This element puts a search bar centered in the middle of the FRONT PAGE. I use this to separate elements as well as allow users to see that the site has SEARCH capability.
FROM MY Yahoo Store BLOG: Next, I ended up with a last minute speaking gig at SES in the P!MP MY SITE session. Holy Cow! Did I mention it was last minute? Like 30 minutes notice. And I got to wear a purple pimp outfit!
Embarrassing pictures of me are available at Mike Whitaker's blog. See his Yahoo! Store Blog - Pimp my Site post. (Thanks Mike & Jean!)
I got to share the SEW stage with fellow pimps including moderator Elisabeth Osmeloski, who is the Managing Editor, Search Engine Watch. Speakers included Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide, Dax Herrera of WebGuerrilla, Heather Lloyd-Martin SuccessWorks, and Todd Friesen, a.k.a Oilman, of Range Online Media.
Featured in our PIMP MY SITE review was a very, very braveYahoo Store Owner , Peggy Li, who sells handmade jewelry, earrings, necklaces and unique beaded gemstone jewelry "as seen in Lucky Magazine."
My P!MP appearance turned into a stand-up presentation without the benefits of preparation or Powerpoint, but I think I did a good job representing Y! considering we covered Yahoo! Store for almost 30 minutes of the PIMP MY SITE presentation.
I've been going to SEARCH CONFERENCES since 2001. SES and PUBCON have valuable, valuable info for retailers. Even without the opportunity costs of missing a week of "work," it usually costs me $3000.00 easy out of pocket plus a week of my time to fly to these things, get a room in the conference hotel, eat out every meal, and then I have my pimpilicious wardrobe to think about, but EVERY TIME IT'S WORTH EVERY PENNY AND EVERY SECOND.
WHY? If I get one idea that moves the sales needle at home 1%, that's THOUSANDS of dollars in sales. One idea.
Multiply that by my group of revshare retailers, then throw in my clients, friends, former clients still in the loop, and then lump in blog readers, book buyers, and etc., and the trickle down is INSANE. From one idea.
(Example: Put best-seller in the NAME of a product that is a best-seller and conversion rate jumps up.) And I usually get at least 100x of those tactical ones, and as y'all know, I usually fill a 100 page notebook with ideas and conference notes from speakers AND from the real action after at the parties and hotel bars.
Yahoo! Store owners DO show up at these shows, but they don't know where to go, what to do, etc. And I bet less than 1% of retailers show up. So GO!
This interactive session takes volunteers from the audience and examines their web sites live to provide general feedback about improving them to gain more traffic from search engines.
Elisabeth Osmeloski, Managing Editor, Search Engine Watch
Derrick Wheeler, Senior Search Strategist, Acxiom Digital
Rob Snell, Partner, Snell Brothers
The section level is the next level.
see behind the scenes of a real yahoo store vitanet http://edit.store.yahoo.com/RT/DEMOMGR
Also see how we create content, how we do e-commerce optimization...
Slide 1 & Slide 2
Howdy, how ya'll doing? My name's Rob Snell. I'm from Starkville, Mississippi. I am not an SEO. I am a retailer who does SEO. So I have a little bit different perspective on things than folks who run agencies or the propeller heads, the screws, the smart guys who do things that make my head hurt.
Today I am going to talk about our philosophies about SEO as far as, like, the main thing that I learned about 13 years ago when we got online is you want your site to show up in the results when folks are looking to buy what you sell. Can then find you?
I want to fish where the fish are biting. I've only got so much time in the day, so I've got to concentrate my efforts on the things that are going to give me the biggest bang for my buck, and that's what we're going to get into.
My parents started Gun Dog Supply back in 1972. We sell training supplies for hunting supplies…
…like Click here. We were one of the first hunting dog supply retailers to get online, one of the first to have a Yahoo Store with a shopping cart.
We took our offline catalogue that had tons and tons of content in it and copied and pasted it into a Yahoo Store. And in about three days we got our entire online catalogue to the web. One of the philosophies that we had with our offline catalogue that really served us well from a content standpoint is that my dad and I were sitting down back in '96 when we launched this catalogue, and we said, "Why don't we allocate space in the catalogue based upon how much revenue the products actually generate, instead of doing like a lot of catalogues and trying to put tons, and tons, and tons of products in there and giving it an eighth of a page?
So in this example, we've got one product that gets a full page in the catalogue. And nowadays, postage is so expensive it's really difficult to do that.
Well, thanks to Yahoo Store, we were able to get online, and it actually saved our family business when PetSmart had opened up across the street.
And this is our online website, GunDogSupply.com. And I just kinda wanted to show you guys the effects of SEO over the past 13 years for us.
The little blue line, I don't know if you can see it down there, is our brick-and-mortar store. You can kinda see there in the middle where PetSmart came in. The little red line is when we launched Yahoo Store. We got online, and ecommerce for us took our family business up in order of magnitude, and it was awesome.
But the thing I talked about yesterday in my presentation on how we more than double our conversion rate, and I would attribute half of the growth to SEO.
Had we stayed on the vector we were on, we would have been doing fine. We were making money. It wasn't like a dot com kinda growth, but about seven years ago we made this change to our website and it resulted in almost exponential growth. I mean we're seven orders of magnitude greater than we were three or four years ago.
And what I'm going to talk about today are the strategies that we used behind the SEO half of this growth. And I've got a solo session right after this where I've got 30 minutes, and I'll be able to go into, actually, some of the tactics.
But the changes that we made resulted in over $10 million. And we're an itty bitty little company. I mean, you know, we were talking about Zappos, we were talking about some bigger retailers, $300 million. I mean our combined Yahoo Stores will do $12, $13 million this year. So we are not a big company, especially compared to your guys.
And so $10 million in Mississippi, that goes a long way.
You can get a nice doublewide with that.
I agree about Google Mayday. I was so glad you said that. I think Google Mayday has had more of an impact on small business ecommerce folks than Google Instant. I'm going to cover my take on Google Mayday and on Google Instant.
What we saw on Google Mayday is that a lot of folks were complaining about it, but I couldn't any actual damage to traffic or sales. I looked my sales from SEO, and it was like my metrics were the same. I looked at my rankings, we lost a lot of brand terms. I saw a lot of our suppliers, who we used to outrank…and we probably shouldn't be ranking for somebody else's brand name, above them, but we were.
And now, like Tri-Tronics, one of our manufacturers, they were now ranking for almost any long-tailed term, even when they didn't have these weird modifiers on the page. We had all of our content with these modifiers, and Google seems to be saying, "If it has a brand name in the search query, let's just go ahead and make the brand rank for it whether or not they have the content."
One of my good buddies who has a Yahoo Store, I mean probably does $25, $30 million a year, and he's like 22 years old. I hate his guts. [laughs] He called me up and he was like, "Dude, we have seen a 15%-20% drop in our traffic, but we can't figure out what's going on."
He said this to me, he said, "Rob, we looked at our top 5,000 keyword phrases, and our rankings were unaffected by Mayday. How are we going to figure out what happened?" He knew it was long-tail. So we kinda sat down to figure out a metric that we could use to measure the effectiveness of your search engine optimization for ecommerce.
And this is a big deal. I was talking to my girlfriend about, "I've got a four hour class that I teach on this and I've got to cram it into 15 minutes." She was like, "Well just take one at a time. If you can only tell them one thing, what would you tell them?" And this is the main thing. So if ya'll cut me off, if ya'll walk away with this, this was really helpful for us.
I want you to prioritize your SEO pages based on the revenue that they generate. And what I mean by that is most folks' SEO, they look at rankings: How do I rank for a specific keyword phrase? One of the cool things about ecommerce is that we actually can see what works for us through analytics. You can actually tie a dollar amount to a keywords phrase and an entry page.
So what we were able to do on my buddy's site, he's got five times more traffic than me, is we were actually able to see entry pages from Google organic searches and what the revenue was per page. And we compared that before and after Mayday. And from that, we were able to see what pages weren't driving revenue anymore.
And what I used this for is I used this to decide what to optimize, I used it to decide what to prioritize, and we went through that a little bit more.
Yesterday I was looking at GunDogSupply.com, and I looked at my Yahoo Store, and I have 20,000 store pages. We have 3 or 4,000 products, depending on how you slice them up, the parameters and things. About 5,000 of those pages are PPC landing pages, about 5,000 of those pages are additional product photos, as we have 12 and 13 photos per product on some things. So Google is probably not going to consider that. So think, OK, this is 20,000 pages that I have right here.
Well, I go to Google, and I don't really ever trust this site operator, you know, site:yourdomain.com. I don't think that accurately represents what Google knows about. But that's just a number you can watch, and it's pretty consistent over time.
So I've got 20,000 pages on my Yahoo Store. I've got 4,500 pages that are actually showing up in Google that are ranking for keyword phrases.
I've only got 2,800 of those pages that are actually driving traffic in the past 30 days to my Yahoo Store.
Which is awesome, but I've got only 575 pages that are actually driving revenue that I can tie from a Google organic entry into a keyword phrase, coming to my Yahoo Store, and buying something.
So I've got 20,000, and then I've got around 5,000, and then I've got 3,000, and this is like 600. So I've got a much smaller bucket. And it's not like Zappos where you've got hundreds of thousands of pages you gotta worry about. I'm going to be worried about the pages that are making me money today, with the changes of Google Instant today, with the change from Mayday, since Mayday.
And then look down and I say, "Wow, my top 100 pages are actually driving about 70% of the revenue in the last 30 days from Google. So what this does is this allows me to decide what pages on my site get a link from my homepage. It helps me decide what pages I'm going to develop content on. And it's a lot different from looking at keywords, because I'll have 30 or 40 different keywords that are actually driving multiple transactions to some of these pages.
All right, some people are interested in search engines, I'm interested in search engine results pages. I like to fish where the fish are biting.
And this is my slide from last year. You know, Google is driving the bus. Bing is interesting to me, but Bing does not contribute enough revenue for me to take my eye off the Google ball. If you have the time, the energy, and the resources to go after Bing, that's great. But like Adam was saying, it's really easy for spammers to spam Bing. And I don't have time to fight those guys. I fight with them on Google as it is.
And then this year, as far as traffic, this is revenue, and revenue matches up pretty much with traffic for us in this pie graph. Yahoo is actually growing a little bit with Bing's results. And this is like in the past 30 days.
One thing that I see a lot of retailers that I work with when I do consulting, is they don't understand than just ranking in the top 30 on Google isn't going to drive traffic and revenue to your website. 90% of the organic traffic that we see going to ecommerce sites, to smaller Yahoo Stores, is coming from page 1. If you are not on page 1, you are not in the game.
I mean this is old news. Everybody in this room probably gets that, but that is so important. You're like, ‘Well hey, I'm number 29 for this keyword phrase." Well how much revenue are you getting from that?
I'm a Macintosh person, OK? I like to look at my website, at my ecommerce site, the way my customers do. And most of my customers are not Mac people, they are Windows people. And most of them are using Internet Explorer. And the largest number of them are using the 1024x768 browser. So when I emulate what a customer is doing, I hope over to Parallels and I pop up an Internet Explorer Window. Or I've got a Windows PC that's broken now, and I play with that.
But what this shows you, this is a search I did like three days ago for dog boots. And you can kinda see Google Instant popping up there. But the thing that really freaks me out is I used to say if you are in the top five, then you are fine. If you are in the top five, you are golden.
Well right now, in the first screenshot, there are only two organic listings. If you are not number one or number two for your best keywords phrases, you are not going to be getting the clicks.
I testified to Congress two years ago about the impact of search engines on small business. And if there's anybody from Google in the room, I would actually reconsider my testimony based upon asking Congress not…I said, "Do not regulate the search engines. It's working great. Please don't mess with something that works."
Right now there are only two editorial links on this page. How many paid ads are on this page that you can see? How many other properties from Google?
I love Google. I make a lot of money from Google. I don't want to piss Matt off, OK? So don't shoot me if you are out there Matt. I think they really need to consider what they're doing and the way that they are handing some spam. But I've got some issues there.
All right, universal results. Products in Google, the Google Shopping, Google Products has become so much more important now. Last year on this stage, I said, "Hey, I need some help with this. I don't know anything about it." Three different people sent me to SingleFeed, and the SingleFeed folks set me up.
I've also done some work…they take good care of us; it's actually driving some traffic. There's also a Yahoo Store specific solution, Don Cole over at YStore Tools has helped us out a lot too. So I'm going to talk a little bit about making sure that your products are even in Google Products.
If you go to Google Products, which is Google.com/products and type in site:yourdomain.com, it will show you whether or not you are in Google Products. And I know PubCon is an advanced crowd. But I am surprised every time we do site reviews how many people don't have good title tags, how many people don't have links, and how many people aren't in Google Products. I have retailers that don't even know they're not in Google Products, and because they are getting traffic from Google they think they are. So go do that.
Here is an example of a close-up. It's organic one, two, and three. I'm sorry, the first one is organic rankings number one, number two are the shopping results for "dog house heater", which is the shopping query. And I actually go through my terms and I say, "OK, which queries are generating shopping results?" And that helps me decide, do I need to optimize my feed for this, or do I mainly need to optimize organically?
This is Google Webmaster Central. If you are not using this, you need to be. Every month they are rolling out cool new features in it. A lot of people covered information yesterday and today about this.
But the thing I like about it is you can see impressions. And this drives me nuts. Look at that blue line. That's all the people who are looking for dog house heaters. Look at that orange line. That's all the people who are clicking on my stuff. There's a big difference there. I'm not getting all the clicks. But you have to drill down in this information, because they're not doing a good job of aggregating it in my opinion.
For that keyword phrase, "dog house heaters", look at the impressions. Number one has 1,900 impressions. My number two listing, when it shows up, has 720 impressions. So that means I'm showing up number two maybe half the time; they're experimenting with clustered results on that page. The number three position there is my ranking in Google Products. Look at that 7% click-through rate there. That tells me that a large portion of my traffic for that keyword phrase is actually coming from Google Products.
On November the 3rd, I picked up a new client, an old client of mine. He had a terrible SEO. I'm not going to use the verb we were using to describe what that guy did to his site, but he wasn't even listed in Google Products. How can you say you're doing SEO on an ecommerce site if you are not getting somebody's products listed in Google Products?
I called Don Cole up at like six o'clock on November the 3rd and said, "Hey, here's my client's account. Can you build me a feed?" He said, "Go set up Google Merchant Center, get your ID, verify your site, and I'll set your feed up."
And I looked the next morning and we had 326 products in Google Products. So it's fast. If you can verify your site, which [xx 48:15] you have a sitemap, it's really easy. I don't understand exactly all the propeller head stuff behind it, but it's like two or three little things that you do and you are automatically driving traffic.
The cool thing about Google Products is you can actually tag your URL with parameters and you can see how much revenue is coming from Google Products. That tells you how much time to devote to optimizing your feeds.
And I'll just throw this out there for the folks who want to get into this. You need your UPC codes in there. You need your manufacturer part numbers in there. You need your manufacturer's name in there.
I am not a feed optimization expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm just kinda getting into it. There's tons of information SingleFeed's blog. If you use my name when you sign up for them, they donate $100 to Red Cross for Haiti relief, because I don't want to make an affiliate commission off of it.
Google Instant. More folks were freaking out about Google Instant when they should have been freaking out about Mayday.
Go to Google and type in "dog house heater". I know you guys, by now, it's been six or eight weeks, you know how it works.
You type in "dog house h" and it starts suggesting things. That's what you gotta type in to see "dog house heater".
Well, if you type in "dog house heater" it shows you additional terms. And what I think is going to happen, and I think the jury is still out on this, I think it's going to make lazy searchers click on the first thing that Google suggests that looks like what they're looking for. I think smarter searchers are actually going to dig in much deeper. So I think it's going to make the bell curve a lot wider in that graph that you were showing, Adam.
So you go search for "dog house heater", which is, you know, just a regular term on our website. It's not a very competitive term, and you see that we're ranking.
But the one thing that I'm seeing is that the individual keywords are changing. And this is going to change how you optimize for your product pages, it's going to change how you optimize for your category pages.
For example, this is not a true test. We spend thousands of dollars a month doing search engine optimization testing of on-page things and off-page things to see what's working for our sites, to see what's working for client sites, to see what competitors are doing.
I've got a mastermind of about three really smart dudes, and we just throw some resources and we do tests, and it's really easy to see what's working. But this is not a pure test, because I don't have any control over how Google is going to rank an individual page.
And I don't know if you can see this back there, but this is the direct visitors, and the revenue, and the number of orders for "dog house heaters" plural and "dog house heater" singular. If you look at that, the difference between 2009 and 2010 on the plural, we dropped from 600 first time visitors to 400 first-time visitors. But the number of orders stays the same and the revenue goes down a bit.
But what you're seeing is the plural is actually getting diminished because of Google Instant. And so now "dog house heater" singular is driving a lot more traffic, and it's shifting a little bit. It's not major; I'm not freaking out about it.
And what we did, we actually had to type in the entire keyword phrase to see the results on Google Instant. So Google is pushing folks to what I think is the higher CPC, which is the singular in this specific case. I mean Google is going to do something if it makes them more money, right? They don't do things just for fun. They don't do things because they're cool, not in the thing that's making them money right now. So I think the reason they are doing this is to drive people to higher CPC terms.
I'm not a person who can write programs or anything like that. So we have to do a lot of things manually. Unfortunately, my assistant had to do this manually, because I was going to delegate it, right? So poor Nikki here, she had to go through our top terms. And we took our top 500 terms, we took out all of our domain names, our brand and navigation terms, just to see what would happen on Google Instant.
And what we're seeing is that on some singular terms and some plural terms, they're kinda flip-flopping to what Google's pushing. And she would go through and type in, and she would find out what the minimum was you had to type it in to see what the term is. And I recommend that you do this to find out if there is a more popular term that you should be ranking for, you know, a synonym of your main converting keywords.
You also need to see if the plural is more important or if the singular is more important. And when you're doing this, you need to have a clean browser. We use Safari, and there's a real easy way. You go into Safari, you hit "Reset Safari". It's really easy. I'll show that in a minute.
But here's "dog house heaters", and here's her note—it doesn't up with plural if you actually type the full thing in. So we're losing traffic on the plural.
All right, well now what?
Well like I said a minute ago, I want you to see what everyone else sees.
So here's one my keyword phrases, one of my pet keyword phrases, and we're fighting with some spammers, "dog training collars".
So I go Google that and I'm like, "Man, this rocks! I'm number one and number two for my keyword phrase. I'm doing a great job. Back on top again. I'm battling with these guys."
But I said, "Hey, wait a minute. I'm still signed into my Gmail account." I'm not really number one and number two. You need to sign out of Google accounts, you need to clear your cookies.
Open up a separate browser. You can get Safari for Mac or Windows. Somebody this summer said something about using an incognito window in Chrome, but I'm not getting…it's still customizing my results.
So the only way I've been able to get pure, virgin results from a browser is to use Safari and hit the "Reset Safari". It's so easy. So run two browsers. You can kinda hop over there and do this.
So I go back to Google. I do "dog training collars".
And I go, "Hey, I'm on the first page….and you can't even see me!" So I've got a lot of work today. So just because I'm saying do stuff, I'm not saying that I am perfect at SEO by any stretch of the imagination.
All right. I've got a little bit of time left, don't I? I'm going to go into what I call Redneck SEO 101.
This is how I explain SEO to people, and it's really just a simplified Dummies version of how we approach it on the product level. I love money conferences, and a lot of people talk about a lot of theory stuff, but one thing that's frustrated me the past 10 years, when I don't know something about something, people don't actually show the process.
And if you've got 12 minutes to do a PowerPoint deck, you really don't have time to dig deep and go in the process. And so I tend to kinda get a little greedy and take more time than I've been allocated. You know, my 15 minute presentation is stretched to be 22 trying to get real world stuff in there.
I've got all my slides from the past five or six years on RobSnell.com if I don't have time to get through the rest of this stuff. But Redneck SEO 101.
The first thing I do is I pick a keyword. Simple enough.
"Dog House Heater".
The next thing I do is I pick my store's most relevant page. And the reality is I pick two pages, because I'm optimizing for two for clustered. So you'll have to go to my solo session after this if you want to hear how I do that.
The way you find your store's most relevant page for "dog house heater" is, when you kinda think about it, you go, "OK, well what would my customers want to see?" And usually, that's like a section page, a category page, a buyer's guide page. You know, they want to see dog house heaters.
Well, Google seems to be sending a lot of this traffic to product pages. So in this case, my category page is for dog house heaters. It's getting a little cold in Mississippi now. You never have snow on a black Lab in Mississippi, you know?
But a lot of my traffic is coming to these category pages, so we picked this page for an example.
And the first thing I do is I put the keyword in the Title tag. And I know you guys know that, but in Yahoo Store it is really easy. There's a field in the CMS, you type it in the Name field as the default.
And that's what it looks like in the code. And I've got the keyword in there.
The Title is the most important on-page SEO element. It has been for a long time. It still is. The Title is what shows up in the search. When you do a search, it's that blue link.
The next thing I do is I put the keyword in my BODY TEXT.
And this is "Steve Says". It's a little bit of editorial stuff we do. I'll be talking in the solo session about how we create content as well. But Steve writes content, and I kinda give him some hints as far as what keywords to use. Here's a sprinkling of the keywords. We use the natural English just the way he would write. It's not really keyword stuff.
Then the next thing you do is you put the keyword you want to rank for in links pointing to the page you want to rank. Well, I think everybody here knows that. And the way we do that on the Yahoo Store is we put it in the navigational links, like the run site, and then we put it with the thumbnails when it's features like as a special on the category page. Dog house heaters, dog house heaters.
Link text or anchor text is the most important off-page SEO element. That's like "miserable failure". Remember when they were going back and forth, the Democrats and Republicans were trying to get different pages to rank for that term. It wasn't even on the page. It was in the link text. So link text, you can do a lot of stuff with that on your site.
I mean if you guys have a 10,000 page website with 100 links on every single page, you control a million links on your own website. You can a lot of magic with that. And this is what I'm going to show you here. There is the HTML code for that heaters page.
You want to get more links than the other guy.
One of the ways you can see how many links you have, and this is a free tool, you can go to Yahoo Site Explorer. They have not cut this off yet, but it doesn't work as good as it used to. You type in Link: the page that you want to rank, or the page that you want to see the links to, and it's going to show you the back-links. I don't know if you can see right there, but we have 160 links to that heaters page.
And there's a little switch you can flip and say, "OK, we'll just show me the external links." And this page, the dog house heaters page, only has eight external links. And most of those are from scrapers. I mean I haven't done any link building on that. And this will show you the results.
You go check your rankings, and we're still ranking…you can check it right now on your phone if you want to, but we're still ranking really well.
I've signed out, and we're ranking one and sometimes two for that keyword phrase term.
Like I said, at 11:30 next door I'm doing the tactic stuff.
If you want to get on my mailing list: firstname.lastname@example.org. I don't spam it. It's six times a year at the most. We're doing ecommerce seminars next year.
And like I said, at RobSnell.com I've got all this free stuff. I've got 17 tactical things I'm going to tell you if you come next door. And that's me.
Listen to the original MP3 of the SHOW:
THE OFFICIAL SHOW PAGE / EPISODE [MP3]
SHAWNA: Hello, hello, and welcome everybody! We have such a great show for you tonight. I am so excited about our guest. Let me tell you, you are going to have so much fun. OK, so if you're listening to our live show, today is Monday, February 7th. If you are not in our chatroom, you need to get in here. Just go to the top of WebmasterRadio.fm website. We have a great room of people in here. Let me tell you, the room is rocking. You can listen live, you can chat with friends, and really, you are going to have a great time, especially tonight.
Tonight you are going to have a very good time and you are going to learn so much. Let me tell you, you are going to learn so much, because our guest today loves to share education. And, you know, he's one of the few speakers that whenever I go and see him, I cannot write down notes fast enough. My hand hurts at the very end. My cheeks hurt because I'm laughing and smiling so much. He is just that awesome.
So please help me in welcoming our guest Rob Snell from Gun Dog Supply, from author of "Staring a Yahoo Business for Dummies", and also known as Sexiest Man of the Year. I cannot forget that! Hello Rob!
Rob: How are you doing?
Shawna: I am wonderful, wonderful. How are you?
Rob: Oh, I'm freezin' down here in Mississippi. It's like 42 degrees. I can't believe it.
Shawna: Oh, my gosh! 42 degrees! It's like negative something here in Michigan. Come on now!
Rob: I'm having to wear socks, you know?
Shawna: [laughs] I can't believe it. You're complaining about 40 degrees. That's crazy!
Rob: I know! Well how you been?
Shawna: So, you gotta tell me, what have you been doing lately? Because you have been doing some awesome speaking, and I've seen you in some great articles lately. So what's been going on lately?
Rob: I don't know. I've been doing a lot of speaking at some different shows. Coming up I'm doing something at PubCon with Brett in March, and then I'm speaking at Conversion Conference. Tim Ash has a great show that I went to as an attendee back three or four months ago, and then he invited me to speak. So I'm going to be doing that.
I've been writing for Search Engine Land. I've got a new column that comes out every four weeks called "Retail Smarts", and Elisabeth is cracking the whip on that. Having a good time with my fellow columnists.
I'm still doing stuff with Yahoo, and I'm still pimpin' my six year old "Dummies" book and having a good time. Selling some dog collars. [laughs]
Shawna: Wow, wow! I love it. But what's really great, though, is when you do these speaking engagements, you put so much into the education. I mean, you know, normally you've got these speakers and their slides are like 10 or 20, and you've got like 100.
Rob: Yeah. It's kinda like drinking from a fire hose, because, OK, they give me 30 minutes or 45 minutes if I've got a keynote, you know, to download everything in my brain than an online retailer needs to know in this very, very tight window. And I'm finally accepting the fact that, OK, maybe they'll invite me back, or maybe I'll be speaking at some other venues, so I don't have to tell everybody everything every time I speak.
So I'm doing a better job of... You know, I've only got like 112 slides in my current deck right now.
Shawna: Only 112. OK! Well we're going to pull all of that out in the next hour for our listeners, because we have a lot of people here so excited. I see Chris Malta [sp] even joined. Hello Mr. Malta!
All right. So what are the SEO mistakes that you're seeing that retailers are typically making time and time again?
Rob: Well, point it back at me a little bit. These are also mistakes that I have made in the past. I've been doing this online since '97, and I mean I really got into search engine optimization back in the HotBot, InfoSeek, Web Crawler days. You know, before Google even came on the scene.
And so, when I talk about mistakes the retailers make, I'm not pointing a finger at anybody. There are three fingers pointing back at me saying I've made these mistakes. But the main thing that I see folks make mistake-wise is retailers are not looking at the right numbers. When you're looking at your search engine optimization efforts for an online store, I think you need to look at revenue numbers, not just rankings. Not just traffic from Google, and Bing, and Yahoo. You need to look at what keywords and what pages are actually driving revenue to your online store and measure those pages and those keywords and focus on those and not get so caught up in the, "Hey, I'm not number one for this specific keyword phrase."
Shawna: Extremely important. And you even talk about you're doing like your navigation based upon revenue as well.
Shawna: I've heard you talk about that as well.
Rob: Yeah, it drives me nuts! You know, I'll have a keyword phrase that the revenue per visitors is $20 in sales. For every new person that comes to my website using this really specific keyword phrase, I get $20. And then I'll have another high traffic phrase that only generates 20 cents in revenue. And I see people concentrating on these higher traffic phrases, these more generic phrases... And I mean they can drive a lot of traffic to your site, and they will drive some revenue. But as an online retailer, you kinda gotta pick your battles. I mean there are only so many pages you can optimize in a day. There are only so many keywords that you can chase. And if you prioritize your life by revenue, you're going to do so much better.
Shawna: Mm-hmm. Now a great question that we're getting asked, and I think it's a great time to ask this too, is, Rob, what tool are you using for tracking conversions?
Rob: Well I'm running both Google Analytics and Yahoo Web Analytics on my Yahoo stores. My good buddy Mike over at Monitus has got this cool tool that integrates with Google Analytics to make it work on a Yahoo Store. And there's so much more information that he's able to provide that you can't just get out of either one of those packages. So that's why I run both Yahoo Web Analytics and Google Analytics.
But I got an email the other day right after I sent out the email about, "Hey, I've got this new article online at Search Engine Land," this new column, which is why we're talking. You know, somebody is like, "How do you track converting keywords?" And I was like, "Oh, my God! Do we still have to talk about this?"
You know, it's like you go in your analytics and you look at the keywords that are driving traffic to your store. And in Yahoo Web Analytics, you actually can pull a conversion report and show the converting keywords where you have a dollar amount that's tied to a specific keyword phrase. You can see how many people came to your website on which search engine for that specific keyword phrase.
And today, to think that people don't know how to track that, oh, it makes my head hurt, you know?
Shawna: Well, I think the problem is people, they go into Google Analytics, they go into Yahoo Analytics, and when you first go in there, it is overwhelming.
Rob: It is. It is.
Shawna: So it's like, yes, it's easy... I think we look at it and we're like, "Well, you just do this and it's real simple." But for somebody who's new or they're in their first couple of months, or even first time just going into the software itself, it's overwhelming! [laughs]
Rob: it is, it is. And it Google Analytics, you know, when you are looking at these reports, you can just click on that e-commerce tab, and if everything's set up right, you are going to see the dollar amount that applies to the keyword phrase.
But one of the things that you need to look at as a retailer, though, is how many visits does it take for somebody to come to your site and buy something? If you have a shorter buying cycle like I'd say 90% of the retailers I deal with, they're getting... a person comes to the website, 50% of the folks buy on the first visit, another 30% or 40% of the folks buy on the second or third visit. Your analytics package is actually going to do a really good job of keeping up with what that original keyword was that got somebody to your website the first time, and that tells you, "OK, well I need to optimize for these keyword phrases," because you could say that is the keyword phrase that generated the revenue for the sale.
Shawna: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. It's important that you're looking at this data because the data will help you make informed decisions. And I think that's what people need to understand, that you will make informed decisions.
So what metrics are you using to really measure your SEO, and how are you prioritizing which pages and keywords you need to focus on?
Rob: OK, well that's really good. The thing I used to look at back in the day was rankings. I used like WebPosition Gold back in the...
Shawna: Oh, yes! I remember! I used it too! [laughs]
Rob: I found a report from 1999 the other day, like in an old box, and it was just awesome to see all these old search engines that have kind of gone by the wayside. But, you know, that was the first thing. And a lot of people do that. They either hand check their results by going to a searching engine and typing in their keyword phrases, or they use some sort of automated keyword ranking position tracker.
And that's a good place to start. But if that's all you look at, you're really selling yourself short, because it's not just about rankings.
The second thing I say is go in and look at your analytics and look at your converting keyword phrases. And if you have a long buying cycle, if it takes people more than three or four visits on average to come to your store and buy something because you sell something that's got like a high price point or whatever, look at a different metric. Look at the amount of time that the visitor spends on the page. Time on site is a great metric that's parallel to conversions. If the average person for a converting keyword phrase is on your site for 20 minutes, then that's almost as good as a conversion for some folks.
And then, the other thing is once you drill down, you're going to see that some keywords are more valuable than others. And I look both at quality metrics as well as quantity metrics. You know, quantity is like how many visitors are coming to my website with this converting keyword phrase? But the quality side of the equation is how much revenue per visitor am I getting?
And so, I would much rather take a $20 or even a $10 revenue per visitor keyword phrase and build out content on that, build links on that, optimize the page for that, and maybe move up one or two spots than two obsess over some of these really broad one and two word phrases that I see a lot of people kinda getting stuck on, you know?
Shawna: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Absolutely, they're not doing them any good. All right. So, can you give us an overview of how you can optimize an online store? Because, you know, I'll be honest with you, I've been doing a lot of video reviews, and I'm sorry if this totally messes up your numbers. But when I start doing a huge thing content, about content, I always like to use your store as an example because...
Rob: Oh, you're killing me!
Shawna: I mean you really know how to do it and... You know, the content on your site is absolutely amazing.
Rob: OK, I think it's pretty good. I don't think it's amazing. I think we do an adequate job. And in our industry, I think we're one of the top retailers in the hunting dog supply niche as far as creating stuff. I really appreciate that. But we're still... you know, we look at our site and we go, "Ah, man, we got so much work to do." Steve and I were just talking about that a minute ago.
And every time I do an interview or have an article come out, it always just kills me because I get all this traffic to the website that totally screws my numbers up for the day. [laughs] So hopefully we're not testing anything this second. Hopefully Whittaker's going to pull back on the handle because he knows I'm on the radio today.
But one thing that I didn't get to a second ago as far as like when you're looking at your numbers, I had a really good buddy of mine, he probably gets five to 10 times the traffic we do on his website. He's not a client. He's just like a fellow Yahoo Store owner. He's a great SEO.
But when the Mayday update happened last year, he lost 15%-20% of his traffic. And he emailed me, and I covered this in the article, and what we kinda came up with changed the way I look at my SEO metrics.
And he was losing 15%-20% of his traffic from the shift with the Mayday algo change, because it seemed like big brands were picking up on keywords phrases where the modifiers weren't even on their page. Like Google was going, "OK, well this has got a brand term in it. I'm going to throw it to the manufacturer, not to a retailer who happens to have a well optimized page."
He had 5,000 of his best converting keywords and he, I'm assuming, automated and checked the rankings on these, and overall he lost no positions. You know, his rankings were still real solid, but yet he lost 15%-20% of his traffic.
And what we were able to figure out was most of the traffic loss was on long-tail terms that he wouldn't see because they are really, really specific keyword phrases that not a lot of folks are looking at.
And we changed the way we looked at SEO metrics. Instead of keywords, and instead of looking at visitors to a site using keywords, we actually used entry pages from Google. And so on his site, we measured the number of pages that had received Google traffic both before and after Mayday, and we were able to see what pages actually lost traffic. And from that we were able to figure out what to do, which was you want to beef up the pages, the links pointing to those pages, and sometimes you gotta cut ‘em loose. If a page isn't performing for you, you don't want to spend a whole bunch of time on it.
But we found out that most of the traffic loss that he had was from these longer tailed phrases, more obscure, and most of those were not converting. So it really didn't hurt him too bad in Mayday. And ever since then, Steve and I have been looking at the entry pages from Google, and that's a good way to measure your online store and say, "OK, what pages should I be working on?" And instead of working on all your pages, focus on the pages that are in Google now that are driving you both traffic and conversions, if that makes sense.
