3. Interview w/ Jamie Alberico, Arrow Electronics
- Jamie Alberico on twitter: https://twitter.com/Jammer_Volt
- Random, fun facts about Jamie:
- She wrangles in 4-6MM products, 7 languages
- Her spirit animal is Ursula
- And she’s made a flame thrower!
- Our Technical SEO Speaking/Panel at Engage
- Google reps talking about not using rel next/prev
- Jamie’s Lighthouse article
- Explained, Exclamation Episode
- Colabs: https://colab.research.google.com/
- Anaconda (a Python package manager)
- Starbuck’s user journey maps
- Kevin Indig’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kevin_Indig
- Article Alexis was referring to: https://www.kevin-indig.com/user-intent-mapping-steroids/
- Video Game Goat Simulator reference
Note: Add 15 seconds for intro.
[1:10] How do you deal with having so many product lines?
– Step back and look as an ecosystem (set up rules, breaking up sitemaps, etc.)
[2:58] Working embedded within dev team
– Helpful for: launching new code bases, features
– More interconnected team
[4:00] Origin story as a writer, forming a front-end team, journey to be more technical side
[7:00] What makes our products different? <- The data team implements
[9:00] Origins of “@Jammer_Volts”
[11:25] How do you learn technical SEO?
– Being curious and questioning (I’m seeing behavior that’s different. What is happening?)
– Being able to ask any question
[12:30] Any tips on working with developers? Resolving conflicts?
– must clearly define what you want
– learning to speak the same language
– documenting issue appropriately
– don’t bother people in deep concentration (if it’s not a priority)
– tip: ask to stand in on a stand-up meeting
[18:20] How have things changed?
– figuring out complex problems
– freedom to fail
– play with code (Give Google Colabs a shot)
[20:20] Relationship with eCommerce and search?
[24:00] Speed vs. UX
– Look on #s of elements on the pages
– Talk about recipes (and having fluff content)
– Keep intent in mind/ user-first
[28:00] Answer questions directly
[29:00] User journey
– Friction points are real
[32:30] What do you need to do to be one of the best in eCommerce SEO?
– Try to buy a product without using search
– Using your own site’s hierarchy to find the product
[35:30] Dealing with c-suite
– Tip: talking in less technical terms
– Tip 2: Speak in $$
[38:30] Can an SEO sit in a boardroom?
[41:30] Nuggets of advice:
1. Buy something on the website (many varieties of tasks in here)
2. Understand how products come on and off your site
3. Understand the user flow and ecosystem (many elements in here)
- “SEO is a reflection of your overall site health, it impacts all other mediums, we’re just the ones that can see it.”
- “Sometimes when you pull on a thread, it causes more problems than it solves. So sometimes having an awareness of how this one thing affects the ecosystem can help.”
- “You can’t buy something that doesn’t exist, and if you can’t Google it – does it exist?”
- “(As a technical SEO) my customer is a search engine, it is googlebot”
- “Experience what it’s like to wait 11 seconds to load a page”
- “A website is a window into how a business runs”
- “We use search engines as a mirror to understand a reflection of site health”
- “A bug can truly be a feature, it’s all in how we handle it.”
Note 1: Add about ~15 seconds to timestamps to account for intro.
Note 2: If you see notice any major errors, please reach out to seointhelab [at] merkleinc.com, we tried our best to stay true to the vocal version.
[00:00:00] Alexis Sanders: Hello. Hello. And welcome back to SEO in the lab today. I have Jamie Alberico with me. Thanks so much for coming in, Jamie.
[00:00:08] Jamie Alberico: Thank you so very much for having me. It’s really good to chat with you again.
[00:00:12] Alexis: Yes. I’m so excited. I loved your speech at Engage, and I’m just so excited to get this next forty minutes to sink with you about some cool technical SEO concepts.
[00:00:23] Jamie: It was a lot of fun being on the panel with you. I love that we have the tech
SEO panel, we’re in this really beautiful ballroom and it was two women representing.
[00:00:32] Alexis: So true. And that guy with the plaid shirt. I don’t remember your name, sir, but I remember you.
All right. Awesome. For our listeners, would you mind giving yourself a bit of an introduction?
[00:00:44] Jamie: All right. My name is Jamie Alberico. I live in Denver, Colorado. Fun Fact, my name means “usurper elf king.” That is true. I am the SEO product owner for Arrow Electronics, which means I wrangle four to six million products in seven languages.
[00:01:03] Alexis: That’s it. That’s all you do just on a daily basis. (Lol) It’s pretty much…
[00:01:07] Jamie: It’s pretty low key, it’s very chill, you know? (lol)
[00:01:10] Alexis: Like, how do you, How do you even like manage that? How do you deal with having so many different product lines?
[00:01:17] Jamie: You can’t do it on a one off basis. You’ve got to step back and look at the system as an ecosystem. So how do we create systematic rules in play that say, “All right, this new PLP has no translations available in these languages. How do we keep answering the user’s requests and getting them through there? What do we do when we sunset products? How to even break up our sitemaps?”
