Having clear user journeys helps your marketplace SEO – An interview with Gregory Edwards

For the best SEO results, Gregory Edwards advocates for consistent site quality, well-organized information architecture, and clearly-defined user journeys.

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For our final SEO expert interview, Sharetribe’s Head of Content Mira Muurinen spoke with Gregory Edwards, Senior SEO Manager at BlueArray, a UK-based SEO agency and consultancy. They discuss what Gregory has learned running SEO for some of the biggest marketplaces in the UK.

Gregory shares fantastic advice and tips on tackling the technical challenges of marketplace SEO, creating well-defined and clear user journeys, and nailing your content marketing efforts. The key? Build a marketplace that’s pleasing for both your audience and search engines. Often, the strategies for both look pretty similar.

Our main takeaways from this interview episode of the Marketplace Academy Podcast:

  • One of the biggest challenges of marketplace SEO is having consistent site quality and managing your crawl budget. Make sure the pages Google and other search engines land on are of high quality. You don’t want to waste your crawl budget on low-quality, neglected pages.
  • Defining your marketplace’s information architecture and organizing the content on your site can make a big difference in your SEO efforts. Knowing what the most important pages are, what categories and subcategories you have, and how all of these relate to each other will steer you in the right direction.
  • Internal linking is often overlooked on marketplaces. If you work on a website every day, it’s probably easy for you to find everything. However, this is not the case for a new visitor unless you make your user journeys friendly to people just landing on your site. As a bonus, it also helps search engines crawl your pages.
  • When providers enter your site, they rarely have SEO in mind. They want to list their products or services and start generating sales. You might end up with hundreds if not thousands of low-quality listing pages that pull down your overall site quality. To combat this, provide your users with a writing guide or other incentives to create higher-quality content. Or consider no-indexing pages that don’t fill certain criteria.
  • If you want to leverage keyword-targeted content on your marketplace, be realistic with your keyword strategy. Especially if your marketplace is new, it's unlikely that you’ll rank for really competitive keywords. Choose lower-volume keywords instead to really target your niche. Over time, you will be able to build more authority with search engines, build some backlinks, and maybe start competing for the more competitive keywords. 

More of a reader? Find a full transcript of the episode below. Or read the full guide to marketplace SEO.

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Katri: You're listening to Marketplace Academy, the podcast that's all about running an online marketplace business. I'm Katri, your host. This is another bonus interview episode in our series on Marketplace SEO. Like earlier, I'm handing over the reins to my colleague Mira, Sharetribe's resident SEO expert.

Her complete guide to Marketplace SEO is available as articles at sharetribe.com/academy. For the series, Mira interviewed SEO experts. This episode is the last of those interviews. The series is a treasure trove of information for any marketplace founder looking to leverage SEO as a growth strategy.

Gregory Edwards is an SEO manager at BlueArray, a UK-based SEO agency slash consultancy that works with some of the biggest marketplace brands in the UK like Zoopla, ClickMechanic, and MyBuilder. Greg also runs training in the UK's largest SEO conference, BrightonSEO. In their talk, Greg shares some valuable insight into how Blue Array helps their clients make the most of SEO and has great actionable advice for founders from how to maintain site quality to what kind of content users and search engines tend to go for and much, much more. Enjoy.

[00:01:22] Mira: Hi Greg, and welcome to Marketplace Academy. 

[00:01:25] Gregory: Hello. How's it going? 

[00:01:26] Mira: I'm good. I'm good. How are you? 

[00:01:28] Gregory: Yeah, not too bad, thanks. Very sunny in the UK at the moment, so I'm not complaining, but dying of heat at the same time. 

[00:01:33] Mira: Ah, I'm jealous. Super rainy in Helsinki right now.

[00:01:37] Gregory: Yeah, It's the best of both worlds, right? When it's sunny, you want it to be rainy and when it's rainy, you want it to be sunny.

[00:01:41] Mira: So true. It is great to have you as guests to talk about marketplace SEO because you've worked with a bunch of marketplaces. You're an SEO manager at Blue Array. And Blue Array has some big UK marketplaces in their clientele such as Zoopla and Floom and HeyCar, just to mention a few. Could you tell us a little bit about the agency and Blue Array's experience in working with online marketplaces? 

