Unlocking SEO Success:
Measuring ROI and Embracing AI
- with Josh Piepmeier of Meriwether

Josh is the founder and CEO of Meriwether, the ecommerce SEO agency that drives revenue, not just traffic. After starting his career training under a top direct-response copywriter, Josh transitioned to the SEO industry, where he now applies direct-response principles to drive profitable SEO campaigns.”

Meriwether is an SEO and content marketing agency for ecommerce stores and DTC brands. With multiple seven-figure campaigns under our belts in tough industries like CBD, vaping, and supplements, we’re the team to call when rankings and revenue are not optional.”

EPISODE SNAPSHOT

[02:21] – Josh’s Background and Entry into SEO: Josh shares his diverse background in mechanical engineering, UX design, and content marketing, leading to his expertise in SEO.

[07:51] – Measuring SEO Effectiveness: Josh and Scott discuss how to track and validate the ROI of SEO investments using GA4 and the importance of distinguishing between brand and non-brand revenue.

[12:35] – Key SEO Pages for Ecommerce: Josh highlights the importance of collections pages, product pages, and specific types of blog posts in driving significant SEO revenue.

[19:43] – Effective Content Strategies: Josh outlines the types of content that convert well, including best-of lists, comparison posts, and cost-related articles.

[24:59] – Case Study of SEO Success: Josh shares a case study where a client saw significant improvement in rankings and business performance by creating supporting content around key collections pages.

[34:22] – Determining SEO Investment Worth: Josh provides a rule of thumb for when ecommerce brands should invest in SEO, emphasizing the importance of capturing demand generated by other marketing efforts.

[35:01] – The Impact of AI on SEO: Josh discusses the current and future impact of AI on SEO, noting that AI is more prevalent in top-of-the-funnel queries while shopping experiences remain a stronghold for traditional SEO strategies.

EPISODE DESCRIPTION

In this episode of the Ecommerce Optimizers Show, host Scott Reid sits down with Josh Piepmeier from Meriwether. Josh is an SEO expert with a rich background in mechanical engineering, UX design, and content marketing. Together, they dive into the intricacies of SEO and its pivotal role in today’s digital marketing landscape, addressing three key questions: how to measure SEO effectiveness, whether continued investment in SEO is worthwhile, and the impact of AI on SEO strategies.

Josh shares his journey from mechanical engineering to SEO mastery, emphasizing the importance of content-driven strategies for Ecommerce brands. He provides actionable insights on measuring SEO ROI using GA4, creating high-converting content, and navigating the evolving landscape shaped by AI. This episode is packed with valuable tips for Ecommerce brands looking to optimize their SEO efforts and stay ahead in a competitive market.

MENTIONED DURING THIS EPISODE

Josh’s LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshpiepmeier/

Traffic Light Tracking: https://trafficlighttracking.com/

SPONSOR

This episode is sponsored by Ecommerce Optimizers.

At Ecommerce Optimizers, we take a unique approach to optimizing Ecommerce brands by fine-tuning the conversation between your website and your visitors. 

We think about it this way. When someone interacts with your website, they’re having a conversation with your business. 

They’re assessing trust, quality, and reliability. They’re asking questions. 

Through our Purchase Optimization System™, we precision-engineer every micro point of interaction to make that conversation smoother and more effective. As a result, more people make more purchases, boosting your business’s bottom line.

You can learn more by visiting our website at ecommerceoptimizers.com

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Scott Reid 0:00
Welcome to the Ecommerce Optimizers Show. I’m your host, Scott Reid. On today’s episode, we have Josh Piepmeier . Josh is an SEO expert and we have a fantastic conversation about SEO and its role in today’s digital marketing strategy. We really cover three main questions. The first one is how to measure if SEO is working. Second one is, is it worth it to continue investing in SEO? And the third question that we discuss or the third topic that we discuss rather, is how AI is impacting SEO. So as I said, Josh, is a wealth of knowledge. If you do anything with SEO, and you have an E commerce brand, you’re definitely gonna want to listen to this episode. Without any further ado, let’s hop into it. This episode is sponsored by E commerce optimizers. At E commerce optimizers. We take a unique approach to optimizing ecommerce brands by fine tuning the conversation between your website and your visitors. When we think about it this way, when someone interacts with your website, they’re having a conversation with your business. They’re assessing things like trust, quality and reliability. They’re asking questions. Through our purchase optimization system, we precision engineer every micro point of interaction to make that conversation smoother and more effective. As a result, more people make more purchases, boosting your business’s bottom line. You can learn more by visiting our website at ecommerce optimizers.com. All right, on today’s episode, we have a guy by the name of Josh Pete Meyer. He is with a company by the name of Merriweather he specializes in SEO and content marketing for E commerce brands. Josh, thanks very much for joining me today on the program. I really appreciate it. We had a pre call conversation I think it was last week, wasn’t it? Or was it the I think so. It was like last week’s we had a great call. Josh had reached out to me on LinkedIn. And the more we spoke, the more I said, Hey, I think that what you do is going to be absolutely fantastic content for the podcast. So he agreed to join me on the episode. Josh, thanks very much for joining me once you tell us about yourself and what you do at Merriweather

