Hey everyone,

It’s Terry here and I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been struck with a cold the past week and haven’t been able to record anything with this cough. However I can still type so here are some updates from my side of the table.

I hope to be back before the end of Feburary!

Forever Home Blankets: I finally figured out my logistics and had all my remiaining Kickstarter orders shipped. The Shopify store is also now linked to the Shipstation account of my friend’s company Shipinator that is doing the end to end logistics for me. I can get the landed cost to customer’s door for around $8.00 USD which is great given recent USPS rate changes to Priority Mail.

Fufillment By Amazon: I’m toying with the idea of putting a few units of these blankets via FBA, but have to do some more research on the keywords to use with a few tools. Should have more updates on this in the next month or so.

Moved To China: Since Feb 2017, I’ve moved out of Vietnam to Shenzhen China. It’s a long story, but I can explain it more once I get my voice back. In the meantime, if you are based out of Shenzhen or going to the Canton Fair in April 2017, shoot me a message via email terry [at] buildmyonlinestore [dot] com.

Hope all is well and I’ll catch you soon!

 

Google Webmaster Tools (rebranded Search Console) is a free service everyone should have linked up to their website. Google Analytics tells you what a visitor does. Webmaster Tools tells you how Google sees your site. At a strategic level, it can help you make better decisions on the direction of marketing campaigns, site design, and server side issues.

  • How many links did you get this year?
  • Are all your paged indexed properly?
  • What keywords are you ranking for?
  • How does Google score your site’s mobile experience?
  • How fast is your site loading?

These are just a few answers it can provide. If you haven’t done an audit before on your store, now is a good time to do it. Find out where you currently stand for everything. Keywords. Backlinks. Sitespeed. Mobile Usability. That way you can form a better marketing plan for next year and execute on that.

Boom.

It’s even more powerful when you link it up with Analytics, Adwords, Youtube, and other Google properties yet to come. More info in a previous article here: 6 Ways To Make SEO & PPC Work Together. So how can this tool help you?

#1: Search Analytics & Keyword Rankings

Search queries in Google Analytics are now labeled as (not provided). Not so in Webmaster Tools! You can still get data on your keyword rankings, CTR, impression count, and compare them to previous time periods. You can also filter the data by keywords, device, and search types.

While some paid SEO tools might provide more granular data regarding the competition’s rankings too, it’s not practical for everyone to pay the monthly subscriptions so this will have to do. There’s a couple of ways to use this data.

One is to see if you’re ranking for the right keywords and brand terms. Export your data to Excel or Google Sheets. Identify the keywords you’re currently ranking #1 to #3 for. How about #4 to #10? #11 to #20? #21 to #50?

Keyword Rankings For Baller Leather

Keyword Rankings For Baller Leather

There are opportunities for quick wins. Find keywords that you’re ranking #4 to #10. See if you have a high click-through rate (10%+) for them. Do those keywords have high monthly impression counts and matter for your business? If so, check your on-site SEO to see if it’s optimized correctly for that keyword. Title. H1. Image <ALT>. Meta Description, and more.

With one client site, we identified a keyword where he was ranking #8 and getting a 25% clickthrough rate. We fixed the on-site SEO to include that keyword and waited two weeks. Like a magician that pulled out a pigeon, he now ranks #2-#3 for that keyword and its variations. Boom.

Here’s an easy way to keep track of your rankings over time. Every quarter, add up the number of keywords you are ranking for into four groups. #1 to #3. #4 to #10. #11 to #20. #21 to #50. This gives you a high level view of your rankings in different brackets of search results. If you’d like a spreadsheet example, click here.

#2: Index Count & 404 Crawl Errors

Is publishing content a big part of your marketing strategy? If so, you want to make sure every post (or product page) is properly indexed by Google. If there’s 100 products, you want to make sure a similar number is indexed. One way to do this is by submitting an XML Sitemap. Every shopping cart is able to generate one for you. This provides Google with a roadmap and better understanding of your website.

