It was great seeing everybody at the IRCE 2013 in Chicago! Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth; we feel the event was extremely useful and it was a great success.
The speed at which e-commerce is developing and fueling the fire of the global economy is incredible. It’s amazing how the Internet makes it possible to overcome nearly any obstacle an entrepreneur might encounter – businesses can now expand their clientele outside their locale, have an organized space to put products on display, and provide service 24/7. E-commerce is really revolutionizing the world of retail, and that’s what we focused on at the IRCE. Conferring about the changed landscape of retail in social, mobile, global, personal, and interactive aspects brought many new ideas to the table and created some interesting discussions. We were also lucky enough to be in the presence of some really great and knowledgeable speakers who shared some valuable insights.
When you think about what makes an e-commerce website successful, SEO and web development are important tools. With the popularity of e-commerce comes competition, and in order to rise above the competition, you’ve got to have a well-developed and well-optimized e-commerce website. That’s why choosing the right e-commerce platform is so important:
- A good platform gives you control of head and meta content. When you can customize your meta description, H1, title tag, and image alt attributes, your page is better optimized for Google.
- A good platform allows for URL rewriting. This makes for a well-optimized page. Similarly, a platform that let you control your redirects and 404 pages is more user-friendly.
- A good platform provides control of image handling. Some platforms will create new image URLs, which is a big don’t in the SEO world.
- A good platform is a speedy platform. As you may have seen in our whitepaper, site speed and performance is related to conversion. You don’t want customers navigating away from their shopping cart because of a slow-loading page or page error.
- Are you mobile? Of course, your e-commerce site should always have a mobile-formatted option so users can easily shop from their phones.
Don’t forget – it’s important to combine your solid platform with good social media, as it is becoming increasingly important in the online retail revolution. Social media makes it easy to target your ideal demographic – not to mention, 86% of American adults use social media daily, and 46% consult social media prior to making an online shopping decision.
Of course, these are just a few of many reasons why choosing the right platform is crucial to your e-commerce convers
When writing for your site, it’s true that content is key and plays a very large part in increasing conversions and keeping people coming back to your site. However, there is a big difference between user-friendly content and… well, not-so-user-friendly content. Consider what draws your attention – would you rather read a list of key points with subheadings or lengthy paragraphs of copy? Personally, and I think it goes for most people, I tend to scan things before I read them and if I find something interesting, I go back and read the rest. A good thing to keep in mind is that if it looks like a research paper, chances are users are probably not reading it.
However, creating ‘easy-to-read’ copy is a lot easier said than done but because it’s so important, it’s vital to understand what it takes to create user-friendly content.
The Key “Points” of Readability
- Bullet points provide an easy way to break up text and draw the readers’ eye to the most important points (see what I’m doing here?).
- Lists, again, are a great way to break up content to make your content appear more user-friendly. From numbers to bullet points, lists are the perfect way to wrap up your key thoughts without overloading the user with text.
- Bolded subheadings also aid in breaking up text and let the reader know what they’re about to read. This makes it easy for the user to skip around the page to read only the parts the interest them.
- White space cannot be stressed enough – don’t make your web pages look like research papers. You can use short paragraphs with white space in between to make it more readable and easier on the eyes.
- Mixed media is another way to break up text to make your site content more readable. From pictures to videos, give your reader something to look at that relates to your content.
It’s About Design, Too
While content is a key component to a great site and has a strong influence on readability, there are certain web design aspects that also affect your website’s readability. Aside from keeping content short, concise, and to the point, it’s also important to ensure your website’s design is effectively conveying this content. Things such as alignment, color contract, and font all play a part in making your site more user-friendly.
- Font is often the most overlooked aspect of web design but is also one of the most important. Always use legible font sizes and font types that are web-safe.
- Contrast is important when it comes to readability. Light grey text on a white background may look slick to you, but for someone else, it may be completely unreadable. Similarly, if you have a dark background you should probably make the text as light as possible. While contrast is important, color is also important in creating an attractive web design so don’t be afraid to use it!
Alignment also plays an important part in readability. Not only does it look nice but scattered web components look unattractive to the eye, reducing site readability.
It’s important to keep content simple and to the point, while making use out of lists, white space, and subheadings. The implementation of a good design has a huge effect on readability as well. While there is a large variety of things that affect your sites readability, content and design play a large part and oftentimes go hand-in-hand.
Our Marketing Manager Danelsy Medrano attended “Unplugged with Mayor Michael Nutter” at St. Joseph’s University last night. At the event, Mayor Nutter talked to a group of 75 of the most promising professionals in the Delaware Valley about the bright future of the city of Philadelphia.
