Live from Pubcon Vegas: SEO for E-Commerce Sites

November 10, 2010 | 5 min read
By Janet Driscoll Miller

The first panel discussion I attended today was SEO for E-Commerce panel, featuring Adam Audette from AudetteMedia, Rob Snell of Gun Dog Supply, and William Atchison of Crawl Wall.

Adam Audette

Adam was first up, and this was his first time speaking at Pubcon. Welcome, Adam! Adam covered trends in ecommerce. He started off by addressing what it is that shoppers want:

  • brand loyalty is important
  • free shipping is MORE important
  • deals are MORE important

He shared some data from ComScore, indicating that the trends are strong online towards discount behavior. While Google has tried to aggregate data, comparison shopping engines are gaining ground. 70% of online shoppers will not buy unless the shipping price is less than $5. And 51% of shoppers are somewhat likely to even cancel the order if they cannot get free shipping. The takeaways:

  • free shipping is huge
  • offer discounts, rewards, incentives
  • need to differentiate strongly

Adam also said that video sells. Video is powerful. 65% of people are visual learners, and people tend to process video and text together 30% quicker than video alone. How does this affect the purchase cycle? For retail sites with video, there’s a 64% increase in purchases. Sites with video options also find longer time on site by visitors.  Takeaways:

  • experiment with product videos
  • ensure SEO is applied
  • visual search and browse are the future

Adam then covered Google Instant and e-commerce. Does Google Instant have an impact on e-commerce sites? He shared a case study of one client and Instant doesn’t seem to have an impact on the e-commerce retailer. In a second case study, another e-commerce retailer didn’t seem to be doing as well after Instant, but Adam felt that it was more an effect of Google’s MayDay update. Looking across 12 retailers, there wasn’t much impact from Instant. Adam said that MayDay had a much larger impact. He also shared other stats from others that said that Instant doesn’t appear to have made much of an impact.

Adam then covered Rel Canonical — it works. He shared a case study with a large single-channel retailer with many duplicate pages. By just adding the canonical tag and updating the Sitemap, all of the duplicates were removed, and traffic and revenue increased as well by consolidating link equity. They literally went from 34 duplicates for one page to 1 page only. Some caveats:

  • Bing won’t support canonical until Jan/Feb 2011
  • There are still better methods, like 301 redirecting (this doesn’t fix the foundation of the problem.)

Adam also discussed Bing. Of course it’s not Google, but it’s important to consider. The results in Bing do not favor e-commerce as much as Google does. The results are also vulnerable to link spam. But Bing users do shop more. Bing users are 31% more likely to buy than an average user and 11% more likely to buy than a Google user.

What works in Bing:

  • XML sitemaps for deep content
  • RSS feeds for fresh content
  • normalize URLs, use parameter handling in Bing tools
  • large brands DO have an advantage
  • too slow to crawl 301s

Bill Atchison

Bill was up next and covered various methods to maximize your e-commerce organic search results. Bill started by recommending working on product names and descriptions:

  • Many products aren’t brand names or brand names aren’t descriptive (example: Nike shoes aren’t always called “Nike running shoes”)
  • Include generic words that describe the product (ex: “running shoes”)
  • Make sure your images have an alt text description (helps with image search)
  • Verify that your meta descriptions and titles are unique per product page also

What defines a unique page? The URLs, even with parameters, can rank many versions. So use a canonical tag to merge unique pages. This tells the search engine the proper page to use and rank out of all of the variations.

Bill said AdSense aids in deep crawling. Once you click on a page, AdSense will crawl the page. It’s a good tool to use temporarily to get the new products indexed quickly.

Bill also said that if you put your products in RSS, it alerts Google faster to index new products. You can do the RSS straight from your online catalog.

He also emphasized that you need to protect your e-commerce site. He recommended, for instance, banning cached versions of your site in search engines by using <meta content=”noarchive” name=”robots”>. You can also ban the Internet archive and Alexa via your robots.txt and .htaccess.

In summary:

  • use lots of generic, descriptive terms
  • utilize alternative methods to get indexed
  • remove redundant pages
  • erase your SEO history

Rob Snell

Last up was Rob Snell. Rob is a retailer who does SEO on his site, Gun Dog Supply. Rob emphasized that you want to fish where the fish are biting, and that’s what search does.

