Hey guys, welcome to another episode of SEO on air. Today, we have a special guest. It’s none other than Nathan Gotch. Nathan, welcome to our show.
Thank you so much for having me.
Great. So guys, Nathan is the founder of Gotch SEO. It’s an industry-leading SEO blog and SEO agency and Nathan also has his own Academy. Nathan, would you like to share a bit more about that?
Yeah. So of course, Gotch SEO is primarily a blog and we have the agency side of things, which we actually help businesses get SEO results. But then we also have our Academy side, which has over a thousand students and it basically just shows you end-to-end how to do SEO and how to drive results.
Great, Nathan. So guys, so today the topic is going to be about how to develop an effective SEO content strategy for eCommerce sites. So there are a lot of videos that Nathan has created and he has also blogged a lot about it. And he’s the best person to give us more insights about how to develop an effective SEO content strategy. So Nathan, people these days, I mean what we see here is that there is a slight shift in the way people are consuming content. So Google is giving a lot of answers more than before and they just want to see the answers straight out of the search queries and content writing is also becoming a bit more challenging these days. So in this aspect, what is that all about? The SEO content writing, how far has it been different from regular content writing?
Yeah. So you mentioned a few things there and I’ll go back to those. So as far as people wanting answers directly, that’s actually a part of the keyword qualification process, which is making sure that you’re not targeting too many keywords that are showing those instant answers because the end result is going to be, you’re not going to get much traffic with those types of queries. So that’s one thing. And the way people create content these days has to be radically different. You know, back in the day, I’d say maybe 2012, 2013 when I was first getting started, you could pretty much publish anything and it would do well as long as it had the backing of a lot of backlinks. And even back then actually the quality of the links really didn’t matter as well.
So a lot of things to change. You know, the first thing that Google kind of attacked was the quality of links and the relevance of links. And so that was kind of the first Penguin update that really attacked that. And ever since then you know, link building has become much more difficult and you need to have a process in place to acquire high-quality links. And now we’re kind of going through this same process with SEO content where, now Google really, really cares about the credibility of the information. And that’s a huge deal because now at this point, let’s say you wanted to enter the health space, well, you would have to find a writer who actually is a subject matter expert to be able to create that content because back in the day, you could basically just find a health-related keyword and then create content and it didn’t matter who the writer was or how qualified that person was.
But that’s kinda changed a lot. And so you know, there are so many things I can talk about as far as how it’s changed. But I would say at a high level, it’s the biggest change is just the quality standards have been raised dramatically. And that’s across many, many verticals. But in particular, verticals that have to do with your money or your life. So that’s going to be anything in the finance sector, the health sector. They seem to be under more scrutiny than others. And that’s because it can actually literally affect your life. So the information needs to be accurate. And that’s the direction Google is going. And I would assume that’s going to be the direction they’re going in every industry. And we were talking about earlier the different types of SEO content.
So also back in the day, most people when they thought of SEO content, thought of blog posts. Well, I’ve personally never thought of it that way. I’ve just thought of SEO content as basically two different types of content. One type of content is a keyword-targeted piece of content. So that’s a huge umbrella that can apply to informational queries. So, what are backlinks, which is the top of the funnel. And then that can also apply to transactional queries, which are, best personal injury lawyers or something of that nature. And then also there are a few other types of intent there. You know, also just straight transactional, which is like buy Nike shoes. And then also navigational queries, which would just be something like Gotch CEO.
So basically understanding the intent behind these keywords is kind of the first step of the process. Because from there, you can develop these keyword targeted pages based on the intent. And so, if the intent is very informational in nature, you want to create an informational piece of content, which a blog post would do really well in that scenario. But if someone is searching for personal injury lawyers, it’s not really gonna make sense to do an informational asset. Instead, you want to create a lead gen page. Let’s say you were a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. You would want to have a lead gen page for that target keyword. And the way that you would be able to perform well is that you would have to have some unique value that you’re adding. And that’s where it gets a little complicated.
There are different ways to make transactional pages unique. Like, no one is going to have your testimonials. So testimonials are always going to be unique to your business. So that’s always a good type of content to put on a transactional page, like a lead gen page. And then frequently asked questions. And then also I’ll tend to add an educational piece to those pages as well. Like three things you need to know about hiring a personal injury lawyer, things of that nature. So the big takeaway is that you need to craft the pages based on the intent. That’s so critical, and I see that mistake quite often. And it’s kind of just common practice in many cases where people find a keyword and they assume the best thing to do is just create a really long blog post around that keyword. And in fact, that’s often not the best strategy. So yeah, what you should be doing is making decisions based on the intent of the keyword. That’s always the foundation. So we can have many interactions with this, but that’s kind of like the base thing that you have to understand.
