With the latest Amazon affiliate changes, we might have a lot of people switching over from affiliate marketing to Ecommerce so I figured I’d share 11 years of experience building, starting and growing Ecommerce stores on Google. (I’ve seen it all… computer stores, fashion stores, health supplement stores, gourmet food, jewellery, sunglasses, tape, sex toys, guitar stores, drone stores, recreational vehicles, paintball stores, water filtration, home appliances and more).
Obligatory Proof: https://i.gyazo.com/dd374c572ca7ed2233afea432a74f856.png
Even though I frequently work with 1m-15m/year E-commerce sites, I really enjoy the startup phase.
There’s something really exciting about starting a new Ecommerce store so that’s what I’m going to focus on today.
Here are some of examples of the Ecommerce ranking technique I’m going to share. Sometimes doubling (even tripling) in Google traffic.
Brand new Ecommerce Startup Proof Example #1 https://i.gyazo.com/79d789e8310710d7683b62728abe386b.jpg
Another new Ecommerce store Example #2 https://i.gyazo.com/0692384554ac1d223988f0882f95675a.png This Ecommerce that could never rank no matter what they tried triples their traffic in less than 3 months
And another Client Example #3 https://i.gyazo.com/d13b6264536b17a3428e5b0088e711cb.png Another example of an ecommerce store dramatically increasing their traffic.
These techniques are unique to Ecommerce stores (so those pesky bloggers can’t use these) and provide long lasting results.
So how do you get Google to notice your store and send you massive amounts of visitors?
Let’s start with the most common one (my least favorite but I want to include it because it works… heck many Reddit ‘success stories’ have followed this exact strategy. I believe most people should at least TRY this one first and then more on the others if it doesn’t span out.)
The Grand Slam Technique
The Grand Slam technique involves doing something BIG to get a lot attention. It’s the explosive, “plan it for three weeks and hope it works out” approach.
Essentially, this is how you want to do it if you want to follow Google recommendation of “Create great content and people will come” and have a chance of succeeding.
The “go big” method often involves a marketing stunt with the aim of going viral or a large piece of content. You invest several weeks and create something that you believe will capture the world’s attention using your product.
Your Ecommerce store sells tape. To demonstrate the strength of your tape, you decide to shoot a video in which you lift a car with your product.
You spend weeks putting it together, coordinating a crane to lift the car, a camera crew and a boatload of tape.
Does the video go viral? ? Well, maybe! But then again, maybe not.
Statistically… it doesn’t. Most things don’t go viral. There are just too many other cool things happening in the world.
However, you only need one hit to make it. (DollarShaveClub anyone?)
That’s why I prefer the:
Perfect Perk Technique
This technique works SO WELL that Google has recently decided that you probably shouldn’t do it because it will give you an unfair advantage over the competition.
There is a weakness in their algorithm and, as you’ll soon see… it’s practically impossible for them to stop it.
It isn’t as sexy as directing your own mini-commercial but it does deliver massive amounts of Google traffic. Plus, if you want to be a director, you can do that with the profits from this approach.
Even if you know nothing about search engine optimization and you’re in a competitive industry, this is for you.
Instead of relying on what other people think of our blog post or video, we’re going to give Google exactly what it wants… and in turn, it will give us exactly what we want: traffic.
The first step is convincing Google that you have the best store in your industry. So when someone asks Google, “Where do I get this widget?”
Google answers, “Right here, at your store!”
So what are the main things that Google looks for?
*Good product listings. *A ton of people talking about your products.
Convince Google that you have these two elements and you’re golden.
However before I get to the sexy stuff (getting people to talk about your product using the Perfect Perk technique), I feel I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t at LEAST mention what makes a good product listing. Without this, everything else you do is useless.
So what makes a good product listing?
I want to tell you a little secret that will make a lot of ecommerce gurus cringe:
You don’t need to do that much for product listings in order to rank on Google. In fact, as long as you convey the right signals, you’ll rank just fine.
Because, all you need is a slightly better product listing than your competition. And the truth is, most ecommerce stores have no idea what they are doing!
They use the same stock photography that their supplier sent them, they copy paste the 75 word description from the wholesale catalog and then call it a day!
In the restaurant industry, that’s the equivalent of reheating frozen food in the microwave! It just won’t cut it.
So what DOES Google want?
At a bare minimum, it wants an original picture of your product and an original description.
