Marketing Podcast for Shopify Merchants: The Ecommerce Coffee Break

Digital Marketing Strategies to Increase Your Website Sales | #182 Brandon Leibowitz

May 09, 2023 Claus Lauter: Ecommerce Podcast Host | Shopify Partner | Marketing Optimizer Season 4 Episode 45
Marketing Podcast for Shopify Merchants: The Ecommerce Coffee Break
Digital Marketing Strategies to Increase Your Website Sales | #182 Brandon Leibowitz
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Ecommerce Coffee Break Podcast, Brandon Leibowitz, founder of, shares valuable insights on digital marketing strategies to help you boost your website sales.

On the Show Today You’ll Learn:

  • How important is SEO in 2023
  • The biggest challenges when it comes to implementing SEO strategies
  • How to get started with SEO for a new Shopify store
  • What is a quality backlink, and why it is important
  • What kind of content should people build up so that they get indexed
  • Would Google accept AI-generated content

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Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the E-Commerce Coffee Break podcast. Today we want to talk about something that is as old as the interwebs. It's seo search engine optimization. Search Engine optimization has always been there. Working on and off with that for a very, very long time and all businesses that are involved and it shows you how important it is.

with e-commerce, with Shopify, with everything that helps you to turn. traffic into clients into sales, SEO is a crucial factor to make it work. You wanna talk about this today, and if Brandon Leibowitz with me, he's the founder and owner of runs and operates this business since 2007, so he's around for a long time.

When it comes to SEO o. They're a digital marketing company that focus on helping small and medium sized business to get more traffic, which turns and converts into client sales and leads. So let's dive right into it. Hi Brandon. How are you today? 

Brandon Leibowitz: I'm doing well. Thanks for having me on. You're welcome.

Claus Lauter: Brenton, you're doing s a o and everything that comes with it for a very, very long time and a lot of things have changed over the years. So what's your perspective? How important is SEO nowadays? 

Brandon Leibowitz: As long as people are searching, SEO is still gonna be around. But if search engines or people don't search in the future, then we'll go away.

But for now, people are still using Google, still searching on doesn't have to be Google. You could search on Amazon. Yelp pretty much anywhere. Anywhere. Where is it a search feature? There's ways to optimize for that. Okay. Now 

Claus Lauter: for a lot of business owners, merchants, Shopify merchants, SEOs, a bit of our afterthought, , they want to have traffic very, very quick.

SEO o usually takes a little bit of time. What are the biggest challenges that you see when it comes to implementing SEO strategies? 

Brandon Leibowitz: It's building trust up with Google because, You can put keywords all over your website. Google doesn't really care or trust you, so you have to get Google to trust you, and that's the part that takes time.

It's not that hard to build a website and throw some keywords in there, but to get Google to actually believe that you are who you say you are, that's where it takes time. And it just depends on how competitive keywords are. if there's a lot of competition for your keywords, then it's gonna take a lot longer for SEO versus if you're.

Selling or promoting something very unique and niche and there's not much competition, then it's gonna be a lot quicker and easier. It still takes some time, but it'll be a much faster, SEO is more of a long term play, so you have to build up this trust, and once Google starts trusting you, then they're gonna start ranking you for your keywords.

And the way to build trust is by getting what are called back links, getting other websites to talk about too. The more websites that talk about you, the more trust Google's gonna give to you. And then they look at those keywords on your website, but it doesn't work the other way around. Without those back links, Google will just not gonna believe that you are who you say you are.


Claus Lauter: now, just assume I'm a new merchant. My Shopify store has just started. What are the steps that I need to implement to get started with seo? 

Brandon Leibowitz: Before I even set the store up, I would think of a structure and hierarchy that makes sense for your website, because it's very, very important how you categorize and set up the categories or collections.

They call it subcategories, sub subcategories. And I would look at your competitors, see what they're doing. Because you're an e-commerce website selling 500 or a thousand products, it's gonna be tough to optimize every single product. But the categories are where people are more likely to search. Like for example, if you're selling tennis issues, And then you have all these different styles of shoes.

