Drive More Traffic to Your Jewelry Website With This SEO Crash Course
In episode #215 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I share my interview with Alanna Brannigan, an SEO expert who places great emphasis on strategic content creation. Alanna’s the founder of Harvest Moon Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO and content marketing. She has more than six years of experience as an SEO specialist and has worked with companies of all sizes, from multi-million dollar corporations to mom and pop shops. What I like best about talking shop with Alanna is that she has a way of talking about SEO that doesn’t make you want to fall asleep or get super overwhelmed. She’s able to explain pretty complex concepts in inviting and accessible terms. Let’s get into beginner SEO with Alanna.
In this episode, we’ll be covering:
- What are some of the most impactful tactics that ecommerce jewelry business owners can be implementing?
- Why should ecommerce business owners consider publishing blog content?
- In Google Analytics, what are the most important metrics to track for SEO and for business success in general?
- …and more!
Check out the episode files as well as the transcript below.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 0:08
Welcome to the Joy Joya Podcast, where “jewelry is joy” and everyone is encouraged to add more polish and sparkle to the world. With topics ranging from marketing tips to business development, best practices, and beyond, this is the go-to podcast for ambitious jewelry industry dreamers like you.
Hi, I’m your host, Laryssa Wirstiuk. Through this podcast, I aim to empower and inspire jewelry entrepreneurs and professionals so they can thrive while adding more beauty to the world. I’m passionate about digital marketing for jewelry brands, and I’m excited to share my passion with you. As we all know, “jewelry is joy”, so I’ll gladly seize any opportunity to talk about it.
This is episode 215, and today I’ll be sharing an interview with an SEO expert who’s going to help you make sense of the confusing world of search engine marketing. I met this person earlier this year when I hired her to help me with a client project. And we connected on all things SEO and content. I thought she’d be the perfect person to share with you, my audience members, to help you understand SEO in a way that’s not scary or overwhelming.
I’ll share more about my guest in just a little bit. But here’s a preview of what we’ll be discussing:
- What are some of the most impactful tactics that e-commerce jewelry business owners can be implementing?
- Why should e-commerce business owners consider publishing blog content?
- In Google Analytics, what are the most important metrics to track for SEO and for business success in general?
- … and of course much more!
But before we get to the solid gold of this episode, I’d like to take a moment to remind you that this podcast has both an audio and video component, so you can either listen on your favorite podcast platform or watch on YouTube by searching “Joy Joya”. I love creating this content as my active service to you, my awesome listeners and viewers, and you can support the podcast for free by taking the time not only to subscribe but also to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, which helps other jewelry dreamers find it too.
In this segment of the podcast, I give out my Sparkle Award for the week. During this segment, I highlight a jewelry brand that is impressing and inspiring me with its marketing. The Sparkle Award is also interactive, so you can visit SparkleAward.com to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode.
This week’s Sparkle Award goes to Monica Rich Kosann, a jewelry brand that just won the Accessory Council’s 2022 Design Excellence Award for TECH AND INNOVATION. So the brand’s “Design Your Own Custom Charm Necklace” landing page was actually the winner of this award. I’ve long admired the Monica Rich Kosann brand for its innovative email marketing in particular. They do an awesome job at personalization, and they really do an excellent job of highlighting the dynamic and sentimental nature of their products. I was super excited to see that the brand won this award.
I went to check out the landing page, and you should too. I’ll put the link in the show notes. It has a dynamic video that shows the charms being attached in various combinations and on different types of chains. It also explains the three steps for building a custom charm necklace and then shows how to wear it, how it works, and the brand’s favorite pairings for customers who need some inspiration to get started. This is truly one of the best customer experiences online that I’ve seen for personalized jewelry. Any brand doing custom pieces should look at it as an example and a reference point for what’s possible in offering customers flexibility and fun when it comes to the experience. As I mentioned, you can visit SparkAward.com to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode.
