How Can a Small Ecommerce Business Win at SEO?

04/04/2015, SME

How Can a Small Ecommerce Business Win at SEO?

Video Transcript:

Hi Folks, just put a video together. This is called, “How can a small E-commerce business win at SEO?” And the reason I’ve put this together, I’ve been doing some work recently with some smaller e-commerce businesses. Some of them have been commercial clients and some of them have been young people that I’ve been working with at the Prince’s Trust, starting up an e-commerce business. And I’m finding that many of them are struggling to get traffic into their websites. And I know that this can be quite challenging for a small e-commerce business. You put the website together. You get your e-commerce platform, however, you’re building the website. You put up all your photographs of your products, details of your services. But then trying to get traffic through to the website can be quite a struggle. And I know many businesses will use things like social media. They’ll try things out like blogging, but trying to get some visibility on Google can often be quite difficult.

Small business are struggling with SEO

If we have a look here at an example of a small e-commerce business. This is a company called Soru Jewellery, who make their own range of jewellery products. And if we actually go and have a look at their Google traffic. So this information comes from SEMrush and it shows me how much traffic, unbranded Google traffic, is coming through to their website on a month to month basis. And we can see that there is hardly any Google traffic coming into this website. Over the last year, they’ve had maybe one or two visitors coming into their website from Google organic searches in the U.K. And many businesses find that this can be quite a struggle, so I just want to show you how we can improve on that. And how much a small business can gain some traction here, very often against some bigger competitors.

What makes a website rank on Google?

So first thing I just want to do is just do a quick run through of what is it that actually gets a website ranking higher than another one on Google. There are essentially three things that you need to consider. the first one is relevancy. So Google obviously wants to show websites that are highly relevant to the searches that people are doing. So for example, if somebody goes to Google and they do a search for “blue denim jacket.” You need to have a page on your website that looks highly relevant for that term, “blue denim jacket.” So in all the key areas of the page, the title, the heading, and the URL, all those things need to look as relevant as possible for “blue denim jacket.”


The second thing Google likes to see is lots of links from other great websites. So links from other sites is one of the main things that Google looks at to determine whether your website is trustworthy, authoritative and popular with people. And one of the things that’s changed over the last couple of years is it used to be the case that almost any link from another website would be beneficial to you. That’s changed in that Google now looks much more at the quality of those sites that are linking to you.


And then the third thing that affects your ranking on Google is engaged and happy search visitors. So when somebody does discover your website on Google, they do a search, they click through and they come to your website. Are they then just clicking the back button and jumping straight back to Google again? And if they are what will happen is Google will think, “well that’s not a very good result. That’s not really making our users happy.” And your website will go down. And if you keep them engaged and happy and they spend some time on the website, then your ranking will go up.

So those are essentially the three things that will affect your ranking on Google. One, relevancy. Two, links from other sites. And three, happy and engaged visitors from the search engine.

How to compete with big brands on Google

And often if you go and do a very broad search, a bit like this one here, which is a search for jewellery. One of the things I’m sure you’ll find, whatever your sector is, you do a search like this and all the websites that are coming up in a prime position on Google are all big, popular well known brands. Here for example, we’ve got H. Samuel, John Lewis, Debenhams, ASOS. In the U.K. these are big known companies and one of the main reasons why they’re going to be ranking so high on Google is largely because they have some relevant content and also have thousands of links coming into them from other websites. And also because they’re all well known brands. Very often people when they do click through from Google, will spend some time looking around there.

So I don’t want to put you off. Just because the fact that you’re competing with big brands for terms like, “jewellery” or “clothing.” Or whatever search terms you might be thinking about for your business. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for a small business to get some visibility on Google.

Why SEO is a great form of marketing

And certainly getting traffic from Google is a really effective way of helping a small business. Most traditional forms of advertising, for example, if you advertise in a magazine or a newspaper or even having ads that come up on other websites, display advertising. They are all known as what’s called “Push marketing” because essentially you’re pushing yourself onto people that don’t really want to see those adverts. They’re usually looking in a newspaper because they want to read the articles, not because they particularly want to see the adverts.

