Google's most basic aim is to match a user's search with relevant content. It's pretty good at it, too.
Content Optimisation, simply put, is an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) practice that involves adding tailored content to the pages of your web project; content designed to help Google satisfy their users by delivering the most relevant results when they enter a search term.
This HOWTO article intends to provide you with knowledge you can put into meaningful action.
When Google visits your web project, it has a finite amount of time to crawl the site and consider certain "characteristics" of the various pages that it encounters in order to determine how to rank their individual relevancy to prospective Google search users.
There are technical factors of SEO being considered by Google, too:
- Is this a Secure Website? (Yes, your Citrus-Lime Ecommerce project is secure)
- Is it Mobile Friendly? (Yes, Citrus-Lime Ecommerce has been responsive, out of the box, for a number of years now)
- Does it display real Business Information? (Yes, your business information is clearly presented in the relevant places)
- Does it use official Schema* mark-up? (Yes, Citrus-Lime Ecommerce has Schema built in.)
* Schema mark-up is code (semantic vocabulary) on your web project included to help search engines return more informative results for users.
... but it is our simple approach to Content Optimisation that is the focus here.
Our simple approach to Content Optimisation...
- takes only a little time to learn;
- is absolutely within your control;
- can be done with tools already available within your Citrus-Lime Cloud POS & Ecommerce platform;
- boosts the quality (aka. relevancy) of your web project pages;
- increases the chances of being visible within Google Natural Results and, therefore, to possible customers.
IMPORTANT NOTE : This article assumes that you are already familiar with which sections to visit in Citrus-Lime Ecommerce Merchant Tools and that you are familiar with the process of editing Product, Brands and Facet Navigation Options inc. SEO-specific Facet Navigation Options.
Maximum Effort (on a Limited Set of Pages)
Our simple approach to content optimisation affects Product Listing Pages and Product Detail Pages.
On Product Listing Pages, it is optimisation of the :
- Page Title;
- H1 tag (aka. Heading 1);
Think of Heading 1 as the Chapter Title in a book. It is unique within the book, appears only once, delivers context to the reader and clearly denotes a distinct section in the overall work.
- On-page Description and;
... that unlocks the potential of the page.
On Product Detail Pages, it is optimisation of the :
- Product Names and;
- Long Description.
... that has the greatest effect.
Product Result Pages and Product Detail Pages account for approximately 95%+ of a typical ecommerce project and can count in the thousands but, don't panic, Product Detail Pages are really quite easy and, when it comes to Product Listing Pages, we don't suggest that you optimise absolutely everything anyway ... just that which is genuinely important to your business.
Maximum Effort on a limited set of pages is better than minimum effort across all possible pages. Less ... but better.
Cloud Reports to the Rescue!
Product Detail Pages are straightforward to identify for optimisation but, if you aren't sure where to begin with selecting the right Product Listing Pages, Cloud Reports can point you in the right direction.
What you should be interested in discovering is "Where is most of the money invested right now?"
- What Brands have the most investment (ie. the highest Cost of Goods on Hand)?
- What Departments and Categories represent the products with the most investment?
It's likely you already know this information, but it never hurts to see the numbers to back up your instinct.
To find out which Brands have the most investment, you can view your Weeks Cover report. This simple report organises your brands in highest to lowest cost on hand value. Handily, the brands that represent 80% of your current stock holding are highlighted to you.
If you are a Cloud Reports Pro user, you can use the Margin by Brand and Department report to find out which Departments and Categories (and, as it happens, your Brands) have the most representation of that investment.
For those that aren't invested in Cloud Reports Pro, you can use the Stock Value Report (High Level) reports to see cost on hand by Department (but it is Department only).
Now you are armed with a shortlist of Brands, Departments and Categories, it's time to get down to the business of optimisation.
Optimising Content on Product Detail Pages
Citrus-Lime Ecommerce squeezes as much juice out of the assigned Product Name.
The system automatically sets the Page Title and H1 as being equal to the Product Name, so setting a good and balanced Product Name is very important.
We also use it to form the URL (the web address for the page).
We promote the following structure for a Product Name :
Season + Brand + Style Name + Gender* + Material** + Product Type in Colour
*/** Optional : Use if pertinent to the product in question.
An example of this would be :
2019 Giant Defy Advanced 3 Men's Carbon Road Bike in Black
Stick to this approach and you'll have consistent, well-structured Product Names, Page Titles and H1 tags that are optimised for Google.
