KEN CONDON [00:05]: My name is Ken and I’m with the eCAI (eCommerce Association of Ireland) and today we are here in the beautiful, iconic building in Merrion square and I have the pleasure of talking with Stephen from AppliancesDelivered. Stephen, I got that one right, sometimes I mix them up. Pleasure to meet you, Stephen. Thanks very much for showing up today.
STEPHEN FRAZER [00:25]: Thank you.
KEN CONDON [00:26] : Could you start by just telling me a little bit about yourself?
STEPHEN FRAZER [00:30]: Yes, so I am the head of marketing at e-commerce at AppliancesDelivered.ie. E-commerce is my thing. I’ve been in e-commerce since 2010 with KitchenFittingsDirect.com, they’re a small startup. Then I got a bit of agency experience in Melbourne, Australia with an SEO agency called Steak, now iProspect. And then I went on to, for two and a half years, with an online pet food company, in Melbourne again. And then I came home and then I’ve found AppliancesDelivered e-commerce, which really suits me.
KEN CONDON [01:09]: And you’ve made them the success they are today, yeah?
STEPHEN FRAZER [01:12]: No, no. Team effort!
KEN CONDON [01:14]: What I’ve got, my point here on SEO, because there’s so much about it that we can discuss. But already I’m out of this, already everything here is useless because we’ve moved on in a millisecond that this industry does. Is this correct? We’re not with AdWords anymore. Where are we with SEO?
STEPHEN FRAZER [01:34]: Yeah, that’s exactly right. So, it’s not just about AdWords and keywords anymore. Although they are still important, it’s changing all the time and that’s due to the fact that the algorithms are changing all the time. They are changing because they need to reduce spam and to improve the user experience. So as far back as 2011, Google Panda was released and that was an algorithm that is ongoing. It’s built into the core algorithm and it’s used to detect spam, scraping content and poor content basically that’s misspelled or not written correctly. They actually follow some really strict guidelines in the Google guidelines that your content must have expertise, authority and trust, so you can remember that by the term EAT. That’s what Google Panda has done …That’s the on page sort of things, but there’s also the off page and those are links. Backlinks from high authority sites are really important, but there was a time where they weren’t able to determine the quality, so it did face a lot of spam problems and where you had big companies actually buying links. So, big problem I see at the moment is that when you have PR or if you have a sponsored post – basically businesses are not using “the nofollow tag”. And the nofollow tag is basically a tag that you must have on all sponsored content that doesn’t pass page rank. So, if you ever do have a sponsored post use the nofollow tag.
KEN CONDON [03:11]: And this is what you’re doing at the moment in your everyday job?
STEPHEN FRAZER [03:17]: Yeah, exactly. So, like, the algorithms have moved on to be more advanced. So there is Google Hummingbird and RankBrain and those are basically algorithms that understand relevance, so they go much deeper and it uses artificial intelligence to determine the quality of your website and the context of the search’s query. So we are constantly making tweaks to the website, improving user experience and improving content on our website.
KEN CONDON [03:49]: That was actually sort of my next question, to ask you what new disciplines are there and what should business owners be looking to and what should they be doing?
STEPHEN FRAZER [03:59]: Well, video content is getting really, really popular with the advances in smartphone technology and the advances with broadband services and it’s a really good way to bring your brand to life, which is just as important as any technical SEO.
KEN CONDON [04:17]: So basically, if we look at all the big players, Facebooks of the world – all these guys, you look at all their sales and it’s all about video SEO. And how can a normal and also an e-commerce manager use this tool in the morning? How can just your normal data E decide to use video SEO tomorrow and how will it help his business?
STEPHEN FRAZER [04:47]: Well, I suppose it’s important to make something that’s really of high quality, memorable so you’ve got a chance of making it viral. We actually had in AppliancesDelivered.ie, we released a series of videos where we actually prank call our customers in rooms.
KEN CONDON [05:04]: I’ve heard of that! Yeah, sorry.
STEPHEN FRAZER [05:07]: Yeah, and in around April 2017 what that allowed us to do, it basically went viral.
KEN CONDON [05:14]: So what did you actually do? Tell the viewers that don’t know about this.
STEPHEN FRAZER [05:18]: So, we basically hired actors to prank call our support team and so they asked them and challenged them on a number of areas like delivery times and stuff like that, and to prove and to show that they had really good customer support. And they are really hilarious, so that actually helped them go viral, like a number of Irish humor websites – JOE.ie picked it up and all the major kind of news and radio sites picked it up, as well.
KEN CONDON [05:48]: Yeah, and that’s genius because you have your customer care service all gonna share it with their families and friends, because they got pranked and then you have it just goes and goes and goes. It’s brilliant what you can do. My next question actually talks about the biggest mistakes business owners make when they’re starting. I’m wondering, just since we’ve got nobody listening, it’s just you and me what sort of mistakes have you made in your current job that you’ve moved, learned from and something that you can say to people? I did this, I fell into this and…
STEPHEN FRAZER [06:25]: Yeah, I suppose not really listening and using the data, so one thing that I never did was use Google AdWords to use, or to dictate my SEO efforts. So, the click-through rate data from your ads is all there, the conversion rate data from your keywords is all there, so it makes sense to use them in your meta titles and meta descriptions. For a long time I didn’t do that. For a long time I didn’t listen to feedback from customers and customer support, but they are the nuggets of information that you need to convey in your site and to answer their questions.
