October 20, 2014

Video: Google and ChannelAdvisor Chat About Shopping Campaigns

ChannelAdvisor has been working with Google for over a decade now — all the way back to the launch of Froogle. During that time, we’ve seen the evolution of Google Shopping unfold. Link Walls, ChannelAdvisor vice president of product management, and Frank Andolina, ChannelAdvisor manager of digital marketing services, discuss advanced strategies for Google Shopping in Part I of Google Partners’ Ask an Agency video series.

In this video, you’ll learn the fundamentals that make up a successful Google Shopping campaign. Some of the questions addressed:

  • How have retail customers adapted to Google’s Shopping campaigns from the traditional model?

  • What are the primary elements in a Shopping campaign?

  • Why is campaign structure so important?


Craving more actionable steps for successfully promoting your products with Google’s Shopping campaigns? This free eBook has you covered.

October 02, 2014

Webinar: How to Get to the Top...of Google’s Search Engine Results Page

Tuesday, October 7 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT

Obtaining information these days is effortless. Go to a search engine, type in what you’re looking for and voilà! Consumers are used to finding the most relevant links on the first page of search results. And if not there, they’ll simply type in another search query. Think about it — when was the last time you ventured to page 2, 3 or 4 of  search results?

That is why it’s crucial for your website to show up at the top of a search engine results page. It’s valuable real estate to drive web traffic back to your page and/or products! As a retailer, this can be tough. Competition is fierce and the allotted real estate is only so big.

Next week, we are hosting a free webinar with Retail Online Integration that breaks down the best
practices for digital marketing. During this webinar, we'll be discussing:  

  • Free webinarHow to use search engine optimization (SEO) to achieve a higher ranking in organic search

  • A breakdown of the digital marketing channels that comprise the search engine results page (SERP)

  • Best practices for using product ads and paid search

  • Digital marketing trends

In a search query, do you want your website to be bumped to the second page? Didn’t think so. Sign up today to learn how to own the SERP!

September 26, 2014

Google’s Panda 4.1: It’s Not Your Ranking – Your Impressions Are Dropping

So your SEO rankings are fine, but your impressions have been dropping in advance of Panda 4.1. With the release of Google’s updated search engine algorithm today, some people will notice a drop in impressions. Metaphorically speaking, the opportunity to be part of the “organic auction” and receive impressions is governed by User Behavior Ranking Signals. Most prominently, these signals include click-through rate, bounce rate, time on page, interaction with the page and social shares of the webpage.

To help correct for falling organic impressions, follow the suggestions below, which are geared for mid to large online retailers with more than 50 products.

Improve Your Click-Through Rate

Your organic SERP listing is your 24/7 billboard that turns searchers into shoppers. Let’s improve the listing below to maximize it for one of fictional company FishingAdvisor’s most popular search queries: “pflueger fly fishing rods 8' starter kit.” The search query drives searchers to a product page that offers an 8' Pflueger fly-fishing rod starter kit for beginning anglers.

On the SERP, the listing looks like this:  


Here’s what we’d recommend to improve the listing:

1. Title: First, we’re going to fix the title of the listing to more closely match this popular search query. It’s great for SEO, but it’s also just a better user experience if your listing title matches the searcher query. The title comes directly from your title tag. You can locate your title tag in the HTML of your webpage by searching for“<title>”in the code.


I’m going to leave off FishingAdvisor, the company name. It’s unlikely that people will shop based on brand name at this point in the buying cycle (given this very specific search query). Plus, the brand name is already included in the domain name in green. There’s no reason to use up this valuable SEO real estate with something that already ranks well – the domain name “FishingAdvisor.”

2. Seller Rating: Include your Google Seller Rating, because your online store is already rated in Google Product Search. If you have three or more stars, and a minimum of five reviews, Google will include it in the SERP. I have marked up this information in the HTML using Microdata Schema. With Schema, you can promote other items such as offer, in stock/out of stock and brand in the organic SERP.


