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Overstock.com's Google Rankings - Too Good?

     
2:02 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Ladies & Gentlemen of WebmasterWorld,
I'd like to propose a review of Overstock's SEO success in the last 1 - 2 years. Whoever has participated in O's SEO, I have to commend you! Before 2010, you would almost never find Overstock in the top 10. Now they dominate in just about every vertical they compete in. What did they do?
3:33 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to the forums, CanadianGuy.

We don't normally do SEO analysis for any site - so please, no one ask for us to look at your project. However, since this is a major retailer and you've noticed something about it, we will make an exception in this case only.

A quick check shows me that they have NOT gained a lot of backlinks this past year - so we can probably rule out that factor. While they didn't increase total backlinks very much, they did gain some new backlinks from domains that never linked to them before, around October 2010. That could be a factor.

What they apparently did do last year is add rich meta-data in the RDFa format to all their product pages, at least according to this Tweet: [twitter.com...]

Now I know that's not a very authoritative source, so my apology on that score. But unless I'd been closely studying them for the past two years, I wouldn't have the data I need to say anything more authoritative.
4:22 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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overstock is a huge e-retailer. I shop from them often and love it. 2010 was a big year for them thanks to bing cashback. They have no tax and free shipping on all their products, plus their bing cashback was at around 8% making them very popular on money saving/deal communities. A very popular deal forums I am a member of had daily mentions of overstock so I can see how this played a role in their ranking boost. With all the great deals from them combined with bing cashback they generated quite a buzz and many backlinks which can easily explain their boost in rankings.

It's funny, because I remember early in 2010 I said wow, OS is really going to benefit SEO wise from all the exposure on these deal forums. Once the major players mention something it trickles down to all the smaller communities.
6:04 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Another very experienced and knowledgeable member on this forum and I were discussing this last year.

One word - links.

That's as far as I will go.
3:39 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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i read somewhere that if people are mentioning your website by name on UGC sites , google takes note and that is a major ranking factor,

Even where URls are not permited, obviously, it works
4:11 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Sorry for being ignorant, but what are UGC sites?
4:23 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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One word - links.


A quick check shows me that they have NOT gained a lot of backlinks this past year - so we can probably rule out that factor. While they didn't increase total backlinks very much, they did gain some new backlinks from domains that never linked to them before, around October 2010. That could be a factor.


Unless they received some very powerful links, I'd rule it out almost completely, it would be at the bottom of my list. Overstock is pretty much beyond the link influence thing, from an external standpoint.

Now, if you were to tell me that they restructured their taxonomy, cleaned up all internal links, are using noindex, nofollow judiciously where applicable, then I would agree wholeheartedly that links are a factor. ;)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld CanadianGuy!
4:42 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Sorry for being ignorant, but what are UGC sites?


User generated content
4:47 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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We're all being very subtle about our thoughts on the type of links and how they were obtained aren't we? Ah, well. I'm not one to get dragged in to a libel case either so I'll skirt that issue too and comment on the RDFa thing.

I added all that info to several of my sites and saw no improvement in rankings.

Brands, however, seem to be getting a boost and I can't put my finger on why. My original assumption was that high spend Adwords accounts get a ranking boost (as people will click on the paid link at the top of the listings anyway) - but that would 'very evil' so Google couldn't possibly be doing that. Anyone else come up with a theory behind the multiple "brand boost" tin-foil-hatted theories?
5:46 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If traffic is a significant factor these days, i do believe everything counts including those via adwords...
5:51 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the 'welcomes'. I used to be on here a few years ago but since I stopped visiting, I think my account was deleted, so I'll start over. Thanks though! I've always found the folks here to be knowledgeable.

As for the links . . . we're just speculating, so I'm not afraid to look at all the sources. Since it's not clear exactly when they're rankings were boosted, don't you think it's worth considering links acquired 2 and 3 years ago?

As for being mentioned on User Generated Content (UGC) sites, would we be correct in assuming G only gives you favour there if they've established that you're a known brand? Otherwise, spammers could easily influence rankings w/ stuffed content on UGC's.

