Kevin Conti joins us for another text based interview this week.
Kevin is the founder of multiple SaaS products, but is currently focusing on SoftwareIdeas.io. The name of the company says it all really!
It’s a paid newsletter that gives potential SaaS founders software ideas. Kevin does the research and analysis into current successful software companies and determines whether or not there is room to compete.
There’s a lot more to it than this which Kevin goes into in this interview, along with the story of his first venture which did not go so well!
Hello! Could you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Kevin Conti! My main focus currently is Software Ideas, a market research and analysis company for serious founders who are looking for their next opportunity.
Software Ideas does roughly $10K MRR. I’ve just recently quit my day job as a software developer to go full-time on Software Ideas and future SaaS projects!
How did you start with Saas products?
I started with SaaS products two years ago with no audience and none of the “unfair advantages” that some people talk about. My only strengths were knowing how to write code and being willing to learn.
I started with my first SaaS, CoderNotes.io, which was completely a “scratch your own itch” type of idea.
I wanted a note platform for code snippets that had a powerful search engine behind it. This was so that I wouldn’t have to worry about categorizing the snippets and struggling to find them later.
I spent about six months building the product, and on June 07, 2020, I launched CoderNotes on ProductHunt and was #1 Product of the Day for most of the day before settling into #2!
At this point, I thought I had everything figured out. I had hundreds of users heading to the site and tons of positive comments on ProductHunt, including people who said things like, “Thank you, I have always wanted this!”
I shared the metrics and the whole story behind the crazy ProductHunt launch experience here on Indie Hackers .
However, after the craziness died down, I quickly found out that there were a number of issues with my product. Most of them stemmed from the fact that I had committed the most common mistake that engineers make: I had focused on building the product I wanted instead of building something that potential users wanted.
After realizing my mistakes, I wrote a retrospective titled “5 Lessons Learned from Launching My First SaaS.” The goal of this was to help others avoid making the same mistake by entering a market where there isn’t much consumer interest.
Why did you choose to start SoftwareIdeas.io?
Software Ideas actually began as my own personal research to find my next SaaS opportunity.
I had learned from my first experience that it was very important to enter a market where there is already demand, rather than trying to innovate and create a completely new concept.
I began by simply looking at job boards to find software companies that were successful enough to be hiring. After all, if they were successful enough to have millions of dollars in payroll, they must be doing something right!
After a while, I realized I could perform the research better if I had access to some of the paid databases that offer company info – things like Crunchbase and Owler – and it would be far more effective than looking through job boards. The only problem was that these things cost thousands of dollars.
The price, combined with a hunch that this research might be valuable to other entrepreneurs looking to start their next business idea, led me to convert my research into a newsletter format. Then I started pre-selling to test for demand!
What has worked for you to grow your business?
One of the hot takes I have as a founder is that it’s important to discover a reliable marketing/distribution channel as soon as possible. With CoderNotes, I made the mistake of waiting to build the MVP before finding out how I could acquire customers, which was a huge mistake.
For Software Ideas, I decided to test channels first.
I did this by taking some of my existing research at the time, formatting it into a post (check out the original post here), and including the following snippet at the bottom:
“I’m considering making posts like this every week if there is enough interest.
If you would like (and would pay for) posts like these, reach out to me through my email. I’m giving away another free post just like this one to the people who email me there!
Thanks for reading and I hope you found it valuable!”
I then went and shared the post across a number of different channels, such as Twitter, Reddit, and Indie Hackers.
Those posts led to email conversations (which I’ve posted publicly) that resulted in over $200 of pre-sales before the newsletter even had a name!
This is a huge piece of why I decided to go through with creating the product and it set the stage for Software Ideas’ success and rapid growth to $10K+ MRR.
However, things have changed as the business has matured.
Here’s how Software Ideas is growing currently.
The number one way that people sign up for a premium subscription of the newsletter is after signing up for the free email list. The free version offers a weekly preview of all the market research and down-market opportunities we cover for the week.
Out of the top 10 ways that users have signed up over the past six months, the bulk has been from the free email list:
As such, the main focus for our growth is getting as many interested users on the free email list as possible. That’s why if you head to www.softwareideas.io, you will only see one call-to-action (CTA) to pay for the newsletter, but three CTAs to sign up for the free email list.
In fact, our above-the-fold CTA isn’t even to pay for the product – we just want you to see the research and judge it yourself!
Most of our traffic originally came from founder communities such as Indie Hackers and Twitter, but as we’ve grown, our organic traffic from Google has slowly started to eclipse these other channels.
If you look at the last 30 days of traffic, Google brings us nearly double the traffic that Indie Hackers does.
Right now, the main focus of the company from a marketing perspective is to continue to invest in SEO/organic traffic as well as word-of-mouth by adding an affiliate program and a referral program.