So initially we had, you know, six million products in a site map on every night it rebuilt, and it shuffled in order. So I’m just joining this team. I’m trying to understand why is there this gap in our product index coverage? Indexation… I dare you, Barry, … (lol)
[00:02:01] Alexis: First line, throwing down the gauntlet. (lol)
[00:02:07] Jamie: For those of you who don’t know if you say indexation three times, it’s like a Beetlejuice effect for Barry Adams. He will appear.
It is called in index coverage and we had a significant gap in it for our electronics so I’m going through the site maps and then realizing this site map is different every time. What is happening here? So worked with my dev team. I have been lucky enough for the majority of my career to be embedded with dev teams to break it out by product line. So now, you know, we have nine hundred forty product lines while our six million products fall into those.
[00:02:40] Alexis: who’s also a technical SEO that’s embedded within a development team. Do you find that that system works well for a technical SEO and do you have a component that is a more content heavy side?
[00:03:42] Alexis: Definitely, definitely. I like the idea of having those two different teams closer and more intimately tied to the source. I feel like that’s an interesting model, and one that’s newer. In the past, have you ever worked with any other companies that did something similar? Or is this kind of also a newer concept for you as well?
[00:04:00] Jamie: My first in-house SEO job I started as a marketing SEO and it was I was primarily focused on this blog on this education center, but I monitored all the pieces and there was a point where wow, my top keywords just dropped 23 spots. What’s going on? Oh no, and my index is bleeding out. I’m losing forty thousand pages a week and by digging into that, began to work more and more with the developers. Eventually we formed a front-end team. So SEO, UX, the developers, our QA team. We were all on one team together. It’s the first time I got an experience with a team build like that. But I found that because we were so interconnected, because we all had different insights and knowledge. Having the team work together is a single, cohesive unit to produce the best product.
[00:04:51] Alexis: And do you think that’s a direction, a strong direction for a lot of e commerce companies that they’re heading into, to more specialized areas of SEO?
[00:05:01] Jamie: I really hope they are. I really hope that people can take an approach of SEO isn’t just about organic traffic acquisition. It’s a reflection of your overall site health. This is impacting all other mediums we’re just the ones that can see it.
[00:05:16] Alexis: Definitely, definitely. And in researching your resume, (which is awesome, by the way), I found that you did a lot of CRO work before, you have a background in writing. What was your journey like to be more on the technical side of things?
[00:05:30] Jamie: Ah, so the trick here is to graduate college during a recession, and while your pondering life. Because all kind of longer than normal and hear where this is going to explain to their student loan officer, I want to pay you and I want to eat. How do we work this out? You being to find a way to take that English degree and put it to some frame of use? For me that started off as blogging. I was actually a blogger outreach manager. I was one of those people that I now ignore in my LinkedIn inbox. This is pre-penguin. We didn’t know any better.
[00:06:05] Alexis: It was okay back that… (lol)
[00:06:07] Jamie: Yeah, it was OK, you know, Listen, thing about her field is it constantly adapts. It’s constantly evolving everything you know, like R. I. P. Well, next and previous…
[00:06:19] Alexis: I was actually wondering how you felt about that.
[00:06:21] Jamie: It makes sense. It truly does. If we look at the use of technical signals when they’re not correct, correctly implemented or there’s just difficulty with the code going ahead in acknowledging and consolidating that it makes sense to go, “No.”
[00:06:34] Alexis: Yeah, I guess too Like the first page is the most important page, typically in those type of sets, right?
[00:06:42] Jamie: I do, you know, if we’ve got any Ecommerce site that has a product line made of sixty thousand products, which is a world I live in, it would be great to be able to break this down and have them be more specific and more relevant. Like what makes these sixty thousand products different from each other?
[00:06:57] Alexis: Yeah, and do you find it a challenge doing that? Like that might be more of your content team too, But like…
[00:07:03] Jamie: No, it’s actually our data team that handles that. (Cool!) Because, this is the thing about being in this place with dev teams is I get to work with architects and get to work with devs I get to work with developers. All these aspects, it’s very much like any form of machine learning: You get good clean data in, get good cleaned data out. Yeah, so identifying, now, I assume that so and so controls this. Well, time to just take a step back, and analyze some assumptions, sit down, have a cup of coffee with me, like ‘Oh, I misunderstood. What’s your rules here?’ But now I know, and now I know the next person I need to talk to.
[00:07:42] Alexis: Now I know you’re really actually very important. So about that email last week, just throw it in the trash. (lol)
[00:07:51] Jamie: I like to think that I don’t underestimate people’s importance. I’m sure I’ve not included a smiley face where I should have and it came off a little to direct, but we do our best and we learn and we grow.
[00:08:01] Alexis: Have you ever watched that Explained episode on exclamation points on Netflix? This is very specific. So Netflix has this show from Vox, which is called Explained, and they have a whole episode about the exclamation point, and you as a writer, you might be more informed about this, but apparently for many years the exclamation point has been considered useless by writers. There’s, like, no point. It’s like nobody uses that ever. And they talk about the rise of the exclamation point as, starting with marketing, but then actually being attributed to linguistically, women being in the workplace. Yeah, you need a way to soften your message, but at the same time be able to express your thoughts out and it was really interesting. So you saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t add a smiley face.’ I was like…
[00:08:47] Jamie: That’s really some genuine feedback I’ve received. (Oh, really? Sigh… ) Oh, sometimes your emails come off as too direct. And to be honest, I’ve often wondered in scenarios like that, if my male counterparts have received that same kind feedback.
