Feb 11, 2013

Beginners Guide to Ecommerce SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to eCommerce success. It is one of the most competitive landscapes in search and many businesses are fighting for space on page one for their products. If you’re a new eCommerce site, or an eCommerce site that wants to start doing SEO, this article is for you.

1. Lots of Unique Content

Unique content is important for any web site, but it seems to be missing from many eCommerce sites. Look through your site and opportunities to place content on pages including home pages, category pages, and customer service pages. You should have high quality articles written for your domain too about your business. Starting a blog is another great way to start generating content for your domain.

2. Optimized Product Pages

Getting product pages to rank high on search engines is SEO gold for eCommerce sites. Make sure you are writing your own content for these products and not using the manufacturers’ descriptions. If you use the manufacturers’ description, it will be the same content many other sites are using and have no search value. Do keyword research and find out what the best terms are to describe your products and include it in the title and product description.

3. Optimized URLs

The URLs that eCommerce platforms automatically generate are generally not great for SEO. You want to make sure that the keywords for products or product categories are contained in the URLs. Also try and get the key terms you’re trying to rank on as close to the beginning of the URL as possible.

4. Unique Title Tags

With the large amount of pages eCommerce sites contain, it can be hard to keep track of all the meta tags and sites often duplicate a generic title tag by default across many pages. To win on SEO, eComm sites should make sure each page has a unique title tag and the title contains the page’s key words.

5. Reviews

Product reviews from customers are a great way to generate original and organic content for your pages. Encourage customers to review your items on the page or maybe with an email after they purchase. You’ll also need to make sure that the reviews can be read by search bots. Google and many other search engines don’t read dynamically generated content. If your reviews are dynamically generate, there are some services that can generate SEO friendly formats.

6. Social Widgets

Social metrics on pages can help them rank high. Make the products on your eCommerce site easy to share with social media share buttons. Configure your pages so the information in passed correctly to the social sites like the product name and image.

Jul 29, 2011

Social Media Strategy I Think Everyone Can Agree To

A friend of mine tweeted a link to an article today called Five Truths about Social Media Marketing. The article claims the five truths are:
1. Size Matters
2. The Medium is the Message
3. Social Media Gurus Really Do Exist
4. Social Media is New Media
5. Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm

The article was a response to another article called Five Lies About Social Media Marketing. I swear I'm not making this up, here are the five lies according to the article:
1. Size Matters
2. The Medium is the Message
3. Social Media Gurus Really Do Exist
4. Social Media is New Media
5. Social media can be effectively outsourced to a PR firm

My friend who tweeted the "5 Truths" article seemed to agree with it, while I sided more with the "5 Lies" article. Who's right? Well, it's my blog so obviously me. But seriously, neither are going to be truths or lies for every situation. You see my friend works for a PR firm and I do social media in house for a B2B eCommerce business and in the past did social media in house for a B2C liquor store franchise. All three have vastly different business goals, customers, and marketing needs. So all three are going to see success differently on social media and have different audiences.

I'm going to try to come up with some "truths" about social media I hope apply to everyone here. And by truths, I really mean opinions.

1. Set measurable goals for social media and track them.

I believe almost any goal you have for social media can be numerically numbered. Followers are good to track, but try being more creative. I personally like to track incoming traffic from social media to my sites and click through rates on shared content. If your focus isn't on cold hard numbers and more abstract concepts, like customer interaction or reputation management, try figuring out a way to quantify it and measure it. Track the number of interactions you have weekly or daily. You could also categorize the nature of interactions on a likert scale (1. very negative 2. negative 3. neutral 4. positive 5. very positive). If you're all about the bottom line, track sales that can be attributed to social media or estimate a value for the traffic brought in through social media.

2. Find Your Niche and Stick To It.

No one can be all things to everyone. There are plenty of people trying and failing on social media. If you're a sports reporter on twitter, talk about sports. If you're a fishing store, talk about fishing. If you're a political pundit, be obnoxious and talk out of your @$$. There's a lot of noise in social media. You don't need to stand out from the crowd. You need to avoid the crowd. Certain organizations just are not going to compete with brands like Nike, Google, or Coke on social media. It's better to focus your efforts on people who want to know more about your field and will find value in what you have to say. People will tolerate random thoughts or opinions from Justin Beiber of Charlie Sheen, they will not for a company. If you're measuring your efforts well, you'll start to see which types of messages tend to be more successful and which aren't.

