April 15, 2010, 12:00 AM

MyGlassSlipper polishes Google search strategy to step up sales

More than a year after taking steps to improve his natural search results on Google, Fred Hord has started to see increased sales.

More than a year after taking steps that improved his natural search results on Google, Fred Hord finally has started to see increased sales for his trio of web sites that sell bridal and prom shoes.

The sites he owns, MyGlassSlipper.com, BridalShoes.com and PromShoes.com, underwent an overhaul last year, with the redesigned sites launching in February 2009. The project, which cost at least $65,000 and lasted six months, included work that made Hord’s site more Google-friendly, he says.

One of the most important improvements was changing URLs from a string of symbols to phrases that include keywords, which can boost the sites’ rankings in Google natural searches. For instance, URLs for specific product listings often would include a string of symbols such as question marks instead of easily identifiable and relevant phrases such as “white,” “wedding,” “shoe,” “special” and “occasions.”

On MyGlassSlipper, the main site of the three, all URLs now include “wedding” and “shoes,” probably the most common keywords for Hord’s business, he says. The site revisions also led to specific brand names being included in the URLs, says Hord, who worked on the site overhaul and search engine optimization with web design technology and services providers Celerant Technology Corp. and SEO Image.

Hord also focused more on putting about a dozen relevant keywords into the landing pages and main product pages instead of worrying about pages that shoppers might reach after, say, eight or more clicks. The reason? He says those pages, because they’re deeper into the site, are less likely to capture the attention of Google’s search engine spiders and, therefore, play a less important role in page rankings. “I was trying to make 1% of my site perfect,” Hord recalls. “Why on earth would you spend so much time on something that was insignificant?”

The work led to an immediate boost in Google page rankings, he says. Shoppers typing some of Hord’s keywords into the search engine often would find at least one of his sites on the first page, sometimes even in the first spot. “I went from deep page results, page four, five or 10, to sometimes number one across the board,” he says.

A sales boost took longer to realize, however. After the revisions made more than a year ago, sales remained flat, which Hord blames on the effects of the recession. But he still calls his page-ranking boost a moral victory because he says his competitors suffered declining sales in 2009. “I didn’t go out of business, and that’s good,” he says.

Sales have begun to increase through the first quarter of 2010, with revenue up between 40% and 70% each month from the same months last year, he says.

Now Hord hopes to improve his page rankings even more by focusing on social media, which can improve search rankings by generating more links to and from his web sites. He is planning to spend between $4,000 to $5,000 annually to pay a part-timer to manage Facebook pages for each of his three sites, plus a combined Twitter feed and perhaps a YouTube presence. “Social media is important,” he says, “and it may affect your page ranking.”

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