Monthly Archives: April 2012

20 steps to On-Page Optimization for Ecommerce Websites

I’m always looking for great On-Page Optimization checklists, especially since quite a few E-commerce projects have fallen into my lap. Here is a great article that provides optimization recommendations for 15 areas on every product or category page on an E-commerce site.

Perfecting On-Page Optimization for Ecommerce Websites 

Back in 2009 (was it really that long ago?!) Rand wrote a post titled Perfecting Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization,which is one of the most popular blog posts on SEOmoz. It is still referenced as much today as it was back in 2009. The core principles haven’t changed that much, but there are some new additions to an SEO’s toolkit when it comes to on-page optimization. Today I want to focus on what these new additions are in relation to eCommerce websites…

The article covers the following 20 areas:

  1. Customer Reviews – if you don’t have them, get some!
  2. Product Videos – we live in a video age
  3. Dealing with Pagination and SEO
  4. Microdata markup and – make those stars shine in your SERP listing 
  5. Q&A Content – Google loves user generated content
  6. Social sharing buttons
  7. Page Speed
  8. Open graph tags
  9. Search options
  10. Call to Action – make sure it is CLEAR… you are spending a lot of money on traffic, but is your existing traffic converting?
  11. Trust Signals – how would you feel walking into a Doctor’s Office with no credentials?
  12. Breadcrumbs – the GPS to your site
  13. Images
  14. Meta Title – for large E-commerce sites, these will need to be generated automatically.
  15. Meta Description
  16. Product Description
  17. Page URL
  18. H1 tags
  19. Phone Number -“If you can provide a phone number, do it. Not only to help in terms of customer support, but also as another trust signal.”
  20. Company Details
For More Details Check out:

Google’s Plan to Penalize Over Optimization of Web Pages

Just read two great blog posts that discuss how and why a web page would be considered “over optimized” by Google and therefor possibly be penalized by Google in their upcoming search engine algorithmic changes.

Update 4/26/12: Because there is so much going on in the blogosphere on this topic, at the end of this blog post, I have been adding other relevant blog posts that I find on the Google Over Optimization Penalty matter.

Update 5/03/12: Ok – we now all know this has been called the “Google Penguin Update” – more articles about this below.

6 Changes Every SEO Should Make BEFORE the Over-Optimization Penalty Hits

In this article Rand Fishkin, of SEOmoz, points out 6 areas where, in the past, SEOs have traditionally over optimized. These areas include

  1. the meta title
  2. internal links
  3. footers
  4. content boxes
  5. sketchy links
  6. repetitive targeted pages

While I agree with most of what he has to say, I’m not sure if it is SOO black and white. My friend Caroline, at, states it best:

Thanks Danny. I agree for the most part, however I think 1, 2 & 4 can be done in a way that helps rankings as well as people… I think the search engines will have a hard time distinguishing between the two. I want to believe that these penalizations will only happen to blatant offenders.

Yes, search engines will have a hard time, so the big question is who will they penalize and why? Also, should you start changing these different areas in anticipation to the big PENALTY… even though it may affect your current rankings and even if the PENALTY comes along who says it will hurt YOUR site?

Plenty to think about…. As with everything, I believe a balanced approach is always important. Don’t change everything at once. Work on one area, like the page titles, and see what happens. NOTE: make sure you know what your page is currently ranking for and measure whether your proposed title change will affect those rankings.

On a similar note, check out this article from Daily SEO Tip:

4 Characteristics of a Spammy Website

In this blog post, we’re going to address the bolded question above: ‘Where should I acquire links from?’. Whether you’re a beginning SEO or if you’re training someone in-house to oversee your link building campaign, it’s important to have processes in place to help qualify a link prospect. After all, you don’t want links from sites that also link to porn, gambling, or viagra sites right?

The following are 5 characteristics of a spammy site. If you see a few of these warning signs popping up, it’s best to avoid these sites. After awhile, you should be able to determine whether you want a link from a site with a blink of an eye.

The article continues to discuss: Low value content, questionable blogroll links, lackluster design and low social engagement.

