Google's Algorithm: Why You Lost, and How To Win for Ecommerce Brands

Sep 29, 2022 12:00 PM1:00 PM EDT

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

Staying relevant as an eCommerce brand is not always about your direct business competition. SEO optimization is now becoming an integral part of digital marketing strategies. So how does the implementation of SEO solutions affect your business?

Considering that platforms are constantly updating their search algorithms, it’s important to always stay on top of the latest marketing trends and changes. With that in mind, fitting SEO strategies into your budget could not only help your products and services land on the first page of search engines but also significantly improve your profitability and client conversion. According to Jordan Brannon, understanding the fundamentals of SEO practices is more valuable than ever, especially given the increasing sophistication of search platforms.

In this virtual event, Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson welcomes Jordan Brannon, Co-founder and President of Coalition Technologies. They talk about the rising standards of SEO solutions for eCommerce brands and how to navigate and implement them into your business for guaranteed success. Jordan breaks down the latest search engine updates, how to correctly promote duplicate content, and why SEO optimizations are not inherently transferable between platforms.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Jordan Brannon shares why eCommerce businesses should give more attention to SEO strategies
  • How increased algorithm updates in recent years have significantly impacted SEO budgets
  • Jordan talks about the biggest pros and cons of Google’s algorithm changes
  • Taking a loss in search rankings — and how to bounce back
  • Jordan breaks down how SEO strategies fit into a company’s budget
  • SEO optimization strategies that are in conflict with other platforms
  • Jordan’s tips on improving the searchability of duplicate content
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Event Partners

Coalition Technologies

Coalition Technologies is a leading SEO, PPC & web design agency in the United States that does a variety of work across leading eCom platforms including: Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Vtex, and others.

Connect with Coalition Technologies

Guest Speaker

Jordan Brannon

Jordan Brannon LinkedIn

President at Coalition Technologies

Jordan Brannon is the President of Coalition Technologies, a company that provides SEO services in digital marketing, design, web development, and PPC advertising. Jordan’s expertise in digital strategies has shaped his career for more than a decade, where he focused on developing solutions that allow for more qualified leads, better traffic conversion, and SEO optimization.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Event Moderator

Jordan Brannon

Jordan Brannon LinkedIn

President at Coalition Technologies

Jordan Brannon is the President of Coalition Technologies, a company that provides SEO services in digital marketing, design, web development, and PPC advertising. Jordan’s expertise in digital strategies has shaped his career for more than a decade, where he focused on developing solutions that allow for more qualified leads, better traffic conversion, and SEO optimization.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

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Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Senior Digital Strategist Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  0:18

So Happy Thursday everyone I am Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson, a digital strategist with BWG Connect. And we are a network and knowledge sharing group, we stay on top of the latest trends, challenges, whatever it is that is shaping the digital landscape. We're on track to do at least 500 of these webinars this year due to the increase in demand to better understand everything in the digital space. And we'll be doing at least 100 in person dinners. So if you happen to be in a tier one city, feel free to shoot us an email, we'll send you an invite, the dinners are typically 15 and 20 people having a discussion around a specific digital topic. And it's always a great time. We spend the majority of our time here at BWG talking to different brands. And we'd love to have a conversation with you. So feel free to drop me a line at And we can get some time on the calendar. These conversations are very important because it's how we generate the topic ideas for future webinars and in person events is also where we gain our resident experts such as Coalition Technologies, who's with us today, to welcome anyone that we asked to teach and meet with the collective network has come highly recommended through our network and our phone calls. So if you ever need any recommendations at anything within the digital space, never hesitate to reach out we have a shortlist of the best of the best service providers and we'd be happy to share that information with you. As we know a lot of people are hiring right now. So do note that we have a talent agency BWG Talent that we can put you in contact with as well. So a few housekeeping items. We want this to be fun, educational, conversational. If you have any questions, comments, feel free to put them in the q&a, the chat can feel more comfortable, you can email me And we will get to them. We started a few minutes after the hour. So rest assured we will wrap up at least five to 10 minutes before the end of the hour to give you ample time to get to your next meeting or go where you need to go. So with that let's rock and roll and start to learn about Google's algorithm. Why you lost Yikes, and how to win for eCommerce brands. It seemed like Coalition Technologies have been great friends and then network. So I will kick it up to you Jordan, wanna give an introduction on yourself and then we will dive right in.


Jordan Brannon  2:33

Yeah, so SEO is definitely is that the sort of heart of maybe who I am in my story in eCommerce. So my name is Jordan Brannon. I'm president and Co-founder at Coalition. My first work in eCommerce was for a furniture retailer that was looking at improving positioning for its local stores. That was back in early 2000s. And then I also had worked on a eCommerce drop shipping business with my brother and now Coalition Co-founder as a way to sort of improve our college digs. So the dorms weren't quite cutting it for us. And so we wanted to two bedroom townhome and drop shipping eCommerce products and a b2b sale. Again, early 2000s was sort of how we made that happen. And so a lot of that work was SEO focused and pay per click focused. And so even as Coalition has grown and become much more than just an SEO and pay per click agency, those two things are probably still pretty near and dear to who I am. And, again, a bigger topic of conversation of late.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  3:44

Awesome, I didn't know that about your background. Very cool. I also come from the furniture world and dropshipping they'll


help prepare now.


Yeah, talk shop someday. So when we were talking about this call, and we were thinking what is going to be the topic of discussion here? You thought SEO was very timely. So can you share some of the reasons why do you think SEO is always worth more attention? And especially now?


