eCommerce SEO Case Study: From Zero To A Million Impressions In A Year

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12 months 1 million impressions

About the eCommerce brand

Zen Medicinal is an eCommerce brand that started selling products online in late May of 2019.

They’re a holistic health brand that sells a natural herbal supplement called ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha has multiple physical and mental health benefits that help with things like muscle growth, sleep quality, hormone levels, sexual performance, low energy, feeling depressed, and experiencing anxiety. 

The goal of the SEO campaign was simple.

To build brand awareness and drive traffic to their website with keywords related to their sole product, their ashwagandha capsules. 

The challenges:

  • It was a brand new website so Google didn’t trust the authority of the site
  • The site sells an ingestible herbal supplement that has health implications. Health websites, in particular, have additional changes to be ranked highly in Google thanks to the “Medic” update and FDA regulations on anything labeled a “supplement, cosmetic, or a food”
  • The store is built on Shopify which is a CMS where there are limitations on the customizability of the URL structure

My job was to take the website from zero search traffic to something noteworthy.

My SEO campaign

My SEO process is pretty straightforward and and mainly involves:

  • Keyword research
  • Technical SEO
  • Content creation

For this brand, I did several months of SEO work, mostly between August and December of 2019.

I optimized all the pages on their website in addition to publishing 10 blog posts. 

No further content creation or optimization was done for the website between January and October of 2020 so the results from this case study are all from the initial SEO campaign.

These are the results for the top 10 pages on the site for the last 12 months:

ecommerce seo case study top 10 pages
Keyword research

I started off my keyword research with this brand a bit differently than I usually do. They were pretty active on Twitter so I took a look at their social activity and social activity around the keywords I was interested in and looked at the actual thoughts, concerns, and questions people had about the herb.

I then used those details to help me come up with different long term phrases around the main keywords itself.

Since the website was brand new, I focused on terms with lower keyword difficulty (competition factor) than other terms. It’s almost impossible for sites that are brand new or have very low authority to rank well for high competition keywords.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is a critical aspect of getting a website to rank well on Google that many companies neglect.

Without your technical SEO in order, your content strategy is already doomed to fail. 

It’s a prerequisite to having a website that’s successful on Google search engine results.

Improving the website speed

The first thing I did for the website was check the template/theme and make sure that it wasn’t bogging down the site too much.

I used the Shopify app ‘Crush.pics’ image optimizer to optimize all the images on the website. Not having images at the right sizes could can hurt website speed.

I also used GTMetrix to check the website speed and see any glaring errors or issues affecting the speed.

Fixing broken links and no-indexing

I used the Shopify apps ‘Sitemap & NoIndex Manager’ and ‘SEO Manager’ to address any issues with broken links by detecting them and making the proper changes.

I was able to set up redirects as well as no-index unnecessary pages. Things like FAQs, Terms of Service, and Privacy Policies should be no-indexed so they don’t get indexed.

You want Google to focus on high-value pages that fulfill people’s search intent, not miscellaneous and thin pages like the ones mentioned above.

Optimizing existing pages

Based on the keyword research done earlier on, you want to audit the current pages on your website and optimize them. 

Depending on the analytics available, you can look at what terms a page is naturally ranking for in Google Search Console in addition to keyword research using tools like ahrefs or SEMrush. 

This doesn’t just mean blog posts but also includes any landing pages, the homepage, and the product pages.

I made sure every page was optimized for:

  • URL 
  • Meta title and meta description
  • H1 tag (title) and H2 tag (subheading)
  • Product image alt-text
  • Keyword spread throughout the content on the page

Content Creation

The actual content creation was my typical process for blogging. I already had the keyword research done and part of that is to look at competitor results on the first page of Google and review their content.

It gives me an idea of the level my content needs to be at or surpass to rank well.

After publishing the articles I distributed them on social media and then gave them time to do their work.

The results:

ecommerce seo case study

The first article was published in May of 2019 and articles were written regularly a couple times a month after that until January.

