Today I’m happy to have Luke Carthy on the show. Luke is an ecommerce growth consultant specializing in strategy, search & conversion.
He’s been helping ecommerce brands grow for over 12+ years and he’s spoken at a variety of events including the last Mozcon in 2019.
Today, we’re going to discuss his strategies for growing an ecommerce brand.
What You’ll Learn
- Luke’s background and how he got into ecommerce
- What are some typical mistakes shop owners make?
- What’s the first thing entrepreneurs neglect with their stores
- Best practices for conversion
- How to improve sales for your business
Other Resources And Books
Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout-out to Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife. Now on to the show.
I also want to give a shout out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full-blown email marketing solution. So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales so head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast we will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m happy to have Luke Carthy on the show. Now, Luke was introduced to me by Dan Shure who was a previous guest on the podcast and he came highly recommended. Anyway, Luke is an e-commerce growth consultant specializing in strategy, search and conversion and he’s been helping e-commerce Brands grow for over 12 plus years now and he’s spoken at a variety of events including the last Mos Con in 2019. Now today we’re going to discuss his strategies for growing an e-commerce brand. And with that, Welcome to show Luke. How you doing today? Man?
Luke: I’m really good. I’m really good sleep. Thank you so much for having a nice intro song. Appreciate it.
Steve: So Luke for everyone who doesn’t know who you are. What is your background? And how did you get into e commerce?
Luke: Sure, so my background is absolutely digital. It kind of all started back in my first sales job. So there’s a retailer here called Curry’s which for you guys over in the US Is a ultimately Best Buy and I was there show my age a little bit here, but always there when we were selling the old school CRT TVs and just kind of coming through with the plasma and LCD era. So HDMI cables were a thing there were notoriously expensive around the 50 pound mark and I thought, you know what? There’s got to be a way to get these things cheaper. So I did some research looked at AliBaba and the usual kind of Chinese resellers as post or manufacturers.
Bought a load and I realized when I sold the first, the first few cables I was like, wow, do you know what? I love this, this is awesome. So my kind of appetite and love of e-commerce started from basically the back of my first job about 13 years ago, something like that.
Steve: And do you sell anything today on your own?
Luke: You know what? No, I am, I left that game way behind before I had children. So it’s something I absolutely look at again in the future. But you know what It’s like? Can’t do everything and just trying to work out your priorities, but I do love that kind of, you know, never gets old of seeing like a notification when you sold something. So yeah e-commerce is a is not gone. He’s just not right now.
Steve: So how did you get into the other areas of your expertise like SEO and and conversion rate optimization?
Luke: Yeah. So almost kind of trickled back from the same sort of thing. So eBay guess as If you think about it, ultimately has a search engine lemon to it. So I started to optimize my listings started to use a piece of software called Terapeak, which is Ultimate. Like a ahrefs. I guess if you like for the SEO well, but an eBay but yeah, and it just it just got born from there. So I started to look at I landed my first ever job not long after having my success on eBay and kind of got thrown into the deep end so started the research, started some experimentation, started looking at HTML and all sorts of cool stuff. And it just spiraled quite literally from there. So call it like a hobby / career and then it’s just turn into a complete career altogether either.
Steve: Cool, so Dan who I trust very much. He introduced you to me as an SEO expert and consultant but in our discussions prior to hitting record, I know you do a lot more than that. So what I was hoping to do in this interview today, perhaps is to pretend to be one of your clients maybe and have you kind of walk through what questions you should be asking yourself on how to improve sales for your e-commerce business. Maybe, the best way to start would be what are some of the typical mistakes shop owners make or what do they neglect? That should be that should get more attention.
Luke: Yeah, for sure. So this this one is is a big one. It doesn’t really matter the size of the retailer. I’ve seen sort of global national, National brands do it and I’ve seen small independent econ plays. But ultimately your internal search engine on your site search for another term. It’s it’s painful how many times I see people neglect this gold mine really, so I guess you know from a View of just optimizing for what people are looking for perfect example, I’ve literally just put out a blog post that we about to couple of hours ago. There’s a major retailer here in the UK called home base and Black Friday is around the corner when you search for Black Friday, you get no results fanpage and obviously with as we get in closer more people search for this, you know to see no results found.
It doesn’t look great. But this is this is one of many examples, you know, misspellings spaces in the wrong areas all this sort of stuff which is really really important. So it’s One of the biggest quick wins you can do with virtually no cost is just to optimize and tweak your internal search engine to make sure the customers can find what they’re looking for.
