How y'all doin? My name is Rob Snell. I am from Starkville, Mississippi. I don't know if y'all can tell by the way I talk.

I am a retailer. How many people in this audience are retailers? Oh man. I feel sorry for all of ya'll. How many people work for retailers? We got it worse. I think working for retailers is worse than being a retailer.

All right. Today I am going to talk about what I do with my store and my clients' stores to get real world results using SEO.

Like I said, my name is Rob Snell. We got online in 1997 by putting our family business online with a Yahoo! Store. All of the information I am going to cover today plus anything that wouldn't fit in these 93 slides is going to be on Just click on "read this first". I got a ton of content on there for retailers.

I am a retailer. I wrote this book on how to do well with your Yahoo! Store. I have a lot of information in there. I make $1, so I appreciate it if you buy a book.

We started out on the Yahoo! Store platform back in 1997. I love Yahoo! Store. It is very search engine friendly out of the box. They keep making changes to the platform to make it easier for retailers to not have to be propeller head techie SEO's. You put your production information in and it generates these pages.

Today I am going to talk about Gun Dog Supply, our online store that sells training supplies for hunting dogs, and how we do SEO on this site.

The first thing I try to get my retailers to do is start fresh. Folks have mentioned this before in other presentations, but you want to start with a clean browser. When you see what folks are searching for, when you see the search results pages on Google, I recommend my retailers use Safari, because it is really easy to reset Safari so you have got no cookies. You have a virgin browser. You can see what your customers are seeing when they search.

If you are logged into Gmail or your Google Adwords account, you are going to see a different result that is personalized. It is not what your customers are seeing. You just go under Safari and select "reset Safari".

The second thing is prioritize the engines. I want to be fishing where the fish are, OK? When I go fishing, I want to fish in the big lake where the big bass are. And with our sites, most of our traffic, like yours, comes from Google, anywhere from 75% to 80% of our organic traffic. But that doesn't mean you want to discount Bing or Yahoo.

The third thing is pick your battles. 90% of the traffic from search engines comes from clicks on the first page. 90%. That means you have to be on the first page.

This is what more of our customers see when they come to Google, this view. I found from our Analytics, I could see this screen resolution. If you will notice in this, you can see the shopping results, the three organic results, and then image results. When I take that off and see the full page, you can see all 10 results. You can see the ads.

The second most popular browser resolution for us is this one. You can also see here how the ads cut off. Google knows that people are clicking on the top of the page.

You want to be in the top 5 or bust. If you are not in the top 5, you are not getting the clicks. This is where you want to be. Here is another screenshot showing you 5 different organic listings and the shopping results.

When you strip off the ads, 40% of the clicks are going to the first position, 15% to the second position, 10%, 8%. You need to be in the top 3, the top 5, definitely the top 10.

Target popular and valuable keyword phrases. Where I come from, we like both kinds of keywords. Keywords that deliver a lot of traffic, but also, keywords that deliver a high revenue per visitor.

Here is a mythical keyword phrase using real data so I can talk about a client. I did a Webinar about two weeks ago and I had a client freaking out; a guy I did some work for about 10 years ago. He was number one for unicycle seats on Google, getting tons of sales and traffic from that, and he had dropped to number seven and his sales had dropped off.

It makes me really frustrated when retailers will concentrate on one, or 10, or 20 phrases and not go after all this opportunity that is out there. When I look at the Google keyword tool, I see that unicycle seats is a pretty high traffic phrase for this retailer. But I compare that to another one of his phrases that he ranks really well for, Plutzo seats, which is a manufacturer term. It has got medium traffic with 8,000 visitors.

Revenue per visitor, thanks to his analytics, we were able to look at his specific revenue per visitor for this keyword phrase. So revenue per visitor for the generic unicycle seats is about $1. But for the manufacturer term, it is $11. And that is for his site. Some terms are going to be worth more to you than they are for the guy sitting next to you.

You multiply it out times the frequency to get the inventory value of the phrase. So that is a $40,000 inventory. That is an $88,000 inventory. He needs to be concentrating on the phrases that are driving revenue, not just traffic.

