An exciting e-commerce furniture store engaged us to carry an ambitious SEO campaign for their Shopify store. The goal was to catch up and compete with some massive existing brands.
In short, below is how we did, and we have a fully-fleshed out case study (warts and all!) below the stats where you can find out what we did to achieve these results, and how they could have been improved even further!
Yukari Services Used
E-COMMERCE FURNITURE STORE SEO CAMPAIGN: SHORT SUMMARY
The Company: A young, cool furniture ecommerce store startup. Their mission was to be the “GymShark” of this particular piece of furniture space. Appealing to the younger generation with more modern designs, marketing and pricing.
The company exists in the same space as huge furniture retailers like Wayfair, Next, Ikea and other large retailers who focus on this specific piece of furniture (who I won’t reveal to preserve the client’s privacy and niche).
Most of their marketing before engaging with us was brand-focussed PR with a mix of paid social and search engine marketing. Their goal was to increase their organic visibility and drive sales from non-branded organic search queries in this hugely competitive industry.
Client Struggle: The biggest struggle was the huge head start that their competitors had over them. Their domain age and authority was low (around the DA10 mark).
Paid advertising was getting more expensive (as it tends to do year on year) and was eating into their profits.
- Low authority
- A very young site compared to Wayfair, Next, Ikea and other competitors
- A highly competitive niche dominated by authority sites
- Most sales were coming through PPC or social, with costs rising every year and eating into ROI
- Extremely thin blog content which was very poorly optimized for organic search (on-page SEO)
- Technical Issues; the site was S-L-O-W due to insistence on huge videos
- Very thin product category pages and product pages (title, product carousels…and that was it.)
- 978% year on year increase in organic revenue over a 12 month campaign (£749k to £8.08 million)
- +204.9% increase in Top 10 keywords ranked over full 16 month campaign (from 244 to 744)
- 23% year on year increase in organic sessions in 12 month campaign (727k organic sessions to 894k organic sessions)
- 114% increase in non-branded keyword clicks in Google Search Console in only 4 months (84092 clicks vs 39331)
- Ranked Top 5 for their 4-letter “dream” keyword and its plural form (500k+ combined monthly search volume)
Yukari Services Used to Achieve Results:
- High Authority Monthly Guest posts (mixture of DA/DR 20, DA/DR 30, DA/DR 40, DA/DR 50+ links)
- Niche Edits/Link Inserts (Monthly)
- On-Page SEO Audits and Implementation (Monthly)
- Technical SEO Audit & Implementation (service not available at the moment – coming soon)
The Client’s Situation
Although organic traffic was coming to the site, much of it was from the brand marketing that they’d been doing with paid ads, paid social media, organic social media and small PR campaigns.
Organic revenue made up a very small portion of their sales (Around £775k organic revenue in the year we started the campaign).
The site was the new (cool) kid on the block, so hadn’t gained much authority at that point.
Their domain was in the ballpark of DA10-14 (MOZ domain authority) if I remember correctly when we started.
This wasn’t a patch on the authority of the behemoths they were up against; the likes of IKEA, Wayfair, Next, Made, and other companies who were dominating the space on Google.
The majority of traffic and sales was coming through paid social, paid search and brand awareness, but it was getting more and more expensive (as PPC ads tends to do) and eating into their ROI.
The client had a mission to become the “GymShark” of this specific furniture.
Young, cool and daring to be different, with attractive pricing to match.
Their target market was customers in their 20’s-40’s. Essex mums and the “Made in Chelsea” wannabe type of customer profile.
For our friends across the pond, think Jersey Shore.
They had a few problems with their website, including:
- Technical issues: issues with canonicals (which are/were common when using Shopify as a CMS), too many pages/discontinued products leading to bloat and crawlability issues, slow site speed, even using bit.ly links as internal links!
- Thin content: this affected every area of the site from category/product pages, all the way through to blogs.
- Poor authority: as discussed, they were a young site (around 2-3 years old) and hadn’t had time to build authority, especially compared to their competition. A powerful link campaign was needed.
