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Interview with Aaron Wall: His SEO Advice for eCommerce Sites

by Justin Palmer - April 22nd, 2008

Recently I had the privilege of quizzing Aaron Wall from SEO Book regarding eCommerce SEO strategies. Below is the Q and A from the interview. A special thanks to Aaron for his time. After the read, be sure to checkout his SEO Training program.



Q: Typically, eCommerce site owners have a harder time generating incoming links than say a blog would. What link building strategies do you recommend for eCommerce sites that have hundreds or even thousands of products?

A: I don’t think you need to get links to every product from external sources to do well…most of your competition suffers from the same issues as your ecommerce site does. Ideally you just want to get your brand featured and try to get some links into key products. Affiliate programs are great for building links. So are contests and any social elements to your site – like a company blog.

Q: What type of keyword strategy would you recommend for an online retailer with a large product catalog? Should the focus be on a few, larger volume keywords or a long tail approach?

A: In general if I had to pick one I would say that a long tail is typically a better approach, but you really need to look at sales data and promote what is selling. If you know a certain category is particularly hot then feature it to drive more of your link equity to that part of the site. If another category is low margin and rarely sells then link to it less often.

Q: Many internet retailers struggle to attain good rankings for their individual product pages. With so much competition on the internet in nearly every niche, how does one make their product pages rank higher in light of the competition?

A: The 7 easiest ways to gain traction are:

  1. Ensure your on page SEO and site structure are well optimized.
  2. Limit your selection and hold sales events. Woot.com does great with this strategy.
  3. Offer leading quality editorial reviews and how to guides that help people trust you and want to do business with you.
  4. Create wish lists and other widgets that people can spread virally on their websites…give people a reason to feature your brand.
  5. Focus your internal PageRank and anchor text to promote the most important items.
  6. Build community, contests, and/or an editorial voice that makes people keep coming back to you for the latest product releases.
  7. Aggressively engage in public relations and link building.

Q: Many online retailers struggle with getting all of their product or category pages indexed, due to the large number of pages and content deep within the site architecture. What advice would you give to ensure a deep crawl?

A: Focus your crawling priorities on your most important pages. Add tools, gadgets, editorial information, and engage in public relations / link building to help your site get crawled as deeply as possible.

Make sure your domain does not have pagination issues, canonicalization issues, or low information pages that are sucking up PageRank that can flow to more important pages.

Q: Do you have any other recommendations in regards to eCommerce SEO?

A: Promote seasonal offers with internal link authority at least a month early so search engines see a lot of PageRank pointing at those pages.

If you find that your store is a thin listing store (like a yellow pages website) then look at the 2 year performance of RHD and IAR…the value of thin listings are all going to Google. You really need to have interactivity and editorial to have a sustainable strategy.

cheers

a


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18 Responses to “Interview with Aaron Wall: His SEO Advice for eCommerce Sites” by Justin Palmer

  1. SEO Rank Says:

    Interview with Aaron Wall: His SEO Advice for eCommerce Sites…

    Make sure your domain does not have pagination issues, canonicalization issues, or low information pages that are sucking up PageRank that can flow to more important pages. Q: Do you have any other recommendations in regards to ……

  2. joe Says:

    do aspects of the domain effect search or does it really matter like a strait up dot com would get penelized over lets say a wordpress sub domain or does domain vs sub domain have no bearing as its the content that effect the search spiders?

  3. palmerwebmarketing Says:

    @ Joe,

    I don’t believe the top level domain (.com, .net, etc) has any effect on SEO, although most would recommend choosing .com as it looks more professional. Regarding subdomains, I don’t believe there is any inherent penalty for using them. However, I would strongly recommend blogging on your own domain rather than a wordpress or blogger sub, since you’ll have more control.

    Most important with domain is the length of time they have been registered.

    Justin

  4. Tiffany Says:

    The problem with being on someone else’s domain is that you are bringing links and “google mojo” to them and your spot in their world.

    If you ever have to leave or want to go to a new platform, you lose all of it.

    It’s so cheap to have you own domain – for $20 first year you can use wordpress.com on your own domain – that it’s a no brainer.

    Justin – great job getting this interview. SEO for ecommerce sites is a bit tougher than other kinds of sites, but once you get going, it steamrolls.

    I have a feeling I’ll be reading this on a couple more times…

  5. Bloggers Digest - 4/25/08 - Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog Says:

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  6. Bloggers Digest - 4/25/08 » Ecommerce Blog Says:

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  7. E-Commerce Platform Says:

    Do you guys think the new Googlebot penetration of forms will make a huge impact on serps for e-commerce sites?

    thx

  8. palmerwebmarketing Says:

    I only believe it will make a difference for ecommerce sites that use form based navigation, which very few do.

    Honestly I’m surprised Google is interested in this. Most webmasters have at least a basic understanding of SEO, and therefore don’t hide useful content behind forms in the first place.

  9. Tiffany Says:

    Justin – wouldn’t it impact pages where you can narrow down via a form? Not many sites do that, but i have come across some.

  10. palmerwebmarketing Says:

    @ Tiffany

    Good question. I would hope not, since that would tend to create duplicate versions of product listings page. For example, if Google ran a filter through a form for a specific brand on a product category page, you would end up with the same page, just less products. I suppose this could be useful, as long as it doesn’t look duplicated.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

  11. SEO for E-Commerce Sites Says:

    [...] site threw some e-commerce SEO questions Aaron Wall’s way. Some of the questions were just too [...]

  12. Best Shopping Cart Says:

    One of my concerns about this is will Google be using injection techniques to accomplish this or have they somehow figured out a way around forms that isn’t going to fill our databases with garbage?

  13. eCommerce Strategy & Marketing » Blog Archive » eCommerce - SEO advice for retail websites Blog | eCommerce, e-commerce, strategy, marketing, statistics, retail, blog | Webtarget.ca Says:

    [...] is an interview with Aaron conducted by PalmerWebMarketing.com about SEO and eCommerce [...]

  14. Hundreds of SEO Interviews | SEO Scoop Says:

    [...] Aaron Wall [...]

  15. ECOMMERCE - Bloggers Digest - 4/25/08 Says:

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  16. SEO for e-trade of places of assembly | FoxNews blog Says:

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  17. Bobby Says:

    Hello,
    Great interview!
    My only question is..how do you know if your website has domain canonical issues??

  18. Justin Palmer Says:

    Hey Bobby,

    Canonical issues exsist when a website is linked to by different versions of URLs (www.example.com vs. example.com). There can also be issues if the website previously used a different domain.

    Justin


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