Introduction to SEO

So you’ve launched a new store - Then you ask yourself, “How do I get people TO my new store?”  While there are several different strategies, today we are going to be talking about what Rhian knows best - SEO. 

This week on the podcast we’re giving you an introduction to SEO - what it is, why it matters, and how to utilize keywords and blogging to get your store and products found by new customers.



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show notes.

  • [09:38] What is SEO?
  • [10:30] What is a SERP?
  • [12:52] Why does SEO matter?
  • [15:32] What are keywords?
  • [18:44] Studying your competitors
  • [20:40] Long-tail keywords
  • [23:48] How to find keywords for your store
  • [27:05] Titles and meta descriptions
  • [28:17] Alt text
  • [31:25] Blogging
  • [35:07] SEO is a marathon, not a sprint





Kelly (00:00):
So you've launched a new store. Then you ask yourself, "How do I get people to my new store?" While there are several different strategies, today we're going to be talking about what Rhian knows best, SEO. This week on the podcast, we're giving you an introduction to SEO, what it is, why it matters and how to utilize keywords in blogging to get your store and products found by new customers. Let's dig in.

Rhian (00:27):
Welcome to Commerce Tea, a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify. I'm Rhian.

Kelly (00:32):
And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things commerce.

Rhian (00:37):
Hey, Kelly. How can merchants get more out of their Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing campaigns?

Kelly (00:53):
I recommend Octane AI, the leading Facebook Messenger and SMS platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants.

Rhian (00:59):
How does it work?

Kelly (01:01):
Using their built-in flows, conversational ads, and retargeting campaigns, you can easily unlock Messenger and SMS as new revenue channels. The platform has ready-to-go integrations with top Apps such as Klaviyo, Privy, Recharge and Justuno.

Rhian (01:15):
What kinds of returns can I expect?

Kelly (01:17):
Merchants using Octane AI report 80 to 95% open rates, a 7X increase in click through rates. And even a seven to 20% increase in revenue.

Rhian (01:27):
This sounds great. Where can I learn more?

Kelly (01:29):
You can start a 14 day free trial by requesting a demo at Or by visiting the Shopify App Store and searching for Octane AI. Good morning, Rhian.

Rhian (01:40):
Good morning, Kelly.

Kelly (01:43):
How was your long weekend?

Rhian (01:45):
Well, my long weekend was long-ish. I'm not great at taking time off. I'm going to be really honest with you. And-

Kelly (01:53):

Rhian (01:55):
... I'm not into that whole hustle kind of culture. But I also feel like I have accidentally fallen into it during the pandemic. And maybe that's [crosstalk 00:02:09]-

Kelly (02:08):

Rhian (02:09):
... not going out, right? So it's like, "Oh, well I'm bored. What should I do? I've already read for four hours. Maybe I could work some more. I don't know." Are you feeling the same way?

Kelly (02:19):
Yeah, definitely for the pandemic I'm feeling the same way. But Labor Day weekend is a special weekend for me, because this is the first time in either six or seven years that I was not on vacation for Labor Day. This is the time we always go on vacation, because we get that extra day off for September, and it's shoulder season for traveling, so it's a really good time to be traveling around Europe. So being home for Labor Day was kind of weird. But here we are. It's a pandemic, and things are different. This is 2020.

Rhian (02:52):
This is 2020. Okay. So unrelated, but important question. What's your favorite place you've ever been?

Kelly (03:00):
Oh, boy. Okay. So I have two.

Rhian (03:04):

Kelly (03:04):
Because I can't rank them the same way. The first one is New Zealand. It's freaking beautiful. I got to spend two weeks there. And I absolutely fell in love with the country. It is a far place to travel. So we needed those two weeks. And we did a week in the north island, and then a week in the south island. And it still wasn't nearly enough time to see everything. The reason why I can't count it to be the same as our other trips is because we were there for so long though. My other favorite place is Ljubljana in Slovenia. It is a very youthful city. It's very clean, it's very green. They have a lot of recycling centers. They have somebody driving around in a golf cart to just take you to wherever you want to go. It is super ... I don't know. I just absolutely fell in love with the city. So I always ... Whenever you know the Facebook Memories that come up?

Rhian (03:52):
Yeah. Yeah.

Kelly (03:53):
And you see your old travel pictures. Every single time Ljubljana comes up, I'm like, "Oh, I want to go back."

Rhian (03:58):
I haven't been there. So I'm going to add that to my list of places to go. That sounds-

Kelly (04:03):
It was a great trip.

Rhian (04:04):
It sounds nice.

Kelly (04:06):
Ljubljana ... Or that was Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, and Herzegovina. So we did 10, 11 days doing a little circle there. Mostar was a really cool city too. But I did Finland in February, and I'm really glad we got at least one trip in this year. And absolutely loved the country. And plus, going to Finland in February is a winter wonderland. So I loved it.