And one of the great things about search marketing and SEO is it’s what’s known as “Pull Marketing”, because when somebody goes to Google and they do a search for “blue denim jacket,” they’re trying to pull those businesses towards them. And so people that come from a search engine are very much more likely to buy your products. They’re much more likely to engage and actually complete and do some business with you. And also there are lots of people searching for things online, even in just the jewellery sector, there are millions and millions of different search terms that people are using. And they’re are millions of people every month looking for those products on Google. In fact, around 81% of people that shop online will start by looking on a search engine. That’s where they’re starting their search, rather than going to a website they know.

So if you’re not getting visibility on Google, if you’re website isn’t coming up in a reasonably good position because most of these people will only be looking at the websites that are there on the first page of Google. And if your website isn’t there, you’re missing out on a lot of business, all these people that are searching for things.

So, how do you achieve this? If you’re a small business, how do you start to gain some visibility on Google? Well, one of the first things you really need to look at, is to make sure that the platform that you’ve built your website on isn’t working against you.

Which eCommerce platform is best for SEO?

I did a study a little while ago where I looked at, and you can see from this table here, I looked at all of the most popular e-commerce platforms. Things like Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento. All these different platforms and evaluated them all on the strength of how good they were from a SEO point of view. So how easy is it to actually make your pages search engine friendly on these different platforms?

And for each one of these I looked at all the different factors that affect your relevancy on Google. And then I scored each one and gave it a weighting so you can get an idea of which are the best and which are the worst. And you can see that platforms such as Magento and WooCommerce and Shopify. These did very well. Magento came up with the maximum score: 100 out of 100. But some other very popular platforms, things like for example, Weebly and Wix and Moonfruit, which there are lots of small business using, scored very low on this study. And they make it extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, to make your pages look relevant to Google. So, that’s the first thing really you need to make sure is that all you’re effort isn’t going to be wasted because you’ve built your website on the wrong platform. So what I would suggest is go and check it out here on my website. So go and have a look on there and just make sure that you’re using the right platform to start with.

Show your personality

And the other thing you really want to do is play to your strength. If we have a look here, this is a website called OhhDeer, where they sell their own designs on different types of gifts. And one of the things they’ve done here, this is actually there ‘About Us’ page, and you can see they’ve got this really neat little video playing on the top here which shows the people behind the business. It shows them actually doing the illustrations. It shows their dog and their children and them putting a photoshoot together for the website. And you really get a sense of the personality behind this business. Even in the text below, you can see the way they’ve laid that out. You get this quirky sense of humor and a lot character about the people behind the business. Now a big brand would find that very difficult to do.

People really like engaging with a personality, with the human beings that are behind the business. And if you’re a big company that’s very, very difficult to achieve. As soon as a company gets to a certain size, it comes across very much like a corporation. So you really want to play to your strengths. I see a lot of small businesses that actually pretend as if they’re large businesses and if you go and have a look at the words on the website, it will say things like… it’s a one person business and they’ll say things like, “we were established in 1993.” They’re using lots of language like “we” and “our” trying to make themselves look bigger than they actually are, when actually the strength they have is how small they are. It’s their personality that they have. So really take advantage of that.

Create rich product pages

Also on your product pages as well, there’s another opportunity to really get across the personality of the business. A large company very often when they put together product pages, they’ll be selling products that have been sold to them by some manufacturer. And the description that they show on the page, very often, is the same description that’s supplied to them from the manufacturer. So again, it loses a lot of personality. And if you look at this website here, Edible Arrangements. You can see the way they write their product descriptions here, again, conveys that sense of personality and uniqueness, something that’s different about their business.

Realistic Keyword Targeting

The other thing you need to make sure is that when you are trying to get your website ranking on Google, you’ve got to be realistic about which search terms you’re actually trying to target because there is very little point trying to compete with big brands for very broad, very generic search terms.