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They are no longer interested in starting a company, so the newsletter is no longer required
They have discovered a business idea that they’re working on (either from the newsletter or externally) and no longer need the ideas and market research
They have a difference in values when it comes to what makes a good business idea (most rare)
I have a different feeling around each category.
For category #1, I consider these churns a wash.
Software Ideas is specifically for very serious founders who are actively looking for their next software business, and if customers fall out of that category then there’s not much we can do to keep them.
For category #2, I consider it a success!
People who leave because they’ve started a company and no longer need the newsletter have received good value from the newsletter!
That said, there is still so much that Software Ideas can do to support early-stage founders. A lot of our product direction in the future will be based on helping founders go from “idea” to “traction”, which includes The Foundation course that I’m working on now.
Category #3 is rare, but it does happen.
The people who fall into category #3 are typically big believers in the “scratch your own itch” type of idea. This is the opposite premise the newsletter was founded on.
After all, the point of the research was so that I would avoid “scratching my own itch” and instead focus on profitable ideas for myself. These founders are very selective about which ideas they’ll consider, and typically I end up refunding them and wishing them luck.
What have you learned through building your business?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that most early-stage founders are focused on completely the wrong aspects of their company.
It’s natural to focus on the product/MVP above all else. After all, that’s what people are going to be buying, and it needs to be good enough for customers to love it!
But for most founders I talk to, the hardest part of building a company isn’t writing the code (or using no-code tools) to build the actual product. It may be the most time-consuming, but it isn’t the hardest part.
The hardest part is the general category of “marketing.” Most founders I talk to want to have a few customer discovery calls, and if nothing comes up that kills the project they go straight into a building mode.
What’s worked best for me is to be far more focused on the distribution channels, trying to get a clear picture of how new potential customers can find out about Software Ideas. I focused on that aspect of the business early on which has made the initial growth much easier. It also allowed me to get an understanding of whether or not it was an idea worth pursuing.
For this reason, I always include a list of high-potential distribution channels for each idea in the Software Ideas newsletter. I want to make sure that we’re emphasizing the importance of exploring these channels, and not just handing subscribers an MVP with no way for them to turn that into an actual business.
Can you share examples of success from your customers?
I’m actually working with a couple of Software Ideas subscribers right now to make some case studies from the businesses that they’ve formed! Unfortunately at this point, I don’t have permission to share company names or more information, so I can’t speak about these in public yet.
That being said, here are some founders that are building in public that I can speak about.
Chris Davies created Rentify based on the Software Ideas newsletter, which he then launched on AppSumo. Based on the questions on the AppSumo page, it looks like he may have had some technical issues, but I know that he’s seen a number of sales from this promotion alone.
One reader (who may wish to remain anonymous) is building a very cool product called VexMap, a UX error monitoring software that’s currently in a free beta as they explore their positioning in the market.
What tools do you use for your newsletter?
I think that there’s some real opportunity here!
Substack, which is often used in this situation, is a horrible solution for a paid newsletter (in my opinion) – 10% fees plus payment processing fees is just ridiculous for someone looking to turn a profit.
I currently use a home-grown solution. I use MailChimp for the email aspects of Software Ideas, Stripe for billing, and I wrote my own Phoenix application for the membership site, which is where the newsletter archive lives.
I’ve recently started sharing some of what’s been going on in my personal life over the past few months. Long story short, I’ve been dealing with some serious health issues in my family that completely changed how I’ve been able to work on the business.
Before, I probably would have made some platitudes about how to handle things falling apart, but I’d like to be real here – when you have things going on in your life that are more important than the company you’re founding, it’s one of the hardest things that you go through. What’s more, there’s no easy answer I could share with you, even if I knew the answer myself.
The one thing that has worked for me is to stay grounded.
It’s important to be honest with yourself as a founder, which can be difficult to do. All I could do when things were at their worst was to admit to myself that I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish everything I wanted to do and to try to be okay with it.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do when everything feels like it’s falling apart is to have someone there who can support you. Not just emotionally, but actually helping pick up the slack in the business. Being a solo founder is tough because most of the time it’s just you.
If you have people in your life who care about you and are willing to help where they can, even if it’s just answering support questions, it is a huge help in tough times.
Advice for other SaaS founders who are just starting out?
I’m fortunate in that I get to talk to a lot of founders that are just starting out. I get to see the most common mistakes that are being made, as well as the type of founders that end up being successful.
The biggest insight I have into the process of starting a company is to focus on:
And, to focus early on in the process!
For most engineers, building a product isn’t hard, it’s fun! And it might be challenging, but it’s almost never impossible.
So many engineers, myself included, fall for the trap of thinking that the hard part of starting a company is building the product that people want to buy. But that’s usually not the case! The hard part is finding ways to reliably attract new leads and customers.