Josh Piepmeier 2:21
Sure thing. Thanks for having me on when I think this is an exciting time to have this show to talk about SEO. Like a lot of change is going on in the e Commerce Industry and in SEO right. So like the dual channel here, we’re getting hit on both ends, right? I was just reading something by a big E commerce guy on Twitter, Sean, and he was talking about how DTC, especially in E commerce in general is a low right now. And I think SEO is gonna sit in a similar spot. So we’ll go off on a tangent, we can jump into that later, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself, like you said, but I think this is a really interesting time to even be thinking about SEO. So I’m excited to jump in. As far as my background, I actually started more, I have a mechanical engineering degree. As soon as I got out of school, I do a series of things, tried a bunch of different stuff. And it’s one of those deals where looking back, I can see the dots like they all connect time I was frustrated and jumping around a lot of different things. I did some UX design and UX research. So I was like interviewing people like working on apps, working on interfaces, stuff like that. decided that wasn’t for me. And then I went into did some web design, more on that side of things, was studying conversion rate optimisation lightly, but nothing too crazy. Nope, did some copywriting did some Facebook ads, I was a lot of different stuff. And then at a certain point in time, I needed to get a job like a nine to five ad with my now wife, my girlfriend at the time. And so if y’all come up to Long Island and move where you are, and so we were long distance, and so I got a job in doing content marketing, and that’s how I got into SEO. But I think the interesting thing about that was it’s blended everything together that I had worked on up until that point you don’t absolutely huge part of it. So copywriting all of that stuff is very much a technical discipline, and which feeds into your mechanical engineering brain, right that you’re assembling all these different parts and pieces from different disciplines by I can see an even tell me that you’re an Emmy major before. So

Scott Reid 4:27
that does make sense based on our conversation. Everything comes together. So you worked for an agency for a number of years crack and then you started, you went out on your own and you started Merriweather. And what types of businesses what types of brands if any, do you focus on? Is there a certain focus that you have or are you more broad based in scope similar to what I do? Yeah, and so this is always an

Josh Piepmeier 4:51
interesting question, right? And everything every business owner is thinking about, what’s the ICP and so I think the most important foundations we work with brands who need some sort of content element to their site, right? Some brands, they have 40,000 skews, and really their ecommerce play is just Let’s optimize our products at scale. Let’s just tweak little product pages here and there and technical SEO is gonna be a huge part of the engagement, we’re usually not the best fit for those brands. Because my background is in content marketing, we have a huge expertise in content, right, we have some really great editors with journalism backgrounds. And we certainly work on the site itself. But anything that really has that requires some level of content to support, it is a really good fit for us. So that often is like health brands, we work with some supplement brands CbV. A good example of sort of the merge of the two is Rei. They have a ton of really great content on their site. But they also have a lot of products as well. That is a perfect example of how you can blend content and commerce together with SEO. And so if we can bloodless together, we can make the content profitable and the rest of the site profitable, and it works really well. And so that’s maybe some other, we’ve worked with red light therapy panels, some firearms, a lot of those brands that sort of have niche, almost cult followings, or like a lot of like, I’m IndyCars, like those nerdy groups that are like doing a lot of research around to care. Those are often really good fits for us.

Scott Reid 6:21
It’s interesting that you bring up a hurry. Hi, because literally last night in the last couple of days, I’m in the market for a new sleeping bag. Oh, perfect. So you’re right. I was it exactly. And now that you’re saying it, too, and I did notice that in on my Google searches that Rei was very much at the top of the rankings on pretty much all my searches just coincidentally, so that was not a plant, by the way. That was a real life. Wow. Yeah. Real life situation, a real life story.

Josh Piepmeier 6:51
Okay, so

Scott Reid 6:52
one of the things that I think is probably like the age old question, it’s not probably it is the age old question, with any type of advertising? Is it working or not? And how do we track the effectiveness of our of our marketing, investment or advertising investments. And there are a lot of different ways to do that based on the type of marketing that you’re doing. But SEO can be elusive. And it can be something that can be challenging to track and challenging to measure, measure and challenging to quantify the level of return. And so that’s one of the things that when Josh and I were talking about what would be a great topic for this show. That’s one of the things that we arrived at was talking about how you validate the ROI or not Josh, why don’t we Why don’t we hop into that? Because I think that this will be very instructive, informative, educational for anybody who has an E commerce brand who also participates in SEO in some shape or form.

