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Proven Tips to Better Optimize Your Ecommerce PPC Campaigns

Ecommerce PPC can be a complicated endeavor for even experienced advertisers. Fortunately, there are a few specific features that can offer the data and insights needed to make intelligent improvements.

Below we delve into 5 tips that can help you optimize your ecommerce PPC campaigns for dramatic improvements. Let's dive right in.

1. See "Search Terms" & Pinpoint Potential Negative Keywords

One of the most revealing features in Google AdWords and Bing AdCenter is information that can be viewed under the Dimensions tab (specifically "Search Terms".) Open the Search Terms for any particular ad group. This will show data surrounding exactly the queries that users have searched to trigger your ads.

AdWords Dimensions Search Terms

If you notice certain keywords that are not relevant or aligned with your bidding objectives, then:

  • Your keyword bidding strategy needs to be improved (often using more precise matching [see next tip below]).
  • You may want to pinpoint unwanted keyword variations and implement them as negative keywords (i.e. "polypropylene wetsuits" and "polypropylene wetsuit repair " - add "repair" as negative keyword.

Dimensions can offer a world of insight to better optimize your ecommerce PPC campaigns. Play around with various views and see what data you can turn into actionable strategies.

2. Improve Your Keyword Bidding Strategies

After looking at the Search Terms used in various ad groups, there may be obvious indicators to improve your keyword bidding strategy. For instance, if you notice a lot completely unrelated queries (i.e. your bidding on full-sleeve wet suits but Search Terms shows that your ads are showing for full-sleeve prom dresses,) you're probably using broad match bidding.

In short, never use broad match keyword bidding. Based on the example above, Google's broad match mechanism will assume "suits" is close enough to "dresses" to trigger your ad. It's a pretty lofty relationship, but it's how Google makes a lot of coin off amateur AdWords users.

Instead, always opt for more precise keyword bidding strategies, like +modified +broad, "phrase," and [exact] match. If you're unfamiliar with the various keyword match types, take 5 to read this nice post at WordStream.com.

3. Leverage Google Analytics to Assess Post-Click Activity

ecommerce PPC Google Analtyics Behavior

An often overlooked aspect of ecommerce PPC is assessing landing page effectiveness. This approach is more aligned with conversion rate optimization (CRO), or improving landing pages and the overall conversion funnel to prompt desirable action more often (i.e. greater sales, for ecommerce PPC advertising.) 

A good place to start when embarking on this Analytics journey is the "Behavior" tab in the left navigation. "Site Content > Landing Pages" will offer behavioral metrics as to how visitors are interacting with your most popular pages. "Content Drilldown" can help you see how visitors navigate your site, which can provide insights as to whether or not your conversion funnel is working as you intended it to.

Likewise, "In-page Analytics" is a fun feature that enables you to see just how visitors are interacting with each page and the distribution of how often certain links and buttons are being clicked. With these features, you might find it worth while to experiment with new calls-to-action and landing page variations. Each case is unique, so it's up to you to explore the data and devise CRO strategies and tests to make improvements.

4. "Peeling & Sticking" Keywords Into More Relevant Ad Groups

Ecommerce PPC - Peel n StickAd groups typically perform optimally when they include a very narrow grouping of highly similar keyword targets.

One of the biggest faults many ecommerce PPC advertisers make is cramming far too many keywords in a single ad group. Attempting to cover several different keywords with one ad results in a number of inefficiencies. When this is the case, keywords can often be further segmented into new or more relevant ad groups. In other words, under-rated peel n' stick strategy can be employed.

Coined by marketing specialist Perry Marshall, peeling and sticking involves taking poor performing keywords and putting them in other more relevant ad groups (or creating new, dedicated ad groups.) Solid opportunities for peel n' stick are typically with keywords with low quality scores.

For ecommerce PPC, this might be a keyword that represent product variation (i.e. "full-sleeve wet suits" and "sleeveless wet suits" in one ad group for "Wet Suits"). In the latter example, these two keywords should be in their own dedicated ad group, as they probably have unique landing pages. Additionally, you can often write more targeted ads. Often times when a weak keyword is placed in a different yet more relevant ad group, the quality score and click-through rate can increase.

5. Never Stop Split-Testing Ad Creative

Split-testing ad creative is an often overlooked practice to better optimize an ecommerce PPC campaign for better performance. Not only can the copy of your PPC ads impact quality scores, but ad copy also influences how well users respond to your ads (measured by click-through rate or "CTR"). For this reason, it's important that you split-test several ads per ad group.

Try running 3-6 different creative variations, depending on how many impressions a certain ad group is receiving. If you ads are getting a lot of exposure in little time, it might make more sense to split-test 4 ads, as opposed to just 2. In most cases, by including the primary target keywords in the ad copy, the ads' contextual relevancy can improve which helps to increase CTR and quality score.

PPC Split TestingFor this reason, it's beneficial to use all or some of the keyword phrase in the copy. Trying using multiple variations in your ad copy. One effective strategy is using Dynamic Keyword Insertion (shown in the middle ad in the image.)

Using this strategy will help improve the keyword relevancy of you PPC ads by having the headline of your ads to replicate what the users searches.

When using dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), you include a unique string in the headline like so: Ad Headline = {KeyWord:Kids Army Uniform} If a user's search query is more than 25 characters long (exceeding the headline's character limit,) the alternative phrase "Kids Army Uniform" will be displayed.

This strategy is highly effective in improving both CTR as well as quality score, especially for ecommerce PPC campaign management. Just be careful using this strategy, for your competitors maybe doing the same thing. This is particularly common for competitive, product-related keywords where there's a number of big budget advertisers.

