Read on to get the answers to 38 of your most pressing SEO questions with this extensive follow-up to our Thinking Outside The Box webinar.
In our Think Outside the Box SEO Webinar, our Marketing Services team detailed five under-utilized ecommerce SEO strategies. If you missed the presentation – no worries. You can download the webinar or watch it on YouTube. If you choose to watch the video, please keep the slide download handy as they contain links to additional resources that you will definitely want to check out.
We weren’t able to address all the fantastic questions we received during the SEO webinar, so we wanted to take some time to address them now. For you convenience, these questions are organized by theme:
- Rich snippets
- Social media
- Local SEO
- Video optimization
- Marketing diversification
- General SEO
And, of course, feel free to post additional questions in our comments.
1. How do I integrate Google Authorship into my Volusion site and product pages? If you have a blog and a website is it better to apply authorship to the blog?
You can apply the Google Authorship tag, also referred to as rel=author, to both your Volusion Store and your blog. But be sure you’re adding the rel=author to content that can be legitimately attributed to an author. General information or content should use the rel=publisher tag. Google also recommends embedding the rel=publisher tag on the home page of the site.
Important note: Google ultimately decides when the author (or publisher) image will display. It’s more likely that Google will display the headshot for information-rich pages, essays and blog posts, but not for home, category or product page results. This is because Google does not deem the author image as useful to these types of results. Instead, Google will likely display product rich markup such as review stars, price and stock status.
We think this is great, because a misplaced author image may lead shoppers to think that your home, category or product page is an informational resource rather than a place to buy goods, which would hinder click through and conversion. On the other hand, the headshot is great for attracting informational traffic, which boosts the site’s overall perceived value, but it probably won’t increase traffic to your product pages like schema markup will. That’s why you should use both.
2. Do you have a tutorial on integrating rich snippets?
You can learn about Volusion’s Schema mark up here and Schema.org (both of these links are also featured in the webinar resources). All you need to do is fill in the appropriate fields and the software will do the rest. The one snippet variable that may require some additional effort is the reviews. We highly recommend implementing a review strategy, as those stars are probably the most influential aspect of a product rich snippet. Volusion has a Feedback Request feature that allows you to send a post-purchase email to invite feedback and reviews.
3. If I have a video, how I can show my video in Rich Snippets of Google Search Engine?
The majority of videos you see integrated into blended search results are from YouTube, so ensure your videos are on YouTube and properly optimized. (Please refer to the step-by-step video optimization guide in the webinar.) In some cases, however, video can be displayed from a website. To facilitate this, wrap your embedded videos in the appropriate schema markup.
4. How can you make social media meaningful for an ecommerce site that focuses on industrial and commercial products, as opposed to consumer?
B2B professionals can always use LinkedIn and forums on sites like Quora or even Reddit. Facebook can work too, as Facebook advertising allows for precise targeting based on profession and interest, allowing you to build a very precise online audience. After all, many professionals are on Facebook and will “Like” resources relevant to their careers.
We suspect all industries will move to social media, but many industries have been reluctant to do so. If your industry appears to be one of the last to arrive to the social media party, implementing a social media strategy now will give you a distinct advantage.
Some ideas for engaging B2B social media posts include:
- Industry trivia
- Interesting or humorous pictures of your products
- Post industry relevant news
- Invite people to post images or product ideas
- Answer common FAQ through your posts – still bringing that value add
- Quotes related to your subject matter also make for a great weekly post theme
- And don’t forget to occasionally post your deals or sales
5. I have over 2k ‘likes’ on Facebook but feel like I have hit a wall. What do you suggest?
If your Likes have stopped growing, there are a few ways you can jumpstart your growth. First, consider Facebook Advertising. Facebook Ads are a quick and cost effective way to break through that Like-ceiling. Depending on your industry and how precise you target, the average cost-per-like could be anywhere from $.10 to more than $1. Next, consider doing a giveaway or promotion that naturally brings people to your channel and encourages sharing. You can also build credibility for your social channels by including buttons that link to them in your email marketing campaigns, or even in shipping packaging by including an insert saying “Like us on Facebook for a 10% discount!”
6. What if I already have Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages but I had ignored them for the past few months, how do I go back to my followers and start over?
First, conceptualize your social media strategy and make a commitment to it. (You don’t want to do the same thing to them all over again.) Then, reconnect with your audience. Many social media professionals recommend apologizing for the lack of communication and then ensuring your audience you’re committed to providing them value going forward. You might tease some upcoming promotions or exciting giveaways to build excitement. Then keep your promise and stay active. You can even use HootSuite to schedule posts in advance so you know you’ll have something going out on certain days.
