Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Getting Local Store Locator SEO Right

Right now, a customer is trying to find your local business. How quickly are you delivering the NAP, directions and other details he needs, on the go?

Volumes of excellent free advice have been written for small businesses about creating quality, optimized local landing pages, but today, I’d like to talk about a topic that has received much less attention: helping customers discover locations when you’ve got a ton of them. This article is for the medium-to-large business with 20, 100, 500 physical locations and a pressing goal to have each one be found by the customers local to it. Let’s talk about store locators!

Shopping wisely for store locators

A business with 5 or even 10 locations can easily work them into a menu tab labeled ‘Locations’ and trust that customers hitting the site will be able to click to their landing page of choice to access NAP, hours of operation, photos, reviews, etc. But when your company has grown beyond this, it simply isn’t practical to list dozens of locales in your top level navigation, whether on desktop or mobile devices. The solution, then, is a store locator widget that enables customers to enter a city and/or zip code, or click on an interactive map, to be guided to the right resource.

There are six main things you are looking for when assessing the quality of a store locator widget:

  1. Does it let me build and/or link directly to a customizable, permanent landing page for each of my locations? If so, this is a good sign. If not, your SEO opportunities will be severely limited.
  2. Does it allow me to search by city as well as zip code? If not, then you’ll have a problem with all travelers who may be trying to find your business in a strange city and have no idea what the local zip codes are.
  3. Does it work properly on all devices? This is must these days, given that as many as 50% of mobile queries may have a local intent.
  4. It’s a must that the widget will work with your existing website, whether that’s running on Wordpress, Magento, Shopify, or what have you. You don’t want to have to redevelop your website, just to get your widget to function.
  5. A bonus to look for would be automatic geolocation detection — the ability of the widget to detect where a customer is searching from. This provides convenience.
  6. And, finally, there may be extra features you’d like to have to ensure the best possible experience for both users and your business. This might include search text autocompletion, the ability to sync with Google Docs to upload location data, or search filters that allow users to refine results based on personal criteria.

Keep all of these necessary and optional features in mind when evaluating Store Locator widget choices. Captera has recently done a good job of profiling a number of popular options which should help you hone in on the right solution for your company.

Pricing varies widely, from free to upwards of a $1,000 initial investment with reduced rates for subsequent years of service. Wordpress offers a number of free and premium store locator plugins with varying degrees of popularity. For any paid product, I recommend choosing only those which offer a free trial period of at least 1–2 weeks so that you can be sure the solution works for you.

Weak landing pages? Weirdly, not a big worry!

I’m now going to write something kind of shocking you thought never thought you’d read on the Moz Blog: you can evidently get away with thin and duplicate content on location landing pages — if your brand is established enough.

I’m writing this because, having looked at a considerable number of live store locators while researching this article, I found landing pages like this one with next to zero content on them, landing pages like this one with a very meager attempt at content that is observably duplicative, and landing pages like this one with some duplicate content, but also, some added value for local users. Not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but, with the exception of the last example, the sheer volume of locations operated by these companies has likely caused their marketers to settle on the most minimal effort possible to differentiate between landing pages. The last of these (REI) has actually done a good job of adding interest to their pages by including a regional event schedule. I like what they’ve done, but is it necessary?

The answer may surprise you

In a word: no. Google is correctly finding for me each of these businesses in the right cities, both organically and locally, when I search for them. While I would never advise a small business to take a least-effort approach with their store landing pages, it’s my conclusion from my research that established brands can get away with a great deal, simply because they are established. It seems you can get the right data in front of the customer with a very minor effort, and that the minimum requirements for data on those pages would be that they have correct company NAP on them and are indexable.

Am I handing out a lazy pass for all?

Are lax standards a good reason to go with the minimum effort and call it a day? In another word: maybe. The investment you make in landing page development for your brand is going to be dictated by:

  • Funding
  • Scalability
  • Creativity
  • Competition

If funding is modest, you may need to spend elsewhere in your marketing for now. If you have hundreds of locations, the cost of going the extra mile on your store landing pages may not show any easily-discernible ROI. If your marketing department throws its hands up in the air regarding differentiating store #157 from store #158, there may be a lack of available creative solutions to the scenario. But this last bullet point — competition — this is where things get interesting.

Besting your toughest competitors

Let’s say you’re operating one of three sporting goods stores in town. Competitor A has zero content beyond NAP and hours on his landing pages. Competitor B has thin, duplicate content on her landing pages. But, you, you smartie, have not only got a unique paragraph of text on your pages, but also store-specific reviews, and a maintained schedule of guided hikes in the region. All three of you link to your respective landing pages from your Google My Business listings. If you were Google, would A, B, or C look like a more authoritative resource to you?

And let’s look at this from the perspective of me on my cell phone on a winter’s day, looking for a high end snowboard and being given raw NAP by one competitor, a generic message by the second, but a promise of a free cup of hot cocoa (according to your reviewers) and a welcome message from you that states that every employee at your shop is a fanatical outdoors enthusiast, ready to show a novice like me the ropes of investing in sporting goods.

In a competitive scenario, if your store is the only one maximizing the potential for consumer engagement on your store landing pages, you are working towards impressing not just search engines, but customers, too. You could end up earning more than your fair share of those 50% of local-intent mobile queries, in city after city.

