For this weeks episode, I’ve brought on Brendan Tully to talk ecommerce SEO.
Brendan runs TheSearchEngineShop, a 5-person SEO agency in Australia, working with local and ecommerce clients. He’s also built his own online store in the past up to multiple 7 figures per year revenue.
In this episode, we cover:
- 16:22 – The upsides and downsides of selling ecommerce SEO
- 02:13 – How Brendan basically got “paid” to advertise himself
- 26:36 – How to nail keyword selection without blindly guessing or waiting months to validate it
- 30:05 – 9 Simple E-Commerce SEO Strategies For Ranking in 2016
Links and Resources Mentioned:
- 7 day ecommerce optimization crash course (same style content with more detail)
- Ecommerce Marketing & Optimization Workshop (a more technical training similar to this interview, taught by Brendan)
- The problem with pagination – Screenshot 1, Screenshot 2
- Meta description example – Before, After
- Title tag example – Before, After
- Abandoned Cart Email Template
- Zendesk (Support ticket/Customer service tool)
- Sweethawk (Apps to make Zendesk work better)
- Process Street (Checklists and recurring tasks)
- Wideo (Create videos from images and descriptions)
- LuckyOrange (Videos of your visitors site usage)
- Drift (Live chat with Slack integration)
Daryl Rosser: What’s up guys? Welcome back to another episode of the Lion Zeal show. In this episode I sat down with Brendan Tully to talk about e-commerce SEO. Brendan runs an agency in Australia.
He currently has a team of around four people and they’re doing some pretty interesting stuff, not just with e-commerce clients but also with local clients and we’re going to get into exactly how he built that up from scratch, how he started out. Brendan, before that he was running an e-commerce store that gave multiple seven figures before he got into client SEO type agency building stuff.
We’re talking about how to build up a successful e-commerce store and a lot of this is predominantly focused on SEO so what you can do, you can go work with a client that has set up a e-commerce store then help them grow their revenues and specifically we’re going to cover nine pretty much low-hanging fruit opportunities, so nine really easy opportunity to go out there and implement for someone that has an e-commerce store to make them a heck of a lot of money.
Some of that is SEO relevant, some of that is conversion or optimization, but most of its SEO relevant and what you can do with SEO to make them more money ultimately, which is why they hire you as a consultant. Let’s cut straight into it. I hope you enjoy the episode. Brendan, hey man. Thank you for joining me on the show today.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. No worries. My pleasure.
Daryl Rosser: For anyone that doesn’t know you yet, do you want to give a brief little intro as to who you are and what you’re working on these days?
Brendan Tully: Sure. I primarily do client SEO. I do more than SEO but we started off as a SEO agency. I started in 2008 so the name of my business is The Search Engine Shop, and went full-time with it in 2010, so primarily we deal with probably 80% of our clients, so I’m Australian, so 80% of our clients are in Australia.
We started off as SEO-only and then pretty quickly that branched out into AdWords, then just general consultancy, and now we also do hosting, which is a big part of our business today. I grew the business through a government contract that we won. I won it in conjunction with six other companies.
How Brendan basically got “paid” to advertise himself
In 2010 we won this contract, and basically the government paid us to do workshops and training for small business owners in Australia. In a sense we were just paid to stand there in front of people and talk to them about web stuff. In Australia we have something called the NBNs, so the government has this massive project to roll out fiber across Australia, so it was part of that.
They have all this money set aside to train small business owners about web stuff, basically. The contract’s actually been rolled over since 2010, so different variations of it every year. It’s running now, so some of the guys in our group are still doing the workshops. I haven’t done any in a while, but it’s actually been really good.
It’s been good from two perspectives. One is learning about the market and like we talk about SEO stuff all the time like it’s so commonplace, and it’s so surprising that people don’t, like small business owners still don’t know what Dropbox is or Skype or anything like that. It’s been good from a client acquisition perspective.
The only downside about it is that it’s no pitch, so you can’t, because it’s all government funded you can’t pitch or anything like that. It can’t be salesy at all, but it’s like completely information-based. Basically I’ve built the business on the back of that. It’s actually one of my … on my to-do list for January to actually do something about … Because my website really doesn’t reflect what we do, so to actually start doing something substantial with that.
That’s it in a nutshell. Before that I had an IT company for eight years, so my background’s quite technical, and also had an online store that we grew to mid seven figures in kind of the early to mid 2000s so I’ve got quite a lot of experience with e-commerce and do quite a bit of e-commerce consulting as well, so that’s what we’re talking about today primarily, I guess, is e-commerce SEO.
Daryl Rosser: Exactly. Cool. The government thing where they were paying you to set up the workshops and everything like that, was that just something you applied for online?
Brendan Tully: There was a tender process, so in 2009 this … The NBN’s a $50 billion project, so there’s just money everywhere. They have all these tenders to do different parts of it. There was initially in 2009 there was like $16 million worth of funding, and anyone could apply for it, and I think it was quite unique at the time, because they were giving …
Where normally the government would give money to big companies like IBM and big agencies or whatever, they were actually giving money to small businesses this time. I think the maximum amount of funding you could get was half a million dollars.
One of my friends told me about it, and I said to her, “Why don’t we do it together?” Then it ended up being us and six other companies like agencies that were all kind of … We didn’t really compete. We weren’t all web agencies, but we were all kind of complementary, so my friend was a business consultant, so she has a business consultancy and then there was a photography studio and a PR agency, so we all worked together. It was just like a government tender process, and we actually had a professional tender writer do the submission which was definitely worth it.
If anyone’s listening and they’re thinking about going for tenders, it’s definitely worth, if they’re like serious tenders and there’s serious money up for grabs, it’s definitely worth paying a specialist to do it, because they do all the legwork. They know how tenders work, and they actually would do all the qualifications, because a lot of the time tenders are just like the government trying to check the … They have to do it.
That’s part of their process and they have to go to market, but they’ve already made a decision on who they want. The tender consultant will usually do all the qualifying to make sure it’s a real, legit tender, and that there’s actual real money up for grabs.
They did all the work. They did the submission and all the … They wrote the submission as well. We won that and then it’s just been rolled over pretty much in different forms since then. For the last-
Daryl Rosser: Awesome. How long ago was that?
Brendan Tully: That was 2000, so the tender came out in 2009, and that was 2010 that … We won funding, and then 2010 that’s when it started. Because it’s government there was a lot of administration and stuff around reporting and where you spent the money and things like that.
Now, the last, I think, three years we’ve done it in conjunction with the chamber of commerce, so they do all the hard work in getting the funding, and then we just show up and do workshops, which is really good, because they do the bit that they’re good at. Chambers of commerce typically get a lot of government funding and grants, so that works out really well. They do all the stuff they’re good at, and then we just show up and do workshops, which is really good.
Daryl Rosser: That’s awesome. I imagine you get clients out of that just from just like generally helping them out without even pitching. I’m sure they come back.