Josh Piepmeier 7:51
Yeah, and I think that this is where conversation start. A lot of times in E commerce. It’s pretty much every sales conversation I have starts here, right? Like, how do we even measure this? How are we going to measure it? What’s the KPI? What’s the outcome, but pretty standard sort of circumstance for somebody to come to me is they’ll say, Hey, we’ve worked with a couple of other agencies, maybe or we’ve even had some people in house. And we don’t know, we stalled. We don’t know what the outcome is, right? We don’t know exactly what’s happening. So I’ll give you two examples. One was a brand who was selling sort of high end watches, okay. And they were doing, they were doing 10 million a year just from SEO, okay. And they didn’t really know how much that was brand versus non brand, that kind of stuff. But they had gotten to a point where they weren’t growing anymore. The SEO wasn’t growing. They had a content marketing manager in house, they had a team of writers in house, and they’re just felt like they’re spraying and praying. And so they said, Hey, what do we do next? It’s interesting, because the answer to that question is almost the exact same as a different brand that came to me. Now this other brand was investor back to this was probably a year and a half ago, maybe two years when DTC brands are still getting investment money a little bit more easily. And they said, Hey, we’re spending the equivalent of 40 grand a month on SEO, and we still don’t know what the return is. And we’ve, we everybody’s been telling us, Hey, you just got to be patient, you just got to wait it out. And we’ve been doing this for a year and a half, and we still aren’t really seeing a huge return, what do we do? Okay. So the answer to both questions isn’t the same as that there’s a whole range of ways that you can measure this, I’ll start just for the audience here, with a really simple, really quick way that they can do themselves. If you go into GA four, then this is something that is is is happening a lot that a lot of people don’t even know where in GA four people are still getting used to J four, right? And so that’s you and you’re listening, and you’re like, hey, that’s me.

Scott Reid 9:43
Don’t feel bad about that. Because almost everybody’s in the same situation, right? Like most people I’m talking to. I’m actually curious, Scott, if you’ve had that experience at all with the people you’re talking to, because you’re all about the measurement. Oh, yeah. 100% ga for is like learning. It’s not like learning. It isn’t entirely The new platform, it’s a new measurement that some it’s a new way of measuring. And everybody was in quotes, forced to transition over to GA for July 1 of last year. And it’s very much the case that an incredibly high percentage of people just are not nearly as familiar with GA four as they were with UAE. It’s a whole new reporting interface. And it’s just, it’s like learning a new language. Exactly. That takes time to learn a new language, any way you slice it any whatever type of language it is, it takes time and GA for is no different.

Josh Piepmeier 10:31
Does that answer your question? 100%, I want to give the audience one simple report that they can go to is if they go to the landing page report, and I forget exactly which drop down that is in GA four. But if you just open up a couple of them, I think it’s you’ll have to click around a little bit just to find the landing page. But it’s one of the core reports there, you open that up, you add one filter, then you do the first user medium contains organic, you apply that. And you can see the list of landing pages that are actually generating real revenue. Okay, now, that gives you some information on a page by page basis about, hey, which pages are producing revenue? Now, the simplest, most basic analysis that you can do with those reports is to take a look at the page and say, Do I think that brand people, like people who are searching for my brand are landing here? Or do I think that people who are not searching for my brand are landing here? Because it’s a blog post? That’s not about your brand at all? Probably, it’s a non brand. Visit your homepage, probably the majority of it is brand visits. Okay. So I think the really important factor that you want to consider here is, are you actually generating any net new revenue, any real new revenue, not just people who saw an ad and then saw another ad on Google, and then saw your influencer on Tik Tok, and you went viral that one time and now there’s a spike in organic and but all of its brand, right? So you’re spending 40 grand a month on SEO. And this is what was happening. This brother spent 40 grand a month on SEO, the revenue, organic revenue was going up and up. But the CEO was asking the CMO hard questions, hey, is this really because SEO is working? Or is this just because we’ve tripled our spend on ads in the same time, turns out, the non brand revenue was almost completely flat. So I can go off on this on an entirely tangent here, you can tell I get to, because this is the starting point, you have to build a measure, at least on some level, which pages are producing revenue so that you can reverse engineer that and go back to the SEO basics from there. Just to

Scott Reid 12:35
circle back around on where that is in GA four, you’re gonna go to the report section, that’s underneath the engagement tab, you’ll see the landing page report, and then you can adjust it from there. So in both of those situations, if I’m not mistaken, Seo was not delivering what they would have liked. Is that a correct assumption? Yeah, correct. Yep. And so what do you do next? If if you’re in that if you’re in that situation, and SEO isn’t delivering what you think it should be? Or

