This week we speak to Laura Brady, SEO Manager at NOVOS, about all things e-commerce SEO.
Where to find Laura:
Massive shout out to NOVOS for sponsoring the full second season of WTSPodcast.
NOVOS, the eCommerce SEO agency, has won multiple awards for their SEO campaigns including Best Global SEO Agency of The Year 2 years running. Trusted by over 150 global eCommerce brands including the likes of Bloom & Wild, Patch and Thread, NOVOS provides tech eCommerce SEO expertise with a creative edge. They have been named as one of 2021's best workplaces in the UK and with a diverse, gender-balanced team are a culture-first agency. The great news is that you can join them! They're hiring senior digital PR and SEO strategists.
Where to find Novos:
Website - https://thisisnovos.com/
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/thisisnovos
Twitter - https://twitter.com/thisisnovos
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/thisisnovos/
Areej: Hey everyone! Welcome to a new episode of the Women in Tech SEO episode. I’m Areej and I’m the founder of Women in Tech SEO. Today's episode is all about e-commerce SEO strategy and joining me is the brilliant Laura Brady, SEO Manager at NOVOS. Hey, Laura!
Laura: Hi. How are you?
Areej: Yeah, I'm good. Thanks. We were just saying that I'm really excited about this episode because I've recently started an in-house ecommerce role. So I think I'm going to learn tons from it.
Laura: Yeah, no, it's really good to talk about it. I previously didn't work in e-commerce either, so they need to have a really just certain last year and a half doing it. So I know how you're feeling.
Areej: Awesome. Well, can you tell everyone a little bit about you and how you got started in the world of SEO?
Laura: Yeah. Sure. So I'm Laura, I work for NOVOS as an SEO manager focusing on e-commerce strategy. I've been at NOVOS since I joined mid pandemic. So when it just kicked off, so in April 2020, and before that, I worked at Screaming Frog for just under three years. And that was where I kicked off my SEO career. Quite lucky to start there.
Areej: Does NOVOS mainly focus on, is it all e-commerce clients that they work with?
Laura: I'd say like 98% of replies that e-commerce might have the odd one that, that isn't specifically e-commerce but like, yeah, I would say the vast majority is e-commerce.
Areej: I think it's really nice to be able to specialize and have a niche. When I was on the agency side, we kind of worked across so many different things and I can imagine there's definitely a lot of benefits that comes from focusing on that one industry.
Laura: Definitely it's very fast-paced as well. So you kind of have to hit the ground running as well.
Areej: Awesome. Well, you know, we're part of women in tech SEO and something that I always love to ask all women who, whether they come on the podcast or have one of our workshops or interviews, is just get a bit of an understanding about, you know, what, what empowers you and what keeps you motivated and inspired within the industry?
Laura: I think it's just that there are so many different things. I can't really give you one, one example, but I think I've been really lucky to work in two really good workplaces. I've learnt so much from everyone, we get to work with so many different team members.
We're not really siloed into one team or anything. So that's been awesome. And like, obviously Screaming Frog was cool too, but like, I guess it was just like, just picking up on everyone else's kind of advice and just, I'm not really afraid to go and ask questions to other people and that kind of throws me into things.
So it's more just kind of. Just not saying no to things and just like that, taking the opportunities and projects and I've picked stuff up along the way. I wouldn't say it's down to anything in particular, but you enjoy going to all the events and listening to podcasts like this one and everything too.
Areej: Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, you get a lot of inspiration from the people you work with and you're right. Like there's a big difference between yeah. Just kind of working on your own, but then especially when your agency side as well, I know that you, you know, you get to learn from so many people around you.
Laura: Definitely. I think that the worst thing you could do is put your headphones in and then just listen out. So the like conversations around you can, you can pick up so much as well. Yep.
Areej: And did you have any, like, w was it, how, how easy or how difficult was it starting mid pandemic in a new role?
Laura: Oh, it was actually, it was, well, I mean, I had nothing to compare it to.
I think I was actually a bit more confident because I was like, oh, it's just a screen. You know how in the office when you join in, everyone can hear all your questions and stuff, and everyone has their own way of working. But you know, behind the screen, I found that you know, that bit more leveraging, but then at the same time, I'd never done e-commerce before.
And I was joining a new company and just troubleshooting tech issues at the beginning was interesting, you know, being like, I can't see that on my screen and having to like ask silly questions like that, but it definitely was an experience particularly for e-commerce because it was a huge business change for loads of our clients as well.
So. It was just kind of managing that situation as well, but it was an awesome experience. And I think I'm going to look back on it quite fondly and, definitely take lots of learnings from that as well.
Areej: Yeah. And for, you know, for women who are just starting out within the industry and kind of trying to get their feet in SEO, do you have any advice to give them?
Laura: I'd probably say like, don't specialize too early, so I guess I can, yeah. In one of my roles, I did kind of go down the link-building path quite early, but then I started kind of asking about different areas. So I used to work on the spider support or the screaming, frog, software support.