Brendan Tully: It’s weird. I say to a lot of clients like the web industry, like the mainstream web industry has kind of made business out of making web stuff difficult and hard, and like this black box that people don’t understand, and when you explain simple things like … Half these people at the workshops don’t have Google Analytics.
They don’t know what Google Maps or Google Places is, so you explain a few things like Google Analytics is free, here’s how to get your business on Google Maps, or update the address, and like show them just a few simple things like that, then you build the trust, and then they kind of start to understand that it’s not some black fucking magic thing that is super hard to understand and they’ll never get it.
It’s also amazing the amount of businesses that have spent like 15 grand on some piece of junk HTML website with five pages that does nothing, and you show them WordPress and show them how simple it can be, and they’re like totally amazed. It’s a really good trust builder. Yeah. Absolutely. From a client acquisition perspective, doing in-person stuff is awesome. If you’re listening and have the opportunity to do it, definitely would recommend it.
Daryl Rosser: Awesome. Another thing that was interesting that you mentioned was that you sell web hosting and things like that now. How did you get into that without worrying about scope creep, if you know the term, like where you selling more and more stuff constantly and you get caught up designing logos for clients and doing everything for them?
Brendan Tully: That’s a good question. We initially got into the hosting game by accident. We started building websites for clients because you do SEO stuff and then they need a new website at some point in time. The first website we did, they were like, “You do the hosting, right?” I’m like, “Yep. We do the hosting.” I’m like, “Yeah. We’ll believe that.”
Then it became we started taking it seriously when, I mean you’re doing SEO, you’re doing AdWords for clients, and then if they’re on crappy hosting the site falls over and it’s your fault anyway. It’s basically a case of they’re making you responsible, if you have a good relationship and you’re billing them for ongoing, online marketing stuff, they’re making you responsible for the website anyway so you might as well make money out of it and have …
You can’t really be responsible if you don’t have control, so if you don’t control the hosting, you can’t be responsible for the result. Our hosting platform, to answer your question around scope creep, so the platform was built on WP Engine, and then we add a few layers of stuff on top of it, so already it’s secure.
We don’t need extra plugins to make it secure. They’re already doing the baseline level of maintenance so a lot of the problems that come with WordPress don’t exist. The websites don’t get hacked. They’re not falling over. We’ve got uptime monitoring on the websites, on every single website instance, so nearly 300 now.
Most often the stuff never really goes down, but when it does it’s usually when someone hasn’t renewed a domain name, and that’s like something that I just don’t want to touch is domain names. I’d rather the client deals with that, because there’s just no money in it. Then the other scope creep like the design stuff, we don’t really have much around that.
We don’t touch logos or branding or anything like that, and anything else we just charge hourly or we put people on the support plan, so we have a fixed fee kind of WordPress support plan where they get unlimited tweaks and changes, or the base plan they get up to five small changes a month for around about 100 bucks.
Typically most of those small business clients will spend about $1,000 a month, sorry, $1,000 a year on support and general tweaks and all that stuff anyway, so we just have it built into the business now that we expect it. They log a ticket in the support system. One of the team deal with it.
Then if it’s something that’s weird, like they’ll often send a change through and then they’ll send a question through. We have a daily meeting with all the team, so usually the team will just ask me about the question then, or they’ll make a separate ticket to give to me that’s about the question the customer has, like the more kind of consulting element of it.
Daryl Rosser: Got you. How big’s your team then?
Brendan Tully: I’ve just let someone go actually, but we were five. We’re now four. They weren’t performing, but I kind of automated their job away with Zapier anyway.
Daryl Rosser: Nice. That’s a lot cheaper and faster.
Brendan Tully: Use a lot of, heaps of automation. We use Zendesk as our core system and Process Street as well. We have so much automation in there that a lot of stuff is, by the time the guys get it, like it’s half done almost by Zapier. Took me many years to get … Tried like five different job management systems and Zendesk is by far the best system we’ve had to date. I can’t imagine ever changing from it. The whole business just runs on top of it.
Daryl Rosser: Could you share some, like a little bit more specifics on how exactly it helps or what exactly it does?
Brendan Tully: Sure. The way we’ve built Zendesk is based on something James Schramko who’s an online marketing guy in Australia said. The way we’ve set it up, so we use Zendesk in two ways. Basically a job doesn’t exist if there’s no ticket. That’s kind of the general rule. If something has to be done, no matter how small, there has to be a ticket somewhere for it. That way it’s tracked and it gets … It doesn’t fall through the cracks. We have client-facing stuff goes in Zendesk and then internal-facing stuff goes in Zendesk as well. We have internal tickets and then we have external tickets.
Then we have a handful of Zendesk apps that link those together. We might have, say, a master SEO, so we have a client, say they’re on monthly SEO. There’s a master tracking ticket for them. It’s just called “SEO monthly retainer – client name.” Anything we do with a client back and forth, we try and do on that ticket. It’s unavoidable that they’re going to email directly, but we try and put it all on the ticket.
Any notes about that client, anything to do with them goes on that ticket, and then all the internal stuff is an internal ticket that’s attached to that. It’s kind of like how a lot of people use Basecamp, but I don’t like Basecamp because it’s not very email friendly, whereas Zendesk is.
We use a lot of links. We have that master ticket and then the internal tickets are linked to it, and we use a whole bunch of apps by a company called SweetHawk to add the bits into Zendesk that we need to do. Then it’s plugged into … We have Process Street for anything that’s regular maintenance or ongoing, so WordPress plugin updates, for example, depending on what hosting plan the client’s on or what SEO plan they’re on. There’ll be a regular Process Street checklist that gets made, which then-
Daryl Rosser: Awesome. You just check it off as you go through it.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Then there’s a zap that then makes a ticket for that, that links back to the checklist, so that we have like 150 tickets coming out at the start of the month for WordPress maintenance for anyone who’s on support. One of the staff just goes through. They’ll go through the Process Street checklist, check it off.
They add a couple of screenshots of before and after into the ticket and then depending on who the client is they email the client to tell them patches are done, or they just close off the ticket. It all happens in the back. I love it when I wake up and there’s all these tickets, that the guys have all this work. I’m not doing anything. It’s all automated.
It’s taken a long time to get to that point. I’ve tried so many systems and this one is like now I’m finally at the stage where I’m like, “This is all automated and it works, and I don’t have to do anything” Everybody’s happy and the staff have work to do and the clients are happy, so we’re all good.
Daryl Rosser: That is awesome. Sounds really a much easier way to do than creating tickets non-stop all day yourself for different things.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. For anyone when we’re doing ongoing maintenance, like SEO for, like we have for some of them we have zaps that monitor their YouTube channel, that monitor their blogs, so any time they make a new piece of content, the zap creates a ticket for someone to go look at what they’ve done and then take action accordingly. If it’s a new blog article or a new page on the website then they go in and write the title tag and the Meta description or check that the customer hasn’t done anything that’s bad for SEO.
Daryl Rosser: Awesome. What I was interested in talking about on this interview was e-commerce SEO. You didn’t start with e-commerce SEO, right?