Jordan Brannon  4:10

Yeah, I think part of it is there's there's Buzzie topics, I think, you know, you know, I've done a few calls with with Aaron, I think it's our first call together, you know, on things like headless than, you know, email marketing SMS. And I think we've done some on machine learning and AI and things like that at times. And so those those things tend to be a bit fuzzier in SEO sort of falls into the background, it's a bit more of a heartbeat. And you kind of forget, it's there until you don't have a heartbeat, and then all of a sudden, it's really important and I think SEO sort of is like that, of late I think because of what's happening in terms of the broader digital marketing space and a lot of the uncertainty and instability. SEO is a much bigger thing that brands should be focusing on. It's a big chunk of the top of funnel opportunity Ready for eCommerce websites, but receives proportionally smaller investment. You know, for most of our clients sort of work to analyze their digital marketing budgets. Sto is perhaps driving significant chunk of revenue, or touching a significant chunk of their transactions. But it's receiving maybe 10 to 20 times less than what they're spending on pay per click, and some other advertising sides of things. So I think with SEO, it tends to require sort of a front loading of costs by maybe a year or two of concerted effort. And over time, you can really sustain that level of spend and investment and see a revenue increase if things are being handled well. And that creates a lot more profitability for SEO. And so I think, you know, even in situations when when SEO maybe does sort of get a bigger dollar amount associated to it, I think sometimes, you know, related to development or technical work, it often has, you know, a short shared benefit. And so, you know, there's probably a reason why SEO, I think, is a good topic of conversation for today.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  6:05

Awesome, and what are some of those shared benefits towards that SEO?


Jordan Brannon  6:10

Yeah, I mean, so from a cost standpoint, a lot of times, we're today especially, we're doing a lot of work on PageSpeed. And PageSpeed, you know, falls under our SEO budget. And it's falling that our budget because nobody else is wanting to claim it. So it can be a fairly significant investment, and sometimes going as far as a redesign on a website, or replatforming on a website. And so we'll cover major speed improvements for a client's webstore under the SEO budget, but the performance uplift is really beneficial to all of their marketing channels.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  6:39

Interesting. Thank you for clarifying that. Um, so this is probably a novice question. But I am the queen of novice questions. So why is there a need for ongoing SEO?


Jordan Brannon  6:51

Yeah, yeah. Good. That's a good one. I think that's a lot of people would love to have that one answered. I think, as an SEO, I appreciate that there's that need. But I think really ongoing SEO is really required for three reasons. And maybe maybe to a lesser extent, a fourth, probably the the top three reasons that I would highlight are, and maybe not in a particular order, I think first you need to sort of maintain your existing competitive position. So you know, if you're standing still in the SEO front, that doesn't mean everybody else is. I think, also just looking at net new opportunities for organic keywords that you can continue to grow in or expand your reach, that can be different regions, new product lines, you know, new product categories, new audiences, or just seeking to address sort of an ongoing change in your brand's web presence, I think this is probably one of the bigger ones of late that we've seen. It's a lot of brands are really rapidly evolving what they're doing in terms of their digital footprint and presence. And all of those things are disruptive to SEO, and in a negative way, in some occasions. And so I think that's an important piece of it, and then maybe kind of the smaller one for a lot of brands. And the fourth one is is probably seeking to sort of reflect some of the changing consumer behaviors and sort of changing consumer search queries.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  8:15

So then, how often does consumer behaviors and search change? And I'm assuming not often, but it's once or every year or every few years?


Jordan Brannon  8:25

Yeah, it's a good question. I think, you know, we've tried to track this by industry. And you know, some of our industries are, you know, fairly large. And so you can track these changes that have a fairly statistically significant level, others are smaller and more granular. But I think outside of sort of industry and industry subcategories, I think, for a lot of consumer focused eCommerce brands, consumer search behaviors are fairly predictable across a period of a year or two. You have newsworthy events, emerging trends, things like that can drive change in a shorter period of time. But overall, you can expect people a consumers to be fairly similar in terms of their pattern of search behaviors year over year. You know, we saw a lot of movement up and down on the SEO side of things in terms of search volume, and accelerated changes in search behavior as a result of the various pandemic cycles. And some, that's sort of a good example of kind of a recent newsworthy thing that maybe would have been changing a little bit faster than that.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  9:26

And it's interesting that you didn't play the Google algorithm algorithm for some reason. Berg, you know, the ongoing SEO again, given the focus, obviously, of this call, you know, how it's impacted eCommerce brands.


Jordan Brannon  9:37

Yeah, it's a little ironic, I think. A lot of brands do have to invest in ongoing SEO more significantly due to algorithm updates than they should. You know, I think, again, that sort of exposes a bit of a fault. And I think that has a bit to do with bad strategy and execution. And I think when When SEO is done, right, and it's done right, consistently, algorithm updates should not have that big of an impact on your SEO budget or strategy. I mean, for the majority of our clients where we've had greater than six months of engagement, maybe with them, where we've had a chance to sort of clean up and kind of put things in order, we really have to make nominal adjustments or pivots to their campaigns as a consequence of what happens as an algorithm update. We do sort of do the wait and see what's going to happen. But, but by and large, the history that we have over the last 13 years now, is that we just don't have to make a lot of big movement or pivots to their campaign just as a result of what Google's doing.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  10:35

It seems to me that it's been a little bit busier than usual, in terms of the algorithm updates, or at least, it seems significant enough that it's making more of a headway, like within, like marketing news cycles. And is that fair to say? No,


Jordan Brannon  10:50

I think so. I think the last few years, maybe predating 2022, maybe the tail end of 2021, they've been a little quieter. You know, for people who've been doing SEO or dabbling in SEO for a longer period of time. You know, I think there's sort of, you know, some big named updates, if you were in in 2010 to 2015, every year there was, you know, some big names update that came out and just devastated everybody in a room sort of picking up the pieces afterwards. But the last couple of years, it's been, I think, somewhat quiet comparatively. And I think the pace of late has seemed to accelerate in 2022, late 2021. And there's been several core updates that have rolled out in a tighter time period. And so yeah, I think maybe there is a bit more happening than usual.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  11:39

And what do you think is driving the busier than usual?


