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Top 10 Referral Marketing Insights 2019 [Infographic]



Everybody knows that your customers are your best salespeople, and as such if you have a large base of customers you need to be thinking about how to leverage those relationships.

Referral marketing programs can help you acquire more customers, and increase your retention rates at the same time. Referred customers are 4-5x more likely to refer more customers, which creates an organic network of customers for businesses. These referred customers are also 16% more valuable as they stay longer, and spend more than non-referred customers.

After building a range of referral programs for small, medium and large organizations in 2019, the team at The Referral Factory decided to document their key insights and learnings about the power of referral marketing.

Check out the infographic below, and build these tips into your referral marketing approach.

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Need a Creativity Boost? Spend Some Time With The Creative Show



Need a Creativity Boost? Spend Some Time With The Creative Show

CMI creative director Joseph Kalinowski contributed to this piece.

In just 10 episodes, CMI’s The Creative Show has completely rewritten the rules for live streaming, visual storytelling, and conversations about creativity.

Maybe we’re exaggerating a tiny bit. But we’re creatives, so we reserve the right for a bit of good-natured hyperbole about the impact of our show.

We’re excited for season two, which debuts at 2 p.m. (U.S. ET) Friday, Jan. 28, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. If you haven’t caught every episode (or any episode), look back with us as we share some behind-the-scenes observations and highlights from our creative conversations in the first season.

Origin story

First, a little background: I met JK Kalinowski in 2012 at the Content Marketing World Health Summit. JK is CMI’s creative director. I’m a health-care content strategist by day and a comic book writer by night. We were destined to become fast friends.

FUN FACT: Our first conversation was about The Six Million Dollar Man TV show and toy line.

Over the years, we’ve written together for CMI, including:

In 2021, JK flew to New Jersey to participate in my Comic Book School panels at New York Comic-Con.

During the pandemic, JK approached me with the idea for a monthly 30-minute live show where we’d talk about creativity. The Creative Show was born. We started broadcasting – live from the deepest corners of the marketing internet, where no tactic goes uncovered, and every episode begins or ends (sometimes both) with Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe trivia.

Every month, #TheCreativeShow streams 30 minutes to talk #creativity. Go behind the scenes of its debut year via @BuddyScalera @jkkalinowski @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The Creative Show Season 1 Episode Guide

Use these show summaries and behind-the-scenes glimpses to decide which episodes to catch up on before joining us live for season two when we can read your comments in the live show.

Episode 1 – The Debut

Streamed live: Jan. 29, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Monina interviews us to dig into the secret origins of our creative power and set the stage for the show.

Behind the scenes: We hadn’t quite mastered the art of the short answer, and the audio has a lot of bounce and echo. Despite a few switching glitches, we managed our way through live learning.

Content takeaway: Both JK and I talk about how almost everyone uses creative thinking in the way they approach their jobs. JK shares how his wife applies creativity in her job teaching children with special needs:

FUN FACT: JK once designed and produced a treasure map and sent it as a message in a bottle to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville offices in hopes of landing the singer’s new alcohol line as a client for a Pennsylvania-based advertising agency. After sending messages in a bottle five weeks in a row, the agency finally scored a meeting with Jimmy’s manager.

Episode 2 – What Is the Greatest Movie Poster of All Time?

Streamed live: Feb. 26, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: We dive into the indisputable greatest movie poster of all time, breaking down why the visual promotion of JAWS is so iconic. We also look at less effective and exciting movie posters and discuss why they fail at differentiating in a noisy marketplace.

Behind the scenes: Our super-slick montage intro and our recurring What’s in the Box segment debut. (Spoiler: It’s Rolling Stones memorabilia in this episode). Spot a few clumsy moments as we try to figure out how to communicate with our engineer.

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Content takeaways: Here’s a meta takeaway: We took repurposing content to the next level to give our livestream audience a new take on the Jaws movie poster that we wrote about in 2015.

The episode takeaway is how creators easily assume people are more familiar with your brand than they are. JK talks about the poster for the movie Joy and tells nothing about the movie except it stars Jennifer Lawrence. I liken this approach to a brand skipping an about page because they (incorrectly) assume everyone knows all about the brand. That approach fails people in the early part of their journey, where they’re looking for information. Follow our discussion here:

FUN FACT: JAWS is considered the first summer movie blockbuster.

Episode 3 – Marketers and Their Toys

Streamed live: March 26, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Nurturing creativity means celebrating the spirit of play. We open up our toy boxes and talk about toy lines that benefitted from story-based content marketing.

Behind the scenes: We improve some of the production, including sound and engineering. And we repurpose more articles into this livestream experience, including:

It also gave us an excuse to talk about Star Wars, Marvel Comics, GI Joe, and He-Man. And JK shows off an issue of Vox Teen Beat from 1967 as an example of early content marketing.

