You Ask, We Answer: June 27, 2014

Launching a New Online Retail Business – How to Rank?

Today we will discuss the challenges that a new online business faces when trying to rank in the organic results. This week question was sent by David Goudie. He shared with us his frustration of not being able to get much traffic for his new online business, so we have decided to feature his question and answer it accordingly.

If after reading the post you still have some questions that were not addressed, you could send them our way. Who knows you might get featured on the next Friday Q&A session! But let’s get back to David and his specific question:

Q: We have recently launched a new online retail business at are by no means SEO experts, but we have run a few other sites before and managed to rank quite well organically for our key products and phrase (for the most part by good, relevant content).

We followed the same philosophy for sleepmajor adding lots of good relevant content. We hoped that we would start to organically rank across our range, but we are really struggling. We checked with webmaster tools and whilst we did have some errors to start with, they are now clear (I think). Still, we are getting next to zero organic search traffic to the site. We are like a new shinny shop on the street, but know one can see us or are interested to step inside.

I’ll love a expert review to help us on where to focus to improve. On site front end stuff, back end stuff, or off site links in??

A: First let’s admit that as every new endeavor, the beginning is hard. Having experience in launching new projects is definitely a plus – you could later apply what you’ve learned by trial and error and save much time and efforts. However, sometimes the different nature of the given niche might make the things a bit more complicated. Here are some essential steps that you should definitely cover:


  • Onsite content – It is a good thing that you are aware of the importance of creating “lots of good quality content”. However I find it hard to see that applied on your website:
    • Let’s take for instance your Blog, or the Sleep Central as you refer to it. (It is a bit strange to find your articles gathered under a category Business, actually. This structure is by no means intuitive and if you wish your articles to be read and referred to be real visitors, you might want to move them to a more recognizable category – Blog, Resources, News, etc.) It is important to keep in mind that mentioning: “We have developed this resource from information found all over the web” is not enough of a disclaimer to publish other website’s content on your own page. Such copy&paste practice is not only a sign of bad-faith competition but is also detrimental to your online visibility. What I did is I took an extract of an article posted on your website, passed it through CopyScape and … the results showed that your website might very well be infested with duplicate content. For this article only there were several examples on the web that contained similar content. The first one (you have copy and pasted in full) covered 40% of the text in your article. The remaining 60% probably constitute of a compilation of the remaining 3 articles that CopyScape had listed. As you can see this is not a strategy that you’d wish to follow if you want to rank high in the search results. Otherwise you risk to fall victim to the Panda algorithm update for posting duplicate content on a large scale and for not having anything new and valuable to offer.
    • In this regard you should also consider your product descriptions. You have listed items varying in color as separate products, each of which you have characterized as unique (by tagging it with rel=”canonical”). However the content used to describe those products is 100% the same (e.g. lime and blue wheat bags). There is really a huge challenge in adopting this approach of product indexing. It will again cause a lot of problems with posting duplicate content.


  • Inbound links – as you might be well aware links play a huge role as it comes to ranking in the search engines. Your website doesn’t seem to have any inbound links at all. While this is normal for a brand new website, you need to try to start improving that aspect of your website profile. Focus on content creation&distribution as well as social interaction with the targeted audience and industry influencers, share your content, build relationships to improve your brand’s online visibility.


  • Competitor research – how could you improve your current website: look at the marketing strategies that your competitors have adopted. Look at their links, at their communication strategies, advertisements and promotion approaches if you wish, and see what will comply with your business model and your budgets. Borrow their know-how and add something unique to it in order to adapt the given strategy to your own brand.

Good luck with your website and even if the above listed remarks could sound a bit harsh, let me calm you down and say that all of those are easy to fix as long as you are ready to put some effort into it and regularly update your content. You have a beautiful site and product line, and I especially like your logo!

Just don’t sleep on your opportunities and try to stay ahead of the competition!

Local SEO News

  • David

    Hi there guys,

    I found your review really very helpful so thanks. We did use online sources for all our articles (to consolidate what we thought were good, helpful points on the relevant topics) but take your point that we need to make this more unique. I didn’t realise this could be damaging to our search results. We will work on this in the coming weeks.

    Glad you like the logo!

    Thanks, Dave

    • Nevyana Karakasheva

      You’re welcome David,

      I am glad you’re about to reconsider your content strategy. Presenting useful information to your visitors is essential, however compiling already published pieces of relevant articles is not enough to make your website a worthy web resource. At least the search engines won’t recognize it as such unless you contribute with something different and one of a kind. Even if you borrow topic ideas from bloggers online you’d still need to write those articles on your own (or order those to a copywriter – be careful with the selection of such though – test them and make sure they do not compromise with the quality of their posts) as to be sure that the copy is unique.

      Good luck applying those tips, and let us know how it worked out:)