Google’s War on SEO Part 2 – What Exactly Should Ecommerce Merchants Do? [Interview with Ian Lurie from Portent]
We asked him the same questions, all centering around, ‘what exactly should commerce merchants do to increase their search rankings’?
What should business owners know when evaluating what types of SEO agencies or in-house tactics to use to achieve higher rankings? What’s an easy way to know if SEO agencies will be using black hat techniques to manipulate rankings?
If an agency says they can improve your rankings without touching your site, I guarantee they’re black hat. They’re going to stake their entire strategy on quantity-first link building and social spam.
If an agency asks you questions like, “Will we be able to add content to your site?” or “How easy is it to change your site’s code?” then they’re looking at a pretty well-rounded strategy. It’s more likely they’re white hat.
Also, look out for impossible-sounding promises. Those aren’t necessarily black hats – a good black hat SEO won’t make unreasonable promises. But a lousy or unethical SEO will say things like “We guarantee a #1 ranking!!!!!”
You can probably tell from this rambling answer there’s no black-versus-white hat litmus test. It’s about the overall strategy: If the tactics you’re using have to be hidden from the search engines, or could get you in trouble if you’re found out, then you’re going black hat. If your tactics are completely, 100% ‘clean’ in terms of search engines’ terms of service, then you’re white hat. Most companies fall somewhere in the middle. And that’s fine.
With regards to the business owner, what do you think about how the SEO world is set up today and how should a business owner go about creating an SEO strategy for their company?
Business owners shouldn’t create SEO strategies. They should create audience building strategies. aka, marketing strategies.
I have yet to see a business owner who stays focused on what really matters to their marketing strategy and business when they start thinking about SEO. They always end up buying links, or comparing to their competitors’ sites and then get hung up on the injustice of it all.
Instead, figure out:
- What customers most often ask you.
- How you answer that question.
- Where your customers ‘hang out’ online.
- Answer the question on your site, with an article, video, blog post, whatever.
- Go tell everyone.
It’s still marketing, folks. There’s no magic formula. Keep working at it and you’ll rank.
If you want to get into SEO, hire an SEO consultant.
What can Google and other search engines do to help business owners work towards higher search rankings with less risk?
Stop pretending they’re perfect. Google makes a lot of big, big mistakes in major algorithm rollouts. They need to be willing to roll those mistakes back fast, within hours or days. More important, they have to stop enforcement through confusion: They make very, very ambiguous statements about ‘over-optimization’ and similar issues, let the entire community work itself up into a lather, and then do something different.
The major search engines can’t realistically expect SEO to go away. If there are search results, folks will try to optimize. So they need to get a lot better at communicating.
For more Ecommerce SEO tips be sure to check out Ian’s responses in our Ecommerce SEO Roundtable.