Every Page is an SEO Landing Page

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well blog: “SEO Conversion Challenges: When Every Page is a Landing Page.”

Searchers aren’t like your other online customers. As a result, converting searchers to customers requires a different way of thinking.

Sites are typically designed with a series of paths or funnels in mind. Customer A starts at the homepage, wants to buy Product Z and click click click — there’s your path to purchase. This path assumes a single start and finish, with each page along the way contributing to the experience and the customer’s decision-making process. This is the way it works for direct traffic customers — folks typing in your domain.

Or the customer may interact with an email newsletter, display ad or paid search ad that makes a promise and delivers a specific landing page designed to fulfill that promise.

With organic search, you can’t control which page the customer lands on in the same way. For many of them, this will be their first experience with your site and possibly your brand. Customers from organic search know what they want and ask a search engine to find it for them. Then they drop into your site on any page the search engine feels is relevant to that query. That makes every page on your site a landing page with the responsibility of engaging and converting customers….

Read the article in full at Inc. Well » SEO Conversion Challenges: When Every Page is a Landing Page.”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Social Media’s Role in Search Result Domination

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “Search Result Domination with Social Media.”

Social media and organic search work hand in hand, but not in the way most people think.

Building up a grand social media presence will not drive link authority back to your ecommerce site. The major social networks have long since stripped the link authority from their outbound links to discourage spammers. There are, however, many other ways that social media benefits search engine optimization, including search engine result page — SERP — domination.

Both social media and organic search are essential pieces of a strong content marketing strategy. Organic search helps drive customers to social media, and social media helps customers discover content they want to share and link to. SEO is not the only or best reason to run a strong social media marketing program, but it is certainly one more compelling argument for social media marketing.

A form of reputation management, SERP domination refers to the control of as many ranking slots on the first page of search results as possible with a brand’s own content. To promote diversity in the search results, the engines favor including a variety of domains. Even on a purely branded search, which the brand’s own domain should rank number one for, some portion of the first-page SERPs will feature other domains.

The more content a brand controls on those other domains, the more likely searchers are to choose one of the brand-owned results, and the better the brand can control the messages that searchers see in the SERPs….

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

The Impact of “Not Provided” Keyword Data on SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource’s weThink blog: “Empty Analytics: How “Not Provided” Keyword Data Affects SEO.”

Search engine optimization is based on content relevance and authority—how closely does the content match the search query’s context and intent, and how many other sites across the Internet consider it to be valuable enough to link to? The growing “not provided” bucket of organic search keyword referral data in a site’s web analytics reports, therefore, can have a profound impact on our ability to effectively optimize our sites to drive organic search visits and conversions.

The “not provided” issue was originally predicted to impact less than 10% of all Google searches. Today, the impact varies between 20% and 50% of all organic search keyword data.

Among Resource’s clients, sites have lost visibility into between 21% and 39% of their organic search keywords. There’s no detectable pattern based on the site’s size, brand strength, industry or ecommerce ability on Which to predict the size of the keyword data loss. A large ecommerce site faces the same data challenge in this instance as a small consumer brand site.

The problem stems from Google’s secure search. Stating privacy concerns, Google defaults to secure search for every user logged into a Google account. That includes Gmail, Google Calendar, YouTube, and any of the other Google products. When signed into Google, the searcher’s keyword referral string is stripped from the information passed to analytics packages in the referring URL, rendering the keyword data “not provided.”

In addition, most major browsers have defaulted to Google’s secure search. Most recently the problem has been exacerbated by mobile devices using Android 4 and iOS 6, which have also defaulted to using Google’s secure search. With so many of the major software players funneling their search queries through Google’s secure search, you can see how the “not provided” issue has increased in scale from the original prediction.

What does it matter? Can’t we just ignore the “not provided” data? Read on to find out.

Read the article in full at Resource’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Google Webmaster Tools: Must-Have SEO Toolkit

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well blog: “6 Reasons Why You Need Google Webmaster Tools.”

Along with their web analytics, the first account I ask my SEO clients for access to is Google Webmaster Tools. It’s an invaluable source of insight into your organic search performance for the following six reasons:

  • Keyword data you can’t get anywhere else
  • Link data you can’t get anywhere else
  • SEO tools you can’t get anywhere else
  • Messages from Google
  • It doesn’t give Google anything it doesn’t already have
  • It’s free.

Read more detail about these 6 reasons at the source — NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well blog: “6 Reasons Why You Need Google Webmaster Tools.”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Optimizing URLs for Ecommerce and SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Optimal Ecommerce URLs.”

The ecommerce platform that hosts a site determines the URL structure, which in turn can have an impact on the site’s search engine optimization. Each platform creates URLs according to its own rules, but nearly all can be modified for greater SEO and brand recognition.

In years past, URLs with lots of folders and parameters posed major crawl issues for the search engines. In some cases the “spider traps” created by complex ecommerce URLs would even prevent the engines from indexing a site, effectively cutting off the flow of organic search customers.

Google and Bing are much more capable of crawling or intelligently ignoring parameters and long, scraggly folder paths in URLs today, but optimal URLs do play a role in SEO. Using descriptive words in URLs gives the search engines yet another algorithmic insight into the types of searches the page would be relevant for. In addition, customers reviewing their search results can see the URL displayed and gain or lose confidence in that page’s ability to fulfill their need.

What makes an ecommerce URL optimal? Read on to find out.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.