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When someone is looking for what you’re selling…are they finding you first?
My dear friend and web guy, Vi Wickam, joins me today to drop some crucial tips on SEO for both brick and mortar and e-commerce retailers.
We all Google everything. So it’s no surprise that when your customers want to find something, they Google it too. How are you showing up?
Vi breaks down the structure of Google results and how your retail business may fit into these sections ads, Shopping, Organic Results, Google Map Results, and Directories.
If you’re a Brick and Mortar business, your website and SEO will look different from an Ecommerce page with hundreds to thousands of products.
For B&M, make sure your home page is solid, with your address and phone number on every page. (Listen to the episode for a great tip on formatting.)
For Ecommerce, this is advice you’ll hear over and over for various areas of business, BE HUMAN. Your product descriptions take the place of your on floor salespeople. So include the data and let it tell a story.
Looking for help with web design and SEO? You can’t improve what you can’t measure, so get a good look at your analytics and find someone with full transparency. The tip Vi has here… you don’t want to miss because it is critical to maintaining your assets.
Whether you’re just starting and need to fine tune your structural foundation or you’re ready to get listed, there is so much packed into this episode that you wouldn’t want to miss!
I’m rooting for your success.
- What is SEO and why do you need to utilize it?
- How to find the right person to assist with website design and SEO.
- Strategies for understanding and optimizing SEO.
- A key tip about owning your assets.
- Brick and Mortar SEO vs. e-Commerce SEO.
- How Google disperses search results into paid ads and organic results.
Mentioned in the Episode
- Vi Wickam
- Get Listed Now – Crystal Media
- Amazon.com: Hell Yeah or No: what’s worth doing eBook : Sivers, Derek: Kindle Store
- Amazon.com: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It eBook : Gerber, Michael E.: Kindle Store
- Amazon.com: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t eBook : Collins, Jim: Kindle Store
- Merchant Center: Promote Products Online – Google for Retail
- Google Business Profile – Get Listed on Google
- EVOLVE 2024 in Denver, CO – Crystal Media
- Crystal Media Insiders
- Crystal Media
- Crystal on Instagram
- Crystal Media on Instagram
- Crystal Media Co – YouTube
Best Business Book
Best Retail Technology
Crystal: Retailers, it is time to step out of the day-to-day of running your store and step into a new perspective. I would like to invite you to join me in Denver, Colorado at my conference Evolve. This is built for independent retailers looking to transform their businesses. Retail is changing faster than we have ever seen before. So is marketing and so are the tools to help us. Build our business. This conference is one of the best places for you to stay up-to-date and stay relevant. And it’s super, super early bird pricing right now. So you can get a ticket for as low as $197. Go to crystal media co.com/evolve to secure your ticket and I can’t wait to see you in Denver and help transform and grow your store. In this episode of Rooted In Retail, I’m sitting down with my dear friend and my web guy Vi Wickam. I am so excited for you to tune into this episode because we’re talking about SEO search engine optimization, and before you decide to hit next or skip this episode because maybe you don’t love the technical side of the marketing, digital marketing, just can feel overwhelming. I know it’s not as sexy or fun or creative before you skip. Really give this episode a shot because VI is pointing out critical things that every single business, honestly, not just retailers, needs to make sure that they have in place when it comes to SEO and also their assets. Towards the end of today’s episode, Vi’s talking about something so important to make sure that you have access to and you have ownership too. And yes, I’m going to have it be a mystery so you listen to the whole episode because there’s a lot of great tips in here to help you be seen and show up more online. Whether you’re looking for local visibility and local foot traffic. And using online tools to do that or, if you have a website where you’re trying to drive your website traffic, get more traffic to your site using, some of the strategies that Vi talks about today. Lots of strategies, lots of ways to grow your visibility and your foot traffic, and web traffic, so you’re going to love it. Before we dive in, here’s a little bit more about Vi. Uber geek, an award-winning musician. He’s the guy you want on your side in a digital dual for over 20 years Vi has helped businesses with Google AdWords management, remarketing, banner ads, and YouTube ads. He’s also well-versed in web development, Microsoft ads. Facebook and business strategy. He’s crazy about dark chocolate and will bust out a smile-inducing song played on his great-grandfather’s violin. He is extra nerdy about the machine inside Google that makes businesses successful. He holds a solemn vow to make sure your website and data are firmly within your control. A rare promise in the digital world. You’ll find him in America’s Rocky Mountains and open planes. Ready to help when you are. How awesome is his Intro Vi is just an incredible human, human being. So an awesome intro for an awesome human. You’re going to love today’s episode. Let’s dive in. Welcome to Rooted In Retail, the show that’s dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive in today’s ever-evolving retail landscape. I’m your host, Crystal Vitis, and I’m thrilled to have you join me weekly as we explore topics that are vital to the success of your store from marketing to mindset. Money to merchandising. Sales to leadership will cover it all. Each episode features interviews with industry experts and accomplished retailers who share their real-life insights and actionable advice. Get ready for a great conversation on how to build your dream business with Rooted in Retail. Welcome to Rooted in Retail. I’m thrilled you’re here.