3. Description: The description used in the SERP listing is pulled from the meta-description tag. This is much like Google AdWords ad copy. Right now, the listing is pulled straight from the on-page description and doesn’t advertise the value proposition well. “Starter kit for anglers just getting into fly fishing. Pflueger. ... Rod Length. 8'….” Let’s change that!


Reduce Bounce Rate

If people arrive on a webpage that appropriately answers their search query, they will likely stay. To reduce bounce rate, it helps to provide a clean, orderly design. Since this is incredibly subjective, below are some design elements to keep in mind:

Message: Get right to the point. Leverage the help of a merchandiser, designer, copywriter and editor to create a pointed and concise message. Creating smart product pages is similar to creating the front page of a newspaper – it takes a team to decide what makes the cut. Give people in-depth information that’s easy to read and digest. Provide ways to interact with the page. For example, play a video, share a link, roll over to enlarge an image. Avoid pop-ups and pop-unders.

  • Layout: Create a predictable rhythm to the page so users know there are more sections below the fold. Provide a decisive end to the page. Use concise, same-size content blocks and image blocks. Keep elements on the page evenly spaced, aligned and justified. Completely avoid a highly paginated series of pages, as it’s unlikely that users will click through them. Give users the option to open and close text blocks with a “view more” option. Leave white space between page elements. Standardize font, font size and color using a style sheet. Don’t use inline styling to draw attention to specific page elements.
  • Handle Images: Kill the hero image in emails. Remove large masthead images from your webpages. Mobile users hate these. Make images mobile-friendly using image scaling, just like text blocks provide the option to hide the image entirely.
  • Fix Errors: Redirect your 404 error pages. Never allow a 404 error sit on your site for longer than 24 hours. Sure, you’re adding and removing products at lighting speed, but when you remove a product, take the extra 30 seconds to redirect the page in the content management product page editor. On most platforms, it’s as easy as checking a check box that says, “Redirect This Page.” Then fill in the provided text field with the URL the shopper should be redirected to. Do not redirect everything to the homepage. 

No matter how hard you try to avoid 404 errors, they will occur. To make them more friendly, customize your 404 error page so that it’s a great user experience.

  • Go Fast: If you sell products online, your site should be lighting fast on every device. To increase page load time:
  •     Avoid long pages
  •     Avoid pagination
  •     Minimize the number of templates and style sheets you use
  •     Parallelize the load of CSS and JS files or add images to a CDN. Keep third-party content below the 600-pixel mark.

Consider Social Interactions

When a shopper plays a YouTube video embedded on your site, that’s a one-to-one relationship between YouTube and your site. Google likes and measures this type of interaction and uses entities to measure how your site is used and shared. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm also measures the common co-occurrence of vocabulary between your site and entities that point to your site.

Next Steps

As you correct these issues, you should see an improvement in impressions over the course of 60 to 90 days (maybe sooner). In the meantime, to find out about how ChannelAdvisor can help you strengthen your SEO strategy, take a look at our SEO one-pager here.

September 09, 2014

What To Expect at ChannelAdvisor’s 5th Annual Insite Sydney E-Commerce Conference

Insite_sydney_14_299x125 (1)
The much-anticipated annual Insite event will be hosted in Sydney next Tuesday, the 16th of September.  This powerful half-day conference will feature a line-up of the top names in the e-commerce space, including representatives from Google, eBay, NORA, the ARA and Trade Me.

Insite will bring together industry heavyweights and many of Australia’s leading retailers for a jam-packed afternoon of presentations, panels, in-depth discussions and networking opportunities.

What can you expect?

In the space of a few short hours, attendees will learn about the latest and upcoming online retail trends, and how to harness this knowledge for business growth in the multichannel landscape – both in Australia and on the international stage.

Agenda Highlights

This month ushers in Google’s mandatory switch from the current product listing ad (PLA) campaigns to the recently released Shopping campaigns format. As navigating the transition and optimising for the new format can be a tricky task, Google APAC Regional Product Expert Kate Conroy will speak to the changes at Insite and how retailers can shape up their Shopping campaigns for the coming holiday season.

