Copywriting isn’t easy. We could all be writing more blog posts, more LinkedIn articles, and even more social media, but in the day-to-day of everything we have going on, it’s hard to find the time to make something both educational and entertaining.
And maybe more importantly for e-commerce business owners, how do we make content that search engines like? Even though it can be tedious, it’s extremely important, and maybe we can figure out a way to make it fun. We found someone who can help – all the way from Australia, Kate Toon.
Kate Toon is a misfit entrepreneur, amateur hula hooper, and founder of the Clever Copywriting School.
Deal Closers is hosted by Izach Porter and is produced by Earfluence.
Kate Toon: It pays off over time. You won’t see the results straight away. And I know we’re all desperate for immediate engagement and likes and, you know, SEO, you don’t get that. Google barely notices you. The line is that Google’s like the most popular girl at school.
You have to make everyone else like you before she’ll like you, and it can feel like a slow burn, but when she likes you, wow, you’re in, you know?
Izach Porter: Thanks for listening to the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by websiteclosers.com. This is a show about how to build your e-commerce business to be profitable, scalable, and one day even sellable. I’m Izach Porter and on the show today, Kate Toon, self-described misfit entrepreneur, and founder of the Clever Copywriting School.
For me copywriting isn’t easy. I know I should be writing more blog posts and doing more LinkedIn articles and even just regular social media, but in the day-to-day of everything we have going on, it’s hard to find the time to make something, both educational and entertaining and maybe more importantly for e-commerce business owners, how do we make content that search engines like? Even though it can be tedious, it’s extremely important, and maybe we can figure out a way to make it fun. So let’s bring our guests on today, all the way from Australia, Kate Toon. Hey Kate, how you doing?
Kate: Good to be here. Thanks for having me.
Izach: Thanks for coming. Yeah. Maybe just to start off, Kate, could you give us a little bit of background on yourself? in the opening, I called you a misfit entrepreneur and the founder of the Clever Copywriting School, but you actually do so many other things. Can you tell us just about the overview of who is Kate Toon?
Kate: Yeah, I’ll keep it short and sweet. So misfit entrepreneur is from the book that I wrote and I guess I do always feel like a bit of an odd sock in the entrepreneurial world, cause you know, I don’t have a flashy car, I don’t wear a pencil skirt and anyway, all that stuff. But yeah, my businesses, I’ve got three different businesses, one which is primarily focused on helping people be better copywriters, another which is focused on helping people grapple Google. So SEO, all the things you were just talking about there. And then another, which is just a general digital marketing support membership you know, keeps people up to date with the latest trends, cause as you said, there’s just so much going on. But I guess for the focus of this podcast, my big SEO course of over, over 50% of the people who take that course have e-commerce businesses, and they have unique challenges when it comes to SEO and copy.
Cause as you said, it’s pretty hard writing product descriptions for the 950th product on your site and keeping it interesting and engaging and making it attract Google as well. So e-commerce is kind of my jam at the moment, especially, and as I said, unique challenges, but also so much opportunity because most e-commerce sites do a terrible, terrible job of that copy and a terrible job of that SEO.
Izach: Yeah absolutely. So how do you know when it’s right. You know, what are the, what are kind of the metrics that you watch, you know, before and after that tell you that what you’ve written or produced or you know, entered into some of those descriptions that you’re talking about is actually working to drive more traffic.
Kate: Well, bizarrely, the one thing you don’t really focus on is ranking, and we’re all obsessed with where we appear in the search results. But unfortunately it’s a very moveable metric because it’s not something you can a hundred percent control. It’s impacted by everything your competitors are doing as well.
So while of course we want to rank as high as possible for our chosen keywords, we can’t get too attached to that. We should look at the metrics that we can control. Those are things like, you know, time on page, how long are people looking at our content? Number of pages viewed, how many pages of people looking at? How many return customers do we have versus new customers, because that speaks of loyalty and what’s the conversion path through our site.