Supercharge your landing pages

Here’s a quick brainstorming list of both typical and optional content you could include on store landing pages to make them extra useful and extra persuasive:

  • NAP
  • Hours of Operation
  • Driving Directions
  • Unique welcome message
  • Proofs of local community involvement
  • Store-specific reviews or testimonials
  • Links to major review profiles for the store
  • Social media links
  • Live chat apps
  • Store-specific specials, including coupons
  • Location-specific schedule of in-store or topically related regional events
  • A summary list of brands, goods and/or services offered at that location
  • Indoor/outdoor imagery of the specific store
  • Video content relative to the store or region
  • A statement of guarantees offered at the store
  • An interactive map
  • Calls-to-action for how to communicate with the brand after hours
  • Education about the availability of beacons or other in-store apps

Looking for more inspiration? Try this Moz Academy video to spark extra landing page content ideas.

You may necessarily end up with a minor amount of duplicate content, but by brainstorming a list like the above, you will be making a maximum effort to inspire bots to consider your pages authoritative and to inspire searchers to become customers.

Discovery and indexing: Making landing pages pay off

Now that you’ve made the effort to create all of these individual landing pages for your locations, your top priority is to be sure they can be discovered by customers and indexed by search engines.

Simple enough

The first is really easy: be certain your Locations or Stores link is in your top level navigation, at the top of every page of your website. Don’t count on users finding it if you’ve stuck it in a box somewhere within your homepage layout. Many users will not be entering your website via the homepage and you want to deliver the link to find the store nearest them immediately. Don’t make them search for it.

Take care here

Ensuring that search engines can crawl and index your local landing pages requires a bit more thought, given that different store locator widgets are developed with different types of code. Google can crawl CSS, and they can typically crawl Javascript and AJAX. Hopefully, the widget you choose will facilitate your landing pages being properly indexed with no additional effort. But, to make this foolproof, here are additional things you can do:

  1. Be sure you are linking from the Google My Business listing for each location to its respective landing page on the website.
  2. Be sure your other citations also consistently link to the landing pages instead of to the homepage.
  3. Submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console.
  4. Create a permanent sitemap on your website, that includes links to all of the landing pages.
  5. On the main Locations page of the website, include an alphabetical directory of all locations with crawlable links. You can see an example of this at REI.com.
  6. Earning inbound links to these pages from third parties and, also, linking internally to landing pages from other pages of the website or blog posts, where appropriate, are other forms of insurance that they will be discovered, crawled and indexed.

You say “local landing pages,” I say, “customer service!”

Comscore/Neustar Localeze have estimated that more than ½ of desktop local searches and more the ¾ of mobile local searches result in an offline purchase. The same study asserts that almost half of the searches surrounding services, restaurants and travel are performed by users looking for companies with whom they’ve never had any previous transactions.

In this lively scenario, the smart business will be that one which gets name, address, phone number and driving directions in front of the customer fast. The winning business in a competitive environment may be the one which not only extends the courtesy of basic data to the customer, but which offers extra inducements (in the form of additional useful information) to be that customer’s choice.

Store locator widgets and local landing pages have become an established component of customer service. Properly implemented and developed, they may be the very first sign you give to a major percentage of your incoming customers that you are there to serve their needs. Serve them well!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Don’t be Sucked in by SEO Lies

Part of what makes the SEO business so risky is the fact that the search engines control everything, and we only have a decent idea of what goes into the ranking factors. While research, trial and error, and some clues from Matt Cutts have guided us along the way, there are plenty of less than reputable SEO companies out there lying to business owners who are none the wiser. Want to make sure you’re not getting swindled? Watch out for these.

Lie #1: “We Don’t Need Experience in Your Industry”

SEO agencies can work magic in industries they know, so look for a company that specializes in helping companies like yours. You can use an agency that doesn’t have much of a clue about the kind of work you do and what your audience wants to hear, and they can do a good job based on your guidance and research, but it won’t have quite the same “oomph” to it.

Lie #2: “We Guarantee #1 Rank in Google”

Of course, there’s value in a #1 ranking and everyone wants to be there. After all, a 2013 study showed 91.5% of all traffic goes to page one, 4.8% goes to page two, and 1.1% goes to page three. But if you see/hear this one run and run fast in the other direction.

No SEO company can promise this to any client. In fact, the most reputable companies will outright admit they can’t guarantee results. Google warns against it, and since they’re the ones who practically run the show, listen to them—not the people who are trying to take your money.

Lie #3: “We can Fix Your SEO in a Month”

Ha! Even if you started using the Internet for the first time last year, you’ve no doubt seen tons of changes happen every day. SEO requires ongoing monitoring and adjustments to strategy based on what you see happening. Google is constantly updating their algorithms to better improve services for their customers, as we’ve seen in the past with Penguin, Panda, and various other updates. Moz shares an algorithm change history that provides more details about all the changes that have occurred, and when.

Lie #4: “Outreach is the Answer”

This is a tricky one, because for many industries it can be helpful. However, for some, say for instance, a kitchen and bath design company operating in a small local area, it doesn’t make sense. What good would it do to feature a business that can’t possibly have national reach on a major niche website like HGTV? Sure, it may get this business in front of thousands of eyes, but since that business owner can’t offer his services to all of them, his SEO budget is better spent on other strategies.

Lie #5: “Your Best Content Belongs on Your Website”

You always want to put your best foot forward, but sometimes it’s a good idea to use that stellar content on a niche website that will draw traffic (and hopefully revenue) to your own website.

