Follow These Google Webmaster Tips to Ensure Holiday Traffic Finds You
Hard to believe we’re weeks away from the holiday rush, isn’t it? For many retailers and business owners, the majority of your revenue is won or lost over the next 2 ½ months. Is your Volusion ecommerce store ready? Google’s Webmaster Tools will help you find the answers.
Checking Your Ecommerce Store in the SERPs
First order of business is to see what your visitors will see on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and you can do that with the following Google search query:
That query will display a page similar to:
Carefully examine each URL and make sure each snippet answers the following:
- Does the Title tag match the intent and content of that page?
- Does the page description engage the visitor and invite them to click and learn more about your product or service?
If not, revisit your meta title and meta description tags and update them now. On occasion, Google will ignore your descriptions and extract content from the page it feels is more relevant. If that happens, depending on the page, you may want to rewrite them to increase their relevancy.
As a Volusion Consultant, one of first areas I look for improvement is duplicate content and tags. In the Diagnostic section of your Google Webmaster Tools, it will tell you all about your duplicate tags:
Of the above issues, duplicate title tags are the most severe and should be fixed immediately. The chances of your Volusion pages getting indexed are slim to none if you can’t even bother to ensure you have unique title tags throughout your store.
If you’re blocking pages with your robots.txt you can verify it’s working correctly here as well.
Sitemap Verification and Indexed Pages
Hopefully you’ve submitted you Volusion sitemap long before reading this article, however, you should verify Google is not only downloading it but also how many pages of your site are currently being indexed within the SERPs:
You should see a recent date of last download as well as a majority of your pages being indexed. If there are errors with your sitemap, you’ll find the problems listed here.
Manage Your Sitelinks
Google recently added the ability to manage your sitelinks and block pages you feel are irrelevant. For those of you new to the concept, a sitelink is a secondary, indented group of links on the SERPs:
You cannot create them and Google will only show them if they believe they will help guide the visitor to areas within your website. If you feel there are pages you’d rather not have summarized then you can block them within your Google Webmaster Tools:
Navigation and the Browser Experience
Despite the variety of browsers on the market, it’s still an IE world. However, you need to ensure the experience is the same across the other major browsers. At a minimum you should walk through every facet of your store using:
- Internet Explorer (versions 6, 7, 8)
And by “walk through” I don’t mean just looking and jumping from page to page. You should conduct a full transaction as well. CSS issues on other browsers can affect your abandonment rates and cause visitor dissatisfaction.
Want to understand what Google thinks your site is about? Check out the Keywords section and they will tell you the most common words they run across:
If you’re selling plants online but the word “plants” is listed at number 175, there’s a good possibility you’re not going to rank well for that keyword. I am NOT saying you should engage in keyword stuffing as that will not work plus it can get you penalized. What you should be doing is generating natural content with a concentration of your primary keywords and phrases. Keywords will tell you how well you are executing on that objective.
Top Search Queries
Unless you’re using PPC campaigns there is no way to view what keywords or phrases Google is listing your pages on, i.e. impressions. Don’t get confused between an impression and click-through. An impression is when your site was displayed on a SERP yet not necessarily clicked on. Looking this list of keywords should help you understand where Google serves up your pages and whether this correctly reflects your SEO efforts.
The Holiday Rush
These tips only scratch the surface of information you can learn using Google Webmaster Tools in conjunction with your Volusion ecommerce store. We’ll touch on more detailed SEO insights and optimization tips for another post.