Although this post is focusing on “sites you should NOT get links from”, it also gives some insight into your own website and webpages… what makes them SPAMMY.

How do you plan on dealing with the upcoming Over Optimization Penalty???

Related Articles Since 4/24/12

Are Google Results Getting Better?

It’s been a crazy week in search. While not entirely unexpected, Google launched its new Webspam update (which should still be in the process of rolling out, as Google said it would take a few days). This update, according to the company, is aimed at black hat SEO tactics and the sites engaging in them, to keep them from ranking over content that is just better and more relevant. While most that don’t engage in such tactics would agree that this would be a good thing, a lot of people are complaining about the effects of the update on the user experience, and on results in general…

Webspam and Panda Updates: Does SEO Still Matter? WebPro News, 4/26/12

How to Stop Over Optimizing and Start Creating for SEO

Is your website hurting because of over optimization? It’s a question every SEO faces at one time or another. Over optimization penalties have been around for awhile, but Matt Cutts recently announced Google will soon crack down harder on sites that take SEO to the extremes. How do you know when you’ve gone to far? In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, we explore what happens when certain SEO techniques stop delivering value, and when you should switch your strategy to more productive activities…

Whiteboard Friday, SeoMoz, April 4, 2012

Ranking in Google After Penguin

This is an awesome article – which really shows data insights on what happened with Penguin and what you should focus on moving forward. I love the example he gave for window blinds.

…My purpose in showing you all of this isn’t to point out how much the Penguin update failed to achieve any quality improvements in Google’s search results (though it clearly did fail in that regard, and badly). My point is to demonstrate that much of what you may be hearing about this update — be it on the forums or even from Google itself — is simply not reflected in the actual search results. That means you need to do your own research and rely on the real-world data surrounding the results for any keywords you want to rank for….

Johnathan Leger, 5/2/12

Google Penguin Update: Don’t Forget About Duplicate Content

Another thing on the quality guidelines list is: “Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.”

Of course, like the rest of the guidelines, this is nothing new, but in light of the Penguin update, it seems worth examining the guidelines again, if for no other reason than to provide reminders or educate those who are unfamiliar. Duplicate content seems like one of those that could get sites into trouble, even when they aren’t intentionally trying to spam Google. Even Google says in its help center article on the topic, “Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”

“However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic,” Google says. “Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.”

Google lists the following as steps you can take to address any duplicate content issues you may have…

Web Pro News, 5/7/12

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The REAL Definition of a Bounce and the Problem with Google Analytics

Just read an awesome blog post explaining the REAL meaning behind the Bounce Rate measurement in Google Analytics. Bounce Rate has always been one of those mysterious metrics that no one really understands. Is it a good thing or is it a bad thing? What is a good benchmark for my site? I find myself explaining the concept to every client and prospect I meet. Now I have even more ammo in my pouch. The post also provides a really good fix/hack so that Google Analytics only picks up the REAL bounce rate of your site. The following are the main points from the article, click below if you’d like to read the whole thing.

When a Bounce isn’t a Bounce and Why Google Analytics is missing

  1. If someone visits a page on your site and then exits that page without visiting any other page on your site then that is a bounce
  2. Search engines use a metric called dwell time to determine whether a bounce is a “good” bounce ie. the user found what they were looking for or a “bad” bounce ie. the visitor leaves within 10 seconds because your page sucks
  3. Google Analytics calculates bounce rates and time on site through pageviews.  This means that if someone “bounces” off your page then it’s always reported as 0:00:00 time on site no matter how long the visitor stays for.
  4. Event tracking can be used to manipulate the bounce rate metric so that bounces are only recorded if a visitor leaves after less than 30 seconds example script above
  5. Both Woopra and Clicky are great alternatives to Google Analytics for more accurate data.

via When a Bounce isn’t a Bounce and Why Google Analytics is Misleading – IM Impact.

Pretty cool huh? So if, a visitor has been on your home page for 2 minutes and got the info that they needed that would be considered a bounce… Time to rethink things my fellow GA users. Is this new info to you? How do you use bounce rate in the analysis of your site. Does this change things?