Jordan Brannon  11:43

Yeah, I think, you know, part of it is, you know, a response to sort of what's happening in digital marketing as a whole. You know, I think, you know, it's just a busier year, you know, from a technological standpoint, it's from a customer behavior standpoint. And in some ways, Google is sort of, you know, catching up. And some of that is out trickling down into its algorithm, and how Google views sort of the health and state of its core search product.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  12:10

So do you think these updates tell us about Google's view on its algorithm? Yeah,


Jordan Brannon  12:18

I mean, I think if you're looking at it from like, a Google product standpoint, you know, I think, I think Google is sort of feeling maybe more pressure to improve its search results, especially when people are in that research and information gathering phase. You know, for the last few years, Google's maybe the last five, Google's really been pressured in a lot of its search products with increasing competition. I have a Google speaker in the background, which is now dropping on me. But the but so they felt a lot of pressure on their search products. And that's really left, sort of their informational and discovery audiences, the one that they're most secure with. And so you know, most secure doesn't mean that it doesn't have a threat or risk to it. And they felt that they needed to try and keep things in a more smooth stuff. So I think there's a bit of a housekeeping in trying to make sure they're still that go to source on that informational research query over other competitors out there. Got it.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  13:15

So can you run us through a timeline, perhaps of the more meaningful algorithm updates that happened this year? And maybe after that, we can talk about, you know, a good synopsis for each? Yeah, sorry, I


Jordan Brannon  13:28

think, you know, kind of looking at maybe the last 12 months, we had the November 2021, there was a core update, it didn't really have a big impact across websites, we didn't see a lot of really dramatic movement. What we did see there, and this is something we'll touch on a little bit later, was it seemed to sort of help build Google's awareness of sort of the entities that are publishing content, maybe across websites. So authors don't necessarily stick to one website or only, or company, maybe it has influence across more than one web property. And so Google was looking at that, as it relates to this is an entity type that isn't really well addressed in terms of search results today. The March 2022 algorithm update was part of what we call the Pru or product review updates. And this one is actually quite relevant to eCommerce merchants, especially if you use affiliates or publishers to help drive a lot of traffic. The goal of the Pru updates is it's really aimed to surface sort of the the review type content that is the best for specific types of queries. So if I'm searching for the best running shoe, most comfortable running shoe that's waterproof or best, you know, Northwest trail shoe, a lot of the content today you'll see a sort of research oriented product review website. And so Google was sort of digging in to what they view as being a really successful product review page. Short page experience, the May 22 update, which was again this year 2022, was launched in end of May and ran into early June. And it was really about rewarding pages that were well made, and well sort of structured in such a way that they could really address the search query holistically. Again, this is called a core update. And so whenever you hear me sort of use that term, or someone use that term, it generally means that it's not necessarily about you did one thing right or wrong on your website. But it's really evaluating Google evaluating how it decides what should rank for a particular search query or type of search query, and sort of a reprioritization of the page factors that drive ranking for Google more than it is sort of like, your bad or your good, it's more than rethinking what should matter in terms of the ranking algorithm for a particular search term, that August 2020, to one which a lot of people have heard about, and some people are being hit by, but not as many as maybe we thought that was sort of a spooky one. You know, in the SEO industry, for a few reasons. One, it was announced pretty well in advance, which Google doesn't always do. It had its own title. And so anytime Google puts a name on it, you know, you get a little bit more kind of antsy towards what's happening. And it was also noted as being a site wide impact. So that always creates a little bit of panic for SEOs out there, especially ones that are maybe gaming the system more than they should, because what Google is saying is that we're not just going to sort of, you know, lower a particular URL in your website's ranking, there's a possibility that your whole domain experiences a negative fall off as a result of what happens here, or perhaps uplift. And so I think that sort of was one that again, kind of spooked everybody and kind of got a really running, it was aimed at sort of, you know, really challenging sites to produce better quality content, avoid what we call spun content, or AI generated content that's pretty shallow, doesn't read very logically, again, maybe fits certain keywords in hits, a lot of the SEO sort of metrics call is not really well written by humans. And then we have one that just started rolling out, that should have just finished recently, but started on September 12. Core update. And if the original timeline held, then you know, I think sometime early this week, it would have wrapped up. So that's sort of the series that we've had of late.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  17:26

It's a lot in like, of those, which do you think are the most significant? And why


