We are approximately two months into our battle of the niche’s and we are certainly having some fun! After two months the score is:
We have both come leaps and bounds in the last month winning a point each. We both had a win and we both learnt new things that came by surprise. Let’s take a look at each niche site individually:
ZACB recently asked us for an update to our SEO Experiment, and as we have some interesting news with regards to how it is going, we thought that it was time for an update.
Well, before everyone says “I told you so”, we should mention that this contractor had been successful for us in the past, but due to Google’s massive updates over the last 12 months, we were concerned about continuing to use them, despite their claims that they had changed their methods. Suffice to say, the site that we gave them (and some other sites that they had been working on) has been penalised. They claim that this is not the case, but we started another site in the same niche, and are already ranking in the top 50 for all of the primary keywords using our own method, while the site they are “working” on is not in the top 600 results for any keyword at all.
This contractor has been quite good so far. We haven’t paid them a cent yet, but they have consistently provided excellent weekly reports with all of the links they’ve generated for the site, which is really important, as this means we can get them removed in future should we be penalised for any of them. More importantly though, the site is ranking in the top 50 for its primary keyword, and is one page 3 for three other secondary keywords. This contractor is on a pay for performance basis, so they won’t get their $250 until the site reaches page one for its primary keyword. So far we’re very happy with this contractor.
Success – so far…
After being a finalist in the Telstra Top 25 Small Business Blogs in Australia (exciting and humbling), Nathan and I were asked to guest post on their blog (fun). So we opted to take questions from e-commerce owners, after all that is what TalknBusiness is here for! Our first post went live with 2 questions…..oh and we even got crowned ‘experts’
I have an online business that sells a unique product that people would only look for by name not by category. I am struggling with the marketing between the company name and the product name as both are important and link back to the product. Any ideas on which should be the main marketing pitch? – Jane
I run a small business with online sales and I also sell my product through some leading sporting stores. I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on marketing, therefore, what is the most effective way to get my product out into the public to make people aware of it? There are tens of thousands of people playing golf and tens of thousands more who know of someone who plays golf and may be looking for the perfect inexpensive golf gift. How do I successfully market my product without it costing me a bomb? I currently advertise in 2 golf publications but feel I’m only reaching the same 50,000 readers each month. I haven’t as yet tried Facebook or Twitter but frankly, the thought horrifies me! Your advice would be greatly appreciated. – Caroline
If these are challenges you face as well, head on over to Smarter Business Ideas and read our tips:
Welcome to another episode of TalknBusiness TV. This episode is slightly unique, we are actually filming while out and about exploring Bangkok. It is how we got the inspiration for this episode in the first place;
How do you keep your business moving forward while you are dealing with everyday distractions?
Okay, so Nathan told you about his little experiment last week. Now I can tell you about mine. I’m going to be a little more traditional in my approach, but there are still a few differences that I want to experiment with. The big different with Nathan and I is that he likes ‘shiny new objects’ and I like to stick with what I know, changing things to move with the times/trends. Both have their pro’s and con’s, which is what makes us such a good team.
One of the issues that I’m concerned with about Nathan’s experiment is that it is not targeting direct product keywords, which is something I will still definitely be doing.
Firstly, my keyword is low competition (of course – that’s non-negotiable in any new site that we setup), but it is a direct product keyword. I realise that this will be harder to rank for than Nathan’s keywords perhaps, but I should get a higher conversion rate than he does, once I (hopefully) rank the site.
Part of our system is keeping your costs down as much as possible while you try and get enough traffic to the site. Traditionally this has meant using something like Shopify to start with (instead of commissioning a full e-commerce system for yourself), and using samples to fill out your initial range. This still costs money though, and I’m always trying to reduce that as much as possible. So my experiment is about reducing these costs to almost zero. If we can do this successfully, it means we (and you) will be able to start several sites at once, which massively increases your chances of success online.