Someone's searching on Google for tennis shoes. You don't want just one pair to show up. You want the whole collection. Or like men's tennis shoes, you want the whole men's collection so they could select from it. Or if they put like white men's tennis shoes and you have the whole white selection of white colored men's tennis shoes.

But people aren't going to for individual products. But majority of the time you wanna focus on the categorization. So making sure you really set your site up in a way that. Maximizes as many different collections or categories as possible. Looking at your competitors, seeing what they have for their categories.

Like I always tell people for example, target. It's a good website because they sell pretty much almost everything, and you can look at how they categorize their categories, subcategories, sub subcategories, and you look at these big corporate sites, they're gonna help you out because you gotta think they have whole teams of people building this stuff out.

They're not just. Guessing they're doing the research and trying to fine tune it over Amazon, another great one to look at and see how they structure it once you structure your website. Then another big part of it for e-commerce is content. Google currently read images or videos, so we just have a bunch of product images on these collection pages that doesn't do much.

You have to add some text. So adding a couple hundred words of text for each collection page or category, it's gonna really help out. And a lot of people don't wanna add a bunch of text on their page. I'd say just throw at the very bottom of the products. So have the products at the top. Maybe have a paragraph at the top or like couple sentences at the top.

But then at the bottom they have all this text there that is really for seo, for Google to help them read and understand what that page is about. this is stuff that's more straightforward, but then we can get technical where you go in the SEO settings and you have the title tag and the description.

Making sure your images before you upload them to your website are descriptive file names, so the file, name of images, videos, audio, Anything not text needs to have some descriptive words in there that's gonna really help out. There's a lot of other technical things, but those are the more important things, like having good content on every single page or the question pages and the homepage, and having a good site structure is really gonna help move the needle without getting too technical and in the weeds, and then building those back links, getting other websites to talk about you, because you can make all these changes to your website.

You can make a perfectly optimized website, but without those back links, Google's just, not gonna trust you. 

Claus Lauter: It already shows that SEO is a very complex topic. What you just mentioned, these are the basic that, merchants in a day to Bay business, a product manager, whoever maintains the product detail pages can do and should do as part of their normal bay.

And as you said, then it becomes quite technical. Tell me the other side, the side that you help with back links and everything that comes with this. What makes it so special and what is the structure or the process that you help the merchants with to get the traffic at the end of a day?

Brandon Leibowitz: take care of it all for them. So sending up the website, the structure, the hierarchy, with the keyword research, figuring out what keywords to put on the website, going in, optimizing all the technical stuff, and then, Building those back links by, there's a lot of different ways to build back links.

So there's tools that will show me anyone's website, so I could see your back links, you could see mine. So what I like to do is go into Google search for your keywords, sees on that first page of Google for your keywords, and throw them into these different tools. You have to pay for them, but they'll show you all their back links.

The big ones are like hres or Maz or Sam Rush. The more popular sites, and you just buy one of those tools. You don't need to buy all them, but just pick one and use that to just find your competitors and look at what keywords are you or what back links they're incorporating into the website. And then one by one, you could see which ones seem good because it's not a numbers game.

In the past, if I have a hundred backlinks and you have 200, you would rank higher than me. But now it's not the number of back links, it's the number of quality back links. And when we're looking at your competitors, You only wanna get the quality back links. what is a quality back link? So Google Quality Backlink is a website that's related to you that's really important.

authoritativeness, how big is this website? So relevancy, if you're like, let's say selling clothing and then you're getting a backlink from a flower shop, that's a little strange. Like why is a flower shop linking to a clothing store? But if you're a clothing store and you're getting another website related to fashion

and summit related to what you're doing. That's what Google sees. And then Authoritativeness, how big is this website? A back link from my website to yours would be good, but it's not the same as a Forbes or Wall Street Journal or Huffington Post. So the bigger the website, the more SEO value and the more related to you, the better off it's gonna be.

