SEO & User Experience: Reviewing Zappos

On-Site SEO is essential for ecommerce websites because products need to rank higher than competitors and display clearly so consumers can find the products in search engine results. Optimizing an ecommerce website can result in increased organic traffic to a business’s website, which can mean more conversions. About 38% of ecommerce traffic comes from organic search, the second highest source of traffic after direct traffic at 49.3% (Kalyadina, 2020). User experience is also important and because consumers conduct purchase decision research on desktop and mobile devices, product pages must be optimized for both (Kalyadina, 2020). While some ecommerce websites overlook the potential of on-site SEO and user experience, implementing these strategies is good for business.

The first on-site SEO technique is optimizing the page titles, or title tags, which are the blue clickable titles on a search engine results page (Kalyadina, 2020). These pages can impact the click-through rate because they inform users and search engines about what the page is about. Ideally the title should be between 55 to 60 characters, descriptive, and use chosen keywords (Kalyadina, 2020). Many ecommerce sites choose to add a company name to the end of the page title, but it should not be first because it does not reinforce users’ search intent (Kalyadina, 2020). For example, Zappo’s homepage title is “Running Shoes + Free Shipping |” (Zappos, n.d.).

Ecommerce websites should utilize header tags (such as h1, h2, and h3) because search engines use them to understand a page’s content that sets the tone and purpose for the page (Tietbohl, 2021). Header tags help support the overall theme or purpose of a page, and header tags are often used to define sections on the page (Tietbohl, 2021). Appropriate short and long keywords should be inserted into header tags because as search engines crawl the site, they will recognize the headers and keywords (Kalyadina, 2020).

Right underneath the page title on a search engine results page is the meta description, which also plays an important role for click-throughs and ultimately conversions. To optimize the meta description, one should ensure its length is about 150 characters, each description should be personalized to the webpage, each meta description should be accurate about what the page contains, and they should explain why a consumer should visit the website (Kalyadina, 2020) or they can give an answer to a question (Crowe, 2016). Below you can see that Zappos’ meta description is listed, along with the header tags, and each has a unique description (Google, 2021).

Some ecommerce websites feature perks and discounts in their meta description to attract attention, such as “free shipping” or “buy one, get one free”. Some examples of action words brands are using in their meta title include decide, shop, free, limited time, win, exclusive, and sale (Crowe, 2016). While meta description may not improve search rankings alone, it will earn a website more clicks when optimized correctly (Crowe, 2016). Above you can see that Zappos uses terms like “free shipping and returns” and “1000s of styles” to get click-throughs (Google, 2021).

Surprisingly, a whopping 10.1% of all Google traffic is for; and daily pageviews of Google Images are over one billion (and that number is seven years old) (Patel, n.d.)! Google Image search is another way of generating website traffic, and optimizing images are like optimizing webpages. Images rank in search just like websites do, and the having first image in the search is like being the first position on the search engine results page (Patel, n.d.).

To optimize a website’s images for search, edit the file names so they are user-friendly and reflect the image contents (Patel, n.d.). Then, modify the image’s alt tags (which help visually impaired users) to be short and descriptive (Patel, n.d.), and include the product name and relevant keywords where appropriate (Kalyadina, 2020). And finally, the images should be high-quality but small in file size (under 1 to 2MB) so that they do not slow down page loading speed (which impacts user experience and bounce rates), and this task can be achieved through file compression (Patel, n.d.).

Further, using original images for a website is always preferred because they are more likely to grab peoples’ attention (Patel, n.d.). While Zappos does use original images for its products, there is room for improvement with file names (Zappos, n.d.). The Brooks Canopy Jacket image included in the screenshot is titled “71TftAbTByL._AC_SR700,525_” (Zappos, n.d.).

Next, adding markup will help Google understand a site’s content and help potential visitors navigate the site (Kalyadina, 2020). It can also result in a higher click-through rate of up to 30%, resulting in further sales (Kalyadina, 2020). Some of the most common schema properties include reviews and rating schema, product schema, breadcrumb markup, business details including contact, product availability schema, and FAQs (which can generate a lot of traffic if a site gets a Featured Snippet) (Kalyadina, 2020).

Website content is another form of on-page SEO that draws in consumers from the search engine results page. Each webpage in a site should have unique content, which can be time-consuming if the ecommerce website has thousands of products (Kalyadina, 2020). The written content on a page allows search engines to understand what the page is about and rank it accordingly based on a user’s search intent (Kalyadina, 2020). Every webpage should have at least 250 to 500 words that differ from all other webpages, including each product or topic page (Kalyadina, 2020). Product descriptions with 3 to 5 chosen keywords, product features, awards won by the product, technical specs, utilize customer reviews, comparison to other products, and a frequently asked questions section (and answering consumer questions) can all beef up a product page (Kalyadina, 2020). Zappos’ includes all these on-page SEO tactics on its product pages, including breadcrumb navigation at the top and social media share buttons (Zappos, n.d.).

