Trust is one of the biggest obstacles facing E-commerce businesses. One of the best ways to prove to potential customers is having an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate on your site. It ensures the consumer that pages are appropriately encrypted, so the information they provide you will be secure. Luckily, BigCommerce has decided to provide websites with a custom domain name free BigCommerce SSL certificates.
Once you are on that page, scrolls down to “Installing an SSL Certificate from BigCommerce” and click the “BigCommerce Account Dashboard.” It should expand that section, in which is a step by step process, which only takes a matter of minutes.
Not only do SSL certificates help establish trust with people browsing your E-commerce store, but it is also a ranking factor for your BigCommerce SEO. Don’t forget to contact us for a free SEO audit.
As the new year draws closer, it is time to discuss what 2017 SEO best practices will look like! There were several big SEO changes in 2016, and we are going to talk about what will change in the landscape of SEO in the coming year. While some of this is speculation, one thing is certain, SEO will be the year you MUST ADAPT TO MOBILE thanks to a mobile-friendly algorithm change made this year!
1. Responsive Site
Making your website responsive means you are using the same template for desktop and mobile, and is probably the most important of the 2017 SEO best practices. While platforms do allow for you to enable a mobile template or theme, these are not responsive, but rather a different template altogether, and can, in fact, get you in trouble with Google, because they are not responsive.
2. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Accelerated Mobile Pages is a strategy to help allow content load more quickly, and we all know faster load times are good for SEO. In 2017, Google will make it even easier to view AMP’s and to share them. You can learn more about Accelerated Mobile Pages.
3. More Developed Content
Short amounts of content is just white noise nowadays. Writing longer and more developed content will help you stand out and build trust online, where most people are immediately skeptical of anything they read. You don’t have to write on as many pages, if you pick the right pages and develop the best content you can. It will be Hard. It will take Time. It is Necessary.
4. Videos, Videos, Videos
In the time of handheld technology and social media, if you are not taking videos and sharing them on your social media, you are missing out on traffic, sales, orders, etc. Facebook has even added a feature where you can connect to people with a Facebook Live feed. You can also use your phone to create a YouTube Live session as well. If you have a brick and mortar location in addition to an online store, you can take a video with your phone and use it as a free commercial! Upload the video to YouTube, and share it on Social Media and add a link in your newsletters! 2017 will be the year of Online Video.
5. Rich Snippets and Schema Markup
Rich snippets use schema.org and micro formatting to highlight specific attributes of content on your pages, which makes it easier for the info to show up on Google Knowledge Graphs on the Search Engine Results Pages. This is something small, but more important than ever!
Of course there are normal SEO best practices, like key terms in title tags, meta descriptions, etc. Onsite SEO used to be good enough to make an impact, but now, it’s just the foundation upon which these SEO strategies are built. Request a Free SEO Audit of how Google sees your site! Hope you had a Wonderful 2016, and here’s to a prosperous 2017!!!
Bigcommerce Mega Menu’s – Building a better Navigation
Most users nowadays want to scroll and click as little as possible when browsing websites. One great way to limit the amount of scrolling and clicking while still display many links is by utilizing megamenus. A megamenu is a two-dimensional dropdown menu. Depending on the content one wants to display, a megamenu can be as simple as a 2-D list, or more complex and include media such as images and videos.
Above are 3 different types of megamenus: a simple 2-D list, a 2-D list with images, and a megamenu with links, descriptions, and video. As you can see from those images, megamenus can be used in a plethora of ways.
The more categories, or pages on the site, the more it is recommended to use megamenus. One good example of this are ecommerce stores who provide a wide variety of products. For example, www.lightexports.com, uses megamenus for each of the dropdowns in the top navigation. From the image below, you can imagine how long a regular 1-Dimensional list (list straight down) would be.
Some websites have a fixed header so users do not have to scroll back to the top in order to use the top navigation. However, having a fixed header means that part of top the browser will always be taken up, and if you have too many options in the dropdown, some options will not be seen. Below you can see an example of this.
In the image above, we are scrolled almost to the bottom of the screen but there are brands that are cut off. Using a simple megamenu has the benefit of allowing more brands to be seen, as shown in the image below.
More brands are visible, and it is a fraction of the height of the simple list. This is another example of how megamenus can be utilized.
Whether you have many pages to show, a lot of information or media you want available, or simply want to add customization to your site, megamenus are an extremely helpful and useful tool to help users navigate the site easier.
Many people are moving their E-commerce site to BigCommerce. This migration is good for those of you who want to do more with less knowledge. One area this benefit is evident, is setting up the Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
The three basic components of Onsite SEO that are very easy to implement are the Title Tags, the Meta Descriptions, and the Content.
For the Title Tags and Meta Descriptions (Check our blog for more information on these basics of SEO) on the homepage, you just go to:
“Setup & Tools” on the upper right hand corner of your dashboard
Click “Store Settings,”
Scroll all the way down, and the fields are right there.
To implement content onto the homepage:
Admin > Marketing > Banners > Create banner display on homepage. Place the content in the form field.
Adding these attributes to the category pages is even easier.