Yeah. And just like you mentioned when previously during 2010, 2012, it’s just about going after and adding as many articles as possible, blogs. But we have come a long way, isn’t it? Because now we are talking about the intent and looking at what type of results, just like you mentioned upfront. First look at the keyword and see if it is triggering a search. If it’s triggering an answer box, please try to avoid it and rather look at the other type of keywords. So, definitely SEO has come a long way from the last 10 years?
Yeah, to say the least. So yeah, a lot has changed and it’s honestly going in an interesting direction. I mean, it is going toward a direction that is making things higher quality, which is good for everyone ultimately. But there are some other issues like Google wanting to answer many of the queries that we’re trying to target. That makes our job a lot easier cause that’s outside of our control. And so, that is one issue is getting fewer clicks from the work that we’re doing is quite challenging.
So now that we have seen some of the eCommerce portals, I mean, Shopify has now become really big, so a lot of eCommerce sites these days are blooming and, gone are the days that we think that e-commerce means it’s going to be only Amazon. But now, a lot of niche segments, a lot of niche eCommerce sites are coming up. So now that you have such a wide base of knowledge, so let’s look at how we can create a content strategy, Nathan. How do we create a perfect SEO content strategy for an eCommerce store? So let’s take for example, a furniture company, so how do we start?
Yeah. so the first step is always going to be to build a keyword database. I can kind of walk through that process. So for me personally, the way that I do it, my team does it, is we have this template in place. And basically what we do is we build out a huge keyword database and we don’t actually even worry about qualifying those keywords. So basically what we’re doing is we’re just using our favorite method, which is to extract keywords from existing competitors. So we’ll gather a list of competitors and then we’ll run those all through Ahrefs or SEMrush and we’ll extract all their keywords. So that’s kind of the first stage, and then the second stage is to do keyword research based on topics. So we’ll build a huge list of topics, and the way that we’ll find those topics is we’ll just go into forums, we’ll go to Reddit, we’ll go to Wikipedia, and we’ll just gather these really high-level topics.
And then those become the seeds for our keyword research. And so, those two methods are really what helps us build a big keyword database. And then from there, we have to go through and qualify those keywords. And the way that we do that is typically going to be based on number one- how relevant they are to the company. So naturally, when you’re building a database, it’s going to be a lot of keywords that are relevant. So we’ll assign a score of one to three for the relevance. That’s kinda like the first metric that we look for. So one would be the most relevant and then three would be the least relevant. And then after that the next qualification tactic or I guess criteria is the value of that keyword for that business. And we define value as like if someone searches this query, how likely are they that they’re going to become a customer?
And so if the answer is very, very likely, then that would get a score of one. Right. Oh. And so that, that typically, those typically will be like the transactional type of keywords. And in the case of a furniture store, it might be like wood cabinets or something like that. So cause you know, that’s going to be very transactional in nature. And then after that, we kind of just look through that list and basically look for keywords that have a high relevance score and a high-value score, and then those become our priority to qualify even further. So that’s kinda like the first stage – to break that list down and to find those opportunities. And then what we have to do is we have to actually see if we can even compete for those keywords.
And in a lot of cases, it says the keywords that you like the most are often the most competitive too. So typically, we’re trying to develop a strategy based on where the target website is at this current point. Maybe in two years from now, we could target like these heavy hitter keywords, but right now, if it’s a new website or it’s a website that has very little authority, then we’re going to have to go after those lower competition keywords. And lower competition. Typically, we’ll use Ahrefs KD ratio as one way to look at that. But also just comparing the target website against big competitors in the industry. So we’ll gather averages for all the competitors.
Let’s say the top five to 10 competitors, we’ll gather the domain rating of those and get an average, and then we compare that against our client or campaign that we’re working on. And then we kind of go from there. So really, the takeaway is that the early stages of this process is to make sure that you’re targeting keywords that you can actually go after and then make sure that you’re prioritizing your keywords based on the actual value that they’re going to bring to the business. And getting that figured out, in the beginning, is critical because that’s going to kind of dictate where you go with the SEO campaign. Does that all make sense?
Yeah, absolutely. Nathan, so guys who are listening to the show – Whatever that Nathan is explaining in terms of the keyword research, because this is quite the base, once you get this right, I think most of your campaign success will depend on this. In fact, Nathan has also created a wonderful video about it. We’ll be linking out to that video. So if you want to even deep dive into this section, because obviously, he can’t cover everything in this podcast, but he has literally gone in-depth about each and every tactic. In fact, he has a complete video of how to build an SEO content strategy. So we’ll be linking out to that keyword research video, so you guys can check that out. You should be seeing that somewhere in the middle of the content. And I think below this podcast, there’ll be links pointing out. So you can just refer to that. Yes, Nathan. So now that we have the keywords, the whole universe is ready and we have segmented it based on the score, based on how relevant it is, and checking out the competition. And now, where do we go from here?
