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Improve the customer experience as a by-product of just doing good SEO

At the heart of any good SEO strategy should be the customer. Essentially, what Google wants is really simple: accessible and relevant websites that offer great content and an even better user-experience. In this week's blog I take a look at how user-led categorisation improves the customer experience, while being great for SEO and consider some of the challenges retailers face implementing this on their Ecommerce platform.  

When is an 'Army Jacket' not an 'Army Jacket'?

A recent fashion trend has been for Military Jackets. When we analysed consumers search behaviour we found that a range of different language is being used when searching for these kind of jackets. The two biggest terms being "Army Jacket" (880 monthly searches) and "Camo Jacket" (1,300 searches), with "Military Jacket" hitting 2,900 searches a month. 

User-led categorisation

Now imagine this is your site and your merchandiser has created a subcategory called Military Jackets as they feel that is what best describes these products and where you will get the most traction. However, you have stock in this category that could fall into all three keywords options - Army, Military, and Camo.

Creating new subcategories for both "Army Jacket" and "Camo Jacket" on your site that are all interlinked with each other, not only strengthens the theme of your Military Jacket page, but also creates thematic depth and a hub status for it. This potentially improves the natural search rankings for all three terms while allowing your customers to filter down intuitively from your Military Jacket page to the Camo Jacket page seamlessly. Not forgetting that the paid traffic you are sending to this page also benefits in the same way with the benefit of two new well-optimised, relevant landing pages for your Military/Camo/Army jacket campaigns. 

This logical approach to user-led categorisation is often ignored by large ecommerce platforms for the number of links or filers such as Star Ratings, but when was the last time you searched for a 3 Star Rated product that wasn't a hotel? They provide you with all the tools to get the content on the page, but quite often the focus is on the styling of that content with WYSIWG and page editors rather than the content itself. Clearly users engage with both style and content, but in my experience CMS's rarely allow you to improve the content to help user engagement when sourcing products or services at large website scale, without some manual effort.

Good for customers. Good for SEO. Good for you.

Now wouldn't it be great if the varying language and its identification that your customers use when searching for your products could be automated for every category you have? What if you could enable your customers to navigate around your site in a more fluid and intuitive way when browsing for your products and services, improving their user experience as a by-product of just doing good SEO?

Automating this entire process is revolutionising the way that retailers can enhance the user experience by serving visitors pages tailored according to what they are searching for, with more relevant products on these pages. Leading to new customers, better conversion rates and increased online revenue. And who doesn't love a win-win-win?

 

About OneHydra

OneHydra is an automated search marketing and merchandising engine that dynamically optimizes websites in real-time by monitoring and analysing user-generated search terms. Our technology empowers retailers to develop demand-based strategies that improve merchandising and significantly scale on-page SEO to drive more qualified traffic, increase conversions and grow revenue.

 

 

Posted by Chris Dunn at 00:00
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SEO for Huge Sites

Scaling SEO for massive sites - Our most recent White Paper focuses on the unique challenges faced by large sites in scaling their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) activity across millions of pages, and doing so without experiencing an unacceptable impact on project costs and time to delivery. 

The value of technology

The SEO performance of a website is determined by how well its web pages satisfy various technical, relevancy and credibility conditions. For websites with three hundred pages, this is a manageable task; however in contrast, optimising a website which consists of a million web pages or more becomes very expensive and time consuming.

Not only does Hydra's White Paper delve deeper into how a huge website can be managed effectively, but it also provides a solution on how to deal with these issues.

Posted by Becky Hayward at 00:00
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Integrated Search - Dynamic Ads

We have been advocating the management of Natural and Paid Search campaigns as a joint strategy since before the launch of The One Platform.  In fact, it was precisely this notion which led us to create a technology that could facilitate this.  Why?  For us there is a simple reason: potential and existing customers experience Search as a seamless list of relevant results to their query - few differentiate between Natural and Paid results. 

There is another incentive to run these two channels cooperatively, if Google's moves in the market are anything to go by.  Over the course of the past few years we have seen changes in the search engine result pages (SERPs) that are further blurring the line between Natural and Paid Search channels; we have also seen metrics such as Quality Score increasingly rely on what have traditionally been perceived as Natural Search metrics such as Relevancy.  A recent development, the introduction of Dynamic Search Ads (albeit in Beta for the U.S. from October 2011) further confirms this rapprochement between the two disciplines.

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

As the name suggests, Dynamic Search Ads are ads that are generated dynamically by Google predominantly based on a website's content.  Google takes natural search information gathered by its crawl and defines the keywords that your site could potentially appear for in Paid Search results.  When a user types a query, Google determines (very much along the same lines as with Natural Search results) whether your site is relevant to that query and automatically generates and serves an ad based on the site's content and the ad template criteria predefined by the advertiser. (See below)

Dynamic Ads Image

Source: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2011/10/introducing-dynamic-search-ads-beta.html

Dynamic Search Ads can be run in conjunction with non-dynamic campaigns (i.e. campaigns that a Paid Search specialist has defined in the standard way) to supplement impressions and clicks to the website or uncover new queries not previously targeted.  They are also meant to simplify the management of AdWords campaigns for those who simply don't have the resource to plan, deploy, monitor and update multiple campaigns covering thousands of potential keywords.

However, running Dynamic Search Ads without the appropriate reviews and checks in place has an inherent risk: potentially decreased Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for the advertiser. 

But the interest of this post is not to delve in the advantages or disadvantages of Dynamic Search Ads.  We are instead much more interested in the paradigm shift that Dynamic Search Ads appear to confirm.

Why do Dynamic Search Ads matter to Search Engine Marketing?

Leaving the benefits and downsides of running Dynamic Search Ads aside for a second, Dynamic Search Ads matter because the ability to run such ads successfully entirely depends on the overall state of a website from what has traditionally been a Natural Search point of view:

-          Without good performance from an Accessibility standpoint, for example, the indexing of content that defines whether a website could be used for x or y query in Dynamic Search Ads could be severely affected.

-         Even if Accessibility issues are not a hindrance, the lack of good quality, relevant content can severely affect when and for which queries a Dynamic Search Ad is generated.  Relevancy may take a whole new level of importance as it sways Quality Scores and defines the ads that could be potentially served using the alternative: Dynamic Search Ads.

Neglecting areas such as accessibility and relevancy of a website could limit the choices for testing and discovering new opportunities online that could be potentially derived from running Dynamic Search Ads.  Today, it may not seem of great value to pass on this chance; however, if anything can be deduced from previous feature releases in AdWords, we should expect Dynamic Search Ads to become more prevalent by 2013. 

This is important since it changes the priority assigned to the tasks performed by the Natural Search specialist and emphasises cooperation between Natural and Paid Search teams.  In fact, this may also point at the need to not only encourage cooperation but instead, create the right environment for knowledge transfer between the two disciplines. 

Personally, I believe that the days of planning Natural and Paid Search strategies are coming to an end.  It is becoming incredibly apparent that if a company or agency wants to succeed in search marketing, they will need to think of it as a single medium with a specific set of goals - and plan the strategy and tactics accordingly.

If you want to learn more about how to manage, optimise and monitor Natural and Paid Search campaigns as a single integrated strategy, get in touch

 

Posted by Ruth Zohrer at 11:36
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