Today’s guest on the Niche Pursuits podcast is John Murphy.
John has a successful eCommerce website that sells e-bikes. He shares how the site went from a few thousand dollars in revenue to over 3 million within a few years.
John’s background was in finance, working 60-70 hours per week in a job that felt like a burden. However, his desire to quit the industry led him to watch Youtube videos on ways to make money. The videos ultimately led him to Dropshipping, which was how he got into eCommerce.
John’s story is pretty unique, as well as inspiring.
He literally almost died on the day the site launched and he got his Facebook and Google ads account closed in the same week, a couple of years later.
John had to decide how to get traffic from content, and he used what he read and learned from Niche Pursuits to grow his website. In the interview, he talks about what he did and how.
During the chat, John talks about his SEO strategy and explains how it’s different for eCommerce sites compared to general informational websites.
The interview concludes with him and Jared talking about his new course, ‘ECom SEO Formula.’
His course teaches eCommerce store owners how to move away from paid traffic — John shares information about the course.
Other topics discussed during the interview include:
- The specific content strategy used
- The importance of a strategic internal linking process
- Creating good funnels
- The time it took to get regular sales
- UX and UI
- Losing all his traffic overnight and how he bounced back
- What to write about
- How the pandemic affected the website
- Topical cluster content
- Focusing on one market
- The content he avoids
- His backlink process and strategies
If you’re someone who has an eCommerce store or you just want some great SEO advice, you’ll get a lot out of this episode — as always, take notes!
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST INTERVIEW:
Watch the full interview:
Read the full transcription:
Jared: Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman, and today we are joined by John Murphy. John. Welcome on board.
John: Thanks Jared. It’s. It’s nice to be here. Yeah. Yeah. So
Jared: you’re with you’re with the e-bike generation.com and it’s an e-com site. So we’ll be talking about econ. But a lot of the things that I know we have in our agenda talk about apply across the board to, to site owners and whatnot.
So the things that you’ve learned and implemented are. I’ll call it for different for e-com. And so I think there’s a lot that our can be able to gain out of today. Why don’t you give us your backstory, tell us about how you landed on that website and that project, but also just, you know, your buildup to it.
John: Yeah. Well, I was, I used to work for general electric. I used to work in finance and it used to, it was Soul sucking the life out of me. Who was it? Wasn’t good. I didn’t enjoy it. I was working like 60, 70 hours a week and I just really wanted to find the science something I could do. Whereas I could, I was basically in charge of my own time and make money if I could do that from home even better because my wife also has has a very good career.
But on every couple of years, she’d get a good opportunity and we would have the conversation of, should we relocate again? And then it, usually the answer was yes, because it’s a great opportunity. And I would usually end up then relocating and looking for a new job and reinventing myself all over. So I figured if I can find a way to make money online, we only have to have internet.
And so I went down that rabbit hole for a long time. Like maybe a, I want to say six to 12 months just of, you know, YouTube videos of how to make money online. And I read a Tim Ferriss, the four hour workweek, like everybody else. Oh yeah, of course it is. It is. And that was just one of those that was after we, during the book, before I even finished work, I taught.
Okay. I think I know how to, how this might work. And it was that led me down the road of dropshipping and that’s how I got into e-comm. So I went through a process of just basically looking for a product they’re like, there is a specific. Criteria, you can look for a, it doesn’t have to be something that you like or you’re passionate about or something that you are involved in already.
So I went through the process and landed on e-bikes and then I built the store and then I’ve just been trying to grow it ever since.
Jared: So what, when did you start making the jump into drop shipping? What, just for a timeline purpose? What year was it?
John: So it was early 2017. So I know because I just recently was on namecheap.com and I noticed that my, I had the, I have the domain since the 28th of April, 2017, which means I started to build out the store and stuff like that.
And I launched in the, at the end of July, 2017, a bit of a tangent there, actually that reminds me, I almost died. And my store almost almost launched without me because the weekend I built a store, I was ready to go. And I set up at the classic Google shopping ads. I, you know, I set up the account, I had ads ready to go, but I set the odds to go out on the first day.
The 1st of August, 20, 21st in July. So I, which was about two days in advance, just in case I found some issues before the ads start running and I start spending money. And the day I set everything up, ready to go, it was going to go without my heart. And I went into anaphylactic shock. I ate some fruit that turns out I’m completely highly allergic to throw up in the hospital for two days and a heart monitor on my store launched what helped me
Jared: see, I had it all set up to launch and you weren’t.
John: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And nearly out there for me,
Jared: it was only a couple of days old. Wow. Well, after that dramatic start, what did the, you know, like for the first couple of years look like, you know, you kind of glossed over what I’m sure was a ha a journey with up and downs along the way. The first couple of years of dropshipping look like, cause e-bikes were probably, I mean, I don’t know, you’d know better than me obviously, but fairly a newer concept at that time.
John: Yeah. So back in 2017, when I was looking for a niche to enter and, you know, product to the launch, I felt like e-bikes was pretty, pretty new product. It didn’t take long for everybody else to have the same idea though. So it did become very saturated pretty quickly. Okay. There were, there are still people that will say, you know, how does anybody work?