7. What do you recommend for stores built off of a prominent brand that has its own non ecommerce social media etc.
We would recommend that you build out your brand identity separate from the prominent brand. You can certainly promote that brand, but also seek to define your company as a unique entity. Are you partners with this brand? If so, see if they’ll link to you as one of their vendors. You can also strategically mention the brand in complementary posts and see if you can elicit a share on their end. Just remember, be natural, helpful, interesting, humorous (if appropriate) and creative. That’s what will build your brand and social media following.
8. How would you use Pinterest for a non-glamorous industry like the retail beverage industry/merchandising?
Pinterest might not be the best medium for every industry but we believe it’s a great fit for retail beverage merchandising. You could create a favorite drinks board, favorite restaurants, healthy drink choices, kid-friendly drinks, old school sodas, favorite beverage brands, crazy drinking innovations and then some just product-focused boards, too.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Pinterest and other social channels aren’t meant to directly drive revenue. Social media can boost SEO, which could drive revenue indirectly, but if you’re using social media with the single purpose of converting your audience, you’re focusing on the wrong goals. Social media is intended to connect with your audience and establish you as an authority in the vertical.
9. I want to use social media; however, my site is not family friendly. I also don’t want my name linked to a social site page since I want to remain anonymous. How would I successfully join social media without compromising my identity?
You can create business social media identities that don’t display personal information. Just make sure that you set up business accounts, not personal accounts, and populate those profiles with business-specific, non-identifying information. You might even create a unique email solely used to manage these accounts.
10. I’m looking for suggestions on how we can use Social media, and what the best method/platform would be. Unfortunately we don’t have exciting products like dresses, we sell used ATV parts, so the target is mostly men and most things are purchased when needed (i.e. their unit is broken) So generally we count on being found when someone is looking for us, not getting an impulse buy.
Facebook would be an excellent fit for you market. Similar to our RV example in the webinar, you could attract a community of people who are passionate about ATVs and enjoy ATV related posts. You wouldn’t want to sell your ATV parts in your posts, but rather engage your community and encourage them to share their ATV experiences. If the search engines observe a large community of ATV folks rallying around your brand on social media, it will boost your organic presence for ATV-relevant queries as well.
11. Regarding FB, how do we know our fans are getting our posts? Do they have to click “”Get Notifications”? Do we need to tell them to do that?
At this point in time, you can’t see exactly who views your posts. Facebook determines which posts to show to which fans based on an algorithm called EdgeRank. If your fans want to ensure they get every post, they should click “Get Notifications” which they’ll find under the Like button. If you have a really engaged community of followers, you can absolutely bring it up in an informal way – perhaps through your next email marketing campaign you say “Want to make sure you are included in all our Facebook promotions and events? Be sure to click “Get Notifications” below the Like button so you never miss out on a deal or new arrival!”
12. Is sharing my Facebook posts on Twitter a good idea?
In rare circumstances this can work, but it shouldn’t be the core of your Twitter experience. Facebook and Twitter are two distinct channels and should be treated as such. There is some convergence (for example, Facebook now allows for hash tag use), but in general, you need to craft unique content for these two mediums.
13. What about B2B and social media? Do you have any examples where the store is “Trade Only” and not necessarily for general consumers? My site sells to fitness club owners and trainers. Not consumers.
We would recommend Facebook and LinkedIn for your industry. Facebook allows for precise niche targeting, ensuring you only get in front of eyes that may need your services. Likewise, LinkedIn is based on profession and is an amazing networking tool for many B2B verticals.
14. How do we register our address on Google? Do we need to sign up with Google +?
You can currently use either Google Places or Google+ to register your address, but it appears that Google is moving towards merging the two.
15. Can you provide more information on SEO strategies for local if you don’t want to post your address?
If it’s critical that your address be kept private, skip local optimization altogether. You could use social media to reach out to a local audience, perhaps targeting local community groups, but the benefit to your local organic visibility would be minimal.
16. Is it possible that if a Canadian company is optimizing local, it will negatively impact their organic search results in the USA?
You can still implement local optimization for your Canadian location, but we also recommend building your social media audience in the US and earning links from relevant US domains when appropriate. (Not at the expense of you Canadian market, but in addition too.) Also, make it very clear in your on-page text that you serve both markets. Mention this in the template, in the home page text and on your About Us page. It’s also good to have a dot com address as opposed to a dot CA (which you do) and servers in the US.
17. If I am an online store based in MN, how does doing local SEO benefit my Boston, MA buyers?
It would allow them to find your Google profile information in a Google search. They might do this if they wanted to contact you or verify that you’re a reputable business. Local SEO would not, however, boost visibility in the Boston area. It would boost your visibility in your immediate region, and with large markets like Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, it may be worth considering.
