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Episode 93 - Gift Guides in your Shopify Store

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Hey. Scott Austin here.

In this episode, I want to talk about Gift Guides in your Shopify store. In a few minutes, I'll be doing some show and tell of stores and their gifts guides. So if you are listening to this in audio only, there's a link in the show notes to the video. That said, if you are audio only, I'll be sure describe what I seeing so that you won't miss out on much.

Let's start by explaining what a gift guide is. A gift guide is a decision making tool to help a person choose an appropriate gift for someone. Here are some actual titles that should help explain gift guides:

  • The 38 Best Fly Fishing Gifts
  • 27 of the Best Valentine's Day Gifts for Seniors
  • 30 Best Gifts for 12-Year-Old Girls in 2022
  • The 25 Best Toys Under $50 of 2022
  • 10 Thoughtful Gift Ideas Under $30 for the Motorcycle Enthusiast

As you can probably glean from the titles, gift guides are meant to help a gift giver make their purchase decision. Some of the help that the gift giver may need is some education about the gift topic. For example, someone who is not a motorcyclists may not be aware how important brand can be to motorcyclists. They need to be educated on how taboo it is to give a Harley owner a Kawasaki t-shirt. Another aspect of the education is on what products are available in the market today. Or what the current trends are for certain age groups. For example, an uncle may not know what the most popular music is for 12 year olds these days.

Your goal for gift guides is two-fold:

  1. Have a destination to send customers in your marketing, whether through emails, ads or social posts. A gift guide is appealing content for gift givers.
  2. To compete in SEO for all of the gift giving queries. Gift giving queries like 'what should I get my 12 year niece for her birthday' are high volume. And they exist in about every niche you can think of.

So let's do some searching and show what is out there.

So on my computer, the first thing I'm gonna do is, you know, go to Google and I'm going to do a generic search term. So I'm going to search for best gifts for, let's actually do a little bit more specific best holiday gifts for men. Now, these really generic, even though I said a little more specific, this is a really generic search query for gift guides. You know, more specific things will be, you know, best holiday gifts for men who like, whatever, right? Now what I have found in these very generic ones, the space is totally owned by media companies. So if I scroll past the ads, and the first organic search result that I see is from cnn, right? A media company. The next one is gq. The next one is Esquire. The next one is Good Housekeeping. And the next one is the cut, and I'm not even sure that is, but it looks like it's a blog.

Yeah, it's, it's a blog, not a shopping site. So the really generic ones, which are gonna be the high volume queries, are all owned by the top medium companies, The New York Times of the world and those kind of things. So, as with most seo, for a smaller Shopify store to compete, you're gonna have to look for niches and niches that are appropriate and applicable to your space. So if I get rid of the, the generic best holiday guides, and, and if I search for best gifts for fly fishermen, so this is, you know, not too specific, but much more specific than just men. So now I'm saying, Hey, for fly fishermen, you know, what's the best stop out there? And the sites now are less the top media companies. And the top results are usually for media companies or enthusiasts that are focused in that space.

So the first one is from a company called Manix Fire, and then Fly Fisher Pro, and then So ORs is a retailer, then anchor, and the waiting or the top ones. And most of those are blogs or enthusiast websites or specific magazines. And what I see in a lot of these, you know, this, this trend tends to be true in search queries for, you know, that a gift guide is, is the appropriate response. A lot of the, you know, and I'll actually read the the titles here. So the, the titles of these pages are for best gifts for fly fishermen, 45 best gift giving ideas for fly fishing fanatics, the 38 best Fly Fishing gifts, gifts for fly fishing, Best fly fishing gifts, Top 30 gifts of 20 22, 28, Best fishing gifts for men, women, and Kids in 2022. So you notice the first four were specific to fly fishing, which is in the search query. And the fifth one was a little more generic for fishing. There's a lot of content on the web for gift guides across

All of these. And the interesting thing is, most of the people that are winning in this game are not stores, they're not the retailers. And, and this one here of the first five, only one of them is a retailer. So if I click on Manix Fire, the number one result for the fly fishing one, let's actually go to the homepage and see what this site does. Yeah, this site is doing articles and reviews. So, and what a lot of these sites are doing is they don't sell their own products or resell other people's products. What a lot of them are doing is monetizing this traffic through affiliates. So, you know, Amazon and eBay are well known affiliate models. So a lot of these will, you know, have their article. And this article here, as I start to look at it, has a lot of content.

