Today, April 22nd, Kai Davis of Double Your Ecommerce shed some light on the mysteries of SEO, link building and more.

We are now doing #AMA sessions every week that feature top Shopify Experts, store owners and more. If you’d like to participate in the chat, join now.

Here is the transcript from the latest Talk Shopify #AMA Session.

tjmapes Awesome, well thanks for being here @kai. I’ve been really excited for today so lets not waste any time! Hit us with some knowledge!

tjmapes :punch:

kai Heya Folks — Excited to be taking part in an AMA on Outreach and SEO.

Dropping some content in here to give context to who I am and how I can help.

Here’s how I describe my business:

You don’t have the time to do outreach or SEO yourself. I help Shopify eCommerce store owners and entrepreneurs, like you, increase their sales. I optimize you SEO and help you get influencers to share your products with their audience. I take care of the details by looking after your most valuable relationships and building new ones.

kai I’m super excited to answer your questions about:

Outreach Marketing to Bloggers (This is my bread and butter)

  • Digital Outreach for eCommerce businesses
  • Link Building for eCommerce Businesses
  • SEO for eCommerce Business
  • Consulting and Entrepreneurship

kai In terms of my background, I’ve been consulting for six+ years, I’ve owned two eCommerce stores. One in college I grew to $5k/mo in revenue. Another, in 2012/2013, I grew to $40k/mo in revenue.

kai Since then, I switched from eCommerce store

owner

to eCommerce consultant

kai Okay, Q&A time

kai I asked for a few questions from the audience ahead of time to get things rolling. Here’s question #1

kai Question #1 (from @tej_zapstitch):

I am new to eCommerce. I tried SEO optimisation and content to get traffic but it looks like these are long term plays. I am in 5th month of my business and traffic is super low. What 2-3 things I can do today to increase traffic and get sales going.

kai (and if you think of a question while I’m answering something, feel free to PM it to me)

80stees RE: Linkbuilding and blogs: With blog posts being somewhat fleeting, are they still all that valuable?

kai (and I’ll grab it to answer next in the queue) (edited)

kai @tej_zapstitch: That’s actually a really great question — when it comes to SEO and content to generate traffic, it can take awhile for the Organic traffic to kick in

kai Typically, there’s a few questions I like my clients to answer when they’re in that situation

kai What keywords are they targeting — and are those keywords generating enough traffic?

kai How competitive is the landscape? Do they have enough links to rank for those terms?

kai In terms of getting traffic and sales today, I think that outreach to relevant influencers (fashion reviewers, bloggers, etc)

kai Is a very valuable play

kai It let’s you build relationships with people who have build an audience similar to who you want to reach

kai and then find opportunities to expose your products to that audience

kai Earning you a high quality link, getting you relevant exposure, and (ideally) building an email list through a giveaway or collaboration

kai In terms of what can I do to get traffic today, the honest answer? PPC.

kai Outreach can take weeks of collaboration to get a placement / review

kai SEO can take months

kai PPC can get you traffic today

tjmapes @kai what tools can we use to determine what keywords competition are targeting?

tej_zapstitch gotcha. true. outreach is a beast on its own. i guess for immediate impact (short erm) ppc is the way to invest in

kai My absolute favorite tool for this is SEMRush — I have an article coming up on my site http://www.DoubleYourECommerce.com that walks through exactly how to use SEMRush to see the keywords that your competition is targeting, what keywords they’re ranking for, and what pages are ranking.

kai and if you want to get that article ahead of time, you can sign up for my newsletter

kai But SEMRush is my go-to tool to answer that question

kai It lets you pop a competitors’ site in and see what terms they’re ranking for in the Top 20

tjmapes In the words of Kai, nod

kai haha :simple_smile: I’m a meme :wink: (edited)

kai You can also do a manual review of their site

kai What I like doing is using a backlink analyzer like MajesticSEO or AHrefs

kai and seeing what pages on their site have the most inbound links pointing to them

kai Them I look at the title, headline, and body text of those pages to see what terms those pages are targeting

kai Another great strategy? Look at their internal linking

kai Footers are a great place to see this

kai Check out http://www.Teavana.com’s footer: http://cl.ly/image/242R3s1K3B06

kai In the ‘learn about tea’ section, we can see some of the keywords that they are most likely targeting

kai “Tea Party Ideas”, “Types of Tea”, etc

kai So SEMRush can give some indication, a review of the pages on the competitors’ sites that have the most links can give some more, and manually reviewing (“Safari’ing”) the competitors’ sites can give more

kai Am I explaining all of that well?