Steve: So, let me ask you this, so by default like the shopping carts like Shopify and Bigcommerce. I think I’m pretty sure it’s like an exact match keyword search for your products and descriptions. What do you recommend to account for all these misspellings? And you mentioned people search for Black Friday, but it turns out a big doughnut like, how do you actually fix that?
Luke: Yeah. So Google analytics is almost a really cool place to start if you can configure it right out of the box so site search reports. I think it’s under the behavior tab, but it’s a gold mine of understanding what people searching what volume so as much as it’s important to understand, you know to fix Search terms that got broken makes more sense to find out which of those Search terms are driving the highest amount of frequencies. So, you know, you might have one person a month searching for something but you could have 50 people a week searching for something else.
So to try and get first get to the idea of How many such is do you have that are broken and so identify the ones that are broken the way I like to go about this is custom extraction. So
Steve: So before we get into that custom extraction, I just want to tell the listeners here in Google analytics. You can actually tell it to look for what is called like a search string in your URL and then Google will track all the searches that are performed on your on-site search and with that information. I guess it leads into what you’re going to be talking about Luke, which is custom extraction. Would you mind defining what that is for the people who are listening by the way?
Luke: Yeah, sure, so customer extraction. So in essence what will custom extraction allows you to do is extract anything you like. We were within reason from the HTML of a website to use an SEO crawler like so deep crawl or screaming frog or whatever your flavor of call that you prefer. So following on from that example, you know that that Google analytics piece. We just spoke about a finding out what your Search terms are. Every website of course has a URL structure for a particular search term. So for example, you know example.com/Search/key word.
So we just build a list of those search, search terms throw them into a crawler and extract the HTML that’s returned from it in layman’s terms. So what that allows me to do is to very quickly understand what the top. Let’s say 10 results are for any one particular search query if I don’t have any results for that query then I know that there’s a problem or I know that there’s a there’s a search term here that needs to be refined or looked at again and improved.
Steve: Just for the people who are listening because Luke’s very Advanced. I’m just going to kind of Define some of the things that he’s talking about here. Essentially what Luke is doing is he’s creating a web crawler like Google essentially and he’s using that to cross sites to figure out what sites are returning for a particular search query. Correct me if I’m wrong, Luke sorry.
Luke: No, that’s absolutely spot on. Yeah.
Steve: Okay. Okay.
Luke: So what once you’ve kind of got that information you can very quickly at scale identify what particular Search terms are causing your problems. So I’ll give you a couple of of Industry examples. These may or may not have been rectified since I found these but let’s look at say Best Buy for example, so there’s a lot of people on a monthly basis that are searching for the keyword online account. Now, of course, you know with that sort of context you can be pretty sure that no one’s really looking for a product. They’re mainly looking to find where they should log in to go and look at their existing purchase history or you know, maybe give customer services call or whatever. So to have no results found on that is like a gold mine because if you can fix that you improving the experience.
And as we know if you improve the experience then customers are more likely to buy from you or from your eCommerce store, but equally sometimes there can be a lot more profound than that. So we have of what with a client before for example where you search for inch, but with the quotes rather than the word inch and the search engine didn’t understand that but a lot of people were searching for inches with the quotation mark. So by rectifying that that was like a massive win almost like an overnight fix if you like, especially this particular client was in the DIY sector. So everything’s in measurements and you know this size that size.
Steve: So what you just specified in that example has nothing to do with custom extraction, right? That’s probably just results that you saw from your analytics is that accurate or?
Luke: no. I say because the the search term was found in Google analytics. So the amount of people searching if you like so a common with the exact keyword, but let’s say for example, it’s like other than that 10 inch less like a 10 inch shelf, for example.
Steve: Okay, Yep.
Luke: Now in Google analytics we would know because we’ve set up a report. That’s a Say 50 people a week search for that particular keyword.
Luke: So what we want to do is validate, validate, sorry. Via customer extraction that whether that’s search term works or doesn’t work. So I guess to to distill it down, Google analytics will give you the amount of people that are searching for a particular term. But what he won’t do is tell you what the quality of the results are like.
Steve: so I guess my question is for that term why not just type it in..
Steve: why not manually just type it into search or is the idea you’re compiling all these terms on mass. And just throwing into this custom extraction tool.
Luke: That’s it. Exactly.
Luke: We’re talking like hundreds if not thousands of..