Wickam: Thank you, Crystal. I am so glad to be here.
Crystal: Yeah, we got a lot to talk about and we have been on the road a lot at Crystal Media lately, and we have been hearing from so many retailers who have a lot of questions around SEO and AdWords, and I couldn’t think of a better person to join me because not only are you a dear friend of mine and my web guy, You’ve been doing this for over 20 years, so you’ve got a lot of insight and I’m just so thrilled you’re here. So we’re going to dive right in. Let’s start with SEO for our part one. Let’s do it. We’re going to talk. Let’s do it. Yeah. I love it. We’re going to talk about SEO, and will you begin with just breaking it down in simple terms, what is SEO search engine optimization and why is it important for retailers to know and use SEO?
Wickam: Okay, so in general terms, search engine optimization or SEO is showing up when people are looking for you online. So when someone goes to Google or they go to binging and they type either your name or the service you offer or the thing you sell in the town you’re in, you want to be the first person to show up. And if you are. A brick and mortar store. It’s slightly different than if you are a, an e-commerce company, but the general principles apply in both. And really what that is, is show up as often and as high in the search results as you can for the things that your customer is searching for.
Crystal: And they, and they do this through, I mean, there’s probably. So many different ways that you can be doing SEO.
Wickam: So many different things to do.
Crystal: Yeah. Break down some of the ways that they could be showing up in these search results
Wickam: So when you look at a Google search results page, you have a number of places to show up. So the first thing that’s going to show up is going to be ads. And those ads might be regular ads. So Google has what they call. Google Ads. It used to be called ad words because it was a, a text-based ad. So you can have a text-based ad, you can have. A product ad. So you can actually list all of your products on Google. So if you have a retail store with thousands of products, you can list all of those products available via Google Shopping, you know, via their merchant center. or it could be if you had a service business, you could show up as the Google guaranteed services section. And that’s before any organic search results show up. Up and the organic search results are web pages. you can also, actually, very often, you can end up showing up as a, an image or a video as well up near the top. So, you know, videos and images are organic search results as well that you can optimize your site for so that when somebody searches for that product, Your images show up, and when they click those images, they might go to your site. So then you’ve got your regular, you’ve got probably two or three regular search results. And then you have Google Maps, you know, which is the maps results are the map pack, and the first of the map pack is very often an add, but then you’ll have another three to five. Organic Maps results, which is your Google business profile. Yet another thing you can optimize, and especially if you are a local business, that’s really a critical one. After that, you have more organic search results. A lot of times those organic search results will be local companies, and a lot of times they will be aggregators or directories companies like Yelp or Angie’s List, or any number of hundreds of companies that do those kind of things. And so showing up on those pages is another strategy for, for showing up for existing on the internet. But ultimately the goal is when somebody looks for what you’re selling, they find you first, and maybe they find you on that page three or four times if you’re doing it really well.
Crystal: Exactly. Okay. So what I’m hearing you say is that there’s opportunities for retailers to optimize webpages, videos, images be listed on directories in maps. These are going to be the freeways. Am I missing anything from those freeways?
Wickam: No, those are, those are the general, general places. And then you have ads you can buy, which we’ll talk about later.
Crystal: Yes. We’ll do part two for our ads. Love it. And then also, you know, if somebody’s so brand new to this, when we’re saying optimize and show up, there’s keywords that you are putting on these webpages and phrases and specific, these keywords are going to be kind of behind the scenes on the page as well as Sure on the page. And so then will you just kind of break that down a little bit too, for the kind of newbie on what do we, what do we mean when we’re saying optimize?
