Over the past 2 decades, we’ve seen a ton of in-house tools created to support content moderators in the important task to keep users safe.

While these tools have mostly been created by very talented developers, it has also often been evident that the team behind them has not been able to put the time and resources into creating optimized moderation solutions. Likely because they’ve made the smart business decision to prioritize developing new features or polish for their core product. The platform their users use.

The problem is that the trade-off comes back to impact end-users at some point. Ineffective moderation processes (caused by unwieldy tools) will ultimately mean users get a worse user experience and substandard service.

Obviously, in-house tools vary wildly in features, capacity, and user-friendliness, but over the years we’ve come across 5 features that we regularly see in-house tools lacking.

Are my customers getting scammed? Is my site being used for illegal sales? Are offensive language and disturbing images flourishing without my knowledge?

These have been the primary concerns since the dawn of classifieds, frequently discussed at events, forums, in the media and among peers. And it makes sense, a site where illegal drugs are being traded, where fraudsters are thriving and visitors get offended, will most likely develop a pretty bad reputation and face a slow but steady death. Right?

Sure, we are not denying this, but times are changing and just avoiding negative buzz is not enough anymore to build a thriving site. In 2021, marketplaces need to actively build on their brands and we are seeing increasing amounts of money being thrown on brand strengthening campaigns and commercials. But are companies living up to their brand promises? How does content quality affect the perception of a site and how is quality perceived by the users? This is something we wanted to find out. And this is why we initiated a survey.

What Content Affect Users?

We asked 1000 people in the UK and US how they perceive listings with different types of content and what actions they would take based on the ads. And this is what we found:

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Is It Relevant?

Consumers clearly don’t have any patience with irrelevant or missing information. When shown an ad lacking relevant content nearly 80% said that they would not return to the site where it was posted, nor would they recommend it to others. “I would never buy a phone from an ad or site like this” was a common response to the ad.

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Inappropriate Content

People also found Racism and nudity disturbing, but the interesting thing is that this content wasn’t perceived to be as bad as the ad missing relevant information.

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Scam Detection Failure

Scam should continue to be a priority for market places, as almost half of the respondents failed to identify an ad that was an obvious scam containing a “too low to be true-price”, a western union payment, and/or typos. We would continue to maintain that it’s your responsibility to protect your visitors, and that clearly remains true as many of them are otherwise sitting ducks that scammers will pray on.

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Counterfeit

Counterfeit is another area where users have problems. Less than 50% spotted the fake phone even though it was clearly stated in the ad.

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Lack of Trust

We could spot a general lack of trust. The listing that was genuinely good was also the best perceived one, but even here many people expressed concerns. This only points to the importance of brand building. A strong brand will likely generate a higher trust, so take care of your reputation and keep a clear and consistent focus on building confidence on your site.

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European Skepticism

Talking about trust… Brits appear to be more skeptical than Americans across the board as they regularly chose to not take the desired actions on the ads shown to them. The reason? Lack of trust. So if you need to prioritize moderation efforts across different sites this might give you some clues on where to start in order to break into the market rather than falling flat on your face.

These are just some of the findings. If you want to dig deeper you can reach out to us and talk to a content moderation expert.

Reviews can make or break a business. The same applies to online marketplaces, classifieds, and even dating sites. And they don’t just impact these platforms – they affect how people see the brands that advertise on them, as well as individual vendors, and of course, those looking for love and companionship.

However, in a world where User-Generated Content (UGC) is so prevalent, the fact is anyone from anywhere can leave a good or bad review and have it seen in a very public way.

While it’s clear why bad reviews can hurt businesses and brands, fake positive ones can damage reputations too.

Confused? It’s a tricky area to navigate.

Let’s consider the ways in which reviews can build trust and how online marketplaces can address this moderation challenge.

Reviews Build Consumer Trust

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, trust is at the epicentre of the digital economy. As consumers we take ‘trust leaps’ when deciding if a particular online product or service is suitable for us. This is why reviews matter so much – they help us form an opinion.

In a practical sense, many of these sentiments (which can largely be attributed to economist and TED speaker, Rachel Botsman) are grounded in our search for social proof; which forms one of the key cornerstones of the ‘Trust Stack’ – which encompasses: trust in the idea, trust in the platform, and (as is the case here) trust in the user.