Lie #6: “SEO is All You Need”

If you hear this one, it’s because that’s all they’re selling. SEO is only one piece of the puzzle. Good agencies will go beyond the basics of SEO-friendly keywords, meta descriptions, and tags to help you develop a full-fledged strategy that could include a unique blend of: pay-per-click (PPC) ads, content marketing, social media, and other tactics. I’ve written about how social affects your SEO and if you think simply having a social presence is enough, you’re wrong.

Lie #7: “You Can’t Do it Yourself”

Yes, you can. It may take you a bit longer and you may not get the results a quality agency can provide, but just by landing here at Search Engine Journal, you’re on the right track to learning skills that can help you on your SEO journey. From basics to more advanced topics and case studies, you can search your way to nearly anything you want to know, including information the experts use.

When hiring an SEO consultant or team to work on your website, do your homework. The second you hear one of these lies, it’s time to move on to another option. Now, is this an exhaustive list of the lies you could possibly hear? Not exactly. You’ll have to use your own judgment when making the final hire. One of the best ways you can verify company skill is to see where their own site ranks. SEO, just like any other industry, is highly competitive. If they can’t rank their own site well, what makes you think they’ll be able to rank yours?

Monday, 15 February 2016

Top 6 Reasons why Should You do Website SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very useful for those who would like to enhance the position of their website and provide it a better ranking on search engine results.

Being a web designer or webmaster, you might spend hours learning about SEO techniques and trying to figure out a perfect formula to make your website rank high on search engines.  But, did you ever thought of what visitors want and what should be their experience. It’s time to know what audience wants and how to grab their attention.

The whole idea behind driving huge traffic to your website is to increase conversion rates. However, there are still some website owners who do not care much about their visitors. They have millions of ads on their site and their only target is to sell more ad space. These tactics have become old and they no longer seem to work.

As per my experience, search engines have changed a lot in the recent years and made it very clear that user experience should be the top priority of websites. Remember that if your website is not attracting right traffic, then all your hard work is going out of the window and you will eventually see negative results. The key goal of SEO is to enable right audience find your business online. Below are some of the reasons why should you do website SEO.

SEO makes your website easy to access

SEO help users to access your website easily by displaying it on top results of search engine rankings. Moreover, SEO makes your new and existing customers to reach your business without much effort. You can be on the top of search engine results with strong link building. This is what exactly SEO does for your business and this is what business owners need.

SEO is affordable

SEO is one of the cheap and best ways to optimize your website for search engines. If you have enough time, you will find plenty of resources and tutorials on the net that help you do it on your own. SEO is practically free. All you need to do is devote some time and put all your efforts in gaining SEO knowledge.

SEO maintains the visibility of your website

SEO is something that ensures your website ranks high on search engines constantly. By incorporating SEO strategies, you are maintaining the visibility of your website and improving your interaction with target audience. You will live in the mind of potential customers and you need not to worry, even if they don’t buy anything from you.

SEO improves local reach of your website

Having potential local customers is one of the first requirements of any business. If your website is reaching potential customers, then you have almost achieved success. If your website is not optimized for local search results, then your important customers’ i.e. local customers may not be able to find you. Hence, targeting local audience is very important and it is possible only through local SEO.

SEO is the future of online marketing

If you want to make good presence on the internet, SEO is the future of your business. With millions of people accessing internet these days, it is must to have a website that reach potential customers. Millions of people are searching for information through their smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops every hour. Of these, 95% of the visitors start their search with search engines. Google and other search engines have only one job i.e. providing the searchers with the best possible query. According to statistics, 83% of the visitors choose business on first page. I hope that this made you understand why SEO is something, which business owners should not stop thinking of.

SEO provides better return on investment (ROI)

Good SEO drive specific traffic to your website and this is one of the good things that SEO does really well. It creates more conversions, and puts more and more money into your pocket. If you do SEO the right way, you can double and triple your profits.

If your website lacks SEO, then you need to take necessary action to improve it. Changing some of the elements of your website can help you reap significant benefits and begin attracting more and more visitors. In my coming blogs, I will provide some of the best ways to enhance the visibility of your website and drive huge traffic to your website.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Website designing - The crux behind any website

Web design incorporates a wide range of abilities and controls in the creation and upkeep of websites. The distinctive regions of web design incorporate web realistic design; interface design; composing, including institutionalized code and restrictive programming; client experience design; and site improvement. All these website components joined together frame websites. Frequently, the importance of "design" is seen exclusively as a visual angle. Once in a while the specialized side of website design is underlined in the meaning of design.. At the point when conversing with individuals with poor specialized information, rather than talking about specialized subtle elements, we focus on functionalities, e. g. what exactly degree it is conceivable to upgrade a website through substance administration framework and which elements are unmistakable to clients.

In established terms, design depicts the visual appearance of a website. Every one of these components are consolidated with the basic standards of design so as to make a magnificent result that meets the objectives set for the website. Effortlessness in website design doesn't as a matter of course compare with a moderate design stylish. Simple locales simply expel every single superfluous component from the design, substance, and code. While moderate locales by and large fit these criteria, there are a lot of destinations that wouldn't, by any stretch of the creative ability, be viewed as "moderate" that still fit the meaning of simple. 

