Lure the SEO beasts your way with freshly optimised juice
Selling your products and services online can be tough.
Every year, new trends pop up like weasels from their little weaselly holes, and we have to figure out how best to wrangle and train them to deliver more SEO juice than our competitors.
But don’t fret!
I have an excellent expert to simplify the eCommerce digital marketing process and highlight what will push you ahead of the game.
Tune in to learn:
- How COVID-19 has changed eCommerce SEO
- Why SEO is vital to any eCommerce site
- How to optimise your images for prime SEO goodness
- What new SEO trends have sprung up in 2020
- How to come out on top for SEO ranking on Amazon
- If content on our own site and on Etsy and Amazon is considered duplicate content
- What automation through longtail and AI is, and how it can make a difference to your SEO strategy.
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And big thanks to Celeste Robertson for her lovely review.
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Mez Homayunfard is the Co-Founder and Head of Partnerships at OMG. He’s a marketing mastermind with a wealth of expertise, having overseen 250+ search campaigns and consulted 600+ businesses globally.
His core strength is delivering real revenue results through digital marketing.
Mez has consulted businesses both big and small, including Artline, CBRE, Peter’s of Kensington, King Living, Doors Plus, and many more.
His insights have also been featured in AFR, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mumbrella, as well as research by UNSW.
Mez is really interested in rugs.
Connect with the Online Marketing Gurus
Kate Toon: Selling your products and services online can be tough. Every year, new trends pop up like weasels from their little weaselly holes, and we have to figure out how best to wrangle and train them to deliver more SEO juice than our competitors. Don’t fret. Today, I have an excellent expert to simplify the ecommerce digital marketing process and highlight what SEO tactics you’ll need to push ahead of the game. Hello, my name is Kate Toon, and I’m the head chef at The Recipe for SEO Success, an online teaching hub for all things related to search engine optimization and digital marketing. And today I’m talking to Mez. Hello, Mez?
Mez Homayunfard: Hi, Kate. It’s lovely to speak to you again.
Kate Toon: It’s good to speak to you too. Now, I always struggle to say your second name. Say it for me again.
Mez Homayunfard: Homayunfard.
Kate Toon: Homayunfard. Well, let me explain who you are. You can sit here awkwardly while I read out your bio now. So Mez is the co-founder and head of partnerships at OMG. He’s a marketing mastermind with a wealth of expertise, having overseen 250 search campaigns and consulted with 600 plus businesses globally. His core strength is delivering real revenue results through digital marketing. Mez has consulted with businesses big and small, including Artline, CVRE, Peter’s of Kensington, King Living, Doors Plus, and many more. His insights have been featured in AFR, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mumbrella, as well as research by the University of New South Wales. And Mez is really interested in rugs. What’s the rug thing man?
Mez Homayunfard: I don’t know why marketing had to put that in there, but I have actually liked rugs from a young age. So my dad being a good migrant family, we had a rug shop when he migrated to Australia and I worked in that as a child and picked up a knack for rugs, hand-woven rugs.
Kate Toon: I love that. I always ask for one silly random fact. I love a good rug so it’s good to know.
Mez Homayunfard: Me too, me too.
Kate Toon: Having worked in a shop front store, this is a great little segue, so many challenges now for retail in general, where we’re recording this still during COVID-19. I know that the retail sector, especially in Europe and the US is taking a huge, huge hit because high streets are closing down. And finally, a lot of people who have never tried ecommerce because they thought it was dodgy are moving online. Have you noticed that, especially the older demographic, that more ecommerce stores have seen a huge lift or what’s happening in the market?
Mez Homayunfard: Yeah, absolutely. COVID’s had a very, very momentous impact on small to medium businesses and then definitely forced a lot of businesses to go online. And we are seeing that obviously, especially in that peak in March, April and May, online ecommerce activity went up significantly, and not just in industries where it was for, I guess, essential supply products, but just across the board. So yeah, definitely. It’s seen a lot of businesses really getting pushed to do online.
Kate Toon: Yeah. And about time too for many of them. I think a few, as well as forcing customers to kind of recognise the importance, a few businesses have realised you have to have that online option. And that many people, one of the things that we both know is that even if people are going to purchase from your store, they’ll often do a search for the store and check you out before they drive to the location to buy your product, because they want to check that really you’re still there. The number of times I’ve turned up to places and they don’t exist anymore because the Google address is out of date, that you have the product in stock, they want to maybe compare prices. So I think lots of people are scared of ecommerce because they think it’s going to ruin their shop front business. What’s your opinion on that?