Rhian (04:28):
That sounds ... Do you have a special set of clothes for traveling to cold Europe during-

Kelly (04:34):
I do.

Rhian (04:35):
I do too. Yeah.

Kelly (04:36):
Yeah. Because I live in Georgia, so why would I have winter clothes? So I layer. I just do a lot of layering. But my winter jacket is also my ski jacket. And so I just wear my ski jacket everywhere I go.

Rhian (04:48):
Okay, Kelly, second important question. Again, I already know the answer, but this is a fun fact about you that I love. Do you pack a suitcase?

Kelly (04:56):
No, I'm a backpack person. I'm a backpacker. And I'm not like the backpacking, camping, hiking kind of backpacking. I do not like rolling suitcases. I think they're annoying, especially when you're trying to walk down a cobblestone path.

Rhian (05:11):

Kelly (05:11):
So I do backpacks everywhere I go. And it's great. We recently got new ones a couple of years ago, I think, that unzip like a suitcase but are backpacks. So I don't know, they're really great. [Daniel's 00:05:24] officially on the packing cube-

Rhian (05:26):
On that hustle.

Kelly (05:26):
... trend, I guess.

Rhian (05:29):

Kelly (05:30):
Yeah. I haven't gotten there yet. So my clothes are just a huge mess inside my bag, and that's totally fine. They get ... I can dress myself in another country, and that's the goal.

Rhian (05:41):
That is always the goal. Do you have clothes when you arrive?

Kelly (05:46):
I thankfully have never lost a bag while traveling.

Rhian (05:48):
Well, that's because you put it on your back.

Kelly (05:49):
Fingers crossed. Knock on wood.

Rhian (05:52):
If you don't check your bag, it's really hard to [crosstalk 00:05:54]-

Kelly (05:54):
I do check a bag though. It's a large bag.

Rhian (05:56):
I didn't know you checked a bag. Okay.

Kelly (05:58):
It's like 45 or 60 liters. It's not a small bag.

Rhian (06:01):
Oh, okay.

Kelly (06:01):
Because we're usually travel ... Especially for winter trips. It's always funny now when we pack for a summer trip and I use that same bag, and it's half full. And like, "I don't know what else to put in here." Which means I have a lot of room to take wine home.

Rhian (06:17):
I like that that's where it leads. I love that. I do miss travel. I've been digitally traveling on the internet. And I'm [crosstalk 00:06:28].

Kelly (06:27):
Surfing the web.

Rhian (06:28):
I've been surfing the web, and looking at things. I really like The Monocle Guides to travel. I subscribed to the magazine. But-

Kelly (06:38):
I'm subscribed to Scott's Cheap Flights, and so I always look at the flight deals that come up. And I'm like, "Oh, I can't book right now."

Rhian (06:43):
They are cheap-

Kelly (06:43):
"I shouldn't book-"

Rhian (06:44):
... right now.

Kelly (06:45):
" ... right now." They're very cheap.

Rhian (06:45):
They're very cheap.

Kelly (06:46):
They just released domestic flights as well. And so I occasionally get like, "Non-stop round trip to New York City for $26."

Rhian (06:54):
$26 is so cheap. I would be afraid to-

Kelly (06:57):
It's so cheap.

Rhian (06:57):
... fall out of the airplane at $26. That's not-

Kelly (07:00):
Cheap [crosstalk 00:07:01].

Rhian (07:01):
... an airplane at that point. You're really ... They're magicking you there.

Kelly (07:06):
And it's not like you're flying frontier or anything. This is Delta or Jet [crosstalk 00:07:13]-

Rhian (07:13):
Oh, that was some shade-

Kelly (07:13):
... or American [crosstalk 00:07:14]-

Rhian (07:14):
... against Frontier. You're like, "It's not like you're flying Frontier." Or what's the other one that's-

Kelly (07:19):
"Frontier and Spirit are budget."

Rhian (07:19):
I flew Spirit one time.

Kelly (07:22):

Rhian (07:22):
Oh my God.

Kelly (07:23):
First and last time.

Rhian (07:26):
It is incredibly expensive to fly from L.A. to Detroit, because it's Delta's big hub.

Kelly (07:32):

Rhian (07:33):
So it was either Delta for a $1000. I was like, "Okay. First of all, I'm not leaving the country. I'm not spending a $1000." So then I flew Spirit on a red-eye. I've never done it again. It was a terrible idea.

Kelly (07:48):
That's a feat-

Rhian (07:51):
It was a choice.

Kelly (07:51):
... the fact that you ... Yeah. No, it's not-

Rhian (07:54):
It's a bad choice.