Client comprehension of the substance of a website regularly relies on upon client comprehension of how the website functions. This is a piece of the client experience design. Client experience is identified with design, clear directions and naming on a website. How well a client sees how they can communicate on a site might likewise rely on upon the intelligent design of the site. On the off chance that a client sees the helpfulness of the website, they will probably keep utilizing it. Clients who are gifted and knowledgeable with website use might locate a more interesting, yet less natural or less easy to use website interface helpful in any case. Be that as it may, clients with less experience are more averse to see the points of interest or helpfulness of a less instinctive website interface. This drives the pattern for a more widespread client experience and straightforward entry to suit whatever number clients as could be expected under the circumstances paying little respect to client aptitude. A significant part of the client experience design and intuitive design are considered in the client interface design.

Progressed intelligent capacities might require modules if not propelled coding dialect aptitudes. Picking regardless of whether to utilize intelligence that requires modules is a basic choice in client experience design. In the event that the module doesn't come pre-introduced with most programs, there's a danger that the client will have neither the skill nor the tolerance to introduce a module just to get to the substance. In the event that the capacity requires propelled coding dialect aptitudes, it might be too exorbitant in either time or cash to code contrasted with the measure of improvement the capacity will add to the client experience. There's likewise a danger that best in class intelligence might be contrary with more seasoned programs or equipment designs. Distributed a capacity that doesn't work dependably is conceivably more awful for the client experience than making no endeavour. It relies on upon the intended interest group on the off chance that it's prone to be required or worth any dangers.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

42 mobile landing page optimization tips

We’ve all heard the phrase “you only have one chance to make a first impression”, this is even more true when it comes to mobile landing pages. At the most basic level a landing page is the first interaction a customer will have with your website.

Getting that first impression right is critical. Earlier this year we published the post, responsive design is not a mobile optimization strategy focusing on the importance of creating dedicated mobile landing pages for your mobile traffic and not using responsive design to convert visitors into customers.

Responsive Design

Mobile Statistics:

1. Smartphone mobile commerce revenues amounted to 14.8 billion U.S. dollars this year. (Statista)
2. By 2016, mobile local search is expected to make $3.2 billion in revenue compared to desktop’s $10.2 billion. (Kelsey report)
3. 50 percent of smartphone users have made a purchase via their phone (Prosper Mobile Insights).
4. 73 percent of smartphone users say they used the mobile web to make a purchase instead of using an app (JumpTap.com).

Below are 42 mobile landing page optimization tips that will set you on your way to convert more mobile visitors into paying customers divided to:

The Basics
AB Testing

The Strategy

1. Know where to start – Creating an entire mobile web site is expensive and tales a lot of time. The best way to get started is by tracking analytics and understanding the pain points and drops in conversion you currently have. Once you’ve understood those, you’ll know where to start. The most important elements you want to track for mobile conversions are volume of traffic, demographics and buying patterns.

2. Understand your customer’s goals – Make sure you understand how your goals differ with mobile and desktop users. Do you want them to have the exact same experience? We use web differently than mobile, the experience is different and sometimes we use two or three devices at the same time for completely different reasons. Figure out what your visitors are doing on your mobile site, understand what they’re trying to achieve and create a user journey that helps them get there faster and quicker.

3. Define Your Goals – Once you’ve defined and understood your visitor’s goals, define your landing page goal and design an experience with that goal in mind. Remove side information, multiple call to actions buttons and other gimmicks. Focus on the most important elements of your landing page and how they help visitors complete your goal.

4. Change their life – There are thousands of companies doing the same. People spend very little time on mobile sites and need to understand your value proposition in a matter of seconds. Remember to focus on the customer and their benefit. Less: “We are the best in the world” more: “This will change your life”.

5. Define the desired action – know the one desired action you want visitors to take on your mobile landing page and lay out a clear call to action that stands out and logically moves visitors to the next step.

6. Say it at the top – A visitor should be able to identify what’s in it for them quickly without needing to read complicated texts and stories. Make sure to have your value proposition at the top of the page. Your headline and call to action should be above the fold (what visitors see when the land on the page) and give your visitor the information they need quickly.

7. Be clear about the outcome – it’s important that visitors clearly understand what they will receive if they provide information and how you will use that information once it is collected.

The Basics

8. Forget about scrolling – Create pages that fit within the boundaries of a mobile screen that eliminate the need to scroll. This should apply to both landscape and portrait modes.

9. Design for landscape and portrait – most people think of the portrait view when designing mobile landing pages, but depending on how your visitor orients their phone they may also be seeing your mobile site in landscape mode.  Make sure your mobile landing page scales for both.

10. Use Localization – GPS-enabled devices allow for specific, localized content that can reduce friction and increase conversions. In your registration forms you can detect your visitor’s state and city by the zip code they insert. Make the “zip code” your first address field to leverage on this option.

11. Remove external links – By removing the external links to other parts of the site you can control the visitor’s journey and focus them on your call to action. Remember, new tabs open immediately in mobile and navigate the visitor away from your target. Make it a quick and easy journey for your users without luring them to other places.

 12. Clean out the clutter – Focus on what’s important, keep the page as clean as possible, minimize friction and keep buttons as far away from each other as possible. The less clutter, text and colors, the more visitors will complete the funnel.

