As we discussed in our last post, SEO Considerations for Manufacturers, search engine optimization has a variety of foundational rules for all websites to follow to help ensure their particular pages reach the right audiences when they are searching. In this installment, we’ll cover some additional considerations above and beyond the normal SEO recommendations specifically for distributors that may be of help to include in a SEO strategy.
Google Shopping & Schema.org Offers
Similar to our last discussion for manufacturers, Google offers ways for Distributors to feed product and ]sales information (for both online and branch locations!) to be picked up for organic search, or if you choose, to be used in paid ads as well. There are two approaches to get this data in the right hands, with many distributors choosing to utilize both routes.
Google Merchant Center is the vehicle in which many distributors and retailers are able to upload their product catalog and pricing data for Google to show in Google Shopping results. Whether this data is programmatically sent to Google via a dynamic XML feed, or uploaded via a simple spreadsheet, Google is able to ingest this data, allow for you to validate its accuracy, and then display it in relevant searches on normal results pages as well as Google Shopping pages. The paid ad component of this also allows for you to bid your way to the top of a product offering, showing ahead of competitors selling the same items.
Schema.org is a data markup standard set up by the major search engines to allow them to scrape rich details on a variety of things from store hours and locations, to product details and sale information. For distributors, the Product Offer markup allows for product information such as SKU, name, description, image, price, sale price, availability, and ratings and reviews information to be dynamically shown on organic search results, such as the screenshot to the right.
Local SEO is a specific variant of SEO focused on serving up accurate results based on the searcher’s geographic location. Since Google and other search engines know where searches are, based on both GPS data from phones, and IP geolocations, often times results are personalized to that searchers location.
Where local SEO benefits distributors is when they have branches or other physical locations. Distributors can leverage Schema.org markups (similar to the product and offers noted above) to denote physical location addresses, services, opening hours and more. Or, distributors can choose to actively manage their locations in tools provided by the search engines, such as Google My Business or Bing Places tools to update the same information.
Links from Manufacturers
As also mentioned in the SEO Considerations for Manufacturers blog post, an external linking strategy is a time-tested search engine optimization tactic. Working with your manufacturer vendors to get links from their sites not only as general distributors, but better yet, on the product detail pages themselves can be vastly beneficial for SEO and for potential new customers finding a place to buy those products with you.
One of the hardest parts of search engine optimization on content for distributors comes down to the large product catalog’s product detail pages. This is often quite the challenge for two reasons: 1.) many distributors have large (hundreds of thousands of items) catalogs, and 2.) a lot of the product content is syndicated from manufacturers or other buying or industry trade groups.
While this is great to ensure accuracy on specifications, application, and other details, it doesn’t necessarily add any value (SEO, or otherwise) over any other distributor selling the same product. By going above and beyond to curate product details, add in reviews, ratings, application information, updated marketing content, different images, distributors can make themselves stand out to both search engines and potential customers.
Canonical URL tags are the technical SEO way to avoid what is known as a duplicate content penalty from search engines. We’ve written a whole blog on what these are and how they are very important for distributors before, which you can read here if you want more information. In summary, since it’s possible for distributors to list one product in multiple categories, therefore creating multiple URLs with the exact same content, canonicals tell the search engines that this is intentional, and not you trying to “game” the search algorithms to show up better than anyone else.
Want to read more?
For additional sources of information on any of these tactics, check out the following sites:
- Insite Software Blog: B2B SEO Baseline: Monitoring your Site
- Insite Software Blog: SEO Considerations for Manufacturers
- Google Merchant Center
- Schema.org: Product Offer
- Schema.org: Local Business
- Google My Business
- Bing Places