Because the three have an interdependent relationship, they reinforce each other – meaning that user trust leads to trust in the platform and idea; and vice versa.

If it sounds improbable that consumers are more likely to trust complete strangers, then consider the numbers. Stats show that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – with 76% stating that they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends.

Needless to say, they factor in a great deal. Customer reviews are therefore essential indicators of trust – which is why bad reviews can negatively impact businesses so heavily.

Brand Backlash

While on some marketplaces, a 3.5 out of 5 for ‘average’ service might be deemed acceptable – for many businesses, a slip in the way they’re reviewed is perceived to have disastrous consequences.

Some companies have fought back at negative reviews; but instead of challenging customers over their comments, or trying to figure out where they could do better, they’ve actively tried to sue their critics.

One particular hotel in New York State, US, even stated in its ‘small print’ that visitors would be charged $500 for negative Yelp reviews. While some service providers have slated – and even looked to sue – online review giant, Yelp for the way in which it has ‘prioritised’ reviews with the most favourable first.

But why are overly positive reviews that detrimental? Surely a positive review is what all companies are striving for? The issue is inauthenticity. A true reflection of any experience rarely commands 5-stars across the board; and businesses, marketplaces, and consumers are wise to it.

Authenticity Means ‘No Astroturfing’

It’s clear that many companies want to present themselves in the best possible light. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, when it comes to reviews of their products and services, if every single rating is overwhelmingly positive, consumers would be forgiven for being suspicious.

In many cases, it seems, they probably are. Creating fake reviews – a practice known as ‘astroturfing’ – has been relatively widespread since the dawn of online marketplaces and search engines. But many are now wise to it and actively doing more to prevent the practice.

For example, Google has massively cracked down on companies buying fake Google reviews designed to positively influence online listings – removing businesses that do from local search results. Similarly Amazon has pledged to put a stop to the practice of testers being paid for reviews and being reimbursed for their purchases.

Astroturfing isn’t just frowned upon, it’s also illegal. Both the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the US Federal Trade Commission have strict rules in place over misleading customers.

In Britain, the CMA has taken action against social media agency, Social Chain, for failing to disclose that a series of posts were in fact part of a paid for campaign; and took issue with an online knitwear retailer posting fake reviews.

While some may consider astroturfing a victimless crime, when you consider the faith that shoppers have in online reviews and the fact that their favourite sites may be deliberately trying to mislead them, then it’s clear that there’s a major trust issue at stake.

For classified sites, dating apps, and online marketplace owners, who have spent so long building credibility, gaining visibility, and getting users and vendors onboard; a culture where fake reviews persist can be disastrous.

But when so many sites rely on User-Generated Content the task of monitoring and moderating real reviews, bad reviews, and fake reviews is an enormous undertaking – and often a costly one.

Manual Vs. Automated Moderation

While many fake reviews are often easy to spot (awkwardly put together, bad spelling and grammar) when they appear at scale manually moderating them becomes unsustainable – even for a small team of experts.

That’s why new ways to detect and prevent are starting to gain traction. For example, many sites and marketplaces are starting to limit review posting to those who’ve bought something from a specific vendor. However, as per the Amazon example above, this is a practice that is easy to circumvent.

A more reliable method is automated moderation – using machine learning algorithms that can be trained to detect fake reviews, as well as other forms of unwanted or illegal content on a particular classifieds site or marketing. By using filters, the algorithm is continually fed examples of good and bad content to the point that it can automatically identify between the two.

It’s a process that also works well in tandem with manual moderation efforts. When a user review is visible, a notification can be sent to the moderation team; allowing them to make the final judgement call on a review’s authenticity.

Ultimately, In a world where online truths can often be in short supply, companies – whether they’re brands or marketplaces – that are open enough for customers to leave honest, reasonable reviews stand a better chance of building trust among their users.

While it’s clear businesses have a right to encourage positive online reviews – as part of their marketing efforts – any activities that attempt to obscure the truth (no matter how scathing) or fabricate a rose-tinted fake review, can have an even more negative impact than a humdrum review itself.

The bad review report

To help you better understand how to naviguate the tricky world of bad review we have compiled a report highlighting the top 5 most frequent complaints on online marketplaces. Our insights will help you better understand how to improve user experience, negate churn and increase user acquisition on your platoform.