Content takeaway: Hasbro created a content feast in the form of comic books to support GI Joe and taught kids how to play with the toys. That’s an important concept – marketers can use content to teach your base how to use your product. Here’s the clip, which includes lots of examples from my collection:

FUN FACT: Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary shows The Beatles reading multiple versions of Beatles Fan Club magazines like Vox Teen Beat. (Bonus content: JK recently wrote about the creative lessons you can learn from the Get Back documentary.)

Episode 4 – That Sounds Creative

Streamed live: April 30, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Impact of sound and music in videos and films – and how music helps you get into a creative groove. We share a couple of clips that show how music can change the tone of even familiar images:

Music can change the tone of even familiar images, says @BuddyScalera @jkkalinowski via @CMIContent. #Creativity #Storytelling Click To Tweet

Behind the scenes: Ironically, we discover we don’t know how to run sound just yet. Spot a few technical and linguistic challenges before we pull through in the end.

Content takeaway: Sound is its own language in cinema – and that translates over to marketing. Understanding that language is important to conveying your message. Here’s where we explore how that idea applies to explainer and other content marketing videos:

FUN FACT: Stanley Kubrick relied as heavily on music and sound as visual imagery for his horror classic The Shining.

Episode 5 – Designed to Work

Streamed live: May 28, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description: Website design, general usability, and functional design of devices are discussed. We compare and contrast the Verizon and Roku remote controls. A little closer to home, JK explains how he creates the posters for Content Marketing World with thematic designs.

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Behind the scenes: When I invited JK into the show … he doesn’t appear. (He had just lost power.) Quick-thinking Monina jumps into the conversation because, hey, we were live. Experiences like this help us prepare for future technical difficulties. We haven’t had another major glitch, but we have had a few minor ones that the audience probably didn’t even notice.

Content takeaway: Too often, design is considered ornamental, but it’s really a foundational element of any content project. That’s why the design team should be involved from the beginning.

FUN FACT: According to MRO Electric, Maine has the most power outages per year, with an average of 3.9 per customer each year.

#Design is a foundational element of any #content project. The design team should be involved from the beginning, says @BuddyScalera @jkkalinowski via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Episode 6 – Inside Creativity

Streamed live: June 25, 2021

Engineer: Monina Wagner

Description:  Finding bright spots from this otherwise terrible global experience. Bo Burnham’s Inside special on Netflix is an entry point. I discuss my Comic Book School project. (Since that time, Comic Book School has won three awards, including a Content Marketing Award.)

Behind the scenes: We finally learned how to play a clip (with audio) exactly as we mean to – only to realize there’s an F-bomb in it that we didn’t warn the audience about. (Consider yourself warned.)

Content takeaway: The pandemic uprooted our usual ways of working. But Bo Burnham took the tools he had at hand (an iPhone, a camcorder, lights, microphones) and documented the moment. He showed how to use limitations to inspire new types of storytelling. You see him try and fail ­– and document the whole thing. The pandemic didn’t pause his creativity, and it doesn’t have to put a stop to ours. Here’s the segment I’m talking about:

FUN FACT: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, leisure time increased by an average of 37 minutes per day for men and 27 minutes for women between May 2019 and December of 2020. This increase partly reflects a decline in average work time (as the share of employed people fell during the pandemic) and a decrease in the average time people spent traveling.

Episode 7 – The Creative Toolbox

Streamed live: August 27, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We talk about the tools we use to create, including software, snazzy notebooks, an industrial T-square, a scaling wheel, and an X-Acto set from the old days of physical magazine layouts.

Behind the scenes: We welcome Amanda Subler as our new engineer. Though Amanda chose not to be on camera, she finds clever ways to interact with us during the show.

Creative takeaway: I share an unusually organized look at the tools I use in creating, delivering, analyzing, reporting, and collaborating. Here’s the clip where I show that and talk with JK about following a creative project all the way through these stages:

FUN FACT: Adobe Inc. got its name from the Adobe Creek that ran behind co-founder John Warnock’s home in Los Altos, Calif. His wife Marva designed Adobe’s stylized “A” logo.

Episode 8 ­– The Idea Etherverse

Streamed live: Oct. 1, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We talk about The Idea Etherverse, a shared consciousness of ideas that we can all access. Existential? Sure, why not? More practically, we discuss capturing ideas on notebooks, scraps of paper, and even in voicemails, and other strategies for capturing, saving, and improving ideas that just come to you from the ether.

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Behind the scenes: JK’s custom-made shirt featuring The Creative Show logo makes its debut.

