We hope you got a chance to watch our Marketing Panel webinar. Our team of marketing experts have compiled answers to many of the questions that were missed in the webinar.
Answers by Meg Nanson, Search Marketing Specialist
Are Volusion's SEO settings within item pages kept up-to-date (and changing) or do we need newer themes to keep up with Google's changing specs?
If I am understanding this question correctly, I believe you’re asking whether your existing SEO efforts will keep up with Google’s algorithm changes or help you rank as well as you are in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) over the long term (apologies if I misunderstood - feel free to clarify in the comments and I’ll jump in and help you out!) Nonetheless, this is an important question and one that definitely needs to be addressed for anyone who works on website SEO.
As you may know by now, SEO is a slow and adaptive process that can have results (and even continue increasing and building upon the new traffic/conversions) long after a campaign ends. Unfortunately, if an algorithm does change somewhere down the line, this might impact you and you will need to reconsider your strategy. An algorithm shift is highly unlikely to change ethical Meta data or on-page content in a negative way; however, you may find that over time, the keywords you were initially using have garnered higher competition and need to either be re-researched and refreshed, or you need to beef up your own competitive strategy in turn. Do keep in mind that if you change your keywords/content, you should not make changes to keywords that have stayed solid in the rankings.
Additionally, new companies may come in with strong SEO strategies and your rankings may drop if you’re not keeping up. The best way to stay competitive is by providing new, interesting content whenever you can. That’s why we recommend blogs and resource pages. Your more traditional PR/outreach efforts and building those off-site relationships will do you a world of good in keeping up with the competition too.
Can you do only a few pages of your website in mobile friendly format?
While it is understandable that the home page would be the most important to you, if you run your website through Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool, they will indeed determine that your site is not mobile-friendly if the internal pages aren’t mobile-friendly as well as the home page. You can get an even better breakdown of the mobile abilities of individual pages by viewing your Google Webmaster Tools data.
As a UX enthusiast, I recommend making the entire website mobile-friendly.
Does the Volusion platform include markup for schema.org? If so, can you explain what markup is present?
It sure does! Schema is a valuable way to make your website stand out in the search results and increase click-through rates. There are tons of varieties of schema markup that are right for particular businesses. Because of our eCommerce focus, Volusion offers the following types of markup:
- Product Markup
- Offer Markup
- General Storefront Markup
You can learn more on our Schema.org support page.
How important are reviews on your site to SEO?
The latest word on the SEO streets is that 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by reviews The Schema markup I recommend the most for ecommerce is the Reviews feature. In Volusion Software the review feature is built directly into the back-end of our platform as a product setting, and can be turned on with the check of a box. This will allow people to review individual products, and those reviews will show up in the search results as star ratings.
There are several great marketing strategies for soliciting reviews, and they can even be as simple as a quick, “Like our products? Help us out and leave us a review!” at checkout. Google (and users) trust reviews in particular, as they show that people are using and enjoying the products and can inform purchasing decisions.
Read up on reviews and how to implement them on our customer review support page. .
Once I publish my new site can I add and update meta tags and descriptions easily?
Definitely! On each category and product page, there’s an easy-to-find section midway down the page that says “Advanced Info.” Click on it and you’ll get to the SEO section. There’s a fill-in box for Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, and Keywords. You do not have to fill in the Keywords box; that tag became obsolete in Google’s crawl a few years back because too many people were trying to stuff the box full of keywords. Think carefully about your Meta data, use unique and well-researched keywords, and make your Meta data unique to each page!
For H1 tags, you can click on the “Product/Category Description” tag in the same area, where you’ll be adding your content. Using the HTML button at the top of the Description box, write your H1 tag like this: <h1> Buy Our Super Products! </h1> and then follow it up with some marketing-savvy content.
Where can I find information to set up the blog. I went to the Volusion Store and dont see it?
Here it is! The steps look more complicated than they actually are. Just take it one step at a time, follow the instructions directly, and you’ll end up with a beautiful blog subdomain. Link to your blog prominently on the main domain.
Another great option is an on-site “Resources” section that you can put directly in your navigation. This section would include what we call “Evergreen” content, or content that will not change over time. How-To’s or informational pages related to your product (for example, nutrition tips if you sell juicers) are examples of Evergreen articles. These are also a great way to get fresh content on your site and pull in additional keyword searches.