What is the new bike? But. Not so much any day now, but back in 2017, there wasn’t a lot of search demands. I think the, like, it was really when it was, I think the search volume was about 30,000 search volumes a month globally for us, for. Whereas I think the last time I checked, it was closer to a hundred thousand now.
So it was slow. Like, you know, for e-commerce there’s a lot to learn. You have to wear a lot of hotspots. You know, it’s not a case of if you build it, they will come, you build a website and then all of a sudden you’ve got traffic. The classic part is you pick a niche, you build a website on Shopify.
Because it’s the easiest to do and it looks good. And then you start running, shopping ads on Google through ad words, because that’s the way to, that’s the quickest way to your first sale. Basically some of the validation process comes through that way. So you learn how to run ads. You learn how to set up ad campaigns.
You know how to budget your ad, spend for the month and see how many people you can get to the store. That way I didn’t have a lot of money, so I wasn’t able to get a lot of, a lot of visitors all in one go. So not getting a lot of visitors and the conversion rate for e-commerce isn’t very high and the higher, the cost of the product, the lower the conversion rates.
So I didn’t, I wasn’t exactly the crushing it with sales. That whole like 2017, I actually spend more on ads than I made in revenue. In 2017, I made two sales. So I launched at the end of July. And by the end of the year, I made two sales and I’d spent more on us. So. In 2018, I started, you know, I had a full year.
I started seeing more sales and it was a modest, it was a modest, very modest, starting, not something that I could quit, quit my job doing. So it was a slow burn every year was a little better, but odds, but it was still, you know, still spending a lot on ads to try to make a little bit of a profit. I really wanted to quit my job.
So I wasn’t going to treat it as a side hustle. I really want to make it work. So I just kept on. I just kept grinding away to see if I could just get more traffic and more sales and convert more people. So yeah, when you’re wearing lots of hats, you have to try to learn lots of customer service, email marketing, AdWords, Facebook retire, getting there, lots of things, lots of moving parts to you.
Jared: So 2017, two sales, definitely not a, definitely not a coming out of the gates hot sort of situation. It doesn’t 18. You said pretty slow as well. Maybe walk us through where it is today. And at recording, it’s kind of early 20, 22. So, but what was the ramp up like in 20 18, 20 19? And then obviously we had the pandemic hit in 20, 20 and 2021.
And you know where you’re
John: at? Yeah. So like in 2017, with those two sales, I think I did, it was about 6,000 in revenue, which, which means I actually lost money in 2018. I made, maybe I did 300 K in sales. Well, because I was spending most of the, you know, most of the profits on ads, I think I came away with approximately $24,000.
That’s pre-tax net profit. So I started to bet at 21% on that. So, you know, it was modest. I was like maybe 20 K at the end of the day. But it meant that it was working. It was a profitable, I just needed to figure out how to make them more profitable. 2019 was paint was ramping up to be a good year because I’d been getting more traffic.
I’d been getting more sales. I looked like I was going to have a better, maybe a better year than 2018. That’s what I was hoping for. But then. The beginning of June, 2019, I got suspended from AdWords on Facebook in the same week, and basically just been torpedo me out of the water. All my traffic went away overnight, immediately, no traffic.
Oh, Google and
Jared: Facebook the
same week. That’s not the same, but the same week. And it wasn’t like I didn’t publish one thing and then put it on both. It was just like on Google AdWords. So e-bikes the turns down, which I didn’t know, as for Google ad words, advertising policies, it falls under the category of vehicle and you’re not allowed to advertise vehicles in Google shopping.
I didn’t know. I just, I was doing it. So it was like, so I got suspended for that, but in the same week, Facebook, when you’re, when you have products listed and you connect your Facebook account to. Store Facebook wants you to spend money. So they will say, oh, you should boost this post. And boosting is not really like running an ad.
It’s like putting money behind a post that you just did organically to get in front of more people. And I may, you know, you might get more people’s stories side. So they actually made the suggestion. Do you want to boost this post? So I saw a shark. Sure. I’ll troll $20 on. And it got me suspended. So it was like entrapment.
They were like, do you want a boat booster? And I was like, okay, sure. And then wrong decision. So, and they don’t, they don’t, there’s no way back. Most of the time they don’t even, you know, it’s hard to get anybody on the phone. So I had to try to just figure it out with no traffic.
Jared: So that happened mid 2019.
And it sounds like ads were your primary traffic driver at that time. What did you do to keep the business growing?
John: Well, I spent the weekend just in silence because I was at the time I was thinking, you know, this may actually work. I can finally quit my job. Everything was looking great. And then I was like, just, I don’t know what to do.
Yeah. It was very, it was a very numb feeling. I felt like I was probably going to have to go back and do that. You know, just focus on working again and not be distracted by this potential exit out of the, you know, the corporate life. But after that weekend, I figured now I’ve grown to resent the day job now because it’s holding me back.
So I couldn’t go back to just being. The guy in the day job again, because I was mentally overnight now. So I just started going down rabbit holes on how to get organic traffic and how do I get traffic without running ads? And then, so I started listening to podcasts and that’s how I, that’s how I discovered each pursuits.
