Last week, Andrew Youderian took a few minutes (ok, thirty) to interview my good ol’ boss, AJ Ghergich, for the eCommerceFuel podcast. Andrew and AJ talked extensively about SEO, eCommerce, Marketing, and what 2014 will bring. If you missed the podcast itself, I’d highly recommend listening*. However, I also wanted to write up a recap of their conversation, introducing some main topics of discussion and briefly covering their talking points.
(*If you decide to skip the audio and only read the re-cap, you will miss out on their sweet, smooth NPR-like voices and charming witticisms. Don’t do it!)
SEO for e-Commerce – Wut Do?
If you are working in e-Commerce like Youderian, SEO can be especially challenging. Aside from product-review blogs, not many people link directly to product pages, meaning that your content is just not getting links in the same way as other sites. How can you help this? Well, AJ suggests going beyond your products and jumping into the conversation in other ways:
- Install a blog on your site so you can produce content other than product pages. High quality visual assets – illustrations, videos, ebooks and, yes, infographics – are a great way to build links.
- Outreach heavily on this new content, so that you are creating and promoting things that people can take and repurpose into their own blog post.
- Likewise, don’t focus too hard on getting deep links to product pages: Creating the additional interesting content will eventually increase your Domain Authority and, in turn, lead to more sales.
For ideas on this content, see what conversations are already going on and join in. Be creative and have fun, it will show in your content and bloggers will respond positively — as long as you are doing outreach!
“It’s Not SEO Anymore, It’s Marketing. Deal With It.”
This quote, brought to us by Lee Odden has caused some discussion within the industry. Our take?
Essentially, SEO becomes whatever we define it as.
A content-driven strategy is the only path we see being viable for the future of SEO, whatever its label. It all boils down to asking yourself questions early and often:
“Is there an audience out there that gives a damn?”
“Are they sharing this type of content?”
If your gut (and your research) says YES, you’ve got a match. Ultimately, whether that’s called SEO or marketing is irrelevant. It’s just gotta happen.
Guest Posting Without Being (Too) Creepy
Guest posting was recently heavily criticized by Matt Cutts in a post that garnered over four hundred comments. Painting very broad strokes on the issue, Cutts declared:
“Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.”
While it is true that there is a LOT of spammy guest blogging, we’re not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.
Our advice? Guest blogging is all right if you are very picky and driven by quality over quantity. If you can’t churn out tons of great posts, then do one. One great post. Start there.
Like many other tactics, guest posting in and of itself is not inherently bad, but when it’s abused it becomes sketchy.
As Youderian put it during the podcast,
“SEO boils down to high quality content and relationships.”
The relationship with the owner or editor of the blog is more important than any individual post. Teaming up with these people to do giveaways, trade content, etc., is much more valuable in the long run. The same broad concept applies to most other strategies and tactics; guest posting is no exception.
(Note: Andrew also gave a relevant example during the interview of a guest post quest done correctly. Tune in to hear details about how he stalked the guy from Shopify and ended up landing a couple of awesome opportunities.)
Google Author Rank: Get Yo’self Some
If you found this particular podcast using Google, you’d see a fancy headshot of Andrew Youderian, which means he has Google Authorship set up for his blog:
Authorship is quite useful because it links your incredibly brilliant words to your person. (Plus it looks cool in the SERPs.)
The question, however, is whether or not Google will start ranking things based on the author’s authority, and not just the domain’s authority.
Google is making a lot of changes, but AJ’s opinion is that it’s not necessarily influencing rankings. Matt Cutts has been very definitive in saying that it’s not a factor (but is he being too definitive in this rejection of the idea? I digress…). That being said, the act of sharing things on G+ pages does carry a bit more weight and might have an impact.
As for e-Commerce authorship, it’s our advice to set up Google Authorship on your blog but not your store, and to set up individual authors who are real people.
Which brings us to our next point…
Fake Personas Then and Now
Personas, pseudonyms, and stage names have been around forever. Hell, Benjamin Franklin used to write letters as “Martha Careful” and “Mrs. Dogood” well before Matt Cutts was talking with his hands on YouTube videos.
(“Take him by the Beard”!)
Within today’s context of blog posts, this practice feels… sketchy.
Having actual individual authors – rather than a company persona that any employee posts under – looks more natural and makes the site feel more authentic.
One question being asked is whether having individual accounts will hurt your page’s overall rankings when that person leaves the company.
Short answer? Nope. We strongly feel that Google will be smart enough not to let one author walk away with your entire company’s authority in the event that they leave.
To sum it up:
“People buy from people. People read from people… Be human.”
Don’t be a “Martha Careful” (although that is a pretty bad ass name I suppose).
THE FUUUUUTURE OF S…E…OOOOOO:
So, what are AJ’s industry predictions for 2014, now that we’re a month in?
Google is going to continue tightening the screws:
There’s going to be a lot more pain as people rework the shadier methods that were allowed — or even encouraged — in years past.
Now is a good time to start cleaning up your business: Go to OpenSiteExplorer, Ahrefs, etc. and look at your anchor text. See if your anchor text profile looks natural. If it’s super keyword-y, clean it up!
Google is moving away from artificial keywords and toward natural, organic and conversational results. It’s trying to reflect how we actually speak… and not many of us walk around saying “BEST PIZZA CHICAGO IL.” (If you do I really wish you luck.)
Likewise, with voice-activated search getting more popular, mobile is becoming crucial.
If you’re in e-Commerce like podcast host Youderian, become mobile-ready, use responsive design, and think about how local SEO might – or might not – apply to you.
To hear more interesting industry conversations, make sure you subscribe to the eCommerceFuel podcast!