02:38 – The typical online shopping scenario. This is what usually happens when you search a product.
04:01 – Where many e-commerce stores are challenged. Running an online store is tougher than you might think.
07:26 – Why James didn’t go into e-commerce. When he saw what was involved…
08:43 – Don’t give up just yet. Yes, you can beat Amazon.
10:44 – Is it worth all the effort? It sounds like hard work, but…
13:36 – You do need to have a team. This is not a one-man undertaking.
14:43 – The kind of results Gert has gotten. Five-thousand leads, anyone?
17:02 – How do you know it’s working? Expect to see THIS.
18:25 – An action plan to outrank Amazon. This is the strategy…
SEO Leverage’s Gert Mellak is a regular on the show, and for good reason. People love how he sorts out their SEO concerns and gets them great results for their business. His last appearance was on generating leads from SEO, a must-listen for anyone selling anything online and getting ephemeral results from ads.
SEO versus Amazon
Today’s episode is about beating Amazon on Google, using SEO. Now what exactly does this mean?
Many ecommerce people don’t want to even go into SEO, because whatever product they type into Google, Amazon is there. But there are things you can do much better than Amazon, Gert says, when you have a smaller, six, seven-figure store.
The typical online shopping scenario
The very day of this recording, says James, he ran a search for something, a rather unusual item. He found it on eBay, Amazon and on some private stores. And what he did notice, searching for the product name, was that all of the ecommerce stores had the exact same description, specs, and dimensions.
It’d be virtually impossible for them to rank well for that, he thought, and he actually ended up buying from Amazon, which was the top search result. Besides, with Amazon, he was on Prime, and would get the item the next day or the day after. They also had a lot of reviews and in-depth information, extra screenshots and such.
Why, asks James, are ecommerce stores just punching out the same specs? Do they get it off a feed, or are they just copying from the manufacturer?
Where many ecommerce stores are challenged
Having worked with ecommerce stores, and with one store in particular for 16 years straight, Gert can tell you, running an online store is very, very hard. People have no idea, he says, what it means to get all your products together, get all your titles and descriptions together, all the data.
Very often, filters only work if the data is structured in a database and the store software can fetch it properly. Some filters might occur twice because different people on your team named them differently. It’s a mess.
Then imagine you have 500 products. The store Gert helped for 16 years ended with 70,000 products. A nightmare. Can you really expect to write 70,000 different pieces of copy? And copy about, say, a light bulb, an LED component?
Boring. James grants that.
Ultimately, says Gert, people pretty much take the manufacturer feed and figure someone might come across it. They may not get the best rankings, but it’s up there.
James sees it happen with surf supply stores. Really, he says, if you’ve ridden the thing, or owned it, or know more about it, embellish it, flavor it up. If he had a store with 70,000 products, one of the first things he’d do is get someone to identify the bestselling four percent and give them descriptions that would stand out.
Would Gert say that’s worth doing for the right products?
“What’s it worth to rank for something that’s going to be outdated next month?”
Absolutely. And he’s with James – first you determine what you really need to rank for. And often, depending on the niche, products may change all the time. What’s it worth to rank for something that’s going to be outdated next month? So as James said, zoom in on the four percent, then try to group up the rest. And you then need to make a conscious decision of products you don’t need to rank for unless someone searches for a specific ISBN code of a book, or whatever.
Why James didn’t go into ecommerce
One of the things that turned James off ecommerce marketing was working at Mercedes-Benz, where they would have tens of millions of dollars’ worth of parts sitting on metal shelves in a warehouse. They’d become obsolete, get lost, get mislabeled, and it was hard to even store them and to know what you had cataloged.
And you had to continually audit them. There was this huge cost of having a lot of things. He imagines a lot of people could do an inventory audit, run an obsolescence program to get rid of old stuff and stop wasting time and energy on things that will never sell.
Don’t give up just yet
So suppose you do take on the challenge of outranking Amazon. You might have to hire someone, put in some time and effort, scrutinize where you should direct the extra work. What next?
“You want to have an overall strategy.”
You want to have an overall strategy, says Gert. People very often rely on paid ads, in the last quarter of the year the price of paid advertising increases. This is often when people decide they don’t want to rely on paid ads alone.
So when you have your grouping and your focus, you really need to line up a team to work on things consistently. Very often, Gert and his team work directly with a client’s team. They lay out the strategy and ask for the help they need determining the most important products, whether they have the highest margins, or are items that must sell because of stock, etc.
Then they do a lot of research, a lot of competitive research. They see how they can really provide a better user experience. One client of theirs doubled revenue, just because they added content to pages where they wouldn’t even add content. Collection pages can really increase in value, just by adding specific content that is informative and gives Google more context.
“If you think about it, an e-commerce store is just a list of things.”
Because if you think about it, an ecommerce store is just a list of things. If a store has 50,000 products, they’ll have 10,000 pages that look pretty much the same. It’s hard for a machine to figure that out.
Is it worth all the effort?
What if someone decided it was hard work, and opted to list on Amazon instead? Or what if they’d tried an agency, and didn’t get the results they needed? What would make it different?
Gert thinks what makes the difference is someone who will try to line up what actually matters, in a short period of time, and help you in a hand-holding way through the process.