We laid out our plan for gaining ground on the competition and set expectations for how fast (or how long it would take is more accurate in this case).
We got buy-in for our plan which, in simple terms, the following:
- Fix the major technical issues which were plaguing the site
- On-page SEO – there were plenty of quick wins I saw for some juicy keywords, simply by fleshing out the content on some of their category and product pages and optimizing on page signals
- Backlink Campaign – they had a small budget but this was important to gain ground on the competition. We settled on 3-4 links a month with a 50/50 split of guest posts and niche edits/link insertions
Things We Didn’t Get Buy-in For
We mentioned the importance of optimizing their blogs as they were mostly thin 300 word blog posts, delivering barely any value and certainly not ranking in Google.
I believe they were reposting their short social media posts on their blog.
They didn’t have much internal resources to take up this suggestion and didn’t have the budget to extend to us implementing these tasks for them, so we left this for the time being to see what we could do with only technical, on-page and off-page SEO (links).
GETTING STARTED: Our SEO Process and Solutions
The 3 Pillars – Technical SEO, On-Page and Off-Page Audits
This is the same way we approach most of our sites and client’s sites.
When you break SEO down, the tasks needing to be performed on a site usually fall into one of three buckets:
- Technical SEO
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
Sometimes they need more of one than the rest, sometimes they’ll need a combination of all three.
It’s your job (or ours if you work with us) to audit and decide how to prioritize the following three pillars needed for your site to reach maximum potential:
- Improved site performance: usability/UX, crawlability, speed and more. (Technical SEO)
- Better content: either through optimization of existing content/pages or creating new content to fill any content gaps in your topical map to make you the authority in Google’s eyes. (on-page optimisation)
- More authority (backlinks)
What We Did For Technical SEO
I worked with our dev team at the time (in-house) to fix the most important parts of their SEO.
This was a bit of a challenge as they also had an in-house dev team who seemed quite busy themselves or not sure of what we were asking them to fix, or simply had limitations on what they could fix for whatever reason (the client site being baked into other software systems etc).
We also didn’t have access to communicate with their internal development team which posed a few challenges like them deleting or completely redesigning important pages (while chopping down large chunks of important content).
Both client’s and SEO’s can attest that this is a common experience and challenge.
It’s why at Yukari, we made the decision to productize our service to exclude offering Technical SEO right off the bat (we do offer it as a productized add-on if we find a pressing need for it when doing our initial audit).
This makes both the agency and the client’s job easier.
The scope of work is much more easily laid out for both parties, leading to less miscommunication, ownership of tasks and added trust.
Towards the end of the SEO campaign, they hired a dev who I had direct contact with and she was absolutely superb.
We’d hop on calls monthly, and I’d make suggestions for things which were broken or needed optimizing and she’d get them done within a few days.
Mistakes stopped happening with the client’s internal devs due to a lack of communication (overwriting our work, implementing things before getting our advice on SEO implications etc).
She really was an A-player and an asset to the client, as well as to ourselves for helping us optimize the campaign.
NOTE TO CLIENTS: Giving your SEO direct access to a developer who is invested in helping the SEO campaign is worth its weight in gold..and she definitely was.
Some of the things our in-house team worked to fix:
- Improved pagespeed without breaking any site features (compressed images, videos, cached etc). Their mobile site was taking over 19 seconds to load before this!
- Did a broken/incorrect link check and fixed any problems. Bit.ly links were being used when they were internally linking. I believe this was due to content being copy and pasted straight from their social media.
- Checked for out of stock/discontinued product pages. Removed and redirected them to the closest category or product.
- Updated old sitemap and resubmitted to Google.
Their site was taking over 19 seconds to load before we fixed it and it was almost all due to uploaded videos – taking the size of the homepage, in particular, to 35MB! Huge.
I’ve said this before, but people write 15,000 word essays on technical SEO..LinkedIn guru’s are particularly guilty of this.