Yeah. So you know, typically, before we even start going through and optimizing pages, what we want to do is make sure that the site is on a strong foundation and so that’s actually doing a lot of technical SEO. So making sure that the site loads fast, making sure that it’s very mobile-friendly, making sure that it doesn’t have loads of 404 errors and broken links, things like that are gonna affect the technical performance. So we want to make sure that that’s strong before we start adding new content. In fact, one of the biggest pieces early on that we’ll do is to perform a content audit. And the reason to do that is basically to find pages that are outdated, thin, duplicate or they’re causing keyword cannibalization which is actually quite common with e-comm sites.
And keyword cannibalization is when more than one page is targeting the same keyword. And so typically, what we’re doing is we want to eliminate all those content-related issues that already exist. And then once that’s done, then we know, okay, we’re on a good foundation. Now we can start optimizing existing pages and we can start to create new pages for keywords. And so, we have pretty much the same strategy when it comes to e-com, and that is basically to optimize the category pages and optimize the product pages. But then, the way that we promote e-comm sites is actually through the blog. And what we’ll do is we’ll find informational keywords. When I was saying earlier, the relevance score, the value score, the value score of the informational keywords might be a little bit lower because we’re targeting the top of the funnel types of keywords that people are just looking for general information about these topics. But they could down the road lead to more sales.
And actually, the reason why they are valuable at all is that even if you get that organic search traffic into your site through informational queries series, you can actually go and retarget them on other platforms. So just getting that pixel data alone makes it worth it. And then second of all, you can always convert that traffic into email subs and then run an email marketing campaign. So although many informational queries will not lead to direct sales, they can lead to you actually getting leads which is obviously important, so you can nurture them long term. And then the second piece of that, as far as informational keywords on the blog, is, first of all, we’re trying to drive traffic. That’s the important thing.
But actually, the reason why we create informational content is actually to acquire more links to the site. And the reason, especially with eCommerce is most e-comm sites are not very link-worthy on their own. I mean, when you think about it, no one’s really going to want to link to a category page or a product page unless it has some incredibly unique value to it. But in most cases, websites are not naturally going to be linking to those pages cause they’re transactional in nature. It’s much easier to promote really high-value informational content, and it’s easier to acquire links to those types of pages. So that’s really where we ended up putting most of our focus. After the site has a strong foundation, we’re going to start building out those assets that are very link-worthy. And then once those are built up, then we put in the heavy lifting of actually going out there and acquiring those links. So that’s at a very high level, but that’s basically the process. And I will say one other thing that’s really, really important for this all work well is site architecture, especially for e-comm. If that architecture isn’t built well, all the links to your blog, according to the blog won’t be working as well as they need to be. So
Absolutely because people have the thing like they’ll have the shop on the Shopify platform and the blog will be in WordPress. If there are like multiple different platforms altogether, right. A brunch, Nathan or, I mean the tight integration will always be missing out. Right. That is like multiple different platforms being used.
Yeah. I know it kind of complicated with that. Like for example, we have a client that has a custom-built e-com site, but then their blog is on WordPress. So we’re currently going through the process to move them all to one CMS. But as long as it’s still in the same domain, it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s just more of like from a backend functionality perspective. It’s a little bit easier to be on one CMS.
Yeah, because some people might want to show some relevant articles in the product pages. You know, just to get some more ideas. For example, you mentioned wood cabinets. Probably, I would like to write a blog about some of the wood cabinet ideas or maybe the top wood cabinets for their living room and try to write a blog about it. And then in that situation, there comes a choice whether I have to rank this page for wood cabinets because I’m going to blog about wood cabinets here. And then there’s also a category page on there which is going to also talk about it. So like you mentioned, the cannibalization starts from that stage. So how can these websites avoid such kinds of things when they’re trying to do blogs about these topics?
Yeah. So it really comes from the intent of those keywords. So people tend to get really mixed up when it comes to eCom because they’ll find something like wood cabinets and they’ll think that that has like transactional intent. But really, it’s not about really guessing to decide the intent, it’s about just looking at what Google is showing for those keywords. So if you go and look at what cabinets and every single page has a category page, then you know, “okay, I don’t need to create a blog post on this. I need to make sure we have the absolute best category page for this topic.” So it’s, it’s kind of making sure that you’re doing it based on the intent. And there’s one mistake I see quite often, especially with e-comm, is there’s this idea that you should create blog posts that are very relevant to your existing topics.