And I was listening to Spencer talking about the, it was right around the time where he started the nice side project for. Yeah. And they was just before that, but I was, I I’d gotten used to the podcast and I was listening to guests, talking all their tactics about how to get organic traffic to a blog post.
And I had to drive them to Amazon. And I was thinking, oh, that’s, that’s kind of sounds what I need to be doing, but they’re not in e-com. So I just started trying to absorb everything that people were saying and sharing in on the podcast, on, in the, and in the Facebook group as well for our niche pursuits.
People were really helpful. And they were just saying, I’ll give you tried this. And this is what I do. And I was just taking copious notes and trying to figure it out how I could tweak it for e-commerce and apply it to the store. And then trust tried to clone myself back out of the whole.
Jared: I am really curious to hear about how you applied the, those content strategies for e-comm cause e-com is notably oftentimes ad heavy, right?
Very ad driven. I know I run a marketing agency for my day job and a lot of times when we start working with e-com clients, it’s something where they are. Driven by ad revenue or driven by ads that provide their revenue and then want to add organic traffic on as a second channel. So I’m really curious to hear just so that we can hear where things are today.
What it, and then we’ll work backwards from it. Where are you at in terms of the revenue now, in terms of maybe whether you can share a 20, 28 numbers or 2021 numbers tell us where you are now.
John: Yeah, so what’s so at the end result is that our organic traffic is king and I’m very happy and Like I’m doing now.
If my benchmark now is over the last couple of years is slightly above 20 million in revenue. And most of that’s from organic sales late last year, I got back in, I found a back door back into Google and Facebook. So I’ve started here. So I’ve started running ads again, full circle. What I’ve become a completely I’m really against spending on ads now because I’ve gotten so used to organic.
I have a small budget and I, and now it equates to about 25% of my overall traffic and sales about 20% of my traffic, or maybe twenty-five percent of my sales comes from paid, but the car is completely organic traffic, 2020 2019, I finished really strong. So there was that blip in June where all my traffic went away.
But once I started applying some of the organic content strategies that I was like, I started putting them on the store by September. I was getting more traffic and sales than I was before my clinic that’s quick. It was quick. And in 2019, I ended at like 920 K in revenue. And considering the final seven months of year was with no ads in 2020.
I had like a full year with no ads and I did treat my woman. And in 2020 and 21, basically being out of stock because of the whole school supply chain issue. So, but the there’s no supply, there’s huge demand. And I’m getting all of this traffic. So last year I should have done easily somewhere between five and 6 million.
I still did around the 3 million mark because we still have nothing in stock. So I’m just hoping that this year I, you know, my suppliers. Keep in stock, I can keep getting more and more traffic. And then this year should be huge.
Jared: Yeah. I’m looking at e-bikes on Google trends. I pulled it up while you’re talking about first off you got in at the right time, based on the Google trend map, but yeah, it just went nuts.
It looks like right around pandemic time. So. On your success at what a great turnaround story. I would love to talk about the specifics in terms of what you applied to get that organic traffic. Obviously you did it, you got the traffic from your store, you got the traffic very quickly, and then it’s grown substantially.
So what are some of the tactics that you put into play for your e-com store? When it comes to the, to, to generate organic search?
John: Well, there was, there was one, one very important pivot I did, which helped also with content. And that was, I used to just sell like all electric bikes, like the little folding bikes, the bikes that you would take down to the city, you know, into, down around town with the basket in front bikes, for elderly people, tricycles for people that are, you know, not great balance or overweight.
And then like off-road bikes. I decided to just go very, very specific interest in one demographic. And I decided to go into the hunter an area because there was e-bikes he bikes stores. Now everybody’s yours. It’s so saturated. There are hundreds and hundreds of e-bikes stores and we all have sell the same bikes with the same stock photos, the same price.
And it’s very hard to compete and the margins are not great. So I decided I wasn’t going to try to compete and just maybe corner one small market within the market. So I just, I landed on hunters after doing some analysis on what bikes were selling the most, which had the best margins and that sort of thing.
But once I knew that hunters were Michael. Then it made it easier to start targeting keywords. So what I would do is I would try to look for maybe the questions that people are asking me on the website and then include them in some content. But mostly what I did was at the time there wasn’t a lot of content on electric hunting bikes.
It was more. Electric bikes in general. So by targeting a specific keyword like e-bikes for hunters or electric hunting bikes or hunting on an e-bike that sort of thing, I was able to create like a long, a long form piece of content at a time long was like 1500 words, because that was the biggest thing on the internet on electric mountain bikes are hunting on anybody because there wasn’t a lot of content.
And so I was able to rank pretty quickly. I then it got pretty quick. I got competitive within a few months after that because what our people saw that, you know, what I was doing and they started producing longer content. But the idea wasn’t what I was learning by listening to guys on the podcast was if you have one big pillar piece of content or a skyscraper just put everything in there, including the kitchen sink, make it extremely valuable, you know, make it so informative that nobody they don’t have to then go and read one or any of the other results because.
They’ve got all of the information. They need to make a decision. And for me, the decision that they need to come to is okay, I want to buy it or, okay. I don’t want to buy it. Or my curiosity has been quenched, whatever. So I was, I just made it and over time, that piece of content has turned into something like five times.
