Last Updated on March 5, 2023
When you’re a new website, SEO is very hard.
You have no existing authority from links.
Google doesn’t trust you (often resulting in a Google Sandbox).
And if you don’t have a national marketing budget, it can seem daunting on where to start.
In this post, I’ll go over the best ways to get market share from an SEO perspective, without spending too much money in the process.
Niche Down – Where Can You Dominate?
Lots of ecommerce sites have a range of different products, serving lots of different needs, but in most cases there will be one (or a small number) where you can really excel (your USP / unique selling point).
It might be:
- Unique features
- Unique service
- Added value
When you can be the best in one or many of these areas, you will naturally satisfy a lot of the user intent areas of the Google algorithm, which will give you a much better chance of ranking for keywords related to these areas with less authority.
Once you establish these areas of excellence, move on to your keyword research and content creation.
The reverse of this also counts, eg if you have a number of areas where your products perform poorly vs competitors, the bad user experience from these pages can reduce your overall quality score and hurt your rankings.
Keyword Focus – What’s your USP?
Now it’s time to play to your strengths.
What we’re looking for here are the keyword modifiers that someone would search for the product including your certain USP / speciality.
If your product type is “gold watches”, and your area of excellence is the cheapest price among all competitors for “rose gold watches”, then the keywords you should focus on are “cheap rose gold watch” and other similar phrases.
These keyword variations (often called long tail keywords) are easier to rank for, and you have a greater chance of coming up number 1, because you serve the user intent very well.
You should optimise your product or category page targeting these terms so that this main keyword is front and centre, in the title, H1, meta description, text copy, banner images, product highlights, everywhere. You want to make sure all customers know the reason to buy from you is this 1 thing.
For more information on optimising products and category pages, see my guides below (link opens in new tab for further reading):
Timeline of Ranking Targets
The short term goal (4 – 8 months) will be to rank for all terms around the exact phrase (in the example “cheap rose gold watch”), in the medium term (8 – 14 months) it will be to rank for the main term without the modifier (in the example “rose gold watch”), and in the long term (14 months +) the goal is to expand into other areas where you can offer a better value proposition, and ranking for the main term (in the example “gold watches”).
Be THE Place For All Speciality Questions
Once the main pages are optimised, you want to move onto content marketing around topics people talk about, specific to your keyword specialities / variations.
To find these common questions, you can use the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, by typing in your main term and then opening up the Questions section. You can also use Answerthepublic.com and type in your main term to find some ideas. You can also check Forum threads, Youtube videos, Social media comments, and Facebook group questions for further ideas.
For our example, we want to research questions related to “rose gold watch” and to “cheap watches”, as these are the two areas where we are specialising in, and it will help us generate more content ideas.
Make sure you create pages for truly unique questions, as publishing content on the same topic can hurt your rankings (keyword cannibalization).
Some of the ideas generated for blog posts are:
- how to clean rose gold watch
- what to wear with rose gold watch
- how to polish rose gold watch
- how much is a rose gold watch
- where can i sell my rose gold watch
- why is my rose gold watch tarnishing
- is rose gold watches for guys
- where to buy a cheap watch
- where to buy watch batteries cheap
- how to get a cheap apple watch
- how to waterproof a cheap watch
- what are good cheap watch brands
- what is the best cheap automatic watch
Now that you have your content ideas, you want to setup a content plan to write, optimise and publish posts on these topics over the next few months. You should focus on internally linking these pages where appropriate back to your main target page, with both anchor text links and banner link (we want to send visitors reading these posts to see the products).
The next step is to move onto link building.
Link Building and Off Site Signals for New Ecommerce Sites
There are several stages that you should go through with a new site, in order to establish authority without hitting any sort of sandbox.
Branded Entity Creation
The first step is to establish what the brand is in the eyes of Google.
We want Google to know what the site and brand are, what topics they are relevant to, where they’re located, what their contact details are, what the logo is, and what other profiles are associated with them around the web.
This involves creating branded profiles around the web, that link back to the homepage of the website. You can use a service like Knowem.com for this, or find a similar gig on Fiverr.com, or alternatively create them yourself.
*optional for location businesses – if you have a physical store too, then you should register a Google My Business profile of the same name as the site (optimised with a description and link) then also create local citations for the website (on sites such as Yelp, Yell, Foursquare, etc).