Kelly (07:55):
... for me.

Rhian (07:55):
Nope. Nope. Nope. Hard pass.

Kelly (07:57):
Detroit is one of my favorite places to fly into, because they have ... They're two separate terminals, but they're literally physically separated. For everything that's ... Or everything Delta flies into, I think it's McNamara is what it's called. And then everything else flies into the other terminal. They have a specific ... It's almost like there's a Delta airport.

Rhian (08:21):
It does feel like it's a Delta airport. And so for listeners now, you're like, "Wait a second. Has Commerce Tea pivoted into a travel podcast?" And the answer is, unfortunately-

Kelly (08:30):

Rhian (08:31):
... not.

Kelly (08:35):
Well, I guess at this point we should stop with our tangents and actually talk about what we're-

Rhian (08:40):
Okay. Fine.

Kelly (08:41):
... discussing this week, which is SEO.

Rhian (08:42):
Fine, fine. Fine. Okay. It's my favorite thing to talk about.

Kelly (08:46):
You can talk about it all day, and I love that.

Rhian (08:47):
I can. But for the purpose of this podcast, I think we're only going to touch on it a little bit, so that that way there's some actionable takeaways. And it's not ... If any of y'all have ever gone to one of Kelly's and my classes through Growth Lab, you'll know that that's an hour and a half. And even then, it barely scratches the surface of SEO. And it's a lot and can feel really overwhelming. So I think our goal today is to give you a few actionable takeaways. And that way, we could do this again. And there will be some more actionable takeaways we didn't get to the first time. And that way you can [crosstalk 00:09:22]-

Kelly (09:21):

Rhian (09:22):
You know. I don't like feeling overwhelmed. I'm not trying to overwhelm you all.

Kelly (09:25):
It will still be a packed episode, because SEO is a lot to unpack.

Rhian (09:29):
Yes. Yeah. Kelly has 10 things listed here. So we're probably going to get to a few.

Kelly (09:35):
We'll see. Let's start with the first one. Rhian?

Rhian (09:39):

Kelly (09:40):
What is SEO?

Rhian (09:41):
SEO is search engine optimization. And what that means is, how do you get to the first page on Google? And the reason I talk about Google almost just explicitly Google is because it makes up the vast majority of searches on the web. And also if you optimize for Google, you're fine for all the other search engines. Bing's algorithm is not radically different than Google's. They were not reinventing the wheel, they are chasing Google up the hill.

Kelly (10:20):
Everyone's chasing Google. Yes.

Rhian (10:21):
Everyone's chasing Google. So if you are optimized for Google, you are optimized ... You might hear me use the term, SERP. S-E-R-P, which is search engine results page. All that means is when you Google something, and you make a search inquiry, which is when you put the words in the top bar. A SERP is what comes up. So that first page, second page, third. Those are your SERPs. SEO folks love to say that you shouldn't be on the second page. You need to be on the first page of Google.

Kelly (10:56):
So I know there's value to being on the first page of Google. Do you have any statistics about what percentage of customers use that first page of Google to actually find whatever it is they're looking for? Does that make sense?

Rhian (11:12):
Yeah. It totally makes sense. So Moz actually did a great survey about that. We'll link it in the show notes. And this is verbatim from them, and the vast majority of respondents of their survey, and remember a survey is always just a sample size, right? So this isn't ubiquitous to everybody. They remain on the first page of Google to find an answer to their query. But remember, a query is not always the same as query to buy for eCommerce. There's a difference between SEO in total, and then SEO for eCommerce or for Shopify.

Rhian (11:46):
So 75% of the respondents to their survey click on the first one or two results. Now, they again, I just want to hammer this home. They are interviewing everybody. So whether you're searching for Justin Timberlake, or you're searching for Justin Timberlake T-shirts, or you're searching for a black T-shirt. They're not identifying the difference here. What I have seen through, and I have a lot of access to many ... A lot of people's Google Analytics. And what I have noticed is people who are shopping will go to the second page. They tend to drop off after the second page.

Kelly (12:28):

Rhian (12:28):
Bust especially if it's for a broad search term, like T-shirt or black T-shirt. But when you start narrowing it down-

Kelly (12:35):
It makes sense.

Rhian (12:35):
... then it starts getting ... Yeah, because you're used to it at this point. You're like, "Okay, I know the first four are ads," because they're always ads. And then they go down after that.

Kelly (12:44):
Okay. So this might be a pretty obvious question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Why does SEO matter?

Rhian (12:53):
Because if your site is not optimized for search, it ... Okay. So one thing that's important to know, and I say this all the time. So I want everyone to think about SEO like a multidimensional Rubik's cube. So not a regular Rubik's cube. Those really ... As if a Rubik's cube isn't difficult enough. You know the ones that are like the super Rubik's cubes that are really, really large?