Shawna: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Absolutely. All right, so here's the thing, though. We know how important it is... And maybe we should do a quick break before we get into this, because I know that this is going to be a long answer. So actually, let's do that. Let's go ahead and take a real quick break. And don't go anywhere, because we've got some more great stuff. Like I tell ya', Rob Snell gives out the goods when he comes on. And that's why it's always best if you see him at a conference, go check him out. You gotta do this every time. You see an article, go read it.
But right now we're going to take a real quick break. Don't go anywhere. You're listening to eCom Experts on WebmasterRadio.fm.
Shawna: Welcome back everyone, and we are here with Mr. Rob Snell. Not only the Sexiest Man Alive... yeah, it's true. Go look him up. [laughs] But also, author of "Starting a Yahoo Small Business for Dummies", and also with Gun Dog Supply, and speaker, and gosh, Congress too, am I right?
Rob: Yep. I'm running for Congress. No, just kidding.
Shawna: No! You spoke in front of... did something.
Rob: I did. I testified on our behalf, for all search marketers, telling Congress to leave their grubby paws off of search marketing. It's working just fine. Just don't mess with it.
Shawna: Yes, don't mess with it. OK, so here's a question for you, and I know you've got good answers about this. And we're talking a lot about this all week long on Webmaster Radio. We were talking about this last week on eCom experts about content. Content, content, content. Google makes another algorithm change having to do with content.
How can online store owners create that compelling content and unique content?
Rob: Basically, download your brain into your online store. As a retailer, you know more about what you sell than your customers ever will. And you forget how many cool things you know about that solve people's problems.
My brother does a great job of this. He basically says, "What are people emailing me asking about that the website's not doing a good job of educating them about? OK, I need to make a paragraph about that, or I need to write a review about that specific problem or that specific solution and put that on the website."
And one thing that we do sometimes is we'll go around the warehouse and we'll start with our bestselling product, and we'll say, "OK, what about this product does a customer need to do know to know that it's going to solve their problem, so that if they buy this from us, this is going to make their problem go away?"
And we'll outline that, and from that we'll get ideas for reviews, from that we'll get ideas for buyer's guides, we'll get ideas, you know, can you demonstrate it? It's awesome to be able to make a little 30 second product video. We get a lot of traffic on the view videos that we do have on Gun Dog. We get a lot of traffic to those videos and a lot of conversions on the pages where you have a product that you can demo. When you have a video you're going to have a much higher conversion rate.
Shawna: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And I know that you sit with your brother and ask him all kinds of questions.
Rob: I do, I do. I lock him in the room and I won't let him take a smoke break or go pee until he finishes his content.
Rob: And, you know, that's just what it is. We turn the tape recorder on and we just start talking. I ask dumb questions. I ask him questions, because I am not a dog training expert. I am not a hunting expert. I have a dog, but I am not a dog expert. And so I can ask him questions that he just rolls his eyes sometimes and says, "I can't believe you're asking me this."
But, you know, I grew up in the family. I went hunting one time. It was, you know, 15 degrees. We got cold and wet. I'm like, "I want to go sit in the truck and eat sausage biscuits."
Rob: "I don't understand this get up at four o'clock in the morning and go out in the freezing cold. You know, we could go by Wendy's and pick up a chicken sandwich", you know? And so the family decided pretty early on like, "OK, well Rob's not going to be the huntin' brother, so maybe he's got some other skills."
And fortunately for me, I got the marketing gene and the creative graphic design guy gene.
Shawna: Uh-huh! [laughs]
Rob: But, you know, it's like we... when it comes to creating content, you have to be the expert. And if you're not the expert, you probably have somebody working at your office who is a product knowledge expert, and you need to download their brain. And if you don't have that person, you don't need to be selling stuff online if you don't know a lot about what you're selling.
Shawna: Very, very true. You know, we talk to people and it's so interesting, because it's like, "Well, what are you selling?" And then for a long time there it was wedding favors, because they were listening to somebody or learning from somebody who was so successful selling wedding favors, and they were going to be successful selling wedding favors too. But yet, they knew nothing about wedding favors. But they were going to be that successful.
Rob: Yeah. And, you know, Steve and I were talking today about getting into another product line, and I was like, "Do we really want to get into that? Do we have street cred on this specific new thing?" And we decided that we didn't. And so I think we tabled that.
So you want to be real... I talk a lot about Gun Dog Supply and that we sell training supplies for hunting dogs, and that we sell dog tracking collars and dog training collars. And sometimes I'm going, "Man, I'm giving way too much of this info away."
But the reality is that these are very low margin products. And I'm not that worried about my competitors figuring out what I'm doing. Because if you look on my website, you can see what I'm doing. And if you're a super SEO... and there's some people in the chatroom who scare the hell out of me SEO wise. They're knowledge compared to mine... I mean there's some SEO geniuses in there right now—people that I go to PubCon to listen to them speak about SEO.
I'm not an SEO; I'm a retailer who does SEO. I'm not worried about those guys coming in because, like I said, the margins on these things are so small. It just happens to be the business that I grew up in and that my family was in—selling training supplies for huntin' dogs.
I mean they'll make a lot more money with, you know, mortgage loans. You know, the cost-per-click and the total traffic going to some of these sites, I mean this is a really, really, really small niche. Hunting dog training supplies is a small niche inside the slightly larger niche of dog training supplies. And so, that's one of the reasons why I can give away a lot of this information.
But you were talking earlier about creating content. We've had over $10 million in additional sales... and it's closer to like $12 or $13 million now since the last time I ran these numbers. Over $10 million in additional sales, since my dad passed away and my brother and I took over the company and changed the way we sold online, just by increasing our trust online with our customers, establishing rapport, and writing all this compelling content. And it's really, really good for SEO.
And I throw that number out there and people are just like, "Oh, my gosh!" But, you know, over six or seven years in sales, that's not that much compared to most medium sized businesses. But it's enough that retailers need to be serious about and come up with a content creation plan.
Shawna: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Now we've got a couple of great questions in our chatroom here, especially talking about Yahoo Stores. Does Google rank more off the Description field, Content, or Caption field content? Because browsers can't see the Description field content on category product pages. Great questions about the Yahoo Store. It's a great question, and something that the Description field hasn't always been there.
Rob: And it depends. It depends, are you using the version 3 templates out of the box, or are you getting somebody like Shawna or another Yahoo Store developer to customize your templates? You know, where are they putting that code?
And so, for us, I have, on my category pages, which I call section pages, but it seems like everybody in e-commerce calls them category pages, I make sure that I have 300-500 words of unique content in addition to my thumbnails and links of the products in that category. You want to have content on those pages.
But for me it's the Title tag. Whatever is generating the Title tag of your page, to me, if you had to pick one tag on a Yahoo Store, that is the most important tag. And in most Yahoo Stores that's either the Name field or the Page-Title field. Does that make sense?
Shawna: Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And for those brand new, out of the box stores, you know, that Description field is supposed to be for that meta tag description, but it really doesn't tell store owners that in a clear and concise way. It's kind of confusing the way that they put that in there.
Now, Mary Geek has a great question as well, although Mary Geek has to call me Shawna from now on instead of Jackie. I love you. I'm sorry, but you gotta say the right name, though. I love you!
All right. So, "My wife and I own a small wedding videography business. Can you ask Rob if the strategy is any different for a service-based business?"
Rob: Actually, it is, because with a product-based business, you know, you're going to have shopping keywords. And so, if you're not in Google Products... In the past year, I've noticed on most of our queries now, especially the really specific shopping keywords, Google's pulling either three or five thumbnails from Google Shopping and either listing a specific retailer's product or that one SKU for all the retailers who sell it.
So if you used to have like a number four or number five listing on a keyword phrase, you were OK. On a normal browser's screen you were within the first screenshot of results. But now, because of the changes that Google's made to its layout, they'll have three pay-per-click ads above the first organic, and then you'll have like the first two or three organic listings, and then you'll have the shopping results, and then maybe below that the video results. And so number four or five, you're pushed way down the page.
And so there is a big difference between optimizing for a shopping business and a service-based business just from that alone.
Shawna: Absolutely. So, all right. What do you recommend that retailers do first when it comes to SEO? Because that's a big question. It's like, "OK, I've got my store open. What do I do now?"
Rob: Well I would say if you are a brand new retailer and you have absolutely no idea what your converting keywords are, you better get a Kevlar vest, and a bulletproof helmet, and a big machine gun, because, I mean, you are wading into a battle to get your pages ranked. You need to pick one really small sub-niche of your products and say, "OK, well I'm an expert about this really specific group of products. I'm going to develop some content about this specific group of products. I'm going to features these products on the homepage. I'm going to go out and build links to these interior pages using the keywords that folks are using to buy what I sell." And not focus on 50,000 different keyword phrases, focus on 10 different keyword phrases.
And the same thing applies to existing retailers; folks who already have an online store. You need to look in your analytics and see what subcategory pages and what category pages buckets of keywords around a specific group of products are driving the majority of your site's traffic and revenue. And from that you can get ideas for creating buyer's guides for every single category in your site. If it's generating any revenue at all, it needs a buyer's guide. Every single product launch, every time a new manufacturer comes out with a new product line, and a lot of folks launch products every single year, you need to write a buyer's guide and a review of this year's products and put that on your website.
Does that answer both of those questions?
Shawna: It does. And it all comes back around to good, solid content. Content, content, content.
Rob: Yeah, and you prioritize your content based upon the revenue that it generates for your company. And somebody posted in the chatroom a good thing: "Or the revenue that you think it should generate based upon the volume of traffic and the interest that that keyword phrase gets."
So you can sometimes, you know, kinda build something for anticipating an increase in search engine optimization traffic for a new product line.
Shawna: Absolutely. OK. Let's do this. Let's go ahead and take another real quick break. And if you have more questions for Rob, post them in our chatroom. You guys are asking really great questions. I love the questions you're asking, so let's keep it going and learn some more about SEO and e-commerce, because those two things got to go together! All right, don't go anywhere. You're listening to eCom Experts on WebmasterRadio.fm.
Shawna: Welcome back everyone. We're here with Rob Snell, GunDogSupply.com. And we've got some great questions in our chatroom. All right. So let's start with a question from JLM, who wants to know, "At what point does Google penalize for repeating keywords. For example, when I'm putting in a phrase matching long-tails on a product, I might put bullets like ‘GPS carjacking, GPS dog tracking, GPS fleet tracking, etc."
Rob: I don't know why they're asking me, because I'm not Google. You know what I mean? And anybody who tells you exactly what Google is going to do, you know, either they are a former employee or something like that or they're making stuff up.
But, I mean, there are some things that are... You don't want to repeat keywords over, and over, and over again, especially if you have overlapping keyword phrases, like one of those is GPS. The modifiers in there... let me scroll up. Hold on. I was looking at it in the chatroom and it then it scrolled off the screen.
But basically, if you already have "GPS Tracking" in there, if you're going after long-tail terms, you don't need the "buy cheap Garmin GPS tracking for hounds". You wouldn't need to repeat the phrase in there if all of those little nuggets were repeated somewhere on the page, if that makes sense.
Shawna: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And you bring up an excellent point that nobody knows for sure what Google is going to do, and they're not talking. You know, you see all these interviews where people are desperately trying to pull this information out of Google whenever they're interviewing. You see it with Matt Cutts. You see it when they're trying to talk with Mr. Page. You know, and it's like they're constantly asking these questions, and they're not giving it up, because then, of course, spammers are going to use that information and they're trying to keep some of that.
But I think what really helps is to look at your content and to read it out loud. And I think that that's extremely important. Because when you read it out loud and you feel like you're stumbling and repeating words way too often, you know, [laughs] you know you've gone too far.
Rob: Yeah. And if it's not in the way normal people talk, visitors aren't going to be able to read it anyway. That's a really, really good rule of thumb to use. You just need to pay attention to what these guys say that they're going to ban you for. I mean, you know, in my book I say you need to buy links because buying links works. But links with the exact anchor text that you want. And then, you know, two, three years later they come out against paid links, saying that if you do that and you get caught, they're going to take you to Google jail.
And, you know, so you don't want to do that. You don't want to do things that are against their terms of service if you're not willing to live with what they say they're willing to do to you if they catch you breaking them.
But I gotta be honest. I mean I have had... I know of some competitors of mine who have passed hand checks for doing things that I would never ever, ever think about doing. You know? I mean they're doing like widget spam, they have multiple splog networks where they basically take an article and they spin it and they put it on five or six different Wordpress blogs from domains that they reclaimed when somebody forgot to renew their domain, and they're old domains. They bought a website that had absolutely nothing to do with what they're selling and now they're repurposing it into an online store.
And I know for a fact that these have gotten hand checked by the powers that be and they passed. And so it tells me that sometimes maybe we're not pushing hard enough in what we're doing. But I'm so afraid of getting shot that I am going to keep... Projects that are making my mortgage payment, you know, I'm not going to push them too hard.
Shawna: You know, what I think is very interesting, though, is you do have... I like to say SEO is like dieting—you keep seeing these fads like the South Beach diet or the Atkins diet. And there's all these fads—buying links, not buying links, no follow links, follow links, page link sculpting. I mean these are fads just like there are in diets.
But really, if you stick to the main parts... Just like dieting, if you eat less, work out more...
Rob: And exercise more...
Shawna: You're going to lose weight.
Rob: Yeah. I mean it's the same thing. There's some guys in the chatroom and they're saying some very valid things about Matt Cutts saying things to throw off the spammers. But the reality is, for most of the folks that I'm talking to, the online retailers, not superhero SEO's, not the super ninja guys who are competing in super, super, super competitive niches, for most online retailers, the things that he has to say, it's very much true.
It's like you need to create compelling content, a reason for folks to come to your site and look at what you have to offer. And then you need to have competitive enough prices and give good customer service to where you have a good online reputation so you can convert those visitors into buyers and build a relationship with them and keep on selling them stuff from now until the end of time.
And he has a lot of good articles on creating content. I actually did a transcription on my site of a thing he did... I can't remember if it's at Blog World. I had one of my transcription guys actually type it up it was so good. It was basically 17 different things you need to do to get your blog to rank. And most of that content applied to online stores, which is why I stuck it on RobSnell.com, where I've got a bunch of other free content for online retailers.
Shawna: That was the URL I was going to ask you for! Thank you! I couldn't remember which site you had it on. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Rob: Yeah, we've got links in there to all the stuff that he talked about. And basically, I can read so much faster than I can listen to a video. If you go to my site and then the search box, I think you can search for "Matt Cutts" at RobSnell.com. It will come right up. Yeah, yeah, the first one...
Shawna: Straight from Google what you need to know?
Rob: Yeah. That's got the video, so you can play that, but it's also got the transcription. And I marked it up pretty good, so it's pretty easy to read.
But in that, I don't think there's anything that he's telling people that's trying to trick folks or throw SEO's off the scent of what they're doing. But at the same time, you need to take everything that somebody who works at a search engine says with a grain of salt. I mean it is coming from somebody who doesn't want to give away the keys to the kingdom to some of these super ninjas over here in the chatroom who, you know, they're looking for loopholes and they're really smart dudes.
I mean, you know, these folks are some of the smartest folks I've ever had the pleasure of hanging out with. And I mean there are all kinds of things you can do. And Google is always fighting the evil folks, the Black Hat folks, but there is stuff that kinda in between Black Hat and White Hat. And it just really depends on your comfort level and are you willing to deal with getting banned.
I mean I've been doing this for 13 years. I've had probably close to 200 domains that I've done stuff for that we've owned, and I've only gotten banned once, and that was when YStore.com got banned from Yahoo, believe it or not.
Rob: About nine years ago, yeah. I put some affiliate links on there...
Shawna: [laughs] We won't even go into that! We won't go there!
Shawna: That's ridiculous. You know, absolutely ridiculous. Especially because you used it to help educate Yahoo Store owners.
Rob: Yeah, you would think. But the people at Yahoo Search are not the people at Yahoo Stores. So I'm sure that's what the problem was.
Shawna: Yeah, well... But, you know, this is so important though, because like dieting, there are so many store owners that want to go to their local vitamin shop or GNC and say, "Give me a magic pill that's going to help me lose 50 pounds by next week, because I have a reunion to go to."
Rob: Retailers don't need to be cheap. If you are only willing to pay $500 a month for an SEO, you deserve what you get! I've got a revenue share deal with several folks that I do the SEO for, and so I get paid based on the amount of revenue that comes from search engines, and from pay-per-click, and from email marketing to their websites. You gonna pay for what you get, but you get what you pay for, if that makes sense.
Shawna: Absolutely. All right. Let's go ahead and ask another great question, because this one is really, really good, and I think I understand what he's asking. "How does Rob use the keyword space and description space in the Yahoo Store editor?" And I think, more importantly, what you're being asked is do you use meta description and meta keywords with your Yahoo Store?
Rob: Absolutely. I try to handwrite a meta description for, say, my top 200 pages on a Yahoo Store, mainly because those are the words that will appear, those are the phrases that appear when somebody does a search on Google in the snippet, most of the time, if the keywords that the customer is looking for are in your meta description, it will actually show the content from your meta description. So it's really important to write a nice snippet there to entice people to go ahead and click on through to your website.
So as far as the meta description, it depends on how your Yahoo Store is set up. But I believe in the Version 3 off the shelf the description field generates that tag for you.
As far as the keywords field go, I still do that. You know, back from [xx 44:26] school back in the day. I still do that, but I don't think anybody's using the keyword field anymore. So, I mean, that may just be an old... you know, it's my gills and my tail from the dinosaur days showing up.
Shawna: Yeah, I still leave mine in there and put them in there too. And, you know, it's nothing overboard. It's usually only maybe two or three keyword phrases in there. It's very focused, you know, because we want to try to focus, focus, focus. But, you know, I don't know. It's dinosaur days as well. I'm just thinking maybe, just maybe, they're looking at it.
We've got people talking about they hate writing product descriptions. You know what? You've just gotta do it. Write five a day. Five a day.
Rob: Yeah. Take a product and go, "What are three things that a consumer needs to know about this product to make a decision on whether or not this product is going to solve their problem?" I've got a list of over 200 questions that's kind of my top secret gravy, sauce, whatever that Steve and I will run a product through. And, you know, you'll see it on my slides sometimes; in some of my presentations I talk about some of the things that are in there.
But basically, you walk a retailer... this is the SEO in me talking... you walk your retailer through each product starting with your bestselling products. Don't start at the A's, start at your bestselling product and work your way down the list, and say, "What are three things I need to know about this product?"
And once you get that guy talking, you can tape it. You know, you take that digital recording of that and you send it to somebody to type it up in a transcription. And then you pop that into your caption field in your Yahoo Store and boom, you've got unique content on that product page.
Shawna: And if you can't afford transcription, there's these recorders now that come with Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Rob: Absolutely. Half my Dummies book was written on, you know, five years ago with Dragon Naturally Speaking. And today it's tons better than it was back then, which is a fantastic way to generate unique content.
But unique content alone is not enough. I got an email today from somebody freaking out. You know, half their Google traffic's gone from January of last year. And they have all these theories about why they think it's happening. And they're saying, "Well maybe it's the Yahoo Store IP addresses, or it's the lack of document type, it's not updated, it's not the most current version of the document... "
It's not. Google's not getting to those pages that are deep, deep, deep, deep down in their site because they don't have enough links pointing to the homepage. They don't have enough PageRank on their site to trickle down to their deep, deep, deep pages.
And so you have to make decisions when you're a retailer, what are you going to emphasize in your navigation? How are you going to structure your site to where the PageRank gets to the most important pages?
And the best way I've found to do that is called Revenue Based Navigation. You know, you look on my site and you'll see the run-of-site navigation is pointing to the categories and subcategories that generate the most revenue. And I don't care if Aaron's Aardvarks is the manufacturer, they're not going to appear in my sidebar at the top unless they're generating 1% of my sales or more. And so that's just a real easy way to decide what's going to get links on my site.
Another ting, Shawna, that we did is we took our bestselling products and we made like a bestsellers page. And I don't do this on Gun Dog as much as I used to, but on my newer sites, I'll take their top 100 bestselling IDs and dump them in a content field that's one click off the homepage. And sometimes I'll even put in my run-of-site navigation. So that's just another way to...
Shawna: To help bring it up.
Shawna: OK. Mary Geek, I think, had an "ah-ha" moment, I think, in our chatroom. I don't know if you noticed this, but he says, "I'm assuming that selling fewer products via dropshipping or whatever with good internal and external linking and good product descriptions is better rather than having thousands and thousands of products."
Rob: Yeah, I don't know. I mean we dropship some products. I'm too much of a control freak and I'm an old-school retailer. I grew up in retailer. You know, I mean we have a 12,000 square foot warehouse to where we have the product in hand so when somebody calls me at 3:55 and I know UPS is coming in 10 minutes, I can get that $99 order out the door.
But we use probably four or five different dropshippers as our backup so when we're out of stock on something, and that's awesome, the fact that you don't have to buy inventory, the fact that somebody else is... you know, they're charging you for it, but they're actually maintaining the warehouse and the person is able to stick that in a box. I mean dropshipping is a very viable way of doing retail.
As far as focusing on a product niche, I think you should focus as tight as you can. You can't be all things to all people. There's no way that I could ever launch something that could compete with an Amazon where you've got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of products. And why would you need to? You know, I live in Mississippi. I don't need that much. I don't have to sell billions of dollars worth of stuff to be able to make it. You know, I think retailers should focus on what their area of expertise is, because there's only so much value you can add to a finite number of products.
Shawna: Absolutely. And you see these stores, you know, new people where they think they have to sell... "Oh, I can put 50,000 products in, so I'm going to put 49,000." And, "There's no way I can do this, but I have to sub-divide everything, so we're going to have categories that go eight deep, and there's the product. But hey, I've got 50,000 products and it should work."
Rob: Right. And that drives me nuts. Oh, I've been dealing with those folks since Yahoo Stores came online. You know, I seem to get one a month. And I know you deal with probably a hundred times that many folks.
But I think even with dropshipping you can find a niche inside one of these dropshippers, something that you know a lot about, and you can use keyword tools to find out if there's enough demand online for you to be able to make a living selling this kind of stuff.
Shawna: Absolutely. And now, another quick question that we had. I think you already answered it, but what about affiliate marketing? How do you feel about that?
Rob: I used to do pretty well back in the Yahoo Directory days, which that tells you a little bit about how long I've been doing this. I could make a site that would rank really, really well on the Yahoo Directory just off the Yahoo Directory listing. And I wasn't making a living off it, but I was making really good beer money off of all my affiliate sites back in the day.
And then when Google came around, it seemed to be like the tricks weren't working as much. And that's when I switched over to, "OK, I actually have to be creating great content." And like we were saying earlier, it's like if you don't have anything that you can add, if you're just using tricks to rank or temporary loopholes in Google, you better watch out because it's like things shift back and forth so much. I think when you do more generic, White Hat, vanilla optimization built around great content, things don't shift around as much.
Shawna: And I think also, like for somebody like you, this is you and your family's main source of income...
Shawna: You know, this is it. This is your baby. And so you don't have room to play.
Rob: Right. And there's not enough time in the day. Steve was pitching me on this new thing that he was wanting to get into. And it's like if he gets into that as a hobby, then I think we have enough street cred for us to do it. But I'm not going to just sell something that's somewhat related to hunting and what we do... I just don't have enough bandwidth to do what we did on Gun Dog Supply over the past 13 years in another brand new niche where we don't really have a lot... We're not exactly sure what folks are looking for.
Shawna: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And I think people need to understand that as well for themselves. [laughs] Know what you're getting into. And don't get into a new store just because you heard that it's doing well for somebody else.
Rob: Or just because your keyword research shows you that, you know, "Gosh, they're paying $10 a click and there are 50,000 people a month searching for this keyword phrase." You know, you just gotta be real careful and put your baby toe in there.
But at the same time, you also don't want all your eggs in one basket. And so, I'm a little nervous sometimes based on... We get 80% of our organic traffic from Google, which is about right percentage wise, but still, it's so much traffic that when Google is jumping all around, you get a little nervous. And so I'm fortunate enough that we have two or three different businesses... I mean, you know, we sell dog supplies, but we also sell a whole bunch of other stuff, some through the Yahoo Store stuff. We have local businesses that have absolutely nothing to do with the Internet. So if the Internet goes away, we've taken some of our profits from the Internet and actually used that to beef up our brick-and-mortar businesses.
And I advise all my retailers, "Don't be dependent on any one channel, any one supplier, any one keyword, any one search engine." It's just good business to diversify.
Shawna: Absolutely. I think that is what we really need to understand. I think we've got time for one more question, so I'm going to go ahead and get Ryan's question. "Could you ask Rob what he looks for when choosing a revenue sharing relationship with a merchant?"
Rob: Yeah, somebody who will let me sleep till noon and won't call and wake me up. [laughs]
Shawna: Perfect answer.
Rob: Somebody's who's aware of my lifestyle... And I've only got two or three really, really solid revenue share clients right now, mainly just from I don't have that much time in the day and I'm not looking to develop a huge staff to do tons and tons and tons of work. That's one of the reasons why I do a lot of teaching is because I feel guilty when people say, "Hey, can you work for me?" I'm like, "No, I'm kinda retired these days."
But I think you can partner with other good SEOs. There are good SEOs here in the chatroom. There's some Yahoo Store developers I know that do revenue share agreements with folks. You know, just poke around and ask. But you want a relationship. You don't want this to be something that you do with somebody that you've only swapped emails with or you know that they have a website. You want a relationship with a developer.
Go to trade shows. If you're an SEO, go meet the manufacturer. Go meet the retailer. If you are a retailer, go to SES, go to SMX, go to PubCon, go to Conversion Conference and meet the people that you are going to be doing this with. And then, you know, you develop a relationship over a few months and all of a sudden, wham, you know, you may have something that's working.
Shawna: Absolutely wonderful. Rob, once again you just light up all of our lives and give us such great education. And I'm being told by Beth to please bring you back a lot.
Rob: [laughs] Cool! Thanks Beth!
Rob: No, don't buy me a beer. Buy me a Diet Coke and a Honeybun! If you see me at a show, that's what I need, you know?
Shawna: [laughs] Yeah. Yeah, you need to not wait so long before you come back to us.
Rob: Yes, ma'am. You just give me a holler and let me know. I'm trying to work about four days a week now. I'm trying not to work on the weekends, trying to take more vacation...
Shawna: Trying not to work so much.
Rob: I'm getting old! You know? I'm getting old! I don't want to burn out.
Shawna: Oh, don't say that! Don't say that because I'm like right behind you. So don't say that.
Rob: Oh, man! I know these kids, these whipper-snappers who are coming up, you know, these billionaire teenagers. I'm like, "Oh, man, I'm into this 25 years now."
My Twitter feed is at RobSnell.com. I rarely tweet, but when I do it's usually a pretty good link.
Shawna: It is, it is. And make sure you go to SearchEngineLand.com. Check out his new articles he's writing. They're absolutely phenomenal. I've got one right here I'm going to put into the chatroom. You can go to on Twitter it's RobSnell. And tomorrow on our blog at blog.onechoiceforyourstore.com, I will have links to all kinds of good stuff, all Rob, all day, all the time. And also, we'll put up the links for the rebroadcast of the show.
So thank you everybody for being here. Really appreciate it. Don't forget to sign up for the New Life Event, NewLifeEvent.com. It's the end of the month. 30 webinars, one weekend, and it's all free. All free, 30 webinars, one weekend, end of February. So sign up for that and I will see you all next Monday at 6 PM Eastern, 3 PM Pacific. Bye everybody!
Also see how we do e-commerce optimization and what's new in SEO for E-Commerce Sites...
All right. We’re going to go ahead and get started. How ya’ll doing? Thank ya’ll for coming to our solo sessions. My name is Rob Snell. How many folks were in the SEO session just a little while ago? All right, cool. I’m about to drop some pretty serious knowledge here, stuff we picked up over the past 13 years that’s worked to actually generate revenue for us. I have 200 slides.
I promise all this information will be available somewhere on my website. Sign up on my newsletter list. I don’t sell a whole bunch of stuff. We’re probably going to do some classes in 2011. But that’s the best way. If you can’t find something on my website, just email me and I’ll email you the slides or the URL. I’ve got all this stuff up in PowerPoint presentations.
This is my four hour class in 30 minutes. Ya’ll ready?
All right. I wrote a book, which is basically Yahoo Store for Dummies. The content in there is pretty old. If you come up afterwards, I’m giving away all those books so I don’t have to take them back to the room. Thanks to Wiley [sp] for donating some books. So if you want a free book that’s got some pretty good information in it but is a little dated, come up and see me.
I’ve been on Yahoo Store as a retailer since 1997. Yahoo Store saved my family’s business. PetSmart moved in across the street. We took a 50% hit. Mom’s freaking out, says, "Get me on the Internet." I said, "Mom, the Internet’s nothing but porn." She’s like, "All right. Let’s get into porn!"
I’m like, "Mom!"
We had some weird queries coming to our Yahoo Store on our keyword phrases. She’s like, "What are these weird…what does BDSM stand for?" I’m like, "I don’t know."
"People that pretend that they’re their dogs, they’re making dog collars for these folks." My mom’s a unique individual. She’s very practical about the dollar bill.
GunDogSupply.com is our website. I got a lot of background on RobSnell.com if you want to read our story or whatever. But you don’t have to know that to know what I’m talking about today.
The first half is create compelling content. This drove half of that $10 million increase in sales that we had above our additional growth.
Steve has 16 dogs. I talked about this a little bit yesterday in my conversion rate shopping cart optimization panel. You want to talk about a lot of content, I mean Steve is out there in the morning scooping up poop in the kennels. I mean the dogs sometimes come to work. He has a truck that looks like Battlestar Galactica with all those little bays on it where all the dogs go.
My baby brother Steve texted me a minute ago and asked me to tell ya’ll howdy. Sorry he couldn’t be here. He made it for my keynote at PubCon.
There he is with Izzy out in the field in Texas.
There’s some of his Brittany’s. He uses dogs all over our website to generate content. He writes about what he does with the dogs, what our customers do. He has the same relationship with his dogs that most of our customers have. They love their dogs, they take care of their dogs. For us, the dogs are more like athletes than family pets.
Here’s Lucy, his worthless Cocker Spaniel his wife made him buy.
We put our dogs all over the website. We put the content that we generate about these dogs all over the website. Google loves content.
I actually got a redneck to blog. I was talking about this yesterday. He’s got an app on his phone. He’ll actually blog in his little WordPress blog while he’s out in the field in Texas in between covey rises when he’s hunting. And he actually texted me a minute ago saying he hadn’t got his blogs done yet, but it’s just getting to be the start of hunting season.
He blogs about the types of products that we sell. He’ll take an editorial stand. He’ll piss off the manufacturers by telling what’s wrong with their products. They keep sending him prototypes so he can break them and basically give them free consulting. So we have a really good idea of what’s going on in the industry. A lot of people read Steve’s content just to find out what’s going on in the hunting dog supply business. Which, you know, it’s like pets—hunting dogs—hunting dog supply. So it’s a really, really tiny niche, but we do all right with it in Mississippi.
We are a Yahoo Store. We are not a magazine. But we have a content portal…Oh, I hate that word. I just throw all of Steve’s articles into this page right here. You know, his reviews, his buyer’s guides, his editorials, a link to his website. Any of the content that’s not product specific winds up in this page right here.
I was just telling you over there that this page actually contributes more…Paul, what is it, revenue participation on Yahoo Analytics? Than any other page. They’re not coming in on this page, but when you go this page and they see Steve’s an expert, they’re like, "Wow, OK." That actually builds credibility and trust and causes them to buy on the website.
I mentioned this yesterday, but I’ll hit it again. This is the best thing we ever did. If you only walk away from my 30 minutes today with one thing, it’s create a buyer’s guide, something to walk the folks who don’t necessarily know what they need from the different solutions that you sell. Tell them what to buy with a buyer’s guide. You know, walk them through the different feature sets. Talk to them like they’re a person.
We had a 50% higher conversion rate on people who actually enter Gun Dog Supply on a buyer’s guide page than people who enter on a category or section page. That’s a big deal. If you get a 50% bump just by changing the content on the entry page, I mean that’s a no-brainer.
And here’s an example of one of the new buyer’s guides we’re launching. We’re actually doing what we should be doing, which is comparison charts.
Express opinions in product reviews. Hopefully you, as a retailer, are a product knowledge expert. If you are not, you better have somebody working for you who is, someone who has an opinion of the products, somebody in the warehouse, one of your operations dudes. Somebody in your company is an expert. You need to make sure they’re helping create content.
Here’s an example of a 2008 review. Steve just rewrote this, but I like the pictures on this one better. You can see Steve there in his skeeting outfit. He put on about 50 pounds after that photo was taken. He just took it off, too. I’m going to kick his butt.
All right. These are very text heavy reviews. It’s not just one little snippet of text. These are for the people who actually want to drill down into the products that we sell and find out every single little thing about them. Steve talks about all the different features. He talks about what he likes about it, what he doesn’t like about it, ideas for improvements.
How do you make all this content? Well, the secret is, it’s hard work. It’s a lot of hard work. We started off in the catalogue business, and this was back in ’96 before we even know about Yahoo Store, or the Internet, or anything like that. And we decided to make our catalogue pages have as much content as we thought a customer needed to have to actually buy the product instead of just having a thumbnail and very brief description and a price like most paper catalogues. We actually used a lot of paper to do this.
And we lost our shirts on this catalogue right here. My dad was freaking out. But when we took the same information and put it online, InfoSeek, HotBot, Excite, I don’t know if any of you guys are old enough to know what those things are, we were actually driving a lot of traffic with search engines to our website.
The way we created this text, though, is we interview folks. And then we transcribe the audio into text. I got a guy in Alabama who does my transcriptions for me. I’m taping this right now, probably without Brett’s permission. He’ll bless it later, though. And I get my guy in Alabama to type this up. I’ll email him an MP3 file as soon as I get off here, and by this afternoon he will have it typed up.
Now, I pay full retail for that, but I like knowing actually what I said, because I’m not even exactly sure what I’m going to say when I hit the next button down here.
I interview Steve, who is the expert, and I call it stupid questions. I’m like, "All right, well how do you teach a dog how to sit?" And Steve will look at me like I’m an idiot, and then he’ll kind of explain like he would to a small child, maybe, what he goes through when he’s training a dog how to sit. And we do than on every single little thing about the products that we sell.
Take your best products, your top 100 best sellers, and play what I call "20 Questions".
You can’t really see this from there. This is really more like 200 questions. I’m going to read some of this. This is awesome:
"What problems does it solve? What is the primary purpose of this product? What else is it used for? Is it a need or a want? What are the top three features I need to know about? What are the benefits of those features? Is it used during specific seasons? Is it a good gift? Is this the perfect gift for the duck hunter? It is a perfect groomsman’s gift, conciliation prize, maybe? When is it used, time of the year? Day or night? Where is it used? What part of the country? Are there geographic keywords? Home or office? What rooms in the house? Do you use it inside or out? Is it UL listed? Is it safe? Is it regulated? Do I need a permit?"