Wickam: So when we’re looking at getting a web page or an image to show up, the context is really, really important. So when Google looks at your site, they’re looking at the reputation of your site as well as how relevant your site is. So relevance and reputation are the two major factors that Google cares about. And so that relevance. Relates to what’s the content on your page? So, and, and does it appear to be written by a human? Does it appear to be. Legitimate good information. is there, how much information is there, is there a lot of it? And what kind of keywords have you used to link things together within your website? And what kind of keywords have other people used to link to your site? So, that other people linking to you? Is a combination of relevance and reputation, because the more people who are linking from their site to your site that are citing you, it’s a citation. Basically. They’re saying you should go over to Crystal’s website because they have really good information, and that is an endorsement in the eyes of Google. That’s what I would call off-page optimization. On-page optimization is things like, Meta titles, you know, so what’s the title that you’re telling? Google is the title of the page. The description, which isn’t necessarily a ranking factor, but it’s, it’s kind of a secondary ranking factor because if you have a good description that descriptions what’s going to show up in the Google search results along with your title. And if it’s a compelling description, people are more likely to click on it. The click-through rate is a ranking factor, so Google cares how often your search result gets the click, so that’s another part of your reputation. If you are, you show up in the search results and you never get clicked on, you’ll move down in the results, but if you always get the click, you’ll move up in the results. So the more often you get the click, the more you move up in the results. so, you know, like there’s a lot of complexity to this, but on page, other things you care about are alternate text on images or titles on images. Captions on images. Those are things that let Google know. What this image is about. some of the search engines are getting better at reading text on the image or reading what’s in the image, but I still don’t count on that. so you really want to the file name of that image. So say you are a, you know, A candle store in Portland, Oregon and you want to have your lemon lime-scented candle show up in Google. Search results. You know you have a picture of a lemon lime-scented candle and you name that file. Lemon lime scented candle jpeg. And that’s going to make Google realize that this is a picture of a lemon lime-scented candle. In additional to, in addition to that, you’ll use lemon-lime scented candle as your alternate text, and you might put a caption under it that also says lemon-lime scented candle or something similar. And it’s actually good to mix those up. So you might say lemon-scented candle on one of ’em. Or, you know, Portland candle store, lemon scented candle, or something like that so that they’re not all exactly the same because Google’s looking to reward people who are legit, not people who are trying to game the system. So you always want to do something in a natural human sort of way, not an algorithmic computer sort of way. So if I just copy the same keyword 50 times on the page, Google is going to hate me. You know, there was a time 20 years ago where people would do that and they would call that SEO. And when I had clients who were like, yeah, I had this, hired this SEO company, and they. They copied these keywords and they, they hit ’em and, you know, made ’em invisible keywords at the bottom of the page. And I was like, you know, that may work for the next six months, but Google will figure this out and they will catch you and they will smack you down and you will never show up in the Google results ever again.
Crystal: Exactly. You don’t want that. Yeah, we don’t want that. And we’re going to talk about some red flags too, listeners, so that’ll be really good for you as you’re shopping around and understanding this industry. And I just want to say, you know, the reason that we’re wanting to kind of get in the weeds a little bit, I’m kind of getting in the weeds a little bit here with you, Vy, because. I think it’s really important for retailers to understand how it works and why it’s important because I think that there’s a massive missed opportunity with leveraging SEO. It’s something that we’re like, oh, like I cover my ears. I don’t want to, no, I don’t want to learn it. It feels technical, it feels hard. It’s scary. It’s not sexy. It can be scary. And so it could be back burn and I don’t want to play with the pretty things.
Crystal: right. We want to merchandise, we want to buy, we want to work with our customers. But I just want anybody that’s listening to this to think about if you had a website and right now, today, you don’t have any of those descriptions on your products, like VI was just saying, with the lime scented candle, you don’t have your, your city or town, nothing is optimized. We don’t have these keywords we, nobody’s linking to us. We’re not doing any of this work. Our website is not, it’s going to be hard to show up. We don’t really exist. Right. If we start adding these things, then imagine what kind of volume you can start seeing and let that website kind of work for you as people are Googling and searching so we can really send that traffic. Yeah. By, I do have, a clarifying question for you. Yes. In, the example with the lime sent a candle and you have a Portland, Oregon store, how critical is it to always use Portland, Oregon in those alt texts? And or alt tags. Should you always use the town if you have a physical storefront or not always.
Wickam: You should not always use it. You should use it sometimes and you like, you sprinkle it in. It’s, use it like salt and pepper. Don’t, don’t put it on everything. Okay? It, it’s going to taste like crap. If, you know, if your website says, We are the best Portland organ candle scented store that if you want scented candles in Portland organ, you should stop at our port shop, our Portland organ scented candle store. You know, like somebody’s going to go on that page and be like, what the this is terrible. Yeah. that doesn’t mean like a human but in that realm. When you put your address, put your address at the bottom of every page and your phone number, make it easy for people to find you and contact you and use a schema markup language for your address. So this is a technical thing. I’m not going to go into the details of how to do that. But if you use schema markup on your address, it will make you more prone to get picked up as being a local business in that area by Google and other search engines.
