Live from IRWD: Best Buy Finds Its Way Back to SEO

Electronics retailer Best Buy put a lot of bells and whistles into its Website in an effort to provide what it considered the ultimate customer experience. But somewhere along the way, BestBuy.com stopped standing out in search.

Speaking at the Internet Retailer Web Design and Usability Conference on Tuesday in Orlando, BestBuy.com general manager John Thompson said his team became a little too concerned about designing the perfect site, and lost its focus in general.

The tipping point came on April 30 – the day Thompson said he was surprised to still have his job. That day, Best Buy ranked 162 in the Google search term “TV.” Best Buy, by the way, claims to sell one of every three televisions in the U.S.

“We were so committed to having a great consumer experience that we perhaps designed our way away from the appropriate amount of Google juice that we needed to show up in a relevant way for consumers trying to engage with our products, services or just our brands in general,” Thompson said.

The retailer’s excuse? Thompson said SEO wasn’t that big of a deal because BestBuy felt it was the “rational choice” for consumers, and its market share had been growing offline and online.

Monitoring the SEO situation closer would have helped. “Whether you actually see it or not, you should get an SEO checkup multiple times during the year,” Thompson said.

So what did BestBuy.com do to fix the situation?

BestBuy.com made its URLs more readable to both humans and bots. Prior to the SEO checkup, the URL extensions had been a series of numbers and codes. The site changed them to include terms relevant to the product, like “iPod” or “MP3-player” that consumers may search for.

The merchant also created additional content on product pages and listing pages to let the bots know what the page was all about. And it renamed taxonomy links to reflect search behavior and accurately communicate to the bots.

What was the result? BestBuy.com saw a 61% increase in first-page rankings, a 168% increase in second-page rankings, a 93% increase in third-page rankings, plus 32 million incremental impressions per month.

What’s more, its results in Google searches for TVs have improved considerably. On Oct. 2, BestBuy.com rose all the way to number-two.

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