Hobanco.com is an internal e-commerce case study project, started and grown by LogicInbound.com using the same search marketing strategy we provide to clients.
We created Hobanco.com to drive three goals:
- R&D new techniques
- Learn broader insights into our client’s businesses
- Show that the proof is in the pudding
Hobanco.com was launched in September 2017, and by April 2018 has accumulated 700+ 1st page keywords.
Google Analytics as of 4/17/18:
Ahrefs Position Distribution History as of 4/17/18:
1 – 3 is top of the 1st page
4 – 10 is bottom of the 1st page
11 – 50 is the 2nd to 6th page
Picking a Vertical
We had three criteria for an internal case study project and were seeking an e-commerce vertical with the best blend of:
- Search volume
- Ease of fulfillment
Having the largest opportunity possible was important because the more searches, the larger ROI, and the faster we could accumulate traffic. It turns out there are over 5,000,000 knife related searches per month in just the US across 4 types of search queries:
- Informational Search
- Generic Knife Search
- Knife Brand Search
- Knife Brand / Model Search
Ease of Fulfillment
Ease of fulfillment was also important because we have an agency to run, and we can treat the SEO campaign like a client campaign and drop it into our marketing infrastructure. We didn’t have the bandwidth, nor the inclination to work on product development and supply chain.
We chose Shopify because of it’s fantastic access to AliExpress through a drop shipping app called Oberlo. AliExpress is basically the Chinese Amazon, and Oberlo allows you to quickly select and sync products from AliExpress to your storefront.
When a customer orders from your store, Oberlo facilitates the purchase from AliExpress and drop shipment to your customer in a nearly automated manner. We never carried inventory. Towards the end of this case study, we trained a VA to run fulfillment and customer support, so the store was completely hands off.
For whatever reason, the knife industry has avoided stiff competition. The major knife sites ranking on the 1st page are just as, or less powerful than LogicInbound.com (DR60). We knew we could build a site as least as powerful as LogicInbound.com because we’ve already done it once – so we knew we could rank with enough time and resources.
Because of the near limitless content opportunities and limited resources, we wanted to focus on the lowest hanging growth opportunities first.
Keyword opportunities are broken down into four types of searches:
These are people googling information related to knives. Hobanco.com ranks on the 1st page for queries like:
- California Knife Laws
- Washington Knife Laws
- Florida Knife Laws
We knew rankings for these search terms are important, because even without intent, the people searching for these queries had at least one knife, but more than likely they have many knives.
Generic Knife Searches
Generic knife searches are searches for different types of knives such as:
- Buck Knife
- CSGO Knives
- Butterfly Knife
- Kitchen Knives
- Knife Block
There are millions and millions of generic knives searches every month. Most of the 1st page for these searches are dominated by collection pages, so we knew we had to focus on optimizing and ranking our collection pages over product pages.
Branded Knife Searches & Brand / Model Knife Searches
Unfortunately, we had to completely ignore opportunities related to branded knife / knife model searches for several reasons.
To distribute major knife brands, we need to become an authorized retailer / distributor. Becoming an authorized retailer requires $2,000 – $5,000 in product purchases per year. There are 30+ major knife brands with good search volume so this was outside of our reach for the resources we had dedicated to this project.
If we figured out a way to do $0 down distribution of the major knife brands, there wasn’t any automated ordering system we could implement to drop ship knives to customers. We would have to order the knives to our office and fulfill them ourselves – potentially sitting on products for months before it sold.
As we neither had the budget, nor the time to pursue branded knives we neglected this opportunity. However, if Hobanco.com continues to grow, at some point this will be a viable opportunity to execute on.
Product pages were initially left un-optimized due to the amount of opportunity collection and informational pages represented. We also added over 300 different types of knives, and optimizing all of the pages would have exceeded our budget.
We used generic naming conventions on the products – using commonly searched knife phrases such as ‘tactical’, ‘hunting’ or ‘camping’ to describe knives. I also used the color in the URL and H1
Naturally, some of these product pages begin to rise in rankings on their own. Once they hit the 2nd or 3rd page we would:
- Do comprehensive keyword research on the specific opportunity
- Optimize the page to align with the keywords it’s already ranking for + any new opportunities we identified
- Increase the amount of on-page content by adding a robust product description
- Build backlinks
To stay relevant and maintain its dominance as the #1 search engine, Google needs to continue to show the most relevant, highest quality search results for any given search query.
The goal of on-site optimization is to align your page with Google’s goals – rank the most relevant, highest quality content.
Google determines your page relevance by looking how closely your meta data aligns with a given search query. Meta data includes:
- Page Title
- Page Description
For more information on how to optimize check out these resources on our service delivery team’s on-site playbook.
Despite all the recent talk about artificial intelligence, Google still relies heavily on on-page signals to determine whether content is high quality or low quality.
High quality content has higher engagement metrics than competitive pages – metrics like lower bounce rates, higher time on site, more pages viewed, etc.
Through trillions of searches Google has found the pages with the best user engagement metrics – or quality content have two things in common:
- More content than competitive pages
- Better structured content than competitive pages
Structured content includes lists, tables, table of contents, bullet points, citations and imbedded videos.
If you want to know the exact process our service delivery team uses to understand how much content you need to rank for any given search query, check out our blog post on ‘How Long Should a Blog Post Be?’
This formula has enabled us to rank with, or sometimes even outrank stronger, more powerful domains for the search queries we knew knife buyers were searching for.
California Knife Laws 2018
Michigan Knife Laws
We used a variety of backlink strategies to move Hobanco.com’s rankings up and increase qualified organic search traffic – resulting in over 700 1st page keywords and 6,600 organic search visitors in the 7th month of the campaign.
After loading content onto each collection page and blog post we would write and publish a press release announcing the new selection of products. The press releases are typically read by less than 300 real people, but they are syndicated across hundreds of sites, driving many powerful backlinks.
Reddit has several active knife communities. We find relevant threads and posts to link our knives in.
EventBrite.com is one of the most powerful sites on the internet, with a DR of 93. Logic Inbound’s founders are community builders and organizers, and we linked Hobanco.com as a sponsor for the events we organized.
Although YouTube links are nofollow, we found they drove a significant impact on our rankings and qualified organic search traffic and sales.
We scoured YouTube for knife related content and asked the channel creators for a sponsored link in exchange for some free products.
This worked well, and we secured backlinks from 5 different channels.
Besides sending powerful backlinks back to our collection pages, the videos also drove purchases from viewers on YouTube who watched the video and clicked through to Hobanco.com.