Although Bing has been gaining market share, Google is still the major player in search engines.
Over the last year Google has made significant changes in the display of search results. Tactics that were once rewarded with high search engine rankings may now actually hurt your overall rankings.
Some major changes include:
- Google Shopping shifted the real estate taken up by paid listings. PLAs can push down other PPC text-ads and organic results, which in some cases results in less organic search results shown per page.
- Google has been more inconsistent in its consideration of the meta data of a site. It is now common to see Google override the given meta data and display what it finds most relevant.
With less control over these aspects, it’s more important to focus on the aspects that you do have control over.
1. Google Shopping
To implement Google Shopping, you must first have an approved Google Merchant Center Feed. Your ads will then be displayed based on bid and quality score. Here are some tips for success.
- Decide on a bidding strategy. Google has a $0.01 minimum bid, but some products may require a much higher bid to be displayed. Determine what you’re willing to pay.
- Optimize your data feed. Google will show results based on relevancy. Make sure your data feed is accurate and grouped correctly for your ad groups.
- Take advantage of promotional messaging. Google will dynamically pull and display information for each ad, such as store name and price. You can also add a line of promotional messaging to highlight benefits such as “free shipping on orders over $50” or “buy one, get one free.”
2. Google Authors
Ever notice how some Google search results have a little thumbnail image of the author next to the result? This is the Google Author information. You can see this on your search results by using rel=“author” and linking your content to your Google+ profile.
Google shows how to link your author content. Each author will need an updated Google+ page with a good photo to make the best use of Google Authors. Make sure your contributors have a photo that is professional, but matches the personality of your company.
Google Trusted Stores (discontinued by google)
Google Trusted Stores is a free addition to Google Shopping that allows merchants to apply for the program and earn a “trusted stores” badge on their Google Shopping PLAs. The purpose of the program is to let shoppers know which stores have a record of offering a great shopping experience.
If you’re using Google Shopping, this is a fairly simple addition and an easy win because it helps build trust and encourage shoppers to visit your website over a not certified competitor.
Google evaluates merchants in the program based on shipping and customer service. Merchants must meet approved levels for:
- Shipping orders within the time frame indicated at purchase
- Shipping orders quickly
- Resolving complaints quickly
- Receiving a low number of complaints
4. Original, Relevant Content
In addition to the new things Google has added to the mix, on-page SEO is still extremely important. This has an effect on everything else you do, like PPC and PLA campaigns.
Make sure to optimize your title tags, headings, body content and images. Even though Google might be changing how it displays some search results, one thing has not changed, Google likes original content. If anything, this has become even more true as of lately.
If you’re hoping to increase your quality score for PPC and PLA campaigns, writing original website content is important, as is relevant content. Make sure your ad content relates to the landing page of your ad.
5. Continual SEO Updates
SEO isn’t a do it once and walk away type of initiative. You can’t really say you’re done with SEO because most SEO work is ongoing. Frequent updates to search engine algorithms require constant learning and awareness of these updates, as well as making frequent changes to maintain and improve your search engine rankings and verify the use of “white hat” SEO best practices.