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What are Google’s unique ranking factors for the eCommerce industry?

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Episode Overview

What are the Google ranking factors impacting visibility in the eCommerce industry? In today’s hyper-competitive market, you need access to specific data to outperform the competition. In this second podcast of our April Searchmetrics Content Ranking Factors series, renowned SEO strategist Jordan Koene, CEO of Searchmetrics, takes a deep dive and unpacks the specific ranking factors for eCommerce, with the steps marketers can take to ensure better visibility.

In this podcast Jordan covers:

  • What has happened in the last two years since Google became hyper-focused on industry-specific scenarios?
  • Why are there more organic results in eCommerce for desktop and mobile than there are in other industries?
  • Why is content a very important differentiator in eCommerce?
  • What content investments should companies make that will distinguish them from their competitors?

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Episode Transcript

 

Ben:                             Welcome to industry ranking factors. We come the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro. And this week we’re going to publish an episode every day covering what you need to know about the ranking factors that impacts search visibility in your industry. Joining us today for industry ranking factors week is Jordan Koene, who is a world-renowned SEO strategists and the CEO of Searchmetrics, Inc. And today we’re going to start off industry ranking factors week by talking about the ranking factors impacting visibility in the eCommerce industry.

Ben:                             But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses, monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. And as part of ranking factors week, we would like to welcome you, our loyal podcast audience, to our upcoming webinar where we’ll discuss the evolution of custom ranking factors with machine learning on April 25th join our discussion about how the new generation of machine learning driven technology is evolving to provide on-demand and domain-specific ranking factors that are shaping the future of SEO. To register for our custom ranking factors Webinar, go to searchmetrics.com/webinar. Okay. Here’s the first installment of industry ranking factors week with Jordan Koene, Searchmetrics is CEO and lead SEO strategist. Jordan, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcasts.

Jordan:                         Thanks Ben. This is going to be a gritty conversation here and unpacking the various, industry-specific ranking factors.

Ben:                             Yeah, it’s the first time we’ve done anything that’s really been industry-specific. Maybe with the exception of eCommerce in the holidays, but I’m excited to dive into the weeds a little bit. Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s just talk a little bit about the high level of ranking factors and how we’re able to sort of use the data and sort the way that ranking factors are going at a high level that allows us to analyze each industry separately.

Jordan:                         Yeah, great questions. So the ability for us to perform this at an industry level is largely because we’ve done two really important things, not only at Searchmetrics, but more broadly, in terms of how we categorize in classify our data. So, one of them is we’ve created intent classification across our keywords that allows us to understand things like a transactional keyword versus the navigational keyword. And the second thing that we’ve done at a really level is tag the various industries for certain URLs. So we know obviously things like Amazon, that’s eCommerce. And so if any keyword has Amazon in it, there’s likely to be a, a heavy eCommerce correlation for that keyword.

Ben:                             So as we’re able to sort of segment the data that we’re getting in search and relate based on industry, what’s the impact that that’s having on the effectiveness of ranking factors and how does it impact sort of the search industry as a whole?

Jordan:                         Sure. So two years ago, we started going down this path because we realized that Google was starting to become hyper-focused on industry-specific scenarios. They were looking at things like health versus eCommerce in different lenses. And that was creating this appetite from not only the search industry, but really from, from webmasters and strategists, marketing and in business strategists who wanted to really understand how is Google trying to influence my industry. And so, that’s kind of where this sprung from and really started to lead down to this path where we are today, which is the ability to actually get down to a very custom level and actually analyze not just an industry, but maybe even what’s going on within a subtopic or a specific experience within an industry.

Ben:                             So essentially as Google has decided to treat different industries with different ranking factors, the industry as a whole and specifically Searchmetrics has started to put more thought into how do they classify various webpages by industry so they’re able to keep up with the changes that Google’s making?

Jordan:                         Correct, yeah. And, a big part of this has to do with the Google publication around eat and, YMYL, so your money, your life. These specific guidelines that were published by Google forced us to really look at very specific industry scenarios because again, in your money, your life, like Google even highlights like what’s happening in finance or what’s happening in health. And Google themselves are educating their own manual raters, their own product managers, and engineers to understand different factors for different industries.

Ben:                             Okay. So let’s dive into the weeds and talk about the eCommerce industry and some of the ranking factors there. Before we get into the actual ranking factors, just set a little context for me for how you think about evaluating the eCommerce industry.

Jordan:                         This is a really interesting category. And the industry as a whole has a lot of misnomers. The most common misnomer that I see in eCommerce is that there are not as many organic listings as say other industries because of ads that may seem to make a lot of just common sense, but it’s actually faults. There’s more organic results in eCommerce for both desktop and mobile experience than there are in other industries. On average, there’s usually somewhere between a 10 and a 15% increase in the number of actual organic results on the first page of Google for eCommerce. And that’s largely because other sub-elements are not as present in eCommerce. So you see typically a much smaller waiting around key elements such as images or other, maps integration, which is obviously one that takes up, a huge amount of real estate. And so those other search elements don’t consume as much real estate and allow for more organic results.

Ben:                             So essentially what you’re saying is that even though there are ads that are pretty much ever present in eCommerce, there aren’t as many different search elements that are put above the fold basically at position zero to push the eCommerce listings down. So eCommerce actually serves relatively high number of organic listings?