Next you want these to be indexed, so you can use an indexing service for this (check Fiverr.com) or a free online Pinging tool.
The final step is to include the main profiles in the sameAs part of the schema.org markup of the site, which in most cases would be the Organization type (https://schema.org/Organization).
For more information on why entities are important for SEO click here.
Branded Search + Topic
The best way for Google to understand that your new brand is associated with a topic is for people to search for it.
This is the strongest indication to Google that you’re seen as relevant for these queries.
You can generate this in a number of ways:
- Google PPC/Adwords
- Offline Advertising
- Social Media (Titok being the main one in 2023)
These all create a buzz around your brand, which naturally makes people more likely to search for you.
The idea search would be for “brand + keyword”, but normal brand search will also help.
Authority and Niche Paid Directories for Co-Citation
Now the link value of a directory link could be argued as negligible, but the real value for a new site is in the co-citation metric.
If your website is listed on a page along with other authority websites all about your topic, you are inherently linked to that topic / those sites in Google’s index.
To find the most relevant page on a directory site to get listed, simply go to Google and type in site:directorysite.com “main keyword” and choose the top result.
The key here is to find either niche relevant directories, or trusted authority directories. Avoid highly spammed generic directories. Examples include Best of the Web and the UK Small Business Directory among others.
Youtube and Podcasting
One of the best ways you can generate links and referrals from other websites as a new site is to publish content on Youtube and podcasting sites. These can simply be you explaining articles you’ve published in your FAQ blog posts, focusing on your niche topic.
This will increase the amount of “your name + USP” connections in Google’s knowledge graph.
Competitor Link Audits – Find Niche Sites
The next step is to analyse your competitor’s links, and find the sites that you would consider heavily related to your USP niche.
This will help your target the sites that will have the most impact for your specific goal.
You can use Ahrefs.com to do this, and look down the referring domains lists of competitors to see which domains look to be very relevant to your niche.
Outreach to these webmasters to find appropriate ways to get links from their relevant content, eg providing a new article or commentary for one of their existing articles.
The idea here is to generate mentions or links to connect your brand with the niche topic you want to rank for, eg if the article title is “how to buy a rose gold watch”, and your brand is mentioned within the article, then there is a connection being made by Google between you and that topic.
Double Down – Multiple Properties for Page 1 Domination
Now that you’re establishing the main website and generating sales, it’s time to take even more traffic from the USP portion of your industry.
The aim of the game here is we want multiple listings on page 1, that will funnel people into our ecommerce website, which both sends us more sales, and stops our competitors from getting traffic from these terms.
Step 1 – Register and Age New Domains
The same problem with new websites will occur with any other properties we create, so this step should be done as you’re starting the SEO for your main website.
Register 2 – 3 domain names around the USP of your niche. These should be completely unique and brandable, but also include the main terms in the domain name.
For our “cheap rose gold watches” example, I would register:
These will be our 3 new sites in the space.
Step 2 – Basic Content Creation
The end goal of these sites is to send traffic to our ecommerce website.
The best way to think of these sites is as an affiliate site, how would an affiliate site rank and send traffic to their offer?
You could think of the site structure similar to this:
- Homepage – main term landing page, used to navigate people to product related categories.
- Categories – around product variations, providing images, information, and big buttons / banners to buy on our “main ecommerce website” with a link to it.
- Blog + posts – where we post content around niche questions similar to the main site.
- Basic contact info, disclosures, terms, etc.
You can take the content ideas from the main site and simply rewrite them for these other sites.
Step 3 – Link Building
At the start for these separate sites I would focus on the basic brand building links, which are the entity creation and directories.
After that you should let the site age and focus on your main site.
In 6 – 12 months, these sites will have aged, and potentially already be ranking for some terms, then with a little effort you will be able to move them onto page 1 for your main terms.
Conclusion – Difficult But Not Impossible
New sites don’t have the luxury of making one technical improvement and seeing major ranking increases over night.
You will have to fight for it!
But don’t worry, you can definitely make a corner of the space yours in the short term, which will give you a platform to expand into other areas over time.
If you have any questions then leave them in the comment section below.
If you’re interested in having this as a done for your service for your ecommerce website, then contact me for more information.
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