So for example here, this is a table that looks at the search term, “jewellery.” And this is using the tool on And all it really does here, it’s showing me these are all the websites. If I did a search in Google U.K. for the term, “jewellery,” these are all the websites that are coming up on the first page of Google for that term. And you can see it’s all these big brands here, H. Samuels, Debenhams, Ernest Jones. And on the right hand side here, it’s showing me how many other websites are linking to their site. And here you can see that they’ve got thousands and thousands, some of them tens of thousands of websites linking to their site. And for a small business, that’s going to be very, very difficult to compete with. So trying to rank on Google for a term like, “jewellery” is going to be next to impossible until you become a big brand that lots of people are talking about. So you have to be realistic and make sure you’re targeting the right key words.

Now just to look at another example here. This is a term which is a lot more specific, a lot more niche, this is a term, “bridal headdresses.” And actually if we have a look at the websites that are coming up here on the first page of Google, you can see that we’ve even got a website coming up on the first page of Google that has only got three links coming into it. Now even for a small business, it wouldn’t be that difficult to get somewhere… another one here with 15 links into it. That’s very achievable by having some really interesting and engaging content on the website and then getting other people to link to that and share it on social media. It’s not that difficult to get that number of links coming into a website. And “bridal headdresses” is a very popular search term.

Rich product pages

So really it’s identifying those sort of more niche areas, where you can specialize, which is again, very difficult for a big brand to do. And if we have a look here again at the John Lewis website. This is information from their product page for a saucepan that they’re selling. And again the information is quite bland, the information that they’re giving about the saucepan is very factual information. It just gives you the basic details of what type of saucepan this is. And if you’re a small business, one of the things that you have an opportunity to do, that a bigger brand doesn’t, is you can really make these pages very rich with content. If you were selling your own range of saucepans, one of the things you could do, is you could show how it can be used. You could have a little video actually showing yourself or people in the business using the saucepan. And adding that human element again. And you could also show some great recipes of things that you could make with the saucepan. And have that all on the product page, which just then makes it really rich.

And even though John Lewis is a big brand, this particular page on their website, if this was a product that was stocked by lots of other department stores, lots of other online companies, it’s going to be quite difficult for John Lewis to compete against your page that has lots of rich information with such a bland page like this, which has generic information that’s the same on hundreds and hundreds of other websites. So that’s one great opportunity where you have an advantage.

Case Studies

And just to show you a couple of examples of how this can be made to work. Using “bridal headdresses” as an example. I actually did some work with a small business that was making these bridal headdresses, vintage style headdresses. So we had a look. “Bridal headdresses” is a very popular search term. There’s around 1,600 people every month in the U.K. searching for that term on Google.

As I showed you before, you only need around 10-15 links to get a decent position on Google for that term. So this small business I was working with managed to do that by coming up with some great ideas, blog posts, and things like that she put on her website. Got people sharing it, started to get a few links into her website. And she then started ranking in a very high position on Google for the term, “bridal headdresses.”

That brought in 720 new visitors into her website every month. Those 720 visitors turned into 45 new customers a month, because a lot of those people that were coming in and buying a bridal headdress were also recommending this business to friends and other people that they knew. So it generated 45 new customers a month. Those 45 new customers were spending an average of £75 each, which is the average cost of one of the bridal headdresses she makes. And that delivered around about £40,500 a year in sales, just from a few keywords that she then got her website ranking for. So it just shows you what’s possible, even for a small business.

And if we have a look at that website I showed you earlier, Ohhdeer, that does the quirky illustrated gifts. And we go and have a look at the traffic that’s coming into their website from Google. So we can see here, again using SEMrush, we can see that their website fluctuates between around about 500 to 1,000 Google visitors every month in the U.K. What’s causing that fluctuation seems to be Christmas. Their website, you can see it, really gets very busy every year around about December. But you can imagine with that much traffic coming into their website and with such an attractive website as well with some great products on there, you can just imagine how many sales that is bringing through into their website. So, I hope that’s given you some idea of ways that you can get a small e-commerce business ranking on Google. If you want to hear some more information and stay up to date on various things that are going on in digital marketing or you just got any comments you want to make about this video, please do follow me. That’s my Twitter address at the top there @DannyRichman, which is my name. And I hope you found this useful. Many thanks. Bye now.


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