What Say Ye?!

Tell us, what are some of your favorite PPC optimization tips and techniques? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Ways to Generate Higher CTR's with Product Page Schema Markup

Ecommerce SEO's are always looking for ways to boost their product page click-through rates (CTR's) from Google SERPs. In this short article, I will show you three of the most powerful ways to do just that using Schema markup.

Depending on whether or not your product pages contain images, videos, ratings, or reviews - some of these elements may not apply. Nonetheless, take a quick gander and see if you can implement product page Schema markup to boost your CTR's, and perhaps, your SEO keyword rankings.

1. Ratings & Reviews

If your ecommerce site features ratings and reviews on your product pages, you can make this information appear in Google search results. You've probably seen these beautiful rich snippets popping on high authority site listings - the little 5 star rating showing just under the URL.

Product Review Rich Snippet Schema

There are a number of ways to trigger this rich snippet on your product pages. For instance, you can manually integrated the code via the AggregateRating microdata at Schema.org/Product, or try other methods like the hReview-aggregate microformat to make ratings and reviews data appear in Google.

After implementing this product page Schema markup, hop on over to your Google Webmaster Tools account and use the Rich Snippet Testing Tool to ensure it's working properly.

2. Images & Videos

Perhaps the most profound product page rich snippet that grabs attention and entices click-through's is for images and videos. Rich snippets for video and images do not render as often as other product page rich snippets (often it's YouTube that owns these gems,) however if your product page SEO is highly specific (make, model, model variation, etc.) and the users search query was also specific, it's definitely achievable and worth while.

Video Rich Snippet Schema

In this case, ispot.tv used a Macy's commercial to trigger the video rich snippet in their Google listing - creative, yet borderline ethical. Nonetheless, they masterfully leveraged the Schema.org/VideoObject microdata to make it happen.

Video Rich Snippet Code

For images, use the Schema.org/ImageObject microdata markup. It's essentially the same format as for Videos, and equally as eye-grabbing.

3. Product Name & Price

The product name and price rich snippet is especially powerful if your ecommerce site offers competitive pricing. It also helps to bring in better quality traffic, as shoppers know the price before they click your listing.

In the example below, FarmandFleet.com was able to trigger the price of their 57 piece socket wrench set at $79.99.

Product Price Rich Snippet Schema

This was achieved by leveraging the Schema.org/Offer microdata markup.

Product Price Rich Snippet Code

As you've probably gathered, implementing product page Schema markup takes some technical capacity. But in most cases of using Schema, the content of your product pages is easier to interpret by Google, and thus generates some impactful search results. If you're using Wordpress to manage your online store, explore some of the Schema-generating plugins available. These can make the process much easier and streamlined.

 

Tyler Tafelsky PPC EcommerceAbout the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is an ecommerce SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of organic search marketing, particularly link generation, content strategy, and social media marketing.

Do Social Signals Impact Search? Yes, but...

There's been a lot debate in the search marketing community regarding the impact social signals have on search rankings. Most professionals are under the impression the more tweets, likes, shares, pins, and +1's a page receives, the higher the likelihood the page will rank well in the search results. SMX London

Last month at SMX London, John Mueller of Google and Duane Forrester of Bing cleared the smoke with some rather interesting statements. They both denied that asocial signals have a direct impact on their search engine algorithms in determining ranking. However, they didn't offer insight has to how social media is indeed used in search.

Both Mueller and Forrester explained that there's a reason why a large number of people would share, tweet, like, etc. a given page: it's good content that offers value. Although this doesn't necessarily mean that the page will rank highly in search, the large number of social signals does serve a purpose in evaluating the page.

Social Signals Help to Evaluate the Legitimacy of Content

Contextual (or keyword) relevancy and links still hold true to attaining top search rankings.

If an article gets 100 links but no social signals, this can raise a red flag.

However, if an article gets 100 links and 323 likes, 86 shares, 134 +1's, and 432 tweets, the relationship makes sense.

In short, there's a very strong correlation with socially-favored content and the amount of inbound links it gets. Google and Bing can leverage this relationship to spot obvious signs of over-optimized content that offers minimal value to users.

What do you think? Does this shape your SEO practice? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Using Google's Advanced Search Operators for SEO Link Outreach

Finding link opportunities for ecommerce SEO is one of the most essential yet challenging endeavors that search marketers face.

To compete with the big dogs (Amazon, eBay, etc.), you need to generate quality links that will last (and not drift away like the links found in guest blog post.)

In this article, I will share some simple techniques that I learned from Eric Ward for purposeful link outreach.

These highly effective techniques center on Google's advanced search operators to find relevant pages and websites that are worth reaching out to for links. So let's dive right in.

Leverage "inurl:" to find "Links" and "Resources"

Many websites create pages dedicated to relevant and informative links and resources for their visitors. These types of sites can range from directories, infomediaries, and ecommerce sites. When the domain is keyword relevant and authoritative, these "links" and "resources" pages offer incredible SEO value for the sites receiving the link.

Using the inurl: advanced search operator enables you to efficiently find these golden pages in Google.

For example, lets say we're doing SEO for an ecommerce site that sells natural wooden toys for babies and toddlers. Our objective is to find links and resources pages that offer opportunities to reach out and inquire about being included on their list.

Starting with the advanced search wooden toys inurl:resources, Google will render search results consisting of pages that include the word "resources" in the URL and are relevant to "wooden toys."