I used to like to reply to some of those things. And then I used to pick up on a lot of kinds of tech SEO via those means. So like, you know, just like troubleshooting if someone has an issue using the software. And then I'd like to ask the tech teams and questions and manage. And then you know, at NOVOS, I really like working with all the different teams, like.
You know, PR tech and everyone. And I just, I think the more people you meet with, the more you pick up naturally, like it's less forced and yeah. Just getting involved in as many different areas of projects as you can. Like, just because you're in SCA doesn't mean you can't think about the outside, she kind of impacts as well.
Like how would it impact the general marketing team? Like. You know you don't need to just think about SEO from the offset. I think the more I think about it as a whole, the more you can learn and then, yeah, just like attend talks, listen to podcasts, follow twists, your accounts, which videos, like, I don't know about you, but sometimes I find the blogs really hard to ingest.
Like I'm reading them and I just start kind of daydreaming or not really like taking in as much. So I find that loads of different means of learning things have really helped me personally.
Areej: Yeah. You know, it's a different learning experience for everyone. And I know, you know, some people prefer a fully-fledged post, but then others really, really struggle to keep up with that.
And for them, yeah, watching a video or listening to a podcast is a much better experience in terms of learning.
Laura: Definitely. And it was picking a talk, you know, nothing on events, go to the ones you want to, and then it was picking one that, you know, absolutely nothing on it. Or it's not even like part of SEO and you're learning something there too, I'd say.
Areej: Yeah. Oh, I love that advice. You're right. I think we tend to, you know, when I think of the likes of bright Tennessee, oh, we were always sitting in the room where, oh, this is, you know, this is the stuff we do inside out. And this is our day to day, but we wouldn't really think too much of, of going to attract that.
Isn't really attractive that we work too much.
Laura: Yeah. I actually made it through for the sake of them fighting. I did it, how I managed it, but I ended up just going to all PPC talks because they were more about econ. And so I was like, oh, okay. I'll listen to some of the econ MES ones because they're relevant. But then I accidentally ended up sitting in like three or four PPC.
So I did actually learn quite a lot. So yeah.
Areej: Yeah. I mean, I learned so much from our PPC team in house. I learned so much from them and I definitely think there's, I love what you touched on about exchanging topics and ideas with, you know, different marketing departments and not just thinking only about SEO and organic strategy, but also kind of seeing how that can integrate with other channels as well.
Awesome. Okay. So we want to talk about all things e-commerce today, which I'm really excited to move to. So I think maybe a really good way to start is to kind of get an understanding behind what would differentiate an e-commerce SEO strategy with, you know, your typical, normal SEO strategy from personal experience.
Laura: I'd say it's maybe. Yeah. You know, every single thing you're doing kind of has a monetary value. So you know, you're working with conversions, you know, there are constant updates to their site. So, you know, they've got seasonal products. If it's a fashion, you know, they have the spring collection, autumn collection, you know winter then, you know if it's another type of thing, it might be different sports.
So it'd be sporting events. So, you know, it's never just one static. Piece of content you're working with. You're always having to think about the bigger picture. You have to be more proactive too because if you're thinking of Christmas, you're kind of having to do it at the latest kind of August. Also, they're like products and inventory is coming in.
You're like having different types of pages to work with. So it's specifically, if you're working on Shopify, you know, you've got the collection pages versus the pages versus product pages and they've all got different purposes. So like, it's almost like juggling lots of moving parts and yeah, you got different CMS limitations.
So you do, like, I know you have it with the kind of general sites, but you know, Shopify and Magento, commerce, everything is completely different. So. You've got to kind of take those into consideration when you're recommending to developers. You're like, can they actually implement them? Oh, is this going to cause more harm than good?
And then, you know, from experience T we've had to deal with emerging markets that aren't established yet, say, for example, a pre-mix cocktail client we worked with and to blame him while the flowers, you know, these are all kind of delivery, like kind of letterbox delivery kind of companies. And they were emerging when we took them on.
So we were kind of having to anticipate what the market would look like when it had grain and say, you know, what it would be. Think of when they were searching for this kind of product. So we don't always have the historical data to back it up, or we don't always have the Google trends or, you know, the search volumes.
Cause they might not exist yet, but that doesn't mean they're not going to exist in the future. So you're kind of having to. Think about all of these things at the same time. And also, you know, I don't know if I'm generalizing here, but e-commerce sites often have very long dev ticket timelines. They've got so much going on, you know, the uploading, the products they're making changes to the design.
They've got a brand to evolve. Say trying to get your SEO tickets in. And highlighting their importance and relevance can be quite hard too. But all in all, it's just probably more fast-paced and more kind of, you have to be more agile. You can't just stick to one thing and go with it.
You're going to have to con you know, change your, your approach several times. I'd say, yeah.
