Competitive SEO

Competitive SEO

Competitive SEO

SEO is not a checklist. Despite what some might believe, ranking on page-one is not as simple as doing X and then getting Y. Search engine optimization is about offering the best results for a given search query. And that word “best” makes SEO a competitive sport.

Search optimization strategies typically follow the journey that begins with being seen and continues into the effort of being understood before ultimately making the case that the site should be preferred.

Be Seen

Typically referred to as “technical SEO” this is the art of making sure that your website can be easily consumed by search engines. This is often about code and security and architecture. All of this is critical, but unfortunately some sites get stuck at this stage and fail to progress beyond this phase. The number of potential optimization issues can feel overwhelming. Software scans can produce thousands of optimization opportunities. Most sites will want to determine when the visibility is “good enough” before moving to the next phases of the process.

Be Understood

It’s one thing to put your site out there and it’s another thing for the search engines to understand what the site is all about. Some sites present an image of great breadth while others are narrow and specialized. Sites should think about what they look like to a search engine relative to competitive sites.

As a general rule of thumb, sites that have less organic strength are probably better off focusing, while sites with the most organic strength are probably better off expanding that strength. For sites with a “focus” strategy, the key is to make sure that every page on the site contributes to a consistent story that is aimed at a specific type of searcher.

The best way to evaluate search engine perceptions is to see which pages (ignoring the home page) drive the most traffic to the site. If this is where the traffic is going, this collection of best performing pages likely represents what the search engines think is most relevant on your site.

Be Preferred

Once a site is both seen and understood, the next goal is drive more success by being a preferred source. What does it take to get to page-one of a search engine results page?

Getting to page-one is really hard. A keyword phrase like “ice cream” generates over 2.5 billion clickable options, but the page-one sites typically get over 90% of the clicks. Getting to page-one probably means displacing an existing link and that’s. Competitive SEO is the art of taking precise aim at unseating specific competitors for any given search.

SEO Competitive Content

Google has been clear that getting to page-one is about providing the best result for any given search query. Think of competitive SEO as competitive content and develop strategies for delivering better content than the competition. Getting to page-one starts with understanding which sites are on page-one today.

Sites like Google rely on a large array of indicators to determine how authoritative a site might be. It’s clear that not all good content is equal and that the stronger sites have a built-in advantage. But Google and other search engines are smart enough to realize that its opinion is not nearly as important as the opinion of searchers. Create exceptional content that searchers will eagerly consume and Google will increasingly reward the site with a higher ranking. It may not happen overnight, but it’s clear that competitive content wins in the end.

Building a Competitive Analysis

The first step toward building a competitive content strategy is to conduct a competitive analysis. There are two types of competitive analyses that can help guide a competitive search optimization strategy.

Competitive Site Analysis

Pick a handful of sites that are most similar. Picking large broad sites like Amazon or Walmart, for example, may not be as useful as picking sites that are similar in strength and product breadth. Using SEO research tools start to build a profile of the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. Your analysis should try to understand today’s success and the trajectory of the competitors. Is their SEO footprint growing? Is their strategy helping them gain or causing them to fall behind? This is also an opportunity to establish some site benchmarks to strive for.

Keyword Competitive Analysis

Collect a bundle of aspirational keywords that are representative of the site and then look to see what it takes, on average, to win. What does it take to come in number 10? How competitive is the site’s content when compared to the sites on page-one today? Which site would you want to best? How much content is required to displace one of these sites?

Most competitive analyses conclude that the single best competitive SEO strategy is to increase the overall content depth (word count) in order to deliver a more complete answer appropriate for more search queries.

Conclusions

Getting to page-one of a search result, whether as part of a paid search campaign or an organic strategy, requires having better content for any given search query than the other options. Building a plan to deliver page-one search results requires understanding and monitoring the content strategy of those sites that rank on page-one today. Generally speaking, displacing competitive sites requires building better content. A competitive analysis will help establish what “better” really means.

About the Author

Greg Harris is the Vice President of Strategy at eZdia.com. eZdia helps eCommerce sites design and scale their content strategies. eZdia offers both a site-level competitive analysis and a keyword competitive analysis for free to qualified eCommerce sites.