Google Advanced Search Paramters for SEO

Now it's time to sift through the results and do some digging on sites we might find potential link opportunities. One notable opportunity is the #5 ranking page for BrianWoodenToys.com. Although the site name and brand looks like a possible competitor, the links on this page are diverse (although still relevant) and the site seems open to link exchanges.

Ecommerce SEO Link Outreach

Even though this is probably a reciprocal link opportunity, it will still offer some SEO value when done right. There's a contact email near the bottom of the page, so we'll inquire and see what kind of relationship we can build.

Try "site:" to Pinpoint Powerhouse Domains

In moving forward with this approach of using Google's advanced search operators, keep in mind that some of the search results shown are going to be competing sites. Ideally, you'll want to find .edu's, .org's, and other neutral websites that offer information, not so much products for sale.

Another great search operator is the more popular "site:". With this operator, we can narrow down the search results to specific domain types, like those mentioned above.

For instance, in our next round we try the search natural toys inurl:links site:org". The results shown are all .org's relevant to links for natural toys.

Google Advanced Search Operators Outreach

The first listing looks very promising, as the example client site offers Waldorf toys, which is a form of homeschooling and education (mentioned in the Meta description.) Sure enough, upon clicking into this listing, there's section of links dedicated to toys.

Natural Toys

We hit golden opportunity with this high authority .org. It looks like we have a great chance at getting inclusion on this page, so we'll definitely inquire.

Start Searching and Start Reaching Out

By now, you should have a general idea on how to leverage these creative link outreach techniques. If you'd like to learn more Google advanced search operators, visit GoogleGuide.com for a nice list.

Do you have additional ideas to share? Please, let me know in the comments section below!

 

Tyler Tafelsky PPC EcommerceAbout the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is an ecommerce SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of organic search marketing, particularly link generation, content strategy, and social media marketing.

Ecommerce SEO Best Practices for Better Rankings & More Conversions

SEO for ecommerce sites is often insanely competitive. With authority domains like Amazon and eBay owning the top spots in Google for any keyword that's product related, outranking them can seem unrealistic. Ecommerce SEO Practice

Well muster-up some courage and confidence, my friend. Because outranking these intimidating authority figures can be done using the best practices of ecommerce SEO.

Below I outline a winning process to help formulate your ecommerce SEO strategy. These best practices will guide your SEO efforts holistically, demanding the support of you entire ecommerce marketing team.

So roll-up your sleeves and open your mind. It's time you learn the best practices of ecommerce SEO for better rankings and more conversions.

Obsess About Usability

The manner in which users interact with your ecommerce site is paramount. Sure, this might not be focal to ecommerce SEO, but what good is your search traffic if visitors aren't taking the steps to convert?

Usability flows with conversion rate optimization (CRO), which should also run parallel to your ecommerce SEO efforts. Some best practices to consider for usability include:

  • Designing and testing call-to-action and sign-up buttons
  • Ensuring the check-out process is fluid (e.g. allowing customers to buy without needing to register)
  • Utilizing breadcrumb navigation links, which not only aids usability, but also SEO
  • Offering a secure and easy-to-manage shopping cart
  • Making sure your site's search functionality is easy and intuitive

Usability is paramount to your ecommerce store's success. These elements should be at the forefront of your concerns to ensure your site's traffic potential is maximized.

Write Your Own Awesome Page Copy

Although it may be legal and convenient, never use manufacturer-generated content for product descriptions or other aspects of your page copy. This will lead to duplicate content and diminish the SEO value of your pages.

Whether you recruit someone creative on your team, or hire a quality SEO copywriter, unique and engaging copy is more important than many think. Shoppers do actually read copy on your site, especially the product descriptions. When page copy speaks truly about a product while resonating with your brand, you can really grab their attention.

Respect Technical SEO

The techical SEO aspects of your ecommerce site are critical. Technical SEO focuses on elements like:

  • Finding and fixing HTML coding errors
  • Creating sitemaps and optimizing internal linking
  • Pinpointing duplicate content, specifically page title tags and meta descriptions
  • Determining where to utilize canonical tags
  • Optimizing URLs that are non-SEO-friendly
  • Ensuring proper crawling and indexing of the ecommerce site
  • Implementing redirects and correcting those that have been mishandled

Respecting technical SEO demands the skills and expertise of a coding guru (or ideally, a "technical SEO expert"). Some SEO specialists center their practice on the strategic and creative side of SEO, whereas others have knack for analytical and technical aspects of ecommerce SEO.

Produce Great Content

Whether product profile videos, educational articles and blog posts, producing great content extends beyond the webpages of your ecommerce site. To maximize ecommerce SEO value in today's social age, you need a hub to publish interesting content, such as a blog or media center page.

Producing and sharing great content plays a two-fold role in your SEO mission:

  • By keeping your ecommerce site fresh with newly published content on a consistent basis, search engine spiders are apt to crawl and index your site more frequently. Additionally, you create content that's keyword relevant (and links to your optimized inside pages) which can bolster your ecommerce SEO efforts.
  • By sharing, promoting, and marketing your content on social media platforms, you site adds a layer of social credibility and authority (via mechanisms like social signals and the volume of social followers). These new social mechanisms have been said to help with SEO and search rankings.

Diversify Your Backlink Portfolio

There's no questions that building links for SEO still works. It's just a matter of how and where you building links. I recently wrote an article called Tips to Create a Balanced SEO Link Building Strategy, and I highly recommend reading it if you need a primer on link building.

For ecommerce sites, link building is entire SEO strategy in itself. Not only do you want to balance the types of links (as well as the anchor text of those links), but you want to link to a variety of your pages (and not just your homepage). For some, this might be a no-brainer, but it's not uncommon to see SEO service providers pointing every backlink to the homepage.