Sure, for some sites, it’s necessary to go that deep and some sites need it, e-commerce sites can especially be technical chaos, but drilling down into every technical SEO issue isn’t the best use of your time (you’ll see this client was a perfect example later).
Especially when there is no reasonable fix for whatever reason; lack of access, lack of client resources, client needing an essential website feature or function that is triggering the issue etc.
We have worked with clients who have taken a big share of clicks from HUGE competitors like Google (for Google products), Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, IKEA, Wayfair, Expedia and others..and they STILL had technical issues which we were not given access to solve or their development team didn’t get round to fixing.
Set up your website correctly from the start, or make the major technical fixes from the start of the campaign; get in and get out.
Once done with technical issues, I like to set up monitoring with something like Content King or other monitoring tools and get on with marketing activities that will move the needle.
Again, I’m not saying Technical SEO is not important. That’d make me an irresponsible and frankly, crappy SEO.
What I am saying is to pick your battles with the issues you find.
Don’t spend days or weeks on a minor technical issue which brings a poor ROI for you and your client’s time, results and money.
Take care of the big rocks.
Content, On-Page Audits & Optimisation
We didn’t build out any new blog content or optimize this client’s existing blogs.
It wasn’t something they were interested in at the time and their budget didn’t stretch far enough for us to provide this.
This was ok because we had plenty of on-page SEO tasks on existing pages to take care of, which would move the needle.
Everything from unique product descriptions, SEO page titles, adding content to category pages which were bare besides a page title and product carousels etc.
Here’s how we started the process..
Page Quality Audit and Keyword Mapping
We started the process with a page quality audit, which also allowed us to map keywords to existing pages (we mapped priority and secondary keywords to each url for what keywords the page was trying to rank for in Google).
Then we made some suggestions for optimizations if these keywords were in conflict with what the existing pages were optimized for (for example, if they were targeting a much lower volume variation of a keyword/product).
We started with auditing what some SEO’s call the “3 Kings”
- SEO Page Title
- H1 Title (and subheadings for secondary, related keywords)
We pulled down all urls into a spreadsheet using Screaming Frog and integrated this with their Google Search Console and Analytics data to see how these URL’s performed for traffic, clicks and impressions.
This helped us understand which pages to prioritize first, how to split our tasks and identified some easy wins.
We looked for:
- Pages that weren’t performing or ranking well, but had low competition on the first page of Google
- Pages that had high impressions but low clicks (usually an indication that you’re around the bottom of page 1, top of page 2 or your result isn’t getting a high CTR)
- Pages that needed more links (more on this in the section below)
We then got to work and added our suggestions for optimizing each page to our audit spreadsheet.
Once these were approved, we got to work and made the small tweaks to SEO page titles, H1 titles and subheadings.
The client’s internal team were receptive to our changes and were happy to let us make changes directly in the Shopify CMS.
They made the odd edit to our page content to wording they thought would express the voice of their brand a little better, but for the most part, this process was smooth sailing.
Deleting and Redirecting Out of Date and Discontinued Products
This audit also helped us to identify which pages weren’t generating much traffic or impressions at all.
Going through each of these URL’s with the naked eye helped us to see that many pages were still live for product ranges which were discontinued and weren’t being sold anymore.
These pages were taking up valuable crawl budget and leaving the site messy. If by chance, a user did land on the page, it wasn’t going to be a positive experience either.
We tagged these to be deleted and redirected back to their main category page.
Optimizing Category Pages
Product category pages on the site were completely bare besides a title and a product carousel underneath.
This is a big issue with most ecommerce sites.
Especially ones who don’t sell their own products. These sites tend to just copy and paste the manufacturers descriptions directly to their website.
This is somewhat understandable, since some ecom sites sell 1000’s of products and it’s a chore to manually add unique descriptions and add value to the products sold.
This leads to 100’s of different vendors all having duplicate descriptions of the same products. Who wins in these instances?
Well, it tends to be a direct shootout in the rankings between those who have the highest authority in the space.
Luckily, our client only sold their own products, so there was a huge opportunity here to optimize each product/product category page to stand out from the competition.