[00:08:59] Alexis: Oh they definitely haven’t. There’s no way they have. ()
[00:09:05] Jamie: Hey, you will really directing this email. And you made someone over here cry? Why?
[00:09:08] Alexis: You said exactly what you wanted. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s tough.
[00:09:10] Jamie: We were talking about how I got into SEO. We’ve moved into a beautiful tangent.
[00:09:15] Alexis: On this tangent, I want to ask you another kind of tangential question about you. So what does @Jammer_Volts mean? I know that’s your handle and I’m like, really curious.
[00:09:32] Jamie: Literally very little. back in the day In a past life, I had a custom prop shop, so we had our booth at the very first ever comic con we made. A lot of people went into this cosplay outfits and they would paint a Nerf gun. And we always thought I was a little bit well like, alright, I guess it gets the job done. An this shop’s goal was that we’re going to make something that is functional that shoots a fireball. Yeah, we were the people who want the –? that would shoot fireballs and used an antique jewelry box to case them in. I doubt any of the pop culture cons or comic cons would let you in with them. But the idea was, here’s your piece of authenticity, here’s something that makes this world a little bit more real. See, it didn’t last very long, but it was a fun adventure. And my partner was professor Volts. I was, Jammer Volts, cause I had all the communications and Jammer refers back to like World War two radio communications. It’s also a Derby term. So I apologize to every Derby girl out there who’s like “you’re not a jammer, why are you using that?” I wouldn’t know any better. I’ve had this name a long time. I would love to do Derby. I’ve got elbow talents. Let’s do this.
[00:10:58] Alexis: You could reach her at @Jammer_Volts on Twitter. Awesome. So cool. That’s actually like an amazing story for a handle. So that’s awesome.
Okay, cool. So one of the questions that I get a lot is how do you learn Technical SEO? And I feel like you as someone who’s gone through this process, what are some resource is that you’ve learned from and found really useful?
[00:11:25] Jamie: You learn from being curious and questioning. I can honestly say most of my career, most of my success has been from taking a step back from assumptions of how a process works of how, you know, this piece of data gets here, and going: “I’m seeing behavior that’s different. What is the gap between these?”
And being willing to be the dumbest kid in the room has been my greatest strength because it lets me ask dumb questions. And then I can come to understand, oh wait, transaction means something different to you when you’re referring to server hits. And for me, it means an Ecommerce transaction, identifying that Codex and even finding the words for things knowing, Ah, this has a name?
[00:12:17] Alexis: Definitely. So do you think that listening and being able to question is… almost like your weapon?
[00:12:24] Jamie: That is my superpower.
[00:12:27] Alexis: That’s a good one, like that’s actually a really, really good superpower. So if you would have an actual superpower. What would it be? Do you know? (lol)
[00:12:34] Jamie: I would have the ability to teleport.
[00:12:38] Alexis: Oh my gosh that would be such a nice one.
Okay, so you obviously work with developers a lot. Any tips, tricks, thoughts on, like what it’s like to work with developers and getting them to do what you want them to do? And maybe even, I’m interested, too in like, how do you resolve conflicts when they’re very resistant to what you want? How do you get them to come around to your side or like when to back down?
[00:13:02] Jamie: Absolutely. There tends to be two frames of thought, and I actually worked as an advocate to get the marketing SEO side to begin adding Jira tickets. Jira’s a fantastic way of managing your backlog and getting things moving, prioritized. It was a running joke for a while that our lovely head of SEO at the time, his name was Brad. He would just send me tickets that were like “Website broken. Please help”
So it’s became, “Let’s have a conversation about what information’s valuable.” Developers are very literal. They want to give you the product that you want, but unless you clearly defined that it’s a big gap. So part of it is learning to speak the same language. It’s learning. Okay, What does the ticket process look like? when I put a ticket in, what human would I have a conversation with? Because, typically, business analysts are involved and they help get additional information. I’m pretty notorious for when I first joined teams, over-documenting like, “Hey, I found a substantial issue. I’m going to bring it to the table. Do you have questions. Can we hold them until I get through the first 23 pages of this? And then we can get to explore the supporting Excel books, and we can examine this further.” So really making a case, letting them reproduce it, showing them with a diagnostic tool, exactly what is the problem and what the goal is. (Definitely.)
And I’ve worked in teams where they called the Dev Pod the “shark tank,” because everyone was afraid to go in there, you’d eaten alive. Developers, a lot of times are wearing headphones with nothing playing, and it’s a social cue of ‘I am in a complex thought process, and I’m not able to have a conversation right now.’ So part of it’s going to be acknowledging how important the issue you’re facing is. Is the site literally on fire? Okay, if it’s not going ahead and interrupting someone who’s working in a complex process, who is going to have to take 20 minutes to get back to where they were once they stop, may not be worthwhile. So how do you take something like a ticket format layout for all those critical pieces and then have that conversation?