We sell some things that blow up. Some folks actually have to have permission to use it.
"Is it tax deductible as a business expense? Does it have a serial number? Does it have a Dummies book? What’s the demographic? Men or women, young or old? What skills do I need to use this? What about replacement parts?"
Do ya’ll kinda see where I’m going with this? I mean these are the things that customers are going to have, the questions in their mind about your products. Go ahead and answer their questions before they have them and you’ll sell more stuff.
From a conversion rate standpoint, you want to put this stuff lower on the page and link to it with frequently asked questions about this product for folks who are more impulsive like me who just click "add to cart" and, you know, send me that thing.
We record everything. Like I said, I’m recording this right now.
When we’re driving in the truck, Steve’s going hunting or something, we’ve got a little flip camcorder we use. We’ve got a bigger camcorder. I’ve got two different digital recorders over here that I’m using. I’ve got a backup in case one of them goes out. If he’s talking about stuff, we’re recording it. We’re turning it into text. We’re putting it on the website where it goes. Google loves this content.
If you’ve got 60 bucks, I think they still make these. This is the best one I’ve found after using about 10 of the cheap ones. The Olympus VN-6200PC. It’s really easy to use. You hit the record button, it sticks it in a folder, you plug up the USB cable, it downloads the file straight to your computer; they’re really easy to email.
The audio quality is not great on an audio file. So I’ve actually got a little bit better, like a guitar recording thing.
Google Voice. This is one of the best things we’ve come across, Google Voice. Go set you up one of these accounts. They’ll give you a number. You can point it at your cell phone or your office phone. When somebody calls you on Google Voice and you press 4, it starts to record it. So not only do you not have to worry about getting a digital recorder, hooking that up to your phone, it’s actually recording it at Google for you, it generates an MP3 that’s posted almost instantly that you can email to somebody.
So if you’ve got clients or people in your office, you can actually get the product knowledge expert to call you, and then this stuff is in the cloud. So you don’t have to worry about this.
And basically, this is how it shows up. It’s really easy to download the MP3 wants you make it.
There’s my Google Voice number. I was going to get somebody to call it and show you how, but I know that will take five minutes. So let me skip that, all right?
Turn customer questions into product frequently asked questions. My dad, when he was still alive, he spent half is day answering emails. He died in 2003, and I went back through his emails after the funeral, which is really cool to go back and kinda see how he thought about things.
I got 1,000 pages of content in a Word document. So it’s like he speaks from the past. My dad had a lot of experience. I’ve done amazing things with this content by putting it on our website.
Write unique product descriptions. This used to be my number one thing I told retailers to do from an SEO perspective, but the reality is most of your product pages, if you’ve got a really big site or a really deep site hierarchy-wise, a lot of your products aren’t even going to be in Google for SEO. You know, they just don’t have enough PageRank or you’ve got duplicate content.
I mean I’m at the point now where we have products that we’re just copying and pasting the manufacturer descriptions on, and we’ll get to them eventually.
What I want you to do when you are working on products that are very important to your business, say, with the potential to be 1% or more sales of your business, think about them in this way, or your top 100 products.
If you want to see what lazy folks do, take the manufacturer’s product description that everybody gets off their website or off of a product feed, copy the text of the first sentence and do a search for it with quotes around it in Google. And you can see how man lazy retailers there are that are actually using the manufacturer’s product description. Google hates this. Google puts this stuff down in the search.
The next thing is provide more information than anyone. I think ya’ll can kinda see where I’m going with this as far as how much content you generate.
Write one new paragraph of text for every $10 in item price. And I just made that up, because people ask me, "How much content should I write?" Well, there’s my rule of thumb. You know, 60 bucks? Write me six paragraphs.
Here’s an example of a product page. That’s a $600 product and I guarantee you we have more than the minimum number of paragraphs for that. We probably have five or six pages.
All right. This is a search on Google for Garmin Astro. We have unique content, and this is before Google Instant. But this shows that we rank right after the manufacturer. I haven’t check it in the past two or three days, but we’re doing pretty good with our unique content on this Garmin Astro product. And we’re also buying the PPC.
All right. This has absolutely nothing to do with search engine optimization or driving more traffic to your website, but once they get there, have more photos. Show the product. Have something different than just the manufacturer’s stock picture.
Bill was talking a little bit earlier about how they don’t let bots scrape their site because sometimes employees will steal our pictures, and we’ll drop the DMCA on them and get those pages banned from Google, or we can sue them for, what, $75,000 per occurrence?
We take pictures of everything. When Steve’s in the field, now with iPhones, you can shoot video that way, too. But I mean he’s putting dog boots on his dog, when you go to our dog boots page you will see his pictures.
When he goes to Texas for his "research and development" and he tells his wife he’s going for six months…
And he comes home and sees the kids maybe every two or three weeks, but he’s back in the field product testing, and "Oh, I’ve got to make sure these specifications are up to snuff." I’m like, "As long as you post on your blog, dude, whatever."
He goes Texas bird hunting. He takes his employees, you know, on our "team building" exercises, which is, you know, going hunting and then at night drink a little beer.
But we’ve even got third generation. There’s his son Sam. Sam is 11 and taking better pictures than I am. I’m about to get phased out.
But we take pictures. Every year I go to Texas. I take 5,000 pictures. I’m not a great photographer, but I can get some good shots if I take 5,000 pictures.
Provide more product photos than anyone. I was talking about this a minute ago.
We use Light Stage. We crack open a box. A buddy of mine was suggesting that we start doing unboxing videos. A lot of the cell phone companies will have an unboxing video where they will show you, when you open up your product, this is what you get. I love that kind of stuff. We’re actually about to start doing that.
But we take pictures of all the components that come with it. And this is our own product image, which is not…you know, I’m not going to win any awards for this. But it increases your conversion rate when you have a different picture than every single other place. They go, "Oh, well this guy’s a little different."
We put up a ruler so you can see how large it is.
These are all the things that you get when you buy this thing. Most people don’t have this on their SD 1825 page.
These are all the accessories that come with it. A lot of people steal this and I can tell. See that rubber band right there? That was not included in the box. We actually threw in a rubber band for the collar straps that we use. And so it’s really easy to see when folks are stealing our product images.
Shoot video of anything that you can demonstrate. If you can actually show somebody how something works, you can get a Flip video camera for what, $100? Throw it up on YouTube if you don’t want to deal with video hosting, embed that thing on your website. It increases your conversion rate.
We sell a product called Musher’s Secret, which is a wax that you put on your dog’s feet so that they don’t get torn up when they’re running in the snow, originally, for the Iditarod guys. But it works great for hunters too.
So Steve’s out in Texas. He took literally five minutes and we shot a little two minute video. And here he is in all is hunting regalia talking about Musher’s Secret real quick.
And what I do is I then send this link to my guy in Alabama, my transcription guy, and he types up what Steve said, and I put this below the video in text. I like to read more than I like to watch videos because I can read so much faster. Well Google Bot likes to read too. And this is an awesome way to add additional text content to your website.
And here you’ll see that the video page is second only to the main product page as far as customers going to the video. So you’re double-dipping here with your content. You’re not just driving traffic to it, you’re actually increasing conversions.
And sometimes I get a little obsessed with Google and more about driving traffic. As ya’ll heard a minute ago, I’m tying a dollar figure to everything nowadays, because we’re about e-"commerce".
Here’s an example of another video on YouTube. We don’t have hardly any views on YouTube until we actually promote the videos.
Are there any competitors of mine in here? I don’t see…Oh, OK. How you doing? None of this stuff works. I’m just making stuff up.
You ready to go? No, I’m just kidding.
Treepodia is something that I’m trying. I hate to talk about stuff that I think is true, or stuff that I’m sticking my little toe in. But they are a video creation service. They take your data feed and they turn it into these cheesy Flash, you know, the same voiceover on your content, but they actually pull information from your products into the little Flash movie. And it’s a great way to get videos indexed in Google. It’s expensive. I would not get the voiceover. And I would do not the distribution, but you want the sitemap. I don’t even know what that stuff is, but it worked. In like three days we got thumbnails in Google search engine results. Craig, I’m sorry I’m sharing that.
Liberate manufacturer content. Oh, this is PubCon. Just steal their content! The manufacturers spend thousands and thousands of dollars creating these DVDs that come packaged with the stuff. Help them sell more products by using the content that they lock up inside all these different formats.
I’m not telling you to break the law. I’m not telling you to violate somebody’s copyright. But as a retailer who’s been a retailer since I grew up, it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. If you actually have to get written permission to use their content, you’re never going to get it. Put it on your website, and if they want you to quit selling their stuff because you’re using their content, the sales director, he’ll shut up when he sees your sales figures because you’re driving traffic to these things.
There’s text hidden in flash movies. My Alabama guy pulls that stuff up.
You get text from PDF owner’s manuals. And when a new one comes out, if you’re the first guy to put it up and you have a little bit of authority and you link to it from your homepage, you can actually be recognized as the originator of that content to Google, where the manufacturer may have a smaller website and it takes them longer to get spidered. You actually can outrank them using their content. But I didn’t tell you all that.
All right. Transcribe DVDs and videos. If they have just online content or DVDs packed up in a box, you know, see what information they have in there. It also kinda helps you see how the manufacturer thinks about their content. Because it’s really hard when you are just watching a video to kinda see the structure behind the writing. But if you get somebody to transcribe it…I’m not really a writer, naturally, and so it’s neat for me to see the structure that these guys are thinking about their products.
If you have a warehouse, if you are actually shipping your own products, I’m not going to say that drop shippers are not real retailers, because I don’t want to answer all those emails again like I did last year. I apologize drop shippers. I love ya’ll.
If you actually have a warehouse and have the products, you can actually go in the warehouse, grab the box, and you’ll find that the text on the packaging is different from what they put on the website. That is unique content. It is not on the web. Take your top 10 products and go get somebody to type the box copy and stick that at the bottom of the page.
Also, point of purchase materials. We’re an online store pretty much only, but you can come to the warehouse and shop, so we actually have a retail storefront so we can sell some stuff online. There are a lot of point of purchase materials that they send their stores that has unique content on it as well. We redneck scrape that stuff, which is get Stephanie to type it.
Find your Steve. You need to find the person at your company who is going to be the person who’s the expert to create this content if it’s not you. In bigger companies it might be some senior staff, it might be the owner, it might be the founder. But you need to find somebody who knows a lot about these products or you don’t need to be selling this stuff.
The additional lift we got from doing this was $10 million. I’m just kidding competitor dude.
It was Confederate money, so, you know, it’s not really…
All right, how am time-wise?
Man 1: You’ve got like 5 minutes.
Rob: OK, five minutes. Five minutes to do SEO.
Run SEO friendly analytics. We run Yahoo Web Analytics and Google Analytics. Collect converting keywords. I’ve got 20,000 plus converting keywords that have generated, in the sample that I did for this, over $6 million.
I prioritize my keywords based upon how much money they generate.
So here’s a graph of a fake keyword competitor. I bucket my keywords by manufacturer and by product type, and this is how I kinda organize them in my head. And I also track numbers, visits, the dollars generated, revenue per visitor, which is a really hard number to get out of some of these analytic things.
And then I look at conversion rate by keyword. And in this I can see that I’ve got the number three keyword. My revenue per visitor is a lot lower, and these are all people searching for the same thing, so that helps me kinda pick out why are these folks not converting as well? Maybe I need to do that word, like Paul said in his presentation yesterday about having scent on the page. I bet it’s a keyword shock collar that we don’t use because it’s not a friendly term.
We target both popular and valuable keyword phrases. Just because it gets a lot of traffic doesn’t mean that it generates a lot of revenue. And the inverse is true. Just because it doesn’t get a lot of traffic means it can generate a lot of revenue.
I’d rather be picking up $100 gold coins than $1 bills. Just because it’s smaller doesn’t mean it’s less valuable. Quantity versus quality.
And I do this organization stuff, blah, blah, blah. This is for all the website…let me skip through this. Sorry.
Wordle.net is a great tool. You have to have Java installed. On a Mac you’ve gotta run Safari because Chrome won’t work it. You can take your converting keywords, dump them into this, and you can see what buckets, what individual words in your converting keywords are more popular than others based upon…
Competitor, don’t look at this. This doesn’t work either.
This tells you what buckets to optimize for, you know? I don’t want to skip that one. That’s not going to be in the handout.
I also drill down and do that on the individual category level as well. Like "dog boots", I took out the word "dog" and "boots", and then these are all the other words. So you kinda see what other words are contributing to this keyword bucket. And it gives you an idea of what content to create.
We like to bake in our basic SEO elements into our RTML templates for the Yahoo Store. That way, even if we don’t create unique content, it’s in such a way that sometimes we actually rank even using the manufacturer’s phrases, like for Title tags, Canonical, Meta Description. All these slides are on my website.
On your homepage you want to link to the top 40 pages that you have with the best keywords in those links. That is probably the second biggest thing I would recommend. If you’ve got one page that is showing up in Google, one page that is ranked, it’s going to be your homepage to start off with.
So be really careful how you allocate your link equity. People talk about PageRank sculpting and that kind of stuff. Just don’t link to stuff that’s not important. Link to the terms and the pages that are driving revenue, like your top sections of your top products, with the keywords that are converting for you.
And with that, I think I’m going to wrap it up and sit for questions. I’ve got 75 more slides, but it will all be on RobSnell.com. And that’s me. Thank ya’ll so much.
Pubcon 2010: Yahoo! Store SEO PT 2: Creating Compelling Content Reviewed by Rob Snell on 2010-11-30
. PUBCON 2010 PPT: SEO For Ecommerce: Content Generation that generates revenue for small businesses.
My name is Rob Snell. How many folks were in the SEO session just a little while ago? All right, cool. I’m about to drop some pretty serious knowledge here, stuff we picked up over the past 13 years that’s worked to actually generate revenue for us. I have 200 slides.
I promise all this information will be available somewhere on my website. Sign up on my newsletter list. I don’t sell a whole bunch of stuff. We’re probably going to do some classes in 2011. But that’s the best way. If you can’t find something on my website, just email me and I’ll email you the slides or the URL. I’ve got all this stuff up in PowerPoint presentations.
Thursday, April 27,
Microtek, 33 New Montgomery,
Theme: You ARE an expert in your field, so leverage that expertise online with compelling content to get more traffic and convert even more of that traffic.
1) Establish that authority both on your site AND in your industry's online ecosystem... (here's how we do it)
2) When folks come looking to buy what you sell, recommend specific solutions for customer problems instead of just offering things for sale. (here's how we do it)
3) When you sell the same thing as so many other people, you have to give folks a reason to buy this from YOU, so go out of your way to list what makes you THE PLACE to buy this. (here's how we do it)
The more I think about it, the less advice I should give to folks NOT in small-medium sized e-commerce. I don't know ANYTHING about all those different types of businesses. Not as worried about making it universal as making it as this is what we did, this is what worked for us, take and use what you can...
__ "hey, puppies..."
__ steve as rob, rob as steve
About 6 years ago, we hit a sales plateau
and decided to change the way
we approached selling online.
In 2004, our family business,
GUN DOG SUPPLY, had a sales slump.
Somehow we wound up in the ditch!
We took a hard look at what we were doing online,
and we made one simple, but substantial change
to our Web site and how we sold online.
And the effect? Over the past 6 years?
Over $10 million dollars in additional revenue
That's ADDITIONAL revenue.
Sales ABOVE our normal growth.
So what did we do? How did we do it?
That's what I'm going to talk about today.
FIRST, A LITTLE HISTORY
GUN DOG SUPPLY is our family business
We sell training supplies for hunting dogs
My parents started GDS on their kitchen table in 1972
My dad was unhappy with quality of some dog supplies
started making his own collars, leads, and leashes
to sell these, he bought ads in hunting dog speciality magazines.
pretty small circulation, pretty targetted audience.
He expanded his product line to carry more products,
products OTHER people manufacture
And WE marketed these through a small B&W mail order catalog.
At this point he decided to put the family in family business
by recruiting Steve and me to help with the catalog
In 1979 he quit his job to go full time on the DOG stuff
A few months later, we had a major set back
when the PEARL RIVER FLOODED
and put 6 feet of water in our house.
We pretty much lost everything.
Destroying all of the inventory in our house.
Why am I telling you this?
You need to know where we started from.
So my folks decided to dig in and make this thing work.
Anyway, folks knew we were in MS ...
local folks wanted to come shop with us,
so we added a retail showroom to the warehouse.
We started selling premium dog food, stuff you couldn't get
Pretty soon we were selling more stuff
to pet owners than hunting dog folks
-- -- -- GDS GETS ONLINE (1997) -- -- --
And then in 1996, another set back: Petsmart came to town.
We knew that would SEVERELY impact the business
Went back to our roots
and in 1996 rebooted the mail order catalog.
for HUNTING DOG FOLKS
By then I was out of college,
Steve & I had started what's now SNELL BROTHERS,
our own retail business up in Starkville
but I came back home for several months
and we hammered out a catalog.
Sent out THOUSANDS of copies
and we got bupkiss. Nothing. Zilch.
And at this point my Mom was pretty desperate,
and she became OBSESSED with getting on the Internet
And she said, "Son, I want you to build me a Web site."
And I said, "Mama small businesses aren't making money online..."
"Son, I want you to build me a Web site..."
And I said, "the Internet's all about PORN...Big companies losing
money IPOs and stuff"
And she said, "I don't care, make me a Web site. So I did.
So we did, and long story short it worked.
We found Yahoo! Store,
and uploaded our catalog
and we were off and running
-- -- -- JUMP to 2001 -- -- --
It worked so well that Steve had to take over
order fulfillment & customer service.
Mom was too old to be working 60 hours a week,
Steve was tired of selling comic books & baseball cards
he said the DOG STUFF was the next big thing
So by 2001 ONLINE sales were 4x retail sales
my folks were able to SELL THE DOG STORE, and we went Web only
I was more interested in Internet Marketing
and SEO and Yahoo! Store development,
but I worked on GDS as I had time in between other projects
-- -- -- JUMP to 2004 -- -- --
Now my baby brother, Steve, was running the company.
My Dad passed away 6 months earlier,
and we were dealing with all the fallout from that
and Steve stepped up to fill some pretty big shoes
and things were pretty good...
And then, we hit a snag.
We started having negative cashflow.
Our expenses were growing faster than our sales.
And then our sales STOPPED growing
And then our sales STARTED dropping
And we had our first "down" month
in the history of our Internet business...
Here's a closeup of a sales graph
Every year we have this dip in sales
and every May sales pick back up
here's 2003, and you see the dip,
and then people start thinking about hunting season,
and sales pick up
Well, here's 2004 and you see the dip
And then it DROPS. It DROPS.
And Steve's freaking out. And I'm saying don't worry,
it's just a blip -- things will pick back up.
And I'm digging in our analytics,
trying to see if anything broken
anything technical wrong and it's not.
So I'm freaking out and trying to
find what's going on.
AND IN HINDSIGHT
it's pretty easy to see
what was happening:
More and more competitors
were coming online.
All the old school catalogs in our industry now had shopping carts
with virtually the same catalog that we had...
And all these new school, dot com kids were popping up, too...
Selling the same things we were selling...
2004 SEO wasn't new.
Competition for those 10 spots on page 1 was getting FIERCE
AND Paid Search was coming online then.
CPC's were skyrocketing
More and more folks bidding on the same keywords
It was EXPENSIVE.
And all the OLD ways of driving traffic?
They weren't working as well as before..
GREAT, SO NOW WHAT DO WE DO?
Steve and I had one of our knock down,
drag out "conversations"
Maybe this is the new reality?
Or maybe we're going to have
to change how we do things...
So I'm sitting in Steve's office
WAITING for him to get off the phone.
Steve has these MARATHON phone conversations with customers.
I'm talking 20-30 minutes... easy...
And they're talking about their dogs...
and they're talking about TRAINING their dogs...
and their talking about HUNTING with their dogs...
and their talking about their hunting GEAR ...
and their GUNS and their TRUCKS...
And next thing you know, the guy places an order.
And he's a customer FOR LIFE. FOR LIFE.
And it's GREAT, but it doesn't scale.
I mean we handle dozens and dozens of these calls every day.
There's no way STEVE can do this with every customer over the phone
It just doesn't scale.
He has TONS of other things he's gotta take care of, too
SO I HAD AN IDEA...
"What if we do the same thing online
that you do over the phone?"
You know how when a customer calls and you talk to 'em.
You find out what kind of dog they have,
what they're trying to do with their dog?
And then after you get to know them and their situation,
YOU TELL THEM WHAT TO BUY TO SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM
and then they BUY it? That's AWESOME.
What if we did that on the Web site?
What if we took everything you ever said to a customer,
and put it all over the Web site...
Wonder what THAT would do?
Steve said,"Couldn't hurt. Do it."
And that's what we did.
The one single, significant thing we did?
We put STEVE ALL OVER THE WEB SITE.
We put his recommendations on the site.
We put his opinions on the site.
We put the experience you'd get on the phone
on the Web site. And it WORKED.
This graph shows you our sales from 1997-2004
(Rolling 12 month average to smooth out the bumps)
And then we "put Steve on the site"
Just for fun, I modeled what our sales would have been
so I could see what the difference was
and over the past six years it's over $10 MILLION.
$10,354,767 in additional sales
Looking back, it's pretty easy to see what we did:
we decided to push three pretty powerful ideas:
1) Steve is an EXPERT on dog training supplies.
2) Steve says this PRODUCT is what you need to solve your problem.
3) Please buy it from US.
They're not IN the store. They can't see
make a connection
STEVE IS A DOG TRAINING SUPPLIES EXPERT
+ dad didn't want to SAY he was an expert
+ you ARE an expert.
you're a real person / company
1) BE REAL AS YOU CAN IN A VIRTUAL WORLD
- come as you are. - look as big or small as you are.
- put a name + face online (easier w/ social profiles)
SOUND REAL -- VOICE -- Write with the voice you would use to talk to the customer
+ my book >>> "I feel like I know you"
- show your physical plant -- address | maps | business hours
- show off all your peeps: -- customers, staff, vendors, thought leaders, influencers
2) ESTABLISH YOUR AUTHORITY
hey, you're just like me
- dogs - hunting - outdoors - kids
You have a lot of experience
- "Hey, I'm an expert!"
- Demonstrate expertise
- reputation: other people say you're an expert
demonstrate your domain expertise on your site
publish compelling content
- complete product pages (top 100 pages example)
- product buyers guides
- product reviews
- answers to FAQ
- product support info
- video demos
- repurposed MFG content
get credit for all your hard work
- claim content w/ + google authorship
- use FB open graph mark it up
- mark-up your pages using rich snippets
????? curate additional quality content
- link to it
- share on FB/twitter/G+
amplify all this content
- show it to your prospects and customers
- pimp on FB / twitter
- advertise it
TAKE YOUR PLACE IN THE ECOSYSTEM
help folks pro bono (no quid pro quo)
facebook, twitter, topic interest forums, groups, email lists
support your suppliers improve what they sell
- vendor prototype / beta testing (helps products leapfrog)
- be available for press opportunities
- informal networking / r&d / food and drink
support organizations that support your industry
clubs, forums, user groups
- great for meeting influencers (and doing them favors)
- get access to new customers
- sometimes get extremely relevant links
speak in public any time the opportunity presents itself
write articles, blogs, books for DEAD TREE PUBLISHERS
RECOMMEND SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS FOR CUSTOMER PROBLEMS
old: don't just offer things for sale, tell them what to buy
1) Simply tell folks what to buy
STEVE'S PICKS $10 lift
- sell everything you want, but give CLEAR choices
- take an editorial position / - tell folks what YOU use
2) Educate: Give them enough info to sort through themselves
3) Let other customers tell them what PRODUCT worked for them
ASK FOR THE MONEY
why should they buy it from you?
- pimp your USP
- enumerate your value adds
- reduce / eliminate risk
- flesh this out
- have multiple ways to contact you online/offline
- answer promptly
- be a person, not the marketing or support "team member"
- have a damn phone and answer it
SKIP THE HOW WE CREATE THE CONTENT (prolly a separate thing
AD FOR SFIMA http://www.pubcon.com/sfima-pubcon-summit
Pubcon SFIMA TUES May 14
$10 Million+ Extra Sales
See Pubcon SFIMA: Rob Snell's keynote. Just one change on website changed his life
In 1997, PETSMART dropped in across the street from our DOG STORE, and we took a MASSIVE sales hit. What's worse was the anticipation of doom for 18 months before we knew the true business impact.
Family friend Gary Morse said, "You know, it looks pretty bad now, but this MIGHT be the best thing that ever happened to you..." And I thought he was CRAZY. Who would say such a thing? But given time to sink in I realized that one sentence totally reframed things in my brain. Never let a crisis go to waste, folks.
My name is Rob Snell, I'm from ... and we sell dog collars. Starting out 17th year of selling online.
Not everyone is a retailer, but the reality is that EVERY company has to sell something to someone so these lessons are relevant to most folks
How to establish your bonafides as a subject matter expert, leverage that authority with compelling content by recommending products that are solutions to your customers' problems, and how to get them to buy it from YOU.
OUR BACKSTORY -- blah blah blah
family biz > hunting dogs>1972>ads>catalog>store>...>starkville > petsmart > reboot catalog > mama:online > catalog requests > yahoo! store > HOLY MOLY
9 years later In 2004, our family's dog supply business came off the tracks. Sales growth stopped. Overhead skyrocketed. We took a hard look at how we sold online, and made one simple, substantial change to our online store which literally changed our family's fortune.
ONE THING -- PUT STEVE ALL OVER THE STORE.
"FIND YOUR STEVE"
BE REAL AS YOU CAN IN A VIRTUAL WORLD
- come as you are. - look as big or small as you are.
- put a name + face online (easier w/ social profiles)
- show your physical plant
-- address | maps | business hours
- show off all your peeps:
-- customers, staff, vendors, thought leaders, influencers
- have multiple ways to contact you online/offline
- answer promptly
- be a person, not the marketing or support "team member"
- have a damn phone and answer it
ESTABLISH YOUR AUTHORITY
+ you ARE an authority
+ you know more about what you sell than anybody
+ customer don't know what they don't know
demonstrate your domain expertise on your site
publish compelling content
- complete product pages (top 100 pages example)
- product buyers guides
- product reviews
- answers to FAQ
- product support info
- video demos
- repurposed MFG content
get credit for all your hard work
- claim content w/ + google authorship
- use FB open graph mark it up
- mark-up your pages using rich snippets
curate additional quality content
- link to it
- share on FB/twitter/G+
amplify all this content
- show it to your prospects and customers
- pimp on FB / twitter
- advertise it
TAKE YOUR PLACE IN THE ECOSYSTEM
help folks pro bono (no quid pro quo)
facebook, twitter, topic interest forums, groups, email lists
support your suppliers improve what they sell
- vendor prototype / beta testing (helps products leapfrog)
- be available for press opportunities
- informal networking / r&d / food and drink
support organizations that support your industry
clubs, forums, user groups
- great for meeting influencers (and doing them favors)
- get access to new customers
- sometimes get extremely relevant links
speak in public any time the opportunity presents itself
write articles, blogs, books for DEAD TREE PUBLISHERS
TELL FOLKS WHAT TO BUY
( was RECOMMEND SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS TO CUSTOMER PROBLEMS)
old: don't just offer things for sale, tell them what to buy
STEVE'S PICKS lift
- sell everything you want, but give CLEAR choices
- take an editorial position
- tell folks what YOU use
ASK FOR THE MONEY
why should they buy it from you?
- pimp your USP
- enumerate your value adds
- reduce / eliminate risk
- flesh this out
RECAP: FIND YOUR STEVE
if you're real online, and show your expertise, folks trust you faster, you convert more traffic, lower marketing costs, save time / make more money.
Sharing your knowledge / experience online is a lot of work. TO START there's a huge amount of work on the front end, you're never, ever really finished, UPKEEP and a lot of maintenance, and updating content and lot of customer support, but it's worth it.
-- MASTERCARD THING
Building a relationship.
Lifetime value of a customer when they're not dead
delegating video: shooting videos SET pic
new MFG asking for STEVE'S PICK + Good Review
GDF: bought a forum
FB: PUPPY pix / more icing than cake
Can dress up as an authority but doesn't make it so.
WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S
downside of "Don Burleson"
***5/19/08 Show - Increasing Conversion Rates w/ Rob Snell***
Rob Snell, author of Yahoo Business for Dummies, provides real life tips and information on increasing conversion rats for Yahoo Store. Tips include how to find your conversion rate, how to track your conversion rates, and using the new Checkout Manager. Rob discusses how to increase conversion rates by building confidence, providing contact information, and trust symbols. Rob Snell gives away a free copy of Chapter 21 of his book which discusses in more detail how to increase your conversion rates. Send an email to email@example.com to get your copy today!
Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo Store Power Hour with your host Shawna Fennell.
So I built us a website and we got a bunch of traffic. We were getting so many catalogue requests my dad was like “Shut the website off or put our products online. We can’t afford to send all these catalogues out.”
Long story short, we found Via Web, which is now Yahoo! Store, and I have been selling stuff online and helping folks sell stuff online ever since.
On Yahoo! Stores I have seen it all over the place. Some Yahoo! Stores have a high conversion rate. Some Yahoo! Stores have a low conversion rate. But by monitoring that number and doing small itty bitty improvements to your store to make shopping easier, you can increase that number and it is the largest multiplier. I mean, if you get a bump in your conversion rate it does awesome things to your sales.
I have just been obsessed over my store’s conversion rates ever since we have started using the Yahoo! Store platform because the traffic is so easy.
I am in a pretty good situation where I can actually go off into my office and lock the door and just dig into these numbers for two or three days at a time sometimes. I just don’t think a lot of retailers have the luxury to do that. So there are some things that you can do as a retailer, just some key performance indicators or KPI’s, that you can just watch on a regular basis. You don’t even have to be digging into your stats. You can get an intern or an assistant or somebody on a daily basis to log into your Yahoo! Store and pull these numbers for you.
So let’s just say you have a Christmas bump. Your conversion rate is actually going to go down a little bit during Christmas because you are actually going to have a lot of tire kickers and a lot of folks…I mean there are so many more people shopping on the Internet.
For example, we did a free shipping promotion for like five days and we actually doubled our conversion rate on the site, but we got so many itty bitty orders. Our average sale dropped to a third of what it had been before because we had so many $10 and $20 orders where we had the shipping process $6 before and now it is free. So a lot of folks are ordering a $5 whistle or a $10 book to take advantage of that free shipping.
So doubling your conversion rate is not the key to doubling your profits. And for folks who do have variables where like they are changing their pricing or can do different shipping options-that kind of thing, there are other numbers you want to watch, like “Revenue per Visitor”. Yahoo! calls that “Revenue per Customer”.
But if you have a pretty stable amount of traffic…We have been online since 1997, so from an SEO standpoint our traffic is pretty solid. And from a PPC standpoint, I am pretty happy with my bids. So I am not seeing huge fluctuations in the amount of customers or visitors coming to the store. But that is something that folks need to take a look at as far as “Revenue per Customer”.
Most of my stores are on the new Version 3 checkout. But they have made tracking so much easier now because they actually give us access to some of the variables. I am not a propeller head; I don’t understand all that highfalutin tech stuff.
The same thing with revenue tracking. I actually use two other services besides Yahoo! for tracking on most of my stores. Index Tools, which just got bought out my Yahoo!, is the first one. I also use Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/). The reason I use two different sources is because I like to reconcile the difference between the two. The way these tracking systems work, you are going to have different numbers on your Yahoo Store for the same day when you compare it to your Index Tools number and when you compare it to your Google Analytics numbers.
And then there is Google Analytics. It is awesome. It is so easy to use and you can see all these numbers that you just can’t see inside the Yahoo! Store. I am just crossing my fingers with Yahoo! buying Index Tools; hopefully Yahoo is going to roll out better analytics for stores. A little bird that keeps me in the loop every once in a while keeps telling me something is going to happen. So cross your fingers.
Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo Store Power Hour (http://www.thepowerhour.com/) with your host Shawna Fennell.
For every 100 folks that visit the site, only four people add something to the cart, only four of those six make it to the checkout, and they end up getting about 3.1 orders per 100 people. So that is a 3.1 percent conversion rate, which is actually pretty good.
This is a multi-million dollar Yahoo Store that has been around for, let’s just say, more than five years.
One of the big things that I finally got through my thick skull in regards to conversion rates is you want to move folks who just visit from one bucket to another. I divide visitors on my website into these five or six different buckets. The first bucket would be folks who visit your website on one page and then hit the back button. Those are the folks who bounce of your website. You want to move them into the second bucket, which would be folks who visit your website and actually browse around more than one page. So those are the folks that are actually visitors on your website. Then you want to get those folks who are visitors on your website to actually go to a product page. The third bucket is all the folks who visit a product page. Then the buckets get a lot smaller. It goes down to folks who actually start a cart, and then to the folks who start a cart and go to the checkout. And then there are folks who actually complete a checkout and place an order.
So one of the easiest ways that you can increase your conversion rate is to move somebody who is in the first bucket into the second bucket or somebody who is in the second bucket to the third bucket. So working on your store is so important because like I said, 94% of the folks who are visiting this site never even make it to the shopping cart.
One of the most important things you can do on a website is to have a professional looking well designed easy to use website. It is so subjective, but I think it is easy to tell. When you are looking at a website you can tell if somebody’s 12 year old nephew knocked it out in their basement or if they actually had somebody who has some design skill implement a store design.
I live out here in the sticks which is miles from the boonies. OK?
It is so much easier just to go to Amazon (www.amazon.com) and order it than it is to take a chance on a smaller retailer. But because I believe in small business e-commerce, I always try to go to the smaller stores first when I am looking to buy stuff.
One of the ways we found to increase our conversion rates…If you go to one of our stores, Gundogsupply.com, and click on the info button, you can see all the different ways that we have on our store for folks to contact us. We have got email. We have got fax. We have got snail mail. We have got all of our telephone numbers. We have our physical address if you want to come by and see us. We have all of our contact information.
The main reason is I think that gives folks confidence if there is a problem. “I know where these folks are. I can hop in my truck and come see them and talk to them if there is a problem.” So having a lot of contact information is extremely important.