Sure, yeah. First of all, it's a pleasure, pleasure to be here. In regards to Blue Array, we were founded in 2015, so about seven years ago now. And we currently have an office based in Redding. We're the UK's largest pure-play SEO agency and what we mean by that is we solely focus on SEO. So we don't look at PPC or social media marketing, we just have a dedicated team that really hones in on SEO so we can really master our craft. In regards to the online marketplaces that we've worked with, you've already mentioned a few there. We've also been driving the strategy for ClickMechanic the past two years now. This is a platform which allows you to find mobile mechanics for your needs. Uh, and we've also worked with another client called MyBuilder, on top of those other names that you've mentioned. So we have had a fair share of working closely with them, and I'm excited to give you some insights into what we do at BlueArray to help them.

Very cool. What's your background and what led you to the world of SEO? 

[00:02:57] Gregory: So about five years ago now, I started in a more general digital marketing role. I actually started as an apprentice, so it focused on a number of different areas. In terms of SEO, my knowledge was very outdated. I didn't know much. Some of the things that I was doing on a day-to-day basis was just adding certain keywords to pages that we wanted to rank, writing a few low-quality blog posts, not necessarily putting in the time to actually write them very well. And then I did touch lightly on Schema, but it was too complex for me to really understand that. After that role, I had the opportunity to work at Blue Array as an SEO executive apprentice.

So again, going from a level three in digital marketing to level four. And then since then I've worked my way up the ladder at Blue Array. So I've gone through the full cycle, as you will to an SEO manager now. I think it's the case for most people, you don't necessarily come out of school and think: Oh, I wanna go into SEO.

There might be a few of you out there, but definitely not myself. And I did very much fall into the world of SEO, but since working on it, understanding it, I have really fallen in love with the idea of making Google or other search engines favor your pages. So yes, it's definitely become a passion of mine to master the craft of that.

[00:04:03] Mira: Cool. So working with SEO for several years and then having experience from a bunch of different marketplaces, what would you say are the biggest marketplace-specific SEO challenges? 

[00:04:15] Gregory: Yeah, so that's a question that most clients want to know or marketplace-specific clients want to know. I'd say there's probably three things, or there are three things that tend to be the biggest challenges.

The first being having consistent site quality and managing your crawl budget. So ensuring that the pages that Google and search engines are actually landing on are of high quality, and that always seems to be a challenge with these large-scale online marketplaces that we work with. There's always been some pages that have been created and then forgotten about, or they've been created and neglected, yet they still link through to them.

And I can assure you, I've taken on countless amount of page quality reviews. So looking at the pages on the site, reviewing the quality of them, pulling in some user behavior data, putting in some performance data, and then providing some recommended actions on how to handle them. So I think that's definitely one of the primary things that's a challenge for these online marketplaces.

Secondly, I say information architecture, and that can be spread across all different types of industries, but within online marketplaces specifically, really defining that information architecture and understanding how to organize the content on your site. This can go one of two ways. So either it's really broad where they're missing out on additional traffic opportunities from not formatting or creating, should I say subcategories.

So say you had a category on your site like computers. If you didn't subcategorize that into laptops and desktops at a top level, and you've got this top-level page that's trying to target these keywords, it's gonna be quite difficult to do so. There's that instance. And then there's also on the flip side of that when it's too narrow and they've got really specific categories that either cannibalize each other or they're spread too thin.

And again, it plays into that low-quality content on the site. So consistent site quality, managing your crawl budget, information architecture. And it's something that can somewhat tie into both of those is internal linking. And I think that's regularly overlooked on online marketplaces. They don't necessarily consider how search engines and users will actually discover their pages.

If you're working on the site day to day, you tend to have a very good knowledge of it. Whereas a brand new user that's landing on the site or a search engine that's landing on the site, you shouldn't just assume that they have that knowledge. Often that results in search engines not being able to understand the site's hierarchy, specific pages not being crawled or indexed.