3. Keep measuring.

Seriously, it's important.

I think if you follow these three tips you'll find some kind of success on social media. Set reasonable expectations and goals. You'll never be Lady Gaga, so don't use her or other celebrities and large brands techniques for your business, organization, or personal social media efforts.

Apr 21, 2011

How To Get More Website Traffic Using Social Media

Traffic from social media and social networks to your website is a metric that I think is good to follow. It's also a good way to show your boss the worth of social marketing. The best way to drive more traffic is to use social media platforms regularly and experiment, find out what works and what doesn't, and what the users of the platform are like and how they behave. This post will give you an introduction on how to create better content for social media, and how to use social networking to get traffic to that content.

Start with Better Content

I find the simplest way to publish content and distribute it is with a business blog. If you don't have one, stop reading this and start one right now! It's 2011 already. This may seem obvious, but fill that content with cool pictures and videos. This makes your content look better, and makes it more interesting when pushed out into social media. Again this may seem obvious, but make it interesting content. Keep in the back of your head that lots of people on social media are looking to kill time with short interesting content (like a picture or short video), news, or articles on niche topics (like how to get more social media traffic). Also come up with a good, specific title. The title is the only thing most people are going to see about your content in social media.

Know Your Platforms

This shows you the traffic the top social media sites got last year (2010). Everyone knows to post to Facebook and Twitter, but are you also posting on Stumbleupon, Reddit, Linkedin, and YouTube? A wider net means more traffic! (You can post to Digg and Myspace if you really want to too). Each of these platforms are different, with different users, norms, and interfaces. Let's go through some of the more popular platforms and go over some tips for creating more popular content on each for effective social media strategies.

Facebook ranks content by chronology and popularity. Users can sort their feed strictly by "most recent" or "top news", which combines time factors and the number of interactions. A post that has many likes and comments stays higher in feeds. The longer one of you links stays in feeds, the more chances of getting a click through. So, if you want comments, creating engaging content. Perhaps ask people's opinion when you share a link, like encouraging people to share their opinion on the matter.

Tweets can be found in three ways. It can appear in your followers' feeds, it can be found through search, or your followers can retweet it to their followers. Play on all three levels and you'll increase your chances of getting more traffic. Write a tweet that will make people want to click on your link. Be specific about what the link is, and make it sound worth clicking through. To be seen by your followers, time your tweets well. Take some measurements of when you get the highest CTR (time of day and day of week). You may find your followers are not very active on weekends, or after a certain time. To get retweeted, make your content worth sharing. To have your content found in search, make sure to include good keywords in your tweet and include a hashtag if possible.

It may be the best for B2B marketing.  Your audience is professionals, and generally not people looking to waste time or wanting to know what's up with Justin Beiber or Charlie Sheen.  Create a company page and sync it up with your blog.  (I'd recommend not syncing your Twitter to Linkedin because you will send out too many updates.)  The best way to reach niche audiences in Linkedin is through groups.  Find ones relevant to your business, join them, and post your content there.

Probably the easiest to use, and a great source of traffic, but Stumbleupon is a lot like channel surfing. People on Stumbleupon will be suggested a page to view based on their interests and previous stumbling patterns. If they don't want to read more or are bored, they "stumble" to the next page. This is why I told you earlier that your content should have lots of pretty pictures and videos. Users can also vote if they like or dislike a site, so the more likes you get, the more frequently your site will appear.

Reddit's a little confusing at first. The interface is extremely simple (which for some reason always makes things more complicated). You submit a link, and people can up or down vote it. When people log into reddit, they see the highest voted links, which consequently get the most traffic. If you use reddit, you know the top rated links often are about libertarians, atheism, or a funny/stupid picture.  It's not the best place to post a business article. Reddit also limits how often you can post, so don't waste a post on something that won't get lots of up votes.  There are subreddits, which cater to niche audiences. They don't get nearly as many views as the main reddit, but will be more likely to get traffic from your target audiences. This is where I post most links.


