The Latest Google Algorithm and how it Affects e-Commerce

SEO PackageOne thing that I have learned having been an SEO for the past 15 years or so is that so many ecommerce store owners ‘chase’ Google algorithms. They will read on some blog or forum that the latest ‘hot’ tactic to ‘beat’ Google is to do X, Y or Z. Over time that has ranged from stuffing keywords into your page, registering with all sorts of directories at $5 a time, getting Wikipedia links as they used to be ‘followed’ was another thing you ‘just had to do’. Submitting press releases with targeted links to your product pages then became vogue. These ‘gurus’ also went through a stage of saying ‘guest posting’ was absolutely essential to boost your rankings – some people even set up whole businesses helping companies do this – that was never going to end well.

The Bad Old Days
As every SEO ‘short cut’ becomes known it goes through a cycle of being monetised by the quick thinkers, it then grows in adoption until it becomes abused and then becomes useless as Google clamps down on it. Show me an SEO ‘guru’ that still says that unrelated directory submissions and uneventful press releases do the trick. I’d love to know anyone that still says blasting a massive guest posting campaign to every mummy blogger will still get you ‘top rankings’ for your hosted currency exchange trading platform. I suspect your ROI would be pretty low.

These highly pro-active, exceptionally refined and detailed, but slightly-targeted SEO campaigns just don’t cut the mustard any more. At Cloud Fulfilment we don’t do any link buying or unrelated link building as we have seen others in the market have. Instead we focus on being of use to our customers or those potentially interested in our services. New customers will only be attracted to us if we show them the features and benefits of what we offer (they’re awesome by the way) – buying a $5 directory listing won’t do anything other than annoy the search engines.

So if we know that SEO fads, by definition, will come and go, what are the fundamentals, you, as an ecommerce store owner should be thinking about when it comes to gaining long-term, reliable and relevant sales?

The ‘New’ SEO Doing it Right
The first point would be to fully understand what Google wants – they want to show sites which show ‘expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness‘. This is a term that reportedly comes from an internal Google document used by their search quality raters. These people are given a set of pages and have to manually ‘grade’ them against specific search results and criteria. This data is then used to refine the search algorithm and results you see. It is not rocket science to understand that if you please these raters now you will please the algorithm today and continue to do for some time to come.

It would be reasonable to expect that the ‘expertise’ element of this indicates that you need to show an understanding of your market and the intricate details that matters to your users. This can be achieved by having a wide range of content that explores, often in depth, that market – solving people’s problems and expanding their awareness of it. This may also mean linking out to resources that Google knows are from expert authors.

This authoritativeness that is also important. Often authority is received by others referencing you on a topic. This may mean receiving links from other well-received webpages. It also may mean many social shares (especially those with high visibility), followers on Google+ and elsewhere, citations in online magazines, newspapers or journals, or any other credible resource.

Trustworthiness. This is one I grapple on a daily basis. Trust, to me, is gained from ‘accuracy’. If your data is fundamentally inaccurate then your trustworthiness would be almost non-existent. Trust also comes from not trying to ‘game’ the system – not seeking and/or receiving untrustworthy links, nor will creating websites with very ‘light’ pages focusing solely on the most searched for phrases in your industry. Nor will it help having many and persistent grammatical or technological issues with your website.

OK, But What Does That Mean For Me?
Of course, not every single page on your website can meet these E-A-T criteria. In general, however you should work, wherever possible, to:

  • Reflect your in-depth understanding of your market. If you don’t have it, learn;
  • Focus on educating and enthusing people rather than feeling the need to ‘write ten articles this week on these keywords I found in SEMRush';
  • Make it easy for people to share your content in an engaging fashion;
  • Make sure you try and please all customers all the time, go above and beyond the customer service you would expect if you were a customer;
  • Show your positive reviews, respond to negative ones and improve your business;
  • Seek partnerships, relationships with others. This could be suppliers, customers, industry associations;
  • Understand what is important to your customers and make sure that you answer as many customer questions as possible online;
  • Keep up-to-date with your website’s technology. e-Commerce isn’t ‘set and forget’, you need to monitor how people and the search engines use your website. Make sure you clear out bugs, broken links. Check to see if you link out to ‘dead’ sites;
  • Make sure that all your tags are optimised and unique;
  • Check to see if your content is published elsewhere without credit or control;
  • Think about who uses your website and how and where they would like to share your content;
  • Still do link building, but see it as more of an integral process. Show your best content in all your marketing efforts – customer emails, support queries – everything.
  • Try and use original images if possible.
  • Forget fads. Today’s panacea is tomorrow’s poison.

Image used with permission.