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Content Marketing: One Words to Replace 20 Phrases

Just stumbled upon a great tweet/blog:

that talks about circumlocution – using many words when one word is sufficient. Here are some great examples that can help you cut out the over-wordage in your content and better cater to the people’s shortening attention spans.

Here are some examples:

Instead of          Try            


afford an opportunity allow, let
as a means of to
at this point in time now
due to the fact that because
during the period during
has a requirement for needs
in a timely manner quickly, promptly
in accordance with by, following, per, under
in advance of before
in regard to about, concerning, on
in the amount of for
in the event that if
in the near future shortly, soon
no later than June 1 by June 1
pertaining to about
provides guidance for guides
under the provisions of under
until such time as until
with reference to about
with the exception of except

via 20 phrases you can replace with one word | Articles.

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Link Building Tips for Dealing with Google’s Latest Algorithm Change Panda 3.3

In case you’ve been hit and even if you haven’t – this is an EXCELLENT review on what you should and should NOT do when link building.

As we know – one must build links – or else your site may disappear… However, one needs to be strategic and thoughful while doing it:

1. Before you do anything else, focus on delivering superlative quality content to your visitor. If your site does not address Google’s mandate – delivering the highest quality, most relevant results to its users – you can’t reasonably expect them to deliver traffic to it. Even considering a link building strategy prior to addressing this issue is like putting “the cart before the horse.”

2. Be careful when you optimize your anchor text: Google is looking for “natural”, genuine links. Natural links do not often contain highly targeted keywords and phrases in the anchor text. Such optimization is a sure sign of an un-natural link, whose only purpose is to manipulate search rankings. So it is a good strategy to vary your anchor text to include your URL, generic words, like “click here”, less popular variations of your keyword and so on.

3. Obtain links from a wide variety of resources: “Normal” sites have normal link profiles; a couple of directory listings here and there, a few blog comment links, a Yahoo! Answer or two, a few bookmarks, a guest post or two, a handful of forum profile links and so on. A large number of links from a single resource is likely to be flagged by Google.

4. Obtain plenty of low quality links and plenty of “no follow” links: Again, these two strategies do little more than help complete your site’s “natural” profile. Most sites normally generate a lot of low quality links, and a link profile consisting of nothing but “do follow” links smells a bit “fishy.” And remember; just because a link is “no follow” does not mean Google does not know about it. It only means Google does not factor in the value of that link when determining its rankings.

5. Make sure your link building is compatible with your site traffic: If your site receives 25 visitors a day, yet receives 5,000 new links per month, how natural do you think that will appear to Google? The truth is that now more than ever, SEO is a long term venture. You will have to build links slowly and steadily as your site grows and matures.

6. Stay completely “white hat.” While it’s tempting to take short cuts, especially when it seems like everyone else is cashing in on the “ranking manipulation” strategy of the day, any attempt to “game” the system is going to have disastrous consequences in the long run. The folks who relied heavily on the many blog networks that have been de-indexed in the last month or so can attest to this fact. The simplest way to do this is to ask yourself this each and every time you create a new link, “would this link pass the smell test if it were manually reviewed by a Google editor?” (Or in other words, is this link a blatant attempt to manipulate the Google database, or is its prime mandate to provide value to surfers). If you answer “no”, then you probably should think twice about creating that link.

To Read the FULL article check out: 6 Tips for Dealing with Panda 3.3; Google’s Latest Algorithm Shift | Daily SEO Tip.

Nothing here should be too new… just focus and be careful, the benefits of a slow, well thought out link building campaign far outweigh the doom of your site being indexed.

How do you link build?

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44 Ways To Truly Build Up a Social Media Campaign

Just stumbled upon this GREAT blog post chronicling the 44 things that Lionsgate did in the Social Media Sphere to promote The Hunger Games and entertain and engage its fans.

This definitely gives you some great ideas for:

  • How you can use the different social media (Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest for your business.
  • How all the different social media work, what they are good for, and what you should/can focus on with each one.
  • What is each PART of the social media quilt and how these PARTS comprise the WHOLE.

In short – an awesome case study, and I hope it helps you become more thoughtful and strategic with your social media campaigns.



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