I work with many drop ship companies, they provide me with CSV files I can upload. The content is the same as what appears on their website. Does this hurt my SEO as it is duplicate content when someone searches?
The short answer is yes. There will be hundreds, maybe thousands of web pages out there with the very same content. You need to differentiate your page and demonstrate to the search engines that you deserve top billing. Honestly, Volusion’s schema markup will help give you an edge, but you’ll likely need to do more.
How do you do that? Enhance the manufacturer's content? Add information of value? Encourage customer reviews?
This is an issue that many ecommerce stores struggle with, and understandably so - some shops sell hundreds (thousands!) of products, and rewriting the manufacturer description for each one takes time. That is the price of SEO, I’m afraid. Thankfully, there are a number of very affordable outsourcing services that can help. Textbroker comes to mind, as does hiring a talented writing intern.
I'm not sure how to accurately use SEO. What tips can you give me that will make SEO work for my candle business?
I’d begin with the basics: choosing keywords (3-5 unique to each page), writing Meta content for each page that incorporates those keywords naturally, and adding content to your home page, About Us page, category pages, and product pages that explain what makes your candles different, relaxing, or beneficial for the user. Other basics include setting up a Google Analytics account and Google Webmaster Tools account to measure your success at least monthly. This is what we call on-site SEO.
If you want to learn the basics of on-site SEO, here are my favorite resources:
Off-site SEO has become less about learning the “rules” and has really shifted into a more traditional PR/outreach strategy, so if you’re confused about SEO, you can start by reaching out to blogs, partnering with non-competing businesses (perhaps someone selling soaps or aromatherapy products?) providing candles to popular bloggers who can review them or run giveaways, or even providing candles for charitable purposes (like a candlelight vigil) whose organizers could then thank you online.
That said, rules do exist about what not to do with off-site SEO: no paid directories. No spamming forums. No purchasing links. No soliciting links of any kind from a website that looks like it was designed for a bot, not a user. In short, no linking that feels too “easy.” Relationship-building takes time. Just be yourself and be passionate about your product and about building some relationships!
Is SEO all or nothing, i.e. get on front page or not?
We discussed this a little bit in our webinar, and it’s definitely an important question. It’s important to set realistic expectations with SEO and note that page one might not be a reality, unless you’re one of the lucky people who run niche websites with a highly specific target audience and are competing against small businesses. Just to put this into context, when I was working at another agency, a Fortune 500 company had a monthly budget for SEO of 40k per month. Even then, we struggled to beat their biggest competitors in the search results.
But there’s plenty of hope, and here’s why: page one is no longer the end-all-be-all due to all the semantic searches that happen every day. Semantic search means the search audience has adapted beyond typing in a specific set of keywords and instead type full phrases or even questions. So, your website will likely be pulling in some of those searches (and even ranking on page one for them), which will add up in little ways (you’ll be surprised to find how exponential it can be) and can only build your website’s SEO over time. (It’s also important to note that these longer or more precise searches often convert at a higher rate than more broad, highly competitive keyword phrases.)
This is another great reason to keep a blog, which will pull in more of these searches with every post. It’s also a reason to bring in off-site strategies (social, PR, and otherwise) where your ambassadors can drive traffic to your site. We’ve seen many clients have success with reaching page one for specific search terms even with our basic Starter packages, but we’ve also enjoyed watching the steady growth of SEO traffic for other merchants via multiple entrances to individual landing pages because of all the unique searches people make every day!
Companies trying to market their SEO services tell us that we lack content on our home page. How critical is that?
They are correct. It’s critical. The most resistance I’ve encountered regarding content on the home page is that people don’t want to clutter a clean or minimal design. However, there are ways to incorporate content that maintain the visual appeal while helping your readers understand your website better. In addition to incorporating the keywords that Google will be using as the context for where to rank your site, home page content also has the following benefits:
- Shares your voice and why you’re excited about your products
- Shares your purpose and your focus on customer benefits
- Helps you explain how you’re different from your competitors
- Explains what the website sells and why
- Keeps the reader interested and increases their Time on Site, an important metric for SEO
- Provides calls to action and possible perks like free shipping, a satisfaction guarantee, price-matching, free customer assistance (if the product is technical in nature) and more.
Do you know the answers to these questions? If not, writing home page content has the added benefit of driving the focus and strategy of your business!
Future Google rankings will depend on mobile adaptability. My site is mobile friendly but not responsive, will this matter?
