Researcher: Hello and thank you for accepting my invitation to participate in this study.
Interviewee: My pleasure.
Researcher: I would like to ask you several questions about your business.
Interviewee: Sure, go ahead.
Researcher: So my first question is how long have you been running your business?
Interviewee: I founded the company in 2013 so it’s been almost six years.
Researcher: Could you tell me a little bit about the business?
Interviewee: Well, we are an e-commerce shop that sells a whole bunch of digital goods, such as electronic books, online courses, and various software products. I used to sell some physical staff as well but had to abandon this idea at some point. Dealing with the hassles of inventory and shipping took much time and effort, while the profit was not as handsome as I expected it would be.
Researcher: How is the business doing right now?
Interviewee: We are doing quite well. Of course, we cannot compete with platforms like Amazon but at this level, the pace of growth is quite good I would say. In 2013, only my wife and I were running all the processes, accounting, and stuff. Today, we have two departments and a total of 17 employees. And we are still growing.
Researcher: It is good to hear. So my next question is about advertising. Do you find it effective in promoting your store and products?
Interviewee: Yes, of course, we allocate some budget on advertising and promotion. Since we are operating online, we mostly make use of social media to promote the company.
Researcher: Could you, please, provide some details on how exactly do you use social media for advertising purposes?
Interviewee: Well, we have accounts on the most popular social networking websites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Social media is really about the community. If you have access to a strong community, you can make some money out of your business. People talk, you know, so if you have a couple of satisfied customers, they will spread the word.
Researcher: OK then. Another question I…
Interviewee: Oh, we also use online advertising on Facebook. But from where I can see this type of advertising ain’t highly effective. So we will probably check out how to optimise our advertising strategy.
Researcher: Do you use any traditional advertising channels, such as TV, radio, or printed materials?
Interviewee: No, there’s no point is using such channels to promote an online-based business.
Researcher: What about search engine optimisation (SEO)? Do you use it to generate traffic to your website?
Interviewee: SEO is a whole different story. As you know, traffic is the lifeblood of any website so SEO is perhaps the most important tool, along with social media, which helps us increase the traffic to the shop’s site.
Researcher: How exactly do you use SEO for advertising purposes?
Interviewee: We actively use site promotion because I think it is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to increase traffic. This tactic involves the use of keywords picked up by Google and other search engines to enable users to find our store. However, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, so our SEO strategy is not limited to using keywords. We also use some of the best and most sophisticated analytics and marketing instruments that provide detailed information about how visitors got to the shop and what they are doing on the website. Adding new content regularly is another SEO tactic we use to make the shop more attractive to search engines. Finally, we are trying to constantly add to the searchability of the website by having as many pages in Google’s index as possible. In this case, we add to the possibility that web users can find our site for keyword searches.
Researcher: That’s fascinating.
Interviewee: Indeed. We are also trying to maintain a high level of activity on social networking services, which allows us to drive more traffic on the website and hence, sell more stuff to our customers.
Researcher: With this level of SEO, are you experiencing any challenges or problems?
Interviewee: In business, there is always something you can do better. I ain’t going to tell you that there are no problems or challenges with SEO at all. We exist in a very competitive environment, so getting our website on the first page of Google’s search results is sometimes as tough as hell. There are various reasons for that, both technical and management. From the technical perspective, securing the website by an SSL certificate took us a lot of time. This certificate not only protects the content, which is shared between the website visitor and the website, it also improves SEO in the eyes of Google and other search engines. So I guess the challenge of getting the SSL certificate somewhat influenced the effectiveness of our SEO strategy to a certain degree. Also, having a highly response, supportive, and attractive design is crucial for getting your website optimised. While we have built our website on the basis of one of the best e-commerce platforms, we still have to optimise the code for our own purposes. To get the site working as we wanted was a real pain in the neck. You know, waiting 5 seconds to get a product page downloaded is not very good for customers’ psychological health (smiles).
Researcher: I see. Any other challenges?
Interviewee: As an e-commerce business, we need to provide unique content to be more searchable. We cannot just give some generic product description and wait for customers to come and make a purchase. So we tend to use custom-written product descriptions. However, the main problem with this type of content is its quality. After the release of Google’s Panda Algorithm, this issue has become of crucial importance. Generating easy-to-read and unique product descriptions is an important aspect of our SEO strategy.
Researcher: Can you think of any other instruments that could also help you generate website traffic in the future?
Interviewee: Actually, I am thinking of adding a blog on the store website to create new content on a regular basis to keep it fresh and attractive to Google’s search algorithms.
Researcher: Thank you for answering my questions.
Interviewee: No problem.