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With the switch to online shopping that has occurred in recent years there are now more E-commerce websites on the internet than ever before. This type of site is different to any other though as it is usually mostly made up of products and this means that the onsite SEO will be slightly different to normal. It is still essential to create high authority external links, drive social shares and make your site as sticky as possible to users but there are other things that need to be considered.

So what do you need to take into account when SEO-ing your E-commerce site?

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Don’t Neglect Your Content –

As I mentioned above, an E-commerce site is usually largely made up of product pictures with just a line or two about each one. However, as search engines cannot understand these pictures in the same way that they understand normal text it may seem to them like there is very little content on the pages of your site. Therefore you need to also include some text on every page so that the spiders that crawl it will have a better idea of what the page is about. This could be a brief introduction to your company or a short outline of the products which are on that specific page.

Write Unique Product Descriptions –

If you sell products on behalf of the company that made them or products that are available on other sites around the web it is imperative that you write you own product descriptions and don’t just copy and paste them from the original source. Although product descriptions are only short you will still create duplicate content unless you write your own ones that are unique. You also need to ensure that if you have two similar products or the same product in different colours on two different pages they have different descriptions attached to them.

Add Alt Tags To Your Images –

Alt tags are important for a number of different reasons but mainly because they offer the search engines an explanation as to what the image is depicting. The search engine spiders do not know how to read pictures and having the alt tag as something like ‘image1000345’ is not going to help them one bit. It is much better for the tag to read ‘blue Apollo bike’ (providing that the picture is of a blue bike) so that it describes exactly what is in the picture. It will also increase the usability of your site for disabled users and those with slow loading browsers.

 

Ever increasingly so Google have been putting more and more value on social shares making them essential in SEO. In order to rank in the top spots for your targeted keywords you need to be looking at social sharing as a way of link building. This isn’t simply a case of posting your content onto your own social media accounts, it’s about encouraging shares as every share you receive counts as a link. Sharing your own content is easy and is the bare minimum that you should be doing, but how do you go about encouraging others to share too?

Give Them A Reason

Links are precious as are our own social media accounts. We consider how everything we post reflects upon us so users aren’t often happy to give away shares for nothing. Give users a reason to share your content. Rarely does approaching them and asking them to share something work. Instead re-tweet them first or post something you think they might be interested in and link them in stating ‘thought you might like this’. This is subtle and you are far more likely to succeed rather than bulldozing right in.

Interact, Interact, Interact

It’s called social media for a reason; you need to keep it social! Many businesses simply share link after link and whilst the content may be useful to their followers this is no way to build essential relationships on social media sites. Links need to be earnt which is why they do take some hard work. Build relationships by re-sharing their posts, commenting, asking questions, complimenting and again making suggestions as to something they may like to see. Soon they will recognise the interest you are showing in them and their brand and reciprocate this.

Create Content With Shares In Mind

When you are creating your content in order to link build always remember that to get the most out of it this piece of content will need to be shared. Try to use trending stories, consider your followers and what they would want to read and think about what social media users would find interesting and want to share with their followers. Always having social sharing in the back of your mind throughout the process will help later on when it comes to encouraging sharing.

Which Sites To Target

Social shares anywhere are great but to maximise your efforts there are sites you should be targeting over others. The obvious sites to look at are Facebook and Twitter. Both these sites boast billions of daily users giving you the best opportunity to gain re-shares. Another site to consider is Pinterest. Pinterest hasn’t been around as long as Facebook and Twitter and doesn’t have quite as many users but those who do use it ‘re-pin’ images of interest onto their own boards. You can use Pinterest to ‘pin’ your articles and encourage users to re-pin them creating a link for every pin.

Social sharing shouldn’t be rocket science but there is a knack to it. Be active, be interested and be interesting and you can’t go wrong!

It was way back in March when I wrote a blog detailing Facebook’s plan to introduce hashtags to the popular social media site. Three months later the weather is no warmer but hashtags on Facebook have finally launched, but what does this all mean? How will this affect the average user and will this change the way we market businesses on the most popular social media platform? For the marketer it looks like hashtags will only be a positive thing, for the user it could cause some issues.

