Ecommerce SEO Focus – Long Tail Rules The Day

by Jason Capshaw on August 24, 2009

I have been working on several small ecommerce sites of late. One of these sites is less than four months old and presents unique SEO issues due to the lack of domain authority.

In my last post on adding products to the home page of Magento, I discussed manually creating your store’s home page to closely match the Amazon.com store. Using this tactic could seriously improve your conversions and SEO.

Increased Conversion Rates

Studies have shown that the less clicks a user has to make in order to make a purchase, the more likely they are to complete their purchase. By linking directly to the most popular products from your home page you give a lazy user (all of us) a reason to click a link on your home page instead of the back button.

Amazon.com uses a cookie system that remembers the previous items you bought or browsed and delivers related items when you return to their page. Of course, that system is very complex and would not be viable for the average store owner. However, you know what products your customers are looking for and what products they buy on a regular basis.

I also link to popular categories. For example, on one of my equipment sites, replacement filters are very popular. So, I link to the filter category and to several of the highest selling filters.

Improved SEO For Product Pages

In today’s Google, it is important to rank for as many “long tail keywords” as possible. When I rank well for one of the main targeted keywords, I find that  only accounts for 20% of the site’s traffic. By focusing on the 80% of long tail traffic, I have also found the real keyword winners easier to score.

With Google’s recent algo shift, many store owners have found it increasingly difficult to rank for the biggest impact keywords. For example, when the algo shift hit my stores, I was immediately contending with Home Depot, Lowes and Amazon.com. None of which were even in the top twenty previously.

I have altered my tactics to focus SEO on the level of the actual purchase, the product page. Most SEO tactics focused on creating domain authority and passing that authority through the category pages to the product pages. In a market where rankings came easier, it would create a theme or silo effect. With enough work, you could even get site links.

Link from the highest authority page

Adding direct links to the top 40 or 50 pages from your home page passes undiluted link authority directly to the product page, bypassing the category pages. Our goal, is to get as much of this authority passed to the lower level product page as possible.

If my product page ranks number one for “blue widgets for sale”, I will convert more of that traffic into sales compared to traffic to the home page where the user has to click through categories to the actual product page.

Secondly, if my home page ranks well for “blue widgets for sale”, I will convert more traffic by providing a one click funnel from the home page to the product page, bypassing the category pages.

Some common ways to pass link juice to the product pages

You can take my approach or you can use some of these ideas.

  • A top ten sellers list
  • A top ten featured list
  • A top ten referral list
  • 20 of the best sellers for the last 12 months
  • A new product list (will assist in getting new product pages indexed and ranked quickly)
  • Featured product reviews with a link

Sub directories

Recent research has shown the further the page is from the base URL, the less authority it is given. For example, www.example.com/page.html will typically rank better than www.example.com/subdirectory/subdirectory/page.html. With mod-rewrite, you can easily make all of your product pages appear in a higher directory.

Magento has a module that allows you to fix this issue. It helps with duplicate content issues as well. Basically, it puts all product pages in the first sub-directory and uses canonical URL for all other product pages found through the category pages.

If you have any tips for boosting sales for small ecommerce stores, let me know :)

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

FitzroyDental@Cosmetic Dentistry Melbourne August 24, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Ecommerce SEO can be an entirely different beast as search engines often don’t take kindly to online stores; even including “search engine optimized shopping carts.” There are many unique challenges both for the merchant and for the search engines.

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Domain Tricks September 8, 2009 at 1:00 am

Why shouldn’t you focus on Directly linking from the homepage?

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Jason September 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Domain: I am not really sure about your question?

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gagan @ Landing Page Optimization September 8, 2009 at 2:20 am

Most of the Ecommerce sites are not Search engine friendly especially with the problem of long urls and duplicate pages , Its good that magneto has special module to handle this . Also the Best Seller list is a good way to pass link juice to your main product pages

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purva@personal injury September 9, 2009 at 2:40 am

Ecommerce SEO is such a great to work for.It was very nice reading this about improved seo .increased conversion rates.etc.
Thanks for that

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sue@sugar gliders pets September 16, 2009 at 11:03 am

maybe he means to the homepage? anyway great article on passing the juice to deeper pages. it always seems hard to get product pages to rank well.

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Fango Ono September 17, 2009 at 11:18 pm

i’m a newbie,thanks for your ideas.i ‘ll do SEO follow your tips.

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Paul Hancox@copywriting blog September 18, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Thanks for the info. My latest blog is fairly new and I decided to follow a domain.com / category / page-title structure, where the “category” part could contain a keyword or two. Maybe I should have just stuck to domain.com / page-tile … ah well, I’ll see how it works out :)

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Jim@Altech October 7, 2009 at 12:50 am

I’ve been saying for years that long tail converts the best. Broad keywords will bring you lots of traffic but traffic for it’s own sake is a waste of time and bandwidth. What you really want is conversions (sales) and that is where the long tail keywords and phrases really perform.

