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Any Panda Losses for Ecommerce Sites With No Adverts?
clickshops

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 9:58 pm on Apr 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have read about people reducing the number of adverts on a page to try and recover from the Panda update.

This then leads me to suspect, this update only affected people with 3rd party adverts on their sites!

Does anyone know if pure commerce sites have been hit? By pure commerce, I'm refering to sites that sell their own products via a shopping cart & do not contian affilaite or Adsense links.

 

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 11:57 pm on Apr 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

By nature ecom sites are at risk for being viewed as "thin". There are necessarily lots of category type pages that exist only for directing the user toward their goal. Also, most ecom sites use at least some descriptive information provided by the manufacturer of the product.

The good news is most of us have few if any ads.

The sites that I work with were not affected by panda 1. But we have been hurt badly this week by panda 2.

The only ecom site I noticed in the searchmetric data was sears. They are listed as a winner. looking at their category pages, there wasn't any original content at all - just images, one phrase description, price and a link to the item page. our sites' category pages average about 100 words of unique content describing the products and differentiating characteristics.

We haven't had too many ecom sites share their experience with panda 1 or 2. Specifically, our panda 2 effect has been about a 12% loss in google organic referrals, but, worse, the conversion rate on that traffic has fallen by about 15% relative to long established benchmarks. Our rankings on easily tracked keywords don't seem to have suffered, and I am just getting ready for a long night digging into data, but, this seems to be telling me that long tail keywords have been significantly effected for us.

[edited by: tedster at 12:27 am (utc) on Apr 18, 2011]

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 1:56 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

clickshops,

if you own your own ecommerce store its very important that your product descriptions are unique. If you can make the product names unique as well even better. If the products you're selling have a manufacturer description thats on 100 other ecommerce sites you will never stand out.

Make everything as unique as you can.

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 2:19 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

i hear you brinked. but panda winner sears hasn't bothered much with unique content - i have spot checked about 10 of their product pages and on every one the description is pasted in from the manufacturer.

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 2:44 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

...but, worse, the conversion rate on that traffic has fallen by about 15% relative to long established benchmarks.


Prior to drop, about what percentage of the purchases were from long tail keywords versus one- or two-word keywords?

Do you know if it was a lot of your long tail traffic that was lost?

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 2:55 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Planet13, I can smell it but can't say for sure yet. I use google analytics and my skillset there is only fair. That'll be my first project in the morning. For now, though, I can see most of my familiar one and two word serp positions are intact.

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 2:59 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

wingslevel, You spot checked sears descriptions? What about your own? that is your problem right there. I just gave you beneficial advice and your response is "well sears is doing it and getting away with it, then why cant I?"

You're not sears. You, like most of us are a small fish in a ocean filled with sharks. Do not worry what your competition is doing and getting away with.

Doing nothing and not improving your site will get you nowhere. You can never lose when you improve on your business even if it doesn't make you recover.

I own many ecommerce sites and I follow a very strict guideline when publishing them, the first is to make sure all of my descriptions are 100% original. If you dont want to take my advice, you can keep waiting until google thinkgs you're as big as amazon, sears and walmart, just dont hold your breath because you will be waiting a very long time.

Remember large sites like sears get away with more than others because of there big brand power.

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 3:21 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Brinked, wasn't really discounting your advice. What I am trying to do is understand panda and, for me at least, the panda 2 variant. Since sears improved between panda 1 and 2, and they are an ecom site, I thought they'd be worth a look.

As for my own content, we write a lot, but with over 300k products between all the sites, it's a big project.

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 3:28 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

wingslevel,

all we can do is speculate about panda. Nobody will truly understand what panda is about, its never as simple as that.

We know panda focused on low quality, shallow content websites. The only thing one can do to recover from this is to improve there site as much as they can. This means getting rid of useless no content pages, duplicate pages, low content pages and pages that offer little to no value to your visitors.

If you have an entire section or sections of this type of content, try disallowing them in robots, or moving them to a different domain as suggested by google. 300k products sounds like a lot of duplicate content issues you will need to address one way or another but duplicate content really wasnt what panda was about. You can still rank with dup content without being "pandalized"

Look at your website sections, you may have a flaw with your script that is showing a lot of useless pages thats getting picked up by google.

koan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 4:50 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

If I had an ecommerce site with just manufacturers' descriptions like everyone else, I wouldn't expect much free traffic, I would expect to pay for it.

wanderingmind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 5:39 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is it likely that Google assumes ecommerce sites don't have much unique content often, and so tries to ascertain turstworthiness in other ways?