Jordan Brannon  17:32

is that? Yes, so far, I think the May algorithm update seems to have been the most widespread for our clients, which is, I think, telling from it that, again, that eCommerce focus. Now, I'll kind of caveat this by saying that a lot of times with core updates, they take time, so Google is making an update, and that's going to have a trickle down impact that isn't necessarily visible immediately. And so I know a lot of our clients, you know, we're tracking very regularly to see what the impact is. But our expectation is, is that this will really be something where you're going to see it being more actionable on the timescale of several months, rather than, you know, hopefully a big drop in one area. Now, if you see a core update hits you in one particular area. Again, there may be some SEO strategy items we want to talk about, we probably will talk about it later today. But I think for us, because we saw sort of eCommerce sites being hit by the may update or you know, benefited by the may update. It was unique, in part because, you know, a lot of eCommerce sites are not as dependent on SEO as others. And so in sort of the grand scheme of SEO, emphasis and focus, eCommerce sites are important, but they're really not necessarily the biggest ones. If you look at sort of that research and informational website that you know, supposed to help you find the best something or answer a question you have about a product or a service or just an informational topic. Those types of sites usually are the ones we see the most movement in terms of these updates, because they're just so built on a search ranking, really driving, whether they're succeeding in a big way or failing in a big way. And so, I think, you know, sometimes, you know, the SEO community tends to emphasize those and so to see a bit more of a conversation shop around what's happening in eCommerce sites, specifically, what was a little bit interesting.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  19:27

Instead, from that, like, who can you talk specifics of who benefited from that may algorithm update and who harmed


Jordan Brannon  19:35

again, biggest movements happened in a few different categories? And I think, really, if you think about sort of things that are highly important in terms of someone's personal well being, we have acronyms inside of SEO to this but but really think about like health and wellness, fitness, nutrition, medically related, financially related, sort of large or financial purchases, you know, homes, you know, credit related things, really, we saw the sort of the biggest movement in those categories. And there was sort of a sense, which we've talked a lot about, in terms of our strategy that Google does sort of take this gatekeeper role to help and finance content or products pretty seriously and want site owners to take that seriously as well. And so we saw some fallout impact for eCommerce sites that maybe were in particular categories, sort of, on the fringes of that as well, like, so kind of one common one is like, we think that we have what we call vise products. And so, you know, certain types of CVD, tobacco products, alcohol products, you know, again, you know, we have some clients who are big on outdoor gear hunting outdoor lifestyle, we have one client who does collectible weaponry, like swords as an example. And so again, sort of were hit by this update, or benefited from this update. Because, you know, Google sort of lump them in with this sort of overall well being overall life experience sort of category update.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  21:13

So then what happens to those sites? I mean, is it positive or negative? Yeah,


Jordan Brannon  21:18

I think probably the biggest negative impact happened for how Google handled certain keywords. And so it wasn't again, necessarily directly about the site itself, but about the keyword and how Google treated the keyword. And so kind of an example, if you look at like a word like vitamin right now, you know, intuitively, all of us sort of understand that vitamin is a hugely broad topic, as soon as we sort of get past that first, you know, thought, it is a product, you know, that people will consume. There's a lot of different types of vitamins out there. So there's a lot of different products. But there's also just a lot of different vitamins that are tied to specific medical needs or health concerns or things that we want to improve in our health. And so what we saw was an A, it's really High search volume, too. So it's not like it's just like a small thing that nobody is looking for. We saw that Google elevated sites that had more of a scientific and medical research background, rather than those with an eCommerce intent. And so for some eCommerce sites that, you know, on a term like that had been able to hold a competitive top three, top five ranking nationally, you know, on average, you know, they found that they were replaced in that sort of focus area, and that sort of the real kind of heavy click through area by sites like the National Institute of Health, you know, that had sort of a research article on our vitamins, good for you, should you take vitamins who should take vitamins, where should you buy vitamins, all these sorts of things, and those got elevated inside of that type of search query, and they they leapfrogged ahead. And if you're an eCommerce site, you're used to sort of having all the traffic and subsequent conversions from that. It can, it can really lead to big losses pretty quickly, that can be very jarring. And I think, you know, ultimate on the SEO front that one of the areas that, you know, they can be the hardest to respond to, because you didn't necessarily do anything wrong from an SEO perspective. Google, this is sort of changed the game, you thought you're playing football. And now Google is saying, Well, we're really looking for, you know, competent soccer players. And and it's sort of said, this is the type of site we want to rank more in this type of search query than you, frankly. And so that is a big, big problem for some SEOs. And for some brands.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  23:35

That's a facet. And so how does Coalition approach that type of problem?


Jordan Brannon  23:41

A lot of it starts with the actual keyword strategy inside of what we're doing from an SEO standpoint, so what are the keywords we're choosing? And I'll hedge this answer a bit. You know, if your goal is to make money as an eCommerce site, which most was like calendar, it makes financial sense, at some points to pursue a term now that, you know, is maybe riskier for you in the long run in terms of your opportunity to sort of hold that ranking. My caveat there is, you know, don't bet your house on it, you know, so if you're sort of all in on a term that is very risky, and that's really going to drive a lot of what happens for your business, you know, understand that that's sort of what's at stake, you know, for a vitamin example, an eCommerce site that was able to hold that ranking for a year or two, like they had a lot of customers they were able to acquire had a lot of orders, there's a lot of revenue that came in, we would hope that there's sort of that clear communication from the SEO team, to sort of the rest of the marketing department and the brand as a whole, that this is just not a stable building block for the business unless they pivot into that information and research side of things very heavily, probably in a way that is detrimental to the eCommerce experience. And so, for us, we're looking at trying to identify keywords that have that strong cover initial intent, so people are likely to buy on that keyword or transact, not always a purchase. And our client has a clear long term value offering for it. So it's something where we see they're going to be able to offer competitive value to searchers of that term, not only now, but for the next two to three years.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  25:23

Why that long of a time period?