Let’s discuss some recent news related to jewelry or marketing. Each week I share my thoughts about three relevant articles, and you can get the links in the show notes. The first article comes from venturebeat.com and it’s called, “Why you shouldn’t cut back on marketing during a recession”. This year, have you noticed a decrease in your revenue, especially when compared to last year? I would say many consumers this year, especially in Q3 and Q4, have been hesitant to spend on non-essential purchases like jewelry, especially with inflation, talk of a recession, etc.
In this period of time where you may see a slowdown in sales, you may be tempted to pull back on your marketing efforts and your marketing spend. But the opposite is actually true; you should be maintaining or even doubling down on your marketing. One really great quote from this article is [that] if you don’t spend on marketing, “doing so may leave the brand in a less competitive position when the economy recovers. In fact, many research studies have confirmed that the best strategy is to continue marketing—and often increase investments—during a slowdown to capitalize on long-term ROI.”
Even though customers may not necessarily be buying as much during a slowdown, like what I have seen in Q3 of this year, that doesn’t mean they’re not consuming content. Every day, they’re still on social media, they’re still looking at their email and SMS campaigns, and they still might be doing some online and in-person window shopping. They are definitely paying attention. So, when it’s time for them to purchase, when there’s no longer a recession period, if you’re out there in front of them during the slow time, the customers will know exactly who to purchase from once the rough waters become still again because they will remember you, and they will know that you took the time to be in front of them consistently.
So how can you really navigate this time if you are dealing with this issue? Utilize empathetic and authentic messaging to ensure that your brand doesn’t seem out of touch with the economic climate. You don’t necessarily have to emphasize any low pricing or discounting; just continue focusing on value. And then also, if you want to make the most of your marketing spend or really ensure that you’re putting marketing behind the right things, focus on those best-selling core, tried-and-true products and put all the marketing effort behind them.
So my main takeaway is that your competitors may also be thinking about pulling back on their marketing spend resources. This could be the ultimate opportunity for you to gain market share, the attention of your competitors’ customers, and remain memorable in those customers’ eyes. So get in front of the line while others are potentially shrinking and pulling back.
The next article comes from marketingbrew.com, and it’s called “Why some brands are making small-scale zines and magazines”. Do you remember zines from the 90s? Maybe some of you will know what I’m talking about. There was a Harvey Danger song, and he’s like, “I want to publish zines.” Anyway, maybe some of you are not familiar with that term, but basically, a zine is an indie, underground magazine, usually smaller in scale.
What does this have to do with marketing? A few years ago, branded printed magazines had a moment. Companies like Casper, Asos, and Airbnb experimented with having branded publications, which are basically magazines coming from the brand, but it’s not all exclusively like a catalog or an advertisement. They have interesting content that looks like any other magazine. There are articles and beautiful photography. But since then, all of the brands I just mentioned have stopped publishing magazines. Because the truth is—and nobody is surprised—they are not great at driving sales. And sometimes I think it’s hard to justify the cost and effort when companies like these have other things they want to be investing in. I would say that’s the first thing that will get cut. But, according to this article from Marketing Brew, some brands are now coming back to these smaller-scale publications. But they’re even unbranded, just for the sake of community building, adding something to the conversation of the industry that they’re in, and speaking to a niche audience. I find this a very interesting way to think about marketing and [think it] could be adopted by someone thinking outside the box in the jewelry industry.
For example, Oatly, which makes oat milk, is tapping into a more niche market with its new magazine called Hey Barista, which doesn’t have its brand name on the cover. It’s a little bit hard to even know that this is an Oatly publication. But what they’re doing is printing 10,000 copies of this printed zine, sending it to Oatly’s coffee shop partners in the US and Europe, and also making it available online. Mary-Kate Mele Smitherman, who is Oatley’s senior director of communications, says, “The project is a way to not only tap into interesting stories but to also give photographers, illustrators, and writers in the barista community a forum for their work.”
So what Oatly is really trying to achieve is a conversation with the community. They want to strengthen their relationship with these coffee shops—their coffee partners—and they want to build their reputation as a beverage that should be used with really high-quality coffee. So it’s not focused on sales; that’s not the goal here, but it’s a really strategic way to create partnerships that will help their business grow.
