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|Ranking and traffic - Informational vs Ecommerce and Big Business vs Small|
System: The following 8 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4659095.htm [webmasterworld.com] by aakk9999 - 10:59 am on Apr 24, 2014 (gmt 0)
First, as an fyi, I've been involved in both ecommerce and informational sites.
|losing their jobs because the work we once had is being diverted by Google to the big corporations. That's the hardship many have when so much of the search market is controlled by one company. |
The place to start, isn't with Google. It's with your business. Did you have customers before Google? How did you get them? Do they make repeat purchases? Did they buy from big corporations before? Why should they choose you over a big corporation? Do you advertise on TV or in magazines or newspapers? If not, do you blame the media for killing your business because the cost is too high to advertise, or you don't get mentioned on the news?
As far as there being a difference between ecommerce sites and content sites, yes, there is some. But if it's a decent content site it still needs staffing to write and update content constantly as well as get those changes on the site regularly and to market the site.
Both types of businesses live and die, by providing what the customer /visitor wants and getting those customers to return and to recommend the site to their friends.
One other thing about an ecommerce site. PPC is in many respects just like other forms of direct marketing. The cost per click matters, but so too do the conversion rate, average order size and - very important - the lifetime value of the customer. You need to be looking at all of those things as well as other ways to advertise and market, and ways to get repeat sales or additional sales from your customer base.
|I think the problem here is we are now advising buying traffic on an organic forum which is off topic. No offense to EG but he is the first person to point this is an organic forum when discussing PPC. |
OK, I won't point out the benefits of paid search if the usual suspects stop cluttering up this forum with lectures on Internet cabals (which belong in the Foo forum) and Google Corporate (which belong in the Google Finance, Govt, Policy and Business Issues forum).
On the topic of SEO: I suspect that much of the anger here stems from the fact that it's harder to build and maintain successful SEO-driven businesses than it once was. Google Search has evolved, but there's a lot more competition than there was 10 years ago, too--and not just for e-commerce sites.
LuckyLiz makes some great points. So does Shaddows. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what Google should be doing for you, ask what you can do."
No offense but I don't think you can fully understand until you have been hit by Google. 80% of my business comes from repeat customers. Most businesses spend roughly 6% of sales on advertising. I am above that. We have prior to this and still to this day focus on other areas of marketing. The issue is the infrastructure and the cost of it to maintain the business. There is this falsehood that we can turn these operations on and off at will. You can't and stay a solid business. You trying to simplify things way too much. Sure we can lay people off and cut costs to bare minimums but that will limit things if business returns.
I can beat most of the competition from an SEO standpoint, I beat them all on a inventory basis and customers service. However when I see no changes in the sites appearing on page one for more than a year and then look at the backlinks and find that one of the sites that is generating many backlinks is a nice blog from none other than a Google employee, it does make me question this game. If things are working correctly we would expect to see even slight changes among the players on page 1. There is none. Is it logical to assume that player 5 doesn't want to move up? Player 3 doesn't make a good move and is rewarded or a mistake and fall? Totally unrealistic.
The words of wisdom being discussed here seems to have turned to a go BIG or go home mentality. Some might be able to do this, while most can't. The reason is pretty simple. You have thousands of businesses all trying to be on the first page for the same "stuff." Small businesses don't have the in house staff to manage websites, market them and stay current with Google's mood of the moment. These small businesses have low outsourcing budgets too, which also hurts them.
I hear people saying that they should just better align their marketing budgets to keep customers coming in. However, most people shopping for "stuff" usually do some research online before they buy. The search engines are there waiting to deliver not just the information, but also the "stuff." With a finite amount of people shopping for the same "stuff," other forms of advertising yield lower returns.
Maybe the go BIG or go home rule should apply. Knowing that the deck is stacked against small businesses, not just because of Google's algorithm but because big businesses have a lot of in house talent, closing the doors might lead some small business owners to a more pleasant and predictable life.