The site had some quick wins with receiving its first sales form organic search but the real progress didn’t come til months after I started publishing the content.

You can see from the Google Analytics results that the initial results didn’t even start to come in until January going into February.

Between February and October of 2020, the 10 articles I wrote brought in a combined 10,796 users from organic search results.

These results are an example of the nature of SEO when it’s done properly. It truly compounds and gains value over time.

The numbers also offer a couple of other insights:

  • It took a few months to really start seeing noteworthy results. SEO is not a quick fix or a magic bullet
  • Despite no new content being published after January of 2020, the website continued to get traffic and grow organically off the strength of the content itself

Imagine if the content creation and search optimization had continued on a further and more consistent basis?

The compounding growth that search optimized content can provide is extremely powerful.

If you’re interested in finding out how to to get SEO results for your website, contact me for a free consultation.

 

 

Best CMS for Freelancers Who Want To Save Time & Effort

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A CMS is a content management system. It’s the platform upon which you choose to build your website.

Many business owners and freelancers struggle with choosing which platform to build their website on or end up migrating their website later on.

This article breaks down how Squarespace can be a great option for freelancers, consultants, and other “solopreneurs” in comparison to other content management systems.

People who aren’t necessarily running a full-on business with employees, but are still working for themselves, have different goals and needs than more conventional small business owners.

People making money online like:

  • Computer Programmers
  • Digital Marketers
  • Web Designers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Consultants
  • Coaches
  • Freelance Writers
  • Web Developers
  • Data Scientists
  • Social Media Managers
  • IT Support Specialists
  • App Developers
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Project Managers
  • Human Resources
  • Recruiters
  • Editors
  • Accountants
  • Tax Preparers
  • Photographers

The best CMS for freelancers, solopreneurs, consultants, and other sole proprietors is quick to set up, easy to use and maintain, and creates quality websites.

Shopify is built strictly for eCommerce

Shopify is a great platform that lots of entrepreneurs use but it’s built specifically to run eCommerce stores.

If you’re a freelancer or consultant you’re offering some type of service, not selling physical products.

I’ve seen some personal brands use Shopify for selling info products but if services are more your thing or you’re also doing some type of consulting then there are better options.

You’ll want to consider other options if you’ll be using blogging as part of your marketing strategy or feature a blog prominently on your website.

Shopify’s blogging capabilities are very weak and limited.

Shopify’s focus on eCommerce doesn’t fit with the business model of most freelancers and service-based solopreneurs.

WordPress is great but could be overkill

I love WordPress but I used to hate it because it has a learning curve. If you aren’t that tech-savvy and just want something quick and easy you can set up so you can focus on your business and clients, WordPress might not be the best fit.

WordPress can make you a great website but if you aren’t experienced with it, it could be more trouble than it’s worth.

WordPress has the best functionality, most features, and is the most flexible of the most popular website building options.

However, its user interface and user experience are known to be more challenging for people.

I absolutely consider it the best CMS for small businesses but it could be considered overkill for the average freelancer or consultant that doesn’t need their website to do as much as a small business.

WordPress sites take a bit more knowledge and effort not only to set up but to maintain regularly.

After working with WordPress for years personally, now I can use it without a sweat.

However, earlier on in my career as a blogger I hated how complicated it seemed compared to other platforms I had the chance to use.

For the freelancers who don’t need anything fancy or over the top and just want the easiest setup possible, WordPress might be a little too fully featured and take longer to get a working knowledge of.

Why Squarespace is the best CMS for freelancers

Squarespace is the most convenient option for freelancers, consultants, and other personal brands who want to build and manage a website for their business.

Around 1.8 million websites are supported by Squarespace since 2019 and for good reason.

It’s a very user-friendly platform that presents clean and nicely laid out websites.

The templates and themes make it easy to get started

It has inherent templates and themes for personal brands, freelancers, and consultants already available.