Or, you know, just keep adding more content on more relevant information, adding it like an FAQ section or adding more questions or misconceptions about e-bikes and the hunting and that sort of thing. Once I was able to get that piece of content to rank on page one, then it was all about keeping it there.
And what I was hearing is that you need to create these. Clusters or silos of content. And so I would write a lot more like smaller pieces of content. They were usually like, bite-size maybe like 1000 words and they would be still on hunting on any bike, but they might be very specific, like. How to get a deer out of the woods after, you know, if you’re, if you were lucky enough to, you know, catch where you were looking for, how do you get it out of the woods if you’re riding any bike?
So, and there is an answers cause I get that question on fine deer trailer. I
Jared: hadn’t thought of the question until you asked it, but I’m sitting here going. That’s a very good question. I wonder how you would
John: do that. Yeah. Yeah. Well then they’ve thought of it. So you can just touch a trailer to the bike and then you call it.
Like you would see people pull their kids behind on a trailer. You can get just like flatbed trailers or something similar and stick the there on there and pull it out. Or,
Jared: yes, I don’t use you’re walking down the road just going by with your bike
John: trailer. And I, so basically I would create a bunch of all of these other content related to it and then link to the pillar piece of content.
So to create the us or. Political authority on hunting only bike, and then have that very clear, specific, relevant piece of content that needs to stay on page one, because I was kind of like a one product store. Like I sell a bunch of products, but it’s one core. He bikes for hunting. It was very easy to have one massive piece of content with everything in that piece.
And then everything else was just to, you know, just to support that piece of content. So there wasn’t a, it wasn’t too hard to try to get my head around. And then once I was doing that, then I was listening through podcasts. They were talking about are backlinks important. I know Spencer says pocketing are important, but he doesn’t generally spend a lot of time on backlinks.
But if you put out good content, you’ll get backlinks organically, but I would deliberately go out and try to get more backlinks because I just figured the more, the better. So I was getting backlinks to it as well. So it’s not something that stops. It’s not something like it’s a, you do it once and it’s done, you know, it keeps evolving.
Jared: you, you talked about you very eloquently outlined. How to build out this kind of, you know, hub post or hub page, if you will, on hunting and all the resource for hunting with any bike, and then all the, you know, spoke pages or a kind of siloed down content, the more long tail, how did you know to write these?
Were you doing keyword research and you were finding these questions through keyword research, or was it because you were still a beginner at the time and how to do SEO or these just topics you knew that your audience was going to.
John: Yeah. Well, I was in the sort of privileged position that I w at the time I was the one answering emails, answering live, chat on the store and answering the phone and answering, like, if I put a, like, if I put like some sort of social posts on Facebook, on the probe, on the, you know, business page and people would start.
Ironically asking questions like that. Stupid. How are you supposed to get it? They’re out of the woods. And then I would like attach a photograph of a hunter, pulling a deer out of woods on it, on a bike trailer, for example. So I got a lot of questions, a lot of the time. So like I got to the point where I, like, I knew what they were going to ask me on the phone because I could tell by the tone or whatever, I knew what question was coming.
Cause I’d gotten them so much. So I had a lot of. Information in my head and I just needed to maybe decide how do I package it up and make it, you know, make it available. And it just became, there was just more resources like now I know I would use like a tool, like concert of public.com for example, or that’s usually what I tell people to do.
If you don’t know what to write, because that’s just one limited supply of ideas or like FAQ’s, or. Topics on a specific question. But at the time it was basically because I just been, I wasn’t a gatekeeper. I was the one getting all of the questions. Are you a hunter of sorts? I’m not a hunter actually.
No. I would say I’m an animal lover. I understand hunting a lot more now than I did. I probably would have judged hunters more when I was starting out. Just because like, you know, if I sold bike to a guy and he was really happy with it and he’d send me a picture. Yeah. What he did over the weekend, that it was tried to be like, make me feel on, you know, a little bit uncomfortable because that’s not me, but I understand where they come from now.
And I understand the logic behind it. And you know, it’s an identity thing. The hunters are hunters. They’re not, it’s not a pastime. It’s not like people that play golf the weekend. They, you know, they identify as hunters and I understand where they come from. But for me, hon hunters was a. Made sense for me to target because they’re getting curious about e-bikes there are e-bikes fit for the job and nobody else was marketing to unders like, cause the concept of deliberately eliminating 95% of your potential customers and be very polarizing is something most people won’t do.
And I was banking on being the only one that would go against the stream. And to date, every time I tell somebody to go super niche and just be laser focused on one tiny demographic or the larger bull, everybody’s just too afraid to do it. And I understand that, you know, it would be an odd thing to deliver.
You know, push away customers
Jared: basically. Well, I think it’s a good point though, from a standpoint of people listening and the fact that you saw an opportunity in that specific niche of B bikes for hunter. You didn’t have any particular passion or experience in it. However, you had become an expert on the space just by the very nature of being so engrossed in your niche.