And you need to reevaluate it, he says. It’s not enough to sign a one-year contract. He’s heard some agencies do contracts. They never have.
Sometimes, says James, agencies who want a long-term contract are not confident they can get a result, so they’d rather just make sure they get paid.
Exactly, says Gert. They’ve never done contracts. Instead, they have everybody on a monthly renewing agreement.
James does the same. You can hire him for a month and decide from there if you like it. It puts the focus on him to help get people a result.
Gert himself started on a month with SuperFastBusiness, years ago, and decided to stick around. Now he and James have a business partnership. And interestingly, the average SuperFastBusiness member now clocks over 50 months in the community.
What James likes about Gert is he cares about the customers. And he gets results, which James sees in private coaching threads. SEOLeverage.com is the secret weapon of a lot of the people in James’s space. And Gert works for some big players, names that James’s audience would recognize.
You do need to have a team
James and Gert have said it before – you need a team to do the work on your side. James and his team work with Gert on their SEO. Gert is plugged into their Slack, he gives quick Loom videos on what to do, and James’s team carry it out.
They work on site speed when Gert says it’s needed. They work on updating content and pruning old posts. These are things that need active management.
It is important, says Gert. He’s actually declined people from his program because he could see they were a one-person show, and it wasn’t going to happen. He knew from experience that in a few months they’d have 25 tasks that hadn’t been touched.
The kind of results Gert has gotten
The clients that get the best results – and Gert has one that gets 5000 leads a month – have several assistants doing what’s needed.
5000 leads a month?
Yes, opt-in links, not requests for proposals. The guy is crazy, says Gert. Their average client might get a few hundred, or a thousand. But the best clients are those who implement what Gert suggests in a couple of weeks.
Two weeks is a rhythm that works. It gives clients time to ask questions and time to implement. And it gives Gert and his team time to check if things were done correctly, and to track the results a few weeks later.
They’re probably not the best friend, Gert jokes, because they constantly remind their customers of what they might not have been focusing on. But once people see results, and they see hundreds of leads coming in, or they see organic sales coming in, the game changes completely.
And they’re talking predominantly about a Shopify platform, asks James?
These days, says Gert. Absolutely. Whoever doesn’t have Shopify is probably considering migrating to Shopify.
Except for Jeff Bezos, says James.
Probably, Gert assents.
How do you know it’s working?
Now what does the success path look like? What sort of things can you expect to see?
Certain collections, certain categories get much more traction, says Gert. You suddenly see organic sales coming in, and when you log into your Shopify, it will tell you where the sale comes from. And if you get a few hundred dollars of sale, and it’s suddenly organic, this can really be motivating.
Content does rank on an ecommerce store. This is important for people to know. You can have a list of products, but nobody thinks of actually describing them and picking up people at a much higher stage of the sales funnel than when they are absolutely ready to purchase. And this is a big step.
Gert is having great success with one client, whose content efforts they direct. They have someone write their content based on Gert’s instructions, and this is outranking a lot of key players in their industry.
They just describe what a product is doing. The people might not even need the product, they just have questions about it. And maybe three months down the road, a visitor that got exposed to your brand suddenly remembers you and makes a purchase, or you target them with paid ads.
“There’s a very good collaboration between SEO and paid ads.”
There’s a very good collaboration between SEO and paid ads as well. If you just get the traffic for free and you retarget those people, you can really get them to take action at the right moment.
An action plan to outrank Amazon
So let’s break it down, says James. Like, chunk it into a sort of action guide. We want to outrank Amazon, we’ve got a Shopify store, go.
Shopify comes with a series of things that need to be fixed when it comes to SEO, says Gert. Filters are one of those things, multiple versions of how to link to a product are another thing. So usually, when a Shopify site comes in, they run an ecommerce SEO audit, check out what needs to be fixed, what has been fixed already, and what are potential issues. Some Shopify apps work better than others for filters, for example, in terms of what kind of URLs they generate, etc.
A lot of technical stuff needs to be assessed. And then they line up a prioritized list of action steps based on effort and impact, so people know what to focus on. Once those things are fixed, they try to find the priorities as soon as possible, similar as with James’s site, where, with almost 900 podcast episodes, they need focus.
As Gert has often talked about, Google doesn’t want to troll the whole site all the time, so we have to present to them the bits that are better. James would love to go through his site, find the absolute pinnacle of content, and stick it on a new site and start again, one day.
That’s when you get the biggest gain from bringing in an expert, says James. Like Gert, who came in and said, You got all this stuff here. If you put this over here, you get rid of that and you link these together, you get some magic. Gert is James’s secret not so secret weapon.
Now go do this
If someone listening to this has a Shopify store, and they’re not happy with the SEO results they’ve been getting, what can they do?
Absolutely, they can head over to SEOLeverage.com, and contact Gert and his team. They can talk about potential opportunities for their website, and Gert can determine, can they help? Is he confident they can get results? Do they have to set up the team to make it happen? Or are they better off sticking with paid ads alone? That’s fine as well.
Gert loves talking to people and analyzing sites. So get in touch.
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Good SEO is powerful. Look up Gert and his team at SEOLeverage.com
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