I'm a small business, and we made some very good decisions early on. We produce what we retail, and it can't be bought anywhere else. While the circumstances are unique, this is what small businesses should strive for - producing a consumable that is unavailable elsewhere. The minute Amazon gets a hold of the product, and the product pops up for sale on eBay, you can kiss half the first page of the search results in Google goodbye. Complaining about this won't do any good, but facing the truth just might.
|Superclown2, I can understand your frustration, but the solution isn't to "make sites relevant to the search terms it [Google] gives them good positions for." That's a short-term tactic, and it involves chasing a moving target. |
I think he meant that his site is as good as it can possibly be for terms like "red widgets", but it still doesn't show up there.
Also, choosing certain terms to target isn't a bad thing as Google itself recommends it. And you have to, or else you might have words that don't match and then you really will get low-quality traffic.
|If that were Google's strategy, wouldn't it make sense to spend more money on ads and less on SEO? That would be a more rational response than hoping to de-fuzz intentionally fuzzy search results. |
Or Google can fix its algorithm. Either that or they'll lose market share to the other players.
Shadows, missed your FUD post somehow, just read it and it's excellent. If anyone else missed it, read it, now.
|Or Google can fix its algorithm. |
Yes, and they probably will at some point if they're returning pages about blue widgets for "red widgets" or whatever the example was. But bugs in Google's algorithms are beyond our control.
(And yes, Google's algorithm has bugs. Unlike the conspiracy theorists, I don't believe that Google's software is infallible.)
|Maybe the go BIG or go home rule should apply. Knowing that the deck is stacked against small businesses, not just because of Google's algorithm but because big businesses have a lot of in house talent, closing the doors might lead some small business owners to a more pleasant and predictable life. |
I'll get right on closing the doors tomorrow morning. LOL Sure, it is a lot easier rolling over and playing dead. Though I do have some initiative to complain to the powers that be, and I'll go out kicking and screaming for sure.
Seriously, you and a lot of people seem to be missing the big picture. The heated debate going on is mostly a reflection of how unhealthy the internet economy has become because of Google. No, the problem is not because some websites legitimately rank above others. It's how Google manipulates the search results for profit. For example, our office on occasion orders pizza. We probably do this too often, but we do order online. Who now has two listings on Google's search results? Dominos pizza. This company NEVER had two organic listings to their thin pages until they announced that they were accepting Google Wallet payments.
There are far too many coincidences going on with Google's search results for it to be natural. Optimizing, for all intensive purposes, is no longer a consistent set of good practices to follow. If you are competing in an arena where Google has a financial interest, the basic rules of having great content do not apply.
I'll agree with you MRE that other forms of marketing are not nearly as effective as appearing in Google's search results for our business. Search beats us to the punch most of the time, but we still do okay using alternative marketing channels. Okay as in we are still in business, servicing existing accounts and slowly acquiring new projects. If we rolled out a self-service model like some of our competitors, or outsourced work to low wage nations, we would be able to afford the $12 Adwords clicks. But with American based employees, and a focus on customer service, that just is not happening.
A piece of advice for anyone that wants to truly understand what is going on in Google's organic search results. Don't track your keywords. Track the big brands, including those that just have a scant mention of keywords in the pages they are ranking for. Just as I see with many client sites, Google is herding up the cattle and directing them right out of organics and into Adwords.
As far as I see it, there is no search engine optimization. He who has the best quality information will no longer rank on Google's first page. They may not even be in the top ten pages. Those who do rank in organics are Google's own websites, companies that they invest in and partnerships. Organic SEO has been reduced to simply avoiding the Adwords black hole.
How is it any different from a mall moving in with big brand stores, or a Wal-Mart moving in, or a drug store chain?
Or some decision to reroute foot or vehicle traffic in such a way that all the stores on a street suffer? (We had a construction project on a major road here that went on for 18mos, and put a bigtime hurt on stores, restaurants and businesses along a two mile stretch)
Things change, no matter what kind of business you're in. Big guys edge out little guys *everywhere* - it just took them maybe a little longer to get on board with the internet. So maybe some people didn't see it coming.
