hasn’t stopped SEO companies from offering them, so be aware!

The best link building opportunities come from relevant websites with relevant content and high page rank. The days of cheap mass-link building on irrelevant sites are over. Google looks at relevance and domain authority of incoming links and attaches much more importance to them. If you’re optimizing for “ripe oranges” you are going to want to build links from websites about oranges, fruit, food, or other relevant factors. [...]

By |June 13th, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Effective Link Building|

On Site Content for Ecommerce SEO

We’ve discussed the importance of on site content in previous blog postings, and I’ll get into some more in this post. Along with external links, social media, and site traffic stats, on site content is one of the key factors in a successful SEO campaign. When we say “on site content” we mean specifically the written content on the homepage as well as category pages.

Written content is critical because Google values it much higher than it ever did previously so it’s important to have proper written content, especially on ecommerce sites which are notorious for being light on written content. Ever since the Panda update in early 2011, written content has become critically important on site, as well as in off-site link opportunities. In order to get the proper recognition and authority from Google, you should have unique relevant content on your homepage, and all category and sub-category pages, and specifically the category pages that you are targeting for SEO.

Another important point to consider with ecommerce on site content is the product descriptions. Very often, the same products are sold on multiple websites with the same manufacturer product descriptions. Google picks up the product descriptions as duplicate content across the different sites which could hurt your rankings and SEO. The best-case scenario for this is to re-write all of your product descriptions so they are sure to be unique across all websites selling the same product. This is of course time and resource intensive, but good things never come without a cost, and if you want to stay ahead of your competition, this is one way to make sure you do.

As part of our [...]

By |May 29th, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on On Site Content for Ecommerce SEO|

Google Shopping Results Overview

We already discussed the importance of organic keyword results for ecommerce businesses. Another area of Google that ecommerce businesses should optimize is their Google shopping results, also known as Google product search. By getting your products into the Google product search results you will increase your exposure to potential customers. If a customer is searching for a specific product, they may end up looking at Google shopping, and if your products aren’t listed there, you have no chance of securing a sale. There are a couple ways to submit your products to Google shopping, the first is a product feed by using an XML file, FTP, or Google Merchant Center. The second way to get your products into Google shopping is to use the Content data API for Shopping, which can be fully integrated similar to other Google data APIs. This method is more technical and difficult to set up.

Not only do your products need to be listed in Google shopping, they need to be competitively priced in order to compete within that space. Consumers are more and more price conscious these days, especially when Google shopping lists out all of the available options and prices with the ability to sort by price, etc. Many times when customers are searching for a brand name product, they don’t care where they get it as long as they get it for a good price. Unfortunately price plays a large role in the success of Google product search, so if you hope to make sales with Google shopping, your pricing must be competitive.

The third piece of the Google shopping puzzle is getting your producs to rank high on the [...]

By |May 10th, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Google Shopping Results Overview|

Google Organic Keyword Results Overview

Organic keyword results are the bread and butter of search engine optimization, although, effective methods of how to improve your keyword rankings have changed quite a bit over the last year or two. That doesn’t change the fact that ecommerce websites simply must have some good organic keyword rankings for their industry and products if they want to be competitive, make sales, and stay in business! The difference between a keyword ranked in the 11th position to the 3rd and especially the 1st position can often mean a tremendous increase in traffic to your website. Conservative estimates say about 18% of keyword traffic clicks on the 1st search result, while more aggressive estimates say closer to 36%. That traffic, of course, then becomes opportunities to create sales for your website.

Speaking of turning traffic into sales – this is a very important aspect of making your ecommerce business successful. No amount of SEO or top rankings will make you successful if you have a terrible website that is ineffective at securing sales. You obviously need products that your customers want, at competitive prices, have a simple checkout process, and ideally something to keep your customers coming back for more. That could be a customer loyalty program, great customer service, niche products, contests, promotions, and many other things. Use your imagination and think through how you can turn your existing sales into additional future sales.

So now we all know and understand that having top positions in Google is a necessity to running an effective ecommerce business, and getting there is another story. There are many schools of thought on the best way, or the most [...]

By |May 7th, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Google Organic Keyword Results Overview|

Ecommerce SEO with Magento

Ecommerce Search Marketing on the Magento Platform

Magento is a powerful software solution that provides unprecedented look feel and functionality at a very low cost.  This platform can be extended to aid Search Engine Optimization.  Much of the functionality is built in, some functions need to be augmented by plugins.  To fully utilize your Magento store, you need search rankings that match your new beautiful website.

Ecommerce websites in general and Magento specifically fall into several SEO traps that can be overcome with a professional SEO company.  Some problems to look out for are issues relating to duplicate content.

Panda Update

You have probably heard about google’s panda update.  This update was also called the farmer update because it was directed towards content farms, or websites that practiced scraping of content from other websites and republishing the content on their own website for purposes of gaining search rank.  The panda algorithm works by looking for duplicate content and penalizing sites with “lite” or “duplicate content”.  For ecommerce websites that depend on template product display pages and often very light or manufacturers descriptions, this meant the panda update also affected their ability to rank.

The solution for ecommerce websites is eliminating duplicate content and adding more unique content into their website.  For magento websites this has several implications.

Removing Duplicate Content

By default Magento makes several mistakes that allow Google to think that it has duplicate content within its own website.  For example, if you track the number of pages google has indexed in your site, you may see 10,000 products indexed when you in fact only have 2000 or so products.  What is happening is google is indexing your products more than once.  This makes google think you have duplicate content [...]

By |March 28th, 2012|eCommerce SEO|Comments Off on Ecommerce SEO with Magento|