And really most importantly, most good SEOs would talk to SEO, e-commerce companies about how much money are you currently making? What’s your average shopping cart value and how much money would you like to make? Because you could stay in exactly the same spot in the rankings, but you could do a better job of your title and meta-description, which is what’s shown in the search results.
And you could do a better job of nurturing people through your site, and then with exactly the same ranking you could double your conversions. So I think the main thing is to not just get hung up on rankings.
Izach: Interesting. Okay. So just back up a little bit, a layer, big, big picture question with e-commerce sites, you know, a lot of the clients we talk to and that I work with really focus on visuals, to drive eye contact and influence, you know, the, the click-through and conversion rates, but why does copy matter and kind of what’s the technical piece behind that?
Kate: Well, I think the emotional piece is the first step. The line I always use is give me a reason not to buy it from K-Mart because we know that even if you’re like some cool arty, you know, handmade person, someday K-Mart is going to take your idea and mass produce it for half the price. So you need to give me a reason to be, not to buy it from K-Mart, and often that’s about your brand personality, making me know, like, and trust you, the maker, the owner of the business, letting me see who you are. That whole idea, when you buy from a small business, someone’s doing a happy dance in the kitchen, cause they’re like, whoa, I sold something!
That’s what you want to get across, and also just to try and create emotion with your copy because we can’t see your product, really. We can see some photos, but it’s not the same. You can’t smell it or touch it. So how do you get that sensory of emotion, and how do you create that desire? How do you make me feel like when I get there is it’s going to make me feel great?
You know? So from a copy perspective, it’s about emotion and creating connection from a technical perspective, like at the end of the day is about hitting certain marks that Google wants us to hit. They’re pretty open about what they want from us and we just need to follow that through. And I just think often e-commerce store owners are so wrapped up from the inside of their product.
They don’t think about how it’s viewed externally. They don’t think what would someone type into Google to find a product like this? What problem am I solving? They just, you know, whack up some copy, put a few pictures up and they don’t really think about the customer as much as they should.
Izach: Okay. So let me, let me dig into that idea a little bit more. So when you’re writing, are you thinking about the user, the search engine, or Both?
Kate: Both. Yeah. So like I start with the customer, because you have to think, especially with e-commerce, a little great example I had with someone on a call the other day, they sell ballet flats, you know, for, for ballet dancers. And I was like, I don’t have a child doing ballet.
What’s a, what’s a key metric in, in deciding what ballet shoe to get? And obviously size is important. Gender is important, possibly. The quality of the material, but often the biggest driver for body flats is color, the particular color. So if color is the driver, then you might lead with color in your product description. So it might be teal ballet, flat pink ballet flat, rather than girls’ ballet flat.
Thinking about what is the driver for your customer? What, what makes them choose this product over this product is super important. Then we go into kind of keyword research and we try and find phrases that match that intent, but that also have great high volume, lots of people are typing them in, and low competition, no other sites are competing for them. And that’s super, super hard, and sometimes you’re not, and you don’t end up with a clear choice. You kind of just have to pick something. Now I’ve got that. I’ve got that phrase that I’m really focusing on top of mind.
Then I put that to the side and I go away and write the best gosh, darn copy I’ve ever written, there’s engaging and fun and emotional and it has great photos and great specifications, tells me everything I need to know. Then afterwards I come back and go, did I use my focus keyword, and there are about seven key spots that we must use it in, which are the URL. So the actual page URL, the title tag, which is the blue underlined link that we see in the search engine results, the name of the product. So, you know, the one or the name of the product, then ideally in the product description. you know, the first 100 words you’d be saying, hey, our teal ballet flats were made in, whatever. And then also in the image alt tag and the image file name.
