FTC is Cracking Down on Fake Online Reviews

Oct. 18, 2021

The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against fake online reviews. Fake reviews, both positive and negative, are running the show online.

The FTC sent out a Notice of Penalty Offenses to 700 businesses. Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, and many, many other platforms and e-commerce giants are getting the notice. Here’s the list of the 700 October 2021 recipients of the Notice of Penalty Offenses.

As stated in the notice:

“Receipt of the notice puts your company on notice that engaging in conduct described therein could subject the company to civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.”

The FTC explains that the violations highlighted in the notification can include:

👉 Falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party

👉 Misrepresenting whether an endorser is an actual, current, or recent user

👉 Using an endorsement to make deceptive performance claims

👉 Failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorser

👉 Misrepresenting that the experience of endorsers represents consumers’ typical or ordinary experience.

The FTC has created endorsement guides to provide people information about what disclosures are required to be made between advertisers and endorsers. There are some sections in the guides pertinent to bloggers as well. Following the rules is for everyone, from bloggers to large enterprises.

FTC Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking

“The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. An endorsement must reflect the honest opinion of the endorser and can’t be used to make a claim that the product’s marketer couldn’t legally make.”

The endorsement guides – truth in advertising – apply to all media, including social media.

Whether further legal action will be pursued by the FTC is to be determined. However, as popular as online advertising and marketing has become, it’s perhaps not surprising that there is a move to action by the FTC to keep a level and fair playing field in all advertising.

Alie Jules

Author
Alie Jules
Founder of Strategy x Creative

Google Rolls Out Continuous Scrolling to Search on Mobile

No more tapping to page 2 and beyond on Google search on mobile.

October 15, 2021

LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… the list goes on – – all use continuous scrolling. Just keep scrolling.

Now Google announced that they too are hopping on the continuous scroll bandwagon by bringing it to Google search – on mobile.

Continuous scroll on mobile search Google (example of the scroll in action).

Google says:

“At Google, we are always exploring new ways to help people find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Who doesn’t love a better user experience?

The new update is great for the searcher. It’s more convenient that the “old” way.

You will still see ads, sprinkled into the search, just like you do on the other platforms, so it’s nothing new.

But what about the effects on SEO?

It’s an old joke that you bury the bodies on page 2 of Google search, they won’t be found – nobody goes there.

So if your web pages rank on the 2nd page of Google for some search terms all you hear are 🦗🦗🦗.

Continuous Scroll and SEO

Now, on mobile, your second, or third-page results may get noticed and clicked on.

In other words, you may see some increase in traffic to your website from mobile search.

However, it is to be seen how significant, if any, the effect the endless scroll has on search results beyond the first handful of results.

People can scroll for hours on social platforms, but when you are searching for something specific and not finding it quickly, you are probably, most likely to leave to do another search or adjust your search parameters, which would then yield minimal if any impact for search results past the ten or so first results.

Also.

Keep in mind.

Where does your website’s traffic come from?

Is it predominantly from desktop or mobile?

If the bulk of your visits come from desktops, you still need to be on page 1 of search results to get noticed (preferably at the top of the first page).

From an SEO Perspective

Your SEO efforts should not be focused on getting you to page 2 or page 3 of the search results!

 

The continuous scroll is rolling out for most English searches in the US.

Alie Jules

Author
Alie Jules
Founder of Strategy x Creative

Google Search Testing Short Videos on Desktop

October 11, 2021

Spotted on Google Search – Desktop

Google may be testing with displaying short videos in Google search results. Brodie Clark tweeted that he had spotted a video carousel in the search results. The videos include shorts from YouTube, TikTok and Facebook.

His screenshot below 👇 (search term: easy recipes)

So far I have not heard other reports on this nor have I been able to find any searches with the short videos, but the testing could be in a small scale.

Having said that,

Google was reported testing short videos on mobile end of 2020, so this is not necessarily ‘new’.

I could, absolutely, see Google incorporating short videos in search at a large scale, or across the board in the future. Short videos are a huge trend, so it would make sense for Google search to feature them.

What does this mean for your marketing?

Think about creating short ‘optimized’ videos, whether on TikTok, YouTube, or Facebook. You can of course utilize them on their platforms but they could also make their way to Google search. 