Remember, product pages are your bread and butter. Once you've optimized a product page with alluring (and keyword-friendly) copy and media, sending some backlinks to that page can truly empower its rankings. Based on my experience, product pages can withstand a greater volume of backlinks with exact keyword match anchor text. Of course too much exact keyword match anchor text much can be risky, but I think the true ratio and balance of anchor text (before a red flag is raised to Google about your site being over-optimized) stems primarily from the domain.

Use a wide range of backlink sources to diversify your site's portfolio. Directories are a good place to start, in addition to reaching out and gathering prospects suitable for guest blog posts on product reviews. Offering contests and other forms of link bait is equally, if not more effective. And of course, start getting social!

Be an Educator & a Social Butterfly

Late last year I wrote a post at CPCStrategy.com about how socializing on Google+ can influence your SEO efforts. In the article I describe how the more people that encircle your brand's page on Google+, the more control you'll have over their search results. The concept is based on Google's "Search, plus Your World" which integrates a social element to search.

Although this concept is still emerging and has yet to fully bloom, it should not ignored in your ecommerce SEO strategy. There's also the element of "social signals," which are the Facebook "Likes," Google "+1's," "Pins," "Tweets," and other social attributes that can be given to webpage. Based on several studies on this topic, a high volume of social signals correlates to better search engine rankings. I like to think of it as Google's way of attributing a legitimate, human-based ranking factor to its algorithm.

But the big question is: how do you gain a lot of social signals? Like I mention above, you need to produce great content that truly resonates with your target audience. For ecommerce sites, being an educator is a winning strategy. Some of the most successful and highly ranked ecommerce sites will create videos that educate shoppers about a product, or set of products. Not only does this practice help generate social signals, but the videos themselves can rank atop the search results.

The Takeaway

Imagine this: what's a high margin product that you want to sell a lot of? Start be optimizing the product's page with unique content and optimized images. Next, produce a video, image gallery, blog post (or all three) about that product. Share (or upload) the latter content on YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and any other social media sites your brand is active on. And lastly, build a few links to that product page.

Using these ecommerce SEO best practices is a winning strategy, so long as you're mindful during each step of the process. All the while, always focus on improving the usability and technical aspects of your website. In a matter of time, your ecommerce site can evolve into a true online authority figure

 

About the Author

ecommerce SEO specialistTyler Tafelsky offers over five years of experience as an organic SEO specialist. Tyler is highly-engaged in social media, link building, and content strategy. You can learn more by connecting with Tyler on Google+, or following Tyler on Twitter.

The 7 Pillars of Technical SEO for Ecommerce Sites

Ecommerce sites are often massive and complex domains containing hundreds and thousands of pages. It's thus important that someone on your SEO or Internet marketing team understands the intricacies of technical SEO for ecommerce sites. Technical SEO Ecommerce

Although technical SEO focuses on the nuts and bolts of a website (typically the elements that are invisible to users), these technical elements can significantly impact a site's performance in countless ways.

In essence, technical SEO addresses the fluidity of crawling and indexing, the quality of user experience (or usability), and the overall SEO-friendliness of the website.

If you're interested in learning more about various aspects of technical SEO, then read on, my friend. Below I educate you on how technical SEO influences ecommerce site performance and SEO potential.

Find & Fix HTML Errors

There are a couple places to pinpoint HTML coding errors on a website. The first is Google Webmaster Tools, where you can look at the "error reports" feature. The second is W3C Markup Validation Service, a free tool that scans and lists all of the HTML errors and warnings that are present on a site.

Google Webmaster Tools only shows errors that are picked-up by Google bots, so this data might pose some limitations. So in addition to the W3C tool, you can also check Yahoo and Bing webmaster tools to pinpoint all potential errors.

The most critical issues that can impact SEO performance are crawl errors, like DNS lookup errors and 404 pages. These can be common on ecommerce sites, so take the time to address any significant HTML errors that arise.

Integrate Sitemaps

There are two main types of sitemaps: HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. And using each type of sitemap correctly is critical for SEO success.

HTML Sitemaps

The HTML sitemap is a visible "index" on the website that contains links to almost every page of the site. I say "almost" because in some cases of websites with thousands of pages, many pages are left out. A big mistake I see with large ecommerce sites of the like is that they fail to include key product pages on the HTML sitemap.

Because product pages are the bread and butter to ecommerce SEO, it's important to include these pages on the sitemap (or at least those that you're trying to rank in search.) For very robust sites that face this issue, often times segmented sitemaps are a sound solution.

Additionally, you'll want to link the sitemap on all pages, such as in a site-wide header or footer. The HTML sitemap is your search engine spider food for SEO. Google spiders eat up sitemaps, which aids more efficient crawling, indexing, and ranking of your pages.

XML Sitemaps

The XML sitemap, which is submitted to Google Webmaster Tools, is a list of all the pages on a website that instructs search engine spiders precisely what to index. In short, the XML sitemap helps search engines find all of the pages of a site. XML sitemaps are also very important in monitoring a website's index-levels, or to ensure key pages are being crawled and indexed.

When new pages are added to an ecommerce site, they should also be added to both the HTML and XML sitemap. Additionally, the updated XML sitemap should be re-submitted in Google Webmaster Tools to notify search engines to crawl and index these pages.

Pinpoint Duplicate Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

The uniqueness of each page's title tag and meta description is very important for ecommerce SEO. You can detect duplicate title tags and meta descriptions using Google Webmaster Tools or other crawling tools, such as SEO Powersuite's Website Auditor Tool.

