Table of Contents
With almost 10.000 stores and more than 10 million products on its platform, Skroutz.gr is currently the fourth most visited site (after Google, Facebook, and YouTube) and the leading Marketplace in Greece. Skroutz.gr has on average 35M visits per month, with the vast majority of the traffic coming from Organic and Direct channels; we have never used paid ads (Adwords, etc.) for driving traffic to categories and products.
From the early days of Skroutz, back in 2005, we focused on quality content and experience in order to drive organic traffic. Although we didn’t always have a dedicated SEO team, the SEO mentality was present throughout the company. This mentality is what gave us an extremely good performance in the Greek SERPs and a steady year-over-year organic growth.
In this article, we share the most important values and principles that we have followed all these years. Although Skroutz.gr is a marketplace and many of the principles focus on the e-commerce’s SEO aspects, we believe that any fellow of the SEO community could find some useful information that can be applied to their websites.
Serve the human, not the machine
Great User Experience should be your top priority.
This is basically derived from our core values, as a company. We focus on the user journey and seek to give the customer the best experience in every step.
Although we always strive to get our content and structure accessible and optimized for search engines, we never build things exclusively for SEO reasons. So, be it a new feature or a page redesign, our primary focus is always an excellent user experience.
After all, according to Google’s Web Vitals: “Optimizing for quality of user experience is key to the long-term success of any site on the web.”
You can’t fool Google in the long run.
We are not going to talk about this extensively, but there are many grey and black hat SEO techniques that can lead to some good short-term results and aren’t endorsed, of course, by the Google Quality Guidelines.
Well, we think that if you want to build a site on solid “SEO” ground, get all the tremendous benefits of organic traffic in the long term, and not lose your sleep over every Google Core Update, you should stay away from any shady techniques. Google, despite its flaws, has evolved so much these years, and you will have many chances to get caught with a penalty.
After all, who wants to spend a lot of time on something that won’t payout in the future when they could work on things that create value for their visitors.
User experience, content, and more technical stuff like performance, crawlability & indexability, and website architecture are some of the things you might invest your time in!
User intent is your guiding principle for great content
Know your audience
If you can deeply understand your audience, you have made the first step to structure your pages to serve the user’s intent; that’s something that Google rewards in the long term.
By “deeply understand”, we don’t mean only how they search (Search Intent) but also:
- What type of information is likely to help them most.
- How should you serve that content to help the user.
- Which piece of content can remove any doubts from the user to continue their journey.
At Skroutz, we use many techniques to learn our users. We start with the Search Intent (how the users search on Google), and then we try to unveil valuable insights about their behavior after landing on our site.
Skroutz Info: Except for the quantitative research, in order to deeply understand what information we need on our Product or Category pages, our User Research Team runs comprehensive qualitative & UX research.
For example, they use Live Chats, User Surveys and Live Usability Tests with scenarios like “I want to get a Refrigerator for my family”. They gather all the pain points of the User Journey and use them to enhance our products.
Have a quality page for every important (to your company) query
This is one of the fundamental principles of SEO, yet many sites underestimate or fear duplicate content or crawl budget issues. Especially for E-commerce Sites, there are a lot of “traditional” rules that many (or their CMS) blindly follow:
“You should always no-follow & no-index category facets (filters).”
“Product variations are duplicate pages and should always be blocked from Google.”
“Out-of-Stock products have no value and should be removed from the Google Index as soon as possible.”
At Skroutz, we think that everything should be decided based on the user search intent and the company’s objectives. If one page has value for the company and can drive high-quality organic traffic, there is no reason why this page shouldn’t be indexed.
If we want to be more specific:
- Many facet combinations (Category Filters) can rank for many short and long-tail searches. If something has value for the visitors, index it; if not, save your crawl budget for another quality page.
Skroutz Info: We use a sophisticated & automated way of indexing filter combinations (Faceted Navigation) and follow their links, mainly based on traffic and internal searches.
- In some cases, product variations may have a substantial difference regarding search intent. For example, some color variations in fashion products have a decent volume for many different colors. This means that the user wants to see a specific variation of one product. Hence, a dedicated page for each color might be more relevant, helpful (i.e. recommend a suited color-complementary product) and drive more traffic cumulatively than a page which contains every variation on the same page.
- A large number of out-of-stock products can drive a lot of traffic, even if they have been discontinued for months. In some cases (e.g., a newer model came out), it’s beneficial to test if you could add value to a visitor by promoting more recent/ related products in the out-of-stock product pages.