Rob confirmed that Google’s MayDay update had an impact. It caused them to lose a lot of rankings on brand terms. Rob said you need to prioritize your SEO pages based on revenue that the generate! It’s not all about rankings, but really revenue pages. Rob has 20,000 store pages. Of all of the pages, has about 4,500 pages listed in Google using the site: command in Google. Of those pages, only about 2,800 are entry pages for the last 30 days. Only about 575 pages have revenue in the last 30 days from Google. Then Rob looked at the top 100 pages of those, because they drove about 71% of that revenue. That information helped Rob determine what products should be prioritized.

Google is driving the bus. Bing is interesting, but it’s not as big of a priority.

90% of traffic to e-commerce websites comes from being in the top ten results (or page one). But, Google Instant is only showing about two organic listings. You need to be in the top two listings for your top selling products. Rob also highlighted the benefits of Universal results in Google. He recommended Single Feed (love them!) to get all set up with your feeds. If you go to google.com/products and do a site: search, you’ll see if you’re in Google Products.

You should also be using Google Webmaster Central. You can see impressions versus clicks on your search terms.

Rob also mentioned Google Instant and its effects on e-commerce. Individual keywords are changing because of Instant. He gave an example of a plural vs. singular term, where it appears that searchers are likely choosing the version in Google Suggest that is the closest to what they are looking for. The plural version used to be the most popular, but it now appears that the singular version is driving more traffic.

Rob also reminded everyone that to see your results in Google as other see it, be sure to log out of your Gmail account.

Finally, Rob covered Redneck SEO 101:

  • Pick a keyword.
  • Pick your store’s most relevant page for that word.
  • Put the keyword in the page’s title tag.
  • Put the keyword in the page’s body text.
  • Put the keyword in links pointing to the page you want to rank.
  • Get more links! (use Yahoo! Site Explorer to see inbound links)
  • Check your rankings.

For more slides from Rob’s presentation today and in the past, go to robsnell.com.

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Twitter and Facebook links worthless for SEO? I wouldn't be too sure about that.
Live from Pubcon Vegas: Bottom to Top SEO on an Ecommerce Website
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Live from Pubcon Vegas: SEO for E-Commerce Sites

November 10, 2010 | 5 min read
By Janet Driscoll Miller

The first panel discussion I attended today was SEO for E-Commerce panel, featuring Adam Audette from AudetteMedia, Rob Snell of Gun Dog Supply, and William Atchison of Crawl Wall.

Adam Audette

Adam was first up, and this was his first time speaking at Pubcon. Welcome, Adam! Adam covered trends in ecommerce. He started off by addressing what it is that shoppers want:

  • brand loyalty is important
  • free shipping is MORE important
  • deals are MORE important

He shared some data from ComScore, indicating that the trends are strong online towards discount behavior. While Google has tried to aggregate data, comparison shopping engines are gaining ground. 70% of online shoppers will not buy unless the shipping price is less than $5. And 51% of shoppers are somewhat likely to even cancel the order if they cannot get free shipping. The takeaways:

  • free shipping is huge
  • offer discounts, rewards, incentives
  • need to differentiate strongly

Adam also said that video sells. Video is powerful. 65% of people are visual learners, and people tend to process video and text together 30% quicker than video alone. How does this affect the purchase cycle? For retail sites with video, there’s a 64% increase in purchases. Sites with video options also find longer time on site by visitors.  Takeaways:

  • experiment with product videos
  • ensure SEO is applied
  • visual search and browse are the future

Adam then covered Google Instant and e-commerce. Does Google Instant have an impact on e-commerce sites? He shared a case study of one client and Instant doesn’t seem to have an impact on the e-commerce retailer. In a second case study, another e-commerce retailer didn’t seem to be doing as well after Instant, but Adam felt that it was more an effect of Google’s MayDay update. Looking across 12 retailers, there wasn’t much impact from Instant. Adam said that MayDay had a much larger impact. He also shared other stats from others that said that Instant doesn’t appear to have made much of an impact.

