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Seo Refactor Ecommerce Site From Selling In One State To Multi-State


Best Answer qwerty , 28 November 2015 - 08:33 AM

Does your site's current brand and/or domain name mention New York? If so, is that going to change?

 

Do a lot of your backlinks mention New York in their anchor text or in the text surrounding the links?

 

Have mentions of New York (including "NY") been part of the queries that have brought you traffic in the past?

 

Is the product you sell somehow specific to New York, or is it just that you've only shipped to addresses in that state in the past? And if it's the former, will the new products be similarly specific to other states?

 

Obviously, you can't redirect requests for your home page to the new NY-specific page, but you should make an effort to contact the operators of sites that are currently linking to your home page with references to New York and let them know that the New York content is being moved to a new URL. I'd also put a prominent (temporary) message on the new home page explaining that you're expanding your services but that customers who have known the site because of the New York connection can find the products they know on the new New York page, linking to that page so that it stands out from the rest of the navigation, because while you're building traffic to all the new pages, you want to avoid losing too much of the New York traffic.

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#1 jb123

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 08:58 PM

Hello,
 

I have an SEO question about an existing successful ecommerce website that I manage that has achieved some very high Google organic search rankings for many highly competitive keywords, relating to the sale of some products in New York State, and would greatly appreciate your advice.
 
To avoid any claim that I am trying to promote the actual website by posting this question, I will refer to a hypothetical domain name and company industry.
 
This question does not pertain to paid ads or landing pages for paid ads... only to Google organic search results.
 
The fictitious domain name is: buyshoes.com and it sells shoes to the public on its ecommerce website.
 
The website has been live for about 2 years.
 
When the website was originally conceived, the target market was to sell its products only to people who live in New York State. It was not contemplated that the website might one day also be used to sell shoes to people who live in other U.S. states. Therefore, the homepage and its meta description tag and title tag, and almost every other page in the website specifically mentions New York State and locations in New York. 
 
The site's homepage currently ranks very high in Google organic search for our targeted keywords for New York search results. Most of the backlinks for the site point to the homepage. The current homepage converts users into purchasers very well.
 
The situation we now encounter, is that we want to start selling our products to people in other states. Due to the nature of our products, the products will have unique characteristics for each U.S. state that they will be sold in. 
 
So, the end state of redesigning the site would be that the common user experience that the homepage would only refer generically to "selling shoes" and we would add a way on the homepage for the user to select which U.S. state they live in to buy shoes, and then we would build a separate product page for each U.S. State with the directory structure: buyshoes.com/state/new-york/productName  buyshoes.com/state/new-jersey/productName etc. Each product page will be highly optimized (SEO) for the U.S. State in which the product is sold.
 
My SEO question:
 
If we refactor the homepage as described above so that it no longer mentions (anywhere) anything relating to New York State (e.g, remove all references to the words New York, NY, NYC etc) and create a new screen for products sold in New York State (and move all of the New York related content from the existing homepage to the new New York state specific page), what will happen to the website's organic search rankings when users search for our targeted New York state keywords, e.g, buy shoes in New York? 
 
Will the new page for New York products acquire the same high rankings in the Google organic search results that the homepage previously ranked for? If yes, how long do you estimate it will take Google to swap the ranking of the homepage for the ranking of the new New York State page? 
 
I am very familiar with the SEO ramifications of "replacing or renaming" an existing page with a new page with 301 or 302 redirects. However, that is not the situation I am now confronting (leaving the existing page in existence, and merely moving all of the targeted non-generic keywords from the existing page to a new page).
 
Google indexes our site daily and I know that it can take Google days, weeks or months to attribute the highest possible organic search ranking to a page as a result of its onsite and offsite SEO. 
 
Assume we rolled out this major change to the site today, my hope would be that at some point, (days? weeks?) that the new page for New York products would simply replace the site's homepage in the Google organic search results for New York searches without losing any of its ranking. Do you think this is what will happen? 
 
