(Evan Kramer is a guest blogger for SEO.com. He has successfully launched consumer websites AjcJobs.com, Kudzu.com, AutoGuide.com, VacationRoost.com, GoHoming.com and ezprints.com. He writes his own blog, The Chief Internet Officer. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and daughter. If you are also interested in guest blogging opportunities, e-mail marketing @ SEO.com. Guest posts may or may not reflect the opinions of SEO.com.)
For consumer product businesses on the Web, managing data can often be difficult because of all the data constituents involved (Marketing, IT, Operations and all the sub-managers under each).
Search engine optimization needs to be accounted for as part of your data architecture planning. Whether you are dealing with inventory, classifieds, information, etc., there are ways to manage your product data to better optimize your SEO efforts. Managing product data is often at the intersection of Marketing and IT Infrastructure.
I often refer to this as your “Markestructure.” Your Markestructure can be evaluated in more ways than just enhancing SEO efforts, such as CRM, customer acquisition, data hygiene, etc. But for this post, I will focus on four major ways to manage your product data (as part of your Markestructure) for SEO.
1. Creation of unique product data
2. Online Distribution
3. Customer Segmentation
4. Data conversion
Creation of Unique Product Data
We all know how Google loves content to be unique. Over the past few years, social media has facilitated unique content as user generated reviews appended to product information has helped grow companies like Yelp, TripAdvisor and others. However, outside of user-generated content, how do you make your product data more unique? Retail businesses will often struggle with having to merchandise the same products as competitors -- whether it is refrigerators, cars, apparel, etc. A great way to manage differentiation is the utilization of third party data or branded content on your product details pages.
For example, if you are selling appliances online, you can utilize great data from data.gov to mash-up government benefits attached to each type of appliance. Let consumers be aware of the benefits to buying an energy efficient appliance. In addition, you can utilize content staff to enhance the messaging around the product details of the appliances to match of the voice of your brand. For example, if you are selling automobiles online, it is often difficult to differentiate yourself from competition on anything other than price. To a search engine, you can add content on the product page associated with your brand such as testimonials, statistics about your dealership customer service or quirky facts about the make/model of the car using strong keywords.
Your website is merely one Web page or a group of Web pages from which to market your product data. Depending upon your industry, make sure you have a viable syndication and RSS program in place to proliferate and your product data to the highest degree possible. Once syndicated, you can create SEO programs around your data.
For example, back to the automotive example, there are great syndication outlets for your product data such as Googlebase, Oodle, Vast, etc. Once deployed, you need to assess the meta data associated with each data feed that is impacting search results for that channel. As an example with Googlebase, you may need to have stronger ALT tags on your images, increase the updates (freshness) of your data or merely add more content description with keywords in order to differentiate your product data.
SEO is not only about managing your product data results directly to high SERPs but also your marketing channels that indirectly impact SERPs.
The great thing about SEO is how it is now converging with consumer marketing. The search engines now want to not only consume content like a reader, but also evaluate content like a reader. As such, it's better if you you can work with marketing to create customer segmentation and integrate strategic keywords into your segment product data pages.
For example, back to the automobiles example, it would be great to utilize the same product data for a Make/Model (say, BMW) against several customer segments in order to generate several unique content pages. You may have a luxury buyer, a mid-life crisis buyer, a speed racer type, etc. For each segment, you can generate a specific landing page to filter to your product data in order to merchandise to that particular customer segment. I know my wife will not be buying a mini-van any time soon for our family because she refuses to be labeled a ‘Soccer Mom.’ Perhaps have a “Cool Mom Car” selection instead?
Data associated with your products -- whether it is retail commerce, classifieds, etc. -- should not be tied to a specific format when it comes to generating SEO. At first, you should cover your bases and create an XML file to include all pages with your product data. However, you should explore options on how to convert your data into different formats, such as video, in order to create new unique content for the search engines using the same data. Perhaps take images and convert them to video files. There are sites like Animoto or companies like Liquidus Marketing that can generate great content with static jpeg images. You may also explore text to speech options where you can convert your data into audio files. Whether you create video or audio files, you can syndicate and index these new file types and generate user content against them over time to further enhance the uniqueness of the data.
Overall, these are merely four ways to evaluate product data as part of your Markestructure in order to better manage SEO. The process of search optimization is ongoing and requires constant attention. However, this post is a reminder to evaluate the origins, architecture and uses of your product data as part of your overall SEO strategy.