Everett Sizemore, Director of SEO Strategy for seOverflow. We’re a strategic outsourcing partner for agencies and marketing departments. Doing SEO for 8 years and ran a small eCommerce business prior to that. Before joining the seOverflow team I managed the in-house SEO department for Gaiam, a fitness lifestyle catalog and online retailer. Today I’m going to talk about how to build external links into your product detail pages, and category pages.
Raise your hand if you compete for product-related rankings with mega stores like Amazon.com and Buy.com, OR big box stores like Walmart and Target. Nearly Everyone? Well, The BAD News is that you probably aren’t going to Beat them on domain-level metrics unless you’re also a Fortune 100 company.
The good news is that Amazon has almost 127-MILLION product pages. And based on the thousands I’ve checked, very few of them have external links. Even with a big brand that attracts a lot of organic links, it’s very difficult to scale white-hat external link-building across hundreds of millions of product pages. External Links at the product level is where smaller businesses can beat the Amazons of the world. If you’re tired of them outranking you for every product search then this is where you need to be focusing your efforts, because usually all it takes to get above Amazon for a product-specific search is two or three decent external links. And here are four ways to get them. (source: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=-sdfdfsasdfaf&x=0&y=0 )
Number One: Linkbait and Trustbait can be put on categories or product detail pages. For example, you can easily use a category or PDP as a landing page for product-specific demos or viral videos. The Blendtec videos from a few years back would have been perfect for this. Other product-page link bait ideas include polls; giveaways; sweepstakes; infographics; comparison charts; product-related widgets and calculators; user-generated reviews; competitions… or just about anything you would otherwise build a separate linkbait landing page for.
It’s amazing how few of us think to use an existing page for linkbait campaigns. We assume this type of content has to go on its own landing page, probably because, when done poorly, putting linkbait on product or category pages makes the page too busy and lowers conversion rates. When done right it can make the design more dynamic and compelling, increase conversions, and attract natural links – like this one Crutchfield got from the Edmunds Q&A section. KarJunkie is linking to Crutchfield because they have a self-select feature on their car audio category page that lets shoppers enter their car’s information to get vehicle-specific recommendations, search results and installation guides. It’s very handy for those of us who don’t know anything about car stereos.
Letting customers interact with your brand at the product level can be a fun way to get deep links while building brand loyalty. In this Hypothetical Example A store selling skateboards might offer up several models on the main “skateboard deck” category page and ask people to vote for which one gets 20% off next month. Every time someone votes they get a popup with a coupon that will let them get the discount next month, and the ability to share their vote with a link to the page on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or by email. They can also provide their email address if they want to be notified about which product wins, and get a reminder when it’s time to use their coupon code. Some tips for this strategy: Make it easy to vote and share. Put the sharing buttons in the confirmation window, as if they are the logical next step in the process after hitting “Submit”. Make it FUN! For starters, choose interesting products. - Use a product or category page as the landing page, or redirect it to one later. Crowdsourcing works great for new products as well. For instance, let customers help you choose which of two or more similar products you should carry. I have a real-world example of that in the next slide.
We had all kinds of fun linkbuilding campaigns at Gaiam. In this one we let customers and organic gardening bloggers decide which two composter models we would sell after testing them out in real-world conditions and sharing a weekly video update. This resulted in several good product page links, as well as lots of brand recognition and some new customers. If anyone is curious, the Earthmaker won. But personally I would have gone with the Worm Wigwam. (source:) http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/battling-for-the-decomposed-crown http://crazyaboutcompost.com/2011/06/04/gaiam-compost-off-videos/ http://current.com/green/90548721_the-first-gaiam-compost-off-has-begun.htm http://www.consumersearch.com/compost-bins/review
Tip Number Three is the creation of Research Centers, or an abundance of information on product pages. Examples include: Comparison charts, installation guides, video demonstrations, infographics, resource links, size charts, editorial and user reviews, alternate product image views, information about how / where it was made, ingredients or materials used… These could go on category or product pages, but it also works when the research content is on a subdomain that isn’t going to compete for the types of searches your product pages get. I have an example of that later. The example in the next slide uses features on the product page to educate and upsell shoppers.
I love Crutchfield because they have an awesome “Research” center with very helpful content, especially when dealing with technology that most people don’t understand well. But they don’t JUST put informational content in the resource section; they also have some VERY in-depth information on product pages. The use of a tabbed product description area lets you put a lot of information in a small space. When done right, this is all unique, spiderable content.
