Maximizing SEO Returns with User Generated Content

Aug 20, 2008 • 8:25 pm | comments (0) by twitter | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2008 San Jose
 

When your catalog has 200 million products, grows at $3M per week, and contains content created by users, how do you optimize it? · Capture the long tail by balancing a user-contributed folksonomy with a site taxonomy that works for both searchers and search engines. · Provide tools for users to SEO their own content and use the power of community to edit the retail site. · Measure traffic, model SEO revenue, and track performance across multiple variables. With user-generated content, you are reaching customers who are ready to buy and customers who are participating in a community. Learn how to maximize SEO returns by developing an SEO strategy that satisfies both markets at all phases of the buying cycle and scales to huge sites.

Moderator: · Rebecca Lieb, Contributing Editor, ClickZ Speakers: · Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CTO, CafePress · Benu Aggarwal, Founder & President, Milestone Internet Marketing · Kurt Krake, Search Advisor, Bazaarvoice

Rebecca: Welcome our first speaker Mehdi.

Mehdi: I run the online operations at CaféPress. We are a 100% user generated content businesses. Users upload their designs and sell them to the community. If you want us to sell it we can sell it for you, and if you want to sell it to your own community you can set that up. We have 6.5 million active users, get about 2,000 new shops every day, our catalog of available product is close to 200 million, and every day our users create an average of 45,000 products.

So how do we manage our SEO?

It's a challenge for us because we are dealing with so many different products. A third of our traffic today is search engines, so Google hits us about 5 times a day.

When the incoming content comes from the consumer, we allow that to become a custom taxonomy within out site, by product line. We have to find a balance between conversions and how deeply we want to categorize things.

At our site, we are still growing at 30% on traffic which is incredible.

Every shopkeeper is tagging their products so they get found, and we deal with a lot of spam issues that we need to control.

When you search for a term and you have 4 million products, how do you put the most relevant designs on top? So we balance between how recently something is designed, how well it sells, and many other factors.

When you get to a PDP (product detail page), there's a balance between showing you what you searched for, vs. showing you our catalog.

Our business is part shopkeeper - someone wants to sell Go Green t-shirts, hats, etc. so we give them the tools to set up their shop, and this page probably shows up pretty high.

How do you manage all this with millions of searches coming in? The metrics becomes important. What are the vital signs you look at to see if you are succeeding? We look at where the traffic is coming from and where it ends up. We look at the top 100 keywords that drive traffic as well as a group of terms driving traffic. A/B testing is something we also do to increase our conversions.

Thank you.

Rebecca: Next up is Benu Aggarwal.

Benu: My firm focuses on the lodging industry and we face this issue all the time.

Why are customer reviews so important? How are they impacting organic listings? How do you incentivize your customers to post reviews?

Some stats: 1,200 consumers shop online at least 4 times per year spending $500 or more annually.

78% of customers spend more than 10 minutes reading reviews. Which reviews are they reading and where? Why Trip Advisor became one of the largest site in the industry – the credibility was so much more when reviews were posted on third party sites.

How do reviews help you in conversion? It increases credibility!

The impact of reviews is very significant, but just as significant is how they are presented.

Trip Advisor gives very easy access to different topics such as room service, etc. We have developed a tool in-house that allows users to post very easily.

So what are the things that are important to remember? Good reviews will help, as a site owner, to understand the preferences of the customer.

Make sure your reviews are above the fold on the page. Make product reviews attractive, ask customers to add videos and photos. Incentivize your customers – chance to win, free drink, etc.

How should you categorize your website properly so that when they land on it they know you have proper architecture? Make sure it's categorized properly. If you are on a product page, the user needs to know they are landing on a product page.

Check if site is designed for higher conversion: add contact info, maps, search box.

Focus on the product pages. If they are not available, don't take users to the home page, take them to another similar product page!

Programming best practices:

- Make sure you are doing re-writes - Multiple entry points - Use java script but make sure the download time is minimum - Optimize your titles, meta data - CSS for layouts and drop downs - Server-side database caching techniques - Provide videos, great way to gain reviews

Thank you.

Rebecca: Next is Kurt Krake from Bazaarvoice.

Kurt: I am a search strategy consultant for Bazaarvoice. We're going to focus on how product reviews really enhance product websites.

We did a study based on 21 retail brands (that you know) and we checked out different product sets from home supplies and sporting goods. We were looking at what the reviews did to the natural search traffic. There's a high correlation between searching and reading product reviews. We also know that purchases use search to use research.

What would a term look like towards the head for Bazaarvoice – maybe "jewelry research" and for the long tail, maybe "best men's watches". As we go down the list of the long tail, we get better quality keyword searches.

Graphical example of how a long tail keyword shows up in Google Trends graph. So the deeper you go, the more highly relevant.

So Bazzarvoice employs a segmented strategy for ratings & reviews. We use product-focused pages, and then reviews-focused page. We optimize around title tags and meta descriptions. The body of the page is user generated content and so the page is optimized purely for reviews. The great thing is that when people search using the keyword "review", it will take you to a page like that.

Type in a product into Google, then type in that product with the word review, and see what the results look like.

With Bazaarvoice, the average query is 3.5 - 4 words, vs. Google's 2.5 average.

Product search frequently contains product names; not laptop but Dell laptop. The research also showed a noticeable increase in conversions from referrals from the review page than the products page.

Thank you!

Session coverage provided by Sheara Wilensky of Promediacorp.

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