kai @80stees: asked:

RE: linkbuilding and blogs: With blog posts being somewhat fleeting, are they still all that valuable? Short answer: It depends.

kai If we’re talking about low-quality, spammy guest posts? I think they have 0 value.

kai If we’re talking about high-quality guest posts, like this one

kai (one second)

kai http://blog.linksspy.com/what-do-i-do-to-get-a-link-to-my-site/ (edited)

kai That is designed to educate and inform, it’ll give a lot of value in terms of earning a link

kai My bread and butter is Outreach on behalf of my eCommerce clients

kai Helping them build relationships with influencers and earn links through product review posts or collaborations

kai With one of my clients, we saw a 300% increase in Organic search traffic through this strategy

josh bookmarks that link

kai So even though the blog posts are fleeting, if you’re earning high-quality links from websites relevant to your industry, they’ll provide value

kai It’s sort of like this

kai You own a t-shirt site

kai If I link to you from a site reviewing men’s clothing, that’s relevant

kai And Google will think “Oh, cool, this makes sense”

kai If I link to you from a site reviewing fish tanks, that’s… less relevant

kai And Google will think “Oh, uh, okay? Sure? I guess?”

kai If I link to you from VIAGA-PORN-SPAM.com, they’ll say “Nope!”

tjmapes even though a tshirt you sell has fish tanks on it?

tjmapes :smile:

kai :smile:

kai So I’m a fan of blog posts for links

kai (and this is a BIG but) it has to be a blog post that ADDS value. Lemme throw a quick link in here of an example. We collaborated on a blogger on a BIG post on how to wear a bandage dress during the day and during the night (like, a clubwear dress)

https://librarianforlifestyle.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/bandage-dress-day-to-night

kai It’s a blog post, for sure BUT It’s also insanely valuable to her readers and the community at large.

kai So tl;dr: if it’s a low quality, crappy guest post, it won’t be that valuable

kai but if it’s something that adds value to the community, that educates or informs, or that teaches something new, then it will help generate high-quality links, improve your organic performance and generate referral traffic from buyers who are reader to buy.

kai I touched on a strategy / framework for this in a post “How Do I Get More Traffic”

kai Am I explaining all of that well?

kai Lemme go back to the Google Doc Of Questions and I’ll grab another one to answer

tej_zapstitch we were frozen in amazement :simple_smile: jotting it all down @kai

kai haha

kai I will share anything and everything that folks want to know

felix_shopifymasters i have a question about consulting actually: do you find that your clients want you to hav experience in the industry they’re in before they’re willing to invest in you?

kai That’s a great question. It’s 50/50, honestly. Sometimes clients come to me and say “Hey, we’re in an industry that you haven’t worked with before, can we work together?”

kai And it’s a question on both of our parts. I’ve found lots of success niching down to specific verticals within eCommerce because it makes it easier to generate results.

kai Most of my clients are women’s and men’s fashion or health and supplements

kai So in those areas, we’re able to hit the ground running

felix_shopifymasters followup: would you recommend someone that’s starting out to focus on one vertical?

kai yes. Absolutely

kai 100%

kai Niche down until it fucking hurts. (Can I curse in here?)

kai Lemme dive into this for a second

kai Two years ago I was “Kai Davis, Marketing Specialist” …what the hell does that even mean?

kai Now I’m “Kai Davis, Outreach Consultant for Retail eCommerce Stores on Shopify, specializing in women’s and men’s fashion and accessories” (edited)

kai The more narrow you make your positioning both in terms of service you provide AND audience that you’re talking to

kai (a) The easier it will be to talk to your ideal customer (b) The higher you’ll be able to charge

A wonderful book on this? ThePositioningManual.com by my colleague Philip Morgan

80stees You are doing well. Sorry I got down the rabbithole of some of the links you posted.

felix_shopifymasters awesome thanks for that link

felix_shopifymasters i saw that you also run http://www.doubleyouraudience.com – how many things are you helping people double?!

kai Double Your Audience is an interesting experiment. I realized that half of my clients are eCommerce companies and half are independent product creators

80stees I had some pretty high profile blogs link to us in the past like boingboing, engadget and I don’t see evidence of those at all in webmaster tools. Soured me on blogs.

tjmapes Do you offer SEO audits?

kai People like Brennan Dunn, etc

kai So I split my businesses in two so I can more specifically speak to each audience

tjmapes @80stees: same, are those just nofollow links?

