06- Apr2018
Posted By: DPadmin
31 Views

Auditing customer reviews for organic traffic growth without losing speed or attracting penalties 

User-generated content on product or service pages can be key to driving conversions and a fantastic way to add unique content to a page.

If you don’t have the resources to write good content yourself, user-generated content can be especially helpful. However, if your customer review content isn’t optimized for search engines, it can work against you and delay or obstruct your marketing efforts instead of driving more business.

Below are four common issues (and a bonus) I have come across when auditing retailer product pages and the workarounds I’ve used for each.

1. Page speed

This is a much-discussed subject, and as of late, it is a mobile search ranking factor coming July 2018. It is key to sync with your web developers on the optimal page load speed, as images, related products and content will impact load times for this critical part of the purchase funnel.

Customer review content is best when optimized for both Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and page speed. Suggesting you open the floodgates to 500+ reviews on a product page is not ideal for anyone (adds content but also adds load time). Search engine optimization specialists (SEOs) and developers will agree most third-party review providers will issue a standard eight to 10 visible reviews on a page before transitioning to another mechanism for accessing the remaining reviews.

Ask your dev team the threshold of reviews on your pages (don’t feel limited to 10) before speed is impacted by your desired load time, and run tests.

There are a few different ways review content can be exposed to users and search engines:

  • Create a secondary page to “read all reviews.” This page can also host the remaining reviews and can be optimized for “product + reviews” search queries. Examples of this can be seen on both Amazon.com and Bestbuy.com in this framework:
auditing customer review copy for organic traffic
Image courtesy Ayima
  • Apply a paginated approach within the main product page, to load the next round of reviews following your determined threshold being hit. For example, after 20 reviews, click next to get the next 20 reviews and so on. If your pagination is implemented correctly (rel=next / prev), this content will still be crawled by search engines.
  • As a last resort, you could also consider using JavaScript to load more reviews following your determined threshold, for user experience (UX). However, all the reviews would be loaded to the source code via a tag should JavaScript be disabled. This will add page load time depending on the volume of reviews you have for a single page and allow search engines to still have access to the content.

2. Structured data markup: Have you done it right?

Marking up your product pages with structured data, including the aggregate rating and reviews, can generate a rich result in the search engine results pages (SERPs), which can increase your click-through rate (CTR) over competitors and provides more information to the crawlers about the content on your page. You already know the benefit of markup, but has it been done correctly? You may not know you have an error!

SERP rich result for customer reviewsIf you use a third-party provider for your reviews, they typically supply the markup on those reviews when they are syndicated to your site. We have seen two issues here:

  • Mixing two different schema vocabulary encodings. You’ve decided to code in JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD), but your review provider is using Microdata. The result? Two different languages not speaking to each other. In order to achieve the rich result, all product properties must be encoded to the same vocabulary. Ask your review provider to update their feed with the same schema encoding you have on your site.
  • The reviews have been marked up outside the itemscope product. This applies to Microdata markup, not JSON-LD. Your page has a separate div the customer review content is pulled into, that lives outside of the div you’ve marked up with your Microdata product schema property. Unfortunately, this is like trying to have a conversation with someone on the other side of a door. Search engines can’t make the connection that the marked-up reviews pertain to the same product you’ve outlined in your schema and therefore does not assign the ratings and reviews to the rich result.

When testing either of these in the Structured Data Testing Tool, it won’t actually flag as an error or warning since it’s testing to see if you have structured data and the required elements, which you do. If you’re not getting rich results, one of these could be the culprit.

3. Shared or syndicated reviews

It’s not uncommon to see retailers pull reviews from a vendor site onto their own site, or sometimes a retailer shares customer reviews across multiple country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) where they sell the same product/service. If done incorrectly, both of these scenarios can cause duplication of the user-generated content and dilute the value of the page. Worst case: a penalty for the syndication of reviews!

Sharing vendor review content across multiple sites (typically retailers): Are you aware of how many retailers are getting the same feed for the same product information and reviews? Perhaps you’re the vendor and want to protect your unique content on your site while still sharing to retailers for increased conversions. Here is an example of a pair of UGG boots for sale on Macys.com but pulling from Ugg.com:

Potential solutions for the UGG boots review could be to block crawlers from he syndicated review content, or perhaps it should be embargoed on the original source for a determined period of time.

That time should be determined based on the content being crawled and indexed before it is shared with other parties. Check log files and crawl rates to determine an approximate time for your site; and test the indexation of that new content once crawled. This allows the search engines to determine the original source.

Often, retailers want to leverage the reviews from their other domains to help sell the product. This is fine, but the duplicate reviews must be blocked from the crawlers. This will continue to benefit the sale without harming or penalizing your site for duplicating the user-generated content.

Amazon is a good example of this. Years ago, they pulled the Amazon.com reviews into the Amazon.ca pages. This practice was later halted in favor of still showing the reviews, but blocking crawler access. Now, they simply provide a link to their Amazon.com site for more reviews.

4. Coding customer reviews

And finally, none of the above matters if the review content isn’t accessible to search engine crawlers. How you code your reviews to be displayed on the page (JavaScript vs HTML) will impact using that content for improved rankings and traffic growth.

This happens all too often: JavaScript is disabled and customer reviews disappear from the page. You can also test this in Google Search Console and run a fetch and render. Bear in mind cached content is not the same as having content in Google’s index; they are separate entities.

This falls into a bigger, much-debated and much-tested subject: Does Google crawl and index content rendered with JavaScript?