Mez Homayunfard: I am seeing a lot less of that recently with people sort of assuming that they’re going to suddenly launch online and then it’s going to kill their retail businesses. We’re actually seeing, as you correctly pointed out, a lot more integration really between the two. So seeing that people are maybe starting their journey for a product or service online, and then actually moving towards going into a store after doing the online research. There’s a bit of a, I guess, symbiosis between online and offline, whereas maybe five or six years ago, there was that sort of scepticism of, we don’t want to go online. It’s going to cannibalise our sales, to now it’s like, you have to do it, otherwise, you’re potentially leaving money on the table and potential traffic and customers on the table, if you’re not offering that option.
Kate Toon: I totally agree. I mean, a little personal story, even when you’re travelling around Australia, it’s a big country. I went to a particular store and there was something I wanted to buy and I didn’t want to have to cart it home in my luggage. This was before COVID. And so I was like, “Oh, great. Well, maybe I could order it online and you could deliver it.” And he’s like, “Nah, we don’t do that.” And I was like, Whoa, that’s great. Anyway, let’s move on. We’re talking about SEO today. And if you’ve been listening to this podcast by now, you should know what SEO is. But let’s talk about SEO in relation to ecommerce. I guess, how different is it and why does it matter to ecommerce sites?
Mez Homayunfard: SEO is definitely different for ecommerce businesses than it is for your standard sort of B2C maybe services site or plumber website or whatever it may be. The reason being is due to that taxonomy and how the websites are structured. So typically on an ecommerce website, the types of pages that you want to rank are things like category pages. So we have a business selling dresses. We want to make sure that we have the right types of categories and subcategories for dresses. And the types of content that you’d need for an ecommerce website, it’s very different than a service-based business. So for instance, what we’re looking for in a really good category ecommerce page is a good amount of informative content. We’re looking at things like maybe user generated content. So Instagram feeds, Facebook feeds and people interacting with the product.
Mez Homayunfard: We’re looking for things like reviews, whereas yeah, like a service page, for instance, for a business like mine, my marketing gurus, we want really long form scientific content, 2000, 3000 words of content on a page. So it’s just a little bit different. Same concept in terms of providing useful content, having the correct taxonomy and site structure based around how your users search, but it’s just the types of content and the lengths of content are typically different.
Kate Toon: Yeah. Great. And we’ve done previous episodes on the basics of ecommerce SEO. So we’re not going to go through some of the basics. Instead, we’re going to focus a bit more on trends and new things that you’ve seen on. One thing that comes up a lot from my students is how important is image SEO for ecommerce websites and what are some tips you have around that?
Mez Homayunfard: It’s so interesting. It’s actually something I’ve seen become significantly more prominent recently, is actually image search. So we’re seeing a lot more people now actually browsing and landing on websites via Google images, as well as the normal search results. And this particularly is of importance in ecommerce where it’s product driven. So I would definitely say that it is something that’s commonly overlooked, it is actually product level optimization or product level image optimization. So definitely something we always suggest to our customers is to actually have a mapped out strategy, not only at the category level for your website, so targeting at a category level, but also at the product level as well. So obviously optimising your alt tags correctly on all of the different images, making sure that our product descriptions actually use similar keywords and vernacular to what you’re using in the old tax.
Mez Homayunfard: So yeah, I see it as really, really important. And again, now that we’re seeing more mixed search results that are not just displaying normal text-based search results, we’re seeing Google shopping results, we’re seeing Schema knowledge graph now in up to 10% of all searches. So it’s really, really important to get your image optimization done.
Kate Toon: Okay. For the people who are newbies and don’t know much about ecommerce, explain Google shopping. How does a website go about getting its products into the Google shopping carousel? Is it something that happens automatically or is there a form you need to fill in? How does that work?