Aside from being unique, title tags and meta descriptions should:

  • be compelling, relevant, and incentivizing
  • contain primary keyword targets
  • be no longer than 70 characters for titles and about 155 characters for meta descriptions (to ensure all appear in the search results without being cut-off)

Utilization of Canonical Tags

In some cases with large ecommerce sites, the same content is on more than one page (or even worse, the same content is duplicated across multiple pages.) SEO-unfriendly scenarios like these call for canonical tags.

A canonical tag tells search engines which page is the preferred URL (or "canonical URL.") This will ensure the correct page is indexed and ranked according to your ecommerce SEO strategy.

For example, if the "money page" (as we like to call it) is www.ClothingStoreBrand.com/outdoor/north-face-jackets, but the same content is present on other URLs (such as www.ClothingStoreBrand.com/mens/north-face-jackets and www.ClothingStoreBrand.com/north-face/coats-jackets), then the rel=canonical tag needs to be applied.

Google itself has stated that it cannot guarantee to follow the canonical URL, so it's wise to completely eliminate any duplicate content found on the website.

Optimize Page URLs

The URLs of your pages should be short. (Shoot for less than 115 characters if possible). URLs should also be static in that there should only be one static URL for each page of the website.

Ecommerce sites are often built on a CMS (content management system) which can adversely impact the best practices of URL naming. For instance, some CMS platforms automatically generate URLs with excessive parameters, such as:

www.website.com/prod=cat=72&type=5&order=c

These cumbersome URL parameters make it difficult for search engine spiders to crawl and index the URL's content and, in some cases, can result in problems with duplicate content.

Similar issues can stem from ecommerce sites that assign session IDs. When users visit a website they are assigned a unique session ID (which is then included in the URL.)

For ecommerce SEO best practices, URLs should be keyword relevant and readable. The goal is to include the primary keyword targets, while ensuring URLs are short and unique from one another. Here's an example of a SEO-friendly URL naming convention:

www.website.com/category/product

Or to offer a real world example:

www.ClothingStoreBrand.com/kids-clothes/girls-pink-t-shirt

Ensure Proper Indexing

Indexing simply refers to URLs or webpages that have been successfully recognized (crawled) and stored (indexed) by search engines. It's important that all optimized pages are indexed in order for them to appear in the search results.

To ensure key pages have been indexed, it's useful to refer to Google Webmaster Tools where you can view the URLs that have been crawled. Uploading an XML sitemap helps to carry out proper indexing of the ecommerce site.

Another option, although a bit less efficient for technical SEO purposes, is to perform a Google search as follows:

site:ecommercewebsite.com

Be sure to have no space between "site:" and the domain. The number of pages that are shown in the results reflects the URLs that Google has crawled and indexed. If there's a big discrepancy between the number of indexed pages and what's included on the sitemap, then further investigation is needed.

Implement or Correct Mishandled Redirects

Particularly for online stores, it's important to check existing redirects as they may be using 302 redirects (which are temporary) instead of 301 redirects (which are permanent.) Unlike 301 permanent redirects, 302 redirects do not pass link value for SEO.

If the site has an abundance of redirects, the technical SEO team should address any mishandled redirects as soon as possible. It's important to avoid removing redirects, as there may be backlinks pointing to a page (which may be providing SEO value.)

There are a few special tools that you can use to determine the nature and type of redirects being used. Here at Click Centric SEO, we use Website Auditor, one of the four awesome programs in Link Assistant's SEO Powersuite.

A couple others worth checking out, and perhaps not quite as expensive, are Screaming Frog and the redirect checker from Ayima (a Google Chrome app.)

 

Tyler Tafelsky PPC EcommerceAbout the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of organic SEO for ecommerce sites, as well as PPC advertising, content marketing, and social media marketing.

Sitemaps: Ecommerce Essentials for On-Page SEO

When it comes to SEO, particularly SEO for ecommerce sites, sitemaps are one of the most important elements of a website.

The sitemap is considered by many search marketing experts the second most important page of a website (next to the homepage as number one.) If you think of your website as a book, the sitemap serves as main reference point, or index.

In its very essence, a sitemap contains links to all primary pages of a website. Although not commonly used by typical users for navigation, the sitemap serve as a roadmap for search engine spiders, giving direction to all of the rich, rank-ready content that needs to be crawled and indexed.

Sitemaps for SEO

As a result, sitemaps are absolutely essential for SEO (specifically "on-page SEO"). Most websites only need one sitemap to fit the bill; however, larger ecommerce sites can be an exception.

Because ecommerce sites are deep and often contain thousands of pages, one sitemap can pose some limitations for SEO. In short, one sitemap with thousands of links is a bit much. That is, the value of each link is significantly reduced when spread amongst thousands of counterparts.

Using Segmented Sitemaps for Deep Ecommerce Sites

There are no rules as to how many sitemaps you can have. Deep ecommerce sites with thousands of pages should take full advantage of segmented sitemaps. These are more focal sitemaps that are broken-down based on specific product categories, brands, and other characteristics that make logical sense.

For example, an online electronics store that specializes in hi-def TV's may want to create dedicated sitemaps for each brand it offers. This retailer could create segmented sitemaps for Samsung TV's, Sony TV's, Toshiba TV's, and so on.

Perhaps the ecommerce retailer only offers a few select television products per brand, in addition to many other electronics. In this case, they might simply have one sitemap for TV's, and additional sitemaps dedicated to other product categories, such as PC's, MP3 players, smartphones, etc.

