Multiple Category Merchandising & SEO
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Multiple Category Merchandising & SEO

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Last week I had the good fortune to speak on Pagination and SEO at SMX East in New York. The panel speakers consisted of Vanessa Fox from Nine By Blue, Maile Onye from Google and myself. The core ...

Last week I had the good fortune to speak on Pagination and SEO at SMX East in New York. The panel speakers consisted of Vanessa Fox from Nine By Blue, Maile Onye from Google and myself. The core focus of the panel was Pagination and SEO. Individual topics ranged from managing duplicate content from pagination, new rel=”next” / rel=”prev” meta tags and paginated categorical merchandising.
The title of my presentation was “Paginated Categorical Merchandising & SEO.” The primary focus was tips to avoid product URL duplicate content when merchandising products in multiple categories.
The answer to the question of “should I merchandise my products in multiple categories” is “yes.” When looking at the Consumer Decision Process or sales funnel (slide 6), the opportunity to increase a retailer’s customer reach (e.g. search demand) by creating more categories in lower tiers of the funnel can be very high. The ability to promote products by season, sales, new arrivals, and the like enable a retailer to create new entry points and better align their brand with the consumer decision process in each stage. The example in the presentation illustrates this opportunity by an increase of 4x based on monthly search volume.
While the benefit of merchandising in multiple is very strong, there are two primary and serious technical challenges (slides 8-9):
1. In many instances, the product URL changes when accessed from different categories (domain.com/primary-category/product-name, domain.com/sale/product-name, domain.com/seasonal/product-name, etc.). This can create product URL duplicate content at a very large scale.
2. The other concern is that the pagination at each category instance (category pages 2-n) also create duplicate content.

The above technical challenges can result in a loss in natural search visibility and/or page removal from search engine indexes.
From a solution standpoint, I presented two very viable options.
1. Build it right the first time (slide 11) by storing all products in a single database that assigns one unique URL to each product no matter where the product is called. The navigation paths from categories (primary category, needs-based, new arrivals, sale, etc.) do not append to URLs. The ranking results from this option proved to provide the best visibility.
2. When working with an existing infrastructure (slide 14) it is recommended to deploy rel=”canonical” tags to product URLs at the primary category-level. This directs the search bot to crawl the product URL at the primary category / canonical version when the product URL is duplicate when accessed from multiple categories (domain.com/sub-category1/product-name, domain.com/sub-category2/product-name, etc.). While this alleviates duplicate content, the data examples do show that this method performs better with BingHoo than Google.
a. Another important note for this method is to only include the canonical / primary versions of the product URLs in a XML sitemap feed.

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Multiple Category Merchandising & SEO Multiple Category Merchandising & SEO Presentation Transcript