Internal linking on ecommerce product pages is also necessary for on-page SEO. Strategically linking from high authority pages to high priority product pages will increase the likelihood of ranking in the search results for these products. A few options for links on product pages include breadcrumbs navigation, related products, and related categories (Crowe, 2016). Zappos uses breadcrumbs, “wear it with”, “customers who viewed this item also viewed”, and “you may also like” links on each product page (Zappos, n.d.). Internal linking should add value for users and provide an intuitive structure that prioritizes the content that is more relevant to the user (Crowe, 2016). Internal linking will boost SEO because one can choose their own anchor text, helping a website to rank for chosen keywords, as well as improve user experience by suggesting related pages (Kalyadina, 2020).

Tied closely to internal links is the having an on-site search engine, which is critical if an ecommerce site is large and has several tiers of content (Tietbohl, 2021). Zappos has a huge inventory, and it places its search bar at the top of its main page for ease of access (Zappos, n.d.). While on-site search engines may not directly impact search engine results page rankings, it does provide a better user experience and can provide useful consumer data in Google Analytics (Tietbohl, 2021). Around 30% of users are likely to use a website’s search engine when it is available and those who search are twice as likely to convert (Tietbohl, 2021).

While social media share buttons on a website does not impact search engine rankings, it provides the potential of free promotion (Crowe, 2016). Millennial shoppers are twice as likely to buy a product that was personally shared on social media (Crowe, 2016). Similarly, while product videos will not directly impact search engine rankings, it will increase engagement and time on-site, which increased the chances of a product page ranking higher (Crowe, 2016). About 73% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or sign up for a service after watching a branded video that explains the product, and 52% of consumers say watching videos makes them more confident about a purchase (Crowe, 2016).

Videos also give ecommerce websites the opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition (Crowe, 2016) and improve visitor engagement, which can be tracked in Google Analytics. Videos are one of several ways to keep potential customers surfing an ecommerce website. Zappos’ embeds a video right at the top of its website to keep customers on the page (Zappos, n.d.).

Keeping users on a website longer increases the consumer’s likelihood of buying something and increases the likelihood the consumer will remember and trust the brand/company (Mohrman, 2017). A poorly designed website can cause the time spent on-page to be low and the bounce rate to be high (The Daily Egg, 2020), therefore user experience is important for ecommerce websites. Increasing visitors’ time spent on a website means optimizing a website’s design and content (The Daily Egg, 2020).

For example, the website should have intuitive navigation, easily scanned pages, links set to open in new tabs, valuable original content, and include calls to action on every page (Mohrman, 2017). The Daily Egg (2020) makes the point that most pages are scanned by visitors instead of being read in their entirety, which makes the words not always as important as the format and visuals. Better content, such as graphics, videos, and photos can increase a consumer’s duration on the page (The Daily Egg, 2020).

Finally, ecommerce websites that want to improve on-site SEO must ensure that product pages have a key-word rich, simple, and unique structure (Crowe, 2016). Guidelines for page URL include using lower case letters, using hyphens instead of spaces or underscores, and removing special characters (Crowe, 2016). While search engines do have the ability to remove special characters in an URL, a consumer viewing a complicated URL may lose confidence in purchasing from that website and move on (Crowe, 2016). The goal with a simple URL is to improve user experience and increase search result rankings that way (Crowe, 2016). This is another area where Zappos has room for improvement, as the first screenshot shared has a URL of, which is descriptive but also has many superfluous numbers (Zappos, n.d.).

Crowe, A. (2016, May 10). SEO for Ecommerce Websites: A Step-By-Step Guide. Retrieved from:
Google Search. (2021, March 1). Zappos. Retrieved from:
Kalyadina, M. (2020, May 27). The Definitive Guide to Ecommerce SEO for 2021. Retrieved from:
Mohrman, E. (2017, November 8). 12 Ways to Keep Users on Your Website Longer. Retrieved from:
Patel, N. (n.d.) How to Drive More Traffic Using Google Image Search. Retrieved from:
Tietbohl, M. (2021). Week 5 Lesson: SEO – On-page Optimization and Technical SEO, Introduction to SEMrush [Online]. Retrieved from
The Daily Egg. (2020, May 14). The 15 Second Rule: 3 Reasons Why Users Leave a Website. Retrieved from:
Zappos. (n.d.) Running Shoes + Free Shipping | Retrieved from:

SEMrush Projects: Starting with a Site Audit

Why do you need SEO? For starters, SEO strategies improve user experience, help the right audience find the right website, boosts a business’s credibility and authority, does not require paying for ads, and allows businesses to stay ahead of the competition. SEMrush is one product on the market that provides a suite of tools for improving online visibility and researching marketing data. The website provides tools and reports for marketers in SEO, PPC, SMM, keyword research, competitive research, marketing campaign management, public relations, content marketing, marketing insights (SEMrush, n.d.-b).

SEMrush Projects allows users to find marketing data outside of the SEMrush database, while Domain Analytics and Keyword Analytics use internal databases (SEMrush, n.d.-a). The Project sharing feature gives marketers the option of sharing information and collaborating among agency staff (SEMrush, n.d.-a).