Steve: okay. I understand. Sorry Luke, I keep interrupting you man, but I just want to make it clear for the people listening out there.
Luke: All right It’s cool. No problem, no problem.
Steve: All right so–okay so you have all these keywords and you’re throwing into this custom extraction tool. First off, My first question is are there tools out there that allow you to do this really easily?
Luke: Yeah, absolutely. Well easily depends on what you are but there’s absolutely tools that will allow you to do this and there’s loads of resources online. That can help you to get to get on there.
Steve: What’s your favorite one?
Luke: For me? It’s absolutely screaming frog.
Steve: Screaming frog. Okay.
Luke: I think the reason why I choose that one is because the barrier for entry is low, you know, it’s only a small cost license of under 200 pounds, you know, once you’ve got it set up and once you’ve kind of play with it and got it working. It can be really powerful. But I guess to very quickly break into another benefit of the tool and customer extraction is empty categories. So I guess for the for the smaller sites, maybe it’s not so much of an issue, but if you think of a website where you’ve got hundreds if not thousands of categories. How do you identify which categories have no products in, again is another wing you can use customer extraction for to find this sort of fact.
Steve: you know, it’s funny. I have used screaming frog in the past but mainly for an SEO audit so you’re telling me that I can just upload a series of keywords for example and have a screaming frog crawl a particular site based on whatever URLs I define?
Luke: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you can do that.
Steve: presumably you’re gonna get all this data out right and then does it just come out in a spreadsheet form?
Luke: It does, it does, yeah.
Steve: So for example in your previous example with the inches, like what are you looking for to determine that it’s a bad result presumable. Is it like a 404 page or what do you looking for?
Luke: So it’s yeah. It’s not a 404 and that’s the reason why customer extraction is so powerful because when you think about internal search results, you know a lot of them returned in 200 error, I’m sorry, a 200 status code which of course is not broken. So that’s where customer extraction comes in because you’re not looking at the data, you’re looking at the sorry, not looking at the response code you’re looking at the data that’s returned. So to your point earlier, you’re looking at, you know, a spreadsheet you can see a URL and you can see the data that’s returned for that given URL and that helps you to then really narrow it down.
Steve: So are you specifically looking for something on that page that indicates that it was a bad search? So, for example, on my site it says Sorry, your search returned No results. Am I just specifically looking for that in the results?
Luke: Yeah, that’s that’s yeah, so that h1 or whatever strip of text it is when you see that in the custom extraction data, you know that there’s no results returned for that particular search query.
Luke: I guess just, you know, just to make it clear when you think about all these enterprise-level search engines like say SLI or fact-finder. They’re great at giving you reports of all the Search terms that aren’t working. But for small businesses where you kind of have woo commerce or Shopify setups this data is not available to you. It’s really important. It can really make a difference. So this is where it really comes to play.
Steve: So just to summarize I am uploading all my keywords to this tool. It’s crawling my site and then it’s outputting a list of terms that return not an error I guess but in this case of search results that don’t return anything based on a custom stream that I defined.
Luke: That’s right. You got it.
Steve: Cool. All right, let’s move on then. So categories, So you mentioned before I rudely interrupted you again. That sometimes Search terms return categories with empty products. Does that happen or?
Luke: yes that does absolutely happen that does actually happen. So again, I did a for a presentation. I did a while ago. I looked at Best Buy. I looked at Home Depot and I found loads of categories that had no products in and I think it’s really important to look at what these are how much traffic they get in and really maintaining and call these categories because again empty categories bad experiences, right?
Steve: So, what do you suggest that you do when you see an empty category you just eliminate that category altogether or?
Luke: yeah, I mean it could be a case of the category needs product adding to it or it could simply be a case of as you said the category no longer needs to be there. So it should be redirected to the next best match if you like or something to that effect
Steve: what about categories with like a single product? I mean, I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past with my store. What do you do with this data after you have it I guess is what I’m trying to get at.
Luke: Yeah. So this is a normally when you’ve Got this customer extraction data you can make this data as rich or as contact for as you like. So adding the amount of traffic adding the amount of conversions for that given landing page. You can really go into it. But the point I guess I want to make here is you know, you’ve hit the nail on the head with thin and empty categories these things just need taken care of and then you wonder from a merchandising or a category management point of view whether you should even have that category one or two products in or roll it into a another category that might be better suited but it just allows you to have if you like a bird’s eye view of your Ecommerce store and everything that’s going on at that particular time.