13. Maintain consistent flow and design –Don’t surprise your visitors or try to fool them, use the same messaging and design on your mobile landing page as they saw in the ad. Be consistent with the messaging, this will assist with converting visitors once they’re on your page and improve your ad’s quality score.

14. Don’t make people pinch and zoom – The focus point of a landing page is determined by you. The way you design your landing page will determine what visitors do on your site. By making them pinch, they, not you, choose where to focus on the site.

15. Click to call – Many of mobile searches are aimed at immediate contact. By using direct “click to call” buttons instead of a copy-pasted number you allow for quick conversions and an easier path your visitor. Make sure to set up your phone tracking to track incoming calls before starting out.

16. Adjust the Keyboard – make sure you use the proper keyboard for each form field. When a visitors needs to insert a number or an email, they should be able to do so quickly without changing their keyboard output.

17. Keep your forms minimal – Registration forms are frustrating on all devices, when it comes to mobile, even more so.  Avoid open text fields when possible, as writing on mobile can be exhausting. Make sure your form is large and clear, using the full extent of the screen, and keep fields as well as the submit button large enough for clicking with a thumb (missing the right field because its too small can be a drag).

18. Simplify search – make it easy on your visitor to find what they need quickly. Have the search element in a key position to ensure people find what they want fast. (Remember it’s not the most important feature so don’t let overtake other elements).

19. Carry your visitor’s identity – The vast majority of smartphone conversions come from either a direct link or email marketing. Use emails to carry the identity of your users into your mobile platform.

20. Allow to “shop later” – Sometimes we just don’t have the time or energy to complete our registration or purchase process. Make it easy on users to complete their journey on other devices and convert later. Offer a simple way to complete the funnel on another device via email or save-to-cart functionality.

21. QA, QA, and QA – Just because you tested the mobile site on your mobile phone doesn’t mean it works on everyone else’s. Before starting out check Google Analytics to discover the most common mobile screens your visitors use. Make sure to check your landing page on multiple devices and track it over time.

22. Ask for less – to minimize friction and increase conversion, ask for less from your visitors. Get the most important information you need to start a process and get additional information later. Screens are small, time is short and people won’t stay there if your funnel is hard work.

23.Keep copy to a minimum – Most visitors will not want to read through several paragraphs of text.  Surface the most important information on your landing page and quickly move visitors to the next step in your conversion funnel.

24. Emphasis your call to action – The call to action is the first thing a visitor should see on your landing page. Provide a quick way for people to follow your call to action and make it easy to complete the funnel. Make your call to action button visible and easy to click on with a touch screen.

Check out the example below by Naked Wines:
A lot of text
The call to action button is cut

25. Optimize your forms – To make it as simple as possible for visitors to complete your forms, test breaking them into multiple, simple steps.

26. Keep titles short – Keep your title no longer than 3-4 words to maintain a one-line headline and not more.

27. Build for limited data – Mobile data connections can be slower than home broadband connections. Users can run out of patience waiting for your mobile site to load. Make sure to keep it relevant for mobile users and light.

28. Stay away from flash –it may look nice on web (and doesn’t convert), but it won’t on mobile. HTML5, GIFs and JPEGs highly recommended.

29. Take location into account – We use our smartphones while watching TV, driving, shopping and other various locations. Make it easy on the eyes & use icons for faster navigation (include short explanatory text).

30. Embrace social behavior – Social login have high conversion rates and are a great way to encourage visitors to interact socially with your product.

31. Offer exclusivity – The majority of people prefer to checkout on desktop screens. To increase conversions try offering mobile exclusive sales to reduce friction and increase sales.

32. Design for action – Design all clickable elements as buttons (not just text links), make them big enough and add white space around them to emphasis them.

33. Less is more– Use as less text as possible and eliminate all unnecessary design elements – leave only functional elements.

34. Personalize your message – smartphones offer a lot of important information on visitors. Incorporate features that are available on mobile like GPS and location-based information for the users, for example: Shipping to Washington!

35. Take font into account – make texts more readable. Use larger font, bigger line-spacing and letter-spacing to allow for easy reading and skimming.

36. Optimize for SEO without damaging conversions – Avoid using a lot of text on your mobile landing page and introducing clutter by using an expandable-div. This will make pages shorter, and visitors will be able to click on what interests them.

AB Testing on Mobile

37. Test KPI’s – Before setting out to start testing, establish your business goals and translate them into digital KPIs (e.g – signups, purchases, downloads). Once you’ve determined your KPI’s make sure your tracking is set up correctly.

38. Reach significance – while running tests make sure you run them until you reach statistical significance, Google Experiments will tell you when you’ve reached it or you can use this A/B test calculator.  Reaching significance will ensure you learn as much as possible from your tests and know they’re correct.

39. Exclude irregular days – conduct your tests in an environment that will give you the most authentic results. Avoid testing during holidays, events or paycheck days.

40. Be systematic – To achieve clear results and understand the meaning of the test results, make sure to run one test a time or, if you have sufficient traffic run simultaneous tests with different test groups.

41. Test Strategies, not elements – After you’ve taken care of all the technological issues and elements that can increase conversion, be sure to start testing strategies to better understand your users. Testing button colors or titles will only get you to a certain point. In order to gain larger wins and learn more from your tests, you need to start testing emotional strategies.

42. Use a checklist – with so many things to remember prior to launching your campaign it is best to use a checklist to make sure no important steps have been missed.  A checklist also ensures that you and your team are following a consistent process for each new campaign.

