October 4, 2006, 12:00 AM

‘Calling all spiders’ is the shout from OneCall

The retail chain began noticing drops in the number of shoppers entering its site from search engines. Based on its analyses, OneCall decided to reach out to search engines—and to the spiders those engines send out on reconnaissance missions.

Earlier this year on retail chain OneCall’s e-commerce site, internal processes and functionality were buzzing along as they always had been. No problem.

But the company soon noticed there was a problem-there were drops in the number of shoppers entering its site from search engines. Based on analyses of its web site data, the HDTV, home theater and camera retailer decided to reach out to search engines-and to the spiders those engines send out on reconnaissance missions. A spider is a program search engines use that crawls the web and sends relevant web pages back to the search engine.

So OneCall hired an independent search engine optimization expert to work with its in-house graphics team to do whatever needed to be done to bait those spiders and subsequently get better results from natural search by web shoppers.

“We had to figure out a way to ‘surface’ more of the navigation information on our site,” explains Lance Binley, senior vice president of merchandising and sales at OneCall, No. 125 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites.

After a previous redesign, the retailer enabled shoppers to move their mouses over navigation categories, which then displayed subcategories and products in windows that appeared over the page. While this reduced the number of clicks shoppers had to make to get to desired products, it also reduced natural search results because the text in the overlapping window displays was not on the surface of the web page and thus not being picked up by the eight-legged data hunters. That dramatically changed natural search results, Binley says.

“Overall, cleaning up pages and specific content and adding content to the surface of the pages has begun improving our natural search results,” he says. “The spiders look for and validate keywords and other references, ones we lost after our previous redesign, which strove for much cleaner pages. So we resurrected some of the content on product detail and other pages in a way we could still stay concise but give the spiders what they needed.”

Since the August launch of the redesigned site the multi-channel retailer has seen sales double through improved natural search engine results, Binley reports. The company measures these results via embedded transaction codes that identify and quantify the origin of where site traffic comes from, he adds.

To attempt to get even better results, OneCall is in the middle of a new URL restructuring effort, Binley explains, that will enhance the e-commerce site’s indexing and hopefully lead to even more natural search engine benefits.


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