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 10:04 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wanderingmind, one of my competitors who gained a lot in panda2 has 2 rows of trusted certifications and shields across the bottom of every page (I didn't even know there were that many). He also has hundreds of thousands of products with manufacturer descriptions.

I thought most of those trust symbols were discredited on this board and others a number of years ago. We actually had tried 2 of them with no change in conversion rate, so we didn't renew.

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 10:43 am on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Besides listing products, what other tools does your website offer potential customers? I've got no idea what sector you're in, so these might not be appropriate, but:

- calculators
- How-to guide
- Product selectors
- Industry news
- Professional reviews (e.g. industry magazines)
- Social (blogger) reviews
- User (YOUR user) reviews

Many ecom losers use the model
"assume (or achieve) Google ranking for <product title> / <manufacturer code>, and sell cheapest"

Unstructured category pages are also looking to be a weak link.

Unique product pages are helpful- we have those, but our surviving competitors do not. The key factor seems to be what OTHER pages do you have, other than a product listing, price and "buy" button.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 3:44 pm on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I oversee a number of ecommerce sites for clients, most of which are OSCommerce, Zen Cart (yea I know) and one Magento.

None of them were hit by either Panda, and some gained - even the Zen Cart sites, that don't have the user friendly URL plugin.

None of them have much in the way of linking going on, but to my mind, the technical issues are at least half the battle with an ecommerce site, and that's where I think we've made a difference.

For example, on the Magento site:

NO manufacturer descriptions whatsoever, all of them handwritten. Granted, some are pretty sparse till I get around to getting them tarted up, and some are going to be sparse by nature as they are five URLS of pretty much the same product only in a different size/dimension, but it's still our own text.

All product and category pages have UNIQUE titles and meta descriptions. Took me a slap month to do it, but I wrote every single one myself. And while some are similar, GWT reports only 4 duplicate titles (newly added products I haven't gotten to yet) and a dozen duplicate meta description tags, out of almost 10K URLs. That's not too shabby.

I currently have 55K URLs blocked by robots.txt, according to my GWT, which is five times the number of indexed URLs. Why? Because I block the search results, the pagination, the sort, and anything else that might create duplication or garbage URLs. I also block tags, admin pages, and product comparison pages. Not all my product and category pages get traffic, but I'm reasonably sure they're all indexed, and for the most part, only indexed once. I'm of the firm opinion that what you keep OUT of the search engines is just as important (if not more so) than what you let in.

I use the Canonical URL tag to keep categories out of the product URLs.

I don't want the site to look like it's running on autopilot, I want it to look like it's being cared for, by a human being (as much as I am one) and it does. I've made plenty of mistakes with it, and I'm still learning how to do things right, but I think the technical stuff is *really* important on these ecommerce sites, and I think Google pays attention to this stuff.

Joshmc



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 4:12 pm on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

do you think refinements and pagination would have negative effects on the site in panda since most of those pages dont have great content they are just shells that push users to more products?

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 5:21 pm on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wanderingmind, one of my competitors who gained a lot in panda2 has 2 rows of trusted certifications and shields across the bottom of every page (I didn't even know there were that many). He also has hundreds of thousands of products with manufacturer descriptions.


I see something similar with a competitor who SOARED to #1 in Panda. Trusted logos all over the site and fake Facebook "Like" button from some other domain which shows thousands of likes. None of the logos are valid. Their existence on the site could be boosting visitor confidence and overall site performance with respect to bounce back, etc; but surely Google can do a simple SSL check to see if it's valid. The same with other well-known certifications.

storeowner



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 6:04 pm on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi All, my first post here.

This is the thread I'm interested in since I'm an online store owner (one man shop).

I noticed several of my competitors have risen to the top of the google serps with a large majority of their products since the Panda updates. One of them is a small one man shop as well, while the others are big players.

All their product descriptions are exact same as the manufacturer's. Some of these competitor's meta description are just the first couple of sentences from the manufacturer's description. While the other competitor's meta descriptions contain only the product title and some keywords from the specs.