I would keep this possible new Google search feature in mind as it could mean making adjustments to your marketing.

Alie Jules

Author
Alie Jules
Founder of Strategy x Creative

Ecommerce SEO Guide – New Google Documentation

Advanced guide/documentation for e-commerce websites from Google.

September 27, 2021, Google Search Central added new documentation and guides for best e-commerce practices for google search. These guides are a part of Google’s Advanced SEO documentation and are meant for developers who build e-commerce sites.

Even if you are not a developer you can extract tidbits that will help you with your e-commerce website.

Best Practices for Ecommerce in Google Search

John Mu tweet 9-9-21

Advanced Ecommerce SEO Guides

Where ecommerce content can appear on Google

Understand the different surfaces where your ecommerce content can appear.

Your e-commerce content can appear on a variety of surfaces* on Google:
Search
Maps
Images
Google My Business
Shopping

Each of the “surfaces” requires you to follow certain steps that are specific to that surface to help your e-commerce site reach and get found by new customers.

*Surfaces simply mean the different places or locations available on Google search.

TO DO:

Choose the right Google surface/s for your business to help new customers find you!

Create content to meet customer needs.

Share your product data with Google

Decide which method to use when sharing your product data with Google.

Two things.

1. Structured Data

2. Merchant Center

Structured data helps Google understand your pages better. Google uses this data to display product rich results., which means that adding this data help you get your products featured.

Uploading your product data to Google Merchant Center is required if you want to have your products displayed in some Google surfaces e.g. in the Shopping tab.

TO DO:

Add structured data to your website’s product pages.

Upload a feed to Google Merchant Center telling Google which products you want to show on Google.

Include structured data relevant to ecommerce

Help Google understand the meaning of your page with structured data.

Use structured data to help Google understand your web pages content and intent!

In order to do this correctly, it’s important to understand how structured data works. The structured data has to be relevant to e-commerce (there are other types of structured data as well).

E-commerce structured data types include:

LocalBusiness
Product
Review
HowTo
FAQPage
BreadcrumList
Website
VideoObject

TO DO:

Add structured data – specific to e-commerce – to your web pages.

How to launch a new e-commerce website

Strategy + Timing

Follow specific steps laid out by Google to make sure that Google can find your website when you launch your new site.

These steps include:

Verifying your site ownership
Asking Google to index your site
Tracking how Google is indexing your site
Establishing business details with Google if you also have a physical store
Signing up for Google Merchant Center

And finally decide what type of a launch you want to do: soft launch, grand reveal, homepage launce, or launch without product availability.

TO DO:

DO the steps recommended by Google!

Verify your site ownership
Ask Google to index your website
Check that Google can and is indexing your website
Sign up for Google Merchant Center

and

If you have a physical store also, establish your business details with Google

Designing a URL structure for e-commerce sites

Avoid issues related to crawling and URL design specific to e-commerce sites.

URL structure matters – A LOT – for all websites.

Make sure your URL structure is created in such way that Google can find it and read it correctly.

There are several things to take into consideration when building the URL structures. Follow the best practices.

For example.

Do this
URL: /product/black-t-shirt-with-a-white-collar

Not this
URL: /product/3243

TO DO:

Create URLs based on the best practices!

Help Google understand your ecommerce site structure

Design a site navigation structure and link between pages to help Google understand what is most important on your ecommerce site.

We want Google to find important pages on an ecommerce site, including product pages. Google looks for the relationship between pages.

However, Google doesn’t automatically know what the relationship is. So, it’s important that you create a navigation and cross linking in such way that it makes easy for Google to understand your website and crawl your pages.

The navigation on your website needs to be Google crawler friendly. You can also add structured data to help Google understand the purpose of your pages.

Use strategic linking to pages of higher importance.

TO DO:

Make sure to build strategic navigation linking to the most important pages.

Interlink pages and create more internal links pointing to the more important pages.

Pagination, incremental page loading, and their impact on Google Search

Learn common UX patterns for ecommerce sites and understand how UX patterns impact Google’s ability to crawl and index your content.

Page experience is a Google Search ranking signal.

There are a few things you can implement to help 1) Google find your content and 2) User Experience (UX).

What the best UX pattern for your website is can depend on your website. For example, you may choose to use pagination, load more, or an infinite scroll to display a subset of a larger list. Each has its pros and cons.

