I’ve had a lot of questions about my new work since I joined Netconcepts a little over three months ago as their Lead Strategist for their GravityStream product/service. My primary role is to bring SEO guidance to clients using GravityStream, and to provide thought leadership to the ongoing development of the product and business.
GravityStream is a technical solution that provides outsourced search optimization to large, dynamic websites. Automatic SEO, if you will. Here’s what it does…
A lot of major sites out there have difficulty optimizing themselves to improve rankings in search engine results pages (“SERPs”) in order to increase their organic traffic. It requires a unique mixture of conditions to do SEO: an expert who can diagnose all the structural factors that block spidering; programmers and system administrators who can make all the changes recommended by the expert; statisticians who can interpret the web metrics to monitor the impact of changes; writers and taxonomy specialists who can perform keyword optimizations; and, strategic analysts who can find new advantages to exploit.
Most companies don’t have all the necessary capabilities on-staff to do optimization fully in-house, and many companies continue to ignore their natural search marketing in favor of less-complex initiatives. Yesterday, I analyzed the product catalog of Coca-Cola’s online store as a representative example of the sorts of problems internet retail sites have, and outlined a number of factors that they would need to improve in order to rank ideally for all the various search terms their products should be targeting/ranking for. Coca-Cola’s not unique in overlooking proper use of the common signals for search optimization.
Online retail sites frequently share a number of nonoptimal characteristics including:
- Title tags not uniquely formulated for each page;
- Non-unique or non-existant META Description tags;
- Non-unique or nonexistant H1 tags;
- Lack of link hierarchy exposing all pages to search engine spiders;
- Internal links using worthless terms in link text;
- Category nomenclature using keywords which don’t perform well;
- Page URLs containing stop characters which block spidering;
- Page URLs too lengthy;
- User session IDs parsed into page URLs, causing massive duplicaton;
- Page URLs do not include keywords;
- Insufficient text content on pages and image-only page content;
- Image tags not containing valuable ALT text parameter;
- Pages too tightly focused on keywords instead of including a few additional terms to enhance traffic;
So, why don’t companies address these issues? Many companies are missing one or more of the resources needed to handle everything internally. But, even those companies which bring in external consultants to provide SEO guidance do not accomplish all the most-basic optimization elements. It’s well known throughout the search marketing industry that companies often don’t implement the recommendations of search agencies. Most companies are very like big families – dysfunctional to some degree. The marketing managers who understand what needs to be done cannot get the IT resources to cooperate, and it’s hard to keep the focus needed to make sure all the optimizations are executed and maintained.
Even the companies which have awakened to the potential of search marketing and have staffed up to develop optimizations in-house may have substantial delays before they can deploy needed changes, due to the sometimes lengthy development cycles of major corporations or lack of coordination between development teams.
GravityStream was created to fill this gap, providing a near-turn-key solution to automatically optimize large dynamic sites quicker and more comprehensively than companies can do in-house, at a fraction of the cost in staffing up and developing the work. GravityStream can address all the problems outlined in the above list, correcting sites’ pages and delivering them up to the search engines in optimized format.
How does it do it? GravityStream is a solution which allows us to proxy a client’s website by taking the native site pages, dynamically processing them to improve multiple factors such as TITLEs, H1s, META tags, etc – and then we deliver the page back through the client’s own domain name. In order for us to integrate with a client’s site, we ask the client’s system administrators to install a few rewrite rules on the server which send various page requests over to GravityStream to process. We replace core content links when search engine bots visit the site, generating hyperlinks which the rewrite rules can identify and cede over to GravityStream for processing.
One common question we get with clients is whether GravityStream’s process is a type of cloaking. The answer is no! Cloaking is defined as an effort to deceive search engines by delivering up content that appears different to spiders than it does to humans. GravityStream delivers up the same content to users as to search engine spiders for a URL, except the hyperlinks are formatted differently.
For instance, one reason we clean up and rewrite URLs is to remove things like Session IDs which cause heartburn for search engines. Managing URL formats to resolve indexation issues is allowed under Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and follows their recommended best practices. Under their Technical Guidelines, Google states:
“Allow search bots to crawl your sites without session IDs or arguments that track their path through the site. These techniques are useful for tracking individual user behavior, but the access pattern of bots is entirely different. Using these techniques may result in incomplete indexing of your site, as bots may not be able to eliminate URLs that look different but actually point to the same page.”
By working with a client’s application engineers, Netconcepts technicians can enable Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft Live and Ask to crawl a site without the pesky Session IDs, and with shorter URLs which include valuable keywords in them. Once an enduser arrives on the GravityStream formatted page, the hyperlinks revert back to the native site’s format, allowing all tracking and user-experience management methods to be used as normal.
GravityStream doesn’t have to be purely automatic/algorithmic. The GravityStream system also provides administrative interfaces which allow our taxonomy/keyword optimization specialists to inject keyword-rich text into client site pages, and allows them to hand-tweak TITLEs and other page signals as needed. For clients with in-house copy-writing staff, the admin interfaces can be used for hands-on content management so custom optimization can be easily accomplished by their own employees.
The system also provides performance monitoring tools and metrics on how much traffic is produced through the GravityStream pages, as well as information on indexing and keyword referrals.
Netconcepts has a couple of pricing models available to clients, one of which is particularly innovative in the search optimization industry: Pay Per Click! On this pricing model, the client is charged for the amount of traffic that the GravityStreamed pages bring to the site, and we do not charge for certain client brand name referrals such as the company name. How many other search optimization firms offer a pricing model based upon actual performance of their work?
GravityStream has provided best-in-class optimization work for a number of Fortune 500 companies and top most-recognized brand retail sites. Various news reports have also mentioned GravityStream’s success on behalf of clients, though some of our best success stories are kept confidential at the request of the companies involved.
I found the GravityStream product and success very compelling when I was considering joining Netconcepts, and I nowÂ recommend the product for firms with enterprise-class, top retail sites in particular. GravityStream functions very similarly to a system I designed when in-house at my former company, where I had built an application which proxied a legacy site application in order to optimize our own pages more rapidly/easily. So, GravityStream has a basic approach which in my experience functions quite well.
Most companies may want to perform SEO in-house at some future point, but there’s typically a considerable delay between initiating efforts to staff up and work through a project plan to get everything optimal. For some clients, GravityStream has been a solution for bridging them over between their current non-optimal state and the future point where they’re ready to do it all on through their native site. It’s valuable to recognize that failing to optimize sooner will represent some lost market share and money left on the table in the here and now. With change happening so rapidly in the internet space, it’s vital to grab as much market share as possible, as early as possible. GravityStream is a way to get optimized rapidly – we typically can schedule and deploy GravityStream within about six weeks of contract signature.
GravityStream is still evolving, too. We’re working on a lot of new features which will benefit all of our clients using the service. While many companies have some search marketing managers in-house, most do not have the benefit of a broadly experienced staff performing cutting-edge research and development in natural search optimization. Contracting for GravityStream can instantly provide the benefit of a completely staffed department of specialists who know search optimization.
If you’re interested in what GravityStream could do for your site, contact one of our business development representatives at (888) 207-1109, or contact us online.
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Filed under: Content Optimization, Dynamic Sites, HTML Optimization, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Site Structure, Tools Automatic-Search-Engine-Optimization, GravityStream, Netconcepts, Outsourced-Search-Engine-Optimization, Search Engine Optimization, SEO