Some of which had 50,000 plus monthly search volumes for their keywords.
We added these to our workflow as a priority for some quick wins.
The way we approached this process was fairly simple:
- Plug the keyword into SURFER SEO’s content editor
- Compare the content vs the top 10 competitors in Google (exclude irrelevant competitors)
- Create content based on Google’s own NLP suggestions and topics it expects to see covered on these pages
- We created a short intro under the page title introducing the product category (but not so much content that it pushed the product carousel below the page – after all, visitors were here to buy furniture, not read an essay)
- We created FAQ’s underneath the content of each product category where we explained things like materials, styles, colors, sizes and delivery details for this furniture category
NOTE: There are sometimes difficulties with using Surfer SEO for ecommerce pages and how words are counted.
Most ecommerce pages are purposely thin in content because these keywords have a high buyer’s intent.
Visitors aren’t expecting to read 2000 words. They are looking to make a purchase.
You’ll need to go through the Surfer SEO phrase suggestions with a fine-toothed comb and exclude keywords like “add to cart”, or “email” or “sale” or, in our case, the piece of furniture the client was selling, which will appear multiple times on big competitor sites who are selling lots of products.
These keywords will naturally appear more often in your competitors’ pages if they sell more items on their product pages than you or your client, and due to things like “add to cart” buttons.
Use critical thinking and common sense, regardless of how many times Surfer SEO suggests it wants to see the phrase used on your page.
If you only sell five tables, and the number 1 ranked competitor sells forty, then you’re not going to stuff the word “tables” into your short description forty times. It doesn’t make sense, regardless of Surfer’s suggestions.
When we followed this common sense approach, Surfer SEO didn’t steer us far wrong and we were able to explode many of these category pages rankings, on top of adding rankings for many secondary and related keywords.
Backlink Audits & Optimisation
Backlinks and building authority were of equal priority for this client since they had a tiny amount of authority in comparison to their competitors.
This also formed a large portion of the work we did to move the needle.
Here’s what we did:
To start with, we needed a plan of action instead of building links randomly.
We added a column to the on-page audit spreadsheet we mentioned in the previous section to show how many backlinks each url had on the mini-sites.
From there we could do two things:
- See how many links our individual pages had vs the top 10 results in Google (and build links accordingly)
- Prioritize which keywords/products were drawing in the most impressions for the company, while not ranking in the top 3 positions.
- Perform an anchor text audit for each page to create a strategy that made sure we were building links with enough anchor text diversity (if you spam the same anchor text for every link you build, you risk a penalty)
We used SEM Rush for this task, but you can use whatever tool you want, whether that’s Ahrefs, Majestic or another tool that tracks links.
We spoke to the client and agreed which pages and services were their priorities, converted the best and/or made them the most money.
From there, we had a clear backlinking strategy and we could get to work on building up the sites authority to close the gap on our huge competitors.
Here’s what we did:
- Made a list of niche-relevant (furniture/interior design/home improvement) and/or general (“news”, for example) high authority sites
- Outreach campaign to contact site owners to see if they allowed guest posts or link insertions into their existing content
- If there was a cost, we started negotiation or offered a value swap (content/infographics/keyword research/something they needed)
- We added niche-edits into the mix (these links are great for clients on a budget who want more links, but have their pros and cons which we’ll explain a little further)
This process worked very well and pushed many keywords that were ranking toward the bottom of page 1 in Google, into the top 3 positions.
How many links and what type were used for this SEO campaign?
We landed 109 links in the 16 months of working on this campaign.
The links were a mixture of:
- Guest posts
- Link inserts
- Niche edits
Their authority ranges were between DR/DA 20-70+ with varying levels of traffic but we always try to land links on domains with a minimum of 500 organic visitors (according to SEMRUSH/Ahrefs).
In this campaign, we did reach out to a site owner who had an interesting proposition for us.
He had a network of “Google News approved” sites on different IP’s at an attractive introductory price, so we thought we’d give it a go and tried 6 links.