kai

I had some pretty high profile blogs link to us in the past like boingboing, engadget and I don’t see evidence of those at all in webmaster tools. Soured me on blogs. GWT does not show all of your links

kai I just don’t trust it on that front

kai It’s a wonderful diagnostic tool, but I trust Google only as far as ‘they want to give me enough information so that I spend money on AdWords’

kai I, personally, prefer http://www.Majestic.com, but that’s only since I’ve used it the longest. http://www.AHrefs.com is very good and Moz is okay

80stees @tjmapes: I never bothered to follow up to see if they were no followed since I can’t imagine that they would be.

kai Sometimes, editorially, they do it automatically

tjmapes just a guess :simple_smile:

kai

Do you offer SEO audits? I do! One of my most popular consulting offerings is an SEO Audit that I brand as the Website X-Ray

kai http://www.doubleyourecommerce.com/products/x-ray

Double Your eCommerce Website X-Ray, an SEO audit for your eCommerce site A detailed, comprehensive report that will help you understand how to improve your eCommerce site’s SEO and increase your traffic.

kai It’s a complete diagnostic of your website’s SEO — on-site and off-site — and a 30-40+ page report highlighting the specific, most important issues for you to fix

kai Split into “OH GOD FIX THIS NOW”

tjmapes So you specialize in SEO for shopify at this point?

felix_shopifymasters wow 30-40 pages

kai and “Oh, if you have some time, you can fix these later”

kai

So you specialize in SEO for shopify at this point? I do. I do some limited work with other platforms, but I identify as a Shopify consultant

kai Again, niching down is more valuable

tjmapes What do you recommend for someone moving platforms as far as SEO goes?

kai

What do you recommend for someone moving platforms as far as SEO goes? Don’t? (kidding)

kai 1) You will suffer a traffic drop 2) You will need to invest 2-4 months in rebuilding your traffic 3) You will need to plan out EXTENSIVELY how to migratea

the tl;dr in my mind is something like

kai

  1. Map out the content / url structure EXACTLY so to the front-end user NOTHING changes then slowly update the content. So it’s not a huge shift to google of “OH GOD THE URLS CHANGED AND THE CONTENT IS DIFFERENT”

lancehill If you’re jumping into PPC, do you you recommend focusing in and doing a single channel approach just focusing on google adwords or spreading your focus out to include, facebook advertising, etc.

kai @tjmapes: If during the migration your URL structure changes, you’ll want to be VERY aggressive at 301ing EVERYTHING to the appropriate new pages

kai And reaching out to people linking to old pages and asking them to link to your new pages

kai But it’s a very, very, very labor and time intensive process to do well. It’s, honestly, like moving across the country. But it’ll take a few months until you’re in the flow again

tjmapes well, I’m packing my Uhaul now then

kai hahaha

kai @lancehill:

If you’re jumping into PPC, do you you recommend focusing in and doing a single channel approach just focusing on google adwords or spreading your focus out to include, facebook advertising, etc. I’m not a PPC / paid advertising guy, but my strategic approach (for my own business) has been to pick one channel at a time, master it, and then move on — or if successful, grow it

kai So I’ll invest 1-3 months in a SINGLE channel, see if I can get traction, and then see how I can automate it

kai And then move onto another channel

lancehill Thanks!

kai So if I were advising you on PPC, I’d say pick the channel that’s most interesting to you, start there, and invest 1-3 months in solo-focus on that

kai Just run one race at a time

kai and not split your time between thinking about Google AdWords AND Facebook

kai @tej_zapstitch: asked this great question:

Can you share a template/tone of email when outreaching to influencers in my niche sector?

kai So what I’ve found doing outreach are that there are three basic rules

kai

  1. The shorter your initial outreach email, the better
  2. You want to offer a specific next step in your email

kai None of that “let me know if this sounds good…” bullshit

kai Here’s how I write my emails:

Hey,

Are you the right person to talk to about collaborating on [project]? If not, who do you suggest I get in touch with?

Thanks, Kai

kai That email gets me a 65%+ response rate.

kai

  1. The more research and planning you do before hand, the better you’ll do at outreach

NEW MESSAGES

kai So for a client, 75% of my time might be spent researching and qualifying sites and planning out my emails before I send that first email

felix_shopifymasters swiping that :wink:

kai For my eCommerce outreach clients (people I work with on http://www.doubleyourecommerce.com/products/traffic), I plan out a 6-10 email ‘funnel’

kai Before I send that first email

kai What’s the first email I send?

kai What do I send if they don’t respond? What do I send if they do respond? What’s the 5th piece of marketing material I send? The 10th?

kai If I don’t get a response back, I don’t take it as a no

jordanlabelle Awesome stuff so far Kai!