Josh Piepmeier 13:06
what your hopes would be? And that’s a great question. So there’s a two part question here, right? The number one thing is that if you’re like us, and you have data from a few dozen brands on what works, and we’ve seen the pages that do convert, we can just take that and apply that information directly to this website. Okay, you don’t have any of these five kinds of pages that you need, right? There’s sort of a list of pages that we’ll look for. Okay. And I actually will give a list we have a list that I created when I was an E commerce SEO instructor for CSL with if anybody’s heard of that, I didn’t realize that you were an instructor for 10 Excel. Yeah, so that was cool. I went down to Austin. And so and of course for them, right? Yeah. So as part of that, a little bit of a derivative, I didn’t take directly from the course. But I created a list of sort of the keywords or the types of pages that I create, that I think will drive a lot of revenue that’s worked really well based on the history that we have with our clients. And I’ll give that away to the audience. We’ll talk about at the end of the show, again, the traffic light tracking.com on there, and I’ll send a whole bunch of resources. Okay, so we take, that’s the exact framework that we take, we literally take that list of pages that I give you. And we say, Okay, do you have these, if nothing’s converting, and you don’t have any of those kinds of pages? That’s probably why. Okay, we’ll talk about what some of those kinds of pages are in a second. But the other important thing is that we’re learning every day, and we’re getting new information every day. And if you don’t have that report in front of you, and you just pull up the landing page report, let’s say you’re listening to this at your desk, right, and you pulled it up in front of you. Usually, almost every brands that I talked to has to some green shoots, that I like to call them, some things that are working at least a little bit. Hey, two, three conversions a month from this page. Cool. What kind of page is it? What’s the topic? Why do you think it’s converting? You go check that page out, you reverse engineer it, and you say let’s do more of that. Whether it’s that same type of page. It’s the same kind of copy key bits the same offer, for example, one of my CBD clients, they had a page on micro dosing that was working really well THC micro dosing, which is not really a core thing that they sell into, right. It’s not a core value prop. But they said, this is interesting, because our product does work for that use case. So let’s double down on it, we created some more content around that some landing pages and those converted very well as well. Right. But I’d say in terms of the types of pages that work really well, again, and again, it’s collections pages, pretty straightforward product pages, some time, if you can get those ranking their money, but you can always get them ranking. And then a series of blog posts, okay, and so as in terms of blog posts, think about, if I were to get listed in this by an affiliate, do I think it would be profitable? If the answer is yes, it’s probably gonna be profitable on your own site. So if you were to say, hey, best CBD gummies, or best red light therapy panels, or best red light therapy phenols, for people with fibromyalgia, a little bit hairy from an FDA perspective, but you get the concept, right, and your brand versus another brand playing little defense, they’re all of those ultra low bottom of the funnel, target terms, which have been around forever, as b2b Content Marketing circles also work very well, if you translate them over to e commerce with a few caveats, because those kinds of content can be a little bit controversial. We can get into that. Do you have any questions on that? come up for air for a second, though, that’s

Scott Reid 16:24
great. Keep going. This is This is gold. So just to recap, collection pages, product pages, sometimes an endless series of blog posts with and but you’re also comparing and contrasting against what you know, to have worked at other types of clients or similar companies, is that correct? Correct.

Josh Piepmeier 16:43
But and I’m actually just even pull right now. Up a. So this is real data, I’m not going to tell you the brand, I’m not gonna tell the industry. But so for example, last month, from a collections page, we had 179 conversions. Okay. And from the top performing blog post, which was a best of list posts, we’ll get into a second, we’ll get to in a second. It’s about 24. So that gives you a pretty good idea of the power of a collections page. Obviously, you want those shopping pages to rank first, I think everybody intuitively knows that. But if you think about it, you can only create so many collections pages, right? If you’re selling outdoor furniture, you can sell outdoor furniture, and maybe create a new collection for green outdoor furniture, and brown and teak and metal etc, depending on the variety that you have. But that’s going to cap out at some point in time, right. And so if we look at 175 versus 25, you’re still adding incremental revenue, incremental customer customers with these blog posts, right. And so the the the type of posts that performed very well, in this case, was a best of list style post, which just means if you’re selling best, if you’re selling outdoor furniture, you’re writing a post on best outdoor furniture, okay? Now, where this gets controversial is you do have to talk about your customers, your competitors, excuse me, we’ve tried it without where people just create landing pages and asbestos or that and they don’t talk about anybody else. They just talk about all their own products. Okay, that’s the equivalent of if you’re walking down Main Street, and you’re like, I want to buy some shoes. And you go into a store, you don’t know anything about the store beforehand. And they say, Hey, you should just buy this type of shoe. You should Oh, you want running shoes, buy this Nike model, buy this Nike model, buy this. That’s the only thing they’re selling. Or there’s this if you go into a dick’s or like a running shoe expert, and they say, Oh, you overpronate are under pronate. This brand is really great for cushioning the hook is good for cushioning. This one’s really good. If you’re at the trail running. It’s a different game. It’s a different level of expertise, right? So you have to talk about competitors. But if you do it in a really balanced way, and if you have a quality product, these ranges will still convert like gangbusters. Scott, I think you’ll like the numbers. We’ve had pages like this convert as high as 8%. Wow, customers. That’s huge. Yeah.

Scott Reid 18:59
Yeah, free three to four times more than that, then what would page would typically convert out or at least what a site would typically convert out. So that’s huge. And so you’re really what you’re doing in those types of blog posts is that you’re comparing or contrasting against a competitor’s product to add a level of depth and more rich information that can be more useful. So you just if I understand you correctly, you’re creating content for your clients in that vein. So you’re doing these comparing and contrasting these lists, any other type of content? Is there any other types of any other types of strategies or tactics that you recommend in terms of improving the ranking? Yeah, so