They all have legit SSL certs. So now I'm tearing my hair out trying to replicate their serp success. Anybody here have any idea what other factor might be involved to raise their rankings?

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 7:59 pm on Apr 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

welcome to WebmasterWorld storeowner!

you aren't the only one scratching his head over this update. seems like the adsense/content guys got the worst of it, but many of us have had effects too.

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 4:56 am on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sears may have got a boost from the Brand update that seems to have been grafted into Panda 2.0.

arikgub

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 6:06 am on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

if you own your own ecommerce store its very important that your product descriptions are unique.


If I had an ecommerce site with just manufacturers' descriptions like everyone else, I wouldn't expect much free traffic, I would expect to pay for it.


I really don't understand you, guys. Look at this from the user perspective for a second. Is there any value in re-written product descriptions vs the original ones?

@koan: what are you saying exactly - an ecommerce site does not deserve to rank if using dup product descriptions?!

C'mon! A user doesn't care where your product description snippet comes from - a manufacturer or your $3/hour freelance writer. And I believe that google understands that commerce site's user experience is different, and while for a content site the dup content is a strict no-no, e-commerce sites are treated a bit differently.

I own a few commerce sites and I never bother to have a unique product description, or sometimes even have any description at all. I never block anything with robots, or meta noindex tags.

And I only noticed this: when I started, the product pages with dup or no description were not ranking, but we were certainly not talking about the sitewide penalty here. Moreover, as I got more quality links and became an authority in my niches, even the pages with dup/no content started to rank.

koan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 6:28 am on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

@koan: what are you saying exactly - an ecommerce site does not deserve to rank if using dup product descriptions?!


Unless you offer something different, unique or more compelling than competitors on your site, and the same merchandise can be found in hundreds of other stores, why would you expect free traffic? You have to win it, or pay for it with advertising, just like stores in the physical world. At least in the physical world, there's the advantage of geographical proximity to win local customers, which is not really an issue online if everyone can ship it to your address. So what I'm saying is, if I had such an online store, I wouldn't feel entitled to free traffic, I would have a plan to attract traffic, by creating content of value or investing on promotional campaigns.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 7:09 am on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

koan: better service, free shipping, cheaper prices, faster shipping, no sales tax for out of state etc etc. They are more places than just #1 in SERPS

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 10:13 am on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree with arikgub, most rewritten descriptions that I see are spammy and their target audience is googlebot, not the user.

union_jack

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 11:42 am on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

From what i can see this update(UK) is all market leaders. Authority links are the key more than ever. One of my clients has lost ground to a high PR branded company even thou their site has no real content on it. Just a title and a picture site. My client has wrote unique content, guides, product specs and latest news. Still gone backwards after a good pre panda run. Its hard to tell the client what to do next.

arikgub

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 11:42 am on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Unless you offer something different, unique or more compelling than competitors on your site, and the same merchandise can be found in hundreds of other stores, why would you expect free traffic? ..... So what I'm saying is, if I had such an online store, I wouldn't feel entitled to free traffic, I would have a plan to attract traffic, by creating content of value or investing on promotional campaigns.



I do offer something different - a top notch customer service, and it is a far more important factor when compared to product description uniqueness and other on-page stuff.

What's important to you when shopping online? Price, customer service, flexible return policy, shipping, etc. Unique product descriptions? Couldn't care less ....

I think Google understands that. That's why it puts so much emphasis on a Brand when ranking online stores. Actually, it makes my life a lot more difficult. Try to outrank Amazon, BestBuy just by having a better and unique content. It's a nightmare.

@walkman - yeah, exactly. that's what I mean.

wingslevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4299538 posted 2:36 pm on Apr 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

back to panda 2 effects. my traffic drop was fairly benign compared to the big percentages that were reported by the adsense/content sites. beginning yesterday, though, i started seeing some positive signs. traffic vollume gained back about a third of the loss, but, more importantly, conversion rate was normal.

just guessing, but, i have seen this before - as new algos come to life, there is a lag to the longtail as they get mixed in to the serps. crawl activity has been at historic levels and i can "feel" the different indexes getting swapped around - i'll see poor traffic for an hour, then record traffic for an hour, then normal etc. - my main one and two word keyword rankings have been stable - it is longtail flux

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