SEO to Grow Your E-Commerce Business
Fingerprint Marketing created Hobanco.com as a case study project to test, hone, and demonstrate how effective our SEO marketing strategy is for helping e-commerce businesses grow their client base and revenue stream.
We created Hobanco.com to pursue 3 goals:
- R&D new and effective SEO techniques
- Learn critical insights about our clients’ businesses
- Create an SEO case study to show how SEO helps e-commerce grow
The result? In less than one year between 2017 and 2018, Hobanco.com accumulated 700+ 1st-page keywords.
- 1 SEO to Grow Your E-Commerce Business
- 18.104.22.168 Meet Hobanco.com
- 22.214.171.124 Google Analytics
- 126.96.36.199 Picking a Vertical
- 188.8.131.52 Keyword Research
- 184.108.40.206 On-site Optimization
- 220.127.116.11 Backlink Strategy
- 18.104.22.168 Ready to get your business to Page 1 of Google and Bing?
Google Analytics as of 4/17/18:
Ahrefs Position Distribution History as of 4/17/18:
1 – 3 refers to the top of 1st-page results
4 – 10 refers to the bottom of 1st-page results
11 – 50 refers to the 2nd – 6th pages of results
Picking a Vertical
In developing criteria for our internal case study project, we wanted to develop an e-commerce vertical with the best blend of three elements:
- Search volume
- Ease of fulfillment
Search volume was important because more searches means a bigger return on investment and a greater ability to drive traffic. Here’s what we discovered: there are over 5 million knife-related searches per month in just the United States. These search queries take 4 different forms:
- Informational Search
- Generic Knife Search
- Knife Brand Search
- Knife Brand / Model Search
Ease of Fulfillment
Ease of fulfillment was important. For us, there was a specific reason: we have a marketing agency to run! Although we wanted an awesome case study that we could treat just like one of our client’s SEO campaigns, we didn’t have the capacity to go all-in with product development and a supply chain. But, we also knew that by designing a case study around ease of fulfillment, we’d also be able to glean valuable insight in our clients’ e-commerce business! Ease of fulfillment is a great goal for everyone.
So, with that in mind, we chose Shopify—it has fantastic access to AliExpress through the drop-shipping app Oberlo, which allows you to quickly select and sync products from AliExpress to your storefront. Oberlo facilitates your customers’ purchases in a nearly automated manner, and we never had to carry inventory. In fact, by the end of our case study we had trained a virtual assistant to run fulfillment and customer support—our store was completely hands-off!
In the course of this process, we discovered that the knife industry does not currently have stiff competition. Because we’ve already built one powerful website, we knew that we could rank Hobanco.com with enough time and resources—and could show you how we did it.
Without stiff competition, we knew there would be almost limitless opportunities in terms of content development, but with limited resources to devote to our case study we decided to focus on the easiest and most straightforward opportunities for growth first.
We broke our keyword opportunities down into four types of searches based on our research into what consumers query when they’re looking in to knives:
This refers to searches conducted by people who are googling information related to knives. Hobanco.com now ranks on the 1st page for queries including:
- California Knife Laws
- Washington Knife Laws
- Florida Knife Laws
Why did we aim for these search phrases? Because we recognized that people searching with queries like these likely had at least one knife, but more than likely they have many knives. And knife enthusiasts are a rich market!
Generic Knife Searches
Generic knife searches refer to searches for different types of knives:
- Buck Knife
- CSGO Knives
- Butterfly Knife
- Kitchen Knives
- Knife Block
This is a very important set of searches to rank for because there are millions and millions of generic knife searches each month. And what we saw is that most of the 1st page rankings for these searches are collection pages. With this information, we recognized that we should focus on optimizing our collection pages (rather than product pages) to get them ranking and competing in the marketplace.
We took a tiered approach to optimizing our product pages. We had added over 300 different types of knives, and it looked like optimizing all of them would have been expensive enough that a strong ROI would be unlikely. So here’s what we did:
First, we used generic naming conventions to describe the products, using frequently searched-for knife phrases:
We also tagged the product’s color in the URL and in the H1. Then, as some of these product pages began to rise in the rankings organically, we targeted them for additional optimization.