Josh Piepmeier 19:43
I’ll recommend three other types of posts. One of them is a versus so you versus another competitor. This is especially true if it’s somebody searching directly for your brand, right? If you’re Casper and somebody’s searching for Casper versus purple, you got to show up for that. You got to at least have your pitch out there. Right The third one is where to buy this type of thing. Right? So this is especially true if you have a specialized product. So where to buy diamonds? Because you can buy diamonds anywhere, you can buy them at Costco, right? And so people will search for where to buy these things. And like, why should they even consider your online store? Versus Costco versus the mom and pop shop down? Down the street? Right? So that’s the second or third one. The last one is how much does this thing cost? Or how much should I pay? And if you think about the bottom of the funnel journey, if somebody who’s interested in purchasing something, those are, you’d have your bases covered, right? What are the best ones? Okay, how do they compare to the competitors? Where am I? Where should I go to buy them? And about how much should I be spending? Sometimes you’ll have some other nice things around specifications, right? If you’re doing diamonds, somebody might want to know about the four C’s, or the quality information paid? If I overpronate? Which ones are the best for me specifically, but which ones are the best? How do you compare? Where do you buy the thing? And how much should I pay are really the four best that you’re gonna write, they’re gonna convert at a very high rate. What does it look like

Scott Reid 21:09
when you are working with a client? So let’s just say that I’m an E commerce brand that deals with recreational skiing equipment. Okay, what would you how would we start? How would we start the like this process this journey together working together?

Josh Piepmeier 21:25
Another area, that’s interesting, SEO is specialization and niching. Down. So in that case, like, the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to have an interview, we’re going to say, okay, what are your best products and what you want to sell the most? What a question they’ll often ask in an onboarding interview is, if you can only sell one line of products out of your company, what would that be? Good, we can talk about, we’ll get into, hey, what’s the highest profit margin? What’s the overall most profitable, even if it’s a lower, maybe it’s lower margin, but it’s a higher EOB? Overall? Do you have any items that you sell at the beginning that maybe aren’t the greatest upfront and that lead to repeat, repeat purchases later, right? What are the best products in your catalog?

Scott Reid 22:04
Or you’re narrowing your focus so that you can focus on impactful areas in their business? Is that accurate? Correct,

Josh Piepmeier 22:11
100%. And then you just go hard, we’re doing collections, we’re doing blog posts, doing all the blog posts, and all those different areas. We’re making sure you have collections attacking this from every single angle, and then we go from there. So really, it’s just asking that question, that initial engagement, we’ll do is a technical audit all that kind of nerdy SEO back end stuff. But that’s not the most exciting part, really, it’s the most important thing is okay, what is the product that you want to sell? And then we come up with some ideas for how do we attack that from all angles?

Scott Reid 22:39
And then you must learn quite a bit in terms of the customers that are common to this business. And then are you taking those learnings and feeding that back into your system so that you’re continually iterating or dovetailing those learnings into your future strategy?

Josh Piepmeier 22:58
100%. But a really interesting example of that is that we had a client that we worked with for about six months, we got some good results. But we were like, okay, they said, Look, we’re considering selling the company, we got to offload any non essential costs. Okay, let’s just part ways we enjoyed working with you. Cool. About eight months later, that same client came back to us, then they said, By the way, we didn’t sell the business find, okay. This has been our best year in business in over a decade. And our best year in SEO since the start of the company, which they’ve been at working on SEO since day one. Like they were very advanced customers. Yeah. We think it was based on the work that you did. But we’re not sure exactly why do you want to come back and take a look. And let’s try and work together again. And I was like, say, This is amazing. You know what I mean? Like, I didn’t, I was like, well to have a customer back. But I didn’t know why it happened. I was like, okay, the work that we did was good. We got you a return on your investment. But it wasn’t anything crazy. And I’m coming back. It’s the best year in business. What happened when I realized what we realized over time was that they started to rank number one, the most competitive term of their industry. Right? That’s if you are selling a diamond ring, and you’re ranking for diamond rings. And what’s even crazier, is that the top five people for that term previously were Amazon, Macy’s, Nordstroms, Tiffany’s, which is like the high end jewelry store, and then one other like high end, like brand in their space, which I won’t talk about right now. But they were number six, or number seven below those people that they were like, look, we’re done. Like we got as high as we’re gonna get. We’re just being outranked by Amazon and Macy’s. Right? We’re good. And now they’re number one over all these people. And so this is part of the reason, by the way that I recommends that where do you buy and how much does this thing cost? Because we saw a direct correlation between when we published Where do you buy this thing and how much does it cost and ratings for that homepage or it for that collections

Scott Reid 24:59
page? Yeah. up.

Josh Piepmeier 25:00
So based on that, we’ve discovered this entire new system where we create content, we create an entire ecosystem of content around the each collections page. And the collections pages start to rank better based on that, because we hadn’t changed the collections page at all. We didn’t change the backlinks, we didn’t change the on page, we didn’t change anything about it. All we did was publish blog posts, and this page started to improve. So that is something that we’ve baked back into our process. Now, every single client that works with us, we’re going to say we have a system for reverse engineering those keywords, and we say, Okay, this is your most important collection, what are the exact pieces of content that we need to create, to support it so that this collection ranks really well as well. And it works really well, especially for brands who are the underdog in their space, or a challenger in their space, and they’re trying to outrank Amazon or they’re trying to outrank Rei, and they don’t know how, right, which worked for those kinds of brands? very successfully. So yeah, definitely, we were dovetailing. We’re bringing all of our learnings back into the process and applying it to new clients.