The other thing is the 800 number. I have found that stores that have an 800 number, and by that I mean an 8-0-0 number, not at 877 or an 866 or an 888 number, it looks like you have been established a lot longer when you have an 800 number. Plaster that thing all over your site. I like to have it in the upper right hand corner of all my stores, inside the shopping cart, and on every single checkout page. It is not that folks are actually going to call you as much; it is that they like to know that they can call you.
The other thing I want to do when I am on a website is I want to read the story of the people who are behind the website. I have no confidence in a Yahoo! Store when I come across it and it looks like they have a product feed from one of the drop ship databases and a generic looking header and they have 50,000 different products. It is very obvious to me what they are doing is they are just copying the database, uploading it to a store, and hitting the publish button.
It was like turning on a switch. If you look at my graph coming across the conversion rate at what it was before, there is a rise in the graph that corresponds with us taking an editorial position on the products that we sell.
We have got our dog tracking colors buyer’s guide which walks folks through and ask them questions. It helps them whittle down the choices of what they want to make. I was on Amazon buying this guitar tuner and I just had to take the retailer’s word that this was a good product. It was only like a $30 product, but the higher the price of the items that you sell, the more information you need to provide. So that is another way to establish trust-to have more information on your products and just be the products expert in your field.
One of the advantages, I think, to being on the Internet is I say “It is good to be small.” On the Internet you can look like a big company even when you are an itty bitty company. But I think there are actual advantages to knowing that when you shop on our store it is like our different families’ house payments are dependent on you getting good customer service. So there are three families who have a vested interest in making sure that you get what you get, and you are happy, and you come back, and you love us, and you keep shopping with us.
Well tell that story and I think that is such an important deal, because a lot of folks want to look like they are a huge company. Look at the dot com crashes. I mean, the big boys, those are the ones who failed and didn’t’ ship orders and all kinds of stuff.
There is a product called 4Q (http://4q.iperceptions.com/) by Avinash (http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/). He is the Google guru of analytics. He is partnered with this company and you can put these surveys for free on your site. I just started doing it on Gun Dog. I have already started to get some really good information back on what our customers are thinking. A lot of the things that we are trying to do, they are actually telling us we are doing a good job at doing that. Besides getting sales, sometimes it is good to get feedback like that. So that is something I would definitely recommend folks doing to see what the satisfaction level is of somebody shopping on your store.
Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo store Power Hour with your host, Shawna Fennell
A good example would be you have a Yahoo! store. Well, Yahoo! is a known brand on the Internet. A Yahoo! Store icon that says “Hey, this website is a Yahoo! store”; that is one of the first trust symbols every single Yahoo! store should have on their site.
And by that, I also mean like your shipping methods; like a UPS logo, or a USPS logo, or FedEx. Or like a Better Business Bureau symbol-that kind of thing. That basically shows folks that you are a real company and you are affiliated with other places that they trust. It is kind of like your badge that says this is who I am and you can trust me.
The funny thing is my dad used to call this eye wash; stuff that makes you look good but doesn’t really matter. He is like “I am not paying $1,800 for eye wash!” I understand where he is coming from. But Hacker safe runs the test on your website like they do for everybody else. Between you, me and the fence post, Hacker Safe can’t advertise this but they are the company that actually does the testing on Yahoo! Store’s servers. They have a contract with Yahoo! to make sure that their servers are secure. That is public information but Hacker Safe can’t actually go around and have a big flag that says that. But I learned that and I like to pass that on. They are a really good company to have.
The other thing is that when you are a Hacker Safe retailer I believe that you get a link back from their directory. So it is always good to get some traffic from that too.
I have a story to tell. On one of my sites it is a site where we sell softball bats and baseball bats (www.softball-bats.org); one of my revenue share sites. I got obsessed with load speed. I wanted my pages to load so fast I was like “Well what little icons are on here that I can get off? Anything to make my page load faster” Well, there were all these baseball bat manufacturer’s logos at the top of the page. I was like “Well man, I can just take those off the product page because they don’t need to see these 12 different bat logos.” I did that and 12 hours later I got a phone call from my retailer freaking out because sales had dropped by 50%.
So take advantage of that. You are advertising their brand. If you sell Easton baseball bats put an Easton logo on that baseball bat page.
If you want to really boost your store up there are some things that you can do that Yahoo! Store is not doing. One of those for me is having a big honking red “add to cart” button. Everybody in the warehouse used to make fun of me because I had an “add to cart” button that was smaller than my pinkie fingernail. I was like “Well I wonder what happens if I make that bigger.” So I kept making it bigger and bigger and bigger. And finally it is as big as half my thumb right now. Everyone in the warehouse was laughing at me going “Look at that huge honking red button”. But our conversion rate kept going up. And then I stopped making it larger as soon as our conversion rate topped out. So I was doing some testing and I learned for my site, for this specific site, this “add to cart” button is what it needs to be. So that is one example of what you can do on the product page.
Another example is to actually show that you have the item in stock. Yahoo! has the availability field. What I usually put in there is I like to say it is a normally stocked item or “in stock and ready to ship” or “usually ships same business day.” I think that is very important on the product pages.
Another thing is I think it was like a third of the products on the internet…This was like a Yahoo! survey from a million years ago. But they talked about only a third of the products on the Yahoo! Store platform actually had sale pricing. It is so important to show the list price and actually what you are selling it for because most people on the Internet are selling things less than the MSRP. You want to show what full retail would be, what you are paying at my store, and then I like to show either the percentage and/or the dollar savings depending on what type of store it is.
The second step is actually being able to use a third party tool like Google Website Optimizer (https://www.google.com/analytics/siteopt/splash?hl=en). It is free and boy it makes my head hurt. It is very difficult to test things in there. But let me back up two steps, OK?
Narrator: Welcome to One Choice’s Yahoo Store Power Hour with your host Shawna Fanell.
So the landing page for A would be like barkcollara.html and the landing page for B would be like dogcollarb.html. At the end of the day you could see which version of the page sold more product. From that you could decide “OK. Well from here on out I want to make sure that I have got dog shots all over my website.”
It worked. It is like we saw a huge lift in increase in sales on the picture on the product shot where we would show the dog wearing the product.
You know, everybody uses the same manufacturer images on their website. He wanted something a little bit different so I got him to go in with me on this fancy camera. He woke me up at six o’clock in the morning on a Saturday. He had me out in Louisville, Mississippi in a swamp. Oh man. I don’t even want to talk about it.
I swear! We have seen two to three percent of the folks who actually are ready to give us money back out once they hit that review page. I don’t know if it is an error or people are having second thoughts, but I don’t…You know.
The other thing is if you have lower priced items, nowadays you can actually have a one page checkout. You can have it to when somebody adds something to the shopping cart it is secure and on that page they can put in their shipping info and credit card info and “Boom” and hit the “place order” button. So it is a one page checkout.
The funny thing is if you have something that people want, they will jump through flaming hoops to get through your checkout if your checkout is just horrible. If you have something that people don’t want, even if you have the best checkout in the world, they are still not going to buy from you. So it is really important that you are doing a good job, selling a good product, and providing good customer service.
Shopping Cart Software Companies / Products Accware, Actinic, Active C, Actra Netscape Merchant System, AllCommerce, Amazon zShops, AmeriCart, Andromedia Aria, Annuncio, Ariba, bCentral, BigStep, Blue Martini, Broadbase, BroadVision, Buildashop, BuyItOnline, Cart32, Cartalog, CartSecure, Cat@log, CatalogMaker, CCNow, CheckOut!, Click2u, ClickBank, CommercialWare, Connect, Dansie, DigiBuy, Digital Exchange, Digital River, Domino.Merchant, Dydacomp SiteLink, E.piphany, eActivate, EasyCart, eBay, EC Store, ecBlast, ecBuilder, eCongo, ecSalesdata, ECwareQDCat, ECXpert, EDS c2o, EGORA, Emaze, E-Merchant, Emercis, Entice, EntryPoint, Erol E-Catalog, Eshop, eShops, eStoreManager, FairMarket, FastCart, FreeMerchant, Fusion, GeoShops, GERS Retail Systems, GlobeStores, GoldPaint, GoLinQ, Hazel, Hitachi, HyperMart, IBM HomePage Creator, IBM Net.Commerce, IBM WebSphere, iCat, Impulse, Intershop, Interworld Commerce Exchange, JumboStore, Kiva Enterprise Server, KoolCat, LeGarde StoreFront , LiveExchange, Lotus, Lycos Stores, Maestro, Mercantec SoftCart, MerchandiZer, Merchant Planet, MerchantStuff.com, Microsoft Commerce Server, Microsoft Site Server (Commerce Edition), MiniVend, Miva Merchant, MonsterCommerce, MLeaP, Netscape CommerceXpert, Online Merchant Gold, Open Market LiveCommerce, Open Market Transact, OpenSales, OpenShop, OpenSite, Oracle Bill & Pay, OrderManager, Pandesic, PayPal, pcOrder, PDG Shopping Cart, PeachLink, Prime Access, ProCart, Prodigy, QuickBuy, SalesCart, SellerXpert, Shopbiz, ShopBuilder, ShopCart, ShopFactory, ShopMaster, ShopSite, ShopWizard, Smith-Gardner WebOrder, Speedware OrderPoint, StarVisor, StoreFront, StoreSense, uStorekeeper, Virtual Shopkeeper, VirtualShop, Virtuflex, vMerchant, vStore, Web+Shop, WebCart, WebCatalog, WebClerk, WebGenie, WebOrder, WebStores, WorldPay, Yahoo! Store, Zelerate…
Call 1-800-332-7601 for a recommendation for your shopping cart software!
The SPECIALS field shows all of the OBJECTS codes for items that you have selected to be featured on the front page by using the SPECIAL button on each item or section.
TRICK: You can also manually cut and paste the object codes in this field for faster manipulation of the order of these items.
Starkville Real Estate from LSNELL.comWe developed this Starkville Realtor site for Leigh Ann Snell using YAHOO SITE to demonstrate that internet marketing was as good as any form of marketing, even when your market is as small as Starkville, MS, a town of 30,000 people. Starkville real estate shows featured real estate listing and has links to a mortgage calculator, links to Starkville area real estate brokers, and other sites of interest for folks looking to buy or sell a house in the Starkville area.
Starkville Real Estate's LSNELL.com She says: Moving to Starkville? I can make it easier for you! Call me, Leigh Ann Snell at 662-418-9785 (cell) for FREE information about the hundreds of properties available today in the Starkville Real Estate Mississippi / Oktibbeha County / Mississippi State University Area
Mississippi State University student, faculty, or staff? Need an apartment, townhouse, or rental house in Starkville, Miss.? Contact Jan Rhodes and tell 'em Rob Snell & COPY COW sent ya! Call (662)-323-8700 ext. 30 or see her website.
300 Carver Dr
100 Starr Av
You should get an email in the next few minutes and six more stories over the next 2 weeks.
I fix Yahoo!
Stores for a living. When I'm not working on your store, I'm working on my family's stores. There are many things you can do to fix improve your store.
-- Rob Snell,
P.S. Let me help you get the most out of your Yahoo! Store. By looking at your unique situation through the eyes of fellow business owner rather than just a web designer or marketer, I can help you improve your business by helping you make more money and by saving you time.
Yahoo Stores: Internet Marketing PlanYou know, I've been building, maintaining, and fixing Yahoo Stores for small business folks for over 5 years. I've researched, designed, maintained, analyzed, and/or owned and operated over 300 Yahoo! Stores since the Viaweb days in April 1997.
How Do I Get More Traffic?"How do I get more traffic" is my most frequently asked question. The answer is pretty simple: Internet Marketing.
Knowing what to do is hard enough, and implementing it is another thing entirely!
What is Internet Marketing? It's pretty much anything you do using the internet to drive customers to your website. Most folks think it's getting ranked in the top ten in search engines – "Search Engine Optimization (or SEO)." That's an important part of what we do, but there's a lot more to it than that.
Internet Marketing includes getting listed in Search Engines, buying Directory listings, bidding in Pay-Per-Click programs, and opting in the Yahoo! Shopping database. It also includes writing good META tags, email marketing, referal programs, cross-linking strategies, creating affiliate programs, buying banner campaigns (or maybe not!), and looking at site sponsorships, e-mail newsletters, content creation, and more!
Pool Floats, Pool Toys & Games!Shop for pool toys & floats! Welcome to Toy Guy! We are part of PTC ,Inc. We have been selling pooltoys on the internet since 1997. Our business is rated a 5 star merchant by Yahoo due to our customer response after the sale.
1212 Hwy 25 S
Yahoo! Store uses simple html code to call the search form. You can use the following code and change anything in BOLD to reflect your store's ACCOUNT NAME and URL.
<center><FORM METHOD=GET ACTION="http://st6.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/nsearch"><INPUT TYPE=HIDDEN NAME=catalog VALUE="YOUR_ACCOUNT_HERE"><INPUT NAME=query TYPE=TEXT SIZE=30> <INPUT TYPE=SUBMIT VALUE="Search"><input type=hidden name=.autodone value="http://YOUR_URL_HERE.com/"></FORM></center>
You can also change the text on the button by changing the <INPUT TYPE=SUBMIT VALUE="Search"> to whatever text you want inside the VALUE parameter.
To add text to the search box add VALUE="Your Keywords here" to the >INPUT NAME=query TYPE=TEXT SIZE=30<
You can also use an image for the search button by replacing the <INPUT TYPE=SUBMIT VALUE="Search"> with one that calls the IMAGE.
1000 Campus View Dr
1900 Stirling Dr
Serenity now! Steve calls this my great backyard with a house attached...
2 acres is A LOT to mow!
Y'all come see me! I have 3 extra bedrooms!
WARNING: Don't buy a Certified Pre-Owned Lexus until you read this... * Marv Ingram Used Lexus CPO Program Manager?
Rob Snell: My name is
Rob Snell and today I am going to talk about Yahoo Stores and search
engine optimization, specifically how our Yahoo stores get millions
of visitors a year that generate millions of dollars in sales from free
search engine traffic.
Several years ago I wrote a
Dummies book. I have been a retailer online since '97.
My brother Steve and I are in business. We are second generation
running our family business.
We had 100's of questions
come in through the forum. If you go to Robsnell.com, I have got
a forum on there. I think it is SEO-Webinar.html where I got a
lot of people who are on my mailing list and friends and clients to
sign up and give me some feedback on what kind of stuff you guys were
looking for today.
And it was really interesting
to me because most of the folks who filled out that survey have been
in e-commerce for either two or three or four or five years, they have
multiple Yahoo stores, they consider themselves intermediate search
engine optimization folks.
What I am going to do is I
am going to talk about some stuff. I am actually going to go through
my Yahoo Store Summit presentation that was a five to seven minute presentation
to kind of hit some high points.
This is Gun Dog Supply, a Yahoo
store. This is a business my parents started in 1972 on their
kitchen table. We have had this Yahoo store since 1997, since
even before it was Yahoo Store.
We sell training supplies for
hunting dogs like Click. This dog is Click. This is one
of my brother's 13 hunting dogs. If you see the orange collar
on Click's neck, that is a GPS tracking collar, which is how my brother
Steve tracks Click when he is out hunting birds in the field.
Click is a big running bird dog. He is going to run a mile when
he sees some birds.
Track your Converting Keywords
It is kind of like analytics
for hunting dogs. Just the way Steve tracks his bird dogs, I want
you to track your converting keywords. How do you do that?
Well nowadays it is extremely
easy because Yahoo Store has Yahoo Web Analytics now baked in.
I have been running Index Tools, which is YWA, for almost five years
now. But now it is free for the upper tier Yahoo Store owners.
And there is tons of information in there. We are going to talk
all about that kind of stuff today.
When someone is searching for
something that you sell on a search engine, you want your store to show
up in the search results. So let's say somebody has got a dog
and their pads on their dog's feet are hurting. They say, "My
dog's feet hurt. I need to order Tuff Foot for dogs," which
is a foot balm.
So they go to Yahoo Search
and they type in Tuff Foot for dogs, and that comes up. What you
are seeing now is a search engine results page for a search for "Tuff
Foot for dogs". And if you want to follow along at home, feel
I want my store to appear on
the first page of search results. Why? Because 90% of all
the clicks that come from search engines come from the first page.
And 80% or so of those clicks come from the first five results.
So you really need to be on the first page and above the fold in the
first five or six results.
Notice that on this search
engine results page that the words that somebody searched for are bolded
actually in the listings. And if you will see our listings, we
are actually listed three and four on this page right behind the manufacturer,
which it is really tough to compete with the manufacturer these days.
The words in the link to our
page come from the <title> tag. The snippet of text comes
from the Meta description or text on the page. Also notice that
we have two listings on this page that are cracking the top 10, and
that is extremely tough to do.
Yahoo Web Analytics
When somebody clicks on that,
Yahoo Web Analytics tracks that keyword and says, "OK. This
person came from Yahoo and they searched for Tuff Foot for dogs, and
now they are on the product page." And let's pretend they
go to the product page, they see it and they buy it, and the place an
order. Yahoo Web Analytics keeps up with it and they store this
One of my favorite reports
from Yahoo Web Analytics is the converting keywords report. And
the reason I like that is because it actually collects all the converting
keyword phrases and it gives you not only the returning visitors, the
number of orders that are placed, but also the revenue that is attached
to those keywords so you can see that some keywords are more valuable
One of the things I like about
all this information is that it helps you prioritize what things you
want to work on when it comes to search engine optimization.
Top Terms- 75% of sales
The top three terms for this
one product, "Tuff Foot," "Tuff Foot," and, "Tuff Foot for
dogs" generate around 75% of the sales for that product, which is
pretty typical. You are going to see that across a lot of different
pages and a lot of different products.
39 Terms- 25% of sales
But, 25% of our sales come
from the 39 terms under that. So you want to chase those terms
as well. How do you do that? Well, you want to put the converting
keywords in the caption.
Put Converting Keywords
What I have done here on this
slide is I have taken a list of these 39 terms and I have just boiled
it down to the unique words. And then I deduped the list so that
I made sure that I am just weaving these words back into the captions.
These are the unique words that I want to have in the caption page.
Write Unique Product Descriptions
Now that you know what these
words are, I want you to write a unique product description. And
this is extremely, extremely important. Folks ask me all the time,
"How much should I write?" I want you to write one new paragraph
for every $10 in item price. This is just a good rule of thumb.
The main reason why I want you to write unique content is because it is good for your customers. Folks are going to buy stuff…I mean you don't want to look like every other store online.
But the other reason is it
is awesome for SEO. Unique content is one of the main drivers
of all of our millions of SEO customers that come through our sites.
For example, if you do a search for one of our best selling keywords, "Garmin Astro", it is a very competitive keyword and we rank on the first page, and we had 20 or 30 pages of content because of that. Here is the Google search results page for the Garmin Astro.
Do you want to find out how
many people are actually lazy retailers? Most retailers are lazy.
They take a manufacturer's product description from one of their better
selling products. And it was really easy to find how many people
are being lazy by taking the first sentence of this description, and
there are 1,770 retailers who are just copying and pasting or getting
their information out of a data feed. 1,770 lazy retailers and
I am competing with these guys.
Well so now that you know that
you need to collect your converting keywords and write unique content,
what do you do? Well, I want you to create compelling content
as well as unique content.
We found that we got 50% higher
conversions when folks visited our site and came in on a buyer's guide
compared to coming in on a typical section page. And man, we got
religion pretty fast about this, so we started writing buyer's guides
Tired of searching for your
dog in high grass or dense cover?
One of the best things that
Steve does is he takes the conversations that he has on the telephone
with folks and he boils that down into the most important stuff, and
he actually puts it on the website. And he will actually say,
you know, "Tired of losing your dog? Buy this tracking collar."
We put Steve's name on these things and it works.
This is a sales graph of the
past nine or 10 years on one of our stores. You can tell when
we started providing opinions on the website, telling folks what to
buy, more content drives more traffic.
Also, when you tell folks what
to buy, you are going to increase conversion rate. People are
busy. They don't have time to sort through hundreds and hundreds
of similar products. If you say, "This is the product that will
solve your problem. This is what you need," conversions go up.
And the secret to creating
this content is that we are always creating content no matter what we
do or where we go. Steve and I are riding around in his truck,
we are on the farm, we are training dogs, and we are recording everything.
I have got a video camera. I use my iPhone. I have got some
pretty high fallutin cameras. We photograph everything.
We transcribe everything.
I have got a guy in Alabama
that about once a week I send him an hour or two of video. He
types it up and we put it on the website. I actually get to play
the straight man. It is like, "How do you teach a dog how to
sit?" Steve says, "Well, blah, blah, blah, blah."
And I am like, "Well how long does it take him to learn?"
"Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." And this is stuff is keyword
loaded. This stuff is awesome for search engine optimization.
Steal all Manufacturer Content
Now I am about to tell you
something that is the opposite of what I told you as far as creating
unique content. I want you to steal all manufacturer content.
What do I mean by that? Well, manufacturers do a really good job
of creating content, but they don't do a good job of getting it out
there. So I want you to liberate content that you are going to
find in like owner's manuals and PDF files. I want you to transcribe
DVD's that come with products. Online videos-I want you to get
the text out of that.
A lot of people have Flash
movies. I want you to go and look at their Flash movies and have
somebody transcribe what is in that and get that information out in
simple text HTML where people can see it.
Another thing we have done
is we have repurposed product packaging. We actually will take
a box and I will give it to one of the production assistants, and she
will type up the information on the box.
And the point of purchase materials
are awesome. Look at that little flip book down there. There
is tons of stuff in there that is not on the web or anywhere else.
There is Sage looking at you
there. Steve's GSP.
SEO Elements-Title tags
and Text Links
Search engine optimization
elements haven't really changed in the past five years. I mean
ranking comes down to mostly two things: <title> tags, which is
text on the page where you have your keywords inside your <title>
tags. And what I tell folks is when you are naming your products
on the Yahoo store, make sure you use your best keywords, what folks
actually call these things, in the name field of your products, because
for most Yahoo stores, the <title> tags are created from the name
field. And it depends on who designed your Yahoo Store, and if
you have a Legacy store, and if you are using a version 3 store.
It is a little bit different, but we are going to touch on that in just
The second thing for ranking
is text links. You want other pages pointing at pages you want
to rank with keywords inside the links. That is how Google's
tells what a page is about. It is called Reputation Analysis.
It is what other pages say about your page. It is <title>
tags, text on the page, and anchor text.
I actually went in last night
and I completely redid my slides at 4 o'clock in the morning because
I wanted to do some hands on things.
If I could only do five
This is the second part of
the presentation, actually getting in and getting your hands dirty.
Paul, one of my good buddies over at Yahoo, he said, "Dude, don't
be telling all this theory stuff. Actually give them some stuff
to do. Give them some tactical things so they can go in and get
their hands dirty. What if you could only do five things on a
Yahoo Store and you are starting from day one?"
And some of this stuff is going
to be basic, and I am going to go as deep as I can based on the amount
of time that I have got. It looks like I have got another 30 minutes
#1 Install YAW
If you can only do five things
on your store, what would you do? Well the first thing I would
do: install Yahoo Web Analytics. You know why. We talked
about it a minute ago, so I will skip through this.
Configure Domain Redirects
The second thing I would do
is I would configure the domain redirects. Mr. [16:31] and I bumped
heads over this about three years ago, four years ago maybe, about how
important it was. And it is like he got it. It was awesome,
because back in the day when ViaWeb was made, when Paul Graham made
ViaWeb, you could have four of five different URL's pointing to the
exact same content, like store.yahoo.com/accountname/
Well now they have these domain
redirects. And I would be willing to say that half of the people
on this phone call don't have their 301's configured correctly.
So I went in and did some screenshots this morning.
You go to your store manager
page, and they have a help file that is really helpful as far as doing
this, but you then go under site settings to the domain names link and
then you check the "redirect all host names to my domain," and you
pick one domain. And whether that is www.yourdomain.com or store.yourdomain.com, or just plain
old yourdomain.com, you want to pick one domain and have one URL for
your content so there is only one URL pointing to your content.
And what happens is this means
that instead of having three or four versions of your site in the Google,
and in Yahoo, and in Bing, you are going to have one version, and one
page is going to get credit for all of the links. So you will
get credit for the 301 redirect. All the link juice flowing to
the store URL's will get redirected to your main URL. All of
the link juice pointing to the non-www will get redirected like in our
case of the www. I mean it is really good for consolidating your
link popularity. And after about three months of doing this, you
will see an increase in your Google traffic. I mean this is probably
the most valuable thing that I could tell. Out of the 45,000 Yahoo
Store owners, who knows how many people are not doing this?
Homepage <title> tags
If I could only do three things,
the most important on page element for SEO is the <title> tag.
The most important page on your site is your homepage. Therefore,
your home page's <title> tag is it. If I could only do
one more thing, that is what I would do. I would pimp out your
homepage <title> tag.
And <title> tags are
hard. I mean you get 65-70 characters to work with. On your
homepage you are working with broader keywords. I recommend going
for three or four overlapping phrases.
One of my spammer buddies is
awesome. He said that a <title> tag is not a wish list.
If you are not ranking top 20 or better for the terms that are in your
<title> tag, you are wasting one of your most precious resources.
Homepage: Write intro text
500-1000 words of body text
If I could do a fourth thing,
I would put 500 to a 1,000 words of body text on my homepage.
So many Yahoo Store owners that I see, they have these beautiful graphics
and they have these pictures with these specials, and they have their
contents, and they have like maybe to or three sentences, and they have
their final text, but there is no meat on the sandwich.
On your homepage, I want 500-1000
words of text. And one way to do it is to put snippets to explain
what you sell and have a welcome message. But load that sucker
up with keywords.
Here is an example on my homepage,
Robsnell.com, where I just wrote an intro letter. And I basically
talked about what I do and have some information in there.
The fifth thing corresponds
with this. This is so impotent nowadays because since you homepage
is your most important page on your site, because most of your link
popularity is flowing to it, the links coming off your homepage are
your most valuable links.
If I link to something from
Robsnell.com with anchor text in it, I need it to rank for that relatively
quickly. I mean even really competitive phrases. I use it
all the time to get other pages on other domains to rank. It is
You want to link your 40 best
pages using information from your Yahoo Web Analytics using you 40 best
keywords in the anchor text. And I just picked 40 out of a hat.
Google is going to count 100 or so links on a page, but if you don't
know HTML, you need to learn how to hand code these little bitty links.
Email me and I will show you
a place. I know it is in the book. If you don't know HTML
and you are just using "specials", you can throw you 20 best products
and specials on the page, and you can use the contents to have your
20 best category links. Here is an example further down the page
on Robsnell.com where I have embedded these little bitty HTML links
inside my body text.
This is the most important
thing. This is why I didn't sleep last night. I stayed
up all last night because at about seven o'clock yesterday evening
I had an epiphany on something I have been working on for the past three
to six months as far as how to put a dollar amount on SEO.
CKWP-you will see that in my
notebooks. If you know me, see me at conferences, every conference
I have been to has a notebook. I have dozens of these little black
notebooks chalked full of SEO stuff. And the thing that I finally
wrapped my head around, CKWP is Converting Keyword Phrase. That
is a keyword phrase that if somebody searched for in a search engine,
came to your site, and placed an order and bought something.
I have 21,000 of those on Gun
Dog Supply as of last night. 21,000 converting keyword phrases;
little bitty oil wells. Some are worth more than others.
The most awesome thing is now, because of Yahoo Web Analytics, now we
know what the dollar amount is, the value of a visitor.
There is a statistic called "revenue per visitor". You divide the revenue by the number of visitors for any given keyword phrase. And once you have 1,000 or so visitors and maybe 100 or more sales, you have a pretty good idea of what the value of a visitor is.
Well that is the first part.
The second part is, and I will talk about this more in a minute, is
that we have a pretty good idea where folks click on a search engine
results page. If 90% of the people who are visiting a search engine
results page are coming from the first page of results, and it is about
30% from number one, 12% from number two, 9% from number three, and
it just drops off like a stone after that, most people are clicking
in the top three to five places.
I can tell you that you can
double your traffic if you are in four, five, or six if I can get you
up into maybe two or three. And if you know revenue per visitor,
you can multiply that and go, "Gosh. I will make an extra $50,000
in sales off this one keyword if I go from number seven to number three."
And you can say, "Well OK. What is my profit on that?
Gosh. If I keep this up, if I actually do a good job of building
up some content and getting some links, I could probably spend $10,000
on developing content just for one keyword phrase," one of your best
So what I want you to do is
once you have Yahoo Web Analytics and you have got more than three months
worth of data, I want you to go in and export all of your converting
keywords. And I do this about every 90 days, and I love this.
Paul asked me what I was going
to run. I go in and under marketing in the tab, I go down to conversions
and then I select "SEO and SEM", and then I click "by search phrase",
and I get a list of my converting keywords. This was early in
the morning. These were my converting keywords. And normally
when you log into YWA, you have that one day on your calendar.
Well the first thing I want
you to do is I want you to go set the date range as long as you can.
And in one of my index tools accounts I have got five years worth of
The second thing I want you
to do is I want you to go set the results per page to a number higher
than 10 so you can see a whole bunch of stuff in one fatal swoop.
I had to strip the keywords
Look at these different keywords.
Keyword number one: I have got 35,000 visits, $175,000 in revenue, my
conversion rate for that one keyword is 2.4%, my average sale is a little
bit over $200, my revenue per visitor is $5.
Now go down and compare that
with keyword nine where I have got one tenth of the traffic and it is
a much smaller amount of revenue. But look at my revenue per visitor-
$12. And I have got a pretty good idea of what keyword that is.
And I know that I can increase my traffic and sales by concentrating
on that one keyword. Look at that revenue per visitor and the
average sale. I mean I look through this and I am looking for
opportunities inside all of these keywords. I get real excited
about this, and I apologize if I am going too fast.
Look at keyword seven.
Not that much traffic, not that many orders, a pretty good revenue number.
I mean it is the seventh biggest keyword in the history of the company.
About a 1% conversion rate. But that average sale is $639.
And I know for a fact that people are calling on the phone to place
orders that aren't getting tied back into Yahoo Web Analytics.
But this is the information
that you can take and then match it up with your position in the search
engines to figure out what your opportunity is, and this is the epiphany
that I had. And Whittaker, we have some work to do. We got
to build this thing out.
One of the first things I do
when I have these…I had 100,000 and I did a full export. Not
just a full screen; I did 100,000 keywords last night. One of
the first things that I did was I took out my company name and my domain
Some people call these branded
terms and navigational terms. But they are keyword phrases that
have your company name in them and then have your domain name in them.
What happens is people come
to your site and they don't bookmark you, and they remember they bought
from you company, but they don't remember your URL, or they are lazy
and instead of typing in your domain in the address bar, they will actually
do a search for it and unfortunately overwrite that first keyword.
So I am seeing about half of
the keywords across Yahoo stores, all the different Yahoo stores, getting
overwritten with these terms. So I pull these terms out and I
I had about $6 million worth
of sales with these keywords I was looking at last night, and I can't
remember what the date range was. It was a pretty big…it was
more than a year.
$1 million of sales were tied
to these company name/domain keywords, which was a pretty big amount.
I mean it was more than 20% of our sales, but it wasn't that many
keywords. It was only 200 some odd keywords.
Getting this information out
allows you to prioritize based on RPV, revenue per visitor, and average
sales. So you can go in and say, "OK. Well gosh.
I made $20 per visitor on this keyword and I make $1 per visitor on
this keyword. What is the upside? I am going to test that
big keyword." You might be a little more competitive.
All right. This graph
right here that is about to show shows my top 45 keywords during this
time period. Look how it drops off. They talk about the
long tail. I bucket my keywords into anywhere from three to five
different buckets. Probably the first 15-20 keywords are what
I call like the "candle" keywords; just the very…Oh, they are
awesome. I mean they are $20,000 plus keywords. And then
you will see this kind of levels off. And then the next part of
the…like the "candle." And then the next batch is the icing.
The middle batch is the cake. And then you have got the crumbs
for like the onesie, twosie keywords.
The next thing I do is I take
these 21,000 keywords and I actually tag them by category and brand
by doing some filtering in Excel. And Excel is a tool that you
need to know a lot about.
This is actually one of the
smaller buckets that I got out of these 20,000 keywords last night.
One of my programmer buddies came over last night and he was laughing
about he could do this in five lines of code and it took me two hours
to do it by hand. But I learned a lot about my keyword phrases.
I got about 40 different brand buckets and about 20-30 different category
buckets that help me look at these keywords. So instead of looking
just at the top of the mountain, I am actually able to take a specific
keyword like "Odor Mute", which is a product that we sell, and get
all the "Odor Mute" converting keywords in this one bucket.
Look at the numbers on the
left hand side. You will see that Odor Mute…I mean it is number
143 in our converting keyword phrases for this time period. It
generated $4,000 in revenue from that one keyword phrase.
The second base phrase is OdorMute
without a space. And then a more specific kind, "Odor Mute C",
and then you will notice these numbers start getting bigger because
there are not that many sales because they are pretty obscure keywords.
But this is awesome.
Instead of just working with one or two keywords, I like working with
about 20 at a given time, because you can optimize for multiple words
at a time.
All right. Then you target
segments with the greatest opportunity. I talked about this earlier,
but I actually go in and Revenue Per Visitor…I don't even know if
you can get that out of Yahoo Web Analytics. I never get it.
I just divide revenue per visitor and get these numbers.
And you will notice that if
you don't have a lot of visits, that RPV number is just unrealistic.
I mean there are some keyword phrases in there with one search and a
conversion, like, "Odor Mute Kennels", and it has 100% conversation
rate. That is totally unrealistic. You are not going to
replicate that the next time somebody comes searching for "Odor Mute
But you are going to get all
kinds of ideas for more ways to generate traffic, so I am only looking
at the icing and the candle and the flame keywords for an accurate Revenue
Per Visitor and conversion rate.
All right. I call this "SEO Upside", and I have gotten some of these ideas from Aaron Wall. He is a guy that I follow. SEO Book; I am a member of that. I play around with SEOmoz. They have some tools. Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land has some really good articles. And from all these different things I have kind of stitched together a….If I know what the revenue per visitor is on a given keyword, and I know how many searches there are on Google thanks to a Google keyword tool…
One thing I do recommend is
set your match type to exact so you are not seeing broad match.
I think exact is a lot more accurate as far as the number of folks per
month searching on Google for these keyword phrases.
And then under "show/hide
columns," I like to see what the estimated average cost per click
is, and sometimes that is even higher than my revenue per visitor, so
I can't sometimes afford to pay for these clicks.
But I just took one of our
keyword phrases, "Doghouse heater", and threw it in there just to
see what would happen. And you can see, the estimated average
cost per click. I can see how many advertisers there are competing
for it. I can see the global monthly search volume.