Creative takeaway: Talking through an idea can help flesh it out. Just don’t be discouraged by the initial reaction. Take the input and give the idea more time to grow. JK and I talk about our experiences with that approach:

FUN FACT: Field Notes brand was co-founded by graphic designer Aaron Draplin, who was inspired by promotional memo books given to farmers by seed and agricultural companies over the past century. JK grew up on a farm and received several memo books from his local farm co-op.

Episode 9 – The Iron Maiden of Marketing

Recorded Oct. 2, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We explore the band Iron Maiden’s incredible career as an example of audience- and community-building. JK and I share the albums that we loved as teens but would have been embarrassed to share without friends. Today, we share them with pride.

Behind the scenes: This and the 10th episodes were recorded. We planned to go live from Content Marketing World, but at the last minute, I couldn’t attend. We scrambled and recorded both episodes the same day, which happened to be JK’s birthday.

Content takeaway: By building (and owning) their relationship with their community through a fan club, Iron Maiden never has to rely on earned media, which is subject to the whims of current pop-culture preferences. Iron Maiden owns its mailing list, so they communicate directly with fans. Talk about not living on rented land: They even own and fly their own plane. Here’s the segment where we talk about the creative freedom this brings:

FUN FACT: Iron Maiden’s lead singer Bruce Dickinson is doing a spoken word tour of North America.

Episode 10 – UX in the Real World

Published: Nov. 5, 2021

Engineer: Amanda Subler

Description: We talk about design, UX, and real-world experiences, including some great and some poorly conceived interfaces.

Behind the scenes: We find our rhythm. Things are a little looser, a bit less scripted, and (we think) a bit funnier.

Content takeaway: User experience is important to content’s success. Here’s JK explaining the Interactive Design Foundation’s definition of UX followed by our discussion of what it all means:

FUN FACT: Toast was invented by the ancient Egyptians. Scorching bread on hot stones beside an open fire preserved bread and prevented mold from growing.

Tune in

So that’s the debut year of The Creative Show. We’re grateful to have a platform to interact with our fellow creative thinkers and content marketers. We’re tinkering with the show all the time, and we hope you’ll take this ride with us.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 7 Ideas To Get Your Creativity Unstuck
Drop a note in the comments with your ideas and thoughts about any of these episodes. We look forward to seeing you on the upcoming shows – the last Friday of every month at 2 p.m. ET on LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Shopify SEO 2022: The Guide to Optimizing Shopify



Shopify SEO 2022: The Guide to Optimizing Shopify

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

 A trend we’ve been noticing at Go Fish Digital is that more and more of our clients have been using the Shopify platform. While we initially thought this was just a coincidence, we can see that the data tells a different story:

The Shopify platform has been steadily rising in popularity throughout the years. Looking at BuiltWith usage statistics, we can see that usage of the CMS has more than doubled since October 2017. Currently, 4.24 of the top 10,000 sites and 3.02% of the top 100,000 are using Shopify.

Since we’ve worked with a good amount of Shopify stores, we wanted to share our process for common SEO improvements we help our clients with. The guide below should outline some common adjustments we make on Shopify stores.

What is Shopify SEO?

Shopify SEO is a set of  SEO adjustments that are unique to the Shopify platform. While Shopify stores come with some useful things for SEO, such as a blog and the ability to redirect, it can also create SEO issues such as duplicate content. 

Some of the most common Shopify SEO recommendations are:

  1. Remove duplicate URLs from internal linking architecture

  2. Remove duplicate paginated URLs

  3. Create blog content for keywords with informational intent

  4. Add “Product,” “Article,” & “BreadcrumbList” structured data

  5. Determine how to handle product variant pages

  6. Compress images using

  7. Remove unnecessary Shopify apps

We’ll go into how we handle each of these recommendations below:

Duplicate content

In terms of SEO, duplicate content is the highest priority issue we’ve seen created by Shopify. Duplicate content occurs when either duplicate or similar content exists on two separate URLs. This creates issues for search engines as they might not be able to determine which of the two pages should be the canonical version. On top of this, often times link signals are split between the pages.

We’ve seen Shopify create duplicate content in several different ways:

  1. Duplicate product pages

  2. Duplicate collections pages through pagination

Duplicate product pages

Shopify creates this issue within their product pages. By default, Shopify stores allow their /products/ pages to render at two different URL paths:

Shopify accounts for this by ensuring that all /collections/.*/products/ pages include a canonical tag to the associated /products/ page. Notice how the URL in the address differs from the “canonical” field:

URL In Address Bar Is Different Than Canonical Link

While this certainly helps Google consolidate the duplicate content, a more alarming issue occurs when you look at the internal linking structure. By default, Shopify will link to the non-canonical version of all of your product pages.