Bad reviews report

Users’ expectations are at an all-time high and losing your customers to your competition is, of course, out of the question. Platforms need to do everything in their power to ensure a seamless and safe experience on their site. That’s why content moderation has never been more vital to gain and retain customers.

Browsing the web for content moderation statistics? Look no further. We have compiled a list of 65 statistics about the landscape of content moderation from user experience, to customer service or stats relating to your specific industry.

User Experience

Online shoppers have no time to waste. They are expecting to find what they are looking for instantly. Competing for users’ attention is a tricky business. Only one negative experience can send your users away, seeking a better place to shop from. Proper categorization, smooth navigation, good searchability and no duplicates all play a key role in creating a seamless experience in order to win customers and keep them coming back.

  • One in three consumers says they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience. – PWC
  • First impressions are 94% design-related. – Research Gate
  • A study shows that 60% of consumers start their research on a search engine before visiting a specific website. – MineWhat.com on Adweek
  • When they visited a mobile-friendly site, 74% of people say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future. – Think with Google
  • 42% shoppers’ abandon an online purchase because of limited product information. – Biz report
  • Around 87% of online shoppers abandon their carts during the checkout if the process is too long or complicated. – Splitit
  • The average cart abandonment rate at 69.5 per cent for 2019. – Statista
  • 55% of website visitors spend less than 15 seconds actively reading. – FreelancingGig
  • 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. – Think with Google
  • Slow-loading sites increase the abandonment rate by 79.17%. – SaleCycle
  • 30 % of shoppers say that the loading time of a website is the most important website feature. Magento Commerce report
  • 100% of the participants found irrelevant items in their search results. Besedo user search study

Reviews

Reviews can make or break your business. With customers relying more and more on reviews to buy products or services (and even trusting fellow online reviewers as much as their friends and family) genuine user reviews are an excellent way for users to gain trust in your platform.

However, fake reviews are multiplying quickly online, and this could eroding the trust needed to convert buyers. So, how can you prevent fake reviews on your site? Setting up a reliable content moderation process is your best bet to protect your site. Find out more about tackling fake reviews here.

  • 82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year. – Bright Local
  • 85% of consumers are willing to leave reviews. – Bright Local
  • More than 8 in 10 say user-generated content from people they don’t know influences what they buy and indicates brand quality. – Hubspot
  • 76% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. – Bright Local
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. – Bright Local
  • 73% of Millennials say that consumers care more about customer opinions than companies themselves do. – Hubspot
  • 93% of consumers say that user-generated content can help them in making a purchasing decision. – Adweek
  • Around 30 per cent of online consumers said they posted product feedback online and, in Asia, consumers were nearly 50 per cent more likely than average to post a review. – KPMG
  • 90% of customers are influenced by positive reviews when buying a product. – Zendesk

Dating

Heterosexual couples are more likely to meet a romantic partner online than through personal contacts and connections according to a recent study. The dating industry is booming, yet it is still facing countless challenges: rude messages, inappropriate images and in the worst of cases, sexual harassment.

To succeed in the business, you need to handle these threats with an effective content moderation strategy. The following online dating stats will give you a better idea of the challenges to be faced head-on.

  • 41% said of participants to a study said they are afraid of dating scams. – MeasuringU
  • 51% of women say they felt safety was a concern when meeting with people resulting from a match on a dating app. – Once survey
  • 42% of women reported being “contacted by someone through an online dating site or app in a way that made them feel harassed or uncomfortable. – Pew Research
  • Nearly 40% of people surveyed have “swipe fatigue” because these apps are superficial, geared towards casual relationships and don’t have adequate safety features. – Once survey
  • 34% of participants have been contacted in a way that made them uncomfortable. – Statista
  • Around the world, 600 million singles have access to the Internet. 400 million of these have never used a dating app. – TechCrunch
  • 82% say they would feel more secure using a dating app with public ratings. – Once survey

Sharing economy

The sharing economy is forging its way into all types of industries, from the gig economy to transportation or housing, no sector will be left untouched in the future. Yet, the sharing industry comes with its own set of challenges, privacy and safety being the two leading causes of concern.