It is not a lot. But
if you do this for each one of these little bitty thimbles and add those
into the buckets, and then you do the buckets, you can totally build
your campaigns out because of this.
The next piece of information
that I want to know is, "How do I rank on Google?" 70% of
my free organic search engine traffic comes from Google. Yahoo
is great. I love Yahoo. Bing is new, it is neat, it is shiny.
You know, it is Microsoft. I mean I get a little bit of traffic
from them, but it is like it is almost 10 times as much from Google,
so I am going to concentrate from Google. And if I get some Yahoo
traffic, if I get some Bing traffic, that is great. But I am not
going to do anything that is going to mess up my Google traffic tracing
these little bitty fish.
What I do is I use some alternative
methods for getting this, and you may know what I am talking about.
The search engines do not want you to pound them with thousands of requests
per day to see what your rankings are on keywords. So be very
careful. You can get your IP address banned from Google.
I mean Yahoo will ban me after 50 searches. They are notorious
for hating people looking at their search results.
But I will go in and hand check
these. And look at the third line. You know, I am number
one and two for Odor Mute C. The first two keywords on the first
two rows, "OdorMute" and "Odor Mute", I am number two and three
right after the manufacturer. But if you go down to the fourth
line, "Rider Odor Mute", I don't even rank. I don't even
know how I got a sale for that because I don't have the word "Rider"
on the page. Maybe from broad match PPC buys or something.
But you can see a lot of these
I am two and three, two and three. And I will show you some search
pages in a minute. But these show me the opportunities I am…Look
at Ryder's Odor Mute. I am number eight. I mean number eight
Then I go over to my Google
keyword tool and I want to see how many people a month are searching
for these keyword phrases. So I paste all of these Yahoo Web Analytics
from my site, keywords that have generated traffic for me, over into
this Google keyword tool, and there are only four keywords that Google
even knows about, which means my competitors probably don't know about
these, which means there is gold hidden inside your Yahoo Web Analytics
in your converting keywords. I mean there are thousands, and thousands,
and thousands of dollars. And if you are not interested in getting
the thousands, and thousands, and thousands of dollars or the value
of it, give me a holler. We will set up a revenue share deal.
I will be happy to go in and mine the gold out of your land and split
it with you.
Look at the cost per click
on some of these. I mean they are paying $2 a click for Ryder
OdorMute? I will be getting the free traffic. But I mean
there are only 22 people a month searching for that according to Google,
so who knows? But I have got 21,000 converting keywords, so I
am going after any keyword that has got Odor Mute in it.
All right. One of the
most important things that you need to do, beginner or advanced, you
need to start with a clean web browser. Thanks to personalized
results, if you are logged into your Google Adwords account, or Gmail
account, or any Google account, or if you are on a computer where you
have done multiple searches, Google starts to customize the results
based on what things you click on and similar keywords terms.
Google is getting really smart about this.
So if you want to see what
most people see who are just starting to search in a category, you need
to go clean out your browser. And what I do is I use Safari.
And I am like a Macintosh person sometimes and a PC person sometimes.
But there is a version of Safari for the PC now. And Safari has
this awesome thing. You go into Safari and you hit "Reset Safari".
And it makes all of you history go away. It empties the cache
and removes all of the cookies. And the only thing that you have in
common is that you are on the same IP address. You don't have
to reboot your computer or anything. So you just go reset Safari
and you have got a clean version of Google.
All right. All positions
are not created equal. We were talking about this earlier.
When you look at a Google search results page…go to Google and search
for "Odor Mute" and log out. You will notice in this screenshot
I am actually logged in, so I am kind of embarrassed by that.
In the screenshot you see 10
results, 10 links, 10 blue links to different websites when folks searched
for Odor Mute. All right. Odor Mute the company is number
one in the free search results. I don't know if you can see
my mouse over here or not. I am going to move my mouse, my pointer,
because I haven't got everything checked.
All right. The second
and third are me. I have got clustered results, which is really
cool. You need to ask me about that. I am above the shopping
results. And then you have all these others after that.
And if you are a Yahoo store
owner and you see, "Oh, I am number seven or I am number eight,"
and you go, "Well that is OK. I am on the first page of results."
But if you realize, most people's browsers don't even show the stuff
below the shopping results. And what happens is what you see and
what makes you sleep at night is different. What your customers
see is this. And 30% of them click on that first big one, and
12% of them click on that second one, and then 9% on that third one,
and then it just drops off like a stone.
Look at those little micro…l
just resized these based on the percentage of clicks that those actually
get. Seven, eight, nine, and 10 don't get any traffic at all.
You gotta get above that shopping results. You have got to be
in the top five minimum and you better be one, two, or three.
You better have two in there.
The next thing I do is I check
several keyword rankings. I have got a new version of Safari opened
and I pop on over to Google and do a search for Odor Mute, which we
saw a little while ago. It was a pretty good keyword. And
they are already trying to tell me that I don't know what I am looking
for. But I still rank. I got two pages ranking two and three.
That is great.
All right. And then the
next page comes up. We do a search for "OdorMute" as one word,
which was my second best phrase in this bucket, and I am ranking two
or three. And over on the right hand side you might see my safety
out there, my pay per click ad. I got broad match on OdorMute
in case there is a keyword phrase I don't optimize for yet.
All right. And then here
is one I don't even rank on the first page. I am not even showing
up for broad match. What the hell is going on, Google? Ryder
OdorMute. So what I did last night at about three o'clock in
the morning is I started adding the word "Ryder" all over the OdorMute
pages. And I don't know if it is published yet or not.
But you can see that all my
competitors here are showing up. OdorMute C; hey, I am number
one and number two. And every 10 or so searches I will go reset
Safari, because I don't want Google to start thinking for me and I
want to see what most other people see.
"OdorMute dogs"; I am ranking
two and three. I am sucking over here in the shopping search results.
I have got to learn more about that. For "Buy OdorMute".
OK. Amazon does a really good job about ranking for "buy"
plus a keyword phrase. And I am not disappointed that I am three
and four, because that is tough to compete with Amazon on a generic
product like that. And then "Buy Odor Mute" I am actually
trumping Amazon there.
All right. I am going
to throw Yahoo some love. I will actually go search on OdorMute,
and I actually got some good ideas for some more keywords here.
All right. So now we are moving on. Actually, I know have this information. I want to actually do the optimization. I have all this data. I have this spreadsheet that keeps crashing because it has got 100,000 lines in it. I actually want to optimize on the page. So what do I do?
All right. The way I
find the most relevant pages is I do a site colon query. If you
type in site:yourdomain.com and do a search on Google or Yahoo for a
keyword phrase, it is only going to show you pages on your site that
come back. I have got 57 pages on Guddogsupply.com that have OdorMute
on the page, and here is a screenshot of that just so you can see.
And so you will see the first
two or three pages. I am like, "OK. Well those are the
pages I think I want to optimize for." One of the things that
I do though is I examine the Google cache. If you will notice
in the search results pages off to the right of the URL is a link that
says "cache" sometimes. And when you click on that, you actually
see a copy of the web page. And this is what Google saw when they
spydered your web page.
You can see the word OdorMute.
I counted 17 times where the word OdorMute appears on this page.
Frequency is a big deal. You want to have multiple occurrences,
a high frequency of converting keywords on your product pages.
You don't want to keyword stuff, but you know, you want to do a good
job. And actually, when I saw this page I was embarrassed, because
this is not our text. This is actually text from the manufacturer.
And I apologize if anybody is eating lunch, because we are talking about
getting rid of pet odors here. But this is a good product for
us, and actually I can give you some real data here.
One other thing when you are
looking at the caches, I want you to look at the cache date. And
this is about two weeks ago. This is a good indicator about the
health of a page.
Now the problem is that you
could have your page…your page could be spydered once a year and it
just so happens it was two weeks ago. So I won't know until
I look again that this is really a two week old page.
Look at the cache date on your
homepage, and that is a very, very high indicator of trust. If
you have a very short cache date, if it was yesterday or the day before,
or even a week ago, Google thinks your site is good. That is awesome
to look at.
One of the other things about
the cache is that there is a link on the page two slides back that actually
shows you the text version. It takes away all the HTML images
and just shows you the text. And you can actually see on here
what the Alt text is in images. You can see my H1 tags.
You can see all my text. And I wish I could scroll down, but it
is in PowerPoint, not an HTML page. But you can actually page
down three or four times because there is so much text content below
the fold here.
All right. I want to
optimize this page. I now know what the most valuable page is
on my site. I want to examine the default SEO elements, so I actually
go to the page. I don't know if you can see this on your monitor
or not, but at the very top of the page that is about to appear on my
other laptop over here is the actual product page. There we go.
At the very, very, very top underneath my tabs here, I see that the
<title> tag actually show at the top of the page. So it
is "OdorMute C extra concentrated for kennel use. Well if you
look in the red text above the picture, that is also the headline.
Well that is also the name. This is my default built in RTML Isvan.
And Michael Whittaker taught me everything I know. Dave Burke
over at Visual Future has helped me a bunch, too. But I mean most
of this is my own RTML that I have done that is SEO friendly.
And you can get your RTML jockey to do the same thing.
I want to look at the source,
though. So you see in the right hand corner I have got "View
Source." So right click and let's view source. Let's
look at the different original SEO elements. Well the <title>
tag. There is my <title> tag. That is coming from
the name. All right. You see that.
All right. When the next
thing loads, and the slides are a little bit delayed, the second thing
that loads is the rel=canonical, which is a new tag that came out.
And if you are already doing your 301 redirects and you are an advanced
store, if you are doing $1 million a year or $500,000 a year and you
know what you are doing, you need to have canonical set up on your site.
Any RTML developer worth a flip can do this so easily. I did a
template in like 10 minutes. I will probably give the template
away at one time or something. I just have that hard wired in
The Meta description, I am
just grabbing the name of the product…actually, the name of the company
plus the name of the product, plus the first 200 characters from the
caption, and then I add whatever items are in the contents field.
I got a funky RTML recipe for doing that.
And then finally, I have got
my Meta keywords tag, which I just have that in there. Meta keyword
tags don't really do anything for you, but they don't hurt you,
and I just throw the name or some keywords in there.
All right. Let's jump
into store editor. Just so that I can make sure how these RTML
templates are generating these very important SEO elements for me, I
just throw in some things like, "This is the name" and, "This
is the caption" inside the name and the caption fields. All
right. See how there is nothing in the headlines and there is nothing
in the code?
All right. Then I go
back to the…I hit update and then it actually shows me, it writes
in, "This is the name." You see it up there in the bread crumbs
in the top of the page. You see it at the very bottom with the
start of the caption. "This is the caption." So I am
like, "OK. Well that is where the…I know it is doing this.
Let me look at it." So I view source again a different way.
OK, well actually you can see. This is the name, pipe, pipe, pipe,
pipe, pipe, and then whatever was in there. Meta description:
you can see this is the name and then this is the caption. So
I am generating my Meta descriptions from my name plus my caption.
All right. So I want
to override my SEO defaults. And this is one of those things where
it depends on who built your Yahoo Store, whether you are a Legacy store,
whether you are a custom Legacy store, whether you are a Version 3,
which has got some really cool SEO stuff built in, or a custom Version
3. I mean there are so many ways that you could do this and a
lot of them are very good, but you want to override your SEO defaults.
And one of the ways I do that, page-title, I create a new property on
my edit page called "page-title". I think it is built in on
the Version 3 stores, but in the Legacy stores and in the new stores,
I think this will trump and make this the title.
Before I do that, I actually
do some quick keyword research, because besides all these OdorMute keywords,
I am like, "You know there are some other keywords that people are
searching for when they are searching for OdorMute, like solving their
problems." And I found this when I was doing some keyword research,
like Google suggests. When you type something in the taskbar of
your browser, Google will actually suggest different keyword phrases
in ascending order by popularity. So I am like, "Oh. Well
I might have to have the words ‘views" and ‘Canada' and ‘Ryder,
which is not on my page, and ‘where to buy.'" I actually
might need to have that on my page. So I grab those and then I
go over to Yahoo, and Yahoo has got two different awesome things as
far as…it is the "also try" stuff.
Yahoo will actually suggest
other keyword phrases for you to add to your site. So go there
and do a search and get some ideas for keywords there. We talked
about using the Google keyword tool. If you go to the Google homepage
itself and you have the right browser, it will actually do this.
And I was going to talk in "pet OdorMute" and all these other pet
odor things come up. I was like, "Dang! That is a bunch
of keywords. I need to look at that."
So I went in and did keyword
research, three or four slides back, and per month there is $110,000
worth of pet odor smell removal keyword phrases that generate 70,000
visitors a month. And I am spinning off a micro site.
I was telling Paul that I don't
know what to do with micro sites anymore. But man, there is some
serious revenue there. There is multi-million dollar revenue because
that is just one small niche inside this…you know, for one product.
So I took all those keywords
and actually sat down and spent five or ten minutes and wrote something
for my caption and my Meta description. And you will see here
at the same time, I also wrote a compelling headline. I said,
"Hey Ryder's," and you see my keyword in there, "OdorMute C concentrated
power works," and, "eliminate pet odors." And there is a
good keyword phrase. "Remove dog urine smells from almost any
material." And I apologize if anybody is eating. "Order
yours. In stock and ready to ship." You know I have got a benefit,
I have got a call to action, and that is a compelling headline.
I mean I have got a dog. I need to order some of that stuff today.
So I am pimping this thing out.
Put your converting keyword
phrases in the name of your products. On the left hand side you see
my somewhat dynamic navigation. Isvan helped me do this as far
as figuring out in my head how to do it. I hand code the RTML
and it is hilarious watching him look at my code. It is very bad
code, but it renders awesome pages.
Depending on where you are
on my site, you get different navigation. It is not just hiding
You see the cousin pages and brother and sister pages as well as the
parent pages. And if you will notice the fourth keyword phrase
from the bottom, "Ryder OdorMute C for dogs" is an alternate keyword
phrase or a short name that is on the product we were just looking at.
But if you see the thumbnail on the right hand side, the picture of
the thumbnail and the name underneath, that is actually the name.
So I have got multiple fields that I am pulling from. And then
finally, these are the SEO elements that I finally settled on in optimizing
this one page. And the <title> tag, it has got plenty of
keywords in it. Actually, I don't have Ryder in there.
I probably want to go back and do that. And I actually hand wrote
the description that went along with my caption. And I still keep
my Meta keyword name. And I just took out rel=canonical that was
All right. That is one
bucket of keyword phrases. That is 21 keyword phrases out of 21,000.
I mean it took me probably 15-20 minutes including keyword research
with 75 tabs open on my laptop.
You want to be able to scale
your efforts. And I want to give a shoutout to my scrapbook girls
and Julie, who I wrote this template for her because I wanted her to
see what her SEO elements looked like on her site. And I have
got this, and I will probably end up giving this thing away too because
it is pretty easy to make. You have to know how an individual
store generates these SEO tags, but this is what I call a utility template.
It only shows up in the editor. I have got one page. I got
take 100 ID's. I dump them in this field and then it generates
the SEO elements in text where I can see it.
Then the cool thing, and I
am really proud of this, is it actually counts the number of characters
in the <title> tag and it tells me how much I have got left and
if I am over. It actually shows me what the Meta description is
and it tells me if I need a caption. And here are two pages…there
are 98 more below this. And Julie has done an awesome job of going
in and actually writing out these awesome captions. But Julie,
your homepage needs a caption there darling. But you are doing
a good, good job. And I have put that on several other stores,
and it is just really helpful because you can see it all in one spot.
You can see the caption field is the body text.
Let me start off from the top.
The big purple thing is the <title> tag. You can see the
Meta description, which is just the name, which that is not good.
That is using that old Solid Cactus Meta description. Fix that.
Rip that sucker out.
Then in the Meta keywords it
looks like you are using the same Meta keywords across the entire site,
which that is not good. Actually, I don't know if that hurts
you or not. Meta keywords really don't matter, but it makes
me a little nervous.
All right. Optimize on site.
We have done optimize on page, but now it is optimize on site.
Time wise, I think I am running a little bit tight. I am sure
Mike will cut me out. I got two minutes. All right. Great.
Basically, what that means
is find good store pages for embedded links. And so like if I
wanted "remove dog smell"; if that was my keyword phrase that I
wanted to rank for, I would search my entire site for that phrase for
pages that don't already link back to my OdorMute pages.
And what I will do is I do
a query on Yahoo, which is site:yourdomain, which limits the pages returned
to just your store, minus link to whatever URL that you want to get
keywords to because you don't want to show pages that you already
have links from, and then plus your converting keywords phrases.
So there are three elements that you search for on Yahoo, and this was
one for "orange dog collars," one of my favorite pet phrases that
gets no traffic, but the guys in the house of representative seems to
Then you want to optimize offsite,
and here is an example of what we live with out here in Mississippi.
You guys think we all live out in the swamp and don't wear shoes,
but actually, sometimes we do have possums everywhere. We had
a possum break into one of my brother's birdcages. And you can
see I have got embedded links. This is on a blog that is off the
site. I like having multiple sites. I have got my own networks
of sites and I am real open about it. They are not link farms.
They are actually different content sites and I do lots of text links
back to my stores for my content. You can see a link to Johnny
House, and a Quail funnel, and a Predator proof funnel, and just a whole
bunch of text below this and not that many links. Tons and tons
of pictures. That is at Stevesnell.com if you want to see that.
And that is it. That
is the end of my slides. And man, I nailed it. I got one minute
to go. I am going 100 miles per hour. Man, I have got 193
slides to cover.
Yeah. We got Mac, and
we got Apple, and spam.
If you have got $60, get an
Olympus VN6200 PC. It is my fifth digital recorder and it is the
perfect one for recording content.
Well the main thing is make
sure that you got Analytics turned on. And whether it is Google
Analytics or Yahoo Analytics, that allows you to…Once you turn it
on, you can go on vacation for a year and come back and you have got
a year's worth of data. I mean it is always connecting data.
And since it is hard wired into the store now, you don't have to worry
about the implementation being right. Is it recording all my transactions?
And Whittaker had to do all these triple back flips to get GA to work
with the Yahoo Store. You guys have got it baked in now.
I run GA and Yahoo Web Analytics on all my stores so that I can kind
of see two different kinds of reports and kind of watch things.
But run Analytics so that you
can collect these SEO...You can see other words in it, but I mainly
use it for getting 21,000 converting keywords.
Right. Well Yahoo Web
Analytics is so much more powerful than GA. I mean GA is playing
catch-up. And let me brag here for just a minute. Buying
index tools was awesome. I have used them for four years and it
is so powerful. I mean I fall off into it. I have got 100,000
Now Google, it is easy.
It is kind of easy to use and there are some pretty graphs and stuff
like that. But man, if you want to dig in, get you an IT guy and
let him dig into your stuff.
But for my top tips, optimize
your homepage. Get your <title> tag, it is text on the page,
like 500 to 1,000 words, and hyperlinks embedded in that text to your
It is a never ending battle.
I mean the thing is I like to give a lot of this information away because
we have been doing this for 12 or 13 years now and so many people helped
us get to where we are, I feel it is my responsibility…You know that
is why I wrote the book. That is why I put a lot of information
Figuring out what the SEO website
is, that is a $5,000 or $10,000 consultation with some of the guys that
go to these conferences we have.
Yeah, absolutely. Go
to Amazon and search for Yahoo Store and Starting a Yahoo Business for
Dummies. It came out in 2006 but there is still some pretty good
information in there. I make $1, so buy a book.
If you go to Robsnell.com you
can sign up on my newsletter. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org gets you on my auto-responder for
six emails and then you are on my newsletter. I send out two or
three newsletters a year. But that is probably the best way to
get in touch with me.
Let me add one thing.
I have about 100 people that I owe links to, and I will hook up with
you all. I have been up for 36 hours, and so I am going to bed.
And I promise I will email all of ya'll in 18 hours when I wake up.
>>>>> Click the "REGISTER NOW" button below or go here
Stay classy, college kid neighbors of mine...
We're Rob & Steve Snell. I'm Rob (the one with the goatee on the left), the internet marketing consultant, & Yahoo Store guy. Baby brother Steve is my business partner who runs our other 2 companies and keeps the things going behind the scenes at Snell Brothers.
I think of myself as the guy who makes the slings and stones that other "little guys" use to whoop up on Goliath, i.e. big box category killing large corporations. I work for the small business guy.
As a retailer, myself, I know where you are coming from! We just sold the last store of our retail hobby company to a local customer, so I can concentrate on what I do best - selling stuff over the internet. From 1989 to 2001, we turned a $500 student loan into a 5-store chain of brick and mortar hobby stores with 10 company-owned Yahoo! Stores, and an order fulfillment warehouse. We own the Copy Cow, a copy shop in our college town of Starkville, MS, that we started with $50 when the local Kinko's closed. Our other family business is gundogsupply.com which sells dog stuff on the internet through Yahoo! Stores.
When it comes to marketing & design consulting, I'm pretty much a one-man-band. I do have some production folks at the Copy Cow who help resize jpegs from time to time.
A store that loads too slowly.
A. STORE. THAT. LOADS. TOO. SLOWLY.
Most people STILL do not have high speed internet access. Just because everyone YOU know has DSL, or a T-1, or a cable modem, most folks still have the dreaded 56.6K dial-up.
Lean up your site. You'll make more money. Really! - Rob
P.S. Surf your site through your grandmother's AOL connection on a P100 and see if you still want to buy!
Makes you think.
Why does DEXTER Hate the Google?
Why is Dexter hating on The Google? www.youtube.com Showtime's DEXTER says "Google is so 5 minutes ago... Avoid getting tripped up by that SEO BS by using a different engine? WTF?
It worked. The first time I tried it, it really worked. The shopping cart worked. The search engine worked. The secure server worked.
Yahoo! Store is an on-line tool to help you build webstores and on-line catalogs. It's a turn-key solution for small and medium-sized web stores. You just plug in your products and your company information into the Yahoo! Store format. The final result is a good looking web site that loads fast and is extremely customer friendly.
Over 13000 companies have chosen Yahoo! Store as their web business solution. Yahoo! Store is perfect for individuals, small business owners, and larger companies looking to experiment with e-commerce without spending thousands upon thousands of dollars. Instead of hiring a full-time webmaster to run a server and install and maintain expensive software, and keep a T-1 line open, let the folks at Yahoo! Store do it.
Your "mall rent" in Yahoo! Store covers use of the software as well as the real estate. Yahoo! Store is software run on Yahoo!'s servers. You access this software over the internet by using your Netscape or Explorer browser. You edit your site from your home or office or anywhere in the world where you have internet access.
You can start your own account at store.yahoo.com and have a baby site up and running in about ten minutes. Realistically, it will take another 8-10 hours of tweaking to get your site to look right. When you hire me, I can turn your graphics and catalog copy into a prototype store within a day or three.
Yahoo! Store rent runs $100 a month for up to 50 items, and $300 a month for up to 1000 items. I would also suggest spending at least $400-500 a month on banner ads on qualified sites to generate the traffic you need to get the orders you want. Designers run anywhere from $55 to $155 an hour. When you hire the Snell Brothers, you pay by the item, so you know exactly what your costs are going into the project…
The good news is that you can try new product lines or business concepts without a long-term commitment. The cost to open a retail store is anywhere from $25,000 up into the millions of dollars. You can open an on-line store for as little as $100 a month. You can have a professional designer do your webstore for around a couple of thousand dollars.
The majority of the "hard work" has been done by the software designers. Instead of spending your time figuring out how to get the shopping cart software to work, you spend your time promoting your site, and hopefully filling orders from around the world.
This page was created at 9:43pm CT on Monday, June 13, 2016. Let's see how long it takes to get crawled and indexed. I'm betting hours, tops.
How much content does one need to have a page in the index? Let's see.
hey! quick question? any reason normal pages would generate a 404? am trying to work up a protocol for using GA to show 404 pages and I'm using the TITLE= filter but it's pulling up pages that shouldn't be 404. Is that just server weirdness? or user connectivity issues maybe? you know a better way to find 404s? YWA was easy!
I have 4-5 nutritional products I want to market. Is it worth getting a Yahoo! Store solely for the traffic from Yahoo! Shopping or if I should just set up 4 or 5 separate e-commerce sites and drive traffic to them through Pay-Per-Click ads (Google Adwords, Overture, or Findwhat), other links, or by buying ezine ads / writing articles?
For me, Yahoo! Shopping is only the beginning of INTERNET MARKETING. If you sell products that appeal to a broad range of consumers, you can benefit. If your prices are extremely competitive and you give great service, you can do rather well.
Take a look at the Yahoo! Store PAGEVIEWS graph above. This store had been in Yahoo! Shopping for almost a year before this graph.
The store also has had a 5-Star Rating for well over a year, but got little or no traffic or sales from Yahoo Shopping. I think it was a combination of poor Yahoo! Store design and bad item names. The folks who did click through from Yahoo! Shopping either couldn't navigate the store or didn't have faith in the company because of the look of the store.
First, we did a complete redesign, switching to custom RTML templates so we could have global section navigation using search engine friendly text links. Then we fixed the names in the product database.
YAHOO SHOPPING SALES BUMP -- The first bump in traffic came from Yahoo! Shopping after optimizing the product names to include keywords in the name field. Instead of "MODEL #1234" we would use "MANUFACTURER NAME - MODEL NAME #1234 DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVE NOUN."
The second bump is when Google picked up the changes driving sales from Google, Yahoo!(Google database), and AOL (Google database).
The third bump is me buying Google Adwords in the slowest part of the year for this particular retailer. We're paying 6-cents a click. Don't tell the competition.
Yahoo Shopping - What's the Big Deal?Yahoo! Shopping is the shopping portal of Yahoo.com. It's a collection of 22,000 Yahoo Stores (with literally millions of products) and around 500 FEATURED MERCHANTS who pay up to $250,000 a year to be included in Yahoo! Shopping's RMI program.
But is it a Yahoo Store? - Just because a company is in Yahoo! Shopping, doesn't mean they are using the Yahoo Store software. You can tell by adding something to your shopping cart and looking at the URL for something like http://order.store.yahoo.net/webstore-design/cgi-bin/wg-order?unique=f6140&catalog=ACCOUNTNAME&et=3f4f6848&basket=5Cd2e188d8010e583
Yahoo Stores can opt into Y!Shopping for less than $250,000 by paying Y! 4% of Yahoo! Shopping-generated sales. You'll need at least 20-30 orders with positive experiences to get any chance at selling anything because of the way Shopping Searches rankings are weighted by customer service ratings.
You must have a 5-Star Customer Service Rating to compete and rank high in Yahoo! Shopping. It seems to take 100 orders or so because most folks do NOT rate you. There are ways to get customers to rate you (or re-rate you faster - beg, bribe, cajole), but it takes forever. And as long as you don't have a 5-Star Yahoo! Shopping Customer Service Rating, you'll never rank high enough to get enough traffic to get enough sales to get enough positive ratings. Make sense?
Most of my Yahoo! Store clients get 5-10% of their sales from Yahoo! Shopping (which costs 4% of sales), but the majority of their sales come from ORGANIC TRAFFIC (free search engine traffic like Google/Yahoo!/AOL) or DIRECTORY LISTINGS (Yahoo!, Looksmart, DMOZ), or Pay-Per-Click advertising like GOOGLE ADWORDS or OVERTURE, or external links from other sites.
Yahoo Shopping alone is NOT ENOUGH. I had a client who had a successful non-Yahoo! Store and we copied the store into his Yahoo! Store but did NOT have a unique domain.
There were NO external links, and since the Yahoo Store looked EXACTLY like his "real" store, all the directories considered it a MIRROR SITE, so he got no links. If it were up to me, I would have rebranded the site as a different site, focused the Yahoo! Store on a niche within his business, picked a domain name, and marketed the site like it was a stand-alone e-commerce site: YAHOO DIRECTORY LISTINGS, ZEAL / LOOKSMART listings, DMOZ submission (as long as he had unique content), and use then a combination of SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION techniques and PAY-PER-CLICK marketing buys to drive traffic to the web store.
FEATURED MERCHANTS (both Yahoo! Stores and non-Yahoo! Store companies) get a boost in their rankings because they pay Yahoo! Shopping for ads & prominent placement. I've heard this costs anywhere from $10,000.00 a month on up, but contact Y!Shopping for details.
I've seen several clients try FEATURED MERCHANT (several years ago), but we could never prove the ads were worth the cost. Lots of impressions, and lots of traffic, but these folks didn't convert at a rate where my client could make money. If you have high margins, take a look at it...
The rest of the search results are ranked by a combination of relevancy determined by whether or not your ITEM NAME, CAPTION, and ID contain the keywords folks are looking for. I've seen folks rate better when the keywords are within the first paragraph of text.
I've also heard that 80% of the folks who use Yahoo! Shopping use the SHOPPING SEARCH over the DIRECTORY structure, so making your product names Yahoo! Shopping Friendly is pretty important.
Like I said before, Yahoo! Shopping is only the beginning of INTERNET MARKETING, but if you sell products that appeal to a broad range of consumers, if your prices are extremely competitive and you give great service, you can do make some dough.
-- Rob Snell
This is an example of a YAHOO SITE. It's Yahoo Store WITHOUT the shopping cart / secure server. Click this link to see logo design guy
READ THIS FIRST: [FREE PDF DOWNLOAD] Rob Snell's Yahoo Store Design & Consulting -- Opportunity Vision then call me at 1-800-332-7601.
"Opportunity Vision" is digging for buried treasure in the tons of data from your Yahoo Store stats. Opportunity Vision is the one-two punch of you getting me up to speed on what you do, combined with my input on how I can help you maximize your marketing efforts to get what you want out of your Yahoo! Store.
Opportunity Vision is a customizable block of consulting time. You get 4 hours worth of phone interview and research time for $495. This is sufficient time to get enough background on the your business and then to do initial marketing research for keywords & other opportunities on the internet. It usually takes 2-3 one-hour phone calls.
With OPPORTUNITY VISION we find the answers to questions you’ve been asking. What products are converting the best? Where is your best traffic coming from? What keywords are driving the most sales (and it’s usually NOT the most popular ones!) If you have a relatively new Yahoo! Store, we look outside more than inside.
Your OPPORTUNITY VISION can include reports and analysis like:
You tell me! Opportunity Vision is what YOU want it to be.
Your Investment: $495 Turnaround time: 5 business days
What you get:
What I need from you:
Call me at 1-800-332-7601 or email me at email@example.com with any comments or questions.
First we go in and look at your Yahoo! logs and pull out your very most important keywords, as well as a bulk list of everything ever searched for to reach your site for the past 6 months. This helps you optimize your Yahoo! Shopping listing as well as give you a leg up on the OVERTURE.COM keyword buys.
From this we compile two lists:
(1) A list of keywords and phrases that actually produced revenue, and (2) a VERY LONG list of unique phrases that produced traffic. >From these two lists you can decide what words to buy on OVERTURE.
The last client we did this for got a list of 3,000 unique words and phrases used to search for his store. His sales have really jumped in the past 60 days, and so much of his traffic is from OVERTURE and their affiliated partners Yahoo, MSN, ALTA VISTA, NETSCAPE SEARCH, etc.
Just did some "keyword mining" on one of our Yahoo! Stores. There were some very interesting results.
From roughly 215,000 visitors you can see exactly what 60,000+ folks typed in various search engines and directories to find our Yahoo! Store. This data came from 50 different sources with roughly 30,000 different search terms. The rest of the traffic came from directly typing in the URL, "unknown search terms," banner ads, and links to the site.
Filter the data into two groups: (1) Revenue Producing Keyword Phrases - (keywords that produced online sales) and (2) Traffic Generating Keyword Phrases (keywords that generated traffic, but no "trackable" sales.)
Only about 15% of my online sales are traceable to the exact keyword phrase, so we just have to weight the known data to reflect this.
REVENUE KEYS -- The first group of keywords are now prioritized by sales dollars to go after the most profitable keywords, and the goal is to try to stay in the OVERTURE top 4 and still make money. There were 561 unique keyword phrases that directly resulted in online sales.
The great thing is that 54% of this store's directly trackable keyword sales came from the TOP 40 keywords and phrases, so that's where we focus our dollars and attention.
Looking at the competition in OVERTURE, about half of the words don't even have bidders. And most of the other half consists of bottom feeders paying 2 or 3 cents for the keywords. Holy COW!
There were also 3 phrases where a national manufacturer who sells direct is paying close to a dollar per click through. That tells us how much THOSE phrases are worth to that guy! Probably need to open another Yahoo! Store just to go after THOSE phrases!
TRAFFIC KEYS -- After consolidating the same phrases that were on multiple search engines into a single unique list, the second list boils down to about 15,000 unique words and phrases. For example, a search for "blue baby bed" on Yahoo, Alta Vista, and Excite would count as 1 unique phrase with 3 searches.
Since only 15% or so of our sales come from directly trackable links with the specific search phrases, we know that some of these 60,000 shoppers with 15,000 keyword phrases really ARE buyers. How do you get this list down to a manageable size?
I take this list of 15,000 keywords phrases and start chopping to remove the words that don't really make sense. In your Top 50 Sources of Traffic, there may be as many as 25-30 search engines, meta search engines, and directories. Any keyword phrase that was only requested 2 or 3 times from these sites over a period of many months probably isn't worth spending the time to write a title or description.
I also use the Pareto Principle, also know as the 80/20 rule (80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts) to see where the break is. I can get 70% of my "bulk keyword traffic" with about 2000 keywords. OVERTURE is going to cut this list pretty hard anyway. My goal is 750-1250 nickle keyword phrases when I get finished.
View more from Rob Snell.
Rob: My name is Rob Snell. I am from Starkville, Mississippi. We have been doing Yahoo stores since 1997.
There is my baby brother Steve back in the back.
Today I want to talk about success we have had on our sites. We have multiple stores. I am going to be talking about Yahoo stores that I can't talk about, so I am going to use a dog metaphor.
We sell dog stuff, but I am actually going to be talking about one of my revenue share retailers who said, "Keep it on the down low. Things are good. We don't want any competition."
Here are five things I have learned from email marketing.
It is all about the offer.I have been doing this for about nine or ten years, and in the past year I have learned more about email marketing by having awesome offers that were sent in to our customers.
And by offer, I don't mean discounts. I am a retailer, OK? I mean I have done some development, but I am a retailer. Discounting is the worst thing that you could do. If that is the only way you can compete on costs, I feel sorry for you because somebody is going to be less than you.
When I say offer, I mean'Next week, or tomorrow rather, the new iPhone is coming out. That is the offer. You send an email saying, "Hey, the new iPhone is coming out." So when I say offer I don't mean discount. I mean what you are sending in the email.