The screenshot of the Projects dashboard below shows some of the tools already set up for, and those not yet selected. These are the eleven tools available in Projects and their purpose (Tietbohl, 2021):
• Site Audit: The health score of a Project’s latest audit.
• Position Tracking: The visibility percentage that a main domain has for the target keywords in a Project.
• On Page SEO Checker: Suggestions that be implemented to help improve landing pages to rank for keywords in a Project.
• Social Media Tracker: Provides an overview of a Project’s social media audience and activity.
• Social Media Poster: Allows for posts and posts scheduling to social media accounts.
• Brand Monitoring: Provides a count of how many times set keywords are found across the internet for brand monitoring.
• Backlink Audit: The number of toxic domains that are sending backlinks to a Project domain.
• Link Building: Identifies pages that have the potential to be part of a link-building campaign.
• PPC Keyword Tool: Overview of the number of campaigns and keywords.
• Organic Traffic Insights: Google Analytics data about visits over the past month.
• Content Analyzer: Tracks website content on external websites.

Tietbohl (2021) recommends beginning a project with a Site Audit to analyze the health of a business’s website. SEMrush’s Site Audit provides users with a list of issues with a website that, when fixed, will improve the SEO of the website (SEMrush, n.d.-a). Site Audit is also a good place to start since it provides over 120 on-page and technical SEO checks, including duplicate content, broken links, indexability, and more (SEMrush, n.d.-a).

The Site Audit Overview Report provides an estimate of a website’s health with a Site Health Score, top issues, errors, warnings, notices, crawlability, HTTPS, international SEO, core web vitals (beta), markup (new), site performance, crawled pages, robots.txt updates, and internal linking (SEMrush, 2021). The Site Health Score is represented as a percentage between 0 and 100 and is generated based on the number of errors and warnings found throughout the website in relation to the number of checks that have been run (SEMrush, n.d.-a). The higher the Site Health Score the better and addressing the flagged errors and warnings will improve the website’s score (SEMrush, n.d.-a). The Site Audit also provides “notices” which are not as severe as errors or warnings and do not impact a Site Health Score (SEMrush, n.d.-a).

The thematic reports in the Site Audit Overview Report provides direction as to where issues are commonly found on a website (SEMrush, n.d.-a). SEMrush (n.d.-a) defines its seven thematic reports in the following ways:
• Crawlability relates to how easy it is for search engines to find what they are looking for on a site.
• HTTPS diagnoses issues related to a website’s transition from HTTP.
• International SEO covers best practices for global websites.
• Site performance evaluates a site’s speed and performance.
• Internal linking which looks at how well a site links between its webpages.
• Core web vitals, which is in beta, gives a website a rating based on the largest contentful paint (quick loading time), total blocking time (time homepage is unavailable for data input), and cumulative layout shift (homepage content shifts).
• Markup provides information on webpages that use microdata and provides a markup score.

Below is a screenshot of the Site Audit Overview Report for Yelda Media received a Site Health Score of 88%, had 6 errors, 73 warnings, and 217 notices (SEMrush, 2021). SEMrush also provides an average Site Health Score for specific industries and the top 10% of websites (SEMrush, 2021). A total of 39 pages were crawled on the Yelda Media website, though 30 of these pages were listed as “have issues” (SEMrush, 2021).

Top issues identified with the Site Audit include two pages having returned 4XX status codes, two broken internal links, and two pages with duplicate meta descriptions (SEMrush, 2021). Tietbohl (2021) explains that 4xx errors are a common code for situations where the client has made a mistake. Tietbohl (2021) also suggests that errors be addressed, warnings be strongly considered, and notices ideally be fixed.

If significant changes have been made to a website, when a Site Audit is re-run, a new Site Health Score will be provided, as well as a differing number of issues (SEMrush, n.d.-a). SEMrush Projects also provide the option to email, schedule, or brand reports with a logo (SEMrush, n.d.-a). The My Reports feature allows for the creation of custom reports that incorporate the Site Audit and other research (SEMrush, n.d.-a). Over time, the Site Audit will update itself and the increases/decreases in website health can be tracked (SEMrush, n.d.-a).

Like Google Analytics, there is a lot of different types of data and insights available from SEMrush. Also, like Google Analytics, the data discovered should ultimately result in changes that improve website performance, drive traffic, and increase conversions. Tietbohl (2021) states that “most activities in digital will involve three steps: measuring, improving, and reporting. SEMrush can assist with all of these.”

Through utilizing the SEMrush Projects tools, problem areas for will be identified, the recommended changes will be made, and the SEO improvement will be monitored over time. The Site Audit is just the tip of the iceberg for tools available in the Projects dashboard and lessons will continue to be learned along the way. Ultimately, no matter what type of website, it is essential to keep it organized and maintain its health for the sake of SEO.

SEMrush. (2021, February 22). Dashboard: Yelda Media. Retrieved from:
SEMrush. (n.d.-a) Knowledge Base: SEMrush Toolkits. Retrieved from:
SEMrush. (n.d.-b) Knowledge Base: What is SEMrush? Retrieved from:
Tietbohl, M. (2021). Week 5 Lesson: SEO – On-page Optimization and Technical SEO, Introduction to SEMrush [Online]. Retrieved from