Skroutz Info: We keep our out-of-stock products until there is no genuine search interest for them. Some of them drive quality traffic to relevant (linked) products for many months after the day of being out-of-stock.
An excellent site performance & usability should be a company objective, not just a task
There has been a lot of chatter in the SEO community lately about the Web Vitals and Google’s page experience update that is taking place. Some are rushing now to fix those metrics to increase or preserve their organic performance after the update.
At Skroutz, we believe that delivering a great user experience on the web is heavily impacted by site performance and usability. That’s why speed was always a critical factor for Skroutz.gr.
In order to preserve an excellent performance and usability:
- We are actively monitoring all the SEO-specific metrics like LCP, FID, CLS.
- We have set up a “speed mentality” for our Front-End engineers, especially for the latest and greatest things on rendering performance.
- Our Systems Team is actively monitoring all requests, response volumes, and timings to ensure a stable and fast performance of our servers.
Understand how Google sees your property must be a top priority
Google doesn’t have to know everything; you can help!
Google has improved its crawling capabilities all these years, and, in most cases, GoogleBot can crawl a site efficiently, regardless of the technology used in the backend or the site’s size.
However, crawl efficiency is not always guaranteed for large sites (1 million+ unique pages) or sites with daily updated content. In those cases, prioritizing what to crawl is a vital aspect and should be considered in your SEO strategy.
How can you help Google?
- Sitemaps: Help Google understand what YOU think should be prioritized.
- Content Pruning: Remove pages that are of little value to your audience and save crawl budget.
- Site Architecture: Help Google find & crawl your site easily, and understand the importance of every page
- Internal Linking: Help Google understand how each page is related to each other and boost crawl rate for your important pages.
Skroutz Info: 2 years ago, we optimized our crawl budget by removing 72% of Skroutz indexed URLs. If you are curious about how we did it, you can read the detailed case study.
Are you confident that GoogleBot can always parse all your content?
The web is changing, so is SEO. The need for better website design and user experience, accelerated the usage of new technologies and frameworks, like ReactJS, VueJS, etc., that can change the content of one web page dynamically. This can create some problems for the SEO teams.
- If Google can crawl and parse your content.
- If your most important information like meta robots, titles & descriptions are always served correctly to GoogleBot.
SEO is a team sport
SEO should be in the DNA of the company, not just an extra task
SEO, especially in enterprise-level websites with millions of pages, shouldn’t be one team’s job, but it has to be embedded in the company’s DNA. Imagine how easier it would be for SEO teams if non-SEO teams had a clear knowledge of:
- what SEO is,
- why does their job affect the SEO,
- how they can help the SEO Team and vice versa,
- when they should proactively get in touch with the SEO team.
At Skroutz, we are trying to embrace SEO through the company as a mindset for every individual from Product & Design to Content and Engineers. We use training, workshops and meetings with individuals/ teams so that everyone is involved in this.
Skroutz Info: Content teams are actively involved in many “SEO” kind of tasks like Keyword Research for Category & Product Titles
SEO unveils helpful, actionable data and creates tools that help the other teams objectives
Knowing how a user searches to find a specific piece of information in Google is an invaluable asset for site owners. In addition, this knowledge is something that the SEO team specializes in and can use to create value for many other teams and the company.
Some examples of different cases where the SEO team can really offer value are the following:
- Help the customer support teams by sharing information about the search behavior of the customer for any information they need from the site. For example, if many people search for “how to return a product in site X” or “cost of the X service”, the SEO team can propose some changes or a new section/ landing page, thus decreasing the number of phone calls/ emails.
- Help Merchandising & Marketing Teams with prioritizing their promotional efforts (Site Banners, Social Media Posts, etc) especially for Seasonal products/ services, by providing them with weekly or monthly organic trends for some keywords or landing pages.
Skroutz Info: We have created a Data Studio Dashboard with Organic Trends for Categories, Landing Pages, and Keyphrases using Search Console data. This Dashboard is used by many fellows of Merchandising and Marketing teams.
- Educate Content teams about SEO and create tools that help their everyday job, like creating new Product or Category pages. For example, Search Console can be used to create a tool (via API or Data Studio) where members of Content Teams can find popular keyphrases and use them in titles or main content.
Having good organic performance is a long, difficult journey, especially for large and complex websites. However, if you stay focused on providing the best user experience, you will be rewarded with great results in the long term.
We hope that you found this article useful as a source of inspiration for your SEO adventure!
What are the values and principles that you follow, regarding SEO? Let us know, in a comment below (we’ll reply to all questions).
On Behalf of Growth Team,