Scott Reid 26:01
That’s absolutely a fantastic example, a real life example. Thanks for going into the detail on that. Because I think what that does is that exposes the level of, I guess, technical detail that you enjoy, from your background, your engineering background into your process. Was that surprising to you that those pages were ranking and that they were as successful as they actually were, as they ended up being? 100%.

Josh Piepmeier 26:31
There’s this topic, this nerdy SEO topic right now, that’s been going around for the last couple of years, I think, gotten really big called topical authority. And everybody’s trying to do the same process where hey, you create content, and then you rank some more competitive keyword. Okay. But the problem with that process is that it’s been very sort of murky, people are always just guessing, like the industry standard best practices were always just create generally relevant content, and you’re going to do better overall. And it’s cool, but that’s not really reverse engineer, but something that you can duplicate. So this process, it was those two specific kinds of pages, unlocked that growth. Now, those are the only kinds of pages that you’d have to create. But we were able to go in there and look at, okay, these pages, if we apply this to other sites, they start ranking better, yes or no? Okay, if we do these types of constantly start ranking better, yes or no. And so we really create able to create sort of a step by step process by which we can figure this out. And so we had, I had no idea like, I’d been playing around as topical authority, I was trying to figure it out, and I couldn’t figure it out. And then this was just like a, hey, one of those things were a gift from the heavens, or like, you work hard on something for a while. And I was like, I don’t know if we’re gonna go to crack this. And all of a sudden, they’re like, Look, your work paid off. Here it is. And I was like, sweet,

Scott Reid 27:44
this is awesome. Yeah, that’s excellent. So what do you think about people say, and you hear it all the time that it takes a long time for SEO to to kick in for it to work? What do you say to that? That’s a real open ended statement.

Josh Piepmeier 27:59
Yeah, I’m

Scott Reid 27:59
curious what your thoughts are? Yeah.

Josh Piepmeier 28:02
And my answer is that in a lot of cases, that’s true. I think at the beginning of my career, especially, even if you’d asked me a year or two ago, Hey, is that true, I would have tried to paddle and say, Oh, we’ve seen results in as fast as three months, we have, we’ve seen results in as fast as six months we have, we took a site. From there, we’re making six figures a year from SEO, maybe, to seven figures in under eight months. Okay. And so that was very fast. Okay, so you can see very quick results, we were at multiple, six figures within four months. However, on the other end of that spectrum, I’ve had brands, one brand in particular that I’m thinking about. We worked together for a year, results were there but slow. And we weren’t ranking for the big hairy keywords that they wanted to rank for, like the industry leading keywords. And so we parted ways. They said, Look, we just, it’s not working, cool. About six months later, six to eight months later, I could see the ranking start to rise. They hadn’t hired another SEO agency, they didn’t do any work on SEO, I impulsively track all of my previous clients to see how they’re doing, always. And I can see the ranking start to creep up and all of a sudden, they started ranking number one for the keyword that we’ve been targeting the entire time with no additional work. And there was this really interesting case study of we worked for 12 months, didn’t get the results. Six months later, with no extra work there was the results came around and it was literally just a waiting game. It is gradual, tiny increases. We have these two we have these two extreme ends of the spectrum where we were driving significant new revenue, a significant ROI, right like beating the ROI of the other channels 5x 6x within four months. And then we have this other example where if they had stuck it out for 18 months, they would have seen the return but they did And and so they got to that position, they started ranking. And then they started to drop off because they weren’t working anymore. When’s pay? Can it take a long time? Yeah, it can take up to 18 months. Right?

Scott Reid 30:10
That’s a fantastic example. And that’s an honest response as well. It’s not it? I guess the answer is, it depends. It depends on a number of different variables. It depends on the products that competitors, what the competitors are doing and what they’re spending and how they’re investing. It depends on the strategies that you employ. So it takes time, is your philosophy that you should always be doing something in terms of your SEO? Or is it do you just set it up? And how does that whole thing work in your mind?