If I want to start learning about SEO, best practices, and how to start identifying where I’ll get my best ROI, where would you recommend starting the journey?

kai I only stop with outreach when I get a firm, direct “We’re not interested”

tej_zapstitch #epic love the funnel

jordanlabelle Also, stealing like half your outreach notes here, this is awesome!

kai

If I want to start learning about SEO, best practices, and how to start identifying where I’ll get my best ROI, where would you recommend starting the journey?

To start learning about best practices, I recommend Moz’s guide to SEO

kai In terms of getting the best ROI, that’s… well, that’s a hard question to answer

kai Here’s how I describe it to potential clients

kai Before you decide to invest in Search Engine Optimization and Link Building, it’s important to understand the value that they can bring to your business. When we work together, I’m focused on bringing you:

More traffic More leads More sales Improved image

kai ROI for SEO might not be quantitative

kai And for some of my clients, it’s completely qualitative. “Our brand needs to rank #1 for [keyword phrase] because we’re the industry leader”

kai But as a general rule of thumb, to assess ROI

kai 1) How much traffic would [term] generate for me? 2) How difficult will it be to rank #10 for [term]?

(and to assess that I look at the # of unique referring domains for the domain ranking #10, the # of unique referring domains pointing to the page, and how well optimized the page at #10 is)

3) With that amount of traffic and my conversion rate, how much will I make annually

kai If that’ll get me 20 visitors/month and I have a 2% conversion rate and a $100 AOV, ranking #10 will get me $480 in revenue/year

kai Is it worth investing $XXX in something that could pay out ~$500/year and grow from there

kai Maybe! Probably! But assessing ROI is big, long question

jordanlabelle Completely agree! But I love the framework you laid out, great way to start answering it. Thanks!

kai I should plug this: I have a newsletter where I send out outreach and SEO news, tips, tricks, and lifehacks — and I have a free bonus for #TalkShopify folks that I’ll be sending out on the tools I use for Outreach and SEO

kai http://www.doubleyourecommerce.com/l/talkshopify

kai If you’d like to get on my list — and the tools I use to double my client’s traffic — check out http://doubleyourecommerce.com/l/talkshopify/ and drop your email in the form (edited)

tej_zapstitch this is a lesson by itself @kai we are observing a systematic and methodical approach to your success

tej_zapstitch makes success repeatable

kai I promise to spam you every day until you buy my things

kai I mean uh. I promise to politely email you once a week or so with helpful information

kai

this is a lesson by itself @kai we are observing a systematic and methodical approach to your success I think that’s a huge lesson in itself

kai Building systems trumps random success

kai So I once grew an eBay business to $40,000/month in revenue

jordanlabelle Yah, I think what I’m taking away most here is how everything is broken down to a repeatable, testable system. Makes it a science instead of relying on gut feelings!

kai but it was completely random

kai I had no success, no methodology, nothing repeatable or testable

kai And it drove me crazy!

kai @80stees: asks:

AMA Question: Have you seen any good examples of an ecommerce site with integrated content. Not like a blog but literally where the content just belongs on the site. That’s a great question

kai I haven’t.

kai There should be more of them.

kai I see this split a lot

kai You’re either a content site that sells products / courses

kai Or you’re an ecommerce site that has blog posts

kai Something needs to exist in the middle between the two. I just haven’t seen a good example yet.

liz I’m just catching up but some great tips in here @kai! Here’s a question though. If you have a brand new site, and you have limited time & resources, which would you do first: start your own blog (for your own content) or guest posts on other blogs (to get links back to your site)? Or something else :simple_smile:

jordanlabelle ^ great question!

kai Great question liz!

kaiThere’s no right answer to this, unfortunately

kai I think the better answer for an eCommerce site is to focus on outreach for guest posts / reviews

It’ll be a slog at first (I’ll give some numbers on placement rates next)

80stees @kai: Agreed. I think it’s really hard to do ecommerce or content really well, so merging them together would be awesome but no easy task.

kai But that focusing on finding people with similar existing audiences and then saying “Hey! You have an audience! We have a thing! Would your audience benefit from learning about the thing?”