Crystal: Hmm. Okay. So anybody listening, we want to make sure that you have that on your website. This is just a small thing that can help them be found.
Wickam: Yeah. Also, make your phone number clickable because. Over half the searches now happen on mobile, and if somebody’s on a mobile phone and they can’t click your phone number when they go to your webpage, they are annoyed. Mm mm-hmm. Make it easy for your customers to contact you.
Crystal: Okay, beautiful. Great tips. Now vi for, so let’s stay on this train of the Portland Oregon Candle store. If, well, what else can they do to really use SEO to drive that foot traffic and show up to the local searcher?
Wickam: You bet. So first thing I would look at is getting those citations, getting links to your site from local places. So if there are local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, your local Better Business Bureau, your, you know, industry associations, the Portland Candle Association or the like Northwest Regional. Candle Market vendor association or whatever it is, you know, see if you can get links from those places and then use a service like your get listed program or one of the other, you know, there’s a number of services that do that kind of a thing that they will. You know what you do, you’ll get them links from all these different directories, a hundred or more different directories that you’ll be listed in, and each one of those citations is a. Boost to your reputation in the eyes of Google. So each one of those inbound links from an outside source gives you credibility in the eyes of Google. And if it’s from an industry association or a local association, it also gives you those relevance signals of you are a candle person, you are in Portland. You know, so any, like the Portland Downtown Business Association, if you’re a member, ask them for, can I get a link on your website? And most of the time they’ll have a little, they’ll have a page or something that lists the downtown vendors and you can get a link on that page. And those pages, even if it’s a small association, are especially value. valuable for you because they’re extremely relevant, and relevance is one of those two key factors that Google Caress about.
Crystal: Awesome. So citations, that’s a big one for the local search.
Wickam: Absolutely. 100%. Awesome. And, and then the schema markup data on your site. but yeah, get those, get those inbound links from. Local, local sources, industry sources, and then directories with something like get listed.
Crystal: Awesome. Yeah. And for those of you who are listening, get Listed is a service by Crystal Media where we manage your listings for you. We optimize, we get you on these a hundred-plus listing sites that Vi’s talking about. We do it for you so you can head on over to our site and click on products and get listed to learn more. learn more. And learn more. If you’re tired of your social media creating little to no results, or you feel like your content has just gotten stale or maybe even boring, I have a brand new free training for you. It’s called The Social Media Hooks and Hacks, how to Save Time and Stand Out. This training is going to help you capture your customer’s attention from the very beginning. Get them to stop the scroll, engage, and act. You’re going to stand out from the competition with branded unique content, it’s time to save time and connect with customers like never before. With this 80-minute training, you can get it at crystalmediaco.com slash hooks. H O O K S hooks. Don’t delay. Watch this training. It’s going to transform your content. You’re going to love it. Enjoy. Now Vi what would be one or two things that a retailer could do to help use SEO for an e-commerce website where we’re not looking at the local foot traffic, but really that website traffic.
Wickam: So what we’d really want to work on would be image and product listings. So, you know, get all, every image you upload, all your product descriptions on, on all of your products. Those, each one of those is an opportunity I. For making sales and for showing up in Google and for boosting your rankings for those specific pages. So say you are a local retailer that just has a local presence, chances are 75 or 80% of your traffic is going to land on your homepage. But if you’re an e-commerce store with a thousand or 5,000 or 10,000 products, chances are only 20 to 40% of your traffic. Is going to land on your homepage, and the rest of that is going to land on product pages or category pages. So make sure that you have, you know, you want structural optimization as well as individual optimization. So, you know, when you, when you talk about an e-commerce store, you’re talking about lots more pages. Then you are with a small, like, essentially it’s a postcard or a business card style website where you might have a blog and you might have a little bit of extra content, but you’re your homepage, you’re about us, your contact us, and you know, maybe, like this is our product lines we carry or something like that. You know,, a local retailer site is very often pretty simple and straightforward, but an e-commerce site. Is likely thousands of products, you know, a minimum hundreds of products. And so each one of those product pages, if is an opportunity to show up well in Google. So Google has its merchant center where you can submit a feed of all your products to Google, and they also have the local merchant. Feed that will allow you to show up in the local search results for people who have this product in stock right now. So you can give an inventory feed to Google along with that. Super powerful for, for local search and e-commerce combined. So if, if you have that ability to do both together and you can drive both foot TRA traffic and e-commerce sales, using those tools and merchant center, if you’ve got 5,000 products and you list them in merchant center, you know, those are 5,000 opportunities to show up above all the ads. You know, and you only get a certain amount of free traffic with Merchant Center, Google will give you some free traffic, but they want you to buy shopping ads. You know, like that’s, that’s their real drive behind their merchant center is, you know, we’ll give you a 5% taste of what this, what this’ll do for you. And if you want to really make it work, you can buy some ads.
