April 3, 2020
Ep. 9 – SEO: The 3 Things Most Shopify Store Owners Are Doing Wrong – with Jeff Couret

Ep. 9 – SEO: The 3 Things Most Shopify Store Owners Are Doing Wrong – with Jeff Couret


There’s really no black magic here when it
comes to Shopify. Just get your content out. Make sure you’re going after the right keywords,
don’t cannibalize your efforts, and then build those links. Welcome to Honest eCommerce where we are dedicated
to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I’m your host, Chase Clymer. And I’m your host, Annette Grant. And we believe running an online business
does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. If you’re struggling to scale your sales electric
guy is here to help to apply to work with us visit electriceye.io/connect to learn more. And let’s get on with the show! On today’s episode of Honest eCommerce, we
welcome Jeff Couret, the founder of SEOak, and he’s going to teach us the three things
that most Shopify store owners do wrong when it comes to SEO. Hey everyone! Welcome back to Honest eCommerce.
I am sitting next to the wonderful Annette Grant. And today, we are welcoming an SEO
expert to our show. Jeff Couret from SEOak is joining us today to talk about the three
things most Shopify store owners do wrong when it comes to SEO. All right, Jeff, what
makes you an expert at SEO? I guess just the fact that I was doing it.
I had a generalist web design agency. And I kind of felt like SEO was the best thing…
The thing that I was probably the best at. And as of about four years ago, I decided
to go all-in on SEO and focus on it. And I rebranded my company as SEOak. We’ve taken on countless SEO campaigns and
then we’ve just kind of leaned into eCommerce over the last two years. It’s just a whole
lot of experience with it and just doing only SEO makes me an expert just because I leaned
all the way in on it. Absolutely. Awesome. Yeah. I think that getting right down and
dirty into one particular niche, you quickly realize how many people are just doing it
wrong and the generalists don’t really know what they’re doing. They kind of just scratched
the surface. Yeah, because that’s where I was. I thought
I was good at SEO, and then when I leaned all the way in on it, I’m like, “Wow, I didn’t
know what I didn’t know.” And then I started learning all this stuff that I didn’t even
know existed. So yeah, and that’s what specialists bring to the table. Absolutely. And then so the transition from
a general SEO to now specifically ecommerce SEO, and I think you’ve recently niched down
into more particularly Shopify, am I correct? Yeah. Are there many changes on how you approach
stuff from say, like a service-based side of things to like, now you’re trying to sell
products? Well, like a local legion. It’s all about
location. Local Legion SEO campaign is all about location and that kind of thing. And
then with selling products, you start getting national and international. So there’s a little
bit of a different approach. But at the end of the day, for SEO, a lot of the same tactics
apply. But we’ve definitely seen some things that work really well for eCommerce and we’ve
noticed a lot of things that people are doing wrong, which will dive into in a couple of
minutes here. Absolutely. So you already hit the nail on
the head there. There’s national/international competition going on here. So how can this
small shop compete against these big national brands on these super competitive keywords? Yeah, like myself, my website. (laughs) So
I’m interested to hear everything you have to say about that. I think that where the huge brands are failing
at SEO and where the opportunity exists, is going all-in on specific keywords. And what
I mean by that is the pages that the big brands have, or let’s just say like a Shopify store
owner has a collection with a description of what it is that they sell. If they were
to add content to that page, do keyword research and really pick what that keyword is, something
that has high volume, but also lower search keyword difficulty, like search competition,
but also build links to that page… Build links, add content, go all-in on the
right keyword, those three things right there had the potential of winning against a huge
brand even though they have all that domain equity and all that stuff. So kind of going
in on the long-tail, I think is what I’m trying to say here, is where they have a chance to
win. Awesome. So, to those that don’t know, could
you explain what a long-tail keyword is and how it plays out with the whole kind of SEO
game? Yeah. A long-tail keyword is basically a longer
keyword with maybe three to five words in it. So a lot of people think keyword –single
word. Well, long tail, three to five, maybe even six or seven, just depending. But probably
not more than five just because very few people will be typically searching for that. Amazing. So using Shopify to go after these
keywords, long tail, is it is an easy process? Is it a hard process. Could I do it myself?