Steve: And in terms of actually fixing the search engine. I’m not sure I don’t know what shopping carts that you work with, but are there plugins that allow you to easily fix your on-site search without actually having to code anything in? I’m not sure if that’s a question that you can answer or that you’re used to.
Luke: Yeah. Well plugins not so much. I mean if you think about like woo commerce and the default the default search engine there then typically no, but what You can do is play around with redirects. Right? So, you know, if you find a particular search term that doesn’t work very well or has no results found then maybe have a rule that when this URL fires or when they search term fires actually redirect it to this search term instead.
Steve: Ah Okay.
Luke: And that can then, you know that can be a way of getting that done without having like the you know, the beautiful dashboards that you get with some of the more Enterprise Solutions.
Steve: Right. Right. So I know from my cart which is like this homegrown cart. I actually wrote this there’s this file. That just defines how search works and in there you can do all these special cases for keywords. I was just kind of curious with the tool like Shopify or Bigcommerce, whether you can do that easily perhaps that’s a question for my Shopify and Bigcommerce rep.
Luke: Yeah, I would say so woo Commerce when I last had a look at it about a year ago the answer to that was no but hey, everything moves all the time. They might be a plug-in or maybe come oysters that out the box.
Steve: Okay. So on site search, so you mentioned, empty categories, Search terms that go nowhere, misspellings. What are some other things to look out for?
Luke: Search wise definitely non products driven Search terms. So, you know at the example I used earlier was online account, but there’s loads of them is customer services. There’s returns policy. There’s all these sort of queries that that people can fire in to a search engine expecting data and then, you know nothing or I guess maybe even slightly worse is getting something that really doesn’t make any sense. So, you know, if you’re a let’s say you sell software online and someone searches for, I don’t know, returns policy. You might have some software that includes the keyword return and then you get like three results that you didn’t really want.
So I think it’s paying attention to those queries where you’ve got to try and play it smart with the customers not necessarily looking to buy something there looking for help to point them in the right direction, but then I guess to take it a step further you’ve got to think if people are searching for these things is your user experience easy because technically they could find what they were looking for. They wouldn’t need to use the search for these sort of terms. So, you know, you can look at it. Either sort of where maybe depends on frequency and how often these sort of Search terms happens.
Steve: Do you find that more people use the search function on a mobile site as supposed to a desktop site and you kind of distinguish the two when you’re doing when you’re analyzing these results?
Luke: You know what that that is a really good question. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’d actually say no more people use search on desktop than they do on mobile.
Steve: Huh, interesting. Okay
Luke: And by pure hypothesis. I don’t have any data to support this but I think people’s attention spans on mobile is typically lower. Because you’ve got more distractions. You’ve got slow data loading if you’re on the train Etc. and if people search for something and can’t find it the first or second time on a mobile. They just think you know what, I can’t you know. On to the next one. Desktop, they’ve got a little bit more patience maybe things are faster, less distractions, maybe but you know, when I’ve looked at that data before there’s definitely a higher search volume on desktop to compare t mobile.
Steve: interesting because I know that I’ve been trained from shopping on Amazon to just jump straight to the search bar now like whenever I go on a even like a boutique say I don’t browse the categories. I just jump straight to the search bar.
Luke: You know what? Yes. I am. I’m with you on that. But I think a lot of people know where the way in which I’d like to think of e-commerce is that every page should really be a landing page.
Luke: So whether you’re searching on Amazon or whether you’re searching on Google you should be able, you know, if you’re searching for sort of red t-shirts or something like that. Ideally you want to be able to when they come to your site to take me to the red t-shirts category page rather than a completely random landing page. So I hear you. I absolutely hear you, but it’d be perfect if when they’re searching for Google they didn’t actually need to then search because there are in the right place. The first time.
Steve: that makes sense actually. Yeah, so Google’s acting like the search engine like the Amazon search engine. So to speak in this case, so.
Luke: yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Steve: What are some of the common mistakes just to kind of look out for with your on-site search? So you mentioned like Black Friday, that’s actually something that returns empty on my site right now. I’m going to actually go and Implement a landing page for that after this.
Luke: Yeah, Fix that.
Steve: You got misspellings. What are some other common things that most people make a mistake on?
Luke: Part codes. If you’re in, if you’re in a business where you resell other manufacturers equipment, especially with Brands like Sony and Samsung where they’ve got ridiculously long part codes with slashes here and all kinds of weird characters that can get really messy, especially with slash because typically slash denotes in most cases and you like a subfolder. I guess if you like.