NOTE: The product Name and SEO Page Title fields have some restrictions in place. These fields only allow the following:
All non-alphanumeric and non-whitespace characters can only appear once in succession (i.e. a/b/ c is fine but a//b is not).
Ultimately, the advice is to write a description for the benefit of the reader, not for Google's 'bots. It's the very advice that Google gives and that's got to be good enough.
Writing sentences in an awkward structure in order to stuff keywords and phrases in will not help your potential customer to make a confident buying decision. But paying attention to your writing will allow you to get the keywords and phrases in to the text without your description reading like it was written by first-gen Artificial Intelligence. #covfefe
Here's an example of what we mean :
Ride farther and faster with an all-new carbon frameset that's engineered with endurance geometry and built-in compliance. Handcrafted with advanced-grade carbon composite material, its engineered with tube shapes that are optimised to absorb road shocks and vibrations. And the frame is still stiff in all the ways that matter, for pedaling efficiency as well as steering and cornering precision. It's made with a specific carbon layup to give it just the right feel. And for added control, it features integrated disc brakes with flat mounts and 12mm thru-axles. The d-fuse seat-post and handlebar system also help reduce road vibrations, adding to its smooth, compliant feel on the road.
With a little tweak here and there ...
Ride farther and faster on the 2019 Giant Defy Advanced 3 with an all-new carbon frameset that's engineered with endurance geometry and built-in compliance. Handcrafted with advanced-grade carbon composite material, the Defy Advanced 3 is engineered with tube shapes that are optimised to absorb road shocks and vibrations. And the Defy Advanced frame is still stiff in all the ways that matter, for pedaling efficiency as well as steering and cornering precision. The 2019 Defy is made with a specific carbon layup to give it just the right feel. And for added control, the 2019 Defy Advanced 3 features integrated disc brakes with flat mounts and 12mm thru-axles. Giant's d-fuse seatpost and handlebar system also help reduce road vibrations, adding to the Advanced 3's smooth, compliant feel on the road.
There's no denying that this revised description is looking for the approval of the Google Gods, but it hasn't lost the feeling that it was written by a human being for a human being.
And we managed to get the following keywords and phrases into the content, too :
- 2019 Giant Defy Advanced 3
- Defy Advanced 3
- Defy Advanced
- 2019 Defy
- 2019 Defy Advanced 3
- Advanced 3
Optimising Content on your Product Listing Pages
Optimising content on your Product Listing Pages is a little more involved than optimising Product Detail Pages and requires a little more time spent on the task. This is a meaningful opportunity because a lot of folk simply won't do this.
By optimising the Page Title, H1, On-page Description and Meta-Description, you dramatically improve Google's understanding of the page content and significantly improve the likelihood of appearing further up the natural listings on Google's search pages.
How Google Uses your Optimised Content
Google uses the Page Title and Meta-description in order to present a natural search result listing. These Google listings will be completely familiar to you :
This is where your 120-158 character Meta-description appears.
Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of the Page Title. If you keep your Page Titles under 60 characters, consensus in research suggests that you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly. There's no exact character limit because characters can vary in width and Google's display titles max out (at the time of writing) at a variable width relative to the device being used to view results.
The Meta-description is a snippet of up to about 158 characters which summarises a given page's content. Google shows the Meta-description in search results (mostly) when the searched-for phrase is within the description. This is why optimising the Meta-description is an important part of the process.
The H1 (Heading 1 tag) is crucial to content optimisation. It has always been a major ranking factor with Google. There have been plenty of trends in Search Engine Optimisation that have come and gone, but H1's have never lost their importance. The H1 indicates a page heading to Google. Think of the H1 as the Chapter Title in a book - it appears only once, delivers context to the readers and clearly denotes a distinct section in the overall work.
The On-page Description is key to the content of a page and is used by Google to help determine if it is worthy of a search result position. Remember that what Google is trying to determine is that their user's search will be satisfied by the page you are offering.
On a Product Listing Page, along with the H1, you also have all of the products to present and, because you optimised the Product Names, all of the products that are listed contain a reference to Season, Brand, Style Name and Product Type and often this comes with the additional context of Gender, Material and Colour.
On a well populated Product Results Page, that's a significant volume of contextualised content. Adding a quality On-page Description enhances the relevancy of the page even further, improving the chances of listing on Page 1 of Google natural search.
