Google’s Latest Update and its Effect on Ecommerce Stores

A few weeks ago, Google made a large change to its search engine algorithm. Dubbed the “Panda update“, it was designed to stop content farms and sites with low quality content from ranking highly in Google.

Unfortunately, a few ecommerce stores were caught in the cross-fire between Google and these copy-cat / low quality sites…

A great case study article

Practical Ecommerce (a must-read site for any ecommerce owner) wrote an article last week about One Store’s Struggle with Google Updates that I thoroughly enjoyed.

If you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing right now, and read this article. It’s a real-life example of how a Google change affects an ecommerce store, what may have caused it, and what this store owner can do to “fight back” and regain ranking.

3 things to take away

Here are 3 things to take away from the Practical Ecommerce article:

1. Have unique and interesting content

If you’re just using the stock manufacturers description of your products, then your pages read the same as any other website. Without unique content, Google has no reason to rank your site higher than others.

So try and add unique and interesting content for your products. Things like customer reviews, custom descriptions, original videos highlighting the product, etc… are all good ways to make your products stand out.

But make sure there is some standard description / specs, so that people searching for those standard terms can still find the product. It’s a balancing act to get this mix right.

2. Do NOT use suspect SEO tactics

Trying to game Google with tactics such as hidden text, browser agent redirection, link farms, and other ill-fated tactics is a great way to sink your ranking. You want to stay away from SEO tricks that do not seem above board.

Instead, focus on optimizing your text, your layout, your navigation, and your “shareability” factor to maximize your search potential.

3. Getting links from high value sites and social sharing means a lot

Here is where you can soar past the competition. Getting other relevant sites to link to your site, your high value product pages, can be a huge boon to your rankings.

Or if lots of people on Facebook and Twitter “Like” some of your pages or blog posts… again, another boost to your rankings.

But how do you get these links and social love? …

With unique and interesting content!

Think blog posts, custom made videos, a great Facebook page. Things that stand out and get others to notice them and share them with their friends. Or get the attention of a prolific blogger in your industry who links to your pages.

Google is sending a signal that copying the content of others, or using content that is very similar to other pages out there won’t win you any points in their results. But don’t over-react and start changing everything. Take a detailed look at your stats, how your important pages and products are performing, and make gradual changes. Then monitor how those pages perform over a longer period of time (i.e. months) after a change is made to see if what you did is making an impact.

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  1. Dydacomp says:

    Great tips! One thing many eCommerce stores fall short on continuously providing interesting and engaging content. Sneaky SEO tricks will only hurt your store, case and point JCPenny’s huge fall in ranking. By building interesting content will help drive traffic to your website.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Molly Griffin

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