Brendan Tully: How I got into this originally, I had a friend who had a web agency in 2008. He had people start asking him about this SEO thing, and he’s like, “Well, you did it. You were an e-commerce guy. You know about this stuff. Can you do it?” That was for a local business, but it just kind of … The way I see the SEO, I break it down kind of into local business, corporate, or e-commerce, so I don’t do a huge amount of e-commerce SEO because it can be super hit and miss, especially if it’s like a start-up business, because if it’s like a brand new e-commerce site you’re pretty much building the business for them if you’re doing their SEO.
Daryl Rosser: Pretty much. Yeah.
The upsides and downsides of selling ecommerce SEO
Brendan Tully: Generally I’ll only do it for an e-commerce business that’s well-established, where the business owner’s somewhat … at least a little bit commercially mature. They understand that they have to spend money on marketing to make money. Typically the starting point would be at least the website would need to be doing a few hundred grand a year in revenue, otherwise the numbers don’t work.
If I’m charging them even at the low end like 500 bucks to 1,000 a month for SEO, they need to be making a lot more profit out of that to make it worthwhile on their end. I just kind of got into it naturally as a result of the business, and because I have a lot of experience in e-commerce, like I’m pretty good at it as well. I definitely, I probably reject three out of four clients who come for SEO stuff who are in the e-commerce space.
Daryl Rosser: Is it because they’re just really new so it’s a heck of a lot of work?
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Take a local business, so if we have a plumber or a dentist or something like that, they might have, let’s say they’ve got 10 main services. That’s kind of 10 pages or 10 things we have to rank for, which that’s not a huge amount of work. If you have an e-commerce business that has 200 products, then that’s 200 pages that you have to rank, and especially like important thing like if you’re doing e-commerce SEO for a client, if they’re selling $20 products, then they’re going to have to sell a lot of $20 products to even afford to be able to spend 1,000 bucks a month.
They really need to be at a certain point and sell, like their products need to be a few hundred bucks each, or the lifetime value of their customer needs to be high enough so they can afford to pay you.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Makes sense. What sort of criteria do you look for when taking on e-commerce clients then?
Brendan Tully: Definitely their revenue, so where they’re at, what sort of products they’re selling, like whether or not we can use SEO or AdWords or Google Shopping to actually sell stuff for them. It’s very hard to do SEO for luxury items, for example, like let’s say a handbag shop or a jewelry shop or a woman’s dress shop or something like that, where women, like that sort of buyer typically doesn’t Google “buy handbags online.”
They see something they like on Instagram or on the socials or something like that, and that’s how they buy. It really needs to be they need to be a certain revenue level, their products need to be selling, they need to be profitable past a certain point so they can afford us, and they really need to be problem-solution type products where someone’s Googling for the product, as opposed to something that’s top of funnel where it needs a lot of advertising or social stuff for them to be engaged first.
Daryl Rosser: Got you. I guess a plus side is how trackable everything is. You can directly track that you increase their revenue very, very easily.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Because that’s like the hard thing as well with local SEO. If you get a client, if a client’s getting 10 calls a month and you get them 20 calls a month they’re not really going to notice the difference, and it’s also really kind of hard to track calls and inquiries very tightly with local SEO, whereas e-commerce it’s like you got e-commerce tracking set up and analytics and you can show them exactly the change month to month.
There’s plus sides and negatives. You just got to be careful I guess that you’re not, especially, like you get this especially with brand new business owners or startup business owners where they offload the responsibility for growing the business onto you, and that’s not really …
Your job is to rank them and get traffic and help them sell more stuff, but you’re not responsible for the business, so you just got to be careful when you’re talking to those prospects to qualify that and just find out how long they’ve been in business, and how good their mindset is around commercial stuff.
Because often they don’t get the SEO, or AdWords, or whatever the marketing channel is, it’s all about you put a dollar in and you get 5 or $10 back. There’s still, I guess, a misconception as well that SEO is free, so like why would I go to AdWords when SEO is free? At the end of the day they have to pay someone to do SEO or invest their own time, which still has some sort of cost associated with it.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Absolutely. You were talking about the criteria earlier, made me think of some prospects I’ve had before where someone’s came to me and they’ve never had a sale from cold traffic ever before, just warm traffic, and they’re asking me to do SEO and willing to spend some money on it, but there’s no way I’m taking on a client like that. It’s too much responsibility.
Brendan Tully: You know what it’s like, right? You get one bad client and it just makes like, you just hate it. You’re waking up in the morning, you’ve got like voicemails from them, you’ve got calls from them or emails. Whereas if you get a good client, like everything works that they talk to you once a month or something, and they’re totally stoked. You’re making money. Everybody’s happy. You really got to be careful just to qualify them, qualify out the bad customers before you get too far into it.
Daryl Rosser: Would you say that e-commerce clients, e-commerce SEO clients could be bigger, like higher paying clients than local ones?
Brendan Tully: Yeah. It depends on how big they are. Say it’s like a $10 million a year business and they haven’t done much active SEO then it’s going to be really easy with a few … Say they don’t have custom written titles and meta descriptions on products. It’s going to be really easy to show a massive uplift just by going through and custom writing those or writing them much better.
Depending on who they are and what type of business they’re in and competition, it can be pretty lucrative, but finding those clients it’s not super easy, because they’re kind of word of mouth clients. They’re not something you can run some marketing to and then all of a sudden you’ve got these $5,000 a month clients. They’re definitely out there though, for sure.
Daryl Rosser: Would you suggest to someone who was just starting out to go for local clients? They’d be easier to start with.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. I think so. It’s so much easier, it’s very easy to rank a business that has a physical presence, because you can use all the local tools, and you could do citations. It’s definitely lower hanging fruit, but if you can get an e-commerce client that’s good, that’s already sizable in terms of business, then it can also be really easy. It’s especially easy if they’re e-commerce and they have a physical presence or multiple stores or something, because then you can use a lot of the local stuff to rank the e-commerce stuff, and you kind of got the best of both worlds.
Any e-commerce prospect that comes to me that has a local element, it’s like this is going to be super easy, because we can just like … Especially if they have three shops or three retail stores, then we can hammer the citations and all that sort of stuff to … Especially if their competitors don’t have those retail stores, then it gives us an easy way to build links that they don’t.
Daryl Rosser: Got you. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I see that a lot of people get a lot of e-commerce clients because they see it’s easier to make more money, but then I see a big mistake a lot of people make is that they charge e-commerce clients sometimes the same amount as their local clients, and it’s like 10 times or more the amount of work to manage them.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. You have to rank for so many things. We’ll rarely sell an e-commerce client just SEO. We’ll always try and, I would prefer to sell them e-commerce consulting so then we can do SEO. Probably half the prospects that we see aren’t running Google Shopping.
