SEO news & tips for high-risk merchants: June 2018
The world of high-risk e-commerce and SEO hasn’t changed, insofar that it’s still in a perpetual cycle of change. Remember when links were excellent, then they were seen as potentially dangerous, and now they are good if you follow the rules? That is dramatically oversimplifying it, but the nuances have been continually changing. The advice around links perfectly exemplifies the “fun” e-commerce merchants have when making SEO decisions. To make it easier for you we decided to gather some of the most recent info pertinent to the world of SEO for high-risk e-commerce. Most of the information is collected from around the web, so feel free to follow the links to the full articles!
Big Data and GDPR
Lately, you can’t visit a single website or social media platform without being drowned in articles about GDPR. Some have been extremely worried that practically everyone will get fined! Luckily, that’s not really the case, and although not technically an SEO topic, it is very pertinent to online practice and behavior. It’s also critical to keep in mind that many of the tools SEO experts use are impacted by GDPR, and there is so much hype that we wanted to touch on it.
What is GDPR anyway, and why should I care?
Long story short, GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation, covering privacy and data collection laws for the EU nationals and citizens. While most of our clients are American, this doesn’t necessarily mean that GDPR doesn’t affect them. The changes many major corporations like Google, WordPress, Shopify, and others are being forced to make will also affect certain aspects of your business.
For example, we are sure you may have noticed a whole host of websites and services notifying you of new privacy policies in the last few weeks. That’s mostly because of GDPR. This means that if you collect data, you should make sure your policy reflects those regulations. If you market to EU countries, have an EU focused site, or advertise in the EU and an EU citizen happens to visit your site and you gather their data without following the rules set out in GDPR, you’re liable to face a very steep fine.
We aren’t attorneys, but it does seem pretty clear from the letter of the law that an American company targeting only American clients is not impacted by this. The GDPR rules, contrary to the hype, do not seem to penalize accidental collection of EU citizens’ data if you do not target them in any way. That said, since this is an international regulation, and does specify citizens’ rights more than geographical regulations, we advise you to read up on it and recommend consulting a qualified attorney if you have any concerns.
Meta descriptions and snippets
A good meta description is possibly one of the best low effort – big win aspects of a good website that is easily overlooked. It is in many ways the advertisement you show to searchers that lets them know what your page, and your company, does and why they should visit your site. Google has changed the length of shown meta descriptions on more than one occasion and is likely to do so again in the future. Therefore, it’s very important to keep a keen eye on how your meta description looks on a regular basis as in a week or so, your perfect meta tag might be cut off and become too short! This is especially important for high-risk industry websites as it is often more difficult for you to rank highly in specific categories.
Multi-store owners and duplicate content
One thing that is not uncommon for high-risk e-commerce merchants is the ownership of multiple high-risk e-commerce stores. Due to the nature of the industry, different products might have regulations that conflict with one another. These differences make it nearly impossible to host them on the same website. An easy workaround is to open multiple high-risk websites from a platform that supports high-risk product categories.
Unfortunately, if you happen to use the same content on multiple store blogs, you will take a ranking hit from Google and other search engines for duplicate content. The solution? Put simply, don’t duplicate the content. Reworking the content in an original way can be a pretty big undertaking, as it doubles your workload.
However, as you spread your products across different domains, you should not have too much of a problem diversifying your content sufficiently in order to avoid any duplicate content issues. It’s all about ensuring that your content is precise, after all. This means that if you split your vape and premium cigar products across two sites, even though both are nicotine related and in the high-risk merchant category, your content will remain unique – avoiding duplicate content issues.
Is your content link worthy?
We mentioned links at the beginning of this post. They remain one of the most valuable commodities for good SEO. However, hoarding them or using them poorly can definitely work against you. The best way to get people to link to your content is to make it spectacular. If you are going for informative content, then make sure you are giving the information you promise. Not only that, but you want to feel confident that your content on the subject is the best available, beating your competitors. Great content answers the questions the intended audience may have. It should simultaneously help entice them into shopping in your store. The next step is to develop relationships with other high ranking and influential websites, who will be interested in linking to your content from their own site. These links will increase your content’s exposure and advertise your site.
There are many different categories of content with different benefits depending on style and purpose. For example, content that is informative and unlikely to change, like guides and DIY instructions, are called evergreen content in the SEO/content marketing sphere. Evergreen content is great for helping visitors that are already interested in your product to start considering purchasing from you. Alternately, popular formats like podcast or video often rank high on the content scale and are an excellent way to create engagement and interest in your brand. Think of a partnership with a brand or SEO company that will help you generate content or help with topics your audience will love. If you wish to read up on this, you can always visit Search Engine Journal. They offer a great variety of articles and information on different content and SEO topics.
It’s easy to become overly focused on one aspect of SEO or digital marketing when you run a digital business. We know SEO is important, but it turns out there is a lot of other important stuff to focus on when you’re a high-risk e-commerce business! When to raise your prices, how to navigate month to month contracts, the importance of scheduling, and more! For example, you can check out this great article and video from Moz that we thought might be helpful to you! If you should have any questions about SEO and the high-risk e-commerce industry, feel free to contact us using the contact form below!