So when looking at your competitors, look for the sites are related to what you're doing and have some authority, and those are the ones that you wanna go after and target and figure out what did your competitors do? Were they interviewed on this website? Did they give out a free product to somebody and they wrote a review about it?

Did they have a coupon code that they gave to somebody? Did they join like the B B B or Chamber of Commerce or what did they do? Cuz you could reverse engineer their entire strategy by looking at those back links. Okay. 

Claus Lauter: Now a lot of shops have a high turnover on products. Some of them are commodities, some of them are fashion products that are just in there for a season or so.

So optimizing for a short lift product detail page is probably not a good idea or, does that make sense? 

Brandon Leibowitz: If you're doing that, then. That page, you could either leave it up and say, coming soon, or try to stir people in a different direction. Or if you take that page down, you could do what's called the 3 0 1 redirect.

So preserve some of that value. So it tells Google Art. This page is gone, but here's the category page. So it says, here's like the category of the homepage. So it takes people to a page that's similar. It's called a 3 0 1 redirect, and that's a way to preserve that value. But if you have seasonal ones, like if you're selling something.

For a few months. Might be tough for SEO because it's gonna take a few months for Google to rank you unless you've already built up back links in your big corporate website. Like Target, they can throw a product up on there and oh, rank pretty much immediately because they have so much authoritativeness built up in their back links that Google trusts 'em.

So you get yourself to level that Google Trust you then. Those rankings will come in quicker. Probably won't come immediately, but you'll probably get ranked in like a month or two. So it just depends how big your website is, how much trust Google's given to you, and then you can try to target some of those more seasonal, short-lived products, but they do disappear.

You could try to offer them something similar or maybe have 'em on a wait list or whatever you could do to hopefully get that person to continue to wanna purchase from you. 

Claus Lauter: Okay, that's, these are great tips. You're talking about Google. I think Google has still, most of the traffic is coming from Google.

Are there any other kind of search engines or niche search engines that you would recommend to optimize 

Brandon Leibowitz: for? I would just optimize for where your traffic's coming from, and I would use tools like, Google Analytics to track where your traffic comes from, and then you can see where's my traffic coming from?

Is it coming from Google, Bing, Yahoo Yandex, or social media or email or people just typing your website directly in. But these tools, Google Analytics, mainly, it's a free one. It'll show you too much data. It's like data overload, but it shows you everything you wanna need and then you can see, all right, a majority of my customers are coming from Baidu or this search engine, Baidu, maybe I should optimize for this, but.

I've never really seen that in 2000 since doing this from 2007 to now, like almost 15 years, never seen Google or another search engine bringing more traffic than Google. But every website is different. So I would check your analytics, but for the most part, google's where it's at, but you gotta take a step back and think, if you're looking for your proctor service, where would you go?

And that's all that matters. You don't need to be everywhere You seem, be in front of your audience. And sometimes it might be some small obscure site, or Etsy, Pinterest, things like that could bring in a lot more traffic if done properly. Okay. 

Claus Lauter: Now a lot of stores, they have their, as I said, their homepage, a collection page, their product detail page, and it might have about us page or some policy pages, but not much more of content.

What kind of strategy would you recommend , to build up more content? And on that, what kind of content should people build up so that they get indexed? 

Brandon Leibowitz: To Google, a normal website would've and about us. Contact us page, privacy policy, terms of service, like these need to be there. If they're not there, Google just looks at you as like, all right, you're not that trustworthy or on your contact page.

Should have a phone number or an email address or some way for people to get ahold of you, especially if you're e-commerce. Cuz if not, Google's just not gonna trust those sites. I know a lot of people don't wanna put that contact information there, but gotta take a step back. If you were gonna buy off a website that had no contact information, would you ever buy off that?