And then after that, you don’t need to keep using it. You don’t need to keep on saying teal ballet flat, teal ballet flat, teal ballet flats, Google doesn’t like that any more than humans do, but you need to kind of at least give the page some focus. That was kind of a micro-SEO copywriting lesson. I hope it…
Izach: That’s awesome. No, that is fantastic. I love that. one of the questions that I had for you and you just, I think went into it a little a little bit, but you know, some tips that you could give to our users. I think those were some great tips, right there. Are there any other, kind of tips that come top of mind for someone who’s trying to do this themselves?
Kate: Oh, I’ve got, I’ve got loads. I’ll try and keep it short. I could go on all day. look, I mean, at the end of the day, really important, myth to bust is that one platform’s better than the other. So if you’re on Shopify or you’re on WordPress, really these days they’re much of a muchness. So that’s just one thing you can stop worrying about, the platform.
A big thing though, you need to worry about is speed. you know, being a web person, you, you know this, so speed I’d say is probably Google’s biggest factor, and it’s a huge problem as you just mentioned with eCommerce sites, because they’re all about the aesthetic. They had that fancy photo shoot done, and they’ve uploaded those photos 6,000 pixels by 6,000 pixels.
It’s an eight-megabyte photo and it’s on their homepage. So working on your images and keeping your site speed down, because all this great copy stuff that I’m talking about, it’s kind of doesn’t matter a hill of beans, if people can’t actually load your site. These days, Google is a mobile first search engine. So it’s only viewing your mobile, the mobile version of your site.
And so one, my biggest tip, if there’s one thing you do today, listeners, is go and load your site onto your mobile phone and just try buying one of your own products and just see how difficult it is, how long page is take to load. How difficult it is to click buttons with big fat thumbs, how bad the contrast is on some of your pages.
You know, the, the text is yellow on a gray background and you can’t really read it on your mobile. And then how’s the checkout experience. How easy is it to fill it out on your phone? so that, that would be my biggest tip, speed and mobile responsiveness speed and how well your site works on your, on your mobile phone.
Izach: Awesome. Yeah, really important. That’s great, great tip. I’m thinking about going and try to check out on store right now.
Kate: Well, it’s something you should do. I mean, I, I w once every two weeks I go and try and fill out my contact form because sites change and things get fiddly, and you’ve got apps and plugins and updates. And I had somebody on my course, whose contact form had been broken for an entire year, and she just thought she was unpopular, but no, the form wasn’t submitting and she didn’t have anything on the backend that they put everything in a database. So she just lost all those contacts.
Izach: I know. I’m laughing cause you said she thought she was unpopular, but I could see how that would be a problem.
Kate: It’s horrible. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We spend so much time just looking at our sites on big desktops, where they look perfect. We don’t spend enough time looking at them on little tiny phones in our hands.
Izach: Gotcha. So how often are you, should we be writing content for, for our own sites? Is this, how often does it have to change?
Kate: Well it’s such a good question because there is a tiny part of Google’s algorithm called QDF, which is Query Deserves Freshness and what that means is that Google looks at certain queries and says this, this, this query needs new content. So that might be stuff like the Superbowl results or who on The Bachelor.
You know, there’s no point Google showing you an article from 2009, but not every query deserves freshness. So if I was looking for something like how to boil an egg or how to write a press release, really it doesn’t matter whether I get a post from 10 years ago or five minutes ago. So, you know, there’s this whole myth that Google rewards consistent new content and it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it rewards great content, which is why sometimes when you search the article or the product that you find is a couple of years old, because it’s just the best content there is.
So my answer to the question is how often can you produce great content? And as you said, producing like a killer blog of 3000 words with links and videos, and GIPHYs takes a long time. And as an e-commerce store owner, you are already producing content every day, because you’re adding products to your store. Google doesn’t view pages and posts any differently to products. So you have new content every day. Every time we add a new product, tick new content done, you don’t necessarily have to have a blog as well.
Blogs used to be a really fast track to SEO success, they’re not anymore. It’s oversaturated. I actually think there are other better ways to build success these days.