In contrast, finding distribution channels is hard! You have to try a lot of them, and you never really know if your experiments failed because the channel legitimately isn’t a good fit or if you just did a bad job.
And for many products, it turns out that finding a single channel to acquire customers never happens or happens too late.
If you’re building a product but don’t have any experiments to prove that the channels you think will drive traffic to your product actually work, I highly recommend you start exploring ways to test it out.
Welcome! In our guide to ecommerce SEO, we’ll be diving into the marketing strategies that SEO experts use to drive traffic, and profit, to their own ecommerce sites.
SEO is all about strategy. It’s about picking your target and tailoring your site in order to get the highest SERP rankings possible across as many internet searches as you can.
This is a surefire way to maximize sales, which becomes all the more important when working with an ecommerce website.
When doing SEO for an ecommerce site, the stakes can be more intimate. This is especially the case if it’s your own site with your own sales on the line.
When you’re not a merc working for another site or an affiliate hawking other people’s goods, it can make you afraid to change up your strategy since you’re likely working for your own profit, not for a pre-arranged commission.
Paralysis by analysis is real, and it’s an easy trap to stumble into when creating an SEO strategy for your own store.
If that sounds like you, you’re going to want to read our guide. We’ve kept things simple to make for an easy read while giving you all the info you need to craft a capable ecommerce strategy.
Below we’ve covered what ecommerce is and how ecommerce SEO is different from standard SEO practices, as well as what you should or shouldn’t do to find success.
How Is SEO For Ecommerce Different?
If you have your eyes on ecommerce SEO, the chances are that you’ve got a knowledge base of standard SEO practices, but there are some fundamental differences between the two that even the best of us can ignore. Let’s break down common SEO and ecommerce SEO to find where they differ.
What we’d call standard SEO could be considered a catch-all term for all Search Engine Optimization attempts, including those for ecommerce, with more specific SEO applications having their own rule sets and ways of climbing the relevant SERPs.
If you’re here, you already know what SEO does, it helps your site appear towards the top of results pages where all the clicking is happening. Most SEO is practiced in aid of site monetization, whether that’s an affiliate operation or, you guessed it, ecommerce.
When we say that SEO aims to make your site hit the top of a results page, we mean it. The internet landscape has only gotten more and more competitive in the last decade and being able to hit that first page just isn’t enough for many webmasters out there, you need to be at the very top.
The CTR drop-off is quite dramatic and that linked study comes from 2010-2011 when the online population was smaller than it is today, so even though everyone will get a bigger slice of the pie nowadays it’s still that top spot that gets all the gold.
Since then, we’ve seen the explosion of mobile smartphones that can deliver your site into the hands of thousands… If you’ve optimized your site for mobile-friendly use, that is.
SEO can be a competent marketing strategy when used correctly, using Google’s (or your search engine of choice) algorithms to put your site in front of other people for relatively little overhead.
Without SEO, you’d instead need to rely on PPC or paid advertisements that can be costly to set up and bear inconsistent revenue streams.
So, with the above info in mind, what does ecommerce SEO do differently from other types of SEO? Well, we’ve condensed what ecommerce SEO is and how it’s different into a few handy points.
First, ecommerce SEO is simply SEO for ecommerce sites. It’s also called shop SEO and is essentially where you try to rank a site that facilitates the sales of a product or service directly. This means you, as the webmaster, would likely make most if not all of the profit.
We have time to go into more detail later, but ecommerce SEO places more importance on certain pages like category pages, for example. You want to target people who are looking for a specific product and the vague category of products that you stock.
In the same vein, the site structure is even more important. You’re not an affiliate giving users directions to the nearest retailer, you are that retailer inviting them into your store to browse, and there’s no easier way to lose a sale than to have a confusing site layout.
The homepage is even more important. It’s the front lobby of your store, not a blog, so it must be an efficient but welcoming and informational landing page that gets clicks, closes sales, and creates loyal customers out of random strangers.
One aspect of ecommerce SEO that’s the same as other sales-generating SEO practices is product page optimization. This means your site should have clean, convincing, and informative product pages that catch a lot of traffic.
Unlike other forms of SEO, ecommerce sites will be closing sales themselves. This means your cart and checkout functions should be airtight. This maximizes your conversion rate and thus the profit you make from those sales, and who doesn’t like making more money?
Key Strategies For A Successful Ecommerce SEO Strategy
It’s good to know how ecommerce SEO differs from other types of SEO and how you should pay attention to different parts of your site, but how do you do that well?
We’ll walk you through the entire process right here, so you can have a stable foundation on which to build a successful ecommerce strategy.
We’ve condensed the journey down into eight easy-to-read points, so give it a read or even follow along in real-time as you edit your site and make it the best competitor it can possibly be.
1. Keyword Research
We start out simple enough with some keyword research.
Before taking a shot, you need to line up your sites, and that’s exactly what keyword research is to an SEO campaign.