We know that it is usually illegal to promote products that you don’t actually have (although you can dropship products, so as long as you have a reasonable expectation of being able to source the product, that’s okay). Of course, there’s nothing illegal about having product listings on your site that are out of stock, and/or “coming soon”. Basically my shop is under construction and is being built meaning it will be ‘coming soon’! I’m a great believer that Google is really pushing to promote e-commerce sites for product specific keywords. If someone searches for “door handles”, there’s a very good chance they want to see sites that sell door handles. Google knows this, and is actively trying (not always succeeding mind you…) to promote e-commerce sites.
As such, I want to produce a site that still “looks” like an e-commerce site to Google, yet all of the products are posted as “coming soon” until such times as the site start producing traffic. So what “products” will I be putting up? Well, I have sourced many products on Aliexpress.com before, so I have found quite a few suppliers that have really good ratings, and are able to send one of each item when I order them. So I am writing (not copying) really good original descriptions of these products, but just using a “coming soon” image. This way, if somebody does actually enquire about a product, we can source it for them, and when we start getting enough traffic to the site, I won’t actually have to change much – just bring the products in and get the photos up. In theory anyway!
One problem with not having products in stock is that we can’t list them on comparison shopping sites, which is normally where we get the early sales from while we’re waiting for those Google rankings. The sales aren’t significant though (not enough to make a store worthwhile normally), as the real sales come with natural search traffic. I think the sacrifice is worth it if it means we then have the ability to easily and cheaply start several sites at once.
The next step is to use a free e-commerce platform. We do have our own platform that we could use, but this cost us several thousand to produce to our requirements, and we wanted to see if there was a cheaper solution that was close to being as good, as we know this is a stumbling block for many people.
In the past we had experimented with various free solutions, but everything came up too short of where we needed it to be. They were too buggy, lacked features, or were bad for SEO purposes. Recently though I re-visited Woocommerce, which is a free plugin for WordPress. We gave it another shot, and were very impressed. So impressed, that we are starting to conduct some pretty serious experiments with it, of which this is one.
The other benefits to using this platform, is that it is easily updateable and easily customisable. In fact it is so much fun that you can waste hours, if not days, exploring different theme’s, layouts and colours. With our current platform, it’s not that easy to change the look of our site depending upon the product type. Some of our new e-commerce sites coming online are single SKU sites, and our platform is really designed for many SKUs. Different product lines would benefit from different branding as well, which can often mean they’re more suited to different site structures. Again, this is not easy to do with our current platform (without involving programmers), but super easy easy to do with WordPress and a good Woocommerce theme.
Not only will I be filling the site with products, I’m also going to produce 15-20 good, well written articles surrounding the product, using my keyword map as a base. The content will be interlinked, and refer back to my product listings, and vice versa. Because the platform is WordPress, it is super easy to add content. While I personally wrote my main 1000 word article targeting my keyword, I have outsourced all my other articles. This may seem like a waste of your start-up budget, but trust me it is worth the money. The brain space it takes to write 15-20 articles (all over 500 words), all based around the same keyword but varying greatly from one another as well as not being over optimised……you get the point!
SEO is where I am a little bit weak, and unfortunately I still don’t have a solid strategy in place as of yet. I will still do our “basic links” like Nathan discussed in his experiment article, as well as do some Web 2.0 articles, but from there I’m going to adopt a bit of a wait and see approach. Because we’re simultaneously conducting some other SEO experiments with 3 different SEO companies, I might wait to see how they play out before I decide to outsource or go it alone and do some work myself. I’ll also be using Google Alerts to let me know about people who are discussing my niche in forums, so that I can get involved in different niche related communities. You might find it odd that I am not concerned over my SEO strategy, but the important thing to remember is that if you go too hard too quickly you can damage your site’s reputation with Google to point of no return. I would rather ‘wait and see’ for a few more months over the later.
So what do you think? Are there any areas you’d like me to get into further? Would you like to know how we set up the WordPress/Woocommerce platform? Let us know by sending us an email or using the comment section below, as we’d love to get your input.