The other thing is that on Google, using the Google keyword tool, we were able to see that the average cost per click is 95 cents for the generic term. But for the manufacturer's term, it is only 60 cents. I mean look at the upside. If the generic term is a nickel, it is $10.40. How many $10 bills would you buy for 60 cents? All of them. And here is the Google keyword tool. Just go to Google and search for keyword tool.

All right. The next phase for me is collect. I want you to run SEO friendly analytics. I use Yahoo Web Analytics. I also run GA. What I want these things to do is actually show me the money. I am interesting in what search phrase brought somebody to the site, how many visits, the number of orders that I got, and how much revenue they generated.

I like to look at this information in a spreadsheet so I can actually compare the value of different keyword phrases. You can see here I have got them color coded. The higher revenue phrases are in green.

The next thing I do is I actually calculate revenue per visitor by keyword phrase. Unfortunately, this is not built into Yahoo Web Analytics, and I am not a GA expert, so it might be in there. But in Excel, I just make a simple formula. And this shows me that some keyword phrases are more valuable than others. Look at that $7 revenue per visitor on line three. That tells me right there that something is wrong with that entry page that folks are coming to using that third keyword there.

But if you go on down a little bit, look at the $29 revenue per visitor. On average, I get $29 in sales for every single visitor using that keyword phrase. And again, these are mythical keyword phrases. I have overwritten some real keyword phrases so I have got some good data in there for you to look at.

[phone rings] <<< (NOT ME!)


The next thing that I do is I actually take my ranking data in Google for these keyword phrases. I want to see how my best two pages ranked, and I only look in the top 20 or 30 listings. You can see in here, also by the color code, that I have got a lot of pages that are ranking extremely well. And this is like a random bucket of keyword phrases that I picked out, and I am pretty happy with how we are doing on these.

Look at that first in the upper right-hand corner. You see rank 1 and rank 2. Do you see that number 11? It is so easy. With a little bit of work, I can move that 11 to a 10 and get clustered results for two listings on the first page. You can almost double your Google traffic if you can get these clustered listings.

In my top 1,000 keywords, about 80% of my listings are clustered because I optimized not only for the main page, the most relevant page, but I also take a second most relevant page, and internally, I optimize for that phrase as well.

And in here, I can see tons of opportunities. Look at that on the fifth line. See #15? I have got something ranking 15. I can push that to 10 pretty easily. 12? Then there is that white space right there. I am not even in the top 20, so that tells me maybe I don't need to work on that until I get everything else done.

All right. I actually took a sample of my converting keyword phrases over time. It is more than year. I am not going to get specific about how big it was. But I got 21,358 keyword phrases that all converted. Someone searched for something. It converted into a sale. I mean each one of these is a little nugget of gold, but some are worth more than others.

These keywords generated $6 million in sales. I am going to round a little bit so it is easier to go through the numbers. The next phase for me is organizing all these keywords. I have got a friend of mine who is in the back with an air horn. If I say anything I am not supposed to about secrets I am not supposed to give away, Craig, let me know, OK?

The first thing I do, I remove my domain and name keywords form this list of keywords. It is so easy to rank for your name, your domain name, and just variations on your company name.

When I look at my keywords, in my top 10 keywords, eight of my top 10 converting keywords were my company name. And I think that you get a false sense of, "Hey, I am doing great, because gosh, I am #1 for 8 of my top 10 phrases." Well you damn well better be in the top 1 or 2 for your company name. I mean that is so easy to rank for.

I had 332 different variations in this sample of my company name that generated over $1 million in revenue. One of the reasons why this is a problem with finding your keywords is because when somebody comes back to your site, they don't necessarily bookmark you. They may do a search for your domain and then that overwrites the original keyword, depending on the analytics that you are using.

And on one of our sites, we got about 30% of the folks who order, they actually come back in a second section. So it is very easy for that to happen.

The next thing I do organizing wise is I tag my keywords two ways, by category and by brand. I go through all these keyword phrases in a spreadsheet and I choose some filters. I take my top 200 keywords and I go through that and I look for unique meaning elements, things that would say, "This one keyword phrase belongs in this bucket."