You know, once you chose that you became an expert in it. And I think a lot of times people will miss the boat. Certainly we hear about it. A lot of times, examples of people missing the boat because they aren’t an expert in their niche. They end up writing a lot of articles. Based strictly on keyword research and based strictly on what a tool tells them, but not on what maybe their user or their audience really needs.
And clearly you did a really good job of understanding everything your user needs and all the questions.
John: Yeah, it was a bit of a privileged position because I would see other people that would write content on it was clear that they were just targeting a specific keyword. Like for example, I sell also accessories about that, that go along with eBikes.
And I, you know, I outsourced somewhat like some writing for a small period and I started writing a lot of content about all of the accessories because there was search volume. But what happened was it started ranking quickly because there was search volume. Not many people are writing about it. And then I started getting accessibly, accessory sales, but I make a profit on the bike and I break even on the accessories.
I deliberately do not write content about accessories anymore because it doesn’t make any sense business wise, but I do know what makes sense business wise, because I’m the one that was getting all of the questions. So I was in a good position to understand what they were already looking to find.
Jared: You, and I talked about this a bit off air and I wanted to highlight it as well because you were in a we’ll call it a new niche, right.
An up and coming niche where a lot of the topics, you know, there isn’t a lot of search volume yet for them in the keyword trackers, just because these questions are so new. Talk about that idea that, you know, in your case, you were in a niche that oftentimes many of the things you wrote about that got traffic actually had zero search volume in the search in the keyword tools because of the fact that they were so.
John: Yeah, true. Like eBikes, we’re getting some search volume, but nobody at least, you know, in Google trends and the Google keyword planner, you know, it was all just coming back as zero search volume for electric content bike, or e-bikes for hunters. There was just nothing there, but I knew that like out of multiple brands that I was selling in the beginning, a couple of.
You know, geared more towards off-road or for hunting. And I knew hunters were interested because they were buying those bikes and there were people looking for them on my store. So I knew their most, there must be some search volume. And I remember one time and that’s when the penny dropped around for Spencer talking about how sometimes, you know, you might see zero search volume.
If you’re just looking for key. But there are actually, you can get traffic to a keyword that apparently has no search volume. So I decided to just write content and deliberately, instead of writing e-bike or electric bike, I was deliberately using the term like electric hunting bike or e-bike for hunter.
And I was kind of hoping for the best, you know, I wasn’t sure if it was a really good idea or if it was just going to result in zero traffic. But about a year on, you know, there was a little bit of search volume for it. And then the year after a little bit more, and I think I was also in some way paving the way, because I was the one producing all of the content for e-bikes for hunters and now even, but even today, like I get a lot of traffic now and most of it’s organic and most of it goes to my, my, my skyscraper posts about hunting on anybody.
But if you were to look today, the like the monthly search volume is like 2,800 searches. So it’s still a really small number, statistically, like in AA Schrafft’s or I use H dress for those sort of things, but the search volume is still significantly lower than something like e-bikes, but I’m still able to make a really good business out of just not one keyword.
Jared: That’s amazing. And what a bit of a leap of faith, frankly, that. Going all in on a topic that was showing zero searches. I mean, for an SEO that is scary, certainly somewhere inside of them, but you knew your market, so, you know, good for you.
John: Yeah, I, I did, I did have that insight, so it’s not something most people would, would choose to do not having the insight because it wouldn’t make any sense.
But I knew there were people looking, even if the numbers said they were. When you were clearly,
Jared: right. So you really steeped yourself in, in the podcast and kind of satiated yourself with a lot of this information. What would you say turned out to be different about maybe some of the SEO tactics for e-com then what you were hearing talked about?
You know, Spencer was doing own the yard.com for that case study we’re talking about, which is more of a, well, it was a straight affiliate and advertising place. So what, what was kind of, did you notice anything that turned out different in terms of e-comm SEO versus a more affiliate stylist?
Yeah. So there’s a lot of overlap in use case.
But for example, in when you have an e-commerce store, when you open, like you launch a shore on stock, on Shopify or WooCommerce, there’s a blog section. And what econ store owners do is they’ll publish like four pieces of content on the same day, just so it’s not bare. So if people are looking around or browsing to see if the store is legitimate or not, and they go, okay, there’s also a blog section.
It’s not like just an empty. Area, maybe it’s a legit store, but the content doesn’t actually serve report was. Try to make it look more like a legitimate e-com store that stall it doesn’t have like a, there’s no driving con driving traffic to it or anything. So when I was listening and listening to the interviews as well on the podcast and the strategies are, or even what Spencer was doing for on the yards, like creating content and, and building, you know, a silos.
Different areas of content. For me, it was like, it was very eye-opening because nobody in e-comm is doing this. So I was thinking if I could just, you know, apply it, but I would still need to tweak it. And what I found was like, time on site is a good, like, it’s a good signal for Google. Okay. So what I found was on the affiliate side.
It didn’t really matter where the intent internal link was. It was a little bit more random. So it could be like on a website, even though it’s still within one cluster of content, the internal linking inside that clear. What was sometimes a bit like a spaghetti mess, because the idea is just keep somebody going down the rabbit hole deeper and deeper, and the deeper they click true.
