October 25, 2013 by George Eberstadt
Scott Anderson of Iterate Studio sent me an internal memo he wrote last week on the implications of Google’s movement towards semantic search. It’s interesting and important, and he offered that I could share it. So here it is:
I pulled the attached article from my favorite SEO/SEM site. It gets into “semantic search” which is the big new thing at Google as evidenced by Knowledge Graph, which is a meager step 1 down a path to answering complex questions for searchers.
Since Google wants to be the place that dishes up answers to questions, the clear SEO implication for ecommerce sites (well, any site for that matter) is to dish up more and more quality answers to relevant questions.
This frankly makes TurnTo an even more strategic solution provider. Using customers to ask and answer questions in their own words for SEO is actually a main reason we adopted it at Vitamin Shoppe.
Of particular interest given Google’s increasing focus on complex questions is the product’s support for category-level questions, which are more likely to be asked on Google than the very detailed product questions. Again, it’s user generated content so there isn’t a burden on the retailer’s overworked staff.
While TurnTo’s mission is to lower customer support costs and humanize the user experience, the content getting generated is right in the bullseye of what Google wants to see.
Traditional SEO practices will remain essential, but the future is already here.
Promoting the idea of Q&A on eCommerce sites at the category (or “topic”) level the last couple of years has felt a lot like pushing a rock uphill. On the whole, our customers have been focused on the traffic and conversion benefits to the product detail page. So at first I thought it was coincidence that we’ve recently had a number of our customers come to us to begin implementation of category-level Q&A. But what’s really happening has become clear: businesses are figuring out that more general topic discussion and Q&A content is increasingly important to their organic traffic strategy. And they are realizing that hosting this sort of discussion on their category pages is a great way to generate it.
July 9, 2011 by George Eberstadt
I just got an invitation to Google+. After a brief time with it, I’m making a prediction: the Circles thing isn’t going to work. With Circles, Google+ is making the play to become one network spanning many types of relationship and purpose by letting you restrict your sharing and filter your view of the global feed by sub-group. Work. Friends. People I follow. There are two reasons I doubt this will work.
Reason #1: I blogged a while ago about something we learned (the hard way) at TurnTo about granular privacy control. It doesn’t work. There are people who will use your system, and there are people who won’t use your system, but there are very few people who would-use-your-system-if-only-they-had-more-granular-privacy-control. Early on, we built a very similar privacy model to Google+: it provided groups to enable users to restrict what got shared with whom. Like Google+, we offered a set of starter groups and allowed user-customization. Later, we ripped the whole thing out. We came to understand that (most) people want to manage privacy at the level of the network, not sub-groups within the network. People do their work-related networking on LinkedIn and their personal sharing on Facebook. Twitter is great for following people you don’t know personally (and therefor also useful for businesses to promote themselves). People decide who to connect to on each network based on what they plan to share (or read) there, and then they share fully with all their connections. That’s as granular as it gets. An item that isn’t suitable for someone’s whole audience on a particular network doesn’t get restricted to a sub-group, it just doesn’t get shared at all (or it gets shared with everyone with whatever consequences…).
Reason #2: Different system services are optimal for different types of network; there’s no one-size-fits-all collection. As a professional network, LinkedIn provides a great structure for exhibiting your work history. As a personal network, Facebook has great photo sharing. As a network of mostly-nonpersonal-following, Twitter provides great link sharing. The network services and the community co-evolve and specialize over time. If Google+ members really do try to maintain many different types of relationships within the system, they’ll end up unhappy with the tools the system provides. Either the tools will be too sparse, or the tools to support one type of network will be clutter to the others. (Would an elaborate resume system be appropriate for your Facebook profile?) In order for a social network to provide relevant services, there needs to be some level of focus to the type of relationships the network supports. And once the network has that focus, groups become irrelevant.
If I’m right, someone buy me a beer. If Circles works out, the drinks on are me.