  • The number of sharing economy users is set to reach 86.5 million in the U.S. in 2021. – Statista
  • Fears’ consumers addressed issues of value and quality, articulated as concerns about “sharing not being worth the effort” (12 percent), “goods/services being of poor quality” (12 percent) and “other factors” (9 percent). – Campbell Mithun and Carbonview
  • 67% of consumer’s fears towards the sharing economy are related to trust. – Campbell Mithun and Carbonview
  • In a 2017 survey, 36 percent of the respondents said privacy concerns were a reason not to use Airbnb, and 13 percent stated safety concerns as a reason not to use the app. – Statista
  • Over the past five years, the Car Sharing Providers industry has grown by 8.9% to reach revenue of $1bn in 2019. – Ibis World
  • McKinsey estimates that in the U.S. and Europe alone, 162 million people or 20-30 percent of the workforce are providers on sharing platforms. – McKinsey

Online marketplaces

With conscious consumerism on the rise, online marketplaces are trendier by the day. But in this competitive environment, online marketplaces need to set themselves apart. Optimizing your platform’s experience is a must if you wish to stay in the race.

  • Marketplaces are generating significant revenue, with two-thirds generating more than $50 million annually and one-third generating $100 million or more. – Altimeter
  • 21x, that’s how much faster resale has grown over retail over the past three years. – ThredUp
  • Lack of sellers who meet their needs (53%) is the single biggest reason buyers leave marketplaces. – Altimeter
  • By 2021, 53.9% of all U.S. retail eCommerce is expected to be generated through mobile commerce. – Statista
  • 56% of consumers would buy more from off-price retailers if they offered secondhand apparel, and one-third said the same was true of fast-fashion retailers. – ThredUp
  • The digital classifieds ad revenue in the U.S. grew by 8.3 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year. – Statista
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of online shoppers simply head straight to a large eCommerce marketplace.  – Big-commerce and Square study
  • Only 20% would buy the product in an ad with poor description and 73% were unlikely to return to the site. Compared to 56% and 37% for a good listing. Besedo user search study

Customer service

Customer service has become progressively more important for customers in the past few years. Have a look at the following statistics to help you improve your customer service and become their preferred platform.

  • According to a survey by Customer Care Measurement and Consulting the Carey School of Business at the Arizona State University, over three-quarters of complaining consumers were less than satisfied with their experience with the given company’s customer service department. – Customer Care Measurement and Consulting
  • 63% of customers are happy to be served by a chatbot if there is an option to escalate the conversation to a human. – Forrester
  • 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. – Forrester
  • 95% of customers tell others about a bad experience, and 87% share good experiences. – Zendesk
  • 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less. – HubSpot Research
  • Investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. – Invesp

Scams

Scams can be found everywhere, and because of their sophistication level can be hard to detect or get rid of. Still, scams hurt businesses and drive user trust away. Check out our blog post on the 5 common online marketplace scams to see how you can fight back.

  • Fifty-five percent of businesses surveyed reported an increase in online fraud-related losses over the past 12 months. – Experian
  • 75% who saw a scam on a site would not return. – Besedo user search study
  • Only half of companies believe that they have a high level of understanding about how fraud affects their business. – Experian
  • 27% abandoned a transaction due to a lack of visible security. – Experian
  • Nearly 1.5 million phishing sites are created each month. – Dashlane blog
  • The median individual loss to a romance scam reported in 2018 was $2,600, about seven times higher than the median loss across all other fraud types. – FTC
  • 74% of consumers see security as the most important element of their online experience, followed by convenience. – Experian
  • 43.19% of the first page results for Gucci bag were counterfeits. Besedo mystery shopping study
  • Nearly 60 percent of consumers worldwide have experienced online fraud at some point. – Experian
  • In Australia, reports for financial losses due to scams reached 16.9% in December 2019 compared to 7.8% in December 2018. – Scamwatch
  • In Australia, investment scams are the top scam in terms of losses followed by dating ones. – Scamwatch
  • In our study, 50% of participants encountered something they thought was a scam. – Besedo user search study

Online harassment

Online harassment is a plague with dire consequences. Get to know the following stats to better your content moderation and fight back on online harassment.

  • 1 in 2 young people reported having experienced online bullying before the age of 25. – Universities U.K.
  • 41% of American adults have experienced online harassment and 66% of adults have witnessed at least one harassing behavior online. – Pew Research
  • 62% U.K. youth participants reported they had received nasty private messages via social media, of which 42% were hate-based comments on the grounds of race, sexuality or gender identity. – Universities U.K.
  • More than a tenth of Americans have experienced mental or emotional stress (and 8% have experienced problems with friends and family) as a result of online harassment. – Pew Research
  • 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime. – GfK

Online marketplaces are built on the connection between buyers and sellers and the ability to bring the two sides together to transact. However, many users stumble upon poor content or idle buyers or sellers.