Luke: but in this case a slash is going break the search all together. So maybe even looking at how you’ll search handles those characters slashes and dashes and things like that, but that only really comes into play as I say if you kind of sell products with part codes in but actually you just made me think. We ran into this problem before when we ran a global looked at a global e-commerce site and different languages, you know, e with accent versus a standard e and how that behaves and how that works.
Luke: all those nuances there but to be fair, Sometimes and this is why it’s really important to have this data via Google analytics first because you could end up fixing problems that weren’t really a problem. You know, you’re thinking about let’s fix this. Let’s fix that how many people are searching for it? Because if it’s less than say, I don’t know to a month but you’ve got 50 other searches at a high volume that don’t work then you know, are you chasing the right things?
Steve: What is your threshold?
Luke: Oh good question. Good question. The threshold typically depends on how many search terms over a problem so, you know, I could say more than 10 and then I’ve got fifteen thousand results
Steve: right yeah
Luke: or I could say, you know five and it’s you know, it’s difficult but I would say as a number in the air, 10 a month, but you know 10 a month for one site and 10 a month for another site could be two very different things all together. Maybe we should have percentages?
Steve: Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea. Yeah
Luke: in like 1% of total queries. If it’s more than that pay attention if it’s less than that, maybe maybe review it manually
Steve: Okay, so they’re just so then MOS you just analyzing a hundred hundred keywords, I guess then?
Luke: yeah, I mean if you’ve got that many keywords to play with great, you know most cases you probably should have but you know, maybe not
Steve: I know the last time I looked at my on site search reports. I don’t actually look at it that often but it was like pages and pages and pages of stuff, right? because there’s so many different permutations of everything. I guess. That’s where the customer extraction tool comes in handy, but I guess in analytics what you would do I guess is sort based on the Frequency of that search term and then pump that into screaming frog
Luke: Exactly but you you mentioned permutations and I’m not sure what that
Steve: oh, I’ll give you an example. So we sell handkerchiefs. So there’d be handkerchief and then handkerchiefs plural. That was one thing that I have fixed my own search engine. I just automatically pluralize everything now or I think I add the plural. I can’t remember what I do.
Luke: but it works?
Steve: Well, yes stuff like that, you know.
Luke: yeah absolutely
Steve: and each one of those is a separate entry in analytics, right? because when someone performs a search.
Luke: yes. I’m GI, I guess just for people that are listening as well is purely case sensitive. So if you had handkerchiefs with an uppercase and at the search term with a lower case all the way through that’s going to come up with two separate rows of data. So that’s an important thing to look at as well.
Steve: Is there anything you can do after the fact with the analytics data to ignore the case?
Luke: You know what? I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. I’m sure that probably is a way to do it. You might even be able to build something in the website that the basically just makes everything lower case, everything lower case. But we normally just you know, when I’ve looked at it. It doesn’t really come into it with, yeah we don’t when we worry about it.
Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com. Now back to the show.
Steve: So I think we’ve thoroughly covered on site search. What are some other conversion rate or even sco optimizations that people typically make mistakes on?
Luke: Okay, so there’s a couple of glitch in my head full of ideas.
Luke: One of the big ones is faceted navigation or filters. This can be a big problem sometimes and it can be a problem that a lot of people may or may not think about depends on how your site’s built. But you know, if we think about again technology where you if we said TVs and got sizes and Brands and all sorts of different filters, maybe color, technology. There’s a lot of different permutations of filters there. That’s a lot of crawling. That’s a Of URLs as a lot of duplication and there’s a there’s a whole I guess approach if you like as to how to manage the SEO implications of all of these different parameters, but
Steve: actually, How do you do it is it just canonical tags? I mean ultimately you’re still on the same page, right?
Luke: Yeah. So this is where it gets really interesting because there is it’s that horrible. It depends cliché SEO answer but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here because what I have found is if you turn off, you know, if you kind of canonical all permutations are filters back to their let’s say parameter free versions. You’re okay making it easier potentially for search engines to crawl those URLs, but you’re also missing out on huge long tail keyword opportunities as well. So it’s finding the bones. So let’s say going back to that t-shirts example, you’re in the men’s t-shirt category, but you haven’t got a category by color.
Because that’s a filter option. So when someone searching on Google for you know, red men’s t-shirts, you’re not going to be there if you’ve excluded every single filter option. So sometimes there’s I guess a middle ground between which filters you allowed to be crawlable and which filters you don’t want them to be crawled.