Like how does that work? Yeah. I use a tool called Ahrefs which makes
it so easy, but at the same time, it took me a long time to get good Ahrefs. And what
it allows you to do is type in a keyword, hypothetically the keyword that you think
you might want to go after. Very quickly you can get information on the Keyword Difficulty,
which is a score that Ahrefs gives on How easy would it be to get on page one, based
on the number of backlinks that a page has. So that’s a very valuable piece of information. But on top of that, it also tells you the
search volume in a way that I think is a lot more in-depth than what you might get from
the Google Keyword Planner, which is the Google’s AdWords tool, which SEOs tend to use but yeah,
I think once you kind of get familiar with the Ahrefs platform, you can kind of get an
idea of whether or not a keyword is good or not. But Ahrefs does have a… I think if you just have one domain, it’s
not bad. I’m paying hundreds of dollars a month just because I have a bunch of campaigns
going on at once. But if you just have the one site, I think it should be pretty affordable
for you. Interesting… Awesome. So let’s say that I got a shoe store
and I’m reselling Nikes and Adidas, what would be the play there like using Ahrefs? You’re selling Nikes and Adidas… Well… All the major brands, you know what
I mean? Should I go after those specific keywords? Or, what would you… As an expert, where
would you start the strategy? Sure, that’s a really good question. I probably
go into a descriptive thing, like, what is it? Because you’re not going to win, you’re
probably not going to win for Nike shoes. I don’t think… I mean, it just seems like
one of those things, I’d be really, really hard to compete on… What you might win is
like, men’s streetwear shoes, or basketball shoes for kids or like… Yeah, I think I’d
probably go after the long tail. So where I’d start, is I throw in a couple
of ideas. And I’d probably asked, “What is the niche of the site? Is it just like a kind
of generic retailer of shoes? Is it geared toward basketball? Is it geared toward kids?”
So just depending on where they’re at, I’d throw some of those seeds in there. And Afrefs
has this thing where you throw in like 10 keywords and they’ll give you a bunch of suggestions
based on different things like also ranks for, or questions associated with these keywords. So I throw in a bunch of seed keywords and
some kind of digging, I’m seeing some different opportunities and replacing bad keywords with
better seed keywords, this whole process, you can literally get lost in this stuff. But after maybe an hour or maybe two hours
of just digging and finding opportunities, you can kind of get an idea of what your best
chances of winning are just based on keyword difficulty and search volumes and just trying
to get that good mix. So would you say that Ahrefs kind of can help
you identify that positioning and those and those kind niches that you should be almost
pivoting towards with your marketing? I think so. And my question is do you think Ahrefs is
more for a DIYer or the agency side? Do you think a DIYer like myself could go in and
actually use it and have a good outcome? And… Yeah! I think that you could. I think that
you could. They’ve got a lot of tutorial videos and stuff like that, that kind of simplifies
it, I think… Even back for me, as an agency owner for… I think I started my company
in 2007 originally. I remember feeling that Ahrefs was intimidating. In some ways it was
but once I got in there and got my hands dirty, and started figuring out what all the little
things did… I don’t want to make this all about a tool
because there are other tools like Ahrefs out there. Really what you want to do is find…
The whole point of this is to find the right keyword and Ahrefs is just one way to go about
that. And that’s just kind of… A big part of this is finding that right keyword. Yeah, I mean, I just want to thank you straight
up for… You’re just… You’re telling it like it is. This is the secret sauce. This
is how I help people rank for SEO. So that’s awesome. Thank you so much for that. And then what are some other steps that smaller
shops could take to kind of compete with the bigger brands? Do you have any other ideas
for them? I mean, getting that keyword, adding content…
On Shopify, we’ve got collections, which serve as category pages. What a lot of Shopify store
owners aren’t doing is adding content to those pages. So literally, it’s a dump of all of
the products in that category with nothing else on it. Which at that… If that’s all you have, well then what’s really
separating you from all the other doors competing for that same collection page keyword? And
typically nothing other than inbound links to the entire site that are kind of transferring
link juice to that page. And as far as content, what do you think it
is the most advantageous for a store owner to use? My recommendation for collection page content
is as follows: I would have a small descriptive sentence or two at the top because you don’t
want to take up… You don’t want to force people to scroll down too far to see the product.