In a survey conducted by Besedo, we found that 50% of online marketplace users encountered content they believed to be a scam. On top of that, 75% of them said they’d never return to the site.

Ensuring a smooth, safe and scam-free experience on your online marketplace is a must if you wish to stay in the race with your fierce competition.

What if your buyers and sellers only encountered qualitative users and content on your online marketplace? How would that impact your overall conversion and retention rates?

A significant first step is to qualify your sellers to ensure the high-quality of both sellers and their goods on your marketplace.

In this complimentary white paper, we share advice that will help you build a solid setup to qualify users and how this process can positively impact your retention and conversion rates.

There is a saying, a craftsman is only as good as his tools. Anyone with a blunt kitchen knife or a printer of any kind will no doubt agree. So why should it be any different for your marketplace?  

A marketplace has a multitude of needs and while it can be tempting to create solutions for all of them yourself, it isn’t always the best place to invest your resources. In a previous blog post, we’ve discussed how you need to consider whether a feature or tool is a business need or a unique selling point before pouring time and money into developing it. If it’s the former, it may be prudent to save money by looking for a 3rd party solution to the problem. The good news for marketplace owners is that there are a ton of great tools out there that smoothly help solve a lot of your business needs. 

If you search for marketplace tools online you are most likely going to be flooded with offers, some useful some not so much. To make it easier to locate quality tools for marketplaces we’ve created an overview of companies who provide excellent tools that help with acquisition, conversion and retention throughout the buyer journey.  

When making decisions concerning conversions in the digital space it is good advice to think from a customer-centric point of view. Therefore, we have broken down the customer journey for buyers step by step to provide you with a list with the tools necessary to provide great UX at each stage.  

Check out our infographic “The toolbelt for marketplaces – Buyer journey edition” to see if you have everything in place for excellent user experience from early awareness to the re-engagement phase.

SEO expert Oliver Winberg gives advice on how to rank in Google and acquire more organic traffic in a webinar about Online marketplace SEO.

We live in the world of search engines. There are 66 000 searches on Google every second, that’s almost 238M searches per hour. That is a lot of potential traffic from search engines, and companies are constantly competing to rank number 1. To win the audience. 

How do you outplay your competition?   

There are many SEO guides and checklists available online. However, most of them are very generic and none are specific to online marketplaces and the challenges that come with running one.  

On April 26th, we had the opportunity to host a webinar together with Oliver Winberg, former SEO Manager at Junk Mail Media Group, and pick his brain on how to successfully work with SEO for online marketplaces. 

During the webinar, Oliver gave insights and actionable tips on how online marketplaces can optimize their SEO actions. We had a very engaged audience with a lot of great questions, so many in fact that we ran out of time and didn’t manage to answer them all during the live session.

Oliver has been kind enough to answer all questions submitted and you’ll find the questions and answers about online marketplace SEO further down this page.

But first, make sure to watch the webinar. Here is the full recording:

  

SEO for online marketplaces Q&A 

Q: What is your preferred online tool for keyword tracking? How much do you trust Search Console? 
Oliver: My favorite way of tracking keywords is using MOZ. I like their interface and dashboard design. MOZ is not the least costly, but I trust their data. But honestly, that is just my opinion. There are at dozens of other good keyword(KW) tracking tools out there and the standards of these tools are changing all the time.

If you are not tracking keywords today, you will probably have to start by tracking a few thousand keywords at least. In that case, you should pick the tool that can get you started quickly, and then put some time over the next few months to properly research the options out there and switch to what makes sense to you.

Regarding Search Console, I have no reason not to trust their data. That data is coming directly from Google and has to be included in your SEO toolset. However, it will only tell you what KWs you are already ranking for, and a lot of it will probably be brand related phrases. It’s good to know where you stand, but you will need a 3rd party tool to help you understand the potential that is out there and especially one that can give you some insight into your competitors’ actions. For this, I like Search Metrics, but again do the research and find the toolset that works for you and your objectives.

 

Q: Google is moving towards mobile first indexing. Is AMP the perfect solution to this to make pages mobile friendly? 
Oliver: Google has some great guidelines for Best Practices for mobile-first indexing.

