#askninja Episode 4: How long should I spend on SEO, How can I track my website’s ranking, unique eCommerce descriptions, and the importance of blogging.

In this week’s #askninja, I get to grips with these questions:

  • How long should I spend on SEO?
  • How can I track my website’s ranking?
  • Are unique eCommerce product descriptions really that important?
  • Why do I need to blog, and can I pay someone to blog for me?

Here’s the video transcription:

– Mary Berry may have quit the Bake Off, but we don’t care. Actually, probably some of the Ninjas really do care, particularly Stacey. I think she’s gonna be inconsolable.

Welcome to this week’s Ask Ninja where you get your digital marketing questions answered by me Head Ninja at Exposure Ninja. This week we’ve got some great questions about how much time you should devote to running your own SEO campaign, how to track ranking, product descriptions for e-commerce, and also whether you need a blog.

Starting off with Gary’s question. How much time should I devote to running a proper SEO campaign? Well Gary, the answer obviously depends on your business, how big your website is, and how competitive your market is. I know that an answer that says, “It depends.” isn’t really that useful, so I’ll try and give you some actual numbers. When we’re running SEO campaigns with people, the absolute smallest SEO campaign we consider running these days is 15 hours a month. 15 hours a month would normally be split up between optimizing the website. Particularly in the early days, a lot of time will be spent optimising the website.

Then ongoing, it would be optimizing new blog posts that are up, and then it would be trying to do as much link outreach as possible to get some links coming in. That’s the absolute smallest, 15 hours a month. If you’re in a competitive business or there’s a lot of commercial intent for your searches, you’re probably gonna need things significantly bigger than that. It might go up to 100 hours or even 200 to 300 hours on the larger side for more competitive phrases.

The key thing is obviously to make sure that your website is fully optimized first of all. Titles, descriptions, all the text on your site, really important. Image optimization, optimization of blog posts. Making sure the copy is well written. All of that stuff. Getting the website sorted first, and then doing as much link outreach as you can. The thing about link outreach obviously depends on the strategy that you’re using. If you’re listing in local directories, for example that can be very quick. You can pick it up on Sunday night. Just do a few hours of it and get it out of the way.

If it’s something that’s a lot more evolved such as digital PR than you really need to invest more time on that. You’re gonna invest time into finding the right sort of publications that you want to target. You’ve got to then find the right person to contact at that publication. The journalist or writers that you need to talk to. You’re gonna spend some time researching that publication, finding out what sort of things they normally publish, and then you’re gonna do some pitching to that editor or that journalist. The likelihood of them responding the first time is quite low, so you’re gonna need to do some follow-up. When they want to see an article, you’ve then got to write the article, then you’ve gotta send it over, follow-up, and do all of that. That can be quite a time-consuming process, which is why when we’re working on a campaign, we tend to use digital PR for the higher hour, higher hour packages. Yes, between 15 and 300 hours a month. I hope that’s a useful answer. It really depends on how competitive your business is.

Mark asks, “How can you track your ranking?” Good question, Mark. We’ve got a few different tools that we use. There are two different types of rank tracking. If we’re trying to find out which phrases a website is ranking for them, we use Search Metrics. What Search Metrics will allow you to do is put in a domain and, because Search Metrics has indexed and crawled loads of really popular Google searches, it can tell you, “This website ranks for “these phrases and these positions”. It won’t get every single possible search because obviously there’s an infinite number of variations of different searches, so it can’t get every single search, but it will get the most popular ones and it can be really good to give you an indication and say, “I didn’t realize I was ranking “for a phrase like that. “That’s really interesting. “Maybe we can do some work around that.” There’s another type of rank tracking, which is, “I know these phrases are really important to me “and I wanna track what my movement is “and what my positions are on a daily basis.” For

There’s another type of rank tracking, which is, “I know these phrases are really important to me and I wanna track what my movement is and what my positions are on a daily basis.” For that we’ll use SEMrush or we’ll use Agency Analytics. What those tools allow you to do is put in the keywords that you find really important or you know from your keyword research are really important. Then it’ll let you know where your ranking is on those keywords either every hour, every day, or whatever you’ve set it to. Couple of different tools. Check out Search Metrics, and check out SEMrush slash Agency Analytics.

Thomas asks, “Are unique product descriptions a must?” If you’re an e-commerce business, do you need to write your own product descriptions or if you’re say selling products, which you’ve got from a distributor and the distributor’s given you some descriptions to use, can you just use those on your e-commerce site and get away with it? The question to ask is, if you just use the same product descriptions as that distributor and therefore loads of other sites that sell the same product than what is it about your website, which deserves to rank well compared to any of your competitors? It can be tough for Google to justify ranking a site, which doesn’t have any new information on. We always say unique product descriptions are an absolute must.

If you’ve got thousands of products and you’re faced with a mammoth task there of rewriting thousands of product descriptions. What we’d say is pick the ones which are the best selling products or the most profitable products and start with them. Start with rewriting those, making those product descriptions as useful as you possibly can. Include any testimonials that you’ve got from previous clients. Include information about how the products can be used. Imagine that you’re selling that product to someone face to face. What would you tell them? What’s everything you would tell them about that product in order to make the sale? This is important not just from an SEO perspective, but also from a conversion to marketing perspective more generally because boilerplate product descriptions from the distributor are typically rubbish anyway. They’re typically unlikely to sell the products. If you write your own because you know your business, and you know what your customers are looking for, you’ve usually got a better shot of selling the product through the description than they would.

