Search & Retail served as an inside look at the shopping search vertical, uncovering SEO/SEM opportunities and challenges faced by online retailers and search marketers working for e-commerce based businesses. Expert columnists ranged from in-house search marketers, agency advisers, and small business owners who have successfully built their e-commerce business with search. The Search & Retail column no longer runs as a standalone column but instead has been incorporated into the Paid Search column.

MicroData For Marketing Executives

This continues the analysis presented in the MicroData Not Ready For Primetime article previously published. Here, I break down the MicroData hierarchy into three levels so marketing professionals can review each category to see what value it can bring to future marketing, content and SEO initiatives. When you look at the type schema you see close to 300 metadata elements that can describe various entities (called Things here). There is lot of specificity in a few categories such as Local Businesses, Civic Structures and Events. Two of these categories have real implications for local a [...]


Two Ways To Drive More Holiday Traffic & Conversions

Two ways brick ‘n mortar retailers can increase consumer engagement and conversions in time for the holidays are: (1) build a simple and robust mobile store locator, and (2) provide maximum coverage of the brand’s digital storefront in all the cities and neighborhoods for each location. Research by Brand Anywhere and Luth Research found retailers can increase consumer engagement 85 percent by having a mobile-specific website. Other key findings include: 51 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from retailers that have mobile-specific websites Only 4.8 percent of U.S. [...]


Holiday Season Countdown Kickoffs For Online Marketers

Driving back from work today, my lovely wife mentioned that she can’t wait to have a pumpkin spiced latte and then proceeded with the list of holiday gifts that she would like to receive. This can only mean one thing: holiday season is around the corner. For most people, holiday musings bring to mind family, time off work and abundant amounts of food. For those of us in the digital advertising industry, its the time of year where every day brings a different level of excitement, where revenue goals are achieved and when long days in the office become the norm. With proper planning, cor [...]


5 Holiday Shopping Tips For Search Marketers

The holiday shopping season is my favorite time of year. Snow on the ground, laughter in the air, carnage in my bank account…whenever holiday time rolls around, I still get that same giddy excitement I did as a boy. However, once upon a time, early in my search marketing career, that the thought of the holiday season filled me with dread. Midnight copy changes, last minute inventory issues, missed opportunities and those holiday-focused keywords that never quite perform. As an SEM, holiday can be as nerve-shredding as it can be jolly. So what can we as retail search marketers do to ens [...]


Roll Out The Decorations, The Holiday Etailing Season is Here

Growing up, the holiday season always started early in our house. It started in April to be exact. No, we didn’t put up the tree or start decorating the house (did we even take the lights down from last year?), but my mom would always start asking that question: what do you want for Christmas? As a kid, it was just mean. How could mom tease us with the idea of Christmas when it was still so far away? I am still convinced part of it was her version of payback for everything we put her through as kids (we later learned it was so she could start figuring out how big her "stash" needed to [...]


MicroData & Retail Products: Not Ready For Primetime?

If you are in the search engine business, the functionality in the Microdata specification sponsored by Google, Yahoo and Bing is a very attractive way to theoretically improve search results. Enterprise search engines are well-versed with named entity extraction tools and techniques, which is how this information has been generated in the past decade. The major search engines are essentially telling content providers that if they name all their entities in their content, they can do a better job of extracting meaning from them to help improve search results. This is a win-win propositio [...]


How To Boost In-Store Traffic & Sales By Optimizing Your Digital Storefront For Local SEO

We all know consumers research online before making local purchases. A 2010 survey by BIA/Kelsey and research firm ConStat revealed 97 percent of consumers research future purchases using online media: 90 percent use search engines, 48 percent use the online Yellow Pages, 24 percent use vertical sites and 42 percent use comparison shopping sites. Bricks and clicks are aggressively expanding their online channel, as shown in the statements of the following leaders: "45% of in-store visitors pay a visit to homedepot.com first." – Hal Lawton, President Home Depot Online "We know that 6 [...]


Back-to-College Is Where It’s At For Online Retailers

"Back to school! Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool! I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight!..." If you love the movie Billy Madison as much as me, then you’re singing the rest of the song in your head right now. Despite how much fun Billy had redoing K-12, I bet he would have rather redone college (well...if he’d gone to college). College, my friends is where it is at, especially for retailers looking to capitalize on the second largest consumer-shopping event behind holiday. While back-to-school is a $55 billion opportunity, ba [...]


12 Step Program For Improving The Load Speed Of Online Stores

In my last column, we talked about why website load speed matters and how important it was for online retailers. Guess I touched a nerve. I got more emails and phone calls about that one than any other column I’ve written! Load speed issues affect all websites, but we’re retailers, so today, I’ll cover some retailer specific issues that didn’t fit in last month’s column. I reduced my homepage bounce rate to 15% last month using the following method. Load Speed Is A Big Deal, But Now What? Here’s how I worked on the load speed issues for my stores: Set a baseline for sit [...]


How Retailers Can Improve Product Visibility Using Structured Markup

spotlights-curtain-featured How many times have you heard this before? "If you sell products online, you can have the best-designed ecommerce site on the planet, but you won’t break any sales records if your customers can’t find you in the SERPs." While it’s an age-old saw that you need to make your content findable, a huge percentage of retailers don't know how to maximize product findability. SEOs have been optimizing websites for over a decade; yet, product findability is still a significant challenge for merchants and consumers alike in today’s crowded SERPs. How can retailers stand out from the cr [...]