Mez Homayunfard: Yep. So Google shopping is actually part of the Google AdWords suite. So it’s actually a paid search ad, not organic. But what you actually do is you have to build a feed. So you can either do that manually through an Excel, or there are like third party tools like FusePump, which you can use that will pull in your product feed and supply that to Google. So it goes and grabs the image, it grabs the description, it grabs the product price, and then displays that within the Google shopping carousel. So anytime somebody clicks on the link and goes to your website, you get charged on a pay-per-click basis.
Kate Toon: Pretty cool. And you also touched on two other things that might have terrified people, that you talked about Schema. So we’ve had a few episodes on Schema and essentially, it’s a great way of marking up content to make it just slightly easier for Google to digest. Google’s pretty smart, it can tell a price is a price, it can pretty much work out product description. But Schema enables you to label different elements and kind of clearly signpost to Google what the thing is. Now, different sites work differently. If you’re on Shopify, a lot of that will be done by Shopify platform. With WordPress, obviously, WillCommerce does a lot for you. How do you help your clients with Schema? Are there any particular tricks that you use to get Schema working?
Mez Homayunfard: Yeah. So we are actually funnily enough on this topic. Schema is getting very, very important. So as I mentioned, as of even this year, up to, I think it was 12% or 13%, in some instances of all search results result in some sort of a Schema markup or knowledge graph on page one. So we actually went and built our own tool. So if you just Google FAQ Schema plugin, we have our own WordPress plugin, which does FAQ Schema. So we find that there are a few easy ones you can do to help increase the amount of search engine visibility that you have. So making tools to do some of those main ones, like as I mentioned, frequently asked questions, Schema, which is getting really popular. And the second is really just looking at the guides and there’s plenty of them online on MARS or on neilpatel.com and other websites that go through the different types of structured data.
Mez Homayunfard: So the first thing you can do is just look at what are the different types of structured data we can use, and then pick out the sort of best two or three. SEMrush, which is a tool probably all of your students know, that actually allows you to look at what Schema options are triggered for different keywords. So you can go in and for instance, have a look at a competitor and it will show you, okay, for this specific keyword, there’s an FAQ Schema showing up, there’s a review Schema. So it kind of tells you and points you in the right direction of which ones you can use.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. Look, I’m sorry. I sidetracked you to ask you some basic stuff there and what we’re really talking about is kind of trends. So let’s cut to the chase. I’m sorry about that. What trending methods have you seen to optimise your ecommerce SEO? What things are you trying out on your clients?
Mez Homayunfard: The one that actually funnily enough, is working best at the moment, and we just talked about it, is actually Schema and actually implementing what we’ve seen the FAQ Schema. So you may have seen underneath some search results now, you get the frequently asked questions, which are pulled through from their website. So we have tested that on a number of ecommerce clients and one actually very, very large one, sort of big household name where we had implemented frequently asked questions underneath their search listing, saw a three to 400% increase in click throughs on the pages that had the frequently asked questions Schema on it. So we find that’s working tremendously well for ecommerce businesses. So that would be the first trend I’d say, is Schema markup and frequently asked questions on ecommerce, which is not one that people normally think of.
Kate Toon: You wouldn’t usually associate FAQs with ecommerce, so that’s a great tip. What’s your next one?
Mez Homayunfard: The next one is actually around UGC or user-generated content. So for instance, one of the big things is building out your content length on your category pages. And obviously, that gets harder at a certain point because obviously there’s only so much you can talk about, floral party dresses or whatever it may be, before the content gets repetitive. But what you can actually do is introduced for instance, a feed like an Instagram feed on the page where, when anyone hashtags party dress on their Instagram page, that it pulls in that content from Instagram. So you’re suddenly getting all of this fresh new content hitting the page that Google is seeing. And they’re seeing the page is getting bigger and bigger and adding to sort of your word count and page content. The other one that we found as well for user-generated content is reviews.
Mez Homayunfard: So implementing reviews on your category pages. So anytime someone buys a product and reviews it, hey, I really loved my floral party dress that I bought from XYZ, and then you get 20 or 30 of those on the page. And all of a sudden, the page goes from being a page that just used to have three or 400 words of content talking about party dresses to a page that now has content reviews, rich imagery, product imagery, et cetera, all on the one place and it’s constantly updating. So that’s what we find to be sort of working really well in the ecommerce space that’s a bit cutting edge.
Kate Toon: So reviews, not on the product page, on the category level page?
Mez Homayunfard: Correct.