If you choose to use pagination follow Google recommendations!

  • Link pages sequentially
  • Use URLs correctly
  • Avoid indexing URLs with filters or alternative sort orders

TO DO:

Choose the best UX pattern for your website.

If you use pagination make sure to follow Google recommendations.

If this seems like a lot of nuanced information, you are not wrong.

This is advanced SEO.

Implementing these best practices for your e-commerce website can make a difference in whether people find you in Google search or not.

Alie Jules

Author
Alie Jules
Founder of Strategy x Creative

Ecommerce: Create Dedicated Pages for Seasonal Sales Events

Solid advice for e-commerce websites from Google.

Easy win! If you have an e-commerce business and you are not doing this – yet – do it asap for an easy win.

Create a Dedicated Page for Seasonal Sales Events

John Mu tweet 9-9-21

On your website make sure you have a dedicated page, a page that is ONLY for e.g. Black Friday.

Then repeat and do this for the major Sales Events you participate in throughout the year.

One page – One event

You could have pages for:

Black Friday
Christmas
Valentine’s Day
Earth Day
Easter
Mother’s Day
and so on…

Do NOT Include Year in the URL

When creating these pages keep the date and the year out of the URLs.

If you were to create a new page each year, you’d end up with a lot of old, orphan pages on your site, which could negatively impact your site’s rankings down the road.

Instead, you will reuse these pages with fresh content each year!

❌ myshop.com/black-friday-sales-2021/

✅ myshop.com/black-friday-sales/

Then include the year in the title and perhaps add a few mentions on-page, so that the users know 100% that the sales are current.

Do NOT Use + Reuse One Single Page for All Events

What if you have one page, that is dedicated to all events?

Say:

myshop.com/sales-events/

Where you keep switching up content from one sale to the next.

This will not give you good results!

Google will remember your Easter sales content on the page when Mother’s Day comes around and you will miss out on ranking for, practically every sales event.

Instead, SPLIT each sales event onto its own page, as mentioned above.

More more thing.

Keep in mind not to go overboard with creating a page for every single tiny and imaginary sales event.

Focus on the main sales events – events potential customers search for and ones that are important for your business.

Alie Jules

Author
Alie Jules
Founder of Strategy x Creative

On The First Page of Google

How to Rank on The First Page of Google?

How to get on the coveted first page of search results for your keywords? That is the big question.

I tackle the question by analyzing results found for a keyword/search term on the first page, in order to determine how we can get on the first page and climb to the number one spot.

This analysis is comprehensive. I examine every result in detail, looking for gaps and opportunities to do better. Below you find the summary of the report. You can also download the full report (no sign up required).

Search Term: Best Jogging Shoes

July 29, 2021 | Desktop | Chrome browser

Here are the rankings from the top (1) to the bottom (10) on the first page of Google search results.
The Rankings

  1. Runner’s World
  2. Fleet Feet
  3. Run Repeat
  4. Esquire (UK)
  5. T3 (UK)
  6. NY Mag
  7. Road Runner Sports
  8. Good Housekeeping
  9. CNET
  10. Gear Patrol
Keep in mind, you will see some fluctuation with the search results. You can see movement both up and down, and slipping of the first page aka falling into the abyss which is the 2nd page and beyond.

If and when you reach the first page, it’s not guaranteed you stay there.

Summary of Key Findings – SEARCH

1. Every result was optimized for the best running shoes.
2. All URLs were HTTPS (secure) and .com
3. All results included the keywords best running shoes in their meta title.
screenshot of best running shoes words on title
4. Eight URLs included /best-running-shoes/ as part of the URL.
keywords in the URL

5. Nine results were published or modified in the last 3 months. Six were modified within the last 30 days.

6. Two of the results were from the UK. T3 recognized /us/ as the region, Esquire didn’t.
google search results showing UK results

7. Six title tags included the year 2021.

Year 2021 on meta titles
8. Two URLs included men’s running shoes, and two other women’s running shoes, and one included both, although no distinction was made in the search.
9. Eight of the meta descriptions were generated by Google.

10. None of the pages had video content.

11. The first page of Google did not have a featured snippet.

12. Four of the results were from sites that specialize in running. Five of
the results were from lifestyle sites.

Summary of Key Findings – ON-PAGE

1. Featured Image

Five of the pages had a featured image. Four of the image file names included keywords.