Jordan Brannon  25:26

Yeah, I mean, moving upwards in search rankings, where you get to that point where you have a high click through rate takes time, each time you sort of move to the top of a page in search results that near to the top of that page, whether it's first or second page, you're going to see a pretty dramatic increase in click through rates. So you know, for some brands today, where your page five, the goal maybe isn't necessarily to be a top three a page one right away, but top of page two will represent usually a pretty significant click through rain, you can actually see sometimes a drop back and number of clicks at the bottom of page one versus top of page two, just because of that human behavior. So getting to that point where getting those higher click through rates can can take time. And so the peak ROI on SEO on a particular keyword usually isn't going to happen till a year and a half or two years later, even if a desirable ranking is achieved, you know, maybe nine to 12 months. And so if our client or prospective client doesn't really have a commitment to that term for much longer than a year, we're already sort of squeezing on the ROI opportunity doesn't mean you can't see a positive return. It just means that all right, opportunity, that window is that much tighter.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  26:32

In Can you provide an example of that in a real world? Yeah,


Jordan Brannon  26:36

yeah, yeah, for sure. We had a, a women's fashion boutique that we started working with, that had a really sizable social media following good local recognition, strong catalog competitive price across all the earmarks of a successful eCommerce. You know, a successful eCommerce brand, like, you know, they're they're doing most of those things, right. And so when we were looking at initially engaging with them, we were looking at their product categories and their selection, we saw that they had a lot of early opportunity, that said maxi dresses, as a category was going to be a good one for us to focus on, they're again, in sort of a relatively competitive positioning, they get a fair bit of social media conversation, that's helping their products or, you know, stylish, their price point affordable, they have enough of a selection inside of that category, to have inventory availability. You know, those products tended to be a little bit more seasonally independent, meaning you know, it's not like a swimwear piece where it's very seasonal. And so, you know, putting a big investment on SEO isn't going to pay year round. And so we liked all of those things about it, we discussed that with with them, from a client strategy standpoint, their marketing team, you know, they signed off as sort of being one of our initial keywords to prioritize, got good search volume, good commercial intent, all of those sorts of things. And so we thought this is a really good place to be now, in a nine to 10 months in, again, coming from a healthy website, health eCommerce, putting we're trending towards six figures, annual GMV, from just that sort of body of keywords. And it was really covering our costs from as a marketing agency in terms of what we were doing and didn't even address and the other keywords we're working on as well. But what we did find within two seasons was that that keyword, not so much, but it was de emphasized was we kept working on from an SEO standpoint, but we saw them really cutting back on the amount of product they're buying in that category. inventory levels, were dropping the number of sizes, styles was dropping, the way that they were showcasing that product, in terms of some of their social media content drop, really all without sort of talking to us. And that sort of is an area where again, this sort of window for that particular product to be really viable from an SEO standpoint, started to sort of become, you know, a loser, right, we were starting to lose positioning as a result of that.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  29:00

So can you tie that back to some of the recent algorithm updates, and then how a brand should take that loss and respond to it and how they look ahead?


Jordan Brannon  29:10

So I think first, maybe assuming that you're taking a loss in search rankings, it means you've held a desirable ranking, right? So if you are noticing that you've been hit by an algorithm update, and it's costing you something, you've got something to pay attention to. And so that sort of does tell me at least that you believe in the value of SEO, you think of SEO as being important, and perhaps that's why people are here today. And so I think probably the biggest thing I would say, you know, to learn from that is to really make sure that you're properly valuing SEO as part of your customer experience, part of your, you know, your marketing, your merchandising and your buying strategy. You know, if that hasn't been the case, that may actually be part of what's influencing your success and that loss and so, exposing SEO To the other areas of your business and allowing SEO to have influence in them is important or at a very minimum, better communication around those things to your SEO agency or team or person is really necessary. Because again, if they don't have that insight, these sorts of core updates and these sorts of algorithm updates will continue to sort of undercut what they're doing. I think a big downfall, a lot of SEO companies, and one we can struggle with, again, is brands often have a clear value in terms of dollars on SEO, but it's treated like it's insignificant until it's too late. You know, if organic search rankings are driving 40% of revenue, then your SEO strategies should have a pretty heavy input on your conversations about how to do digital marketing, how to do website updates, how to do content, updates, how to merchandise your products, how to promote your products, those sorts of things, rather than the things that tend to be more brand forward, and are a little more buzzy and splashy, like you know, social media posts getting all of the attention. So if you go back to sort of recent algorithm updates, and if you did take that loss, at first look at why you lost, you know, if you didn't have a strong competitive value, from a content perspective on that keyword you lost on, then you need to sort of evaluate whether you can ever offer a competitive value on that keyword or not. So again, you can sometimes rank and really not be all that competitive, or all that valuable to that search user. And this is really what Google is trying to get rid of inside of its algorithms. So there is an antagonistic thing here, if that's if you know you're not offering a value, and you're not able to offer value, and perhaps you don't really have an intention, you're just trying to capture the biggest share of the audience to hopefully get them to convert, you're going to always be in a position where you're on your heels, and you're you're sort of in this combative, combative relationship with Google. Now, if you can offer that value. So if you can improve what you're doing or address your strategy in such a way, and then you'd probably at that point, you don't need to change your keyword strategy. But you need to look at how you market on that keyword. If you can't pick a different keyword where you're more effective, and you offer a bit of a better value proposition. And so when you're focused on the right keyword in eCommerce, you want to look at at the sort of the different ways that Google sees you establishing value. First, I'd say Google looks at sort of the volume of higher investment content, the authority of your on site voices. So again, these these people that are associated to your brand, or your brand's voice, indicators of, of public buy in for your content and public belief in the value of your content, and authority of your content within your industry. So those sort of those four things, I think are really relevant to pay attention to in terms of these updates that we've seen. And if you address those, you'll cover a lot of the gaps that have been exposed, you know, recently, and maybe were exposed as a part of what happened with this recent algorithm update.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  33:01