Has Paid Search Become The New NYC Mailbox?

If you have ever lived in New York City, you know possibly the worst thing about the city is finding an apartment. It is miserable plain and simple. You sort through thousands of Craigslist postings, a few New York Times postings, and answer every ad posted on every mailbox in the city only to realize 90 percent of the listings are for apartments that aren’t available, never existed, and were made up by some super shady broker just to try to get you to give them a call. Sadly, of late, more and more retail paid search ads seem to resemble NYC apartment ads than they do search ads – and [...]


Load Speed Matters: Where To Start Trimming The Fat

How fast a webpage downloads and displays in a user’s browser has always been important for online stores, primarily because faster loading pages convert better than slow pages. One of the easiest ways to increase sales is to radically slim down category and product pages to make shopping faster and easier. But in recent times, load speed has become more important than ever because site performance now affects SEO. How fast your pages load now potentially affect your store’s rankings in Google’s organic results. Slow loading sites often provide a bad user experience, and if it’s [...]


So Your Sales Just Dropped By 60%, Now What?

I’ve been an evangelist for the Yahoo Store platform since 1997, and I’ve gotten a reputation for being a troubleshooter when a store is on fire. I love the idea of being the online Red Adair parachuting in to cap that oil well fire and save the day! This time of year, I get one or two retailers a week calling or emailing me, sometimes totally freaking out because their sales are way off. Usually it’s about 6-8 weeks after some event when they realize that this major drop in orders wasn’t a fluke. Now with the reality of the second Panda update setting in, my phone is ringing off th [...]


7 Reasons Why Nixing Branded Keywords Is Not The Fix For CPC Inflation

"If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?" While this classic parenting question is cliché, it makes a good point. And it’s one that search marketers could also learn from. Especially those who are thinking about eliminating brand keyword phrases from their paid search campaigns just because their competitors are doing it. The Role Of CPC Inflation In Retail Unfortunately, this mindset is common in the retail space where the search landscape grows more complex and crowded every day. According to a recent SEMPO report, search marketing investment is slated to grow to [...]


How To Get Free Unique Content With Product Reviews: 15,000+ Words In 12 Hours

With the recent Google update of Panda attacks, now more than ever retailers need to focus on creating unique content that’s also high-quality. An easy way to get this content is to ask for help! Today, I’m going to cover how you can optimize customer product reviews to make more with your online store. By asking your customers to give you feedback on the products they buy, you get inside your customers’ heads and you get killer content for your product pages. Before my column ran last month, I was embarrassed that I didn’t have any reviews on the example product I was writing a [...]


How To Avoid SEO Pitfalls With Timely Alerts

In the world of SEO, there are big updates like Panda, Mayday, Vincent, Florida, but there are also smaller internal issues that can creep up on you leading to traffic and revenue loss. The ability to identify and prevent self inflicted nicks and cuts along the way is key to a successful SEO program for online retailers. When dealing with large, product-driven sites, automation and templates, things are bound to fray and break over time. Getting alerted and identifying the issue is half the battle. Dashboards are a great way of staying on top of internal issues, as well as competitor and [...]


How To Collar Top Rankings: Barking Up The Unique Content Tree

leather-dog-collar-with-name-plate For my last round, I was supposed to share the results from that 300% sales explosion on the leather dog collar with nameplate page, but the folks at Google decided otherwise with the Panda update targeting content farms. Panda bit a few ecommerce sites pretty hard, so I've been helping out some new client-folk sort out the mess. So, today we're getting the Retail Smarts column back on track. In my first installment, I told you about how I spent less than thirty minutes optimizing a single product page, which resulted in a 300% explosion in sales on that SKU. That column pressed the righ [...]


5 Simple Tips To Diversify Your Organic Traffic Acquisition

With all the talk about diversifying your revenue and traffic channels, most people often miss that organic traffic itself can be diversified. Traffic from search engines takes on many flavors and paths. A deeper dive into understanding the life cycle of a shopper query will lead you to some interesting avenues. Here are a few to consider if you are an online shopping destination. Image Search Product images and visuals enhance online shopping experience. A larger number of online shoppers are using image search to search for products. Visuals become very important in certain product catego [...]


When Pandas Attack: Online Retailers Need To React

panda-featured We interrupt our regularly scheduled RETAIL SMARTS column for this special update on extremely rare, but deadly Panda attacks in the retail community... So this week, I was supposed to share the results from that 300% sales increase of that leather dog collar with nameplate example from last column, but this is a little more important. Stock image from Shutterstock, used under license. I was out of the country and out in the jungle the week the Google Panda/Farmer update hit. None of our sites or client sites were really affected, but that meant I had no real information on the dire [...]


10 Tips To Check The SEO Soundness Of Product Listings

Optimizing for search engines and shopping engines is all about accessibility, relevance and authority. In the process of continuously optimizing for search and searchers, sometimes basic areas get ignored, overwritten or overdone leading to entire sections of the site being blocked, duplicated or rendered useless for search engines. Here are ten quick checks to ensure your site has not stumbled into the no or low visibility zone.   1.  Check robots.txt on every sub-domain Are you blocking sections of your site in the robots.txt file? If so, check to make sure that you are no [...]


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