Big Commerce vs Aaron Wall

Anyone who has my book knows that I like the Big Commerce store system. I think it is the easiest to use and most intuitive hosted e-commerce solution out there, and they are relentless about improving it, and adding features. One of the things I always loved about it was the built-in SEO, because it was done by Aaron Wall, of SEOBook.

Aaron’s name is used prominently in their copy and they state that Big Commerce is “Optimized by #1 SEO expert Aaron Wall.”

Now I am far from an SEO expert, but in my limited judgement, it looks as if they have it figured out: tweakable meta tags, friendly URLs, etc. With Aaron Wall’s name on it, I figured there must not be any issues and at the minimum it would be as good as anything else out there, and most likely much better.

Then today a friend sends me this link:

Here’s a choice quote from Aaron’s post:

“I have not viewed/used/reviewed the product in any way in years. Yet I am still listed as having optimized it.”

Wow. That’s a shocker. Not only did he not optimize their current version, he says that he has asked them twice to take his name out of their marketing materials. And to add insult to injury, they no followed their link to his site. Actually, that part is kind of funny.

Of course, we only have one side of the story, but Mr. Wall has a very solid reputation and his word carries a lot of weight. As I am currently in the process of moving a Yahoo store to Big Commerce, and setting up another consumer product site on their platform, this concerns me.

Worst case scenario, BC is knowingly using Aaron’s name to make sales despite his protests. I kind of doubt that – it doesn’t fit with my take on them.

Best case, their left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing – also not good, but maybe understandable, given the rate at which they seem to be growing.

So I called Big Commerce to find out what the deal is. The very nice lady who answered was as surprised as I was, and told me that so far as she knew, Aaron had indeed worked with Big Commerce. She promised to make some calls there in Austin and send me an email clarifying things.

My own hope is that this is resolved by Aaron and Big Commerce striking a deal where he crawls through their current system with a fine toothed comb and tweaks it to within an inch of its life. That way I can continue to use BC and recommend it without reservation.

Soon as (if I) I hear something, I’ll put it up here.

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  1. JL says

    High drama at the e-commerce corral,eh! Kudos for making the inquiry at the company level yourself to investigate.

    Is it a case of stupid bunny oversight/s and errors? Poor business ethics? We’ll have to stay tuned for the next chapter.


    • Dave says

      No response from BC but no surprise either. I think I will still use them, although if they don’t have an answer for this, i would expect Mr. Wall will get all legal on them. Still the nicest store system I have found, though.

      • aaron wall says

        I have no desire to “get legal” on them. That’s not my style. I have only been sued 1, threatened by lawyers a couple times, but have never sued anyone.

        I didn’t state that I have never talked with them…only that the work I did was quite informal and over a half-decade ago & I have since asked my name to be removed from their marketing multiple times. My requests were blown off multiple times & so I mentioned it publicly after fielding yet another customer request question about their software.

        I also stated that their email suggests I have done work with them & not some of their competitors, and there might be some non-truth in that suggestion that I have never worked with any of their leading competitors. (They haven’t worked with me in over a half-decade, so how would they even know what I had done since?)

        When I look at some of my writing from a few years back I am surprised at how right I was in predicting some trends (I don’t think I could have been any louder about “brand” … I think I was even hyping that trend a bit before Eric Schmidt announced it), however there are also large changes that I didn’t fully appreciate the scope of in advance…especially if one goes back to 2005 or 2006.

        Some things that were “optimal” back then are anything but today.

        Even if the short & informal review I did over a half-decade ago was far more in depth & far more formal, I doubt I would have have predicted some of the changes that would be in line with best practices in 2011/2012. For instance, earlier this year many ecommerce sites were torched based on having some similar signals to some content farms like eHow. In 2006 eHow was still relatively small…say having something like 100,000 articles and getting maybe a few million unique visitors per month, whereas by this year they had millions of articles on their site & even after getting hit by the Panda update they still get 42 million US unique visitors per month (according to

        The Panda update changed how I would strategize about ecommerce SEO. The same is true of how Google inserts so many product ads into their new search results

        If I could have seen & predicted & known all those trends coming a half-decade later after only having a couple years in SEO that would have been impressive. Sadly it is still hard to be certain what is coming down the pike 3 or 6 months out…let alone 3 or 6 years!

        • Dave says

          Thanks for the clarification. I still haven’t heard back from Big Commerce on this. At this point, I am going ahead with my new projects on their platform. I find your history with them troubling, but they do have one hell of a nice platform. Let’s hope they clear things up.

          The part of your response that I find the most interesting is this: “For instance, earlier this year many ecommerce sites were torched based on having some similar signals to some content farms like eHow.”

          My own site were mostly untouched, but I will be over at SEOBook hunting for what you consider those signals to be, and then eliminating them from my sites, if they are there. I think I may have escaped Panda because I didn’t know anything about SEO when I set those sites up.

          I didn’t use exact match domains because I didn’t know what they were. The sites are all “brands” of their own, and pull a fair amount of (very targeted) traffic from searches for the site names alone. I didn’t generate bad link profiles because I didn’t build any links.

          I don’t think this is possible now. You are right that anyone starting a site that they hope to grow into something substantial has to approach it with the idea of creating a brand.

          Finally, yeah no one knows what G will do in the next 3 months or even in 3 weeks. My own take on it is to build businesses with an identity, and try to get traffic from multiple sources, instead of counting on what is turning out to be the most fickle and unreliable one.

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