In this blog instalment, we continue with our series of guest interviews with experts from the SEO and content marketing industries. This week, we met with François Goube, the founder and CEO of OnCrawl, who talked about how working with data can improve rankings, positions, and organic traffic from search engine results.
Varvara: Hi François, thanks for talking with us. Could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
François: Hi, I’m François. I often describe myself as a serial entrepreneur and a data nerd. I’m passionate about the startup ecosystem, and I try to stay actively involved in it in France. As far as my nerdy side is concerned, I’ve always been fascinated by search engines, and I have to admit, I like to analyse scientific Google publications.
V: You are the founder and CEO of OnCrawl. Why did you create this tool, and what were the first steps towards founding the company?
F: OnCrawl grew out of my shared interest for search engines and exploitation of Big Data with Tanguy Moal, who is OnCrawl’s NLP expert and Data Geek. Tanguy and I had also worked together before, and we’d already created tools that are used by millions of people, so I knew going in that we could use technology to make search tools accessible to the largest number of people.
We teamed up with Cdiscount, the leading French eCommerce website, to address some of their SEO issues, many of which stemmed from the sheer size of their site. The first version of our SEO crawler was built in record time and at a very competitive cost. Our goal was to handle not only the crawl but also the analysis of millions of URLs.
During this period, we came to understand that both a large number of SMBs as well as larger companies needed this type of search technology. Until then, though, it was extremely expensive and only accessible to Fortune500 companies. That’s why we decided to open up the solution to a much broader audience by officially releasing OnCrawl in 2015.
V: Now, which features does OnCrawl provide to an eCommerce SEO Manager?
F: This is a great question. Because OnCrawl grew out of a response to issues facing large eCommerce sites, eCommerce in general is an industry where OnCrawl offers great advantages.
For one thing, eCommerce sites can quickly become extremely large as far as the number of URLs is concerned. OnCrawl is one of the best solutions for large sites, since we use Big Data technology for all of our analyses. This means there are no upper limits to the number of pages you can handle, and our analyses are extremely efficient, even if you have, say, over 8 million pages on your site.
Also, because eCommerce income is directly tied to page performance and maintaining page positions on the SERPs, technical SEO analysis is very important. OnCrawl helps eCommerce SEO managers to open Google’s Black Box and understand how and why search engines interact with their site. OnCrawl offers nearly 1,200 metrics as well as the possibility to add your own in order to monitor the most important ranking factors and keep track of your internal page popularity through our Inrank metric. There are also specialised features for monitoring duplicate content.
I could keep going, but I’ll limit myself to just one more thing: data. Whatever data you have that is important to how your store runs — PPC data, priority product data, data on product specials or offers, data on customer conversions — OnCrawl will use it as an analytical axis across your site. We help you look at your site not just from a crawl point of view, but more importantly from a business point of view.
V: And which OnCrawl functionality do you think can most help an SEO Manager in the optimisation of an online store?
F: I have to say that at OnCrawl, we’ve had eCommerce clients make huge discoveries using log analysis. For example, image search is increasingly important for eCommerce. Using OnCrawl, you can track the Google Image bot activity on your site: frequency, which images are hit and which aren’t, and so on.
Or, you can dig deep and get a lot of granularity concerning how bots visit and consume your site. This can be a big advantage when addressing page depth and internal link structure issues, which are both things that can have a disproportionate impact on eCommerce sites.
We’ve also found that drops and spikes in crawl behaviour are visible before major events that affect a website, so that’s a good way to stay on top of your site’s general performance.
On the other hand, if you’re not ready to go that far yet, OnCrawl has some really cool and useful visualisations for internal links and how popularity flows through different types of pages on a site. This is great for spotting problems. We have a bunch of eCommerce SEOs that use them to simulate changes in internal links and check the results after making the improvements, so big site structure modifications are much less of a risk.
V: How do you think product categorisation impacts the user experience of an eCommerce site?
F: Product categorisation works similarly to content hubs, so product category pages have a huge potential to rank well and drive a lot of traffic to eCommerce sites. When done well, it’s a great way to drive seasonal content and solve duplicate content issues on many eCommerce sites.
V: And does the structure of pages and content affect the sales of an eCommerce company?
F: Absolutely. It’s hard to say specifically how, since every niche is different, but you can start a free trial with OnCrawl to see how on-page SEO, content metrics, and so on match up with sales data for your site, specifically.
V: Three years ago, you joined GetLandy, a landing page creation platform for product sales. What impact do you think the design of a landing page has on sales?
F: As the first thing many potential clients see, landing page design can have a big impact on sales. A landing page should provide a positive user experience from the first interaction and reinforce your brand’s impression for new and returning users. Funnel optimisation and CRO should also inform landing page design. The objective is always to increase ROI and drive more conversions.
V: Thank you very much, François, that was really insightful. And now something a little harder. Can you reveal something coming up with OnCrawl that you’re excited about?
F: OnCrawl’s R&D is working on a unique content analysis, which allows you to focus on the page content that is unique to that page. So when we talk about pages with thin content, or minimal non-duplicated content, we’re not taking things like headers and footers into account. This allows for deep analysis of an editorial strategy.
One of the cool parts of this new analysis is that it comes with a visual overlay for each page crawled by OnCrawl. This highlights each block of HTML content on your web page using a colour corresponding to its uniqueness; so in addition to our usual charts and data, you can actually see which parts of the page are repeated across part or all of the site, like headers and footers, and which represent the core content of the page you’re looking at.
This is actually in the alpha phase at the moment, so if this sounds interesting and you’re an OnCrawl user, you can get in touch with us for access.
François Goube is the founder and CEO of OnCrawl, a technical SEO platform that helps make smarter SEO decisions. OnCrawl produces actionable dashboards and reports to support the entire search engine optimisation process and helps improve rankings, traffic, and revenues.