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Ecommerce & Serp - What To Do When Google Is Penalizing You


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6 replies to this topic

#1 nycology

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 11:27 AM

Hi everyone!

 

I have been lurking here for a while, and most times I reference this forum, I find a solution to my immediate issue. I have never made an account, and I am sorry that I have been selfish and a non-contributor. That will change.

 

 

I have run into a wall with this particular problem. Let me give you a bit of background. I run an ecommerce shop in a relatively new industry, and have been running it for two years. I am in the electronics industry, specialty electronics. As of late, I have seen a slump in sales coinciding with when I slid off of the first SERP page on Google. 

 

I run a wordpress site with woocommerce as the commerce plugin. I have Yoast SEO as well as another Yoast plugin specializing for Woocommerce SEO. I have a mobile page speed in the green zone, and I am constantly trying to get into the green zone for non-mobile. A lot of my traffic is organic, and we just started working with affiliates (we run our own in-house affiliate program, we do not use the big guys like shareasale, etc. because I read somewhere google does not value these large-scale affiliate sites highly). My page rank is 0/10, domain authority is 25/100, page authority is 30/100. 

 

In the very recent past, I have been in the top 3 for specific product searches. we slid to past page three and only then did I realize through webmaster tools that there were a ton of blocked resources and robots.txt was not allowing spiders to visit. Also, we had trouble with our rich snippets. That is all fixed. Every time google fetches the site the amount of issues go down fast. Blocked resources will be next to nil soon, they are on a precipitous decline along with broken rich snippets. 

 

My site specializes in fresh products, we never keep anything in stock for longer than a a month or two, and I know as a fact that focus keywords per each product page are unique. We have a pretty good reach on social and we put product descriptions that are unique and interesting to keep people on the site. Our conversion rate sucks and people keep leaving anyway. We are working on that.

 

Why am I losing ground on SERP? My closest competitors do not put out as much fresh content, their page speed is slower, and they do not focus on user experience. One of two of them don't write more than a sentence on product descriptions. 

 

We are a small shop but we are trying to compete with far bigger companies. One of my competitors has 4/10 page rank. I think he is the only one that has a domain over 3yrs old (he has 6 yrs). 

 

Any input would be tremendously appreciated. I value any criticism at all! 



#2 chrishirst

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 02:39 PM

 

 

 domain authority is 25/100, page authority is 30/100. 

Of ABSOLUTELY no relevance to anything and totally meaningless.

 

 

 

My page rank is 0/10,

Equally meaningless but telling!

 

 

 

 

Why am I losing ground on SERP? My closest competitors do not put out as much fresh content, their page speed is slower, and they do not focus on user experience. One of two of them don't write more than a sentence on product descriptions. 

 

Probably because you spend more time fussing over meaningless minutiae than really promoting your products.

 

 

AND;

 

How do you know you are being 'penalise'? What have you been doing to warrant a penalty?


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#3 qwerty

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 05:51 AM

 

My site specializes in fresh products, we never keep anything in stock for longer than a a month or two, and I know as a fact that focus keywords per each product page are unique.

Is that common among your competitors? And what do you (and they) do when a product is out of stock? Do you redirect the page or 404 it, and if the latter, is the 404 page customized enough that users get a clear understanding of why they've ended up there and what alternative products are available?


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#4 Jill

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 07:20 AM

Hire a professional SEO consultant to do a site audit. 


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#5 torka

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 08:31 AM

I agree with Jill. Not just an "SEO" audit, but a usability/conversions audit. You say your conversion rate is terrible and you're working on improving it. Bringing that up will definitely help you, more and faster, than trying to increase traffic. But conversion optimization can be hard, it often requires people to let go of cherished beliefs about "how things work," and it can take a long time to master. Having the input of an experienced professional could be quite helpful.

 

A few things that may save you some time (and headaches) in the mean time:

  • Stop looking at PageRank. Google hasn't updated the public PR numbers since something like December of 2013, and has no plans to update that number ever again. So whatever you're seeing there is seriously out of date. There's no point at all now (as if there ever was) in checking your own or your competitors' numbers.
  • Use whatever affiliate program works best for you. If it makes business sense to handle in house or through a smaller program, do that. But if you're spending a lot of time building out features you need, or trying to work around limitations in a program when a larger affiliate program already has everything you need, by all means use it. I don't know where you read that Google doesn't like large-scale affiliate program sites, but even if that were true, what of it? What Google may (or may not) think about their site has nothing to do with whether you can/should use their product. You're not posting the any affiliate pages on your site, so your use of that program should have no effect on you. And as for your affiliates, what kind of traffic and sales they earn is up to them and how they configure and promote their own sites. It has nothing at all to do with the affiliate program you choose to use.
  • Stop wasting time obsessing over apparent rankings. Remember, search results are personalized, so the rankings YOU see may or may not have anything to do with the rankings that most other people see. Look instead to trends in your traffic and conversions. Is it increasing? Decreasing? Are the sources of traffic changing? What can you learn about the demographics and on-site behavior of your general site visitor versus the visitors who convert? What can you do to attract more people like the ones who have already bought from you?
  • Stop wasting time fretting over what your competitors may or may not be doing, or how you compare against them. Just because they're doing some particular "thing" and they seem to be outranking you, it doesn't follow the "thing" you've identified is the reason they seem to be ranking higher. Thanks to personalization, they may not actually outrank you in the majority of searches -- and even if they do, it could be they're ranking highly in spite of the "thing" you see them doing, not because of it. Google uses hundreds of ranking factors which are assigned various weights (which can vary depending on the type of site/page) and the interrelationships between them can be complex. Add in the effects of personalization and, as you've seen, it's virtually impossible to identify one (or even a few) factors that absolutely predict what rankings you will see when comparing two pages. Focus instead of simply making your own site the best it can be.