You can choose the best templates and there are some drag-and-drop options with the website and page design tools as well.

It’s very quick and easy to set up a website for yourself in Squarespace by filling in the information on the typical themes with sections already set up for you to input info onto like:

  • Services page
  • About page
  • Portfolio page
  • Contact page
  • Blog page

The templates look clean, attractive, and professional and most of them are already tailor made to be use by freelancers, consultants, and personal brands.

Just plug in your photos, images, and logos and write in whatever copy and descriptions apply for you and your business.

Squarespace is fine for blogging and finding new business

Solopreneurs and service-based freelancers can certainly benefit from blogging and also can benefit from a website to help them get in touch with inbound leads and potential customers. Squarespace’s features can absolutely handle that task.

The blogging functionality isn’t as robust as WordPress but it’s certainly not bad so if you want to feature your blog prominently, Squarespace is still a good option.

If you’re selling a service the main thing you need to be able to do is set up appointments and make sales.

You don’t need a platform that facilitates direct payments since most likely you’ll be sending invoices or having some sort of contract or agreement worked out.

Squarespace is very weak when it comes to eCommerce but if you’re a person who doesn’t sell physical products then that isn’t really a concern.

It’s not critical to be able to be collect payments from people anytime they’re on the site like an eCommerce store.

As long as you can take advantage of calendar links or contact forms as a service-based solopreneur, you’re good to go.

Squarespace gives you what you need and it gives it to you quickly with minimal hassle.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Squarespace is a top CMS for freelancers because it balances quality with convenience

Many service-based freelancers don’t need a heavy-duty website and don’t want to waste time on web design when they could be finding or serving clients.

In the marketing and business world, speed beats perfection. Finding a system that’s easy and convenient to use can be more important than having a system with the best features. It’s why UX designers exist.

If you’re not tech-savvy and you don’t need the features of WordPress you might prefer an option that’s easier to deal with and manage.

If you’re working by yourself and not a small team you’ll want to use a CMS that you can maintain and be consistent with, not one you’ll struggle with.

These reasons are why I think Squarespace is a great option for solopreneurs and freelancers that are looking for convenience.

If you need help with content writing or ranking higher on Google search, please get in touch.


Freelance SEO vs Agency SEO

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Are you looking to find a freelance SEO or SEO agency to outsource some work to?

Freelance SEO consultants can be a great resource for businesses and brands that don’t have in-house SEO expertise available.

This article will go into detail about the differences between working with freelance SEO consultants vs working with agencies and things to consider when choosing between the two. 

Working with a Freelance SEO professional

Working with a freelance SEO means you’re working with one individual to handle your website. This isn’t that uncommon as one SEO professional or consultant can handle multiple websites.

However, a freelance SEO consultant can only work with a certain number of clients. 

If you’re working with a freelance SEO professional you should consider how well they know your industry and how much you trust them to manage your website growth.

Working with a freelancer can be a great option for businesses who only need help with SEO specifically.

With the right consultant, you can potentially get great results at a significantly lower cost. 

Working with a full-service agency vs SEO agency

A full-service agency handles pretty much all aspects of marketing from social media to SEO, to content creation, to conversion optimization.

An SEO agency focuses specifically on SEO related tasks. They might not offer social media services or content creation out of blogs/landing pages.

There are definitely pros and cons of working with a specialist agency vs a full-service one.

I’ll walk through some of the factors that impact providing SEO services and what they mean for freelancers, full-service marketing agencies, and SEO agencies.

Time and attention

Time and attention can be a major consideration when choosing who to partner with on SEO.

Find out who will be assigned to your account and how exactly they operate. “Agency” and “freelancer” can be misnomers when it comes to time and attention that’s being contributed to your project.

Some agencies have individual SEO professionals that handle everything at an account. Some of them have multiple team members working on one account. And some freelancers and individual consultants have people that help them with different tasks like content creation or technical SEO.

Just some things to consider or keep in mind when considering potential vendors.

