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What The Google March 2024 Core Update Means For E-Commerce Sites

These Are the 4 Things You Need to Do to Succeed

In March 2024, Google rolled out a significant update to its core ranking algorithm that’s likely to go down as one of the most significant updates in the search engine’s history. Generative AI has allowed spammers to populate the web with millions of pages of low-quality machine-generated content, and most Internet users would agree that the quality of Google’s search results has declined as a result. The primary purpose of the core update was to curtail the proliferation of AI-generated spam while also helping to improve the visibility of truly helpful content.

Succeeding online is a zero-sum game. For your website’s rankings to increase, someone else’s rankings must decrease – so if your site’s traffic went down or was static after the core update, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing anything wrong. Still, it’s as good a time as any to evaluate your website with a critical eye and ensure that you’re doing everything possible to give your customers a great experience. 

These are the 4 things that you should be doing for your e-commerce site right now.

Create Content for People, Not Google

When you create new content for your e-commerce site – whether it’s a product page, a blog post, or something else – it’s time to go back to the basics and ensure you’re always writing for people and not for Google. If you’re asking yourself whether you’ve put your subheadings in the right places, inserted the right number of images, or used the right number of keyword variations before you click the “Publish” button, there’s a good chance that you’re writing for Google rather than people and are doing the exact opposite of what Google is trying to reward. Stop overthinking things.

How do you go back to basics with content creation? It’s simple. Before you create a new page of content, identify the primary keyword phrase people would use to find content like what you’re creating. Determine why people would search for that keyword phrase and do your best to satisfy that intent completely. Before you publish the content, evaluate it against the websites appearing on Google’s first page for your target keyword. If you can honestly say your content is better, you’re probably doing well. 

As far as Google’s ranking algorithm is concerned, the only thing you ever really need to do is make sure that a machine can easily understand the main idea of your content. To determine this, look at your page’s source code because that’s how Google views your site. Is the meaning of your content obvious? You’re probably good to go.

Show Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (EEAT)

When Google changes its core ranking algorithm, the main goal is to improve the visibility of helpful content while decreasing the visibility of unhelpful content. That’s what’s best for users. One way Google tries to identify helpful content is by looking for websites that show experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Google has even invented an acronym—EEAT—to highlight the importance of those things. 

As an e-commerce site, you already have a small bonus in the areas of expertise and authority. Since you’re a retailer or manufacturer, you’re obviously an expert on the products you sell and should be able to demonstrate that easily. It’s a good idea to ensure that you’re doing everything possible to illustrate your experience and trustworthiness. Here are some pointers that can help.

  • Experience: You should always look for ways to illustrate firsthand experience in your content. You can do this by using real pictures instead of stock photos and by making sure that your content always does more than simply rehashing the basic features and specifications of the products that you sell. 
  • Trustworthiness: You should do everything possible to show potential customers they can trust your company and feel comfortable buying from you. Ensure that your shipping and return policies are clearly outlined and that customers can contact you quickly. Depending on what’s logical for your company, you should consider offering contact details by phone, email, and postal mail. You might even consider offering a live chat option.

Prioritize the User Experience

If you want to maximize your rankings on Google, your content isn’t the only important thing. As an e-commerce business, it’s crucial to ensure that the people visiting your website have a great shopping experience. Even if you’re not using Google Analytics, Google still has a good idea of the type of experience you’re providing. If people visit your site and immediately click back to the search results, that’s not a good experience.

Here's how to ensure you’re providing the best possible user experience.

  • Evaluate your site’s product search and discovery features. Have you made it possible for people to find what they want? If you’re a vape shop, for instance, your website should probably have ways for people to browse products by type, brand, flavor, and nicotine strength. Sites in other niches will need different product classifiers.
  • Make sure that your website is fast, responsive, and easy to navigate on both computers and smartphones. Mobile phones now generate more than half of all web traffic, so you’ll never rank well on Google if mobile users don’t have a great experience on your site.
  • Use an analytics package to follow people’s journeys through your site. Pay special attention to what happens during the visits that don’t result in sales. Do people abandon your site after viewing or searching for products, or do they leave at some point during checkout? If you can determine when and why people leave your site, you’ll have actionable information that you can use to improve your site.

Minimize Your Use of AI-Generated Content

When planning the content strategy for your e-commerce website, it's essential to consider the role of AI and whether it's suitable for your needs. It's worth noting that using AI-generated content was one of the primary reasons behind Google's March 2024 core update. Most of this type of content is often unhelpful, mainly because generative AI can only remix the information from its training data and cannot come up with original ideas. Additionally, AI can't demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, or trust, critical factors in demonstrating EEAT (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) that can help boost your website's ranking. Therefore, if you want to create content that effectively demonstrates EEAT, there are better courses of action than generating it solely through AI tools.

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