Josh Piepmeier 30:40
Yes. So that’s a great question. And that’s probably question number two, that I always get from everybody. So question number one is, how do we measure if this is even working? Question two, is it even worth it to continue? Is it worth it to invest in this thing? And so I do want to I had I came across a phrase one time, somebody said, Oh, that that was a crunchy tidbit. And I was like, what? And they said, like some information is like, it’s easy to forget, you don’t remember it. Some of it’s crunchy, right? You’re like you bite into it, you’re like, Oh, that’s interesting. And let me give you a little bit more of a crunchy answer to what we were just talking about. Right? Which is, look, if you don’t see movement in revenue, specifically, non brand revenue by month 12, you probably should go look for something else, or go look for somebody else. Okay. That brand who left me at 12 months I have I don’t blame them at all. We did show them revenue increase, but we weren’t at the ROI that they wanted. They weren’t at the ROI that we thought that we could get. And that we talked about. Okay, so I, after 12 months, cool. Move on to somebody else. Okay. As far as do you move on to another partner? Or do you give up on SEO altogether? Do you even start on SEO to begin with? Is it even worth it in your industry? Because some people come to me? And they say, Hey, I have this new widget that no one knows about? Can we do SEO to sell it? And the answer is really? No. Because if there’s not existing demand, SEO is probably not the best fit for you. Okay. Okay. So let’s have a conversation about how do you know when it is right for you? And I would say anybody who is spending, or has been spending $100,000 a month for over a year on paid ads should have a significant SEO budget as well. Okay, good example, mushroom brands right now. Mushroom, coffee mushroom, this mushroom. If you look at Google Trends, interest in mushroom on search has exploded over the last two years. Okay. And maybe a little bit less than that. I forget the exact time. But it’s funny. I saw the exact like when it started blowing up was exactly when you start to see the case studies and the ads. And I started to see in my newsfeed all the ads from mud, water, and rise and everyday dose and all these other mushroom coffee brands. Now, all of these brands are deriving and generating all of this demand. And so now, not everybody is going to buy based on a Facebook ad, right? Like, you know that. Yeah, random owners know that. Right? What do they do? They go search on Google to try and figure out all their questions, all the answers all their questions. How much are you spending on this? Does mushroom coffee even work? Does it taste terrible? Does it taste good? What are the best brands right? I see everyday DOS, taking a dump on mud water. But does that actually mean that Muddy Waters, bad food, their ads are feisty, breezy out there. It’s red ocean. And but if you look in the SERP for all these competitors, only one of them really shows up. And so the rest of these people are pouring ads are pouring water into this bucket with leaks in the bottom, because they’re not selecting all of the demands that they’re generating. So if you’re spending over 100 grand a month on ads, and you’re doing it for more than a year, even if it’s a new, new new category, you shouldn’t be spending on SEO, just to capture all of the demands that you’re creating. Right, or somebody else that is going to

Scott Reid 34:22
Yeah, that’s really interesting. And I love the kind of the rule of thumb, that’s yours files of $100,000 a month. That’s a good solid rule of thumb. And I also love the honest assessment in terms of is there demand in the marketplace that you’re not going to create demand through your SEO strategy? Correct. What do you think about AI? Is that is, is that question three that you get now? What is AI? Correct? Question three. Well, how is AI impacting SEO? Now? What do you think in the future when she talks about that? Charge? Yeah,

Josh Piepmeier 35:01
so that’s a great question. And so we’ve got AI in two sides of things, right? We’re using AI to create content. And then we got an AI sitting on top of the content. Now in Google, Google has rolled out sort of the AI experience in their search engine, although they have dialed it back since the initial launch. To summarize search results and provide information I’ve talked to a lot of founders especially are like very sort of tech savvy people who are like, I don’t even use Google anymore, right? Like, I’m using chat GPT. I’m using Claude or whatever, to do a lot of my research. Right, this is the future. Now. I think that those people are on the bleeding edge. And if you look at sort of the adoption cycle, they’re like the ultimate early adopters, right? I think we have a few years until everybody’s using AI on a regular basis. And I think that standard search will always have a place. Now the good news for ecommerce brands, is that AI is dominance and overtaking of search engines. There’s not as much apply to shopping experiences, right? The most prevalent use cases very top of the funnel, very basic questions, right? What are hiking shoes, right? What are some good materials for hiking shoes, it’s Google can give you a sort of decent answer for that. What are the best hiking shoes Googled gives it a shot they’ve tried. But they ultimately ended up linking out to other articles in a similar experience, because people want sort of expert recommendations. Then even one step further, people just want a shopping experience. They’re not even saying best hiking shoes, they’re just saying men’s hiking boots or sleeping bag, right? Hey, sleeping bag, 30 Degree Sleeping Bag. The best experience is going to be some sort of shopping experience. Now Google is trying to compete with Amazon. And at the same time, as this April AI thing is rolling out, they’re also rolling out this Google shopping experience where now if you search for that you go through is on the left hand side of Google, you see all the shopping environment up above all these listings, etc. And a lot of that is being pulled in from Google Merchant Center. So Google Merchant Center is an important part of SEO. Now, rarely, you got to have that up and optimized. However, in the latest updates, the SEO community has been blowing up about this over the last six months. Google is D prioritizing affiliate sites and starting to to prioritize real businesses. When I say real businesses, I’m not saying that all affiliate sites are not real businesses, but some of them tends to be, I’m just gonna create a bunch of content with catchy Beatty, throw in some Amazon referral links, and it’s not really high quality stuff, right. Even some of those best of keywords, we’re adding a caveat, these are getting crazy things are getting a little complicated, because it’s Seo. Okay. All of those best of keywords that we were talking about earlier in this interview, some of those are now starting to show shopping results. Okay. And so right now, with ai, ai is taking away the top of the funnel, what is this? What is that? brands who are relying on that for whatever reason, and even though I think that’s mostly sort of entity traffic, they’re not going to do well. Shopping brands are actually poised to do extremely right now because Google is prioritizing shopping experiences, and brands that are selling real products. So in this age of AI, yes, there’s some uncertainty, yes. We don’t know exactly what the next step is, is Google going to try and take away some of the shopping experiences? I don’t think so. They haven’t shown any indications of doing so. And when they have, hey, we’re gonna do AI overviews at the top of the shopping experiences, too. They’ve rolled those back, they’ve rolled back a lot of that kind of stuff, a lot of the health related information, and they’re prioritizing the real stores again. So I think that for our audience, for the people who are in online stores, who are creating real products who are doing innovative things, right, which is what b2c And what a lot of these e commerce brands are trying to do, you’re safe, you’re in a good spot, and I think now is actually a good time to invest in SEO.