So the first thing I would advocate to any SEO’s out there who are a little bit scared of your dev teams, ask to sit in on stand up. This is the morning meeting where devs, they’re going to go, ‘This is what I’m working on. This is where I’m blocked. This is what I’m working on next.’ Start there. Just be a fly on the wall. It’s okay not to be able to contribute immediately, but you’re going to learn a lot. And once you understand how to speak that language, getting what you are asking for done effectively will become easier.
[00:15:44] Alexis: Definitely. I love that idea of, like, almost going in, infiltrating, be a spy or something.
[00:15:50] Jamie: Be the dumbest kid in the room. Own it.
[00:16:00] Alexis: We could accept it, embrace. That’s awesome, though, because I’m sure eventually, like I’m sure you found that you’ve graduated throughout the ranks and now you’re probably one of the smarter people in the room. I’m sure there’s some really smart people you work with
[00:16:09] Jamie: There’s still on a regular basis. Moments where I’m like Jeff, “I have no idea what you’re saying right now.” I’d like to come, I like to say, Jeff, Dream-crusher last-name. He frequently comes to me and goes, “Hi, this thing that you want to fix, this thing you want to change? Well, you’re pulling on a string.” So a lot of times, really, I’m sure many SEO’s out there have gone: This is the stupidest thing. Why have we done it that way? Why won’t you just do it this way? Well, that comes down to fundamental architecture, and sometimes when you pull on that thread, you’re going to release a lot more problems you’re going to solve. So having the awareness of how this one thing you want to change in the ecosystem will impact other pieces, will impact other teams initiatives, is critical for you to be successful in these large environments.
[00:17:00] Alexis: Definitely. Yeah. You don’t want like a full yarn ball going out everywhere, creating a mess. (lol)
[00:17:05] Jamie: It’s going to anyways, it’s gonna happen. (lol)
[00:17:10] Alexis: One day you will. One day you will bring a site down too.
[00:17:16] Jamie: And that’s still there running joke. It’s not your until you break it.
[00:17:19] Alexis: I guess that’s true. I have broken one too many sites in my day, not obviously our clients’ sites, but…
[00:17:28] Jamie: In full transparency. I’ve been working in a friend’s sites and, you know, doing may have been in the HTaccess file, and I’ve been, you know, just writing the mod rewrite so it could go ahead and resolve all versions to preferred, and accidentally taken down their site. Because I want it done right next day. Yeah, that’ll do it. And it’s like keeping your composure when they ask: What are you doing this weekend? Well. bringing their site back. (lol)
[00:17:00] Alexis: Everything’s Fine. Everything’s great. Yeah, Let’s Why don’t you two talk for, like, two minutes? Yeah, that’s great. Let me just put my headphones in for a second. (lol)
[00:17:00] Alexis: I feel really thankful that I got into SEO very early on. I mean, relatively speaking, starting in 2008, caffeine was 2006. Google’s finally on everyone’s radar. We were Ask Jeeves anymore, but because it was so unknown and it gave me a lot of freedom to fail.
[00:18:14] Alexis: Definitely. What do you feel like are some of the things that have changed within the industry since you started? Do you feel like there’s been like a huge shift?
[00:18:25] Jamie: There’s textbooks now! (lol) I’ve had people ask me, How did how did you learn? What classes did you take them like old boots on the ground and a prayer in my pocket? (lol) It was, I don’t know, but I figure it out. You know, a lot of complex problem solving and being willing to sit down with people and being willing to sit outside, you know, a CTO’s office for two hours, and wait patiently because something was important enough.
[00:18:52] Alexis: Yeah, definitely. Oh, my gosh, I can only imagine. So I know that one of the things that I’ve always felt about working for an agency is the coolest part is you get to see a ton of different complex problems that different groups have in different industries, and I feel like you’ve almost got that through going through different jobs, seeing different types of things, working with, like particular sites. I think that’s like you said, Learning on the job is probably one of the most important things that one can do.
[00:19:19] Jamie: And you know, if you’re limited, a lot of it’s hard because you don’t have the access to that type of thing. I remember I was. I was lucky enough to work with the Google Analytics product owner in getting enhanced eCommerce in when it was first a thing. And it was really tricky because there were no sites out there that already had these types of things. We were white listed for it. It was a beta. Well, it was It was amazing data to take advantage of. It took it like a year for them to put up the demo-store so you could go ahead and look at this sandbox testing ground. I think Google has embraced that as well. You haven’t gotten a check out Colabs yet or, you know, begun using colab workbooks and your Google drive to start playing around with code. I highly recommend it. It’s that freedom too fast.
[00:20:04] Alexis: Yes. Yeah, And it’s really cool, because I’ve always felt I don’t know if you felt this and your experimentation with programming that the worst part is the set up
[00:20:13] Jamie: Oh, getting your libraries, right? Please kill me now. Actually, Hamlet Batista shared out a great way just over coffee and chatting at Tech SEO boost. Great conference guys. The only tech SEO conference out there. Thank you, Paul and search Catalyst Team. But he was like, Hey, here’s how you export all of your library dependencies when you share.
[00:20:34] Alexis: That’s like thank you.