It's got photos, you know, it, it looks like a magazine article, but embedded in that, I see their, they're talking about specific products and there's links to those specific products. And when I click on that product link, it'll take me out to a different website using what is for most of them in an affiliate link. And for some of them, you know, they may just not have an affiliate link to certain specific places, but, you know, anybody can sign up for an affiliate link with Amazon really easily. The first link took me to The second link takes me to Amazon. So, you know, this number one search result for fly fishing is definitely, you know, a website that's an enthusiast website that's creating content. And the way it's monetizing this traffic is through affiliate links. And the interesting thing there is, anybody who's doing their monetization through affiliate links or through ads, they don't have the same margins that you do as the store owner that's selling products.

You know, even if you're reselling other people's products and your margins are thin, their margins are even thinner, right? So Amazon, I forget what they pay, Let's just, I'm gonna guess right now. It's a 3% fee that they're paying for the affiliates. So, you know, there's not a lot of money that they're making on each one of these, but, you know, it adds up over time and makes it worth their time. And the, and the point of that is, if it's worth their time to do at their small revenues, they're making off the page, I think it's well worth your time to do because you're gonna be making better margins and more revenue than they can from the same query and the same content because you are, you know, selling the products yourself. And that's gonna allow you to, you know, bring in more money. The generic, even fly fishing, I consider a generic term and it's still dominated by the enthusiast sites, the media, you know, blogs and, and magazines and that kind of stuff. So let's go a little more generic than, or a little more specific than that. And I, I already, you know, did some searching on the web and what I found was three search queries that was, there was at least one Shopify store in the top. And then I'm

Gonna gonna show you that store and, and we'll talk about their landing pages. So the first one I did was Christmas gift Ideas for Firefighters. And I actually did this search query cuz years ago, I, I, I built a store where the, you know, the, the guy was selling gifts to firefighters and it didn't show up in the top 10 here because he, he probably hasn't built a gift guide if I scroll down a little bit. There was one, I think it was actually quite a bit. I had to scroll down. It was fully involved. Stitching is the name of the site. Let's see if I can find them in the search results. And I, I'm doing a long pause here cause I'm scrolling down, I'm not, Oh, there it is. It's way down there. It's like 10 or 12 down on the list.

So it was actually quite a bit down on the page for the Christmas gift ideas for firefighters search query and Google. The top result was Amazon firefighting gifts. And if you go to that page, it's, it's not a gift guide at all, it's just a collection page. It just shows products that, you know, re get returned for the search query on Amazon of firefighting gifts. So it's, it's not a really good landing, it does no education. It just, it's a list of products. And then the next one is Etsy. And you'll see a lot of, you know, you'll see a lot of Etsy and Amazon on these. And I, if I remember correctly, that is also gonna be, yeah, just a list of products, no real education going on on those pages so that, you know, the top results in this query really aren't doing a good service to the customer.

There. Another site, you know, that I see a lot in these search results is, this is why I'm, and my guess is their business model is to just do gift list in every category you can think of. And if you, if you look at their page, you know, they, their landing page has a picture, firefighters, which it looks weird, the picture looks weird, I don't know what's wrong with something's weird, weird about it. And then, you know, they've got a one paragraph of text and then just a list of products. And the list of products take you to other sites. The the one I clicked on was an Etsy site. So they're just aggregating content and even in their page it says, This is why I'm broke, is reader supported some products display may earn us a commission. So they're telling you right there that hey, we are getting affiliate revenue for what we're doing here.

So this site, and there's many of them out there that does exact same thing. Their whole model is to build list and list and lists. And all these lists are monetized through affiliate links. They're not an expert on firefighter gifts cuz they have gifts for every scenario in the world that you can think of. I'm scrolling through their, their menu right now, the top level nav, and there's just, you know, list after list of different categories of people and then, you know, you can do sub list under that and it just goes on forever. So they're, they're not experts in the topic. What they're experts in is generating SEO traffic by building up these gift guide lists and getting them ranked really well and monetizing that through affiliates. Just another point of, I think any Shopify store that knows their space really well, which most Shopify store owners do know their space really well, can compete on that and provide a better service.