Steve: Let me ask you this, Luke. So if I find that a lot of people are searching a red t-shirts when I just want to plop down a landing page for that?
Luke: What you might do, but that’s that’s assuming you’ve got the resources and time to go away and build a land or reduced because if you think about you might have a landing page for t-shirts or even men’s t-shirt, but you probably not going to have a landing page for red t-shirts. Unless you’re using some really cool sophisticated, you know money table something like that, but you know back so I guess the real world is you are going to struggle to to do that and the only way you can really leverage that is to power, you know leverage some of these filters. But you know, You don’t have to have to choose and be careful which one’s of these you choose.
So colors probably a good one. But let’s say Brands probably another good one, but maybe size isn’t because a lot of people might not search for
Steve: well, unless you sell like abnormal size clothing like for a really tall people or you know, or what? Right?
Luke: Yeah exactly.
Steve: What are some keys to like ranking a category page?
Luke: Okay. Ranking a category page absolutely internal link structure is huge here. So You know, if you’ve got a category page that’s three or four categories deep you’re going to struggle to get that to rank just on its own. So again these in this t-shirt example is completely off the Dome. I’m hoping it works. But if we said we had a clothing department and then inside clothing, you’ve got men’s and then inside men’s you’ve got t-shirts and then inside t-shirts you’ve got designer. For example. That Designer /t-shirt category is going to struggle to rank because it’s so deep, you know so many levels down. But through internal linking structure, if you’re linking to the designer category, even the men’s category from the home page, then you are basically building the right structure to help those smaller categories to wrap.
Bread crumbs again are really important these help pass Equity up and down the entire funnel of of categories, but it’s really just been in a situation where you properly understand how you can leverage your link structure across the site. So to give a perfect example of where this really works. Is you mentioned landing pages earlier? We spoke about it a few times. Landing pages can be great ways to build those links because you know you land on a let’s say a Black Friday deals page you can link to all sorts of categories that are relevant there that might be three four five levels deep, but because your link into a Black Friday page, which is normally a pretty top level page.
That page, is going to therefore help the smaller categories to rank better and it’s just it’s been creative and thinking of about that.
Steve: So if you’re so it has a lot of categories, Should you just pick your best-selling ones and link to only those on your homepage or is it better just to kind of make sure that everything is navigable?
Luke: Yeah, you kind of a bit of bit of both if you like. But I would say your homepage and absolutely feature your main departments if you like so you google top of categories with you know, you kind of best sellers on your featured seasonal ones that might be more relevant. So, you know, for example, there’s no, well at least in UK at the moment. There’s no point link into to summer clothing because it’s freezing cold out here. So you probably don’t want to link to sort of like your winter warmers and you winter sales and that sort of thing but by doing that you you know, you’re playing to do Seasonality so one perfect example we have here is turkey.
I guess near Thanksgiving is a very different set of results in Google compared to Turkey in like August or something, which is obviously going to be about summer holidays and things like that. So you’ve got to think about and how you can play along and I guess be part of that that changes well that called you there.
Steve: So just for the better for the listeners out there. The reason why I asked that question is typically your home page has the most amount of inbound links coming in and Luke’s been talking about massaging your link Juice is what I like to call it, to your more internal pages from your from your stronger pages. So that’s why I asked that question.
Steve: Okay, so Luke, I did want to talk a little bit about structured markup because we did chat about that a little bit prior to the podcast recording. How crucial is structured markup today? And can you define it first for the listeners?
Luke: Yes, I structured markup pays is basically if you like additional metal information that you passed a search engines to give them more of an idea about what your product or category or whatever it Is. But I guess to be clear, with structured data, at least at the moment, things has change. Has little to no impact on ranking as such but it does improve click-through rate. So, you know, if you’ve got your products structured data basically built correctly, you’re going to be passing information like price, like Brands, like stock information to Google and Bing and all the other search engines.
Which means when someone’s searching for a product that you sell this information could be presented to them before that even got to your page. As a result, They’re more informed. As a result their the result if you like, looks better to them and you’re more likely to get the click and someone who is not using structured data. So it’s one of those things that that really helps add context really helps make customers aware before they click through to your site and as a result would absolutely recommend it.
Steve: So outside of like the review Stars, where have you seen structured markup actually making a difference for Click through rate of a listing with structured markup?
Steve: Stock, Okay.
