SEO News You Can Use: John Smith is the Cart Abandoner of Your eCommerce Nightmares

SEO News You Can Use

Google confirmed Googlebots are adding products to shopping carts on eCommerce sites to verify the price provided by merchants matches the price at checkout. Using the moniker John Smith, Google is filling up carts and then abandoning them. The result: even more abandoned shopping carts — the nightmare of all online retailers. 

Abandoned shopping carts are considered among the biggest challenges that eCommerce retailers need to overcome. Add this to the challenge of understanding consumer behavioral data and, now, Google’s price-check activities. 

With many brands moving their operations into the online space because of the recent COVID-19 shutdowns, the eCommerce industry is growing at an unprecedented rate. If you’re new to the eCommerce game, understanding Google is paramount to achieve online success. Google’s Merchant Center Terms of Service indicates all sellers agree to grant Google access to crawl and check pages for any violation. So, while finding an increase in mysteriously abandoned shopping carts on your website could leave you feeling demotivated, note that Google is acting in line with its Google Merchant/Shopping policies. 

If you hope to participate in Google Shopping or want your products to show up across Google platforms, you can’t block Google from performing site checks. However, you can slow the rate of crawling by fixing your robots.txt file. The search engine uses Googlebot and Googlebot-image to crawl merchant sites. By fixing your robots.txt file, you allow Google to crawl only the provided landing pages. Here’s what Google says about controlling crawling.

Google is aware it’s causing a ruckus with online retailers. It has confirmed it’s looking to streamline its automated systems and will work with the participants of its shopping programs to address ongoing issues. The best outcome is online retailers can begin to identify Google’s price-checking actions across eCommerce sites, then apply a filter in analytics to remove these “abandoned shopping carts” from the data. For now, if you see a sudden increase in your abandoned carts metrics you can possibly blame it on John Smith a.k.a. Google.

More SEO News You Can Use

Google Search Console and Google Analytics Data Combined in One Report: Google is making inroads into combining the data from Search Console and Analytics into one report that site owners can access via both services. The search engine has begun sending out emails to site owners via Search Console about trialing the new report. This is a smart move that could provide deeper insights into the relationship between onsite user activity and user behavior in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Here’s what you need to know.

The Big Update Impacted Government Websites the Most: There was a Google algorithm update last week that caused a stir in the SEO community. While it wasn’t a core update, it appeared big enough to get everyone watching and waiting for the fallout. A week later, the update seemed to have predominantly affected government and healthcare websites. Here’s what Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable says about this update.

Learn About Enterprise SEO to Better Manage Your People, Processes and Platforms: There’s a lot of talk about SEO for small to medium businesses and many resources available for entrepreneurs needing a crash course in search marketing. But what about the big business players? In this article on Search Engine Journal, Jenn Mathews tackles enterprise SEO for big businesses. 

Rand Fishkin Nips at Google’s Ankles in His Three-Part Blog Series Full of Cheats: Rand Fishkin’s professional biography says “If you feed him great pasta or great whiskey, he’ll give you the cheat code to rank #1 on Google.” And now, in a three-part blog series, he finally (and freely, no whiskey or pasta involved) divulges this dirty little secret to the public. The three blogs are found on SparkToro’s website, but for the sake of brevity here’s one, two and three

After All the Fuss, Voice Search has Taken a Back Seat: For the longest time, SEO experts were talking about voice search and how to optimize for it. Many of us thought it was bound to become the next best thing in search, but this technology has taken a back seat. Greg Sterling has a look at the data indicating a plateau and slight decline in the use of voice search in this article for Search Engine Land.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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