As with pretty much everything on the planet - the ones who can find a way to adapt to that (and quickly) are the ones have a better chance of surviving. The ones who think about what they can do instead of what's being done to them.
|How is it any different from a mall moving in with big brand stores, or a Wal-Mart moving in, or a drug store chain? |
I think the difference is that Wal-Mart didn't get where it was by indexing and serving the content of the people that are now grumbling.
I agree that whining doesn't do much good, but the reason it's so prevalent here is that Google:
- Had an initial quid-pro-quo relationship with content publishers. A large part of Google's popularity was driven by it's ability to find the best content and put in the "10 blue links". This brought high levels of traffic to Google, as well as to high quality sites.
- Then, after gaining a defacto monopoly (Larry Page admits that they are a "near monopoly" ), Google started to change the nature of that relationship heavily in their favor. (Product Search to paid model, organics pushed down, etc, etc)
In short, WalMart is pushing out small businesses but WalMart didn't start with a symbiotic relationship, then turn on them.
The grumbling can get old, agreed, but there's a reason it's so out of hand.
The interesting part about that logic rish is Walmart is in fact one of the companies that spends the least on marketing due to the fact that they are so big they don't have to because everyone already knows about them. So if the thought is go big to get the advertising bucks it may in fact be a bad theory.
|I think the difference is that Wal-Mart didn't get where it was by indexing and serving the content of the people that are now grumbling. |
I don't see Google as the Wal-Mart here, more like the people who gave Wal-Mart the go-ahead to move in.
|Had an initial quid-pro-quo relationship with content publishers. |
Not that it really matters, but I think we as publishers maybe assumed that more than Google actually offered it. Maybe they actually made that statement, but I sure never saw it.
The bottom line is, if your living depends upon your online presence, then you have to be practical and adaptable. And if you can't bring yourself to do that, then maybe this roller coaster ride isn't for you (not you specifically, you in the general sense) It definitely isn't for everyone.
This thread seems to be less about "traffic and ranking - informational vs e-commerce sites" than about why Google hates small businesses. And it's based on a false assumption: that Google cares about and has ever cared about whether a ranked site is big or small.
A search engine is a mirror of society. If hundreds of millions of people are buying from Amazon (or reading Wikipedia, for that matter), that's going to be reflected in the SERPs. And if small businesses had an easier time being visible in the SERPs 15 years ago than they do today, there are a couple of obvious reasons for that: (1) Most businesses on the Web 15 years ago were small businesses, and (2) simple-minded SEO worked better then than now.
(Aside: I can remember About.com's then-SEO director telling About.com "guides" how to do doorway pages back in 1999. That's how unsophisticated SEO was 15 years ago. Anybody could stuff keywords, crank out doorway pages, etc.--sometimes, successfully--and an awful lot of people did.)
Something else to consider: Google Search was never conceived as a free Yellow Pages for people who want to sell things. I'm pretty sure that Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Amit Singhal, Matt Cutts, etc. have a different vision of Google Search than the guy who wants to operate an online storefront in Google's organic search results. Their stated mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." If Joe Retailer wants to sell stuff on Google's SERPs, he can take potluck in the search results or buy ads. To put it more succinctly, "Google doesn't hate you; Google simply has different priorities than you do."
rish3 makes a great point, would Google have become popular if the SERPS it displayed at the start were the serps they display now?
Google, slowly turning up the heat up on the lobster, the lobster doesn't realise until its 2 late!
I don’t think the posters “whining” about google expect it to change anything at google guys, but posting “whiney” comments about corporations on public forums, especially in a united manor can and is often picked up and used in stories on major (or niche) news networks, these stories create bad PR for the company, perhaps bad PR doesn’t change anything either…. but it gives people an outlet so they don’t feel they are just being bulldozed out of the way without saying a word!
Flash forward 5 years and the fanboys who are doing well now could be 2morrows whiners when the organic results are banished into obscurity?