The main idea is be logical about the segmentation process with respect to your ecommerce SEO strategy. If "Samsung TVs" is the keyword you want to rank for (and you have a ton of Samsung televisions in-stock,) then it would make logical sense to build a dedicated sitemap for this brand.

Leveraging XML Sitemaps SEO Empowerment

XML sitemaps are a little bit different. Unlike "HTML sitemaps" (which are visible to website users,) XML sitemaps are a files that are uploaded to your website, but invisible to the common visitor.

These XML files also contain links to your primary pages (and can also be segmented,) however they carry a different purpose for SEO. XML sitemaps are submitted to Google (via your Google Webmaster Tools account) to notify Google spiders of all the pages that you want crawled and indexed.

Because some pages of your site may not be easily discoverable by Google's normal crawling process, regular XML sitemap submissions are good way to ensure that Google is well-aware of what needs to be crawled and indexed. This is particularly important when you add new pages to your website.

To learn more about sitemaps and Google's guidelines on this Google Support page about the topic.

 

Tyler Tafelsky PPC EcommerceAbout the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of Internet marketing, including organic SEO, PPC advertising, social media, and content marketing. Keep in touch with Tyler by following him on Twitter or encircling him Google+.

Tips for Using Google Shopping to Supplement Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

Ecommerce website owners and marketers are constantly look for new ways to increase product sales and achieve sustainability in their online business. With Google Search continuously evolving, ecommerce marketers must adapt and re-vamp their strategies from time to time. Google Shopping for Ecommerce Marketing

To realize success as well as support other search marketing strategies like SEO and PPC advertising, ecommerce marketers may find Google Shopping to be a powerful avenue to promote products. Google's Shopping results appear for almost any product-related keyword search. This offers this quite the marketing opportunity for ecommerce stores.

The Down-Low on Google Shopping

Do a Google search for any type of product, whether it's a general category (e.g. Men's running shoes) or specific brand, make, or model (e.g. Saucony ProGrid Guide 6).

Google Shopping Results

The Google Shopping listings take a up a significant amount of real estate in the search results. This makes it a popular avenue for Google users who want to browse products they're interested in buying.

The Google Shopping platform helps direct customers to online stores by inviting the ecommerce owners to create ads for their products. Google shows customers the name of the store, picture of the product, and the price.

Customers interested in the products click through the link that opens the store's website to purchase the items. So although Google takes a cut on the sale, the process is rather seamless and easy to implement for ecommerce marketers.

Making the Most of Google Shopping for Ecommerce Marketing

If you're interested in Google Shopping for ecommerce marketing (or want to improve your existing campaign,) below are some tips to help you make the most of this great platform.

Optimize Product Data Feed

A business owner can fine-tune a Google Shopping campaign directly on the platform. Sort out the product database according to the relevant categories or departments. Find the most-searched and less competitive version of each of the categories using keyword tool and replace all instances of the original category name to further boost the effectiveness of the strategy.

For instance, improve the data feed by tagging high-margin items with labels and then bid more aggressively in AdWords. Other than optimizing page titles, descriptions, categories and product images, a business owner can include shipping costs and quality product images. Google is likely to identify a website's worth through its rich-content.

Frequently Update, Analyze and Test Product Feed

Improve Google Shopping search marketing campaigns by providing accurate and updated information. Update the data feed each time there is a change. Other than updating, the feed should be error free. Test data feeds to make it easier to remedy any errors after submission. Use the help center for troubleshooting information. Data feed errors and data quality errors can be identified and fixed before submitting the feed for indexing.

Add an Identifier for Tracking Purposes

Track the traffic reliably with Google Analytics to help in optimizing search marketing strategies. To help differentiate traffic from Google Shopping from other referring URLs and search engines, an ecommerce site owner can add an identifier to the product URLs.

Set up the ecommerce site for the Google Merchant feed to include UTM tags that instruct how to report data. The right string can separate Google Shopping results from Google organic results. Tracking results can provide information that can help in improving a marketing strategy.

Benefits to an Ecommerce Search Marketing Strategy

One of the benefits of listing products on Google Shopping is that Google is the top search engine used by millions of people daily. Opting for the service can create a wider audience reach and consistent traffic. The site can get more traffic because active buyers can search and find a store's items via the Google search engine.

Replacing free shopping placements with paid ads has lowered the number of retailers thus minimizing the competition. Other than being a comparison shopping engine, it also acts as paid search marketing strategy. A store that lists on the platform pays for results. This means a business owner is charged only when someone clicks on the ad and lands on the website.

5 Ecommerce PPC Tips to Advance Your Google AdWords Campaign

Learning the in's and out's of Google AdWords can seem like an ongoing endeavor. And to an extent, it is.

AdWords PPC TIps for Ecommerce

In an ecommerce context, PPC advertising can get really cumbersome. It's critical to be both properly educated and highly organized to make the most of your ecommerce PPC expenditure. 

In this article, I hope educate and inspire you to become a more proficient AdWords advertiser. Below I share five ecommerce PPC tips that reflect the knowledge and wisdom I have absorbed from my search marketing mentors.

And although these are ecommerce PPC tips, you can leverage these techniques for almost any AdWords campaign.

1. Split-Test Ad Copy, Relentlessly

One of the most common things I notice when optimizing AdWords accounts is that most PPC advertisers will only create one ad for each ad group. This poses significant limitations because ad copy has an immense impact on click-through rates (CTR).

Don't be lazy. Make the effort to split-test multiple ads for each ad group (ideally three to five ads.)

