Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Jeff Oxford, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Jeff is an expert e-commerce SEO.

He has also just launched which is a DIY link building tool (like Pitchbox but built for solo users instead of larger outreach teams).

Jeff has written for publications like Forbes, Infusionsoft, and SEJ, and have spoken at ECF Live and the IRCE (world’s largest eCommerce conference) a few times.

If you have questions related to e-commerce SEO, agency growth, and SaaS, please feel free to pick his brain.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

How much time do you spend on category pages vs products?

Most of the time goes towards the category pages.

We usually apply the 80/20 rule to product pages and just focus on the 10-20% of product pages that bring in 80-90% of the traffic and revenue.

However there are some ecommerce sites with smaller catalogs (less than 20 products) where most of my focus goes towards products.

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Do you think schema helps with ecommerce?

It definitely helps with click-through rates which can bring you more traffic for the same ranking position.

But I don’t believe it’s a direct ranking factor.

However, as your products CTR increases, you’ll likely also see an increase in rankings.

So there is an indirect ranking factor at play.

I just got a potential client in the firearm industry and have a question. What are some SEO tips you can provide for the industries which can’t participate in paid ads?

I’ve had clients in the firearm industry.

It can definitely be a challenge since SEO is one of the few viable online marketing channels for firearm related websites which leads to increased competition in SEO.

On-page SEO is pretty much the same, but the biggest challenge is usually with link building since there’s a lot of websites out there that aren’t as likely to link to a firearm related website.

So for that, you probably want to focus on websites specifically related to firearms, hunting, etc.

Here’s a pro tip for you guys: Create content around gun control.

It’s a super controversial topic and you’ll end up getting links from both sides (those who are for it and those who oppose it).

This also opens the door to pitch journalists at sites like Huffington Post, Fox, etc that write about gun control in the past.

What % of ‘direct’ visitors in Google Analytics can be attributed to brand and to SEO for an e-commerce company?

It varies per websites. Sometimes if you play around with Google Analytics’s multi attribution reports you can get some insight on to where direct revenue actually came from.

By default, Google Analytics attributes the revenue to the last interaction.

But you can experiment with other attribution models like first click interaction to see who revenue is attributed differently.

Can you tell me some important On page Seo tips for a shopify website with 60-70 products?

With only 60-70 products, internal linking can be make a huge impact and it shouldn’t be too hard to link to all the products within 1 or 2 clicks.

So I’d crawl the website with something like Screaming Frog and make sure all product pages are within 2 clicks from the homepage (with the most important products linked to from the homepage).

I’d also do some keyword research to see which products have the most opportunity and build links to them.

Lastly, with only 60-70 products it’s much easier to have unique content on your product pages.

So try to have as much unique content as possible on your product pages (especially the ones that are the most popular).

Which ecommerce optimizations brought unexpected gains, and made it to your general checklist for examination of new clients’ shops?

1. Restructure category pages to be more like a hub than just a long list of products:

2. Use TF-IDF tools like to incorporate other related keywords into your content.

3. eCommerce sites are notorious for having a bunch of duplicate URLs out of the box (I’m looking at you Magento).

Eliminate as many of these “dead weight” pages possible as well as products that have poor engagement and sales. Quality over quantity wins.

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4. Use Ahrefs/Moz to find pages with the most backlinks and add internal links from those pages to your most important category and product pages.

5. Include unique selling points in meta descriptions for higher CTR and more traffic

Here’s my presentation I recently did of some of the most important optimizations you should make for an eCommerce site:…/ecommerce-seo-presentation..

Regarding Shopify, would you suggest a checklist for a small store? Around 60-90 products and variations (colors, sizes). Any steps to do with Google, Bing and other engines?

With so many colors and sizes I would recommend doing some keyword research with Ahrefs or even to see how people are searching for your products.

If there are a lot of searches for colors and sizes, then you may want to consider having them as separate product pages.