While one or two sites had a bit of traffic, most were thin and junk. The authority of the sites were super-low too (Like, DA10 or below). Lesson learned and we didn’t continue our relationship with this vendor.
But, overall. We still landed over a 100, quality links that were either niche-relevant or powerful general niche sites.
Monitoring Progress of Backlinks
After we rolled out our link building campaign.
Monitoring the effect of links can be difficult, especially if you’re making on-page changes at the same time as we were, but keeping an eye on what’s happening within the search engines for each keyword or product means you can pivot when needed to understand where your linking priorities will be for a given month.
For example, if you’ve planned to earn 10 links for a particular page that starts ranking number 1 in Google after 2 links have been earned, it doesn’t make sense to keep smashing links to that page.
Especially if you have other pages which need attention too.
A further link or two to the page to consolidate your position is generally sufficient before you should move on (you can always pivot again if necessary or start the process again once you’ve finished your first campaign).
A few things we monitored during our link campaign were:
- The performance of high volume, high converting, high value keywords during our campaign.
- If we hit our target links for a page and not much difference was made to the rankings, then could we go back and optimize the content or on-page SEO further?
- What did our competitors have that we didn’t?
Sometimes, the answer to the last question was simply that they had a much higher overall domain authority than we did, so we’d assess if this was the highest attainable position for us.
If the answer was realistically, “yes”, then we’d move on.
Sometimes, you punch well above your weight (which we did for plenty of keywords for this client) and sometimes you’re in a fight that you can’t win.
It’s important to recognize that and focus on the areas you know you can move the needle and get the client results.
Here’s how backlink velocity looked on a chart throughout our campaign:
END OF CAMPAIGN SEO RESULTS
Top 10 Keyword Ranking Progress
The furniture site started with 244 keywords in the top 10 of Google in May 2020 when we started on this campaign.
We ended the campaign around the end of June 2021 with 744 keywords in the Top 10!
324 of those keywords were in the Top 3.
That’s more than the total number of keywords in the whole top 10 when we first started.
|KEYWORDS||BEFORE – March 2020||AFTER – July 2021|
Organic Traffic and Revenue Results
Keyword position gains are meaningless if they don’t translate into meaningful traffic for the client.
Often, SEO’s target low competition, informational blogs to increase the number of keywords that rank in the top 10 or 3 of Google results.
Sometimes, if this isn’t interlinked into a proper content strategy, this can just be a vanity metric.
Although, on the flip side, a mistake I see seasoned SEO guru’s make is to call blogs and the traffic they bring “pointless” if they don’t equal sales or bring a measurable ROI.
That isn’t an opinion I subscribe to…at all.
I’ll tell you why later in this case study if you’re interested, but for now, let’s stick to the numbers.
So, what did traffic look like before and after? And what did these organic traffic gains mean for the business?
- 23% increase in organic sessions year on year at the 12 month mark.
- 978% increase in organic revenue and sales year on year in the same period.
Context – But how did a small 23% increase in organic traffic lead to 978% increase in organic sales?
This is a good question and there is some context you should know about:
- Although it was a relatively small 23% increase in organic traffic, that’s 23% of 727k visitors. So a total increase of nearly 170k organic visitors!
- If we drill further still, you’ll see we increased non-branded, buying intent keywords in Google Search Console by 114% (unfortunately, I could only find 8 months of data to compare for this on my home computer. Full data sets were left on my old agency computer.)
- A new furniture “type” was released by the client, which I quickly optimized to rank number 1 in Google above Next, Wayfair and all these other huge brands. This helped increase traffic and sales.
- They increased the pricing of their sofas by around 25-40%
Let’s dive a little deeper into each bullet point..
The second point – non-branded clicks Vs Branded
I want to start with the second point first, because this is where some cheeky SEO’s can piggyback and inflate their numbers off of client’s other marketing activities like social media, PR, TV, PPC ads etc.
If a client has been engaging in other forms of marketing to increase brand awareness, then branded clicks are definitely going to increase by default, not through your SEO efforts. (i.e. people searching the companies name on a search engine after seeing an ad and clicking through to the website from the organic results.)