For most e-commerce businesses that’s going to be like one of the cheapest, highest converting traffic sources, so if you don’t have the option to run that then you’re kind of stuck with just SEO, which is going to be slow as well. It’s going to take time to start ranking those pages higher and get more traffic, whereas if you can turn on Google Shopping tomorrow and they’re already getting highly qualified traffic.
Also, the data that you get, the keyword data, because now like it’s so hard to get good quality keyword data. You can get awesome keyword data from AdWords and Google Shopping and then use that to find the high converting keywords, and then just focus SEO on that.
You can kind of in a way shortcut the SEO process by using the paid traffic sources. Also, the client wants to see an instant result. You might tell them that SEO is going to take three months to see a return, but they logically know that, but emotionally they’re like, “Well, I’ve just paid you a thousand bucks, and I want to see a return this month.”
Where you can use the paid traffic to show them an instant hit and in the meantime work on the SEO stuff as well. Also it’s hard to not get involved in some of the conversion stuff as well, because ultimately they don’t give a shit about ranking. They care about selling more product, so with most e-commerce sites there’s definitely going to be low-hanging fruit from a conversion perspective.
Something as simple as you walk through their checkout process, there’s probably two or three things you pick up immediately that are broken, that don’t work well. Half the time they just offer PayPal and they don’t have a full credit card checkout option, and it’s a simple process of adding Stripe and then because they add Stripe then they see a 10% increase in sales just from having a non-PayPal option.
I generally will try and just sell general e-commerce consulting, and I’ll always do like a … We’ll say, “Look, it’s a minimum three month or six month commitment, then we’ll review after that.” That gives me an out, and they also know that they’re not like … There’s a minimum amount of money I’m making.
They’re committed for a minimum amount of time, but it also gives me an opportunity to change the agreement, whatever it is, in the future, so I’m not locked into this thing that, this set up that doesn’t necessarily work for me either.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. I like what you mentioned about getting AdWords up and running and Google Shopping. I think that’s a very smart thing. It just makes sense anyway.
How to nail keyword selection without blindly guessing or waiting months to validate it
Brendan Tully: It’s funny, like in the SEO space there’s such … Some people have so much hate towards AdWords, but Google is pretty much a paid search engine with some free results. Google wants you to buy ads, so why go against the grain? You can do both. It’s not either/or.
There’s so many things that you learn from paid traffic that you can then apply to SEO. You get so many insights around keywords that you just cannot get from just doing SEO alone. Anyone who’s doing purely SEO, absolutely, like start to get in … It’s really easy with the local clients, because you can show a really solid, particularly like if you have a local client that’s in a regional area, they won’t need much budget to be in front of all the search traffic.
Even with four or six weeks of keyword data from AdWords, you’ll learn so much that you can then put into SEO to make that work better, so it’s kind of win-win. If someone’s losing and they’re like, “I hate AdWords.” I’d be like, “Well, give it a try. It’s not going to hurt. It’s traffic.”
You can learn how to do it on the client’s budget, and it’s … If you’re already doing SEO which is quite technical, it’s not really a challenge to learn AdWords. Just commit yourself to it for two or three months and you’ll be a pro at it after that.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. I mean also when you have both of them it’s like maximum exposure. They’re ranking number one in AdWords and the organic.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. You can give those results so much quicker, so it solves that problem with the clients where they want results. You just don’t know the spread of keywords and the weird things that people search for.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. The keywords is huge from that.
Brendan Tully: If you get one good keyword insight that you realize, “Hang on. There’s a totally different search term that people are looking for that relates to this business,” then that can like … You can easily get a 30, 40, 50% organic traffic win just from that little insight you got from paid traffic.
For me it’s definitely not either/or, and if people say no one clicks on the ads, that’s bullshit. You look at AdWords, you’re getting like a 3 to 20% click-through rate on non-branded terms. If you’re getting like a 15, 20% click-through rate, that’s 20% of that SERP is actually clicking on the ads and not the organic results.
If you look at a SERP today, like half the time everything, especially on mobile, but even on desktop now with the four results at the top and then you’ve got the map, like the organic number one listing is often below the fold, like …
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. There’s the map hack there as well.
Brendan Tully: Yeah, like particularly in some cases in some markets if you’re not running AdWords, then you’re not even above the fold. Google wants to sell more ads. They’re changing the SERP so more people click on the ads, so you might as well go to where the … Align yourself with what Google wants to do and then you win.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Exactly. I’ve actually taught some people before, like my strategy for affiliate marketing sometimes is to run some AdWords ads initially to test the keywords, see how well it converts and everything, then when I do the organic I know exactly what to do.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Exactly right. Then if there’s no traffic, then you know in advance before you’ve done all this work, as well.
Daryl Rosser: Exactly. You put together some it’s like nine tips on e-commerce SEO before we got on.
Brendan Tully: Yep.
Daryl Rosser: Shall we break these down and go through some of them?
Brendan Tully: Let’s do it.
9 Simple E-Commerce SEO Strategies For Ranking in 2016
Daryl Rosser: I guess I’ll say them. The first one you did was important stuff like page titles and metas.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Okay. Let’s split this into two. Page titles really easy, super quick win that will make a huge difference. Typically for a store that’s doing a million dollars of revenue a year, this will add 5 to 10% of revenue straight away. Simple thing to do on product pages in the title tag is add the words “buy” and “online”.
Typically the title tag on a product page will be just the product name or some variation of the product name. If you add the word buy to the start of it and then online at the end, you’ll get a heap more … It’ll rank higher for qualified traffic.
People who are typing buy a iPhone 6 online. They want to buy an iPhone 6. Their intent is solely for e-commerce or shopping. It increases the relevancy of the product pages towards buying terms. It also makes your Google Shopping work much better as well. Four years ago I think it was Google Shopping was completely free.
It was completely organic, so today it’s paid but it’s still based on some organic factors, so by improving the organic relevance and the on-page SEO of the product pages you’ll perform slightly better on Google Shopping as well. That small little change of adding those two tiny little words can easily add up over the course of, let’s say, an e-commerce site with 50 or 100 products can easily add, if that’s a million dollar business, that’s a 100 grand of extra revenue with what’s …
In some cases if it’s like a WooCommerce site, like that’s just changing the template in the like Yoast SEO settings.
If it’s Shopify there’s other plugins to do it. You can just export out the product database, make the change in Excel and import it back in and the change is done. That’s like at most half an hour’s worth of work, and then that’s potentially a 10% increase in revenue for the client. Super simple.
The next one is meta descriptions, so one thing we’ve learned from, and I’ll give you a screenshot example because this’ll explain it. You can embed it in the post for the podcast, because it will really highlight the difference.
One thing you’d learn from AdWords, and people talk about it all the time in the AdWords space is that small little changes in an AdWords ad can increase the CTR, like the click-through rate massively. Something as simple as swapping the top and bottom lines of an ad, or adding capitals to the start of each word can double the click-through rate.
Nobody really talks about that in the SEO space. They do a little bit. They talk about adding rich snippets to ad to improve click-through rate and a few things like that, adding the review stars, and that sort of thing, but nobody was really talking about the meta descriptions.