O is beyond link influence? Then how can we explain why O is outranking Amazon?
11:18 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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A quick check shows me that they have NOT gained a lot of backlinks this past year - so we can probably rule out that factor. While they didn't increase total backlinks very much, they did gain some new backlinks from domains that never linked to them before, around October 2010. That could be a factor.


Tedster, I'm curious how you go about finding this kind of information (links over time). I would like to do this for my sites and competitors' sites.
11:31 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If you do a search on [backlink history] or related phrases and you'll come up with options, tools and services. We don't discuss specific tools here - so forgive me if I don't share the specifics. I don't want to start a marketing war.
11:49 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Brands, however, seem to be getting a boost...

Yeah, been so for what, a year or so?

And Overstock does appear to be working the SMM bit and those signals have been kicked up a mighty notch or two. Every little bit helps.
3:09 am on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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A quick check shows me that they have NOT gained a lot of backlinks this past year - so we can probably rule out that factor.


Gaining backlinks in the last year has nothing to do with links secured last year that have now finally aged and are counting for full value.
5:04 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They are building links like this [utdallas.edu...]
5:15 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hello ratzker, and welcome to the forums. We normally don't expose specific sites or their linking practices, but we're making an exception for this case.

Looks like a paid blog link, doesn't it?
5:17 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld ratzker!

Oh boy, another story for the NYT. :)
5:24 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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blog links! nah, they are .edu links :) Oh, don't open the lid to another can of worms.You can do it forever. :)
5:30 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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LMAO LMAO LMAO!
5:30 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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ratzker, welcome to the forums and where were you all these days? :)
5:34 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Just found this thread today. It is hard to find the links they are likely buying until you look at the links directed to their category pages.
5:36 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Check out the bottom of this PDF, this must be the instructions they send out to people. [abac.edu...]
5:45 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm sure Overstock.com have no idea that is taking place. Of course they would never approve of and/or authorize any activity such as that shown above. ;)
6:22 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@PageOne STOOOOOOOOOOOOP!

You're bustin me up.
I have work to do, I NEED my concentration...

I can't build these stinking blogs fast enough as it is! lol
6:35 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I found Overstock.com on the first page of the Google SERPS for all except 2 of those keywords.
7:12 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This must be the disclaimer....

Here are some important tips I want to share. Think of this as my welcome gift to the newcomers.
8:09 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Ratzker - that .doc you found is classic. So I guess the answer to O's rankings is good ole fashioned manual link building. I have to say, it's impressive the scale they've been successful at acquiring links & rankings.
8:14 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This might answer the debate on whether offering a merchandise discount is the same thing to Google as a paid link. Apparently it is not.
8:18 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They built a brand name around a verb, then they heavily enforced it! Good luck finding many other websites in the top 3 serps for "overstock + product" (Like dresses, jeans, clothing, blenders, etc)

Up until last year, when you searched for something like (I am shortening to avoid bleed) "OS jeans", or "OS dresses", you were given choices... Not any more. Now you just get Overstock, the well branded website. In fact, you rarely even see the word "overstock" in any of the top domain names for a serp that includes the word "overstock" in the query. Try that with other verbs!

I managed the ecommerce channel for a local business that had the word "overstock" in their business name for 6+ years. (It had been in business since 2004) In June-July 2010, they got the notification from the OS legal dep't stating that the business was infringing on the "Overstock" trademark. After 4 months of fighting it, they gave up... the business was re-named, and all domains associated were unwillingly forfeited to Overstock.com. You simply cannot win a legal fight with a company that has unlimited funding, and you do.

In this case, they got 3 domain names (that had the word overstock in them), 6+ years of well advertised domain traffic, every backlink we ever built, and who knows what else. Sure... we kept our content, but that means nothing when they now control the domain names.

The business is still open under a new name but you know how long it takes to build 6+ years of authority and backlinks!? They may have well just closed down... as far as organic search was concerned.

80,000 sf distribution warehouse and 20 employees, down to 2 employees and a 4k sf warehouse, just like starting over!

MH
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