I really love this idea and approach. It’s super creative and out of the box. So my main takeaway is: I understand this is outside of the jewelry industry, but Oatley, the brand, is trying something new with an old-school platform [or] print and taking really big risks with it, honestly. It’s very cool. So, what could you maybe do that’s unique with print marketing, that takes an old form of marketing but really turns it on its head and makes it new again?
The last article comes from Retail Brew, and it’s called “This marketplace is helping small brands find short-term retail space”. The startup Popable currently has about 10,000 brands that it works with on its pop-up marketplace, from food stands to bridal boutiques. What it’s doing is helping connect these 10,000 brands with the 1,500 to 2,000 vacancies it has nationwide through its retail real estate partners. Those include Simon, and Brookfield Property Partners—basically, companies that manage malls, strip malls, and things like that.
So in its latest partnership with Walmart, which just joined the Poppable platform recently, during the holiday season Walmart is allowing small brands to rent out short-term front-of-store space in time for the holiday shopping season. They have 150 spaces available in states like Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and Colorado. It really provides opportunities for brands that are looking to grow their pop-up presence and to get in front of customers in an in-person way that perhaps might have been out of reach for them previously. So it’s really like a dating app for brands and retailers. Especially at this time during the holidays, demand for this retail space is booming. Also, short-term leases can be difficult to come by. A lot of retail landlords do not want to do short-term leases. So this is a really cool opportunity.
My main takeaway from this article is that if you want your brand to have an in-person presence but you don’t have one or there aren’t a lot of opportunities to do that, then you really have so few excuses now. Poppable is just one example, but there are a lot of other platforms for connecting brands with retail or other types of space. And it’s easier than ever to find that short-term retail space for your business. So, it’s definitely something to consider in the new year or even for the next holiday. For more information about any of these articles, check out the links I provide in the show notes.
As I mentioned earlier, my guest today is an SEO expert with an emphasis on strategic content creation. Alanna Brannigan is the founder of Harvest Moon Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO and content marketing. She has more than six years of experience as an SEO specialist and has worked with companies of all sizes, from multi-million dollar corporations to mom-and-pop shops.
What I like best about talking shop with Alanna is that she has a way of speaking about SEO that doesn’t make you want to fall asleep or get super overwhelmed. She’s able to explain pretty complex concepts in inviting and accessible terms. So without further delay, let’s get into beginner SEO with Alanna.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 15:41
Hey, Alanna, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. I’m really excited to have you as a guest today and to talk about SEO and content.
Alanna Brannigan 15:49
Thanks. Happy to be here.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 15:52
Yes, so tell our listeners and viewers—let’s start with—how did you first become involved with SEO and marketing?
Alanna Brannigan 15:59
Sure. I’ve been in marketing for just over eight years, and I have been specializing in SEO for the past six [years] or so. In my last year of university, I started freelancing on a freelance platform. I started with copywriting, and that naturally led me towards SEO because they’re so interconnected. I connected more with SEO, so I gravitated toward that. Since then, I’ve worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, from startups and mom-and-pop shops to multi-million-dollar businesses. What I like most about SEO is the fact that it’s something of a puzzle to me, and you’ve got to try to find the right combination to get the results that you’re looking for.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 16:44
Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I originally started my marketing career with writing, and I feel just like you—that naturally leads to SEO because if you work digitally and you want your writing to be found, you have to know SEO. So that makes a lot of sense to me.
Alanna Brannigan 17:02
Laryssa Wirstiuk 17:04
So, what are the ways that you support your clients, those business owners, with SEO?
Alanna Brannigan 17:10
I help them with all aspects of SEO. There are typically said to be three main parts to SEO: On-page, off-page, and technical SEO. But what I think is really important when any client first comes to me is to start with an audit. A lot of people just want to jump in, but it’s really important that as an SEO, you get a deep understanding of what’s going on in the site so you can create a strategy that really works for the business. Otherwise, some things might pop up down the line and be some costly surprises that could easily be avoided if you would have started with that audit and gotten that deep understanding.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 17:49
It’s such a good tip, I think, for people who are listening or watching. A lot of times, to cut corners, to save on budget, they want to just jump right into execution and forget that strategy is involved. But doing that audit will really give you such a great understanding of where you are. So just like you said, it might be more work [and require] more investment up front, but you’re going to end up saving money in the long term by doing things the right way.