On the horizontal navigation, select “Products,” > “Product Categories.”
After this, select the category you wish to edit,
Add in the Title Tags, Meta Description, and Content on the same page.
Adding these same basic components of Onsite SEO to your Category and Product Pages can greatly help your rankings and authority in your industry. Just go to “Products > View Products” and select the product you want. The fields are there, and while you are at it, you might want to click the Google Shopping Tab, and add your product to Google Shopping Feed.
One other great strategy to use is to add an XML Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools. To create and submit a sitemap, follow these instructions AFTER YOU HAVE CREATED AN XML SITEMAP:
Go to, or create an account for, Webmaster Tools.
Select “Crawl” on the left hand Navigation on your site dashboard.
Add in “sitemap.xml” into the field after your homepage URL.
Test the sitemap to make sure it works.
Redo Step 4 after it approves the sitemap, but click submit instead of test.
The sitemap gives Google a way to easily crawl your site, and will please the Google Crawling Bots. Webmaster Tools is a great tool that provides the terms from the “not provided” section in Google Analytics, as well as provides Google a medium for contacting you regarding any issues with your site.
Google Shopping has become more and more important as a tool to increase your online exposure and sales, by listing products individually, as opposed to your whole site. Online consumers are getting more efficient, and are increasingly using Google Shopping if they are searching for something to buy, and don’t necessarily look at the “web” search engine results pages (serps). You can get started here for Google Retail. The first step is to set up a Google Adwords account, as well as a Google Merchant Center account.
BigCommerce is an e-commerce platform we recommend to our clients, which has updated its software to make selling products on Google Shopping quite easy. Currently, Standard plans on BigCommerce do not have access to this feature, but with the recent price and plan update, will automatically be updated to include this feature around April. Storeowners can call in and request to be switched over immediately to get a jump on the competition. Here is the BigCommerce Google Shopping page, which has step-by-step instructions on how to set up and submit the products.
Google is constantly changing its search algorithm and search programs. Two of the newest updates of 2016 include a core algorithm change and the elimination of API’s.Many SEO’s saw major changes in rankings from Google. After thinking this was a penguin update, Google came out and said it is not the anticipated Penguin update, but rather, the changes were due to a core algorithm change. So far, 2016 has seen several changes, and SEO’s and webmasters have been kept on their toes.Some things you can do that will resist Google algorithm changes are make sure your Homepage, category pages, subcategory pages, and product pages have appropriate title tags, meta descriptions, and optimized content; there is much more that goes in to SEO, but you should at least have those, or you WILL LOSE potential customers to competition who does this. Contact us for a free SEO analysis.Secondly, as of 15 February 2016, Google will be closing the following search API’s:
Google Patent Search API
Google News Search API
Google Blog Search API
Google Video Search API
Google Image Search API
If you have any questions about any of this information feel free to give us a call
Increase Sales and Search Engine Visibility with SEO and SEM
Search engine algorithm changes over the last few years have changed the ways search engine optimization is done. No longer is it a blend of “secret strategies” that varies from SEO company to SEO company. Now, the strategies are publicly known based on webmaster guidelines provided by search engines. If an SEO person tells you their strategies are a blend of their “secret sauce,” or that they can’t share them with you, find another company. Here are some basic ways to optimize your site, as well as to increase your website’s visibility withoffsite optimization.
Title Tags (list of 70 characters) and Meta Descriptions (150 characters in full sentences) for the homepage, category pages, subcategory pages, and all products. This will help Google bots and other search engines categorize your website, as well as each individual category and product page. Meta Descriptions show up on search results pages, and should explain what is on the page so potential customers will pick your site over another site that doesn’t have meta descriptions Also, if these are done, but done incorrectly, then it will actually hurt your site, for Google will think you are trying to spam.
Optimization and creation of Content for the homepage, category pages, and subcategory pages. You have should have content on all of these pages, and the content needs to be optimized with anchor links. While Tags are used to categorize your site, content is used to judgehow high to rank your site.
Make sure your basic SEO setup is completed
Google analytics linked correctly
Webmasters linked correctly, so you can submit the ever important sitemap
Set up Google Shopping Feed, and submit each category, subcategory, and products to the appropriate Google shopping category. More and more online shoppers are clicking the “shopping” tab when trying to buy stuff online, and this will help get your products on here. This is another place where optimizing tags on products will come in handy.
Make sure all photos on all pages have alt attributes, which tell the web crawling machines what the photo is of, since the machine can’t see the photo.
Social Media. This is becoming more and more important and we can set up the important social media accounts for you, and run them for you.
Ad Retargeting. This is also becoming more and more important to drive sales. About 98% of shoppers never buy on their first time to a site, and ad retargeting reminds them, when they’re on other websites browsing the web, to come back and buy from you.
PPC – Pay per click is a good way to get immediate sales. It usually requires more money, but we can help you set it up, and determine your keywords, and also negative keywords.
Blogging – Gaining trust is the number one way to have people buy from you. People are very skeptical when shopping online, and blogs are a great way to show your expertise, as well as your legitimacy to increase their faith in buying from you. Once your blog is written and optimized, it should be shared across all social media platforms using appropriate hashtags and key terms.