Otherwise you might want to consolidate them into a single product page with a drop down menu to select color, size, etc.

The good news is that you’re on Shopify which from my experience is the most SEO friendly platforms out there.

So you can focus more on optimization, content creation, and link building without needing to spend much time on technical SEO and

Anyways, here’s a checklist I created about a month ago on the top 20 actionable ways to improve any eCommerce website (including Shopify)…/ecommerce-seo-presentation…

It’s not a complete checklist but has a lot of actionable tips to help you start making improvements on your rankings and traffic.

When you started to scale what was the largest hurdle you overcame? What other “potholes” can you give insight on to… Ummm miss them? We have the SEO handled all good there… More the unexpected challenges you ran into and how you overcame them.

For me the most difficult part of scaling an agency was learning to let go and trust others.

I always had the philosophy that if I wanted something done right I should do it myself.

I wasn’t taking the time to explain how to do things but rather ended up just doing a lot of work myself.

As you can imagine this isn’t very scalable and resulted in me working many more hours than I would’ve liked.

So I took some time to turn almost everything I did into it’s own Google Doc with a step-by-step process.

This definitely helped me scale much faster and I didn’t have to spend as much time QAing deliverables.

Also, I noticed that it’s easy to team members to get into the mindset of just asking you for answers instead of thinking for themselves.

So whenever a team member comes to me asking for help.

I always first ask them “well what do you think we should do” just to get them in the mindset of solving problems and looking for solutions.

After doing this for a few months I found I received less and less questions from the team and they were better at coming up with solutions.

Another big thing that made a big difference for us was actually taking client selection into consideration and not just saying yes to everyone.

saw patterns that clients that ask for a lot of things during the sales process also ask for a lot of things when we’re working together and end up taking 2x to 4x more time.

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Whenever we have a feeling a client could be overly demanding and not the best fit, we just say no.

It’s hard to turn down $X,XXX per month but you end up saving it in the long term because you and your team aren’t spending all your time on 1 client.

How would GA know “when” a user exited a web page after seeing page A and page B for around 10 mins but page C for around 5 mins?

GA might not know exactly when a user exited a page, but I’m sure Google does.

Google owns Chrome and Android so they have plenty of data on how people are interacting with all websites across the web.

And if you read their privacy policies it basically says they can use that data how ever they’d like.

What are the 5 first thing you do to an e-commerce which low-to-none SEO effort?

1. For new websites the biggest focus is on link building since it’s going to be very hard to compete if all their competitors have much stronger link profiles.

2. But on-page is still important and I always do keyword research to see what products and category pages their customers are searching for to make sure the website has all the necessary pages.

3. You’ll also want to optimize those high priority category and product pages for their target keywords.

Just make sure the target keywords aren’t very competitive since it’s a newer website.

4. Then make sure you have a good site structure so all the most important category and product pages are easily accessible by search engines.

5. Lastly, I would do a technical SEO audit to make sure there are no technical issues that could negatively affect rankings, crawling, and indexing.

(1) If you were to turn back time, with the knowledge you have now, how would you have started billing eCommerce clients for marketing/SEO campaigns (2) If you were to turn back time, with the same #hottubtimemachine technology in your hands <wink>, and knowing what you know today, what are the top 3-5 things you’d do the same or do differently?

1) I actually don’t think I’d change how I bill eCommerce clients.

I’ve always used a monthly retainer model and it’s worked very well for both me and the clients I work with.

2) 3-5 years ago most people weren’t as savvy with link building as they are now.

There weren’t as much information about how to get backlinks with content marketing / skyscraper method and fewer people were focused on guest posting.

So if I could go back in time, I would focus more on link building since it was a lot easier and less competitive.

As for things I’d do differently, before I used to focus on just getting links from high authority sites (huffpo, NYT, etc)

Whereas now I’ve seen a much bigger impact from high authority sites that are also relevant and niche specific.

So I’d probably focus more sites with both high authority and high relevancy.