Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast everyone. I am your host, Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Matthew Woodward who found that back in 2012 it was clear from browsing around popular digital marketing blogs and forums that there were a lot of myths, misinformation and generally terrible rehashed advice being shared. So he decided to set up a blog in part to share his knowledge but also as an SEO experiment to put an old theory to the test and see if it was possible to rank a site with zero link building.
The experiment was a huge success and since launching the blog in August 2012 it has picked up a ton of awards and helped thousands of people to grow their businesses.
Thank you very much for having me on. And the flattering intro, not a problem. The blog was launched. I mean, way back when when any digital marketer information was just lacking. There was no substance to any of the blogs and sites out there. So back then, I was super black. And Kootz at the time was saying, you know, forget link billion, focus on creating content, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
So I thought try and much to my annoyance, he was right.
Well, yeah, I remember those days. Yeah. Things were a little bit different in the ACA world in 2012. So, yeah. Quite admirable of you to kind of take on the task with yourself and kind of do your own experiment. But yeah, like I said in the intro, you experiment kind of worked out and the rest is history.
But it’s a good thing that these days, yeah, there’s a lot more meat on the bone, I guess you could say, when it comes to finding more substantive information about us. And today, one of the things that we’re going to really be talking about, because there’s a lot, as you and I know and all our listeners know, when you think about SEO search engine optimization, there’s a lot that you can do. There’s a whole lot.
And I know business owners and marketers a lot of times the biggest, I think, issue is finding out what to focus on. And one of the things we’re going to talk about today are those quick wins, because there’s a lot of times some quick things that you can really easily do, no matter what industry that you’re in, that you can get a fair amount of success with and is always best to really start from there, make sure you knock out those quick wins and then kind of go on to some of the other things as far as the strategies are concerned.
So one of the things I really want to kind of really start with is with regards to, you know, just more a little bit about you actually and kind of how you really got into what you’re doing today. Why don’t you kind of enlighten us to shed some light on that kind of where you got to the point before you started the blog?
Yeah, I’m going to go into some very specific quick Quinceo strategies that anyone can apply regardless of experience, which they’re allow us to get some quick wins across your e-commerce stores and get pen and paper right now if you haven’t got it, instead of waffling to me talking about me. OK, for those of you that want to know about me, I’ve been building websites since before Google existed.
I had a paper round to pay for the server way back when in late 90s. And I’ve seen the birth of MySpace, the death of MySpace. I was that kid that was always trying to sell you some fan. I was knocking on your door asking to wash your car or buying snacks and sweets in the morning at the store and then selling a school. Huge margins.
And I was looking to come up in a time where Internet and specifically digital commerce started to become more accepted. You know, you might not think it now, but 20 years ago, people were terrified of putting a credit card in. Into a website, it was like they were going to, like, catch AIDS or HIV or something. It was like topics on the news and like so many fear stories going on. And I bought this on the Internet and I lost my house, you know.
So I’ve been through all of that. I did the whole corporate thing, had great success, built some e-commerce brands, work with some major international brands. And then kind of for the last 12 years or so, I’ve and doing my own thing, building up my properties, ranking them. I like dogs and algorithms. So I’m really ingrained in the process and figuring things out and why the algorithm reacts certain ways. That’s really my driving interest. But lucky for you, just time and experience, I’ve been able to layer that up with fairly broad level of business acumen and digital marketing and e-commerce as well.
So I look at the convergence skills and be in the right place at the right time over the last 20 years or so.
That’s awesome. And it’s good to hear that. Of course, everything you’re talking about is basically practice what you preach because, you know, your strategies come from what you’ve, of course, learned in growing your properties and, of course, building all of these things to where they are today. So that’s always good to know.
Practice what I love. I was always told, figure out what you love in life and then figure out a way to make money at it and check. Check.
Yeah, because otherwise, you know, you’re going to be knee deep in something that you’re not happy with. And we all know how that goes. A lot of people doing things that they, of course, would rather not be doing. But it’s good to know that you love this stuff. Well, you know, of course, as I mentioned earlier, that we’re going to be talking about those quick wins and one or two kind of lineups as far as what are some initial wins strategies and what would be a process for different quick wins that are applicable for e-commerce businesses.
You kind of touched on it a little bit earlier. The CEO is often complicated and confusing and business owners don’t know where they should pay attention. What they should do is smoke and mirrors.
But in general, what you must understand is that SEO boils down to three things. One is having a good foundation, two is having good content and three is links. You get those three things right, you’ll see success. So one of the first quick wins that I like to apply to clients when they come on board is taking care of site speed. Site speed, in my opinion, is a hugely underrated ranking factor and it is a confirmed ranking factor by Google.