Alanna Brannigan 18:15
Laryssa Wirstiuk 18:17
So speaking to e-commerce stores specifically—because I know a lot of my audience has some kind of e-commerce storefront, whether it complements a physical store or some other sales channel—when it comes to SEO for e-commerce, what would you say are some of the more impactful tactics that business owners can be implementing?
Alanna Brannigan 18:41
Sure. First and foremost, I think it’s really important to break your site down into main categories and subcategories. What this looks like, for example, [is that] if you have a jewelry e-commerce store, your main categories would typically be things like necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets. Those are your main categories. If your main category is earrings, your subcategories would be things like stud earrings, hoop earrings, dangly earrings, or whatever kind of earrings you have—you can create a subcategory for those. Those are really important because you’re targeting keywords that you typically otherwise wouldn’t be targeting on your site with those main keywords. Also, as longer-tail keywords, they’re typically less competitive than your main keywords, so you’ve got a greater likelihood of ranking for them.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 19:29
For people who aren’t familiar, what’s a long-tail keyword?
Alanna Brannigan 19:35
So phrases—longer-tail keywords are things like ‘stud earrings,’ or ‘drop hoop earrings.’ Anything with more than one word—or a phrase—we could consider a longer-tail keyword.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 19:52
Yes, and they’re usually more specific.
Alanna Brannigan 19:55
That’s right. Yes. Another thing to touch on with those main categories and subcategory pages [is that] it’s really important that you’re also writing a description for them. This will give more context to Google and other search engines [regarding] what the page is about. So this could be a couple of hundred words at the top of your page on your title or at the bottom of your page below your products.
Alanna Brannigan 20:23
One other thing that also connects to this—I want to make sure your listeners have the most value—is making sure that we’re creating internal links within these descriptions. So if you’re writing a description for ‘stud earrings,’ let’s say, you want to make sure that you’re linking back to your main category, ‘earrings,’ because this internal linking, whether it’s on your category pages or anywhere on your site, will establish a hierarchy on your site and also help improve your user experience.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 20:58
Definitely. So what are some other tactics that you think are really impactful?
Alanna Brannigan 21:06
Another one I would mention is making sure your meta descriptions and title tags are optimized. [I’ll explain] what this means. Anytime you look at search engine page results, you’re going to see 10 listings there, and the title there is your title tag, and the small summary you see below is a meta description. You always want your title tag to be the heading or title of your page. And then the meta description should be a summary of no more than 155 characters, saying what the page is about and giving a short description. But it should also include a call to action, whether that be ‘shop now,’ ‘learn more,’ or whatever you would like it to be, whatever is relevant. It should be included there because that will improve your click-through rate. When people see that call to action, they’ll be more likely to click on your listing when it’s in the search engine page results. Also, again, it’s going to give more context to search engines [with respect to] what your page is about, and that’s really important.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 22:11
I get questions from business owners, especially if they have a really big product catalog and haven’t really spent time focusing on meta descriptions and title tags. They want to know: Do they all need to be unique? Do I have to write these all out manually? Or is there a way to automate it or save time in the process? Do you have any thoughts or tips about that?
Alanna Brannigan 22:36
I think title taste can definitely be automated, and there can be similarities between your meta descriptions. But by no means do I think that all of them should be the same across the board.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 22:49
Yes. It’s definitely a big-time investment, but I think it pays off. Wouldn’t you agree?
Alanna Brannigan 22:56
Laryssa Wirstiuk 22:58
One thing I like to recommend or am always talking about is content, especially written content, and the benefits for SEO, and I want my listeners and viewers to hear from an SEO expert: Why should they consider publishing blog content?