Mayor Nutter spoke on many topics and started with his initiative to make the Navy Yard more of a go to destination for people who live in or are visiting Philadelphia. The opportunity for business growth at the Navy Yard shares many parallels with our world of SEO. Just like optimizing a website, the Mayor looks to make it easier to bring traffic to the area in the future and improve the product that visitors can enjoy once they arrive.
In addition to the Navy Yard, the Mayor spoke about encouraging stats about a decrease in obesity in Philadelphia, promising work done by the youth of the city and exciting deals with musicians like Jay Z that will bring more entertainment to the city.
Danelsy also discussed how Mayor Nutter believes Philadelphia is a hub for entertainment. Just an hour away from the Poconos, Atlantic City and much more, there is plenty to love about Philly. While we certainly agree with the Mayor about the greatness of the city, sometimes it’s all about how you get the message out there, which is something Danelsy and others discussed with the Mayor last night and something we work hard on doing for our customers every day.
As a member of the Young Professionals Network of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Danelsy has been representing WebiMax at events since December. Next on her list of events is the presentation of The Paradigm Award. The prestigious award recognizes an exceptional female professional each year. This year, Denise Morrison, President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company will accept the award.
WebiMax is dedicated to bettering the online presence of our clients with best practice onsite and offsite marketing. However, our marketing efforts are only as valuable as the data and tracking information we use to mark the progress of our campaigns. Most online companies do use a form of data tracking; in fact, more than 17 million websites have Google Analytic accounts. But, my questions are:
1. Are business owners taking full advantage of their Google Analytics account?
2. Do they understand how to turn data into marketing success?
Below is a collection of five Google Analytics enhancements and capabilities to help business owners gain more insight into their overall online performance.
Real-time Visitor Information
Real-Time provides the capability of viewing how many people are currently visiting your website. Reports are generated constantly and each page view is updated just seconds after it occurs on your site. For example, you can see:
• # of people live on the site
• Geographic locations
• Where the traffic sources were referred
• Onsite page views
With Real-Time, you can immediately and continuously monitor the impact that new campaigns and site changes have on your traffic. Here are a few of the ways you might use Real-Time:
• Monitoring whether new and changed content on your site is being viewed
• See whether a one-day promotion is driving traffic to your site, and see which pages these visitors are viewing
• Monitor the immediate impact on traffic from a blog/social network post or tweet
• Immediately verify that the tracking code is working on your site
Insight Analytics (Heat Mapping)
Insight analytics allows for investigation of how users are interacting with your website. You can learn how they navigate your website and this can help with conversions. The overlay displays:
• Percentage of on page traffic that clicked to another page
• Per page metrics
• Browser size on link click-through rates
Insight Analytics can be used for:
• Exploration of visitor flow
• Impact of user technology level on click-through rate
• Effectiveness of location sensitive elements, such as ads or social media buttons
The five Multi-Channel Funnel report provides you with the channels your customers interacted with during the 30 day period that lead up to their purchase. These reports provide essential metrics such as:
• Assisted conversions shows when different channels impacted a conversion
• Time to conversion
• Path length shows you the number of interactions before a conversion
• Top conversion paths illustrate customer pathways
Why use Multi-Channel Funnels?
• View all of your digital marketing channels in one place
• Helps you understand the value of your marketing efforts
• See a complete picture of the steps your customers take before purchasing or converting
• Improve your marketing based on channel performance
• Make the right digital marketing budgeting decisions
Enhanced Visitor Flow Optimizations
Visitor flow allows you to probe the total user paths throughout your website, and you can use several different dimensions as the source point. Visitor flow can:
• Evaluate per page actions
• Advanced segments show data beyond simple user flow
• Highlight traffic paths through pages
Visitor flow can be used to:
• Analyze keyword- to-user path success or failure
• Impact of social media on user flow
• Mobile user flow
Social Media Tracking
Through social media tracking you can monitor the success of your current social media strategies. This will help you mold your future strategies by analyzing your inbound visitors and seeing if that traffic is converting.
• Tracks general search metrics and dimensions for social sources
• Shows individual visitor flow from each network through the site
• Provides performance of social buttons on page
Social media tracking can help gauge:
• Success of social media campaigns
• Effectiveness of social media contests that drive to specific pages
• Effectiveness of social media button placement
A/B Split Testing
A/B testing eliminates the need for guess work in your marketing decisions. Through testing, you can definitively point out what works better.
