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:

Choosing the Right Social Media Channel

Social media is an effective method for reaching people all over the globe, with an average user spending 2 hours and 29 minutes on social media each day (Olafson & Tran, 2021). Social media use is also on the rise. From 2019 to 2020, active social media users increased 6% in the Americas (We Are Social, 2020). Just on Instagram alone, every month one billion people across the world log on and 110 million (11%) of those users live in the United States (We Are Social, 2020).

Social media can move a consumer from brand awareness to conversion because of exposure and experiences. It is obvious that social media cannot be ignored, but how should a marketer decide which channel or channels are best to use? There are a lot to choose from, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Reddit – just to name a few! The decision takes consideration and should be based on multiple factors.

Techsoup (2017) suggests choosing channels based on organizational capacity, resources, and goals. As explained in the graphic below, social media channels have alternate benefits, compliment different goals, support different types of content, and have additional considerations such as capacity and cost (Techsoup, 2017). A marketer should not over-commit to social media by signing up for every channel that exists. Capacity and resources must be taken into consideration, such as available staff time to maintain the account, advertising budget, etc. As Buzan (2020a) points out, a social media marketing plan would not be complete without also considering content and audience.

The platform that is chosen by a business should compliment the content that will be produced (Buzan, 2020a). For example, if an author wants to promote her new book with a series of 20-minute writing tutorials, YouTube might be the right fit. Not only is YouTube great for tutorials, but also for original shows, vlogging, music videos, demonstrations, and live streaming features (Quesenberry, 2018). According to the We Are Social (2020) report, YouTube has 2 billion logged in users each month, and the share of the global population aged 13 and over that log in each month is 33%.  That is a lot of people that marketers can potentially be reaching with their content.

When creating content, specifications, like video and image size, must be followed so that the content can be uploaded to the social media channel or channels. Importantly, Buzan (2020a) states that “the new model for content creation and marketing on social media has shifted from just pushing content for the sake of promoting yourself to become more personalized, interactive, and focused on storytelling rather than self-promotion.”

Content matters just as much as conversation. Social media is a place where consumers and marketers jointly enter a conversation that may or may not necessarily be about a product or service (Buzan, 2020a). Social media allows consumers to feel heard; and is meant to be a discussion between like-minded participants that results in referrals, recommendations, and brand loyalty (Buzan, 2020a). Social media listening is the process of continuous and immediate discovery of conversations with the purpose of learning, engaging, helping, and collaborating (Buzan, 2020b).

Marketers must always consider the target audience when thinking about where and how to reach consumers, and social media is no different. The more targeting that can be done, the more a business can make messages most relevant and use their limited resources wisely (Buzan, 2020a). Some social media channels are more effective for reaching certain demographics of consumers. For example, 1/3 of Instagram’s users are ages 25 to 34 and is the most-used social media platform among U.S. teenagers (Olafson & Tran, 2021).

The varying social media channels attract different types of users, including differing age brackets and gender. Using data from We Are Social (2020), below is a comparison of the potential reach and age/gender demographics of six popular social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest.


  • Number of people that can be reached with advertisements: 1.95 billion.
  • Share of global population aged 13+ that marketers can reach with Facebook ads: 32%.
  • Percentage of Facebook ad audience that is female: 44%.
  • Percentage of Facebook ad audience that is female: 56%.
  • Age range of Facebook ad audience: 13-17: 4.6%, 18-24: 24%, 25-34: 32%, 35-44: 17.1%, 45-54: 10.4%, 55-64: 6.1%, and 65+: 4.4%.


  • Number of people that can be reach with advertisements: 928.5 million.
  • Share of global population aged 13+ that marketers can reach with Instagram ads: 15%
  • Percentage of Instagram ad audience that is female: 50.9%.
  • Percentage of Instagram ad audience that is male: 49.1%.
  • Age range of Instagram ad audience: 13-17: 6.1% 18-24: 30%, 25-34: 35%, 18-24: 30%, 35-44: 16.5%, 45-54: 7.8%, 55-64: 3.2%, and 65+: 1.9%.