Luke: Yeah, because you know, if you’re Googling something again that a lot of people stock so, keep your matters, TVs. Because I’m working on something like that at the moment. But you know, if you’re searching for a particular model of a TV and the first page is full of results that are selling this, if you have the price and stock status in the serp, you know in this in the Google page before anyone gets to your site. It reduces abandonment. And gives customers information that they need or one before they’ve even got to your website. So if you’ve got the best price or you’ve got a good price, you’ve got the click equally if you’re the only one or one a few people on the first page that I’ve got it in stock then hey, you know, you’re looking good there as well.
Steve: since I don’t look at this all the time has Google gone a lot better about just you know, just extracting that information from a site?
Luke: Yeah. It’s got clever because as usual in the world of SEO it gets abused, right and then obviously they have to be Stringent with it. So there’s no guarantees here. You could have the most perfect structured data across the site. It’s all valid. It’s all good, but it still doesn’t show. There’s no guarantees with this stuff. But the good news is for the guys that are at least using woocommerce. I’m not a hundred percent sure on Shopify, but I would imagine there’s something similar. There’s plugins that can manage this stuff for you automatically. You just tick some options you pick metadata rate through it and you know good to go.
Steve: all the major shopping carts do have plugins that do this. But sometimes you have to populate the information accordingly outside of just your regular pie descriptions and stuff.
Luke: Cool, cool, cool.
Steve: Okay, so structured markup. What about on like content pages?
Luke: Okay, content Pages. Yes. I love talking about this, when it comes to e-commerce because I think a lot of people will typically go to you know, when you think about content you think product pages and don’t be wrong, you know product page content is really important, but the content that I find is more important and more powerful is the content that mitigates that anxiety that the kind of confirms to a customer why they should buy from you versus somebody else. So this is your reviews page, if you like. This is your returns policy. This is giving customers the reason that you’re a proper, you know, e-commerce store front and not just a couple of guys working out of a shady bedroom, for example.
Steve: Haha okay
Luke: you know, I mean nothing wrong. e-commerce stores, I do very well that do that but the point is the customer wants to be in the understanding that one, they’re going to get their products and see if there’s an issue. You’re going to be, they’re going to get the help that they need. So this content is really powerful and we all do it as consumers will you know go for the purchase funnel potentially if it’s not necessarily, an Impulse buy. We research the product we want, we find a product we want and then we find a retailer that sells it and normally during that that process will go to a retailer X reviews. We tell a wire reviews. So all this sort of stuff that really kind of reinforces why they should buy from you is the content I find when you can move the needle.
Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high-level BS. Mine is a curriculum-based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce business entrepreneurs who are importing large quantities of physical goods and not some high-level guys who are overseeing their companies at 50,000 feet. The other thing I can assure you is that the Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it. Now back to the show.
And so what can be done from an SEO perspective to make sure people find this content or is it just navigation?
Luke: navigation does help but also making sure the content is useful, you know, there’s no point kind of having a meticulous font size, 8 terms conditions page that no one can really read, you know, if it’s if it’s terms and conditions. That is clear. You’ve got H2. I’ve got it broken up. It’s responsive. If your returns policies nice and simple and explains and answers the questions that people asking. For example, you know, if you write in a returns page you want to want to write as if, write it in an FAQ style. So how long have I got to return something or during the Christmas break for example, can I return this in the new year or what if your returns child is will I get my money back? If I’m right.
You know all these sorts of questions are the things that people want to see. So when they’re Googling it, when they’re Googling these up questions, they come to your site equally they have all the information they need when they’re looking for that returns policy or whatever it is that they’re looking for.
Steve: So this is just kind of a page structure as opposed to structured data, right? So you’re trying to allow Google to easily crawl this page and then extract out the elements of your of your terms shipping and returns policy.
Luke: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s I think you know be the designer page that you’d want to see, yourself in your customers shoes. If you’re going to see a page that’s just a wall of text or has they’re relating information on it’s going to make you slightly anxious. If they’re answering your questions. If there are you know, making it feel as if they could that they want you to see that content it helps it relieves anxiety and makes them want to choose you over somebody else.
Steve: Are there any other tips that you can provide for just getting like an e-commerce whether it be a category page or a product page. So even where I can search because typically there’s not a whole lot of content there and you know link building is often more difficult as well.
