Mastering SEO and running your business perfectly is a lot to ask of yourself, but these three most overlooked SEO basics will make sure you don’t miss anything. If you’re more of a video person, take a look at our e-Commerce webinar for Making SEO Strides in the Time of COVID-19.
Creating effective content that’s been optimized with keyword research is a big part of best SEO practices. Before you start writing, your first step is to put together keyword research based on the pages you’ll be making content for.
Start on your bestselling category pages, and write descriptions for them that give Google’s algorithms an idea of what that page offers. This is where your keyword research really comes into play. The optimized content on your category pages should have keywords for products offered on that page while not being so broad a term as to end up on every category page with any overlap.
How do you balance this? When you write copy, make sure you have a strategy and your sitemap in mind. Let’s say you sell hats, for example, and you have these three categories: men’s, women’s and unisex hats. You don’t want to target the keywords “men’s hats” or “women’s hats” on the unisex hats category page, since you have two other categories that you want to rank for those terms. But “hats for men and women” would be just fine.
Without a doubt, the worst thing you could do is force keywords into your copy. No one wants to read the sentence, “Buy women’s red hats online at the Hat Store, where there’s a wide selection of red women’s hats and red hats for women.” It’s obvious to Google and the browser that this sentence was built around keywords when the goal should have been to include keywords organically to provide valuable information to a shopper.
You first have to attract people to your website in order for them to consume your content. That starts with having SEO-friendly metadata, which includes the meta title and meta description that show up for your webpages in the search engine results page (SERP). Continuing with our hypothetical online hat store, the category page for women’s red hats should clearly show its purpose prominently in the meta title. All details and motivating call-to-action (CTA) information should go in the meta description.
For example, if you have free shipping on all orders, that should go in your meta description — not your title. The title “Hats for Sale – Free Shipping!” is more likely to be glossed over by someone looking for red women’s hats than “Women’s Red Hats for Sale – Hat Store”. The first title gives the impression of a massive bin of mixed up hats that will need to be rifled through for what the browser is looking for, but the second title conveys a sense of order and structure for someone who knows what they want and is ready to purchase. And that’s what that women’s red hats category page is for! Having metadata that reflects what your webpages are about also signals to Google that this page is a good one for that query, boosting your SERP rank.
The step here that’s very easy to forget is to make sure the URL reflects what the page is for too. For the women’s red hats category page, the URL “hatstore.com/rwh” is a short acronym, but it’s not very straightforward. Simple URLs aren’t enough if they’re not relevant or compelling. In this example, “hatstore.com/women/red-hats” keeps your website’s organization clear to Google’s algorithm and to a person searching for a new hat.
Even when people are lounging at home, they’d generally rather be on their phone or tablet than on their laptop or desktop. So, if your website isn’t responsive or optimized for mobile viewing, you’re missing out. Especially if mobile-first indexing is news to you, because this launched in July 2019 and means that Google is mainly using the content on the mobile version of your website to determine SERP rank across the board. Check if your website is up to par with the mobile-friendly website test from Google. With that taken care of, there are other steps you can take for an optimized mobile website:
Keep in mind, these basic SEO basics are just the beginning of what you could see for your website’s performance. If you want to discover all the potential growth that’s out there for your business, a free eCommerce analysis will show you precisely what it will take to boost revenue and profit based on your goals and website data.
No, SEO is not dead. But it has changed — a lot.
In this article we will explore the impact of machine learning and natural language processing on search engine optimization. Specifically, we will focus on how updates to the core Google algorithm and changes in consumer behavior have transformed our SEO keyword strategies. Then, we will look at emerging trends in SEO that could help you reach your optimization goals.
Since the Google search engine was launched in 1996, we have seen SEO change dramatically. Yet, Google’s goal has remained clear and consistent: Return the best results for the user. Every year, Google updates their search algorithm hundreds of times. In fact, in 2018, Google admitted to 3,234 updates — or an average of 9 per day. Many of these changes go unnoticed, but others have lasting impacts.
Major Google Algorithm Updates:
With the integration of machine learning into algorithm updates, Google has become smarter and more “human” than ever. As Google constantly changes and adapts to human search behavior, merchants must keep up.
Google’s Hummingbird update was created to help Google better understand the intent behind search queries and deliver more relevant results. Although keywords are still an important part of SEO strategy, the 2013 Hummingbird update made it possible for a page to rank for a query, even if the user did not enter those exact words.
In 2015, Google added RankBrain to its core algorithm, which is a machine learning AI system that interprets search queries and provides timely and contextually relevant information. Before RankBrain, the top results were chosen based on traditional ranking factors such as domain authority, keyword matching, and link profile. Now, search queries are interpreted for true intent and provide much more useful results.
On October 1, 2019 Google launched the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT algorithm. This update rattled the SEO community as rankings fluctuated across the board. Google later disclosed that the update affected 1 out of 10 search queries. BERT has been trained to learn conceptual relationships between words to discern a user’s search query and its true intent.
According to media analytics firm Comscore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by the end of 2020. With the rise of smartphones, smart homes, and smart cars, voice search is making its way into our everyday lives. By 2022, 55% of households in the U.S. are estimated to have at least one smart speaker. Voice search is becoming popular for its convenience, as we can search while we’re cooking breakfast, getting ready for work, or driving in the car. As more and more devices become equipped for voice search, typing will become less popular. This is important because there is a big difference in the way we type versus the way we speak, and therefore, in the new way we search.
In her article COVID-19 Accelerates the Paradigm Shift from Touch to Talk, strategy analyst Shanna Walia described COVID-19 as “being an accelerant of the adoption rate of voice technology, on both the enterprise side and for consumers.”
There has been a huge increase in people who both work and shop online. This has led to spikes in voice search, especially via smart home devices. We knew that voice search was here to stay, but COVID sped up the process more than we could ever have imagined. The pandemic has affected how we live — and how we search. Now, we must adjust to our new normal.
How to Boost your Organic Rankings in 2021:
A thorough research strategy involves being aware of what type of content top performers are ranking for. Completing a keyword gap analysis is a great way to find missed keyword opportunities that your competitors are ranking for, but you’re not.
Tools to Improve your Current SEO Strategy
Use related searches that pop up as part of Google’s autocomplete feature or at the bottom of the SERP. These queries are especially helpful because they are exact phrases that users have typed in. This gives us insight into related queries, as well as a better understanding of how users phrase their searches.
Google does recognize some synonyms, so it is important to choose a variety of keywords to optimize to avoid penalties for keyword stuffing. You can use LSI Graph to generate a list of semantically related keywords which can be used for on-page optimization.
Google natural language API uses machine learning to analyze texts including the sentiment and syntax in order to better determine searcher intent.
Keyword Surfer is a great extension that will show keyword ideas, their similarity to the entered keyword, and their search volumes. It will also display two boxes with additional keywords titled “related keywords” and “people also search for.”
Another way to see common search phrases on Google is to use their Keyword Planner Tool, which suggests relevant LSI keywords for free. You can also see the number of monthly average searches and competition level of the keywords, which are sorted by relevance.
The Future of SEO
In the same way that an effective SEO strategy from five years ago appears antiquated by today’s standards, future strategies will also age current-day practices. And that’s why paying attention to emerging SEO trends — like the ones shared here — is more important than ever.
So, SEO isn’t dead; it’s just molting.