So You Think You Know How to SEO?
Three-Part Series: Part 1
One of the most common things that I hear from brand new SEO clients is some variation of ‘I don’t quite know what SEO is. I just know I need it.’ That’s a common reaction for eCommerce merchants because the acronym SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is used all the time, by eCommerce platforms, by freelancers and agencies, and by bloggers like me, but rarely does anyone take the time to stop in the middle of their pitch and explain what they mean. That initial disconnect can lead to a lot of confusion when trying to communicate effectively about what exactly it is we do when we work on eCommerce SEO.
In this series, we hope to repair that disconnect. By telling three stories about three clients, one new to the SEO process, one working with us long enough to see traction and results, and one who has been working on SEO activities for years, this series aims to educate eCommerce business owners about what they should expect from a professional SEO campaign. What is considered and performed month to month, and what the client is expected to pitch into the effort. We’ll start with one of our newest clients, Ben Alford at Girls ‘Round Here.
“I just was looking at a Google search on how to do SEO,” Ben told me when I asked him how he found 1Digital Agency. His site sells branded clothing and accessories marketed towards women living in the south. The store was on BigCommerce, on a free template, and he was having trouble getting it noticed. He had never done any digital marketing for the site before and contacted us because he’d heard about SEO and we ranked highly for eCommerce SEO related terms (the result of some pretty effective SEO work if I do say so myself).
When anyone contacts us for the first time, one of our first priorities is to set their expectations correctly. SEO is not a quick fix for your traffic problems. It’s a long process of slowly building Google’s trust until they see fit to rank your site more favorably. This trust is built in a number of ways which we’ll get at throughout this series. Suffice it to say for now that there are a lot of freelancers and agencies out there who will try to sell SEO as an easy way to turn your business around. This is not true, and that’s something we establish with every new client. “I didn’t go in with any expectations. I just knew that Google rankings were important,” Ben said. But in the course of talking to our sales team, “I was given realistic expectations. I wasn’t promised the world,” he told me.
An SEO project begins with a series of meetings to bring the client up to speed about what we’ll be doing and to get their approval on the strategy that we select. In these meetings, we’ll take a new client through their project management workspace, where they can communicate with our team, their SEO dashboard, where they can keep track of how the campaign is performing, and our initial keyword list. The keyword list becomes the cornerstone of an SEO project. It informs the content we create, the site optimization we do, and eventually, the search terms the client will rank for. So, we want to be absolutely certain that these terms are both realistic targets and relevant to the client’s business.
What Causes Results
This initial process not only gives us the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with a client’s business, but it also gives us the opportunity to educate our clients who are new to SEO about how the process works. “I thought it was very good and informative,” Ben said. “That really helps your confidence when you’re looking to invest money into something you can’t see.”
While Ben is partially right, much of what results from SEO work happens within Google’s ranking algorithm which we aren’t privy to, you can certainly see the SEO work as time goes on. One of the main things a new SEO client can expect to see is content. Content helps us prove to Google that you are: 1. A reliable publisher of worthwhile information, and 2. An authority on the subject you want to rank for. This is where the client will be required to pitch in the most during an SEO campaign. We’ll want you to read your content and make sure that it is representing your products and your brand correctly. Even as a new client, Ben has been really thrilled with the quality of the content he’s been reading so far. “That’s probably the best part,” he told me. “I went into this thinking I was going to have to do a lot more. Natalie listened to me really well and she did her research. All the stuff you guys are putting out is right in line.”
Has Progress Been Made? Take a Look…
So far the results for Girls ‘Round Here have surpassed our expectations for a first time SEO client. Ben began by targeting 20 search terms to improve rankings for, our minimum amount for starting clients. Within the first 3 months of SEO work, each of the 20 keywords on our list had come up to rank on Google’s first page. Seven keywords have even come into the very first position.
You may notice that a few of the keywords above are listed as secondary keywords. In many cases, a marked improvement in ranking for some keywords will also have a splash effect. The authority built by ranking well for the search terms we targeted has caused related keywords to rise in the rankings as well. In Ben’s case, we’ve seen seven additional phrases rise to the first page of Google as a result of this campaign, with three of those seven landing in the first position.
An improvement in ranking in-and-of-itself does not make a successful SEO marketing campaign. With an improvement in organic search positions, we hope to bring our clients more traffic from organic sources and expose the site to new visitors that the client would not have otherwise been able to reach. With the end goal, of course, being that the clients see more transactions from the increased organic traffic.
An Increase in Traffic
For Girls ‘Round Here, we’ve seen a 43.15% increase in organic traffic in the first three months of the campaign and a 48.85% increase in new visitors to the site over that same time period. In the past three months, transactions from organic traffic on the Girls ‘Round Here Site have increased by 8.94%.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that while Ben’s results are what we always strive for when we take on any new SEO campaign, they are atypical. Many campaigns fight hard for much longer before they start to see traction in their rankings, and longer than that before they hit the first page. It will depend highly on things outside of our control and out of your control. How competitive your industry is, and how much time, energy and money your competitors are putting into SEO work will be a major factor which is out of our hands, but the activities we do for SEO make up a process which has been proven time and again. Given long enough, even in the toughest of industries with the newest of sites, rankings will eventually improve.
“Leave it up to the professionals,” Ben told me when I asked him what advice he would have for an eCommerce merchant considering doing SEO marketing for the first time. “When you think about the time it would have taken me to learn how to do this, it’s a much better use of time to interview companies and find someone who you trust.” At 1Digital® we’ve honed our process so that we can be those professionals that business owners can trust to provide good quality eCommerce SEO. But more than that, we’re also committed to educating our clients about the SEO process so that they can become more involved and effective partners in their own digital marketing. That’s the point of this series. I hope that this installment has brought you a little insight into what it’s like to be a brand new SEO client. Please read on to the next article in the series for a snapshot into the life of a client who has been doing SEO for a little while longer and can start to see some of the longer term effects of sustained SEO activity. Until then, any specific questions about SEO or any kind of eCommerce digital marketing can be answered as long as you reach out to the professionals. If you’re considering starting to invest in eCommerce SEO marketing there is no better time to begin than the present and most serious eCommerce merchants start with 1Digital®.
- Joe Chilson
- October 18, 2018