So I’d have a couple of sentences at the top and at the bottom, under the products. I would
have, maybe another 300 to 500 words of just the description. What it is that the company does best and
it just kind of a play on some different keywords. And I would only show it on page one of the
collection. If you have multiple pages in that collection, I would only show that text
on page one that way you’re not. You’re not having duplicate content on all your collection
pages on that page one, page two, page three on that collection. That’s another trick. Okay. Yeah, that’s awesome advice. Now, one thing
that I want to point out to our listeners and just with Shopify when you are editing
the product or the category like you can see the meta description stuff right there on
the page. It’s not, you don’t have to jump into the code to attack half of this stuff.
It’s pretty straightforward. Right. You can change it right there on the
collection page in the backend of Shopify. Yeah. So how much technical stuff do you feel
like you’re finding yourself doing for your clients versus things that could have been
done themselves just in the standard UI within Shopify if they just had the knowledge or
sometimes it’s the time to do it themselves. What we typically end up doing for on the
technical side is performance improvements, like using performance tools to kinda see
like, “Is the page loading quickly or is it not?” And a lot of the times not that much
of our resources go toward improving the improvement or improving the page load speed or improving
images, we actually have this action item system. So very few of our action items go toward
that stuff. For the most part, we’re putting our action items toward adding content to
the site planning authority pieces of content, and publishing that and also doing outreach
to build links, and getting that kind of stuff. So a lot of this stuff could be done, but
of course, it’s a time investment. It’s a lot of time and Shopify store owners are pretty
busy people, especially if their stores are having some level of success. It starts to
be kind of not their best interest to do this stuff themselves at some point, but a lot
of people could keep doing this, especially in the early days. What do you think is that tipping point for
a store owner revenue-wise to bring someone on to catapult that their sales just using
SEO? What do you see there? I would say, it seems like the best fit for
what we go after is around $30k per month… Cool. …mark, although we do have some smaller
plans available just seems like the best bet is around that $400,000 per year in revenue
mark, which is around $30k, I think, per month. And that’s what it’s like, “Alright. It’s
time to just focus on what you do to improve the product. Let somebody else handle it.” No, I think that’s great for our listeners
to put that on there. Their goal tracker of that’s the time to actually bring a professional
in on that part and kind of just let Shopify do its job on that, and then do it organically
in the beginning. Because at that point, you’ve kind of got
their product-market fit. Things are rolling along. And then it’s like, “Alright now how
do we leverage things? How do we add more fuel to the fire and get some of this stuff
off of our internal teams’ plate, so we can focus on fixing the processes and make it
overall.” Like big picture stuff. Yeah, I appreciate that answer that it’s,
“Hey, you don’t want to start off with us right out of the gate. So thank you for that. Support for our podcast comes from our friends
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email and live chat around the clock with Simplr specialists. Start your free seven-day trial at Simplr.ai/honest. Let’s go to “The three wrong…” Yeah, the title of the podcast. We haven’t
even got to. (laughs) What are the three mistakes that, like glaring
mistakes they make… What mistakes has Annette made? Yeah. (laughs) I know I’ve made… I don’t know on that site. But here’s what
we typically see. Number one, not creating authority content and often times no content
at all. So, what we see especially in the fashion… In like jewelry space, for Shopify
or any eCommerce really, they’ll put out like… Instead of putting out authority content –and
by authority I mean, helpful, educational, something that positions your companies in
authority in some way or another– And then what will seem like the fashion and jewelry
spaces.. “All right, well, they’ll have all these models
for their photo shoots.” And they’ll do like a bio or something. They’ll interview the
model. And that’ll be like their content. And like, yeah, it’s great that you’re trying,
it’s great that you’re putting something out there. But really for SEO, you really need
to have something a little bit more beefy. I’m talking about 2000 words minimum. And
a little bit more frequently, too. Ideally, like once a week would be amazing.