Google Announces Free Product Listings on Google Shopping

Google Announces Free Product Listings on Google Shopping

How to create a Google Shopping feed

Google Shopping is quickly becoming the single largest repository of product information. In May of 2020 Google started accepting organic listings for the first time in 8 years creating a significant new organic landscape for eCommerce sites. 

This document outlines the steps to take in order to create a Google Shopping feed. At the end of the day the organic winners will be those sites that invest in original content that engages and converts the reader but the first step is to make sure that Google has full visibility to your product catalog.

Here’s the information you’ll want to add to your feed:

  • ID: A unique alphanumeric ID number for every product you sell.
  • Title: This may be the single most important element on the page in terms and should include the most important keywords.
  • Description: Google will accept up to 5,000 characters in the description and again it’s important to integrate the appropriate keywords that will match your customers’ search queries.
  • Link: A link to the product URL on the site.
  • Image link: Google wants the link so that it can easily display your photo within the search results. Use the primary image.
  • Price: It’s important that you deliver the feed frequently and that the price on your feed matches the price on your site. Assume that Google is checking.
  • Brand: This is the brand name of the product and it helps Google match search intent to the product.
  • GTIN: If available, include the Global Trade Item Number. This helps Google to group sellers of the same product. Google can help you find your item’s GTIN if you’re unsure.
  • Shipping Weight, Length, Width & Height: Google Shopping tries to estimate the total cost of shipping. Values like weight, and shipping dimensions are designed to work alongside your shipping settings inside of Google Merchant Center.
  • Sales Tax: This is required in the US only if needed to override the account tax settings for an individual item. Use Google Merchant Center to settings to maintain your overall sales tax information.

Is my site eligible for Google Shopping?

Yes! All retailers can opt-in to show their products across Google Shopping for free once the product feed is submitted to the Google Merchant Center. Keep in mind that Google does restrict listings for illegal, regulated, or sensitive products.

How do I get to page one of Google Shopping?

The feed is critical and serves as Google’s starting point, but frankly that’s just a ticket to the game. In order to get to page one, you’ll have to compete for the best and most relevant product listings against all the other providers with products relevant to the search. Here’s a list of things to consider.

  1. Perfect your product title: The product title may be the most important page element and is weighed heavily in Google’s ranking algorithm. Be sure to optimize the title around the keyword phrases your customers will use to search for the product. You may need to try a few different titles if you aren’t getting to page one.

  1. Test different images: An image can really help your product stick out on a busy SERP, so pay attention to your product photography and understand how to stand out relative to other photos on the SERP. 

  1. Provide as much product detail as possible: While the most important keywords should be in your title, the description is an opportunity to connect with a broader range of search queries. Include as many relevant feed attributes as you can , such as your product category, product type, color, condition, size, and color!

  1. Product Schema: Schema on your website allows search engines to better understand your page. You’ll need to include the required attributes like price, and you can also add reviews to this schema to show the average rating. This can help entice clicks.

Must Have Schema Elements

We have seen in the competitive analysis that most of the eCommerce stores are not using rich snippets effectively. Rich snippets are missing or major product elements are not included in most of the product pages.

The most important details related to a product (which can grab the customer attention) are as following:

product name

eCommerce stores should consider implementing all important Schema Markups to all the product pages.

5. Offers: If you offer free shipping, or the product is on sale, include this information in the shopping feed. This will help the products stand out from its competitors.

6. PayPal: Google now has a partnership with PayPal, to quickly help stores with set up and provide users with “high quality results”. If you need a faster, more secure payment method for products, this is definitely worth looking into.

How will organic Google Shopping results impact paid product listing ads (PLA)?

Retailers can and should continue to show their paid ads alongside these new free organic listings. This will allow retailers more flexibility in how they chose to promote their full inventory across Google. Once the products are approved in Google Merchant Center, a retailer can create a Google Shopping campaign within Google Ads and promote specific items across Google, paying only when a searcher arrives at their site.

Current Google Shopping advertisers will continue to show their ads on the Google Shopping tab, primarily towards the top and bottom of the pages. Nonpaid (organic) listings will take the remaining real estate within that tab.