You’ll pass the test in the short term for sure. However, the best possible user experience is responsive design. If and when you switch, you may be surprised at how many more mobile purchases are made via this highly adaptable and intuitive interface. We’d encourage you to see mobile-friendliness as a short term strategy (again, it’s safe for now) but to think about what users expect to see as website design moves forward. Ultimately, I’d encourage anyone to go responsive.
Does having the Volusion link on my website water down my sites authority, because it gives me links to unrelated sites?
It doesn’t. In every template we code, when we link to Volusion we include what’s called a “no-follow” tag, which tells the search engines to pass none of the page authority over to us. This means that all of the SEO value you accrue belongs to you. We like to add that link just like a writer would like to put her name on her work, but we do not accrue any SEO benefits from it. That’s all yours!
What is the number one strategy (from Volusion POV) for moving up organically in Google ranking?
Well, here’s some tough love: SEO isn’t a magic trick and there’s not a “best” strategy. I’d say optimizing your Meta tags and content for keywords would be a great start. That said, SEO is a pie and there are a number of slices. Moreover, as search moves more and more toward factors that indicate a great user experience, more traditional marketing practices that will stand the test of time are more important than ever.
Before you think about SEO at all, you should have already written out a detailed business plan so that you can implement good business and marketing practices (appropriate networking, speaking to your target audience, differentiating your website or your products from the competition, designing a solid online marketing strategy, building a social media presence, creating strong branding, building up newsworthiness, etc). These are the key to really strong, long-term rankings. On-page optimization and link building are solid SEO practices that will contribute to success, but to really take your store to a higher level, you need approach SEO as part of a comprehensive business strategy. You cannot expect SEO to do all the work for you if you do not have a proper foundation established.
Answers by Mikkayla Casey, Search Marketing Specialist
Is it a good idea to design a marketing campaign for social media or vice versa?
Absolutely! Social media marketing campaigns can be an important piece of your overall strategy. Social media makes it quick and easy to share information with your target market(s) which can also enhance your content and SEO strategies. They really all work together quite well. Consider using a content calendar to help you lay out your campaign.
Our company has historically been B2B. We are now offering retail online direct to consumer. All our existing social media channels are wholesale focused. How can we differentiate between the two with regard to social media and create relevant social media campaigns for each market?
Differentiate your messages between the two groups by talking specifically to each audience. Run targeted ads highlighting your products for the B2C audience by talking specifically to one person. For B2B campaigns, target specific job titles or industries highlighting how your products can benefit their business.
In order from best to least which social media platform brings the most online sales? Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram?
The highest sales from each platform will vary by industry. Overall, Facebook drives the most traffic to websites, but for many fashion websites, visually driven platforms like Pinterest and Polyvore are better converters with higher average sale value. That said, it’s important to remember that while sales from social media are great, and important to your overall sales goals, social media is about engaging your audience and building a community. If you approach social media with a sales-first mentality, you’re probably doing it wrong.
How often should the social media be monitored or add new info?
Social media should be monitored at a minimum of at least once a week. As your social following continues to grow, it’ll be important to monitor it more often. By scheduling your posts, you’ll be able to schedule an entire week in as little as half an hour. Then throughout the week you can pop in to reply to comments, engage your audience, or add any relevant posts that might tie in to what’s trending on Facebook or Twitter.
Is Vine a good tool to promote your business with? How effective are blogs?
Vine can be an effective tool to highlight your business or products in under six seconds. Need more time? Consider utilizing Instagram’s video feature that allows you to share up to 15 seconds.
Blogs complement both SEO and Social Media campaigns. They’re a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in the industry while sharing original content with your audience. They also help to diversify your keyword relevance. Done right, blogs are very powerful.
How can I build followers on Facebook and Instagram for my online store?
Invite your friends and connections to like your business on Facebook. Facebook ads will also allow you to run ads for page likes. These should be targeted by demographics so that quality fans can be reached as opposed to random accounts that will not benefit your business.
To build a following on Instagram, begin following those who are relevant to your industry. Search for specific hashtags and engage with people that are using the hashtags that you are using as well. Hashtag accordingly- add up to 10 hashtags that are relevant to your brand or product.
Answers by Chelsea Cepeda, Sr. Search Marketing Specialist & Sean O’Connor, Search Marketing Specialist
Are there PPC advertisers that allow "high risk" merchants such as tobacco and adult stores since Google AdWords does not?