While the previous example was a great resource within the product page, here’s another example from Gaiam that could be on a category page. In this case it was on a subdomain, which didn’t help us build many product page links. But it had some other advantages, like design freedom, control of relevant internal links, and the opportunity to rank for research keywords like “How to Compost”, or “Composter Reviews”. With the way Panda is thought to work, you probably wouldn’t want a composter product page to rank highly for “How to Compost” anyway. The idea of matching the query to the purpose of the page is something you should definitely be thinking about with any of these tips.
A lot of retail sites put their sale items in the sale or outlet section and reserve all of their coupon codes for site-wide or category-level deals. There is no reason why you can’t have product-specific coupons. Some of you may already have them. But you can go a step further and offer exclusive product-level coupon codes to high-profile bloggers so they can share them with their readers. For example…
A blogger named Ashley wrote about her Gaiam Balance Ball Chair. The post came up on my Google Alerts feed so we thanked her on Twitter and linked to her post. Next, we contacted Ashley directly and asked if she would like to provide her readers with a 20% off discount on the chair. - Ashley got to offer her readers something nobody else could offer - Her readers got a huge discount on a very popular product And Gaiam got a link directly to their product page Everybody won.
(CHECK TIME) In the interest of time I have to stop here, but I invite you to download my slides from the SMX website or the seOverflow blog because there’s a another slide after this with a few dozen more tips. Thank you!
I was going to go over how to do PR the right way, but I think Chris Winfield pretty much hit it out of the park with his post on SEOmoz this week so I’ll just send you there: 92 Ways to Get and Maximize Press Coverage - on the SEOMoz blog. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/92-ways-to-get-and-maximize-press-coverage
Driving E-commerce Retail Sales
Link Building for Products Everett Sizemore Director, SEO Strategy www.seOverflow.com @balibones Linkedin.com/in/everett http://gplus.to/esizemore
Competing with Amazon and Other Online Mega Stores Isn’t Easy!
On The Bright Side… Perceived Difficulty = Opportunity The BAD News: Building links into product pages can be difficult. The GOOD News: Building links into product pages is even more difficult for the big guys.
TrustBait / LinkBait on PDPs & Categories Hypothetical Example: A store selling helmets could have information in text, infographic or video format educating customers about helmet safety guidelines. You would then get that page linked to from helmet and bike safety resource lists like the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute: http://www.bhsi.org/links.htm . * To learn more about Trustbait listen to Jim Boykin. #1 This guy didn’t read your trustbait.
Trustbait / Linkbait Crutchfield Self-Selection Crutchfield removes fear & anxiety from the process by educating consumers about their products in a way that nobody else does. Visit www.crutchfield.com for more inspiration.
Crowdsourcing <ul><li>. </li></ul><ul><li>Getting the most out of it: </li></ul><ul><li>Get links into product or category pages </li></ul><ul><li>Grow email list </li></ul><ul><li>Get feed subscribers </li></ul><ul><li>Gain followers, Fans and customers </li></ul><ul><li>Increase traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Increase sales with an offer </li></ul><ul><li>Improve brand recognition </li></ul><ul><li>Improve social SEO signals… </li></ul>#2 Which skateboard deck price should we take a bite out of?
<ul><li>Campaign goals: </li></ul><ul><li>Increase social media engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Improve brand recognition in this space </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain links into landing pages </li></ul><ul><li>Funnel pagerank into new product pages </li></ul><ul><li>Link and brand mentions from: </li></ul><ul><li>MNN.com </li></ul><ul><li>CrazyAboutCompost.com </li></ul><ul><li>Current.com </li></ul><ul><li>ConsumerSearch.com </li></ul><ul><li>WN.com </li></ul><ul><li>Dozens of gardening blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Hundreds of social media shares </li></ul>Crowdsourcing The Gaiam Compost-Off
Educational Resources <ul><li>Three Ways to Educate Shoppers and Get Links: </li></ul><ul><li>A separate content area for educational resource materials that funnels page-rank into category and product pages. </li></ul><ul><li>A blog as the resource area. This is probably the easiest, but sometimes blog posts are less trusted by potential link targets. </li></ul><ul><li>Put the informational content on your category or product pages. </li></ul>#3
<ul><li>Features on this page that make it worth linking to: </li></ul><ul><li>Does it fit my car? feature </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple photo views </li></ul><ul><li>Videos </li></ul><ul><li>Extremely in-depth Features tab with product research section, downloadable owners manual and more </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Links to related informational articles in their resource section </li></ul><ul><li>Applicable Accessories for each product </li></ul><ul><li>Price and feature comparisons with similar products </li></ul><ul><li>Ask an Expert toll-free number or online chat </li></ul><ul><li>Related offers and ways to save link </li></ul><ul><li>Wishlist and Email alerts for each product </li></ul><ul><li>crutchfield.com/p_105KDHDR44/JVC-KD-HDR44.html </li></ul>Educational Resources Crutchfield’s Resource-Rich PDPs
Resource Centers Gaiam Composting Guide 554 Links from 24 domains Breaks away from eCommerce site and blog design templates (landing page) Internal linking to funnel page-rank from linkbait resource into product detail pages (PDPs) Picks up shoppers earlier in the buying cycle while they are still researching Could be on a subdomain, stand-alone landing page on the main site, or on the composting category page http://life.gaiam.com/guides/compost-a-z-complete-composting-guide
Product-Specific Coupon Codes <ul><li>Did You Know… </li></ul><ul><li>Coupon Codes aren’t just for your affiliates. </li></ul><ul><li>Coupons aren’t just for site-wide or category discounts. </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone is looking for something to offer their readers that nobody else is offering. </li></ul><ul><li>Product-specific coupon codes are a great way to get links from frugal-living, personal finance or industry-specific blogs. </li></ul>#4 Many online retailers only use coupon codes for site-wide or category-level offers.