Jordan:                         Correct. Exactly. And I mean obviously with Google shopping, you’re going to see anywhere between 30 to 50% of the time a Google shopping ad. But outside of that, we, we actually see often artistically numbers that are much lower than the industry average,

Ben:                             Right. It’s basically there’s Google shopping, and then there’s nothing else that’s going on the page until there’s the organic listing. So let’s dive into, now that we know that there’s a fair amount of real estate to be had in eCommerce, one of the factors that impact who shows up at the top?

Jordan:                         Yeah, so there’s, there’s a couple of really interesting factors for eCommerce that we’ve analyzed. I’d say that one of them that is unique is the ability to generate relevant content in terms of supporting content. So although there may not be SERP elements for these additional content assets, things like images, videos, things like ordered lists. That actually has a huge driving force in your ability to rank and perform better in eCommerce. And so, supporting content assets is one of the number one ranking factors that drive better success in eCommerce. Quick example for you, Wayfair. If you look at a lot of the Wayfair pages, you’re not just going to see a set of listings for say a sofa. You’re actually going to see additional content assets, whether it be video content guides, to support that page.

Ben:                             So content is very important as a differentiator in eCommerce, which is a little counterintuitive to me because I, I think of eCommerce pages being kind of relatively static where you have your price, a single product description, you have the same imagery, maybe there’s a video of your product. There aren’t a lot of ways to really differentiate your eCommerce product. But what you’re saying is the more content that you can squeeze in, it really does actually have an impact on where your ranking.

Jordan:                         Correct. And I think that there’s obviously a healthy balance here, right? And, and there’s been a lot of games that have been played in eCommerce from the  manufacturer practice description versus a custom,  product description. These various tactics, there’s some that are, that are very kind of critical to just be relevant. But then there’s a lot of creativity that actually happens in this space, and a lot of investment in supporting content that really helps distinguish competitors in the space.

Ben:                             Okay. So let’s, let’s dive a little deeper. It’s, so first off, are there other content factors, other ranking factors that are impactful in the eCommerce space?

Jordan:                         Yeah, there are other more general ranking factors that are important to the eCommerce space.  speed is obviously one of the top factors, but this is more universal across all industries. But absolutely, you can quickly notice a shift in rankings when speed is at play. And the unique thing about how granular Google is getting, and I think this goes to the point earlier in the conversation around custom ranking factors, is Google’s not only analyzing this at a eCommerce level, but more broadly, they’re actually analyzing this at a sub category level. So they’ll look at just art websites who are selling art. They’ll look at just food sellers online who are only selling food. And they will get that granular almost down to the URL level to analyze speed and speed performance to see which site deserves to have a higher ranking based on speed factors.

Ben:                             I guess the takeaway here is because there’s not a lot of other SERP elements because eCommerce, the purpose of the pages are all very much the same. You know, there aren’t a ton of ranking factors that are different. It has really differentiation based purely on your content. Sure, the ranking factors that are universal what’s your site speed, what’s your crawlability you know, are you mobile responsive? That’s going to impact you equally like it would across any other industry. But the real takeaway is content, content, content, content. That’s how you’re differentiating in eCommerce?

Jordan:                         Absolutely and that is one of the most critical pieces to any eCommerce strategy is, how are we going to use not only the existing content assets we have, whether they be structured like actual product inventory or unstructured, like elements like guides or reviews or just even subjective commentary or news about your products. And so, those two elements and marrying them together is really what Google’s looking for in terms of creating a holistic experience.

Ben:                             Yeah. I think you bring up an interesting point that it is not just describing your product but also bringing in other types of content like UGC, user generated content, your reviews, your guides, your sort of category level content as well.

Jordan:                         Mm-hmm (affirmative), exactly.

Ben:                             Are there any other types of content or tips or strategies that you recommend to optimize your content specifically for eCommerce?

Jordan:                         Yeah, the biggest tip that I love to give a folks, especially the big players in eCommerce is the ability and creating the ability to test. A lot of times it’s very unclear what content assets are going to work well together. And sometimes even using a content asset in its initial form isn’t enough. I’ll give you an example. Just because you have product reviews doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use the default standards three reviews about the product. Maybe it’s better off to use 10, or maybe you’re better off using zero and only showing the star rating. It really depends on your own sub category and how your competitive set is using review based data to create an experience. But you have to create a testing environment where you can adapt reviews and see what creates the most positive lift and isolate that ranking factor to create a lift.

Ben:                             Yeah, so really, it sounds like the strategy here is you have to break your page down in a multiple different sections, right? You have to look at what your imagery is, test how you could optimize that, look at what your product description is, see how long that should be, right? You’re coming up with sub categories of various types of content, user generated content, product reviews you name it. You have to test them one at a time.

Jordan:                         Yup, exactly.

Ben:                             Okay, so eCommerce ranking factors, relatively simple in theory in that, really, the only important industry-specific ranking factor here has content complicated when you think about the amount of different types of content that goes onto the page. Okay. That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, Searchmetrics and CEO and lead SEO strategist.

Ben:                             We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find the link to his bio in our show notes, or you can send him a Tweet, where his handle is JT Koene, that’s J-T-K-O-E-N-E. If you have general marketing questions or if you want to talk about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can send me a tweet at Ben J. Shap. It’s B-E-N. J-A-S-H-A-P.

Ben:                             If you’re interested in attending our custom ranking factors Webinar on April 25th, head over to searchmetrics.com/webinar. And if you liked this podcast, and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feet and tomorrow morning to discuss the ranking factors that impact visibility in the media and publishing industries. Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Okay, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember, the answers are always in the date.