So on this query, the top, you know, the top ones up there are not Shopify stores, but let's go to the Shopify store that did rank, and like I said, it was down 10 or 11 on the list. And the problem here, the first problem I have with it is it took me to the homepage of the website. So this website, the best result for the term Christmas gift ideas for firefighters was their homepage. Now, the fully involved stitching website is focused, it looks like on firefighters, and it looks like they take firefighting jackets that are used and, and repurpose them like as bags and other type, you know, blankets and stuff like that. And aprons, which is, it's kind of cool, right? You take an old fire coat, I assume they're old fire coats, or maybe they're just new and they look like fire coats and then repurpose them for that purpose.

So that's awesome. But you know, the, the however I'm gonna throw at it is they've got a link in their main nav that says gift guide. And if I hover on that, one of them says Christmas gifts. So this Christmas gift link says Christmas and it's a collection page that just says Christmas and just shows a list of their products, whatever they put in their Christmas collection. This page should be the page that they need to be optimizing for Google, right? Google looked at this page and said, Now I don't like your Christmas page for a query about Christmas gift ideas for firefighters. And instead took them back to their homepage. And the reason for that is there, it's just a collection page. There's no opening paragraph, there's no image on it to set context. There's no, hey, you're looking for Christmas gifts, you're in the right place.

Let us tell you a little bit about what firefighters love, blah, blah, blah. It's just a list of products. Now they may be appropriate for gifts for firefighters, but there's no story being told, there's no information and knowledge being shared. Like a good gift guide will do. A good gift guide is gonna educate the customer about, you know, what is important to firefighters and why these gifts versus those gifts. In other words, a collection page is not a good landing page for a gift guide. You want, you wanna take 'em to a page. Now that page may have inside of it a collection, you know, section to show products or product sections to show products, but you don't want to just drop 'em on a generic collection page, especially for big holidays and your big queries, whatever those happen to be. You know, maybe for, you know, 4th of July items, if you're not big into 4th of July, you just have a collection for those. But your other, your big events, your big holidays, your big audience, your big target users, you want to, you wanna spend

A little, little time building content that's gonna be appealing in seo, right? Most of you know that as you're building at your blog articles for SEO purposes, you're spending a lot of time creating the content and you're using a lot of words. You know, you're doing a thousand words, 5,000 words, whatever you're doing there, because those words, you can equate that to education that you're providing to the audience. And a collection page, if it's just a plain connection page without a lot of content around our description isn't gonna do that. So in, in this case here, the fully involved stitching store can, you know, has has the appealing products, it is actually ranking better than any other Shopify store for that query, but they could take that to the next level quite easily. So let's move on to the next Google query. And for this one, I looked for gift ideas for outdoor survivalist site that I found that ranked was really, really nice.

It's beef jerky. So you know, if I look at the results, Amazon is number one for outdoor survivalist and it takes you right to a list of products, a collection page in Amazon, there's Homestead Launch, which I think let's go to that site cuz. So the Homestead launch site is helping you build your modern homestead. So, you know, they're, they're selling houses or, or construction or something and, and they've got a guide to try to find an audience that our outdoor survivalist or survivalist and they're building up, you know, content to draw that user in so that they can do the construction or sell them houses or whatever they're doing there, which is really interesting, right? There's the urban survivalist site, this is why I'm broke again, that site we talked about before in off-grid life, that's probably a person talking about their experiences living off the grid and there's a whole bunch of them.

But I scroll down, I can see people's choice, beef, that's the first Shopify store that popped up. So I clicked on that link. They wrote an article so that this is done in a blog and it's perfect gifts for preppers. And this I think is a role model of how a Shopify store can build a great gift guide. And the reason I say that is they are showing their product on this. The, the first product they show, by the way, is Titan Survivor Cord whose, whose website I happen to have built. They're a Shopify store, so it's not their own products. The second product they show on this site is their curated box of beef jerky. And then they go on and show a whole bunch more, I think it's like 10 or so products. Oh, there's even more than 10. I'm scrolling down.