If only my crazy ex girlfriends came with an XML sitemap, it would have saved me years of time! *ba dum tsss*

XML Sitemap for Build My Online Store

XML Sitemap for Build My Online Store

So what’s a 404 error? It’s kind of like being blocked on an online dating site. One time I was talking to a woman on Tinder, and we got into an argument over Graham Hancock’s work on the history of civilization. She said I’m crazy for reading his book. Nobody in the academic world takes his theories seriously. I never replied and blocked her.

When it comes to your site, a 404 error is when a page goes missing after clicking a broken link. Chances are if your store is at least a year old you’ve got a few. These happen by updating URL of product pages, using short links, or deleting pages that you think are harmless. Google says it doesn’t harm your search rankings, but it provides a crappy user experience.

You can find these under Crawl -> Crawl Errors. I’ve actually got a few at BMOS here (78 links), so I’ve got some work to do over the holidays.

404 Errors For Build My Online Store...lot of fixing to do over the holidays!

404 Errors For Build My Online Store…lot of fixing to do over the holidays!

 

#3: External Links

If you’re publishing a lot of content, doing PR, or getting your brand out there – you want to know who’s linking back. How are those efforts paying off? Google Webmaster Tools provides you with this data. There’s also a filter for internal links so that the data stays separate. You can find this under Search Traffic -> Links To Your Site.

External Links To Baller Leather

External Links To Baller Leather

Under this dashboard you will find three areas. Who links the most, your most linked content, and how your data is linked. In each report, you can also download the data to filter out in Excel or Google Sheets.

It’s also great to see which pages on your site are getting the most links. By linking Google Analytics, you can get even more data on referral sites and traffic reports.

For most linked content, this allows you to see which pieces are popular among other websites. If your Google Analytics is linked to Webmaster Tools (it should be), you can see a trafifc report from referring sites at the bottom.

#4: Site Speed

When a site takes more than five seconds to load I always leave. Doesn’t matter if it’s super interesting or naked photos of a celebrity. I ain’t got the patience for that. In recent years site speed has become integral to the user experience. It’s also known that Google puts some weight into this for search rankings. Not only that, but Adwords takes that into account when it comes to calculating your Quality Score. That in turns, affects your ad rank and CPC costs.

Luckily, Webmaster Tools allows you to see how fast Google is fetching your site. Go to Crawl -> Fetch as Google and enter your site to see how fast it’s performing.

Sitespeed test for Baller Leather in Webmaster Tools

Sitespeed test for Baller Leather in Webmaster Tools

For a more detailed analysis, run your site through the Pingdom speed test. It will break down all the HTML elements for you by time. Common culprits for eCommerce stores include large unoptimized images, too much javascript, or an old website theme that is now clunky.

 

#5: Mobile Usability Errors

Everyone is a smartphone these days. If your site is not at least mobile friendly, Google is now penalizing your site is mobile search results. You can find the mobile errors Google sees under Search Console -> Mobile Usability. These errors will usually be related to font sizes, touch elements, flash usage, and more. It’s a good primer for future redesigns or choosing a new theme.

Mobile Usability Issues For Build My Online Store...Fixing This In 2016!

Mobile Usability Issues For Build My Online Store…Fixing This In 2016!

If you’re using mobile-based marketing channels like Instagram, your site better be mobile-friendly. Nobody wants to click a site and have all the elements out of whack and unreadable. It will lead to a high bounce rate and low ROI to your marketing efforts.

#6: Paid & Organic Search Reports

Adwords has some pretty powerful reporting tools. By linking them up with Webmaster Tools, you can get even more data to see how paid ads are performing against your organic search rankings. This helps you understand how they work together, and how your marketing budget can be better spent over the long-term.

 

Organic results can help you find new keyword ideas for Adwords that already have search traction. Paid traffic can help you find new keywords to rank for in SEO. Boom. With paid search, Google Shopping, and various other elements dominating the search pages now, you want to get as much real estate as you possibly can.

To use this report, make sure your Adwords and Webmater Tools are linked up together. More info on using SEO and PPC together in an article I wrote a few weeks ago here.

