For an online retail store the top spot of a search engine results page for any product you sell is the holy grail of online marketing, it is like having the prime spot on the high street or the biggest and best shop in the mall. Of this lucrative cherry there are also two bites, organic and paid listings.
One online company seems to have achieved this lofty goal in fairly short order, namely one worldstores.co.uk.
In an apparently shrinking market of home and garden furniture Worldstores.co.uk is thriving and last year boosted revenue by 70%. So how did they do this?
First some background information.
The two founders of worldstores.co.uk previously ran a search engine optimisation company indicating where their website pedigree lies and this is what helped them achieve the success they are now reaping. If you have been following Google’s updates to their search algorithms over the past couple of years you will know that Google are trying give the user the most relevant search results whilst attempting to stop any spam sites or poor quality sites from showing.
Back in the mists of time search engine optimisation consisted of spamming your meta tags with relevant keywords, this became meta tags and on page keywords which in turn became meta tags, keywords and content and then all of the above including incoming links with good link anchor text. This is where it starts to get a bit murky link farms became prevalent around the internet so the game got tough. Incoming links now have to come from good relevant sources linking to fresh relevant content for them to have any real impact on Google’s algorithm. A little while back Google released an update which penalised incoming links to a site if it was duplicated in lots of places with the same link text.
OK that’s seo history lesson over….
The founders of Worldstores.co.uk have found a clever way around this by registering a website for each of their products, over 70 at last count including bedroomworld, bunkbedsworld, divanbedsworld, woodenbedsworld, metalbedsworld and so on. One of the key factors of Google’s algorithm and indeed Bing’s is the websites URL, after all a website called bunkbedsworld.co.uk would probably be very specific in its content. And so it ticks all of the search criteria. The URL contains bunkbeds, the meta tags are about bunkbeds, the content is bunkbeds and this is the clever bit all of the links contain the words bunk beds and they cannot be penalised for spam because it is the website’s URL!
However this technique is not infallible but it is fairly close a search for bunk beds reveals bunkbedsworld in position 4 on page 1 and in a competitive market this is a very nice place to be.
This is not the end however, Worldstores also prop up this clever search engine optimisation with a large pay per click campaign, going back to our previous search for bunkbeds bunkbedsworld.co.uk has a pay per click ad in the top 3 every time and thanks to the URL you can bet they are paying a fraction of the cost to be there compared to competition.
As with search engine optimisation Google reward specialisation and relevance in pay per click. They do this by ranking your site and ad to the searched for keyword, so again bidding on bunk beds and serving an ad about bunk beds that goes to a site about bunk beds called bunkbedsworld.co.uk is going to rank highly.
Google will reward this rank in a few ways the biggest being you will have to pay less to appear higher up the results but another benefit is they will show your ad with sitelinks so not only are you appearing highly in the results your ad stands out on the page because it is bigger than the competitions.
All in all this is a very clever and intuitive way of playing Google’s search algorithms but it has been stated by Google that they are aware of this trick and will be finding a way to combat it in the future but is that fair? Should these sites be punished for beating Google’s algorithm when they are giving a customer exactly what they want or are they using an unfair advantage over the competition?
Even if Google do punish Worldstores by dropping their organic listings they will still have what seems on the surface a very effective pay per click campaign to rely on whilst they build a more traditional organic search friendly site.