The stronger signal is to Google. And that’s great. So time on site is very important, but time on site for an e-commerce store, if they don’t reach the product page will result in zero sales. So I needed to be a bit more clinical about where I’m linking and where I’m, where I want the customer to go. On that like internal linking virtual journey.
I was sending them on. Right. I just had to be a bit more talkable about, okay, they’re on this, listicle talking about the top 10. E-bikes for hunting. Where do I want them? I’m not going to send them to another review about what are e-bikes that are suitable for hunting. And then another, I needed to send it to a collection.
Our product page pretty quickly, because if I, the more like every time I have, I asked them to click through somewhere. I’m going to lose a large percentage of those people. So if I can get. 10% to click a product page. And then maybe if I’m lucky, 1% will click the add to cart button. I’m getting people closer and closer to the purchase position, and I’m not just sending them to different locations on the website because time on site is very important because at the end of the day for econ time on site is great.
Gets lots of traffic. People are happy, but they didn’t make a purchase. I just had to be a bit more cognizant about where I was going to add a link and it all had very, it was already one way traffic, like we would always like on an e-commerce store, we would also, it should be difficult to find the blog section when you’re already on the website, because.
If you get somebody to the website, half the job is done, you don’t want it, then get them to the website. And then the very first top left corner is read our blog because then we’re just sending them further away from a product page. So there was a little bit of tweaking to do, but the overall concept.
Get people to your store through a really helpful piece of content. And if that piece of content is talking about products, send them to the product page to go check out the details and for, you know, like further details on the product page. And now you’re just getting people close from closer to the, to the checkout.
Jared: basically it’s. Yeah, you really, you’re really hard. It’s a much tighter funnel approach than maybe a classic affiliate or content creator would funneling in terms of how you funnel your links funneling in terms of how you funnel that traffic. It’s very
John: strategic. Yeah. And it needed to be because.
Organic traffic also converts lower than, than shopping because in, you know, generally, like if you’re, if you’re looking for products on Google and you click the shopping section, it’s probably a warm lead, whereas organic could be a warm lead, but it could be just somebody learning about something. It could be somebody just curious.
It could be somebody that just likes looking at the pictures. You know, the conversion rate is actually is a lot lower, so I need to be very clinical about. What I do with them after having, after being able to get them because the conversion to escorts is lower on our frantic. Let
Jared: me change subjects. If I can.
You’ve mentioned a couple of times the importance of back links specifically for retargeting back links. What has been your backlink building process? So.
John: It has evolved greatly. I think there’s out there, you know, there are strategies that are sort of trending at the moment and then they go out of style and then everybody starts doing them.
So it keeps evolving. I’ve done a few things and I still do. I probably somewhere between 10, 15 different battling strategies, I like to do all the time. Like some very simple ones would be. Like, for example, if I wanted to beef out the skyscraper piece of content and I want to add some more content to it, give it some more credibility and get some backlinks to it.
What I would do is I would reach out to a bunch of. High profile hunters. For example, maybe people on Instagram are people that have a blog, I’d reach out to them and say, you know, I’m doing a piece about the benefits of hunting on an eBike. I’d love your opinion. Good or bad. I’ll include it in the post.
And I’ll, I’ll link to your page, whether that’s your Instagram page or wherever their presence is. And I get like five or 10 of those, they’re all just little bite-sized snippets inside the piece of content. Like here’s what, you know, XYZ ed said. I would generally try to see if I can find hunters that are actually hunting on any bike, because then the it’s probably going to be favorable.
And so once I link out to those guys, I would then send them a message and say, Hey, you know, the post is live, hope you like it, you know? And then. And then hope hoping that they will go and then share it on their profile because they’re pleased that they got quoted and, you know, on a piece that would be one, another one would be maybe just have a dedicated post just as like a Roundup of what all the experts think, you know, like make that the whole.
Maybe you just asked the same question to 25 people and I could just keep doing that. I can just keep adding to that piece of content. Every time I do, like some sort of an outreach asked the same question to everybody and then just package it up and then tell them that they went live. And then they’ll one thing.
One strategy that I’ve found is working now and I’ve been doing it for about. And only recently now I get cold outreach emails offering me the same. So it looks like it’s getting a bit more mainstream, so it may not work as well, but I, I really like it and it’s creating an infographic for somebody else’s blog post on the topic.
So what we do is I’ll use like the dream 100 process to just make a list of all hunter websites or hunter blogs or blogs in my niche or whatever. I identified them all. Look for a really good blog on. Hunting for example, but the, to whatever your niche is, reach out to that, it doesn’t have to be about e-bikes.
It just has to be sort of a relevant website. So in my case for hunting, if they’ve got like a 10 tips before you go on your first trip of the season and it could be Andale lifts out tips, like, you know, make sure your shoes are still waterproof, make sure that. I know, like I make sure all of your equipment is working and then there’s a bunch of votes.
I’ll just go into Canva or into something like engage, I think is how you pronounce it. And you can just do like a drag and drop. And it’s very easy now to create an infographic. I’ll create an infographic based on their tips. Nothing about me, nothing about my e-bikes or anything just for that. And I’ll send it to them.