• A/B testing provides variant pages to users for the same URL and collects data for each
• Based on data collected, decisions can be made to move or change elements based on success
• Effectiveness of social media button placement
A/B testing allows for data-driven testing of:
• Placement of location sensitive elements, such as ads
• Effect of aesthetic choices on user time on page, bounce rate, and conversion
• Below and above the fold placement of elements
To the technical uninitiated, it can be hard to tell whether or not a site needs SEO work or not. What follows is a general SEO litmus test you can perform on your site, using only a browser. No fancy tools, litmus paper, or black magic required.
The process covers three primary areas:
Proper indexing – ensures the correct pages on your site are appearing in Google’s results, and that their listings are displayed optimally.
Architecture – primarily concerned with creating a logical, linear path through your site, ensuring deep pages are crawled.
Performance testing – ensures the site’s speed is up to par, by reviewing site code and server settings.
Search engine result pages (SERPs) are the primary battleground in SEO, and proper display of your site can make or break a campaign. Below is a standard example of a SERP result.
Each web page on the internet should contain two distinct and unique areas, the <head> and <body>. The head contains information that is invisible to the user on the page, unless it is requested. Some of this information is called meta data, which can tell search engines important information about your page. These requests take the form of title bar information in browsers, as well as various areas of the SERPs. Proper engagement of these and other website resources help provide the best representation of your pages in search results as possible.
Proper Indexation, or How I Learned to Ignore my Siamese Twin
Each SERP listing represents one URL on any given site. Only one URL, and therefore listing, should correlate with each page on your site. One important SEO concept to understand is the difference between a page and a URL. A URL is an address to a particular location on the web. This “address” can sometimes be replicated in various ways, which causes two URLs to exist that reach the same page.
For example, an ecommerce site may have the same product in different categories, which creates two URLs that can serve an identical product page.
Google indexes URLs, so even though the page is the same, each URL is seen as a duplicate listing. Splitting indexation not only reduces the amount of “credit” (or PageRank) each listing is receiving, but can also cause devaluation through duplication of content, which is an issue to Google.
Copy content from whatever URL you want to rank for a particular page, and search for it in Google, limiting the search to the site.
Site:yoursite.com “content, enough to differentiate from other pages”
If your site has limited amounts of content, search for the title of the page instead of content
Site:yoursite.com intitle:”page title”
Possible Results and Issues:
I didn’t find any results, what now?
Enter the url alone with the site operator, as shown:
If no results are being shown with this test, it may indicate an actual block to indexation exists on site. If this does occur, test every level of your site to see if it is a widespread problem. The root cause would need to be explored more by an SEO professional.
I Found multiple copies, what now?
There are multiple ways to restricted off duplicate content, but an SEO professional should help you identify the best method. Attempting to de-index parts of your site without proper advice can lead to unintentional de-indexation of large areas, or the entirety, of the site.
I Found One Result, what now?
If you found one unique result, examine the listing. For reasons we will cover in the next section, we recommend a title tag that reflects site structure, and does not exceed four levels hierarchically.
Might have a title
Widgi Blue Pro Kit | Self Reciprocating Widgets | Widgets.com
This title implies the site structure to Google, as well as the user.
All meta descriptions should include a call to action and alternate contact method, usually a phone number. Additionally, meta descriptions that do not contain the query that brought up the result may be pulled from on page content surrounding that term. Similarly, titles can be rewritten by Google if too long, or not descriptive. An SEO professional can help minimize this by crafting a keyword strategy that targets the appropriate queries on page. Using the above example, a meta description might look like:
Since 2003, Widgets.com has been the premier widget provider in Eastern Canada. Explore our expansive online catalog of premium widgets, or call us today at 555-555-5555.
Ensure that page titles are no longer than 70 characters, and descriptions do not exceed 160 in length.
Website Architecture, and other Pyramid Schemes
Assuming that all of the pages on the site are singularly indexable, and properly display their meta data in the SERPs, site architecture must be examined. Site architecture refers to the paths through which the crawler will navigate the site in question.
Establishing linear linking paths is very important to ensure that the whole site is crawled appropriately. In addition to ensuring indexation of the whole site, Google uses the paths it crawls, and the subsequent URLs seen, to determine the heirarchy of site pages. Often sites utilize redundant navigation in the form of sidebars, blogrolls, or large footer sections, all of which can create a web like network that can confuse Googlebot.
Chaotic linking design that provides too many pathways around the site, in a non-linear progression burns through what is known as crawl budget. Crawl budget is a estimation made by the crawler about how much time should be spent on site. Entities known as “crawl traps” can burn through this crawl budget by offering an infinite amount of navigation choices from the page in question. Ecommerce filtering, which changes the url based on the order in which filters are clicked is a prime example. When a crawler burns through budget, or becomes stuck, it may abandon the site without further exploration of deeper pages.