Something that I'd recommend is: consider the user's journey. Would a user landing on your site, if they're on a specific page, would they be able to access the other key areas of the site or key information that they need to continue on that user journey? So those are the three things that I would say are the biggest specific SEO challenges for online marketplace.

[00:06:38] Mira: Yeah. Great. Really good actionable recommendations there also, and it sounds like all of those things would be really great if you would consider them as you're building your marketplace, like from the early days, instead of having this massive site with hundreds and hundreds of pages, it will be more difficult, I would assume, to get that structure there and get those internal links in good shape. 

[00:07:00] Gregory: Yeah, definitely laying the foundations first so it can get rid of most legwork in the future. And to make sure you have that foundation and make sure it's strong, and in the future, you'll set yourself up well.

[00:07:09] Mira: Then on the flip side, I would imagine that there are also opportunities in SEO for marketplaces in particular. Like at Sharetribe, we believe that marketplaces thrive in small niches and they have this great opportunity to build community-based growth and benefit from network effects. Do you think these characteristics translate into SEO opportunities? 

[00:07:29] Gregory: Yeah. Yeah, they definitely do. It does depend on the niche that you're in, but they can result in further organic opportunities and growth.

So if you, uh, say a marketplace like eBay, you had very few listings for water bottles, and then suddenly there was a massive surge, in listings of those products on the site. You could then consider creating a category or subcategory that really targets those top-level terms. So that could be one way that can translate into SEO.

I guess another way is going to your community for some content ideas. Something that we do recommend, not necessarily just for marketplace clients, but just in general. What are the frequently asked questions that your users are coming to your site with? Can you create some content on those? Can you answer those questions directly on your website?

And as a result, that can take pressure off your customer service team. It can help users on their journey. It can help them, convert. Yeah, I say that there definitely are some opportunities from those small niches that can help improve your SEO efforts. 

[00:08:22] Mira: Indeed. In my previous talks, I've talked to Mike van der Heijden from Portal Ventures and Michael Caldwell who founded GigMasters and Petworks, and we discussed the SEO challenges and that one of them for marketplaces is that these websites easily become quite bloated.

As you mentioned, like lots and lots of thin content, sub-sub subcategory pages. We also talked about the importance of tackling that issue early on. So if I'm just starting a marketplace, how can I lay the foundation for a size structure that is simple enough but also scalable? 

[00:08:56] Gregory: Yeah, there are a number of things you can do, and I think one of the things that goes back to is that clear information architecture. Really defining that initially and understanding what the primary sections of your site are gonna be, whether there's any subsections or tertiary sections within these initial categories that you build out. Having that laid out will really help to steer your site in the right direction when it comes to SEO.

On top of that, and it does, again, tie back into that clear information architecture. Having a clearly defined URL structure as well for those key areas, again, can make it easy to scale. If you do decide to go into subcategories and say, if you had trainers, it would be slash trainers slash, and then a brand or a color.

Also, it makes it fairly easy to assess how your site's performing as well, and that's something that we see regularly where clients haven't necessarily considered the URL structure. So when you're trying to look into specific areas on large-scale sites, it can be quite difficult. So it's also worthwhile considering your URL structure in those instances as well.

And then when you are actually adding pages to the site, even in the earlier months prior to it being a massive site. You really have to consider whether they're actually adding value. What are the specific purposes of those pages? Will our users use them? Should we make them indexable? Just having those in the forefront of your mind as you're creating them is something else that I'd recommend considering.

If they don't possess a purpose or they overlap with other pages, then you need to ask yourself, why would we need them slash want them on our site? So ask yourself those questions when you're considering adding new pages to the site, it's something that would be quite valuable in scaling up. And then the final thing that I'd recommend is splitting your XML site maps into the various areas of your site.

Again, it goes back to the clear, defined URL structure, assessing how your site's performing. But if you split your XML site maps, you upload them to Google Search Console, you can get an understanding of how Google in particular are indexing each section so you can see if there's a particular area of your site that's not being indexed at all.

Delving into those specific sites: Is it a quality issue? Do we need to link to them? So it gives you an understanding of potential reasons why your site's not performing as you want it to. So those are the four things that I'd recommend in terms of laying the foundations for a simple, scalable structure.