And so like in the first example, if it had "Osborne", the manufacturer's name, or "Canine Cantine", the brand, anywhere in the keyword phrase, I tied it with Osborne. If it was generic, it had the word bucket in it, I tied it with the word bucket. So I got two columns for that. The reason why is because I optimize on groups of keywords.

We were talking earlier today about how manufacturer names, and brand names, and generic all need to be in the page names and the product names on your website. And here is an example of a mythical manufacturer.

We will say Wobbles is the manufacturer, and they sell unicycle seats, and their best selling unicycle seat is the Steady Teddy. If you look here, you could take these keyword phrases and we could optimize one or two pages for this entire bucket of phrases.

And in this case, it is such a valuable keyword phrase for me, I would probably optimize four different pages; one for the brand name and then one for the generic. And then I also create a reviews page or a "more info" page for that second nest of clustered results.

When you take out the name phrases, you are still left with 5 million keywords. So now we have got to prioritize, because you are not going to spend as much time on the #1 keyword that drives the most revenue as you are the 20,000th keyword that is driving just one order.

So what I do is I rank my keywords by total amount of money. I am in this for the money. The commerce part of e-commerce is what interests me.

Here is a graph of my keywords individually over this time period. My best keyword has generated about $200,000. And then you will notice, after the first 20 or so, it kind of drops off into this line.

This is not the long tail. This is the end of the head here. I want to spend my time across my keywords proportionate to the amount of revenue that they generate. So I also divide these keywords into five different buckets. I got $5 million in sales? OK. $1 million is worth me spending some time on something, right?

The other thing is that graph kind of reminds me of something. They talk about the long tail, so I divide these terms up into head, neck, back, rump, and long tail. And I am going to show you specifically how I optimize for everything, including the rump.

The first thing I do, it is so easy to do in a Yahoo! Store, I bake in default SEO elements. And what I mean by that is when one of my employees creates a new page, or when one of my clients creates a new page, the name of the product is in a header tag. It automatically creates bread crumbs. It automatically generates a title tag, a canonical tag, and a Meta description using elements that are already on the page. By default, just by showing up, I am automatically making this page search engine friendly. I mean I am not at work today. They are adding products. These pages are already somewhat optimized just by my templates.

Let's talk about the head terms. The first 20 keyword phrases in this sample here generated $1 million in sales, so I am going to spend a lot of time on these keyword phrases.

Most of these are the phrases that you know about. Once you take out your name, these are your pet keyword phrases that you have obsessed over. I was out drinking last night and somebody at our table said, "Well I only get sales from 10 of my keywords." If you are only selling one product, that might be OK. But if you are selling hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of product, you are missing out only by focusing on these. But at the same time, this is $1 million worth of revenue from 20 keyword phrases. I mean I obsess over these.

The first thing that I do for head is I actually write top shelf content. I talked all about that yesterday. If you go to, I have got a ton of information on how to write buyer's guides, reviews, comparison charts, product descriptions. Top shelf content.

Today I am only talking about things you can do on your store. This will actually get you links outside of your store if you do a good job creating this content.

The next thing I do is I actually optimize my homepage for these head terms. If you go to your homepage and view source and look at all the anchors going off your homepage, you will be freaking out if you know anything about SEO. That is your most powerful SEO asset, your homepage. The anchor text off your homepage is the most powerful asset you have.

If you walk away from this presentation with one thing, this is it. You want to optimize for your best selling products, which are your best product pages, and you also want to use your best keywords in those links.

So in the anchor text of those links on your homepage, use your 40 best phrases to link out to your best products and sections using the best keywords. And here is an example of these links on one of my homepages.

Clustered results. A minute ago, I talked about this, but I am going to talk about it a little bit more. You don't want to optimize one page on your site for a specific keyword phrase. You want to optimize it for two pages.

My top 1,000 keywords, almost 80%, I have two listings in Google. That means not only do I get two shots at getting a click, but I am also pushing that competitor at #10, he is on page two. He is not getting 90% of the clicks. He is getting to split 10% of the clicks.

