Posted by Carlos Munoa, Principal, Ecommerce Marketing, NetSuite
Keeping pace with search engines as they tweak their algorithms is paramount for ecommerce retailers. Even the smallest change could mean less traffic to your site. That hasn’t changed.
At the same time, it’s become evident that search engines will rank your site based on the quality of your content, the performance of your site and the user experience you generate across all devices. Therefore, keep search engines and your customers in mind when optimizing your site by focusing on the following metrics:
- Click-through rate (CTR) – Search engines can track how many times a user clicks on a site from a search result and then returns to the same results to look for another site. The more often this happens may indicate a site is optimized for search but doesn’t offer a relevant or quality user experience.
- Page load times – This is a killer. If a user clicks on a page from their search results and it takes longer to load than a few seconds, search engines will notice. Again, it’s an easy metric to gather and could potentially be the beginning, or quick end, to a great user journey.
- Mobile friendly – Search engines now penalize you for not having a mobile optimized site. Make sure mobile users get nearly the same functionality with a quality experience but with a version of your ecommerce website specifically designed for mobile.
- Social media – Provide a great shopping experience and your delighted customers will let others know through blogs, forums and social media. We already know search engines still consider links to your page, and possibly simple citations, as an important metric..
In addition to the strategies above, you also need to be sure to stay on top of all the SEO changes. Below are my go-to resources that help me stay informed.
- Groups and forums: Join SEO Linkedin groups and SEO forums and blogs, including the official Google blog, and visit the Google Webmaster Tools’ YouTube channel.
- Social media: Stay on top of the latest trends by following SEO experts on Twitter and Google+.
- SEO blogs: There are so many SEO blogs out there, but my favorites are: Moz, Search Engine Land, SEO Book and HubSpot.
- Expert tips: Google engineer John Mueller gives weekly presentations focused on different SEO topics that are full of great information and insight.
- Tracking your SEO strategies: Use Google Analytics to compare before-and-after statistics when making a change to your website. That way you can roll back changes that decreased traffic to your site.
- Algorithm changes: For all your updates on algorithm changes, go to Moz’ Google Algorithm Change History site.
- New patents: Bill Slawski from SEO by the Sea keeps up with new search engine patents, analyzes them and explains what he thinks Google is trying to do so you don’t have to.
- Google Panda and Penguin updates: Connect your Google Analytics account to Barracuda to reveal the exact dates Google changed its algorithm and how that corresponds with changes in traffic to your site.
Remember, there are many things search engines monitor. Some we know about, but many we don’t. So stick to delivering a quality user experience that will drive revenue and keep search engines happy. And always test things before applying any changes to your ecommerce site and always have a back-up plan.
Want to learn more about SEO best practices? Read the other past articles from our SEO Strategy Series:
- How to Execute a Successful SEO Strategy
- Top SEO KPIs to Track for Ecommerce Success
- Research is Fundamental to SEO Success
- SEO Efforts are Meaningless Without Quality Content
- Leveraging Multiple Channels for SEO
- Deliver a Well-Architected Ecommerce Website with Technical SEO