For ecommerce research, we’d advise you to pay special attention to three areas.
Find keywords to be used for your homepage and product pages. Homepage keywords ensure your site appears in more vague and directionless searches while product page keywords target those who are ready to buy.
You can use long-tail keywords on blogs, especially one owned by you, to help your ecommerce site rank. Hit local exact match search volume and low difficulty, there’s no need to go toe-to-toe with the big dogs if you can avoid them.
Don’t target the same pages with the same keywords, A.K.A keyword cannibalization. You have enough work to do without you self-sabotaging your SEO by getting too over-eager with keyword use. A spreadsheet is great for managing your keywords and where they’re targeting.
2. Site Architecture
We’ve alluded to it already, but the layout of your site is important in creating an effective ecommerce business.
By layout, we don’t just mean the design of each page but how those pages interconnect via internal links to take customers to where they want to go.
Ecommerce sites tend to be bigger and offer products directly, so you want people to get to the goods easily and make their sales.
3. On-Page SEO
This is the bedrock of most SEO campaigns but there are some areas you’ll want to pay specific attention to if you want your ecommerce site to get off the ground.
First, content is king.
There is a demonstrable edge from having content rather than copy and pasting relevant text to your product pages, and it’s much better for the topical relevancy that the giants like Google are moving towards.
In your content, don’t overstuff keywords and kill your SEO campaign before it even begins. There is such a thing as too many keywords and it can be fatal for your site.
Add content to your category page, in particular, that’s where many e-commerce sites tend to sag. By adding informative content and ensuring all internal links are relevant, logical, and accurate, you can get your category page ranking to sweep up vague product searches too.
Adding words that exist in the sales lexicon, as in words like “deal,” “buy” or “shipping” or “review,” are great for generating long-tail traffic to your site, more specifically your product pages.
You want your site’s category and individual product pages to rank so that you mop up all the customers out there, from those who know what they want to those who are just browsing without direction.
4. Technical SEO
Technical SEO is important for all kinds of SEO and that means you’ll need a link profile for your ecommerce site.
As we said, ecommerce sites tend to be bigger, so simple math and probability dictate you’ll have more technical SEO issues.
This isn’t all inside baseball either, technical SEO profiles often decide which sites rank over one another when all else is equal.
You want that edge, so iron out all technical SEO issues so you’re not falling at the last hurdle. Run technical SEO audits like a madman and especially when you’ve been building out a new section of your site.
Trim your site like a fine bonsai tree and tie the branches so that no ugly technical issues sabotage your site’s performance.
Two of the most reputable tools you can find in the SEO community are SEMrush and Ahrefs, so check them out for all your site auditing needs.
5. Local SEO
This one is important if your site has a physical store somewhere.
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to let Google get real familiar with your business.
That way you’ll enter the search engine’s business database which will help your placement for local SERPs.
If I’m looking for the nearest shoe store, Google will want to recommend me the one four blocks away over one the next town over, even if that competitor’s site outperforms yours in typical SEO.
Go tell Google all about your business to reap the full benefits of having a local presence.
The local equivalent for backlinks when optimizing your local SEO presence is citations. Start with the Yellow Pages, or your local equivalent, and then see if newspapers and magazines can get you a shoutout in the local media environment.
They’ll also have an online presence nowadays, so see if you can’t negotiate links to their local websites to build authority. It’s just like link building but you’re more likely to know or have had contact with the people you’re reaching out to, improving your chances of success.
6. Content Marketing
You’re familiar with the online world, you are part of it, after all, so you should know that you have endless opportunities to become familiar with your ideal client base.
Depending on what your ecommerce site sells, join online communities formed around these products.
Specialized forum sites are great but there are massive sites like Reddit whose entire purpose is to unite people across a wide variety of interest bases that’ll surely encompass whatever it is you’re selling.
Once you’re in, what do you do next? Here’s a handy point-by-point guide:
After you’ve joined the various communities where your product is popular, scout out the words they use. Learn their language like a foreign infiltrator, picking up which words and phrases they use most often and the contexts they use them in. We’re sure you see where this is going.
That’s right, you just found some handy new keywords to play with. Create content – good content, as in your best content – aimed straight at these words and phrases. Raise the bar and watch your traffic count rise with it.
Rinse and repeat! You’ll run out of terms at some point but doing this when starting up a new operation is the great jumpstart that you’ll need to get the ball rolling. Also, if your ecommerce site is based in a field where the terminology changes or gets updated, like tech for example, then you can repeat this strategy whenever some newfangled technological term becomes the talk of the town.
7. Link Building
We’ve already established this is going to be necessary, so let’s get it out of the way and look at what ecommerce link building looks like.
Most SEO folks hate this part because it’s the imperfect combination of tedium and rejection, but there are definitive ways to improve your success rate.