  • Paginated Categorical Merchandising & SEO SMX East, 9/18/2011Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Agenda • About PM Digital • Why Merchandise in Multiple Categories? • Technical Challenges • Solutions – Overall Best Practices • Build It Right The First Time • Working With Existing Infrastructure • Key Takeaways • AppendixCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 2
  • About PM Digital • Digital Agency servicing clients in retail, financial services, non-profit, CPG and more • Primary service offerings: SEO, SEM, Email Marketing, Social Media and Creative • Clients include The North Face, The Sportsman’s Guide, dELiA’s, Paul Fredrick and many more • 20 clients in the Internet Retailer Top 500 • Based in New York with offices in Minneapolis, Columbia, SC and Scottsdale, AZCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 3
  • Why Merchandise in Multiple Categories?Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Why Merchandise in Multiple Categories? • Merchandising products in multiple categories enables a retailer to provide solutions for a variety of consumer needs (e.g. search queries) based on the products they carry • This enables a retailer to create valuable entry points to capture new customers from a variety of searches in multiple stages of the consumer decision process. • It is also necessary to merchandise products in a manner that is compelling and doesn’t overwhelm consumers and maintains optimal page-load speed, hence the need for category pagination.Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 5
  • Proof is in the Data Consumer Decision Process Eye Care General Interest 4,400 (SV*) Goal: Gain visibility for Eye Cream Investigation Phase each level of the 3,600 Consumer Decision (SV*) Process • Capture more visits at Anti-Aging Narrowing all stages Cream Phase • Create greater brand 2,900 (SV*) awareness Dark Circles Conversion sea results • Increase overall 3,600 deep sleep competitive share of (SV*) Phase recovery voice serum, 0 (SV*)Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. * Source: Google Adwords data average monthly search demand, exact-match, local 6
  • Technical ChallengesCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Technical Challenges 1. While multiple category options do create good solutions from a merchandising standpoint, there are many instances where the product URL path changes from each category creating duplicate content for the product URLs – Example: Dresses • /new-arrivals/product-name • /seasonal/product-name • /sale/product-name • /products/product-name 2. To compound this even further, pagination for each merchandising option can Dresses on Sale multiply duplicate content by each category resulting in loss of visibility and in some instances page removal (e.g. Panda)Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 8
  • Technical Challenges In-Action Manufacturer/retailer selling their products on their own site and several other online retailers Challenge: URLs for the same product change when accessed from different categories Keywords reviewed: 10 product keywords, merchandised in multiple categories:Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved. Loose Leaf Tea (primary), Sale,This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp. Gifts, Top sellers, High caffeine 9Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • SolutionsCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Build It Right The First Time 1. The ideal scenario is to store all products in a single database that assigns one unique URL to each product no matter where the product is called 2. The navigation paths from categories (primary category, needs-based, new arrivals, sale, etc.) should not append to URLs 3. Pagination at the category-level: point all category canonical directives to the start page (pg. 1) for pages 2-n 4. Include product URLs in XML sitemap feed 5. Internal Link Optimization: include breadcrumb links eCommerce Platforms: Eye Care (Category) MarketLive, GSI (latest SEO Best Uses: http://www.h2oplus.com/cat Sight builds / rebuilds egory/skin+care/eye+care.do extension), Websphere (with slight modifications) Dark Circles (Sub Category) Sensitive Skin (Sub Category) Anti-Aging (Sub Category) http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat egory/skin+care/dark+circles. egory/skin+care/sensitive+ski egory/skin+care/anti-aging.do do n.do Sea Results Eye Defense Fortifying Serum (Product) http://www.h2oplus.com/proCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved. duct/sea+results+eye+defensThis information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp. e+fortifying+serum.do 11Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Single Database In-Action Cosmetic / skincare retailer / manufacturer selling their products on their own site and several other online retailers Challenge: Products are merchandised in multiple categories, with one unique URL for each product Keywords reviewed: 12 product keywords, merchandised in multiple categories: Eye care, Anti-aging, DarkCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved. circles, Sensitive skinThis information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 12
  • Single Database In-Action Women’s clothing retailer / manufacturer selling their products on their own site and several other online retailers Challenge: Products are merchandised in multiple categories, with one unique URL for each product Keywords reviewed: 10 product keywords, merchandised in multiple categories:Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved. Dresses, New Arrival Dresses, Dresses onThis information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp. Sale, Casual Dresses 13Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Working With Existing Infrastructure Category names append to URL when accessed from different categories 1. Rel=“canonical”: Assign the canonical directive to an assigned primary product category (canonical) for all product URLs (products, primary category) 2. XML Sitemap Feeds: only add product URLs assigned to primary / canonical folder 3. Pagination at the category-level: point all category canonical directives to the start page of the category (pg. 1) for pages 2-n 4. Internal Link Optimization: include breadcrumb links Dark Circles (Sub Category) Sensitive