The shopping results from the Google Search results page, partner search engines, Google images, the Google Display Network, Gmail, and YouTube will still only feature paid shopping ads at this time, so advertisers won’t expect to lose much of their shopping ads traffic.

What is the ‘Google Buy Button’ or ‘Purchases on Google’? 

Google has branded the tool as Purchases on Google but many people refer to it as the Google Buy Button. The buy button appears when people do product-related searches on Android phones or tablets. This is how the process unfolds:

 

  1. Google Shopping product listing ads appear on those searches and if one of the advertisers uses Purchases on Google, its ad will have a “Buy on Google” button.
  2. When the user clicks on the Buy on Google button they go to a landing page on Google, i.e. not the retailer’s website.
  3. The user can add the product to a shopping cart.
  4. They then complete the purchase using Google Wallet, all without ever leaving Google.
  5. The retailer then fulfills the order and is responsible for all communications and interactions with the customer in relation to that order.

    At the time of the launch, Google said it had analyzed conversion data and found the conversion rates for its Product Listing Ads were 50 percent lower on mobile than desktop.

     

    With the Google Buy Button, Google aimed to increase conversion rates on mobile. Google says its buy button simplifies the process of buying online as the purchaser already has an account with Google and a method of payment.

    This is easier than going to a retailer’s website and, potentially, creating a new account and/or entering delivery and payment information. 

How to Use Competitive Analysis in Ecommerce SEO Strategy

How to Use Competitive Analysis in Ecommerce SEO Strategy

competitor_analysis_ezdia.jpg
Competitive drive is a key component to remain successful in the ecommerce industry. Knowing your biggest competitors and what they’re up to provides business owners with opportunities to take a competitive advantage. Including competitive analysis in your arsenal of ecommerce strategy tools has a positive impact on everything from on-site content to ROI. Evaluating your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses offers a window into areas of your own business that might need improvement.

When doing a competitive analysis, the eCommerce industry has more areas to consider than a basic brick-and-mortar operation. Social media marketing, SEO, product page content, mobile compatibility, and speed are just a few of the areas to include in the analysis. Comparing your own eCommerce business to competitors using unbiased analysis gives you a fresh perspective on site-wide SEO strategy. Use analysis tools like SEMRush™ or Google Search™ to identify your direct competitors, then select the top two or three to analyze.

Direct competitors are brands that provide products or services that are basically the same as yours, and operate in the same geographic region. Some eCommerce businesses add indirect competitors to the analysis. These are competitors who don’t sell similar products, but can fill the need or solve the problem your product does. Since the analysis process can be lengthy, it’s vital to focus most of your analysis on direct competitors. Take a look at the top five ways to use competitive analysis to improve your eCommerce SEO strategy. 

1. Overhaul Content

eCommerce competitive analysis narrows in on the content that attracts the most views and UGC for your direct competitors. Use this information to evaluate where your content is lacking, and then update it accordingly. Keep the following areas in mind when performing a competitor analysis for content:

  • Buying guides
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • eBooks
  • Product descriptions

Compile an accurate comparison by spotlighting competitors’ focus, length, and keywords in content.

Focus

Focus on how you can incorporate some of their topical content into your ecommerce business, and include fresh information and perspectives. What is their primary content focus? Are they constantly updating their blogs or creating buying guides? If you have similar content that is unsuccessful, rework it or start over using insight from the competitor analysis. Creating insightful content that enriches your consumer’s experience increases conversions. You only need to find out what your competitor is doing and do it better.

Length

Using competitor analysis can help you see where you may need to adjust content length based on competitor ranking in SERPs. Research done in 2017 showed that longer blogs ranked higher with search engines, but new information has determined that the length of content should be comparison based. In 2018, a study showed that ecommerce business blogs perform better if they use a similar word count, as compared to blogs on the same topic that ranked first in SERP.

