Good search engine optimization has always been about delivering great content to both readers and search engine spiders. Really good search engine optimization is about learning to balance who to keep happy at any point in time and understanding how one change to your site can impact multiple things. Excellent search engine optimization is when you find the "sweet spot." That's when you make a change to your site that results in increased rankings AND increased sales.

One of my favorite sweet spots pops up when copywriters focus on cross selling. Cross selling in your product copy is a creative way to build new links and work keywords into content while also increasing sales among people who have already found their way to your site. Cross selling is what Miriam Ellis talks about in a great post over at SEO Igloo Blog this week.

In it, Miriam talks about the old Hardy Boys books and how they used the opening and closing segments of the book to push other Hardy Boys adventures. She explains what a simple, but effective sale it is and then asks why more small businesses with online stores don't do the same.

If you are running an e-commerce-based website, any customer considering buying an item from you has already been captivated by some element in your inventory. Why not trot out a few other treasures for her to consider? A customer who is investigating your gardening implements may have it in the back of her mind that she really needs a new gardening hat this summer. Why not show her a few, with the friendly message:

Sunburns happen while you're raking those leaves. Protect your precious skin with our wide-brimmed gardening hats!

Give the option to add one to the shopping cart and you may make 2 sales instead of one, all off a single visit to a single page of your site.

Miriam focuses on the cross selling aspect of this technique, going on to remind users of the complex systems Amazon has developed to help get folks to add more products to their shopping carts. It's a good tactic, one that has long been practiced in the offline world. Need a warranty with that new camera? Some batteries? A camera bag? Did you know that dress has a matching bag and shoes?

It's common sense in terms of sales...

It all comes down to understanding that customers tend to have multiple needs in their lives. Once they've made it to your website, half the work is done. By clearly demonstrating that you can meet more than one of their needs, you are opening a door to doing more business with an already-won client.

While the potential for increased sales should be enough to convince you to try rewriting some of your product content with this in mind, don't miss the potential boost in terms of keywords and links either. Internal linking is an often overlooked search engine optimization tactic with small business sites. A lot of these sites tend to focus on gaining links to the home page, but forget about digging for those deep links to product pages. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago I wrote about the need to generate deep links.

In the comments, quite a few folks piped up to point out how difficult it can be to generate links to deep product pages. After all, it's far easier to generate links to articles and fun viral videos than to product pages. I offered a few suggestions in the comments area of that post:

1.) Building out a product page beyond the standard specs. You can embed YouTube video of how to use it. You can include user reviews, you can write fantastic copy like you see at ThinkGeek. Product pages don't have to be boring and by making them not boring, you increase the chance of direct links.

2.) Maximizing internal link structure. I see way too many people who build standard nav and then leave it at that. Working links in to your page copy, your blog copy and cross linking internal pages with things like "if you like this, you'll like that" type things.

Look at how Amazon does their internal linking. They get a cross-selling boost, offer up additional info to visitors and spread that link love around. It's really quite brilliant.

Now go back and read point two again. It fits perfectly with what Miriam is suggesting in her post. If you're having trouble generating some internal links, start by working on creative ways to build those links yourself. If your products are related, create some interesting copy around them and cross link them from within the product description. Do it well and you'll find yourself working in new keywords, building links and increasing sales.

June 9, 2008

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Great advice but I do wonder whether theer is a balance in this as well. Sending people off to look at all kinds of different (but related) links can mean that what originally attracted their attention doesn't hold it.

Also keep the items for cross sell to a mini. So that your buyers won't be confused with the choices.

I'd disagree with the above comment - I think the more choices are offered the better. You can work it into your copy quite naturally - just like the author of this article did ("like last week when I wrote about deep linking"...) etc. Easy to do and makes customers realize there is more to explore on your site, especially if they stumbled across it via a long tail search and didn't come in the "front door".

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Cross Sell to Build Links and Increase Rankings