061. What's SKU with You? Google Rank Issues with POS Products


released July 13, 2021
(recorded June 17, 2021) - 49 minutes

Using your point of sale system to manage your online inventory is a big time saver for every jeweler, and this method of online inventory management has been recommended for several years. But it turns out that the typical way in which point of sale systems generates SKUs creates an SEO problem for your jewelry website. In this episode of the RethinkYour.com Podcast we’ll explain what the issue is and how to deal with it.

TOPIC: Product Catalog Browse Pages vs Product Detail Pages

Product browse pages allow you to look through several products to find what you're looking for.

Product detail pages give you more photos for a product, price, size, and ability to add to the cart.

There seems to be a new trend that allows people to add to the cart from the Product Browse page. But these add to cart buttons often get in the way of usability to click to see more. This feature makes sense for websites that sell simple items, like pencils, but they are a usability hindrance for jewelry websites where someone will always need to view the product detail page in order to make a purchase decision.

Another consideration is that, if you have the Add to Cart button on the product browse page then you also need to fully detail every product with the schema.org markup to better guide Google.

When someone searches for a product on Google, the results they see will have the best possible match for the search query. If you don't fully qualify your product information with the schema.org markup you will potentially cause pages on your website to compete with one another for the ranking.

Keep in mind that Google only shows 1 page from your website in the results. They will not show multiple pages with multiple possible answers. If you have competing pages, then you risk the wrong page appearing in search, which will lead to dissatisfied customers when they get to you website.

Through correct schema.org tagging you can tell Google to index the product detail page instead of the product browse page.

Another thing to consider is that Google does not dig deep into the product catalog all the time. The Google spider will more easily index the product browse pages before it drills down into the individual product detail pages. If you have the Add to Cart button on the browse page you are signaling Google that they do not have to dig deeper to the detail pages. Ultimately, this limits your SEO.

Sub Topic: EDGE Users with unique SKUs for every item in every size and color
The EDGE POS creates a new SKU for every item you add to inventory. Those of you who use the EDGE are familiar with how you will add a unique SKU for the same style ring that comes in white gold, yellow gold, platinum, and in different sizes.

For example, when an engagement ring style from your vendor comes as a size 5 in white gold you will enter it as SKU 1234. The same style ring in a size 5 made with yellow gold would have a different SKU, maybe 1235.

When we originally learned how the EDGE managed inventory we thought it was a little odd because we came from the ecommerce world where you would add a single style to a website that has modifiers to change the color and size. In the ecommerce world these modifiers are called options. When a customer selects a different option the price of the product will change.

Over the years we've worked with several inventory management systems to make it easy to upload and manage inventory on a website. We've learned that many inventory systems use the same technique as the EDGE with regard to having different SKUs for items. What makes the EDGE different is how it always creates a new SKU even if you are restocking the same exact item. There is a way in the EDGE to use, what they call, a bulk item. The bulk item feature will allow you to use the same SKU over, but none of the jewelers we've ever worked with use this feature.

As it turns out, there's a big drawback on your website when you continually create new SKUs for products.

You see, when Google finds and indexes a product detail page from your website, it assumes that that product will be there until it is fully discontinued. Through the correct use of schema.org tags you can tell Google about the product availability, indicate the photos, product description, shipping options, and all other product details.

When Google spiders your site, they will make a list of the URLs that they find and return at a later date to continue spidering.

Ecommerce catalogs are managed by the SKU you assign. The URL for the product detail page will change when you change the SKU. This changed URL is to your disadvantage because the previous SKU is already on Google's index list.

Ultimately, you're not giving Google enough time to spider and index your product catalog because of how your inventory management system is constantly changing SKUs on you.

Sub Topic: Using Options is Recommended by Google

As it turns out, if you have a style that will always be described the same way even though it is available in different colors, sizes, and materials, then Google recommends that you have a single product detail page.

To put it differently, if the user must actively choose between these options no matter what they click on, then make it easy for them to select those options from a single product detail page instead of forcing them to dig through your catalog for all the different SKUs of associated colors, sizes, and materials.

When setting up your product detail pages with options, you should always show the most popular option choices as the default when users land on the page.

Other than making this item selection process easier for users, there's another reason Google recommends having a single product detail page per style, and that reason is to prevent ranking competition between your own pages. If you do have multiple SKUs, and therefore multiple product detail pages, then you need to build a solid site structure and fine-tune your product descriptions so each variation is 100% unique.

Considering how much we know jewelers love to write product descriptions, we don't believe this is a convenient way of managing your time.

Sub Topic: Advertising and Publicity
Google does offer an exception to their recommendation for using styles with options. That exception comes into play when you are using online advertising or when you are planning a publicity campaign for a product.

When it comes to online advertising and publicity campaigns, you do need dedicated URLs for the exact product you are mentioning. In other words, if you have an online ad for a rose gold ring, then you should link to a dedicated page for that rose gold ring in the size that is shown in the ad. Since rose gold isn't a popular metal choice, if you direct an ad or publicity link to a page with options, the user will see your chosen default options rather than the choices for rose gold. This will cause confusion and disappointment for the users.

Sub Topic: Don't Bait And Switch Product Information
In late June 2021, Google announced that they would penalize advertisers who show inaccurate product availability on their detail pages.

Have you ever seen an ecommerce site that tells you to add an item to the cart before they tell you the price or availability? This is what Google is trying to combat now.

As it turns out, many ecommerce systems are designed to capture customer information before revealing that an item cannot be shipped to them. Sometimes the price even changes once the customer enters their shipping address.

Another example of a new no-no is to show a product detail page with an active Add To Cart button, only to find out that the item isn't available any more when you try to add it to the cart. This certainly isn't user friendly.

If you are paying for advertising through Google Ads and your product catalog functions like what we've explained here, then you might have your account suspended.

Google always has stricter policies for their paid advertisers than for what happens in search results. If you break a rule for SEO, then you just don't appear in the results. When you break a rule in Google Ads, they suspend you.

That said, in order to correctly follow the rules of Google Ads, you have to employ many extra schema.org tags in order to indicate availability, shipping details, and options. If your website platform includes these features correctly it will both help with your SEO and it will set you up for when you are ready to start using Google Ads.
AT: 07/13/2021 07:39:25 PM  

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