Kate Toon: That’s a bit of an unusual one, isn’t it? That’s good, because category pages are often overlooked, aren’t they? And they end up just being boring index pages full of images, whereas they kind of higher up your hierarchy of your site and they have a lot of potential to rank, but people underestimate them. So that’s fantastic.
What about Amazon SEO? We can see that Amazon’s just getting more and more dominant. Are there any things that we can do to optimise our Amazon listings?
Mez Homayunfard: Yeah. So Amazon is an interesting one and there are a lot of the similar fundamentals of what you see on search engine optimization for Google with Amazon as well. But what I would say is sort of the key areas I found, because we do have quite a few customers who are heavily using Amazon, particularly overseas and the US market, it’s massive. But I mean, there’s a couple of key areas. Look at obviously your content, so the copy, your title, bullet points, the images on the listing. They do look at keywords as well. So keywords incorporated in the copy is really, really important. And then there’s the usability aspects of the page. So the amount of reviews that you have, the price, your shipping prices, et cetera. So optimising on all three of these key areas is what’s going to drive the best result.
Mez Homayunfard: I find as well in particular, high quality product imagery also plays a very, very big role. So it’s not just about necessarily having just the keywords in there, the keyword in the title, it’s also like the product listing, how attractively it’s priced, et cetera. So it’s a bit of a mixture of those traditional search engine marketing type factors, as well as the usability and conversion-based factors.
Kate Toon: I think that one of the things that a lot of people worry about is if they have similar listings on Amazon, and say maybe Etsy as well and eBay, that those are going to be judged just by Google as duplicate content. Do you find that that happens and is there any way to get around that?
Mez Homayunfard: Yeah. You should ideally not have the same identical content in two places. So if you do have it on your website, it is best to make sure that you do have unique content on Amazon so that you are not running the risk of duplicate content.
Kate Toon: Great. Okay. And there’s no real way of setting canonical links via Amazon and eBay easily. That’s not
Mez Homayunfard: Not that I’m aware of, actually. There may be, but I haven’t heard of that actually.
Kate Toon: No, me neither. So don’t duplicate your concept, people.
So a little question here, which might be above the heads of many people. So you might need to explain what it is and how to do it. One of the questions from our members was, how can you automate your long tail optimization for your ecommerce site? So talk us through what automation means in relation to this and what long tail optimization means.
Mez Homayunfard: Absolutely. So there’s a couple of things there. It’s a really, really good question and something that we deal with a lot. So obviously, when you have a service-based business, or in yours, Kate, training business, or mine, in SEO business, you have maybe a couple of different products, three or five products or services that you sell. So it’s quite easy to do optimization because you only have a small amount of pages or services, but what if you’re a pet store that has 50,000 products and people are searching at the product level, a frontline for cats or they’re searching category level, cat food, organic cat food or whatever it may be. So the process of optimization goes from something which you can do relatively easily manually for a business like ours versus an ecommerce store where it’s like, wow, this has to be done on scale and you can’t physically have someone sitting and writing 40,000 meta descriptions or title tags.
Mez Homayunfard: So what we actually look at doing is a process of optimization, particularly for long tail phrases. So very, very specific phrases. And the way that we would do that and automate that is, for instance, you have an ecommerce website that has 40,000 products. Each of those products obviously has a name and the best practise would be to have, for instance, if there’s a product frontline plus flea protection or flea medicine, you’d put the keyword buy, in front, and online, after. So it’s buy, product name, online. So that’s generally the best practise to have the prefix of buy and suffix afterwards of online so that you can optimise for buy, sort of specific bottom of the funnel type keyword variations. So what you would do potentially on a CMS like Shopify or Magento, you could run a script that would automatically go to all of your different product pages.
Mez Homayunfard: It’ll pick up the product name, it’ll put the prefixed buy in front and online after, and inject that in your title tag so that you wouldn’t have to physically go and do that 50,000 times, write out the word, buy and online afterwards. You could do the same thing for your meta descriptions, buy XYZ product online, shop for the best deals, 10% off for repeating customer. And you could go and then update all of your meta descriptions on mass. So rather than doing these things manually, you would work out a rule or a workflow, and then implement that across the whole website. So that’s what automation of your long tail optimization would be.