[00:20:35] Jamie: So one of my biggest challenges was not only setting it up, but I’m making it so someone else could use it on far smarter minds and myself, like Hamlet have gone ahead and figured this out on our sharing that information.
[00:20:46] Alexis: Yeah definitely, and there’s always a lot of people with python will use something like Anaconda. But if you go in blind or, I don’t know, positive optimistic, you’re like, Oh, like, let me download the newest python, Python three, and then, you know, it’s like No, no, no, no, no. They designed it on python 2.7. You’re like, Well, what’s the difference? Nothing works. (lol)
[00:21:06] Jamie: That was our big difference. Very, very big difference. But that’s why those Colab research workbooks are so great because you’re working in a python notebook that gives you that same interface as Anaconda does, where you can run each segment, you can identify your break points. You can rework it
[00:21:24] Alexis: definitely, and you could do some pretty intense stuff in there like some pretty intense machine learning stuff. So pretty cool, pretty cool, great tip. Having worked in eCommerce and Technical SEO, What do you see as the relationship between eCommerce websites and search?
[00:21:40] Jamie: You can’t buy a thing that doesn’t exist. And if you can’t Google it does it exist?
And then we have Amazon as Google’s largest competitors because they’re so effective at selling. And if we really dig deep into the bones of how eCommerce is set up and you start looking at what data are we even sending in our product seats? Because chances are I’m using that same data in my structured data markup.
How can we learn from these other tools? So a lot of collaboration with the channel manager, the person who’s sending out that product feed to Amazon, to Google, to any other of the page search partners. They have a lot of insight that we can gleam. But it’s that willingness to go. I want to learn about your world. I’m going to sit here on be the be the dumb kid for a second and I’m going to come out a lot better for it.
[00:22:29] Alexis: So talking about the dumb kid, I have a question for you. What does “SEO as a function of product mean?” You mentioned that in an earlier conversation we had once and I was like “What does that mean?” (lol)
[00:22:43] Jamie: Oh that one time we talked intensely for like, two days with way too much coffee. (lol)
[00:23:40] Alexis: and suffer… (lol)
[00:23:44] Jamie: It’ll be five minutes of your life, eleven cents of your dollar. How apt are you at that moment of like yeah it is worth buying. Wonder how long their cart process is. Oh, I’ve gotta register. How much more likely are you to back off?
[00:23:57] Alexis: So how do you balance? I’m always curious with us for e commerce sites. What is there any internal logic on: How do you balance the experience with speed and how do you know when to start focusing on one or the other?
[00:24:09] Jamie: Speed is the experience. It’s is the foundation of it.
[00:24:12] Alexis: Yeah, that’s the tough part too, is they are kind of like the same thing. But then again, there’s always the optimization of the actual experience itself. So…
[00:24:15] Jamie: Define for me optimization. (Alexis note: She’s level setting right now! See advice in action! Way cool!)
[00:24:20] Alexis: So like, let’s say, for instance, you know what you want to have with your website experience. But maybe, not necessarily as fast as it could be physically, getting like a minimal, viable product ready. Your code works, everything’s good, but then it’s not as efficient as it could potentially be.
[00:24:39] Jamie: Look at the number of elements in the page, is something I would advocate for. There is a great Think with Google piece that just came out in the last year. It talks about the number of elements and image on the page. And where is that sweet spot for conversion.
And it is not that you can’t have these functionalities. This is where we begin to look at our user centric key performance indicators (KPIs) on those are things like time to first contentful paint. Yeah, that is one of those metrics in Lighthouse. It’s a very obscure thing to try and understand what it means. The thing I came here for, I can see. No one cares about content that they can’t see loading. So when you even look at the UX, when you look at the experience of your page, keeping in mind that user. What is the reason they came here? It’s like it’s become a little bit of a trope now, but you go and try and read the recipe online. You’re like, “I don’t care about your second cousin’s wedding Can I just find out how to makes muffins please.” (lol) But keep that in mind.
Alexis: So true, like the intent of a website and why you’re going, there is more important to consider. So I guess I like your idea of coming at it from a user-first perspective because I think sometimes, like I think there’s a quote on one of the Google training’s. I’m pretty sure you did the certification, too, but (because I saw you had done it), but basically it says the smallest site is a site with no resources on it, right? And at the same time, like you have to have something to get that experience going, right?
[00:26:11] Jamie: And it has to be worthwhile. If your content is good enough, when I get to the bottom of the article, I promise you I’ll click on that follow-up link. If what you’ve provided to me is of enough value and engaging, I will go out and click that CTA. You do not need to put an overlay on my screen and stop what I came here for like ‘Hey do you like me yet? You’re coming off a little thirsty? Okay, interstitial thirsty, knock it off.”
[00:26:47] Jamie: And a website is a window into how our business runs on. If business’ push to get more email sign ups is more important than why I came here as a user, the resource I came here for, that shows that this is not a user-first company, and there are plenty of companies out there.
[00:27:04] Alexis: I love that analogy of a website is a window to a business. That’s so beautiful. And I think I actually, I think it’s 100% true across the board. You think about it. And if you see a website that you know isn’t necessarily prioritizing the user than you can tell that they’re not, they don’t have that mentality.