Luke: Yeah, so I would say in fact, you know, what department pages are really cool and a gesture to add context is what I mean by Department page. I guess using the an example. So if you had a clothing e-commerce store, for example, men’s or women’s would be like a department and then the categories inside there will be the types of clothes that you sell. But Department Pages can be really powerful because they can be the most link to pages on the site because of course men’s is got to be a lot visited a lot more than say men’s t-shirts, typically speaking. So by using those pages though, Attracts a lot of equity whether it’s internally via internal links you put in sight or backlinks or whatever it is you’re doing on social.
And you can then pass the equity where you want to from these sorts of powerful Department Pages if you like. I think in terms of SEO specifically in getting links for stuff like this, one page type that really helps and I’ve seen this been quite successful in the past is hosting your own discount code pages. So we’ve all done it. We will go to the checkout on a Retail store or an e-commerce store and you see a check out or sorry, say, coupon code box or add something like that and you think, you know what I mean. Just go to Google real quick. Let me just fire in retailer X discount code or blah blah blah and you may find one you may not but
Steve: I guess you’ll find a fake one, which is really annoying actually.
Luke: Yeah, and then they get the affiliate commission and everyone’s left this point, but you know the way in which you can really get to get links here is if you have your own coupon code page hosted on your website. When someone searches for retailer X discount code you’re going to rank their people are going to link to that page because they’re like, hey, I know something you don’t this is cool, we can get 5% off free delivery for use this and that can really attract some really cool links. And it also satisfies that desire for customers to find a discount code. It doesn’t really matter what that this kind of gives them. It could be free shipping which you do anyway could be five percent off which is like potentially not that big of a deal for you but it reduces abandonment. it attract links and improved conversion. So, It’s normally something that works really well
Steve: So from this coupon page do you then link to whatever category page or whatever you’re trying to rank for?
Luke: Yeah, you can absolutely do that. You know, you can say this coupon is valid in these specific departments if it’s a site-wide one, then you kind of you know, you’re doing well because you can lead to everything but it just allows you to kind of pass some of the equity if you like that he would have captured two other places
Steve: Interesting. yeah, that’s actually something that I did last year not specifically for the reason you just specified but because there are so many fake coupon codes out there. That, so I track all that stuff on my site and I get emailed every time someone enters in a bogus coupon code and I remember there was this one period I think last year during the holidays where I just kept getting these emails like it’s hammering on the site and I was like, where are these people gain their codes from and I just did a search for you know coupon codes for my site and it turns out all these fake coupon sites was just making up codes.
Luke: Wow. Okay.
Steve: Yeah, and so I just I just created my own page and it said real coupon codes for Bumblebee Linens and then I got that to rank in the top and that problem has been mitigated. We’ll see. The holiday season is right around the corner. We’ll see if it helps.
Luke: Yeah. Yeah, I guess actually a one last thing to be throwing for you or them on discount codes and coupon codes is you see so many retailers who make these things case-sensitive and its really irritating. So I’ll show you, a lot of money, right? If you’ve sent like a an email out or spend a lot of money. A Black Friday or something like that and you’ll say use code XYZ to get this off and it doesn’t work. It’s you practically lost the sale mainly because someone’s put it in uppercase or mixed case or whatever. So just make these things case insensitive.
Steve: I’ve found that people like even if it’s a code that doesn’t have that problem people just type in everything wrong. So my experience and you’re right if they typed it in wrong and they have this coupon code. They’re just not going to check out unless
Steve: so I would recommend picking things that are very Easy to spell, like ridiculously easy like at an elementary school level. So people are going to redeem the coupons or just do a click and have it automatically apply the coupon code. That’s even better.
Luke: Yeah, even better.
Steve: So Luke, I really appreciate your time, man. Where can people find you if they need Consulting help or whatnot on search or conversion rate optimization.
Luke: Yeah, you can find me from anywhere. I kind of dominate the first page at the moment unless another leak off is going to come up and steal that from me. But, you can find me at lukecarthy.com. You can find me on Twitter and @mrlukecarthy. And yeah, you can normally get a hold of me. If you need to. You need to find me you’ll find a place you can get to me.
Steve: Yeah, so just to be clear. It’s lukecarthy.com.
Luke: That’s right. You got it. You got it
Steve: All right. Hey, thanks a lot Luke.
Luke: Thank you very much, Cheers, Steve.
Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, I’m really happy to have spoken with Luke because I was actually guilty of not doing a number of the things that he suggested and it just goes to show that everything can be improved. For more information about this episode go to mywifeqyitherjob.com/episode291.
And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture exit intent and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/steve.
I also want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.
Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com