So I’ve done the work, I’ll send it on to them and say, I really liked the blog. I was reading it. And I figured this infographic will really make it pop, I think would really help. I just ask that you give me credit for it and that’s it. And so you’ve done the work you’re actually making their blog better.
And most of the time they will be very happy with it. They’ll include it. And then it will be, you know, an infographic created by. You by generation alcohol and I’ve got a link. What
Jared: is the success rate on that? Like, do you find yourself making a lot of infographics that don’t go to use or do you find that the reciprocity factor of people they’re so excited about it?
I mean, it sounds like an amazing,
John: it is a good offer. The only thing is it’s not something yet that you can scale last because you, you know, you, so w with me, it’s more of like, offer some value and make sure it’s a win-win for everybody. And then it might pay off. But it’s this sucks rate success rate is pretty good.
I don’t have a percentage on it because it’s not some of my duke clinically there I’ll do is I’ll come across a new blog. Oh, I haven’t seen that before. Let’s see if there’s a blog post and there is an, you know, 20 minutes or half an hour, maybe may, or maybe like an hour or two, you can put together an infographic and then send it over to them.
And they’re generally very pleased with it. So it’s not something where like, it’s like a 2% success rate. It’s probably something that. 40 per 50% success rate because you know, it’s something for nothing, basically it
Jared: did. I think I would, the step you take that is one step further, as you actually design it, you give it to them.
It’s right there in front of them. I could see people reaching out and saying, I will design you one if you’ll then link. But what do you think? And that offers it nearly as compelling. You just dropping a beautiful infographic right. In your inbox and saying free, free to use, you know, just give credit.
That’s all I ask. That’s a compelling, that’s a very compelling
John: offer. Well done. Yeah. And it’s, again, it’s not something you can scale, but I mean, there aren’t that many hunting blogs, so I’m not trying to, you know, do like get a, you know, outreach like 400 blogs a week or something. And if I was, I would have to offer to do them and infographic and only act on the ones that say yes, please.
But yes, there isn’t.
Jared: That’s interesting. That’s great. The, how important do you think building backlinks has been to your success in ranking with organic traffic? You know, I guess the bigger question is how important are backlinks for e-commerce maybe compared to some of the other spaces like affiliate marketing or just content websites?
John: Well, the thing is when you’re trying to rank for one of those 10 spots on page one, you’re also competing against affiliate websites. So because the affiliate websites are there, that their goal, like the business model. You know, get on page one and the higher, the better. Or you’re not going to get any traffic.
If you don’t get any traffic, you’re not going to be able to send anybody to the offer, whether that’s Amazon or another company’s affiliate program. So it’s either it’s page one, or you have a blog or hobby. So you’re competing for positions and it’s a, it’s like a zero sum game. It’s there’s 10 spots.
So if you are get onto it, somebody else got the shuck up the show for. So, and that’s split up between brands who are naturally are organically ranking for their own. Affiliate marketers doing a great job and e-commerce stores, if there’s any room leftover. So it’s not really again, but backlinks are very important just because page one is page one and it’s anybody can get there if they do, if David or I thinks so it’s, you know, there’s not a page one for e-comm on a page one for affiliates.
Jared: Tend to, well, any is decreasing. I feel like now there’s like eight or nine, especially in some of these e-comm categories. There’s probably even fewer than 10 spots on page one now.
John: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, there’s always ways to try and occupy a little bit more space. So even if you’re on, like in the second half of page one now, It really just isn’t good enough.
Now you’re trying to capture a decent percentage of the volume. So there’s so much
Jared: noise in the search engine results. Now that yeah, if you’re not up near the top, it’s hard to stand out. It’s hard to stand out. So, so you’re behind, I’m a course designed to help e-com site owners with their SEO itself.
Let me read it out. It’s e-com SEO, formula.com. E-com SEO formula.com. Tell me more about the course that you have for e-comm site
John: owners. Yeah. So I was supposed to give a presentation in Lisbon in September, and it was basically, I was invited as a guest speaker to Portugal, and I was going to speak for the day and talk about how as an e-comm store owner, mostly 3 million in revenue from organic sales, because in econ circles, that’s pretty like.
It’s pretty lucrative for people. Like when you consider everybody they’re completely reliant on paid traffic. Like I was, and I’m really not good at public speaking. So I spent a lot of time building out this presentation and how, like everything I knew how to do, because I learned it by listening. So I didn’t really have it written down.
It didn’t have a process in SOP cause I was also doing a lot of it myself. So it was all. So it took me a lot of time to actually put it down into like some sort of actionable step by step. And then like four days before the presentation flights booked. Well, you know, you know what happens with international travel?
Nowadays, the event was canceled. I still made the trip cause I live in Italy. So it’s like a two and a half hour flight for me. So still went with my wife to Portugal for the week. Beautiful. So why? Yeah, exactly. We still made the trip, but I had this presentation and my business coach that I have a business coach to give me sort of direction and accountability.
I, he was like, yeah, you should really package that into a course. So you know, I, you know, I’m a practitioner, I’m not, you know, I’m not that guru guy. I really don’t feel like, you know, the whole imposter syndrome coming in. And he was like, well, think about it this way. You know? What, if you don’t tell those people how to get organic traffic, you know, and the same thing happens to them.