Naturally, I am most concerned that after we roll out this major change to our website, that Google may not simply replace displaying our homepage with the new page for New York products with the same search ranking, and we might completely or significantly lose our high search result rankings for our products sold in New York State. (for the purpose of this question, assume that we will not have new quality/authoritative backlinks to the new page for New York products for at least several weeks or more).
 
While it is great that we have used all white hat SEO over a year or so to finally achieve very high Google organic search results for our targeted keywords for our products sold in New York State, we are very concerned that we may lose these rankings if we expand our business and refactor our website as described in this question.
 
Naturally, I would love to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar website redesign as to how it affected their organic search results (in the short term and long term), but all feedback, advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 
Thank you for your insights, help and suggestions!

JB

Edited by chrishirst, 28 November 2015 - 10:29 AM.


#2 qwerty

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 08:33 AM   Best Answer

Does your site's current brand and/or domain name mention New York? If so, is that going to change?

 

Do a lot of your backlinks mention New York in their anchor text or in the text surrounding the links?

 

Have mentions of New York (including "NY") been part of the queries that have brought you traffic in the past?

 

Is the product you sell somehow specific to New York, or is it just that you've only shipped to addresses in that state in the past? And if it's the former, will the new products be similarly specific to other states?

 

Obviously, you can't redirect requests for your home page to the new NY-specific page, but you should make an effort to contact the operators of sites that are currently linking to your home page with references to New York and let them know that the New York content is being moved to a new URL. I'd also put a prominent (temporary) message on the new home page explaining that you're expanding your services but that customers who have known the site because of the New York connection can find the products they know on the new New York page, linking to that page so that it stands out from the rest of the navigation, because while you're building traffic to all the new pages, you want to avoid losing too much of the New York traffic.


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#3 jb123

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 10:17 AM

Hello, 

Thank you for your comprehensive feedback, insights and suggestions.

 

Fortunately, the domain name is generic and not state specific. e.g., buyshoes.com.

 

About half of the backlinks and queries to the homepage contain keywords related to New York and all of its regional subdivisions.

 

The products would be fundamentally the same, but they would be unique to each State that they are intended to be used in. (Similar to selling online tax preparation services). The physical location of the purchaser doesn't matter, except that, in most cases the purchaser would normally be physically located in the state they intend to use to product. 

 

The site was originally designed (before it went live) to have a generic homepage with a state selection drop down (unfortunately, that approach was shelved when the site was launched). The thinking was that by having a lot of New York related content on the homepage would help with ranking an internal page for New York. Although we have achieved high rankings. In hindsight, this was clearly a bad decision that frustrates expanding the site's product's beyond the one state it was launched to target.

 

One possible solution (that we are 99% against doing), is to leave the current site as-is, and simply spin up another site and use to get business for the other states. Although it would probably work, it's easy to understand why this is not a preferred solution. Also, the domain name for our existing site is fantastic (we hear that from customers everyday). So, creating another site, temporarily or as a final solution is not a good way to go.

 

Unless everyone strongly disagrees, I think we will probably end up doing the following:

 

For now, leave the homepage as-is. Although it will be a confusing user experience (especially on a small mobile screen), we will add a prominently displayed text block and a link) for the user to choose a different state and we will create a new page for one more state (e.g., California). It may take 2 months or so for us to design and build each state specific product. And we will of course endeavor to get good backlinks to the the new state's page.

 

If a user enters the site on the homepage some users may not notice the link and think their state isn't supported because everything says New York... And even if a user enters the site on their state specific page (e.g, California), if they navigate to the home page or other screen they again may be turned off when they see that everything on those pages refers to New York.

 

Our hope, is that when we roll out other states, we will eventually reach a point that they are generating sufficient revenue that we could then redesign the homepage to make it generic, etc and create a separate page for New York.

 

I strongly suggest that no one make the same mistake we did :)

 

Thanks again for your feedback!

JB



#4 chrishirst

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 05:14 PM

 

 

Fortunately, the domain name is generic and not state specific. e.g., buyshoes.com.

 

Makes absolutely no difference and is much, much better for branding.


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