[00:11:01] Mira: All right. If we get even a bit more technical, any other aspects that I should consider when I'm creating these category pages and my marketplace search experience? I could imagine that there are some duplicate content risks there, like filtering, for example. Do you encounter these kinds of challenges with marketplaces?

[00:11:19] Gregory: Yeah. Yeah, we do. It's the short answer. Ensuring that your categories aren't overlapping. Say if you have search pages as well. If you had a category for Samsung TVs and then you had a separate discoverable indexable page for Samsung TVs as well. They could cannibalize each other, so either canonicalizing or redirecting there, and then making sure that across the site all your categories are unique. 

There might be some slight overlap, but ensuring that it's not a clear overlap, something that I'd recommend. Also, I think something that you need to consider when actually just creating subcategories is whether you have the inventory to service those, if you don't, and you proceed to create them, and as you say, it goes back to the thin content, low-quality content on your site. Search engines see that and perceive your site quality as being relatively low. I'd say in regards that if you're comparing yourself to competitors and they have a specific category, it doesn't mean that it's right for your site.

You really need to consider what's gonna suit your audience. And do you have the inventory there. Again, so not necessarily going into filtering but looking at the category itself, said how they're organized. Do they easily link through to deeper subcategories? Do they help refine the user search if they were to land on them?

Do they help them along with their user journey? And are users able to easily find exactly what they're looking for? If you look at somebody like Amazon, they have links to subcategories. They have some products. On these category pages. For example, if you have like a page for phones, do you link to phone accessories or do you have some products list tied to phones on that specific page?

So looking at those categories that are base levels is something really important to consider. And I think we're going to talk about filtering a little bit later on. But yeah, definitely need to set up some rules in regards to your filtering, making sure that you're not indexing those 10 pages. It's quite a daunting task initially, but there are definitely a number of things that you can do to help prevent that.

[00:13:04] Mira: So one of the problem with, or challenge with marketplaces is that not only that there are lots of pages, but then a big part of those pages are user-generated like content pages or listing pages. Can these be problematic for SEO? And if there can be issues, how can I avoid them? 

[00:13:21] Gregory: So they can be problematic is a short answer again. In terms of site quality, taking a user-generated profile, it's unlikely that when users are signing up to your site, they have your site's SEO in mind. Usually, they just wanna get on the site, they wanna list their products or service, and they wanna begin generating sales. As a result of that, you could have, depending on the number of your users- hundreds, potentially thousands of low-quality profile pages or listing pages out on your site, pulling down your overall perceived site quality as we touched on.

There are a number of things that you can do to help improve the quality of those pages specifically for your users. You can provide them with a writing guide just outlining the things that they should include within their profiles or on their listing pages, and that in itself could help guide them to making them a high-quality page.

Something else you can do is consider a no-index wall on those pages if they don't meet specific criteria. So say if they've left specific fields blank or it's not meeting a certain word count, you can look into no-indexing them. And then lastly, something you can do yourself is actually reviewing that the listing page or the profile pages template, and see if there's anything that you can improve on that specific page. So take a profile page. Could you maybe pull through some reviews of the user to help source additional information that some of our users are looking at our profile page might need? So there are definitely some things that you can do yourself, but you do also rely on users as well to provide some high-quality profiles, and that's when the writing guides can come into effect.

[00:14:45] Mira: Hmm. Yeah, it sounds like thin content or low-quality content is really highlighted on marketplaces, like several reasons why low-quality pages exist, but then also many different solutions to tackle that depending on the value of those pages. 

[00:14:58] Gregory: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And there's a number of different articles I'm sure you can read, and they can provide you with additional solutions to that. It does depend on your site, it does depend on your industry. So there are a number of things that you need to consider there. But there'll definitely be a guide on how to consolidate the content online or optimizing user profile pages that somebody would've written an article. And when it comes to SEO, Google really is a tool in itself, searching for specific problems that you have and seeing what other people have done to help them improve.

Yeah, there's definitely guides on, on how to improve specific thin pages on your site as well. 