When you want to get customers to come back to your store, the offer needs to be relevant. That means it is about me, what I am interested in. I am talking the subject line needs to be relevant, the offer itself, the HTML email, the landing page, the product. It has got to be about the customer. But also, I want it to be compelling. It could be exactly what I am looking for but the offer could just be crap. You know, no discount, no free gift, or no free shipping. So you want both. You want relevant and compelling. People like both kinds of offers where I come from. And there is a sweet spot in the middle and it kind of looks like that.
This is a site, NOT Gundogsupply.com, but this a real Yahoo store. I have got access to about 300 stores and this one of those. I am going to run you through this.
This is three years ago and I thought I knew what I was doing. We were doing PPC. We were doing some SEO. We are driving some revenue and triple digit growth. My retailer is excited, excited, excited.
Then Ron comes along and says, "You don't know what you think you do Mr. Snell. Why aren't you doing'?" And it was that flow chart because I was doing one thing on there. Now I am doing three things.
I was like, "Nah, I get it. I get email. Here we go. I get it. I get it. Each one of those little spikes on there is an email." I was like, "I have got email." I am going to my client and saying, "Come on. Give me some more offers. They like the offers. The better the offer, the more the clicks and the more the sales."
My retailer said, "OK. How about this? Let's just do something awesome." And he did. Each of those is emails. We did more in one email that I knocked out in 45 minutes than we did the whole first year that our company was in business back in the good old days.
That is close up.
I like that. Isn't that pretty?
OK. The second thing is
More relevant offers convert better.Ron told you all about that.
Some offers apply to everybody. Let's just take dog shampoo, just using the metaphor for the dog store. We sell (and offer) dog shampoo. I would be willing to bet that every single customer we ever had had a dirty dog at some point. But sometimes you have got an offer that only applies to a smaller segment.
If you send this $600 Garmin Astro 220 super awesome dog tracking unit and you sent an email to this guy'.
You are wasting his time, you are wasting your time, and you are wasting your money.
So what you need to do is you need to bucket'He says segment. I just like saying bucket. Do we sell buckets?
Bucket your customers as best you can.And Ron gave you a whole bunch of info about that. Let's take the first bucket. It is a big ole bucket, customers with dogs. I bet every single one of our customers has a dog. Well that is not a bucket. That is a barrel. I am in that bucket. That is me and my little puppy Georgia there. Let's bucket a little bit tighter; customers with hunting dogs. Lots of our dogs are pets and lots of them are hunting dogs.
When I think of our customers with hunting dogs, I think of three different dogs where the owners buy three different kinds of stuff. Let's go even further than that.
There is Steve with Roxy out in the field creating content, for anybody who was in the last session. Let's go customers with hunting retrievers. OK. Now I have a bucket to where it is like these guys identify with that label. They are retriever owners. They are duck hunters. There are all kinds of products that indicate that they are that type of person.
I don't even have to ask. I know if they buy duck [xx] it is that guy. I know if they buy a certain type of collar it is that guy. Customers with hunting retrievers; that is a good bucket, but how thin can you slice it?
Customers with hunting retrievers that have more than 12 dogs, drive a Ford F-350, and wear Carhartts 24/7. That is my brother Steve right there. That is a one man bucket. That is too thin.
So you have all kinds of different buckets. For me, 5,000 people is the magic bucket size, just based on my averages. I need to look at your numbers [Ron] because maybe I am not doing as good as I should be. I will get 10 orders if I sent that to my magic bucket. And if the offer is more relevant, then we will probably have higher conversion rate.
When something is easy to do, it gets done.I can knock out an email. Once I have the offer and once I write a subject line, and I will spend four or five hours agonizing over both of those, I can make an HTML email in five minutes.
I think that is why y'all don't do emails is because it takes so long to put an HTML email together. I get Steve to write his "Howdy" message. I paste that in there. I build this inside the Yahoo Store. It is in custom RTML.
Any developer worth his stock can knock this out in an hour. He will tell you four hours, but just go ahead and pay it. It is easy. I throw the ID for the offer in one field. It pulls the picture from the product page. It pulls the text from the abstract. And then I go get five more ID's from related products, and boom, I have got an HTML email.
And sign your dang emails. You are not a marketing team or a company. People buy from people. They don't buy from companies. Sign your emails. Be personal.
Always keep score.Finally, you want to look at the numbers. This is how I look at the numbers. Ron I don't know if that is good enough for your MBA. I do know what a spreadsheet is and I will break one out'
Rob: So let's take a look at some numbers. Total emails sent-one of your favorite metrics. Let's just take 50,000 emails sent. This is my average for this year so far on this one project.
From that I will get 24% of those people for whom the subject line was good enough to open the email. That gets me 12,000 people, roughly, who are opening and reading my offer.
I have got a 7.17% average click through rate. Those are people who get the email and open it and they decide, "Hey I am going to click on it." That drives 3,500 people to my landing page.
I have got a conversion rate, on average with these offers, of about 3%. And this is percentage of the folks who actually make it to the page. That gets me 100 orders.
So you want to look at the numbers. Then I take the revenue per email, and I look at each individual bucket and separate offers. But these are the five things that I have learned. It is all about the offer. I said relevance converts. Bucket as best you can, make it easy and it gets done, and look at your numbers.
All right. Here is my email list. If you want to be on my email list it is firstname.lastname@example.org. You will get an auto responder that is probably seven years old with some old links in it, but you will be on my mailing list. I hit my list probably about three or four times a year.
And that is me. Thank y'all very much.
go to CONTROLS (last button on EDIT NAVBAR)
click on link: MULTIPLE IMAGE UPLOAD
upload the ZIP file just like you upload an IMAGE
Sometimes you can't access your store.yahoo.com login due to Yahoo Store server maintenance issues. It's only happened to me maybe 8 or 9 times in the past 5 years, but when it does, it's EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING!
"Secret" Manager/Editor backdoor login: Use http://edit.store.yahoo.com/RT/EDITOR.YOUR-ACCOUNT-GOES-HERE/cgi-bin/mgr-startup?ADVANCED
Replace YOUR-ACCOUNT-GOES-HERE with your account name. Then click on INDEX and the MANAGER button should work.
Howdy! I broke the Yahoo! Store FEEDS Webinar into 3 separate slide shows:
Build your store from scratch, or make the one you have more profitable. His online business has been paying his mortgage for years. Now Rob Snell is sharing his Yahoo! Store secrets for planning, building, and managing an online store that delivers the goods! Here's how to profit from keywords, handle credit-card payments, find out what's hot in other stores, maximize your marketing efforts, and much more.
Discover how to * Use the Yahoo! Store Editor and Manager * Plan effective store navigation * Use better images to sell more products * Build successful advertising strategies * Generate more traffic from search engines
From the Back Cover Turn browsers into buyers, boost traffic, and more. Build your store from scratch, or make the one you have more profitableHis online business has been paying his mortgage for years. Now Rob Snell is sharing his Yahoo! Store secrets for planning, building, and managing an online store that delivers the goods! Here's how to profit from keywords, handle credit-card payments, find out what's hot in other stores, maximize your marketing efforts, and much more.
Yahoo Store Marketing -- 17 Things to Make More With Your Yahoo! Store
SLIDE: Snell Brothers
I have been doing this for a long time. Like I said, it was late ′96 when we started looking and early ′97 when we got started. Ever since then I have been writing about e-commerce, speaking about e-commerce, doing Yahoo! Store seminars. I write a blog sometimes.
About three years ago the Dummies folks called me up and said, “Hey, do you want to write a book? Yahoo Store for Dummies?” Sure! This book came out a couple of years ago. Right now it is about 60% obsolete thanks to the features Jimmy and his team keep cranking out. I am going to have to rewrite another book, but the marketing information in there is still pretty good.
The highlight of my career was getting invited to testify in front of the United States Congress this summer about the impact that the Internet has had on small business, specifically how search marketing has changed the fortunes of small business folks. I told the guys in Congress, “Just don’t mess it up. Search marketing is working great. Please don’t mess with it.”
SLIDE: 1 change increased our conversion rate 20%
Page 4 About four years ago we made one change in our company philosophy and that decision increased our conversion rate almost instantly by 20%. What did we do? We told folks what to buy. We used to just offer products and let people make their own decisions about what they wanted to buy, but once we actively expressed our opinions online, sales went up. People are busy. They have a lot of choices. They don’t want to have to wade through all this information. For example, one of our Yahoo! Stores -- Gun Dog Supply -- is a company that sells training supplies for hunting dogs. My brother actually uses the products that we sell. So if you have got a Pointer and you do field trials in Texas, or if you have got a Springer Spaniel and you hunt upland game in the mountains, we sell what your kind of folks are looking for. And we’re REAL retailers. We are not a drop shipper. We are not folks who just put something in a box and ship it out. We actually use the products that we sell. Real retailers can leverage this to your advantage. Here is an example of a product that we sell.
SLIDE: Example Review
This is an online product review that Steve wrote. We sell 1600, 1700 different products. Some products are better than others for specific situations. Once we realized that directing folks to what they actually needed instead of letting them have to wade through all that other stuff, our sales went up. Page 5
SLIDE: 2 -- Give folks enough info to decide for themselves
The second part is giving folks enough information to decide for themselves. I am going to recommend that you need a Sport Basic for training your pet to stop jumping up on your kitchen countertops. But if you don’t believe me, you can go through the information on our Website and our buyer’s guide and actually find out for yourself and make your own decision.
SLIDE: Example Buyer’s Guide
This is an example of a buyers′ guide. I recommend that anybody with multiple categories of products write a buyers′ guide for every single major category on your website. You basically just guide folks through the lay of the land- through that product category. You teach them what they need to know and you say, “If this is your situation, look at this product. If you are in a different situation, then look at this different product.”
SLIDE: Buyers′ guides = 50% higher conversion
Buyers’ Guides work! With buyers′ guides we have had a 50% increase in conversions when buyer’s guide pages were used as entry pages. When folks would come into our site from a search engine organically, if they come in on the buyer’s guide page, they are 50% more likely to convert. Buyers Guides also work with PPC or paid search traffic. In my paid search ads, when I use the content from a buyer’s guide as a landing page rather than just a generic section page of manufacturers, I have a 50% increase in conversions over typical landing pages. Show your prospects that you are an authority on what you sell and customers are more likely to buy. Page 6
SLIDE: 3 -- Write unique product descriptions
The third thing that I recommend folks do is write unique product descriptions. Google likes unique product descriptions. It is good for your customers to show that you are an expert and you know what you are doing, but Google loves unique product descriptions.
SLIDE: Garmin screenshot
If you notice here, we rank number three and four for one of the best keywords for us, Garmin Astro, a new product that came out last year. We haven’t done a lot of link building for these pages -- some links came from the manufacturer, but these rankings are mainly from having page after page of new content on this new product line which draws links. Normally when a company releases a product they take some stock photos and they have their marketing department write up some copy. It is usually the same text in their sales brochure. What most folks do is they take this manufacturer copy and they literally copy it and paste it into their store. This just drives me nuts. If you want to see how many people are cutting and pasting, you can actually look at one of your competitors who just copied and pasted from the manufacturer. Go to Google and do a search for the first sentence in that manufacturer’s description and put quotes around it. What you will see here when you search on Google for the first sentence in the Garmin Astro is that there are 1,770 other pages on the Internet with that content. These people suck. Page 7
SLIDE: MANUFACTURER COPY: 1-10 of 1770 Lazy competitors
I mean they are lazy! It is lame. When you are shopping online, if you go to store after store after store and they have the exact same thing, the boiler plate from the manufacturer, and then you go to another store where they have a picture of the guy actually using the product and talking about it like he knows what he is doing, who do you think is going to get the sale?
SLIDE: You have this
This is our product page for the Astro. You can tell it looks a little different.
SLIDE: And this
Here is some of the content. People ask me, “Great. I have got to write unique content, but how much content do I have to write?”
SLIDE: Write one new paragraph for every $10 in item price
This is my rule of thumb. I want you to write one new paragraph for every $10 in item price. Now I just made that up. Write what makes sense to you, but that is a good rule of thumb for creating content. You go, “Gosh. That is a $600 product. You mean I have to write 60 paragraphs about the dang Garmin Astro?” That is what my brother would say. You wouldn’t say dang.
Page 8 How do you get folks to get this content? What I will do is I will lock my brother in a room. I do not let him go outside to smoke or to pee until he gives me his content.
SLIDE: 4 -- Play 20 Questions with every product -- Who ? What? When? Where? Why? How Much?
We play 20 questions with every single product. What I recommend is that you start at the top with your best selling products and you work your way down. Originally he just said, “Well let me just start with the A’s and I will work my way through.” I said, “Dude, no way. Start with the best sellers. And if you only have time to get four or five of them done, by that point you have actually accomplished something and you will most likely see big increases with your search traffic.” Here are some examples. This is more like 200 questions. As yourself, “What is a customer concerned about when they buy this product? Is this product going to solve their problem?” Uh, Shirley, don’t take a picture of that.
I spent hours on those questions! Ask yourself what customers have in their mind when they are looking to buy something. Customers want to know if this product is going to work for them. There are hundreds of different questions you can ask. I literally have over 200 questions that I can any product through and ask. Examples: “Is this product right for the job? Is it overkill? Compared to the manufacturer, are their equal alternatives? Is this for professional use or amateur use? Why should I buy this one? Page 9 Why should I get this one from you? Are there any third party reviews?” I have tons of these questions. Here is another screen shot of a word document where I have got these questions. Answer these questions on your Website and it’s great for SEO. It is amazing how many keywords you naturally use while writing these product descriptions.
SLIDE: 5 -- Capture killer content any which way you can!
Capture killer content in which way you can. Like I said, I lock my brother up in a room and pull it out of him. Steve is the guy, during hunting season; he is out in the field doing research. He is riding around Texas with his shotgun with some of his hunting buddies in the back of a pick-up truck. He is always doing research and development. One of the reasons he goes out in the field to hunt and run his dogs is so that he can tell our customers and the manufacturers what is good about specific products and what needs work! Photograph everything. Here is a shot of Steve on the back of his truck with Em, one of his best bird dogs. Just looking at this photo, I can see 10 different products that we sell in the background. Why is this important? Well, a customer of ours looking at this picture knows that it is not some supermodel in a studio somewhere with a model dog. This is real. He is just like them – he’s actually in the field using this stuff. Here he is putting some boots on Em’s tender little feet so when she runs across some cactus she is not going to bleed to death. Record everything. Audio. Video. Still pictures. I mean, everything. When I don’t’t want to carry a professional digital Page 10 camera, I have a little FLIP (video) camera over here I carry everywhere I go. I have an iPhone. I take pictures of everything. We record everything. It is amazing how much content you can get just walking around. I can get my brother to jabber on about some product about why this manufacturer should do this, blah, blah, blah and I have great info for the Yahoo! Store.
SLIDE: 6 -- Convert audio assets into text
Next, I convert the audio into text. Search engines need text. They can’t really index audio. Yet. What I do is I email an MP3 that I rip from that video to a buddy of mine. I have no idea where he lives because I got him from Mechanical Turk, an Amazon service where you can outsource things. For $1.50 a minute he will actually listen to that MP3 and transcribe it for me and email it back to me. And he has got a three-hour turnaround time. I have shared him with some friends of mine, but I think he is all booked up now.
SLIDE: 7 -- Leverage ALL manufacturer content *
You can also get content out of manufacturer’s videos. Sometimes products ship with a DVD; like an owner’s manual or a guide on DVD. I can actually get the content out of those and use that on our website as well. Leverage all manufacturer content.
SLIDE: *It′s easier to get forgiveness than permission:
This comes with a caveat. I am not recommending that you break the law. I am not recommending that you violate somebody’s Page 11 copyright. But for me, it is easier to get forgiveness than it is permission to use a manufacturer’s text and images to help sell their stuff through my online store. Here is some copy that I stole from Innotek that basically says, “You can’t do this” on the bottom of their website. Well we sell millions of dollars of their products. They are never ever going to say, “Hey. Quit using our product shots on your website.” But if you need to, ask permission.
SLIDE: Make manufacturer images your own
What am I talking about as far as using manufacturer content? Well they give you stock images, right? If you want to look like everybody else, use their stock images. If you don’t, pimp them out a little bit.
SLIDE: > your product image
All of the stuff that is in this image right here came from Garmin that we basically remixed into these product photos. We take our own product photos as well. Where else can you get manufacturer content? Well look at the packaging. If you are a drop shipper, sorry. If you are a real retailer…
SLIDE: > Box copy
If you are a real retailer, you have a warehouse, and you have the products, there is text on the packaging of these products that is nowhere else in the world. Go get the box. Get somebody to type it up. Stick it on your website. Page 12 Also, use the point of sale materials manufacturers provide for retail brick and mortar stores. We don’t really have a “store” store. We have a warehouse where folks can come in and buy stuff. But any time a manufacturer releases point of sale materials, I say, “Yeah, send me that.” Those cards on that display, down there? We’ll remove them, scan them, and put the content on the Website. Do whatever makes sense for you. Page 13
SLIDE: > owners manuals
Owner’s manuals. They’re great! A lot of these companies provide PDF files of owner’s manuals instead of a printed one. Sometimes manuals are online and indexed in the search engines. Sometimes they are not. There are tons of images in there. Grab product images, graphs, tables, diagrams, comparison charts, etc. – all these things that you can use on your website. Again, it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission… But we don’t go to jail, ok?
SLIDE: > Press releases
Press releases. These companies send out press releases all the time. They actually do a pretty good job of writing up what this stuff is about. Now this text is probably duplicate content, but you can put text from these releases on your website and it actually helps you sell stuff.
SLIDE: > Extract flash
Flash. All these big boys like their Flash Web sites. Ugh. The thing I like about Flash is that there is unique text hidden in those Flash movies. Now the search engines are getting a lot better about indexing Flash, but they pretty much still suck at it. There is good information hidden inside these Flash movies. Transcribe those as well.
SLIDE: Link building SUCKS
All right. I love SEO, but link building sucks. I am not patient enough to build links. I just don’t have what it takes to do that. Page 14
SLIDE: 8 -- Promote your new content for traffic & links
When you develop content like this, your new content will actually get you links from authority sites. Here is an example.
SLIDE: NYT Web article with link
Right before Pubcon last year we got featured in the New York Times. I don’t know if y’all have ever heard of that paper or not out here. They were doing an article on Garmin and the new Dog GPS technology. One of the best things you can do when you are selling stuff for a manufacturer, you want to let the manufacturer know that you are doing a good job pimping their products. Email your sales rep or the marketing VP copies of your buyer’s guide, copies of your reviews, copies of your product descriptions, copies of the pictures that you take on your website. Sometimes the marketing folks will hook you up with some PR folks and you will get some real coverage. We got a link from it. If you will notice in there, there are two other billion dollar companies: Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s do billions of dollars a year in sales. They don’t have a link. Gun Dog Supply in Starkville, Mississippi? Yep. We’ve got an NYT link.
SLIDE: 9 -- Blog to build content and links
Blog to build content and attract links. I do a much better job of this as an e-commerce consultant and a speaker than I do with the dog stuff or our other stores. With the dog stuff most of our content is actually on the website because I want the customers to see it immediately. Page 15 We just started doing an external blog, Steve Snell’s Gun Dog blog. We basically take email questions that he has answered, his content, and we repurpose it to the web. Now I am not going to quote a guy’s email without their permission, but I can rephrase the question. I got 1,000 pages in a word document once I exported Steve’s sent emails. He sends 100 emails a day answering customer questions. The more of this kind of information you can actually put on your site, the fewer emails you are going to get, the fewer phone calls you are going to get.
SLIDE: 10 -- Support the orgs that your customers do
Support the organizations that your customers do. This is an awesome way to do SEO, to support your community, to make your customer’s really happy, because you go to the websites that they go to and you buy ads – either links or banners. OK. So you want to support the organizations that your customers do, but how do you find out which ones those are? Ask your customers! For example, on another project I have I sent an email to any customer that had ordered more than once. I said, “Hey, I have some advertising dollars. I want to do something that is going to support your local organizations. Do your favorite local organization have a Website because want to advertise.” The next day I got 342 responses from folks who wanted to let me advertise on their website. I was overwhelmed with the response. You can use your email marketing list for this.
SLIDE: 11 -- Make vendors link to you!
Make your suppliers link to you. I call this Vendor Links. I finally have everybody in the company used to the fact that when we buy something from somebody, they are going to link to us. Or Page 16 else! Linking to is almost a condition for doing business with us. A lot of wholesalers will have dealer’s pages where they list out all the various dealers.
SLIDE: Garmin Blog
Romance your suppliers for links and content. Here is an example where Steve took some of the guys from Garmin out bird hunting on one of his fancy Texas quail leases. He gets to be good buddies with folks he needs to have a good relationship with and we ended up getting a link out of it. He got featured in the Garmin blog and we got a link, which is really nice. We are also listed in their dealer’s section. All right. This is the part that is more about the geeky SEO, PPC conversion stuff, which I am more interested in.
SLIDE: 12 -- Collect Converting Keywords
Collect converting keywords. The most important thing that I learned, and this is thanks to Yahoo... In the original Viaweb way back in 1996, Paul Graham had it figured out. Every time you got an order, you would get your merchant order confirmation email. And in almost every email, it would tell you what the referrer was, how the customer found you, the Web site they came from, and (if a search engine) what the converting keyword was. So the second you placed an order on my website, I would get an email from Viaweb, now Yahoo Store, that would say, “Hey. This guy searched for dog training supplies and he bought these things.” Page 17 1997 was when I got obsessed with converting keywords. Right now on one project I have got almost 20,000 unique converting keyword phrases. On another project I have got about 11,000. Some people collect stamps. Some people collect baseball cards. I collect keywords.
SLIDE: Yahoo Web Analytics
Use Yahoo Web Analytics In April 2008, Yahoo bought IndexTools. Again, thank you Mr. Jimmy. I have been using Index Tools for four years, which is now Yahoo Web Analytics. YWA beats Google analytics hands down. If you are not using it you need to take a look at it if you have an e-commerce site. It is now included in most Yahoo store packages I think. Jimmy: Just not in the starter package. Rob: OK. It is awesome. YWA is more like a three dimensional look at your customers, where Google analytics would be like two dimensional. You can actually do ad hoc reporting. I don’t want to do an ad for Yahoo Web Analytics, but I love it. If you have any questions… ask. I just shot some videos with Avinash, the Google Analytics dude, about this with the Market Motive guys. YWA is great. For example, these are some converting keywords. I just ran a quick report and did a screen shot so everybody could see. For example, this is a product called Tuff Foot. These are converting keywords that folks searched for on a search engine, Page 18 landed on our Tuff Foot product page, and then ended up buying. I had to chop this info up a little bit so you could see it. Look at all these different phrases that converted. If you will notice there are lots and lots of different phrases. Different customers spell things differently. It is just amazing to me.
SLIDE: 13 -- Optimize for transaction assisting keywords, too!
Optimize for transaction assisting keywords too. What are those? I remember an Overture slide from about four or five years ago where they said that folks would search 13 different times before they would actually buy something. One of the problems with analytics is that they will only show you one or two of those keywords out of the 13. So you are missing out. Folks are searching for stuff and you have no idea how much they are qualifying their queries before they get to your website. Monitus.com has fixed a lot of this with their TRANSACTION ASSIST REPORTS. My buddy, Michael Whitaker, is the guy who wrote a tool that allows Yahoo Stores transaction information to be passed to Google Analytics. OK. I do Google, too. We have Google analytics on our Yahoo Stores as well. Here is an example of the transaction assist report where he shows you all the keywords that lead to an order. I have blown this up so you all can see this in a real keyword phrase that just happened a couple of days ago. You can see at the bottom hunting dog is stuck together in a search for “huntingdog coats” plural. The little red dot in the report means that “huntingdog coats” is not in the text on our Website. I have no idea how this came up. Google probably suggested, “Did you mean “hunting (space) dog coats?” Then they searched Page 19 again a couple hours later for “hunting dog coats” (singular). Then they searched for “hunting dog vests” and placed an order. What that tells me is that I need to go to the hunting dog vests page and make sure that they word coats is on there. So we did that.
SLIDE: 14 -- Put ALL converting keywords on the page (including long tail)
All right. Put all your converting keywords on your page. Now everybody knows basic SEO. Remember from that slide earlier. Tuf foot was number one. Tuff foot with two F’s was number two. Tuff foot for dogs was number three in terms of converting keywords. Well you are going to put those in your TITLE tag. You are going to write a unique Meta description using those words. You are going to have those keywords in an H1 tag, which is what that red text is. You are going to have those keywords in the body text. The report that you saw a minute ago was probably for like the last six months. This report is more like a year. 75% of the revenue from that page came from the top three money keywords. Tuf foot, tuff foot with two F’s, and tuff foot for dogs. But 25% of the sales came from 39 different, more specific, unique “long tail” keywords. I am sure you have heard about the “long tail” all week. When I look at two different lengths of time; it looks like I have gone from 75% of my sales being from the three words to more like 50%. So I think now 50% of my sales are coming from long tail because of this optimization that I did in the short term. In the past year or so, more and more of my sales of this product have come from long tail searches. Page 20 To rank for these long tail keywords, the words need to be in the text on your page. The easiest way to do that would be to cut and paste a list of dozens of converting keywords on each page, but that’s spamming. That also telegraphs your best words to the competition. I want a list of all the unique words that make up all the converting keywords. First, I paste ALL the converting keywords for the Tuff Foot page into a text file. Then I delete all the words contained in my top phrases: “tuff foot” with two F’s, “tuf” with one F, and “for dogs”) because those words are already all over the page. What’s left is a list of words unique to those long tail keywords, but somewhat redundant, so I alphabetize and de-dupe that list to come up with a much, much shorter list. Finally, I make sure that all those long tail words are used somehow, somewhere in the text of the page. The words don’t even have to be together, they don’t have to be phrase matched. But when you have the words on your page you are much, much, much more likely to get free search engine traffic. All right. Add keyword modifiers to the page text. Remember when we boiled that list down, we de-duped it and alphabetized it? Well, these are modifiers in that list: buy, discount, free, online, and shipping. The funny thing is that these words would apply to any product that you have on your website. For example, you could stick the word “buy” or “free shipping” or “discount” in front of almost any other converting keyword and you would want to rank well for those keywords, too, right? Page 21 Let’s look at the Google, but first, remember to log out of Gmail or other Google accounts and delete your cookies so you see what everyone else sees -- raw Google searches not affected by your past search history. Here are some examples: Remember a minute ago customers were searching for “dog vests” and “hunting dog vests?” I did a Google search yesterday for “discount hunting dog vests” and we were number one and number two. If you look in the snippet on the search engine results page, the second line says, “Buy online with confidence when you order discount retriever blah, blah, blah.” I also searched for “buy hunting dog vests.” Here we are at number one and number two. And then I did another where I said “hunting dog vests online.” OK. We are not number one and two. We are actually number three and four. One of my competitors has online in his domain name and he is going to outrank me for anything with the word online.
SLIDE: 15 -- Add keyword modifiers to page text
I have over 600 modifiers that I have identified that generate revenue for different business, and I use those where they make sense in the text on the web page. Ask me later. I have got some good secrets that I can’t share over the microphone on how to do that. Buy me a beer…
SLIDE: Ten Little Thumbnails
Page 22 A lot of folks will have a category page with a picture, a headline, a small text description and 10 thumbnails with text links to products or sub-categories. Here’s an example: When Google crawls this page, this text from the Google Cache shows what Google sees; the text in the headline, the text in the description, and the text in those links. I want more on my category pages. I want to show snippets of text from the product description and list the different items contained within subsections. With Yahoo Store it is really easy to write RTML with custom templates that will do this, and you can also do it by hand. Different store building platforms can do it as well. If you are a competitor of mine and you are using just ten little thumbnails, my category page is now competing against your product page. Category pages typically have a lot more pagerank / link juice than product pages, so they rank higher, and with text snippets most of the converting keywords now show up on the category page.
SLIDE: 17 -- Survey your customers
One of the best things we ever did was install 4Q, which is the free customer survey software, on our website. I love 4Q. Avinash Kaushik, the Analytics guru partnered with this company. Basically what they do is they don’t look at your information individually, but they aggregate it so they have got overall trends. What 4Q does is it asks your customers four questions. Page 23 They ask, “What are you here to do? Did you accomplish it? How satisfied were you with the website, and why?” Basically it allows you to go through and see information about not just what your customers are doing, which is what Analytics does, but why they are doing it. It was amazing to me how many people were not coming to the site to consult a review. On another site that installed 4Q, on the first day I learned that 80% of the people were coming to the site to check prices, which told me that most of the people coming to my site where discount shoppers and that was extremely important. The thing I like most about this is not how your satisfaction scores are. The thing I like most about it is this report that you get. I went in and colored the different sales. If someone says they did not complete their mission I colored it red. If they did complete their mission I colored it green. You probably can’t see this, but it is amazing the actual raw information that folks will give you if they know that they are anonymous. Most of the problems that the folks have on the Gun Dog site is that we are out of stock on something. So I go to my buyer and I say, “Dude, do not run out of stock on these products.”
SLIDE: E-commerce? It′s a jungle out there
All right. E-commerce. It is a jungle out there. You want to show your expertise. You want to express your opinions, maximize your SEO and SEM, and you want to spoil your customers. Just ship the damn box, OK?
Thank you all very much.
Page 24 Copyright 2008, Snell Bros. LLC. All rights reserved.
Paul: ...and I think I'm kind of at time right now. But I'll tell you my second favorite moment as a product manager. My first favorite moment is, of course, when we roll out a new feature and I get a call, or an email, or an instant message from a merchant that says, "Oh, my God! I love you guys! Thanks for rolling that out!" Rob always does that to me. "Could you make it do this, too?"
Paul: That's still my favorite moment. I love when that happens, because, you know, we got some validation on something we threw out there. My second favorite moment is when a domain name becomes a name.
Each and every week we get these reports of what are our top merchant sites, how many new sites are signing up with us. Everything is organized by domain name. It's a pretty bland view of looking at our data.
Opportunities like this, the summits, the conferences that we go to, the site visits that we do allow us to associate a face and get introduced to you so that domain name changes into a name. So Optics Planet becomes Pablo. He's checking his mobile site right now, probably. Feature request, right?
Man 2: Yep.
Paul: Or [xx 1:03] becomes Nacho, or Imitations becomes Oko. That's what I really cherish. It's an opportunity for us to collect that feedback that we need to do our jobs. But more importantly, that's the motivation that we get from doing a job, when we know exactly who we are providing it for.
So if I don't know you or you haven't met other members of the product team, I encourage you today, please come up to us. Introduce yourself. Tell us what you need out of the product. Tell us what's working for you. More importantly, tell us what's not working, what we need to change. What new thing do we need to provide to take your business to the next level?
We are very honored that you choose Yahoo for your ecommerce business, and we're eager to help you succeed. So thank you.
Paul: So coming up next, I have the pleasure, the honor of introducing Rob Snell. He is the managing partner of Snell Brothers. He is a long-term Yahoo store owner. He is a regular on the SEO speaking circuit. I think he has four sessions coming up at PubCon. He's going to be a very busy men. I am on one of those panels with him.
He's got all the Google top guys on speed dial. So if you ever need to know where you are cratering [? 2:17], ping Rob if you don't have him on speed dial yourself. So open up your notebooks, turn the page, get a fresh sheet of paper, click your pen and be ready to write down some serious SEO knowledge, because Rob is going to bring it.
We gave him 45 minutes and that's still not enough time for everything this man can tell us. So put it together for Rob Snell.
Rob: Howdy. Thank you Paul. I've got a feature request I need to talk to you more about. My name is Rob Snell. I am from Starkville, Mississippi. I am a retailer. I've been doing Yahoo stores since before it was Yahoo Stores; back in the Viamall in the ViaWeb days.
Today I am going to talk about Search Engine Optimization and what you can do to get more converting traffic to your website. When folks are searching to buy what you sell, can they find you? This has been kind of like a theme of my life as far as doing search marketing since 1997 when we got online, back when the Yahoo Directory was driving most of the traffic.
Search Engine Optimization. You want to make your site friendly so that the search engines can find it, index it, rank you, and return you in the results. I'm going to talk today a little bit about our family business Gun Dog Supply.
My parents started Gun Dog Supply in 1972 and we sell training supplies for hunting dogs. That's Click. He's one of my brother's dogs. He's featured all over the website. We started out as a catalogue business that turned into a brick-and-mortar business, and then we took the information in our catalogues and transitioned to the Internet back in 1997 like I was saying.
Yahoo Store has changed my life. I love Yahoo Store. I am really passionate about this kind of stuff. I am in Silicon Valley and I've got a microphone, so this is the first time I can do this publicly. I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to the folks at Yahoo for providing a tool in which we can make a good living in the deep woods of Starkville, Mississippi.
We started our online business in 1997 because, in 1996, Petsmart opened up across the street from my parent's brick-and-mortar store. And look at that—a third of the revenue just gone. My mom was freaking out. So we decided to get online.
And this is like three or four years later. Look at that. I mean that's nice. Completely replaced the offline business, we're growing like a weed, and, you know, that's nice. That's a really good story. But this is closer to today. Look at that. That's several orders of magnitude greater than we were doing with the offline business.
It's nuts. If you look at the growth vector that we had and just kind of map that out, we made one change in the way we did things online when our sales plateaued about six or seven years ago, and it radically changed what we're doing. And it has to do with the way we sold online.
Before that vertical line, we just offered things for sale. Here we have these dog supplies. If you got a hunting dog, you can buy these things from us. After that vertical line where the graph changes there, we actually did online what we do on the phone and in person in the stores. We say, "You come to us with a problem. This is what you need to buy to solve your problem." We recommended what folks should buy on our Yahoo Store.
And look at that. I mean that golden triangle right there is awesome. That's $10 million in additional sales from going to being passive to being active. But I'm supposed to be talking about Search Engine Optimization. What does that have to do with Search Engine Optimization?
Well, I would attribute at least 50% of that $10 million to the content that we created to be more active in selling on our websites. And I'll talk a lot about that today. $10 million in Mississippi makes a happy puppy.
That's a lot of money. Out here, probably not so much. I'm going to talk first about how I do SEO. And some of this is going to be really basic for some of you all. I am going to drill in deeper as I go on. I will run out of time. I am notorious for trying to put 10 pounds of grits in a five pound sack.
I had 400 slides when I started my slide pile for this presentation. But they wouldn't give me four hours, so this is what you are going to get.
On the website, on Robsnell.com I'll have this information and some other information I'll refer you to if I don't get to everything.
