Mícheál Brennan is a principal consultant at SMBclix, one of the top digital agencies in Ireland, with its headquarters located in Cork. This week we invited Mícheál to join us for an interview to discuss his approach and best practices to achieve an effective SEO strategy.
What would you say are the best practices to a successful eCommerce SEO strategy?
Pillar and cluster content. With eCommerce SEO, it can be tough to build a link directly to a product page, at least, in a natural way. If you are a beauty brand selling face masks, this would be your pillar product. The best way to link back to the product page is to create cluster content around that product. For example, write a blog post about the top 10 face masks to use right now, or beauty hacks on how to get the best out of your face mask. Then, you can do link building between those pieces of content and your product and checkout pages.
How much do you think SEO has an impact on a brand’s visibility?
Massively. In a lot of cases, especially if you are ranking for the bottom of the funnel keywords, SEO is the best way to introduce yourself to a potential customer. With a good SEO strategy, those who haven’t heard of you before will become more aware of your brand.
What advice would you give to create SEO-optimised content?
It’s essential to do proper keyword research and be sure that you are creating the right type of content. That is related to your brand and product. Often, when I am reviewing websites and its content, you can see that there is no real content strategy behind it. In the past, when companies started to move towards online, there was this whole thing of ‘Google lust and fresh content’. So, a lot of them created content just to achieve their KPI’s and tick it off the list. Now, it is critical to do research and plan out your content strategy for at least six months in advance.
So, to summarise, you should start with keyword research, then use those to build your strategy, and don’t forget to think of those pillar and cluster models as well. Finally, always remember what users are looking for at every stage of their buyer journey. Create content to fit into every part of that cycle.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of a strong organic ranking? On-site and Off-site SEO
Firstly, more customers, and hopefully, more sales. Again, if you have good on-site SEO and good organic ranking, more potential customers will find you, even if they haven’t heard of you before. This also enables you to not just rely on your brand. Over the last couple of years, especially in the Irish market, I have seen a lot of companies relying solely on their brand name. But now, new companies are highly focused on creating a robust online presence.
What do you think of a “more holistic” approach to SEO?
SEO success is not just about technical knowledge or understanding algorithms. It also involves a deep understanding of the business, the website, and how customers navigate and interact with it. Sometimes, people working in SEO think mostly and only about traffic. Whereas, an SEO strategy also needs to be conversion focused.
For example, if you create a piece of content around your main product, you need to identify a natural journey towards that bottom-funnel page. You also need to define a clear call to action for each campaign and lead magnets.
If you have a reoccurring subscription product, and if you are planning your SEO strategy around it, you should be thinking about an offer that will get that first transaction completed. Give the product away for free, if you must, to acquire that first customer on a subscription basis. It could feel like a loss, but if you know that you will retain that customer for the next ten purchases and make a profit, then it’s a win-win situation.
What is the role of keywords on an SEO strategy?
Keywords are one of the most important components of SEO. The main thing is being able to analyse search and tend to other keywords. For example, if you are a brand selling sports clothes in London, you should base your keyword research on your products. However, apart from this, you should be able to identify the most relevant keywords, and secondly, what pieces of content will enable your brand to rank high for those keywords. Always analyse search results to see how your research is doing. This also will help you to identify what type of content needs to be created.
As an online retailer, how can you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
In my opinion, one of the best ways to differentiate your brand online is by planning what you are going to put in your meta title so that you can have a good click-through rate. Instead of just describing your product, you should include something that will encourage the customer to click to your site—for example, free delivery, next day delivery available or summer sale.
It’s all about thinking of simple aspects that will separate you from your competitors in the search results, and to make users click on your page rather than theirs. Additionally, you should always make the purchase journey as easy as possible for the customer, by either linking them back to the product page or the checkout page.
Do you think backlinks still play a vital role in SEO?
Yes, 100%. Anyone telling you no doesn’t know how to build backlinks. I would recommend trying to create linkbait content that can serve as cluster content and refer back to your product. For a successful backlink strategy, consider infographics that are still very effective and get picked up by news agencies or popular blogging sites all the time.
Link baited content is an excellent way to build backlinks, especially for ranking well in search results. Let’s take a small fashion brand retailing on ASOS. To start, the brand can create an article on “Top 10 fashion menswear for 2020″ and link it back to ASOS. Another option is to contact the PR or marketing teams of those big online retailers and ask them to feature your articles on their website or social media. It’s a great way to build useful backlinks from credible sources. Generally, creating newsworthy content is also effective as it can get picked up by other companies.
To where do you see digital marketing heading in the near future?
Digital is definitely the way forward for 99% of companies. Don’t get me wrong. There are still instances where traditional marketing is working for brands, such as paper advertisement on public transport, etc. But, the reason why digital is the way to move forward for many brands is due to the personalisation capabilities, that many social media platforms, websites and apps provide now. Users expect to build relationships with brands based on many aspects like accurate product suggestions, or content that they might be interested in.
Aleksandra Michniewicz specializes in copywriting and content creation for companies in a variety of industries like tech, lifestyle, fashion and finance. She manages her own Digital Marketing start-up company Otisable. Find her on LinkedIn.