KEN CONDON [07:05]: So, you are basically saying to me that you had an idea in your head you were just going for it and you were trying to achieve that and you weren’t probably doing the research beforehand to find out what actually people wanted, your customers? So it was your brought into customers viewpoint on?
STEPHEN FRAZER [07:25]: Exactly. We’ve become much better at that, much better at listening and much better at using the data that we have in Google AdWords.
KEN CONDON [07:34]: It’s amazing actually, because those little facts and figures, they are telling you the insights to everything. It’s like the, how do I put it, the map. So success is – look at your data and learn from it. What suggestions would you make for new business owners when they are starting their own website and they’re going online? What would you recommend them to do?
STEPHEN FRAZER [08:00]: Yes well, first of all it’s always important to bake in SEO from the start and to understand that: don’t listen to people who say that SEO is dead. Technically, SEO is still hugely important when launching an e-commerce website. For example, you have to be mindful that you do have a certain amount of crawl or that search engines will dictate and use for your websites. So make the crawlers job as easy as possible, so exclude pages in your robot’s text files, such as your internal search pages, which are very popular in e-commerce, excluding filter pages because they can throw duplicate content and they’re just inefficient. So basically, be efficient with how you present your website to the crawlers. But on top of that, when you have all the basics done it’s important that you build a brand. Building a brand is hugely important, because the number one ranking factor, which was a study done by SEMrush, showed that direct traffic was actually the number one factor in how Google ranks your website. It makes sense. It’s when you go and you want a pair of sneakers or running shoes – you think of NIKE. When you want something to eat – you think of McDonald’s, because the brand is just so big. So Google obviously, naturally had to give more weight to bigger brands because it’s what people want.
KEN CONDON [09:26]: Trends. What’s going on? We started this conversation talking about how SEO changes in a millisecond, there’s so much going on out there. What can you tell me, what is going on right at this moment? What trends are happening in SEO?
STEPHEN FRAZER [09:42]: People want a personalized experience, I think that’s where it’s going. People don’t want the “one size fits all” approach to marketing. And I suppose video content, as we’ve mentioned before. Brands now have this platform and they have the resources, so do their customers. They have the resources to kind of receive a short film about your brand and that’s nearly as powerful as anything.
KEN CONDON [10:08]: And are you actually testing yourselves new technologies in your sites at the moment or is there anything going on that your trying that’s new? Is there anything that we should watch out for coming from you guys?
STEPHEN FRAZER [10:24]: Yeah, we have always used and tested new tools and we are constantly on the lookout. For example, there was an internal search tool function that we brought on board last year called “Nextopia”. I would highly recommend Nextopia, it almost doubled our internal search conversion rate.
KEN CONDON [10:42]: Just a second. That’s a serious plug for them, but carry on.
STEPHEN FRAZER [10:45]: Yeah, yeah. So, we are at advanced stages with HubSpot talking to them, so we are always looking to improve.
KEN CONDON [10:55]: What resources are out there for e-commerce managers? Where should they look to find the next best thing?
STEPHEN FRAZER [11:04]: I suppose a little closer to home, there’s a great technical SEO called Barry Adams and he actually is always on the scene with Learn Inbound. Learn Inbound is also a great resource. But I would also encourage people to follow Neil Patel, he is really a pioneer in SEO and e-commerce SEO.
KEN CONDON [11:23]: I have push notifications every morning from Neil Patel.
STEPHEN FRAZER [11:27]: I also think Will Reynolds talks a lot of sense. But in terms of what actual tips e-commerce managers can do right now..
KEN CONDON [11:38]: Tips, people, tips! Get your pens out, we’re going to tips.
STEPHEN FRAZER [11:41]: So, for example, product pages – that’s where you make the sale, there is a great tool called Flixmedia and it’s totally free. Basically the brands that you sell actually supply this piece of code for free, so that’s something that you can implement straight away. And what it does is produce rich content, videos and as you spoke, videos are just hugely important. But also e-commerce managers are faced with a challenge of writing unique descriptions for each and every product page and that’s easier said than done. You need the manpower, you need the resources. So what you can do is you can use user generated content, so there is tools like Trustpilot and Bazaarvoice that have built-in review system and that naturally creates user generated content by weighing reviews on your product page. So that means longer form content, which means that your products have much better chance of ranking high in Google, because there is that correlation of high word count and high rankings.
KEN CONDON [12:44]: Brilliant, brilliant. I think we’ve learned a lot today from you, Stephen. Thank you very much for your time. And best luck to yourself and everybody in the AppliancesDelivered.
STEPHEN FRAZER [12:55]: That’s great, thank you!
KEN CONDON [12:56]: Thanks very much. Cheers!
STEPHEN FRAZER [12:57]: Cheers!