[00:27:22] Jamie: Absolutely. And I found our REI does is a great job. Shout out to the REI team made a beautiful work. Even in the values of the company. So how they choose to not only, here is the product you want to buy, but here’s a community that loves the things you do. Or hey, you’re not sure if this thing is right for you, do you want to turn like a day experience for it? And it’s about technology serving the user and that is a, it’s a tipping point right now. A lot of people have reacted with a lot of anger that, you know, Google broke this agreement we had where we would give them content and they would give us clicks. Well, if the content you’re providing could be answered very quickly in this quick little block instead of me having to read about your second cousin’s wedding, I just came get my muffin recipe.
And you must think of it this way – If that’s the only value you were providing -> Sorry, it makes sense to not go ahead and give me that click through. If you’re providing more, if that snippet that I’ve seen is engaging enough and will give me more information, then, yeah, I’m going to go ahead and click that. I’m going to give you my time.
So humans have time, energy and money. We’ve got –? everywhere. We could make more money, but time is limited. That’s the true human factor. That’s why you were…
[00:28:44] Alexis: Are you worth my time? I love that. Exactly, in Frederic’s interview on SEO in the Lab, had talked about websites and the idea that “Are you worthy of me giving you my credit card information?”
[00:28:57] Jamie: Exactly.
[00:29:00] Alexis: I think that idea of “Are you worth my time?” It even goes beyond that, you know, because it’s like, first of all, are you trustworthy? But then also, are you interesting enough? (lol)
[00:29:10] Jamie: Do I feel like I’m empowered? Do I feel smart and capable on your site? (Alexis: Yes.) If I don’t understand how to flow and interact with this to do a simple thing, it’s disparaging. (Alexis: Yeah.) I’m not going to feel like I can handle these next steps. I’m not going to feel like the thing I came here to purchase is going to give me he feeling, the experience that it’s intended to
[00:29:31] Alexis: Yeah, we’re so spoiled because so many websites today have such a strong user experience that we’re not used to challenging user journey flows.
[00:29:43] Jamie: Friction points are real. Absolutely.
[00:29:45] Alexis: No, who I love, they have a great map – Starbucks always has, Like, these amazing used user journey maps that they update all the time. And I’m sure different people in the organization have them. But some of them you can find online that they have, and they map out every single part in the user journey from, like, the feeling that they want them to have when they get in the shop to like the customer ordered the coffee or something. it’s always like, very impressive to see, like that level of user focus and what they want.
[00:30:13] Jamie: Please share that link? Yeah. I would love to see that
[00:30:16] Alexis: Let’s see if I can find it. I think Kevin Indig…
[00:30:18] Jamie: Of course, Kevin has it. That man is, if you guys don’t follow Kevin on Twitter yet. Go do it. He’s from, He’s from the Jira team, actually. So his tool helps save my tail on daily basis, and he’s brilliant.
[00:30:30] Alexis: Thanks, Kevin. Thanks for being you. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was one of the things that he had shared. So he, I’ll follow up with him and I’ll check the site and see if I can find it for the notes in this podcast.
Yeah. Okay, So what do you think are the top challenges facing large eCommerce sites today?
[00:30:49] Jamie: Oh, man, that is such a loaded question. All right, so if you’ve got a large eCommerce site and it was, it was set up a minute ago. You know, it’s been online for a while. It’s trustworthy, it’s got authority. Well, there are two aspects here that are pretty challenging.
One, how is it scaled out? Is every different section of this site an independent CMS? Are they aware of each other? Are they integrated? It’s an information architecture challenge that can result in cannibalism on a really difficult user journeys, high friction conversion points.
We also have to look at, for a while, sites focused their performance metrics on full page load, and that ended up with a lot of hole punching and going ‘Well, we’ll get the full page on there and they’re gonna make all these asynchronous calls. We’re gonna load everything that way.’ And it was, it was a way to make it appear to be smaller without actually being smaller or faster. Um, so now that’s led to our pivot for these user centric metrics. Where? Well, how long until I could be interactive? They came here an amount of PDP. I want to buy this thing. So get me the content that tells me “Hey, here’s the thing you came to buy. Here’s the critical influence you need to know, a price, how fast it ships.” Here’s a picture, you know, images are so important because of the closest we can get to a product while being online. And here’s our buy by. And the further I go down that page, the further and going to be away from ready to purchase. I need help, I need more information before making the best decision.
[00:32:28] Alexis: Definitely. And this is a question that’s in a similar vein. But what do you see as the most critical elements of eCommerce SEO to get right.
[00:32:37] Jamie: That is, I don’t even know where to start. (lol)
[00:32:38] Alexis: Do it, well. (lol)
[00:32:44] Jamie: I need you to go ahead and pull out your phone, on your own website and try to buy a product going incognito in mode, turn out that WiFi, try and buy a product. If you could do that and you don’t need to go take a walk on the block and chill, you’re doing all right. Taking that back and you’re going to repeat it. And you’re going to try and find that product not using search, by using the categorization.
[00:33:09] Alexis: OooOoo, I love that idea.