So they have like these topical clusters. But oftentimes, those don’t work well because it doesn’t really make sense to create a blog post about wood cabinets if you already have a category page about wood cabinets. So it would have to be something completely unique about wood cabinets for it to warrant having its own informational page. And who knows, maybe there’s some unique data about wood cabinets or there’s some data about the type of wood that’s being used. Then, you can start to venture into something there that becomes more linkable and would deserve its own informational page. But to just create like five reasons why you need wood cabinets, that’s not going to do, first of all, it’s not going to attract links and second of all, it will never rank because no one’s going to link to it. So really, all you’re doing is yes, you’re building topical relevance around that category page, but the end result isn’t going to be very much; it’s not going to be substantial or worth it.
Yeah. So the key takeaways here is that once we design the keywords, then ensure that you Google it out and then see what type of results are coming based on the desire that you want to attack it with a blog post or a product at a group page. I mean, we’re talking a lot about category pages and blog log pages, Nathan, but what about these product pages? So I’ve seen a lot of websites where they simply copy-paste the manufacturer data and because of that, probably most of their pages don’t even get indexed sometimes. If there are like hundreds and thousands of hundred thousands of pages, which has the same content provided by the manufacturer, then I think Google is able to figure that out right there. They’re not giving that kind of advantage to these sites compared to other websites that have like a hundred products, but well-written product descriptions.
Yeah. Product pages are a very complicated topic. The thing is most e-comm sites, the natural tendency is to just kind of copy the manufacturer details or just copy your competitors. That seems to be the route that most of these e-comm sites go. And what happens in a situation like that, where like the majority of people are basically just copying the same stuff, all that will happen is that the strongest websites will prevail. So whoever has the strongest website from a link equity perspective, they will prevail if it’s all just littered with duplicate content. So if you’re trying to break into ranking these product pages, you can’t just copy manufacturer details or just duplicate your competitors because, at the end of the day, you’re going to lose to the more authoritative websites.
The only way to break into it is you have to create pages that are just radically different than what’s on the first page. And so, that just requires a ton of creativity, which I can’t really systemize a whole lot. But that’s really the difference when you’re trying to compete and you don’t have the authority, you have to come at it from a completely different perspective. And websites like Amazon or any of these huge monster sites, they can pretty much do whatever they want because they’re so strong. And the standards that apply for them do not apply to websites that are barely known. So unfortunately that’s just the way it is. So you have to adapt.
Absolutely. Great. So, yeah, that’s a very interesting conversation. You’ve been very helpful. Thank you so much for answering all of our questions. I’m pretty sure we are just scratching the surface here and there’s quite a lot of information. It’s really good. So is there anything else that you’d like to cover in this content strategy for an e-commerce store?
Yeah. I guess the one thing that I didn’t really mention is that, at least with my company, we have this strategy called an 80-20 strategy when it comes to SEO content. And basically what that means is that 80% of your pages should target a keyword while the other 20% can be created just for the purpose of linkbait. And that 20%, for example, if you look at Moz, they have the Open Site Explorer. Well if you go look at the links that have gone into that page, it’s astronomical. And Open Site Explorer or Moz, that’s not a keyword. You know, that wasn’t a keyword. They didn’t target a keyword really for that. Maybe they target in backlink checker now or something.
But in reality, the reason why that acquired so many links is that it was so incredibly useful that it deserved to get those links. And so, that other 20% is for those kinds of like experimental types of assets that have a high potential of getting a lot of links. And it’s actually kind of funny because you acquire a lot of these links to these pages that aren’t actually targeting keywords. But what happens is all that authority going there actually helps you rank for the keyword targeted pages because your site’s getting so strong. And so it’s really interesting in that way. So that’s why we split it 80-20 just because you should be creating some assets that are purely designed to just attract backlinks and not so concerned about targeting a specific keyword per se. So that’s the one thing I wanted to make sure I mentioned.
Perfect. So, it’s not just about link building, it’s about attracting links by putting out some really good content and that people would act loud to link out. Right. And that 20%, if that could, that is something which could be really utilized, then like you mentioned more authority and obviously, it’s going to have a ripple effect on the other pages as well. Great. That’s great. Thank you so much for taking your time out and coming to our show. So guys who are listening to the show, thank you so much. Feel free to leave your comments, your suggestions for improving the show further. And if you have any questions for Nathan, you can always feel free to reach out to him, to his website- Gotch SEO. And feel free to sign up for his Academy as well. There is a lot of interesting stuff that he’s doing out there, so feel free to do that. Nathan, thank you so much for taking your time out and coming for this show.
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me!