The usual applies, stay away from low-quality sites and especially content farm links.
We’ve practiced the barter system since civilization has begun, so offer something nice to quality sites and see if they offer a nice inbound link back, it’s that simple in concept.
HARO is a great resource for finding people in need of a site to link to. It’s Help A Reporter Out and, by registering as a source, you can communicate with journalists and negotiate a deal that’ll be beneficial for you both. You get your link while journalists get a source for a piece they’re writing.
Outdated resources are also great for redirecting expired domains and link-heavy pages towards your own site. This is its own skill that requires training, but it’s possible to root out domains that have expired or been moved.
Grabbing up parked pages and redirecting them to your site is a surefire way to expand your traffic net. They’re also covert, your competitors can’t see these redirections easily, making them the perfect way to gain a much-needed edge.
8. Measure SEO Success
Just like how you need keyword research to plan where your shot is going, you need to see if it actually hit afterward.
Running a site involves a lot of tinkering, so it can be difficult to see if that one change you made alongside twenty others is what’s responsible for that SEO spike you saw on the weekend.
You’re going to need tools that measure this stuff, otherwise, you’re throwing phrases and keywords at the wall and you can’t even see what sticks.
The obvious candidate for this is Google Analytics, they’ll get you an accurate reading on your traffic and the engagement that the traffic is giving to you.
This means you can see how many people have found their way to your site but, more importantly, see any sticking points where engagement is concerned.
Filtering traffic by landing page and location is also great for optimizing on-page and local SEO performances.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is the important metric to get from your engagement stats, too, since it’ll show how many have liked what they saw and chose your site to click on.
What’s more important, you can break these down by their queries, the country the searches came from, and what devices they used, which can all be used to tailor your content towards those demographics in the future.
The traffic you’re getting will depend on your search rankings and finding these out can be rough because of the personalization that Google adds to your searches.
Don’t search yourself, instead look to SEMrush, Ahrefs, and other sites that provide a Google Search Console for a flat and unbiased view of where your site is ranking.
Even more important than clicks are conversions and the revenue you’re getting from those conversions, assuming you’re running a for-profit business.
10 Common Ecommerce SEO Mistakes To Avoid
When it comes to SEO of all types, you want to avoid mistakes like the plague. It’s possible to stay afloat and adapt your strategy if you aren’t doing the right things, but doing the wrong things is a one-way ticket to search irrelevancy.
1. Inadequate product descriptions, titles, and images
Would you believe that there are people in the ecommerce game who have inadequate or downright inaccurate descriptions for their products?
That’s not you, right? Because that’s a great way to kill your SEO rankings.
Everything in your content, from the titles, images, and especially the product descriptions, should all be accurate and above board.
Tell me, how can you rank for relevancy when your content is irrelevant to the products you’re selling?
On the more technical side, there are a bunch of handy tips that can help you rank a page over other ecommerce sites.
Look at title tags and meta descriptions, as in the 160 characters of text that’ll appear directly under your site on a SERP. Those are the first words potential customers will read, so make them good.
Try to have high-quality product images, obviously, but it goes deeper than that. You should keep file size low so that your site will load promptly and without any resizing issues.
There are image formats that are great for web performance without having to sacrifice quality like WebP, so maybe look into using images in that format from now on.
2. Using duplicate content for product descriptions
Having bad product descriptions also includes wearing out the copy and paste shortcuts on your keyboard.
Don’t be that guy who duplicates content descriptions for their products, it’s once again antithetical to relevancy ranking since you create a soup of shared descriptions, making no individual product page shine when its keywords are looked up.
Keep it unique to get the most out of your product page SERPs. If you have a lot of similar products, ask yourself if you can combine them.
On sites that sell products, they’ll often have all colors and variants of the product share a page where the customer selects which versions they want. This is much better for ranking and standing out when Google does its crawls.
Keep checking your website scripts. That seems like obvious general maintenance advice, but it’s the simplest and most foundational advice that tends to be forgotten.
This is because you can get away with it, for a time. Your site won’t crash and burn if you don’t remove that bunk code that controls a plug-in you deleted last month, but it will harm your site’s load time. This tends to happen with ecommerce sites because of how much larger they are.
3. Mishandling out of stock pages
Handling in-stock pages is going to be great 80% of the time, but what do you do when an item is out of stock?
Slapping the words “out of stock” up there and calling it a day isn’t the best solution.
That’s called poor UX design.
So, what should you put there?
Provide an ETA on when the product will be available again, so your customers know when to come back.
Add an option to notify your users when that product is back in stock. Nudges like this are great for reminding your customers to take action and close a deal, and it’s a great customer service gesture that they’re sure to appreciate.
If the product isn’t available for the foreseeable future, find a similar product, and recommend that. An actually similar product would be nice since many sites think they can get away with improper product recommendations. This is a UX problem dealing with humans, not the almighty algorithm, so make sure that your suggested product is what your human customers will be looking for as a potential alternative.