Izach: Interesting. So, a lot, a lot of the customers that we’re working with are our e-commerce store operators who are in some stage of either planning or executing on, on selling their business, many of the clients that we work with really haven’t worked on the SEO component of their business at all.
They’ve got paid traffic, you know, from one or multiple sources. So, I guess two-part question, what does the timeline to implement an SEO strategy look like, and then how much value does that drive for a business, and kind of, how long does it take to recognize the results.
Kate: It’s a bit of a piece of string question, cause it kind of depends how bad your site is what your niche is and how competitive that niche is, and you know, what, what impacts your other advertising today has had, you know, so if you’ve already been doing paid advertising, maybe right now, if you go and search for your brand name, you already own your brand name.
Yeah. Like when I talked your brand name into Google, you are, you are the first page. It’s your website, it’s your Instagram. Boom. So if you’ve got that, that’s the first step of SEO people searching for who you are, but people searching for what you do or what you sell is harder. And it’s really going to depend on your niche.
Most SEO companies would contract you for at least six months, yeah, because the first three months of probably fixing the tech issues working out, which keywords are going to go after, optimizing your site. And then after that, you’re all you’re doing is really building backlinks. So building links from other sites that points at yours because they pass SEO juice and authority.
And how long does that take? You know, how many can you build each month. So it can take any, you know, three to six months to see the needle start to move, but it could take longer for you to get real dramatic impact. So, you know, SEO is for life, not just for Christmas, it’s not like paid ads. You put the work in, but then the second part of your question, what impact could that have. Huge, huge that the statistic that people put out there is 70% of all, all conversions, start with a Google search, whether it’s service-based e-commerce B2B or B2C, you know, I don’t sit on Instagram, hoping a pic of a cat basket comes up. If I want to cat basket, I go to Google and I type cat basket, even a thing? You know?
Izach: I’m sure it is. Yeah.
Kate: I don’t even have a cat. Why did I pick that? But you know what I mean?
Izach: I’m going to start making it and selling it.
Kate: That’s on your website. you know, people, when people want to buy, you know, Google even has names for this, they call it searcher intent. People have conversion intent and, and when people are ready to buy, they will, they dogged about it. You know, if you type in cat basket and you don’t get the result you want, you type in blue furry, cat basket with elephants on it.
And so you get, you know, typing these really long keyword strings, until you get what you want. You know, instead of relying on paying, handing out money every day, or hoping that someone takes interest in you on Instagram, where you’re competing with a million other people, you stop the room goes quiet, because it’s just you and the customer they’ve typed in what they want.
They’re on your site. Now it’s your job to deliver what they want. So that impacts on traffic and conversions can be huge, but it’s not a quick fix. It takes a while to get that heavy SEO flywheel moving. Once it’s moving, it’s really easy to keep it going. You don’t need to put the same effort in, but I think that’s the problem.
People go, SEO is too hard. It’s too technical. Or they’ve worked with an SEO company that’s completely bamboozled them and taken all their money and they don’t know really what they did, and that’s, you know, that’s why, that’s why I exist, because I think anybody can learn the basics of SEO and, and see some results very, very quickly with some basic moves.
Izach: Yeah. it’s really important. I mean, one of the things that we’ve seen has been a big theme for a lot of the clients we’re working with that had paid traffic that was, you know, substantially or predominated by, by Facebook ads. Facebook has made it really easy to advertise when iOS 14 updated to 15, the attribution and tracking of the Facebook ads, you know, hasn’t worked as well.
And so companies that Didn’t have a good SEO strategy in place got really hammered and I think it’s become more important than ever to think about a sustainable organic traffic flow to your feed customers, to your business because these paid traffic site and, you know, even Google paid ads change from time to time and, you know, so you really need.
You need organic, you need page, you need multiple sources of traffic and you, you, I think businesses that have that and have invested in it over time are more profitable because SEO is, has a higher return on spend over time because you don’t have to keep paying it every, you know, every month.