Alanna Brannigan 23:20
As you said, blogs are so important. It gives you the opportunity to drive more traffic to your site for keywords that you would not otherwise be ranking for—in the same way as those categories that we touched on earlier. It also helps you to demonstrate your expertise and become an authority in your niche. You also need to become an authority in your niche in the eyes of search engines. The more content that you have on a topic in your niche, the more likely [it is that] search engines are going to want to index you or rank you on their search engines because they see you as an authority.
Alanna Brannigan 24:00
With that being said, we shouldn’t be blogging for the sake of blogging; we need to make sure that we’re creating really useful and valuable content. It can be something that inspires, educates, or helps someone. Anything that you think could pique someone’s interest, I think you can write about, whether that’s ways to wear gold jewelry, jewelry for a certain face shape, birthstones, or whatever. As long as it’s useful and in-depth, I think that’s a good place to start.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 24:35
That last point you made is so important. There are a lot of jewelry websites that I come across where I can just tell that the blog was written by an SEO agency that’s a little bit stuck in the past in their approach to optimizing for SEO because they aren’t articles that anyone would actually care about, want to read, or are interesting. They literally look like they were simply optimized for a specific keyword. So we want to get away from that mindset and make SEO work for us, but also provide really valuable and interesting content as well.
Alanna Brannigan 25:14
Definitely. I think a good rule of thumb is that if you have a keyword or a topic in mind, the best thing to do is search that, look at the top results, and see how long their content is. That’s a good baseline; you can base your word count on that and include as much information [as] and [even] more than the top results—because that’s the goal: To create the most valuable content on the internet.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 25:42
That’s a great tip—using a Google search to see what’s out there, starting with that, and seeing how you can be even better than that. So what are some other types of content besides blog posts that you think e-commerce business owners could be publishing?
Alanna Brannigan 26:02
I think a blog is definitely the main one. If you’re a local business with a physical store as well as an e-commerce site, it’s likely that you’ve got a Google My Business profile, and it never hurts to publish posts there. That is not going to help your rankings, but it will help you have a more robust profile when people do find your listing on Google.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 26:25
Yes, that’s a good tip. So, I am always talking about how important Google Analytics is. It’s a free tool. If you don’t have it, like, what are you doing? [laughing] But then we get past that point. Especially the solopreneurs, the small business owners, never check in with it because they’re not sure what the most important metrics they should be tracking for business success are, for website traffic to help them with SEO. So what are some of those things that these business owners should be looking at in Google Analytics?
Alanna Brannigan 27:01
First and foremost, of course, acquisition is really important because it will show you where your visitors are actually coming from and help you inform your strategy from there, or inform how well your current strategy is doing. Acquisition will show you if you’re getting your visitors from social, from organic, from email, or whatever; it’s all in there. So that’s really important—also, comparing year over year, quarter over quarter, and month over month, so you can track your progress.
Alanna Brannigan 27:31
Another one to keep in mind would be the bounce rate. The bounce rate is the ratio of people who are visiting your site and leaving after only viewing one page. There’s always going to be some percentage of that bounce rate on your site, and that’s okay. If you have 80% or above, that’s way, way too much. You also need to investigate why you’re having a higher bounce rate. Is your internal linking failing? Are your calls to action on your site not as impactful as they could be? It gives you the opportunity to see which pages are not performing well. People aren’t converting on the site if there’s a high bounce rate, so investigating why that’s happening [is important].
Laryssa Wirstiuk 28:21
I love looking at the bounce rate. And I love looking at it in conjunction with what you said, the acquisition. So if a lot of people are coming to your site from organic search, so search engines, and that’s your top method of people coming to your site, but there’s a super high bounce rate, like 80%, it means that maybe the keywords that you’re ranking for are not in line with the types of customers that you want to attract because they’re not actually finding the thing that they want to find when they do come to your site. So it’s always important to look at these things together too.
Alanna Brannigan 28:58
Definitely. That’s a big topic in SEO: The search intent. Everybody has some intent in mind when they type something into the search bar. We want to make sure that we’re meeting that intent, and if we are, like you mentioned, they’re not going to navigate away from the page.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 29:14
Yes, that’s a great point. The one thing everyone is freaked out about—at least if they’ve heard it, maybe not everyone knows about it—Google Analytics is changing next year in June, I believe, right? Something like that.