All right, how I do SEO. Pick a keyword. Let's just take "doghouse heaters"—something that we sell. The first thing I do is I pick my store's most relevant page. What page on my Yahoo Store is the page that somebody looking for doghouse heaters would need to see to answer their question?
This is the page. This is our doghouse heaters page. OK, well that's pretty obvious. What's the next thing I do? Well, I put the keyword in the Name and Caption fields. Inside your Yahoo Store in the Store Editor, when you are naming your products you want to name the products with the keywords that customers use when they are searching to buy what you sell. Remember that first slide?
The reason why...and you don't even have to know this. I've been doing this for 14 years. I only realized pretty recently why it was working so well for us. The Name field in the Yahoo Stores determines the text for the Title tag in both the Legacy stores and in the new stores.
And you can override that. And if you have a custom store it might be a little different. But if you've just got a basic store, the Name field covers the Title tag. What you type in the name field generates this Title tag.
Well, why is that important? The title is the most important on-page SEO element. That tells Google what your page is about. It tells readers what your page is about. It's the most important on-page element. So what you type in that Name field turns into what shows up in Google. That little link, usually that's what's in the Title tag.
The name also becomes the link text on other pages. So right here, I've got, like, in my navigation...and actually, that's a custom thing, so ignore that for a second. But that's the Name field there underneath that thumbnail. It also becomes the Alt text of the link of the thumbnail link.
The link text is the most important off-page SEO element. And it's going to get links from pages on your store, and it's good to get links from other pages.
The next thing I want you to do is write a keyword-rich caption field. I want you to put the keywords that folks are using to buy what you sell in a normal English description, or Spanish if you have a Spanish website, and the way people talk. But you want to make sure to use the keywords in natural language. You don't want to spam, you don't want to keyword stuff.
But you see we have "doghouse heater", "kennel heater", "doghouse heater", "hound heater", blah, blah, blah. If you still want to rank better, not only do you want to get links from your site using like the section, and you might make a special on the homepage, but you want to get links to the keyword you want to rank for inside the link text.
That's how Google was such a better search engine than all the other search engines. It's reputation analysis. It's what another page is saying about your page, not what you say on the page itself. How do you do that?
Well, go to Yahoo and type in "link:" and the URL that you want to get links to. And what this does is this will show you how many links you actually already have. And in this case I've got 159 links to that doghouse heaters page.
And you can also filter that and say, "Well just show me the external links." And this shows me that I've got eight links, and half of those are from scraper sites just because I rank pretty well for some of these keywords. People are going to scrape your site, and you actually get some links from that. And right now we rank #1 for doghouse heater.
All right. Well that's great. That's how I do SEO. That's how I've been doing it for 14 years. Let's talk about the search engines. The name of this presentation was supposed to be "Five Winning Strategies for SEO". If you know me, I change my slides. Like 15 minutes before the presentation, I'm like, "Oh, I could say that better. Let me change this. Let me think that out. Oh, what? They just changed this?"
It's still Google. Google is still driving the majority of SEO traffic. Five winning strategies? Google, Google, Google, Bing, Bing. OK? Bing is now powering Yahoo. All that means is that instead of optimizing for three, now you only have to optimize for two. I am still going to concentrate on Google, though.
And then, three days before my slides are due, we has the biggest front-facing change to SEO. I was then going to change my presentation to: "SEO is dead and I don't feel too good myself!"
How many of you all have seen Google Instant by raise of hands. Have you seen that the pages show up? Oh, it drives me nuts. I've got ADD, if you haven't seen that already. How is this going to affect me? It's like I looked at my sales graph and I don't have enough data.
Here's the last week on one of our stores, and it's like, "Wow, we had a pretty good Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday." And then you see Thursday, Friday, Saturday, I am like, "Oh, my God. What's going on?" Well, because of Yahoo Web Analytics, I was able to dig in and see some stuff. Because of Google Analytics, I was able to see some stuff.
Things change all the time. I used to freak out about InfoSeek. I used to freak out about the Yahoo Directory. You just need to watch your keywords. What this is going to do, in my opinion, is it's going to cause more folks to click on some of the short-tail terms, and it's also going to cause some folks to drill down into some of the more long terms.
So let's go through Google Instant for "doghouse heaters", and remember that plural. All right. Somebody wants to find out about doghouse heaters, so they go to Google and they start typing. They type in dog. You get pictures of dogs, the Wikipedia, "great dog site". You type in "dog h...", all of a sudden now we're getting doghouses.
I've got ADD; I'm afraid I'm going to be clicking on this. I've got to stay on target, stay on target. "Doghouse h..." and you get Helzburg [sp] Doghouse. You can tell that I must have taken that slide around here, because in Mississippi we don't know what that is.
Local is being pumped into this Google Instant; something else to distract you. Well finally on the list is "doghouse heater". Once I just kind of keep on typing in Google Instant, well now we've got to doghouse heater and it is showing you doghouse heater.
Well, remember we were doing plural. This is singular, "doghouse heater". So we keep tying and I'm showing up in the organic results there. I'm not buying ads for this. And I'm showing up in the shopping results down here. Thanks SingleFeed, if you are here. I appreciate the hookup from last year.
Don Cole also has a cool shopping product. I don't have any time to go into shopping search, but you need to be in shopping results because of this.
We can even type out "doghouse heater" and we still don't see the keyword "doghouse heaters" plural. You have to actually type it out before you get to see the page, just like you wouldn't before Google Instant.
What this is going to do is this is going to instantly kill this keyword phrase for me. "Doghouse heaters", for people using Google Instant, it's gone. It's over.
I looked in my analytics, and this is Google Analytics here, and I just wanted to see how important this phrase was to me. Well, for this time period, that's $17,000 that I instantly lost thanks to Google.
Well, I think clicks that normally would have gone to "heaters" plural is actually going to go to this singular because they suggest that. But it's going to be different on every single keyword phrase.
Fortunately for me, I am real good buddies with Michael Whitaker of Monitus. And I was bitching to him 30 minutes after they lost Google Instant. "I need a tool that is going to tell me what all these truncated words are".
Then about an hour and a half later, I get an email with a link in it, and it's a link to a filter that he wrote for Google Analytics. Dennis, teach me how to do this on Yahoo Web Analytics, because that is really more my speed.
But this shows me what queries people are using and the page they came from, and the original truncated query string. So I can see that folks are typing "dog training collar" and then click on a much longer phrase—"dog training collars reviews".
And that's good because that's a more specific phrase and it's a lot easier to rank for that. So I decided to do a little bit more filtering, and I just said, "Show me all the dog training collars reviews." And I was seeing that folks are drilling down into these things.
And look at that. Dog+training+coll. And that's blown up for people in the back. You type that in. It's a secondary phrase. They are actually having to click on it. And the good thing for me, fortunately, I am number one for that keyword phrase.
My assistant, God bless her soul, Nikki Bower, she works her butt off. She has to do all kinds of stupid stuff for me. This is one of the things that she had to do. I made her take all our converted keywords and go in Google and search for them and tell me what the minimum you have to type to get that page to show up as the default. She hates my guts.
I am going for a lead...and I know she's on Facebook, and on Twitter, and whatever else those young people do today; you know, all that being social and all. But she did hundreds and hundreds of keywords for me, and she'd put notes on various parts, like what the effect is.
And basically, I am able to go through that and go, "OK, well this plural is dead. This singular version is dead." The lesser popular versions of these terms, you are going to need to optimize for the more popular version. That's what I think is going to happen.
But we've got four days worth of data. Who the hell knows what the fallout is going to be? The only constant in search marketing is that things change. Things are going to be different in two weeks, they are going to be different in three weeks.
The main thing you need to do is keep doing the basics. Keep doing things that are customer friendly and keep creating content, and we'll talk about that.
So let's take another phrase. I go to Google and I do a search for "dog training collars". I searched on it....Yay! I'm number one and number two. I'm rockin! Well, actually I'm not. If you look up there, I'm logged into my Gmail account. Because I use Gmail. I use Google AdWords. I use Google Analytics. I'm always logged into Google.
They are going to personalize my results based upon my search history. They are going to show me what I want to see, not necessarily what everybody else is seeing.
When you are doing SEO, you want to sign out from your Google accounts to make sure you are not seeing personalized results. And a better way of doing this for me is I run Safari for Mac, and they have it for Windows. And I run it as a secondary browser, and I can pop over to Safari, then I am going to reset Safari, and I've got a clean virgin browser. I am seeing what a new searcher would see, which gives me a much better idea of what's really going on.
And, you know, reality sucks. You can go to Google, "dog training collars", and, "Oh, my gosh." I am at the bottom of the page. I am number three. That's actually supposed to be pretty good, right? Well I'm even below the fold there. And so I'm buying the pay-per-click now.
90% of the clicks on search engines come from the first page. If you are not on the first page for a keyword phrase, you are not in the game. Here are 10 results for a keyword query on Google. That's great. You know, the first page, that's awesome.
The problem is most of the people looking at your website are probably going to see this. And most folks don't scroll; I mean like more than half. They don't scroll. They see what they are looking for...you know, a large percentage of your audience has that browser right there. And you notice the ads kind of stop where these browser cut off.
So you want to be not only on the first page, you really need to be in the top five. And if you are not one, two, or three, you are not in the game.
The other thing is when you are looking at your site, you need to be looking at your site the same way your customers are. So what I do is I use my lowest common denominator that has the biggest market share for me, and I will fire up Windows and I will run IE8 because that is the most popular version of Internet Explore that we are using, and I can see what other folks see when they poke around my website.
All right. Well this is Click, one of our dogs. And he says, "Well, now what?" So I know all this stuff about search engines. Now I get to get into the cool stuff. These are SEO tips and tricks, and I am going to start with the things I think are more important, and I am just going to go until they pry this from my cold dead hands.
All right. I got more info and free stuff on Robsnell.com. Juts my little ad. I'm not selling anything...yet. Get on my list. email@example.com. I don't spam. Probably five or six times I hit the list, unless I have something interesting to say.
All right. Number one: collect converting keywords. Some people collect stamps. Some people collect comic books. I collect converting keywords. I have over 20,000 on one of my favorite sites. 20,000 different words and phrases that turned into money. That's gold.
Thanks to Yahoo Web Analytics, it's really easy to get this data out of your Yahoo Store. It used to be pretty hard. It used to roll off after six months. Thanks to Index Tools, which became Yahoo Web Analytics, I've got six years worth of data on some of my bigger projects.
Google Analytics is good, too. I use both, thanks to my good buddy Whittaker. Just a little shoutout for "the" Michael Whittaker. The Monitus Bridge allows you to actually take information from you Yahoo Store and get the shopping cart information, the dollar amounts, passed to Google, which solves a big problem, because it is really hard to do Google Analytics on a Yahoo Store. But it also allows us to do Google Website Optimizer and a whole bunch of other cool things.
20,000 converting keywords. I've got $6 million that I can tie to those keywords. This helps me because I can prioritize my keyword optimization, my SEO, based upon this list. Which I was just about to say: prioritize what you are going to work on by what generates the money.
So here is a real Excel Spreadsheet screenshot, but I've changed the keywords so that I'm not giving away the store here. Steve won't shoot me when I get home. OK? What I do is I export, from my analytics, the number of visits, the number of orders, and the revenue from a keyword phrase.
In that column that starts with RPV 11, I actually calculate what the value is, the Revenue Per Visitor, per keyword phrase to kind of give me an idea what words are more valuable than other words. I then, in the last two columns, I see how I'm raking on Google. In the first one, I rank number one, and my second page ranks number 11.
So just by looking at this I see a huge opportunity. I don't need to be here talking to you about this. I need to be pushing some links to number 11 to push it onto page one.
All right. I also want you to prioritize your pages based on revenue. And this is a big thing that I don't think a lot of retailers have wrapped their heads around. Let's think of a 20,000 page Yahoo store. Well, if you site:yourdomain and Google, it will show you how many pages of those are actually in Google.
So let's say you have 5,000 pages indexed in Google. Well if you look at your analytics, you are going to see that maybe 200 of those pages are actually driving revenue to your store. You need to concentrate on those 200 pages, not those 5,000 pages, or not those 20,000 pages.
Yeah, you need to do some other things to drive more PageRank or link popularity to your home page so you can get more pages indexed, and yeah, you need to optimize number 201 through 5,000. But you need to spend your time on the pages that are driving revenue to your Yahoo Store.
Here's an example from Yahoo Web Analytics where I said, "What keywords are actually driving traffic and revenue to collars.html?" And this shows me the number of people who are coming, the number of orders, and the revenue.
And it's amazing how many different types of phrases will actually convert on a page. So you have got to make some decisions about what pages you want to optimize for what phrases.
All right. I also optimize buckets of keywords. See how I'm showing all these different phrases there? I mean you can optimize one keyword phrase at a time, but when you have 20,000 keyword phrases, it is actually easier to do multiple keywords at a time.
And what I do is I like to organize my keywords. And so I'll go in and I'll tag all the manufacturer keywords and bucket them together, and I'll do the same thing with generic terms that are similar.
If you will take your keywords and dump them into a word cloud generator, you can actually get some ideas of what these buckets should be. Worldle.net. Write this down. Abanash [sp] turned me on to this. It's an easy way you can take...that's probably 1,000 keywords right there that I dumped into a thing.
And based upon the frequency that the word appears in this list, that determines the size. So "hunting", really important. "Gun", really important. "Sport", "automatic", [xx 23:00]. I mean I'm sitting there right now, I know what my buckets are.
This makes me a little nervous, because y'all are seeing what my sales are looking at this. I don't like giving this presentation.
I optimize my keywords in groups. Let's just take dog boots. Here are a list of all the dog boots that would appear in one screenshot in my text editor. And there are, you know, 500 more of these converting keywords for boots.
I take those words and I chunk them in this same tool. Now I can see the modifiers. I took out "dog" and I took out "boots", because otherwise they would be 70 feet tall, because everybody is looking for dog and boots. But these are the other words. These are the modifiers. These are the secondary keyword phrases.
Wouldn't it be really easy to string some of these words together into meaningful content on a section page, on a product page? It's really easy to optimize.
All right. The next thing is you want one URL per page. You've got to decide, is it going to be www.mydomain or is it going to be domain.com? And there is a cool tool, and Yahoo won't admit it, and your Yahoo developer can do this if you don't know about it. You can 301 all your domains to one URL per page. You can 301 your store URLs to one page. That way, all your link popularity gets concentrated. So instead of having three little Spud Webb's, you will have one Shaquille O'Neal.
And Spud Webb is pretty cool. The next thing I recommend folks do is pimp your homepage. Your homepage is probably, I'd say for 99% of y'all, it's the most powerful page as an asset. Because most of the links that are outside your store point to your homepage. And probably all of the pages on your site point to your homepage.
And we talked about page title earlier; the Title tag. On your homepage, the index in Store Editor. Go to Index. Hit "Edit". Go down to page title. That determines, on most Yahoo Store templates, what makes the page title on the homepage.
And I like to optimize on the homepage for like three terms, like this, that, and the other thing. You have to be really careful that your content on the page actually supports the keyword phrases that you are optimizing for.
Your next thing is homepage intro text. And you may have a different template, but in the intro text, you want to put in 300-500 words that support the keywords phrases you are trying to rank for. And this is the bottom of Robsnell.com where I've got some embedded links similar to the intro text.
All right. This is a big, big, big deal. This probably is more important than some of the other things I've talked about previously. On your homepage, you need to see what you are linking to. You need to "view source" and you need to list out all the links that are on your homepage.
If you have multiple links on your homepage to the same page, multiple text links, Google is only counting one of those. It's throwing the PageRank and the link popularity away from one those; it's just throwing it away. If you have two links, three links, four links...some people have five or six links to the same page on your homepage.
Now if something makes sense to do for your users, for your customers, it's easier for them to find something if you have a seven foot homepage and you want them to click to your best sellers page, you know, you might want to have that on there.
But from an SEO perspective, you are wasting your link popularity. And you have to make choices. Remember that collars page a minute ago? We saw all those keywords that I had on there? You have to decide, what page am I going to link to? What keyword am I going to use in the links to that page? So you have to be really careful and pick the best keywords. And you can use your analytics to see that.
All right. Homepage contents. On most Yahoo Stores, the IDs that you put in the contents field determine what the run of site navigation is, right? You dump those IDs in your contents field, it shows up on every single page.
You want to be really careful that you are only putting pages in your navigation that matter. This is an advanced thing that your RTML developer can do. Isvan [sp] taught me all kinds of cool little tricks to do.
You can auto-optimize your SEO elements by using RTML to pimp out your titles and your meta descriptions. This is awesome for those 20,000 pages that you don't want to have to handwrite page titles and meta descriptions for.
Here's an example of me being lazy on Gun Dog Supply. And you can see in my meta description that I've got the same boilerplate text over and over again. And eventually, that comes back to bite you in the butt because it doesn't look that friendly. People don't want to click on it.
I've got "free shipping US 48-$125 orders." I've got, you know, Gun Dog Supply. And what I do is I add a new name plus this boilerplate text, plus the first part of the caption there.
All right. But, on my top 100 pages, I actually want you to hand tweak your page titles and your meta descriptions. I don't know if you guys can see this or not, but here's kind of a before and after on one of our better selling products. The title for the first one at the top is "Garmin Astro 220 GPS Dog Tracking System".
Well, they just came out with a new version, so I put "New Garmin...registered sign"—gets more clicks, DC-40 TM—gets more clicks, 220...I've got both new name and the old name, and I've got the generic keyword "dog tracking system from Garmin". I've got Garmin in there again. So I think that's a much better title tag. And that's driving a lot more traffic than that one was.
And then, in my meta description down here, in the description field, I actually write out: "New for 2010: Improved Garmin Astro. Read Steve's candid review of dog tracking systems. Best dog product 2010".
That's a lot better than just some generic me copying the name, and adding some boilerplate text, and adding the first sentences in the caption field. It makes it a lot more work, but it's worth it because you get a higher percentage of folks clicking on your links in the organic results.
This is an RTML template that Ytimes.com taught me how to use. I got his book. And I'm not an RTML programmer. I'm embarrassed that I'm even talking in front of about 50 of you guys. Please don't look at my code if you have access to my store, even if you are installing templates.
This is a utility template that I made that, basically, I can throw an ID in a field and automatically see all these different Yahoo Store elements for each page. So it shows me the ID, then it shows me the canonical tag if this is not the main page for that, it shows me the naming field, the short name.
But in this example, I am actually overriding the naming field, which used to generate the page title. I am using the page title field to generate the page title. So it overrides the default unless we put this custom in there.
All right. Description, same thing. Meta description.
All right. The next thing I want you guys to do is to write top shelf content. One of the things we did after my dad died is we started to write buyer's guides. Instead of offering stuff for sale, we started writing these buyer's guides.
All right. Buyer's guides. Recommend the products that solve your customer's problems. Don't just say, "Hey, here are a thousand different kinds of guitar strings. Figure out what you want." Tell them, "OK, you are an old dude and you don't practice enough, so you don't have calluses, and you need these specific kind of guitar strings."
We did it for dog training collars and we doubled our conversion rate on our website in about 18 months by doing this across our major product categories. That's a big deal. Buyer's guides, when folks come into our website on a buyer's guide, we have a 50% increase in conversion rate than when they come in on our regular section or category page. That's pretty damn cool.
Some of your section pages have a ton of traffic coming in there. You can decrease your bounce rate, you can increase your conversion rate. Write buyer's guides.
Remember a minute ago I said find the most relevant page for something, for doghouse heaters? Find two relevant pages. This is an awesome way to get more traffic to your website.
Clustered results. If you have two pages ranking in the top 10, let's just say one is number one and one is number 10, Google likes to be real organized. So Google will take that ranking number 10 page and tuck it right up underneath number one. So you kind of get a free pass to go straight to number two and push your competitors down off the page. I love clustered results.
If you want to find out what the most relevant page is for a keyword phrase on your site, and you need to know, because it's not like the name of your section, go to Google and do site:domain.com, which shows you all the pages in your website. Add the keyword phrase, and sometimes you'll add it in quotes, and it will show you, in descending order, what Google thinks are the most relevant pages for this query.
The next thing I want you to do is embed links in your caption field. I want you to hardwire these text links inside your caption field. So you are talking about dog boots on the dog boots page and it says it protects from ice and snow, then in the winter you might need a doghouse heater. You want to link to that page.
Here's an example of an embedded text link inside a caption, and I blew it up. I refer to the Tri-Tronics Sport Basic. I like to it. It's friendly for customers. They can get straight to the product. It's also for SEO. That's probably my best keyword phrase for that product.
You used to could do some cool stuff with Yahoo when Yahoo Search was powering Yahoo Search. Well now Bing is, and Bill Gates isn't as smart as the guys at Yahoo, so it doesn't work anymore. You have to find these words on your site.
I have a template I call Wooly Booger, and the Wooly Booger template is something that I made up. And your RTML developer can this. And you can make one of these. And I basically dump all the captions from all the products in an IDs field, and I say, "For each item in the contents field, show me all the names and the captions for every single thing on my website."
And this page, when you print it out, it is several hundred pages long. And on that document, I can actually search for my keyword phrases and find all the pages on my site that have "doghouse heaters" in the caption and make sure that I'm linking to my doghouse heaters page. It's a lot of work. But if you want to rank, you gotta do the work.
All right. Write unique product descriptions. This is one of the biggest things that I see retailers not doing. Write one new paragraph for every $10 in item price. So if you've got a $99 product, I want you to write 10 paragraphs about it. That's how much content I want you to generate.
I just made this up. I had to come up with a rule of thumb. You guys like to talk. You know about products. You talk on the phone. Over there I am recording myself twice with two digital recorders, because this is content that I'm creating right here.
I will send this to a buddy of mine in Alabama who will transcribe this for me. He will send it back to me. I will then put it on my webpage, which will get Google traffic, which will turn into money. If you don't like to write, I know you guys like to talk. So get you a digital recorder and get somebody to transcribe it for you.
Sometimes this is referred to as duplicate content. Nowadays, duplicate content means the same type item on your website showing up 15 different ways in Google. This is not unique content. In other words, most retailers, and a lot of people in here are guilty of this, and I'm guilty of this on some of my sites, you take the manufacturer's product description, you copy and paste it, you stick it on your website. Some of the more sophisticated people in here take a data feed and do the same thing. Some of the really sophisticated people do some find and replace on some of these things, but I'm not going to out anybody here.
What you want to do, if you want to find if somebody's using the manufacturer description, take the first sentence in the manufacturer's product description, put quotes around it, throw it up on Google, see how many pages come up.
There are 1,770 lazy retailers. And fortunately, they are competing with me. And I just happen to be a really...I don't like to work. You know? I like to play guitar. I like to ride four wheeler. You just have to be able to work a little bit harder than those lazy dudes.
Right now, we rank right after the manufacturer, even with all the stuff that's going on, for this really valuable keyword phrase for us. And it's because if you go to click on those, oh my gosh, my brother, he can write some content.
Like I said, non-unique content ecommerce sites. If you are built solely on a data feed and cloning manufacturer text, and your making money, come see me. We need to talk. You can make a lot more money.
All right. Use your run of site anchor text wisely. By that I mean links that occur on every single page on your website. On a traditional Yahoo Store, you have one template. It links to every single page. I mean they are all the same. It has the same navigation across the entire site.
And so what that means is I might only have 1,000 links to my top-level categories, but after a while, even with 20,000 pages, you are not getting credit for 20,000 links. There is a governor on that. They cut that credit off.
I don't even have run of site navigation on my product pages. It increased conversion when we took it off.
De-templify your store. This is kind of the same thing. I have a different looking homepage than I do section pages, product pages. And on my really, really good products, they have their own unique template because every single product...Like if you were selling helicopter headsets for pilots, you have different features that you need to talk about. And instead of dumping a whole bunch of HTML in the caption, you can make a custom thing that actually works with your products to help you sell them. We even have customer review pages that are set up.
All right. I'm about to give everybody here who's in my link class, sales-wise, a $1,000 a day for the next year, if you do this. I have friends of mine right now who hate my guts. I have people who are SEO's who give me a hard time about this. They say, "You are giving away the store." This is going to pay for your trip if you do this. Everybody is writing stuff down. I'm not going to give it all away, but I'm going to give a little bit away here. And you can probably figure some stuff out by some other sides. Pay attention.
Add buy modifiers to the text on your pages. By buying modifiers, I mean words like "buy", "cheap", "best", "reviews". Those are some of the best. "Discount hunting dog vests"—number one and two. "Buy hunting dogs vests"—number one and two. Not optimizing for these, this is just because of the way the templates are working. "Hunting dog vests online"—number three and four. Competitor has online in his name; going to be kind of hard to beat that.
I am generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that I would not have gotten had I not optimized those, and I'm using little RTML tricks. And there is some other stuff that I'm doing. Buy me a honey-bun later and I might share.
All right. I want you to optimize long-tail phrases on pages indexed in Google. And by long-tail phrases, I mean these really long, you know, five, six, seven word keyword phrases that folks search for. If it's on page number 20,000, it's not going to rank. It's not even going to get indexed.
So what I want you to do is go to your Yahoo Web Analytics. Find me all the search phrases that either converted for that product or contain that bucket name. Like in this one it's "Tuf-Foot". Look at the revenue and the number of orders generated.
The top three terms generated 75% of the sales. Now if there is $100 lying here on the floor, I am not just going to pick up $75 and go, "Well, I got 75 bucks. I'm going to the bar." I want all the money.
25% of the sales came from 39 other terms. So that's a whole bunch of quarters down there. So I'll get my shovel and I'll scoop up all the quarters.
So you see all these words. It's kind of repeating the same words over again, and I pulled the unique words out. So those are the unique words that are in addition to Tuf-Foot that are contributing to the sales of this product.
And you look in there, "Buy", "Free", "Discount". Ya'll better write these down. "Online", "Shipping", "Where". Where can I buy Tuf-Foot? Better have the word "Where" on your page.
So what I do is I leave them together in a sentence, and I try to use them where it makes sense, but I want to have all those words, all those little nuggets, in my caption field on a page that is actually in Google.
All right. Show snippets on section pages. I can't believe I've gotten this far. This is a section page where I've got vertical contents. The alignment is vertical. I'm not showing the contents of what's in those subcategories there.
What happens is Google sees this. Not a lot of text on that page. Well, if you change "leaf" to yes and you have your "leaf" settings set up, and it's in the book, then you get a lot more text. It not only shows you the section, but it shows you what's in the subsection, and you can show what the abstract is on that page. You don't have to have custom programming to do this.
This is what Google sees. So if you have got a three level website and only two levels are indexed, you can bubble up content that is on your product pages that is not indexed on Google, on your obscure accessories, bubble it up a level to something that actually is in Google. You are going to get traffic and sales from that. That's better than the modifiers.
All right. Now I am in the extra portion of my show. How much time do I have? Can I keep going?
All right. Great content gets traffic and links from opinion leaders. GPS—we have a whole bunch of content on our website about dog GPS. We got featured in the New York Times because of this. They have a link of their blog. Garmin, the manufacturer, my brother takes them hunting.
You would think the vendor should take you out because you are the customer. We take them out because we've got better hunting than they do. Junior gets a link on the website.
I'm going to talk about a lot of this stuff tomorrow in the customer engagement panel, and I've got 10 minutes, so I've only got 100 slides.
And I talk about this on my website. All right. Keywords. The key to search engines. Blah, blah, blah. There are differences between keywords. I mean you can have a high traffic keyword and a competitive leader [41:31] traffic keyword and you go, "Gosh, well dog beds is better than large dog beds." And this is not real data. I swapped it out so I could actually give you an example.
If you compare the two, high traffic, medium traffic. All right, well, revenue per visitor. Look at that. Now that isn't going to be the case in every single specific phrase. But if you've got higher revenue per visitor than the more generic term...and these numbers I got, the $40,000-$88,000 are not from my site. That's from the Google keyword tool. I was just exporting that data.
So I can see this was a big honkin keyword, this was a little bitty keyword. Well that's the difference between having a one dollar bill and having a gold coin. I mean I want to know which one is generating the revenue.
So the inventory value of dog beds is $40,000 a month. Well, to me, the inventory value of "large dog beds" is $88,000 a month. If I could get one more visitor, what keyword phrase do you think I want to get coming to my website? What keyword phrase do I want to rank better for?
It's much easier to rank for these longer terms. That's good. Chase stuff. Chase dog beds. That's great. See if you can do that. All right, I've got five minutes and there are 75 more slides. No, I'm just kidding.
Google keyword Tool, we talked about that. If you are in Google Keyword Tool, you do the exact match. That will give you the better idea of what's going on.
When you are organizing your keywords, remove your name or your domain name from your keywords. They call these brand or navigational queries, when folks are searching for you, because they are too lazy to type in Gundogsupply.com, they paste that in the search box. It drives me crazy. It overwrites good keyword data.
Don't let your agency get credit for sending you traffic for your name. You know, you should get credit for writing your name on your paper automatically. 300 different ways people say Gun Dog Supply.
We talked about $6 million worth of keywords. $5 million I divided into five different buckets. And I decided to graph my keywords to kind of allocate what I'm going to do and when. I said, "Hey, that kind of looks like something else." That looks like a dinosaur, right?
Well, head terms. The first million dollars in sales from keywords. 20 keywords generated a million dollars in sales; 20 different keywords. Those are the keywords everybody in here knows about your own site. You know what those 20 keywords are. You might not be able to give them to me in exact order, but you are checking Google every day. "Oh, my gosh, I'm number three. Oh, my gosh, I'm number four. Oh, my gosh, Google Instant pushed me off the page."
All right, neck. 180 keyword phrases. You probably know most of these too, because they are variations on the first 20. That's the next million dollars in that bucket. That's 10,000 words. Everybody concentrates on the head and the neck, and y'all think about that kind of stuff.
Well the back, the middle bucket, is still a million dollars in sales. There are 800 keywords phrases, 800 unique keywords phrases driving the same million dollars. It's 9,000 orders.
Then we have the rump. Nobody pays attention to the rump. The rump—2,500 different keywords. How are you going to track that? Same million dollars, 80,000 orders. That's only an order or two per keyword.
And then everybody hears about the long tail. Here I've got 16,500 keywords that generated 16,500 orders. Those are the onesies.
And I guess, don't neglect the rump. That's what I want you guys to take away from the keyword thing. You need to look at these keyword phrases that are sending traffic to your website. Don't get obsessed with these 20 head terms.
All right. More info, free stuff, Robsnell.com. I'm sorry I talked so fast. Didn't mean to blow your mind. Sign up for my newsletter, firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be here all week. I'm done.
Rob: Oh, wait a minute. Smiggler [sp] is buying ice cream for everybody. It's time for the afternoon break. So let's get some, what, Gelato? Hook me up with a cup of vanilla, brother!
Rob: Thank y'all.
Here are the basic elements of Yahoo! Store. Once you understand how the front page, sections, and items work together you can then move on to more complicated layouts.
Your investment in a new Ystore.com project runs usually between $2500 and $4995 for design, development, & consulting with a few additional expenses in the initital marketing push for directory listing fees, PCC initial accounts, domain name registration, etc. We usually get a deposit of $999 to begin the project and spread the other payments to coincide with specific benchmarks and deadlines along the way.
You get a package price for my experience, brainstorming, research, store development, action planning and implementing the plan, as well as a block on my calendar every week.
Another way to look at your investment is what some folks pay for traffic. Think of this spin-off projects as the same thing as buying about 20,000 pairs of eyeballs because that's how many folks you would get with your $5000 from GOTO/Overture at the average price of a TOP-3 positon at .25 per click. Remember: All the traffic that comes after the site has paid for itself is gravy.
(Some people are concerned about Return On Investment. I shoot for 100% within a year or the project is a flop in my eyes. Anything faster than 13 weeks is a breakout hit and needs to be juiced.)
Then, Allen provided me with his 1-800 number, street address, fax number, shipping methods and rates, a letter from the founder, and the domain name he wanted to use. This information can be provided as a final step to get the site up and running.
The majority of this information needs to be formatted for your information page for customers.
He also provided me with a list of keywords he wanted for metatags, a 22 word description for his Yahoo! listing, and a 10 word description for his listing in Yahoo! Store directory.
All of this is then e-mailed to me as attached files. With graphics you can either zip them all up in a winzip file or send multiple attachments.
This is the point where the designer steps in and works a little e-magic...
Next, Allen got together product images for each of the 50 items, and scanned catalogs and used a digital camera to capture items he didn't have in the catalogs. Allen named each of the items with the product number so that matching the images to the items would be simple. Make sure that you have permission to use the images from your distributor. All it takes is an e-mail or a phone call, and most suppliers are ecstatic that you're about to put them on the web. For example, this item was scanned as a jpeg with 20% compression, was about 50K in size, and was named RF3950.jpg.
Rob: So what happened when you first got in there?
Mike: Like when I first
walked in the door?
Mike: I just went...I
walked...I think I went straight into the main room and was just like,
“OK. This is cool." Yeah, we were actually working on
drums before I even met Butch. And then...because Mike was like,
“Oh, yeah! I guess you want to meet Butch!" I was like,
“Well, yeah. It might be nice." Because he had come
into the main room, so I walked over there and talked to him for a minute.
And once we got the drums pretty
much set up...you know, we still hadn't picked the snare yet.
We kind of got everything set up where they get the mics...
Rob: What kind of drums
Rob: So were they new
or were they like...?
Mike: They were relatively
new. That was the set...I believe he said they were custom built
for Matt Sorum [sp].
Rob: OK. Who's
Ben: The Cult, and then
Guns N Roses after...Steven Adler, was that the first drummer?
Mike: I don't know.
Ben: Anyway, he was the
second drummer for Guns N Roses.
Mike: But he didn't
like...he told them he wanted black sparkle...And the shells are a custom
thickness on that set, and it is custom finish. But DW makes this
custom one of a kind drum set for him, and it was like, “OK.
Here you go!" And he set it up and the rest of the band saw
it, and it had kind of a multicolor sparkle in it. And they were
like, “OK, that's lame."
Rob: They were making
fun of him?
Mike: Yeah, so he returned
it and said, “Nevermind. I don't want it." And so,
they had this one of a kind kit sitting there. And basically,
Mike the drum tech bought it at cost. He paid like two grand and
it is like an 8 piece kit or something. Yeah, it had like a 24
and a 26 inch kick drum, six toms or something. He was like, “But
I just wanted like a 22 kick and like a 10 inch tom or something, you
know, one other tom size it didn't have." So he wanted to
use smaller toms instead of the bigger ones. And just the two
additional toms were like $1,700-almost what he paid for the whole set,
because they had to custom tool it and the shells were a custom thickness.
Rob: So they looked at
pictures of you playing online, and from that they could kind of figure
out that you played a five piece?