This can be as quick as taking a snapshot of the image with your IPhone and writing the basics about the item you’re trying to sell.
What is it made of?
How do you use it?
What kind of warranty does it have?
Preemptively answering the questions that your customer might have about your product will help you rank higher on Google and help you sell more.
If you want to get fancy, have 5-6 pictures of your product taken by a professional photographer.
Here are 3 examples of great product listing:
I annotated the product listing examples to highlight the elements that contribute to great rankings for each website.
Great Product Listing Example #1: https://i.gyazo.com/8b2b34fe57f97309cd8782668acd8db0.jpg Boom By Cindy Joseph
They combines all the proper SEO elements with all the best conversion elements. There is a massive amount of social proof on the page which increases conversions.
Here are the highlights:
Multiple original images taken by a professional photographer.
Multiple original videos (they also count as unique content)
Original description in the form of benefits
Huge amount of reviews. Reviews count as content!
Great Product Listing Example #2: Safety Tape By Creative Safety Supply https://i.gyazo.com/b689d7900fb7e043a088a32c7abcb321.jpg
They produce extremely useful product pages, including many visual elements and additional resources that are useful to the user.
Some of the highlights:
*Massive amount of original, professional images *Breadcrumb navigation (This helps the click-through-rate of your Google search result listing by adding categories in the results)
Extensive original description
Multiple reviews (not shown in the picture)
Related resources and guides
Great Product Listing Example #3: Levi Jeans by Amazon https://i.gyazo.com/530b820e0b17ce9ea6983663486e011c.jpg
Why does Amazon rank for nearly everything? Three reasons: Content, content and more content. (And 2.5B backlinks doesn’t hurt either)
Some of the highlights:
Multiple original images
Extensive related amount of products, images and information
Reviews. Over 5000 reviews creates a massive amount of original content that cannot be found anywhere else.
To Google, pictures count as content.
If you take 2 pages and everything else is equal… and one with more content wins every time.
If you want other people to complete your content, then allow reviews to be posted on the site and let your customers ask & answer questions. This will count towards your original content! This is one of the main reasons Amazon does so well in the search results.
And now… the fun part.
How To Get Links To An Ecommerce Store
How does an Ecommerce store get backlinks when:
The competition refuses to link to you
Related industry sites are too busy writing about the manufacturers instead of linking to the store selling the product!
No one really knows you.
You could take the first approach which is to build something and hope it goes viral… however I prefer to exploit the weaknesses in Google’s algorithm by manufacturing real, high quality links on related industry sites.
This method produces BETTER results anyway.
However, before I share this method with you, it’s important that you understand one important element about traffic.
The Misconception That Holds Most People Back
The biggest misconception that people have about organic Google traffic is that it’s “free” and therefore all link-building efforts must also be free.
Instead, you will need a small investment. As soon as you adopt the mentality that you’ll invest X into link building with the objective of making Y, you’ll be on your way to success.
If you invest $100 into link building and you make $200 profit, you win.
If you invest $500 and make $5000 profit? You win even more.
One mistake many new Ecommerce owners make is competing for #1 rankings with a budget of $0 while their competitors are spending $500.
My last SEO test project cost $4361 and has generated (at the time of writing) over $47941.30 in profits.
It’s all about getting a positive return on investment.
When you adopt the mentality that Time = Money and that Money = Traffic, you can make much better decisions with your investments.
This will change your focus from the “cheapest” option (which won’t work) to the “best value” option… which will provide you with the highest return on investment.
The first, and often most cost efficient way of acquiring new links when launching a new Ecommerce store is… drum roll the good’old fashioned PRESS RELEASE.
Before you jump off the page thinking: “Oh I’ve heard this one before, I tried a press release and it didn’t do anything“, remember our new mentality:
We don’t want cheap, we want good value.
Here’s what you should avoid: https://i.gyazo.com/fa3cf3ec0350e948f157746453cf876f.png
Instead of getting a $60 press release that promises to get you good rankings and “into 10000 news agencies” and “into Google news”, spring for a professional press release that will get you in front of real journalists that will write articles about you.
And quite frankly, those cost more..
Do you think journalists are reading all the crap-o-la that comes from the $60 press release services?
Journalists are looking for real stories… about real businesses. Those stories tend to be mentioned on larger news sites such as PRNewswire, MarketWired and BusinessWire.