[00:33:12] Jamie: Yes, you have to go through your own hierarchy to complete this. Okay, Now you’ve got the one thing, you’ve got a toaster. Now we’re going to switch from I want to buy a toaster too, I’m a user who wants to host a brunch. So that means I’m not just looking for a toaster. I’m looking for napkins. I’m looking for plates. I’m looking for, It’s Kentucky Derby. I think Moscow mules is that where Kentucky Derby, is that the drink of choice?
[00:33:15] Alexis: We’ll go with it.
[00:33:16] Jamie: We’re going to pretend it is. Everyone loves Moscow mules and big fancy hats and there’s horses. But go through that journey and try and have an experience, try and complete that. If you can’t, then we’ve identified another problem. And this is where you start to begin to understand from a user focus where are my gap points? While I’m on this article that tells me how to make a Moscow mule because I’m holding a Kentucky Derby party. But there’s no link for me to buy the thing or there’s various dead ends, and you want to spot those. That’s both for SEO and CRO.
If we look at it from a search engine perspective, Google wants to give us really authoritative answers. We’re asking higher level questions. So if we’re having a conversation with a topic of Star Wars, we’re going to talk about siths, Jedi’s, Ewok, Han Solo, Yoda. And that’s just gonna be part of a well-informed conversation. That was a thing, that was weird, but that’s just a naturally informed conversation. And search engines want that same kind of interconnectivity between content on your site. It wants you to have a strong branch like on a tree, and then it will judge you based on how these branches go off, is it a healthy branch? Is this a weak one, a parasitic one that’s really detracting and not able to support the user’s intent. But we have a strong one over here. You can also stop me at any time. (lol)
[00:35:20] Alexis: You’re doing so well. I just wanted you to just keep going and I was like, I’ll stop before the closing question, if we get there. (lol)
[00:35:31] Jamie: Okay the downside of my passionate rants, every time I get in front of C-level, and this is another piece of feedback that I get on a pretty regular basis is “you’ve got to take a step back from the technical.” It’s very difficult for me to separate out those pieces because the devil is in the details. He’s in the execution. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. And I’m still personally learning in my own growth, how you effectively communicate those to the people who could push the buttons as they go.
[00:36:03] Alexis: Definitely. Yeah, I think that’s a huge challenge to being able to, like communicate to someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on, I think. But then also, you have to get them to do or invest in what you’re doing, even though they don’t understand what you’re doing.
[00:36:18] Jamie: Absolutely, you know, who am I speaking to you? Is this a good time to make a logical argument? You know, a very passionate, emotional based argument. What is the best way to approach this?
[00:36:32] Alexis: So have you found anything that’s really effective so far in your journey?
Jamie: Dollars signs.
Alexis: Dollars? Yeah. I feel like that sense is telling me how much this is gonna cost me. How much money will I make?
[00:36:44] Jamie: And not even how much it’s gonna cost, but how much can be gained? Yeah. So when you present it as, look, we have the assets here, we have, and this is a great time to work with your product content management team to understand those who are taking in data for new products, who are helping to categorize them. What kind of relationships we’re facilitating with manufacturers, to go on. You basically lay constraints for yourself. So I like to go ahead, I consider SEO as like a booster pack. I’m not going to come in and demand that you guys rework everything that you do, but I’m gonna help you as you execute to be foundationally solid, to be stable, to be scalable and to begin to have an awareness of other parts of the system. So when we connect all of these together when it’s an ecosystem that understands “Ah, my manufacturer over here has, you know, made this new product line, and we have a relationship where we’re promoting them.” What places could we go ahead and put a relevant information about those products on other places?
So I have my manufacturer who’s making copper mugs, Kentucky Derby’s coming up. Where do I place those so they are relevant to a user and provide value as opposed to the thing I have to scroll past or the thing that takes forever to load. And it makes my page jump. If your site does that, please make someone who can push a button go through that experience.
[00:38:15] Alexis: Definitely. But one of the questions I wanted to ask was, do you think in SEO, one day, can sit in the boardroom?
[00:38:23] Jamie: I love that question and I want to take it on. I think if SEO’s like myself, learn how to speak, you know this is the new Codex I’m learning. This is a new Rosetta Stone. How to translate my intent and what I want to see done into words that they understand and have meaning to them.
But we’re advocates of Web presence, of users, of performance. We should absolutely sit in the boardroom. We are a place to go. This isn’t just about selling things, it’s about selling them in a way that is meaningful, that supports users, because when a user feels like you have their back, they’re going to come back to you. So this is an investment in a lifetime value. You can turn and burn through customers. You can, you know, miff them over, but it’s going to run out one day. It’s not an indefinite supply. So by being that presence who goes there. And we use search engines as away, as a mirror to see them, a reflection of overall site health, a reflection of overall user experience through analytics on page. Then we begin to understand, and we can present that in the boardroom and we can grow the business by making that experience better. This is a digital world. How do we keep up with the next step?