Kate Toon: I think that’s a great idea because I think one of the things that people find challenging, especially students who do my ecommerce SEO course is they realise that they’ve kind of not been doing things properly from the day one. They haven’t been writing decent product descriptions, they haven’t been optimising their old tags or their images, they haven’t turned reviews on, and it can be overwhelming. So if I had a site with 4,000 products on it, where do you start? Do you generally kind of pick 10 products and start optimising those? Do you pick the least popular? How do you go about choosing which ones to attack first?
Mez Homayunfard: Yeah. Well, that’s a good question. I normally will start with the easier ones first. So you get some quick wins and really improved the model works. And what I found works really well is actually using the Ahrefs keyword tool. So what that allows you to do is actually you can put in a keyword, so for instance if you’re, I’ll just keep the example of dresses, selling party dresses and evening dresses, and you’re like, okay, well, I don’t know which category to go for first, you plug the keyword into Ahrefs keyword planner tool and it will actually tell you, this is on average how many back links a website on page one has. So you know, okay, this one has less required links than another. It gives you a keyword difficulty score, which is a logarithmic score from zero to a hundred.
Mez Homayunfard: So logarithmic, meaning it’s harder to get from, for instance, 50 to 55 than it is from zero to 10. So it gets harder as it gets higher. And yeah, it can kind of tell you statistically, okay, well party dresses is a 30 out of 100, evening dresses is a 50 out of 100, and dresses a 90 out of 100. So let’s start with party dresses because it’s the least competitive.
Kate Toon: Cool. Okay. So you wouldn’t necessarily go after your most popular products or your most visited pages, you’d go after the ones that are kind of the easiest to achieve?
Mez Homayunfard: Exactly right, because sometimes for instance, and I’ll just give a really broad example, I used to work at JB Hi-Fi back in my uni days to pay for textbooks and partying and all the fun stuff. But we used to sell so many iPods, that was the big Christmas gift. Just because a product is your most popular product in store doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for you to rank that product online. I give the example of iPod. If you put that in Google, that’s super competitive. You’re going to be coming up on competing engine news websites and Apple, and it’s really, really hard. So where I sometimes see that people will just go and look at, what’s our most popular product, let’s just go and optimise for that. But it’s like, hey, what is practical on a search engine is not necessarily the same as what’s practical in a storefront, if that makes sense.
Kate Toon: It really does. But I think another way to look at it is to look at the product sort of maybe ranking in position seven and eight, or below the fold and put your efforts there just to push them up a little bit, because they’re already doing pretty well. And with a little bit of [crosstalk 00:24:11], maybe you could just give them that prod over to the side. Okay. Mez, it’s always great to talk to you. You are a wealth of knowledge on many things. Where can people go and find more about OMG and all the wonderful things that you do?
Mez Homayunfard: Please go and visit our blog. So onlinemarketinggurus.com.au, and you can check out our blog. There’s hundreds of articles there across all of these topics. There’s guides, we have tools. So yeah, if you just go to our home page, click on blog, you’ll see a whole bunch of different articles and really cool resources there. And I’d love you guys to check them out.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. Well, we’ll link to your blog or link to the website, your Twitter and that fantastic Schema tool that you mentioned. That sounds very exciting. Mez, thank you for spending time with me today. It’s been lovely chatting.
Mez Homayunfard: Always a pleasure, Kate. Thank you.
Kate Toon: So that’s the ends of this week’s show. If you have questions about ecommerce SEO, head to my I Love SEO group on Facebook. As you know, I like to end the show with a shout out to one of my lovely listeners, and this time it’s Celeste Robertson. And she writes, helpful and entertaining. This is the business podcast you want to listen to. Kate has a flair for making SEO fun and easy to understand. It’s a winner in my book. Thank you very much Celeste. And thanks to you for listening. If you liked the show, don’t forget to leave a five star rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you heard the podcast. Your review will help others find the show and learn more about the lovely world of search engine optimization, and you’ll get a shout out. And don’t forget to head to therecipeforseosuccess.com, where you can learn more about ecommerce SEO, check the useful links and leave a comment about the show.
Kate Toon: You can also check out my other podcasts, The Kate Toon Show. It’s my personal podcast about living life as a misfit entrepreneur. My tips and advice on how to be a happier and more successful business owner. Until next time, happy SEOing.