Wrapping up

Responsive design is not a mobile optimization strategy. To get more out of your mobile visitors, creating dedicated landing pages and different user journeys for them is key for success.

Do you have any mobile landing optimization tips of your own? I’d love to hear your comments!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Best SEO Practices to Double Your E-Commerce Sales

It sounds unrealistic — but isn’t. E-commerce SEO and conversion rate optimization can double your traffic and sales. When I show them proof, my prospective clients have many questions about generating more traffic, boosting conversions, increasing sales, engaging buyers and turning them into fans. Here are the most popular questions — and my answers.

Question #1: How Do I Deal With Out-Of-Stock Items?

It depends on several factors, but here’s what I recommend.
Leave the pages up. If the items will be in stock later, leave pages up just the way they are. Don’t delete, hide or replace them. Don’t add another product to them or redirect visitors to other pages.
Offer alternative items. If specific products are sold out, offer highly relevant alternatives through widgets on the site. Some examples:
  • Same product in other colors
  • Newer models or versions
  • Identical products from other brands
  • Other products in the same category that match in quality and price
You’re providing customers a great service and they’ll appreciate it. It also helps search engines find relevant pages and understand your site structure better.
Inform users when it will return. Always offer an expected date when the product will be back in stock so visitors will know when to come back and buy.
Offer to backorder the product. Let them order and promise to have it sent out to them as soon as fresh supplies arrive. Prospective buyers who really want the product won’t mind waiting a few extra days for it.
Soften the blow. Provide consolation by offering them some benefit, like a price reduction when fresh stocks arrive. This may keep them interested in buying later.

Question #2: What Do I Do With Obsolete/Expired Products?

All e-commerce websites have products that will never come back, like consumer electronics or fashion clothing stores that constantly replace products with newer models and styles.
Many e-commerce websites delete the pages and take no further action. From an SEO perspective, this is bad. You lose SEO value, and people who bookmarked the URL will get an error message.
The most appropriate solution will depend on many things.
  1. Permanently 301 redirect expired product URLs. If the expired product is replaced by a newer model, using a 301 permanent redirect from the older page to the newer model’s URL tells Google you want this page ranked instead. Your SEO value will be retained.
  2. Redirect to parent category. The underlying intent is to solve a visitor’s problem. If you have other relevant products that serve the same purpose as the expired item, you can direct visitors to the parent category.
  3. Permanently delete the expired product’s pages, content and URLs. When you have no closely related products to the one that’s expired, you may choose to delete the page completely using a 410 status code (gone) which notifies Google that the page has been permanently removed and will never return.
  4. Reuse URLs. If you sell generic products where technical specifications and model numbers are not relevant, you could reuse your URLs. That way you will preserve the page’s authority and increase your chances of ranking on Google.
  5. Some items deserve to live on. Certain products may have informational value for existing customers or others wanting to research it. Leave these pages intact. Previous buyers can get information, help and service through these pages.

Question #3: How Do I Deal With Seasonal Products?

Aim to strengthen the product categories. Focus on product categories and link seasonal products to them with breadcrumbs and links in the descriptions on the product pages. Optimize your most important product pages with the greatest potential and spend the rest of your SEO budget to strengthen product categories.
If you’re launching a popular product and know there will be a big demand for it, add a “coming soon” page in the URL structure and offer unique content, launch notifications and pre-order forms. Integrate social media into this page and warm up prospects with user generated content.
With annual releases that you know will be replaced annually, simply add the year in the URL like this: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name-2012/ and 301 redirect it to the website.com/category-sub-category/product-name-2013/ version when the new version replaces it.

Question #4: How Do I Handle SEO For New Products?

Good information architecture, website structure and internal link architecture are critical to rank new product pages well. Link categories from your home page, and your product pages from the category levels. This will ensure that Google finds, crawls and indexes your content fast. Also link to them from their parent category pages.
Optimize your website theme so that new products are always presented on your home page where they’ll get found and indexed. A good internal link architecture will get your new product pages indexed and ranked quickly.

Question #5: How Do I Deal With Products Pages With Little Or No Unique Content?

With all the challenges of running an e-commerce enterprise, few businesses think about unique content on product pages. Many pull product information from a database, leading to duplicate content problems.
Some pages have little more than a product photo. This leaves the search engines with no way to understand what this page is about, how it relates to other pages on your site, and how relevant it is for search users.
  1. Add content for your most popular products. Start by identifying your best-selling and most popular product pages using Web analytics tools and then updating them with content manually.
  2. Strengthen your product categories. You can’t produce text for 100,000 different products. Instead, focus your SEO on strengthening the products’ parent category. Improve internal link architecture, breadcrumbs, and add relevant products to feed the search bots and teach them what your site is about.
  3. Add user generated content. It can effectively differentiate your product pages from other duplicates on the Web. Social media works well. Endorsements and reviews from happy users or customers will not only enhance your SEO campaign but also boost sales conversions.

Question #6: How Do I Present Product Descriptions From Manufacturers?