So the volume of unique high investment content, can you walk us through that? Yeah, yeah. So


Jordan Brannon  33:09

I think there are a few qualifiers that are attached there inside of just the phrasing. Volume is first, you know, Google looks at both the some of the content on your site relating to a particular query to help evaluate your authority on that topic. So again, if you have more pages of content associated to that particular keyword or keyword topic that helps. Now I'll kind of caveat this here, because this is a mistake that some eCommerce brands make mistake. And even SEO is making mistake of this is not just about unique SEO, blog posts or things, but having a volume of products that are in stock, and are around pretty consistently, that factors into sort of this content catalog that Google is looking for. And so content can mean product detail pages, it can mean category or collection pages, it can mean different things along those lines. And so I would also sort of note, maybe a little bit of a double meaning there to high volume, pages of content with more content, tend to perform better in almost every search. So more written texts, more pictures, more video will all have a bearing on your ranking. If you look at Amazon product detail pages, and you go back to where they were 10 years ago to where they are today. There is enormous increases in the volume of content that is being not only leveraged to help promote Amazon inside of Google searches. It's also being promoted by Amazon as part of their search ranking, not even necessarily for Amazon's own benefit because Amazon because Amazon realizes that this helps them in inside of Google searches. And so that that volume of content is important when you can make it make sense. Uniqueness is really important. If Google feels that your content is broadly available elsewhere that it's going to diminish the ability of your content to be positively influential on your ranking. Now, if you've been doing SEO for a while one, I don't know, mythology, I guess that sort of has existed, it used to be a real thing and has sort of evolved in its own thing is sort of conversations around duplicate content penalties. And we don't really have those in the same way that we used to back in 2014 2015. You know, Google would be more aggressive and penalizing brands are really where you're using a lot of the same content elsewhere. For eCommerce that was really tough, right? If you're carrying Nike and Adidas and Reebok product, then all of a sudden you have product descriptions from them that are being used across the internet. So it makes us susceptible to sort of a duplicate content penalty. But Google sort of recognizes that, you know, carrying other brands products and their descriptions doesn't actually harm, the value, it just is not providing a net uplift. And so you can have lots of duplicate content. But you also have to sort of recognize that all of that content just really doesn't factor in all that much in terms of a positive uplift for you in terms of your ranking. And so I usually say really good exercise for brands, if you're sort of thinking about, well, how much valuable content do I have on a page related to a page? What happens if you do get rid of any of that duplicate material? Now, one area, I would say, to look at maybe incorporating duplicate content is in areas when it helps you sort of bring in higher investment type of content. So for a lot of brands, they are just sort of copying product descriptions and texts. And that's actually fairly easy for someone to rewrite and make unique, right, it's really easy to optimize text at scale. But it's often harder for brands to sort of take all new photos or do video. And so if your manufacturer or your supplier is producing additional photography, additional videography that you're not necessarily using as part of your PDPs, or part of your category and collection pages or other sort of content you're creating, look at bringing that in. Yes, it is duplicate. But ultimately, Google is sort of looking for a more holistic, sort of higher investment and in content. So if you can't produce a lot of unique video content, yourself or a lot of photography, but you do have a supplier or manufacturer who can look at bringing that in, that can really help, you know, sort of increase the perceived value of what you're doing. higher investment content does not mean you are telling Google how much you spent to produce this one page. And so if you look at sort of sites that are really doing well, today, you'll often see that they have a pretty consistent pattern of creating high authority pages that you know, has a combination of photography, videography, texts, some social media tie in and promotion, you know, link building, again, still relevant, but not as much as it used to be user generated content and ongoing updates. And so all you do all of those things, well, it just means a page is going to cost more so.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  38:02

Yeah, and that's such great insight, especially coming from the world I remember of like, you can't duplicate content, Google's gonna get mad at you don't do that. No, like you can. It's not helping, but it's not going to penalize you anymore. Yeah. Very cool. So all of that sounds very expensive. Is that something brands need to be able to budget for state like the sitewide. Budget?


