Posts in On-line advertising category:

What to do with the expired content from an e-commerce web site? (Video)

In Matt Cutts’ latest video (on 17th March 2014) he is talking about what should e-commerce web sites do about products which are not longer available (discontinued products).


What should sites do with pages for products that are no longer available? on YouTube published by Google Webmasters on March 17, 2014

This is the first time when Matt Cutts is recommending the “404 Page Not Found”. Is this the right solution? Depends. It is true, he is recommending them in a specific area: for the e-commerce product pages which are copied from somewhere else… the type of pages in which you do not put a lot of effort in terms of content and therefore they are not so valuable for SEO.

SEO is about hard work, about doing everything right, you do not want the Search Engine Crawlers to visit your web site and discover that some of your content is not there any more. And of course, like Matt Cutts said, you do not want to annoy users with messages like “We cannot help you”, “We do not sell this product any more” or “We have wasted your time”.

How to handle the expired content or e-commerce discontinued products

1. Serve a Custom 404 Error Page where you recommend users something else: sections of your web site or Product Categories. I am not recommending it 100%: web sites lose the link juice, not totally okay with Search Engines either, but at least you will have a chance to convert customers.

2. Do a “HTTP Error 410 Gone”, you are saying that you removed on purpose the page and are not providing a redirect URL (Still not 100% recommended, the user will be left with nothing until the page will be permanently removed by the Search Engine, and of course, you lose the link juice.

3. Do a “HTTP 301 Move Permanently” (Redirect), you are permanently redirecting the content to another product page. In my opinion, this is the solution that needs to be adopted by everyone who are thinking every time about user experience and SEO. You are putting more effort in finding the right content where you will redirect your page, but both users and Search Engines will get something useful: users will get a similar product page and Search Engines will not wonder what happened with the expired content (you will not lose the link juice either).
There is a small disadvantage to this solution: by redirecting a lot of content you will affect the server’s performance. And we all know by now that site speed is a SEO ranking factor.

In the end, to put it simple: do not go with default 404 Error Pages, try 301 Redirects which are very good for small and medium size e-commerce web sites (as long it is not affecting your site speed too much). For the big web sites it is not an ideal scenario and it is an entire different topic.

Risk management in PPC Advertising

Risk management in PPC Advertising

I am going to refer on this article more to risk management for advertising platforms like Google Adwords or Yahoo! Bing Network Contextual Ads. Here the bidding system is relatively easy to understand: highest bidder with quality ads will be displayed first.

The risk in PPC advertising comes from competitors. If one or more competitors will increase the bidding cost for certain keywords / expressions and you want a certain (first) position guaranteed, then it is a risk that you can reach the bottom very fast and end up with a inefficient PPC campaign.

What can be done?

Before answering this question, maybe we can ask ourselves “Why is our competitor is bidding that high?”. One answer is because he is irrational and he does not really understands the mechanics of PPC, or because he has a lot of money to spend and wants to eliminate any competition.

So what can you do? You can always work on the quality of your ads. Or you can always find new traffic from other keywords. But if this does not work and if you have budget limitations, you have to pass the comfort zone and be satisfied with the position bellow. In PPC advertising, the budget for the second position is calculated based on the third position, not on the first one. You have to be patient until your irrational competitor will finish his budget (because obviously, if he will engage into irrational bidding, he will soon face the fact that his bidding has not economically viable).

But what about when almost all of your competitors are deciding to raise their bids on a certain keywords / expressions that you once controlled? Are they all chaotic or irrational? Maybe it is a clue that they know something you do not know. Maybe their behaviour is not random and the advantage comes from a point of view still unexplored by you.

The standard team structure of an e-commerce web site

Startup structure for an e-commerce business

In a start-up business, the people hired have to be versatile. A person has to possess a variety of skills and can be involved in any part of the business, whenever is necessary. This is the beauty of an on-line e-commerce start-up: not only that each day can offer you a different experience, but you can also improve in a lot of skills. The model presented bellow can apply to a lot of e-commerce start-ups, but it is not necessarily the most efficient structure for any type of on-line shop.

In my opinion, a standard structure can be:

  • 2 persons always on web site management and product uploading (with the skills of an web site administrator: knowledge about HTML, CSS, image manipulation (in Adobe Photoshop ideally) and have some copywriting skills);
  • 1 person in touch with manufacturers and customer’s orders (this person is customer orientated, has excellent communication and organizational skills, initiative, with impeccable work ethic and financial skills);
  • 1 person in on-line sales (with HTML, CSS, on-line marketing skills (SEA, SEM, Social Media, Analytics), excellent communication skills: sending emails, preparing newsletters and promotions for customer loyalty and converting abandoned orders);
  • 1 e-commerce manager in charge of on-line and sales strategy, ideally a person with both technical and on-line marketing skills. Of course, project management and financial skills are necessary as well.

I haven’t mentioned about a web site development person, as this can be outsourced. Initially, an e-commerce platform have to be built or customized, and after, different modules will be bespoke developed.
What about you? What are your thoughts?