And I know that’s not realistic for a lot of companies, but at the very least once a
month, put out something like at least 2000 words. That’s designed to hit your customers
at some point in their buying journey, whether it’s very early, or the middle to help your
awareness and to help you rank and to help generate inbound links. But that’s number
one. Okay. Number two is keyword cannibalization. We’re
actually dealing with this right now. For a company and they’ve got their keyword on
their homepage, basically the keywords that they’re going after on their homepage is also
in their title tag for their “about page”. It’s on their title tag for their contact
page. It’s on their title tag for multiple collections. It’s on their title tag for their
blog homepage. Could you give us an example? It doesn’t have
to be that customer but… Yeah, because this customer is on a white-label
basis. Okay, I said too much. But let’s just say hypothetically, your store is all about
selling… Let’s go back to the basketball shoes. You’re selling basketball shoes. So
let’s just say basketball shoes is in your homepage title tag. John’s basketball shoes.
Let’s just say, that’s the name of the store: John’s Basketball Shoes. Okay. Basketball shoes is in your title tag for
your homepage. It’s in your contact. Contact John’s basketball shoes. Wait up. Hold on.
So, okay. But basketball shoes is a keyword. That’s not the name of the company. Let’s
say the name of the company is John’s Kicks. Okay. The name of the company is John’s Kicks. Their
keyword is basketball shoes. So, John’s Kicks has basketball shoes in their homepage title
tag, they got basketball shoes in their about page title tag, the contact page title tag,
you know what I’m saying? Gotcha. It’s like everywhere. Now, here’s the problem
with that. Google gets a little confused. They’re like, all right, somebody searching
for basketball shoes. Well, how do we know, to show the homepage? Or how do we know whether
or not we should show the homepage, whether or not we should show the basketball case
collection page? Gotcha. How should we show the basketball shoes for
kids collection page? Or should we show the about page? And so they call it keyword cannibalization
because you’re kind of eating your own chances of success. Because you’ve got too many… It’s hard enough in 2019 to rank for a keyword
in general. Now you’re diluting those efforts if you’ve got multiple pages on your site
competing for the same keywords. So that’s just known as keyword cannibalization and
we see it pretty frequently. Okay. Number three? Number three would be not building links aggressively
enough. Oooohhhhh. Okay. A lot of times people will be too just content
in getting PR, that they’re just getting naturally without much effort. And they’re getting links
from blogs without much effort, you really do have to step it up a notch. And that’s
something that working with a company like mine can help with. It’s just a massive time
thing. It’s something that anybody can do. Right. But it’s something that takes a lot of effort
and a lot of resources to make happen. So… But you can see huge wins… Yeah. …on a couple of those links. If they really,
say, fire off for you. Well, here’s what I think we should explain,
to the people that don’t know, why links matter and talk about backlinks and just a quick
synopsis there, Backlinks are typically what we see when someone
adds a link to your site from theirs. So, Google sees that as a vote to your site, a
vote of authority, a vote of confidence. And the more of those that you have, generally,
the better that you do. In fact, it’s definitely very common to see with Shopify stores competing
on a keyword that the person with the most links wins. And it’s not always perfect like sometimes
there are definitely other factors at play, but it’s definitely not surprising to see,
“Oh, well, that’s why he’s number one. He’s got 300 backlinks to this one page where everybody
else has like 50 or like zero. Well, yeah, that’s why he’s winning.” It’s just one of
those things you can’t ignore. But at the same time, I wouldn’t make that
your only strategy, you really do need a well-balanced approach of… We actually have this three-pillar…
What we call the three pillars of modern SEO. Pillar number one: Architecture and User Experience. Number two: Authority Content Creation and
Influencer Outreach. And then pillar number three would be the
overall inbound link landscape. That’s just the overall quality and quantity of the inbound
links pointing to your site. So you really want to hit all three of those pillars about
evenly. And yeah that system literally powers everything
that we do here at SEOak. I have two questions, and you’re crushing
it over here. One, I want to talk about architecture. I’m under the understanding, but I want your
expert opinion on it. I am not an SEO expert. I’ll never claim to be. Does Shopify as a
CMS build out an SEO friendly architecture for the website? Whew. (laughs) Whoa! I didn’t know I asked the million-dollar question. (laughs) You know, that’s something that we’re
actively trying to figure out. Because a lot of the developers and the experts who work
on the development side that we work with to help us implement the SEO strategies tell
us, “Hey, that’s just Shopify, there’s not much that can be done.” And part of me wants
to believe that. The other part of me is like, maybe I’m not working with the right development
specialist or the site performance specialist. I’m kind of talking to some different people.