They get suspended their account, or they just want to reduce their cost of acquisition. You know, maybe that’s life-changing for them and you didn’t tell them. And so we went down the exploration of what would that look like? And then I figured, you know, I could probably put this into a video course as a few modules in different areas of how to, you know, how to create the course.
Create content and how to get back links and how to get affiliates then to join your program and start sending you traffic as well, because there’s also that. And then I ended up launching at the end of December. So it’s pretty new. So basically I just want to get the courses out there for e-comm store owners that are completely reliant on paid traffic.
Like I was not one to start adding organic traffic and sales to, you know, to maybe strengthen their business and make it a little bit less of a risk.
Jared: Well it’s clearly you have the chops to be teaching, given that you went from. I think you said 300,000 in revenue to 3 million in revenue and who knows what it would be with a global supply shortage next year?
Yeah. Yeah, actually you’re right. Yeah. Hopefully by next year you’ll be off to the races without having to wait for distributors to catch up. I guess what’s the most important thing that people will learn in this course? You know, like w what are kind of, some of the things, basically some of the things you outlined or is your additional items that you go through in the course beyond what we just talked about today?
John: There are a few more things like the bulk of the courses, basically four modules. One is the content creation. So what is a skyscraper piece of content? How does it work? What goes into it? Where to find information about the content goes in the structure, like the table of contents, jump links, that type of call to action that will drive people to a product page like, wow.
You know, Cluster content works, how to create the topic authority. I explained some of the Google principles like eat the expert expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, and how that, you know, how that’s important when you’re creating content, because a lot of people are in wellness and that can be a bit of a dicey subject when you’re offering health advice.
There, there is a module, a brief module on technical SEO because I’m not super. Technically gifted myself. I sort of figured it out when I’ve doing it, despite some of my technical in, you know, lack of knowledge, but a lot of the basics are in there, like, you know, Hage tags and all of the stuff that Shopify where it sort of makes it easy to do.
There’s a module on the dream 100 process, which was basically a concept. I learned from reading Russell Brunson’s books, even though it wasn’t, he, that he didn’t create 100, but for me, he brought it to my attention. And that’s how I identify the partnership opportunities with logs and affiliates and how to recruit affiliates that are also occupying page one.
So instead of just having one or two spots on page one, you can improve affiliates. Also occupying page one. So it’s like buying a more real straight on real estate on the same strip. So there’s all of these little things. There’s a, there’s a backlink strategies module, which is probably like 15 different backlink strategies that I use.
And then I’ve got a couple of other bonus videos, like how to scale in 90 days, which is a concept that I learned from my coach. Which is what to focus on for Turkey day sprints. And at the end of 90 days, you can, you could be making twice the revenue just by making incremental changes in certain key areas.
And I shared that as a bonus video, just to give a little bit more valuable, a little bit more value in the course. So I do plan on adding more because I do have a lot more ideas, but a lot more, a lot of the more value I have, it’s not necessarily SEO. It’s like maybe my best. Email flows and Klayvio that convert at like 48% or something like that, but it’s not really SEO related.
So I still want to just keep adding more value to the course, but it’s still a work in progress
Jared: you should have gotten into that 48% success rate, email strategy today. That’s great. Well, very good. Well, Hey, I mean, it’s always fun to have a fellow niche pursuits listener on the podcast, sharing a success story, like the one you have today and what a success story.
Again, this one really has a lot to it. You really hit the skids there. When you came out of the gate and had, you know, your ad accounts banned, and then to learn as basically learn SEO on the fly to save the business and see it, where it is today and regulations. And thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
People can catch up with you. Obviously your storefront is e-bike generation.com, but then. E-com SEO, formula.com as well, anywhere else that you want to direct people to keep up with you and keep
John: up with what you’re doing. Yeah, well, I can be reached at John at e-comm SEO formula.com. The eBike generation store is if you know, I’ve got a couple of guys managing the customer service, so I don’t want to clog up their inbox.
But I can be reached. I am the only one that reads those emails on a eCommerce SEO formula. So I can be reached there. I’m on Twitter, I’m new to Twitter. I’ve got a course now I feel like I need to be on Twitter, which is course. So now I’m asked to what’s my Twitter handle at e-comm CEO. That’s my Twitter handles.
I’m pretty new to Twitter. So what I’m I’m buying say, hi, I exist. Okay, good. I would just like to say thank you because tanking thanks to you and Spencer, because this feels like it’s coming full circle. I figured out SEO, by listening to the podcast, I made it work. It turned out to be wildly successful, still to be continued and I can get to be on the podcast and tell you how it played out.
So it’s a very nice for me.
Jared: Oh, that’s great. Like I said, these are my favorite ones personally speaking, but what a great inspiration for. That, Hey, look at John. If you’re standing there and you label yourself as someone who knows nothing about SEO, might not even need to know anything about SEO. Listen to this one again, and it takes notes because what a success story.
It’s a great success story. Very inspirational. So congratulations, John. Thanks for coming on the pod.
John: Thank you. .
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