The secret to all good social media marketing is good measurements, metrics, and analysis. Hook up Google analytics to your site and monitor your incoming web traffic. See what posts got more traffic, and which were duds. Monitor things like where the traffic is coming from, when you post, and what the content is that was posted. Keep making adjustments based on your data and you'll see your website traffic rise.

Apr 4, 2011

Making Social Media Sales

I've seen many sales attempts over social media and many different techniques used.  About 99% of these techniques can be called spam.  You've probably seen these a lot too in the forms of automated direct messages and mentions on twitter.  If you're a legitimate business with a reputation to consider, social media spam is not for you.  Many businesses get on social media thinking there is money to be made.  If you're the social media manager, make it clear to your business that ROI and sales are not good metrics for determining social media success and should not drive your social media strategy.

This article is title making social media sales, but sales can be substituted for any organization's goal that requires consumer or public action including joining a mailing list, signing a petition, donating to a cause, etc.  Not including spam, most businesses you find on social media are taking a passive approach to gaining customers.  Their strategy is to build up a good number of followers and post about their business with links to products or services on their websites.  The idea is that you will see the tweet about a product, click the link to the site, and buy the product.  Now ask yourself, how likely are you to buy a product because you saw tweet or Facebook message?

Businesses that use this kind of strategy do not realize that in the world of social media, consumers are in control.  They expect businesses to cater to them more personally in both sales and service.  When they complain about a business, they expect the business to respond.  When they are looking to buy a product, they likewise expect businesses to respond.  Say you own a website (123printers.com) that sells printers.  If a social media savvy customer has a problem with your company, she will tweet "@123printers sucks, don't buy from them" and expect 123printsers.com to see her tweet and fix her problem.  How does this relate to sales?  The social media savvy customer will also expect businesses to respond to them when they are looking to buy.

Rather than searching Twitter and Facebook to see what businesses are saying about themselves, the customer may tweet out "Looking for a new printer. Anyone know of a good place?" or "My printer just broke last night."  These are the opportunities 123printers.com should be looking for if they want to make sales over social media.  It could send a response like "Maybe we can help.  Here are some models with rush delivery we can have at your house in 24 hours. 123printers.com/rush."

If you want your sales pitches to be taken seriously, do not automate.  Anyone who's been on Twitter long enough has received an automated message.  They are obvious and are much less likely to be considered by the receiver.  Make sure your messages don't look automated by showing you have actually read the person's tweet you are responding too.  Besides how they come off to the receiver, if someone goes to your Twitter page, she will see all the same automated message filling up your entire feed.  This will leave no doubt that you are a spammer.

Feb 26, 2011

How Popular Content Can Hurt SEO

In my last SEO post, I talked about how having content unrelated to a business on a website can hurt its SEO (search engine optimization) in general terms.  In this post I'm going to show you a real example of this on the web.

I was looking to create a QR code when I came across this website: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/.  It's the number one result on Google for most QR code related searches.  Most would assume that's a good thing, right?  This website must be doing something right if it gets a page number two on a keyword like "QR code."  Let's dig deeper.  I went to the homepage - http://www.kaywa.com/ - and found that this company sells mobile marketing solutions to companies.  From what I gathered, Kaywa's main business is taking company's web content and making it cell phone accessible.  This is slightly related to creating QR codes, but it's not the company's main focus.

I then looked up the site on Alexa.  Here's its top search queries and percentage of search traffic:

Kaywa wants people to come to its website that are looking for mobile marketing services, but most of the people who are coming across Kaywa are just looking for a free QR code.  There's a disconnect in how Kawya appears to search engines, and what Kaywa is.  If I was running this company, I would want to see terms like "cell phone marketing" and "mobile marketing solutions" as top searches.

This is an example of how popular content can still hurt you.  SEO and internet marketing are not about getting the most traffic all the time, they're about getting the right traffic.  Millions of people a year coming to the site to get a free QR code and then bouncing doesn't help Kaywa's business.  Kaywa can still leverage this high ranking content to help it.  One thing it should do is move it off its main domain.  Then it should link the QR site to it's homepage with anchor text more specific to its core business.

To avoid similar situations on your website, I recommend doing similar search research.  Use Google analytics to find out what the most popular content is on your site and what the most popular search queries are.  If your results don't align with your core business, consider changing or removing the content.