A few things for meta descriptions. If you use capitals at the start of every word then you’ll absolutely get a click-through rate increase. You probably increase the click-through rate by about 50%. One thing you can do in the meta descriptions that you can’t do in the AdWords ads is capitalize all the letters of a word.
If you can capitalize free, or insured, or fast, or really like power words that help you stand out amongst competitors, so one thing we do is just template the meta descriptions for product pages, but we’ll say like buy an iPhone 6, 64 gig Wi-Fi edition online with fast, insured, free, nationwide shipping. Capitals for the word fast, capitals for the word free.
In most cases in most countries if a shipment goes missing it has to be replaced by the vendor anyway, so you’re insuring it anyway, so you can say insured shipping, even if they don’t have insurance on the shipping, because legally they have to replace it. Just by having that, and you can template it. Most e-commerce systems allow you to template it based on the product name. You’ll absolutely get-
Daryl Rosser: So you’re not writing 500 out.
Brendan Tully: No. You do it on a template. Use the SEO tool to do it on a template. Worst case scenario, you do some fine replace stuff in Excel if they have a massive product database or if they’re on some system that doesn’t support it, but just by doing that you’ll get a massive increase in traffic to product pages because of the increase in click-through rate, and especially if they’re like floating around positions three to five because it’ll make them stand out much more. Just by having those all capitalized words they’ll get an easy click-through rate win.
One thing we’re also doing is adding the phone number, where it’s relevant, adding the phone number to the title tag, so it doesn’t seem to be hurting the relevancy of the page, but it makes it stand out. We do it for all our local clients now, but in e-commerce where they have a 1-300 or 1-800 number, instead of having … A lot of the time people have the business name just on the end of the title tag, so instead of having that you can have like “phone 1-800, blah blah blah,” or 1-300 or whatever it is, and that stands out as well because nobody else has the phone number on the SERP.
Daryl Rosser: You think that gets calls?
Brendan Tully: It gets calls but it also attracts the eye because it’s different, so again, it helps increase the click-through rate. They seem like tiny little changes, but when you do these things in AdWords you see a massive increase in click-through rate.
I’ll give you a screenshot example. I think I put it in the Facebook group before, but I’ll give you a screenshot example of one client where they’re not an e-commerce client. They’re not really local either, but all we did is optimize the title tag, the meta descriptions on the top-20 posts or blog posts and they saw nearly a 50% increase in traffic from 12,000 uniques a month to like 25.
They’re super low-hanging fruit, easy to do. You don’t need to do links, and they’re really quick and easy changes as well, especially in e-commerce because you can template it.
Those small little percent’s make a huge difference, and even over the course of 12 months as well. You’ve got all the pages you’ve got that benefit over, plus over a 12 month period, so they’re tiny little things. I’ll give you some screenshots that really highlight that as well so people can see it. It’s hard to get until you see it visually on the page.
Daryl Rosser: The next thing you mentioned was content thickness. What is that?
Brendan Tully: Something that e-commerce sites are really guilty of is having a whole bunch of product and category pages that have no content. They’re basically thin-content pages, so like a category page with just a list of 10 products is kind of really thin on text content. Just simply by adding normally we’ll aim to have two to three paragraphs on a category page, and then on a product page we’ll aim to have at least two to three paragraphs and a video if possible.
That’ll make a huge difference because it fattens out the content across the site. In some extreme cases they’ve got thin content penalties, if they have like 1,000 products that like every page on the website has like two lines on it and a price, then that can be a big problem.
Just by fattening those out can make a huge difference, especially like embedding their YouTube video is an easy one. If you’re selling someone else’s products it’s a really easy thing to do to add a YouTube video. I wouldn’t embed the manufacturer’s version. I would download it and put it on the e-commerce website YouTube channel.
If there’s no video, one thing we do is take the product description and the images and then use a video tool to make a video out of those. It’s a little bit kind of like sleazy, gray area, but it massively helps the ranking, and then you have a opportunity to rank in YouTube, and you’ve got a opportunity to rank in universal search, like the YouTube videos in the normal search results. That’s another little trick we have.
Daryl Rosser: Smart. I was thinking that when you were saying that, like ranking in YouTube is another potential way of gaining some traffic out of that.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. One thing we do if a customer has videos on YouTube, so simple stuff like adding the link back to the product page in the YouTube description, and then taking that same video, so downloading it and then uploading it to Vimeo, uploading it to Daily Motion and their Facebook page.
Change the title slightly, and still have the description and the link back to the product page. If you do that over 100 products that’s a massive amount of backlinks to the inner pages, like the product pages which will help them rank really easily. One problem with e-commerce, because you’ve got so many pages, it’s really hard to get backlinks for all of them in a sustainable way.
If you’ve got 100 pages to rank, it’s hard to get PBN links to all those individual pages. That’s a lot of work, whereas if you have video content then you can easily get a VA to make those videos out of the images and the description or download them from the manufacturer. It’s easier for them to add the links into the description.
They’re not hugely high-quality links but they still matter. In the e-commerce space most customers are lacking, most websites are lacking a lot of links to those products pages so just by having a handful, even if they’re pretty low quality, it can make a huge difference.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. For sure. With the category pages you mentioned adding a couple of paragraphs or two or three paragraphs or so. How do you add that without affecting usability in terms of having the products listed at the top and very easy to see and click?
Brendan Tully: That’s a good question. What most people don’t realize is that often the category pages are the landing page. If someone lands on a category page, if they’re just a list of products it’s just like having a price list. It really doesn’t mean anything.
Having at least some description about what the business is and what they do and why someone should buy from you is usually like a paragraph or two of text. Then you can customize it for the category, like explain what the products are or what the range they stock are. Usually the combination of the two is unique enough to get t
hose three paragraphs of text.
Often you can just get a couple of product videos and put them on the category page as well. It’s a very common mistake people are making, especially with Google Shopping traffic, if you think Google Shopping, someone clicks on a product on Google Shopping they’re dumped directly onto a product page.
If that product page doesn’t have … An easy opportunity to fatten it out is adding content about shipping, content about payment method, who the business is, and what they do. That’s already even before you get to the product description, that’s a lot of content. You don’t realize that’s the landing page. If you just have a price and the product name and some images, it’s just like a price list. That’s not really selling.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. That makes sense.
Brendan Tully: There’s easy ways to get that content and if you just think about it in terms of where … The customer’s landing on those inner pages because you’re ranking them or they’ve come from paid traffic, what do they need to know in order to buy? They need to know how the shipping works, how the payment works, why they should buy from you. With that content, that’s an easy way to fatten it out.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. It builds some trust and everything before trying to sell.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. You need to know who the … It’s like you just land on the page and it’s like a price list. Okay, well who are you? How much is it going to cost to ship? Is it free shipping? If you’re buying from Amazon you already know that stuff. They’ve got the trust built in, but if it’s just any e-commerce site, most of those are going to be fresh visitors who know nothing about the business. They need to be kind of-
Daryl Rosser: I get that. When I see them, I like look around different pages on their site and see how legit of a store they seem and things like that.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. One thing is just like have a note there that it’s an online store. Especially on the home page of many e-commerce websites it doesn’t specifically say it’s an online store where you can buy products and get them shipped. Just by adding that into the header or a sidebar where it displays across the site, that can make a huge difference because people know straight away, particularly if they have the option to buy from a local business or a local retailer. They might not necessarily know that it’s an online store where you can buy and products are shipped from there.