In summary, it will be best to have a core mobile-friendly version of every page, which must include the same content as your desktop pages. Some of the navigation elements may be too cumbersome to include in the mobile version, but the important content/keywords must be there plus the most critical links. Using responsive web dev will be your most effective means of managing these pages over the long term. 

Keep in mind that Mobile Friendly also means that pages must load quickly – aim for max 1s. You should only use AMP if is not practical to meet the development timelines to achieve mobile-friendly pages quickly. In my experience, it has always been a better strategy to develop mobile-friendly versions of your core site, and then use AMP plugins to achieve the mobile-friendly version of blog content on a Wordpress site – or other similar plugs for Joomla, Wix, etc sites.

 

Q: More and more users post their ads from mobile devices, and those ads have less and less text. Do you have any idea on how to solve that?
Oliver: Agreed, that is a growing concern. I think this can be offset to some extent by having more granular classifications and making sure the keywords that are relevant to the bottom-most categories are included in the adverts metadata (mainly the page title and meta description).

My experience with mobile ad entry is that users are not as adverse to drilling down a few layers of category selection as they are they are too typing on mobile. Make sure that you allow a user to include a unique title or item description and use that when it’s available, as some users will understand that this will help their items selling faster. Include that in your help info about how to sell an item more quickly. But cater for the average user by having as much as possible selectable by dropdowns or checkboxes. Test that continuously. e.g. Do more users complete color via dropdown lists or do they prefer checkboxes.

I’m hoping though that image recognition technology evolves fast enough so that machine interpreted descriptions can be substituted for advertiser input text. This is a great example of why it’s important to keep innovating.

 

Q: What to do with expired ads? 
Oliver: This is dependent on the type of content/portal. When the content can be classified down to a very fine level, such as is the case with cars, then it makes sense in my opinion to (301) redirect the expired ads to the relevant category landing page.

In the case of content, that is more uniquely identified by the user-generated ad title and description it will be more effective to build an archive of the expired ads with dynamically generated links back to the latest content (ads) received in the relevant category. This will keep the expired ad URLs indexed by search engines and will give the search engines another way to discover the new content.

This archived content must be supported by links in your navigation to an index of all archived content. It must be possible for regular users to reach your archives from your core site’s navigation. It won’t need to be a highlighted link, but that content must be present in a way that will be useful to regular human users. Each archived advert must be clearly labeled as ‘expired’ and the advertiser’s contact details should be hidden to avoid connecting active buyers to inactive sellers.

In a generalist marketplace, it may be necessary to employ different expired content strategies based on the nature of specific categories. The bottom line is that the more pages on your site that are indexable by search engines, the wider your pool of content that draws traffic and generates conversions will be.

 

Q: Do you have any favorite keyword research tool? 
Oliver: When starting a new Keyword Research project these are first 3 tools I will always make use of (currently):

Google’s AdWords Planner is brilliant because it is drawing data from the ‘source’, based on what real humans are searching for now. MOZ and Ubersuggest are good in my opinion but can be replaced or supplemented by numerous other tools that exist in the market, which could be more relevant to your location or industry.

Pay attention to the SEO chatter in your area and industry and go with the tools mentioned in those channels. When time allows and especially when you are looking to draw traffic from the fringe of user search, include sources like Google Trends and even Google’s search suggestions from Google search engine.

 

Q: At how granular a level should you create categories for keywords? iPhone makes sense, but what about more obscure tech such as VR helmets that may have a narrower user base? 
Oliver: In this case, it’s important to define how you as a marketplace define the difference between a category and a facet. Categories will include subcategories for this purpose.

In my opinion categories and sub-categories is a compulsory selection that a user must make to either post an advert or when browsing to find the item or service she wants. Facets, on the other hand, are optional, but could be used to get a better result for the buyer and seller.

This difference between a category and facet is best defined by the research you do in your market.

Let’s use iPhones as an example. iPhones are a type of mobile phone and therefore usually a subcategory of mobile phones. Users will be searching in Google for ‘iPhones for sale’.

iPhone 6, 6Plus, etc. are all well-defined and common subsets of iPhones, but would it make sense to include them as sub-categories? If your keyword research shows that there are significant numbers of users that are looking for ‘iPhone 6 plus’ for sale, then it does make sense to add iPhone 6 Plus as a subcategory of the iPhone category. This is also where it gets fun. We know Apple will release a new iPhone model during early autumn. To attract these searches, you may want to add an ‘iPhone Z for sale’ category, at least as a temporary category that could be merged (301’ed) back to the main iPhone category after the launch.

