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Case Study: How a Single Modification to a Web Site's Functionality Significantly Upped Natural Search Traffic, Sales

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Company: Diapers.com
Contact: Josh Himwich, Director of E-commerce Operations & User Experience
Location: Montclair, NJ
Industry: Online Retail
Annual revenue: $89,000,000
Number of employees: 1400

Quick Read

Customer reviews are powerful online content. They are held in high regard among consumers who are looking to minimize the guesswork and risk of trying a new product. And because they are both vendor-neutral and come from people in circumstances similar to, they instill a higher level of confidence. That, in turn, leads to increased conversion and sales.

But consumers aren't the only ones who are partial to reviews; search engines, too, tend to award higher natural rank to sites that regularly add fresh, keyword-rich content to their pages.

The challenge for many sites, however, lies in how their product pages are indexed by the search engines. Reviews typically don't actually reside on those pages but are instead shown to viewers via JavaScript, serving them up onto product pages from where the reviews usually reside, in databases of application service providers. Consequently, search engine crawlers don't "see" the keyword-rich reviews on those pages; they see only the snippet of code that calls up the reviews from the database.


Diapers.com found a way around this issue by using the In-Line SEO solution from PowerReviews, which doesn't use JavaScript. The result was an SEO trifecta: higher product-page rankings, increased natural search traffic, and a nice boost in search-related sales.

Challenge

Diapers.com is the largest online retailer of baby-care products, with a much broader selection than its name implies. The business has steadily grown and earned the trust of consumers through its offering of low-price guarantees; fast, free shipping; and a plethora of customer-generated product reviews that provide a great service to new parents seeking advice on how to best care for their new bundles of joy.

"Reviews, in general, are a great boon for us because of the nature of our customer, whose number one resource is usually the mom, sister, best friend...people who have been in similar situations," said Josh Himwich, Director of E-commerce Operations & User Experience for Diapers.com. "Having reviews has really brought out that voice."

Recently, when the company formed a major marketing partnership with BabyCenter.com, a global interactive parenting network, it inherited BabyCenter products, as well as the related customer reviews.

The number of product reviews on the Diapers.com site quadrupled—reviews that Himwich noted tend to be in-depth, usually three to four sentences long, and chock-full of keywords that could really boost the company's search engine rankings, if only the search engine crawlers could read them.

Unfortunately, the way Diapers.com's pages showed the reviews, using JavaScript, meant that they were invisible to the search engines.

The alternative used by some companies—setting up separate pages consisting solely of reviews so that they could be indexed by search engines—would have meant  that searches who landed on those pages had to navigate through the site in order to make a purchase. As a consequence, the likelihood of drop-off increases, adversely affecting sales.

Determined to achieve maximum advantage from its more than 40,000 keyword-rich customer reviews, Diapers.com set out to find a solution that would change this functionality and allow its user-generated content to be properly indexed.

Campaign

Diapers.com implemented the PowerReviews In-Line SEO solution, which captured the first 15 reviews for every product and placed them in a Diapers.com database, then served them up onto the appropriate Diapers.com product detail page without using JavaScript. As a result...

  1. The JavaScript barrier was eliminated, thereby making the product reviews visible to search engine crawlers.
  2. Diapers.com's individual product detail pages, with reviews intact, were able to gain search rank and prominence due to increased keyword density.
  3. Search results ushered users directly to these product detail pages where conversion is the highest and drop-off is reduced (as opposed to sending them to the Diapers.com homepage or a subpage consisting of reviews, with the hope that they continue to navigate their way to the purchase page).

Results

In the weeks that followed, Diapers.com realized a significant and sustainable lift in traffic and sales that can only attributed to this change.

For example, compared with the two weeks prior to launch, in the two-week period following the launch of the In-Line SEO system, there was a…

  • 48.8% increase in the site's natural search traffic
  • 59.3% increase in the number of keywords driving traffic to the site
  • 33.2% increase in sales coming from those users who were directed to the product detail page from natural search listings

Himwich said his only regret was not making the switch sooner.

Lessons Learned

  • Tweak your site for SEO functionality: As paid search becomes more and more expensive and companies look for ways to trim their marketing budgets, search engine optimization stands out as an economical solution to increase Web site traffic and profitability. This example from Diapers.com demonstrates how even slight refinements can result in significant increases in site traffic coming from search engines.
  • Improve search rank using customer reviews: Reviews are effective not only for helping consumers make purchasing decisions but also for helping drive up natural search rank by increasing a page's keyword density. By ensuring its customer reviews were visible to search-engine crawlers, Diapers.com achieved significantly higher page rankings and traffic for its primary keywords (diapers, pampers, etc.), as well as an almost 60% expansion in the number of keywords generating traffic for its site and stronger performance in long-tail searches.
  • Optimize landing pages for increased conversion: Rather than setting up separate subpages of reviews, Diapers.com's approach allowed pertinent product information—including reviews, product images, and purchasing options—to be presented on the landing page. As a result, Diapers.com is able to both foster credibility among would-be shoppers and maximize conversion.

Got your own SEO story to tell? Email it to CaseStudies@MarketingProfs.com.

Related Links

Looking for additional search marketing resources? Check out hundreds of MarketingProfs articles, case studies, and downloads on Search Engine Marketing and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter Get to the Po!nt: Search Engine Marketing.

Premium Plus Members may also enjoy viewing Search Engine Optimizing Your Web Site, Soup to Nuts

All of these resources provide great tips on using search-engine marketing to further your marketing efforts.


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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via kims@marketingprofs.com.

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