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5 Tips on Utilizing User Generated Content for Ecommerce Sites

Posted By SEOValley on : August 28th, 2015

User generated content in the form of consumer comments, reviews, photos, and popular lists help online retailers bridge the gap between user and screen. User generated content (UGC) is invaluable in e-commerce marketing. The physical to digital disconnect is recognized to be one of the biggest challenges e-commerce businesses face because while many consumers do subscribe to online trade, many are still reluctant to trust their purchases and transactions in the hands of machines. This is especially true for large purchases.

UGC as an e-commerce strategy leverages fan engagement by repurposing content that is created by actual consumers to drive marketing efforts and sales. This turns consumers into powerful brand advocates promoting products and services through different types of organic content that they create. These include ratings, reviews, comments, photos, videos, and more. While some forms of user-generated content are still in their formative period, reviews and ratings have long been around and used by businesses to gain insight about their consumers and how they receive products. Consumers in turn learn whether or not to trust a business with their money, thus influencing their behavior towards that particular brand. It is for these reasons that UGC is dubbed as the Holy Grail and the future of e-commerce.

User Generated Content

In the same way that no one understands your business like you do, no one understands consumers better than other consumers. This is why they make the best content engine for e-commerce sites and other consumer engagement platforms. However, like any other marketing strategy, user-generated content has its unique challenges. One particular issue UGC creates is duplicate content. Though consumers’ use of duplicate content may not be deliberate, this sometimes causes copyright problems and indexing issues for search engines. To make things even more challenging, user-generated duplicate content can be very difficult to control but it is not without a good fix.

To avoid this issue, you can put a notice on your pages requesting users not to post repeat/duplicate content and that any such posting will be removed from the site as you deem appropriate. You may also put a reminder saying that users who illegally infringe copyright rules on your site will be barred. Inform your users that once notified, duplicate content will be removed from your pages as soon as possible. So, you can keep your pages safe from penalties before owners of the duplicated content takes further action, which may harm your site.

This, however, should not slow you down from using UGC as a major business driver for your e-commerce site. Here are other ways you can use content generated by users to your advantage:

  • Use UGC as social proof that provides consumers with valid and legitimate social cues about your products, services, and your business in the overall. This fills the significant gap between the physical world and the digital world, which hinder many consumers from subscribing to online trade.
  • Use UGC for merchandizing. People are into products that fit perfectly into their life. Seeing other consumers incorporate your products into their everyday life adds to the sense of tangibility that online products and services often lack.
  • Use UGC to build trust. User-generated content help you build trust with and gain the confidence of consumers in buying your products or subscribing to your business. UGC works even better than word-of-mouth marketing in that it provides solid evidence that other consumers sincerely like your brand and use your products.
  • Use UGC to get the pulse of your consumers and leverage their reviews to improve consumer satisfaction and product quality.
  • Use UGC to celebrate fans. Incentivize user-generated content on different platforms that you use by hosting promotions and contests directed at avid fans who help you gain business organically.


How to Create Evergreen SEO Content that Doesn’t Get Stale

Posted By SEOValley on : August 26th, 2015

Stale content is the start of the demise of a website. While your site may still be functional, stale content creates underlying issues that run deep into the trenches of its foundation. This doesn’t only involve poorly organized and outdated content, but also old logos, and design trends that are past their prime, as well as features that are no longer useful. In this fast-moving, hyper-connected, and hyper-advanced world, having a tired website makes a company appear exactly like what that site promotes—old, stale, and irrelevant. Now that information travels a lot faster (and farther) than it did only a decade ago, it is high time to update your stale site and make sure your content is always fresh. Not only does old content damage your brand image, but it also hinders your brand from attracting more potential business.

Content management is one of the most important aspects of website development and online marketing. It is all about creating relevant and valuable content with the ability to engaged clearly defined target audiences. Once content is published, there are ways to make sure that they can remain fresh and useful with. In order, to upkeep the traffic of your website it is very necessary to keep useful and relevant content, and if it contains facts and figures, do update whenever the changes occur.