Adam then covered Rel Canonical — it works. He shared a case study with a large single-channel retailer with many duplicate pages. By just adding the canonical tag and updating the Sitemap, all of the duplicates were removed, and traffic and revenue increased as well by consolidating link equity. They literally went from 34 duplicates for one page to 1 page only. Some caveats:

  • Bing won’t support canonical until Jan/Feb 2011
  • There are still better methods, like 301 redirecting (this doesn’t fix the foundation of the problem.)

Adam also discussed Bing. Of course it’s not Google, but it’s important to consider. The results in Bing do not favor e-commerce as much as Google does. The results are also vulnerable to link spam. But Bing users do shop more. Bing users are 31% more likely to buy than an average user and 11% more likely to buy than a Google user.

What works in Bing:

  • XML sitemaps for deep content
  • RSS feeds for fresh content
  • normalize URLs, use parameter handling in Bing tools
  • large brands DO have an advantage
  • too slow to crawl 301s

Bill Atchison

Bill was up next and covered various methods to maximize your e-commerce organic search results. Bill started by recommending working on product names and descriptions:

  • Many products aren’t brand names or brand names aren’t descriptive (example: Nike shoes aren’t always called “Nike running shoes”)
  • Include generic words that describe the product (ex: “running shoes”)
  • Make sure your images have an alt text description (helps with image search)
  • Verify that your meta descriptions and titles are unique per product page also

What defines a unique page? The URLs, even with parameters, can rank many versions. So use a canonical tag to merge unique pages. This tells the search engine the proper page to use and rank out of all of the variations.

Bill said AdSense aids in deep crawling. Once you click on a page, AdSense will crawl the page. It’s a good tool to use temporarily to get the new products indexed quickly.

Bill also said that if you put your products in RSS, it alerts Google faster to index new products. You can do the RSS straight from your online catalog.

He also emphasized that you need to protect your e-commerce site. He recommended, for instance, banning cached versions of your site in search engines by using <meta content=”noarchive” name=”robots”>. You can also ban the Internet archive and Alexa via your robots.txt and .htaccess.

In summary:

  • use lots of generic, descriptive terms
  • utilize alternative methods to get indexed
  • remove redundant pages
  • erase your SEO history

Rob Snell

Last up was Rob Snell. Rob is a retailer who does SEO on his site, Gun Dog Supply. Rob emphasized that you want to fish where the fish are biting, and that’s what search does.

Rob confirmed that Google’s MayDay update had an impact. It caused them to lose a lot of rankings on brand terms. Rob said you need to prioritize your SEO pages based on revenue that the generate! It’s not all about rankings, but really revenue pages. Rob has 20,000 store pages. Of all of the pages, has about 4,500 pages listed in Google using the site: command in Google. Of those pages, only about 2,800 are entry pages for the last 30 days. Only about 575 pages have revenue in the last 30 days from Google. Then Rob looked at the top 100 pages of those, because they drove about 71% of that revenue. That information helped Rob determine what products should be prioritized.

Google is driving the bus. Bing is interesting, but it’s not as big of a priority.

90% of traffic to e-commerce websites comes from being in the top ten results (or page one). But, Google Instant is only showing about two organic listings. You need to be in the top two listings for your top selling products. Rob also highlighted the benefits of Universal results in Google. He recommended Single Feed (love them!) to get all set up with your feeds. If you go to google.com/products and do a site: search, you’ll see if you’re in Google Products.

You should also be using Google Webmaster Central. You can see impressions versus clicks on your search terms.

Rob also mentioned Google Instant and its effects on e-commerce. Individual keywords are changing because of Instant. He gave an example of a plural vs. singular term, where it appears that searchers are likely choosing the version in Google Suggest that is the closest to what they are looking for. The plural version used to be the most popular, but it now appears that the singular version is driving more traffic.

Rob also reminded everyone that to see your results in Google as other see it, be sure to log out of your Gmail account.

Finally, Rob covered Redneck SEO 101:

  • Pick a keyword.
  • Pick your store’s most relevant page for that word.
  • Put the keyword in the page’s title tag.
  • Put the keyword in the page’s body text.
  • Put the keyword in links pointing to the page you want to rank.
  • Get more links! (use Yahoo! Site Explorer to see inbound links)
  • Check your rankings.

For more slides from Rob’s presentation today and in the past, go to robsnell.com.

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