Once product pages made it to the 2nd or 3rd page, we would perform comprehensive keyword research in order to optimize the page using the keywords that accounted for its ranking in combination with any new opportunities our research turned up. Here’s what that looks like:
- We increased the amount of on-page content with robust, high-quality product description
- We built backlinks
Then, we sat back and watched as these targeted pages ranked higher and higher!
Branded Knife Searches & Brand/Model Knife Searches
This last type of search was one that we unfortunately had to ignore: opportunities related to branded knife/knife model searches. Why did we make this decision? Let’s break it down:
To distribute major knife brands, we would have needed to become an authorized retailer/distributor. The retailer designation requires $2,000–$5,000 in product purchases each year. With over thirty major knife brands out there with good search volume, this seemed beyond the scope of this case study project. To become a distributor of major knife brands with $0 down, there was no automated ordering system that would allow us to drop ship knives to customers. We would have to order the knives to our office and fulfill them ourselves. No thanks! Without the budget or the time to pursue branded knives, this was not the right opportunity for us at this time.
To stay relevant and remain the #1 search engine, Google needs to deliver quality search returns to its users. This means prioritizing its rankings to show the most relevant and high-quality search results first—for any given search query.
So on-site optimization needs to serve a very specific purpose: to align your page with Google’s rankings algorithm by telling it that your pages have the most relevant, high-quality content.
Google determines your page’s relevance by looking at your meta data. How closely does your page align with a given search query? Here’s where your meta data lives:
- Page Title
- Page Description
On-page optimization includes making sure that your meta data conforms to your most strategic keyword opportunities.
Content is where users themselves really come into play. Artificial Intelligence hasn’t caught up with us quite yet. Google still relies heavily on user signals to determine whether content on a given page is high or low quality. User signals come in the form of engagement metrics. Basically, high-quality content has higher engagement metrics than competing pages. Lower bounce rates, more time spent on the site, more pages viewed…these all tell Google that the content is good and help the page rank higher. Win!
Through trillions of searches, the pages that Google has identified as having the best user engagement metrics have two things in common:
- They have more content than competing pages
- They have better structured content than competing pages
This means that ranking better means more high-quality content that keeps your visitors engaged, and more structured content that includes characteristics like lists, tables, tables of contents, bullet points, citations, and embedded videos.
Our formula has enabled us to rank Hobanco.com competitively with—and sometimes even better than—stronger, more powerful domains for the search queries we identified in our keyword research:
California Knife Laws 2018
Michigan Knife Laws
The final technique that we used to rank Hobanco.com so effectively was to use a variety of backlink strategies to move Hobanco.com’s rankings up and increase qualified organic search traffic. This technique helped Hobanco.com achieve over 700 1st-page keywords and 6,600 organic search visitors over the course of our 7-month case study.
Each time we developed and loaded content onto a collection page or into a blog post, we wrote and published a press release announcing the new selection of products. These press releases were typically read by less than 300 real people, but that’s not where there real value lay. Because they were syndicated across hundreds of sites, they drove many powerful backlinks and helped improve our rankings.
We identified Reddit because it has several active knife communities. We were able to find relevant threads and posts in this forum where it was appropriate to link our knives, increasing our ranking by Google.
EventBrite.com is one of the most powerful sites on the internet, with a DR of 93. We used this platform to backlink by linking Hobanco.com as a sponsor for the events we organized. What a great way to get Hobanco.com’s name out there by building backlinks!
YouTube links are “no-follow,” but that didn’t stop us! YouTube links had a significant impact on our rankings and helped drive qualified organic search traffic and sales. How?
- We scoured YouTube for knife-related content
- We then asked the channel creators to sponsor our link in exchange for some free products
It was a great win-win. We secured backlinks from 5 different channels. The result: we built powerful backlinks back to our collection pages AND the videos drove purchases from YouTube viewers who clicked through to our site.
Not bad for a case study! Through the Hobanco.com experience, we were able to gain strategic insight to ensure that we can effectively and efficiently grow your e-commerce business and drive traffic to your website through a our tried-and-true formula.
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