Evergreen SEO Content

Creating content involves a great deal of effort, because you spend your time ensuring that the content you generate has a long shelf life. In the same way, even evergreen content within topics and using formants that offer on-going value can show fatigue after some time—which means that they, too, need regular pruning and revitalization. Here are some important things to remember to ensure fresh and relevant content:

  • Review website copies on a regular basis.
    Review prominent as well as less prominent copies on a regular basis. Every website will likely have a good amount of dynamic content that keeps its pages fresh and relevant. This includes –events, blog posts, news updates, and similar types of content). Besides, maintaining dynamic content, it is important to keep the rest of your static content under the subheads like: your bios, services, about, and projects pages just as fresh and relevant. Keep an eye on pages that contain dates and accordingly make sure to keep your timeline and history updated. Look out for bios that require pruning and new bios that may need to be added. Home pages are also prone to stagnation, especially if you don’t swap out featured content or refresh its messages accordingly and on a regular basis. Adding new sliders and making tweaks to your key messages can help you keep your homepage fresh once it starts looking old and tired. For websites that feature case studies and project portfolios, updating its contents and features with the latest and greatest work you can showcase will not only increase your web traffic but also your services.
  • Make periodic revisions to your eBooks and whitepapers.
    If you publish eBooks and whitepapers, it is equally important to keep them as fresh as the other content. eBooks and whitepapers are fantastic instruments for lead generation. Keeping them evergreen is also an important part of content marketing that will help you maintain relevance. You may give them a fresh look using new graphics or add a new chapter with updated statistics and research to beef up their content and make them current.
  • Update old blogs to offer relevance.
    Old posts that continue to drive traffic offer great opportunities to gain relevance and credibility in the eyes of new leads. Constantly updating old blogs or relevant content on the site proves valuable, especially when these content are relevant, but need some slight updates on facts and figures mentioned. Blogging is considered as the cornerstone of good content marketing and keeping posts evergreen means the ability to drive traffic for months and even for years to come. If your content is old and has not been updated for a long time, it may be a good idea to generate more future proof pieces.


Technical SEO Audits Should Be Done Frequently: Here’s Why

Posted By SEOValley on : August 24th, 2015

A complete SEO audit is an essential maintenance duty every website owner must fulfill with frequent regularity. This is because technical audits can reveal many kinds of technical issues and standard problems that may go undetected, all while slowing down your website’s performance and its ability to rank well in searches. Audits provide you with a clear overview of the current state of your website and give you detailed insight into its workings. The process leads to an altering of the website’s components in order to strengthen its online relevancy.

SEO audits encompass different website elements ranging from content-related issues to indexing, site architecture, social media engagement, and backlink analysis, among many others. Gaining insight into these components and how they stand in relation to your overall online marketing scheme is crucial in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, as well as the potential that your website has when it comes to organic search.

Technical SEO Audit

A comprehensive SEO audit and analysis generates an evaluation report that highlights and details all present issues and lists down recommendations that can help website owners and SEO specialists fulfill goals in line with overall business objectives in the most resourceful and efficient way possible. Audit reports can be used as a solid basis for a brand new, more focused, and potentially more efficient SEO strategy.

Failing to conduct frequent and regular SEO audits on your website may leave you with potentially catastrophic technical problems that are quietly ruining your optimization efforts or sending dangerous SEO signals to search engines without your knowing. This is common when issues are a result of honest glitches that cause you to violate webmaster guidelines. The following are common technical problems SEO audits detect when website owners don’t even have any idea they are breaking best practices:

  • Cloaking. Crawling your site for analysis may reveal excessive amounts of links on your pages. This analysis may reveal exact-match anchor text links from site pages or sections that aren’t necessarily visible on the page or are globally present on your site code-wise, but may not be visible to users. This means you may be providing exact-match text links to engines but not necessarily giving users the content they need (providing different content to search engines than to searchers). Cloaking is a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines, and it can happen unintentionally and undetectably, which is why monitoring your site through technical audits is essential.
  • Rel=canonical. This simple line of code can cause you all kinds of issues when not handled properly. When your site has hundreds of indexed pages (such as in the case of e-commerce sites), using rel=canonical poorly could send a great deal of bad signals to search engines, effectively destroying your rankings and throwing your organic search traffic to the trash. Rel=canonical tags should be used when you have duplicate pages or pages that contain very similar content to another page. This code helps engines consolidate the correct URL for proper indexing. Used poorly, it could fire thousands, if not millions of bad SEO signals to search engines, severely (and negatively) impacting your rankings and traffic. Upon discovery, be sure to fix rel=canonical catastrophes by implementing a stronger more appropriate strategy as recommended by your SEO consultant.
  • Non-redirecting 301s and dirty sitemaps. When your sitemaps contain all kinds of bad URLs (URLs that 302, 404, 500, etc), search engines will lose trust in your site. Engines have little tolerance for disorganized and dirty sitemaps because they lose much bot resources trying to index bad pages. Non-redirecting 301s, for instance, may cause 404 (Page Not Found) errors, which, not only messes up indexing but thoroughly annoys users who are not getting what they are looking for. When migrating your website and using 301s, make sure to test your redirects before each release so there won’t be any surprises when doing your audits.