Retailers can also look forward to fireside chats with Dick Smith Digital Marketing and Insights Manager Tasman Page and director of Pushys Online, Glen Navratil, both of whom will share valuable wisdom from their own online experiences.

For the first time, ChannelAdvisor Insite will feature a cross-border trade panel to help equip retailers to take advantage of this growing trend. The eclectic panel will include a range of perspectives on entering international regions via marketplaces and comparison shopping engines, with speakers:

  • Neil Thomas, general manager APAC, Shopbot
  • Conrad Bain, global development manager, Trade Me
  • Chris Morley, e-commerce director, Premium Australia Foods

In another exciting first, Mark Gray, APAC managing director at ChannelAdvisor, will release the results of a joint study with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and reveal insights into the state of Australian e-commerce in 2014. This presentation will be followed by an expert panel that will speak to the study’s findings and the implications for the future of Australian online retail. The panel will include:

  • Sue Anderson, director of programs, Australian Retailers Association
  • Ben Franzi, GM global e-commerce platform sales, Australia Post
  • Paul Greenberg, executive chairman, National Online Retailers Association

What else can you look forward to?

  • Enjoy a networking lunch and post-conference reception with like-minded retailers and some of the largest online channels
  • Exchange best practices, learn about new innovations, delve into the latest technologies, and stay ahead of your competition
  • Receive expert-led training on ChannelAdvisor products and services

The Details

ChannelAdvisor Insite Sydney 2014 will be held at Doltone House (Pyrmont), 48 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 12 p.m. to 5:45 p.m AEST, followed by a networking reception. 

Exchange ideas. Chat with the experts. Get inspired. And walk out ready to attack your next big challenge. 


Blog post by Shani Flynn, ChannelAdvisor marketing copywriter, APAC

August 25, 2014

Webinar: Build and Strengthen Your Digital Marketing Foundation

Thursday, September 4 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT

Have you started your marketing plan for next year? 2015 is looming around the corner, and if you’re like most retailers, holiday prep is taking up all the room on your plate. You’re going to want to make some space, though, because we’re going to help kick-start your 2015 planning!

Three of ChannelAdvisor’s digital marketing experts come together next week for part one of our two-part webinar series “Getting Smart About Retail Digital Marketing.” You’ll have the opportunity to hear expert tips from a product marketing manager, search engine optimization (SEO) specialist and digital marketing services manager. Together they’ll focus on building and strengthening your digital marketing foundation — and even sneak in some holiday tips, too!

This webinar series will walk you through the entire process of developing the right marketing strategy for your brand — one that will boost the important numbers and increase your exposure across the most profitable online channels. Webinar

Don’t miss out — we hope to see you on Thursday, September 4! Once you register, no need to repeat the process for part two on September 11. Sign up now to hear our top digital marketing e-commerce gurus share:

  • Tips for optimizing your webstore for increased conversion

  • How SEO can increase your visibility

  • Best practices for building your brand and social voice

  • How to identify which advertising channels are right for your business

August 21, 2014

5 Takeaways from Insite Auckland 2014: What E-Commerce Retailers Should Know

With speakers from Google, Trade Me, eBay Commerce Network and Shopbot, last week’s Insite Auckland conference saw industry experts and leading retailers discuss emergent trends, the state of local and global e-commerce and actionable strategies for business growth.

The packed-house event gave attendees the chance to step back from a day-to-day mindset and take a holistic view of the e-commerce landscape. The environment was one of open discussion and engagement, with a wealth of ideas exchanged among the business-savvy crowd. Popular sessions included a forward-looking perspective on the evolving marketing landscape from Amanda Jordan, national sales manager, retail and government, at Google; and a deep-dive into buyer demographics from Trade Me’s head of supply, Georgina McGowan.   