Keywords

Use competitive SEO analysis to find out how your competitor is adding fresh keywords into evergreen short and long-term keywords to improve SERP ranking. How your competitors use keywords impacts their SEO success: evaluate what types of keywords they are using and adjust yours. Are they using LSI keywords? Are their keywords evergreen, or fresh (trending)? Fresh keywords are an excellent short-term source of conversions, but evergreen keywords are more relevant for consistent conversions. Pay attention to all forms of content including image meta-tags and titles. To get a complete view of your SEO content versus your competitors, don’t forget titles, metadata, tags, and content relevance.

2. Increase Conversions

Ecommerce SEO competitor analysis can increase your conversions because innovation is a large part of maintaining customer satisfaction. Gaining an increase in customer satisfaction provides you with a competitive advantage. Analyze growth patterns and current ROI to find opportunities to convert consumers to your brand by using innovative strategies that increase ratings and positive UGC. Evaluate your competitors’ marketing goals and predictions, as well as their past and present strategies that have been successful. Your closest competitors can give you insight into different SEO strategies that can increase your ranking in SERP, and lead to more conversions. Chances are, if they are optimizing for voice or image search and getting good results, your ecommerce business would be safe optimizing for those areas, too.

seo_competitve_analysis_ezdia.jpg

3. Strengthen Marketing Strategy

Ecommerce SEO strategy needs to include social media marketing: 25.6 percent of referral traffic came from social media advertising (SMA) in 2017. While Google Search is still king, social media continues to keep pace, and with voice and image search not far behind, text search will have stiff competition. Use competitive analysis to determine the type, frequency, and cost of your competitors’ SMA campaigns. Figure out what types of SMA worked for your direct competitors, and which ones fell short. Brainstorm how your ecommerce business can expand on competitor methods and find opportunities to surpass their successes. Competitive analysis allows your ecommerce business to locate opportunities for the right social media strategy, based on real-time marketing data. It can also determine where current SMA strategy fell-short. Pay special attention to competitor social media data like:

  • Fans, followers, and subscriptions
  • Sharing patterns
  • Frequency and consistency of posts
  • Customer engagement
  • Photos and videos
  • Advertisements and videos

In your competitor analysis, include the advertising methods that did and didn’t work for the competition to give yourself a jump-off point for additions or changes.

4. Maximize Overall Site Speed

Another key benefit of using competitor analysis is the ability to compare your current load speed with your competitors. Run all URLs through analysis to help you zero in on areas that can be improved to increase load speed. Include the following in your ecommerce SEO competitor analysis:

  • Images: What format are they using? How did they optimize images for search engines and mobile devices? What size are their image files compared to yours? Are their image titles more effective?
  • Links: How do they use internal and external links? Do they allow social media linking? How are their links displayed (buttons, images, direct links)? Are their external links more trustworthy or relevant than yours?
  • URLs: Does your competitor include keywords in product URLs? Have they optimized URLs for SEO? What type of formatting do they use?

5. Rank Higher in SERP

Ecommerce SEO competitor analysis used effectively leads to higher SERP rankings. When you analyze your competitor’s content, speed, and marketing strategy you break down their SEO structure. Find out how your competitor uses keywords to drive search engine results, and decide what you can do to improve on their existing methods. Competitive analysis allows you to see how they are redirecting broken or missing links, improving loading times, and using cross browser compatibility. Consider researching the following in your ecommerce SERP competitive analysis:

  • Ease of use: Sites that are user-friendly rank higher because they provide a positive customer experience
  • Layout: Site layout is important to SERP rankings – the easier a sight is for the search engine algorithm to navigate matters
  • Platform: Technology used to create a site is just as important as SEO content to search engines
  • XML Sitemap: Sitemaps provide efficient and quick indexing for search engines
  • Snippets: They appear at the top of SERP, usually with an image, link, and description

Don’t forget to double check UGC at all stages of analysis. See what aspects of products or services their consumers are satisfied with, and what needs work. Satisfied consumers create more leads, visits, conversions, and SERP rankings.

Let us know how competitor analysis has helped your ecommerce business, and what steps had the biggest impact on conversions. If you need guidance fixing under-performing areas of your site, we can help. At eZdia we analyze content, customer experiences, traffic, and conversions, and identify problems that can negatively impact your ecommerce business. We can also help by developing rich content like strategy guides and blogs that engage and entertain your consumers.