July 15, 2009, 12:00 AM

For Golfballs.com, the answer to better natural search was questions

To drive improved natural search, the e-retailer increased content on its site with precision keywords. To create the content, it enabled shoppers to ask questions, and customer service reps posted questions and answers throughout the site.

Earlier this year, as part of its effort to optimize its site for natural search, Golfballs.com Inc. began building up a stock of question-and-answer content following customers’ queries and placing that content strategically throughout its web site. This tactic has helped drive conversions from both natural and paid Internet search, says director of marketing and e-commerce Steven Broussard.

Golfballs.com took about a month to build up a critical mass of Q&A; material, relying on its customer service reps to answer such technical questions as how ball compression impacts driving distance, or to describe the features of the latest Nike SQ Sumo driver.

The retailer places the Q&A; content on the pages where they can best help shoppers make buying decisions, explains Broussard of Golfballs.com, No. 453 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Q&A; content related to the Nike SQ Sumo driver, for example, may appear on the driver’s specific product page, a Nike brand category page and a page about many brands of drivers.

“For Q&A; on the site, there’s a window in each section for customers to enter their questions and e-mail addresses. We post questions and answers on the site and send customers answers via e-mail,” Broussard says. “We get a lot of good content in the Q&A; section. We keep search keywords in mind, and we give our agents a few general pointers about including keywords. For example, try to use the manufacturer name and the item name at least once in your answer.”

Part of an answer, for example, might read, “The Titleist Pro V1 has XYZ characteristics.” This tactic has paid off. “The Titleist company site should always be popping up at No. 1,” he says. “Before we started Q&A; and other site content, we were coming up on the second page of search results for ‘Titleist.’ Now we’re in the top five results. Q&A; is in the mix with the blog, customer reviews and other site content, so it’s hard to measure Q&A; on its own. But it’s an important ingredient in the recipe for achieving great page rank through natural search.”

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