How to Win Before You Begin


Today I will explain three ways you can ensure you succeed in your e-commerce business.

Before you even begin.

If you do these three things, you will be one of those 5% of e-commerce businesses that succeed in the long run.

Not only will you have a brand that does well in Google.

You will learn insights to help you speed up your growth with paid traffic when you’re ready.

Unfortunately, most people rush headfirst into throwing up a generic Shopify site selling generic products with no point of differentiation and wonder why success eludes them.

You need to follow a concept called SEO first. SEO first is like having a treasure map that shows you where the gold is and where the monsters are waiting.

I’ve reviewed many hundreds of failing e-commerce websites and see the frustration of their owners first-hand.

The biggest problems I see them make are:

  • They neglect to understand who their customers are
  • They charge headlong into super-competitive markets.
  • They have no point of difference.

They end up launching boring sites with zero trust that look like a million other generic drop-ship websites that nobody ever buys from.

They don’t get found in Google searches because there is no reason for Google to rank those sites in the first place.

There is a better way.

It’s called starting with an SEO-first mindset.

SEO-First Principals

SEO-first means looking at your business like an SEO professional would.

SEO-first means going back to first principles.

Here are three key principles of the SEO-first approach.

#1 – Know Your Customer

Before you can sell anything, you need to know who you are selling it to and how they find your product online.

Do they Google it?

Do they watch YouTube videos?

Do they ask questions on social media?

This is simple customer research, and one of the most powerful ways to do this is with keyword research.

Basic keyword research will tell you:

  • If people are looking for the product you want to sell,
  • Are people searching for solutions to problems that your products will solve?
  • Are there less competitive niches within your target market that make a better place to start?

With detailed keyword research, you have a better idea of whether a business is worth pursuing or is one to avoid.

Luckily, keyword research is easy to do.

There are many great tools, both free and paid.

And there are many great resources to learn how to do it well.

#2 – Understand The Competition

If you wanted to start boxing, you would never choose to fight Mike Tyson as your first opponent.

It’s the same when starting an e-commerce business.

Large, authoritative brands dominate Google search results.

These brands have the trust of consumers, and more crucially, they have the trust of Google.

They typically rank for many of the keywords you found in your research.

They’ve been getting people to write about them and link to their websites for years.

They’ve most likely been publishing helpful content that answers their customer’s most pressing questions.

You, however, are the new kid on the block.

It can take years of effort to be on a level playing field with these brands.

You need a way to speed up learning and results.

One way to help you get traction sooner is to target a smaller niche in the market.

One that you can get found for or “rank for” rapidly so you can start making sales sooner.

Choose to fight Peewee Herman, not Mike Tyson.

What this means is to use those same keyword research tools to:

  • Identify which websites are ranking for most of your market’s keywords.
  • Understand how those websites are ranking for those keywords.
  • Identify gaps or keywords and product categories that these competitors might not be targeting or which are less competitive.

If you do this, you will see success sooner as your pages rank, get traffic and generate sales.

#3 – Find a point of difference.

People like to do business with people they know, like and trust.

It’s the same for brands.

Your brand should be trustworthy, and your website design should be professional.

That’s the minimum standard you need to meet.

But when everyone is trustworthy and has great-looking websites, how do customers decide to buy from?

You need a point of difference.

You need to give them a reason to buy from you.

Some points of difference might include:

  • Do you keep inventory onshore instead of drop shipping from overseas?
  • Do you publish quality, helpful content on your website that demonstrates specific knowledge and insight?
  • Do you offer better customer support or return policies?
  • Do you have a compelling story or history about the brand?
  • Are you involved in the local community somehow?
  • Do you offer a more personalised shopping experience?

You will need to figure out what your unique point of difference is.

In summary

Understanding how my customers search helps me choose which keywords to rank for and what content to write.

Understanding who are the 800-pound gorillas in my market helps me choose less competitive markets so I see success sooner.

Having a unique point of difference means no one can compete with me. I make it easier for my customers to decide to buy from me instead of my competitors.

Need Help?

Struggling with your Shopify store’s SEO? Need help understanding where you are, where you want to go and what strategy will get you there?

Book an SEO Coaching call to identify your next steps to help you succeed.