Crystal: Yep. They’re like a drug dealer. They just give you a little taste of it, huh?
Wickam: They’re absolutely, but yeah, totally recommend Merchant Center and then optimizing the titles. So you’ve got, your meta title, which is something that you don’t see on the front end, but you’ve just got the regular product title, the name of the product. So you want to optimize both of those things and your product description. And your meta description, which is generally going to be based on your product description and you know, those are your big elements and then you’ve got your images. So having really great images isn’t so much a search ranking factor, but when, when you’re talking SEO, like a lot of people just focus on, we want to give you the best search results for these, you know, we’re going to drive traffic to your website. What you really want is sales. Ultimately you want to sell some stuff on your website, and so having great photography can make all the difference in the world between converting 10% of your visitors to 2%. You know, like, or 1%, you know, it can make a tenfold difference in your conversion, as can your great. Having a great description can also make a huge difference in conversion, which having a great description also means having specifications of things like sizes and, you know, dimensions, weights, colors, materials, a lot of these things. you know, retailers are like, well, there’s a picture. They can just see the picture, but Google doesn’t see that picture, you know? And even if Google gets to where it can see that picture, it’s not going to know whether this is Naga Hyde or full grain leather. You know, it’s not going to know whether this is, you know, cotton or wool or, you know. So have that information, give all the data, and then make it in a, you know, tell a story, make it appealing to people, communicate them the value of this product. Make it a little bit of a story, not just data.
Crystal: Such good tips. There were so many great tips in there. And think about your product descriptions as a, your sales person that’s on floor. Absolutely. Right. Like they are, they’ve got a. Sell this product. And so to your point of like the stories, talk about the benefits, talk about how you could see, you know, instead of, Hey, we have this stuffed animal, can’t you see it in the nursery? It’s great for a new baby. Or a gift item. Yeah, sure. Or you know, something that really plays out more.
Wickam: Perfect for the kid in your life. Mm-hmm. Right. You know, show them that you love them with this. You know, like make it real, make it personal. And you know, at the same time, if you’re wanting to really be able to convert using tools like live Chat where somebody can reach out to you in real time, you know, because not everybody’s an extrovert. Not everybody wants to pick up the phone and call you. Live chat is something that people who are introverted love as a conversion mechanism. If they’re needing some help, being able to shoot a message and don’t send them to a bot. Like nobody wants to get stuck in a loop with a bot. Right. You know, and this isn’t SEO, this is really conversion optimization, but make it human. Mm-hmm.
Crystal: Yep. Make it human. I so echo that. I so agree with that. I was thinking, yeah, we’re talking about conversion optimization now versus SEO. We got a little bonus happening in this episode bonus. I love it By, okay, so I know that somebody or many people are listening to this episode being like, okay, this feels over my head. I ki I’m getting it. You know, I understand that there’s a lot of things I could be doing and. I want you to think of this as a lot of opportunities to show up and be seen online, but there’s a chance that the store owner is not going to do all this work. So there’s many SEO companies and experts. You are one of them that is out there. What are some of the things that retailers should look for when they’re trying to find a good SEO expert or company?
