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Zappos SEO strategy. What are the promotion tools and approach of Online Shoe Store number one

Digital Marketing
February 19, 2013
9 min

Zappos is the largest shoes and clothing online shop in the world. In addition, the shop also sells other groups of goods such as cosmetics, bags, and even jewelry.

Nowadays Zappos is also an example to follow for many Internet shops. A lot of companies would like to perform like Zappos and to progress like Zappos does. We decided to check if there is something special in SEO marketing strategy that may be of use for other online shops.

Zappos is ranked159 in the USA according to the Alexa Traffic Rank. This means the site is number 159 by visitors to the site in the USA, which is actually a great rate.

According to Alexa rank, the percentage of visits to the site that come from a search engine is about 20%.

So what is the secret and how has Zappos achieved such amazing results? It is really easy and complicated at the same time – quality content and great number of backlinks do their job and so lots of the website pages are in TOP 3 on SERPs by a large number of keywords.

Looking for opportunities to grow sales with help of SEO? Take control of your success and get a consultation from marketing experts.

According to data, the site is highly ranked on more than 270 000 requests, including such words as “shoes”, “boots”, “dresses”, etc.

Also, we would like to pay your attention to the fact that the site is well seen on Google when searching for the keywords that include the name of the brand, e.g. “vera bradley”, “nike”, “adidas”, etc.

Internal factors

So, what does the ordinary page look like? Why the pages are highly ranked on Google? Let’s go from the general to the special and consider every little detail at each step we will take.

Here is a random page taken from the Men’s clothing category:

Nothing special, just a standard advertising banner (I would even say it is too big) and a block of recommended goods.

Also, we can see the links to brand pages, brand search line and the upper part of reviews block (will consider the reviews block later).

As we can see Zappos applied SEO keyword strategy and put a block of text with insertion of keywords relevant to the page and other website categories. Also we can see those keywords used as anchor phrases for site interlinking. Acting in accordance with these strategies is efficient because it contributes greatly to pages link popularity and improves user factors such as pages seen per visit and average time on site.

Except of this, we should point out the efficiency of the reviews block which increases the goal conversion rate and performs the following SEO content strategy tasks:  

— filling the pages with unique content;

— internal pages linking.

As we may see some of the words such as jeans, trends, pants and others in this block are the link anchors to the corresponding pages. Most probably this has been done automatically because the links lead either to the goods categories pages or brand pages. Also, the word “trends” leads to the page that has been particularly targeted at women (I would like to remind that we are on the main page of Men’s Clothing). Besides, some of the words are linked repeatedly (e.g. jeans) and this would hardly happen if this was done by a person but not automatically.

Let’s go to the next site level, the page of Ben Sherman brand:

The page allows choosing the category of goods and seeing the first part of the Ben Sherman reviews. There is a block of the text on the right of the page that describes the brand (the first part of the text is not unique as it has been taken from the following page:

The rest of the block with reviews.

The end of the block with reviews.

As we can see the block of SEO text disappeared and the block with the text about brand appeared instead. Also, the same trick with an automatic internal pages linking is done.

Next website nesting level depthward: the subcategory of the goods for the chosen brand

There is no a block with reviews, no SEO keyword strategy applied, no content at all. The same can be said about other pages of the same level. However, this is the page that is being ranked while searching for the keywords such as sherman t-shirts and ranked pretty high as the only two websites ranked higher are eBay and Ben Sherman website. In author’s humble opinion, a simple organic SEO strategy (block of the text with insertion of the keywords) might if not help to best eBay then at least to be a good SEO idea which above all else may help to avoid being hit by more rigorous Google algorithms.

Let’s press once again the imaginary “Zoom” button – the fly page:

Here we can see the product name and a big picture.

Customer reviews with automatic internal pages linking:

What is the option when there are no reviews for certain goods? Does the shop show the reviews for similar product? Does it put the block of the SEO-text to have some content on the page? Not a single way is an option. If there are no reviews you have nothing to show to customers and Zippos thinks the same way. We can see an example of the page for a different Ben Sherman T-shirt with no text on it: But there is an option to leave a review instead. We have tried to leave the comment and received the following message:

Taking into consideration the time period that Zappos support team needs to check and approve the review for the site it becomes clear how willingly customers share their opinion about the goods they buy and the number of reviews left per day.

So here is a tip for the online shops’ owners – customers like to share their opinion about the goods and it is better for them to leave the comment on your site then in some other place.

We have considered the inner content of the website. We haven’t managed to find any super innovative ideas or extraordinary SEO marketing strategy. The only interesting tip is the automatic internal pages linking to review blocks. Now let’s look at

External factors

That is links. Thanks to service we can see that there are 5 million of backlinks referring to It is quite a great number but there are even more great numbers in the world of e-commerce. For example, in accordance with ahrefs – has 420 000 000 backlinks! But if to think that there is much smaller quantity of goods being sold on Zappos the number of the referring links is pretty impressive. So how does Zappos gain the link popularity?

The first that comes to mind is the natural links from forums, blogs, and media because Zappos is a successful project that is on everyone’s lips. But after examining the link popularity we will see that most of the referring links come from

Also we can see that such giants like, and different price aggregators participate in formation of Zappos link popularity. One of the greatest link sources is a Zappos’s partner program that stimulates the appearance of the backlinks leading to the product pages.

Let’s explore the already known “patients”: page has 82 backlinks from 27 referring domains, including 48 Dofollow links.

Except of Dofollow backlinks we found the followings:

— 11 links with anchor “suit” referring from a forum (the post itself looks pretty suspicious);

— 9 links from a question and answer site (the title of the page is the anchor);

— 8 links from a Russian! website that offers the delivery services for goods from USA online shops (a picture is an anchor);

— 9 links from a web sites parser (different on-site related anchors);

— 2 more links from a different site parser (different thematic anchors);

— 2 backlinks from a Mexican blog, related anchors anchors;

— one link from a blog post, which looks pretty much as a paid one.

The rest of the links referring are from the sites parsers.

Next level:

According to service, there are no backlinks referring to this page.

A product page (flypage): — no backlinks.

We also tried to find any backlinks referring other flypages: — no backlinks; — 32 backlinks!

The majority of that backlinks refers from different websites and has the same anchor, backlinks looks pretty much as partners’ ones. Apparently, most of the links referring other products pages are from the same source.

Let's sum up:

Being highly ranked and visible in search engine results leans on two pillars: the internal and external factors. Zappos equally pays attention to both factors groups and tries to fill the pages with content which is useful for customers first of all. Secondly, search engines rank the pages with quality content higher on the search results page. The main Zappos sources of link popularity are affiliate program, huge popularity of the brand and as a result, great number of “natural” backlinks and this sounds quite logical. Because a service that offers poor quality goods, bad customer support and unreasonably high prices would hardly ever be in demand.

Summing up, we may say that in most cases the key to the successful SEO strategy is well-planned and thought-out business development: good service, quality goods, high quality construction and filling of a website, thought-out stimulation of establishing an effective on-line presence. Promodo experts are ready to help you develop and implement a winning SEO strategy.

Written by
Nataliia Raskopa

PR & Marketing Manager at Promodo

I am a former journalist and an ardent follower of the "Cut to the chase" principle.

Together with Promodo's marketing team, I tell about the most interesting things in the world of Ukrainian digital. No stories of successful success – only tips, figures, and working case studies from the leading performance marketing agency. By the way, I talk about our failures as well.

February 19, 2013
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