New Report Gives Roadmap to Ranking High on Google

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If you want to improve your Google rankings for web pages where you sell products and/or services, read on. Searchmetrics has released a new report titled E-commerce Ranking Factors 2017: Ten Things E-commerce Sites Need to Know to Rank on Google. The new study is based on an analysis of the top 20 search results on for more than 6,000 online retail and e-commerce common search terms.

While this does not primarily include publishers, it still can be instructive, given the more selling of webinars, events and products that publishers conduct today. "Google, as many have found, can now more precisely determine the search intention behind the keywords or phrases that people query," writes Laurie Sullivan on Search Marketing Daily: "This means that simply focusing on general, universal ranking factors is not enough for marketers to optimize content."

(At SIPA 2017: Growth Now, June 5-7 in Washington, D.C., Kim Mateus, EVP & planning group leader, Mequoda Systems, will deliver her amazing knowledge on this subject in the session, SEO Strategies That Drive Traffic. Check out the schedule here.)

Here are some takeaways from the report:

Value user intent over word count. Although word count for e-commerce URLs in the Google top 10 searches is around 25% higher than the average, the actual count is not what matters most. "...the aim should be to provide appropriate information on the product, answers to users' questions, and reviews – this will create a page that is in line with the user intent," states the report.

Video may not work best on pages that sell. While embedded video content is found in 49% of sites that appear in the top 10 Google search results, it is only present in 35% of e-commerce and online retail searches. "It can be relevant for online shops to offer videos and reviews of products," the report says, "but our data suggests that video is not usually used on the URL where the shopper is supposed to convert." Small images and text descriptions are more common and effective.

Interactivity pays off. Bells and whistles and menus and buttons and other interactive elements seem to be good for e-commerce, as long as they stay on point. "Landing pages in the e-commerce sector should therefore use enough interactive elements to guide users comfortably and intuitively through the research and purchasing processes."

Online stores should go above the fold. 56% of e-commerce pages that have online stores above the fold rank in the top 10 Google positions. (I love when we use print terms in digital.) The benchmark rate for the general average is just 23%. "High-ranking e-commerce URLs are therefore much more likely to adequately meet search queries that are based on a transactional user intent," the Searchmetrics report states.

Having internal links has value. "Pages listed in the top 10 search results for online retail and e-commerce queries have 70% more internal links than those found in general searches," Sullivan writes. But it is emphasized that quality not quantity and structure and menus are what you should strive for.

Order in the content! You can't argue with the power of lists and bullets these days. There is at least one list per page in 62% of the top-performing e-commerce pages. And longer bul­let-point lists are found much more frequently on e-commerce pages that sell well.

Bigger pages can be better. "Marketers can design a slightly larger Web page," writes Sullivan. "File sizes for pages that appear in the top 10 search results for online retail queries are on average 30% larger than those for general queries." It might just be that images and longer descriptions are integral to selling.

Don't host ads on commerce pages. Just 3% of sites that make use of AdSense or Adlinks appear on the first page of Google search results compared to 9% for general searches. "e-commerce websites that avoid the use of external ads are therefore found amongst the top-ranked search results more often," the report states.

You can download the report here

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…