Hashtags And Marketing

Almost all of us will realise that the hashtag is nothing new. It started with Twitter and soon started to take over Instagram too. Through tweets and ‘instapics’ being automatically posted through the users accounts onto their Facebook hashtags were soon appearing on Facebook too- but these were of no value. In no time at all hashtags started to catch on and soon enough users were ‘hashtagging’ every update they posted. Facebook took note of this and made the decision to introduce the hashtag to their site.

Those using social media for marketing were already taking advantage of hashtags on twitter and Instagram by hashtagging relevant words and phrases to increase followers and interest in the business. The introduction of hashtags on Facebook takes Facebook marketing to a whole new level. It won’t take much to get to grips with this for those already marketing on Twitter and similar hashtag strategies can be simply applied to Facebook updates. This is all completely new to Facebook and at the moment it is unclear how well users will take to hashtags but it can only be a positive thing when it comes to social media marketing.

Hashtags And The User

It’s not only those marketing online that have started using hashtags on Facebook but the average user too. I can’t help myself asking why and what value this is to the everyday Facebook account holder. We currently use sites like Twitter and Instagram to ‘follow’ people of interest and use hashtags to find tweets and photos in relation to these interests. We also hashtag our own posts to encourage people who might be interested in them. We encourage re-tweets and followers and in theory the better you are at managing these platforms the more followers you will have. For many of us these sites are a form of social competition and we hashtag to increase activity and interest in our profiles and posts.

Facebook for most of us is very different. It is a way of keeping in touch with friends and family and whilst we encourage completely random people to follow us on other sites if an unknown friend request is received it is met by a frown and an instant rejection. For users hashtagging on Facebook is only going to increase the interest in your profile from people you don’t know and the average user may find if they are using hashtags they will have to click that friend request ‘reject’ button on a more regular basis.

Hashtags have only just launched and it is unclear whether they will take off or not. They are a fundamental element on other social media sites, but will they work for Facebook? I’m undecided, it’s just a case of waiting and finding out!

Facebook is arguably the first and most popular social media platform to be created. OK there were others before it but Facebook is usually regarded as the daddy of all social media and was the first site to gain worldwide recognition and usage. The best thing is that unlike sites like Myspace, Bebo and a whole list of others; Facebook has survived the test of time and, despite fierce competition from sites like Twitter, has more active members than any other social network in existence today.

But that’s what we do know about Facebook. How about what we don’t? Here are five great facts about this social giant which may or may not have contributed to it becoming the great online marketing, advertising and PR avenue that it is today.

Facebook Contributed To A Third Of Divorces In 2011 –

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As social media has got bigger we now feel that we can share almost anything via it and this has had serious repercussions in our love lives. According to Divorce-Online, Facebook was detailed as the reason for divorce in around a third of all cases during the year of 2011 and this is only likely to increase. Unsurprisingly the main reason was because of inappropriate messages being sent to members of the opposite sex but this just goes to show that in a social world there is nowhere to hide.

It Once Rained Inside Facebook’s Data Centre –

Facebook may be pretty omnipotent but not many people would expect it to have the power to control the weather. Well one day in 2011 it proved us all wrong. There was a breakdown in the air-conditioning at their data centre which is based in Oregon, USA and the resulting condensation lead to the creation of a cloud inside the building, which then proceeded to rain down on all the servers. In the wake of this engineers have had to cover all the electrical equipment with waterproof ‘jackets’ to prevent any damage occurring should this happen again.

More Than 4% Of All Photos That Have Ever Been Taken Are On Facebook –

4% may not seem like a particularly high number but when you think about how many photos have been taken since the birth of photography this is an astounding statistic. Halfway through last year the Facebook library had around 140 billion photos in it, which is one hundred thousand times more than the Library of Congress in America. The sad news is that this 4% seems to be made up of pictures of pets, drunk people falling over and that special kind of person that likes to take pouting pictures in their bathroom mirror.