Unfortunately most do not. Google’s policies have set the bar for many advertisers. Bing Ads has a restricted and disallowed content policy similar to Google’s and Amazon’s. If you’re unable to use paid search focus your marketing effort and budget elsewhere - on new copy, social media management and sponsoring content.
For PPC could I get more traffic with plurals and misspelled keywords?
Technically, yes. But it’s not a significant amount of traffic. For more traffic, try beefing up your keyword lists with broad match modified keywords. These will help you continue to grow traffic but will also make sure your keywords are still as relevant.
What is Shopping Feed Management?
Shopping feeds are the image based ads which appear at the top of search results. These product listing ads can also appear in the Google Shopping marketplace. Management of this campaign type includes creating the product datafeed (a spreadsheet with all of Google’s required fields and components) which is monitored, optimized, and submitted to the Google Merchant Center. Much like PPC, Shopping Feeds are used to pay for search engine results page (SERP) placement to drive qualified traffic to your store with products, rather than text boxes.
How many keywords are the right amount?
Ad groups should contain different themes of keywords. If you feel like your ad group is getting a little too big then take a look at your keywords again. If you notice anything that could be its own theme, for example, 6 hat keywords, 8 sweater keywords and 4 shirt keywords in an apparel ad group, then break them out into their own ad groups. This will help you control your bids a bit easier and create much more focused ads. In the end, try to keep each ad group below 20 keywords max.
Lots of PPC click-throughs, average bounce rate, low conversions. Where do you go from there?
Take a look at your keyword lists and sort by cost. Are there any high spenders with zero conversions? Consider pausing those keywords so money can be allocated toward converting keywords. Next, take a look at your search terms report to identify any potential irrelevant traffic. Again, sort by cost and negate top spending keywords that are not resulting in conversions. Finally, take a look at the bounce rates on pages deeper in the purchase process. Identify where your buyers are dropping off and review that page for any edits.
What is "branded term"?
Branded terms are keywords that contains your company name or brand. So if your company is XYZ then you’d want to focus on keywords such as xyz, xyz.com, etc.
Where do you bid on branded terms?
You can bid on branded terms in your PPC platform. We’d recommend creating a new campaign so you can easily manage budgets and keep keyword data separate.
We are about to launch our brand new Volusion site, what is the fastest way to get good quality buyers coming to the site?
Paid advertising will likely be the best place to begin. Before you launch your first campaign however make sure your store is ready to sell, from top to bottom. Have your friends view the site as customers and test orders. Do they like the landing pages? Is the checkout process intuitive? Is the shipping correct? Once everything is ready to go you can build out your first paid search campaign - and we recommend pay-per-click. These ads will appear on the search network and can direct your new customers to landing pages like categories or products. Make sure your ads are relevant to their search. Try to do this by keeping your keywords concise and about the page they’re landing on. Don’t be overbroad and cast too wide a net. We’re looking for buyers, not just customers.
Where is my money best spent when advertising?
I’m not sure if it is even a debate anymore - Google AdWords. It’s the largest search engine, has the highest volume, and can help get your website out there. If you’re going to spend money, use the multitude of resources about how to market with Google and get started there.
How can I get the most out of Google PLA?
You can get the most out of your PLAs by breaking down the Google Shopping AdGroup into smaller segments. You can segment your products a few ways - the most common is by brands. If you use the Custom Label attribute fields then even better. I like breaking down my AdGroup by price point ($0-25, $25.01-50, etc) to set broader bids. I then break those groups down by the ProductID to provide the most flexibility. It allows me to see which products are the most popular to promote in social media and which ones are performing poorly and should be removed from paid advertising.
What budget should I use for PPC?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a set “one size fits all” approach for any PPC budget plan - each business will have their own goals and deliverables. If you’re looking for something to get you started however, dedicate $20 a day to get the ball rolling.
Analytics & Conversion
Answers by Josh Pruett, Sr. Marketing Consultant
Could you expand on the use of demographics code in Google Analytics and how to use the data to inform personas?
You can gather basic demographic and interest information by inserting a small piece of code within your Google Analytics tracking code. Once you start accumulating this data there’s all sorts of ways to slice it. One example would be to sort your revenue by age and gender groups to see where you should focus your marketing efforts. To do this, go to your Demographics > Age report, add gender as a secondary dimension, then switch from the data report to the comparison report using the button on the right side. Change your columns to revenue and you can quickly see what segments are contributing most - and least - to your bottom line.