Shopify collection page links to non-canonical URLs

As well, we’ve also seen Shopify link to the non-canonical versions of URLs when websites utilize “swatch” internal links that point to other color variants.

Thus, Shopify creates your entire site architecture around non-canonical links by default. This creates a high-priority SEO issue because the website is sending Google conflicting signals:

  1. “Here are the pages we internally link to the most often”

  2. “However, the pages we link to the most often are not the URLs we actually want to be ranking in Google. Please index these other URLs with few internal links”

While canonical tags are usually respected, remember Google does treat these as hints instead of directives. This means that you’re relying on Google to make a judgement about whether or not the content is duplicate each time that it crawls these pages. We prefer not to leave this up to chance, especially when dealing with content at scale.

Adjusting internal linking structure

Fortunately, there is a relatively easy fix for this. We’ve been able to work with our dev team to adjust the code in the product.grid-item.liquid file. Following those instructions will allow your Shopify site’s collections pages to point to the canonical /product/ URLs.

Duplicate collections pages

As well, we’ve seen many Shopify sites that create duplicate content through the site’s pagination. More specifically, a duplicate is created of the first collections page in a particular series. This is because once you’re on a paginated URL in a series, the link to the first page will contain “?page=1”:

First page in Shopify pagination links to ?page=1 link

However, this will almost always be a duplicate page. A URL with “?page=1” will almost always contain the same content as the original non-parameterized URL. Once again, we recommend having a developer adjust the internal linking structure so that the first paginated result points to the canonical page.

Product variant pages

While this is technically an extension of Shopify’s duplicate content from above, we thought this warranted its own section because this isn’t necessarily always an SEO issue.

It’s not uncommon to see Shopify stores where multiple product URLs are created for the same product with slight variations. In this case, this can create duplicate content issues as often times the core product is the same, but only a slight attribute (color for instance) changes. This means that multiple pages can exist with duplicate/similar product descriptions and images. Here is an example of duplicate pages created by a variant:

If left alone, this once again creates an instance of duplicate content. However, variant URLs do not have to be an SEO issue. In fact, some sites could benefit from these URLs as they allow you to have indexable pages that could be optimized for very specific terms. Whether or not these are beneficial is going to differ on every site. Some key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do your customers perform queries based on variant phrases?

  • Do you have the resources to create unique content for all of your product variants?

  • Is this content unique enough to stand on its own?

For a more in-depth guide, Jenny Halasz wrote a great article on determining the best course of action for product variations. If your Shopify store contains product variants, than it’s worth determining early on whether or not these pages should exist at a separate URL. If they should, then you should create unique content for every one and optimize each for that variant’s target keywords.

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Crawling and indexing

After analyzing quite a few Shopify stores, we’ve found some SEO items that are unique to Shopify when it comes to crawling and indexing. Since this is very often an important component of e-commerce SEO, we thought it would be good to share the ones that apply to Shopify.

Robots.txt file

By default, Shopify creates a robots.txt file for your store with quite a few prewritten “Disallow” commands. We find that in most cases, Shopify’s default robots.txt rules are good enough for most store owners. You can see an example of Shopify’s default robots.txt rules here:

An example robots.txt file in Shopify

Here are some sections of the site that Shopify will disallow crawling in:

  • Admin area

  • Checkout

  • Orders

  • Shopping cart

  • Internal search

  • Policies page

However, as Shopify stores get bigger and more customized, there’s a greater chance that you might need to adjust the robots.txt file. Fortunately, as of June 2021, Shopify now let’s you update the robots.txt file

In order to edit the Shopify robots.txt file, store owners must create a robots.txt.liquid file and then create custom rules to specify any changes.

In order to create a robots.txt.liquid file, store owners can perform the following steps:

  1. Login to your Shopify admin area

  2. In the left sidebar, go to Online Store > Themes

  3. Choose Actions > Edit code

  4. In “Templates”, select the “Add a new template” link

  5. Find the left-most dropdown and choose “robots.txt”

  6. Choose “Create template”

This should create your Shopify robots.txt.liquid file. You can then add rules to your robots.txt.liquid file by adding liquid code. Fortunately, this code isn’t too difficult to add, and Shopify does a good job of highlighting how to do it in their official documentation. Following these steps should allow you to have much more control over which URLs are crawled in your Shopify site.


By default, Shopify will generate a sitemap.xml index file at the URL path “”. Shopify’s sitemap.xml index file will automatically create links to child sitemaps that contain URLs of the following page types:

  1. Product Pages (sitemap_products_1.xml)

  2. Collection Pages (sitemap_collections_1.xml)

  3. Blog Posts (sitemap_blogs_1.xml)

  4. Marketing Pages (sitemap_pages_1.xml)

This sitemap.xml file will dynamically update as new pages are added/removed from to the site. Generally, the Shopify sitemap.xml is good to go out of the box and doesn’t need to be adjusted.

