Reality SEO: Marko Wittich: The Secrets of Shopify Success

Reality SEO: Marko Wittich: The Secrets of Shopify Success

How Campfire Treats become top dog in Google

 

In my Reality SEO series, I interview REAL LIFE HUMANS who’ve changed their digital marketing for good and used simple techniques to transform their business and brand

These shorter episodes will include practical DOABLE advice and tips from people just like you.

This week we’re talking to Marko Wittich, who runs a Shopify website for his business Campfire Treats. I’ll admit it, Marco is one of my star students, he put so much work into the course, turned up to every coaching call and asked oodles of questions.

And guess what? It paid off.

Get ready to be blown away by his amazing results.

 

About Marko Wittich

 

Marko Wittich is the president and co-founder of Campfire Treats, a U.S. based manufacturer of premium, all-natural, single-ingredient dog treats and chews.

 

 

 

 

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And big thanks to Angela Pickett from Australia for her lovely review.

 

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Transcript

Kate:

So today I’m talking to one of my past students for this reality SEO episode, and Marco took the course a couple of years ago. I think. I’ll ask him in just a minute. And he has a website, Campfire Treats where he sells, kind of naturally made dog treats and dog foods. I’ll let him explain it. He’ll do a much better job. Marco, hello, welcome. Tell us a little bit about your business, what you do and what you sell.

Marco:

Hi Kate. Thanks for having me. At Campfire Treats, we make healthy, all-natural, single-ingredient dog treats and chews. We sell them all across the U.S., no exports, sorry. Yeah, we sell our products by a little own storefront, we sell a little bit by wholesale and most importantly via campfiretreats.com. Yeah, campfiretreats.com is the Shopify platform. We use Out of the Sandbox’s Turbo Theme, which is super mobile-friendly, pretty fast, and so that has been a recent change and turned out quite good.

Kate:

Yeah. Well, you’re one of the sort of Shopify heroes in our Digital Masterchefs groups, because you’ve managed to achieve a lot, and I think a lot of people aren’t sure that you can actually do much SEO with Shopify. We’re going to come back to that. I want to touch on that and get some tips and advice from you, but take us back a couple of years ago when you would… Maybe you’d started your website, and you were learning about digital marketing. What was it that inspired you in the first place to kind of decide to do some study and really get into SEO?

Marco:

The whole thing is a lot, lot younger than you’re putting it here.

Kate:

Oh really?

Marco:

I came up with the idea of the own company a little less than three years ago, and we went live only two years ago.

Kate:

Oh, you’re such a baby.

Marco:

Yeah, I am. Yeah. I mean, I look a lot older and have a lot of grey hair. Yeah. My entrepreneur career started fairly late in my life. The key challenge, to be honest, was not knowing what I don’t know. I initially thought eCommerce is easy, you build a nice looking website, you have a great product, and a couple of nice photos and people would just flock to your store. Yeah, after pretty desperate first 12 month, I purely accidentally came across yourself when you were doing the page review for… And there’s a Facebook group and I only got the last couple of minutes off it, and that kind of made me think about SEO.

Marco:

At that point in time we had maybe five organic visitors a day. Pretty much zero organic sales, and that was the starting point. I immediately liked your direct style. Yeah. Yeah, that really made me google you, and then I started off with SEO Nibbles to kind of get an idea of what might SEO really be. Then I moved on to the SEO Challenge, which helped me to get a little bit of and better understanding, and then fortunately enough, I could join the big course in March last year, and that was my kind of starting point. That’s more or less exactly 12 month ago.

Kate:

Oh gosh. It feels longer. I was going to say, obviously you live in America, but that’s a German accent we’re hearing isn’t it?

Marco:

It is, yeah.

Kate:

You see, the Germans and the English we’re direct. We just say it how it is? I like it, no messing around. Maybe there was something there. I don’t know.

Marco:

Yeah, absolutely. I need somebody to tell me what’s not working, because if people are too polite to me and talking around it, I’m not getting it, because as you said, I’m German and I’m used to very direct communication.

Kate:

Yeah. I mean, it’s funny, I do these 10 minutes interviews in the I LOVE SEO group and on the big course, and I don’t pull any punches and obviously I’m very conscious that sometimes these are websites that are people’s babies, that they’ve spent years working on. Then I’m like, “Yeah, change that. That’s rubbish. Don’t do that.” But you’ve got to have someone who’s going to tell you the cold hard truth.

Kate:

Talking of cold, hard truth, one of the… I guess, kind of myths, and I was talking about it just this morning on a chat, is that Shopify, if you want to do SEO, you’ve got to be on WordPress with WooCommerce, that’s the only solution. But we know, because we’ve had so many people now, on the big course who use Shopify, that’s there’s actually an awful lot that you can do with Shopify. For somebody who’s listening, who’s on the Shopify platform, what are some of the things that you’ve done to your site to improve its SEO friendliness?