But many SEO’s won’t show the split between their branded and non-branded clicks. Naughty, naughty.
I split thousands of rows of query data from Google search console into “branded” and “non-branded” queries, then added a formula to each date range to see the percentage difference in clicks…
We increased branded clicks by 114% in 4 months vs the previous 4 months from when we started. That equated to 84,092 clicks vs 39,331 clicks.
We likely achieved many more clicks in reality (due to Google privacy, you do not see the full amount of click query data in GSC as per Google guidelines.)
Some even put the number of clicks you actually see in Google Search Console at only 20-40%! Like Marcos below on the Google support forums…
Anyway, that’s just to show you that Google Search Console query click data isn’t 100% accurate (but it is accurate at the page level i.e. how many clicks an entire page received)
But what happened to branded clicks?
Branded clicks actually DECREASED by 9%. This wasn’t a hugely significant amount and I’m not sure why it did, if I’m totally honest.
The client engaged in many outside marketing activities like social media and they had started a PPC campaign at the same time we started an SEO campaign, so perhaps some branded clicks were going on their ads?
Who knows, but what you can see is that my SEO efforts had a significant impact on non-branded, buying intent keywords (we weren’t working on any blogs or informational content in this campaign) without us piggybacking off of the client’s external marketing activities.
The First Point – Increased Traffic
I wanted to address this after the non-branded clicks because it explains that although we only experienced a 23% increase in total organic traffic, the overall percentage of TOTAL traffic grew more in favor of non-branded clicks and toward queries with more buying intent.
This partially explains the huge increases in organic revenue from just a 23% increase in traffic.
The conversion rate on these added visitors would likely be much higher too, since many were arriving after doing a non-branded search with high buying intent i.e. “grey 4 seat table”
The third point – they released a new “type” of their product.
The client and I can share credit for that. They added a new page/product which gave me an extra opportunity to optimize a page/product which previously wasn’t there.
Actually, screw it, I’m going to take a big portion of the credit for it.
To rank number 1 for a new product range which had a 33.1k monthly search volume above some huge brands in just a few months?
I hope you can forgive me if I park my humility to the side, just on this one occasion 😉
The Final point – product price increases
I’ve always felt honesty is the best policy. I can’t take credit for product price increases as that’s a client decision which slightly inflates my numbers.
I suppose I can take credit for ensuring that sales still rocketed, even at the higher price point.
Either way, I wanted to lay that out on the line for you and say that this played a part in such a big leap in organic revenue.
End of SEO Campaign
The SEO campaign for the client ended when they wanted to redesign their website (for the second time – the first time was mid-campaign) and they had an offer from their web design agency to bundle SEO together with the website redesign.
Risky on their part? Of course, it’s always a risk when an SEO campaign is going well to switch to another agency or consultant.
But the game is the game.
The best you can do is communicate and educate your clients on the impact your SEO tasks are having on their results, and ultimately, their bottom line.
But even then, anything can happen, as we saw with our successful campaign.
I’ve had client’s cease SEO campaigns that were demonstrable successes with room for even more growth, simply because they wanted a new face or perspective.
That’s life; you can only control your work and make sure you do it to the best of your ability. We shook hands, wished each other the best success and went our separate ways.
I even provided some plans and tasks for growth to the new agency as I really wanted the client to continue winning.
The client’s site dipped initially for a few months under the new agency and then hit a plateau but to be fair to them, they seem to have turned it back around and are now chugging along nicely in the serps.
I’m glad. They are a cool company disrupting their particular space and I’m proud to have done my bit to edge them further in their journey. I have no idea about current revenue or traffic figures.
But as I say in all of my case studies, as proud as I am of the results of our SEO campaign, they could always have been improved, however good the results were.
Biggest Challenges Working On This SEO Campaign And What Could Have Been Improved
We include this section in all of our case studies because no agency usually does!
It’s uncomfortable to say an SEO campaign could have been even better..but they almost always could have; no matter how successful.