But for the most part, all the development specialists have told me that, “Hey, look,
Shopify, you can’t fix that problem with Shopify, you can’t fix that. That’s just the way Shopify
is.” Other people say, “Well, maybe it’s some of
the apps.” “Well, hey, if it’s the Shopify apps, why is that exists on these five different
sites, and they all have a different app?” So it’s like, the best way for me to answer
that question is I don’t know. And we’re actively learning to find out. Yeah, it’s kind of leaning
toward the “no” side, unfortunately. Oh no… I mean, but I don’t want to say that you can’t
have major success. You absolutely can. I’m talking about the nitpicky, really getting
things perfect. Yeah, you’re a perfectionist. It doesn’t always matter for SEO. For success,
I should say. Yeah, I just think with Shopify powering now
maybe 50%… –that’s the guess I have no idea. I haven’t looked at any numbers– but
50% of the successful stores out there are maybe powered by Shopify, and it’s aggressively
going after that market share. Maybe Google is now understanding those elements
of that CMS. I feel like it’s a learning experience for Google’s algorithm as well. Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s all relative.
If you are at the top, you just want to be in the top percentage of the people on the
homepage. So if everybody’s got Shopify, for your Q…
–and when I say homepage, I mean, the first page of Google– so if everybody’s using Shopify
on the first page of Google for your desired keyword, and you’re just kind of toward the
top, all things being equal, everything else being equal, if you’re toward the top, you
should be toward the top of the results. So just look at it relatively and just do
the best you can. But no one expects you to completely break Shopify in order to fix these
really nitpicky things. And Google’s learning this stuff, like, as you said. Google’s learning
like, “Okay, this is Shopify, let’s get let’s cut them a little slack.”, I think. that’s
probably what they’re used to. And Shopify is a great platform and a lot
of people having massive success with it. So it’s not anything I would definitely…
I would switch platforms because of. Yeah, I think that’s a very important point
there. That if you’re finding success on your platform, you don’t need to re-platform. Sometimes
people think that they need to move Shopify to succeed. And I’ll be the first to tell you like, “If
you’re doing fine, stay on whatever you’re doing.” It’s an investment to move platforms.
And it’s only a good idea if that platform is going to solve a problem that you can’t
fix. Right. Yeah. Cool. I think we kind of brushed on it. But
what’s like an 80/20 rule when it comes to Shopify for SEO? 80/20? Yeah. So what I would say is, you want
to create content and publish it regularly, which we did mention earlier, focus on the right keywords, and build links. Absolutely. So I got a good question here.
So a lot of the young brands out there they start out –maybe t-shirt brands or they may
even have like a cool product– And you said that like all these younger brands that they’ll
like, do these photoshoots and they’ll have these collections and that’s their blog content. Do you have any tips for other types of content
they should consider that’s going to be leaning more towards authority and not like this filler,
useless content which it kind of is? Because there’s really no black magic here.
When it comes to Shopify. Just get your content out, make sure you’re going after the right
keywords, don’t cannibalize your efforts, and then build those links. Those three things
are going to move the needle most quickly for you. Absolutely. There are two different types of authority
content, I think you should consider. We actively try to find an overlap, but a lot of times
it’s hard to find an overlap. So one type of authority content is going to allow you
to build the most amount of links. And another type of authority content is going to allow
you to rank better on Google for that authority content’s keyword. And so for example… The first example I was giving… Okay, so
the type of authority content that’s going to allow you to build the best and the most
links are around another subject. So it’s something that’s not going to be that interesting
for your store’s target market. So you might have to go after something like sustainability,
or the elderly or the physically or mentally handicapped and try to mend that in with your
content a little bit. Now, the awesome thing about this type of
content is, if you go after these types of communities and you tell them, “Hey, look
at this content we created. It’s designed to help people or appeal to people in your
demographic.” And then you go after them, they’ll give you
some amazing links. In fact, we’ve seen like, people give us homepage links and stuff like
that to this content, which is awesome. So that type of link is going to give authority
to the whole rest of the site, just because your blog pages tend to link to the homepage
and every other… So that link juice, that link value, gets passed along to the rest
of the site. So that’s one type of authority content. And
then the other type is, when you go into, let’s just say Ahrefs or another keyword tool,
when you find an opportunity, something that has a very low keyword difficulty or competition
and has a high search volume, a high ish, usually you’re not going to find a high search
volume and low difficulty but you can find a good middle ground. Well, then that’s something that you could
go after for in order to rank on Google for that keyword. And you’re not going to get
as good of links if you do outreach. In fact, you might not get any links, or very few.