Insite Auckland image - multichannel approach to your business

Didn’t make it to the event? Here are the top five takeaways you’ll want to know:

1. M-Commerce Is Growing: Reaching upwards of 60%,1 New Zealand’s smartphone penetration is one of the highest in the world. And with more than 40% of Kiwi smartphone owners having purchased a product or service via their devices,2 retailers need to develop mobile-specific strategies to ensure a consistent yet tailored brand experience across all devices. As more and more consumers reach for their smartphones, these ultimate shopping companions will increasingly affect conversion rates, both online and in-store.

2. Customise and Optimise the Search Process: Mark Brixton, APAC regional director at SLI Systems, views searchers as ‘must-win customers’. Consumers who visit your site and interact with the search box are further along the path to purchase. But you can easily lose them if you’re not optimising your search to align with the variations in visitors’ language. 

Retailers often use jargon, or associate a product with only one term, and forget the other types of search queries consumers may use. For example, a visitor searching for ‘sandals’ may type ‘flip flops’, and if your site fails to include both terms when returning relevant products, you’ve instantly lost a potential customer.
3. Data Can’t Be Overemphasised

Inbound: Don’t underestimate the value of collecting customer data, but the key is to put it to good use. Measuring on-site search patterns will not only help visitors navigate, but will also allow you to keep pace with trends and ideas for keyword bids on external search engines.

Outbound: Quality product data will be the foundation of your success. Simon Kelly, ChannelAdvisor sales executive, spoke on how mastering key metrics will ensure that you’re hitting the mark on data and enabling business growth. In short, your product data should be:

    • Readily available
    • Structured in a way that’s flexible and sustainable
    • Showcasing your product catalogue in the best possible light
    • Populated with quality information, copy and images
    • Thorough — the more accurate and complete, the better the results will be.

4. Marketplaces Are Eating the World: Marketplaces now make up a sizeable, growing share of all e-commerce transactions. Third-party marketplaces account for approximately a third of online sales in the US and UK,3 and an overwhelming 90% of e-commerce trade in China.4
New Zealand is set for a similar trajectory: Marketplaces account for three of the top ten most visited shopping websites in the country,5 with Trade Me dominating the space. If you’re selling in New Zealand, marketplaces should be part of your growth strategy, both domestically and when looking to take on cross-border trade.

5. Prepare for the Future of Multichannel: In her session, Google’s Amanda Jordan emphasised the dynamic nature of digital marketing and the impact of upcoming innovations on the retail industry. Wearable tech, the rise of video-based marketing and the ubiquity of showrooming are all important pieces of an ever-expanding e-commerce puzzle — one that will require retailers to adapt to the shift from standard advertising and find new ways to use social, mobile, search and remarketing.


The common thread running throughout the takeaways above? Assess your data and performance accurately and often, and then take relevant action to improve your e-commerce business. 

Wish you'd been there? Don't miss out on Insite Sydney 2014. Register here.
Blog post by Shani Flynn, APAC marketing copywriter, ChannelAdvisor

1 http://www.iab.org.nz/images/uploads/Google_Our_mobile_planet_NZ%20May%202012.pdf
2 http://ecommerce.org.nz/
3Public reports from eBay, Amazon, Google, Shopping.com and ChannelAdvisor estimates based on our transactional data.
4 http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/asia-pacific/china_e-tailing
5 http://ecommerce.org.nz/

Insite Auckland 2014 logo
Download all the event presentations - including Google, Trade Me, and SLI systems - from Insite Auckland 2014

August 19, 2014

Product Listing Ads Are Seeing Stars

Reviews can have a monumental impact on a consumer’s decision-making process. When looking for a new restaurant to try, you go to Yelp. When exploring new career options, you go to Glassdoor. When in the market for a new vehicle, you check out Edmunds. When it comes to choosing what to spend a hard-earned dollar on, reviews and ratings can greatly sway consumer behavior. In initial tests, Google reports that including product ratings in Product Listing Ads (PLAs) has already helped increase click-through rates.

Would you be more likely to make a purchase after seeing a commercial, or hearing a suggestion from a friend? When it comes to trust, peer recommendations tend to trump advertisements. And now, Google has finally caught on to the review revolution by adding reviews and ratings to PLAs.