In other words, everything you do needs to be backed by good research – with some room for experimentation – in order to get the best results from SEO.

The same principles can be applied to VR Headset. Is there a specific brand or model that stands out in your market for which there is good search volume then add the relevant sub-categories. If not, then include that data in your facets.

There is no generic magic answer to this question. Significant numbers are all relevant to your niche. But the answer will be there when you have right data. If the numbers interest you and you think that the searchers are serious enough to generate conversions, then create the categories.

 

Q: How many hours should you expect to spend on SEO optimization to see results?
Oliver:
SEO is a very broad topic and will have an impact on every aspect of your portal. It has to be a long-term, ongoing commitment. Every person in your organization must be thinking about what will work best for SEO, which now also includes the User Experience. You can’t put a time to this. But rather make sure everyone in your teams makes the SEO of your portal their top priority. Doing things the search engine friendly way must become second nature to your team and executed as part of their regular function.

It will be easier to quantify the time your team will need training in order to get to this level. An hour a week for the next month in a dedicated training program should be enough to get your team’s attention and get started with this thinking.

Specific SEO related tasks, such as the Keyword Research and optimizing your category structures, can also be divided into time slots. But even these are an ongoing commitment that will need chunks of time continuously to stay on top of your game.

The time that it will take to see results will vary depending on the task and the optimizations that have already been done. Probably my biggest learning over the years has been to make sure you have the right measurements in place. Take the time to get this right up front and you should see the impact of your SEO efforts quickly, within days when optimizations are onsite.

 

Q: Should you edit user-generated content (titles for instance) to optimize the content? 
Oliver: The short answer to this, in my opinion, is No!

Moderation is crucial to help identify duplicate content and fraudulent content. But changing your user’s wording is bad for trust, and misspelling etc. that your users may contribute will all be great for SEO.

Some additional moderation may be necessary to correct the category and/or region selection but mostly there is no need for you to proofread content – unless that is the feature that makes your marketplace unique.

 

Q: When it comes to short and long keywords, where would you place and focus on each? 
Oliver: The short tail is not as significant as it was a few years ago. Users are generally using more natural speech in their searching, which means that long tail keywords are growing.

You will need to subdivide the keyword suggestion that you find in your research into those that will make sense for categories, those that will better match faceted results, those that that will work for created content and finally those that should be covered by your user-generated content.

Your most significant traffic should be directed to your category landing pages, and the keywords that are needed to optimize those structures should, therefore, have your focus.

 

Q: What about optimizing for Image search? One piece of advice around image optimization is to “Name your images descriptively and in plain language”. But with users uploading the images how is that done in a good way? 
Oliver: Images are often the last items on your site to get SEO attention, and yes, it is hard to get conversions from image searches – today. But as more users make use of reverse image search feature, i.e. uploading images to either a search engine or your site, you will find more of these searchers convert. Although even today a search for images by Google users, and in other search engines, will bring in traffic volumes to your site.

The general SEO work that you do will already have an impact on the image results, but the two more important SEO features you need to focus on for image optimization is the Alt Text tag and the image file names. Mobile phones and digital cameras will normally generate generic files which are meaningless to a search engine. These file names are in your control as the image is uploaded and can be turned into much more meaningful file names by including a few words on the ad title, category, and region and then make the filename unique with a combination of time and ad ID.

The Alt tag text is the text that displayed on a webpage if the image fails to load and is a key description of the image that a search engine will attempt to interpret together with the file name. Ideally, the Alt text will be completed by the user. But we know that this is an impractical wish. Give the user the option to complete at least one option image description per batch of images that are uploaded. But when this is not done, fall back again to a combination of the ad title, description, category, and region to build dynamic Alt tags.

When more than one image is used, add the image sequence number to better uniquely identify the specific image, or build an algorithm that will use different advert structure to better uniquely identify subsequent images. The user will likely select one image to be the lead images, and it’s this image that must be given the cleanest (first) file name and alt text. Again, image recognition tech will catch up with these demands for optimized alt tags per image. But till then this is another aspect of SEO that needs experimentation.

