Got an email from a bud asking me about the Y! Platform and SEO for retailers.
I see several "levels" of problems with many stores I look at, but MOST of it is NOT platform-based, and anything that IS is baked into the default templates and can be easily remedied.
Most of the problems are with lack of content. I'll put the monkey on the backs of retailers like me for that one!
SEO -- Folks don't know what to do OR measure. Most folks don't even know where their sales come from.
I get calls and emails almost every week: "MY SEO is down! Google hates me." 9 times out of 10, it's a cashflow issue disguised as an "SEO problem." Traffic fluctuates, but on decent sized, established stores, you should be able to map your organic traffic to the ebb and flow you had same time last year.
Where DOES your traffic come from? And more importantly, where does your REVENUE come from?
SEO. PPC. Social. Direct type-ins. Shopping engines. Other ads. Email blasts.
Most retailers don't know. And if they do, they don't compare year over year to see if they're growing or shrinking.
They look at this month's traffic and see if it's up or down from last month. Even GA has the last 30 days as the default (and comparison defaults to previous 30 days) which is SO STUPID IMHO.
So what do you look at to know if your SEO is working or not?
METRICS -- For the $$$, I REALLY like GA's presentation of "revenue from organic traffic" compared to last year as the guiding metric. If I don't see double-digit, six figure revenue increases, I'm not doing my job. Neither is my SEO.
To see changes, I look at Google Webmaster Tools for the last 30 days info on entry pages and keywords, but that can be misleading on the downslope of the busy season...
I then track buckets of keywords and see if ranks / clicks / conversions are up or down and focus on my money pages.
Ask folks what their most valuable $$$ entry page is after their homepage. They don't know. NO IDEA.
An SEO friend of mine just asked what % of my SEO revenue came from non-brand / navigational queries AND not from homepage entries. I didn't know, but I could find out in 5 minutes.
Well over half! That's working both sides of the street, AND up and down the street.
Once folks REALLY know what SEO entry pages are $$$$ important, and what keywords match up to THOSE pages, they then need to point internal links to those pages, beef up the content on them, and maximize their internal site hierarchy for SEO benefit.
The RTML needs to have the code there to make TITLES, META DESC, and internal anchors, BUT the retailer needs to write the CONTENT for these SEO elements for each of their good pages.
And that's ASSUMING that these pages have unique content (in CAPTION fields) and a small footprint / boilerplate, but that's a lot of work for retailers.
WHAT PAGES? WHERE TO START?
If they take a look at Google Webmaster Tools for any page that gets 10+ organic visitors a month, that's the perfect place to start. All of those pages are getting SEO traffic for SOME REASON -- they have unique content OR a ton of links pointing to them, and making sure THOSE pages get all the internal links they can, and have good TITLES / META DESC is what I do next.
For a content strategy, I think I'm about to start championing a new buddy of mine. Take a look at Lee Odden's New Book and specifically this post: http://optimizebook.com/posts/download-optimize-templates/
His overview at ADTECH was great. Hard to follow him on THAT panel.
Haven't even read the book yet, but if it's as good as his blog, this would be a killer keynote + bag stuffer for the Y! Summit.
I think making a retailer framework of "what to do next" would be very helpful. I'm KINDA doing that with a local guy here at http://trailcamerasandmore.com/ --
For example, I made him write a pretty comprehensive review for his first page of content. He's starting from scratch, but you take one piece of content, and build up from there...
It's a hard mountain to climb.
Like one old client told me today, "I don't want to create compelling content, I just want to sell stuff..."
Then why should Google send you thousands of free prospects each day? What do YOU bring to the table?
/End of Rob's Rant