Looking for good tutorial about setting up and reading goals in Google Analytics.
If you revisit the Marketing Panel presentation, slide 32 has a good screenshot of how a goal for the Order Finished page would be set up in Google Analytics in the Admin section. But Goals have been getting easier to setup using Google’s Goal Setup Templates. For more information on setting up goals and reading reports I would recommend Google’s own detailed help article on goal setups and reporting.
I've tried to tie Google AdWords into Google Analytics and have not been successful. I've had a programmer try too. Is this possible on Volusion, and if so what is the estimate cost to insert this code?
You can set up a conversion within Google AdWords and paste the generated into your Order Finished page. For more robust reporting you should also link your AdWords account in the Google Analytics Admin section under the Property > AdWords Linking tab. If you are still having issues with Google AdWords conversion tracking, or Google Analytics ecommerce tracking, we do offer set up services for those. You can find more information here.
We have an international partner with great content on her site that's drawing a tremendous amount of US traffic that we don't convert well. Any suggestions for how to optimize our site or her outbound links to better convert that traffic?
First, I would make sure your partner is using call to action language around your links, so that those visitors are ready to buy once they arrive to your site. Instead of “For more information, visit our partners,” it should be more “To get the best deal, visit our partner here.”
Second, consider making unique landing pages for that inbound traffic. Those pages should reflect the content surrounding the link, or reference the original site itself. Consider offering a coupon to those visitors from that site that is only offered on that landing page.
Why do we get a bunch of orders for a 48 hour period and then nothing for many consecutive days?
It sounds like you might be running a paid search campaign that quickly runs out of budget - promoting your store for a few days and then turning off again until the ad budget is replenished. If that’s not the case, I would suggest looking at your sources of traffic over a longer time period, say the last 6 months to a year, and see if you can spot any patterns in traffic and sales. Most likely your sales spurt is an anomaly when compared to the rest of your data.
Answered by June Clark, Marketing Consultant
I have an online bookstore. How do I compete with Amazon?
It’s hard to think of any store in the world that can compete with Amazon, but you can carve out your own slice of the pie by specializing and working to become an authority. Create recommendations and reviews on your site, and promote them on social media until your store becomes known as the place to go for those interests. Start small by focusing on specific genres: biographies of women; US travel guides; 1970’s fantasy. This might be a small percentage of the pie, but it’s a very large pie, and as you gain success you can capture broader markets.
I used your marketing last season. My best return was from Shopping Feeds and the worst was PPC. Can I use only SEO and Shopping Feeds?
Yes, you can use just SEO and Shopping Feeds! It’s always great to test out different marketing channels and see which is getting you the best return and put more focus on those high-performing channels. Sometimes there is a chance that one channel, like PPC could be influencing another channel like shopping feeds or SEO, so it’s a good strategy to keep an eye on your results and revenue to see if starting/stopping one channel causes a positive or negative impact on a different channel.
Is there a good resource like Google Advertising for dummies? Or Facebook? I seem to get lost in the technical language and would like to find a basic knowledge tool.
Advertising can be confusing to people new to the different platforms! For Facebook, this blog post that goes over some of the details of Facebook Advertising. Even though it talks about Valentine’s Day, the tips are applicable to any season!
For advertising on Google, we have some great resources on the Volusion blog that cover different tips and tricks. You can view them here. Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land are also great places to get tips.
What are some effective tactics for building out your e-mail list? The majority of my abandoned cart entries do not get far enough to leave e-mail, making follow-up impossible.
You can offer customers a % off coupon for signing up for your email list. Having that in a banner on your homepage may get you some extra signups. If you’re running social media campaigns, you can also mention your email list (and the incentive) in your posts to encourage signup! It can be helpful to provide your customers with an idea of the type of information they will receive in emails from you.
How can we help the client remember our brand?
Remarketing is a great way to help clients remember your brand! You can remarket to your customers via PPC, Shopping Feeds, or Facebook. Once they visit your site, you can show them ads about your products to encourage them to return. Here is a great video to learn a bit more about remarketing
Additionally, you can build up your social media profiles and encourage customers to engage with you on those channels. This way, you can market to them again and again and reinforce your brand.
How do we drive copious amounts of traffic to our online store?
There are lots of different ways to drive traffic to your store! We recommend a mix of several methods. Check out our recent blog post on 7 Ways to Drive Traffic to your Online Store.