Jordan Brannon  38:27

Yeah, that's a good question. So this is actually one of the things that we maybe do better than a lot of SEO's is we're really focusing on on a few keywords and a few key pages is sort of the starting point. And then things sort of work off of that. And once we've sort of created a really strong foundation, that gives us sort of that launch point to expand into additional keywords and additional topics for authority. A big change that is not well enough, advertised in the SEO industry in SEO publications is that Google increasingly is focused on a page by page basis evaluation, and maybe sometimes a category by category evaluation more than it is looking at site wide evaluations. Now, again, site wide evaluations do happen, but they are usually sort of the finer tip. So as someone who is ranking one versus three, that site wide evaluation probably plays more of a role than someone who's on the first page or not. And so you can get to the first page, you can get to competitive positioning with really great single URLs or couple of URLs. But not necessarily having the highest sort of site wide authority. You know, whenever someone starts to talk about domain authority, usually it tells me that there's a bit of an SEO sales pitch that's happening. You know, someone has sort of sold them on a particular software tool that really doesn't necessarily reflect, you know, what actually is going to drive success or reflect what got them to be successful. And so maybe kind of talking about the expense side of things. I think one of the great ways for eCommerce brands to decrease the cost of those pages, and increase the number of pages meeting that higher volume, higher investment criteria is through user generated content or UGC. And this is an area where you should really allow SEOs to have a bit more say in that eCommerce strategy, customer experience strategy and what's happening outside of just a website experience. Because really meaningful investments, and UGC can feed really long term viable URLs across a much bigger cross section of your site than you could do on your own. On site reviews are critical, but they're also sort of the low hanging fruit. They're also hugely beneficial outside of just SEO, naturally, if I'm reviewing a particular shoe and want to use keywords that are relevant to that shoe, just in terms of talking about it good or bad. So there's sort of the SEO value there, but they also help assure buyers of their purchasing decisions. And so it helps, you know, increase your conversion rates, it helps reduce returns, it helps increase satisfaction with your brand. And all of those things are kind of a big uplift everywhere else. And so, if you're in an industry, where there's a fast fashion sort of turnaround, where your products are in and out, seasonally, pretty quickly, you know, focus on review generation, or UGC that is less about that particular product, and can be aggregated in a way that is more beneficial for the store or for the brand or for a particular category or collection. You know, so again, if you're, you know, turn selling a maxi dress that is very seasonal, it's going to be gone by the end of summer, or the end of fall and winter. Focus, not necessarily on how many reviews you can get on that product, detail page, but how many reviews you have in that collection, or that category or for your store in general. And again, think beyond just sort of those written reviews, you know, getting photos, getting videos, getting questions and answers, getting sizing advice, getting rating criteria for, you know, particular features of your product or your service, you know, shipping experience, packaging, shipping timelines, all of that can be really helpful in terms of generating very rich SEO content. And then segmenting that content to the most relevant pages also really plays a big role in how successful it'll be in terms of influencing your SEO page. So again, incorporating shipping comments on your cart, and checkout those reviews can be really helpful in driving that conversion rate, in terms of creating additional benefit that way. Very cool.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  42:28

So we are already being close to time, which is crazy. So maybe we could bullet some of the biggest takeaways as a whole, with the last algorithm updates and how brands can act on them after our call today. And then we do have a couple of questions that want to get to as well. Sure.


Jordan Brannon  42:46

So first, I think maybe bullets like really evaluate the keywords you're focusing on from an SEO standpoint and a pet and really making that evaluation whether you can create a competitive value to the searchers around that term. Now, if you aren't necessarily the SEO person, but you're the marketing director or brand manager, and you know, SEO drives a lot of money understanding what those keywords are, because it is potentially a threat. Right. And right now, with all the instability we have, we don't need extra threats out there. And so if you're looking at your keyword list that are driving ranking, and you don't feel like your brand is offering a real competitive value there, understand that that is a bit of a risk. And so diversifying your keyword strategy could be valuable to you in terms of creating sustained SEO growth and avoiding that negative outcome. If you are confident in your keyword selection, focus on prioritizing keywords that you do offer that best value on and again sort of match up to that high value commercial opportunity. Remember, the sort of best value in terms of your content does not mean you have the best prices, although pricing is increasing a factor for certain product searches. But like if especially if it's related to price, you know, cheap, inexpensive, whatever, luxury, you know, there's certain things where pricing may become more explicitly into play. But it is about sort of your ability to create something that is uniquely valuable selection quality shipping timelines, style in terms of fashion brands, home fashions, again, sort of the current aesthetics and decor. And once you have those keywords picked, you know, sort of work on some of the following things you know, first is your site and have some authority on this topic. Now look into creating additional content on your site or increasing the content on the page as you already have. look at ways to sort of build that persona type authority which I touched on at the top of the call. A lot of eCommerce brands miss this. If you think about people rank now as much as sites do so having a higher authority, fashion influencer, helping to create content per site, putting their name on it can actually be a good way to get a site to rank increasingly on a term and even if they're not necessarily an ongoing contributor or someone who is really a part of that. So brand ambassador program I'm taking the the brand owner or buyers or style decision makers and making them a part of that SEO content you're creating can really help Google increase the authority against sort of other sites that maybe have better domain authority and things like that. Also look at sort of non SEO ways to improve value. So social media content is a great area for you to examine. Again, one of things I touched on earlier is Google's looking at entities outside of a single domain. And so if your brand has a footprint, and a lot of places, Google knows that, and it's going to credit some of what you're doing in those places towards the SEO elsewhere, that's happening on your site. And so if your social media team is not doing anything to promote your products, where you're putting that SEO emphasis, they're probably undercutting some of your future opportunities from an SEO standpoint, building links again, you know, good, good. SEOs are not really concerned with the volume of links, they're getting so much as they're concerned about the authority of the origin point, and how relevant it is to that original keyword focus and destination. And I'll just sort of caveat this because it's one we fight against a lot. Links are decreasingly valuable, over time, and in the broader sort of timeline of Google links are sort of a diminishing thing diminishing return for a lot. And so if you're heavy on the link building strategy, you're probably trying to do too much to sort of get movement uphill. And then I would also just consider how you can increase sort of the unique value your brand is offering. And this is, again, a sort of SEOs having input in areas where maybe they traditionally don't. So can we add more products to our product mix on this? Can we introduce certain brand collaborations that are more relevant to this particular keyword? Is there a way to sort of get better user engagement and reviews for products that we're really focusing on from an SEO standpoint? You know, is our photography as it relates to these particular keywords or videography a part of the budget and part of the plan? Or is this sort of being left on its own, it's, you know, handling itself will focus on stuff that's trending for social media or TikTok instead. And, you know, the SEO sort of thing gets kind of left behind. And so I think those things can really be helpful in terms of preventing a algorithm loss in the future, or even recovering from from someone who's been hit so far.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  47:17

That's awesome, fantastic information. So I believe correct me if I'm wrong Coalition will be offering a complimentary service to be BWG attendees to look at some of these things. Is that correct?