18. What is the right video resolution and size to post on a web site? Sometimes videos come too large and take too long to upload.
We asked our resident video expert and she had the following recommendations: “I’d use some kind of compressor to make the video smaller and, more importantly, YouTube ready. I use Compressor 4 for Mac, but there are a number of PC options. From there, you can select the type of device you’ll be publishing the video to, ProRes options and more. It always takes a little bit of time to upload any video, but anything that’s 720p resolution or lower shouldn’t take too long.”
19. How effective is a product video for a product on the web site?
Very. Statistics show that retail site visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors.
20. I am building my site now, and want to use a YouTube video for the main graphic on my page, it’s a demonstrative video. The tech team did the code and it’s on my test page. However, when the video is over, the video image is of a grid of other related videos. The tech person was not able to fix this. Do you have any suggestions?
That grid of recommended videos is generated by YouTube and can’t be removed. You can, however, host that video on an alternative video hosting platform and embed from there. Be sure to wrap that video in the appropriate video schema (as mentioned above). Even if you host that video elsewhere, we also recommend you host the video on YouTube and optimize that video appropriately as well, as Google is far more likely to serve a YouTube video in the blended search results.
21. Do you think YouTube videos could work for an online ethnic grocery store?
Absolutely. The first things that come to mind are instructional cooking and recipe videos. People love sharing food related things on social media. Make the videos helpful, fun and interesting, and you’ll get online love.
22. We use video, but it’s not original. It’s the video from manufacturer. Does this have value?
Yes, these videos are still valuable because they’ll likely increase your conversion rates and improve your user behavior metrics. Both of these things positively influences the search engine’s perception of that page’s value – always a good thing for ranking. A high-quality, unique video of your own would be ideal, but a good manufacturer video has its merits as well.
23. Do you suggest buying into the top spots on a search?
Since you can’t buy top organic placement, I suspect you’re referring to PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising and Google Shopping Feed results.
With PPC, you used to be able to do position-specific bidding, but Google took away that feature over a year ago. Now people can bid higher, but their position isn’t guaranteed, and Google serves up results based on a variety of factors including the user’s location, their search history, your keyword bids, ad relevance and past campaign performance. So search results are tailored to each individual user.
Shopping feed placement is controlled by both bids, as well as the product information you’re submitting and how that information corresponds with a search. I spoke with a shopping feed expert and she explained that you don’t want to be always higher up in shopping feeds. Many times with feeds (because it is so image/price focused), people scan the results to see what they are looking for. That said, if you want to appear in the universal or blended results on the primary Google page, you do need to be in a top feeds position.
24. Does Google have anything in place to stop my competitors clicking continuously on my PPC to drive it off the top spots?
Google uses sophisticated filters to identify, discourage and eliminate click fraud. While not perfect, these filters are typically very effective. You can learn more about how Google addresses click fraud here.
25. How do you use Volusion for shopping feeds?
There are a number of resources available on the Volusion Knowledge Base to help you with integrating with a variety of shopping feeds. The Amazon integration feature has also helped out a large number of Volusion customers expand their search reach. Volusion also offers a shopping feed service if you prefer to have experts manage your shopping feeds.
26. Why are some large companies able to double serve ad in Adwords?
Google has a clear policy on double serving. In order to run ads from two different accounts, you must comply with these specifications.
27. You don’t list eBay here? Why?
In the webinar we don’t explicitly address how to craft an optimized eBay strategy (simply not enough time.), but we do reference eBay and show examples of eBay results in several of our search result examples. eBay can be a part of a properly diversified strategy depending on your budget and market, but it may not be appropriate for everyone. eBay listings currently show up in organic results with some frequency so it is certainly worth exploring.
28. With a limited budget, what would be more beneficial to marketing initiatives – SEO, Shopping Feeds or PPC? Where would I get the most bang for my buck?
Unfortunately, we can’t answer this question. It depends on too many variables including your industry, pricing strategy and immediate objectives. In general, PPC and shopping feeds yield results faster than SEO, so if immediate income is your goal, these are great places to start. These mediums, however, do require a constant stream of funding and when the funding stops, so does the traffic. SEO, on the other hand, takes a longer time to yield results, but it is integral to the long-term health of your site and can yield exponential traffic growth with time.
29. You mentioned in the beginning of the presentation that Google’s Penguin update penalized sites that were heavy in links. Do you recommend removing some links or by applying your strategies will comp for that?