[00:39:41] Alexis: Definitely. It’s so fascinating how almost… websites and working on sites have almost gone back to more traditional sales values, cause I just remember watching this. There’s like this ride called ‘It’s a small world.’ I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, at Disney like one of the most daring famous ones, I don’t know, Whatever. I’m not like that.You know, it’s like So basically, you go into it and it takes you in this world, and everyone’s like saying It’s a small world after all for, like, twenty minutes straight. And (lol)
[00:40:10] Jamie: I’m sorry, I don’t know that song, can you sing it again? (lol)
[00:40:11] Alexis: It’s a small world after alllllll. Okay, you guys got my voice (lol)
[00:40:18] Jamie: Worst podcast episode ever. I’m sorry, guys. That was a close, intimate. They’re like ‘Oh, she’s the worst. Derailed conversations for It’s a small world song. (lol)
[00:40:27] Alexis: It’s like shield your ears, Alexis is singing.
No, but basically the woman who created that ride had asked Walt Disney, “What is my budget?”
And she was like, “Oh, I need a budget like, What are you looking at? What are we trying to achieve here? “
And his answer was, “Oh, there’s no budget.”
And she was like, “Well, like we kind of need a budget.”
And he’s like, “No, build the ride that people are going to want to come back to, because if they come back then we don’t have any problems.”, which is kind of, like, a fun business philosophy.
(Jamie: Exactly. And they you have advocates.) And like, that’s almost similar to what you’re saying here is building the site that people are going to want because then you’ll be able to have people come back to it in a way that’s meaningful and interesting to them. Which, man, Disney absolutely ahead of his time, behind his time in many ways, but ahead of his time in like, a few. (lol)
[00:41:23] Jamie: If your frozen head is listening to a podcast right now. Thank you. And also, with the hell man. (lol)
[00:41:29] Alexis: Okay. All right. So for the final closing question, what are your three nuggets of advice for an SEO working on a technical Ecommerce site?
[00:41:47] Jamie: My three Nuggets of advice are: Go buy something, Do it through product categorization. We’ve got to go down and find it. Do when you’re throwing them on the PDP. Do it when you’re trying to have that experience, that conceptual journey that goes across categories
[00:42:06] Alexis: I love that one.
[00:42:07] Jamie: Understand how products come on and off your site? How are they on boarded? At what point is there a PDP? At what point is that PDP go away?
[00:42:21] Alexis: Such a good one too. We could also talk about that for probably another hour. How to offload it.
[00:42:27] Jamie: We’ll talk about that We’ll have a Disney sing along. It’ll be great. I love rocking out to poor unfortunate souls … Ursula, you’re my personal hero or spirit animal… (lol)
[00:42:38] Alexis: Throw in the Little Mermaid, Not like the Disney version, the original story. (lol)
[00:42:44] Jamie: The Disney version bothered me as a child because I just thought to myself ‘Write it down!’ (lol)
Alexis: You’re like, ‘obviously.’
Jamie: This could all be solved if you more the note that was like “Hi, I met you the day, you were drowning. I saved you. I really liked you and impulsively traded my voice for some legs.”
[00:43:02] Alexis: Yes, you’re like “and… it was not a great decision. In retrospect.” (lol)
[00:43:10] Jamie: “I think that ate my friend for dinner. He was a small crab …
Alexis: and I still feel really bad about it. (lol)
Jamie: I feel like, if she had lived on, finished out her days on land, it would have been really sad. Now they’ve been like, “Oh, we’re having flounder for dinner.” (lol)
Alexis: Oh, gosh, that is true. That is very true. (lol)
Jamie: I think we answered the question of whether or not Ariel was vegan, and Ariel was definitely vegan. She went into the open ocean every day and she sucked in krill. Those are living so that would be vegan. Oh, complex dietary ethics for Ariel. (lol)
[00:43:52] Alexis: I’m there’s a specific word for what she was. (lol)
[00:43:58] Jamie: I say I supposed to answer another nugget of advice. Understand your infrastructure. So say you’ve got a blog and your blog is categorized. Do you use the same categories in your blog as you use in eCommerce? How does that connect through with– you ‘ve got community support or questions? Understand the flow of those.
You begin to use the same words to describe something you create consistency. And baseless words off of what your users are going for. You know, we look at site search more times. The conversion rate is five times that of those who are trying to find another way. How do you facilitate that pathway? Because when you do that, it’s not just about the user experience. You’re also allowing a chance for a greater order value, for a greater sense of investment from user is now engaged with your content. It’s, it’s selfishly altruistic.
[00:44:56] Alexis: I love that word, “selfishly altruistic” But that’s what it’s like, what a lot of friendships are. You know. You have to take care of yourself first. But you also have to take care of the people around you too, you know, And by taking people around you, in a way, you’re taking care of yourself
[00:45:14] Jamie: And loving someone as another person in this works interpersonally as well for their flaws. Being willing to acknowledge your own and figure out how you know you can learn better, do better or just being able to laugh at them. It’s a beautiful thing. (Alexis: So beautiful.) I think the video game goat simulator taught us that a bug can truly be a feature. But it’s in how we handle it. You know, bugs, we treat them as part of the experience. They become a feature.
[00:45:54] Alexis: I love that. And with the goat, which is the bug, which is the feature, we will close out. Thank you so much, Jamie, for coming on the podcast today. we should totally do it again.
[00:46:08] Jamie: Yes, we’ll try and stay better on topic, but I make no promises.
[00:46:11] Alexis: I thought it was awesome! Thank you so much. Signing off, ciao!