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The SES Conference Series

Jordan Koene, Head of SEO and Content Development of eBay, had a tough job when he stepped into the room for his SESSF session on Reaching Customers Higher In The Search Funnel. He was facing a roomful of marketers who just had lunch on a lovely Friday afternoon. The perfect formula for a quick daydream, cat nap, or just generally tuning out.

Coming to the end of a great conference, you’re usually a little tired from several non-stop days of just learning from the best, meeting people and thinking of ways to use that newfound knowledge to do your job better. Jordan didn’t even have a moderator to break the ice and introduce him to the crowd. He was flying solo — but the content that he delivered would make everyone perk up, sit up and pay attention.

Reaching Customers Higher In The Search Funnel

eBay had a problem.

Their pages were not appearing in search results for general search terms. And the reason was poor quality content.

For SEO purposes, eBay decided they had to move from being just a transactional platform to one that was informational.

Their solution was to produce buying guides – over 10,000 of them were created in 2012.

They looked at site search logs to better understand search queries. They used solutions to better categorise as well as associate keywords and pages to a structure through a Relevancy Tree. Many of the images used in eBay were uploaded by users and they were often of poor quality. As a result, eBay began to use cleaner images and restructure navigation titles which saw positive results.

The company found that internal linking helped discoverability and crawl rate, but not traffic. And they discovered that external links helped to increase ranking.

In his talk, Jordan referenced a Google study on German Internet users buying smartphones which showed that over 50% of them research and compare products across several categories online before purchasing at a store. Those that did online research before the purchase spent 30% more than those that did not.

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The Google report gives credence to companies that make an investment to shore up their site with high quality content. It’s a tactic I’ve used myself – with fantastic results. The eBay story is one that highlights the synergy between SEO and content marketing. According to this Forbes interview with a senior HubSpot executive:

We learned that you can’t generate enough content. Remember both quality and quantity.

And to back it up, here’s another story of how great content marketing was able to drive site traffic. As they say:

Content marketing is the new SEO. It works.

And that pretty much sums it up.

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