Product-Specific Coupons Combined with Social Outreach Direct, Followable Link to PDP A Code Just for Ashley’s Readers Publicly Thanking Ashley on Twitter Ashley
Product Link Building Tips Everett Sizemore - SMX West, 2012 – www.seOverflow.com <ul><li>#1 – Trustbait / Linkbait on category and product pages </li></ul><ul><li>#2 – Crowdsource (make them feel invested) </li></ul><ul><li>#3 – Create superb educational resources for shoppers </li></ul><ul><li>#4 – Product-Specific coupon codes and discounts with blogger outreach </li></ul><ul><li>OTHERS: </li></ul><ul><li>Do PR Linkbuilding the right way (see http://www.seomoz.org/blog/92-ways-to-get-and-maximize-press-coverage ). </li></ul><ul><li>Do Sponsorships by donating products to charities and events </li></ul><ul><li>Send Freebies for Product Reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Do Giveaways & Contests/Sweeps </li></ul><ul><li>Evergreen Holiday Landing Pages (Why start holiday linkbuilding from scratch every year? Keep dates OUT of URLs!). </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the links you have (404 reports, products that go out of stock, etc...) </li></ul><ul><li>Link Reclamation: Bloggers will link to a product with the URL from your internal search results (e.g. www.site.com/search/product-name/ ). These pages are often disallowed in the robots.txt file or noindexed in the robots meta tag. Just contact the site and provide the correct link. </li></ul><ul><li>Build external links into external links to boost their power. Some use riskier linkbuilding tactics for these since there is a degree of separation (laundering link juice). </li></ul><ul><li>On-Site Hosted Affiliate Pages with Naked Links (Careful with this one) </li></ul><ul><li>Links from Manufacturer websites </li></ul><ul><li>Do a PDP-Focused Link Analysis on Competitors (Often reveals lots of give-away opportunities) </li></ul><ul><li>Bait N Switch (For whitehats: Redirecting relevant old content with links) </li></ul><ul><li>Source really cool / unique products (toilet-lid sink, gold-plated toothbrush, solar gadgets) </li></ul><ul><li>Put URL into external video descriptions. Include http://www ... Many YouTube scrapers will turn that into a followable link. </li></ul><ul><li>Just ASK - If someone links to your home page while discussing a product you sell, email to thank them, and suggest that they link directly to the product page so their visitors won't have to wander around your site hunting for it. Most of the time they'll leave your home page link up in addition to adding the PDP link. </li></ul><ul><li>Make PDPs Shareable with email and social buttons </li></ul><ul><li>Send Freebies for other reasons (Like when SEOMoz sent my son a RogerBot onsie: http://www.esizemore.com/lil-waylon-in-his-mozbot-shirt/ ) </li></ul><ul><li>Do guest posts. MyBlogGuest.com is great, but also look into more private relationships outside the constraints of their guidelines (i.e. links inside body copy). </li></ul><ul><li>Find DoFollow blog comment opportunities (Use real name, don’t robo-spam, be useful) </li></ul><ul><li>Get links from profiles on forums, social media and Q&A sites </li></ul><ul><li>Get Local Links (If you sell sporting goods and can get a link from your local fitness center, consider giving them the URL to a specific product instead of your home page Example: Crutchfield http://wpr.org/hd/hd_receivers.cfm ) </li></ul><ul><li>Buy links under radar from individuals (not networks). Easy on the anchor text; stay relevant. </li></ul><ul><li>All types of linkbait on external sites or pages, including infographics, tools, resources… can link back to a product page instead of home or category. </li></ul>@balibones Linkedin.com/in/everett http://gplus.to/esizemore www.seOverflow.com