One thing to be aware of is that Shopify will include any published pages in the sitemap.xml file. The most common issue we see is that legacy pages that are published but no longer linked to on the site get included in the sitemap.xml file. It’s worth crawling your sitemap.xml to find any instances of published pages that are included in the sitemap but are not important for search engines to crawl.

Adding the “noindex” tag

While you cannot adjust the robots.txt, Shopify does allow you to add the “noindex” tag. You can exclude a specific page from the index by adding the following code to your theme.liquid file.

{% if template contains ‘search’ %}

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

{% endif %}

As well, if you want to exclude an entire template, you can use this code:

{% if handle contains ‘page-handle-you-want-to-exclude’ %}

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

{% endif %}


Shopify does allow you to implement redirects out-of-the-box, which is great. You can use this for consolidating old/expired pages or any other content that no longer exists. You can do this by going to:

  1. Online Store

  2. Navigation

  3. URL Redirects

The big thing to keep in mind is that you will need to delete a page before you can implement a redirect on Shopify. This means that you’ll want to be really sure you’re not going to use the page in the future. To make this process a little less stressful, we recommend implementing the “Rewind Backups” app.

Log files

As of now, Shopify does not allow you to access log files directly through the platform. This has been confirmed by Shopify support.

Fast Simon implementation

Fast Simon is an enterprise solution that adds robust personalization features to your Shopify store, and is becoming increasingly popular. If your Shopify site is utilizing the Fast Simon technology, you’ll want to be sure that you’re taking steps to adjust any potential indexing issues from an improper implementation. 

Confirm that Fast Simon is pre-rendering your website’s content so that Google doesn’t run into crawling and indexing issues. This will give Googlebot a server-side, rendered version of your site that will make it easier for it to interpret the content. For more details, you can read our case study here

Structured data

Product structured data

Overall, Shopify does a pretty good job with structured data. Many Shopify themes should contain “Product” markup out-of-the-box that provides Google with key information such as your product’s name, description, price etc. This is probably the highest priority structured data to have on any e-commerce site, so it’s great that many themes do this for you.

Shopify sites might also benefit from expanding the Product structured data to collections pages as well. This involves adding the Product structured data to define each individual product link in a product listing page. The good folks at Distilled recommend including this structured data on category pages.

Every product in Shopify collections page marked up with Product structured data

Article structured data

As well, if you use Shopify’s blog functionality, you should use “Article” structured data. This is a fantastic schema type that lets Google know that your blog content is more editorial in nature. Of all of the informational content schema, “Article” seems to be the one that Google may prefer since that’s what’s referenced in their official documentation. However, “BlogPosting” schema is also another type of structured data you could add to your Shopify blog

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BreadcrumbList structured data

One addition that we routinely add to Shopify sites are breadcrumb internal links with BreadcrumbList structured data. We believe breadcrumbs are crucial to any e-commerce site, as they provide users with easy-to-use internal links that indicate where they’re at within the hierarchy of a website. As well, these breadcrumbs can help Google better understand the website’s structure. We typically suggest adding site breadcrumbs to Shopify sites and marking those up with BreadcrumbList structured data to help Google better understand those internal links.

Implementing structured data on Shopify

If you want to implement structured data and have a developer on hand, it can be good to have them add the above structured data types. This ensures that these schema elements will always be present on your site.

However, if your development resources are more limited, we find that Schema App Total Schema Markup is a great option. This will incorporate structured data types such as Product and BlogPosting schema on the proper pages of the site. As well, it will even add OfferCatalog schema to mark up every single product within a category page. Their support is also fantastic as they’re team helps you with any technical issues you might encounter.

Improving Shopify site speed

One of the biggest complaints we hear about Shopify is that it suffers from slower speeds. However, compared to other e-commerce platforms, we find that Shopify performs quite well. Out of the box, Shopify uses the Fastly CDN and leverages browser caching which gives you a solid performance foundation. In the past, we’ve actually benchmarked the average speed metrics of 400+ Shopify sites. Below are the average performance metrics of the Shopify sites we tested in our dataset.

  • First Contentful Paint: 3.8 seconds

  • Time To Interactive: 22.1 seconds

  • Total Page Size: 4.41 MB

  • Total Image Assets: 2.1 MB

  • Requests: 171

In terms of improving performance, below are the things we’ll generally advise our clients to do:

  • Lazy load images with the lazysizes library

  • Automatically compress images using

  • Eliminate any low usage Shopify apps

  • Manually resize and compress large images on high priority pages

  • Migrate tracking codes to Google Tag Manager

Keyword research

Performing keyword research for Shopify stores will be very similar to the research you would perform for other e-commerce stores.