Hannah asks, “Do I really need a blog and “can I pay someone to write it for me?” A lot of our clients, when we take them on, they have a blog and you open the blog. This is absolutely classic. You open the blog and you look back at when the site was launched. Let’s say the site was launched on April the first. You’ll see a blog post or three blog posts on April the first. You’ll see one on April the eighth where they’ve gone back a week later and added another post. You’ll see one on maybe April the 15th and then nothing. Because they’ve written a few posts and they decided, “Hey you know what? This blog thing it’s just not top of the priority list. It’s not something that’s that important to me at all.” It’s completely fair enough, and I totally get that, but actually the blog isn’t just useful from an SEO perspective, and obviously having new fresh content on the site is really useful from an SEO perspective. It’s also a really important marketing tool to tell people about your business and give people a bit of an insight into what your business is about and your opinions on things as well. Treating the blog as a pure SEO tool is still useful. The thing about a blog and the approach that we recommend taking with a blog is you can get a blog post ranked for a long tail phrase fairly easily. Let’s say that you’re whatever. Let’s say that you’re selling garage shelving. You might be targeting a phrase like, “DIY garage shelving small garage.” Right? Even just, “Garage shelving small garage.” You could write a blog post about different approaches that people could take in a small garage to get the right shelving for them. If you make that blog post really detailed and a really descriptive article. Make it the best resource for people that have a small garage or want garage shelving basically, and that post is really useful, you’ve really got a good shot of ranking that post pretty well on Google. Guess what. People that are looking for that sort of thing, they’re prime potential customers for your business. What we’ve noticed with our own blog, and we’ve been, you know the

It’s completely fair enough, and I totally get that, but actually the blog isn’t just useful from an SEO perspective, and obviously having new fresh content on the site is really useful from an SEO perspective. It’s also a really important marketing tool to tell people about your business and give people a bit of an insight into what your business is about and your opinions on things as well. Treating the blog as a pure SEO tool is still useful. The thing about a blog and the approach that we recommend taking with a blog is you can get a blog post ranked for a long tail phrase fairly easily. Let’s say that you’re whatever. Let’s say that you’re selling garage shelving. You might be targeting a phrase like, “DIY garage shelving small garage.” Right? Even just, “Garage shelving small garage.” You could write a blog post about different approaches that people could take in a small garage to get the right shelving for them. If you make that blog post really detailed and a really descriptive article. Make it the best resource for people that have a small garage or want garage shelving basically, and that post is really useful, you’ve really got a good shot of ranking that post pretty well on Google. Guess what. People that are looking for that sort of thing, they’re prime potential customers for your business. What we’ve noticed with our own blog, and we’ve been, you know the

The thing about a blog and the approach that we recommend taking with a blog is you can get a blog post ranked for a long tail phrase fairly easily. Let’s say that you’re whatever. Let’s say that you’re selling garage shelving. You might be targeting a phrase like, “DIY garage shelving small garage.” Right? Even just, “Garage shelving small garage.” You could write a blog post about different approaches that people could take in a small garage to get the right shelving for them. If you make that blog post really detailed and a really descriptive article. Make it the best resource for people that have a small garage or want garage shelving basically, and that post is really useful, you’ve really got a good shot of ranking that post pretty well on Google. Guess what. People that are looking for that sort of thing, they’re prime potential customers for your business. What we’ve noticed with our own blog, and we’ve been, you know the plumber’s pipes are always leaking. We’ve been woefully negligent about our own blog for like since we started the business. We’ve been growing so fast, it just hasn’t been a priority. In the last year or so the DPR team and Dale and Charlie and the guys have been really kind of on the case with getting us to do our blogs. It’s now become such a significant source

What we’ve noticed with our own blog, and we’ve been, you know the plumber’s pipes are always leaking. We’ve been woefully negligent about our own blog for like since we started the business. We’ve been growing so fast, it just hasn’t been a priority. In the last year or so the DPR team and Dale and Charlie and the guys have been really kind of on the case with getting us to do our blogs. It’s now become such a significant source as traffic that we get as much traffic to our blog as we do to Exposure Ninja, through our books, and through ads and ranking for SEO and PPC and any of the services stuff. We get as much again from all the blog posts and it’s longer tail traffic. That’s something that I’ve seen firsthand, and it’s something that I totally hadn’t anticipated. Just like you, Hannah, I always thought, well a blog I know it’s important from an SEO perspective, but I personally don’t have time. Guess what. It’s actually a really good use of your time to get the blog sorted. Can you pay someone to write it for you?

Just like you, Hannah, I always thought, well a blog I know it’s important from an SEO perspective, but I personally don’t have time. Guess what? It’s actually a really good use of your time to get the blog sorted. Can you pay someone to write it for you? Yes, you definitely can. The important thing is to make sure that they understand your business, they can write good posts, so well structured, well optimised, they stay true to your brand tone of voice. What you don’t want to do is just go onto Fiverr or Elance or whatever and just say, “Hey, I need blog posts written, “and I’m willing to pay five pounds per post.” And you just get some absolute trash and you just stick it up because it damages the overall experience on your site. It damages the overall quality of the content on your site. It’s not gonna get ranking. If it does get any ranking, the traffic’s not gonna stick around. They’re certainly not gonna convert. Make it good. Actually put some legitimate time into your blog and you’ll get much more out of it.

I hope that’s useful. If you’ve got anymore questions for next week’s Ask Ninja, use the hashtag #askninja and I look forward to talking to you all soon.


About the Author

Tim is Head Ninja at Exposure Ninja and Europe's bestselling online marketing author. When he's not Ninja-ing he's playing in his band, going to the gym with his wife or fixing the destruction caused by their three fur babies, Ninja, Samurai and Shinobi.