So, submit your high-quality releases to these sites.
When you submit your first press release about your Ecommerce store, you want to go in with a purpose:
How does your store differentiate itself? Why do you exist? Why are you better than the competition?!
If you want your press release to succeed two things must happen. You must write a good headline and get it in front of the right journalists. Use a premium press release services to get your headline it in front of the right journalists.
If you’re ever going to have a sale or a promo, now is the time. I don’t have time to cover the do’s and don’ts of a successful press release (that’s for another article) but if you’re ever in a pickle, you can hire a marketing expert to find an interesting angle for you.
Just remember, when you write the press release, you aren’t writing it for customers, but for journalists.
One single press release CAN land you thousands of high quality links that can power your site for years to come which makes it the best investment a new Ecommerce store can make.
Traffic from a well crafted press release: https://i.gyazo.com/06458c77123617faefb05ada03ea45d6.png
A good press release got into the hands of a few journalists, sending thousands of visitors to my client’s ecommerce store and generating dozens of DA30+ links on industry related sites.
Don’t use a keyword for your anchor text when creating a press release. Use your brand name or a generic URL. This improves the chances of your press release being taken seriously by journalists and prevent potential over-optimization penalties.
The truth is, Google doesn’t want you to exploit this weakness in their algorithm. (They tried)
Good press releases will provide massive SEO benefits and there is little they can do about it.
$495 press release
5 hours of work x $20 = $100
$595 for potentially thousands of journalist seeing (and writing) about your store.
Worst case scenario: You get featured on the standard boilerplate sites which will give you some backlink juice and get Google traffic flowing.
Best-case scenario: A journalist picks up your story, writes a real article about you on a major site which immediately drives traffic, sales and skyrockets your Google rankings in one shot.
Some multi-million dollar businesses, such as the http://www.headblade.com, have been made on the back of a SINGLE news article. https://i.gyazo.com/faa1a0120b1030550c279d7f63f3dd8e.png
When that happens, many smaller websites “borrow” the story and rewrite it as their own, further accumulating natural links for your website.
An unlimited source of recommendations about your product and store
Every industry has two main categories of websites:
The sellers. (This is the Ecommerce stores, the suppliers and manufacturers.)
The reviewers/enthusiasts/news (the influencers). These are the large blogs and large authority sites that write on a daily basis about the industry. They typically carry a lot of weight.
It’s your job, as a seller, to get all the influencers to recommend you.
When Google detects that many influencers are linking to you, your store climbs up the Google ranks and generate massive amounts of traffic (and sales).
Here’s why this is a weakness in Google’s algorithm:
Google doesn’t know if the influencers are linking to you because you’re a friend, because they think you have a good product or because you met them at a conference and promised them a perk.
In other words, as long as the influencers aren’t advertising: “Give me stuff and I’ll link to you!“, no one knows why an influencer links to anything!
… and getting influencers to write about us is EXACTLY what we’re going to exploit.
However, here’s where most people get it wrong.
Most sellers approach influencers with the “ME ME ME” mentality. In other words, they are only thinking of what they want instead of what the influencer wants.
The typical email that will get you nowhere as a seller is:
“Hey, I just launched this store, we have amazing products and I thought you’d want to let your audience know about us.”
NO, NO, AND NO
Remember when I said that you have to think of Google traffic as an investment and that the focus is getting the best return on investment?
Well, that translates to figuring out what the influencer wants.
For instance, most influencers will gladly accept money.
Even though the official Google rule is to add “nofollow” to the links, this is rarely enforced by the bloggers.
The sites you want to avoid are sites that are dedicated to ONLY posting sponsored posts. Those sites typically serve low quality content. The best sites are the ones with an active community and visitors. An easy tell is to check to see if there are any comments on the articles. Good sites tend to have comments on each article.
Influencers make their living from this kind of stuff so they are always on the lookout for good opportunities.
Focus on the influencer’s needs and start the conversation with: “Hey, I just launched this store and was wondering how much it would cost to have you mention my store in your next article” will get you a much higher success rate.
From there, I recommend looking up the site metrics & traffic (how powerful it is) and then you can easily calculate the cost to see if it’s worth it:
1 mention from influencer #1 with a DA58 website (2300 daily visitors) = $200
1 mention from influencer #2 with a DA34 website (750 daily visitors) = $250
1 mention from influencer #3 with a DA64 website (3300 daily visitors) =$750
Ummm, influencer #3 seems overpriced and influencer #1 is providing some good value for the money!
