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.