Wickam: Well, there’s a loaded question if I’ve ever heard one. So the first thing is transparency. And you’ve gotta, so this goes to another point about SEO. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. So having good analytics set up is really a critical first step before you engage anybody in SEO service. So before you hire somebody, make sure that you’re able to measure all of the things you want to measure. You want to be able to measure phone calls from your website. You want to be able to measure. Purchases add to carts, you know, product views, you know, contact form fills, all of those kind of things that as much as possible, you want to have good solid measurements that you can count, that you can say, alright, so, they got us an extra 500 visitors a month for such and such keyword. And be able to track that through. Well, there wasn’t any increase in the number of phone calls we got. There wasn’t any increase in the amount of foot traffic we got month over month or year over year for that month. or there was, but one of the things I’ve seen with local businesses and search engine optimization is optimization just for. Na, national long tail keywords. So, an example of this is I have a client who, somebody previously created a blog post for sand pipe in my drain or sand in my drain pipe. and so how to get sand in out of my drain pipe is, is the blog post. And they get like, you know, 10 visits a day for this blog post, but it has not done a hill of beans difference for anything other than they get 10 visits from all over the US for how to get sand pipe outta my, or sand out my drainpipe. And you know, it’s fine. It’s not hurting them, but it. Creates a false metric of, well, I got more clicks. Clicks is not what you’re really wanting to measure. You’re wanting to measure the return on the investment. So how, what’s my best thing I can measure? If it’s e-commerce, it’s really easy because I can measure sales and I can say, well, we optimized all the category pages for your website, and we found that after optimizing these category, There was a 10% lift in your traffic to those category pages, and that resulted in an extra $10,000 a month, and you paid us $5,000 to do this. So you made money, you, you broke even in two weeks and you made money every, and maybe you have a 30%, you know, return, you know, margin. So maybe it took you six weeks to break even, but you’re, you’re making that money back every week. I. You know, going forward forever. So that’s what you’re really looking for is a return on your investment. Now, when it comes to engaging an SEO company, you really want to look for transparency, and that they’re not trying to snow you with keywords like with, with using buzzwords. So a lot of times SEO companies will use a bunch of language you don’t understand. And they’ll, you know, not all of them are doing it intentionally. Some of them are doing it because it’s. It’s just the industry lingo and it’s technical terms. But what you want is somebody that can break it down and say, here’s what keywords we’re targeting. This is why we’re targeting ’em. This is, you know, what we think is going to generate new revenue for you or new traffic for you that will go, you know, become in-store traffic. So if you’re a local business that doesn’t do e-commerce, you shouldn’t worry anything about. keywords outside of localized keywords. So if you’re a Portland candle store, you know Portland candles and all things around that is what you want. You don’t care about lemon lime scented candles for somebody in Virginia because you’re not selling to somebody in Virginia. You only care about, care about that if you’re doing e-commerce. So make sure that you’re engaging with someone who’s honest and transparent with you, and if you get the sense that they’re just trying to BSS you, they are. Because I would guesstimate that, you know, and this is as somebody who’s been in this industry, and I really hate this about it, that half the people are incompetent and another third of them are dishonest. Yeah. And you know, it’s that do you, you’ve gotta know something to know whether they’re just incompetent or they’re dishonest because most of them are just incompetent and they’re, they think they’re doing something good for you, but they don’t know the difference between just generating more traffic for you and actually making you more money.
Crystal: Right. And so it really, it really is unfortunate. I’ve heard that about this industry too, and I know a lot of retailers have been burned in that sense. And so it’s really getting to know their process to see how transparent they are on the process and how they are going to work with, with the retailer, and what, how, how are we measuring the results? Yeah. The measuring the results. Awesome. Love it. not just traffic.
Wickam: Exactly, not just rankings. And that’s another thing. A lot of them will just look for rankings, not even traffic. And they’re like, well, here’s the 10 keywords we targeted. And see, you moved from position 10 to position two and. Google Search Console will tell you if you got any traffic on that. So you can empower yourself by having some of these tools, and have them set up in your name. Don’t let the SEO company run all the tools in their name. You need your own Google Analytics account, your own Google search console account, and you can share it with the SEO company, but don’t let them be in control of it. You are the one that needs to control your assets. I.
Crystal: That is a huge tip that I hope if anybody is multitasking, you need to like rewind the past two minutes and hear what Vi just said. Because if the SEO company owns it, then there are horror stories that I’ve heard from you Vias well as other retailers of trying to get that data, trying to get ownership. You have these companies that will just up and ghost you and you can’t find them anymore. You need that under your information. You own that. It is your assets. It’s very important to have that.
Wickam: Yeah, and the thing that I and my company do in that vein is we have a comprehensive web audit that we will do for companies where we help them identify. Here are your assets that you know, and we have a list of like 17 different things. We look at that here are the things, who has access to them, who has control of them, and make sure that the owner. And management of the company have control of all of their things, and that they can be consciously sharing them with whoever they actually want to share ’em with. But it’s also really common to have. You know, to come into a client where they have something they shared with somebody 10 years ago, and that person has, they haven’t been working with them for eight years and they still have administrative access to their analytics or their search console. And I was like, why?
Crystal: Uh huh. Yep, yep, yep. ’cause we haven’t logged in for, we’ve never been in there before. We even don’t, they never
Wickam: logged in at all. You know, this is the first time that anybody other than that company eight years ago logged in. Exactly.
Crystal: How can people learn about that audit that you have?
Wickam: So that’s on viwickham.com, which is, my website.