2. Keywords (KWs)

None of the pages included the keywords (KWs)  best jogging shoes. All of the pages were optimized for the best running shoes.

3. Word Count

The word count ranged from 1898 – 10419 words.

word count graph best jogging shoe results

4. Page Content

The page content of all the pages included a “the best shoe” ranking/rating
section and a how to choose the best shoes for you, type content.

5. Ads

Eight pages included ads. Ads on six of the pages were disruptive.

The First Page Results

1. Runner’s World

Summary

Runner’s World is certainly an expert in the running department and their SEO for search is dialed in, but the on-page experience was poor. Too many ads, poor organization of content, and overall subpar page quality left a negative impression. Both on-page SEO and UX can be significantly improved. This means there is a great opportunity for us to create better content.

2. Fleet Feet

fleet feet google search result

Summary

This result could be above the Runner’s World. There are many positives on this page from the page organization to user experience. The big negative is the potential keyword stuffing, which sites/pages can be penalized for.

3. Run Repeat

run repeat search result

Summary

This page has a lot of potential! It has more relevant, better quality, and the highest EAT (expertise, authority, trustworthy) content out of the top 3 search results. After a few adjustments, this page could be a top contender.

I will be closely looking at this result and the #2 result to make sure I’m creating better content than these two.

4. Esquire

esquire search results

Summary

This page should not be on the first page. Period. The result is UK-based and therefore completely useless to the user searching in the US. I expect this result to disappear from the first page, hopefully, sooner than later.

5. T3

t3 search result

Summary

The page has several issues, not the least with ads and questionable authority, but it also has some good things on it, especially the skimmable specs section. That is something I’ll keep in mind creating my page.

6. NY Mag

t3 search result

Summary

The content is ok, but it’s nothing special. It’s a bit different from the others so far, in that, it goes to the studies about the importance of picking the right shoes. But then, it doesn’t go into details about how to pick the best shoes, as some of the other pages by experts did. l though the page checks off all of the boxes to a certain degree, it doesn’t really address the user’s needs to the extent that it should or could. The page accomplished its mission, which, in my opinion, is to have lots of affiliate links on the page.

7. Road Runner Sports

t3 search result

Summary

This page should NOT be on the first page! It’s a category page of an online store for women’s running shoes. I suspect it’s going to disappear soon. The sooner the better. This page is completely irrelevant for the search intent. Just no.

8. Good Housekeeping

t3 search result

Summary

This page is specifically for women, although we didn’t make a distinction in the search for it. In addition, Good Housekeeping is not an authority, nor do they have the expertise on the best running shoes. This lack of trust makes me wonder if the only reason they are publishing these articles is to get affiliate
links and ads on the page. There were a lot of them.

9. CNET

t3 search result

Summary

This page is specifically for men’s running shoes. And it has similar issues with the Good Housekeeping page. Again I get the feeling that the only reason this page exists is to be able to add affiliate links and ads on the page. This page should be slip-sliding right off the page to oblivion (2nd page or further down).

10. Gear Patrol

t3 search result

Summary

I don’t have much to say about this other than it looks and feels so very similar to the Runner’s World page including the negative issues RW page has. This is another result I can see dropping off the first page.

There are better results on page 2 than this (I looked).

In Conclusion

The top three results had just about all elements dialed in, with the exception of the Runner’s World poor user experience and on-page SEO. I could see Run Repeat and Fleet Feet climb up above Runner’s World with a few adjustments.

Several of the results should not be on the first page. Not now, not ever. What’s going on Google? Seriously, though, I would expect many of these to drop off the first page, far, far away from it.

Sometimes what happens is that when you refresh an older page, you see a big boost in rankings and can find yourself on the first page. Whether you can stay there is a different story.

The results also tell me that there is room to get on the first page, absolutely.
And there is also room to get on the top. The top three results are the biggest competition (currently anyway).

There are a few good results I spotted on the 2nd page. You might see some new results pushing up on the first page soon.

Download the Full Report

Next Steps
1. Create + Optimize a page for Best Running Shoes
2. Create + Optimize a page for Best Jogging Shoes
3. Link the jogging shoe page with the running shoe page

BONUS REPORT – ADS

Download the report