Some general ways to generate keywords are:

  • Export your keyword data from Google AdWords. Track and optimize for those that generate the most revenue for the site.

  • Research your AdWords keywords that have high conversion rates. Even if the volume is lower, a high conversion rate indicates that this keyword is more transactional.

  • Review the keywords the site currently gets clicks/impressions for in Google Search Console.

  • Research your high priority keywords and generate new ideas using Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

  • Run your competitors through tools like Ahrefs. Using the “Content Gap” report, you can find keyword opportunities where competitor sites are ranking but yours is not.

  • If you have keywords that use similar modifiers, you can use MergeWords to automatically generate a large variety of keyword variations.

Keyword optimization

Similar to Yoast SEO, Shopify does allow you to optimize key elements such as your title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs. Where possible, you should be using your target keywords in these elements.

To adjust these elements, you simply need to navigate to the page you wish to adjust and scroll down to “Search Engine Listing Preview”:

Optimization Options For Metadata in Shopify

Adding content to product pages

If you decide that each individual product should be indexed, ideally you’ll want to add unique content to each page. Initially, your Shopify products may not have unique on-page content associated with them. This is a common issue for Shopify stores, as oftentimes the same descriptions are used across multiple products or no descriptions are present. Adding product descriptions with on-page best practices will give your products the best chance of ranking in the SERPs.

However, we understand that it’s time-consuming to create unique content for every product that you offer. With clients in the past, we’ve taken a targeted approach as to which products to optimize first. We like to use the “Sales By Product” report which can help prioritize which are the most important products to start adding content to. You can find this report in Analytics > Dashboard > Top Products By Units Sold.

Shopify revenue by product report

By taking this approach, we can quickly identify some of the highest priority pages in the store to optimize. We can then work with a copywriter to start creating content for each individual product. Also, keep in mind that your product descriptions should always be written from a user-focused view. Writing about the features of the product they care about the most will give your site the best chance at improving both conversions and SEO.

Shopify blog

Shopify does include the ability to create a blog, but we often see this missing from a large number of Shopify stores. It makes sense, as revenue is the primary goal of an e-commerce site, so the initial build of the site is product-focused.

However, we live in an era where it’s getting harder and harder to rank product pages in Google. For instance, the below screenshot illustrates the top 3 organic results for the term “cloth diapers”:

SERP for

While many would assume that this is primarily a transactional query, we’re seeing Google is ranking two articles and a single product listing page in the top three results. This is just one instance of a major trend we’ve seen where Google is starting to prefer to rank more informational content above transactional.

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By excluding a blog from a Shopify store, we think this results in a huge missed opportunity for many businesses. The inclusion of a blog allows you to have a natural place where you can create this informational content. If you’re seeing that Google is ranking more blog/article types of content for the keywords mapped to your Shopify store, your best bet is to go out and create that content yourself.

If you run a Shopify store (or any e-commerce site), we would urge you to take the following few steps:

  1. Identify your highest priority keywords

  2. Manually perform a Google query for each one

  3. Make note of the types of content Google is ranking on the first page. Is it primarily informational, transactional, or a mix of both?

  4. If you’re seeing primarily mixed or informational content, evaluate your own content to see if you have any that matches the user intent. If so, improve the quality and optimize.

  5. If you do not have this content, consider creating new blog content around informational topics that seems to fulfill the user intent

As an example, we have a client that was interested in ranking for the term “CRM software,” an extremely competitive keyword. When analyzing the SERPs, we found that Google was ranking primarily informational pages about “What Is CRM Software?” Since they only had a product page that highlighted their specific CRM, we suggested the client create a more informational page that talked generally about what CRM software is and the benefits it provides. After creating and optimizing the page, we soon saw a significant increase in organic traffic (credit to Ally Mickler):

The issue that we see on many Shopify sites is that there is very little focus on informational pages despite the fact that those perform well in the search engines. Most Shopify sites should be using the blogging platform, as this will provide an avenue to create informational content that will result in organic traffic and revenue.


Similar to WordPress’s plugins, Shopify offers “Apps” that allow you to add advanced functionality to your site without having to manually adjust the code. However, unlike WordPress, most of the Shopify Apps you’ll find are paid. This will require either a one-time or monthly fee.

Shopify apps for SEO

While your best bet is likely teaming up with a developer who’s comfortable with Shopify, here are some Shopify apps that can help improve the SEO of your site.

  • A great automated way of compressing large image files. Crucial for most Shopify sites as many of these sites are heavily image-based.

  • Schema App Total Schema Markup: This app may be used if you do not have a Shopify developer who is able to add custom structured data to your site.

  • Smart SEO: An app that can add meta tags, alt tags, & JSON-LD

  • Yotpo Reviews: This app can help you add product reviews to your site, making your content eligible for rich review stars in the SERPs.

  • Rewind Backups: Creates backups of your site. Great to implement before making development changes or adding redirects.

Is Yoast SEO available for Shopify?

Yoast SEO is exclusively a WordPress plugin. There is currently no Yoast SEO Shopify App.

Limiting your Shopify apps

Similar to WordPress plugins, Shopify apps will inject additional code onto your site. This means that adding a large number of apps can slow down the site. Shopify sites are especially susceptible to bloat, as many apps are focused on improving conversions. Often times, these apps will add more JavaScript and CSS files which can hurt page load times. You’ll want to be sure that you regularly audit the apps you’re using and remove any that are not adding value or being utilized by the site.

Client results

We’ve seen pretty good success in our clients that use Shopify stores. Below you can find some of the results we’ve been able to achieve for them. However, please note that these case studies do not just include the recommendations above. For these clients, we have used a combination of some of the recommendations outlined above as well as other SEO initiatives.

In one example, we worked with a Shopify store that was interested in ranking for very competitive terms surrounding the main product their store focused on. We evaluated their top performing products in the “Sales by product” report. This resulted in a large effort to work with the client to add new content to their product pages as they were not initially optimized. This combined with other initiatives has helped improve their first page rankings by 113 keywords (credit to Jennifer Wright & LaRhonda Sparrow).

Graph of first-page keyword rankings over time

In another instance, a client came to us with an issue that they were not ranking for their branded keywords. Instead, third-party retailers that also carried their products were often outranking them. We worked with them to adjust their internal linking structure to point to the canonical pages instead of the duplicate pages created by Shopify. We also optimized their content to better utilize the branded terminology on relevant pages. As a result, they’ve seen a nice increase in overall rankings in just several months time.

Graph of total ranking improvements over time.

Moving forward

As Shopify usage continues to grow, it will be increasingly important to understand the SEO implications that come with the platform. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with additional knowledge that will help make your Shopify store stronger in the search engines. If you’re interested in learning more about Shopify, you can also check out our Shopify SEO Learning Center.

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What is a Multi-Vendor Ecommerce Marketplace And Why is it The Future of Retail?



What is a Multi-Vendor Ecommerce Marketplace And Why is it The Future of Retail?

We live in an age of convenience, and few things are more convenient for the consumer than the multi-vendor marketplace. Right now, multi-vendor marketplaces are emerging everywhere, with new ideas and new platforms popping up all the time.

Slick, fast, reliable, and you only have to input your data once – from the consumer’s point of view, multi-vendor marketplaces are perfect.

From the vendor’s point of view, it’s a bit different. You want your products to be displayed to their best advantage. You want your branding and your brand presence to be consistent. You want a certain amount of integrity. You want to build loyalty. Hopping onto a multi-vendor marketing platform can feel like sacrificing all of this.

But it doesn’t have to. It’s great to have your own, well-designed, perfectly curated ecommerce site, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re relying solely on your own site to bring in conversions.

The hard truth is this: unless they’re deeply engaged with your brand, customers often can’t be bothered to create an account on your own personal platform. They are sick of filling out forms, they are deeply concerned about ecommerce security, and they don’t want to sign in every time they want to re-order your product.

If you don’t have a presence on a multi-vendor marketing platform, you will lose sales. What’s more, you won’t benefit from the advantages that the multi-vendor marketplace has to offer.

Remember, jumping onto a marketplace doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your own ecommerce platform – it just gives you an extra string to your bow.

Still not sure? Let’s break multi-vendor marketplaces down for you:

What is a multi-vendor marketplace?

Think of a multi-vendor marketplace as like an online department store. It’s a platform through which different vendors can distribute their products/services, all in one place.

Different vendors distinguish themselves through things like digital signage and clever SEO. Revenue is distributed to the relevant vendor following purchase. But from the point of view of the customer, everything is done via one platform.

Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are classic examples of multi-vendor marketplaces. Individual vendors can list their products/services on the platform and will get the revenue paid directly to them (after costs), but all the ecommerce processes are handled by the marketplace platform itself. For example, Amazon does not take you to the individual vendor’s site to process your transaction – it handles the checkout process itself.

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What are the benefits of a multi-vendor marketplace?

Consumers and vendors alike love multi-vendor marketplaces for a variety of reasons:

It’s rich in technology: a good multi-vendor marketplace will provide more tech than you could manage on your own. For example, their checkouts will be fast, secure, and fully optimized. They’ll have a slick app, strong multicloud or hybrid cloud architecture, a large online presence, dedicated support teams, and so on. All of these advantages become yours when you join.

●They have a great user experience: good multi-vendor marketplaces are fast, intuitive, and supportive. This gives a great customer experience and keeps consumers coming back.

●Everything can be done from just one account: ask customers what their ecommerce frustrations are, and having to create new accounts in every online store comes near the top. It’s frustrating to have to enter your info over and over again. With a multi-vendor marketplace, customers only have to create one account to shop for everything they need.

●Customers increasingly prefer trusted multi-vendor sites over niche, independent websites: that is as much a matter of ease as it is of preference – it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for on a site that you know, that you already have an account with, and that lets you order what you want in a single click than it is to track that product down through the web.

●Customers trust multi-vendor marketplaces: the days when people would click and convert on random adverts that popped up on Facebook are gone. You can have the best ad copy in the world, but many consumers will still head to (for example) Amazon in order to search for your product and read the reviews before purchasing. If they can’t find reviews on a known and trusted multi-vendor site, you’ll lose leads.

●It increases the conversion rate: all in all, less customer frustration means more sales. Most vendors find that their average ecommerce conversion rates rise when they join a good multi-vendor marketplace.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. There are disadvantages to everything, including multi-vendor marketplaces. You should consider these carefully before setting out your stall.

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What are the drawbacks of a multi-vendor marketplace?

Everything in business involves compromise, but joining a multi-vendor marketplace may involve more compromise than you’re comfortable with. Consider the following before taking the plunge:

●You can’t always do things your way: depending on the model of multi-vendor marketplace you use, you may have to compromise on certain things. For example, you may find that you have to display your products in a way that suits the platform but which may not show them to their best advantage.

●You might have to change your business model: for example, to meet multi-vendor marketing demand, you may need to go wholesale. What is wholesale? Well, rather than making products to meet direct consumer demand, wholesale involves manufacturing in bulk and delivering to a fulfillment warehouse so that demand can be met at speed whenever it occurs.

Amazon, for example, strongly encourages retailers to go wholesale. However, it’s not always viable for smaller businesses to opt for a wholesale model, as it involves a lot of upfront cost for uncertain rewards.

●Certain products/services may not be allowed: it’s not uncommon for multi-vendor marketing platforms to have strict site rules (not allowing the sale of risque or controversial products is a common one). You may find this limiting.

●Data analysis can be more complex: for example, mapping a digital customer journey is harder when your customers interact with your products via a third party (e.g., the multi-vendor platform). A good multi-vendor marketing platform will give you decent analytics options, but you may still have to dig a lot deeper to find relevant insights into your customer behavior data.

What to look for in a multi-vendor marketplace

You can offset a lot of the disadvantages of a multi-vendor marketplace by being clever about the marketplace you choose. Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge:

●Does it fit your niche? If you’re on point with your marketing, you’ll know your market niche, target audience, and so on. Make sure that your marketplace fits that profile.

For example, if you are targeting a socially-conscious audience who avoid giving trade to Bezos, Amazon is probably not the platform for you – but Etsy might suit. On the other hand, if your customers like speed and convenience above all else, Amazon or eBay are probably the way forward.

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●Does it fit your business model? As mentioned above, if you craft individualized pieces and the marketplace prefers you to deliver wholesale, something like Amazon is probably not for you. Look for something that can let you fulfill your orders and follow your business model in a way that works for you.

●What is the customer service like? This is as relevant for you as it is for the consumer. As a vendor, you need to feel supported and listened to.

For example, some multi-vendor marketplaces offer things like a regular free online conference, and dedicated helplines for their vendors, while others leave their vendors to work things out their own way. If you prefer to be more independent, choose a marketplace that’s less hands-on. If you need the support, look for a marketplace that provides it.

●Is it worth the money? Multi-vendor marketing platforms provide a lot of advantages – but they don’t do so for free. They will take a cut to cover their costs. Look into the potential ROI of any multi-vendor marketing platform, and be realistic about your prospects. You don’t want to end up spending more on a subscription than you gain in sales.

●Where are your competitors? Sometimes, it’s a good move to set yourself up on the same platform as your competitors. Sometimes, it’s not. Your market research will tell you what’s a good strategy for you – but it’s definitely worth looking into before you click that sign-up button.

Multi-vendor marketplaces are the future

For trust, security, and ease of purchase, you can’t beat a multi-vendor marketplace. While you might need to make some compromises when posting your products, we think that the advantages far outweigh these issues – especially if you choose your marketplace carefully.

In the years to come, it’s likely that multi-vendor marketplaces will only rise in popularity, so we recommend taking the jump now in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Of course, if you can’t find the perfect multi-vendor marketplace for you – you can always build your own! Who knows? Your platform could be just what vendors and customers are looking for.

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