Daryl Rosser: That makes sense. What was the next step? Keyword selection, like …
Brendan Tully: I’ve got pagination before that. This is like …
Daryl Rosser: Pagination. Yeah. Pagination. Sorry. Yeah.
Brendan Tully: … super simple, am I right? Say you’ve got a product category and the product category has 50 products in it. By default most e-commerce systems have the pagination set so it only shows 12. I think Shopify is 12 or 25 products. The category is split onto two pages. You know how you have to go …
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. One, two, three, four, the next.
Brendan Tully: … click the button or the next. Yeah. The problem is most of the way for most e-commerce sites or platforms the way they do pagination, Google can’t see past that. What that means is it affects the way the link juice flows throughout the website. Anything on the second pages isn’t going to get as much link juice. They’re not going to get indexed as quickly even though they might be in the site map. It might take longer for those pages to be indexed, and the customers can’t see it. One simple thing to do is dial up, either disable or dial up the pagination, there’s like 100 products per page or just depending on the … It depends on the website, but just turn it off so there’s no pagination.
If there’s 50 products in the category, 50 products load up when someone looks at the category page. It’s good for Google, because they all get the link juice, they all get indexed quickly, but it’s also good for customers who are scrolling through because they can see all the products on one page.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Definitely.
Brendan Tully: There’s going to be a trade-off for speed, but if you got 1,000 products then that’s a different story, and it probably means that the category needs to be dialed down a little bit more if there’s 1,000 products in a category. There’s a balance there between usability, speed, and SEO but in most cases categories are going to have 100 or less products, which is still fine to load up a page of thumbnails. It’s not going to be a hugely kind of …
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. It’s not too much.
Brendan Tully: It’s not going to be a huge delay or huge slow down to load up all the products. That’s an easy way, super simple way to fix SEO problems with some sites, because pagination can be a huge deal on some systems or some platforms.
Daryl Rosser: As you said, it is easier for the user not having to scroll down and click next to try and find the product they’re looking for.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Super simple again. It’s like a 5 or 10 minute change, and can be a massive win.
Daryl Rosser: Keyword selection.
Brendan Tully: Okay, so this is important because of the way some CMSs do variations. Generally regardless of whether it’s e-commerce or not we have the rule that, and it’s what we teach in workshops as well, basically you can’t rank for something if you don’t have a page of content about it. There are ways around it with backlinks or whatever, but for the general, mainstream, normal website that isn’t doing shady stuff, if you want to rank, let’s talk about, let’s say guitars. If you want to rank for classical guitars versus electric guitars, you’re probably going to need a page of content about each one.
The way some e-commerce CMSs do variations, they’ll have one product page for say like blue, black, pink electric guitars and it’s a variation with a dropdown, so it’s a single page trying to rank for three different terms, so blue electric guitars, black electric guitars, pink electric guitars. The variations are kind of hurting the SEO. It really comes back to knowing what keywords you want to rank for and making sure you have a page for each one. You need to look at the way the variations work and make sure they’re not road blocking the SEO, but also it’s important for category pages.
Category pages are a way to rank for kind of middle of the road. They’re not head terms and they’re not long tail terms. They’re kind of middle of the road terms. It’s important to look at the way the category structure is set out for client websites.
Sometimes you’ll need to add in categories for manufacturers as well as types of products, so you might have to add in, so in the guitars’ example you might have to add in depending on how customers search, a manufacturer category for each brand you stock, and you might have to add in a type of guitar as well. It’s important that you run by the rule if there’s no page for it, you can’t rank for it, so you need to have a good matchup between keywords and pages. You really can’t have one page ranking for two very opposite or very different keywords. It’s just not going to work.
It’s not the way Google works, and it’s really not the way buyers work either. Someone searching for classic guitars doesn’t want to see a page about electric guitars basically, so if you align the website with how buyers and customers are searching, then you’ll rank higher. Google likes it. Customers like it, so overall you have a net win. It’s usually not a big deal. Adding a category page for each manufacturer is a really simple win. It’s really simple and then all of a sudden you get this free traffic because before they didn’t have them, so they wouldn’t rank for those, or they might rank by accident or whatever.
Daryl Rosser: I guess that’s where the e-commerce optimization comes in, rather than e-commerce SEO because you’re creating categories, you’re moving around products and stuff like that.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. I mean it’s hard to do the SEO without playing with the content a little bit, so that’s why it’s hard. If you pigeonhole yourself just into SEO, then it doesn’t give you the opportunity to sort these things out that sit alongside SEO or they impact SEO.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Absolutely. Okay. We kind of covered the next point already, AdWords and Google Shopping. We already covered massively important to make sure you’re doing that.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. At least test it. Like I say to clients if you have a client that’s hesitant about paying for traffic, and a lot of them are because they think SEO’s free, just get them to … Just say, “Look, we need a test budget of $1,000 a month. We’ll run it for two months and we’ll see what happens. Worst case scenario we know it doesn’t work or we break even. Best case scenario we’re making … we have a new traffic source that makes a lot of money, and we have all this intelligence we can use for SEO.”
Daryl Rosser: Presume you’re taking on decent clients, a $2,000 test budget, it’s okay. They should be fine with that.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. If they can’t afford 1,000 or $2,000 for paid traffic then they might not be like a high enough. They might not be at a level that they’re commercial enough to afford you at all.
Daryl Rosser: Backlinks, so that’s interesting.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. We kind of talked about that as well with the video SEO, so making video content from description and images is really easy, or downloading manufacturer videos for the product. Then using Zapier, like we talked about with the Zendesk.
You can use Zapier to push around links for those videos as well, so they … The classic example we have, so we have e-commerce clients who upload regular video content. That creates a ticket in our system. It also fires a zap so it tweets that video. It puts it on Facebook if it’s appropriate, puts it on Google Plus, so we have this automation as well around with Zapier and if this, then that to push out that social sharing.
They’re not hugely powerful links, but again, because it’s so hard to get a lot of links at volume to those inner pages in a way that doesn’t take a huge amount … Like it doesn’t use huge amounts of time, like using Zapier and if this, then that can be a hugely powerful thing over a 6 or 12 month time period.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Adds up, especially if you have 500 pages as an example, like all with these links going to them.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. For example, LinkedIn is like pushes a lot of juice these days. For our local clients like having … Usually when you Google their brand name, their LinkedIn business page is usually in the third or fourth spot, so pushing content, like their LinkedIn business page acts like a Facebook business page now. You can just push content to it, and it helps it get indexed for starters, but they all act as signals to Google that these pages have authority and they should rank and whatever.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Okay. Google Places.
