March 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

New search engine optimization technique works outside of retail web pages

OrderStorm’s Rank & Traffic Builder is designed to build content-rich feeder sites that rank high in search results and link back to retailers.

While web pages themselves are generally the focus of search engine optimization strategy, vendor OrderStorm Inc. does its optimization off a retailer’s web pages. It creates and optimizes content-rich feeder sites that link back to a targeted e-commerce site to boost it in search engine results. One online marketer, Insulation4less.com, is now getting about 12,000 referrals per month from natural search after instituting a search engine optimization program eight months ago that now includes 27 feeder sites pointing to its site, according to OrderStorm president Jodie Barr.

Barr distinguishes the system of feeder sites, which is called Rank & Traffic Builder, from the link farms frowned on by Google Inc. Link farms are web sites that have been created solely to increase the number of links pointing to a targeted web site in an effort to boost its search engine rankings, but add little if anything of value to the consumer`s search.

OrderStorm creates what it calls a Content Network-a group of original articles in the style of Wikipedia, a format that does well with Google’s algorithm, that offer informational content around keywords relevant to an e-commerce site. Each article is assigned its own URL. One such feeder site for Insulation4less.com, for example, carries an article offering tips on attic insulation.

Each feeder site contains links back to the targeted e-commerce site. The feeder sites are quickly ranked on search engines due to their highly specific content, and links to an e-commerce site from other high-ranking pages boosts the targeted site`s own ranking even higher in relevant search results, Barr says. In fact, the optimized feeder sites often rank higher in specific search query results than the e-commerce sites to which they seek to drive traffic.

That’s the idea, says Barr, who notes that OrderStorm`s pricing structure is a subscription model and doesn’t charge its customers on a cost-per-click basis. That means that if a consumer gets to the retailer’s site by linking to it from a feeder site, there is no click cost to the retailer.

“Companies that participate in link farms are running a very high risk of being de-listed by the major search engines,” Barr says. “Companies can avoid these risks by using content to develop a long-term link strategy that is insulated from changes in the search engine algorithms."

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