Kelly (13:17):

Rhian (13:17):
That are shaped like a-

Kelly (13:18):
I can't do a regular Rubik's cube, so.

Rhian (13:21):
My business partner can do one in two minutes. I can't do one at all. But yeah, it's one of those giant Rubik's cubes with all those sides. That is SEO. That is search. And people tend to think search is this either one specific thing, and therefore it kind of exists on its own, but it really doesn't. It exists alongside of CRO, which is conversion rate optimization. It exists alongside PPC, payer per click, which is just AdWords, Facebook ads, Instagram ads. It exists alongside influencer marketing. It exists alongside all of these things. And together is how you get your store found. Now the thing is, when you build your store on Shopify, you're essentially building your store just in the middle of nowhere, right? It's like, "Okay, I'm building my store in the middle of Missouri, and there are no roads that lead to it." You have to build-

Kelly (14:19):
Poor Missouri.

Rhian (14:21):
Poor Missouri. Sorry, Missouri. It was the first state I could think of. So your city ... "Your city." Your store's in the middle of Missouri. There are no roads. Now you have to build the roads. And when you're building the roads, you have to also build a foundational store, because no matter how good your roads, if the store sucks when you get there, people are going to leave. And you're going to become irrelevant, and the roads are going to break. All of that is a huge analogy for saying, if your store is not optimized, I do not care how much money you spend on Facebook ads and Instagram ads, and Snapchat ads, or whatever. Eventually your capital will dry out when it comes to that type of ad buy. And all of the traffic that you have generated, which helps amplify your SEO or gives you SEO juice, so to speak, will go away. Because you've been directing traffic to a page that is not compliant with Google's best practices.

Kelly (15:22):
Yeah. So it matters.

Rhian (15:24):
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. That was a really long answer for why does it matter.

Kelly (15:30):
But it's a good analogy. I mean, it's a good visual representation. So one of the things that's talked about a lot in terms of SEO are keywords. So what exactly is a keyword? And I think it's worth touching on the idea of keyword stuffing as well.

Rhian (15:47):
Oh, yeah. I don't like keyword stuffing. So a keyword ... So Google's algorithm ... I'm like, "SO back in the day, 2013." Okay. No, I'm not going to do that. So a keyword is, it is a word that Google attaches your item to. So for instance, a T-shirt. And right now I'm wearing ... Okay, let's actually use what I'm wearing right now for my own sake for explanation. So I'm wearing a denim, a sustainable denim shirt. And those three things are keywords on their own. So it used to be ... Okay. Denim shirt, that's considered a long tail keyword, right? Because it's more than one word. So a short tail keyword, which is, "Shirt." Then there's, "Denim shirt," which is long tail. What is really an optimal keyword here is, "Sustainable denim shirt."

Rhian (16:44):
And the reason this matters is, Google rolled in 2016 and now ... Did a soft rollout and now the rollout is wide. It's an algorithm called RankBrain, which uses AI. And it actually returns results at a higher percentage of accuracy than human beings do. And the reason it matters is, for a while SEO people and people in general in eCommerce were like, "Well, SEO is dead because RankBrain is just going to kind of get it." But the thing is, if you don't give Google any point of reference, there's nothing to latch onto. You need keywords to give Google a point of reference as to what you are selling on the internet.

Rhian (17:23):
You can't just be like, "Shirt," and it's going to figure out from scanning your page that, "Oh, you actually sell sustainable denim shirts that are made in the United States, and this is why this matters." You have to explain all of that stuff. And that's using keywords. And it's also using copywriting. Now what you don't want to do is get caught in a trap. And the best example I can think of keyword stuffing, I see it all over the place. But the place that springs to mind is eBay.

Kelly (17:55):
Oh, yeah.

Rhian (17:55):
Where you look at the title and you're like, "Yes, I fully understand what you're selling, because you said it in 30 different ways in 20 words." Don't do that. And Google can actually remove your results from the internet forever. They put you on the naughty list, so to speak. So you don't want to do things that Google considers bad practices, because they will leverage punishments against you. And let me tell you, in a you versus Google argument, you aren't winning.

Kelly (18:31):
You're not going to win.

Rhian (18:32):
You're not going to win. You're like, "Here's my one attorney." And then they're like, "Okay. Cool. We're a trillion dollar company." So that's my thoughts on keywords. They're super important. The best way to do research for keywords that I like to do research for is, first of all, identify who your competitors are. And it's important to also be realistic about your competitors. Right? You have your direct competitors. People who you're like, "Ah, peer to peer. These are my competitors." And then you have your aspiration competitors. And I say that, because once I consulted for a street wear company and I was like, "What's your competitor? Who's your competitor?" They're like, "Nike." And I was like, "No, I mean your actual competitor." Like, "You're not competing against-"

Kelly (19:12):
I love when people are like-

Rhian (19:12):
" ... Nike."