Mike: Yeah. That
was why they did a four piece, because most of the photos...Because
for a long time, I did just play a four piece.
Rob: But I mean you ride
cymbals on the other side...
Mike: Yeah, they had
that set up correctly. They had the ride already on the left side.
Of course, I told Butch that on the phone, too. He was like, “Oh,
Rob: So when he called
you at Gun Dog, beside the fact that we lost contact with him four or
five times or whatever, what all did you tell him about....What did
ya'll talk about?
Mike: Well, you know,
we talked about what song we were going to be doing. And he told
me, “I would kind of like to make this change," and, you know, just
a couple minor things, like he drums in the middle and a couple guitar
bits. As he put it, everything we will do on the fly. Those
were his words.
But honestly, it is hard to
remember at this point after, like, the whole week doing all that stuff,
because it wasn't, like, you know, anything crazy. It was just
kind of like...
Rob: About the song and
that kind of thing.
Mike: Yeah, pretty much.
Rob: Well what about
like with the drum tech. I mean he got you...he had that, like,
huge case of different snares that he brought in, right?
Rob: And you used your
Mike: Yeah, I used my
own kick drum pedal. That was all...I just brought the stick bag
and the kick drum pedal. That's all I brought. Didn't
get to use the finger cymbals.
Rob: Yeah, well, only
13 hours, you know?
Mike: Yeah, we will do
that when we do the dig-redo...
Rob: Yeah, for the Australian
Rob: All right.
Ben: Um, it's on the
Rob: It may be that Texaco.
Mike: There are only
a couple more before we are out of town.
Rob: I think it's that
Texaco. Is it?
Ben: It might be.
Rob: I think it is.
Mike: Well, that is where
we are headed!
Ben: That would make
sense. They have got to have something to compete with the Dairy
Mike: It's not a Dairy
Queen; it's a DQ. Get it right!
Ben: Oh, sorry.
Rob: They changed their
name? Or is that a movie thing that I don't get?
Mike: No. Well,
you know, it is like KFC. Most...actually, there are a few that
Rob: All right.
Mike: For the exclusive?
Rob: Yeah, this is for
Westwood One. You are listening to Behind the Music...Inside the
Music...In Between the Music...
Mike: In the Backseat
of the Music?
Rob: Yeah, exactly.
All right. So, Mr. Hodge, what did you do when you first came
Ben: Let' see.
I just kind of started looking around trying to get comfortable.
I was like, “All right. Looks nice."
Rob: Funky lights?
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Walking in the big tracking room was awesome. I was like, “Oh,
this place is awesome."
Rob: And you didn't
really have like...I mean there wasn't a bass tech, so Billy...
Ben: Yeah, Billy was
handling...Like, he was kind of hanging around by the bass amp kind
of waiting for me to come over there.
Ben: Where is that coming from?
Mike: I don't know.
Ben: Oh, over there.
Rob: They found us.
“I didn't mean to download that!" So you got your bass out
and got it all tuned up and everything.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Rob: So was that the
Ben: Yeah, it was an
Ampeg SVT running an 810 Ampeg cabinet.
Rob: And that was in
another room, like a separate room for the...
Ben: Yeah, to keep the
sound from bleeding into all the drum mics. And then that was
miced with the $40,000 microphone.
Rob: That was awesome!
Rob: And here it is right
here in my...
Ben: I was afraid to
look at it too closely. I was like, “I am just going to glance
Rob: Yeah. Peripheral
Ben: It was like the
mic of God.
Rob: How could you hear
your tone? Was it like through the headphones?
Ben: Yeah. You
could actually hear pretty good. At first it was just kind of
crappy. But after they tweaked it for a little while, it got to
where it was pretty accurate.
Rob: OK. They had
like a 412 underneath the amp, didn't they?
Ben: It was just sitting
there. Yeah, it was just a table. Because at first I thought
that is what it was, too. I was like, “Ah, well. All right.
Rob: Won't be too bad.
Ben: Still had a squeaky
Rob: Yeah. So Mike,
could you hear the bass amp at all? I mean did it bleed at all
through the room?
Mike : I could hear it through
the wall just a little bit.
Rob: So he had it cranked
up pretty loud?
Mike: You know, it is
kind of hard to say, because I walked through the room where the actual
amp was to get to the bathroom at one point, when Boom was playing,
and it really didn't seem all that loud. And I was kind of wondering,
especially given the microphone that they had it miced with...I didn't
think they were going to have it, you know, blowing the walls down loud.
But, like I say, it was loud enough...I could hear it a little bit through
Ben: They managed to
make it sound loud, because he still had, like, a little bit of that
overdriven kind of gravel to it. I like that sound a whole lot.
Mike: But since I didn't
stand in the room while we were actually doing a take, I am not exactly
Ben: And they had a direct
out running, too.
Rob: OK. So they
were micing it and they had it...
Rob: Was it going to
like a special kind of direct box?
Mike: It was a tube one...
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
It wasn't just like one of those little black DI boxes like everybody
Mike: Were they using
that one that was sitting right by the...
Ben: Yeah, the blue one?
Mike: OK. That
was an Evil Twin to DI. That was what it said on the front.
Mike: I happened to look
at that and I was like, “Ooh, what is this thing?"
Rob: “I need to get
me one of those!"
Ben: Yeah. But
yeah, that was what threw me...After I got done tuning one time and
I came back over, I got my bass on, put the headphones on, and I was
about to reach back and turn the standby off, and then I hit my strings
and it made a noise I could hear in the headphones. And I am like,
Rob: “I guess I'm
Ben: “I guess I'm
on." But no, I was not.
Rob: So once they got
the overall drum sound done, is that when they came back in and started
Mike: Yeah, because we
actually tracked just a little bit of stuff...I think that was when
you and I were both playing...
Ben: Yeah, it was.
Mike: And just kind of
Rob: Just rhythm section,
Mike: Yeah, just bass
and drums, not to a click or anything, just off the cuff, just to check
Ben: Yeah, we do like
a verse and a chorus.
Mike: Yeah. And
that was after...I mean they had me sit there just with the drums by
Rob: Individual drums?
Mike: Well, sitting there
playing a groove for a long time, just kind of like a “Boom, kick,
boom, boom, kick" kind of thing. Throw in a little fill here
and there just to kind of balance it all out. And then they had
Ben play along with me. And that was when Butch came in and said,
“The snare is not quite doing what I want it to do." And then
we tried...I think, all together, we tried four different snare drums.
Rob: What were they?
Do you remember?
Mike: Let's see.
You had a...
Ben: A Mel Gibson...
Mike: Well, there was
a �70s engraved Ludwig Black Baby snare, which is the one I wanted
to steal and take home. Then there was the...What was it, a Craviotto
DW snare, I think was one of them. Then we had a Tama which was
made out a of cymbal brass shell.
Rob: Oh, wow.
Mike: Yeah, it weighed
a ton. And then there was...I guess it was just the DW snare,
or maybe...I am getting a little confused. The Craviotto, I think,
was the one that matched the kit. That was the one we ended up
using, I think. It was the one that...But, yeah...
Rob: Was that the Mel
Gibson or was that not the Mel Gibson?
Mike: The Mel Gibson
was the Ludwig. We did not get to use...I know we did not use
the Ludwig. We did not use the cymbal brass. And there was
another metal one that we tried that we did not use.
Rob: And then, like,
how was he micing the snare? He had like a mic on the top and
on the bottom?
Mike: Yeah, the top and
the bottom. I didn't get a look at what kind of mic was on the
bottom. The top one was some kind of a...I think it was a Telefunken
of some sort. Something a little more expensive than your run
of the mill SN57.
Rob: So the next thing
was like getting the rhythm tracks, or did they get the guitars dialed
in at that point?
Mike: Well after they
got it where they were happy with the snare sound, yeah, they told us
to take a break for 5 or 10 minutes and they started dialing in the
Rob: So Todd had his...what
was that, an orange Chet Atkins?
Mike: Yeah. It is a
Gibson Tennessean. And then Jason had that American Tele.
Rob: Todd was going into
what amp? He was in the Marshall?
Ben: Yeah, it was the
Rob: And it was an older Marshall?
Mike: I think it was
kind of a reissue Plexi, is what it looked like. I didn't get
a really good look at the guitar amps.
Ben: And then they had
Jones in the crazy Diesel amp.
Rob: Yeah, the Vin Diesel,
the $5,000 four channel....
Ben: Those whacky Germans!
Rob: Yeah. Oh,
it was awesome.
Ben: It sounded great.
Rob: And then, that didn't
take too long for them to get the guitar sounds.
Mike: Not too long.
I don't know, we were...I was outside just kind of hanging out...
Rob: Hang on just a second.
Mike: Ah, man.
If we had driven out here we could have saved 10 cents a gallon!
Oh, that reminds me. You want this, don't you?
Rob: Oh, I might.
Rob: It's doing it
again. I wonder what that means.
Mike: It means hang on
to your pants!
Rob: And we are back.
All right. Sorry about that. So where were we?
Ben: Uh, guitar tone?
Rob: You got the guitars
dialed in. And at that point, did ya'll do like a basic take?
Mike: Well, we did a
run-through with everything just so you get to hear it again and just
kind of check everything. Once again, just an off the cuff, once
all the way through the song...
Ben: Well, then we did
several all the way through just to kind of get the drums down, or the
drum part that he was happy with.
Mike: Yeah. Well, you are jumping ahead, though. We actually made the changes to the songs.
Rob: So what were they?
Mike: Yeah. After
we played through it that first time, he said we needed...the bridge
needed to have a little more...
Mike: Yeah, or, you know,
just something that really establishes it and differentiates it from
the verse proceeding it or the chorus preceding it, or whatever; the
part that precedes it.
And so what he suggested that
was we add, I guess it was four bars to the front of the bridge and
bring it on the...
Ben: On the D instead
of on the A.
Mike: Thank you.
Ben: Yeah, no problem.
Mike: And, you know,
but not have the words start until it gets to the A. So it just
added a little instrumental section, almost kind of like a little pad,
a little buffer zone...
Ben: Which kind of makes
the bridge hit a little harder.
Rob: Before you started
Mike: Right. Before
I started singing. So you have that, and then the vocals come
in. And it really completely changed the whole feel of it.
Rob: Yeah, it really
did. It kind of...I don't know.
Ben: Well it made the
bridge pop a lot more.
Mike: Well, it's that,
and then we also changed the drum part in the bridge from the way we
had originally done it. And this was one of the things he and
I talked about on the phone, on that drum part. And he said, “Yeah,
you know, maybe try to come up with something..." He said he
liked the half-time I did on the outro. “Maybe come up with
something not exactly like that, but something with, maybe, that kind
of a feel."
And so that was also what we
were doing. We kind of practiced it to get that change, and then
I was kind of feeling out...trying to find a drum part that worked and
Rob: That went really
quick, though. I mean I was kind of like...
Ben: And we moved the
bass up an octave.
Mike: Yeah, we did that
Rob: And you said, like,
you didn't do the pumping until a certain point?
Ben: Yeah, well that
was...We were just trying different stuff with it, because we knew we
wanted to do something different with the bass. We thought moving
it up an octave and driving instead of just hitting the long notes might
sound good. But then when we tried it, it made it a little too
busy, so we decided to stay with moving it up.
Rob: Oh, OK. So
I caught the second half, I guess. And then once you kind of got
the form of that song right...I mean that was probably...That was an
hour or two into it, you think?
Mike: Honestly, I didn't
have a watch.
Ben: Yeah, I have no
Mike: There was no timeframe
at all that whole day, really, except for when I would go outside and
go, “OK. The sun is here now." That was really about
it. You know, it was just kind of...
Rob: But then at that
point, it was like, “OK, well let's get the drums right."
And so everybody played and he recorded everything...
Mike: Yeah, that was
doing the drum takes for keeps, for real.
Rob: Playing to a click?
Mike: Yeah, with the
click track, but with the full band playing and Todd doing the scratch
vocal just to kind of help keep everybody together.
Rob: But he wasn't
singing the whole time. He was just kind of giving like slight
Ben: Yeah, just so we always knew where we were.
Ben: Yeah. And on that song, since there are only two chords that keep coming over and over and over again, the scratch vocals really help with something like that.
Mike: And so, the bass
and the guitars that he recorded during those takes...I think he kept
them maybe just for kind of emergency backup. But those were never
going to really be the serious tracks. They were all replaced
Rob: How many takes did
it take to get the drums?
Ben: Four or five, maybe?
Mike: Once we fired up
the click track and we were doing them for real, after we had gotten
all the changes done, we only did three takes and we kept...it was takes
two, three, and four, because take one was before we changed it, and
it was the sound check take. I don't think it had a click on
it either, so that one was set aside.
Yeah, we just used...we had
takes two, three, and four. And if I remember right, it was take
four that he used for most of the song. And then we took a couple
of drum fills from like takes two and three, a couple things that I
liked. I was like, “Hey, I really like what I did here.
Rob: Yeah, I saw the
song map, and it was really interesting to see kinda how he would...
Mike: He was checking
off, like, which was the best...
Mike: Yeah, the full
map of the song. It was like, “I am going to have to steal that.
Rob: Yeah, he had a column
for each take, and he had checkmarks. And to me it was like the
darker the checkmark was, the better the take was.
Mike: Well there were
some where he would just draw a line. It is like not even...And
t hen there were some where he would put two checkmarks, because he
had one that was his favorite, and then it was like, “OK. Now
here is my double favorite."
Rob: Right. And
then, the other thing, from that, did he comp a rhythm track together?
Mike: He did a...what
did he call it?
Rob: Speed comp?
Mike: Speed comp, yes.
But it was mostly take four, as I recall. Most of the rhythm,
just the groove, I think almost all of that was take four. And
then, like I said, there were a couple fills. I think a little
bit of the stuff from the bridge, we used from take three, just because
he and I both agreed that was the...
Rob: The looser...
Mike: Well, it was the
best performance. It was the most confident. The most interesting,
too. By the time I got to the fourth one, I kinda got stuck in
a rut on that one and kept repeating fills and stuff.
Rob: From that, he made
a speed comp, but he still used the bass, and the guitar, and the vocals
Mike: Yeah, he had them
in there for reference, because then when Ben went in to track bass,
he could still put that guitar in there, or the scratch vocal, or whatever.
Rob: So in your headphones,
Ben, what were you hearing, like, when you went in there?
Ben: Guitar, drums, and
what I was playing. Later, I got them to add the scratch vocals,
because it helped out a lot on the bridge.
Rob: Did he make any
changes like to the micing or the tone of the bass or anything while
Ben: Once we got it established
originally, no. They kept it pretty solid.
Mike: Because remember,
weren't they...I think they had some trouble with some hum or something...
Rob: Oh no, that was
Ben: Yeah, that was Jason
playing with his...
Mike: Well no, I could
hear the amp buzzing back in the room, though.
Rob: Yeah, there was
Mike: There was some
60 cycle hum going on.
Rob: Yeah, somewhere.
But that was funny. Jason's Theremin app for iPhone was going
off, and they could not find where it was. I mean Butch was walking
around the control room putting his ear up to things, and he finally
put his ear up to Jason's chest, and he was like, :"It is coming
Rob: That was so funny.
Because, I mean, Mike the studio guy, tattoo Mike was like freaking
out, because they could not...they thought it was like a speaker feeding
back inside the studio. They were listening to the wall.
They were listening to behind Jason. And Jason would move and
the sound would move. It went on for about three or four minutes!
Mike: [makes weird humming
Rob: Yes! Made
you really, like, cock an eyebrow. And tattoo Mike was running
around like a chicken with his head cut off going, “What's that?"
Ben: So when did I blow
the speaker? I missed that.
Rob: That was after...I
think it was after we got all the bass stuff done and he was playing
it back through the big speakers. And he cranked it up really
loud...Well, I think you were still in the big room.
Ben: Yeah, I wasn't
in there for that. You guys told me about it later.
Rob: It was kind of like...We
were like listening to the track...Like, you would record something
and then he would play it back so that you could hear it, but also so
that we could hear it. At that point, he cranked it all the way
up, you know, like that Maxell cassette commercial.
Mike: Martini glass blowing
Rob: Yeah, yeah.
And there was a loud ripping sound...
Rob: Because he had the
bass...He had the bass turned all the way up, you know? And tattoo
Mike jumped in, too. That was interesting. But then he just
started to back down. He was using the reference monitors, the
one that were sitting up on that...George Martin's desk, the Barefoot
monitors. He was running it through those most of the time.
So, like, how many tracks was
it to get, like, the bass track?
Mike: You only did like,
what, two takes?
Ben: I think it was three,
because there was one where the amp wasn't on.
Rob: Oh, OK, the standby?
Ben: Yeah, there was
one where the amp was on standby and it was just the direct. But
yeah, there was one...Yeah, I guess two real takes. And I think
they punched me one time on the beginning and one time on the end.
Rob: And that went really
Mike: That is our Ben!
Ben: Ha, ha.
Rob: That was great.
Rob: Yeah, “Here is
your plane ticket back home! See ya!"
Ben: “I guess I'll
just go drink a..."
Rob: Like 12 beers.
Ben: Barley Pop.
Rob: How much beer did
Ben: Well, we started
off with that 12 pack and we went through that in about an hour...
Mike: See, I didn't
even drink any of those. The first round of beer was gone before
I had my first one.
Rob: So they had to make
a...ya'll were spelling out a beer run, I guess.
Mike: There were two
beer runs. I know that.
Rob: Yeah, didn't he
send Alyssa to go get beer or something?
Ben: Yeah, Alyssa went,
and then he and Todd went. There might have been three.
Mike: Yeah, I think so.
Rob: Geez. That
Mike: I don't know.
Rob: Yeah, he's a big
Rob: OK. So the
bass track was done. And then what was the...it was the guitar
Ben: Yeah. Todd
went first, I think. Well, I think we took...We took a break before
we did the bass.
Rob: OK. Was that
the lunch break or whatever, kind of like where we were standing around...?
Ben: Well, it was kind
of like a 25 minute, everyone kind of relax, stretch your legs...
Rob: That was around
3:30 or four o'clock, because I remember it was like...it was either
four or 4:30 we were going to be back...we were going to be done with
our lunch break.
Ben: Oh, that was a different
one. That might have been after tracking some of the guitars,
because I think the bass one, we were starting at...Actually, hold on.
I might have it on my phone because I think I texted somebody.
Let me see.
Rob: But I think from
the pictures we will be able to put a timeline together.
Mike: See, I never caught
anything about starting at any particular time for anything. It
was just like, “OK. We are taking five..."
Rob: Yeah, people were
rotating out. Like if somebody wasn't doing something, they
would be hanging out in the alley, or in the kitchen, or in that little...
Mike: Hallway, or sitting
in the control room.
Rob: The control room,
yeah, because everybody seemed to kinda wind up there.
Mike: Where the action
Rob: Man, it sounded
great. I had the best seat in the house up there in the captain's
nest, you know?
Mike: In the center of
the stereo field.
Rob: Yes. Right
behind Butch Vig's head. And every time he would turn around,
I would be like, “What? What did I do wrong? What did
I do wrong?" You know, he was just getting his notes off the
desk that was like right in front of me. But I swear, every time
he did it, I would jump, you know?
But he was really grooving
on it. I was excited.
Ben: Yeah. Actually,
that would have been right. We started the bass about four.
Mike: Wow. See,
it doesn't seem like it was that late.
Ben: No, not at all.
Mike: I thought it was
like one or two.
Ben: Yeah, that is what
it felt like.
Mike: Yeah, because I
guess like, while we were doing drums, everybody was wanting to play
it over, and over, and over again.
Ben: Which was nice,
because it got us all good and warmed up.
Mike: So yeah, I guess
we did take a fairly decent little break after that, I think.
Ben: Yeah, about 30 minutes.
Rob: I think I ate my
weight in cheese off that cheese tray.
Ben: Man, that salsa
was awesome! I gotta get some more of that.
Mike: I didn't try the salsa.
Mike: I had some turkey
and some potato chips.
Ben: I had many a turkey
sandwich this week.
Ben: Good thing I like
Rob: And so after tracking
the guitars, didn't Jason come back in? Was that the arpeggiated
part? Was that the...where was the...?
Mike: Well, the first
arpeggiated part was in the song originally. And Butch decided
he wanted to get a little bit different tone on it so it kind of cut
through better. Todd did his part, and then Jason went in and
did the riff part, and then they went back and did a separate track
with the arpeggiated part that was in the middle of the song.
And that was all they did initially,
because didn't we do...We did vocals before Jason did the second part,
Ben: Yeah, that was late
in the evening.
Mike: So we did all that
guitar stuff and then that was when Todd started singing.
Rob: Man, I mean how
many takes did he do to get the vocals the way he wanted them?
Ben: A lot!
Rob: I mean it was like
12 or 13, wasn't it?
Ben: Yeah, watching it,
especially on the end of it when it is so high and it has got to be
like loud and rocking...
Rob: But it is funny.
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Rob: You know? Because at first, like the first take, I was like, “OK. Well there is something in there we can use." And then the second take, it was like, “OK, well..." But man, by like the fifth or sixth take, it really was kind of like an amp warming up, you know?
Rob: And then by like
the seventh or eighth or ninth take, man, he was just nailing it.
Mike: Yeah, because once we was doing it kind of phrase by phrase, or verse by verse, you know, wasn't he trying...I think he was trying to get something like five or six really good...
Mike: From each section;
each verse, each chorus...
Rob: OK. Now, he
didn't track like from zero to the end of the song. He would
do it like a verse at a time. He did like 12 on the first verse,
and then he did the chorus, right?
Rob: And then he did
Mike: Yeah, verse, chorus,
verse, bridge, ending...
Rob: So like five or
Ben: It makes a lot of
sense to do it that way.
Mike: He did my vocal
the same way. I did a verse and an “Ooh part", and then the
next verse and an “Ooh" part, and then my little middle section,
and then the ending. And I did four times of each.
Rob: But from that, he
would take the best ones and build like a comp. But he was also
using them to double up, right?
Mike: On some of it.
Rob: And he told me he
liked to pan like hard left and hard right when he would double something
Mike: Yeah, it gives
it a really wide sound, especially like on “Oohs" and “Ah's".
You know, it sounds really neat on that kind of thing.
Rob: And then, OK.
After he got all the vocals tracked, then that is when he came back
in and started putting on the extra stuff?
Mike: Yeah, that was when we...Yeah, because the idea was that the vocals, obviously, are crucial. They have to be there, so we went ahead and did those. So the vocals were done...All the...
Mike: All the essentials
were in the can.
Ben: Yeah, “Let's
see what else we can add in the time that we have got left."
Rob: We had about two
and a half or three hours left, and that is when ya'll went it...like,
Jason was doing different things with the chords.
Ben: Yeah, we put an
arppeggiated part on the end.
Mike: Yeah, that was the first thing, doing that.
Mike: Yeah, the up and down...
Ben: Actually, no. That wasn't.
Rob: It was different?
Mike: Well, he was adding
just another part which was kind of high....
Ben: But you know what?
He always played only the riff on that song. He never had to put
chords into that before.
Rob: And they were weird
chords or something?
Ben: Well, it was the
chords we had just changed.
Mike: But yeah, he was always just playing the riffs and he was oblivious to what was going on around him. Normally, as far as...
Mike: So that is what
the up and down was.
Rob: But then somebody
turned it into flipping Jason off? I missed that little part of
Mike: Yeah, I think Butch
was actually the first one to do that...
Rob: He said something
rather obscene to one of ya'll. I can't remember what it was.
Maybe it was Todd when he was tracking his vocals.
Mike: I don't know.
Rob: But we won't go into
Mike: And Todd kept getting it wrong. That was funny.
Mike: Well, no.
Ben: The up and down
point. “All right. Up for D, down for A. No, wait.
It is up for A, right?"
Mike: “D is down, right?"
Rob: Yeah, we got some
pictures of both pointing in different directions, and that was funny.
Ben: Yeah, and that first one
where Jason was like, “You have to point before! You can't
just do it as I am making the chords!"
Mike: Yeah, Todd was
very diligently pointing on the downbeat of each measure. You
know, waiting and....up, two, three, four, down...
Ben: It is hard not to
do that because you are so used to doing everything on the beat, because
I was doing it, too. I was trying to point along.
Rob: So then after that,
that is when the feedback and stuff was added, and the tambourine part
Mike: Yeah, the tambourine
was the very last thing that we did for the night.
Rob: And then he went
and made another speed comp...
Mike: Well, by that point,
there wasn't really much left to comp...
Ben: He did a couple of speed comps here and there...
Mike: We had a rough
Ben: But I guess the
speed comps were like once we got the drums done, speed comp.
Once we got the bass done, speed comp. Once we got the guitar
part, you take the best of each and make one guitar part.
Rob: Billy's fingers
were flying over that keyboard.
Mike: That was one thing
I noticed as kind of the day was going on, like when we were doing bass
stuff or something. Whenever there was a moment of downtime, like,
he was going back into the drums...
Rob: Cleaning them up?
Mike: And like going
ahead and edit, edit, edit, edit, you know, whatever, cleaning up fades,
just like constantly...He was always doing something.
Rob: I remember he said
he took samples....
Ben: Oh, yeah.
I forgot about that.
Rob: What he meant by
that, though, is he was just recording a clean, you hitting like the
Mike: He took a single
Rob: And letting it resonate...And
then later on, if he needed to, he could cut that out and paste that
one top of a mis-hit or something that sounded a little wonky, or...
Mike: Well, not so much
a mis-hit. Primarily, it was there for....For example, I play
the high hats really low, so they were real close to the snare mic.
And when I go into the open high hat, if it bleeds into the snare mic
too much, he can replace that top snare sound with the sample one, keep
it clean so that high-hat is not...You know, if it is a backwards reverb
on the snare, you are not getting backwards high hat also.
Rob: Well, I noticed
one time he came over to the drums and was tightening up the snare drum
a little bit. That was after he picked the...?
Ben: Is that a deer?
Rob: Yeah. That's
a big buck, too.
Rob: So, like he was
saying that the snare is a little doinky and he went over there with
a drum key or whatever...
Mike: Well, the one he was tuning, that was actually the brass snare that we didn't use. But it was actually really loose when we first set it up. It was floppy, kind of loose. So he was tightening it up.
Rob: I remember him saying
something about, because he was using compression on the drums, that
was causing an over ring or something like that to get emphasized that
normally wouldn't. He said he counted eight of them in the track
that he was going to replace with one of the samples, which I thought
that was pretty cool.
Mike: Oh, OK. I
wasn't there for that conversation, so...
Rob: Yeah, that is some
of the stuff I wish ya'll would have got to hear. I wish I would
have had this recorder in there recording, but I didn't want to push
it too much, you know?
And the other part, he was
like, “Hey, does Ben play with a pick?" And Butch Vig said
to Billy Bush, “You are just being lazy."
Ben: I remember him asking
Mike: Yeah, he came on
the headphones and he was like, “Well, that is what compressors are
Rob: I was like, “I
bet he could!" But he was like, “Well, look at the blood blisters
on his fingers. You tell me: does he use a pick or not?"
Ben: I was hoping the
blood blisters were going to come up in conversation just around him
Rob: Yeah. I think
he noticed. I think he noticed.
Rob: You bleed for your
art, you know? So he had separate tracks in Pro Tools for each
of the drums channels. I mean he had like overheads...there were
overheads in the room...
Mike: You had stereo
overheads, you had stereo room mics, you had snare top and bottom, each
rack tom, and two kick drum mics, and a high-hat mic. So actually,
with the exception of the high-hat mic, he actually miced it the exact
same way I did in my house. I didn't have a high-hat mic.
He did have that. Yeah, otherwise...
Obviously, his mics were a
little nicer and little more expensive than mine, but...
Rob: Same idea.
Mike: Yeah. And
he even had, like the overheads, he had set up in a spaced cardioid
patter, which is also exactly what I did. I was like, “Wow!
Maybe I do know what I am doing."
Rob: Well they were running
HD3, so it was in a...at 192 kilohertz, right?
Mike: Well, that is the highest setting. I don't know what they had it set on.
Mike: Well, if it was
44.1, then it wouldn't be at 192.
Rob: What is 48?
Mike: Well, 48 is just
another sample rate. Those are all different options. You
can do 44.1, which is CD. 48 was old VAT; you used 48. And
ADAT's...was it ADAT's also, maybe, that could run on 48?
I don't know. And then you have got like 96...
Rob: Multiples of 48...
Mike: And then you get
into multiples, because there is like 88.2, or you can get into, yeah,
96, which is double 48, then 192...it is all multiples.
Rob: But I think there
is something where he set what the target resolution is going to be
at the end of the song...I think that is what he was setting, not the
Mike: That was probably
for the mix, then. What he was doing, he had the stereo two track,
that would have had to have been at 44.1. And also, dropping [xx].
Rob: All right.
So that is the technicalism for the night.
Mike: Thanks Mr. Science!
Rob: When ya'll went
out in the alley and were talking about stuff, do you remember what
he was talking about?
Mike: Like outside?
Rob: Yeah, just talking
about different bands...
Ben: Just whatever.
Mike: I honestly don't
really...Unless somebody says something that like jogs my memory...There
wasn't any...Like literally, it was just kind of goofing off.
Rob: My favorite moment,
though, when I was asking him about what Garbage was going to do next,
and he said they were going to get together in studio and do some songwriting,
that is when I got up in his face and said, you know, “Where is my
album?" No pressure. That was awesome.
Rob: But he was really
digging on ya'll. I mean I remember like him...I mean, you know,
nobody is paying attention to him. Nobody is recording.
Nobody is looking at him and he is playing the drum part and whistling
the melody while he is kind of bopping around the studio. That
was really cool seeing him get into it like that.
Mike: Yeah. Hell,
yeah. I did talk to him about gear just a little bit. I
asked him, at one point, if like the old vintage stuff compared to like
Rob: The reissues?
Mike: The reissues or
some of the new recreations, if there is a noticeable difference to
justify the huge price difference. And he said, “Not really."
He said, “Occasionally...Usually the ones..." I was actually about
to start spouting my opinion...
Rob: Were you talking
about microphones or guitars, or...?
Mike: Like recording
gear. Like preamps, and microphones, and that kind of thing.
A good example is an LA2A compressor. It is a tube compressor.
You can buy a brand new one that is a reissue that looks pretty much
just like the old ones, made by the same company that made them...You
know, it is like the son of the guy that invented it is still making
them. A new one is, I don't know, three grand, $2,500, and an
old one, I don't know how many thousands of dollars you are looking
Rob: Did he say they are virtually the same?
Mike: Yeah, pretty much.
You know, it is not a big difference. He said it was a lot easier
when not as many people knew about Ebay. It was a lot easier to
snap up vintage stuff. And he said the vintage stuff is cool,
but, really, when it comes down to it, from a utilitarian standpoint,
that you can pretty much get the same effect with the reissue stuff.
Rob: What was he talking
about the console? Didn't he say it was like George Martin's
console from Sky Studios or something like that?
Mike: Air Studios.
Yeah, that was on the website for The Boat. It talked about it.
It was originally built, I think, in '69 for George Martin, Air Studios
Rob: Well that is cool.
Mike: And actually, I
didn't get a chance to ask. I was curious what all modifications
had been made to that board over the years.
Rob: They need to fix
the talkback button.
Mike: Well, at least
they have the foot pedal, yeah.
Rob: Yeah, he did not
like that. And the headphone mix; when ya'll were tracking your
parts, did ya'll have a bad headphone mix?
Mike: Mine was fine.
Ben: They never got the
vocals in for me right.
Mike: I think a lot of
it...I don't know if maybe they had some stuff patched wrong or what
was going on. I didn't really experience it until I was...I
tracked drums and then I didn't do anything else until it was tambourine...Well,
I guess vocals. And it was a little...I couldn't quite figure
out what was going on when I was doing vocals. It was like, “OK,
I got some guitar and I had bass." There were no drums in it
at all. But I had enough to go on to sing to, so I didn't really
worry about it.
And Todd had it cranked as
loud as it would go, just about, so I was turning all the volume way
down, because I put the headphones on and it about blew my head up.
But when I went in to do the tambourine, it was like...It was just going
[makes static noise]. You know, it was just distorted and all
bass and nothing else...
Ben: So it was awesome.
Rob: What else do you
Mike: Well, I don't
know. You know, when you are shaking a tambourine, drums would
be awesome. You know, a source of rhythm other than [makes distortion/static
Ben: Bless you.
Rob: Thank you.
Mike: Rob is dying in
Rob: No, no. I
Mike: But it turned out
that what the problem was, tattoo Mike...I wish I knew his real name.
I hate having to use all the...
Rob: But there were three
Mike's there. There was drum tech Mike, the Mike Yeager, and
Mike: Right. But
anyway, he came in and he pointed at two of the knobs on the little
mixer there. He said, “OK. This is your tambourine and
this is everything else." Well, that wasn't exactly the case.
The knob that said Bass still controlled the bass, and it was on 12
of 12 or whatever.
Rob: Right, like it should
Rob: Gosh, Mike.
You just don't appreciate us, you know?
Mike: And then the two
knobs that said guitars still controlled the guitars. And the
one that he said was everything had the drums and the vocals on it,
which was kind of weird. I think I ended up having...I got the
bass volume turned down enough where I could actually hear the rhythm
in it, and that was still about all I had in my headphones to do tambourine,
but I could hear the [simulates bass progression]. And it was
so...Good old Mr. Hodge here was so solid that...that was all I needed.
Rob: So you are admitting
that bass is all you need.
Mike: Well, it certainly
worked for Vic Bonham [sp] with Spinal Tap, although they did have drums
Rob: OK. Well,
I guess maybe a little bit.
Mike: And a little bit
Rob: OK. And he
had, like, yall's names down from like the first 30 seconds.
Ben: Yeah, he did.
Rob: I mean because he
had your names written by your instruments on the console.
Ben: Yeah, I saw that.
From the get go, it was almost
like...I mean I felt as comfortable as I do in my home studio from the
minute we got there.
Ben: Yeah. The
whole crew did a really good job of making us feel at home...
Mike: I was never nervous
at all. Now, I was serious about it. While tracking drums
to that click, I was concentrating. I was serious. I was
focused, but I was never nervous. I am more nervous playing at
Dave's Dark Horse Tavern than I was being there recording with Butch
Vig in a real studio in LA. You know, recording with a guy that
I would have to mortgage my house to afford to hire.
Rob: Right. He's got a hit or two. Cool. I think I got enough...
I really looked forward to doing the look for dragonstore.com. Allen gave me a general idea about what he wanted for the site, but the specifics were up to me. He also didn't have a company logo yet, so we made him a logo as our first part of the project.
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