Try writing a slightly different headline for some ads, and perhaps a few minor variations in the supportive copy and URL extension. The key is to keep very organized with your split-tests and make incremental changes that can be gauged by performance.

One thing you must do when split-testing ad copy is adjust the campaign settings to rotate your ads to display evenly. This can be found near the bottom of the "Settings" tab under section titled "Advanced Settings" (see screen shot below.)

Ecommerce PPC TIps for Ad Rotation

Although Google claims that this option is "Not recommended for most advertisers," simply ignore this and carry on. Choosing this option will ensure that your ads receive equal exposure, and thus enabling you to determine the ad copy that gets the highest CTR.

I like to maintain a spreadsheet that keeps track of my PPC split-tests. In the spreadsheet I note specific changes I make, in addition to the time-frame and performance metrics of each ad. It's also important to make alterations to ads only after they have received adequate exposure (or have earned "statistical relevancy.") In other words, don't assume your ad copy sucks if you've received no clicks after 50 impressions.

2. Create Keyword-Specific Ad Groups

This is perhaps the most important tip for ecommerce PPC advertisers:

Create your ad groups around very, very closely related keywords.

The more narrow and specific you can get with each ad group, the more targeted your ads will be. Here is an example:

Ecommerce PPC TIps for Ad Grouping

Take a look at how the top ad from TriathleteSport.com is much more targeted compared to the lower ad from TYR.com (the actual brand of the wetsuit.)

The advertisers at TriathleteSport.com clearly have a dedicated ad group for the TYR Freak of Nature Wetsuit. TYR.com might have one ad group (and thus one ad) serving a number of overlapping keyword searches.

A good ecommerce PPC strategy for building campaigns and ad groups in AdWords is to think of brands (or product categories) as campaigns, and specific products or models as ad groups.

Create specific campaigns for each brand or product category that your online store has to offer. From each branded campaign, you can develop highly specific ad groups for each make or model of the given brand.

As a result, you can create focal ads with product/keyword-specific ad copy. Additionally, you can make strategic use of Ad Extensions per each campaign.

3. Employ Ad Extensions, Like a Boss

If your campaigns and ad groups are all structured as mentioned above, you can then employ Ad Extensions with immense creativity.

Ad Extensions offer many (and free) opportunities to make your ads pop and stand-out from the clutter. Additionally, you can use certain Ad Extensions to support other online marketing strategies.

Ecommerce PPC TIps for Ad Extensions

A few ecommerce PPC tips for using Ad Extensions are:

  • using SiteLinks to include product-specific links in ads that target more general keywords for brands or product categories (e.g. have SiteLinks to the top selling models of shoes ["Nike Flex Run iD"] in an ad that's triggered for a more broad keyword search ["Nike Running Shoes"].)
  • leveraging Social Extensions to show-off social authority and brand credibility. The ad will display how many Google +1's your ecommerce store has, thus increasing the level of trust shoppers have in your brand.
  • taking advantage of Location Extensions if you operate a big-box retail brand or an online store that has a tangible location. This technique is highly effective for local boutiques that want to advertise their products to a geographically-confined market space.

Many Ad Extensions can be used in conjunction with one another. This can significantly increase the real estate and click-through rates of your ads. To learn more about using various Ad Extension, check-out this Google Support page on the topic.

4. Use "Modified Broad Match" Keyword Bidding

When exact match is to narrow and restrictive (with respect to long-tail keyword searches) and broad match is just too general, try modified broad match bidding.

With modified broad match, you place a "+" symbol directly in front of the keywords that must be used in a searcher’s query in order to trigger your ads. This tip is highly effective for ecommerce PPC advertisers who are bidding on product-specific keywords the pose numerous search variations.

For example, if we bid on the keyword phrase +mens +saucony +guide (a popular running shoe,) those three words must be included in a searcher's keyword query for our ad to be displayed. This enables us to capture detailed long-tail searches like Saucony Guide 6 GTX for Men as well as Mens Saucony Progrid Guide Shoes.

Using modified broad match bidding also makes it a bit easier to do negative keyword research for select ad groups (which we cover in the next section.)

5. Know Where to do Negative Keyword Research

Hopefully you understand what negative keywords are and how to implement them in your Google AdWords campaigns. (If you do not, read this article on the subject.)

To get to the good stuff, below are my two favorite resources for doing negative keyword research:

  • The "Search Terms" feature under the Dimensions tab in AdWords - Search terms reveals the history of keyword phrases that have triggered your ads. Here you can pinpoint which unwanted variations to include in the negative keyword list. (For more insights on this, check out this blog post all about using Search Terms.)
  • Google Suggested Search (or "Auto-complete") - Open up Google search and start typing the keyword phrase you are bidding on. Often times Google will suggest keywords that not what you want triggering your ads. These negatives often include variations like "reviews," "kids," or "discounts."

The Last Word

Although most of these ecommerce PPC tips focus on Google AdWords, you can apply many of these PPC tips to Bing's AdCenter, as well as other advertising platforms. For more insights about AdWords optimization and campaign management, join this community on Google Plus.

 

Tyler Tafelsky PPC EcommerceAbout the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is search marketing specialist who spearheads the SEO and PPC campaign here at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of digital marketing and branding, including organic SEO, PPC advertising, social media and content marketing. Keep in touch with Tyler by following him on Twitter.

The Frontier of Mobile Commerce and How You Can Use Google to Start Settling Down

The horse is already dead, so I won’t beat it much longer. Unless you’ve been living under a large rock for the last couple of months, then you know by now that you need a mobile strategy to survive in the retail industry in 2013 and the years ahead. We no longer live in the metaphorical “Stone Age” of ecommerce, where online shoppers are sedentary beings tied down by their inert desktops and laptops. This last Q4 was a record holiday shopping season in terms of online sales.