Marco:

Many things, after really getting through your big course, starting off with technical things like the page speed. I was far too fond about adding all kinds of little gadgets to the store, and added too many apps without noticing that they were slowing down the website. I had no clue about image sizes, even though Shopify does it, in general, a good job in compressing things, there’s still plenty of room to improve. Then the overall fundamentals of SEO apply to Shopify as well. I mean, there are a couple of things you can’t change. Obviously hosting is one of them, but the hosting on Shopify is pretty solid, and you can’t do too much around URL, so you sometimes get funny numbers added to files, but besides that, top recommendations would be really get yourself a top-notch theme.

Marco:

If that is costing a couple of hundred dollars, who cares? It’s typically a one off fee, and if you spend three, 400, or maybe $500 on a theme, that’s probably the single best investment. Then pick a vital few apps, and just really the vital few which you need for your business. Nothing beyond that, because everything else will just be a negative in terms of slowing things down.

Marco:

We use Stamped for product reviews. As an eCommerce store, without product reviews, you’re dead in the water. We use Klaviyo for email marketing, because that integrates super smooth with Shopify, and we use recurring billing for a subscription business, and one for structured data as a SEO manager. That’s it.

Kate:

Yeah. That’s great. I mean I think you’re so right though, you picked some of the core things. One thing I do like about Shopify is, it is quite speedy out of the box, so most of them when we do speed tests, Shopify does come around two, two and a half seconds, which is great, but then unfortunately people get over excited, and start adding more and more apps to the sites, and then they slow their site right down again, which is a real shame.

Kate:

Another thing I think that you’ve worked hard on, which is something we talk a lot about in the Digital Masterchefs group as well, is user experience, and the look of the site, not just from a, “Oh, is it pretty? Have I got nice photographs?” But does it make sense. Is my path to conversion clear? What are my product descriptions reading like? What information am I putting on there?

Kate:

Yes, keyword optimization, but just trying to write copy that entices people to buy the product for their dogs. Because obviously your customers are one step away. It’s not the dog’s doing the purchasing, it is the humans. Have you made a conscious effort to like really look at the kind of the usability of your site beyond just the theme that you bought out of the box. You’ve made tweaks as well, haven’t you?

Marco:

Yeah. That came as part of the overall kind of strategy element out of the big course. Plus you helped me with, I think, two reviews of our website by now, and we changed the entire navigation all around. Initially I was talking far too much about ourselves in the top menu structure, and now, it’s all product oriented, and all the non-relevant information is in the bottom menu. I eliminated Instagram feeds, and yeah, as I said a little earlier, all kinds of apps which were ultimately nice to have, but didn’t really truly add value but just slowed things down. It’s about structure, usability, and supporting sales funnels. That was another interesting learning by the way. My background is business-to-business and not business-to–consumer, but sales funnels are equally important in a direct-to-consumer business, and so the website needed to be a vital element of that.

Kate:

Yeah, absolutely. We’re lucky enough in the Digital Masterchefs group that there are lots of other store owners, and I love the fact that everyone’s very open, and honest about the percent… their discounting strategy, their re-engagement strategies, how they’re building loyalty. I think that’s all really helpful, but yeah, one really important thing to pick up on there is something I say to all the store people in my course is that your navigation needs to be product led. Yes, we want to know about the person behind the business, because we want to know why we should buy from you and not Walmart or Kmart, but first up, I’ve just hit your site. If I can see a navigation full of what you sell, it just tells me it really, really quickly. We just want to get that stickiness. We want people to stay on our site, and not pogo straight out back to the search results.

Kate:

Yeah, sorry, were you going to add on something?

Marco:

I just wanted to add on, and even if they don’t buy, I want to at least leave them their email address to sign up to the newsletter, that it can convert them at a later point in time, and will integrate them in the overall funnel.

Kate:

Yeah, that’s it. We’ve talked a little bit about lead gen, and DMC as well, and I think there are different lead generation strategies that work for eCommerce stores, but let’s be honest, for your first time visitor, they want a discount, they just want a discount and-

Marco:

Works best.

Kate:

… anything [crosstalk 00:10:59] is going to work best.

Kate:

I honestly thought it was much longer ago that you did the course. That’s funny, but you’re now sort of a year on from there by the sounds of it, a year and a bit. What changes have you seen since you’ve started putting time in? I would just add here to the listeners that Marco is a real example of you get out of the course what you put in. It’s like buying an exercise bike and expecting to get thin just because it’s in your living room. No, you have to get on that exercise bike every day, and I think you’re a great example of doing that. You have put in some hard work. What kind of results are you seeing now?

