How To Kill It at SEO Like Zappos

March 27, 2012
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Internet retail powerhouse Zappos absolutely dominates in all facets of online business and SEO is no exception. This post will lend some insight into Big Z’s search engine optimization domination.

Zappos has approximately 230,565 organic keywords driving traffic to its site (according to SEMRush).

zappos organic semrush

Internet retail powerhouse Zappos absolutely dominates in all facets of online business and SEO is no exception. This post will lend some insight into Big Z’s search engine optimization domination.

Zappos has approximately 230,565 organic keywords driving traffic to its site (according to SEMRush).

zappos organic semrush

That’s a pretty staggering number. It seems that Big Z has it figured out pretty well when it comes to search engine optimization.

But what about other e-commerce sites?

You would think that a lot of sites, especially e-commerce sites, would have stronger SEO strategies in place. After all, their entire website is based on selling so they would ideally set themselves up to look good for the search engines to find all the goodness that they offer, right?

Wrong.

Even today, you’ll see drastic differences between competing e-commerce sites. Just by looking at the number of organic keywords driving traffic to two competitors, you can see that they’re both worlds apart on the SEO spectrum.

Competitor A
637 organic keywords

Competitor B
7,829 organic keywords

So how do you make sure you’re on the right end of the SEO equation? How can you dominate with SEO like Zappos? You’ll get a look at some of the tactics that they use and hopefully you can implement some of them on your site.

Category Specific Content

On every major category page, Zappos has a block of content that talks about the types of brands and products that each category sells.

zappos category page text

Benefit: First, Zappos gives the search engines some unique content to help drive long tail traffic and relevancy. This isn’t a few lines of content you typically see (or don’t see) on normal e-commerce sites. This is heavy duty, ultra-specific content.

But that’s not all. They milk this content for all it’s worth by using it for internal linking as well. More on that later.

Excellent Site Structure

Having an excellent site structure will do wonders in terms of helping you get more pages indexed. A solid site structure also helps keep the link juice flow freely throughout the site.

Many sites make the mistake of having too many subfolders or even lack of subfolders for proper categorization. This can be devastating because it means missed traffic opportunities.

Read about site structure here: What You Need To Know About Site Architecture

User Generated Reviews

You would think that user generated reviews would be a staple on e-commerce sites today, but there are still a lot of online businesses missing out on this. User generated reviews is a scalable form of SEO that can work wonders for you.

Benefit: UGC gets you fresh content on those product pages. This is especially important if you are still using manufacturer product descriptions. This unique content written by customers will help set you apart from competitors that have the same descriptions. You’ll get more long tail traffic benefit from this content.

Another benefit is the added trust signals people see from the reviews. When people see others engaging about how great a product is, it gives them more confidence to buy.

Internal links

Although it’s external links are shown to give more weight(link), we still need to show a little love to its brother, the internal link. Zappos does a fantastic job of leveraging internal links in various ways.

Category Specific Search Tags

On the sidebar of every major category page, Zappos has a tag cloud with popular searches for that particular category. All of these tags link to specific product pages. This is essentially automated internal linking and can be very powerful since the links are coming directly from a major category page. That means all of these popular products get a significant boost with the added value from these internal links

zappos tag cloud

Category Content Internal Links

Zappos doubles down on its content on major categories by not only using it to help increase relevancy for each page. They utilize internal linking heavily in this content to push more link juice to popular category related keywords and major brands.

Once again, here’s how internal linking looks on their category pages:

internal-link-small

Benefit: These pages all gain more authority with the link juice from major category pages.

Content Marketing Strategy

Marketers everywhere are raving about content marketing. Let’s look at some of the benefits of content marketing:

  • Builds trust
  • Helps increase organic traffic
  • Makes you a thought leader/authority
  • Creates unforseen opportunities for you

Most companies usually have one blog for content marketing. Zappos has sixmain blogs:

zappos blogs

Just think about how much value and transparency they are providing to their customer base. There aren’t many companies out there that have a ‘CEO & COO Blog’(link).

Excellent Customer Service

Sure, you can say this isn’t SEO part of an SEO strategy. But the truth is SEO is becoming more and more about relationships(link to post about build relationships, not links)

When you build relationships with customers, they tell other people about how great you are. Making each customer feel like they’re more than just a mere transaction creates diehard supporters.

And that’s how you create lifetime customers.

SEO 101

Naturally, Zappos has a solid handle on its title and meta descriptions. You’d be surprised at how many sites still have ‘Home’ as their homepage title still. Here’s what the Zappos homepage looks like:

Shoes, Clothing, and More | Zappos.com

Here’s a good template to go by:

[KEYWORDS] | [BRAND]

Short and sweet. Just how it should be.

Benefit: The title is the most important on-page factor and goes a long way in helping you rank for keywords. So get it right. Don’t neglect the meta description either because that helps with clickthrough rate.

Acceptable URL Strings

Having clean URLs is still important and it does help search engines determine what the page is about. Another knock on dirty URLs is they usually have to go a few subfolders deep to reach the destination page. Ideally, sites should go about 4 levels deep. Deeper than that and the spiders might run into some crawling issues.

And that means less pages crawled. Which means less traffic. Which means less sales.

Let’s take a look at how Bebe’s ‘Dress’ category page looks:

Bebe Category URL: http://www.bebe.com/View-All-DRESSES-Products/b/675941011/175-2527023-3464666?ie=UTF8&pf_rd_r=04KVB9DN9J09VWJWANYM&pf_rd_m=A2FMOXN01TSNYY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=15390031&pf_rd_p=1348429822&pf_rd_s=top-7

Now let’s take a look at the Zappos’ ‘Shoes’ category page:

Zappos Category URL: http://www.zappos.com/shoes

Keep things simple for both humans and search engines and you’ll be rewarded.

Benefit: Cleaning up dirty URLs can yield traffic benefits. However, if you have dirty URLs then you want to make a note of it to change them with your next site redesign. It’s not a quick one off change and can get a little hairy. You’ll have to take rankings into account and look into how you will redirect important pages.

Conclusion

Every webmaster can take a few pages from Zappos’ site strategy. If there are some things that would make sense for you to implement after reading this blog post, go do it! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

What are some must have site strategies that I missed?