Zak Edwards, Founder of Prezzybox.com has come onto the podcast to share his experience of growing online ecommerce.
We met doing a talk at Brighton SEO in 2017. It was the Pi Datametrics track, a tool that we both used and still do. Zak did a presentation titled ‘Don’t be awesome, just be alright at everything’ and it stuck in my mind because he mentioned how The Telegraph said that he “doesn’t like to be the smartest man in the room” during an interview.
The Journey into Selling Gift Products
Zak and his dad started a business selling gifts online in the year 2000. Gifts were a fairly easy sell then and so they decided to launch a website after being made redundant. Things have changed dramatically since then. There was no social media, no Twitter or Facebook and SEO wasn’t really a thing. There wasn’t PPC, not how we know it today. There were also no resources to learn from so it was all about trial and error; looking at what worked and what didn’t. So, SEO was secondary in terms of what they were doing, growing the business with just a handful of people but by default, SEO was getting done.
Espotting and Overture were the historical pay per click (PPC) programs. You were even able to see how much competitors were bidding and it was less complex to what it is now. Zak just wishes they took full advantage of it but at the time there were only a few of them running the business. They were not technically capable and didn’t have a huge amount of marketing experience.
Small Business Must do Search Engine Optimisation Naturally
They have an entire marketing team now who look after a variety of digital channels, from PR and social media to emails, affiliates and PPC as well as SEO too. SEO expertise was brought in relatively late in the maturity of the company. Very quickly, Zak and the team were able to learn the impact of Google but back then there wasn’t a huge amount of resources. Eventually they started and began with doing the basics, such as site structure, individual content on each page to remove duplication and content cannibalisation. They had all hands on deck. Some people who worked in marketing had a relative amount of knowledge but then they also used to read a lot of forums and go to conferences. Affiliates brought in a lot of traffic to Prezzybox and meanwhile they learnt more about the complexities of Google.
Read this if you’re Starting a Business in Online Retail
It is difficult to make an impact with companies, especially in ecommerce these days. A lot of the older businesses have historical links, website longevity and bigger budgets so focus on a niche area. Look for something that is fairly new or untapped or something that has a large growth potential, such as drugs that are legalised. Own that space because it may be easier to grow the business this way rather than struggle against bigger brands.
Also, Zak uses Adwords for SEO testing. They have control over this so they can promote keywords and look at click through rate and conversion rates of those terms via PPC (pay per click.) If they find that a particular term is doing well, then they create an organic campaign around those keywords to improve them for natural search. It’s reverse engineering in a way. I agree with what Zak says because I isolate one category for a particular period of time for my team to focus on. We look at adding internal links and optimising that area to see whether or not we’ve seen growth due to our improvements. With Pi Datametrics we track keywords to look to see if optimisation of content will help , prove that more text on a page means better visibility and freshness would give better rankings too.
Content Strategy Tips for New Businesses
I know site owners have a content strategy where they refresh and republish content once a year to see a spike in visibility. Zak says that they have been working on their tone of voice. They recently hired a copyrighter that focuses on values for ‘moments of happiness by delivering the extraordinary.’ Although this is more of a branding exercise, it helps organic optimisation anyway as content is being rewritten for consistency. This should decrease bounce rate, it’ll be relevant so it’ll offer good engagement metrics that search engines will pick up on. Showcasing your expertise will increase your authority online too.
Zak is runs an annual event called Jingle Mingle outside of London. They host bloggers like Eltoria with presentations and workshops. They see a good social media boost and brand awareness whilst a by-product is seeing blog posts from influencers.
It’s also nice to see that video is part of that content creation too. Zak expands to say that they have a video department producing videos for many years for product specifically. This creates not only unique content but increases engagement and time spent on the page and the conversion rate is good. These are all metrics that Google picks up. The videos they create also are hosted on YouTube, which is a search engine on itself as well (offering more chances of appearing in search!)
Zak’s Top Business Growth Tip
Don’t complicate SEO. If you buy and sell product, think about displaying product nicely and provide customers with copy, images and video, which is positioned well and easy to get to. Tell people about those using emails, PR and social, all of which will then help SEO naturally. If the structure of your website is done well, and according to Google’s guidelines, then everything else will fall into place.
Zak’s SEO recruit looks at other channels too, but this means he understands other channels and how they work together. Everyone is clued up on SEO and know the implications that their job might have impact on SEO.
Music credit: I Dunno (Grapes of Wrath Mix) by spinningmerkaba (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/jlbrock44/56346 Ft: Jlang, 4nsic, grapes.