And because of that, they get a higher exit multiple. So, you know, we see the, the valuation, the value created by a good SEO strategy in, in companies that have that. And they, they have a lower cost of advertising and higher profit margins.
Kate: Yeah, I agree. And I, I mean, like, I think, you know, if you’re thinking about selling, one of the things that I would look at in the asset list, which I’m sure you talk about is, is your list, you know, how strong is your email list? And, you know, I would say email marketing is the second, most powerful marketing strategy after SEO.
And I do think as well, that very, lots of e-commerce businesses kind of live in the world of Instagram or live in the world of Facebook, and they’re building a kingdom on someone else’s ground. And as you said, Facebook just changes the rules whenever it wants, but once you’ve got them on your list, once you’re building that loyalty, one of the big things I push for with my customers is to focus on those returning customers.
You know, everyone gives that 10% discount for the first-time purchase. What do I get when I purchased three times, I got nothing, you know? So building that list, building loyalty, attracting old customers back to your site, I think should be a big part of your strategy as well.
Izach: Yeah, it’s hugely important and buyers value it cause the you know, returning customers, these, there they’re free or virtually free to return. So that’s really valuable. Let’s talk a little bit more about content. So what are some tricks or tips for repurposing content?
Kate: Oh, great question. so yes, when I write a blog post, which is rare these days, like you guys, like I don’t really have the time. It takes me a deal of time to put them together because these days, you know, these longer, more comprehensive posts do tend to get the clicks, the links, the engagement. So, you know, you are talking two to 3000 words, I’m a copywriter.
It still takes me a while. So once I’ve done that, I want to make sure that I squeeze as much juice out of that blog post as I possibly can. So when I’m writing my blog posts, I deliberately try to write it in chunks with little sub headers. That’s great for readability, but then I can take each chunk each paragraph, and that can be a social media post.
So for example, you know, yeah. So one, one, 2000-word blog posts that could be 20 100-word social media posts.
Izach: That makes so much sense.
Kate: Yeah, so it’s really great. I really am into video. I think we know that video is huge. So I use a tool called lumen, lumen five, which automatically makes a little video of your blog posts, which is kind of cool and you can fiddle with it.
And it has like photos and texts. And I then take that video and I use that to promote the post on social media. I may also make a live video on Facebook of me talking about the blog post. So in this week’s blog, I covered this, this, and this. Then I’ll download that video. I’ll pop it on YouTube because YouTube is Google’s second biggest search engine, and then I’ll embed the YouTube video back in the blog post. So at the top of all my blogs, you’ll see, it says, don’t want to read the blog post, watch the video. And there’s a little three-minute video at the top, but then I can use that video on LinkedIn. I can use it in Instagram stories. I could snip it down using something like cut story and turn it into a reel, a reel is a so big at the moment.
Gosh, the engagement on reels is just insane. I know we don’t want to do them, but they are amazing. And then, you know, after that, I think it’s just coming, obviously you can email that out. You could also take snippets of your blog posts and to use Canva, to turn them into little quote graphics that you then share on Instagram as well.
There is no harm in sharing your blog posts 10 times over a month over your platforms, because the likelihood of someone seeing all 10 of those posts is zero. And even if they do, they’re not going to go Izach’s already posted about this. Why is he posting again? They’re just going to scroll on past. so yeah, I, I usually spend about for every two hours I spend writing my blog post. I spend eight hours thinking about how I can repurpose it or amplify it to other people.
Izach: Oh, I love that, but I love that. That’s great. I mean, that just makes so much sense. Very, very efficient way to think about it. Maybe some examples. So are there any kind of case studies of students that you’ve worked with where, you know, your guidance in copywriting led them to the next level of success in their business and what were, what are some things that stand out to you,
Kate: I’ve got a couple, I mean, it’s not the most of the people I work with aren’t huge conglomerates in the olden days when I was working in agency, it was bigger brands, but now it’s smaller businesses, you know? So, one lady who runs a jewelry business over here, I can never pronounce it right, so she’ll kill me.