  • Number of people that can be reached with advertisements: 663.3 million.
  • Share of the global population aged 18+ that marketers can reach with LinkedIn ads: 12%.
  • Percentage of LinkedIn ad audience that is female: 43%.
  • Percentage of LinkedIn ad audience that is male: 57%.
  • Age range of LinkedIn ad audience: 18-24: 19.1%, 25-34: 61%, 35-54: 16.7%, and 55+: 3.3%.


  • Number of people that can be reached with advertisements: 381.5 million.
  • Share of the global population aged 13+ that marketers can reach with Snapchat ads: 6.3%.
  • Percentage of Snapchat ad audience that is female: 61%.
  • Percentage of Snapchat ad audience that is male: 38%.
  • Age range of Snapchat ad audience:13-17: 18.7%, 18-20: 21.2%, 21-24: 17.8%, 25-34: 22.6%, and 35+: 17.9%.


  • Number of people that can be reached with advertisements: 339.6 million.
  • Share of the global population aged 13+ that marketers can reach with Twitter ads: 5.6%.
  • Percentage of Twitter ad audience that is female: 38%.
  • Percentage of Twitter ad audience that is male: 62%.
  • Age range of Twitter ad audience: 13-17: 9.6%, 18-24: 24%, 25-34: 29%, 35-49: 23%, and 50+: 15%.


  • Number of people that can be reached with advertisements: 169 million.
  • Share of global population aged 13+ that marketers can reach with Pinterest ads: 2.8%.
  • Percentage of Pinterest ad audience that is female: 72%.
  • Percentage of Pinterest ad audience that is male: 20%.
  • Age range of Pinterest ad audience: 18-24: 14.8%, 25-34: 41%, 35-44: 22.7%, 45-49: 5.5%, 50-54: 4%, 55-64: 9%, and 65+: 2.8%.

Marketers must first research a social media channel to determine which is best for reaching the target audience. Based on the information above, Snapchat would best complement a social media marketing plan with the target audience of women and girls aged 34 or younger. Which social media channel listed above would one use to reach men aged 25-34?

Additionally, many social media channels offer psychographic traits to further segment the audiences seeing paid ads. Facebook advertising has the option of targeting potential customers based on traits related to interests, values, personality, and hobbies (Tietbohl, 2021). Facebook also allows for advertising that targets specific zip codes and neighborhoods, thus providing a marketing method for local businesses trying to attract new customers.

There may also be other lifestyle factors to consider before choosing the right social media channel. For example, if a marketer is trying to fundraise for a progressive nonprofit, LinkedIn may be the place to do so. Smith & Anderson (2018) found that 44% of LinkedIn users earn more than $75,000 per year (which is above the national median) and that 50% of LinkedIn users are college graduates.

In conclusion, choosing the right channels depends on everything from capacity and resources to demographics and interests. Even without utilizing paid advertising, social media accounts with strong content and a two-way dialogue are more likely to succeed in elevating a brand.


Buzan, K. (2020a). Week 1 Lesson: Introduction to Social Media [Online]. Retrieved from

Buzan, K. (2020b). Week 4 Lesson: Understanding Social Media Channels [Online]. Retrieved from

Olafson, K. & Tran, T. (2021, January 27). 100+ Social Media Demographics that Matter to Marketers in 2021. Retrieved from:

Smith, A. & Anderson, M. (2018, March 1). Social Media Use in 2018. Retrieved from:

Techsoup. A Nonprofit Social Media Starter Kit. (2017). Retrieved from:

Tietbohl, M. (2021). Week 4 Lesson: Social Media Analytics & Advertising Channels [Online]. Retrieved from

Quesenberry, K. (2018, May 23). 2018 Social Media Update: Top Social Media Channels By Category. Retrieved from:

We Are Social. (n.d.). Digital Report 2020. Retrieved from: