It’s no secret that when it comes to eCommerce, Amazon is an absolute juggernaut. As a leading online retailer, they snag the top search engine results for most transactional and commercial intent keywords out there. If you’ve just started your own online business, you’ve undoubtedly asked yourself the following question:
“How on Earth can I compete with these guys?”
While it might seem like a daunting, if not impossible challenge, the truth is that with the right SEO strategy, outranking Amazon is very much within your reach. In this case study, we’ll show you how we’ve managed to boost our client’s monthly traffic numbers and even outperform the Seattle giant in the niche.
The goal of our campaign for this client was to boost their visibility for important commercial
keywords and drive traffic to their category pages. The ultimate objective here, of course, was to
generate more eCommerce conversions for the client.
In order to do that, we had to go up against their main competitors, including Amazon, by
establishing our client’s site’s domain authority and boosting their ranking power.
This particular client is an online store that specializes in adult toys, targeting the United States. It is a highly lucrative niche, one in which a business without an established topical authority would have a hard time competing with eCommerce giants in terms of SEO.
Issues Holding Website Back
Before getting around to crafting an effective SEO strategy for our client, we identified the
main problems with their website. The strategy would then focus on these issues to achieve the
objective described above.
The three main problems were as follows:
- Lack of topical authority. The website lacked high-quality, informative blog content related to the toys being sold by the client.
- Subpar user experience. The lack of basic UX practices that would make our client’s website more intuitive and navigable cost them a lot of traffic (and money).
- “Money” keywords performance. Category pages were not optimized for the key commercial keywords our client absolutely had to rank for in order to drive conversions.
Course of Action
With all of the above issues in mind, we got on with creating a comprehensive SEO strategy that would resolve them and improve our client’s SERP rankings in the process. Here are the four cornerstones of that strategy:
- AI-supported blogger outreach campaign to build backlinks
- Establishing topical authority with new informative content
- Optimizing our client’s website for user experience
- Category page optimization with a particular focus on commercial intent keywords
Below, we described each one of these steps in detail. If your website is struggling with similar issues, don’t hesitate to use these tactics to boost your rankability and get ahead of your competitors.
Building Backlinks With Blogger Outreach (& AI)
Link building is one of the most effective ways to get a web page ranking higher on search engine results pages, and one of the very first things SEOs focus on when executing their strategy. The case was no different with this client.
We set out to secure backlinks from topically relevant websites through blogger outreach. This entails looking for topically relevant blogs and reaching out to them with an offer of submitting an article with a link back to the client’s site. The blogger outreach process can be broken down into four steps: link prospecting, finding contact information, pitching, and monitoring progress.
There are a number of ways in which you can go about finding quality websites that can link back to your business, but by far the quickest, most efficient way to do it is by enlisting the help of AI tools.
Using ChatGPT and the WebPilot plugin that allows the tool to scan live websites, we found dozens of great blogs that were relevant for our outreach campaign. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing so yourself:
- Go to ChatGPT’s settings page and enable plugins.
- Head back to the main chat window. You should now see a “Plugin” dropdown menu. Open it up and select WebPilot.
- Once that’s done, prompt GPT to provide you with the websites you need. Here’s a prompt you
Using the WebPilot plugin, please give me a list of 15 popular websites within [your niche]
- And there you have it! You should now be looking at a list of blogs and websites you should target in your outreach efforts.
Here’s what we got when running a simple search for an example campaign for a golfing website:
Bear in mind that while it is extremely useful, ChatGPT is not perfect in its judgment. This is why it’s important that you manually vet each site you plan to contact to see if it meets your requirements.
Getting Contact Information
Head to the Contact pages of the blogs you want to reach out to and find their email addresses. If they don’t have one, use Hunter.io to scour these sites for contact information instead. It’s a handy “email hunting” tool that allows for up to 25 free monthly searches.
Now onto the key part of any blogger outreach process: pitch creation.
A pitch can make or break your link building campaign.
If you don’t include enough details, you’re likely to not get a response back. On the other hand, if your pitch ends up being overly long, it might seem pushy and too “salesy,” deterring bloggers from considering your offer.
Including information that’s personally relevant to each website you’re contacting is crucial, which means that you can’t simply draft a pitch template and copy-paste it for each blog you want a backlink from. With that being said, though, all your pitches should contain the following information:
- Who you are
- Why you’re reaching out
- What you can offer
When drafting pitches, use ChatGPT and WebPilot to speed things up a bit once again. Here’s an example prompt that should get the job done:
“Using the WebPilot plugin, write a blogger outreach pitch to [target blog’s About page URL], with the goal being writing a guest post for their website. Include a subject line. My website is [URL] and its focus is [your niche].”
The text needs to be engaging, informative, and encourage the person on the receiving end to consider your offer. Your ideal pitch should have 200 words at most, and contain the following:
- A brief subject line, preferably with a niche-related pun. It should encourage a click, without giving away your guest posting intentions.
- A humorous, one or two sentence-long icebreaker related to the blog’s primary topic.
- A clear overview of the unique value you can provide them with.
- Three different titles of your potential guest post, along with a brief unique value description.
Below is a result of our ChatGPT-generated pitch for a non-existent golfing website:
Once you send out all of your pitches, it’s crucial to keep monitoring the progress of your blogger outreach campaign. Chances are that many of your emails will not get a positive response (or any response at all). Should you receive a few replies, take a few moments to assess and analyze the pitch you sent and think about why they’ve worked out, whereas others didn’t.
Just because a blogger didn’t reach back to you the first time around, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a chance of cooperating with them. Try sending out follow-up emails after a couple of days to increase your chances of getting responses.
Building Topical Authority with Engaging Blog Content
Topical authority refers to a website’s perceived credibility and expertise within their industry. It’s an important ranking signal for Google, as it aims to deliver users with search results that are of the highest quality and most relevant to their queries.
To build your site’s topical authority, you need to produce high quality, informative and topically relevant content that your audience will be looking for. This also increases internal linking opportunities for your site, allowing users and search engines to find content more easily.
Here is a rundown of the main things to keep in mind when creating new content:
To create a sound content plan, carry out thorough keyword research with a particular focus on the topics you need to cover. Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer is definitely the best tool for the job, but you can also use Google’s Related Searches feature to supplement your research.
ChatGPT is also a great tool for generating topic ideas from seed keywords. Here’s what it came up with when we asked it to create 15 topic ideas for a tech gadgets website:
- Keeping up with the latest trends: On top of covering topics within your niche, your content should correspond with the latest news and emerging trends that your target audience might be interested in. Trendspotting entails regularly checking up on niche-related online forums and using Google Trends to find what people are currently looking for.
- Making sure your content stays fresh: Make sure to stay consistent in your posting by continuously adding new content to your site. But content freshness doesn’t only apply to new pages. Check your existing content and update it with new, relevant information, if necessary.
- Cover topics as comprehensively as possible: It isn’t enough to cover the most clickable and relevant topics – your site’s rankability is also affected by how well you cover these subjects. Take a look at your high-ranking competitor’s articles to see what they’ve done. See what their heading structure looks like, the level of detail on their subtopic coverage, what visuals they've used, and so on.
User Experience Optimization
User experience (UX) can make or break a website. After all, poor UX design gives little to no incentive for users to remain on the site, let alone buy something. With positive user experience, people will spend more time engaging with your content, browse other pages on your site, and be much more likely to trust you with their money.
In the case of our client, we focused on two of the most pressing UX-related issues their website was dealing with: site functionality and the lack of a contact page.
Improving Site Functionality
All websites should function smoothly and as intended, without any unnecessary hiccups or delays. This is especially true for eCommerce websites with a store. If the checkout process on your website is not intuitive and convenient for the customer, why should they stick with your store instead of heading over to a competitor?
Here are some of the best practices you might want to implement at your own online store to improve its functionality:
- Adding a cart removal button: It isn’t uncommon for customers to change
their mind about purchasing a certain product, or accidentally adding too many items to
their cart. The option to take something out of the shopping cart is a must-have – if users
can’t do it, they’re likely to simply leave your website.
- Price filters: Customers should be able to filter products by different
price ranges that correspond to their budgets. That way, they’ll be able to view only the
items they can afford to buy, which makes them more likely to actually buy something from
- Product sorting: Generally speaking, the more ways in which users can sort
items at your online store, the better. Criteria like price, relevance, date added, or
ratings are some of the most basic, must-have options to sort by. Incorporate additional,
niche-specific filters to make sorting easier for users. Here’s how H&M did it:
- Related products section: The item a user initially selected might end up
not meeting their specific needs. However, they’re still on the lookout for something
similar. Adding a related products section to your product pages will keep them on your
website, instead of heading off to look up another product elsewhere.
Creating a Contact Page
One of the most striking omissions on our client’s website was the lack of a detailed Contact page. It is a crucial element of any website, and a significant factor affecting user experience. Customers should be able to easily find your business’s contact information in case they have any questions or need advice regarding your product.
Your Contact page should have:
- Your business name and address
- Company email address and phone number
- Contact form
- Links to your social media pages
These are just the basics. To flesh out your Contact page even further, consider adding:
- Contact details for specific departments
- An interactive embed from Google Maps to showcase your business’s physical location
- Links to resources such as FAQs or key services
Category Page Optimization
Having logically structured category pages that are optimized for commercial intent keywords is extremely important in the context of SEO.
They logically group all of the products in your store (particularly valuable for businesses that sell hundreds of items at a time), making it easier for both users and search engines to navigate through your eCommerce store. In addition, category pages help search engine crawlers understand how the different pieces of content on your website come together.
When optimizing your category pages, pay attention to the following:
- Helpful content: Google has recently emphasized the importance of content being original and helpful, created for people rather than search engines. For instance, if you’re writing a category description for gaming laptops, focus on the information that will truly help the buyer. They don’t need to know the history of gaming laptops or what they’re for. Instead, write about the manufacturers of the laptops on your website, the range of specifications, and which ones are currently the most popular or powerful.
- Content placement: Your category pages should only be a few sentences long, with a single H1 heading up top. You can add more text that dives into more detail below all the products. That way, users can get to browsing straight away and familiarize themselves with the category details later, if they need to.
- Internal linking: To fully showcase your product range, add internal links to other categories or subcategories in the description. For example, if you’re optimizing a “headphones” category page, then you might want to link it to the “wired,” “wireless,” and “gaming headsets” subcategories.
- URLs: Above all else, your categories should follow a logical URL
structure that ties the main categories and subcategories together. This is what it might
look like for a store that sells laptops:
www.website.com/laptops/ www.website.com/laptops/gaming/ www.website.com/laptops/student/
- Pagination: Each one of your category pages may link out to dozens, if not hundreds of products. To make browsing easier for the users, divide them into a number of pages. Make sure that each page has a unique URL and is indexable.
- Metadata: Optimize your page title and meta description to include the core keyword of your category page. Write them in an engaging way that entices users to go to your site.
How to Add Category Pages
Consider adding new category pages in order to make the browsing experience more convenient for users, as well as target more keywords with your store.
With these new pages, think of targeting more detailed, long-tail keywords that pertain to your products.
Let’s stick with the tech gadgets example. You can build out your “headphones” category by finding the right, detailed keywords through Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to the Keywords Explorer and type in your broad seed keyword.
- Then, go to the “Terms Match” section and hit “View all.”
- You should see a list of keywords related to your seed keyword. Make sure that you group
them by “Parent Topic.” As you can see from the screenshot below, many of them would make
the perfect subcategories for a headphones store i.e. “wireless headphones”, “bluetooth
headphones”, “noise canceling headphones”
When creating your category and subcategory pages, make sure to choose those with a high enough search volume. If there isn’t enough demand for a specific group of products, they might be better off in a wider category. If on the other hand, you only sell one or two items from a chosen category, then it might make little sense to create a whole new page for them.
Here’s an example of a transactional keyword with 148k search volume, where our client is outranking Amazon.
In less than 12 months, our client experienced an 88.1% growth in organic traffic; from 72.4k to 136.4k monthly sessions.
The number of keywords our client’s site ranks for in the top 10 positions on Google has grew by 152%; from 718 to 1,809 keywords.
The overall keyword visibility increased by 90%; from 4,155 to 7,893 keywords.
Even if most of the search terms you wish to rank for are already dominated by bigger competitors, nothing’s lost - you can still increase your site’s ranking as long as you decide on the right keywords to target. Combine it with a good digital PR link building campaign and fixing technical issues, and soon enough you’ll be on your way to increasing your website’s traffic and overall SEO performance.See the full case study online
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