Is a great way to gain that exposure, get early referral traffic, and earn links to your site

Me? I took the opposite approach with my consulting business

kai

  1. Write content
  2. Promote content
  3. Then get guest posts

kai The major takeaway for this question? … Just start doing something

Anything

In the words of my mentor Amy hoy - “Just fucking ship it”

felix_shopifymasters you were getting guest posts or writing guest posts?

kai @felix_shopifymasters: I was working with bloggers who had established audiences to promote our products to their audience

It doesn’t matter if you start from writing guest posts, writing your own content, or working with other people on review posts

Just get started

It’s less about there being ‘one right way’ and more about ‘the one right way being to just start moving’

Sort of like going to the gym

“Which workout routine will get me buff the fastest?!”

Well, it’s better to just get into the habit of showing up and running for 20 minutes or doing a little weight lifting before worrying about the best way

likewise, with limited time and resources, pick one strategy and just focus on it for three months

we can find examples of businesses in any industry that picked one strategy or another an saw success with it

Okay, we have time for ~2 more questions

I have a few in the google doc

But if folks in here have some, toss ‘em at me

Here’s one from my friend Kurt @kurt:

What’s your success rate like? If I reach out to 100 bloggers, how many reviews do you get?

kai Typical placement rate for product reviews or ‘placements’ is ~5-7%

So if you reach out to 100 bloggers, you’ll get ~5 reviews

Like we highlighted above, I’m very systematic about this, and by building repeatable systems and doing research, I’ve hit 15-25% placement rates

Which, honest to god, is a number so high that I think I’m lying

but though a combination of pre-qualifying the people I’m reaching out to (“Is there site recently active?” “Are they relevant to my audience?” “Can we offer them and their audience value?”)

And by being persistent in my outreach

(Sending an email every week until I hit 10 weeks or get a “No thanks!”)

I get a crazy high placement rate for my clients

kai One thing to keep in mind: a lack of a response from a blogger, influencer, reviewer, podcaster, or journalist is not a no

kai it just means they’re busy

I woke up today with 103 emails in my inbox

If I don’t respond to you today, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to work together

It means that some other things — like this AMA — were more important to me than email

kai So by being persistent in your outreach — writing once a week, having a clear call to action — you’ll have success it just means they’re busy

kai Here’s that type of email

Hey!

It’s another beautiful day down here in Oregon. I’d love to get on the phone to chat about collaborating on a style review for your site. Right now, I have times available at:

  • Time 1
  • Time 2
  • Time 3

Just respond to this email with the time that works best and I’ll send you a calendar invitation and an agenda

With this, I’ve made it super easy for them to respond

kai They just need to say a time

kai And if I don’t get a response, I’ll send them an email the next week

And the next week And the next week

liz @kai do you automate that?

kai Semi-automatically

kai I use a few tools to remind me to send the emails And I use a few tools to store my templates

kai Boomerang for Gmail is great to ‘recur’ an email to your inbox

felix_shopifymasters do you have a blog post / guide on automating your business?

kai http://www.Streak.com is a CRM I use that helps me keep track of who I’m outreaching to

felix_shopifymasters and do you run this by yourself or have a team /contractors?

kai And http://www.YesWare.com is another great tool for email outreach

kai @felix_shopifymasters: It’s just me

kai I run an intentionally small business

It’s just me and 4-7 clients at a time

felix_shopifymasters nice

kai Benefit to my clients? They get to know that they’re working with the principle behind the firm

kai And not being passed off to a junior contractor

kai Instead, they get the full brunt of my thinking-about-seo-and-outreach-60-hours-a-week ability thrown at their business

Okay, we have time for one more question

kai (And again — sign up here and you’ll get my list of tools and resources that I use for SEO and outreach: http://doubleyourecommerce.com/l/talkshopify/) (edited)

I’ve got time for ONE last question

kai The biggest takeaway I’d want you all to have?

kai SEO is a byproduct these days

When you’re doing everything else right

  • great products
  • well designed site
  • relationships with established sites and authorities in your industry

SEO just happens

kai I think of my SEO consulting as a mixture of Business Development and Public Relations

kai When I approach someone for a link, I’m not asking for a link

kai I’m asking “Who is your audience?” “What are they interested in?” “How can we, as a brand, provide something that they would value?”

And that’s the collaboration that we’re focused on and the link is a byproduct

kai A nice to have by product

kai But it’s something that comes out of a positive, successful, long-term collaboration

so when I work with a blogger, I’m focused on understanding what our third collaboration will be

kai Not just getting a link, hitting it, and quiting it.


Join over 1,000 other Shopify enthusiasts

Have you enjoyed the content so far? Are you ready to take your skills to the next level?
Join #1 Slack community for Shopify today and learn from other Shopify experts in real-time.
Learn more about the community.

Join ecommtalk