Facebook Is Banned In China –

This may be something that you have heard rumours about in the past but I can confirm that it is true. After riots in July 2009 the Chinese government banned all use of Facebook because of the role it played in allowing independence activists to communicate with one another during the uprising. The people of China now champion a social networking site by the name of Renren as this does much of the same things as Facebook but falls in line with the regulations laid down by the government.

The Artist That Painted Facebook’s First HQ Was Paid In Stock –

When the people at Facebook asked graffiti artist Dave Choe how he would like to be paid for his work on their HQ building he asked for stock. He was duly granted this request and today his stock is worth in excess of $200m. I wouldn’t advise making the same request to your boss during this current economic climate though.

In any walk of life there is nothing worse than someone using underhand tactics to outdo you just because they have no other way to do so. Since the birth of the search engine, website owners have been afraid that their competitors could use sneaky tactics to get ahead of them in the search engine results pages purely because they don’t have the time or resources to outrank them ethically. However, these fears have been somewhat unfounded and we have been constantly told by Google that it is practically impossible for anyone to do this.

That is until recently. In the last week Google have changed the wording on their site from “There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index” to “Google works hard to prevent other Webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.” Thus giving the clearest sign yet that SEO does exist and is being practised by some.

 

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What is Negative SEO?

 

With last year’s fundamental algorithm updates; Google has specifically defined what negative SEO is. Thanks to them we now know what is considered good and ethical SEO work and what is considered to be underhand and punishable by the search engine giants. Negative SEO is therefore described as a third party, most likely a competitor’s Webmaster, carrying out these outlawed tactics on your website. This could involve anything from them creating hundreds of ‘spammy’ links to your site to them scraping the content from your site and using it as their own.

 

How Can I Spot If Negative SEO Is Being Practised On My Site?

 

Spotting negative SEO takes a bit of common sense and rationality. Whilst it is completely normal for your SERP rankings and traffic levels to vary from day to day; having them drop for a sustained period of time could be an indicator that someone is practising these ill-advised tactics on your behalf. It is important to not act rashly though as you could easily confuse this with a perfectly normal lull in website activity.

Another way to spot negative SEO is to regularly use Google Analytics and Webmaster tools to peer into the back of your website. By monitoring your backlinks and which search terms people are using to land on your site you should be able to spot if anything untoward is happening. I.e. if loads of unexpected dodgy-looking links suddenly appear in your backlink profile or you find that multiple people are landing on your site from irrelevant keywords then this might raise alarm bells.

 

How Can I Prevent Negative SEO From Happening To Me?

 

The good news is that Google have confirmed they are aware that this is going on in places and that they are dealing with it as best they can, but the best way to counteract any negative SEO is simple. By doing large amounts of good, effective, ethical SEO you will be able to escape any penalty incurred by someone carrying out negative SEO on your site. In other words; do plenty of the good stuff so that the bad stuff seems small and insignificant and won’t draw unwanted attention from the search engines.

Another way to stop this from happening is to use a relatively new tool that Google have introduced; the Disavow tool. Using this will effectively tell Google which links you aren’t happy with and so they can work to remove them from your site and attempt to punish the site they came from.

A word of warning must come with doing this though. You need to be one hundred per cent sure that the links you ‘Disavow’ are definitely ‘spammy’, because if they are perfectly fine then you may be doing your site harm by reporting them. It’s also important to know that we are still not completely sure what Google is doing with this information and it could still result it your site getting a penalty for having too many of these links.

One last way to try and stop negative SEO from being used against you is to occasionally update the content on your site. Changing the wording of your site every now and again will mean that if somebody has scraped your copy then you won’t be in danger of being penalised for duplicate content.

Quite frankly, anyone carrying out negative SEO should not be allowed to rank highly in the search engines and it’s good to know that Google are working hard to ensure this is the case. However, if the Webmasters who are attempting these tactics put as much effort into doing some good SEO for their site as they have to doing bad SEO for other people’s sites, then they would have a much better chance of naturally ranking in a high position.

If you think that your site may have been the victim of some negative SEO then don’t be afraid to contact the Marketing By Web team to see what they can do to help.



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