 

Q: How do you make sure that UGC gets properly indexed by Google? 
Oliver: Google’s requirement is to have a unique URLs for every piece of unique content. Sounds obvious but one of the most common issues I have come across is that it can be possible to reach the same ad page, i.e. your bike, using multiple URLs that will return the exact same content. That could be OK as long as a unique canonical URL is referenced in each of those versions of the URL.

Even a parameter in a URL will make Google believe the URLs are different and therefore the content. eg www.mystuffforsake.com/yourbike-101.htm?q=bike will be indexed separately to www.mystuffforsake.com/yourbike-101.htm and must, therefore, include a canonical (link rel=”canonical”) pointing pack to www.mystuffforsake.com/yourbike-101.htm.

Duplicate content and fraudulent should be cleared from your content pool, though not necessarily before the content is indexed. If this content is indexed before being moderated, make sure that you have the right 301 structures in place to handle this inactive content – or even allow this content to return a properly structured 404 (not found) page.

But having each piece of content, i.e. advert, on its own URL is the single most important aspect of allowing Google or any other search engine to index your content in an efficient way. Also, make sure to include these URLs in your sitemap file and ensure that users or Google will find new content on your site where it is expected.

 

Q: Finally, a question for the near future. With more and more people turning to voice interfaces, how will that impact SEO for marketplaces? How can I optimize my site for voice? 
Oliver: It’s still very early to make a prediction on this tech mainly as we don’t have sufficient data yet on which to base the predictions. But I don’t think much will change. Users are already using more natural language in their search terms, so the occurrence of this will probably only increase as result. Also, voice devices are not typically programmed to deliver more than one search result, but users are already becoming accustomed to this in terms of the current featured snippet’ in the Google results.

It will take time for the impact of these trends to be felt by site owners. But the owners of marketplaces should already now make sure that their sites are keeping pace with the trends by investing in the new tech and skills needed.

Ready to get started with your online marketplace SEO?

Together with Oliver, we have created a keyword research checklist for online marketplaces that will help you improve your SEO through a step-by-step approach.

$460 billion worth of counterfeit goods were bought and sold in 2016, this is around 2.5% of all world trade.

In 2017, we saw an increase of companies taking action towards counterfeit products, whether it’s a luxury brand settling a lawsuit with an online marketplace or it’s a marketplace protecting customers from fake products.

Here is a short list of happenings in 2017:

  • Alibaba settles a lawsuit with Kering
  • Chanel won claim against sellers on Amazon
  • German carmaker Daimler sues Amazon for being complicit in sale of counterfeit Mercedes-Benz parts
  • eBay launches eBay authenticate

Last year we removed almost 1 000 000 counterfeit items for our customers. That equals 3.2% of total items we rejected.

To help you take action we’ve put together a counterfeit filter checklist. The short guide will teach you how to set up accurate filters to catch counterfeit items on your site:

Should you have any further questions about the counterfeit filter checklist or want to get in touch with a moderation consultant to support you with unique challenges on your site we are happy to help.

When building a marketplace there are a lot of different factors needing to be considered. Deciding your content moderation strategy can be both confusing and a time-consuming task.  

Don’t worry, from our extensive experience in our field we have created a downloadable moderation checklist to help you develop your unique moderation strategy and set up. 

moderation checklist

The moderation checklist is divided into six steps and we recommend that you follow them in chronological order while developing your moderation strategy. Each chapter is followed with an action step useful for your implementation.

Moderation checklist

Should you have any further questions about the moderation checklist or want to get in touch with a moderation consultant to support you with unique challenges on your site we are happy to help.

With the fun of the holidays comes the stress of holiday shopping. Online marketplaces are used as platforms for users to buy and sell holiday gifts, making it a stressful time for our industry. The season brings a massive influx of listings that need to be reviewed and moderated. If you haven’t spent time preparing your marketplace, you and your team may be overwhelmed by the demand.

Tweet this: Download the 15-step checklist by @besedo_official to prepare your moderation teams for the holidays

 

That’s why we’ve put together this checklist. The sooner you check off the boxes, the better off you’ll be when the listings for new iPhones, kitschy antiques and novelty mugs come pouring in. Have a look:

besedo online store owners' checklist

Want to prepare further for the holiday season?

Learn more about some of the specific scam spikes occurring in the holiday season, check out our scam awareness calendar or get in touch with a content moderation specialist.