Why Local SEO is so Much More Than Just Local Pack Listings

Posted By SEOValley on : August 22nd, 2015

If you have been spending quite some time with SEO, you probably know about Google’s local pack listings. Looking at local search results, you will notice a section that lists the name, address, phone number and map link of several businesses. This is referred to as the local pack. The section was named so because it used to include 3 different locations for a specific search.

There are many reasons why pack listings are showing up the way they are, the most significant of which is Google’s effort to provide the best search experience for users. Search engines are always looking forward to provide the most relevant catalog of results (businesses) for end users, which means they usually focus on what they deem are the most important and relevant sites. While this may seem just another way to increase the hurdles that businesses have to jump through to make an appearance in SERPs, this is actually Google’s way to serve end users better and point them to the businesses that they are looking for.


They way Google determines which businesses to include in their local pack listings has a lot to do with different factors that also determines general search optimization. Many speculate about site-link connections, result query stability, big brand connections, entity connections, but in the end, only Google knows for sure how these results are generated. The best rule of thumb to follow to ensure your best performance in local searches is to claim your business through Google. The simple task is to create a Google Plus local business page, and ask to be found on local listings. Participating in social media with a completely filled out social profile, maintaining your website, and ensuring consistency when prominently featuring or listing your address all help you strengthen your local SEO campaign. Instead of obsessing about getting a spot in the local pack results, it is best to focus on your local optimization efforts, which is likely to affect your chances in getting prominently listed in these results anyway.

Whether you are a small startup or a huge name in your particular niche, here are some things you should pay attention to when trying to dominate local searches:

  • Make sure you are recognized and classified as a local business. Determining how your company or business is categorized by Google is important so you can start aligning your SEO efforts accordingly, or fix its designation if wrongfully classified. Any local business with a storefront or an office where clients are attended to can be classified as local business. However, if your business provides services on a nationwide scale, Google might not see it as a local operation. Claiming your Google My Business page as a local business is important so the engine can classify and index you accordingly. Your GMB should be properly optimized with all your important information as well as an effective business description. It is also important to pick out relevant categories for your business without necessarily spamming your business page.
  • Keeping your information consistent means using the same phone number, address, and basic information on all directories and places that you submit your business to. This also means using the same wording, tone and style to create the feeling of continuity and establish your branding. You must avoid typographical errors and discrepancies, especially when it comes to your NAP information (name, address, phone number). Consistency is the key to establishing a strong online image and promoting brand recognition.
  • Finally, optimize the listings with keywords. While having a sizeable network of listings is good, it is more important to optimize your local and social media profiles for the right keywords. Choose keywords that will most likely point you to tightly targeted traffic from the local area you wish to reach out to. Think like your potential customer and examine the most popular keywords used in your niche.


SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs

Posted By SEOValley on : August 14th, 2015

If you don’t know it already, it is always better to recruit an SEO manager to seek help during the development stage of your site, especially when establishing a search-engine friendly URL structure. This way, you will avoid the need to perform hard-to-execute tweaks along the way.

