28 | Headless CMS with Samuel Hurley and Antonio Wedral


This episode is perfect for those looking to get a headless CMS (custom content management system rather than Magento) and looking for top tips for 2019. We also cover JavaScript, great content and the interiors industry specifically.

An exciting chat where I have two people on the show for the first time! Sam Hurley and Antonio Wedral who are starting a new venture together at This is Novos.

Sam joined boutique SEO agency (Curve) as their 1st SEO employee which eventually grew to an 8 man agency. He then moved over to Blueglass as lead SEO and then jumped to client-side at Made.com for 2 years as the only SEO, up until a few weeks before he left.

Antonio started by creating social accounts and selling them on. He did marketing at university and then was hired by Sam at Blueglass. He was a content strategist there but learnt more of the technical area as Sam left. Lastly he was head of digital at Gentlemans journal.

Top tips for 2019
As the SEO answer goes, it depends on client and website. Firstly there’s a trending topic of “Headless CMS” which we will talk about later on. Websites and brands needing to restructure content for mobile users. Shorter snappier, answer the question type content and many aren’t doing this still. E-commerce even, needs content to help users and not just sell.

The trend this year in 2019 is that Google wants supportive and informational content rather than just being sold to. How can we mould content to rank higher for those terms and find brand more helpful and therefore encouraging longevity with customer relationships.

For editorial content it’s important to check engagement metrics that Google looks at, from dwell time to bounce rate. Example: A client looked at all the questions on Reddit around their projects and then focused on what customers are asking on the platform that they’re in to offer answers to them. They saw great results.

Headless CMS
Sam at Made moved to a headless CMS from a Magento CMS. Clients at This is Novos have smaller startup brands that often have a go-to solution that’s custom. As SEO is moving more towards PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) it’s important to know what is the tech that’s powering well performing sites. Interested? Listen to the Kevin Gibbons podcast episode on the Future of Search.

Headless CMS is a way to remove the backend from the site to the frontend, unlike Magento. So a simple example is implementing hreflang tags, the only way to do that is to have same structure that’s the same across multiple territories. With a headless CMS, you don’t have to worry about that and have personalised coding for territories. It’s functional, flexible and better.

Clients that are not headless sometimes need weeks or months to implement recommendations whereas sites like Amara can make changes immediately. When I worked at Tesco, it took about 6 months to sort out a canonicalisation issue that meant loss in rankings and revenue.

When it came to filters, Sam shared, especially with ecommerce clients, before headless CMS, it would be a hack to implement them as it existed via JavaScript and didn’t really work. Headless meant adding insane rules and applying different levels of categories and filtering. This helps crawl budget. Click to read Sam’s article about this in more depth.

Sam & interior clients; Best & Worst
As always, it depends on catalogue and amount of products. Home categories can be overlooked whereas they could be an insane traffic driver. It’s interesting with attributes for Sofas, due to the AOV and ROI not being high, but it’s a good product for cross-selling high ticket items. Even basic things, matching cushions to sofa.

The international side of it too, how people search for specific products vs UK can be overlooked. France and Germany go into diameter of beds, measurements, whereas we say single bed, double bed.  

The bIggest thing in general though is content and brand in the interior space. Companies need to identify how helpful they want to be for the users. In-depth SEO research is needed but it can be a challenge in the industry as you don’t want to turn into a magazine. Defining that middle ground is useful so that they’re seen as a good company in front of many eyes.

For example, The Luxpad on Amara is very much a magazine-like area and is separated to the Amara brand itself. We’re looking at that middle ground to see how we can bring it closer to the brand currently.

Finally in 2019, another trend is multi-channel selling. Even if you have a great store and website then understanding the strategy and how social may have an impact too on this is important.

101 for New E-commerce Site
If you’re an ecommerce site trying to start out, the structure of the site is crucial. Without structure you can’t build a house. You need a blog, simple but easily forgotten. Then a content strategy to help get users for long tail keywords, especially if you’re not a big well-known brand. Don’t forget to make appealing products and write great descriptions. Spend a lot of time understanding what is your product, value and how does it sound to someone else. Complete that with helpful information that will then lead to the product.

There’s no getting away from it, developers always using it. Build a good relationship with your developers so they take your ideas on board. Do renders to see what crawlers see and what users see and keep an eye out for sections that could be missing that Google can’t read. Use DeepCrawl for JS checks, manual checks in Google index.  

I ran a poll on Twitter on what crawlers are people’s favourites. Check out who came out on top!

Relevant Episodes:

Kevin Gibbons – Future of Search

Dan Shure – Content strategy

Nick Wilsdon – Voice search, APIs

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.

Beautiful photography by Mikhail Nekrasov


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