Quick, simple, repeatable.
And if it’s not worth it, negotiate!
You can typically negotiate at least 50% off whatever price they initially throw at you. The best negotiation tactic is to present quotes from competitive influencers. This will help you get the absolute best price for your post.
Here is an actual conversation I had with an influencer: https://i.gyazo.com/227b2234165b340414342d06eb39ebfb.png
Once you have more experience, you’ll be able to guesstimate the amount of traffic / ranking boost that such a website can provide over the course of a year.
That $200 link from a DA58 website might result in an extra 14000 visitors over the course of a year. At a 2% conversion, that’s 280 extra sales. And at an average of $34 profit on each sale, that’s $9520 in profit. Not bad for a $200 link.
You might be looking at this thinking: “Damn, how do I know what kind of profit I’ll generate from a link?!”
Well, the truth is, you don’t. However as you gain experience in your industry and you’ll be able estimate the traffic a bit better. In my experience, even bad estimates are better than no estimates at all.
This is how you start building a solid foundation of influencers linking to your Ecommerce store.
However… I saved the best for last.
Remember that example where the influencer requested $750?
Well, imagine you could get the same result for a fraction of the price?
Typically, sponsored posts and advertorials tend to be pricey. They might still be worth it but there’s a way to get influencers to respond for much cheaper. (Providing you with a higher ROI).
** Nearly every influencer in your industry will be interested in your products . **
The best part is that YOU pay wholesale for your products but the perceived value is much higher.
Influencers love products (that’s why they got into their industry in the first place) and they need products to review.
In fact, nearly every influencer has a section dedicated to reviews on their website.
So while a high-profile influencer might charge an exorbitant amount of money for a sponsored story about your Ecommerce store, he or she will gladly accept to review your product if you just send it over to them. This works so well that Google is freaking out, trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of influencers receiving free products and not disclosing it.
The weakness that we’re exploiting is the following: Unless the influencer states that the product was sent to them or they openly advertise that they’ll give you a link if you send them a product, Google doesn’t know how the product got to the influencer. The only way for Google to stop this is to manually check sites openly admitting they are receive sponsored products in exchange for coverage.
The Perfect Perk
For instance, I ran into a fashion blogger who wanted $750 for a sponsored post. But but after a bit of talking, we concluded that she would write a post about the Ecommerce store in exchange for a leather handbag valued at $350.
We’re a store! We don’t pay full price for our items… we only SELL our products at full price.
That handbag had a wholesale price of $120.
We get to be featured on a giant industry site for $120 instead of the standard $750.
Now we’re talking!
Here’s how it went down:
Wholesale handbag cost = $120
Shipping = $15
Time 1 hour = $15
Total cost: $150 for a DA64 link on a related industry site.
It gets EVEN better.
The review is all about our product. That means that if out of the thousands of readers who read it, a single person buys because of the recommendation, we’ve already made our money back.
Essentially… the link costs us absolutely nothing and we get to benefit from increase in Google traffic for years to come.
Here’s what happened:
Profit made from sales from the article = $300 (We sold 2 at $150 profit each)
Yearly increase in traffic (0.5%) = Approximately 1000 extra visitors
Additional sales from extra traffic (2% conversion) = 20 sales
Average profit from each sale ($56) = $1120
$1120 long term profit + $300 immediate profit – $150 investment = $1270
Which means that we’ve made $1270 in profit from our $150 handbag investment.
And that’s how you grow your traffic on a brand new Ecommerce store… making money as you move forward.
The best part?
When major influencers start featuring your store and products, OTHER influencers will follow. Soon you’ll have influencers contacting YOU, requesting samples, practically begging to write about you.
From there, just rinse and repeat as long as you want and watch your traffic (and sales) grow.
Edit: Because I’m getting a lot of PM /questions about this (everyone’s really nice, thanks!)
Here’s my Facebook page if you want to stay up to date.
Edit 2: Post back up. Thanks for all the positive feedback, and I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can today. Yes, I noticed there was negative feedback as well (I guess that happens when posts hit a critical mass), everyone’s entitled to their own opinion however try to stay kind to your fellow Redditors. I’m just sharing my experience for those that want to hear it. Cheers!