Crystal: Okay. And we’ll link to that in the show notes. I think that’d be so helpful. So this is really helpful as far as what to look for in some of those questions. And then we talked about some red flags too. Do you have any other red flags that you would point out? Oh
Wickam: yeah. Like when they say things like, Google’s a black box and there, you know, I can’t guarantee you anything that’s a red flag, but it’s also a red flag. If they tell you they can make you number one in Google. So if, if they go too over promising or don’t promise anything at all, you know, like real people give you something in the middle Uhhuh and they’ll say, listen, here’s the things we can control. Here’s the things we can’t control. Here’s what we’re going to do to improve the things we can control, and we’re going to run experiments, we’re going to. We’re going to do these five things this month, and they’ll have deliverables specified. You know that I’m going to do these things over the next three months and here’s what we think is going to happen, but we won’t know until we’ve done it and I’m going to deliver five blog posts to you, or I’m going to deliver, you know, we’re going to go out and get 50 citations, you know, using. A service, like get listed and, you know, here’s, here’s what we expect to be the results. You know, here’s the keywords we’re targeting, and then we won’t, you don’t actually know for a couple minutes after you’ve done the work. You know, even up to a month or two after you’ve done the work, you may not see the results of it. So we’re going to write blog posts, we’re going to share ’em on all our social media. And we’re going to do, you know, one blog post a week for the next six months. And that is the deliverable. And we’re going to do the, you know, these 25 blog posts are each going to be on these topics. And that’s, you know, and then they have, if they are not following through on what they promised, you know, you should have a contract with them that says, this is what you agreed to deliver. And. You know, if they don’t deliver it, then you have recourse. Yeah. But a lot of times, proposals from digital companies are really ambiguous, you know, and they might say things like, I will SEO your website, you know, and no, you don’t know what that means exactly. And they, they are, you know, super, just like. They, they’re like, yeah, and I got another thousand dollars. Boo ya. And Right. You know, very often companies that are doing that are, are really running like a Ponzi scheme where they get you on a thousand dollars a month retainer and they’re not doing anything for you.
Crystal: Yeah. And I think a lot of, oh, go ahead.
Wickam: They might be doing some small things, you know, and they’re like, well see, look, this, you know, Whatever at, you know, downtown Portland, candle makers, see you, you went up from position eight to position six, but there’s only two of them. You know, like you, you gotta look at, you gotta look at the big picture to really know like, is this a value?
Crystal: Exactly. And I think too that in kind of the internet marketing space with AdWords paid ads, SEO, there are companies that can. That will bank on you. Not working with them, not paying attention, not knowing enough. Oh yeah. Not asking the right questions. And here’s the deal. Not all are bad. No. It’s just we, we know that this happens and it’s why I wanted to bring by on the show, because I want to help listeners know the red flags, know what to ask, know what to expect. So you’re more equipped to hire these companies because they can really support your business. Absolutely. Yeah, they can really support. Now vi, if somebody was just getting started, oh, I feel like I just cut you off.
Wickam: There we’re, there’s one other thing to look out for is just laziness. So, you know, there are companies that are reasonably competent and they will do whatever you push them to do, but if, if you’re not writing them a little bit, they’re going to do the minimum they can get away with. And so, you know, there’s, there’s your three horsemen of the apocalypse, which are incompetent. Dis dishonest and lazy. So good to be in this industry.
Crystal: Yeah, but you are nailing it. I mean, you’re right on. It’s so true. And so you do need to do your part on checking in, asking for deliverables, and hopefully you’re working with a company that you don’t have to do that.
Wickam: They are doing this and you want, you want monthly reporting. Okay. Whoever you’re working for, you want monthly reporting that includes ranking. And traffic. And also, I mean, ideally it also includes conversion data, like phone calls from the website and those kind of things. That’s really what’s critical. And you know, a lot of them will give you ranking reports and. Some subset of that will also give you traffic reports and then some sub subset of that will actually give you the conversion data, which is what really matters. Mm-hmm. Okay. You know, phone calls, forms, clicks to, for directions, those kind of things. Mm-hmm.
Crystal: Awesome. Monthly reports. Sales. Yes.
Wickam: Yes. Monthly reports are critical. If they don’t give you monthly reports, they are not doing. What they say they’re doing.
Crystal: Mm-hmm. Okay. Good tips now by, before we go into our resilience round. Yeah. If somebody is just brand new to SEO, they haven’t really done anything, or maybe they did something a while ago but have fallen off, what’s a good kind of next step for them to use SEO to build their traffic?