#7: Malware & Security Risks

SEO/Adwords - Paid & Organic Report

SEO/Adwords – Paid & Organic Report

If your store is hosted on Shopify or Big Commerce, they handle the security risks for you. Which may or may not be a good thing. But if you’re on WooCommerce or Magento, it’s all on your. Unless you are a security expert, chances are you have no idea what you’re doing. Luckily Webmaster Tools provides some early diagnostics if anything goes wrong, so keep an eye out in this area if you are hosting your own cart.

No Security Issues - Build My Online Store

No Security Issues – Build My Online Store

Now Go Audit Your Site

Now you know how to use Webmaster Tools. I’d advise doing a site audit if you haven’t done one in a while. Find out what your rankings are, who is linking to your site, and if there are new keyword opportunities to target for content/SEO the next year.

But hey, if you’re too lazy to do this on your own, get in touch and you can hire me to do it for ya.

Cheers and have a nice week ahead!

When it comes to SEO and PPC, you’ll often hear it’s an either/or choice you must make. Evangelists on both sides argue how their method is the best, when in reality there are many things that make both stronger when used together.

Real estate on search results is constantly changing. Depending on what you enter, it’s now a mix of organic results, paid text ads, product listing ads, local listings, Youtube videos, or more.

Why Make SEO & PPC Worth Together?

If you’re only relying on one channel, chances are there’s traffic being left on the table, especially if you already know which keywords, products, or landing pages convert well for you.

As ad platforms on new and existing channels get more mature, there is also more data at your disposal to make better decisions.

Lately I’ve been doing a few year-end marketing audits for stores looking at the whole gauntlet: order history, email lists, keyword rankings, paid traffic, link profiles, analytics, and much more.

It’s good housekeeping to do this on a quarterly basis to know where you stand and the direction things are going. Here are some high level takeaways you can get from cross referencing data from your PPC and SEO efforts:

 

1. Get Better Data With Integration

Remember Megazord from the Power Rangers?

(It’s about to get super nerdy.)

He was the combination of the five Dinozord robots:

  • Tyrannosaurus (Red Ranger)
  • Pterodactyl (Pink Ranger)
  • Mastodon (Black Ranger)
  • Triceratops (Blue Ranger)
  • Sabertooth Tiger (Yellow Ranger)

On their own they were pretty badass, but together as Megazord they had a sword, shield, and could even shoot both fists as a projectile.

Wow!

Megazord - Using PPC and SEO Together

It’s the same concept with your online marketing tools.

Adwords, Webmaster Tools, and Analytics all have their own backend data systems.

Linking them together (along with Youtube) makes your depth of data an incredible beast.

Megazord, power up!

By combining PPC and SEO data, your Megazord is the Paid & Organic Search Report, where you can see how paid text ads are working together with organic search rankings.

To get started, you’ll need to link up Webmaster Tools ASAP because organic search data is only reported once they are integrated.

You won’t see any historical data prior to this, so even if you’re not running PPC now get everything linked up to have this down the line.

In the report, you can get insights on queries where only an ad was shown, both organic/ads, or just organic results.

One catch is that the organic data provided here is not filtered through the same targeting criteria with Adwords, so it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison.

Nevertheless you should get some good insights compared to not having them linked up at all.

 

2. Have Clean Site & Campaign Structures

Remember games like Starcraft, Age of Empires, or Clash of Clans where you have to build a base and army?

Chances are if you skipped ahead and didn’t follow proper upgrades (aka “rushing), your base is now a huge mess that you have to spend time unwinding and fixing.

Like this one below, if you play Clash of Clans:

Rushed Clash Of Clans Base - PPC Campaign Structure

It’s quite similar when you start out with PPC.

With no proper structure and organization in mind, things can quickly get messy once you start bidding on dozens (or hundreds/thousands) of keywords.

You want to go in with a game plan on setting up your campaign structure, ad groups, which landing pages to use, and much more.

Budgets, locations, languages, and bid strategies are set at the campaign level so you’ll want a structure that’s efficient, avoids overlap, and allows you to easily manage performance.