And a month to 15. So they got 21 survivalist products and only one of them is their own. So what they're trying to do here is actually build a list of products that they think are good for the outdoor survivalist. You know, number six on the list is the World Survival kit, and there's like a knife, a flashlight and all sorts of tools and a bag that, that you can buy. So what they're doing here is they're saying to the customer who's, you know, searching for a gift idea for outsource survivalist, Hey, here's 21 ideas. Only one of them do we happen to sell. They're focused in this, this results or this gift guide is focused on the actual query that the customer is searching for. I'm looking for gift ideas. So they're not saying, here's what we have for outdoor survivalist. They're saying, here's what we found on the internet, that's the best route.

So outdoor survivalist, which so happens to include our beef jerky. I I think this one's really well done. And they actually, you know, they pull a product photo for each one of these items. They talk about the price, they've got a link where we can shop it, They do a little description of it. So they're doing a really good job in aggregating a lot of content and making it into an appealing presentation for the customer. And like I said, product number two is their own. And at the bottom of course, they talk a little bit more about beef jerky when they're, they're done explaining all the other 20 products that aren't their own. So they are promoting the beef jerky. But it's just, it's subtle. And it, it's totally appropriate. And as a, as a user, I don't think that I'm being deceived at all.

It's not like I search for outdoor survivalist gifts. And they told me there's 20 different types of beef jerky that are the best gift ideas for outdoor survivalists, right? Really nicely done. People's choice beef jerky. So the last one I wanna show you is a search query that is best gifts for someone who loves tequila. And the first one for this is Town and Country magazine. So, you know, large media company and then, they have 31 best gifts for tequila lovers who love Mexican. And then the, the title, you know, goes off. But what you'll notice on all of these search queries that I've been doing so far, almost all of them, it's like 99% of them that are in the top, you know, five 10, they list the number of gift ideas. So right here on the tequila one, there's 15, the second query has 31, the third result has nine, the fourth one has 29, the fifth one is 22.

So the top five all say the number, the sixth one happens to be Amazon. They don't show a number in their results. And then back to the seventh one, they give their number of 20. And that's a really nice indication for the customer of what they're going to get, right? So it's not just, hey, the best gift ideas for someone who loves tequila. And there's just one idea. It's like, oh, there's 31 here. And I'll also say that more is not always better, right? So if you had, and I've seen a couple of them that are like the 150 best, I gift ideas for tequila lovers, that's just an example. I don't see that on the screen right now. But if you have 150 ideas, that's too many for most people to understand, right? And if you're gonna have 150, you're gonna wanna break that down a little bit.

For example, if you have 150 best gift ideas for someone with love tequila, when you land on the page, maybe you're asking the customer like, what's their price range? Well, here's the best gifts from zero to $20, here's 20 to $40, here's 40 to $80, and here's over $80. You take the 150 and you divide it into four different buckets to make it less items that the reader has to consider at any given time. So on this one here, the first Shopify store is number four on the list, which is really nice. I actually talked to this store owner years ago, I think like back in 2016, so I'm really happy to see that they're still around and doing business, right? And they've got a blog article here that is the 29 Best Gifts for Tequila Lovers. I'm gonna guess that this article's been around for a while.

Let's see if I go back to Google, it doesn't have a date on it. And the reason I think it's been around for a while is I can see in the handle that this gift guide started off as the 17 best tequila gifts. But now the title, so that's in the product handle are the article handle. But now the title's 29 Best Gifts. So I'm sure the store owner is, you know, a adding things to that list over time, which makes total sense, right? But the cool thing also is the date on this blower article is March 6th, 2022. So as I'm recording this, it's November 4th, 2022. So that article's date is in the same year that I'm looking. And that becomes an important thing in another best practice is a lot of times someone will have an article that's like the best Christmas gift ideas for people who love Boots for 2021, and that'll be in the, in the title.

And then when 2022 comes around, it'll still show up in the title as for 2021. So if you're gonna put a year, which is not a bad thing to do because it shows recency, especially in the search results page, you know, if you see four guides and once is 20, 21 once is 2022 and the other two don't have a date on it, you're probably gonna go for the 20 22 1 if it's currently 2022. So putting your year in is a good thing. But what you've gotta do, if you're gonna do that, is every year update the dates on all your products. So go into your blog articles and change the title from 2021 to 2022 and don't have the 2021 in the handle. Just have it in the title and make sure the the SEO handle or the SEO title and the the product handle are a little bit more generic there. So this articles really nice because they've updated it even though it's been around for a long time, even though it doesn't have, you know, 2022 in the title, there's a date showing up on the blog article. And so you wanna make sure that your blog articles are showing the most recent save date for that article.