If the links are genuinely useful, no, we do not recommend removing them. If the links are excessive, redundant and not helpful to visitors, then yes, consider removing them. For example, a common old school SEO tactic is placing a bunch of keyword links in the footer of a site. This tactic was intended to influence the search engines and didn’t truly benefit their users. Search engines understand this too, and probably frown upon the practice. This is not to say having numerous footer links is universally bad – many companies use this space for links to company and shipping information, which is an appropriate use of linking.
30. What’s considered “spammy” verbiage?
When we refer to content as “spammy” it means it is being deliberately manipulative in a way that compromises usability. Here’s an example:
“Our shoe store features the best men’s shoes, women’s shoes and shoes for children from a collection of shoe designers who specialize in shoe fashion.”
That’s way too many shoe references. Bots and humans alike can recognize that this is poor quality content, likely constructed simply to contain keywords.
31. Can you suggest some bounce rate reduction strategies?
First look at the organic keywords bringing traffic to your page. Do they make sense? Or are you attracting traffic for terms that don’t really apply to the page in question. If you are, you need to modify your tags and content so that they attract relevant traffic. Next, look at the in-page analytics. Where are people clicking to get deeper into the site, towards purchase? This can be telling. Visitors often bounce because they can’t figure out the next logical step quickly. To combat this, ensure the page has a clear call to action (CTA) that helps them along the way. Also, examine your navigation. Is it visually obvious and easy to use? These are all things that can influence bounce.
32. Does Google consider duration of visit as part of their well-behaved traffic algorithm or do they only consider bounce rate?
When it comes to its algorithms, Google plays it close to the chest and doesn’t explicitly say which factors have the most weight. Traffic and bounce rates vary by industry and should be used to measure the engagement on your site rather than thought of as ranking factors.
33. Google loves Google? Does this mean that Blogger blogs will rank better than a WordPress blog?
Not necessarily. WordPress is highly represented and has many great plug-ins. The content you provide on your blog is far more influential than the platform you’re on. That said, all things held constant, we would argue Google crawls and displays their products (i.e. Blogger, YouTube, etc.) at a high rate than rival platforms.
34. What is blacklisting? If Google finds a problem with your website, do they take your whole business down?
Blacklisting is the term we commonly use to describe the ejection of a site from search rankings. This is usually the result of violations to Google’s Term’s of Service. Google can’t “take down a store” per se, but losing all organic visibility in Google can be devastating and should be avoided at all costs.
A common reason for blacklisting is inappropriate linking. For this reason, we strongly recommend against buying links or participating in link building schemes. A good link is a natural and appropriate link, and not something that can be bought or sold.
35. How can you include “On Page SEO” if your website is mainly visual with minimal area for pulling in keywords? And is On Page SEO keywords only pulled from the homepage or following pages as well?
We strongly recommend having some place for descriptive text. This can be designed to complement your visually driven site. It can also be placed lower on the page so it won’t detract from the visual focus. That said, if you can’t incorporate on-page text, you need to ensure your Title tags and image Alt attributes are expertly optimized. You should also be mindful to provide descriptive HTML content whenever you can, be it in your About Us page or category and/or product descriptions. A well-maintained blog and an active social media presence can also build your site’s keyword relevancy.
36. I am in a highly competitive industry (cosmetics). Can I really show up high on the searches when competing with huge conglomerates?
You can, but you have to earn it. The process isn’t easy and it’ll take some patience, but if you use things like rich snippets, social media and video intelligently, you can circumvent the big dogs in the search results and compete on a very high level.
37. If you have multiple variations on a product, do you need to do complete on page SEO for each of the variation?
In most instances, we recommend keeping them as one product. There are, however, rare times it makes sense to break them up into separate product pages. These exceptions can be determined by analyzing search volumes, user interest and current/past sales.
The advantage of keeping it all on one page is that you consolidate your SEO efforts to a single URL, rather than spreading your efforts and visibility across multiple URLs. It also provides a streamlined user experience more that typically converts at a higher rate.
The advantages to breaking them up would be that you can optimize each page for very precise long tail keywords. If there is considerable traffic and lower competition for these keywords, that may be a huge advantage. Just be sure to avoid duplicate content on these similar product pages as it may hurt your site.
38. I have HTML errors according to Wc3. Is this preventing Google crawl?
Nope. Just ask Matt Cutts, the head of Google Webspam. Wc3 is nice in principal, but modern search engines simply don’t adhere to it. If they did, it would eliminate a lot of quality sites and diminish the quality of search results. If you’re worried about crawling errors, check your Google Webmaster Tools account. That’s a better source.
Thank you so much for your attendance! We had a phenomenal turnout and really appreciated your time and feedback.
Have additional questions? Let us know in the comments below.