We could post the great results that were achieved with an SEO campaign and leave it there.
But if every SEO specialist or agency is honest, there is almost always money and traffic left on the table due to bottlenecks, whether on the client side, the agency side or both.
This section is designed to provide helpful feedback for any business reading about what’s required for an optimal SEO campaign from both sides of a client-agency relationship.
Challenge 1 – Work and Content Being Overwritten or Deleted Without Knowing
Man, this was frustrating initially but can be quite common.
If there are multiple people working on the site within the business who you don’t have contact with, they may not be aware of the implications of chopping your work to bits (or even know they’re doing it!)
A junior member of their staff edited a few of the pages we’d worked hard to optimize and often deleted huge swashes of content that were important.
It wasn’t his fault. He was just following orders, but this was a huge frustration and not only for us. The client would rightly feel frustrated too since it was wasted time and money.
We always explained what work we’d done on calls and our plans, but they weren’t as forthcoming with their planned changes.
Again, not their fault necessarily, they just didn’t understand the importance of changing things so drastically and the implications it would have on SEO, despite our best efforts to always explain and educate them on calls before it happened.
To their credit, they saw the issue and fixed it by hiring a (fantastic) developer, who they needed anyway, but would also work closely with me.
This almost immediately rectified the problem as she was communicative and just all-round great at her job, as well as being helpful to the SEO campaign.
On our side, we could have maybe been more clear than we already were in communicating how important it was to contact us first before making changes of that magnitude but I’m not sure it would have helped.
It was a young startup with staff wearing multiple hats at the time. That can be a chaotic environment, understandably so.
Ultimately, we worked together to find the issue, and agreed the solution which was a positive outcome.
Challenge 2 – No Budget or Resource For Blog Content
The client, already on a low budget, couldn’t stretch it to include a blog content execution plan like we suggested.
Since they were a newbie in their industry (in a land of giants!), I felt building topical authority through helpful, informative content would give them an edge against the opposition who didn’t focus on this.
My theory was that it’d take us years to catch up to the giants of the industry if we focussed purely on off-page SEO and link building.
These companies had more than a decade headstart on our client in most instances.
We wanted a two-pronged approach to attack this issue.
Link building AND building topical authority through blog content.
Building topical authority would have been easy for this client too since they only focussed on ONE piece of furniture.
It’s easier to be the authority on tables, than it is to be the authority on tables, chairs, lamps, desks and whatever else.
As I mentioned earlier in the case study, many SEO guru’s totally sleep on topical authority.
I’ve seen them call it “vanity metrics” because the blog posts often target low competition keywords which boost site traffic.
If there is no end game or plan and the topics in your content calendar are all over the place (a post about tables, a post about bathrooms, a post about chairs etc), then I’d be inclined to agree.
But they almost always miss the forest for the trees i.e. the main benefit.
These SEO’s are completely missing out on how effective posting relevant, informational content is for building out topical authority on your website (I’ll give you an example of topical authority below).
And yes, that includes for ranking your MONEY pages too.
Even if you can’t make a sale directly from the blog, if it helps to indirectly increase the rank of your product pages because Google sees you as the authority on the topic, is that a bad thing? No, obviously.
A hypothetical example of a content calendar to build topical authority would be (let’s use “tables” as an example product):
- “How to Clean a Table”
- “How to assemble a table”
- “How to sell a table you don’t need”
- “Table Type A vs Table Type B – Which is best for you?”
You get the picture.
You’d not expect someone to purchase a table when searching for “how to clean a table”, right?
No, but if you’re doing it right, you’d link internally from this page on your website to the page where you DO sell tables.
This is how you begin to create topical authority around “tables”, which will indirectly carry power over to your “buy tables” product page and help rankings.
Obviously, a few supporting articles aren’t generally enough to build topical authority, especially in a competitive niche or topic.
In reality, you’d need a bunch of information and posts on the topic before being considered an authority (depending how competitive the topic is).
We help with this by building out a topical map and content calendar for our clients.