You’ll have to ask some questions and find out from the people you speak with exactly how they are organized structurally to service your account.

Think about how much time and attention the agency itself or the individual freelancer will commit to making sure your website is optimized for Google search results and reaching your goals.

Project scope will be the biggest factor in decision making

Project scope is a major factor in handling how you outsource your SEO work.

There are a number of areas that contribute to the overall scope of your project in relation to SEO work.

Keep in mind that different professionals and agencies also have different packages as well so if you want to use a specific service provider you can usually pay more for more output.

Size of your current website

The size of your website has a big impact on how much SEO work will need to be done on your website. A larger website means it will take longer to finish audits and fix technical SEO issues and there will be much more content and pages to manage.

If you’re a small business, start-up, newer brand, or have a website without much content, you’re fine to work with a freelancer.

If you’re a mid-market to enterprise company with a huge website, you may want to go with an agency that can dedicate more resources. 

Even eCommerce stores with lots of pages and (some stores have huge inventory and tons of product pages) can be a challenge to deal with.

The size of your website can significantly impact the price of your services and the resources necessary to properly manage the site.

Responsibilities

Part of the project scope is defining the responsibilities or expectations of the vendor to you as a client. 

For example, something to consider with a full-service marketing agency is they would potentially be handling all aspects of your digital marketing activity

  • SEO
  • Social media 
  • Content writing
  • Email marketing
  • Website optimization

You’ll have to account for what you need help with and what you’re actually getting done when you’re analyzing services.

An SEO freelancer is highly unlikely to handle anything outside of SEO and some aspects of content writing and website optimization. 

An SEO agency would probably offer a more comprehensive package of those same services while a full-service agency would be able to handle all of them.

Don’t forget that SEO does impact and contribute to other areas of your marketing strategy

The keywords you target and the landing pages and blog posts you create for your SEO strategy will tie into the social media content you post, the emails you send customers, and what your website looks like.

Content creation 

Another vital aspect of the scope of the project is the content creation.

The two most important things are the type of content that will be created for you and the amount of it.

If you’ve already got someone making graphics and videos, it makes sense to outsource only the written content you need.

If you don’t have any consistent in-house content creation and you’d like to include that in your strategy, you may want to consider a full-service agency that can take everything off your hands.

One of the most important factors in SEO is the quality of the content you create. You need to choose who you think can best create the content necessary for your specific business and website. Whether that’s an agency or freelancer can depend.

A freelancer might write the content themselves or outsource it, the same as an agency. Find out what they’ll be doing to create your content and consider their expertise in the type of content you’ll need. 

Finding a freelancer or agency that has good knowledge of your niche or target audience can be a big advantage in writing content that’s great for your customers and helps you rank on Google.

The amount of content also needs to be considered in terms of timeframe and publishing frequency as well. 

4 pieces of content a week vs 4 pieces of content a month is two completely different price ranges and work hours.

Start off with your content requirements and work backward from there to find out what’s the right fit for your business. 

Budget and pricing

At the end of the day, one of the biggest things concerning project scope is the budget. You have to balance what you want with what you have.

You also have to temper expectations based on your budget.

If you’re looking to do slow and steady optimization work and don’t need too much new content creation, going with a freelancer might be an ideal option.

If you need lots of content cranked out in a shorter time period, you should consider focusing on agencies.

Freelance SEO work vs Agency SEO work

At the end of the day, freelance work vs agency work depends on what the needs and constraints of your business are.

Even though there are general assumptions you can make when working with a freelancer vs an agency, it’s important to judge every vendor on an individual basis.

Think about what marketing services you need help with, whether it’s just SEO or additional marketing.

Consider the time and attention the vendor will dedicate to your account.

Understand that the project scope – the size of your site, what responsibilities the vendor has, the volume and frequency of content creation, and your budget will all play a role in what type of services will be ideal for your business.

If you’re interested in a consultation with a freelance SEO consultant, click here.