During one of those site audits that we should be doing regularly, you’ll want to flush out any products that aren’t in your inventory and won’t come back. You don’t want them cluttering your site and baiting customers where there’s no product to be sold, and so no money to be made.
4. Poor website architecture
We’ve already talked about how poor website architecture is a problem, so let’s go into some more detail about what you shouldn’t do when building out your site.
You’re juggling more pages than most webmasters if you own an ecommerce site, so you should put your UX hat on and figure out how to balance a pleasing and logical site format with SEO performance.
If you’re doing it right, one shouldn’t really come at the detriment of the other.
Splitting your products into categories and subcategories is handy. Even if you stock just one kind of product, you’ll want to split it between the classic sub-categories of gender or cost, or both, whichever is applicable to what you’re offering.
For example, you can separate jackets into men’s and women’s, and that’s before categorizing all the different types of jackets you stock.
You can even add sub-categories for brand, material, color, you name it. This is easy with clothes, of course, but even with tech, you can separate by brand, cost, and whether they offer the newest tech features (think 4K for monitors and TVs) that’s trending.
Focus on what makes logical sense to you, a human, at least we hope. Don’t chase keywords, the purpose of the categorization is to reel people in once they’ve already gotten to your site.
They’ll get to your site via keywords and how they rank on SERPs, but once they’re in your site they’ll look for neat categorizations that appeal to their logic and sense of orderliness.
5. Poor URL structure
Good URL structure needs to come hand-in-hand with a sensical website architecture for you to get the most out of your site.
All the new categories and subcategories can make new URLs that need managing.
Following our jacket example from earlier, say you’re the proud webmaster of www.exemplarjackets.com, a nonexistent site.
You have jackets, obviously, but you can’t present a pile of unsorted jackets to your consumer base.
Watch how the URLs should progress as you add different product filters to narrow down your jacket-wearing options.
www.exemplarjacket.com/jackets – This is what we’d start with as a customer looks at the jackets on sale.
www.exemplarjacket.com/jackets?size=L – Then we add a size filter because they’ve chosen L.
www.exemplarjacket.com/jackets?size=L%material=denim – Now we’ve added that it’s a denim jacket they’re looking for.
www.exemplarjacket.com/jackets?size=L%material=denim%color=black – And now they’ve specified they want dark denim, so it’s been added to the URL chain.
www.exemplarjacket.com/jackets?size=L%material=denim%color+black%price=low-to-high – Finally, before making a purchase, they’ve sorted by price to get the most cost-effective option.
The order of each addition to this link isn’t concrete, it’ll change depending on the order the filters are applied. You see what this means, right?
Just one page can have tens of variants, if not a hundred, and this is why ecommerce sites end up being very big. You need to have canonical tags otherwise your SEO game is done.
By adding canonicals to these URLs, the search engine crawlers won’t count all of the different variants. Instead, they’ll only count the root product page and leave the rest to be explored by potential buyers.
Make sure your H1 headings and title tags also have the model numbers of any products you’re supplying, as well as the brand name if that’s relevant.
Be as specific as possible so both the crawlers and customers who know exactly what they want can find your site.
6. Keyword stuffing product pages
Keyword stuffing dilutes the quality of the keywords you are targeting and ranking for too many keywords across too few pages will limit the SERP potential that your site has.
It’s a common SEO mistake since we’re told that keywords are great, but as we said, there is such a thing as too many.
You’d be surprised how many sites make their pages literally unreadable in the pursuit of an extra five, or twenty-five, keywords on that page.
Don’t try too hard, it’ll turn away both your customers and your search engine.
It backfires in a spectacular way, increasing the bounce rates from your page and attacking your site’s SEO, harming your relationship with Google’s crawling algorithms, so you’re losing favor with the two parties that you want to keep on your page.
7. Not using product schema markup
Product schema markup is often neglected, especially by newcomers who might be intimidated by it.
The images you use on your site should be easily findable via Google Image Search functions since you never know where your next customer will stumble upon your site from.
Expanding your options is only a good thing.
It’s pretty simple, just make sure that the image filename and its alt tags are all specific and descriptive, and of course relevant to the product itself, and it should make it easier.
If your jacket images are called image001.jpg or some other vague and useless title, then you have a problem.
People will find their way to your site through images and ranking for image searches using schema markup is a great consolation prize for when you can’t quite crack the relevant keywords or phrases.
8. Using tabs or accordion content
When you’re formatting the product pages of your site, check the product descriptions as well as the specs and accompanying reviews if there’s material there to be displayed.
Is it all laid bare, or is it collapsed?
This has been a debate between UX and SEO specialists for quite some time. From the UX perspective, collapsing these looks much neater and is better for the eyes of your customers.
