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SEO Tips From eBay’s SEO Specialist

I sat in on a talk that eBay’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Manager Dennis Goedegebuure gave at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose earlier this month.

I got to chat with Dennis and he’s both smart and interesting — away from eBay he blogs about poetry, tips on San Francisco (in Dutch) and a favorite topic of mine: Black Coffee.

SEO Tips from eBay's Dennis Goedegebuure

eBay's Dennis Goedegebuure likes WordPress and so do I!

Note: Just to be clear, even though this was an eBay SEO specialist presenting his tips are not focused on eBay Store SEO or any other SEO for eBay Web pages.

While Dennis was through most of his presentation, I realized that he was going to make the slides available online — They are located here: Dennis Goedegebuure on SEO at eBay DecCon09.

I decided to go ahead and include my notes (below) as there were some comments Dennis and attendees made that are not in the slides — I encourage you to look at both!

Ok, on to my notes:

Dennis’s Definition of SEO

  • Free traffic
  • More visitors
  • More downloads
  • More transactions

Those sound like things you want?

Here are some SEO tips, tricks and topics:

Be Worthy

First and foremost, Dennis recommends that you make sure that your product is worth talking about; if you don’t, no person will link to you or visit your site or install your application.

Read the Search Engine Webmaster Guidelines

Dennis adds that you can learn a lot from what the search engines give you…the top search engines have documentation so you should read it… such as Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Google Universal Search: Threat or Opportunity?

Google and other search engines have moved more towards images, video and news — what we call Universal Search.

This is a threat — if you are just text-based…yet this is also a great opportunity to rank higher since there are fewer businesses that have images right now.

Sniplets Presentation

Through structured meta data the presentation of your site can be enhanced. Two tools on this are Yahoo Search Monkey or Google Rich Snippets.

Microformats.org is a great resource for how to code, present, etc. better for search engines to have better display — you won’t rank better but your appearance will be better.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Search engines have crawlers crawling links to discover your content.

If your content is not linked to (hidden in java script or flash) it can not be easily discovered. Crawlers will look at your Link Structure.

Site Indexing

Search engines download html content of the page and store it in their database. As they perform this Site Index, only extractable content is stored.

Then, search engines rank it. Here are keys to their ranking (in no particular order):

  • Keyword in anchor tag to the page
  • Links to the page/site
  • Page Title
  • H1 Tag
  • Quality of the content

How Do I Get Google To Index My Site?

To get into the Google Site Index, or other website indexing, you simply have to publish your content onto Web pages and then link to it from somewhere. Google site indexing can be done as fast as just couple of minutes or many weeks depending on the type of Web site you have (note: Google indexes blogs more frequently than other Web sites).

Taking Your “LUMPS”

LUMP stands for Links, URL Structure, Meta Content, Page Content, SiteMap. Here are some

Links

Search engines discover you through links. It also helps with relevancy.

For example, Adobe Reader is ranked for “click here” (because its Anchor Text reads: “If you don’t have Adobe Reader, click here”

Google was the first to do a link-based algorithm based primarily on:

  • Quality of links to a page
  • Quantity of links to a page

Four other important Link-related tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keyword used in the anchor tag
  2. The age of a link
  3. External Links — The majority of your links are typically to your home page
  4. Internal Links — You need a good site structure to leverage your link juice.

URL structure

  • If you have a good domain name with a keyword in it, that is considered a “keyword rich domain.”
  • If you don’t have a good domain name, you want to include keywords in the URL — you’ll notice that the URL for this page is robdkelly.com/blog/increasing-web-traffic/seo-tips-from-ebay.
  • Avoid a lot of “parameters” in your domain (like symbols and numbers) as that confuses the crawler.
  • You should also avoid canonical URL problems such as using multiple URLs for the same page (e.g. Purchase.com/index and Purchase.com/main).  Canonical tag is a band aid to solve this problem.
  • A general rule of thumb is that you should use dashes between words in your URLs so that the search engines look at them all as individual words. Dashes are always preferred over underscores.

Meta Content

Meta tags are HTML elements used to provide structured metadata about a web page. Make sure all of your pages have a unique page title with the keywords you want to focus on.

Page Content & Elements

  • Build pags for two user agents: Users and Crawlers — You should focus on serving Users first and then Crawlers next.
  • Build your Web site in plain HTML — Because text is extractable by crawlers.
  • Prevent usage of flash or other rich media — It’s harder for crawlers to extract this.
  • MicroSite — A business called BlendTech built WillItBlend.com  in pure HTML with embedded videos and every video has its own URL. They now dominate the first page on “Will it Blend.” Sales went sky-high for BlendTech.
  • Avoid Cloaking, etc.– This is an approach that looks at crawlers and treats them differently — don’t do this! You will be violating most search engine’s guidelines. “Don’t try to fool a search engine as they are smarter than you!” Also don’t buy links or put white text in the meta tags. Don’t put text on a minus 99 location so it’s all the way to the left of the screen. These are all flags to the crawlers.

SiteMap Protocol

  • What are sitemaps? — An XML file that Webmasters provide search engines about  your URLs with metadata about each URL such as how often it changes, how important it is, etc.
  • Sitemaps can help crawlers discover pages such as XML sitemap and HTML sitemap.
  • Tip: Submit an XML sitemap to all major search engines for easy discovery of your pages
  • Add sitemap location to robots.txt file.

Image Search Optimization

  • Use a file name that contains the keyword
  • Supply an ALT text
  • Provide relevant text around the image

For one of MR. Goedegebuure’s sites, 50% of his traffic is coming from image search.

Use Semantic HTML

If you would like to have one thing emphasized, use an h1 and only one h1 per page.

Three main factors

  1. Anchor text in the link
  2. Page title
  3. H1 tag on the page

If you do those three best practices, you will rank pretty well.

SiteMaps Continued: HTML SiteMap

Build an HTML sitemap with all links on your site for users and for search engines.

Keep your number of links to 50 or fewer because Google Sitemaps frowns upon anything more than that.

Four free tools

1) Sitemaps

Dennis recommends the following tools:

Google Webmaster Tools

Yahoo Site Explorer

Bing Webmaster Center

…to help you to:

  • See incoming links
  • Submit Sitemaps
  • Get alerts on problems
  • See how search engines crawl your site

2) Free Firefox plug-in toolbar

You can disable cookies, images, javascript to see what the search engines see when they look at your site

3) Google Insight for Search

You can use this to see what’s searched more: singular or plural keywords.

4) Microsoft  Advertising Intellgence Plug-In

It provides trending data for keywords, Cost Per Clicks, demographic data and real data from bing.com.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Dennis!

If you found this posting valuable, you may want to check out my Got Google Juice? item.

34 Comments

  • http://thenextcorner.net Dennis Goedegebuure

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the great write up.
    I hope it was helpful for you.

    Keep in touch!

    Cheers

    Dennis

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