But most importantly, it’s also a ranking factor for humans. Having a slow site damages conversions, average order value. It puts people off from place and repeat orders. It’s every metric in the business and all of that back then to if you run in any paid ads, you know, quality scores and everything like that, it backs into everything. But from a CEO perspective, it’s important because we find if a client’s got particularly bad site speed and we improve it to be very good nearly all of the time, they get increases in rankings across the board, across the entire site.
So I like that problem because it’s a problem. It’s a full control as a business owner. And if you’re running something like WordPress or commerce, fixing that can be done in a couple of hours of about fifty or seventy dollars, even if you have a technical dev experience whatsoever now, rather than go into the details of how you can do that, if you were to hit the home page of my site, Mafia would look up at the top, go to the section.
Then on the right hand side, there’s an article about increase in website speed. If you just follow that tutorial, you will see benefits for weeks down the line in terms of search, traffic, what you’ll see the benefits in terms of conversion and the human factor immediately. And that’s especially important when we’re going into the biggest sales quarter of the year, right?
Definitely, yeah. I think it’s something that a lot of people really they hear it all the time, that site speed. But I don’t know for some reason because I talk to e-commerce business owners all the time and I don’t know, it just becomes an afterthought or people they don’t realize these sites, the importance of it. And like you said, there’s a Google component to it and the human component to it. You know, the human component to it is a huge thing also because, of course, you know, these days of instant gratification, people are not going to wait around for a slow load excite.
And the thing that you have to realize also is that the Internet speeds as far as in the US here at least, just ratcheted up to levels that most people even need. So people are getting really, really fast download speeds. And so if your site is slow, it’s going to be noticeable because they’re used to seeing in viewing sites that are just loading quickly.
If you had a retail store in the real world, it’s like put in a slow walking person in front of the person is ready to buy. It just creates friction to buy. And slower and harder is for someone to buy. Well, that’s the opposite of what you should be doing as a business. It should be seamless and easy to hand money over at high speed plays a significant role in that. So it’s a quick win that it’s very rare that we have a client that has this right.
It’s very rare that a sitcom. Right. So what you should do is you can go on a website called Bache Speed dot com and you can put your homepage in there. And what it will do is it will pull back. First of all, Google page speed scores in bulk. These are just guidelines, but you should be looking for mobile scores of 60 and above and desktop scores of 90 and above. Additionally, you should be using a site called Web page test.
The org. Put your site in there and you want to see it fully loaded in less than three seconds. If you’re not seeing those scores, you got work to do. You’re leaving money on the table every single day from a conversion point of view, but also from a search traffic point of view so you can get it fixed. It doesn’t take much time to fix it cost next to nothing. It’s easy to do, definitely.
So, you know, once the if the business owners that are listening to marketers are listening, that they’ve checked that off the list is taking care of that. What would you say would be the kind of the next quick win that it was worthwhile doing?
OK, that’s like what I call a foundation fix that affects everything, right? Those are the things you need to get right and your foundation. But most people generally have those in place next. Once that Site Speed Foundation is in place, we can start applying what I call the quick Quinceo process. It’s a process that we hand over to junior CEOs when they first join the team because it’s easy to learn and it’s really easy to follow. But most importantly, it delivers results quickly.
So new staff members within two or three weeks of coming on board own a result. You know, it really helps morale and bring them into the team. Right.
But we run this process every 90 days on all of our sites. And essentially what it’s doing is it’s looking for all of the key words that are currently ranking between position two and 19. And then based on where they’re ranking, there are specific tasks that you can do to help increase those search positions. You just looking at what opportunities you have available to you and then acting on them. And so that’s essentially all it is.
It’s something that we really don’t realize that if you’re in that particular range or you have those keywords in that range from, like you said, the two to 19 range, there’s not a lot you necessarily have to do to bump up those, you know, the ones where you’re kind of further down the list a little bit more difficult. And depending on the competitiveness of the keywords the next year and things like that can be a little bit more difficult. But, yeah, if you’re in that range, there’s definitely things that you can do once you’re in that range.
Google’s kind of telling me, yeah, we trust you. Yeah, we are relevant. Yeah.
We’re happy to send you traffic now, although a lot of the ranking power is link based, a lot of it’s also on site based. So the quick Quinceo process focuses purely on things that you can change on site that are 100 percent in your control. And take a few minutes to do, for example, if you’re ranking between position two and nine and there’s a featured snippet, a feature snippet, if you do a search, it’s the result that stands out and it’s in a box.
You can usually just make a couple of tweaks to your page. And still that featured snippet position, you can go from rank three, four, five, six to number one almost immediately, usually within 24 hours. And that is just a case of, first of all, knowing that the opportunity exists and then secondly, acting on it. And that’s it. It takes about three or four minutes to do. Now, how do you find that the opportunity exists in the first place?