Some things to consider:

  • Is location important?
  • How many keywords are you bidding on?
  • Will you only do text ads?
  • PLAs?
  • Youtube Ads?
  • IDDQD?
  • Power Overwhelming?

Your landing page also has a big impact on your Quality Score, which means you’ll want SEO elements like site structure, navigation, categories, and product keywords all optimized too. 

Beyond that, there are conversion elements like copywriting, headlines, call-to-actions, site speed, images, and much more that can be tweaked to help both SEO and PPC efforts.

Putting some thought and discipline into this will save you headaches down the road, especially when it comes to having a team member trying to make sense of campaigns named “Boots 2013” or “Test 1“.

 

3. Optimize Your SEO With Adwords Data

In most strategy games there’s something called the fog of war.

Unless you explore that space, you won’t know what’s behind it.

A good strategy is to scout ahead to see what your enemy is doing, and build an army to counter the weakness of his base or troops.

Fog Of War - SEO & PPC Working Together

With Google now encrypting all search queries in Analytics, there’s a permanent fog of war over your data that you won’t have access to unless you discover it with Adwords.

It can take months or years to rank for keywords, and if you end up optimizing for ones that don’t generate sales, all that hard work goes down the drain.

Your PPC ad copy can also help your SEO efforts by providing data on the right messaging. You can then use that data to optimize your on-site elements such as title tags and meta descriptions.

PPC is also able to give you first hand data on bounce rate, time on site, and average pageviews of new keyword ideas.

This is something that keyword tools can’t provide no matter how much research you do. 

But remember…ROI is the bottom line, so don’t blow your PPC budget and SEO efforts purely chasing CTR!

 

4. Create Better Retargeting Lists

Virtually every nightclub in the world segments people from the haves (VIP) and have-nots (normal admission).

For normal admission there is usually a cover charge no matter where you go, in exchange for a crappy fountain drink as a consolation prize.

Often times for VIP you can just get in knowing the right people or having a good male to female ratio in the group.

Waiting In Line

For Adwords you are paying for every click, whereas an organic search rankings yield more ROI over the long term.

That allows you to build a bigger remarketing list as you’re also tagging people from search results. 

As you rank for more keywords, this plays out heavily over the long term. Used along with Customer Emails Lists in Adwords, you can get laser focused on targeting previous customers (Gmail, Youtube, etc.).

 

5. Increase Visibility For Bestsellers

In The Matrix Revolutions (3rd movie), bad guy Agent Smith has managed to copy himself and take over nearly every human in the Matrix, giving him complete control over the core network.

Neo is the only one that can stop him, and if he fails Smith will destroy everything.

Luckily when it comes to search results, you want to be like Agent Smith and dominate all the real estate.

That means more visibility, impressions, traffic, and ultimately sales to your site.

Screw the Oracle!

Agent Smith - SEO and PPC Visibility

For products that are ranking organically and driving a lot of sales, consider dominating more real estate by creating PPC Ads.

Since landing pages are a big part of PPC, knowing which products already convert will give you a head start.

You can find this data in Analytics by going to Conversions -> E-Commerce -> Product Performance and set the primary dimension to Product SKU.

Then you want to determine your break-even CPC, given current conversion and profit margins.

That way you’ll know the bid levels you can play with, along with simulating some best-case / worst-case scenarios.

Some stores can afford to lose money on the first sale to get the customer in the door (i.e. supplements, subscription, or consumables), so it will depend on your business model and product margins.

Find a monthly number you’re comfortable starting out with and calculate the daily budget from there.

By protecting the downside and focusing on what already converts, you can dive in with much more confidence whether it’s remarketing, Google Shopping, Youtube Ads, or Adwords.

Do you know your average profit per order, lifetime value, and repeat purchase rate?

If not, it’s also time to do an audit on your sales history and customer data.

 

6. Use Site Search For SEO & PPC Ideas

If there’s a super low hanging fruit for keyword ideas, it’s what people are already searching for on your site.

