(Before you get all, “you’re watching a competitor’s webinar” on me, let me digress for a moment. When Joe Palko and I sold Solid Cactus to web.com in 2009, Joe stuck around for a while before moving on to become Chief Marketing Officer at 3dCart. I continue to be gainfully employed at the big SC where Scott Sanfilippo is both my name and title, the latter of which is usually followed by the letters, UGH.)
Duane presented for a little over an hour. He discussed the history of SEO from the early days where keyword stuffing and hiding white text on a white background was considered the norm, to today where it’s all about providing useful, relevant content that users and search engine spiders find interesting and “natural” enough to get your site indexed.
If you have an hour to kill over the weekend and you’re looking for ways you can help your site’s SEO efforts, I encourage you to watch Duane’s presentation. It’s well worth the hour.
While I’ll let you pull your own take-aways from the webinar, there were a few that I’ll point out here that I feel are relevant for us eCommerce store owners:
For those of you who think Social Media isn’t a factor in SEO, think again. Your company’s activity on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the others is indeed factored into your credibility online – or “authority” as the search engines call it. The more relevant, sharable, unique content you push out to your fans and followers, coupled with the number of times they are liked, +1’d and shared goes into the mysterious algorithms the engines use to determine rank.
In the social sphere, Duane noted that unique content is important. If you’re sharing things on your walls or in your tweets that a gazillion others have shared, you’re not helping. The search engines are going to look at who the original provider of that content was and consider them the authority, not you. So the more unique content you can provide your followers, the better.
Another point he made that I found interesting, is Bing’s relationship with Facebook. Once you connect your Facebook account with Bing, they use your Facebook activity to tailor search engine results based on that activity. While Google uses the less popular Google+ to do this, Bing has quite an advantage by the tie-in they have with Facebook which has a user-base the size of Texas compared to G+’s Sheboygan sized base.
Other social media take-aways:
- Don’t buy followers! I’ve never been a fan of those companies who buy likes just to make themselves look good. The search engines are on to this practice, so avoid it. Duane suggested staying away from clicking the “Boost Post” button and sponsoring your Facebook posts to get additional fans, as this has the same effect as buying followers.
- Posts with links are perceived by the search engines as being more credible than those without. But don’t fret, you don’t need to include a link on every tweet or post you make.
- Like everything else to do with SEO, unique content is what users are looking for, and it’s what drives them to return to your page and follow you.
- Watch your follower/following count. Duane says the search engines are smart enough to know that if you have 20,000 followers and you’re following 18,000 people, you don’t have the time to keep up with those 18,000 people’s tweets. So skip the auto-following of those who follow you and only follow those you feel you want to receive tweets from.
mCommerce is all the rage with eCommerce store owners. We know that more and more shoppers are using their smart phones and tablets to place orders and that trend is only going to increase year over year. While it’s important that we embrace mobile commerce and adapt our websites to enable shopping on mobile devices, there are some things we need to change that we’ve done in the past.
One of the things Duane recommends is dropping the m. domains, if you can, that we have become accustomed to. He points out that many times, these m. domains produce duplicate content that can work against you – as we already know. (Hang in there, if you can’t do this…. put the razor blade away and read on, it’s not all bad!)
So, what does he recommend? Responsive design.
Responsive design is becoming more and more popular as the number of people browsing the web are doing so on their phones and tables. A site built responsively is built once but programmed in such a way that it displays optimally across all platforms – phones, tablets, desktops and laptops – with just one URL and one site to update.
I wrote about responsive design previously and how you should give it some serious consideration if you’re going to be embarking on a redesign soon. So, skip the mobile version, forget about creating an app for your store and just invest the time, money and effort into picking a designer/programmer who can give you a responsive website that looks great and functions just as good across all devices.
It’s important to note that many platforms don’t fully support responsive design yet. For my fellow Yahoo! Store owners, this includes you. Although I know one developer who has launched a responsive design package. King Webmaster has been creative enough to manipulate the Yahoo! Store checkout to be responsive.
If you’re on a platform that does not currently support responsive design, you can keep using the m. domains or a sub directory for your mobile pages, but it’s recommended you restrict spiders from accessing those pages through your robots.txt file to avoid the duplicate content issue. While search engines are probably smart enough to figure out that one page version is mobilized while the same content on another isn’t, it’s better to be safe than sorry and go with the restriction if you can.
Google Page Rank has been something we all used to determine the “popularity” of a website. But is Page Rank relevant today? According to Duane, no. So don’t get hung up on it.
Both Google and Bing offer a set of webmaster tools. Most of us are probably pretty familiar with Google Webmaster Tools, but how many of us have dived into Bing’s? As someone who uses Google for everything except doing my laundry, I admit I haven’t given Bing’s Webmaster Tools a test drive. But after yesterday’s webinar, I’m going to kick the tires.
In addition to the features found in Google Webmaster Tools, Bing offers some additional ones which include: organic keyword research, rank stats, index stats, index tracker, canonical alerts, SEO report, SEO analyzer, and a link explorer.
So go ahead, and check it out.
These are just some of the things that I found interesting from the webinar, but there were plenty of other gems discussed that you may get some value from. Again, I encourage you to watch Duane’s presentation and put some of the practices he discussed into play in your own business.