Kelly (19:14):
... "My biggest competitor is Amazon." And I'm like, "No, it is not."

Rhian (19:18):

Kelly (19:19):
"Let's try this again."

Rhian (19:19):
No. And it's okay to be where you are. And Kelly and I have talked about this offline. There's no point in pretending to be something you're not, right? Own where you're at. Because when you're honest with yourself, you will get better results. Do not lie to yourself about who your competitors are. It doesn't help you. Now I do believe in having aspirational competitors. If Nike is your aspirational competitor, great. I'm sure-

Kelly (19:46):
By all means.

Rhian (19:46):
Yeah. I don't know [Albert's 00:19:49] personally, but I'm sure when they started they weren't like, "We are chasing the entire shoe market." But now they are. I mean, MVMT disrupted the watch market. And there you have ... Any company has the ability to go up against and rank up against the giants. But you've got to start somewhere. And that somewhere isn't Nike.

Kelly (20:13):
You know what I'm really happy about?

Rhian (20:14):
What's that?

Kelly (20:16):
I didn't mention Albert's in the episode first, you did.

Rhian (20:18):
Oh, I did. And also we haven't mentioned Albert's for four episodes.

Kelly (20:23):
I know.

Rhian (20:24):
Albert's, we're-

Kelly (20:24):
I don't know what's happening.

Rhian (20:25):
... still taking ... I'm just kidding.

Kelly (20:29):
We're just kidding, but seriously come and sponsor us.

Rhian (20:29):
But seriously. But seriously.

Kelly (20:31):
Also I'll take free shoes.

Rhian (20:32):

Kelly (20:35):
Okay. So one thing before we move on to how to find keywords for your store.

Rhian (20:39):

Kelly (20:40):
It's interesting to me that a long tail keyword is as short as two words. Because voice search is becoming more and more popular as people are using Siri to search for things, or Alexa, or whatever else. So what are the ... I picture a longer tail keyword to be like a phrase almost.

Rhian (21:00):
Yes. And it's a conversational inquiry is what people are making now. So a few years ago, people would just put in, "Sustainable denim T-shirt. Sustainable denim shirt." Now it's, "Where do I find a blah, blah, blah, blah?"

Kelly (21:17):
I literally use Google like that.

Rhian (21:19):
So do I.

Kelly (21:20):
[inaudible 00:21:20]. I didn't used to. I used to do like, "Plus sustainable. Plus denim," in shirt.

Rhian (21:23):
Oh my gosh. In the olden days. It's like you use it like you use JSTOR.

Kelly (21:28):
Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. So it's become more conversational.

Rhian (21:34):
It has become entirely more conversational. And I do think you're right when it comes to that being led by voice search. Voice search is going to come over ... It's supposed to be over 40% by the end of 2020 of all searches. I would say, and this is not official data. But this is my hypothesis. Which by the way, is three fourths of what people in my profession do is we look at data, and we make educated guesses on what the ramifications are. Because Google makes hundreds of changes to the algorithm a year. And they do not tell us. They tell us about four, five times.

Kelly (22:13):

Rhian (22:14):
And very rarely are what they tell us is specifics. Only if they are huge, major, major things do they say, "Okay. Really." Back in the day, it was like, "Okay. [Mobilegeddon 00:22:26] is coming. Which means if you're not mobile friendly, you're getting downranked off the internet forever. Do it." Besides ... And [inaudible 00:22:33], they don't tell us. So we are-

Kelly (22:36):
They don't.

Rhian (22:36):
... left-

Kelly (22:38):
And it's always so interesting seeing the messages like, "Oh, health based stores are seeing a significant shift in their ranking."

Rhian (22:45):

Kelly (22:45):
So something must have changed. And then it's working backwards. I'm figuring out what happened.

Rhian (22:49):
Yeah. We're constantly reverse engineering what's going on. And it's often ... My business partner wrote a book on SEO a long time ago. And our constant joke, I'm a brutal editor. And the constant joke is, he wrote an entire chapter about the scientific method and why it matters. And I was like, "No one's going to read this chapter. It's got to go." But at the same time, there is something to that. We have a hypothesis as SEO professionals. And then we work backwards to try to prove our hypothesis. Sometimes we are wrong. I try to not be wrong, but that does not mean I am never wrong. Because as ... Does that make me a scientist? No, I'm not a scientist. But I think it's important to know that.

Kelly (23:33):
Exactly. Yeah. Okay. So we talked about what keywords are. We talked about how to determine who your competitors truly are. So how do we find keywords for our store?