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Jason October 8, 2009 at 3:48 am

Good point about the bandwidth. If the traffic doesn’t benefit you, why have it?

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Zurich@canadian mortgage insurance quotes October 8, 2009 at 12:19 am

i think i have known few Ecommerce sites and i am almost sure that they would also agree with this proposal. i guess this SEO would be one of the most outstanding Ecommerce sites ever exist. it provides a much easier way of connecting commerce to people ( that’s what we want). and another thing, it would provide an easy access to progress of commerce. i am looking forward to the success of your site!

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Rupesh@Education Loan in India October 8, 2009 at 2:19 am

I think that you should rethink about your problem related form E COMMERCE and magneto has special module to handle this.

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piyush@foreing banks in india October 8, 2009 at 4:58 am

i think this is correct to do seo of our product page.

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Mack@Homes Las Vegas October 10, 2009 at 10:16 am

One important aspect to be remember while SEOing an E-commerce website which is generally huge with more than 1000 pages is having a unique title and description for each of the product page. Extra care should be taken to avoid duplicate content.

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shailesh@ apartment marketing October 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Hi
its good e commerce .Thanks for this information

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Frank Lynch@WebpageFX October 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Informative post, i have just launched my blog and i was thinking to follow custom domain and then category and then page-title structure, and i was hoping to include keyword in sub-domain links too, can you guide me am i going right ?

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steve@difference between catholic and christian October 16, 2009 at 8:57 am

Focusing on finding good longtail keywords is really important. Too often people try and target high-traffic, less targeted keywords and they end up getting traffic that converts very poorly. I’d rather have less traffic at a much higher conversion rate than more traffic that doesn’t convert well at all.

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monika@Healthy signs October 22, 2009 at 6:20 am

e commerce seo is great work to do with.your rules are up to the mark.please keep sharing.great job

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ANSH@hire seo expert October 26, 2009 at 4:24 am

E commerce SEO is getting popularity day by day. Seo is the one of the field which is not get affected in the recession time so you can make a guess about its scope. One another thing is that if you are having knowledge of this field then you can earn money online by simply creating a web site. You just have to apply some seo techniques on it and then it will generate a huge revenue.

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jim@print designer toronto October 26, 2009 at 5:20 am

e commerce seo is really wonderful to index your site on the first page of search engines and wonderful to generate revenue as well.

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gilles@como ganar dinero October 27, 2009 at 4:06 am

I agree ecommerce SEO is somtimes a bit hard but I’ve seen aquite a few sits doing well for their keywords. Thanks for the tips, BTW man there’s somthin wrong with your them is all messed up, at least it doesn’t display well on my screen I’m using Firefox 3.5.

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Jason October 27, 2009 at 5:26 am

Gilles, you caught me right in the middle of an update…I think I have the problem resolved now.

Thanks.

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Tracy@medifast1.com October 27, 2009 at 8:04 am

Great suggestions on the product pages. My main category pages are doing well in the searches so I am trying to now stear more traffic into those long tail words.

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Jason October 27, 2009 at 11:26 am

@Tracy, its a good idea to do so. You will find your conversion rate going up as a nice side effect ;)

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natural home remedies October 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I found it is very informative post and every beginner’s must access this one.it proved very important for me.keep it up.

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Jason November 1, 2009 at 8:32 am

@Frank Lynch

There are some advantages to a rootdomain/category/post-title structure, mainly that it is easier to theme or silo.

However, I think it is best to leave the category out of the URL structure and put the post as close to the rootdomain as possible.

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Dhany@Panduan SEO January 7, 2010 at 6:10 am

Great post. You make a clear point of sending authority directly to conversion pages. And yes, traffic means nothing if they don’t convert well.

Thanks
.-= Dhany@Panduan SEO´s last blog ..Google Sandbox – Indikator Kualitas Berbasis Waktu =-.

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Kai@seo January 17, 2010 at 11:14 am

Great post! Always look for highest pagerank pages in your site, and link them to the most important part of your site.

Most people overlook the fact that links inside the homepage have linkjuice.

-Kai
.-= Kai@seo´s last blog ..Keywords That Sell =-.

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Allan@Drop Shipping January 19, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Wow. I had never even thought of most of these. I just use an SEO URL addon with my shopping cart software to make my URL’s search engine friendly.

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Charles@Las Vegas Homes February 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Of course links inside the home page have juice. Its better to have a link from a highly relevant page back to your site than a link from a home page that isn’t relevant at all.

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fluornoelia December 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

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paleo cooking April 25, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when
you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

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Cleo May 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I enjoy, cause I found just what I used to be taking a look for.
You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
Have a great day. Bye

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