So what you want to do is find the two most relevant pages on your site for any given keyword phrase. And what I do is I go to Google and I do space keyword phrase. And Google will tell you what the two most valuable keyword phrases are just by looking at #1 and #2. And if it is not the pages on your site that you think should be the most relevant, that tells you that you have some work to do.

All right. Let's talk about the neck terms. The next million in this $5 million barrel of orders came from 180 keyword phrases from number 21 to 200. That is still a lot of money. That is $1 million in this little bucket here, but it is a lot more keyword phrases. And you optimize slightly differently for these.

I use run of site anchor text, my left-hand nav. Those are the keyword phrases because they are on almost every page of your website, or they are at least on your top level pages for these types of keyword phrases. Usually, these are the names of your sections or your best selling products.

The other thing I like to do is find good store pages for embedded links. Here is an example for orange dog collars. A minute ago, you saw a page, one of the screenshots of Google for orange dog collars. I want to find pages on my site that contain the phrase orange dog collars, but do not link to either my most relevant page or my second most relevant page. And out of 12,000 pages on Gun Dog, I found one of them. That is a new product. Somebody is not linking to the product page using the phrase orange dog collars.

What you do is you go to Yahoo, and the query you do is site:yourdomain, and then you say minus link:the Url that you want to rank, like your most relevant page. So you are saying, "Don't show me any pages from my site that have this link." And then, also add your converting keyword phrase with quotes around it so you can see anywhere that phrase appears on your site without a link to your most relevant page. And that is where you give that to one of your production folks and say, "Hey, go link orange dog collars to orangedogcollars.html." And you do this for all of your phrases. You start at the top and work your way down.

All right. The terms in the back. Keyword phrase #201 to 1,000. This is 800 keyword phrases generating $1 million. I am still interested specifically in each one of these keyword phrases.

On a monthly basis, I am checking my ranks. We talked about clustered results. I am also checking to see, "Do I have two pages in the search?" And I have got a cool trick for that, but I am not going to say it over the microphone or post it. Buy me a drink and I will show you how to get it out of clustered results.

Write unique product descriptions. Right on. You want to have different content. You do not want to use the same manufacturer descriptions. I talked about that a bunch yesterday. It is all over my website. You want to create unique product descriptions.

The main reason why is that those pages will actually get listed in Google. If you have the exact same description as the manufacturer, you are going to get deprecated to whatever they are calling the supplemental index now, and the only way you are going to rank is if somebody does some weird query for something that just happens to be on that page. You actually want to have unique product descriptions for all of your products, especially our top sellers.

I also like to show snippets on section pages. This is a big deal. In a hierarchy, we are talking about a 4, 5, or 6 level deep Yahoo! Store here. I want to have text from the products actually appear on the higher page ranked, higher link popularity, higher in the hierarchy category page. This is a bad example. These are just thumbnails and links with just a little bit of text.

When Google sees these pages, when your template is really big, your sidebar navigation, which you can't see here because it is off the screen, and they go, "Gosh. That is the exact same page that is on 100's of other pages on his site," and they look and they just see these links, they say, "There ain't no meat on that sandwich."

What I want you to do is I want you to pull a little meat from the other page. You look at the Google cache and Google actually sees these keywords. So what I do is I actually explode these category pages. And not only do I have a snippet of text from the caption, but for sub-sections, I actually show links to all the other products that are contained within those. And what happens is this is what Google sees on that page. So now if I am battling for "orange rubber retriever dummy" with a competitor, if I have got those words bubbled up from the product pages to the category pages, now my big category pages is fighting his little product page and I have a better chance of beating him.

Now let's talk about the rump. This is about 2,500 keyword phrases generating another $1 million in sales. And this is where you guys slack off, or your employees slack off, or your agency slacks off. And you don't necessarily have to go in by hand and change 2,500 pages. You can actually do this programmatically. I call it "De-templify your store". Do not, Julie, have the same exact template, Chris, on every single page on a 10,000 page Yahoo! Store. I mean that is insanity. I mean Google is going to see these pages and it is going to go, "Hey, they are exactly the same, especially these really light pages."