Wickam: Wow, that’s, that’s another. So another great question. The first thing everybody needs is to lay a solid foundation. So that means A, your structural pages of your web website should have good ss, e o in terms of titles, meta tags, alt tags on the images, good copy, proper use of headlines. You know, like if you’ve got those five or so things, you know, as your baseline. Then the, the next thing after that is to do something like get listed where you get a, get submitted out to all those business directories so you can get some inbound links and have some baseline credibility with Google. And you do those two things and then you can build from there. But those are your foundation. If you don’t do those two things, you’re kind of like swimming in the wind.
Crystal: Mm. Okay. Love having the foundational stuff in place. It’s so important for us to know how to start, so this is so helpful. Bye. Are you ready for the resilience round?
Wickam: I’m ready, Crystal. I am ready, Everett. Let’s do it.
Crystal: Let’s do it. Let’s do it. Best business. Book
Wickam: This is a tough one because, probably my favorite business book recently is Derek Sives. Hell yeah. Or no. Yes. which I know I gave you a copy of such a good book and it’s, it’s a great book, but I think every business should also read E-Myth Revisited and Good To Great. You know, those are also foundational, foundational understanding of business books.
Crystal: Great suggestions. What is the best retail technology like an app or software?
Wickam: If, if you are a retailer and you’re doing e-commerce, I would say Google MI Merchant Center. And if you’re not doing e-commerce, I would say Google Business Profile. Okay.
Crystal: How do you keep up with the ever-changing retail landscape?
Wickam: I am always reading and I’m always doing, you know, like the landscape of the web is always changing. But the truth is, it, it’s like, Jeff Bezos said, he said that it’s the things that don’t change that are the most critical. And when it comes to things like SEO, the fundamentals of SEO haven’t changed. Google still wants to send people to the best, most relevant search results. And so if you can become the best, most relevant person, That’s how you really win in the long run. Awesome.
Crystal: Because retail, and let’s also say the web, let’s say the web for you. Yeah. The web is ever changing. Ever changing. Ever changing. How do you recharge your batteries?
Wickam: I play the fiddle.
Crystal: Yeah, you do. You your, if anybody went, I go, I go to music
Wickam: festivals and I jam until the wee hours of the morning.
Crystal: Oh man, VA is such an amazing musician. I had him play at Evolve Our conference, and he was like, oh, people just loved it. It was such a highlight. He would just walk up and be like, what do you want to hear? And he could play it. It was so fun. It was a good time. Yeah, it was. To help retailers be stronger, rooted in success of what’s a digital marketing foundational best practice.
Wickam: Well, I think, I think we covered those. Yep, we sure did. You know, like make sure that you have your foundation laid as well as you can yourself, be educated and when you hire somebody to do SEO for you, make sure that you are. In a situation that’s fully transparent, that they’re not hiding things from you, that they’re not trying to snow you with techno babble. They’re not, they’re not, you know, that they have deliverables that they’re going to provide to you that you can validate and verify. Mm-hmm. And that you never give up control of your accounts. You have to be the one in control of your accounts.
Crystal: Yes. Amen. Finally, what do you think the future is for independent retailers?
Wickam: The future is bright and, and the future is one where you really need to stay on top of technology and you have to create amazing experiences for your customers. So if you’re doing in-person retail, it’s not enough to just have a good price. It’s not enough to just be convenient, but those, the internet has created a new standard for what’s expected, and so the baseline has gone up. You know, you can’t be just an indie retailer that has crappy service and pretty good selection. You have to have good selection. You have to have great customer service because the convenience of the internet. Is always going to be higher than the convenience of leaving your house. And so you have to give people a reason to leave their house and to come spend time with you, which means an extraordinary experience. And if you want to also sell online, that’s never a bad idea.
Crystal: Awesome. Bye. This was such a helpful and just so much, there’s so much gold. This conversation was so good. How can people best connect with you?
Wickam: So I am available on the web at viwickam.com, V I W I C K A M.com. and if you just search for Vi Wickam, I am pretty easy to find. If you search for Vi the Fiddler, you’ll find me as well, but you’ll find my music stuff and you can get ahold of me there as well because I have. Contact forms and phone numbers. So, I would be happy to talk to any of you who are looking to grow your retail businesses using online technology.
Crystal: Awesome. Bye. Thank you so much for your time today. You’re welcome. And we will see everybody will see you again on part two for when we’re going to talk more about paid Google AdWords and placement. So stay tuned for that. Everybody keep in mind, just remember I’m rooting for your success. Have a great week ahead.
Crystal: Thank you so much for being here. It means the world to me. Don’t forget to join the Rise and Shine newsletter, which is social media news you need to know. Sent via email every Monday morning. Go to crystal media co.com/rise to join, and don’t miss the newest episode of Rooted in Retail, which drops every Sunday morning.