But that has a really good chance of showing up on Google. If you go after a really low
search keyword Difficulty. It has a chance of getting you awareness that
way, just by naturally ranking on Google, because it’s such a good article, because
it was written so well, and because it’s better than anything else out there. So that’s a good chance to get somebody early
or in the middle of the funnel on their buying journey to eventually buying from your store.
So let me know if that made sense. Yes. Oh yeah. It did a total sense Good. Yeah. So one of our last questions here, what
makes your organization SEO different from other SEO companies, When people are ready
to make that jump to hire a firm? Give us some of the differences that you guys offer. Yeah, I think just the fact that for the last
few years, we’ve been doing almost nothing but eCommerce, SEO, it’s just naturally made
us a lot more effective at it. Just by sheer hours and experience. And then that’s translating
today into faster results for companies who sell online, faster results and better ROI.
I think that’s what’s setting us apart the most right now. And I kind of just want to spell it out for
our listeners. It’s SEOak. There’s no… There’s… Not two O’s, just one. SEOak.co. Yep. You know, you’ve got a good brand name
when you have to say that every single time and miss and correct people’s bad pronunciations
of it. Because people say SEO-oak and all this other stuff. And like, “Oh man, I didn’t
think about that.” (laughs) But yeah, as SEOak and the oak tree part is
a play to my home city of New Orleans. And the fact that oak SEO is kind of like an oak
tree. Once it’s kind of sprouted and grown into this big tree, it’s not going anywhere. Yeah. You got your links built. You got your links built, you’re in the ground,
you’re firmly rooted on the internet, you’re firmly rooted in success. That’s where the
oak tree comes from. And all the branches are like the pillars that we talked about.
I think I’m going to rename those pillars just branches. Yeah, for sure. Because that’s what they are their branches
to your success. No. I like that. Thank you. But yeah, that’s SEOak. And, I’ve
actually got this cheat sheet… Awesome. Yeah. It’s designed for eCommerce store owners and
marketing managers. It’s a cheat sheet for all the stuff that we’re talking about. It’s
going to give you some direction on doing some of this stuff yourself and taking some
major steps to getting the success. Okay. seaok.co/cheat Awesome. That’s amazing. So, seaok.co/cheat,
to pick up Jeff’s free SEO eCommerce cheat sheet and it’s going to contain a lot of the
stuff that we talked about today. Jeff, I got one more question for you before we wrap
this up. What is your restaurant that you recommend to people that are visiting? Oh, wow. Oh, there’s so many. You guys got such amazing food down there. Yeah, we’re definitely a food city. I think
you can’t go wrong with Commander’s Palace. You have to wear a jacket, but they’re really
nice. If you forget your suit jacket, they’ll give you one (laughs) just to have that ambiance
but they have some amazing food there. It’s just one of the… You get amazing service.
When they come bring your food, then you got a party of like 10, each of your plates will
hit the table at the exact same second. It’s that methodical and everybody out here loves
them. So yeah, that’s what I would definitely check out and we could go on for hours. That’s
the next podcast… (laughs) Right! …of all the different restaurants. (laughs) Absolutely. (laughs) Awesome. Look, I can’t
thank you enough for being on the show today. Awesome. Well, I’m sure that we’ll have you
back and we’ll go down the rabbit hole of SEO again. Sounds great. Great. Thank you. We can’t thank our guests enough for coming
on the show and sharing the truth. Links and more will be available in the show notes.
If you found any actionable advice in this podcast that you’d like to apply to your business,
please reach out at electriceye.io/connect. Please make sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts,
Spotify or your podcast app of choice.

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