Ecommerce SEO is constantly changing, and Rand Fishkin is an expert in predicting and adapting to each shift. I’m just going to come out and say it—Fishkin’s talk, SEO Tactics to Love vs Leave in 2015, was my favorite session at Hubspot’s Inbound in Boston last week. I’ve been a groupie of the Moz.com and Inbound.org co-founder for years, and one of the reasons I love him is because he freely shares his SEO insights with small businesses and entrepreneurs.
He’s on our side ya’ll, so listen up: In the not-too-distant future, SEO will incorporate more subtle inputs, more advanced user data and more quality checks than we are seeing today. To make sure your online business is ready for what’s next, check out these actionable items from the startup genius himself.
According to Fishkin, SEO has changed quite a bit in the past five years. Here’s how:
- SEO is no longer just a job title, it has become part of everyone’s job description
- Google has become more aggressive at policing web spam, making it more difficult for offenders to recover from penalties
- Google is shortening the searcher’s path, pulling content and putting it directly into the search results page
- The rise of social media has exponentially broadened the field of “influencers”
- Google is withholding more keyword and attribution, making SEO even more challenging to measure and improve
However, Fishkin’s four main SEO tactics to love for 2015 will not only help you keep your head above water, it will also help you torpedo your competition.
1. Keyword Research: Google AdWords is not enough
Most ecommerce entrepreneurs rely solely on Google AdWords—but it turns out that AdWords has started hiding a great deal of data. Because AdWords is not as comprehensive as it used to be, Fishkin suggests a tool called Keywordtool.io. According to Fishkin, Keyowordtool.io will grab all search suggest data, not just Google, and find keywords you may have missed by looking at AdWords alone. Oh, and you can export your list for organizational purposes to boot.
Another refreshing tip from Fishkin was to actually go out into the world and find your customers. Figure out how they’re talking about your product, what words they use to describe it and how they solve their problems. This is a great way to find keywords and create content that actually targets your base. You’ll uncover gems for content creation like “how do I do X,” discover friction points so you can provide answers in your content creation and bring more quality traffic to your store.
Fishkin-food for thought: “On average, 87% of keyword referral data is ‘not provided’ by Google AdWords.”
2. Content Creation: “Good” and “unique” are not enough
Fishkin says he hates it when people suggest the path to SEO greatness is “to create good, unique content.“ It doesn’t express the needs of the content creator or the content consumer. Yes, your content needs to be unique and one-of-a-kind, but that just helps you reach the bar, not leap over it.
Fishkin suggests your content needs to meet the following criteria:
- Relevant: Search engines should be able to interpret content as on topic, but it also needs to satisfy the user’s intent
- Helpful: Your content should resolve the searcher’s query in an efficient way that creates value
- Uniquely valuable: Your content should provide information that’s unavailable or hard to get elsewhere
- Great user experience: Overall, your content should be easy and pleasurable for your readers to access, understand and digest
“There is no prize for just pressing publish. You have to make it great,” says Fishkin. Have a purpose, appeal to your customers and wait until you have something worth putting out into the world.
Fishkin-food for thought: “If you still think you can build pages that rank—you’re dreaming!”
3. Link Building: Links you build yourself are not enough
Here’s the truth: Google doesn’t want to count links that you build yourself. This includes directories, forums, guest posts, and commenting. Google wants to count what you’ve earned. To help this along, Fishkin suggests relationship building rather than link building.
In order to build fruitful relationships that earn you links over time, you need to:
- Be strategic: Picking the right topics and influencers to invest your energy in is key
- Be smart: Seek out folks who will be amplifiers of your business, product or brand
- Be patient: Remember that it takes time to earn anything, especially a link-worthy relationship
Fishkin-food for thought: “Building relationships is the new link building. If you build a relationship, you will earn links.”
4. Measuring ROI: Sometimes the most valuable benefits aren’t measurable
Everyone wants to determine if their efforts are getting the results they need. According to Fishkin, your best return on investment will typically fall into areas that are hard to measure, like brand awareness That doesn’t mean you should stop tracking measurable marketing tactics, but don’t forget to pay attention to and take advantage of serendipity.
For instance, how would you measure this picture of me with the man himself? To me, a selfie with Rand is priceless!
Check out the full slideshow from Fishkin presentation as there are loads more specific examples and action items to help explain and bring you comfort. Keep your chin up and remember, “with every challenge is an opportunity.” Thanks for the talk (and photo), Rand!
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