If posters don’t like the whining that goes on here it’s easy to skim past the usual suspects posts, “whining” about the whiners isn’t going to change anything ;).
|Google Search was never conceived as a free Yellow Pages for people who want to sell things |
That may be true but why did google become popular with people in the first place? Was it because of the ads or because of its diverse organic results at the time?
|but posting “whiney” comments about corporations on public forums, especially in a united manor can and is often picked up and used in stories on major (or niche) news networks, |
That's fine to make that decision on your own forum but maybe not so much on someone else's. If that's really what we're doing here, then just let me know so I can spend my time and money somewhere more in alignment with my own goals.
|That may be true but why did google become popular with people in the first place? Was it because of the ads or because of its diverse organic results at the time? |
Neither. It was because its PageRank-based algorithm yielded better results than other search engines did.
Side note: The person who's looking for a USB-powered mosquito zapper isn't looking for "diversity," he's looking for a USB-powered mosquito zapper--and, quite possibly, for help in determining whether that USB-powered mosquito zapper is worth buying. From the searcher's point of view--or a search algorithm's POV, for that matter--an Amazon page with 100 user reviews is more useful than a generic sell page that lacks any "value add" for users and search crawlers. Amazon's brand-name reputation is icing on the cake.
|Google Search was never conceived as a free Yellow Pages for people who want to sell things |
It *was* originally conceived as an "ad free" search engine. Specifically because "advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers". (Google that phrase :)
Not that it matters now, but still interesting.
Do a search for a purely informational result and its highly likely you will see a diverse selection of results with not a big brand to be seen. Although the words in the search term may well appear somewhere on a big brand page, the usual domain authority boost does not seem to kick in.
But as soon as a money word appears in the search term, then those big brand pages and Google's own properties are unleashed. Google can obviously interpret the searchers' intent and when it decides that intent is commercial, its game on....
Big business vs small? The internet is now an international shopping channel and when money is involved, the big guys always have the cash and resources that allows them to dominate. The small site is like the small shops that you used to find in your suburban plazas and small business centres... you know, the ones that are now boarded up because a) they couldn't compete with the resources and buying power of the conglomerates and b) they have lost their passing traffic to the newer, bigger supermalls.
As a wise old sage once said, "if you want to know what is really going on, follow the money". Not a conspiracy theory, just an acceptance of the reality we now have to accept.
As others have already said, if you are marketing your own product(s) or something that is unique, you might do OK.... but if you are simply selling all the same stuff as the merchant, Amazon, EBay etc... then don't give up your day job.
|if you are simply selling all the same stuff as the merchant, Amazon, EBay etc... then don't give up your day job. |
I think that's true if your site is selling mainstream items than can easily be bought anywhere and from anyone. But I think there's still a place for e-commerce sites that target niche buyers who value expertise and connection with a community. As a user, I might buy a toaster from Amazon (if I order online at all), but if I'm looking for imported foods, hobby products, plants that will grow in my climate, or breed-specific pet products, I'm likely to seek out a specialized vendor.
For that matter, I know the owners of a secondhand bookstore who sell a lot of books (including rare books) both domestically and internationally. They sell some of those books through Amazon, and they're able to make a profit by doing so.
There are ways to compete against the big guys; some of my clients do it. You just have to find niches and features they can't deal with. Like customized/personalized products, or giving credit terms, or bundling products for a particular niche. It ain't easy, but it can be done.
I'm having some success, not with getting more traffic, but converting the traffic I do have at a better percentage.
A couple of things that were successful:
- Don't put product information behind tabs..people don't click on tabs. There's a reason amazon.com, walmart.com, etc, all have long, scolling product pages with no tabs. This reduces bounce rate, and adds to time on site, which may also have some effect on SEO.
- If you can find a way to include some useful tool that the big guys don't have, you'll convert better. On one site, I added a feature that lets you do a 360 degree "virtual tour" of a product, with zooming. The manufacturer doesn't have that, and none of my competitors have it, and it's working.