I actually have well, we have an internal tool that we built to do that. I gave it away for free on the blog. If you hit my homepage Maffia, would you say there’s a sign up right there or Muffie would look forward. Quick hyphen when hyphen Seo you’ll find it right there. Alongside that tool include the step by step videos of how to integrate the advice that it tells you so you don’t wait at all. It finds all the opportunities for you based on where they’re ranking.
It says do this, do that, do this, do that. And then you just follow the steps of the tutorial to integrate it. So featured snippet faffed. It will tell you these are your opportunities to stay feature featured snippets. This is how you go and do it step by step. That’s awesome. It builds out the strategy for you in one click. You know, featured snippets that can be done by literally anyone. All it usually entails is just moving text around or rewriting something or changing the way you say something.
It’s super easy, super, super easy. And it’s super powerful because, you know, the difference between ranking number six, number one is huge.
We’re talking 10 or 12 times the amount of traffic and you can go make that change today, go to Google search console, request indexing and when you do the search, tomorrow is very, very possible that you will stolen that featured spot.
One thing, though, you know, I read a lot of different blogs and there’s arguments about these featured snippets and effectiveness of them. One of the things that I’m wondering is, of course, Google is constantly changing things. They’re constantly changing display results. Sometimes they show more features, snippets, others they’re less. And so they’re kind of playing a dance. They’re the ultimate thing. As most people know, Google wants to provide the best experience for the user, the end user provide the best results for them.
So they’re you’re constantly tweaking their algorithm and studying the effectiveness of different displays. One of the things that I’ve heard is the argument and you can maybe chime in and let me know what you think with the featured snippets and inform. Our listeners are familiar with the feature snippets, which are those blocks of information when you do a search for, let’s say I was just recently doing a search for the top e-commerce shopping cart solutions. There was a particular blog that had a featured snippet where you immediately see in the search results those I think it was at least the initial top 10.
They’re all right. They’re embedded in there.
Yeah. All the bullet points from the article. Yeah, exactly. All of them embedded there. And so argument that I hear is that, ah, the ten, the feature step is be harmful to that blog owner because a lot of times people will just look at the features snippet like, oh OK. Well as far as shopping cart solutions, I see Wex as ranked Shopify big commerce. Yeah. Go ahead and check out Wick’s. I’m not going to look at the article.
We bounced over to another tab and just pull up the sites directly without going through that same featured snippets.
Generally you only get one per search result. There are times when there’s more than one, but it’s super rare. If you find one screenshot, it’s like a collectible or something shiny Pokemon card.
Right. Well, the discussion about whether they stop people clicking through or not is not really that relevant to featured snippets. And a lot of this debate was started around fake news snippets, which is a different type of snippet where you add questions into your search result when you click on them, expand into answers. And essentially it’s delivering the answer directly in the search from fake news. Troll attacks, you can actually use that to your advantage. And despite all of the debate, when I looked at clickthrough rates on things that had or didn’t have a few snippet, they outperformed significantly.
So I’m not concerned about a lower click free rate because that’s not the case. Usually if someone is getting an answer to the question or whatever it is they want to click through and read and learn more and continue is not an issue. And the fake snippets specifically offer you an opportunity to grab significantly more screen real estate. And that, again, is covered in the quick Quinceo process. It will identify the opportunities for you and tell you how to act on them.
And again, within 24 hours, you can increase the amount of real estate you earn on that first page. So we repeat this process every 90 days.
We’re trying to win as many featured snippets and grab as much real estate on their search results as possible, even if that means giving out the answer upfront. People still click for people still engage.
Yeah, that makes sense. Then I think the thing with the featured snippets is it physically takes up a lot of real estate there on your screen and it’s something where the user that it’s doing the search and when they’re looking at that, they’re naturally going to be drawn to it. They’re going to see the points there and then it’s going to compel them to kind of go through it. So it makes a lot of sense of how they’re really so effective these days.
Would also want to kind of, you know, pivot to is as far as some other types of strategies you mentioned. Of course, the feature step is are things that you can do on page. The focus of these quick wins are what can you do that are physically in your control outside of maybe link building where you’re relying on other people linking back to your site? What will be one more quick win? That’s within the total control of the e-commerce site owner.
You can have, for example, internal linking is an area where many, many, many sites lose out.
What I like to ask business owners is going open. Google search console on the left hand side, go to the links report, usually tucked away at the bottom. And then on the right of that report, you’ll have a breakdown of your page is based on the number of internal links pointing to them. So a list of all the pages on your site and then how many internal links are pointing to each of those pages with that in front of you, if I also asked you to write down a list of your most important pages in terms of revenue, would the list you write?