Probably not. That's why people would be like, all right, lemme just go on Amazon because. I know if it's fake or I get ripped off or something happens, I'll get my money back. So you gotta build trust up to get people to trust you. But content wise, you gotta have more text on every single page and more categories.

So build out as many categories as possible, or collections as possible. But once you've built them all out, then it's blogging where that's the way to add more content to your website. Cuz there's only so many pages, products, categories that you could build. Then it's like, what do I do? And that's where the blogs come into play, where you offer value, don't promote yourself, but.

Offer value and write informational blog posts that are supposed to rank in Google to get people that are looking for a question or have the issue. They'll find your blog post, read it, and then hopefully wanna buy your product or service or whatever is that you're promoting in there.

But blogging is a great way to. Keep adding more content to your website. Keep your not a blog once a month if you can. More is better, but once a month is really sufficient just to keep it updated because Google also looks at your website to see how frequently it changes. If your website hasn't changed in four years, Google thinks that you might have gone outta business.

So a blog is a way to keep your website updated with new content, fresh content, and just a new way to draw new eyeballs onto your website. I 

Claus Lauter: think there's a lot of truth in there. I see a lot of online stores who do not have a phone number and I always tell them, that's not building trust with your customer.

I never thought about that. , this is part of seo. So I learned something here. , but one reason why to do it. I wanna touch on something that, , relatively in the news for the last couple of months is creating content with artificial intelligence generators, open AI chat, G P T. , there's a bit of a discussion going on if Google will accept this kind of content generated there or not.

What's your take on that? 

Brandon Leibowitz: Well, Google's said a couple months ago that it's fine if it's ran by ai. They're not gonna penalize you like they would've in the past. They said as long as the content offers value. Actually, they just said it a couple days ago too as well. Whether the had guys that does SEO or with my BA at Google, that lets you know, but gotta take everything with the grain of salt.

Google's not really gonna tell you the truth, but Buzzfeed if fired half their staff a couple months ago because there's like, we don't need you. We could just have. Chat, G P T or G P T four and other tools like that just break the content for us. But Google says as long as it offers value, it's okay. But chat G P T or G P T four, it's a lot better now, but still it's not perfect.

So take everything with a grain of salt, probably gotta go in there, tweak it, rewrite it use it as like, Generating outlines is a great tool for that for writers to like generate outlines. But copying a verbatim might not be the best idea nowadays, but in the future, once it's much more sophisticated and better, you probably just couldn't unfortunately copy it and wouldn't have any issues.

And Google says it's perfectly fine. Just make sure content offers value. That's really what Google wants to make sure is that it offers value that you're providing an answer to someone's question or just giving value. That's. What you should be doing anyways, your blogs, social media, anything you're putting out there should be offering value.

You don't wanna promote yourself. It's really spammy and people don't wanna hear you or see you promoting yourself, but if you offer value, people start to trust you more. 

Claus Lauter: Okay. You said earlier on that s e o is a bit of a long-term strategy. Give me an idea on how long it will take from scratch or somebody who has a website for a year or so before they can really see results if they step, follow every step in the process.

Brandon Leibowitz: So that really varies depending on the competition and the keywords that you're trying to rank for. Because what matters is how big or who are you? Like how old is your website? Well, how many back links do you have versus your competitors. That's really what comes down to, so if it's very competitive, these keywords, And these competitors might have thousands of back links and you only have five back links. It's gonna take a long time to get you up to that level. But if you're in a more unique kind of niche area with less competition, then let's say your competitors have a hundred back links and you have five back links, then probably get up there in six months or so a year possibly, just depending on how competitive it is.

But in general, don't have any back links, it's gonna take much longer if you've already built up some trust and credibility and have been around for years and years. That's gonna help speed it up. Let's say you don't have any back links, but you've had your website for 15 years, which I've had clients like that.

Me building a few back links and doing some quick changes will get them to pretty much just shoot up right away because Google's like, thank you for finally giving us some back links, showing us that you're trustworthy because we've seen that you've been around for years, but we just don't know who you are and we don't trust you.