Rhian (23:48):
I have a few different ways to do it. One, I literally look ... And this is very not scientific. It's super old school. I love a whiteboard, so I have a whiteboard. And I will go and look at the competitors of a specific brand, and I will start writing them down. Because you start noticing patterns of what people are saying, right? And you have a good idea of what the keywords are going to be. But if you're coming to me and you're saying, "Rhian, I'm selling denim shirts." I'm like, "Well, what makes your denim shirts special?" That's going to be the first question I'm going to ask you. Because, "Oh, well it's sustainable. It's made in the United States. It's union made. It's this." Okay, hold on a second. So we're not selling a denim shirt anymore. We're selling a specific type of denim shirt.

Rhian (24:34):
And so you start looking at competitors in that space. You start looking at the keywords that the competitors are using, and you make a list. Now the other way to use it is by using Google AdWords, Keyword Planner. You have to change it from basic to pro. And you can use the Keyword Planner to look at search volume and cost of ads. And also it's search volume, the cost, and the competition. And I like to look at, in a perfect world you start optimizing for things that have high volume, low competition. In the real world, sometimes you're optimizing for high volume, high competition. But either way, it gives you an idea of other types of keywords. Other tools if you're looking paid tools that I really recommend are Moz.

Kelly (25:23):
Okay. Before you go into the paid tools.

Rhian (25:25):

Kelly (25:25):
It's an important point to make. You can use AdWords's Keyword Planner on the pro level for free.

Rhian (25:31):
For free. But you do have to put your credit card in.

Kelly (25:33):

Rhian (25:33):
But don't-

Kelly (25:34):
But you're not going to be charged.

Rhian (25:35):
No. But don't run an ad. It's like a hack-

Kelly (25:38):

Rhian (25:39):
... to their ... They're going to hear this, and then they're going to change this. I'm just kidding. They're going to be like, "What? How many years have-"

Kelly (25:46):
"You know what I heard-"

Rhian (25:48):
" ... you been doing this for?"

Kelly (25:48):
" ... on Commerce Tea?"

Rhian (25:49):
Yeah. "You know what I heard on Commerce Tea? Rhian's been using Google AdWords like this for years." So that's a free tool. A paid tool that I really enjoy is Moz. Their keyword planner is incredible. It's the best one, and you don't have to do all of the work that I just said. Except you should still do the part where you look at your competitors and you survey their keywords.

Kelly (26:16):
Yeah. I mean, it's good to do competitor research regardless. Not just for SEO reasons. You should know who your competitors are.

Rhian (26:23):
Yeah. For CRO reasons too, right? Like, "How are they checking out? What are their weaknesses? Oh, they don't have a-"

Kelly (26:28):

Rhian (26:29):
" ... fast checkout options where there's Apple Pay or Shop Pay. Well, I'm going to have it." Right? There's so many reasons to look at your competitors. Plus they're your competitors.

Kelly (26:38):
Exactly. You should know what your competitors are doing.

Rhian (26:40):
You want to win.

Kelly (26:41):
Good point.

Rhian (26:41):

Kelly (26:42):
That's it. Yeah. Okay. So now we have keywords, what do we do with these keywords?

Rhian (26:48):
So you use the keywords all over the place. And by all over the place ... And I'm going to just say, I'm going to say these words and we're going to kind of then put them on a shelf, and we will take a deep dive into them later. You're going to want to use the keywords in your titles and your meta descriptions. Your titles are the blue links that you see when you do a search inquiry. The meta descriptions, you don't actually ... Okay. Here's the thing about titles and meta descriptions that no one ever says. Google does not read them. Your buyers do.

Rhian (27:23):
Now do you need to use a keyword there if it doesn't make sense? The answer to that is, no. If you think it will drive a click, then yes. Also something important about meta descriptions, Google says that it's a 160 characters is your limit. I'm seeing, and I have been seeing now for two months that it's truncating at a 130 characters on desktop and mobile.

Kelly (27:53):

Rhian (27:54):
That's not published anywhere though, on the internet. That's not said anywhere. But that's something that I've noticed. So you also want to make it short and actionable, right? Back in the day, Google did crawl those things. And so people would try to put as much information as possible. No, you write your title and your meta description to get people to click into your store. Because that is the traffic. That is the point of entry to your store. The other place you put keywords is in your alt text, which is those are the words that live behind your picture. Can you describe alt text for a developer type perspective?

Kelly (28:28):
Yeah. So if a picture is ... There are two ways. If a picture's not loading, it provides some kind of insight to what that picture's actually supposed to be. Second, if you're using a screen reader, it described what the image is, because obviously if you're listening to a screen reader, you can't see what that image is. So it's the description. It should be a detailed description of each of the images that are on your website.

