As an independent store and internet retailer you are always researching and aware of what is going on at Google. Constant changes in algorithm’s, the calculation that returns relevant search results to the consumer is always being up dated and by and large over the last 10 years the system has worked well and provided good relevant search results for the searcher.
For all businesses the holy grail is to be high on page one organically as well as with a paid for ad, the lower down the less click through rate, beyond page 2 you are no where. The business we used to get from search referrals was split pretty much 50% organic (natural unpaid listings) and 50% paid for search (Adwords)
Google is canny, it can tell by your search word or terms what your intention might be. Put in Dartington and the return will be informational and directional, about the place, wikipedia etc. Put in Dartington Crystal and you will get a slightly different set of results with more emphasis on the factory and possible trading sites, put in Dartington wine glasses and the result changes again, Google recognises that you are potentially interested in shopping and shows outlets where you can buy the specific product -all very clever and historically in the shopping scenario Google has done this by showing all the specialist websites and stores who have a good range of Dartington wine glasses. Chucked into the mix is page authority and part of that is judged by external links and in the early days there were a lot of companies specialising in link farming fairly dodgy links – quantity against quality. We steered very clear of this.We don’t do dodgy!
The most recent Google Penguin 2 algorithm change, in the words of Matt Cutts who is Head of the Google Web Spam Team in California, is to stop the SEO companies who are trying to hoodwink the search robots with poor links, irrelevant spamy content and other clandestine techniques. He revealed that if you were a specialist with authority on your product, quality content, a compelling, user friendly site you would be just fine.
He also said that he would look at ways of reducing clusters of repeat results giving you the consumer more choice.
For us and all other specialist retailers these are the words what we want to hear. All of us are authorities in our field and are able to give our customers expert advice and information on the Brands and products we sell. Putting it onto a website is always a work in progress and we evolve and develop along with the technology available. In short we look after our customers, we want them to come back.
So what is the reality. We are now in late June a month on from the launch and bear in mind we are a UK company and most UK people will use google.co.uk as their search engine – in fact 90% do!
Putting in a number of quality Brand names that we specialise in along with other leading UK Brands that we do not stock the organic results now for the consumer are very poor and here are the key issues all occurring on the golden page one:
- Clustering – same brands featured more than twice on page one
- Emphasis on Amazon and Ebay again clustered on page one, very often the US .com versions precede the UK version.
- Overseas sites promoted above UK specialists selling in foreign currencies at higher prices and in some instances unable to ship to the UK
- Non authorised websites using Brand names to sell non original, illegal product
Right now the current Google Penguin 2.0 algorithm change returns the least relevant search results (SERPS) we have seen in 10 years. There seems to be more spam and a complete lack of choice for the consumer. Imagine walking down a high street and seeing the same shop next to each other again and again along with shops talking a foreign language, you would soon be put off.The specialist retailers have been moved from high on page 1 to lower, page 2 and beyond.
Try yourself just put in a product Brand that you would normally look for, I bet the results throw up some illogical and to you irrelevant results that differ to what you have seen before.
What can be done:
The key for all specialists as well as being an authority on product is to make the customer experience second to none – it is our unique selling point over the larger and sometimes faceless on line organisations. We all work hard at website content, proper detailed information to help the customer make an informed decision. Every specialist uses their own website to test and make sure the usability and customer experience is good, if it is not they will move away to another website very quickly – we all know this from experience. This work has to continue.
Beef up your social media campaign, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Google+ – get a buzz around your brand.
Write authoritative blogs and articles that can be linked to quality relevant external websites – quality over quantity.
If you do all above and provide that same customer experience and service as if they were in your shop you have half a chance.
I just hope that google will be true to the words of Matt Cutts and once again recognise the place on the web for the specialist retailers, their authority and content, look at the visitors, bounce rates, independent consumer reviews, what people are saying about you, a few very relevant quality links. Surely this must be more important to the consumer than how SEO experts manipulate the ever changing search results.
At the end of the day Google, all specialists work first and foremost on their own websites to enhance them. We also pay for specialist search term Adwords too, none of us has the resource to out manoeuvre your search robots, so please once again recognise us for who we are: small independent retailers giving consumers specific, relevant product and information on the Brands that they are searching for.
Here at Havens we will do everything we can to be as compelling for our customers as we can, so they continue to return time and again.