Jordan Brannon  47:29

Yep. So we have a 10 hour towards an audit on SEO has an initial phone call, we can do a sort of a dig into sort of if you'd were hit by an algorithm update, why? And what is sort of the upside, you know, that you can look into, we can look at sort of strategy towards core web vitals, but we can also apply it elsewhere. So if you're concerned about you know, things like ADA, Pay Per Click, email marketing, Site Security, maybe you kind of have a lot of technical debt tied to plugins, there's a lot of different ways that we can help you through other people. And so we can apply that time for BWG attendees, we do have a quick call just to sort of evaluate some of that and determine where that time should be best used. But a real good actionable sort of set of suggestions there.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  48:13

Yeah. I mean, we have a couple minutes for some questions. And there's some good ones here in queue. So we'll start at the top here. So can we talk a little bit about how SEO doesn't equal Google anymore? And some of the optimizations for one platform you do doesn't always scale to the rest?


Jordan Brannon  48:35

Yeah, that's, that's actually a really good point. So one of the things I sort of touched on as to the reason why Google is making some of these updates, and that sort of feels pressure from other search engines that are taking more market share. And so you know, as it relates to this conversation, you know, Amazon is probably the biggest of the search engines, you know, in direct competition to Google, you know, it takes a lot of that sort of that bottom of funnel, you know, sort of search query out of Google and puts it into the Amazon search tool. And I will note that some of the algorithm updates I've touched on in some ways, I think, are designed to somewhat sort of move Amazon a little bit back in search, which is sort of an interesting way that maybe, you know, Google is improving its product quality, but also improving its competitive positioning. But yeah, there is a lot of other search engines that are very relevant depending on the business that you're in. So highlighted in the question was Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Play Store and iTunes. I think one thing I would note is that, as it pertains to Google, especially Google is increasingly good at finding you everywhere that you are online, if it's public, and so Google has the ability to crawl a lot of content from other websites or web platforms, or apps. And we'll continue to do that and we'll find factor that into how you rank. And so if there are, you know, again for like home fashions, you know, like how do I create this particular look, Google has a big market share, but so does Pinterest. And so considering how your Pinterest content is being crawled and how well it focuses on the same keywords is what you want to be focusing on. And Google can be a really powerful SEO strategy. And so yes, each of these does have their sort of own search tool. In general, a lot of them are fairly similar in terms of, you know, the type of metrics they look for, they're very, very similar in concept. It's just the particular application, you know, tick tock, you know, Klout is a little different than, you know, Google Page Authority and how that's affected and how it's affected. If you look at sort of what actually makes that makes happen. There's some similarities between how both companies look at the problems you address, one usually can find something that's going to help in another area, too. That's a really good question, though.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  50:54

Great question. Then we have another interesting question. So on the duplicating content side, how does it relate to companies that have multiple pages for individual locations, often with a large concentration on shared content? So for example, like hospitals or clinics, medical services? Yep. Yeah, so


Jordan Brannon  51:13

that's a good one. And so there's a lot of different strategies. And some of these Google has actually created or encouraged in a way to help them better understand. So a lot of doing a lot of like the tagging behaviors that your SEOs will encourage you to do. And we talked about schema, we talked about tagging your site was something a lot of that is more Google oriented. And it's not Google oriented in a way that's intended to be manipulative. And but it is intended to sort of help Google better understand how this fits into your content library. And so kind of looking at situations like with individual locations, as much as possible, we will encourage you for those individual services with their specific locations to try and have a independent page that is uniquely optimized. Now, if that does not offer any sort of meaningful value to that particular customer. Or if you're going to struggle to create meaningful value, that better strategy can be to go back to a single page focus that covers that particular service. And then look at other ways of sort of highlighting location. So for a lot of brands, we approach this with kind of a bifurcated navigation strategy. So you have your location based navigation on the site. So if I'm looking for Boston as my priority as a search user, and that's how most of your consumers will be be shopping, that have some sort of call out and your main navigation and in your homepage that leads people into this sort of navigation based Well, I'm looking for Boston providers of my mammogram services, you know, near me in that flow. Now, the other side of that is that people also search for the service. And so start with the service. And again, introduce that as part of your top level navigation, and allow the reverse to happen now. Rather than trying to sort of create both of those funnels, where they're super wide at the top Boston first and they can you cover all your services there just as a lot. And then we talk about your services, and we get to locations, the better strategy is to build internal links between the two, or there's a commonality. So when we talk about Boston Medical Services, you know, those should end up at the same page, regardless of sort of what that top level navigation was. So that's a really good way to reduce duplicate content, reduce your level of effort and increase the value of that destination page and each of those regions when you do that.


Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  53:28

I hope that helps. Very good. Jordan, as always, you're a rockstar, always a wealth of information greatly appreciated. So we definitely encourage a follow up conversation with Coalition Technologies, take advantage of the complimentary service that they're looking to provide to everybody that attended today. We'd love to have a conversation with you as well. So feel free to drop me a line And with that, it's a wrap. Take care everyone. Have a good weekend, and we'll see you on the next event.

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