[00:15:30] Mira: Yep. Googling, "I have this problem, Is this a problem? Is there a fix?" Like that's 90% of my SEO education. 

[00:15:37] Gregory: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's the case, but for most people that there's some things that I still don't know now after being in the industry for so long, so yeah, it definitely is Google as a friend as well.

[00:15:46] Mira: Yep. Any other technical challenges that you often see marketplaces struggling with? 

[00:15:52] Gregory: It's an aspect of low-quality content, and we have somewhat touched on it already, but duplicate content does tend to be quite frequent. Again, it goes back to those categories or those subcategories. Are they too similar? Are they cannibalizing each other? And then it goes back to that initial IAD that you create. Do you have those clearly defined sections, help alleviate that? So that's definitely another technical challenge that I tend to see marketplaces struggling with as well. 

[00:16:15] Mira: Yes. I also looked into Blue Arrays SEO approach, and you have this really nice emphasis on the sort of strategic, broad understanding of SEO and how that ties to your business. And now I'm going to ask you for a technical SEO gimmick, is there a single technical improvement that you wish more marketplace entrepreneurs knew about? 

[00:16:34] Gregory: Yeah, a good question. I think one that we found particularly impactful and we do tend to recommend it, is assessing faceted search filtered navigation. We did somewhat touch now, but it refers to the various filters that can be applied to those categories and subcategories to target longer tail searches.

So if you had a, a Nike trainers page, again, making this very broad on Amazon, and then you're filtered by green. A new page could appear, and host those green trainers and you could target longer tail queries tied with that. So "green Nike Trainers", a very simplified version. It gives you a general understanding. 

With faster navigation, it does tend to go one of two ways. It's prevented from being indexed or either canonicalized or canonicalized back up to the category page or no index. Those pages aren't open to tapping into the organic opportunity. Or all of the pages are opened up, and again, it ties into the thin content or the low-quality content being sat on your site.

And you could have potentially hundreds or thousands of products or listings on your site. So you need to make sure that you're handing that correctly. Initially, that begins with keyword research. And then you need to outline the rules as to which filters and facets you'd want to index. And again, I'm sure there's a guide online to help give you a general understanding.

So yeah, there are a number of things you can do then, and we've actually been able to drive an 87% click increase set to faceted pages with one of our clients just from doing that work alone. So looking into their facets, looking at their search volume for their facets, and like product slash service combination pages.

And then outlining some rules to alleviate thin content or prevent thin content. And then ensuring that the ones that we feel should be indexed, what are indexed? Unless they're working on linking out to further faceted pages so that growth figure will only increase further as they do that. 

[00:18:13] Mira: So it's not a technical trick really, but again, understanding your business and having SEO as a core component of your business strategy. 

[00:18:21] Gregory: Yeah, it does somewhat tap into technical, as I say, that assessing how Google or search engines will actually view those pages and determine whether you want them to land on those pages and preventing them to do so, or allowing them to do so. There is a wider SEO strategy within that, but you can use some of those technical aspects, either no indexing or canonicalizing or redirecting to help to make sure that all of those faceted pages are of high quality, but there's definitely a wider strategy, yeah. 

[00:18:46] Mira: Yeah, and you mentioned keywords, understanding keywords, as an aspect also of benefiting from your faceted navigation. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with creating their keyword strategy? 

[00:18:59] Gregory: Be realistic. Be realistic with the keywords you intend to target. Especially if you're a newer site, it's unlikely that you're going to rank for a really competitive or competitor's branded term.

They're all really competitive, they're already difficult. You need to build that authority with Google, maybe build some backlinks. One tool that we use internally is Semrush, and they have a really good keyword difficulty score, and that's a score out of 100 that tells you how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword. And I believe it looks at the top 10 like ranking domains. 

So that can be used as a guideline if you're using Semrush as to which keywords might be, be difficult to rank for. Yeah, I'd say I'd give that advice to, to begin with. 