Rhian (28:55):
Thank you so much for doing that. Kelly described that so much better than I ever could. I'm always like, "You just need it, because ... " But the other ... From the SEO perspective, you are giving Google the answer to what your image is. Because otherwise Google just sees an image, right? It just sees, "Equal image. IMG." That's nothing.

Kelly (29:19):

Rhian (29:20):
So you're telling Google what it is. And then you're also helping that picture get found on Google Image Search. Which is an interesting search behavior that is starting to become more and more prevalent. People are putting the search query in, and instead of searching through Google, which is how I search, they're going and they're clicking on images and they're searching by image.

Kelly (29:45):
I do that all the time.

Rhian (29:46):
See? I don't do that ever. But my daughter and husband do. And so it's an interesting search behavior. But if you do not have alt text, you will not show up on that page ever.

Kelly (29:58):
Right. There's so many reasons you should have alt text.

Rhian (30:00):
Yeah. There's-

Kelly (30:01):
And SEO is a minor benefit.

Rhian (30:03):
Yeah. Exactly.

Kelly (30:04):
The accessibility point is the major benefit of why you should absolutely 100% be spending time writing alt text.

Rhian (30:09):
A 100%. And when you're writing the alt text, like Alana Davis who's iconic. She always says to write it like you're explaining the product over the phone to somebody. Like I'm calling up Kelly and saying, "Okay, girl. I'm about to buy these shoes. Here's what they look like." So I'm not just saying, "White sneaker." I'm like, "They are-"

Kelly (30:33):

Rhian (30:33):
Yeah. "Shoes." No, you don't want to do that. You don't want to just template in your produce tile. Stop doing that. Stop templating. Also, Google doesn't like templating. They know you're templating. It's not a secret.

Kelly (30:45):
I know it's a lot of work.

Rhian (30:45):
I know it's a lot of work.

Kelly (30:47):
I know it's exhausting, and trying to find ways to describe things more than once. Especially if you have your products split up by different products, or different colors or different products. But it is so important to spend that time writing those alt texts. Well, we can go all into all the product descriptions, and all of that. But that is for another episode. Regardless, I think we said this last time, we're going to have Alana Davis on to talk-

Rhian (31:13):
Yes. She's incredible.

Kelly (31:13):
... accessibility.

Rhian (31:15):
Yeah. These are all hills I'll die on, by the way, every single thing that I'm saying. I know we talked on another episode what hills will we die on. All of these are kills I'll die on. And here's another hill I'll die on, blogging. And here's-

Kelly (31:30):
I wish people could hear me put my arms up.

Rhian (31:31):
Oh my God.

Kelly (31:32):
But nobody can.

Rhian (31:33):
[Bah, bah, bah 00:31:33]. Here's why I'll die on this hill. See, I don't need a soundboard. I'll be my own soundboard. Heres' why I'll die on this hill. And it's because people will tell me all the time, "Rhian, I do not need to blog. Because nobody reads it." And my response is always, and has been for years, I don't care if nobody reads it. Because Google will read it. But besides that, people will read it. Make your blog a-

Kelly (32:00):
People do read it.

Rhian (32:00):
... a resource. Also, that's when you get, when you do all this keyword research, you're going to get some funky long tail keywords. And you're going to think, "How the heck am I going to ever put these keywords into ... " Oh, and I didn't even mention your product descriptions. You also need to put your keywords in your product descriptions. "How am I going to fit these long tail ... This is a six word long tail keyword. Where am I going to put this?" In your blog. In fact, write an entire blog about it. Because you're going to get some keyword suggestions that are so good, but are so long, you can write an entire blog. Which should be 500 words, by the way. Write about it. Be a resource.

Kelly (32:43):
At least 500 words.

Rhian (32:44):
At least 500 words. Also if you are selling something like ... I don't know. I'm looking right next to me. Like a Hydro Flask. Tell me why it's important. Tell me the impacts about it. Each of these can be separate blogs. So not only have you don't this on the PDP, product description page. You then reify it on your blog. And that will gain traffic, whether you think it will or not. Eventually it will. Important to know, make sure you have buy buttons on your blogs. And you also internally link from your blog to the product. Two reasons why. One is, well, that's how you need people to go and buy your stuff. But two is Google actually likes internal linking on your store. They look at that favorably. So I think those are all the things I could think of off the top of my head.

Kelly (33:37):
I think it's also worth noting that you should blog at a regular cadence.

Rhian (33:41):
Oh, yeah.

Kelly (33:42):
So make sure you're publishing once a week, once every other week. Just some regular cadence. Because if you're not, and ... What's the point? Especially when people want to post the dates, the publish date of their blog posts. And the last one is from June 2019, and it is currently September 2020. I know you're not active.

Rhian (34:00):
Yeah. And this is something I'm actually personally terrible at. And it's a weakness of mine. But Google-

Kelly (34:07):
You have weaknesses?

