Being a merchant online is not everyone’s piece of cake. Managing and running an online business involves countless hours of planning and execution. To showcase your mettle, you need to use SEO the correct way to stay at the top of Google’s pages.
Some sellers have doubts over the role of Search Engine Optimization in their marketing strategies. To help businesses gain a new perspective and maximize profits from all opportunities, I decided to write this piece on some common SEO-related myths that should be busted:
Myth #1: SEO is dead
The most common impression nowadays is that one doesn’t need SEO to trigger hits on search results. That is absolutely wrong. Even though the year is 2016 and Google algorithms are ever-changing, Google never hinted that SEO would lose its position in making a website successful.
Many popular e-commerce platforms are topping the search results with their SEO strategies. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) from Google and Facebook articles are helping online marketers serve their content in a very straightforward and effective way. It means that your content will get into the hands of a client more quickly since 70 percent of search traffic comes from Google. What you need to avoid is clickbait and thin content that is useless for your audience.
Pro Tip: If you still believe that you can win without SEO, or if you believe SEO is dead, you might consider checking this out!
Myth #2: Having more links means better SEO
Whoever taught this lesson should do a crash course on SEO 2016. Google’s RankBrain is a new phase in the development of the Google algorithm, which will provide searchers with contextually relevant information that may not match the exact keyword typed. Even though links contribute significantly toward better ratings, the use of spammy links only makes your market look non-serious to Google.
For an online shop, it means that you need to have content specially generated to meet the trends online. Using outdated keyword strategies only focused toward search engine optimization will not take your USP forward. If you have interesting items to sell that also create a social media buzz, your stats will skyrocket.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acquire links or stop link-building activities, but try to target links that are more relevant to your industry, topic and have a decent authority within the online sphere. Links that are low quality and irrelevant to your website topic can hurt your rankings in Google and can even ban you.
Pro Tip: When building links for your website, religiously follow the “quality vs. quantity” mantra.
Myth #3: SEO can be done easily, and it’s cheap
Another reality check here – SEO is not everyone’s bunny. Top agencies are still working on what is the best strategy for SEO, which means it is a very clever task to place keywords that click with your target audience.
Keeping SEO in mind, you need to develop a store with the help of a good web development company or popular platforms like Shopify or Wix. When Google search spiders crawl on your website, make sure you have a crawl-friendly site architecture that helps Google index your categories. Find and delete duplicate meta descriptions from your site and eliminate any crawl errors. Here is how to find and remove crawl errors in the Google Webmaster Console:
Pro Tip: SEO is a long-term investment, so for quick results, try using other channels like PPC and banner advertising.
Myth #4: A better rank means better business
If website #1 is on top of the search results, it doesn’t mean they’re going to do better business than website #2. Research has proven that a better ranking will still not get you good business if you miss out on UI and content.
People believe that Google Authorship and Author Rank do not respond to online shops and individual products. The truth is that Google still relates author photos with the unique content they publish online. While SEO is mostly deemed guesswork by experts, there are many ranks like BrandRank and Author Rank to put your business on the map. The easiest way is to make a Google+ page for your business and link it to your shop.
Pro Tip: Ranking only will not increase your conversions. Focus on UI, UX and content to win potential customers and to convert them into leads.
Myth #5: All keywords/rich snippets can be used to achieve better ranking
This one cannot be stated enough. If you’re a web store owner, and if you apply all possible keywords in your page, it will be the most unprofessional thing you could do to your website.
Google, as well as any SEO expert and many clients, can decipher that. The last thing you want is your client taking you for a fool and never coming back to your site.
Using rich snippets like rating and product information provide Google with additional information about your product, increasing the “Click Through Rate” (CTR). However, if the landing page of your website is dull and not user-friendly, the whole scheme will backfire.
Pro Tip: The idea is to use few keywords per page, use appropriate rich snippets and, above all, create quality content that will resonate with your audience and bring you better rankings and conversions.
Myth #6: Being on all social media sites means better SEO
Although it is very important in this age to have a presence on all social media channels, an online seller should know that customer interaction on your social media accounts may earn you good impressions, but not good business. SEO is different; do not confuse it with a good social media presence.
You cannot do without either of them. You need a catchy headline that will not only attract eyeballs on Facebook, but that has a keyword that will make you appear on search engines. While it is a lot of brainwork and very tricky to do both, it will earn you better results on two platforms. You can use the help of listicles to achieve this goal. This is how many businesses are growing nowadays!
Pro Tip: Although social media does not have a direct impact on SEO, the correlation vs. causation study tells us that if the post gets more shares on social media, it will be most likely get better rankings. So don’t think social media is a waste; it can do wonders for you if done the right way!