Google just recently announced the new advertising ingredient — weeks before the forecasted Shopping campaigns switchover.

Product ratings will appear in the form of stars and review counts. The five-star rating system is derived from a collection of reviews pulled from multiple sources, such as merchants, third-party aggregators, editorial sites and users.

Vacuum cleaner ratings

Google claims that the little stars will help consumers find product information easier — essentially decreasing the steps in the research process — and increase quality traffic for retailers.

For now, product ratings are available only to retailers targeting the US, but Google does plan on extending this feature to other countries in the coming months. Mike Capsambelis, Google Shopping product manager, makes the following disclaimer on Google’s blog: “Product ratings are one of several extensions we may show with Product Listing Ads, so please note that just because a product has reviews does not mean that we’ll always show ratings.”

We’ll be keeping a close eye on if and how this feature progresses.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in enabling the new rating system for your PLAs, the initial step is to submit this form to Google. Google will then determine if and how it collects your product reviews and will reach out to you with details.


Blog post by Jordan Nowlin, social media & blog manager, ChannelAdvisor



In light of Google’s transition to Shopping campaigns, managing your current Product Listing Ads (PLAs) requires some adjustments. To ensure you’re optimized for profitability, download this free guide!

August 18, 2014

Week 10: Finish Your Shopping Campaigns Transition

GSC blog header

Google has announced that all retailers have until September to transition their current Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaigns to the recently released Shopping campaigns format. After the transition date, Google will automatically force all remaining PLA campaigns into the new format without optimization or input from the retailer. Join us here each week for our ongoing Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns series, as we count down to September and help you prepare for the switch. Be sure to email us at marketing@channeladvisor.com with any questions you have along the way.

Now that you’ve increased your bids to the appropriate levels and your new campaigns are running smoothly, there’s just one last thing you need to do: Pause your old PLA campaigns.

Congratulations! After a long summer, you’ve crossed the finish line. While you’ll need to continue monitoring your new campaigns, especially when you add new products, take a few days off and relax, cool down and let those new Shopping campaigns work for you. You’ve earned it!

And if you’re just now joining us, you can still squeeze in most of the necessary steps before the August 31 transition deadline. But you can’t afford to wait any longer. For a quick summary of the steps you need to take, here’s a recap of what we’ve worked on this summer.

Week 1: Educate Yourself

Learn all you can about Google's Shopping campaigns with our bundle of resources below.

Check boxWatch the recorded webinar with Google that explains the transition in depth

Check box Follow up by reading the webinar recap

Check boxCheck out the first blog post in this Shopping campaigns series

Week 2: Organize Feed

The first step in preparing your existing PLAs for the makeover is to ensure that all information under your category headings is complete and accurate. Focusing on the organization of your feed will help you make the most of your new campaigns.

Check box Re-evaluate your segmentation to take advantage of the better granularity

Check box Set up granular bidding to make sure your feed isn’t missing important attributes

Check boxCreate custom labels in your feed if the standard attributes aren’t sufficient

Week 3: Develop Campaign Structure

A healthy foundation is key for future success. Fill in any missing information and set the stage for upcoming successful campaigns.

Check box Organize your campaign based on how your customers search for your products online

Check boxPrioritize products within your existing PLA campaigns

Check boxBuild your basic campaign structure in a spreadsheet pivot table to experiment with the order of granular layers

Week 4: Build Campaigns with the Product Group Generator

Now that you’re organized and have mapped out your structure, build your campaigns with the ChannelAdvisor Product Group Generator — which, in an internal test, structured a campaign 37 times faster than building it manually.

Check box Set up your new campaign in AdWords, choosing “Shopping campaigns” as the campaign type

Check boxUse the Product Group Template to assign a global order to your segment levels

Check box Use the Product Group Template to choose appropriate attributes

Check boxAssign a default bid

Check boxRepeat steps of assigning attributes and bid levels until you reach the level of detail you want

Week 5 & 6: Begin Testing

To know what’s working and what’s not, compare the performance of your old campaigns to your new Shopping campaigns. Carving out time to test is vital for your campaigns’ long-term health.

