Cabela’s Derek Fortna on SEO

October 10th, 2007

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Originally published in Target Marketing

Cabelaâ??s, a direct marketer and specialty retailer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise, needed to revamp its SEO game plan for the 2006 holiday season. Prior to the fall of 2006, only a handful of static category and product pages were optimized. With its Web site approaching 50,000 product pages and more than 200,000 unique products, such as â??hunting socks,â?? â??compound bowsâ?? and â??riflescope accessories,â?? the company required a more robust natural search solution. So it turned to software provider Netconcepts to update its site with GravityStream, a natural search management platform that helped Cabelaâ??s gain a real-time, Web-crawler version of its site and allowed the company to optimize existing pages without rebuilding the entire site. This resulted in a 200 percent traffic increase and a 50 percent online sales increase within the first six months of implementation. Currently, there are more than 40,000 pages driving traffic to Cabelaâ??s site. This week, TM Tipline spoke with Cabelaâ??s Marketing Programs Manager Derek Fortna about the implementation.

Target Marketing: What preparation did Cabelaâ??s complete before implementing the search management platform?
Derek Fortna:The technical team had to implement some server side rules and apply some tags to the Web site. The process was completed over a total time spend of about 10 hours over the course of thirty days, and the software team handled the other aspects.

TM: What, if any, challenges did Cabelaâ??s face when implementing the search management platform, and how did it work through those challenges?
DF: Things went smoothly. The software team planed the implementations cooperatively with us to ensure the solution stays true to the business strategy, the user experience on the site and takes into consideration things such as merchandising.

TM: How did creating a real-time, Web-crawler version of Cabelaâ??s site allow you to optimize your existing pages without forcing a complete site rebuild?
DF: First, itâ??s important to understand that the pages that GravityStream generates are optimized user experiences for both human and nonhuman users. Having descriptive copy on a page, rather than only images, is good for everyone. The program allowed us to use natural search optimization without having to worry about the heavy lift of redesign. The program does this by creating on-the-fly pages that are based on a set of business rules created during the program implementation.

TM: What results have you seen since implementing the search management platform? How significant was the increase in Google rankings?
DF: Cabelaâ??s enjoys page one, and in lots of cases, much higher rankings on a number of long-tail, unbranded terms that generate a large quantity of new-to-file Web purchases. For example, we now have higher rankings on terms like â??hunting socks,â?? â??boat seatsâ?? and â??camp chairs.â?? The increase across the board for Cabelaâ??s was significant. The new program shattered indexation goals by 45 percent, which led to 200 percent more traffic and 50 percent more sales. Cabelaâ??s brand is well positioned in over 200,000 long-tail search markets, with over 40,000 pages driving traffic.