14/04/2015

By Laurent Bizot, Customer Satisfaction Coordinator at Actinic (Part of the Oxatis Group)

Panda, penguin, hummingbird, it may seem like you’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in a zoo whilst trying to climb the Google rankings! There are a multitude of approaches when it comes SEO and we’re not even taking into consideration the black hat side of things. SEO professionals come in many shapes and sizes; the technical experts who are comfortable working with html and other meta tags and the ‘communicators’ who are more interested in the strategic aspects of SEO. A symbiotic combination of these two profiles is needed for great ecommerce SEO.

Beyond the technical aspects of how the Google algorithm works, SEO professionals need to be proactive in offering specific recommendations for a site’s identity, images, and of course, the target audience they are aiming for. Understanding your target, is being able to speak their language and at a semantic SEO level; words are everything. E-merchants must understand how consumers interact with Google. A golden rule we often give our customers and partners: think about your site, in terms of what people search and the type of keywords they use in a Google search. Too many ecommerce sites still make the mistake of giving their products unintelligible technical names or reference codes, which will never correspond to the type of queries entered by Google users.

An ecommerce site needs to focus its SEO in three main areas: the home page, category pages, and product pages. Site structure is a key issue. It’s vital that the category titles are in line with the key words and phrases that are SEO targets. A site that’s designed for SEO will automatically use the category names in tags, as they’re a priority area that Google analyses to classify sites. Which is why category names need to be clear and keyword rich. Sites with category (tree) structures, composed of relevant keywords, instantly have a greater SEO potential. The aim of optimisation is to facilitate search engines’ work by providing the relevant information in the right place and in the right format.

Technical optimisation is important, even if it’s no longer a site’s priority, due to the recent developments in the Google algorithm (2014) which reinforced the significance of linguistic and semiotic concepts, it’s the quality of content that’s significant. The semantic web emphasises the importance of natural language. Google now ‘understands’ the meaning of sentences and tries to determine the users intentions.

The future of SEO takes into consideration the user browsing experience and social cues, having a satisfactory site technically is no longer enough, it’s simply a prerequisite. Sites that appear in the first three pages of Google results are now heavily influenced by click rate and social import. Links from social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) are playing a crucial role in pushing sites up the rankings. This follows the “Google spirit” and a strict logic: if your page is informative, relevant, interesting and really corresponds to what a user is looking for, it will be spontaneously shared on social networks and internet users will naturally link into your site.

Click rate and user retention time (the percentage of Internet users who clicked on the results provided by Google and those who actually stayed on the site) are also essential elements that illustrate a fundamental point: the ability of your site to satisfy the user’s search. In other words, it’s a matter of common sense, the content of your landing page should correspond with the visitor’s search. If your CTR is high, it means you’ve kept the user’s attention. After that, if you keep visitors on your site, there is a good chance that the contents of your landing pages have enticed the user to stay.

In the end, all these points can’t be successful without the fundamental work being put in by the e-merchant which is, after all, the basis for any successful ecommerce venture. E-merchants must, above all, be good traders who know how to talk about their products and provide excellent customer service. Internet customers are demanding so it’s essential for e-merchants to focus on their role, and write creative and pertinent content. Your customers will do the work of spreading the word.

SEO in 2015 a process worthy of the principle of Darwinian evolution: In the Google ecosystem, only the best will survive in the top pages, while others, weakened by their poor content, will be relegated to the endangered pages (in the darkest fathoms of search results … )!

The critical survival skill: satisfy the user. Reflect on this, but above all apply it.