[00:19:37] Mira: Yeah, we talked about this with Michael Caldwell, and he also mentioned that marketplaces, unlike many other businesses, they often have lots of alternatives to choose from, like they could easily come up with 500 keywords to target. But then limiting that approach, realistically looking at the opportunities, that's the way to start. 

[00:19:55] Gregory: Yeah, definitely [that the], in the world of keywords, you can pull together massive 100,000 lists of them. So really refining that and making sure that you are targeting keywords that are realistic and that your site can target is definitely something that you need to consider when initially doing some keyword research or starting with that strategy.

[00:20:11] Mira: So what kinds of things do you emphasize when you're creating a long-term content strategy for a client? 

[00:20:18] Gregory: There tends to be a number of things, and again, this does depend on the client. It does depend on the content strategy. Some things that hold you across the board: definitely favor quality over quantity, is to really focus on the quality of your content.

If you're putting in the resource and effort to actually create a content strategy, make sure you're doing it the right way from the get-go. We've already discussed low-quality content being an issue on marketplaces, and we don't want additional low-quality content appearing on our blogger or article section. That's the first thing I'd probably say, we always try to emphasize with clients. 

Another thing is suggesting to review the cert landscape specifically for the keywords that are trying to target and understand if you are to write an article for that particular topic, what are the top forms doing well in terms of format, subheadings? Also, what are the actual keywords we intend on targeting? What type of content to ping within search results? Is it being serviced by informational style content? If it isn't, then it's unlikely that a piece of content will perform well. So those are just some of the things you need to consider when actually reviewing the cert landscape.

You need to also ensure that your strategy contains numerous evergreen content pieces. And what you mean by that, is pieces that will continuously drive traffic to your site as opposed to solely being seasonal pieces that will initially drive traffic or any drive traffic in certain months, and then that traffic will fall off.

That's not to say don't include seasonal pieces. They do possess some value, but definitely try to weave in some evergreen pieces within your content strategy. And then lastly, we'd emphasize the link in value of those content pages. So we're looking at, say, product listing pages or category pages.

Your actual articles or content are far more likely to be linked to than any other area of your site. So we'd look to use them to naturally link through to our products or our services, our listing pages or our categories, and that's a natural way of boosting their link equity, help make them more competitive within search results.

Again, stressing on naturally and not just completely bombarding your piece of content with links. So favoring quality over quantity. Reviewing the cert landscape for the keywords that you intend to target. Ensuring your strategy contains evergreen content pieces. And then using the linking value of those content pages to link through to your categories, subcategories, or other areas of your site.

Those are four things that you can do immediately off the bat if you're looking to dive into a content strategy. 

[00:22:41] Mira: Yeah. Great advice. On Blue Array's website, you also mentioned keyword clustering and mapping as crucial aspects of in-depth keyword research. Could you tell a bit more about this step? 

[00:22:53] Gregory: Sure. So keyword clustering does exactly what it says on the Tin. If you have carried out a piece of keyword research and you wanna make it a bit more digestible for both yourself and also for the site that you're working with, it allows you to pick out common themes that are present within that data set, as opposed to just seeing a long list of keywords. Something that we do for our clients is a keyword gap analysis.

So we look at your site and the keywords that you're ranking well for, and then taking competitor sites, specifically looking at non-branded keywords that they're ranking relatively well for, so in positions one to 20, we create an aggregate, we find where the gaps are, and then we'll cluster that gap. So within that instance, you'll have a few areas immediately that you can see, "We have a gap in X, and here's the amount of search volume that's attributed to that specific gap," and then here's the number of keywords that are also attributed to that. So it gives you a general understanding, or it can help shape your general SEO strategy as to how you're going to target those keywords.

And that's where keyword mapping comes in. So it's the process of mapping those keywords or those clusters to specific areas of your site or the specific intents of them, and then how you can target them. So say if you were Autotrader and you carried out this keyword analysis, you might have some clusters around car makes and models, so BMW one series, Audi four, et cetera. You can expect those and it will depend on the query to be supplemented by some sort of category or subcategory page. Whereas if you had a cluster for top tips for X or just top tips in general, you'd probably be best to target those with a piece of content.