Not the creation date for the article. And another thing is, if you're gonna do this annual thing, don't make new pages for, don't take 2021 page copy it and make a 2022 page because then Google's gotta go and index that again. And any links you had last year, you know, from any magazine, article, whatever that talked about, the, you know, the best, you know, gift ideas and point it to your guide, well they're gonna go to the wrong page. So use the same page. Don't change the the page structure, you know, make, don't make a new page and Shopify don't, don't change the handle, keep it the same all the way through, but just refresh and update your content as you're going. So on, on this page here of the 29 Best Gifts for Tequila Lovers by groovy guy The first one is a do your whiskey infusion.

Now I, I guess I, I don't know much about the hard alcohol, but I would think that whiskey isn't tequila, but it's, it's number 20 on the list and if I click on it, it goes to Amazon. So this is another Shopify store owner that isn't just promoting their own products, right? So product number two is a hand painted tequila set and that takes you to Etsy. So they've already gone off to two of the big marketplaces and I scrolled through and I went through all the products and, and looked at, so here's an Etsy, here's an Etsy, here's an Etsy. I'm just scrolling down, look at the hover. So lots and lots of Etsy, Amazon, Etsy, and somewhere in here on this list, they actually have their own product. But what I was really surprised by is they only had one product on this list that made sense to me for the beef jerky guys because we were searching for outdoor survivalists, you know, products.

And of course you're thinking camping and hunting and knives and, and fishing poles and that kind of stuff. Having a lot of other products on that page from, from not the, from the manufacturer of the beef jerky made sense on the 29 best gifts for tequila lovers. You know, groovy guy gifts has drinkware, right? So they have different, you know, types of drinkware and decanters and things like that. I thought they could have had more of their own products listed on this site. I like the fact that they're bringing others in, but instead of having just one of their own products on this page, I would've liked to have seen them have, you know, three or four of the 29 just to, to get a little more coverage and, and monetize that a little bit better for themselves. But they also might have, you know, their own affiliate links to Amazon and Etsy. Cuz you know, as Shop foster owner, you can have affiliate links on your site too. I actually don't know how to look at a, I'm looking right now at a Amazon link. I don't know how to tell, I do not know how to tell if it's a an affiliate link or not, but it looks, because there's a tag in this,

It's not just a straight link. There's, there's some code after the link. So my guess is they are an affiliate partner with Amazon, which means they're probably doing the same thing with Etsy. So they're, they're probably monetizing those links as best they can through affiliates. But like I said, I would've had a little more of their own content on that page. H that's a quick summary of how some Shopify stores are doing gift guides out there. My summary of it all is, I think that gift guides are a very valuable space, right? They do a great service to customers who are looking to buy something that is applicable to their, you know, gift recipients passions or age or, or whatever preferences they have. And they want to know a little bit more and, and get some help from that. So there's a whole industry out there of sites that are providing that service to those people.

But most of the people that are providing that service are more media companies. Their blogs, their magazines, they're monetizing through affiliates. I think there's a lot of space and opportunity for Shopify store owners to create gift guides that are applicable to their spaces and also compete in that probably even offer a better service to the gift giver audience out there that's looking for them. Because a Shopify store is gonna be more focused on a specific niche and be more knowledgeable about that specific niche to be able to give better quality, you know, information to the gift giver so that the gift recipient gets something that is really appropriate for their passions. Hopefully this, this show in Tell has been useful for you.

Hopefully, this show and tell has been useful for you. Here's a summary of things to keep in mind when making gift guides:

  1. Each guide should be focused. You should know who is the gift recipient is and maybe even why they are getting a gift.
  2. You should provide the best content possible which in this case is gift recommendations. So that could include products that you do not sell.
  3. Content is king. Copy, photos and video will help you rank in SEO and engage the reader.
  4. Organizing the content will help direct the reader. Table of contents, break-downs by price, and more can help the reader get to the right product more quickly.
  5. This space is dominated by non-retailers who have smaller margins than you and aren't the subject matter experts that you are. You should be able to compete and be successful.

Thanks for listening.

JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.