Brendan Tully: I always try and get Google Places even if they’re just like an e-commerce only store. There’s a few different reasons. One, brand name searches are important, so a lot of the time competitor ads will show up for brand name searches or partial match brand name searches. There’s all those review websites that are all trying to rank for brand name searches, so by having a Google Places listing it gives you an opportunity to take up a massive amount of real estate in a SERP. You’re taking up at least a third of the page, and you can push reviews to it, so it helps you stand out.
There’s going to be all those third-party review sites that are going to have reviews about you inevitably, so it gives you an opportunity to push reviews there as well and get really strong and solid around reviews, but really it’s about just taking up that real estate in the SERP. If you can do it, if there’s a way you can get a Google Places listing for the business, and I’ll show you an example of one e-commerce client that does, then absolutely do it.
Daryl Rosser: Awesome. You mentioned earlier citations, it gives you some country-specific, city-specific citations there.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. If you have a physical address, awesome. You can still get the Google Places listing without the physical address and just hide it, so just do it as a service area business, so it’s just showing up the suburb and the phone number. Brand name searches are becoming more and more valuable. For most of our local clients we’re running AdWords ads against their brand name now simply because competitors do it. They’re running ads against brand names, and just if it’s a partial match brand name it’s inevitable that competitor AdWords just trigger because it has a keyword that they’re targeting in the search that the customer has.
Daryl Rosser: Are you doing it for competitors as well?
Brendan Tully: We have tested it and it does work, but it depends on the competitor. Competitors can get really pissed off and aggressive about it, so it’s kind of like you don’t want to bait competitors. We have done it for some of our local clients. We have a plumber who wanted to advertise against competitors and it worked and it was relatively profitable, but generally I don’t …
I try and guide clients away from doing shady shit basically, because if they want to be long term and they want to be commercial over the long term then ultimately it’s going to bite them on the arse, and if something hurts them, then that’s potentially an opportunity where they can’t afford to pay us. I try and not do too much dodgy stuff. I kind of learned my lesson over time.
Daryl Rosser: Fair enough. Speed. You’ve shared some good nuggets and tips on this in the group before.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. We do a lot of speed stuff particularly we have a whole service dedicated to WordPress, fixing WordPress speed stuff. I’m an IT guy, so my background’s in networks and IT, so I know a lot about the underlying bits around networks and website speed. One really easy win particularly, so most e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are usually hosted out of the US.
That’s no good if you’re in the UK or Australia, or your customer base is elsewhere. The site’s actually going to go relatively slow, so you might get one or two second load time. If you use tools.pingdom.com it’ll tell you the speed from different physical locations.
If you test the speed from the US, it’s going to be fast. If you test it from Australia or the UK or somewhere else it might be a five second load time. More and more now even if they’re on a cloud platform, we’ll put Cloudflare in place, so that’ll speed it up because they do web acceleration. Even the free plan will speed it up a lot. They do web acceleration.
They have a content delivery network. It also speeds up the DNS hosting which most people don’t think about, so if you’re on shitty DNS hosting that can add half a second of load time to the website, because of the time it takes to do those DNS lookups, so Cloudflare has really fast DNS. They have what’s called any cast DNS, which is like a content delivery network for DNS lookups.
Even just moving the DNS there without using any of their acceleration features can speed up the website if it’s on a shitty DNS provider. For most of the clients we’ll try and put them on the free Cloudflare plan. For bigger sites that are image-heavy then we put them on the paid plan, because the main difference between the paid and the free plan is the paid plan does image compression on the fly, so it does like a WP Smush type image compression, so that’s really … It also resizes the images for mobiles, so if they have a lot of images or a lot of products, or a huge amount of traffic then that $20 a month plan can be worth it.
We also use it for Volusion. We have a lot of, well, not a lot, but a handful of clients on Volusion, and Volusion have a really shitty, low traffic limit, 75 gig, so we had clients getting 3 and $400 a month traffic bills.
Daryl Rosser: Yikes.
Brendan Tully: We switched to them to the paid Cloudflare platform for 20 bucks a month, and now the bills are like 10, to 20, $30 dollars on a busy month, because Cloudflare is absorbing most of the traffic and serving it from their content delivery network. It can be a useful tool in that way as well if you’re getting massive traffic bills.
Daryl Rosser: That’s an awesome tip for someone that has a client on Volusion.
Brendan Tully: Yeah.
Daryl Rosser: Final point, I’m sure you could probably think of more, but we’ve been going quite a while anyway. You mentioned a few of these earlier, so easy conversion points.
Brendan Tully: If people think about conversion optimization and they’re like, “Oh, it’s like changing button colors,” and all that sort of shit. It can be, but there’s also big, broad brush wins that are really simple and you don’t have to go that detailed. Super easy conversion stuff, live chat, like just testing a lot of e-commerce sites or even local sites don’t have live chat, so just even like some clients are like really hesitant to do it.
Daryl Rosser: That’s what I was going to ask. Would a client be happy with that?
Brendan Tully: Yeah, so just say, “Look, let’s test it for 30 days.” Just do a trial and if you learn one good thing from live chat, like their shipping rates suck or no one can find shipping, and you can fix that on the website like to make shipping more apparent, or like … Even we get things like the checkout’s broken half the time, which if you can just run it for 30 days as a trial even, you might get one insight that’s going to boost conversion. Really simple, and long term live chat has become the new phone. People use live chat instead of calling now, so you can-
Daryl Rosser: Especially younger people like me, like I won’t phone them. If there’s live chat, I’ll speak to them. I’m not going to call them. I just go to another company.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Absolutely. One live chat really that we switched to for us and a couple of clients recently is Drift. It’s really good. Integrates with Slack as well, so it just-
Daryl Rosser: I’ve seen them. Yeah. Looks cool.
Brendan Tully: It’s awesome, because we don’t have to use any extra apps on the backend, and like … One of my team is in the live chat and so am I, and I can get the live chats on the go on my phone, and because it’s Slack it’s super reliable and everything else. Really like that. Next one, an abandon cart email. Most people do this wrong, so they either don’t have abandon cart emails, or they just send an automatic discount which is really stupid because half the time that’s not why the customer left. If you change the abandon cart … I’ll give you a link to the template we use.
If you just change the abandon cart email to ask them if they need, or even just the first email in the sequence to ask them if they need any help, why they didn’t checkout and just send it from a personal address that could make a huge …
Daryl Rosser: Make it look like a real personal email.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Say for you it just has Daryl as the sender address, and it’s just your email and you say, “Hey, saw you were on the website, put together a cart but didn’t checkout. Wondering if I can offer any help or what went wrong. Just hit reply and let me know.” It has your email signature.