Mirror that internal links report and Google search console, if it doesn’t, you’ve got an internal linking problem. I gotcha. That’s again, it’s something else that we cover in the quick win process. Now, fixing that can take a little bit more time. We did an audit for a site about a month ago. We had to play 80000 analytics on internally.
So that’s a lot. A massive project.
Yeah, but most people aren’t going to face that issue. But it’s just another quick win. Another one. Quickly surf Rausseo. Relatively new tool to the market. It looks at the top 20 search results. It compares over 500 different ranking factors. And then based on correlation, it makes recommendations to the changes you should make on your page. And this is often adding phrases. I didn’t word that it and other bits and bobs, but it’s very specific in its advice.
And the advice is always easy to integrate. I and many people in the community are an absolutely fantastic resource with that tool. So again, in a quick Quinceo process, my tool will tell you if you need to run through that kind of optimization. But again, that’s something that you can do, usually only takes 10 or 15 minutes to act on and you start seeing the results very quickly. All right.
So, Matthew, as we prepare to wrap things up, what do you think are the best ways to measure the success of these three quick wins that we covered today?
I mean, ultimately, the measure of success is money in the bank, right?
Right. Definitely. And so that is the ultimate measure of success. The early measure, the early indication is just that you see in your average positions going up, you see in more traffic come to those pages that you’ve optimized and certainly brings you the traffic you’ve got to convert. So, right, once you pass a conversion stage is money in a bank which is looking for an uplift on the bottom line that we can attribute to organic search. Right?
And that is the only measure of success that makes total sense. Like you said, a CEO can improve everything, bringing traffic to your site and those numbers. But once the people are there, it’s really up to you. It’s up to the business owners to convert that. And that’s where the conversion rate optimization comes into play.
And site speed exactly is critical. Once they get there, if things are too slow, that’s going to definitely disturb you.
So all of those things, are you going to go stand in a slow checkout line or the first one? That’s it probably happens every day when you go to Wal-Mart or something, you know. Exactly.
I know for myself when I go shopping, I’m looking for the quick check out. I’m not going to stand in the line. That’s five people in there when there’s one with just one person ahead of me.
So, yeah, that’s a real world equivalent of a slow site. Yeah, it definitely is. That’s awesome.
I appreciate you coming on, Matthew, and sharing these quick wins.
I think they definitely will go a long way for all the listeners that are tuning in. And I’m sure they’re going to definitely take advantage of those resources that pointed out that you’ve given away on your blog. And so we appreciate that as well. And so what I always like to do is kind of shift gears here with my last final question. As my audience does know, I always close things out with just my final fun fact question. And and that is really what is one closing fun, the fact that you think our audience would be interested to know about you?
Oh, as a kid, I was selling Pokemon cards. I was doing door to door karate sales. Like I was like knocking on your door and offering you, like, free karate lessons and all kinds of stuff like that. And I got confirmation on before I was good at selling online. I was good at selling offline. You know, a lot of people kind of just know me for SEO. I’ve been an entrepreneur since before I even knew what that word was.
That’s awesome. So it’s just kind of in your blood. Yeah, I’ve heard those stories before. That’s for entrepreneurs these days with people that you talk to that a good entrepreneur for as long as you and I have been kind of in the game, we’ll tell you the same thing. You know, they sold things as a kid. They always were trying to find some way to sell to market. And, you know, that usually starts early on.
You really typically always have that kind of in your spirit, you know, early on, even as a child. And then you pivot that to a career and selling things that you love and kind of get tied into what makes you happy. Yeah.
Yeah. You know, look, sales and marketing hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. But how we apply that has the vehicle was changed?
Yeah. So a lot of my success comes from just applying what works in the real world to the digital world. Exactly. We got the basics right. Like in any business you get the basics right, you will see success. And from an SEO frame point, many businesses are not getting the basics right. And it’s so easy to get right.
Yeah, this is true. And that’s why I know this is going to go a long way. So great.
Well, I appreciate you sharing that magic. And lastly, if any of our listeners would like to get a hold of you and pick your brain any more about quick wins or just anything else under the category of SCCA, what is the best way for them to get all the.
Yeah, if you just hit Maffia, would you say that’s my blog? You’ll find everything you need on there. If you go through the quick Quinceo process at the bottom of each tutorial, have a little comment box there. Any questions you want to ask me? Whether it’s about the process itself or your general strategy or whatever is a question that is me. The answer is not a team member. Any of that, I’ll come straight to me and I will give you a personal answer that helps you crush whatever the problem is you present.
Well, that’s awesome.
Well, thank you, Matthew, for sharing that. We appreciate that. And thank you once again for being on the e-commerce marketing podcast.
Thanks for having me on. Have a good day. No problem. You too.
Founder of MatthewWoodward.co.uk