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

zen-medicinal-ecommerce-seo-case-study

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.

 

 

Freelance SEO vs Agency SEO

freelance-seo-analytics

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.

Multipage vs One Page Website SEO

one page website seo

If you’re reading this article you may be considering the options between one page and multipage websites or wondering about one page website SEO.

One page websites can have lots of design benefits. A one page website is meant to condense all the most critical and persuasive information on a single page in an easy to read format.

No thinking or decision making is there for the reader to get caught up in.

Everything is clean, clear, and simple.

Instead of multiple landing pages on the navigation tab, there might be just one single link or call to action.

However, one page websites can be very limiting when it comes to SEO.

If ranking well in organic search is a priority for your site or your business, a one page site is not likely to be the best option.

Pros of one page sites

  • Can be very good for selling something very specific or catering to a very specific audience
  • Can be great for selling packages or subscriptions
  • Smooth and simple user experience
  • Can have better mobile functionality
  • Great for storytelling

One page website examples

Make Your Money Matter 

one page website examples

Make Your Money Matter is a website that helps people join credit unions. They have a single page website where you scroll down and they utilize visual storytelling to educate you on how banks work and how credit unions differ. There is no navigation at the top of the page you have to scroll to begin and clicking the links toward the bottom will take you to a separate part of that same page.

Formation

Formation

Formation is a stone/tile design company and they have a one page site that’s well done and clearly explains everything they do and how they can help their audience. They have a navigation bar at the top of the page which if you click it will take you to the point on the page where that information resides. They do a good job of telling the story of who they are and what they do while highlighting their expertise and unique selling points.

Cons of one page websites

One page sites don’t necessarily mean that they’re bad for selling or making money, but a single-page website is typically not going to do as well in Google search results for several reasons.

Disadvantages can vary by industry, product/service and depend on the needs of the business and the nature of the audience. 

I’m going to focus on how one page sites suffer specifically in search engine optimization.

One page website SEO disadvantages

search-engine-optimization

There are some general rules as to why single page websites struggle with SEO.

Loading speed is important for SEO and one page sites have potentially longer loading times due to the amount of content necessary to fit on the single page.

Another challenge of one page websites is lack of depth and detail. There’s not enough space to go into detail on multiple topics without cramming the page.

Because one page sites can’t get as detailed, it’s more difficult to fulfill search intent which can contribute to a higher bounce rate. Search intent usually means answering a specific question and it’s easier to do with long-tailed keywords and in-depth content. 

High bounce rates from people who have scroll fatigue or find it difficult to navigate the site are also a possibility. 

The limited number of target keywords is another big drawback of one page websites. It’s very difficult to rank very well for multiple keywords on a single page so if you don’t have additional landing pages or blog content to capture those keywords, your site won’t be optimized. 

Also, a lack of informational content pages to drive up the authority of the website hurts the SEO of one page sites.

A case study by Eoghan Henn (freelance technical marketer/co-founder of website migration SEO tool searchVIU), shows how harmful a lack of informational content pages is to the SEO of an ecommerce site.

“After the removal of the informational content pages, the shop lost about one-third of its overall visibility as the home page and category pages lost most of their top rankings for commercial intent search queries.”

Click here to look more closely at how significant a decrease it was.

You should avoid one page websites if:

  • You have an e-commerce store
  • You’ll be selling multiple products/services
  • You want to optimize your website for SEO and organic search traffic 
  • Blogging will be a key component of your marketing strategy and website
  • You’re selling anything that requires a lot of educating and information to decide on

Pros of multipage sites

Multipage websites are better for explaining broad services and more complex information. Many technology-related and software related companies fall under this category.

One page sites may be great for offering one type of product or service, but if there are multiple offers then a multipage site is better.

Multipage sites allow for better ‘siloing’ of key information and taking advantage of website architecture.

Siloing is when you organize your website architecture into the main topics relevant to your audience to demonstrate competence and experience in those areas.

This allows you to organize content into categories and sub-categories and helps you fully address a wide range of information and questions related to that topic.

Proper siloing allows you to deeply explore different topics in detail and help your site be a more comprehensive resource for readers.

On multipage sites, you can do more advanced SEO with landing pages and blog posts that target specific keywords.

Examples of multipage websites 

Rydoo

multipage site rydoo

Rydoo is an expense management software company and they have a multipage website you find more typically in the SaaS space. They have basic information on their home page meant to build social proof with their review scores and then some customer logos. Their navigation bar leads to different tabs that provide more detailed information on things like their products, pricing, customers, and resources. Scrolling down below the fold on the homepage reveals a summary of their features and benefits, their integrations with other tools, and other calls to action.

Freshbooks

multi-page-website-freshbooks

Freshbooks is an accounting and invoice tool for small businesses and their website is another example of a minimalist approach to the homepage. They have a brief but concise summary of what their product does, a call-to-action to get started on a free trial by filling in your email address, and additional navigation tabs to share more information how their product works, who it’s for, additional information, and a link to their blog. When you scroll below the fold, there are summarized info on their features and capabilities, testimonials, and additional calls to action.

Cons of multipage sites

Even though multipage sites are the majority, they do have some cons.

  • More difficult to maintain
  • Most likely will require more content 
  • Getting to certain information on the site requires extra steps
  • Can be more difficult to optimize for both mobile and desktop browsing

Multipage sites have to make sure they create the content that requires them to go into depth and market it properly. It has to be developed, distributed and maintained. Especially if they’re blogging, it takes consistent content creation.

Having one single page to edit, update, optimize, and maintain is much easier than managing multiple pages.

One Page Websites vs Multipage Websites 

There are unique pros and cons to one page and multipage websites.

The focus should be on what best serves your audience and your customers and makes sense for your business. 

However, multipage sites can take design elements from one page sites and incorporate them into their layouts.

Homepages are broken down into easy to digest sections, with features/benefits, testimonials, reviews, and persuasive copy weaved in throughout the page.

Both one page sites and multipage sites have summarized info on categories like product/services, who they serve, about, how they work, pricing, and some social proof in the form of testimonials or reviews.

The main difference is that multipage sites include additional landing pages in the navigation that go into much more detail on those different categories.

Many of the best multipage sites, including the examples listed above, utilize similar design and structure elements as one page sites. This flexibility, in addition to the clear advantages in search engine optimization, makes multipage sites a very safe option.

If you’re on the fence on how to set up your website design and architecture, hopefully, you find this information useful.