What I like to do on our store, we have got about 12,000 pages, about 2,000 products, and a lot of content. I have got four different levels of category navigation, and it is basically wherever you are. On the homepage it is different, on the sub-level it is different, on the subsection it is different, and on the products, I don't even have run of site navigation. And what happen is Google sees more of those pages as unique content, and it doesn't just kick them out as the same old page I have got on hundreds of other pages.

Add buy modifiers to the footers. One of the things I saw when I was doing some research is that these same words keep coming up over and over again. "Buy", "Discount", "Free", "Online", "Shipping", "Where." And folks are searching for your keyword phrases plus these buy words, plus these money words.

And this is one of the things where I get in trouble if I talk about it too much. But again, talk to me after things are over and I will share. I just grab the keyword phrase that I just picked out of the air and added these modifiers to it, and look. "Discount hunting dog vests"; we are ranking one and two. "Buy hunting dog vests"; we are ranking one and two. "Hunting dog vests online; one of my competitors has got online in his name, so he is going to beat me for that. But I am still three and four for that. And just by adding those words on every single page, and there are tons of modifiers, I mean I have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales for my clients. Everybody write this down, because this is really good.

If you don't have the word discount on your page and you sell packing peanuts, you are not going to rank for discount packing peanuts unless you have a link pointing to it or something. You need to have the words on the page.

Now let's talk about the tail. 16,500 keywords generate $1 million in sales. Most of you, that is too much work. That is like $1 chips at the poker table. You are not going to bend over and pick that up. Man, I am going to get a bulldozer and I am going to scoop all those things up. That is what I am going to do.

16,500 orders. My friend Craig likes to call this the flukes, the "Oh yeah, so what." What I like to do is I like to show him the money in my analytics reports.

The only thing that you have to do to rank for these keyword phrases is to put the text that is in these queries on the pages. The most important thing is the pages that show up in Google, not the landing page for this way, way, way down in your side that has no links, no page rank, never gets crawled. It actually needs to be on the product pages that are not in the whatever the supplemental index is called these days.

So here is an example of a product page with a little snippet of text, and then here is another example of a bucket for a different product where I go in and I take this list and I pull out the long tail keywords. I had 39 long tail keywords in this specific example from the Webinar that we did, where three of the keywords were generating 75% of the revenue, but almost 40 of the keywords were generating 25% of the revenue. I mean that is a 33% increase just by getting these words.

And so what I do is I remove the name of the product form this list to boil it down to these words. And then I alphabetize and I dedupe this list, and I get a list of all the words that need to be on this one specific product page to get into rank for these extremely long tailed keyword phrases.

All right. Collect, organize, prioritize, and optimize. That is it. There is my book. Give me a holler if ya'll need anything. Thank you very much.


Man 1: So we got one from Twitter. "What site architecture changes give the biggest ranking boost to product pages in a competitive market?"

Rob: I would say move your most valuable products to the homepage and focus on that. I mean basically…I call it "revenavigation"-revenue based navigation. I let my customers determine what my site hierarchy is going to be based upon what level the sales are of those products.

Man 2: I was just going to say it really depends upon the size and the scale of the site how you optimize a 5,000 product site versus a 50,000 product, versus a 50 product site. It is going to be different, but there should be some hierarchy.

We found that trying to bring, even if you are doing different categories, trying to keep the products as close to the root as possible has been the best strategy for us so far.

Question: We have some clients…We are an agency. Most of our products are high ticket items. 70% of their orders are phone orders. And no matter how much we optimize the e-commerce, or no matter what we do, we still run into this problem, and it gets hard to track those sales and put it onto a spreadsheet.

What would you do in that situation?

Man 2: We deal with it all the time. It is funny. All the agency guys are in suits and all the retailers are in jeans, except for Rob.

Rob: I am both.

Man 2: He is both. We deal with people all the time that have very, very high dollar items. Even guys like A Touch of Brass that was in the presentation a couple of times; some of their items are $500 or $600 a piece, which isn't high, but people still want to call and talk to someone about it, because there are five or six options you can choose when you buy.