Check box Select three to five ad groups from your new Shopping campaign, preferably ones that performed well under the previous structure

Check boxKeep old ad groups and campaigns live, as they serve as a metric benchmark

Check boxPause all newly created Shopping campaigns except for the ad groups you selected for testing

Check box Keep the cost per click (CPC) of those chosen campaigns the same as your old PLA groups

Check box Pay attention to conversion rate as well as to new queries that may be hindering it

Check box Let the test campaigns run for 10 to 14 days to gather enough data

Week 7: Report Findings, Set Expectations

After a couple of weeks of testing, you should be equipped with information about the health of your Shopping campaigns. Consider using some of Google’s new benchmarking tools to better understand what your metrics mean.

Check boxImpression Share: Lets you see the percentage of impressions you received out of the total impressions you’re eligible to receive

Check boxBenchmark Max Cost Per Click (CPC): Provides insight into how much other advertisers are bidding on products similar to those in your product group

Check boxBenchmark Click-Through Rate (CTR): Lets you compare your CTR to the rates of your competitors with similar products

Check boxBid Simulator: Estimates what the results could have been over the previous seven days at different bid levels

Week 8: Compare Old and New Campaigns

It’s finally time to unpause the remaining groups in your new campaign.

Check boxAdjust your new daily budgets to approximately 25% of the values of the former campaign

Check boxKeep the campaigns running side by side for about 7 to 14 days

Check boxMake sure your daily budgets account for both campaign types during this period

Check boxIf you have multiple Shopping campaigns running, consider using the Campaign Prioritization feature

Week 9: Optimize and Adjust Your Budget

It’s now time to make any necessary adjustments — and apply the same steps you took during your first test period.  

Check boxPay attention to the product groups that contain high-margin products or products that performed particularly well in prior campaigns

Check boxUse the competitive benchmark tools as a general guide for product groups that need extra attention

Check boxLook for performance patterns that are similar to those you experienced in your test groups

Check boxRearrange or add levels to your product groups if your bid modifications prove to be unsuccessful.

Week 10

Once you’re content with the performance of your new product groups, you can begin the ultimate transition:

Check boxIncrease the daily budget of your new campaign and decrease the budget of your former campaign

Check boxYou’re now ready to pause the former PLA campaign!

Check boxContinue to monitor the performance of your campaigns, especially when you add new products

Check boxTake a few days off. You’ve earned it!


If you have any more questions, run into bumps in the road or want to tell us how awesome your freshly polished campaigns are performing, shoot us an email at marketing@channeladvisor.com.

August 14, 2014

Coming Soon: Changes to Device Targeting for Bing Ads

In mid-September 2014, Bing Ads will introduce global changes to the way advertisers manage device targeting. Bing is making these updates to better align with campaign management in Google AdWords. If you’re currently running advertising campaigns on both Google and Bing, this change should create a consistent and familiar experience for you.

What’s changing?

Bing Ads will be merging all tablet traffic into desktop/laptop, creating a single targeting selection for desktop/laptop and tablet. You’ll still be able to control how much emphasis you place on tablet traffic with a bid modifier, ranging from -20% to +300%. You won’t, however, be able to solely target tablet or tablet OS traffic, or completely remove tablet traffic from your campaigns.

What about targeting smartphones?

During the first half of 2015, Bing Ads will eliminate explicit smartphone device targeting and allow you to control your campaigns’ mobile traffic with bid modifiers, ranging from -100% to +300%. If you choose not to incorporate smartphones into your targeting, you can simply adjust the bid modifier to -100% and target only tablet and desktop/laptop.  

What do you need to do?

Bing Ads will automatically merge tablet traffic with desktop/laptop traffic in September. Depending on your current campaign settings and personal preferences, your next steps will vary.

  • If you’re currently targeting desktops/laptops only and aren’t concerned about the additional tablet traffic, no action is needed.

  • If you’re currently targeting desktops/laptops only and are concerned about reaching additional tablet users, you should review your campaign and adjust the new bid modifiers where necessary.