Analytics and rank tracking for tracking progress, as well as ascertaining potential target markets for strategies.
This is kind of a lot, but there’s a lot to SEO. It’s easy and transparent, but has to be done correctly and is time consuming. If it’s done incorrectly, it can actually hurt you.
Black Friday may seem far away, but every year it sneaks up on people. Often, people wait until it is too late to modify and optimize their websites for the holiday season and Black Friday. Results from any marketing and search engine optimization campaign take about 3 to 6 months to emerge. Even after this, a majority of shoppers never buy on their first visit to a new website, which creates an even longer period of time until sales increase. Most of the time, it does not take a lot of advanced programming or computer skills to make a site ready and optimized for the busiest shopping season of the year; however, the time it takes is extensive, and even more so when having to learn it yourself. Moreover, Google’s many algorithm changes have made increasing site traffic through search engines more and more difficult for the average person who has not kept up with the changes on a near weekly basis.
Over the last couple decades, ecommerce website owners have been trying to get their sites on page one of search engine results. Initially, there were not many rules and it was basically the Wild West where you could do whatever you wanted without worrying about key words stuffing penalties or duplicate content penalties. The last two years have seen more drastic changes to Google’s Search Algorithm than ever—this article concentrates on Google, because Google gets about two-thirds of all web inquiries, but the techniques could apply to all search engines. With all the rules out there, and the confusion about what Google wants, I decided to let you know about 3 Simple Ways to have your site more appealing to Google.
First is the Title Tag section, which should be no longer than 70-75 characters. This is just a quick overview of easy optimization tactics; for more information about title tags check out our previous post about Basics of Search Engine Optimization. Google does not read titles past this length, and in fact if the title is too long, it can affect the speed in which the Google Bots crawl the site, leading to a low ranking. When separating key terms in the Title Tag, pipes are the best way; Google reads them the fastest, although commas are not horrible. Pipeslook like this from the VisionCourse Homepage:
Expert SEO Services | SEO Services for Small Business | SEO writing
While key terms of 3 or 4 words in length should be listed in the Title Tag, as shown above, they should be complete sentences in the next section.
Second is the Meta Description and the character limit is 150 characters. This extended length is because the terms should be worked into complete sentences; incomplete sentences cause Google to become suspicious of keyword stuffing and can actively push your site down in rankings. Working key terms from the Title Tag into the Meta Description is a great way to become an authority for a particular key term; however, without this last part, everything is moot.
Third, CONTENT IS KING! This exclamation has probably been heard more than once by those of you who have attended any webinars or seminars recently concerning SEO. Without getting too much into the history of Google Algorithm changes, recent changes have lowered the importance of many offsite anchor-linking campaigns. Too many people were buying low quality links just rank higher, even though their sites may not have had the best quality content for what the person using the search engine was looking for. This entry is a good example of how you want to optimize content. Repeat terms that are related to your products and/or services the website provides. Not only that, also bolding and italicizing certain terms DOES make a difference. High quality, original, and well-optimized content can make all the difference in the world. The only thing missing to make this a good example of content is an anchor-link, so here’s one. If you are wondering about how Google sees your site, we do offer a FREE SEO ANALYSIS. That link goes to our site and the words highlighted, as the link is an anchor-link for the term “Free SEO Analysis.”
So if you are wondering how to get Google to like your site more, or to get more traffic ask yourself 3 questions:
“Is my Title Tag a list of terms I want to rank for?”
“Is my Meta Description made up of complete sentences with key terms from my Title?”
“Do I have original, optimized content that repeats important key terms related to my industry in an organic fashion?”
Having had over a week to immerse myself into the world of forums, blogs, and youtube, Hummingbird has become more clear. Like any good SEO expert, now that it is apparent what changes were made, it is now time decide how to adjust to the ever-altering world that is Search Engine Optimization. Here is a previous blog describing the new algorithm: Hummingbird. Briefly, Google now tries to guess the searcher’s intent, rather than the exact terms that they searched. Another change Google made is now, even if searchers are not logged in, their searches will be kept private. This change–perhaps partly in backlash to accusations that the NSA was getting information from Google on what people are searching–means that people running e-commerce businesses online will no longer be able to see what people are searching to get to their site. These two alterations will decrease the importance of keyword research and worrying about exact terms in body content and product descriptions.
Where will this lead the SEO industry? Well, it looks like it is going to be changed for the better! Gone are the days of trying to load up a website with key terms and having to try to work awkward key word combinations into content to sound organic. Now it will be easier to pick what terms go into the title tags, meta descriptions, and the content. Other than that the Basics of SEO Strategies (another blog I wrote) actually remain the same:
Terms in Title Tag
Informational Meta Description using complete sentences
Quality, original, relevant and new content with anchorlinks
Quality offsite linking
There are a lot more, but those are just some of common strategies that do not really change! So instead of freaking out about the future of SEO, now that we know what Hummingbird is, we can adapt and thrive!