What exactly is an SEO-friendly URL structure? According to experts, it should be straight forward and meaningful. This implies no confusing redirections, duplicate content with canonical URLs, and emphasize on the most important URLs. Not all URLs (and pages) within a website are created equal, and more critical pages should be accessible to search engines without difficulty. Here are some things you can do to establish an SEO-friendly URL structure:

  • Consolidate domains – as a default, search engines index two versions of your domain—a www and a non-www version. Consolidating them can mean any number of ways, but the most widely accepted structuring best practice is using a 301 redirect. This points one version to the other and vice versa. Alternatively, you may also specify a preferred version in your Google Webmaster tools, although this does have its downsides. This particular tactic takes care only about Google, and is restricted to root domains. Why is this important? Because some of your precious backlinks may be pointing to one or the other version, which significantly diminishes their value.
  • Stay away from dynamic, relative URLs. Dynamic URLs are ugly, awkward URLs that contain all kinds of different symbols, which don’t really make sense to human users. Static URLs, on the other hand, are better-looking URLs, which contain your keywords, and are therefore more user-friendly. When creating URLs, use hyphens instead of underscores, because underscored words are treated by search engines as a single world.
  • Use special tags to specify canonical URLs. Canonical tags help search engines decide on the canonical URL to use.


Things You Need to Know About Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update

Posted By SEOValley on : August 11th, 2015

Google has already confirmed what several of their employees have been hinting at late last year—"more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers." The company goes on to say that these findings are true in 10 countries, including technology leaders like Japan and the US. Comparatively, total multi-platform web searches in the US alone, has increased by over 5% between 2013 and 2014, according to Comscore. All these suggest a great change in the mobile search optimization landscape, where search algorithms are likely to value mobile-friendly sites more in non-desktop queries.

Barely a month from its first announcement in April, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update has now fully rolled out, and many believe that it is only the beginning of what SEOs fondly term as "Mobopocalypse" or "Mobilegeddon." As frightening as these terms may sound, Google’s more mobile-friendly approach to mobile search rankings shouldn’t be as fearsome or intimidating as some may regard it to be. The update simply offers favor to mobile-friendly sites and pages, thus boosting their ranking on mobile search results. This way, the ever increasing mobile searchers can more easily and reliably find quality, relevant results, where the pages are readable even without tapping or zooming; where tap targets are appropriately spaced; where there is less unplayable content; or that avoids horizontal scrolling.

Just the same, Google still looks at a variety of mobile signals in order to rank search results, which is why you shouldn’t altogether abandon your old strategies, just to accommodate the Mobile-Friendly update. The intent of search queries, for instance, is still a powerful signal, so even if your pages are not yet mobile friendly, they could still rank pretty high for great content, relative to the query. As a conclusion, let us enumerate where this update applies to and which results it affects:

  • search rankings on mobile devices ONLY
  • search results in all languages globally
  • individual pages and not entire websites


What SEOs Can Do to Prove Their Long Term Value

Posted By SEOValley on : August 8th, 2015

Proving the value of SEO can be a challenge, especially when speaking to people who are not very savvy about search. Non-SEO professionals like you or other such companies may have a hard time understanding how search optimization work, making you put your guard up against professionals who try to convince you why you need it for your business. Maybe you’ve had failed search optimization efforts, or maybe you are waiting for results that are simply taking too long to bring results and profit. Worse yet, maybe you’ve heard that SEO is dead. How then, can an optimization firm prove its worth to you? How do you convince important people upstairs that your business requires this service—and for the long term? The secret is in your approach. Here are things you should hear from a search optimization firm/you can say to your managers about the long-term value of SEO:


  • Search optimization has a lot to do with high search rankings and search traffic. This hugely drives your overall SEO success, but it isn’t everything. The main reason why so many people get frustrated about optimization is that they think it is everything. Many even think it is a one-time deal. Search optimization, unfortunately, is only part of a bigger picture that completes the search marketing puzzle. With the changing nature of the SEO environment and the many uncontrollable factors that may affect overall results (and thus your rankings), your optimization manager should also be able to establish other benefits of their investment, and why it usually takes time to see results.
  • Major benefits you can mention, apart from increased rankings, page, views, traffic, and overall business profitability, include brand awareness, long-term rankings, and the ability to keep up with the changing nature of the industry, especially in terms of search algorithm changes—which happen constantly.