What else are you doing to promote your site? Personally, I get nervous when I see more than about a third of my traffic coming from organic search. (Google giveth, and Google can taketh away -- in a heartbeat, and often for no discernible reason and with no recourse.) What sort of trends are you seeing in direct, referral and paid traffic?

 

--Torka :oldfogey:


Edited by torka, 09 July 2015 - 08:33 AM.
edit for clarity

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#6 nycology

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 12:54 PM

Of ABSOLUTELY no relevance to anything and totally meaningless.
 
Thank you very much for your response! After everything I have read, I did not find any info that told me domain authority and page authority are not important indicators. Thank you for letting me know those numbers are not significant. 
 
Equally meaningless but telling!
 
 
 
Probably because you spend more time fussing over meaningless minutiae than really promoting your products.
 
 

This is true, I am fussy over details, but it is only because in totality, these little details seem to really add up!! 
 
 
AND;
 
How do you know you are being 'penalise'? What have you been doing to warrant a penalty?

 
Also, I guess from looking at webmaster tools, manual action penalties are not being set against me. For whatever it is worth, I am playing by the rules. I felt like the penalty is there, because we rank #1 or #2 for a product before it is released (I create the product page before the product is out, far before my competitors), and then when other companies create their own pages for the same product, we drop down to second page.

Is that common among your competitors? And what do you (and they) do when a product is out of stock? Do you redirect the page or 404 it, and if the latter, is the 404 page customized enough that users get a clear understanding of why they've ended up there and what alternative products are available?

This is definitely not the case industry-wide. Many companies have tons of old product. The average desirability of a product drops dramatically after the first month of launch, because most manufacturers follow Apple's guidelines and are working on version two before the first version even gets released. 2-3 months is pretty much the life cycle of the product. 
 
When the product will not be picked up any more, and it is out of stock, i try to 301 redirect to the version 2 or version 3 of the product (usually we make a new page for the new product). In some cases, I revise the original product page for version 2 or 3. 
 
I think I figured out some of the reason I keep losing Google Juice. I think I did a serious SEO faux pas. I deleted old product pages that were ranking very high on google. That means keywords were lost (I am down to 20-something keywords, where my competitors have at least 50). The biggest store in my industry has several thousand keywords. 
 
This was stupid, I think, but I did it because we never plan on picking up that manufacturer again. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess. I did not realize I would lose those people that land on the site from those search terms and then move around the site. Dumb! =(
 
How do I get more keywords then? More product pages? 

Hire a professional SEO consultant to do a site audit. 

Thank you Jill! That will be my next step. I am thinking Yoast since I already have their plugin.
 
There are quite a few things I should fix before I send them over, though. 
 

What else are you doing to promote your site? Personally, I get nervous when I see more than about a third of my traffic coming from organic search. (Google giveth, and Google can taketh away -- in a heartbeat, and often for no discernible reason and with no recourse.) What sort of trends are you seeing in direct, referral and paid traffic?
 
--Torka :oldfogey:

 
Torka,
 
Thank you very much for your input! I think you are right, getting conversions up is counter-intuitive. I am now revising the product descriptions to be more illustrated and fun to read, as opposed to dry and technical. Also I am looking into long tail keywords instead of using simple one or two-word focus keywords.
 
  • I will definitely stop obsessing about PR, thank you for letting me know about that. 
  • The in-house affiliate program is working great! Our affiliates love our high commissions because there is no intermediary taking a piece of the action
  • Since I always use a cache-less browser to view SERP ranking on keywords (IE with the option marked to delete all history on exit), personalization can (maybe) be limited via google to the IP, since that is always the same. 
  • Our focus from day one was to have the best possible customer service in the world. We are based out of the NYC metro area, and ship within 24 hours, so shipping is quite fast all over the country. Whenever a customer is unhappy, we don't think twice to offer store credit or a replacement, even if there is no recourse for us and we have to eat the cost. In the two years we have been in business, we have not one unhappy customer thread started about us on forums related to our industry. That is quite a feat, considering most of our customers are some of the most critical shoppers on the internet. This is a constant, and even Redditors considers us "legit" vendors. If you google our company and "review," you will only see awesome comments and write-ups. (I am not trying to show off, but just explain the hard work that got us here). 
  • To Promote: we host radio shows online, have a contest thread in the biggest user-run forum in our industry and have giveaways on facebook and Reddit as much as possible (lately it has been tough because of slow sales). 
I just got my hands on a new product, today, which nobody else has for sale yet. I want to give it away to a customer in a giveaway, for shares and likes. I am trying to pivot towards Google Plus, since everything I have been reading lately has steered me towards that, but we barely scratched the surface on that network and so our exposure is very low =(
 
Thank you again Torka!!
 

#7 chrishirst

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Posted 16 July 2015 - 05:08 PM

 

 

 and then when other companies create their own pages for the same product, we drop down to second page.
 

Perfectly normal, ... No 'penalty'.

 

 

 

 

How do I get more keywords then? More product pages? 

 

You don't want "more 'key' words", you NEED better qualified visitors ... and they do not always come from random Search traffic visitors.


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