But these back links help solidify and build that trust. It's like a vote. It's like these websites are voting for each other, It's tough. It's not really a one size fits all. I always offer free website consultations with my clients. That way I could let them know, all right, where are you versus your competitors and how do we get them to your level, what that you wanna be at?

Because if I just tell you it's six months, it might be six months, but it might be a year or it might be three months, not one size fits all. Okay. You 

Claus Lauter: already answered a little bit of the question. My following up question is like, if somebody was approaching you at SEO optimizers, what's the process of onboarding and what kind of homework needs immersion to do before they can get started working with you?

Brandon Leibowitz: It's just sign website analysis. That way I can look at your website your competitors and make sure it is feasible because I can't work for every website. Like if you're just selling t-shirts. It's gonna be tough for me to rank for you on Google cuz. It all comes down to who's on that first page of Google for your keywords.

And if you're selling just t-shirts, you got Amazon, like Target, Walmart, Costco, all these big, big corporations. And if you're just a small mom of pop shop, it's gonna be really tough. So that's why I have to look and figure out, all right, maybe SELs not the best we could do social media. It's a little bit easier to break into that market or run some paid ads.

So that's where I just try to make sure that I look at their website and give 'em the best options available. Because sometimes SEO isn't gonna work and I don't wanna. Spend or waste your time and money on something that isn't gonna be relevant for what, where your audience is at. 

Claus Lauter: Okay. Give me an idea about pricing.

How much does this cost to have you working on my SEO o? 

Brandon Leibowitz: That's where it also varies depending on how big your website is. So let's say you're an e-commerce website and you're selling five products, that's five pages that I have to optimize. But say you're selling 5,000 products, I have to go on each page, essentially.

Well eventually get through each page. I'd work my way down from like homepage categories, subcategories, then go after the top selling products. But that's gonna take a lot more time. So that's where it's tricky as well. Each website's gonna be different and. That's where that website analysis is the best way.

That way I can really figure it out and see what's gonna be the best fit for you. 

Claus Lauter: Okay. Before we come to the end of our coffee break today, one question , that I have is ai. How will it change the search landscape? So there's other tools coming up more and more. Will Google catch up, will be our search behavior as a user?

Will it change or , what's your prediction there? 

Brandon Leibowitz: Google's definitely. Working on it and building up bard and they're gonna compete. They're not gonna just let open AI take over. So not working hard to keep it up there, but we'll have to see what happens in the future if people stop using Google.

But I know people are using chat G P T a lot, but you can't really do the same things that could do on Google. Like if you're trying to buy a product for e-commerce doesn't really work on G P T, so we'll have to see. Maybe it'll enable you to e-commerce shopping, but for now, Google still kind of runs things, but love to see, cuz with SEO or digital marketing in general, there is no constant, it's always changing.

So I was just trying to see what's going on and what are the latest trends and is this gonna stick or is this gonna be another fad that's gonna just disappear? Which I don't think it is. It's gonna definitely stay, but who knows what's gonna happen in the future. It's tricky. 

Claus Lauter: Yeah, but I think that's the fun, fun part.

You're doing this for 15 years and more things are always changing. Brent, where can people find out more about you and SEO O optimizers? 

Brandon Leibowitz: anyone that wants to learn more, I create a special gift for them if they go to my website at s e o That's S E O O P T I M I Z E R, and they can find that there, along with my contact information and a bunch of classes I've done over the years, I've thrown up there for free.

So they can watch that at any time. And also they wanna book some time on my calendar for free website analysis. I'm happy to check out their website and give 'em some feedback about what's working, what's not working, and how they get them to that level that they wanna be at. And they can book some time on my calendar there for free as well.

Claus Lauter: Excellent. I will put the links in the show notes. As always, I need just one click away and I would recommend every merchant to look in their SEO O strategy cause it's an important one. Thanks so much for 

Brandon Leibowitz: your time today. Thanks for having me on.