Scott Reid 39:13
That’s great. Awesome. That’s a fantastic assessment, in terms of your opinion on on AI and how it’s going to impact the future. This has been a great conversation, I’ve learned a ton. And one of the things that I I wanted to make sure that we spoke about was traffic light tracking.com If you’re listening to this, and and Josh had mentioned this earlier, but you have to go to traffic light tracking.com It is a dedicated landing page where he has a video and he shares his traffic light tracking system where you all you have to do is just exchange your name and your email and he sends you out this Google Sheet with full instructions when she was talking about that Josh because I really I was As I told you, before we got on the call, I was blown away by the value that you are delivering to people who engage with you. If you just give us a quick overview, I think that would be really helpful. Yeah,

Josh Piepmeier 40:11
thanks. On the call on this interview, I tried to give you, the listener, you the listener, a quick report that you can look at right now you go to engagement, you have a landing page, very tactical step by step. Okay. The next step in that process is, okay, what are the pages that I should be creating? How do you start to create that content that we talked about earlier. So at traffic light traffic, I’m going to give you a few opt in there, I’m going to give you that list of content, ideas and topics. I’m saying that first, because that’s actually not the hero of this page, traffic light tracking, traffic, lead tracking.com is all about taking your analysis of your SEO revenue to the next level. So it takes that GA data from the landing page report, and then it actually builds on that, it makes them some search console data. So it gives you an idea of how much of your revenue is coming from brand versus non brand search, right. So in that report, if you follow this, the instructions, it’s going to give you called Traffic Light tracking, it’s going to end every row with a page, it’s going to highlight it either orange, or red, yellow, or green. If it’s green, that means this page is producing mostly non brand revenue, if it’s red, it’s producing mostly brand revenue, people who are just already searching for you who saw your ads, if it’s yellow is sort of 5050 in the middle. And so your goal is really to just hey, look at it very simple, mostly red, you need to create more green pages, you need to create more non brand revenue. And so that gives you a very simple sort of benchmark of where you are, and where you want to be.

Scott Reid 41:53
Yeah, it’s really cool. And it gives you the totals so that you can see it visually. But you can also see it just in hard numbers as well. It’s really, it’s really quite well done. I have to say I was impressed. Thanks. Is there anything else that you wanted to talk about rush through? Did we cover everything? Is there anything else that I didn’t ask you? I know there’s a lot to talk about SEO. So we can only pick a handful of topics. But if there’s anything else, now’s the time.

Josh Piepmeier 42:15
Yeah, I guess I’ll leave you with with a quote that’s been on my mind a lot recently. And I’m paraphrasing a little bit, but it’s by Warren Buffett, he said, be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. And I think right now, the default state around SEO is fear. Oh, it’s the AI? Oh, it’s all these algorithm updates. Oh, I don’t know if this is even going to be worth investing in. Everybody’s fearful right now is the right time. If you invest now, yes, SEO is going to change? Yes, you got to have, you’re gonna have to invest with somebody who can change with those times, whether that’s me or somebody else if you find a really good expert practitioner. But if you build your base, now, when no one else wants to invest in a year, you’re going to be so happy that you did. And in this new paradigm, you’re going to be on top. And it’s just a really good time right now. Because I think everybody’s fearful, right? Now’s the time to be greedy. That’s

Scott Reid 43:09
awesome. I love that. I absolutely love that. So how can people find you? We’ve got your main site at Mary weather dot digital, that’s m e r i WETHE. Our God, you know, and we’re gonna have that in the show notes. We’ve also got the traffic light tracking where you can opt in. But if somebody wants to book a call with you to talk further, what’s the best way to do that?

Josh Piepmeier 43:35
I think honestly, the way that most people I’ve been preferring to engage with me is on LinkedIn. Because then we can have a casual chat back and forth, hey, does it even make sense to jump on a call? A lot of people sometimes don’t even want to jump on that call. And we have a chat back and forth, right? I’ll send you a quick loom video audit of your site, right? If you want to just reach out on a limb and say, is there opportunity here, I’ll send you over five minute video going over your site. Specifically, we’ll go from traffic light. tracking.com is a great resource. If you want to get into this yourself, do some of this DIY. Otherwise, you want to learn more about me obviously go to the website, go learn more about our agency go to the website. But I think a lot of people are preferring to reach out on LinkedIn right now. So LinkedIn, and we can drop that in the show notes to Scott yesterday. Yeah, absolutely.

Scott Reid 44:18
And we’ll all be there. And then some Yeah. And just from my personal endorsement. I’ve gotten to know Josh, a little bit here over the last couple of weeks. And he’s a really good guy that knows what he’s talking about. The trust factor is high. Let’s put it that way. Thanks. Got means a lot. Yeah. Thanks very much, Josh. I really appreciate it. It was a great conversation. We will talk to you soon.

Josh Piepmeier 44:39
Sounds good. All right. Talk to you, Scott.

Scott Reid 44:42
Thanks.