That obviously does depend on the catch itself, you might see a bit of research around the intent for those keywords. But that's how we use keyword clustering and keyword mapping at Blue Array. 

[00:24:26] Mira: Yeah, super interesting. Is there a keyword-targeted content type that you see works particularly well for marketplaces?

[00:24:34] Gregory: Yes, there are a number and it can be applied to a wider audience as well. But previously we have seen listicle-style content do very well, so best. Some think, so it could be like "best trainers for 2022". However, if these are tied to products, something that Google recently, I say recently but relatively recently launched was the product review update.

And this tends to favor sites that have firsthand experience of actually testing those products and that offer more rich content. So if you have unique content on that particular page beyond what the manufacturer actually provides you. So if you are looking to hone in on that content, you need to make sure that you actually can demonstrate that you've got firsthand experience testing it. 

If you can't do that, then another listicle-style article that's done quite well is ideas slash inspiration. This, again, will depend on your industry in the search volume, but said, if you were selling electronics, I keep going back to electronics, I don't know why. But you could create an article around 15 gift ideas for photographers, which could be highly relevant to your audience if you are a marketplace for cameras or something along those lines. So that's another listicle-style article that you can look at. And then on top of that, if you really wanna push the boat out and you have resources to create partnering videos, 'how to' style content does tend to do quite well.

Usually, it does tend to be information. It's very rarely that it's commercial. Going back to that idea for photographers, you could maybe create a 'how to' style article on how to load a film camera and you can have a partner in video. Within the cert landscape, there is a lot of rich results that feature videos, so being able to create that partnering video will help not only target your audience but also give you good visibility within the search results as well.

[00:26:09] Mira: Yeah, video content is a topic that we haven't discussed in this interview series before. Great that you brought that up. And also a way to, sort of repurpose some of the work that you already did for a piece of content, for a blog article, for example, to translate that into a video. 

[00:26:25] Gregory: Yeah, definitely. If the queues that're trying to target, have got videos featuring on the side, then definitely look to create some video content to supplement that and mark up with the video schema.

Don't get too technical, but mark that up as well and help to get it to appear in rich results. And yeah, hopefully, that will try traffic for you. 

[00:26:40] Mira: And also sounds like all these tips that you gave are content types where marketplaces could leverage the expertise that their providers have. For example, for answering like 'how to' type queries or creating inspirational content on gift ideas, for example, things like that.

[00:26:56] Gregory: Yeah, yeah. Definitely leverage your audience, understand what they're looking for, and then create content on that, cause that's what they'll be searching for, is the short of content production. So yeah, definitely. 

[00:27:05] Mira: Now, I don't really have a great segue into the next section, but I'd like to talk about link building a little bit. So in general, do you find that editorial content, like what you mentioned, 'how to' content, for example, is that the best sort of link-building approach or are there other tactics that you recommend for marketplaces at Blue Array? 

[00:27:24] Gregory: It's definitely one of the strategies that we'd recommend. If you create content that's for your audience and it's shareable, then that can definitely result in backlinks.

There are other approaches. There are two approaches that we recommend, a proactive approach, so utilizing digital PR. Are there any key insights or piece of data that you can pull together from your site and then push out to news publishers? Try and get features within those, not necessarily content, but videos as well.

Could just create a useful tool, like a calculator, we've seen. And then even carrying out an interview or featuring on a podcast, getting creative can also link to building links. Then on the flip side of that, the reactive approach, and something that I've definitely used in the past, I'm sure that we still use internally now, is looking for opportunities on HARO or Help A Reporter Out.

So that's like something you can subscribe to. I believe you do have to pay a small fee, but it sends opportunities where reporters are looking for key comments or industry insights. And then similarly, #JournoRequest on Twitter, refining those searches to reach out to specific publishers or people that are writing articles and to try and receive a link back.

So there are two approaches that will really depend on your audience and their behavior. You just need to ensure that you are, you're reaching out to the correct audience in order for them to look back to your site. 

[00:28:33] Mira: How about tactics that you advise against? 