Search Analytics: The New Google Webmaster Reporting Tool

Posted By SEOValley on : August 5th, 2015

Before Search Analytics, you probably relied greatly on Search Queries reports to gain understanding of how users see your website and how your content fairs on Google’s search results. However, data shown on the old tool did not include traffic comparisons on desktop and mobile. Neither did it compare metrics in different time frames or between different countries.
Image result for search analytics
On May 6th, 2015, Google announced Search Analytics, the recent reporting tool that enables deeper and more specific traffic analyzes, designed to improve on Search Queries. This new report allows you to break down search data on websites and filter the information in different ways, thus allowing for more precise analyzes. For instance, comparing your data to see how the April 21st Mobile update affected your mobile and overall traffic is now possible. You can determine as well as measure brand impressions, to find countries where people do the most searches for your brand name. These are only two out of many more ways that you can use the new Search Analytics to really look into the nature of your website’s traffic. These types of data can help you make the most informed decisions that will affect your site’s performance.

Search Queries report is fundamentally different than Search Analytics because data here is calculated differently. This makes results much more accurate. However, Search Queries reports are still available in your Google Webmaster Tools for at least the next three months, so you can still use them as reference for your next search strategies.

More changes and updates can only be expected from Google, but we trust that they are all designed for the betterment of the web and how we consume the bulk of information it provides. These changes are the only proof that their engineers and designers are listening to what webmasters and users are demanding, and following through with favorable responses.


Possible Reasons Why Link Acquisition Efforts May Not Be Effective

Posted By SEOValley on : August 2nd, 2015

So you’ve been spending an incredible amount of time and effort on link-building and you are still seeing no improvement in your rankings. You begin to think it is as an exercise in futility, and contemplate about killing it altogether. Our advice is to pause, take a deep breath, and a giant step backward to look at the big picture. In other words, do a thorough website audit to examine link quality.

Getting an outside (different) SEO perspective may change the way you see your link building strategies. Links are still vital to SEO, despite your seemingly fruitless acquisition efforts. It might be that your process needs a revamp or a complete overhaul with the help of an expert team. The following are likely reasons why your link building efforts are falling short:

  • You are nurturing all the wrong links. Wrong links can mean many different things, like those coming from the same places you usually get them; links from less trustworthy and less authoritative places; those from sources that potentially look manipulative; and links from irrelevant pages. These types of links don’t necessarily add value to your optimization and may not be enough to convince Google to move you up their rankings. Link location and uniqueness also play a role in determining the relevance/value of a particular editorial vote. The remedy? Push for in-content links and improve link acquisition through relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative sites, unique to what you are always getting.
  • Wrong domain. This is probably one of the most frustrating link building issues. People’s perception of your domain plays a role in their behavior and attitude toward your content in the search result. This is why it is important to build brand affinity between search topics and keywords, as well as what’s in the minds of your searchers.
  • Accessibility issues. Technical glitches can also be real link busters. Auditing your site for dead links or pages that show error is important if you want to enhance your link building campaign.


How Much Has Link Building Changed in Recent Years?

Posted By SEOValley on : July 30th, 2015

The core principles of building and maintaining links remain intact, but over the years, significant changes in the signals that determine the value of a link can be observed. The most recent of these major changes rolled out in the second quarter of 2012 when Google introduced it’s Penguin update. Since this algorithm change, few, but significant changes occurred, ushering in the age of user data-driven results and machine learning.

The old mindset that the more links your website has, the higher it will rank is no longer valid. Webmasters in the past may have seen success in acquiring as many links as they can; regardless of their quality; for the sake of a short-lived spike in rankings. Today, however, this short-term approach simply cannot fly with the new standards. Business owners and webmasters, along with SEO specialists, now know that it takes so much more than link quantity to merit link-building strength.

Good content marketing is the way to good quality links, which is why developing content assets that your target audience cares about should be a major priority. This will encourage them to share your content and link to it from somewhere credible; somewhere authoritative; somewhere relevant. Generating link-worthy content that your visitors care enough to share organically, and other bloggers/websites deem valuable is a more efficient way to build and acquire quality links than any other tactic.

Today’s link building strategies must be grounded on major goals such as: creating a large enough audience who will enable you to receive traffic to brand new content. And you can build strong relationships with credible, trustworthy, and relevant websites. Google and other search engines are condemning scalable and artificial link-building. If you are still stuck in your old ways, you are bound to lose not only the quality and value of your links, but also your rankings; and eventually, your traffic.