Alanna Brannigan 29:28
Laryssa Wirstiuk 29:29
July, yes. Currently, Google is using Universal Analytics, and then they are moving towards something else. So what are some of the changes coming to Google Analytics next year?
Alanna Brannigan 29:47
I think the thing that most people need to be aware of is that right now we have Universal Analytics, as you’ve touched on. Google is pulling data and putting it into your Universal Analytics only until July 1st, 2023. After that date, if you haven’t upgraded to GA4, which is the new iteration of Universal Analytics, no more data is going to be pulled from your website into Analytics. So everybody, please set up your GA4 profile. The main difference here is the way in which they’re tracking your metrics. So, right now, they track your metrics by pulling raw data from your site through cookies, whereas GA4 is now more focused on AI learning. This will be the main difference between UA and GA4.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 30:40
Would you say it’s a really big learning curve to transition from one to the next? And how can someone overcome that?
Alanna Brannigan 30:49
I think it’s a bit intimidating when you first go on the GA4 platform. But once you start digging around, honestly, it is not. The main things that you are going to be looking at are not that different. Also, if you want to set it up, it’s pretty seamless. If you go into Google Analytics, there’s just one button that you have to click, and you’re going to be able to import your data from UA to GA4.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 31:16
So what are some other tactics, tips, and insights that we haven’t covered that you think are super important or that would be beneficial to the audience?
Alanna Brannigan 31:27
Sure. One thing that is really timely at the moment is the Google ‘helpful content update,’ which began rolling out at the end of August. Google themselves have mentioned that this is part of their ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search. This is their main overall goal here. So this update targets websites that have a relatively high amount of unsatisfying or unhelpful content. This update is really a wake-up call for websites that have a lot of past content that they haven’t looked at in a long time.
Alanna Brannigan 32:05
Google looks at all of your content holistically on your website; they don’t just look at the new content. So now is the time to go back and look at all that past content. Is it still relevant? Is it still factual? Is it still providing value? If not, maybe it’s time to update that content, delete it, or amalgamate these web pages with others that are more relevant.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 32:27
That’s such a good thing for people to know, and it speaks to what we said before about offering value. You can’t just set and forget your website; you have to regularly check in with it, seeing what pages are performing. How can you update and expand upon what you’re offering?—because you don’t want your content to be a dinosaur out there on the internet.
Alanna Brannigan 32:50
Definitely. And content audits have always been a really powerful tool to increase people’s SEO performance. It reduces bloat on your website. Sometimes websites are accidentally internally competing with themselves for the same keywords. This really confuses Google. They’re not sure why a website is doing that. Therefore, you typically will not rank for either of those pages. So there are a lot of benefits to doing this kind of content on it.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 33:19
This has been so helpful, Alanna. I know that a lot of people who listen to or watch this podcast struggle with content. Is it worth it? What can I do to make it better? It’s very valuable, and I know people will love this. So what else would you like to share about your business and your work?
Alanna Brannigan 33:39
What would I like to share? If you want to reach me, you can reach me on my website. As you’ve mentioned, I am the founder of Harvest Moon Marketing; our URL is harvestmoonmktg.com. Right now, I’m offering my clients help with these content audits because it is such a timely thing. We need to make sure that websites are not penalized and that we’re not losing traffic. So feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about what we’ve talked about with GA4 and getting it set up. I’m here.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:12
Thanks, Alanna. This has been great. I really appreciate your time.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:19
What did you think about my interview with Alanna? To learn more about her, check out the links in the show notes. If you have any thoughts or feedback, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:35
If you love this podcast, please share it with a friend who would appreciate it. And don’t forget to subscribe as well as leave a review on Apple Podcasts. To purchase a signed copy of my book Jewelry Marketing Joy, visit JoyJoya.com/book for more information.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:51
Thanks for listening. Remember to subscribe so you never miss an episode. For more information about working with Joy Joya, visit Joyjoya.com, where you can sign up to download our free eBooks about various topics in jewelry marketing.