Google doesn’t like duplicate content. Reprinting product descriptions from manufacturers is duplicate content. But large e-commerce websites cannot rewrite all product descriptions and specifications.
You can get around this by adding unique content like user-generated comments and reviews around it. Invite user comments. Integrate social networking. Let users tell their stories. Happy customers will serve as your marketing helpers.
  1. Add content to product pages. Raise the quality and uniqueness of your content by personalizing it to solve your users’ problems. Add information, images, video or suggestions to your content.
  2. Add a “psychology” layer to your content. Typical product descriptions are dull and technical. People, however, buy on emotion and feelings. Bring your product descriptions to life by telling a story.

Question #7: How Do I Deal With Product Variations (Colors, Sizes, Etc.)?

Some products are almost identical but exist in different colors or sizes. If not handled right, listing them can be considered duplicate content, which causes bad rankings and cannibalization between the different product variants. Products may rank for the wrong keywords (blue jeans rank for searches on red jeans). Adam Audette goes deeper into the nuances in this excellent report.
Review your website and you might find many products that may sell better if ranked for the right keywords.

Question #8: How Do I Handle Category Pages?

Next to the home page, category pages are the most powerful and popular ones.
  1. Treat category pages as individual home pages. Look at your categories as silos or niches that contain closely related product pages.
  2. Add content to your category pages. You’ll find some excellent tips in this article.
  3. Build deep-links to product categories. Guest blogging, content marketing and even paid ads work well, as does social media.
  4. Tag socially shared content. Be strategic about sharing links on Google Plus, Twitter and other networks. Be specific with your tags.
  5. Take charge of what’s being shown/presented. Design category pages to provide search engines and users the best service.
  6. Use search-friendly URLs. This often gets quick results because you are giving the search engines strong hints about what this URL is about while giving visitors help and valuable information — just make sure to avoid keyword stuffing. The most effective URL structure for category pages (and product pages) is:
  • Category Page: Website.com/category/
  • Sub-category page: Website.com/category/sub-category/
  • Product page: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name/

Question #9: How Do I Manage Internal Link Building & Architecture?

Internal link building helps with SEO and rankings. But to achieve better results, you need link architecture, not just “link building.” Internal linking is not all about search engine spiders. User friendliness also matters. Creating a solid internal link architecture needs planning and takes time.
  1. Offer category level navigation. This makes it easier for your users to get an overview of what they will find in the subcategories and pages. Strive to keep things contextually relevant.
  2. Link to category-level relevant products. Look at this from a human perspective by taking intent and needs into consideration, but also optimize for the right keywords.
  3. Use breadcrumbs on all pages and category pages. This ensures that users and Google can navigate up one level to a parent category.

Question #10: How Do I Leverage User Generated Content?

Don’t shy away from user-generated content — unless you’re afraid of honest opinions about your products and services. There are two obvious SEO benefits from user generated content:
  • Better conversion rates and sales
  • The unique content ranks higher and provides “freshness”
Integrated into your product pages, user generated content can enliven your site. Good reviews boost sales conversion. Users become part of a happy community. Prospective buyers see vibrant activity which convinces them to buy more easily.
  1. Build a “community” of happy users. Publish buyer testimonials and reviews. Share blog posts from your happy customers. Use excerpts from a positive review to convince visitors that they can trust you — trust is king and social media helps you showcase it effectively.
  2. Use Schema.org. Schema.org review markup lets you get stars beside your listing in the SERPs from individual product pages, and this affects click-through rates.
  3. Integrate social media on product pages. Instagram, Facebook comments, Pinterest pins and Google +1s can be integrated into your site to present social proof. Post photos of happy buyers using your product.
The “new SEO” requires that you think about the psychology of your visitors more than the technology of your website.

Question #11: How Do I Weave SEO Into The Web Design Process?

Web design isn’t just about visual appeal. You need a specialist e-commerce Web designer who’s experienced and will work as a team with your SEO consultant, analyst, conversion rate optimizer and others. You must give them space and budgets to act as experts.
When your website design and information architecture work in tandem, with no pages/URLs breaking out of the structure, you’ll boost the entire site every time you publish a new product page and ensure early crawling by search spiders. Good design and content along with a pleasant visitor experience will generate more sales.
  1. Failing to plan is planning to fail. SEO must be baked into the business/website early in the planning phase, before you even start working on your wireframes and design process — not after the site is launched. Making awesome category/section templates and having product pages promote them with internal links is very effective.
  2. SEO for e-commerce websites is different from traditional SEO. E-commerce SEO requires a consultant skilled in multiple disciplines, with a deep understanding of human psychology, conversion rate optimization, analytics, Web design & development, social media marketing and communication, copywriting, economy, usability and user experience. The best e-commerce SEO specialists also have deep insight and understanding of commerce and how a retail business functions.
  3. E-commerce Web design is never “finished.” It’s a continuous process of A/B testing to hunt down the best performing variations. The right “tools” are important, but the best consultant or company is more important. An expensive consultant is not expensive if she can generate many more sales than a “cheap” one.

Question #12: How Do I Organize Related Products On The Site?

Presenting relevant related items on product pages can boost sales. Meta data from your PIM ensures that all items presented are relevant, personalized and in stock. Your Web designer and developers must also focus on internal link architecture.
  1. Be relevant. If visitors arrive on a product page for the latest Apple iPhone, you should also suggest other relevant products, based on the cost, quality and persona of this buyer. The latest Google Nexus might be a similar product, but a loyal Apple acolyte may never buy it anyway! Measure and optimize product suggestions.
  2. Location or placement. Let the product featured on the page stand out and shine. Give it space. Don’t clutter it up with other suggestions. Don’t waste your best location on products that don’t sell and are not popular.

