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The 7 Deadly Sins Of In-House E-commerce SEO Teams

A common myth associated with SEO, is that the best practices can be learned in a year or so, and that’s that – you’re done. You know everything.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

SEO is an ever changing animal that is consistently evolving. Google’s algorithms change in such a way that SEO professionals dedicate their entire careers to safeguarding websites from the search engine giant’s maniacal clutches whilst figuring out how to save sites that have been slapped with a penalty. We not only learn how to deal with changes, but predict them before they happen. It’s a full time job. Fact.

Ecommerce sites will often employ a team of individuals with a somewhat basic knowledge of SEO best practices to handle a variety of different factors of their campaign. Of course this is sometimes a good thing and helps some brands get an edge over their competition, but often the in-house SEO team has to juggle a variety of jobs, meaning important algorithm updates or changes to the way Google delivers its results can be missed. This could be extremely detrimental to your campaign.

In an ecommerce environment, in-house teams have to make sure everything is being handled correctly - new products are being promoted, the site looks great and customers’ needs are being met, amongst a million other things. This is why it’s so important to employ an external SEO team, one that is dedicated to handling this particular side of the business. We live and breathe SEO and all the different specialisations that come with it such as social, PPC, mobile SEO, content writing, link building etc. There are a variety of niches to be aware of, and if you want to succeed in ecommerce, you need to excel at them all, otherwise you risk committing one or more of these unforgivable SEO sins:

Here Are The 7 Deadly Sins Of In-House E-commerce SEO Teams

  1. Making sites for search engines rather than people.

A common mistake in-house SEO teams who are not as well versed as SEO professionals make is creating a site for a search engine rather than for a human. Website owners can become seriously obsessed with rankings on Google, forgetting about the bigger, long-term picture. Of course you need to balance the two, so go ahead and load your website with Page Titles, Meta descriptions and other content you think search engines will like, but just make sure you’re not failing to create the content people want to read. By creating good quality content and keeping your site customer focused, people will link to that content and Google will rank you for it. You may not have time or expertise to create this content, so an external SEO team can take this off your hands.

  1. Failing to deal with out-of-stock items correctly

Google currently only rewards optimised pages when they are online. Ecommerce sites often take down pages when a product is sold out or simply awaiting stock. By doing this two things happen; they lose a valuable link and the user is directed to an error page meaning they have a negative experience with your site and leave immediately. Google takes this bounce rate into consideration and may think you’re misleading users or providing them with incorrect content, meaning they’ll probably throw your page out of the search index. The trick is to keep the link and simply state you’re awaiting stock and encourage them to leave an email address so you can inform them when their item is available. Any SEO team worth their salt will tell you that you need to keep these pages live.

  1. Placing image over content

Putting Image before content is an SEO sin ecommerce sites commit across the board. Too many times we have seen sites where the “look” overtakes all notion of user experience and SEO consideration. You end up with a beautiful site which gives away absolutely nothing about what the site is for and, more importantly, what it should rank for. Site owners fall in love with the design of their site and can fail to take SEO practices into consideration when creating it.

  1. Failing to prioritise pages.

If your site is aimed solely at capturing traffic from one specific niche you need to be able to make that clear from the navigation structure of the site. A user, or a search engine, should see what the main areas of the site are the moment they arrive at the site. If your key pages are just one of a crowd of pages then how can Google guess what it is you want to rank for?

  1. Not implementing a measurement system.

We often find that some in-house SEO teams think this is a consideration for further down the line, but being able to track users as they interact with the site is vital for improving the site. It should be flexible and able to take various tracking technologies from Google Analytics right through to heatmapping software and A/B testing platforms.

  1. Not implementing attribution modelling

Attribution modelling is a vital part of your online marketing campaign and something that can be overlooked by in-house SEO teams. Often clients will come to us completely unaware of how their customers are finding them. They have no idea which touch points are working and could be wasting money on certain channels when others could be serious earners for the brand. How do you know if your customers found you through Facebook or twitter, or PPC or blog posts? Chances are in-house teams simply aren’t aware of attribution modelling and how this subject works.

  1. Lack of user generated content

According to Kissmetrics around 70% of buyers look for product reviews about the product before they convert. If you don’t have user generated reviews, you’re ignoring a huge part of your audience. The great thing about product reviews is that it keeps the page alive with fresh unique content, which means search engines keep coming back to look at you. In fact, review pages will often rank higher than selling pages. Some in-house teams may think this looks messy, or even takes too much time to monitor, but having this aspect to your site is important.

A great example of how user generated content works can be found at Amazon. Take this shirt for example; three 5 star reviews and consistently positive sentiment from people who actually bought the product is sure to drive conversions.

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Of course, not every in-house SEO team makes these mistakes, but when you’re deeply involved with your brand, sometimes it’s a tough job trying to keep abreast of all the latest changes and best practices in SEO. This is where Hit Search excel, we live and breathe SEO and make sure your site is optimised the right way.

For more information about how to optimise your site, contact the SEO and online marketing experts at Hit Search on 0845 643 9289


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