Cabela’s is one of the most well-known brands in the very competitive outdoor outfitter space. The company harnesses their loyal customer base online so successfully that they are one of the top-50 e-tailers on the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
In this age of peer-to-peer engagement through social media, which simultaneously amplifies consumers’ overall mistrust of advertising and affinity for certain brands, Cabela’s knows that the voices of their customers is their strongest marketing tool.
Cabela’s marketers looked for a solution to include user-generated content (UGC) within their website’s product pages. They engaged Bazaarvoice, a leading provider of “social commerce” solutions, to help connect Cabela’s customers with one another to grow the business. By using Bazaarvoice’s Ratings & Reviews, Cabela’s gave their customers a way to share their feedback about Cabela’s products right at Cabelas.com. As part of the Bazaarvoice solution, Cabela’s had several flexible options to optimize UGC to be indexed by search engines in order to drive visits and sales.
In addition to providing a forum for customers to exchange information, Cabela’s marketers asked themselves: “How can we leverage user-generated content (UGC) captured by Bazaarvoice to improve the ranking and visibility of Cabela’s products on search engines?” UGC can have a huge impact on both conversion and search performance because shoppers value honest peer-to-peer input and search engines prefer keyword-rich, fresh content.
The Covario-Bazaarvoice team developed an integrated solution between Covario’s Organic Search Optimizer™ SEO implementation software and Bazaarvoice’s Ratings & Reviews. Organic Search Optimizer creates a one-page deep SEO-friendly proxy of all of Cabela’s site pages, pulls in the most current content from Cabela’s site pages – product information, offers, promotions, ratings and reviews – and presents them in templates that are perfectly optimized for the search engine crawlers and algorithms. The system automatically makes content optimizations based on SEO best practices. The joint solution puts Cabela’s marketers in an ideal position to inject keyword-rich product reviews directly into product webpages with virtually no development effort and minimal IT support.
To measure the results of these efforts:
- The team first tested the SEO effects of UGC across 10,000 unique product pages on Cabela’s website over a 30-day period. Approximately 33% had UGC injected and exposed to search engines on the product pages, while 66% had UGC reviews delivered via off-page technology.
- To confirm causality, the team suppressed UGC reviews on a test segment of pages, essentially making the reviews invisible to search engine spiders.
- The team then completed the causality process by re-injecting the UGC reviews into the product pages on day 60, thereby reversing the suppression technique.
During the initial phase of the test, product pages with embedded reviews:
- Were crawled by search engines 200% more frequently
- Generated 200% more organic traffic to Cabelas.com
- Had 250% broader keyword reach (i.e., the quantity of referring search phrases to each page)
Comparing the performance of product pages with suppressed reviews against a control group over a 60-day period at the second phase of the test:
- Average keyword reach decreased by 50%
- Average non-brand organic traffic dropped by 31% per page
Finally, phase three of the test reversed review suppression by day 60 (day 90 of the trial):
- Average keyword reach of each page rebounded to pre-suppression levels (offsetting the 50% loss experienced during the second phase)
- Non-brand organic traffic rebounded to pre-suppression levels, and even exceeded them by 12%
Once the test results were verified, the Covario-Bazaarvoice solution was rolled out across Cabela’s website. Cabela’s now uses the voice of the customer – literally, their own words – to increase search engine visibility of tens of thousands of products.
Cabela’s Incorporated, headquartered in Sidney, Nebraska, is a leading specialty retailer, and the world’s largest direct marketer, of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise. Since the Company’s founding in 1961, Cabela’s® has grown to become one of the most well-known outdoor recreation brands in the world, and has long been recognized as the World’s Foremost Outfitter®. Through Cabela’s growing number of retail stores and its well-established direct business, it offers a wide and distinctive selection of high-quality outdoor products at competitive prices while providing superior customer service. Cabela’s also issues the Cabela’s CLUB® Visa credit card, which serves as its primary customer loyalty rewards program. Cabela’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CAB”.
Covario, Inc. is among the nation’s largest independent SEM (search engine marketing) and SEO (search engine optimization) solutions providers, offering both software and agency services for paid and organic search management. Covario is adept at providing large global organizations with robust solutions for paid search advertising, organic search (SEO), social media and display advertising. Covario enables complex and distributed organizations to control their brand integrity; ensure budget transparency; and deliver quantifiable results across business units, distribution channels and languages. Headquartered in San Diego, the company’s growing customer base includes some of the world’s best known brands in technology, retail, ecommerce, financial services, consumer electronics, media, entertainment, publishing and consumer packaged goods. More information about Covario is available by calling 858.397.1500 or online at www.covario.com.