Areej: I love what you're saying about emerging markets. And I think that's, you know, with, with a lot of frozen e-commerce and a lot of websites kind of completely changing their strategy and tactic. You're right.
There's tons of new services, subscription boxes, all that type of stuff that didn't use to exist. And I can imagine how challenging or difficult it might be to predict what the demand might be for some of those services.
Laura: Definitely. You kind of has to anticipate what the future buyer will be like. It's quite good.
Like it's quite interesting. And you know, like diving into all the differences, like when we do this, we like to take into consideration PPC data. So we'll be like, okay, well what's conversing in PPC. Is this something we can look at? We have to look at that brand. We have to look at, you know, all the different angles.
It's not just, how can we get traffic onto their site, because with e-commerce, you know, it was great getting traffic onto their site. If these people are. Buying anything then is actually SEO of any value to them. So having to think of that as well. Yeah.
Areej: And being agency side, do you feel that there are some learnings across an array of different e-commerce clients that feel quite excited?
Laura: It's really, I don't know. That's a hard one because obviously every business and client is different. And I don't say, say it's as much client communication and management as it is SEO, you know, it's great having this amazing SEO strategy, but if it doesn't match how that matches the business's goals, then you know, it'll become a bit redundant at the end of the day.
So. I say, when you, when you are doing an SEO strategy for, as clients, ask what their business goals are and ask what the most important terms are to them, or like their hair aid products, for example, And then prioritize based on that. So what we like to do is like, we like to put everything into projects rather than just the list of dev tickets.
So we'll have a project to grow a certain area of the site or internal linking or something, and every team will work on it. And then we'll give it a score, like a priority school and the impact. It will have the confidence and the effort it will take. And that helps. Because, like, I'd say about 80% of the time, you know, you're not talking to an SEO, you're talking to a marketing manager, so you need to give it to them.
You know, you need to talk to e-commerce clients, not from an SEO perspective. You need to talk to it as if it's just a general business marketing decision. Because if you use all the jargon and like the abbreviations and all that kind of stuff, then you know, it might not settle in. And you know, understandably the marketing managers might not understand it or dismiss it.
So. Prioritizing things based on business decisions, opportunity, and also giving them that specific score based on priority, I think is really important. And you're also having to balance your recommendations with the PPC team, the brand team, traditional PR teams, you know, all of this stuff. So I think it's trying not to get too tied up in the SCA part of things and more like how can SEO complement everything else they do.
Areej: Yeah, I love that. And I love what you said. I completely agree with the fact that you know, 80% or more of the time you're actually, you're not speaking to in-house SEO's, you are speaking to the likes of a marketing director or a brand director or a CMO. So yes, we need to know how to speak their language for them to actually get a good understanding of what it is that we're trying to do.
Definitely. Yeah. And let's envision that, you know, you have a brand new e-commerce client, they've just come in and you're, you're going through that onboarding phase. What's the fundamental starting point to establish what their e-commerce SEO strategy is going to be?
Laura: We kind of like to have a kickoff call with them and just understand how they work and what the business goals are.
Like I was saying before and like who they consider being their competitors. Because quite often you'll find that their competitors, they, seem from a business as a whole, a business as a whole perspective. And they're kind of like SCA competitors, which are like inverted commerce and could be very different.
So I like to see what kind of person they are. But the competitors versus that. And then. Personally, I then like to follow all the competitors on Instagram or Twitter, because I find that businesses tend to announce what they're going to do on Twitter or Instagram before they actually implement them on site.
So it's one way to kind of stay ahead of what everyone else is doing. You'll say, like to look at that kind of SEO history of it, like, you know, like medical history or you go and you're like impacted by any historical updates, you know, have you migrated. What was your international possession? You know, that we like to look at the surface level stuff before we dive into them.
And also just understanding what they're trying to get out with SEO because everybody's different. It's not always about the revenue. It can also be about customer signups, newsletter, signups, wanting to grow out the blog. And yeah, from that, then we can work together on the trends, internal linking tactics, product launches, content strategies, and.
I kind of take all that information in, then I'll do like a crawl of the site and, you know, the usual SEO check seal day. And I like to link those all up into projects as we do at no boss. So say I've noticed that they've got some 44 hours and there's an issue with the menu. And then, you know, the homepage isn't optimized academically.
Great. So he's into an internal linking project and likes to give that as a project and its whole, so, and then we can make sure that everyone's supporting that as well. So kind of like to go from that perspective rather than just diving straight into that. Kind of cruel or their SEO tactics per se.
Areej: Yeah. And do you tend to find that there are some, you know, common oversights from across a scale of e-commerce clients?
Are there things that tend to be a challenge? That's problematic. It helps you know where to look for it.
Laura: I definitely like, especially like on different CMS, there's always going to be the kind of common things that pop up. But one thing we've kind of started doing a lot more is the focus.
I know this is kind of slightly controversial, but