Optimising Content on your Product Listing Page
Let's assume that you don't have access to a paid-for Keyword Research tool and don't intend on redirecting resources in that direction any time soon, let alone investing in a Search Engine Optimisation service provider... how do you begin to reliably predict what the general public might enter into Google?
Have you ever noticed how Google seems to predict, based on the first few characters you enter into the search field, what you might be about to type next?
For example :
That's Google's Autocomplete feature. Here's what Google says about Autocomplete ...
Autocomplete is designed to help people complete a search they were intending to do, not to suggest new types of searches to be performed. These are our best predictions of the query you were likely to continue entering.
How do we determine these predictions? We look at the real searches that happen on Google and show common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches.
Interesting. Useful, too. Autocomplete provides the top 10 common (and trending) search terms based on what we initially enter.
So, in the example given above, when I enter "specialized" into Google's search field, Google predicts what I might type next ...
- concept store
NOTE : I deliberately use an Incognito Chrome Browser session to conduct my Autocomplete research. This is because Google indicates that it uses "your location and previous searches" when making predictions for autocomplete. Using Incognito means Google doesn't "know it is me".
So that's a mixture of Style Name (Allez, Roubaix, etc), Location (UK, Concept Store) and Product Type (Bikes).
I can use this to inform the Page Title, H1, Meta-description and On-page Description that I create for my Specialized brand Product Results Page.
Let's imagine that we are enhancing a Product Results Page for the products within the Specialized brand ...
... and let's imagine that the following elements are yet to be optimised and present as follows :
|Page Title||Specialized *|
|On-page Description||Not Set|
*/** Technically these have not been set; so the Page Title and H1 automatically inherits the Brand created in Cloud POS and uploaded to Citrus-Lime Ecommerce.
Page Title Optimisation
Using Google's Autocomplete predictions in combination with the Cloud Reports Brand, Department and Category analysis I did earlier, I can start to optimise the key elements of my Product Listing Page :
|Page Title||Specialized Bikes UK. Road Bikes, Mountain Bikes and Cycle Clothing|
|H1||Specialized Bikes inc. Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, Electric Bikes and more|
|Meta-description||Specialized Bikes UK. Shop Mountain bikes. road bikes. electric bikes, cycling shoes, helmets, jerseys & accessories.|
|On-page Description||Specialized Bikes UK | A wide selection of Specialized road bikes, mountain bikes, electric bikes and hybrid bikes inc. the ever-popular Specialized Allez Road Bike, the legendary Specialized Rockhopper hard-tail mountain bike, the Specialized Roubaix road bike, the Specialized Diverge, Stumpjumper, Hardrock, Sirrus and more | Specialized cycle clothing, cycling shoes, bike helmets and cycling accessories are also available | Next Day Delivery & Free UK Delivery | Click & Collect for free from our Ulverston bike shop | 0% Finance w/ £0 Deposit - apply online for an instant decision.|
The optimisations I've implemented turn my Google listing from something like this :
Whatever text Google happens to find on the page!
To something like this :
Specialized Bikes UK. Road Bikes, Mountain Bikes and Cycle Clothing
Specialized Bikes UK. Shop Mountain bikes. road bikes. electric bikes, cycling shoes, helmets, jerseys & accessories.
This means that, when a Google user enters a search into Google that starts with "Specialized", the Autocomplete predictions indicate that the next words most likely to be entered are contained within the Page Title and the Meta-description and more likely to be considered more highly relevant to the user's needs and, therefore, Google is more likely to present it higher up the natural search listings.
The optimisations to the H1 and On-page Description mean that even more keywords and phrases have been added to the visible text on the Specialized Product Listing Page. I also add additional content to promote the services that encourage visitors buy.
When creating my Meta-description and On-page description, I used Google Autocomplete predictions to guide my keyword and phrase choices.
For example, I was trying to decide if I should use "cycle clothing" or "cycling clothing". When I typed "Specialized Cycle" into Google, the prediction placed "specialized cycle clothing" in 3rd place.
When I typed "specialized cycling", then the prediction placed "specialized cycling clothing" 9th in the list.
"Specialized Cycle Clothing" it is then.
Rinse and Repeat
Now it is a case of rinse and repeat through the Brands, Departments and Categories identified as being representative of the highest levels of investment in products ...
Written by James on 07 June 2019