After all they’ve taken the time to stay, look around for products, and are now trying their luck in the search box to see if you have what they’re looking for.

Site Search For SEO and PPC

For online stores that have hundreds if not thousands of products, your site search data can yield a wealth of information in keyword ideas to target for both SEO and PPC.

On the SEO side, they can help with title, meta description, and content ideas. On the PPC front, this can give you some new keyword ideas to try.

 

Get Started Today

The first step you should do right now (if you haven’t already) is linking up your Adwords, Webmaster Tools, Analytics, and Youtube.

As online marketing becomes more complicated every year with new tools at your disposal, learning how to make sense of the data and identifying opportunities will give you an edge, while allowing you to get more bang for your dollars.

There are plenty of other ways to utilize both PPC and SEO together that are left out here: Mobile, Google Shopping, Youtube Ads, etc…It’s just too much to include in one post, so we’ll tackle that subject another day.

Are there other ways you utilize both PPC and SEO that’s missing from here?

Happy to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Subscribe to Build My Online Store in your favorite podcast player, or check out the episode list of our eCommerce podcast.

Last week a listener left a comment calling me out on a few things I’ve failed to follow up on and wanted to get my thoughts. You can find the original comment here. Since there were quite a few questions, I decided to answer them in a post here incase some other folks might be wondering the same thing.

 

“Finally after one year of listening I was able to catch up on all episodes. In the beginning I was really thinking this is a great web show but by now I have some serious doubts that I am going to formulate some questions for you.”

First off, thanks for listening to all the old episodes as it’s been over three years in the making. Hope all is well in Berlin, Germany too (yes, I checked your IP address). My parents just recently moved to Leipzig so will be visiting sometime next year once it warms up.

There are 160+ episodes now across three years so I don’t remember what’s said in every episode. Since you listened to all episodes in a row, chances are your memory is much fresher on everything that happened in a much shorter time frame.

Hope there are a few tips that you have already applied to your store!

Our pre-show updates are generally kept under one minute for each person, so that means we have to cut out stuff that either isn’t that important, didn’t work out, or just isn’t our focus right now. Sure, that might create holes in the narrative here and there, but I think most people are not keeping track and we can live with it. On to the responses:

BMOS-Questions1

“Why do you talk about so many “best-practices“ on your show but don’t realize on your website?” What you say: Content Marketing Strategy is a long-term strategy.  What you do: You have only a few articles from May/June and that’s about it.”

Content marketing isn’t only limited to blog posts. It can also be in the form of infographics, videos, pictures, podcasts, presentations, and more. Earlier in the year I experimented with some text content on the blog, but realized that for fashion products it doesn’t really work. It really has to be image or video driven – especially if your product isn’t about fixing a problem, but creating a desire. You can say a fashion magazine like GQ or FHM is text content, but 70% of each edition is still image based.

After seeing no traction for about 2-3 months, I stopped doing text content and started experimenting with Instagram here. It’s still too early to see any results yet, but followers have grown from 100 to 4,000 so far. I tried some different content ideas at the 100-200 follower level but there was no critical mass to see any meaningful results. The goal is to get 10,000 followers in the next few months and see what content is getting the most engagement.

Whether that’s quotes, travel photos, product photos, or comedy – who knows? Likewise, it’s not worth talking about yet since it may or may not work too, so we’ll have to see later on.

 

“What you say: Alt images text are important for SEO. What you do: Your alt images are “image 1” etc.”

You’re right on this one. I had my images all setup correctly when the store first launched in 2014, but earlier in 2015 I updated some and probably forgot to check the alt tags. Thank you for pointing that out.

 

“What you say: Generating a e-mail list is essential for your marketing.What you do: There are no pop ups or other serious attends to catch leads on your website.”

After realizing that image-based content was what fashion products needed, I tried a few discount code opt-ins but that didn’t seem to work either. At the core there just wasn’t enough consistent traffic coming to the site to really split test different opt-ins, so I decided to focus on traffic building first by creating a stronger profile on Instagram.