Myth #7: Breadcrumb navigation can be very helpful to users and Google
Breadcrumb navigation helps users find their way back in online shops. It looks like:
All Departments>Electronics>Auto Electronics>Stereos
But this technique shouldn’t be applied solely for SEO purposes. Keyword-stuffed breadcrumb navigation looks very cluttered and ugly. It is also very foolish to adopt because the user will get lost. Google has started to integrate breadcrumbs within the SERPs, but it does not mean you overdo it.
- Do not add breadcrumbs in the page <title> as it looks too long and not targeted.
- Do not use breadcrumbs as the main navigators of your site, because navigation goes horizontally and the main website is listed vertically.
- Do not link the last page to itself.
Pro Tip: If you are still thinking about adding breadcrumb navigation to your website, consider reading this thread.
Myth #8: Using secret ways for SEO always works
This is a very bad idea and a myth that needs to walk the plank. Some people use a small-term strategy of spamming a page with links and getting hits, only to leave it and adopt a new account. That is extremely hazardous for business.
Many Black Hat SEO techniques ensure you success, but remember that it is for a very limited period. Using keywords that are hidden in the text, completely changing a webpage after it gets good rankings or redirecting pages with good rankings into a doorway page are all techniques that will land you on a blacklist created by all search engines. It will ultimately spiral your market towards doom.
Pro Tip: The idea is to think of SEO as a long-term strategy as discussed above. If you are looking for results quickly, my advice is to go for paid channels like pay per click.
Myth #9: Google Ads put you on the map
Many online sellers whine about not having enough money to advertise their website on many platforms using Google Ads, and they regard it as a matter of life and death. But it’s a complete myth. While ads do get exposure for your page, they do not ensure good ratings. This blogpost explains why Google has stated over and over again that advertising will not affect ranking.
Many SEO-savvy personnel avoid PPC ads because they know very well how a sponsored post differs from an organic one. This is one of the oldest myths related to e-commerce SEO and the main reason why Google will never land itself in a legal debate over buying AdWords and putting off unique content.
Pro Tip: Stop considering paid ads for organic rankings and start considering paid ads for quick conversions.
Myth #10: SEO is a day’s job
“I spent so much effort on my site’s SEO a week ago; why am I not on the top list?”
You need to understand that using SEO is a complete process, not a single investment that will bear fruit forever. Hundreds of sites are born every day, and a lot of data is uploaded on the interwebs daily.
If you want to stay on top, you need to work on your market’s SEO daily, maybe hourly. An entire suite of SEO involves content marketing, social media and on-site optimization. For more tips on SEO, follow Neil Patel, founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. Wall Street lists Neil as a top influencer who helps sites like Amazon, NBC and HP grow their revenue.
Pro Tip: SEO is a continuous process. If you are on the first page of Google, you might not stay there for long. To sustain your position, you have to continuously produce great content, attract great links and, above all, provide the best services to your clients so that they will spread positive comments in your targeted niche.
Myth #11: The more relevant names of items together, the better
If you study Amazon’s strategy, you will know how important it is to link same categories of items together so they show up as a suggestion. If you’re the owner of a regular shop, you should only adopt this method once you have very apt suggestions to give. Users give Amazon the benefit of the doubt if they get lost in a suggestion page, but for a small shop owner like you, it might drive them away. Not to mention the fact that your shop will become a nightmare regarding navigation.
If there is a discontinued item page on your website that is of high SEO value, do NOT delete that page. You don’t know how many strong backlinks it has and how much traffic it is getting you.
Using a 301 redirect is a good idea because the user will not be disappointed looking at the “page not found” prompt. If the product is going to be restocked shortly, mention that as well. Another thing Amazon teaches us is to include relevant links that say “Sorry, this item is no longer available, but you might like one of these products instead.”
You can make that page interactive to boost your mailing list by asking customers to enter their email addresses so they can be informed when the out-of-stock item is back again.
Pro Tip: Understand your needs and use the appropriate suggestions given above. If your mailing list number is low, try to put a message on the “not available” items that will inform users when the items are in stock. This will leave a good impression on the user and, at the same time, you will get some extra people to subscribe to your mailing list. If the target is link juice, 301 redirection is a better strategy.
As an online merchant, you should remember the golden rule of usability over profit. Google is always concerned about its user experience, and you should be, too. If people are spending more time on your store and not going back to the search page, it means you have done well regarding store building and SEO, as both go hand in hand.
Do not underestimate the benefit of adding social plugins, so that people who love your website can share it with others in one click. It is harder to optimize an e-commerce site, compared to a blog. Once you have busted the myths listed above, you will be able to perform better as an e-commerce store owner.