  • If you’re currently targeting desktops/laptops and mobile devices, you’ll be able to adjust the new bid modifier for tablet between -20% and +300%. If your current modifier is less than -20%, it will be migrated to the maximum -20% with the merger.  

  • If you’re currently targeting tablet users only, your targeting settings will change to include desktop/laptop traffic.

  • If you’re targeting smartphones only, no action will be necessary. Your new bid modifiers will be available during the first half of 2015.  

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how ChannelAdvisor can help you generate more sales through paid search, please email us at marketing@channeladvisor.com.

August 12, 2014

Is Encryption the new SEO Kryptonite?

Ever wonder what the “s” stood for in “https”? Secure. The complete acronym actually reads: Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Google announced last Wednesday that it will be using its search algorithm ranking order to reward websites that are encrypted. Google would like web developers to adopt more secure technology in an effort to protect users’ data from hackers.

Why Now?

In the wake of the Snowden/National Security Agency (NSA) chronicles, and the ensuing discovery of the lack of online protection for emails, Google has stepped up its security efforts. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Kevin Mahaffey, CTO and co-founder of mobile-security company Lookout Inc., explained the importance of encryption by asking, “If you were sending a letter with your credit-card information and Social Security number, would you send it in a secure envelope or a clear envelope?” By encrypting your website, you are putting a barrier between web users and hackers.

Now What?

The recent change has left some SEO-conscious online retailers asking, “Can Google index and rank pages behind the secure socket layer (SSL)?” Many SEO specialists and developers can remember when Google’s Quality Guideline recommended that non-transactional pages be kept in front of the SSL because Google had difficulty rendering and indexing information behind the SSL.

Let’s put this myth to rest. Google indexes pages behind the SSL. Take a look at the example below — site:https://twitter.com.


Next Steps for Retailers:

  • Buy a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate from your existing web hosting company for about $100. Conduct a 90-day marketing experiment to confirm that installing a SSL has truly improved your search reach and visibility.

A SSL certificate verifies the identiy of your business and allows a web server to establish a secure encryption with a visitor's web browser. Small e-commerce retailers can consider a more affordable option called a "shared certificate". Using a shared certificate is acceptable or satisfying the AdWords SSL policy requirements.

  • Install the SSL certificate on your web server. The installation method will vary depending on your web server. Take time to get a developer to help you configure it properly, especially if you use a Google Search Appliance or serve Google Display Ads.

  • Identify the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) on your website that you want to secure with SSL. Remember that AdWords policy states you must use a secure connection on pages that collect or transmit certain personal and financial information, like personal login passwords.

  • Configure Make sure to change relative and non-secure links to “https:” Google will have more information in the coming weeks on how to handle relative links. Set up server redirects to automatically route people who try to access secure pages with the http:// protocol. Remember pages such as your login page.

  • Test, test, test to verify that your pages are secure. If your website is already serving on HTTPS, you can test its security level and configuration with the Qualys Lab tool.           

The most common error is having "mixed content" on an https: page. That means one or more elements (usually images, flash files or CSS files) are being loaded on an https: page using a non-secure http:// URL.            

To avoid errors, search for “http://”. Replace any instances you find with “https://”. FTP the changes to your web server and try testing again.

Visit this support page from Google for more information on implementing a SSL with an Adwords Account.

Bottom Line

Google currently uses over 200 signals that determine search rankings, but having a secure website may soon be a signal that affects your overall reach and visibility.

Who truly benefits? As an e-commerce retailer you may experience a small increase from the new algorithm change. As more and more site owners begin adding the SSL the benefit of this ranking signal will become diluted.

We’d recommend that retailers manage their expectations and proceed with caution. When was the last time Google announced it would give an organic ranking boost for adopting a particular type of site structure? Google has created thousands of videos and posts about quality guidelines that improve visibility, but has never said outright that it will “reward” you for a specific practice, which makes this first-time recommendation conspicuous.


Blog post by Tansy Obryant, ChannelAdvisor SEO strategist