Anyway, we’ll go more in-depth on topical authority in another post or you can book a call with us to discuss how we can help.
Our client didn’t have the budget to have us create and execute on a topical authority map.
We did create them a small content calendar anyway for internal use (just because we knew how important it would have been for them) and they said they’d get round to creating the blogs themselves.
But they never did, which is again, understandable. They were extremely busy in a new startup environment.
There wasn’t really a fix, and sometimes there just isn’t a valid solution to a problem.
There were no internal resources or extra budget to make this happen.
We built out a basic, complimentary content calendar for them anyway to give the client a nudge in the right direction.
Ideally, we could have created and executed this content plan for them which we’ve had so much success with over the last few years with other clients.
If you have the budget, we’d definitely recommend getting this done.
I predict we could have doubled organic traffic with this in place and probably added an extra 30-50% on to their organic revenue just through the indirect ranking increases their product pages would have received in Google.
NOTE: This is also why cheap SEO simply doesn’t cut it. Good writing takes time, research, experience, editing, formatting and optimizing. Managing a team of good writers and editors should not come cheap.
A compromise we sometimes reach if a client has the internal staff resources, but not the extra budget is that we would set up content briefs in Surfer SEO for them based on the keyword research we did, and our content calendar.
Then their in-house team can create the blogs based on our content briefs.
It’s not the most hands-off method and comes with its own challenges, like internal writers not fully understanding the best ways to format and optimize content for SEO (and I mean, for both Google AND people!), but can work if a client has an efficient and effective writing team.
Challenge 3 – Not Adding Sub-Categories to Products
This was something we suggested after we’d optimized most of their product category pages and had been pushing for a few months.
We noticed in Google Search Console and in third party SEO tools, that certain queries users were searching to find our products were more specific, and we were generating thousands and often, tens of thousands of searches/impressions for these queries a month.
People were searching for specific types of this furniture, including:
And all sorts of variables which we could have tapped into.
This would have been a very easy thing for the new developer they had me working with to implement, but we never quite got the go-ahead from the decision makers.
There wasn’t one, unfortunately. But if you own an e-commerce store, I totally recommend doing this for some easy wins.
In this case, we had the products already on the website.
We just needed to filter them into new, specific category pages using the same page template they were already using.
So for example, if someone searched for “yellow tables”, you’d simply show all of your yellow tables on that specific page, with a specific url i.e. tableland.com/yellow-tables
This makes it easier to rank in Google as you’re hitting the EXACT intent of what your user is searching for.
You’re also helping Google to crawl and index a page that more specifically answers their user’s query. Win-win.
These pages are likely to convert better too vs their broader sibling pages.
If someone is looking for a yellow table, lands on a generic table page and has to search through hundreds of tables before they find a yellow one, it’s likely they’ll get frustrated and leave to click on another Google result.
This could be a negative engagement signal against your site in Google’s eyes, who want the browsing experience to be as user-friendly for their users as possible.
If we’d implemented this, again, I predict we’d have had a significant boost in organic traffic with a matching revenue increase since these pages were all “money” pages.
So, there you go. That’s how we significantly increased rankings, non-branded clicks and organic revenue for this furniture e-commerce store.
We’ve also outlined the things we’d do to continue growing the company, organically and the things we would have done if we were the client and had complete control of the site.
Hopefully, you’ve uncovered a golden nugget or two which helps take your site to the next level too.
But in truth, there’s nothing groundbreaking here, is there? There isn’t much that is in SEO, however much the guru’s try their best to overcomplicate it.
What there is, though, is a hell of a lot of resource-intensive work and tasks to churn through for an effective campaign, and that’s where we, YukariSEO, can help.
This campaign, like most of our successful ones, pretty much followed my favorite mantra; you’ve heard of KISS, right? (Keep it simple, stupid).
Mine is KSSS…Keep SEO Simple, Stupid.
If you need help implementing this resource-intensive SEO work and need a proven team you can trust to take it off of your hands, give us a shout and book a free, no-obligation call where we can discuss your issues and propose a solution.