Distributors. Resellers. Affiliates. All are names for business entities who purchase goods and products directly from a supplier to resell, or redistribute to consumers.
Distributors offer the manpower and cash flow needed to promote and sell products directly to consumers, and take the burden of mass distribution off the manufacturer, but many times this type of business partnership can create complications for SEO.
The Challenges of Optimizing a Distributor’s or Reseller Websites for Search
When it comes to online marketing it’s often unclear which marketing and product information should be housed on the manufacturer’s site and which content should be syndicated out to distributors. Due to limitations on time and money it’s often the same content that get recycled across all sites. Tips for syndicating content.
Replicating the same content and product information across many different online properties can create complications in organic search. Manufacturers and distributors are targeting different consumer audiences Offline, but Online we see these sites fighting each other for rankings in the search engines.
When this is the case it’s often the manufacturers who win out. Many times the manufacturer’s site is larger and older with more inbound links and content than the distributor’s site, and to the search engines these sites appear more authoritative. To perform well in the search engines distributors must use effective SEO to also establish themselves as a source of original, resourceful content in the industry.
SEO Tips for Distributors Resellers
- Target long-tail keywords specific to your distribution center
- Create unique title tags and Meta Descriptions
- Interlink with the manufacturer’s site (let Google know there’s a connection)
- Create robust product pages
- Create a blog
- Create organized, descriptive URLs for each product
- Use geo-targeting when appropriate
- Maintain your products pages
- Offer product reviews
In most cases it is hard for a distributor’s site to compete against the large manufacturers and brands for generic head terms. Instead identify long-tail keywords, which are highly relevant to your branch’s consumers that your site can rank well for. If you’re running a PPC campaign, look at your highest converting keywords to get some indication as to which specific long-tail keywords are valuable to your site.
As a distributor, your site will likely have some of the same product pages as the manufacturer’s site, and although it seems like a quick solution it is important that you do not duplicate their relevant title tags and Meta descriptions.
Google will not show duplicate content in the SERPs and when Google finds identical title tags, Meta descriptions and on-page content they will choose one site over the other to display in the rankings. By duplicating this content you a creating a direct competitor for relevant search rankings and often times are competing with a larger, more authoritative site.
Create unique title tags and Meta descriptions that display keywords and marketing messages most relevant to your segment of consumers.
Google will be able to detect the similarity in content between your distribution site and the manufacturer’s site. If you try and hide this relationship Google might assume there’s manipulation at hand. Let Google know there’s a connection between the two sites. Mention and link to the manufacturer when describing where you get your product, or mention them as the original source of some of your duplicated content. Let Google know there’s a partnership between the two sites, and you’re not simply scraping content from the manufacturer.
Many times product descriptions, pictures and specifications come directly from the manufacturer’s website. To compete alongside these sites and rank for individual products you will need to add plenty of unique, resourceful content around each product. Having detailed product pages with highly resourceful content will boost your site’s online authority and satisfy users, creating strong user-based metrics (CTR, time on site, bounce rate, etc.) all of which helps to increase your site’s rankings.
Establish a niche for your business. Attract a segmented audience by providing content to address the needs and questions specific to consumers of your product. Google values sites that continually publish fresh content, and continually updating your blog with strong content will help satisfy this criteria. Building a blog and promoting your posts through social media is great way to engage with the consumer and begin building a relationship with them across different online spaces.
A clean, static URL structure allows Google to more easily index your content and understand your site’s structure, it can also lead to higher CTR’s from the SERPs. Keep all characters in lowercase, use hyphens to separate words and use descriptive keywords to appropriately name subfolders, avoid dynamic parameters and the inclusion of tracking IDs in the URL.
Many distributors market to a localized consumer base and you can use this to your advantage. Optimize your site for local search and compete in a market that many nation-wide or global manufacturers can’t. Make sure your local address is visible and crawlable on the site, add your distribution center to Google maps, target local keywords and connect with other local resources via inbound and outbound links.
A large volume of product pages can complicate site structure and make it harder for users to find the information they are looking for. Keep your product pages as organized as possible. If you no longer carry product don’t just 404 the page, instead display a brief message explaining the product is no longer available and point users to a closely related product that is still available. Don’t have any other similar products? Point users back up a level to a relevant category page.
Also make use of the rel=canonical tag if you have a large volume of almost identical product pages. Let’s say you have several versions of your product listings, one sorted alphabetically, one sorted by popularity and one sorted by price. The content of these pages are identical, only organized in different ways, and to Google are duplicates. Use the rel=canonical tag to avoid issues with duplicate content and indicate to Google the preferred version of the URL to show in the SERPs and apply link metrics to.