Aug 08 2011
An interview with Jason Capshaw.
How did you get started in SEO for Ecommerce?
I was working on an ecommerce development project when they approached me about helping with their SEO. I began researching SEO and discovered I had a passion for the subject. My first SEO client was an Ecommerce site, and it has been my favorite ever since.
What SEO challenges and advantages does an Ecommerce site have compared to SEO with a lead gen or publisher site?
The major challenge for Ecommerce sites is indexation and deep link building. Most lead gen sites and publisher sites are able to create more linkable content surrounding their money pages. Some social media sites, such as Digg, forbid adding pages from Ecommerce sites. In order to be successful with Ecommerce SEO you really have to understand the intricacies of indexation and site navigation as it relates to organic search and how to do manual link building.
The greatest advantage that Ecommerce has over lead gen, and to some extent publishers, is extremely accurate Analytics. Since all of the action happens on the site, the transaction and changing of monies, an SEO can get a complete picture of what is working and what’s not. All though many lead gen sites offer forms for their potential clients to fill out, they are working towards human to human interaction and so it is necessary to push phone numbers over forms. All though there is technology that helps with monitoring phone call conversion statistics, I have found them to be inferior to the analytics available on most Ecommerce sites. Especially if the sales cycle lasts any length of time.
What tips can you offer online retailers regarding link building and site navigation?
Site navigation is critically important to Ecommerce. Getting deep pages, usually product pages, indexed and receiving long tail traffic is key to successful Ecommerce SEO. Keep as many pages as possible within three clicks of the home page. You can do this by creating product lists on the home page which is a great way to share domain authority and page rank around an Ecommerce site. If you load the product pages with unique content, you will be able to jump many other Ecommerce sites who don’t take the time to add the unique content even if you don’t have the same link juice they have.
Creating in depth product reviews and other link bait is a great way to get natural links for Ecommerce site. I find it useful to create a piece of link bait on a page that is not trying to sell the product and push it hard in social media which will result in some great inbound links. After that dies down, go and add internal links to product pages. Or you can also add the content to the actual product page and change the URL to the URL of the link bait. Just make sure you 301 the old URL to the new one.
I can see how customer centric link bait would work for ecommerce stores. You mentioned product reviews, are there some tools that allow ecommerce sites to incorporate product reviews right on the product page?
The best customer reviews are those provided by actual customers. There is a company that will allow you to use reviews from their large database called buzzillions.com. Their system would probably improve overall conversions, but would not really improve rankings due to the fact they will also appear on other Websites and would be considered duplicate content.
Most ecommerce platforms have a review module that can be installed and will display on the product pages. The key is to get the product reviews on the product pages. Some platforms, such as Magento, have the reviews on sub-pages and don’t help the product pages rank in the SERPS. Getting reviews can really up the amount of unique content on a page and improve long tail keyword traffic.
Another tactic I have seen used is to pay the mturk.com or microworkers.com crowd to provide “real” product reviews on products they have actually used on the site. Inevitably the quality and genuineness of the review will be below what a normal customer would provide.
I’ve not heard of buzzillions, but I can see how that might be useful for affiliates and resellers of well known products. Can you share one more link bait tip for ecommerce sites?
Helping others solve issues around a product is great link bait. For example, if someone sells small engine parts, they could put together video lessons on how to perform certain types of maintenance. This will draw inbound links. If the site self hosts the video they could provide an embed box allowing bloggers to post the video on their site with a link back automatically.
As with any other link bait, the key is to look at what has worked in the past and try to create something original in the same vein. Studying viral content that makes its way onto reddit, digg, or twitter will usually provide some ideas on what might work. Stay away from trying to sell in viral content, or blogging content for that matter, as this will prevent many visitors from sharing the content.