eTail West: Learn eCommerce SEO From REI - CPC Strategy

I had the pleasure of attending the eTail West session hosted by Jonathon Colman of REI. I recently met Jonathon on Google+ and believe it or not, some people spend more than 3 minutes per month on Google+!

Here is my recap of the presentation:

Jonathon Colman

Internet Marketing Manager

REI.com

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5 Specific Ways To Build Enterprise SEO Traffic & Sales

1. Create Original Content

FOCUS: Increase Rankings And Portfolio Density For Traffic-Driving Keywords

When you create duplicate content, you are competing with your own site. STOP COMPETING WITH YOURSELF!

Check out this product page on REI. Above the fold, they include all of the standard information that shoppers are looking for.

But look what’s going on below the fold. Each product page has 250 words of original content that you won’t find anywhere else on the internet.

You can also create original content outside of your product pages.

Check out this article on REI about choosing the best barefoot running shoes. This article draws qualified traffic from over 1,800 unique keywords each week!

2. Minimize Duplication

FOCUS: Rank Higher And Increase Traffic

Duplicate content waters down your rankings for competitive keywords which reduces your traffic and conversion. You can see how much duplicate content you have on your site by checking your Google Webmastar Tools.

4 Strategies To Help Reduce Duplicate Content:

-Use rel=canonical used to point from a duplicate page back to the authoritative version of the content. Used for exact duplicates.

-Use rel=prev/next to handle paginated content, such as a large search result set.

-301 redirect from deprecated content or near duplicates to authoritative versions.

-Set your preferred domain to avoid duplication at the domain level.

Not sure if you have a preferred domain?

Type www.yoursite.com into your URL bar. Then type yoursite.com as well. If both URLs render separately then you DO NOT have a preferred domain and you have a duplicate content issue. This is simple to fix and will help your SEO.

Using these tactics, REI reduced duplicate content by 96% Y/Y driving increased traffic to authoritative content.

3. Go Fast Or Go Home

FOCUS: Increase Your Conversion

Jonathon started this section with some AWESOME stats:

-Customers expect your website to load in less than 2 seconds. 

-40% of customers will abandon any site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 

-The average Fortune 500 company web site takes 7 seconds to load. 

-For every 1 second of load time, conversion drops by 7%. 

-For every 1 second of load time, user satisfaction drops by 16%. 

-A faster site reduces the costs of infrastructure by 50% or more. 

REI worked hard to decreases their site speed and here are the results:

A 50% decrease in the time it took for Google to crawl an average page:

A 100% increase in the amount of total pages Google crawled per day:

By improving the load time by 1.5 seconds per page, REI saved their customers a total of 22 years! 

Tools to speed up your site:

-Google Webmaster Tools speed report.

-Site speed data in Google Analytics.

-WebPageTest, Pingdom test suites.

4. Be Meta, Not Just <Meta>

Use product metadata to structure search results for your categories into faceted navigation.

These facets help users narrow down their searches and provide niche results for search engine crawlers.

Use rich snippets to make your ads more appealing. Which ad would you click on?

The Zappos ad is enabling Rich Snippets so their seller reviews show up next to their URL. Rich Snippets can drive up to 30% more clicks over standard search results.

Tools for Rich Snippets:

-Google’s guide to Rich Snippets.

-Google Merchant Center feeds.

5. Link It All Together

FOCUS: Increase Rankings And Traffic

Learn from the JC Penney link buying fiasco. DON’T BUY LINKS under any circumstances, it’s not worth the risk.

Instead of buying links, you should earn them.

Earn Links for Discovery - Search einges index the Web by following links to page after page of content. But most of the time they can’t find content following a link so new pages without links are isolated from search engines.

Earn Links for Trust – For a search engine, links from one site to another are like a vote of confidence, similar to a citation in a scientific paper. This is the original basis behind Google’s PageRank (link).

Earn Links for Authority – If all else is equal, pages with more links will receive more traffic from Google.

How Can You Earn More Links?

-Create useful content that fulfills a customer need – especially tacit needs.

-Be original, funny, engaging, or amazing.

-Hold a contest or a giveaway.

-Be timely or relevant to a current event that your customers care about

-Make your customers feel special by featuring them in your marketing materials and encouraging user generated content.

REI created this S’MORES infographic hoping that it would lead to a lot of new links:

Did it work? Yes, quite resoundingly.

The infographic was wildly successful in earning links and was covered by Forbes & Guy Kawasaki (who is speaking tomorrow at eTail).

In another example of REI benefiting from user generated content, an REI customer made this youtube video about one of their products.

The video has over 500k views which drove awareness, links, traffic, and dramatically increased the rankings for that product. In fact, the REI stormproof matches now show up third for a “stormproof” search on Google.

5 Key Actionable Takeaways:

1. Create original content that meets your audience’s explicit and tacit needs.

2. Reduce duplicate content to stop competing with yourself.

3. Speed up your site to drive conversion.

4. Structure your content with metadata to make it more finable and easier to use.

5. Earn links by building great content or have your customers build it for you.

That’s it!

Jonathon absolutely killed it during his presentation and we will definitely have to him participate in our next eCommerce SEO Roundtable.

Hopefully you can use some of his suggestions to improve your eCommerce SEO and here are the slides from his eTail West presentation:

About the AuthorRick is the CEO of CPC Strategy. He started working with online retailers at PriceGrabber and co-founded CPC Strategy in January of 2007. Today CPC Strategy manages the comparison shopping campaigns for over 100 retailers. See all posts by this author here.