The almost mechanical and soulless approach many marketers adopt when optimizing eCommerce websites has forced search engines to progressively ignore the way we promote our websites and rely more on factors that are outside of our control.
This has been happening for decades. Ever since most people in the marketing world figured out was to abuse PageRank for another round of link building. Webmasters have been obsessing about SEO best practices and how they can be used for evil instead of good. Ever since then, they have been always trying to maintain that delicate equilibrium between what Google considers to be good and what webmasters want to do.
Meta descriptions were among the first factors spammers sought to exploit. As soon as some search engines such as Alta Vista and Google signaled that metadata was a ranking factor, marketers soon flooded them with undecipherable combinations of keywords that could instantly make your page rank.
Google soon realized that rewarding meta description optimization was contributing to internet pollution and negatively impacting user experience. I distinctly remember a time when performing a query on Google yielded an insane amount of gibberish and useless links.
Fortunately for everybody, Google allegedly removed meta descriptions from the ranking factor list at some point after 2008. However, that didn’t remove the usefulness from meta descriptions. Even if they became practically irrelevant for ranking purposes, they were still a very effective tool for convincing users to click on your link and follow you down the rabbit hole.
In other words, they have a direct impact on website traffic and conversions but, in theory, zero impact on ranking. However, that hasn’t stopped marketers from experimenting with meta descriptions and measuring how they affect rankings.
Yoast, the team responsible for crafting the most successful SEO app for WordPress, designed an experiment to determine how metadata impacts ranking in search result pages.
Their results showed that Google either grabbed the provided metadata or came up with its own description for the search snippet, effectively overriding the wishes of website owners for what they wanted to show their audiences in search results.
Does this mean that we should not worry about Metadata?
It would seem like we have no power over what Google chooses to show in their snippets. However, there is a whole new theory around metadata and content design that is making the rounds among expert eCommerce SEO experts.
In 2020, the Google Search Central channel released a video where their Search Advocate reminded everyone to add meta descriptions to their mobile pages so Google bots could read them. This sparked a lot of conversation among marketers, especially those who have been following the performance of newer algorithms such as BERT and MUM that purportedly “understand” text and video and are able to interpret their context. According to Google, the newer MUM algo is so powerful it can not only give users accurate results based on context and search intent, but it can even generate new text and create rich snippets based on a website´s design and content.
This is actually huge for content marketers and eCommerce SEO experts. In theory, it forces them to change their approach towards content strategy and meta description creation. However, it also adds a new layer of responsibility that webmasters must be aware of.
Only a fistful of eCommerce agencies have made these changes a priority and included them as an integral part of their content strategy for clients. The best one so far is Genius eCommerce as they seem to have understood Google´s ultimate goal. If you want to make sure your website stays ahead of the curve, visit their website and contact their expert marketers right away.