Skin (Sub Category) Anti-Aging (Sub Category) Eye Care (Category) http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat egory/skin+care/dark+circles. egory/skin+care/sensitive+ski egory/skin+care/anti-aging.do egory/skin+care/eye+care.do do n.do Anti-Aging (Appended Dark Circles (Appended Eye Care (Appended Product Sensitive Skin (Appended Product URL) Product URL) URL) Product URL) http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat http://www.h2oplus.com/cat egory/skin+care/anti- egory/skin+care/dark+circles/ egory/skin+care/eye+care/se egory/skin+care/sensitive+ski aging/sea+results+eye+defens sea+results+eye+defense+fort a+results+eye+defense+fortif n/sea+results+eye+defense+f e+fortifying+serum.do ifying+serum.do ying+serum.do ortifying+serum.do Rel=“canonical” to Sea Results Eye Defense Rel=“canonical” to Fortifying Serum (Canonical Canonical Product Product URL) Canonical Product URL http://www.h2oplus.com/produc URLCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved. t/sea+results+eye+defense+fortifThis information is deemed PROPRIETARY ying+serum.doand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 14
  • Canonical Directives In-Action Shoe retailer / manufacturer selling their products on their own site and several other online retailers Challenge: Products are merchandised in multiple categories, canonicals direct to product URL in primary category Keywords reviewed: 10 product keywords, merchandised in multiple categories: Sale, Special selections, New styles, Primary category (pumps, sandals, boots)Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 15
  • Working With Existing Infrastructure AJAX Pagination 1. Assign the canonical directive to an assigned primary product category (canonical) for all product URLs (products, primary category) 2. Add all product URLs to XML sitemap feed – Ensure product URLs are the canonical versions only 3. Modify AJAX with Google Web Tool Kit to enable crawling of category pages 2-n 4. Pagination at the category-level: point all category canonical directives to the start page of the category (pg. 1) for pages 2-nCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 16
  • AJAX Pagination In-Action Clothing retailer / manufacturer selling their products on their own site and several other online retailers Challenge: Products are merchandised in categories with pagination accessible via AJAX Keywords reviewed: 10 product keywords, merchandised via AJAX pagination on pages 2-n in multiple categoriesCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 17
  • Key TakeawaysCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Key Takeaways • While there are indeed challenges from merchandising in multiple categories, the benefits are many. The ability to promote products by season, sales, new arrivals, and the like enable a retailer to create new entry points and better align their brand with the consumer decision process. • The ideal scenario is to store all products in a single database that assigns one unique URL to each product no matter where the product is called typically yields the best results – Build it right the first time! • With existing infrastructure it is recommended to direct canonical to product URLs assigned to a primary / canonical folders (products, primary category) • Pagination at the category-level: point all category canonical directives to the start page (pg. 1) for pages 2-n – Alleviates compounding of duplicate content • Only include product URLs assigned to the canonical version in XML sitemap feeds • Test, Test, Test – Measure, Measure, MeasureCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 19
  • AppendixCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.
  • Product Canonical Auto-Deployment (How To) 1. Examine your product pages URL and extract the base URL from it, the part from the ‘http’ to the last part that remains constant for all products (i.e. http://www.domain.com/storefront/”). 2. Determine how and where you get the URL-friendly category name and product name. This might be the database, the request URL or as a global or local variable. 3. Determine which page/class in your code is responsible for rendering the headers for all products pages. 4. Modify the code to fetch the category name and product name. 5. Recompile and test the automatic canonical META tags functionality. See appendix for code sampleCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 21
  • Product Canonical Auto-Deployment (.NET sample) The method discussed here assumes site uses a .NET- based shopping cart, the URL for any given product consists of a base URL, which is the domain name and any static folder structure, such as ‘/shop/’ or ‘/cart/’, a primary category name and a product name. The latter two are assumed to be properly URL encoded, (e.g. do not contain any spaces or special characters). A fully rendered canonical product URL would appear as: http://www.domain.com/category-name/product-nameCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 22
  • Product Canonical Auto-Deployment (.NET sample) The code sample below would be used on the product page (or product specific header or master page. A URL-friendly category name and product name are then being pulled from the database, concatenated with the base URL and then rendered as the href attribute of the canonical META tag. using System; using System.Web.UI; using System.Web.UI.HtmlControls; public partial class Products : Page { protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) { string strCategoryString, strProductString, strCanonicalUrl, strBaseUrl; [insert code here to retrieve category and product name strings from DB] strBaseUrl = "http://www.domain.com/"; strCanonicalUrl = strBaseUrl + strCategoryString + "/" + strProductString HtmlLink canonicalTag = new HtmlLink(); canonicalTag.Href = strCanonicalUrl; canonicalTag.Attributes["rel"] = "canonical"; Page.Header.Controls.Add(canonicalTag); } }Copyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited. 23
  • Thank You Richard Chavez Sr. Director, SEO PM Digital rchavez@PMDigital.com http://www.PMDigital.com Blog: http://blog.PMDigital.com/ Twitter: @PMDigital, @richardachavezCopyright 2011 PM Digital®. All rights reserved.This information is deemed PROPRIETARYand confidential by 2011 PM Digital Corp.Unauthorized use or disclosure is prohibited.