Question #13: How Do I Leverage Internal Site Search?

It’s shocking that experts optimizing a site for Google search don’t optimize for their own internal search engine on e-commerce websites! That’s often because they overlook or underestimate the role of internal search, losing sales. People searching with misspellings, synonyms, hyphenation or spacing errors are not taken to the appropriate product pages. They should be.
  1. Enable tracking of your site search. Use tools which allow you to see keywords people are searching for within your site, and calculate the revenue they generate.
  2. Count popular searches. They can mean your product is popular and can be profitable. They may also indicate that people are not finding what they came to your site for!
  3. Use a tool like Crazy Egg to track clicks and see how people behave on your home page, important category pages and on product pages.
  4. Think of your site search results pages as “landing pages.” The search results should be relevant and help users solve their problems. Make sure you “noindex” your search results.
  5. Include site search in your keyword research. Analyze what your visitors are searching for to find new product ideas, locate potential areas for improvements, identify popular products, and overcome problems with search and usability.
  6. Test your site search and fix errors. Type some of the keywords you’ve uncovered into your internal search and see what they find as a result. When you fix whatever is broken, sales will shoot up!
  7. Optimize internal search. Make sure every internal search finds the right product. This requires tweaking meta-data within your e-commerce solution. By handling this through meta-data, you won’t create pages loaded with incorrect or misspelled words.

Question #14: How Do I Optimize Product Pictures And Videos?

The quality of your pictures, photos and videos will influence how visitors feel about your product. Never underestimate the value of making prospective buyers feel the benefits of your product.
Interesting pictures get shared on Pinterest and social networks. Getting users to tag and comment on photos also makes your content unique. Your brand grows stronger as word of mouth spreads. With optimized images, you can even pull in more traffic from Google image search.
  1. Use high-quality pictures. Get photographs that create an atmosphere, that make prospects feel something. Those will make more sales. Though expensive, it’s a good investment for your best products. Video can work even better.
  2. Optimize your images. File name, alt text, caption, etc., should be short yet descriptive. These are opportunities to provide search engines with clues as to what your image content is.
  3. A/B-test options. Try one picture against another to see which gives better conversion rates.

Question #15: How Do I Put Up Pages For Products On Sale?

Specify the canonical URL in the HTTP header of the product page for an item on sale. This tells Google it’s a duplicate of another URL, and to rank the unique version of the page, not this one.

Question #16: How Do I Design For Mobile Devices?

Mobile is too important to ignore in your e-commerce SEO strategy. An informal survey my colleague Kenneth Gvein ran for our e-commerce customers at Metronet and Vaimo Norway found that clients had 2 to 3 times higher growth rate on mobile e-commerce. Go mobile — or go home!
Offer desktop versions of all URLs. Some users prefer the standard Web version, even on mobile. Offer the option to switch between versions. Don’t return them to the home page like many e-commerce websites do.

Question #17: How Do I Deal With Security?

Your customers are worried about online security — with good reason. They put their identity and financial data in your hands. You must reassure them that it’s safe.
Leave visual clues. Display logos and text certifying that you comply with security standards. Show them your SSL/Visa/other security and encryption standards or certificates. Tell them that shopping at your e-commerce website is 100% safe. This boosts conversions.
Many e-tailers hide this information at the bottom of a page, or simply take it for granted. Don’t make that mistake.

Best Practices and Routines — Top Tips For Every E-Commerce Website

1. Periodic SEO analysis: SEO is not static, nor is your e-commerce website. Your site and code will change. A developer may, with the best intent at heart, fix one problem but create another. Use a strategic SEO framework to ensure that everything is in sync with your economic and strategic goals.
2. Use Google Webmaster Tools: This free tool helps webmasters find and fix vexing SEO problems. Establish a routine in which you:
  • Look for 404 errors, soft 404’s and other problems
  • See how your website, products and pages are performing on the SERPs
  • Notice popular keywords and phrases, popular pages and more
I recommend integrating Google Webmaster Tools, Google AdWords and Google Analytics to get access to valuable information for free.
3. Take action: Just monitoring data isn’t enough. You must identify the actionable items to keep improving. Know what to look for and why. Spot problems with indexing, duplicate content, manual penalties from Google and more. Fix the problems promptly.
4. Invest in SEO tools: Tools like Moz, Search Metrics, Raven SEO Tools, Deep Crawl and others help you to identify problems and offer suggestions to fix them. Set up actionable reporting. Establish routines to address problems. Each tool has unique advantages. As a consultant, I recommend using a combination of tools for e-commerce SEO.
5. Do manual (sample) testing: Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to identify problems with pages and sections of your e-commerce website. Pick one product segment that is important to you and perform an analysis within specific categories and subcategories. Often you’ll track down site-wide problems caused by your CMS that can be quickly fixed.
6. Data analysis is the new gold: Everything you do can be done better, but you don’t have the resources to do it all. You need analysis to help prioritize areas for improvement. Build dashboards containing actionable information.
7. Take the mobile revolution seriously: Mobile devices are growing fast. Delays in developing your mobile site can kill your online business. What experience are you giving mobile users and how can you improve?
It’s not possible to cover everything about SEO for e-commerce sites in one article. The advice above has helped many e-commerce websites increase sales and revenue by large multiples, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Article source: searchengineland