With every Google search algorithm update, the face of SEO continues to change. Industry accepted practices often evolve, diminish, or disappear entirely. In a recent forum, a user asked the team at Vertical Rail what we thought are the most underestimated and most overestimated aspects of SEO for E-commerce. The question not only speaks to the current state of SEO, but also the ongoing change that characterizes the industry.
It’s not 1999 anymore, we all know spamming keywords doesn’t work, but just how important is finding the optimal keyword density? The fact is, web crawlers continue to get smarter, and old SEO tactics are starting to lose traction. Though the exact effect of keyword density is unknown, we do know that Google’s Hummingbird algorithm is exceptional at showing users what they want to see, not just content with keywords that match their search queries. Rather than finding the optimal keyword density, it has become best practice to focus on good, quality content.
In regards to meta keywords, Google search doesn’t use them whatsoever. Though Google has been mostly closed lipped about their algorithm, they have made it clear that meta keywords are not taken into account. Bing’s algorithm, on the other hand, does factor meta keyword into page rank, but heavily penalizes sites that abuse meta keywords. Even though the practice of HTML tagging keywords is not entirely useless, it has become largely antiquated.
Underestimated: Social Signals
Social media has crept its way into just about every industry, and the world of E-commerce is no different. In 2014, social media participation is absolutely essential from a marketing and SEO stand point. It allows merchants to crowd source link building and marketing for free. Shares, Retweets, and open discussion only help to build brand awareness, authority and visibility. Top companies give generous salaries to Facebook and Twitter managers for a reason: because social media gets results!
Social media also plays a critical role in building relationships with customers. It allows merchants to show there is a human face behind their E-commerce software. For cyclical industries, social media allows merchants to remain relevant, and discussed, even during slow seasons. The relationships built through social media build on brand loyalty and encourage returning buyers. An old tenet of business is it costs less to bring back old customers than to attract new ones, and social media is one of the best tools to target those previous customers.
SEO is half art, half science, and a pinch of savvy. If you ignore my math, you can take away that even though we’ve put out our picks, yours may be different. Let us know what you think about our picks, and what you’d add to the list.