- If I help a customer out in some way...and they send me a gushing thank-you email, I ask them if I can post an excerpt of it as an endorsement/review on the product page. Usually, because it's their words, from their perspective, the added content from the review fills out the page with good related terms that aren't already there. So, aside from the marketing boost, it's probably an seo boost as well.
|if small businesses had an easier time being visible in the SERPs 15 years ago than they do today, there are a couple of obvious reasons for that |
I agree, it was always going to happen BUT don't agree your reasons being the only reasons.
Google search was always expected to become biased towards the advertisers (bigger the better) and away from the needs of the consumer, forget the small business that doesn't pay to play when the needs of the consumer (users) were always expected to be placed below the advertisers!
|until they announced that they were accepting Google Wallet payments |
I work on a site that accepts Google Wallet payments, and I can assure you that we see no ranking advantage because of it. Trust me, this would make my life easier. This is why I also take a skeptical eye to those who say that members of Google's "Internet Association" see a ranking boost. If it were that easy, I'd recommend to our executives that we look into joining.
|Do a search for a purely informational result and its highly likely you will see a diverse selection of results with not a big brand to be seen. |
Not necessarily. They are a newer member of the SERPs, but many Microsoft-related tech support queries will return MS's own support forum. Maybe this isn't the example that disproves the hypothesis, but there are big brands in informational queries for sure. Also, if you want to get technical, Yahoo Answers often shows up in question-related SERPs, and Yahoo is still a pretty big brand.
|Google search was always expected to become biased towards the advertisers (bigger the better) and away from the needs of the consumer, forget the small business that doesn't pay to play when the needs of the consumer (users) were always expected to be placed below the advertisers! |
Have you ever considered the possibility that companies like Amazon, Zappos, and Booking.com have earned their way to the top?
As a consumer who has no bias toward or against Amazon, I can tell you that Amazon does a great job of supplying useful buying information. Even if I'm buying a product somewhere else, I'll often look at Amazon user reviews to see what people are saying. In a couple of cases, I've used Amazon review threads for tech support.
Google is always saying "build sites for the user," and that's what Amazon does. No matter what you think about Jeff Bezos or Amazon as a company, the fact remains that the typical Amazon product page has more useful content than the typical product page at mom-and-pop-commerce-site dot com does. Consumers like what they see at Amazon, and pretending that Amazon is successful only because Google ignores "the needs of the consumer" won't change that fact.
I don't know what its like to compete against amazon, its not my area so wouldn't like to post an opinion on ecom! As a web developer I said from the start (13 yrs ago) I was NEVVR going to get into doing ecom sites for anyone because I never saw them as viable long term business (own opinion) because of the way the high street went, it was was only going to repeat itself online!
As a customer of amazon I would and always have had the site bookmarked and go direct, same with e-bay, I like them as a shopper but I don't buy much anywhere to be honest, if I do find a site I like that sells stuff I tend to bookmark it!
|pretending that Amazon is successful only because Google ignores "the needs of the consumer" won't change that fact. |
that's the first time you haven't denied google does put the advertiser first, a welcome step!
[edited by: CaptainSalad2 at 3:49 pm (utc) on Apr 28, 2014]
|Consumers like what they see at Amazon, and pretending that Amazon is successful only because Google ignores "the needs of the consumer" won't change that fact. |
I have quoted the whole sentence and I read this differently. To me it says the usage and branding may be folded in. It does not say anything about Google putting advertiser first.
Not everyone has Amazon bookmarked nor everyone types its domain into address bar. Even I am guilty of this - it is so much faster to type Amazon in Google and then click on #1 than to go to address bar and type www.amazon.com and perhaps make a mistake in spelling, in adding extra w, in typing cm instead of com etc.
aakk9999 do you ever make that search and click #1 amazon ad or do you scroll to the #1 organic? (assuming there is an ad)
I have to say that I skip ads - I think I do this automatically without thinking.
|Have you ever considered the possibility that companies like Amazon, Zappos, and Booking.com have earned their way to the top? |
Check out Booking.com's backlink profile. Sort by anchors, then dig into the more unlikely exact matches. I think "bought" is a better word than "earned" in their case.
| This 34 message thread spans 2 pages: 34 (  2 ) > > |