The SEO perspective, however, has dealt with Google in the past and know that material not immediately visible on-page may be forgotten.
Google’s track record on this, like with many things, has been mired and contradictory. Since 2016 they have said that everything is counted after saying that it wasn’t before then, but some SEO case studies have shown an increase in organic traffic when drop-downs aren’t used.
You’ll need to decide where you fall in this debate, we can’t do that for you.
What we can say is that a hover drop-down menu seems to be a happy compromise between SEO value and UX minimalism since it’s ostensibly counted by Google yet isn’t visible until customers show interest by moving their cursor over the drop-down trigger.
9. Using dynamically generated content
Organic searches rank static pages more consistently, building up a cumulative traffic base that you just don’t get with dynamically-generated content.
Besides, the more unique pages you have, the better, so it’s a good habit to acquire early on.
Don’t worry about having too many, just get into the groove and let the number of static pages grow as your site grows organically.
It also makes for a more solid site structure as you can organize the static pages around categories and other similarities they have.
For example, dynamically-generated content in a subcategory won’t be properly linked to the parent category, meaning that the subcategory won’t rank with the power of that parent behind it.
If you already have an established ecommerce site with many dynamically-generated pages, you may want to reconsider a URL migration. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but your lack of static content could be what’s holding you back, and it’ll benefit you in the long-term.
10. Focusing only on classical SEO ranking factors
Finally, ecommerce SEO is different from standard SEO, that’s the premise of this entire guide, so why would you treat your ecommerce site like any other SEO project?
Being hyper-focused on titles, H1s, or query rankings is fine, but you should be looking even deeper than that.
You should constantly be asking why users are clicking your site over another person’s, and vice versa.
With ecommerce, you’re providing a product, so it’s not as simple as “mine was the first site they saw when the page loaded.”
Product range and pricing are usually where it’s at. Become obsessed with your closest competitors, above and below you, to see what they’re doing right and wrong in comparison to your site.
SEO tools and algorithm pandering will help you out but remember that SEO was always about keeping users on your page instead of someone else’s.
Sometimes the edge you need isn’t found in tech jargon on your site’s back-end, but in good, old-fashioned sleuthing of your competition.
Discussing Ecommerce SEO Case Study Success Trends
Fortunately, we have a wealth of information to draw from when looking at how the big players conduct their own ecommerce SEO.
Think about it, every large retailer has made the leap online over the past two decades and, while they may have name recognition on the streets, every SERP is a free-for-all where even smaller sites can edge out larger, bigger-budget retailers as long as the right SEO strategy is implemented.
That said, we’re not going to get into case study specifics here. We’re going to go over the general trends that we’re seeing in big-name ecommerce SEO, because who better to learn from than the retail industry giants?
It’s apparent that even the largest ecommerce sites out there have trouble with two things, technical SEO and on-page SEO.
On the technical SEO side, even the largest sites were reluctant to have long redirect chains and Hreflang integration into their sites, which they seem to be being punished for when compared to smaller sites that have a tighter technical SEO profile.
As for on-page SEO, the ecommerce giants still struggled with H-tag structure and sub-300 word landing pages, which is a big no-no. Perfect on-page SEO is crucial to ecommerce success. There were also some messy URLs that could do with trimming, so make sure that your URLs are neat and easy to understand by both people and the algorithm.
Surprisingly, page speed is a problem for larger retailers on the desktop. It would seem that attempts to optimize for mobile have led some retailers to neglect their desktop speed performance when both are key to maximizing site success.
The best performers seemed to stay on top by virtue of many inbound links tied to quality content, which is all the more reason to employ a rigorous but above-board link building strategy.
What to take from these points? Keep your technical and on-page SEO in order, no matter what. Nothing gives you more of an advantage over larger competitors than a neater SEO profile.
Get Hreflang if you need to and clean up those URLs, try to have at least 300 words of content on your landing pages that are informative without being dense.
The rest of your content should be good, that’s a surefire way to get incoming links. Try to load your site as fast as possible on both mobile and desktop, letting one suffer over the other is unacceptable and it will cost you.
That’s all we have to say for now. We’re sure the landscape for ecommerce sites will change moving into the future but we’re confident you’ve got it down from here. There’s a lot of plates you need to spin, so refer back to us when you get stuck and you should find something that can help.
We can do you one better, actually, here’s a point by point breakdown of our entire guide:
Optimize all of your content for keywords, but not too much, while creating unique and original content that isn’t duplicated or dynamically-generated. Keyword stuffing suffocates SERP potential and can offend customers, so leave well alone after you’ve ranked for the terms you were targeting.
When an item goes out of stock, give its page some TLC. Add as much info as you can to draw customers back when it’s in stock, which you should give an approximation of. If you have the means, set up notifications for them. If the product isn’t coming back, then recommend them a similar product and clean out any unnecessary code corresponding to the unavailable product.