Until the Instagram profile gets bigger, the project is not a priority as I’m focused on BMOS client services which is going quite well. A problem with wallets is that most people don’t need to purchase them on a repeat basis, so you’ll have to churn through a lot of new traffic in order to really grow this.

With one anchor client we’ve been able to increase their email opt-ins from 3.5% to 4.2% which is pretty good. People only care about the results you can get for them and that’s all that really matters. Many of these clients have more mature businesses, so simple tweaks can make a bigger difference.

BMOS-Questions2

“Why do talk about what you want to do but never catch up on how it went?”

Sometimes I don’t follow up because it was just an idea that didn’t work out, sounded good in the moment, or wasn’t worth talking about again. We now only record every two weeks and a lot happens in-between then. For each pre-show update we try to keep it under one minute (for each person) so a lot of unimportant stuff is left out on purpose. I do not keep a checklist of everything I say on each episode, nor do I plan to in the future either. Keep in mind you are also listening to old episodes all at once in the past year, so the sense of time and progression isn’t the same as if you started in 2012 and only listened once a week.

 

“What happened with your crowdfunding campaign? Why are you talking about around 10 episodes, what you are working on but not why you failed?”

I chose not to talk about it for a few months and that was my decision on purpose.

After the campaign failed I didn’t want anything to do with it. I’d been working on it from October 2014 – March 2015 and needed some time away to process what didn’t work and what went wrong. So during that time I really had nothing to say as I was still trying to figure it out myself. Have you done a crowdfunding campaign before? If not, you won’t understand the feeling that comes with publically failing.

It barely hit any traction at around 10% funding and the issue came down to a few things. One, doing product design and marketing as one person isn’t viable, let alone running a podcast at the same time.

Every time I worked on the product, the marketing department stalled and vice versa. The solutions were to either find a co-founder, spend a longer period of time (1-2 years) to really develop both product and marketing, or spend money to outsource one of them before launch. A lot of it was going in with unrealistic expectations on what one person could do in a short six month period of time.

So I tried some Facebook Ads to drive visitors to a landing page to sign up for launch information, but it was a huge gamble. Even if you can get good CPC or CTR rates, you have no idea how good this traffic is until the campaign actually launches. Each email I got was obtained at a cost around $1.50 USD, so building a list of up to 3,000 people would have costed almost $4,500 USD for something that may or may not work.

The other solution is reaching out to fashion blogs and influencers for traffic, but turns out they don’t accept submissions until a campaign is live, in addition to reviewing a product sample in some special cases. Given the product was still in development and I only had three samples, it didn’t make sense to send them out to bloggers as I still needed them for video, photos, and other tasks.

What I should have done was a small production run of 20-30 units, send them to key influencers, family, and peers to have them test it out. Besides getting actual design and user feedback, this gives you more buy-in for them to promote you once it’s actually live and it snowballs from there. Going back to the timeframe issue, six months is not enough time to get this done if you are starting the campaign from scratch.

That’s probably the 80/20 of everything related to that campaign, and since it’s not my focus anymore I don’t see any reason to talk about it from now on.

BMOS-Questions3

“How is it going with your shop? The only thing what you have mentioned is that the branding is probably not good.  I think there are more learnings that you can share with us what works and what not for you.”

I share only what I’m comfortable sharing. A few copycats have popped up since I started talking about it in 2014, and some people have even tried to ask me for my supplier’s information because they also want to get into wallets. Since it’s still a new project, I don’t see the benefit in giving everything away that’s working which will result in a copycat or rip-off.

Being under the spotlight on the internet exposes you to this, so we are now more selective with what we share on purpose. Travis has also come under fire lately as someone has tried to negative SEO his website. So right now we only choose to share information that we are comfortable with, unless it’s in a mastermind group where everyone is more transparent since things are off the record.

 

“Over time you have lost a lot of credibility for me. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a hater and I really like you. Otherwise I would have not raised my concerns in such a way.”

It’s fine, I’m not going to lose any sleep over your feedback.

Hope this helps!

Subscribe to Build My Online Store in your favorite podcast player, or check out the episode list of our eCommerce podcast.

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