HoosierBuff

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I have a hiking boot store client that has 3 locations, and a fairly good reputation, been around a long time, etc. I started work on getting their store to show up more often for local searches, and making sure that they show up as best they can in their local area.

They are on a shopify site, and have all their product on the site. They informed last week, that what they are really going for is to sell products nationwide, and that, because they already get traffic to many of their products, this shouldn't be too difficult. I told them that I would look into this for them, but, I am very concerned.

I can be a bit lazy, and sometimes, I can give up on a challenge too easily, especially with uncertainty or a lack of knowledge are involved (like, hey, can't I create location pages, update your GMB, add local bus schema and move on?). But not. . . they want more.

My initial take is to tell them to forget it. For virtually every search to rank nationally, you'd have to have such a higher domain authority than what they have, and there is almost nobody sneaking in on these terms. Yes, they do get some product success, because if you have 5,000 sku's online, Google will like you "enough" for at least a few SKU's to get traffic. . . but sustained success, is going to be much harder to come by.

I guess what I'm asking is: I believe that sustained success on e-commerce, for undifferentiated products, is going to be very very hard to come by for the category pages, and the products pages too. Am I giving up on this too easy? I think the only other thing I can think of is hunt for "underserved queries" like "Hiking boots for people with latex allergies" etc.
 

ElizabethRule

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With e-commerce, there is always room to capitalize on the long tail, underserved queries like you mention. In this case, I definitely think this is where you should start. Finding some niche groups looking for specific types of hiking boots your client has in stock can be a gold mind to getting national traffic and sales. Writing blog posts answering the questions these niche groups have will help open the site up to new audiences. You don't have to optimize these blogs for your local area, as you are trying to capture as much traffic from across the country as possible. Make sure these blog posts are optimized for sales, with product links and images to promote sales. Adding USPs, like free nationwide shipping, will help tip the scales in your favor.

Putting effort into building the blog and funneling potential customers onto the site is the first step in brand awareness and getting people out of state familiar with the brand.

You should also spend some time thinking of what a national strategy would look like. I assume the site is currently optimized for the local area, which can make it tricky to position for national audiences. Start small at first and optimize for areas around your hyper local area. For instance, if you're in Boston don't immediately start by trying to get traffic from California. Go for other states in the Northeast like New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont etc. A bonus, these areas have tons of outdoorsy people who love to hike!

You wouldn't be remiss to run some PPC ads in these states either. Again, I would not start running ads all across the country! But doing some brand awareness in states nearby your client will go a long way.

Sounds like this is a large undertaking that a solid SEO strategy from the beginning could accomplish in a few years. I wouldn't expect to be ranking nationally anytime soon, but branching out to nearby states, building that brand awareness, and getting more of that traffic is certainly not out of the question.

good luck!
 

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