Marco:

Yes, I’ve been constantly working on it, but the overall level of work it’s still very doable, though it’s not 12 hours a day on SEO to get where you want to be. It’s possible to get that done in evenings. As I said earlier, I started off with kind of five visitors a day, organic, and I’ve put down a couple of notes when I was looking into SEMrush this morning. We rank right now for 4,000 keywords or keyword phrases; out of that 150, in positions one to three; a further 214 positions, four to 10. We are currently “owning” 70 featured snippets. We are getting 10,000 organic visitors a month, and yesterday-

Kate:

Sorry I have to stop you there. I’m not good enough at maths to know what that increases is, but that organic visitors…

Marco:

Forget about percent.

Kate:

It’s a lot.

Marco:

That’s going to be, by far, too many zeros. Yeah. Yesterday we got a pop up on our Shopify user interface that we just reached 100,000 blog visitors, and I think I have not even written 10 blog posts. It’s more about really writing the right stuff, and doing a decent keyword research upfront, but yeah, 100,000 blog visitors in a year. I’m kind of proud about that.

Kate:

Gosh, I was saying before you shared the results that you’re actually doing a better job than me. The student has become the master.

Marco:

Yeah, right.

Kate:

Yeah, no, it’s true. I mean, that’s stunning, you should be very proud.

Marco:

Yeah. I’m happy. I mean, I started from nothing and there’s still a long way to go, but today, roundabout the third of our sales is directly coming from organic visitors, plus all the indirect part, and that is one of the key learning. It’s all about building, reinforcing circles, so a visitor owns a website, might come first time organic, the next time they come in direct. They might end up on the email list. They’re available for remarketing via Facebook, via Google, you name it, and so it’s all building up, and the overall foundation to everything, being my key takeaway from that is SEO.

Kate:

Yeah.

Marco:

If you don’t really tackle the SEO part, nothing else will really work. You can spend a lot of money on Facebook advertising, or in Google advertising, the moment you’ve spent money, everything collapses, and so building decent content, ideally evergreen content, and you have something which is working for you day and night without spending a penny on it. That’s what I really love about it.

Kate:

Yeah, I-

Marco:

I can’t hear you right now.

Kate:

It’s me.

Marco:

Ah.

Kate:

Lots of people come to the SEO part of the piece, almost late in their business, after they’ve tried Google Ads, after they’ve tried Facebook, after they’ve spent years blogging, and putting things on Instagram. And it’s like, “No, no, no, it should be at the start.” It should be at the foundation of your brand, it’s even how you choose your domain name, what categories you choose to have in your site, what products you choose to sell, and how you name them. That’s all… Then after that, then you can layer ads over the top of it, and then what I love hearing is this cumulative effect. You’ve got the people and then they return, and that’s all about great customer service and great user experience. You stop thinking about that first time visitor, and you’re actually thinking about the third, fourth, fifth time they come back to the site, and how can you keep them happy, and how can you engage them?

Marco:

It’s a huge fly wheel and initially you just need to push, and push, and push, and nothing’s going to happen. Eventually that thing takes up speed and starts spinning, and eventually it has really the pace, and it is moving, and everybody is surprised about your success, which happened overnight. Nobody sees what you’ve done all the time before. But yeah.

Kate:

It’s a longer game isn’t it? Even now, people are coming into my funnel, or people are buying the course who’ve maybe been in my funnel for a couple of years. Slowly, listening to podcasts, watching things. It’s playing that longer game. Obviously ads give you immediate win for the money that you hand over, but it doesn’t stand the test of time. You stop paying, you stop getting your clicks.

Kate:

I mean Marco, I have to say you are a bit of a golden child for me. The everything… Because the thing is you take things on board and you do. It’s the doing that matters, and as you said, it’s not 12 hours a day, but it is consistent effort, and putting in that effort to get the flywheel started, and then as you said, it doesn’t need much of a touch to keep it going, does it?

Marco:

It’s all the different elements you build in there. I mean, the product reviews are adding in new content to the product pages every day-

Kate:

New content, where’s your content?

Marco:

… every little snippet and some of them are really oddly phrased, I would never even think about putting them that way. That not only makes them authentic, but it also adds new keywords. These are beautiful things and I don’t need to do anything for that. Customers adding video clips, customers adding images. I get that all for free. Same with so many other things around it. It’s nice to see, and the key thing at the beginning was really to, to kind of understand what I’m not understanding. After that, it’s just learning and doing, but the worst part was at the very beginning, not knowing what I didn’t know.

Kate:

Yeah. There’s no secret, there’s no magic juju. There is a process, some things make more of a difference than others. Some things move that flywheel faster than others, but it is just a case of plodding through, doing the things, sticking at the things, not giving up when they don’t yield an immediate results, and having faith that it will work, and obviously for you it has.

Kate:

Marco, thank you so much for coming and talking to me today. You can find out more about Marco on The Recipe for SEO Success site. I’ll include links to all his various bits and bobs. You can check out his website and some of those videos and reviews.

Kate:

Marco, thank you so much for spending time with us today.

Marco:

Thank you for having me, Kate. Really appreciate it.

 

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