It’s called Desiderata, but one of the things she did was she really started to bring more personality into her copy and bring more of her into her website and into her socials, cause you never saw her. She was a mythical figure. And again, it’s like I can buy jewelry from anybody. What makes me want to buy it from you?
So that was kind of a personalization strategy. I’ve got another jewelry brand. It’s not just jewelry brands, but these are two that come to mind, a lady called Bedelia, and she just writes the most amazing SEO product descriptions. You have to go to a site and check them out. They’re fun. They’re quirky. They cover the five, the five W’s the who, the what, the when, the where, and then the cheeky one, which is actually not a w it’s a, how.
So, you know, where would you wear this? How do you feel when you’re wearing this? who, what sort of people wear it? You know, she really covers it amazingly well, so much so that she’s actually created a side hustle now writing SEO product descriptions for other people, because she just did such a good job of it.
Yeah. And she’s just a small business, but her repeat customer is insane. Like it’s like with my glasses, I was telling Izach that I have hundreds of pairs of these glasses. I have hundreds of her rings because she looks at the return traffic and she notices that you bought more than a couple of times and she rewards that, asks you to join her loyalty club.
You know, so SEO is often just the start. As soon as it gets people to your door, you have to drag them through and then never let them leave. But yeah, those are a couple of, couple of examples of people who’ve done really, really well. And one of the guys, another jewelry person, gosh, I sound obsessed, He’s moved his business from like T to a $3 million businesses.
Our engagement ring, a seller in, in Brisbane. If you type in engagement rings Brisbane, he’ll be there, Diamond Port he’s number one. He’s been working with me, on and off for about five years, just through my courses, because I don’t have any one-on-one clients, but he does the work. You know, he listens, he puts the work in, it is boring, rewriting your product descriptions.
It can seem time consuming. It is boring trying to get people to link to you, but it does work. And the, it pays off over time. You won’t see the results straight away. And I know we’re all desperate for immediate engagement and likes and, you know, SEO, you don’t get that. Google barely notices you. The line is that Google’s like the most popular girl at school.
You have to make everyone else like you before she’ll like you, and it can feel like a slow burn, but when she likes you, wow, you’re in, you know?
Izach: Yeah. Love that analogy. That’s so good. Is there, is there one call to action that you would want our listeners to take away from this conversation, and what would that be?
Kate: I think it’s just not to be intimidated by SEO. You know, I’m not going to give you one tip. We’ve given a lot of tips. It’s like SEO is perfectly doable. It is not too technical. Most of the sites now cover the technical stuff themselves. You don’t need to worry about it. But it’s not something that you should blindly outsource to somebody when you don’t understand what they’re doing.
You know, I know people who’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on SEO and they don’t really know what they’ve paid for. So my call to action would be a little bit of education goes a long way. Ask questions, get curious. There’s amazing free resources online. Ask your web developer, you know, just get a bit curious. It’s not rocket science. Anybody can succeed with SEO.
Izach: Very cool. So Kate, how can our listeners connect with you?
Kate: if you type Kate Toon into Google, one would hope after all this talk of SEO that I rank pretty highly and so you would find my website and you can start off on one of many adventures to my 18 different social media accounts and eight different websites. I’m an overachiever, Izach. It’s embarrassing.
Izach: Awesome. Love it. All right. That was Kate Toon, serial misfit entrepreneur, who you can find again katetoon.com. That’s katetoon.com. Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of the Deal Closers Podcast, brought to you by websiteclosers.com. If you like the show, be sure to rate us, write a review, press the follow button and share it with your network.
And of course, if you’re looking for help selling your e-commerce business, be sure to visit websiteclosers.com. This episode was edited and produced by influence I’m Izach Porter connect with me on LinkedIn and we’ll see you next time on the Deal Closers Podcast.