So no matter how much we optimized the checkout process, no matter how much we AB test the product pages, there are certain limits to where you can take it. I mean I don't want to discourage you from trying, but people will call.

I mean we have worked with clients where if they sell one or two of this product a month, they are very, very happy. And then can spend $2,000 or $3,000 just for one lead to come in to call about that.

I would recommend some call tracking services, dynamically switching out the 800 numbers on the website, whether they are coming in from organic search or paid search. If you want to get even deeper than that, you can divide it by different keyword buckets and ad groups.

That seems to be the best way-getting that information. And then if it is a low volume, like high dollar site, going back with the client and reconciling that at the end of the month and saying, "Here are the people that called in. Can you tell us what you know about them?"

Man 3: I would also recommend that you have your call center ask people why they are calling instead of using the website.

Question: Well you can't tie that to a keyword. That is the problem.

Rob: You can.

Man 3: Well I know that, but a lot of times it is the website that actually drives people to the phone if they can't find what they are looking for, or certain things, like they say, "Oh, here is the product" and they can't figure out how much it ships to get there or they can't figure out if you support their credit card, or they don't even see something like that your site is signed by Verisign. They panic and say, "I am not putting my credit card in" and they hit the phone.

I have dealt with this a lot. But you are going to find a significant number of people that no matter what you do, they will never ever shop on the website. Well, they will actually shop on the website, but then they are still going to pick up the phone.

But I think that you can actually do a little bit of a Q&A on the phone and find out where the problems exist, fix the website, and drill that down to a much lower number. I help some clients do that. It is not impossible.

Rob: Yeah. Also, like time on site is a good parallel metric to high converting keywords. I think I got this from John Marshall over at Market Motive. Thanks John. If you can't tell what…because you have like 20 sessions before somebody buys, a really long buying cycle, you can look at time on site filtered by keyword, and you will see that your higher converting keywords seem to match up with higher time on site. So sometimes that is a good way if you can't tell.

With Yahoo Web Analytics, there is actually a way for you to go in and have the customer press a button that generates a unique number. And later on, you can match up that unique number to their order and that will marry it up with the dollar amount of the sale with the converting keyword. And it is a little complicated, and so sometimes you have to say, "Hey, if you want to get a priority number, or free shipping, or a free white paper, or a discount, or something like that, give the operator this number." And that is an easy way to track converting keywords over the phone.

Man 3: I just remembered something. There is a service out there, and I can't remember the name. Maybe somebody else here can remind me. But they actually put a button the side of the website that says, "Call to order". And it actually tracks that person's phone number. Whenever they call you to order, it ties the whole thing together on the website.

Question: [inaudible]

Man 3: It is still not catching it for you.

Man 2: The one last thing I will add and then we can go onto the next question is we have a client that sells smaller items through the website and then drives in leads for items that cost probably between $50,000 and $100,000 for very customized items to be built.

The sales manager started getting the domain report. He asked us to set up the domain report for him to be sent everyday from Google Analytics. So he wants to see what companies are visiting the website, and he can correlate that back pretty easily.

Again, for something high dollar like that, it is not a lot of traffic, so he is able to go in and see, "Oh, IBM came in and looked at the website. IBM also called us." They can tie that information together pretty easily. It is not like bulletproof, but…

Rob: They are surfing at work. It is not going to be like somebody's dial up through Bellsouth or something. You can tell.

Man 2: Right. I mean you get a lot of that noise on there for Comcast, Comcast for Business, Cavalier, but you can filter…

Pubcon 2009: Real World SEO For Retailers Reviewed by Rob Snell on 2009-12-03

. Today I am going to talk about what I do with my store and my clients' stores to get real world results using SEO.

And so what I do is I remove the name of the product form this list to boil it down to these words. And then I alphabetize and I dedupe this list, and I get a list of all the words that need to be on this one specific product page to get into rank for these extremely long tailed keyword phrases. All right. Collect, organize, prioritize, and optimize. That is it. There is my book. Give me a holler if ya'll need anything. Thank you very much.

Rating: 4.0