Rhian (34:08):
I have weaknesses. I know it's hard to believe, but we all do. I think. I'm finding yours, Kelly, one day. So one thing that's also important to know about blogging is, Google ... And this counts for reviews as well, which is a whole other topic. And doesn't have anything to do with keywords. But it's why reviews on your store are important besides building trust. And that is, it shows consistent new content. Google favors, and it's a signal to Google that you are relevant by having continuous new content.

Kelly (34:47):

Rhian (34:47):
Blogs, reviews are the easiest way to do that. Especially if you have a flagship product. Which a lot of folks do. You have that one piece. Well, you're not going to rewrite your product description every other week, so what can you do? Reviews, blog.

Kelly (35:01):
Exactly. So what do you say we close this episode out with one final thought about SEO?

Rhian (35:06):
Okay. This is important y'all. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. And it's actually kind of a series of marathons. Maybe it's an ultra marathon. And so-

Kelly (35:19):
It's the worst kind of marathon.

Rhian (35:19):
It's the worst-

Kelly (35:19):
And marathons are already brutal.

Rhian (35:22):
It's the worst kind of marathon. But it's like that old adage too, right? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So if you just listen to this all and you're thinking, "Oh my gosh. I haven't done any of this stuff. Where do I start?" Start somewhere. Block off in your calendar 30 minutes a day to take some action. And when you do that, you will start chomping away at your tasks, and you will start with that sprint which really starts as a walk. So that's how you have to get started. I know it can be overwhelming. I've done SEO when I was consulting on stores that have thousands of products. It takes a long, long time. And then it also takes a long time for the results to be had. Do not-

Kelly (36:10):

Rhian (36:11):
... lose faith. Keep it up. It will pay off, I promise. That's my last thought.

Kelly (36:18):
That's a great last thought. All right. Let's go do some shout outs. So if you're new to the podcast, we do a weekly store shout out on each episode. It's a Shopify store that's inspiring us, or we think is cool, or we really like their products. Whatever it might be. So Rhian, what is your store shout out this week?

Rhian (36:38):
I'm really excited about this, because I just got it. It is called Our Place. It's And it is an awesome saucepan. That also, it's like a six-in-one, eight-in-one. I don't know how many in-one saucepan, because it has a steamy basket, and it has a poury bit. And it's got ... [inaudible 00:36:58] obviously I cook a lot. And it's just really great. Also with it, I got the bundle. So good me getting upsold to. I got the bundle, which came with glasses and bowls, and plates. Besides the fact that the product is rad, the website is amazing. Their store is well designed, it's clean, it's functional, it's fast. I love it. Kelly, what is your store?

Kelly (37:27):
My store this week is BlenderBottle. So I've been a fan of BlenderBottles for a while, long while. I bought my first one while I was an undergrad. They're really useful if you're doing any kind of smoothies. Anything that needs to be ... Any kind of shake. Because it has this metal ball that's inside of it, that helps kind of mix everything up for you. Their website looks really great. It's super easy to use. It's very clean. And well, I like their products. So that's why I'm shouting out BlenderBottle.

Rhian (38:00):
Yeah. It's a great reason. Well, Kelly, this has been fun. You gave me a platform to talk about my favorite thing forever.

Kelly (38:08):
I try to give you that platform every now and then.

Rhian (38:11):
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I appreciate it.

Kelly (38:13):
You are so, so welcome. I'm still playing on the BlenderBottle website, I'm not going to lie. They have some really cool micro-interactions. I'm a big fan of micro-interactions. So whenever I see them in action, I just click and click, and click, and click. I'm the one person who is just ruining their heat map in the video recordings. And they're like, "Why are there so many clicks in this area? Oh, people really love this. No, it's just Kelly."

Rhian (38:37):
Yeah. "Why's this ... " But yeah.

Kelly (38:38):

Rhian (38:38):
Our Place is like, "Why has this person been on our website for 40 minutes and not taken action, and done nothing?" Scrolled around a bit.

Kelly (38:47):
And do nothing. Our least favorite kind of customer.

Rhian (38:52):

Kelly (38:52):
Well, with that we'll close up this episode, because we covered a fair bit. But as you said, we're only scratching the surface on SEO. So we're going to be doing a series of episodes on SEO kind of digging more into the nitty-gritty of how you can really optimize your store, not only with keywords and blogging. But please do that. We have some key takeaway. So you now have your homework, so make sure you get to work. We'll see you next week. Thanks for tuning in. And thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. You can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday, so grab your mug and join us. See you next week.

Rhian (39:46):
ClockedIn is a time clock for Shopify. With ClockedIn, your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet, or mobile. Check it out at or in the Shopify App Store.

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