Decide product categories and subcategories based on UX, not suspected keyword volume, and use canonical tags to avoid a meltdown in the Google indexing algorithm that’ll only obfuscate your useful site pages and harm SEO performance.
Use product markup schema so that image-finding tools can find your products and display them properly, increasing traffic by this means. Remember this option when you can’t crack a keyword or phrase, it could be a consolation prize that your competitors haven’t thought of.
Use hovering menus to get the best of both tabbed and un-tabbed content. It looks good from the UX point of view while not sabotaging your page in Google’s search rankings, so it keeps the SEO side of things running smoothly. Descriptions, reviews, specs, slap a hover-triggered drop-down menu on all of them if you don’t want to have them on the page permanently.
Use good old competitive tactics like research on your competitors’ prices and product ranges. Offer more than what they are for less where it’s financially viable. Combining old school market aggression with an airtight SEO strategy can be the key to edging out your opponents and reaping the spoils.
If you don’t know how to get more leads, look no further! Lead generation is simple and doesn’t require much time.
Understanding how to generate leads is something that many businesses struggle with. However, they’re often small businesses that don’t know how to focus on digital advertising. Something as simple as a website will help you acquire leads, but you can use a variety of lead generation strategies.
We’ve put together a list of things you can do to start generating leads and improve your business. After implementing a few lead generation tips, your business will see an increase in conversions.
Here are 5 lead generation strategies for a successful startup!
1. Create Opt-In Opportunities
When it comes to lead generation tips, one of the best we can give you is to create various opt-in opportunities for customers. These opportunities can come in the form of things like newsletters, guides, webinars, etc. You can also use pay per call ads, which lets you attract people via phone calls.
Whenever a customer opts in to one of these opportunities, you can gain their contact information. From there, you can continue to send them information about your company. As you fill your sales funnel, you’ll need to nurture existing leads by producing content that will get them to invest in your business.
2. Make Effective Landing Pages
The landing page is one of the most important parts of any company’s website. Whenever a customer visits your website after searching for it or clicking an ad, they’ll need to see appealing things. You must make effective landing pages that are easy for the customer to view and understand what they’re looking at.
Create an effective landing page, include short and simple information about your product or service. You don’t want to include something like a video because it’s too much info for the customer to process.
Ensure that your landing page makes customers interested in your product by learning more about it. For example, if you sell video equipment, you could list a few images of a DIY studio setup. Customers that see it will get interested and click on those products, leading to sales.
3. Write Simple Ads
Like a landing page, you can’t generate startup leads if your advertisements are too complex for customers. They must be simple enough for a customer to understand what you’re offering as soon as they see it. Don’t pack an advertisement with a ton of information because customers will not look at it.
When creating an ad, think about the product or service that you want to advertise. How will you catch a customer’s interest? What’s the necessary information that they need to know about it to get interested? These are some of the things you must consider when making an ad.
Your advertisements also shouldn’t be filled with a ton of color. Try to make them neat, but not too boring. You’ll need to experiment with different kinds of ads until you get something that works for you.
However, try to match your company’s tone. If you’re selling toys, you can get away with having colorful ads. However, a company that’s offering construction services wouldn’t want to include every color of the rainbow.
4. Provide Good Offers
When people are trying to figure out how to generate leads, one of the things they don’t consider is providing good offers. Whenever you want to attract customers, you’ll need to offer things like discounts and free trials to improve your conversion rate.
Free trials are often offered when a company wants to get people to sign up for a service. You’ll see things like streaming services and software companies have free trials that can last anywhere between a day to a month.
If your company focuses on selling products, you can offer a discount for first-time buyers. Not only will this get people interested in what you’re offering, but it’s also a way to earn money quickly.
When making a landing page, these discounts and free trials should be advertised there. Providing that it’s one of the first things people see when visiting your site, you’ll have a good chance of making a conversion.
5. Use Social Media
Social media marketing is something that many businesses are focusing on because over 3.5 billion people use it daily. This gives you a lot of room to grow your business without having to worry about how to attract your target audience.
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are currently some of the most popular platforms. Each of them gives advertisers a variety of tools to reach their audience. You can choose who will see your ads by selecting the age, location, and gender of your target audience.
Out of all the ways to generate leads, this will be the most effective, no matter what type of business you have. All you need to do is figure out who your target audience is, then you can reach them through the social media platform of your choosing.
Start Using These Lead Generation Strategies
After reading this article, you now know how to get more leads for your business. We encourage you to start using these lead generation strategies as soon as possible if you’d like to find success. You’ll notice a major increase in traffic on your website, and you’ll make more sales.
If you don’t know where to start, ensure that you have an effective landing page. Changing that will help you make conversions when you start launching advertisements.
Check out our other articles to learn more about lead generation!