[00:28:36] Gregory: Yes, it's always a hot topic. I feel like people say that Google said this, but I've seen success with this. We're very much by the book. We don't want to defer away from those guidelines. Google specified within one of their guidelines that any kind of link scheme should be avoided and it can result in a manual action or a penalty for your site. So some of those strategies could include buying links, private blogging networks, exchanging goods or services for a link, link exchanges, carrying out really excessive guest posting campaigns, and then using rich anchor text.

On that last one, you really have to do that at scale. So immediately off the bat, I'd probably avoid using those Googles out where it said that it's not within their guidelines. And then any other lower-quality link-building taxes I try to avoid. So posting your site in forum comments, you really need to consider what the actual context is to the link that's been added to that piece of content and why it should be there.

Plus a lot of forums in themselves will no-follow or not put on a UTC attribute to their link so it won't actually pass link equity. So avoid those schemes that Google have outlined and then just any sort of low-quality link-building tactics. That's relatively easy, I suppose. 

[00:29:46] Mira: This is probably a field of SEO that has gone through the biggest change since the early days of SEO. So if, like me, your SEO education is dependent on Google, then make sure that the resources you read are of high quality and up to date. 

[00:30:00] Gregory: Definitely. Yeah. A hundred percent agree with that. I remember previously where, so I just buy millions and millions of back things and see growth of that form well, and now yeah, you might see that growth initially, but it will never last. So yeah, that definitely has probably seen the biggest change. 

[00:30:14] Mira: Yeah, All the better for users too. Actually, read a piece of content with useful external links. I usually like to conclude with a bit of a broader question. So what would your advice be for someone at the early stages of their marketplace journey and their just getting familiar with SEO, words of wisdom, encouragement? What would you like to say?

[00:30:37] Gregory: I'd probably give them two pieces of advice. First thing you will not know everything. And that does seem like a bad thing or quite daunting, but the industry is constantly evolving. There's a wide scope of areas that can really be looked at in really granular details. As I said to you, even being in the industry for four years now, there's still things that I'm finding out on a daily basis that I didn't know previously. In tandem to that if you are really eager to learn or genuinely interested in the world of SEO, then you will flourish. It really is a two-way street. So be sure to get on SEO Twitter, follow SEO publications to see any sort of experiments or studies that people have carried out themselves. And then the other piece of advice is do the right thing for the user. And usually, it won't steer too far from being wrong and I think that's fairly self-explanatory. 

But those are the two pieces of advice that I'd give. 

[00:31:29] Mira: Yeah, super encouraging. Last but not the least, where can people find you and find Blue Array? 

[00:31:35] Gregory: Yes. Yes, the good shameless plug. Uh, so for Blue Array, you can find us on www.bluearray.co.uk. We have a weekly newsletter. So if you are interested in industry-specific news, that newsletter highlights all the news over the past week.

We also have launched Blue Array Academy, and that contains an SEO manager course. So it could be a good introductory piece to get you into SEO, as well as eCommerce SEO and how to hire SEOs if you're looking to hire internally. Recently, we actually launched a free technical SEO course on the academy.

So if you are eager to get a grip on, on technical SEO as well, then that can be a great starting point. Another thing that we've launched, there's now two iterations of the mastering in-house SEO books, and that gives you tips, strategies, tactics from industry-leading experts. And there was a third book on the way.

If you are interested in getting in contact with me directly, then feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, Gregory Edwards. I'm sure that'll be either somewhere on the page or follow me on Twitter and so that's @GregoryE_seo. 

[00:32:33] Mira: Perfect. Thank you so much, Greg, for joining us today. Lots of actionable and encouraging advice for marketplace entrepreneurs.

[00:32:39] Gregory: Yeah, sure, no worries. And I'll say if there are any specific questions, feel free to reach out with me and I'll try and do my best to answer those. But thanks for having me on here. I really appreciate it.

[00:32:54] Katri: To learn even more, make sure you've checked out Mira's Complete Guide to Marketplace SEO at sharetribe.com/academy. For more educational content on online marketplaces, make sure to subscribe and maybe leave us a review. This podcast is brought to you by Sharetribe. We build marketplace software, so if you're planning to start a marketplace of your own, make sure to visit sharetribe.com.

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