The example above shows a linear progression of tiers established by using intelligent navigation design. From the home page, navigation directs to category pages, which in turn have unique menus that direct to the deepest pages on the site. Site depth should be kept, ideally, to three steps below the domain. Deeper pages run a risk of not being crawled regularly, or at all. Interlinking can occur between pages within the same group, or silo, but should not cross into other silos.
Check each tier of the site against the Google SERPs, using the site operator (Site:site.com) If a page fails to load, check a sampling from the same tier. If they are also not indexed, it can indicate a problem with the bot diving deep enough.
Possible Results and Issues:
A particular tier cannot be found in the index, what now?
Barring indexation problems, site architecture should be examined for a few key issues.
If it brings up a menu that looks like the one below, it is a flash link.
Most Browsers when you right click on a link have a menu similar to the one below:
Clicking “inspect element” on a particular link will bring up the code behind it.
Beyond pathway issues, crawl traps may be to blame as well. Check to see if filtered pages, contact forms, or other complex mechanisms are indexable. They may have to be restricted off, with alternate pathways put into place. To do this, use the site: operator we have used previously to see whether or not a page is indexed.
Bring a Jet to the Drag Race
Google’s ostensible goal is that of providing the best model of user behavior online as possible. It should come as no surprise that sites speed, which can have a tremendous impact on user experience, is also factored into Google’s algorithm.
One of the quickest gauges of site performance is Google Pagespeed Insights.
The interface will prompt for a domain, then provide a list of optimization suggestions and a score. Fix any issues listed in high or medium priority, and it will have a dramatic impact on your score.
On the sidebar there is a link listed for “Critical Path Explorer”. This displays a timeline of page load, broken down by element. This can help you visualize the amount of time it takes for a page to load. Generally speaking, a second or two is ideal for most sites. Large ecommerce may take longer.
If this posts helps you recognize any red flags, feel free to reach out to Webimax. Our team of SEO professionals has the support of a massive in house team of inbound marketers, writers, developers, and designers.
2012 was a big year for SEO and arguably the biggest shakeup was the Google Penguin update. As you probably know, Penguin targeted web spam tactics like link schemes, exact match anchor text, blog networks and so forth. Link building tactics that had, for better or worse, been working fairly well for a lot of site owners are now penalizing those same sites and many site owners that were hit by a penalty are still struggling to recover. As a strictly white hat SEO professional whenever a Google update comes around I don’t panic and worry what is going to happen to my site’s search presence because I know that I’m not doing anything that might ever make my site (or the sites of my clients) show up on Google’s radar. Instead of looking for loopholes within the algorithm to exploit I’ve always focused on building high-quality links from a variety of sources that will serve as gateways to my site and help drive targeted traffic over time.
It might sound crazy coming from an SEO professional, but the best link building happens when you don’t worry about Google and focus on building links that will actually drive traffic.
In an interview I did with link building guru Eric Ward he mentioned that “At the end of the day, there are a trillion web sites. There are a billion search phrases. Yet there are only ten to twenty search results being fought over…The sites that thrive and survive will be the sites that find ways to create link profiles that provide them with traffic other than from Google…links are my lifeblood, not Google.”
In my experience, the kinds of links that will ultimately steer targeted traffic to your site are usually the kind of links that Google rewards sites for having. What kind of link do you think has more value in the eyes of the algorithm—a generic directory link (even if it is in the footer) or a link from a company profile on an industry site? And which link do you think is going to send the right kind of visitors over to your site? For instance, I got a white paper one of my client’s wrote listed as a resource on a niche site that their target audience visits frequently. In just 3 months that one link sent 71 visitors to their site. Now I know that 71 visitors might not seem like much, but imagine 10 links just like that one sending the same amount of traffic over. All of the sudden you’ve got 710 unique and highly targeted visitors coming to your site that might not have otherwise found your company.
Want a more substantial example? I asked a blog owner for a blog I routinely write guest posts for to just mention the same Eric Ward interview I quoted before because I knew his audience would find it really interesting. The blogger obliged and mentioned my interview in another post he wrote and my site got over 500 visitors from it in one day. That was several months ago and traffic still trickles in through that link every single day. I’ll take guaranteed high quality traffic, in whatever amount I can get it, over trying to play the algorithm any day of the week!
A long time ago the quantity of links in your link profile might have been the key to SEO success, but nowadays, especially in the wake of Penguin, your link building needs to be all about quality. The less you worry about how well your site ranks and what furry animal Google is going to drop on your head next and the more you concentrate on building quality links that help you connect directly with your audience the better off you’ll be in the long run.