No, we have a more nomadic target on our hands. Look around: people are ridiculed for having “dumb” phones, an influx of tablets have flooded the market (Apple’s iPad is only on the 3rd of probably 52 generations), and smartphone screens are beginning to outgrow our meagerly-sized human hands. On top of it all, big retail players like Wal-Mart and Target already have rather refined mobile stores, meaning their superior resources allow them to monopolize the mobile industry.

 

Everyone talks about mobile, but it’s still immature

All signs point to a mobile-centric future, but I won’t jump the gun here. No doubt, we are in a transformative phase for both technology and shopping, but it’s admittedly getting a little awkward. Despite having the stage set with an exponentially growing mobile market, it remains a relatively undeveloped frontier.

For starters, the big players in the market remain unseen. The mobile wallet real estate is currently a battlefield. We could (and will) talk about Google and the efforts they’ve made towards enhancing the mobile consumer experience. We could also talk about the rivaling mobile payment solution from Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), spearheaded by retail giants like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and CVS. And we can’t mention Google and MCX without referencing the wildcard Isis and its mobile wallet. Regardless of whoever wins this war, the point is that right now, this is ground zero for the major players in the mobile shopping world. There must be something groundbreaking going on here.

Another point to ponder is that we still have a discrepancy between desktop/laptop purchases and mobile purchases. Even within the “mobile purchases” category do we see notable variations in tablet purchases vs. those done on smartphones. Shoppers usually purchase large AOV products, such as furniture or TVs, on traditional computers while smartphone purchases more commonly include smaller AOV products, like books or electronics accessories. Perhaps this is due to the differences in screen size or maybe it’s because of the context in which we use these different devices, but one thing is for sure: this gap is inevitably going to get smaller.

So what we learn is that despite the relatively infantile stage of the mobile market and the different purchasing trends that arise when comparing mobile and “immobile” online shopping, formulating a mobile strategy is still relevant and indeed necessary. Many questions still remain for mobile commerce. Questions like: Which mobile platform is best for your mobile store? Which mobile wallet should I use? Which aspects of my online store should I omit from mobile? Which aspects should I add? What are the pain points for producing conversions on a mobile store?

Time will reveal the answer for most of these questions. What you probably know to focus on by now is the need for a super-fast mobile store, a simplistic and clean design, an expedited checkout process, and navigation so basic that a 7 year old wouldn’t complain. Mobile commerce is a wave that will ultimately engulf us all, so you may as well start paddling out now. So how do you do it?

For the sake of relevancy to the standard online retailer, I’ll use Google as launching point for optimizing your mobile strategy.

First and foremost, you have to get your mobile store off the ground. Magento and Yahoo! Store offer pricey solutions, while it seems that Volusion has a mobile store built into their solution. Feel free to vent below if you have any criticisms or praises for either mobile store.

 

Using Google to Optimize Your Mobile Store

Assuming your store is all set up and designed to your liking, your next step has to be optimizing the checkout process. This is arguably the most crucial pain point for mobile shoppers. Imagine trying to enter a 16-digit credit card number into a smartphone. It’s not fun nor efficient, and it’s probably the single biggest knock on mobile commerce from the perspective of the shopper. You can go two routes to fix this. One, you could develop a mobile-only checkout page, complete with huge buttons and drop-down lists. Ideally you would want checkout to be achievable on one page.

Two, you could go with a mobile wallet solution. Let’s talk Google Wallet. After its initial launch in 2011, Wallet was off to a slow start but it has recently gained more traction with increased usage accessibility. As the merchant, setting up Google Wallet for your site will remove the hassle that shoppers unfortunately experience when trying to enter all relevant payment information on a mobile device. Those shoppers, however, must have a Wallet account.

So it may seem that Wallet, and really all other mobile payment solutions, isn’t all that much of a game changer since it would only apply to such a small niche of customers (those with Wallet accounts). Well, let me restore your confidence with the introduction of Zavers, indeed another Google tool to facilitate and optimize the checkout process.

Zavers is a digital coupon promotion program that Google has very recently whipped up, and it is no doubt an effort to provide a carrot for customers at checkout, facilitate coupon distribution for retailers, and revitalize the long term future for Wallet. Most importantly for retailers, Zavers runs on a Cost per Redemption model, meaning you won’t have to pay for the service until customers actually start receiving then using your coupons. When in conjunction with Wallet (which is required for shoppers to use Zavers), retailers have a nifty combination that benefits both their store as well as the shopper experience.

In case you aren’t already doing so, you can make your Adwords Ads mobile too. This makes it easier for mobile users to find/access your site. Here are the instructions straight from Google:

Conclusion

When the single largest internet technologies company in the world has such few ecommerce solutions for business owners, it becomes clear that mobile commerce, though a hot topic in ecommerce forums, still has a lot of growing up to do.

The “finished” product will most likely feature a mobile payment solution that fits nicely in the larger mobile ecosystem by having an inherent reward system for customers that use mobile payments and uses GPS technology to offer specialized, localized promotions and coupons.

As for now, you just need to start. Retailers must have mobile stores to retain relevancy and avoid missing out on potential sales, especially if the business is small AOV product-oriented.

 

About the Author
Jon Gregoire is a Content Specialist at CPC Strategy. Jon specializes in content marketing on ecommerce trends and comparison shopping management. Feel free to reach out to him at jon@cpcstrategy.com.

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