Again, like the live chat, if you get one good insight from that, like that can like … You can fix the website and stop that from happening again, that can be huge for long term conversion rates. It might be like, again, you’ve just got PayPal as a payment option and half your customer base thinks they need to have a PayPal account, so they’re like, “Well, I don’t have PayPal. I can’t buy.” They go elsewhere. That’s a very common one.
Daryl Rosser: How exactly do you get their email to send them that? Is that existing newsletter subscribers or do they put it in mid checkout or what?
Brendan Tully: Their system has to support abandon cart emails, so you’ll need … For some systems it’s built in, like Shopify it’s built in or there’s third-party apps or plugins that do it. Typically it’ll need to be a fairly modern CMS and it’s going to work better if the email address is at the start of the checkout process as opposed to halfway through it. The system does have to support it.
Daryl Rosser: Makes sense.
Brendan Tully: I’ll give you some more links on that as well, and a template that people can just copy and paste. Then the third one on the list is Lucky Orange analytics
We used to use Crazy Egg. We still use it a lot. We use Crazy Egg for heat maps to see what people are clicking on the website, but we also use Lucky Orange. They all have stupid names, but Lucky Orange it shows you even on the trial, so it has a free trial for 14 days or something, but it will show you videos of people on the website, so I think you get 100 or 200 videos on the free trial, and again, you can watch like-
Daryl Rosser: You can see how they use it.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. You can see the mouse movements. You can see what they’re doing and clicking around, and you can, if you watch, just let it run for whatever the trial is 14 or 30 days, and then just sit down for half an hour and just watch the videos of what they’re doing.
Guaranteed you’ll see a pattern on what their whole checkout flow is and the pages that they keep coming back to. Again, if you learn one little tweak you can make to the website, change it for everybody, then again you win. Really simple stuff, and probably the other one is just go through the customer’s checkout and go through all like every conversion point they have.
For local businesses one of the first things we do is go and send an inquiry on the checkout form, because half the time the checkout form doesn’t go … The contact form doesn’t go anywhere. It’s going to an email address of someone who’s left the business, and they’re like … I had one guy, and I’m like, “Dude, you’ve got three months’ of inquiries here you haven’t answered.” He didn’t even know.
Daryl Rosser: I’ve had clients like that, like they say haven’t had an inquiries for a month, and you look at it, it’s the wrong email or something basic like that.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Just going through the checkout and getting a feel for it, like it might be broken or it might just be long and just clunky or something like that. You might find easy things to fix there as well, but I guess the point is there’s heaps of low-hanging fruit conversion stuff. You don’t have to get into the really complex changing button colors, A/B split testing stuff to find these big wins, I guess.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. Get the absolute basics done first, like they say opt-in pages and stuff, like the headline and stuff like that is the main thing. To change button colors and stuff is like a last resort.
Brendan Tully: Yeah, just like really fine detail stuff that doesn’t really matter that much if you got the other stuff sorted.
Daryl Rosser: Absolutely. I guess, again, that’s why it comes down to you being like a e-commerce expert, like advising them on all there is to e-commerce rather than just doing SEO, because conversion is just as important as SEO, in fact, you could say it’s more important in that if they don’t have the conversion rate then it doesn’t matter how good your SEO is.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. If you’re doing client SEO, they don’t really give a shit if they’re ranking in it, but they’re not making any more money. Ultimately if you want to get paid long term doing client work, they need to make money out of what you’re doing. There’s not, I mean SEO’s super technical anyway, so all this stuff isn’t really … There might be new things you need to learn, but it’s not like a total universe change. It’s just more of the same kind of thing. Just like changing that little bit of a perspective shift can like, as a business doing client SEO, it can make a huge difference to your bottom line, and then if you’re listening to this and you have an e-commerce site, these things all make you money as well.
So many people are focused on just more traffic, but hang on, you make these tiny little changes, like you can get massive conversion wins too.
Daryl Rosser: Absolutely. We’re going like an hour now, so let’s wrap it up. Couple of final questions. If someone’s in our SEO space, so they’re in SEO themselves, they’re doing clients or anything like that, can you give some words of wisdom to wrap up the episode?
Brendan Tully: Probably two things is focus on … Don’t just think about selling the client in the first instance. Think about the lifetime value of the client, so as someone who … We do client work, so I’m always thinking about the lifetime value of that client versus the work we have to do. I think I made a post recently in the Facebook group that a $500 a month client that sticks with you for five years in many ways is much better than a $5,000 a month client that pisses you off, that calls you up all the time, that’s leaving messages and ultimately they only stay for a few months.
Whatever you’re doing with clients always think about it in terms of the lifetime value of them being your client and the services you can offer around that, like hosting was one way that we’ve massively boost the lifetime value particularly of the low-end local clients we have. Then the other thing is to think about your client’s customer lifetime value. If the lifetime value of their customers is really low then it’s going to be hard to make that arrangement work, you selling them services, because they’re not going to be able to make money. They’re trying to make money off what you’re doing basically.
Whereas if you take on a dentist’s or someone, the lifetime value of one of their patients is really high. It could be like 5 or 10 grand or more, so the numbers make sense for them to pay you 1,000 or $2,000 a month to get those good customers. I think that’s something in the SEO space a lot of people don’t think about is the lifetime value of what they’re doing, especially in relation to the amount of work involved.
Daryl Rosser: Yeah. That’s great advice, especially with the client stuff, like one thing that’s pretty important is to figure out which services and products bring that better lifetime value for back to your client.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Especially for client stuff is like you can go after the high-end, high-dollar stuff, but if that’s a nightmare, if they’re nightmare clients to deal with, then that’s not going to be a fun experience. That’s like the balancing act with the client SEO is to do it so it’s profitable. Affiliate SEO is so attractive because it’s money on autopilot, but client SEO can be the same if you have good client selection.
Daryl Rosser: That’s a whole different podcast.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. Absolutely.
Daryl Rosser: Where can people find you if they want to reach out to you or check out your site or pay for your services or anything?
Brendan Tully: I’ll give you some examples to put in the show notes so people can see. Then I have a seven day, so I have a bigger e-commerce consulting product that’s like we sell it to the low-end clients who can’t afford one-on-one consulting. There’s a seven-day course variation of that, that I think has five or six modules in it. I think it talks through a couple of these points, but if they go to paretoecommerce.com, so P-A-R-E-T-O ecommerce.com.
Daryl Rosser: I’ll put a link below as well.
Brendan Tully: Yeah. They can get that seven-day course. I think it goes into some of these in way more detail as well. There’s also I’ll give you a link to there’s a YouTube video of a workshop I did in Chiang Mai on e-commerce marketing and optimization that goes into this in more detail as well, so I’ll give you a link to that too.
Daryl Rosser: Awesome.
Brendan Tully: Cool.
Daryl Rosser: All right, man. Thanks for coming on. This has been fun. Got a lot of value of out of that.
Brendan Tully: Awesome. Thanks for having me.
Daryl Rosser: All right.
Brendan Tully: Sweet.
Daryl Rosser: Hope you guys enjoyed the episodes, and I’ll see you guys next week.