There’s no clear handbook on Google crawling and indexing different JavaScript frameworks; it’s something we’ve tested several times over. We’ve found many articles that try to help audit and explain JavaScript rendering for SEO, and while there are some good pointers, you must check everything against your own site, as we have found what works for one does not work for another.

We have performed our own in-house testing where HTML content is converted to JavaScript and seen no change to the page ranking and indexing. Therefore, we know it can work, but will it always?

JavaScript is not going away, yet it’s not clear it can be indexed. While client-rendered HTML can be indexed by Google, it is not always perfect.  Going forward, you will need to have server-rendered content for SEO purposes.

At the very least, perform the audit on your reviews and ensure Googlebot is crawling and indexing them.

You may need to speak further with your review provider to ensure the content is accessible to Googlebot. Depending on the provider and template, they can help resolve any errors or concerns here.

Bonus: 5. Use your XML sitemaps

Now that you’ve created customer reviews that will drive more crawlable content, let the search engines know! Updating the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) sitemap entries will be a strong signal to incentivize the recrawl of those specific pages and access changes sooner. Pending your crawl rates and the number of pages on site, it may be a long time before a crawler gets to all your updated customer review content.

Summary

To wrap things up, customer reviews are a fantastic source for growing your organic traffic by means of unique content. Audit your reviews for the following:

  1. Product page load time.
  2. Structured data markup.
  3. Audit of shared reviews.
  4. Crawler access to the review content.
  5. XML sitemap updates.

Following these guidelines can deliver significant organic search growth. Run the audit and take a closer look at the reviews on your site for improvements you could be making.

Source: Auditing customer reviews for organic traffic growth without losing speed or attracting penalties – Search Engine Land

08- Nov2017
Posted By: DPadmin
112 Views

This ‘Unmeasurable’ SEO Metric Is Incredibly Important

Getting the most out of an SEO campaign is all about measuring the results — everything comes down to data. Examining KPIs sheds light on what’s working and what’s not. That’s all well and good for most metrics like keyword rankings, organic search traffic, referring domain volume and so on. We have plenty of tools and data to do just that. However, there’s one particular SEO metric that’s impossible to measure but incredibly important.

Measuring The Unmeasurable

The unmeasurable metric I’m referring to here is — drum roll — brand signals. Brand signals contribute to your business’s credibility and authority. When I say brand signals, I mean going beyond just signals in the technical sense and looking closer into the actual perception of your brand in the mind of the user. I’m talking about going deep into the essence of how people truly perceive your brand.

Unfortunately, there’s no section on Google Analytics that tells you this straight up. You’ve got to do some digging. So how do you measure what your audience thinks about your brand and how much equity you carry? How do you measure the unmeasurable and make tactical brand mention measurements?

Here are a few ways to connect the dots:

Direct Traffic

I’m going to start with the absolute basics. While direct traffic doesn’t enable you to measure the number of brand mentions per se, it can give you a reasonable idea of how your brand equity is growing. That’s because the vast majority of direct traffic consists of visitors either typing in your URL directly or bookmarking your site on their browser, both of which are obvious indicators of brand knowledge and a receptiveness to your brand.

While there are other instances of direct traffic that essentially boil down to data “not being provided,” the volume your site receives should allow you to make an initial assessment. Any change in direct traffic is an indicator of changes to your brand awareness. In other words, a spike in direct traffic tends to mean an increase in brand awareness and vice versa.

Branded Terms In SERPs

A bit of research with Google search can also lend some insight. It’s very simple, but it should give you a good idea of what the current state of your brand equity is like. For starters, you’ll want to enter your brand name. Ideally, you will appear in the No. 1 organic position or close to it. That’s a good sign.

If you’re a local business, you’ll also want to enter a targeted keyword phrase and a local term. For my company NAV43, an example would be “digital advertising agency Toronto.” Popping up in the local three pack is ideal, but appearing near it is good as well. For instance, we’re ranked fifth overall in organic search results beneath the local three pack.

These two simple searches should give you a better idea of what overall user knowledge is like.

Addressing The Aspect Of Perception

Now it gets a little trickier. How can you measure perception in the mind of the user? Perhaps the most obvious route is to simply examine social media follower volume and growth. This can provide some level of insight, but let’s take it one step further and really get into the crux of the matter. What you really need to find out is how many people are talking about your brand and what they’re saying.

One of my favorite ways to quickly generate some tangible data is to use BuzzSumo. Just type in your brand name to see how many people are sharing your content and how many people are talking about your brand.

Customer Reviews

According to Search Engine Land, “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” So you can bet that the quantity and overall sentiment of your customer reviews heavily impact your brand equity.

This is especially true for local brands, where a few negative comments can potentially kill your foot traffic. Taking a look at some of the major customer review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp and so on should give you a bird’s eye view of things.

Monitoring Mentions

Finally, you can learn a lot by monitoring the volume of mentions your brand receives along with the context. One of my favorite tools for this is Mention. This aptly named platform allows you to monitor your brand’s reputation online and provides real-time updates whenever something is said.

It also includes a scoring system that lets you know how much influence someone has when mentioning your brand. For instance, praise from someone with 100,000 followers would carry much more weight than someone with only 100. There are, of course, several other platforms that offer similar services, which you can find out about here.

Brand signals are an extremely important SEO metric and contribute to the success (or failure) of your company in several different ways. Although they’re not measurable in the conventional sense like many other elements of SEO, you can still get a baseline reading with these techniques and work your way up from there.

Source: This ‘Unmeasurable’ SEO Metric Is Incredibly Important