Kevin Wiles is the Group SEO Manager at Halfords, a UK bricks and clicks retailer specialising in motoring and cycling. Founded in 1892 in 2019 they had revenue over £1.1b with profits of nearly £60m.
Kev says he genuinely fell into SEO — he got interested when he was looking for a gig online and ended up getting some traction in SEO.
He started working on the agency side and got exposure to loads of great ways to drive growth. Halford’s is local to Kev and he’s been with the company for two years.
He loves eCommerce because SEO touches every part of the business and you can really maximize revenue down to the penny.
About the Business
- Based in Redditch
- Sell across the whole of the UK
- Physical stores in UK and Ireland as well as online
- Range of service garages across the UK and Scotland
- Huge catalog in cycling and motoring including everything from bikes to bulbs to nutrition supplements
- Recently moved to Salesforce cloud commerce from IBM
- New platforms allows modern technology with the huge customization and quirkiness of
The Halford’s dedicated SEO team is lean — just two strong, but Kevin says that everyone in the digital team is in some ways part of the SEO team.
They work closely with the entire digital eCommerce and marketing team to ensure that SEO is optimized at every point.
Driving SEO with Diverse Products
There is some seasonality to the cadence of SEO. Cycling peaks in the warmer months while the three B’s — Bulb, Blades and Batteries peak during winter. The team uses this rhythm and works backwards to try and understand what people will want and need.
Together they put themselves in the place of customers and try to provide content that will help them. Video is particularly important for this and Kevin says it’s the medium that is growing the most.
Kev says that Google is getting really good at knowing what kind of content best matches the need a customer has.
For instance, there are certain circumstances which a video is more helpful than a blog — like when someone needs to know how to teach their kid how to ride a bike or someone is trying to change a tire.
Understanding the intent behind the question is getting more and more important. A how to guide will probably need some kind of media for instance.
Kev recommends googling the thing which you want to create, take note of what Google is prioritizing and create content to do that.
The future Google will be more like going into the best store and having the most incredible customer service employee help you with exactly what you need.
Google simply give you guidelines and Kev says its the job of brands to build a great website, with great products and provide the very best customer experience that answers a customer’s needs — it will be hard to go wrong.
Kevin analyzes webpages as follows: Does this page add value to the customer experience and journey? If not, how do we get rid of it and still answer that question?
SEO for Small Brands
Smaller brands can scale faster than bigger brands and are more nimble with their content. Since you don’t need a lot of expensive tech, its possible to really add value without big budgets.
In terms of SEO, Kev says to go after more specific keywords. While you won’t have the volume, you’ll reach consumers must easier and conversion will be much higher.
No matter what the keyword, really consider how you could be helpful — consider all the things you can answer inside your product page to be more helpful or answer a question consumers might have.
Rankings and Position
Market Share is important at a brand like Halford’s. Being number one might not be the most critical thing especially since you might show up at the bottom of the page anyway.
Revenue is always key. Focus attention in places that will put cash into the business
eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Ecommerce SEO: An advanced guide to on-page search engine optimization for ecommerce by Mr Traian Neacsu
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- SEO! And Kevin says not just because that’s his thing. It’s a longer burn but it effects every channel. Paid social is up and coming.
Tool Top Tip
Growth Top Tip
- Double down on your product pages. Create great content, great structure. You’ll see returns.
- The first six months of taking over an existing business with Andy Storey of Prendas Ciclismo
- Our month all about SEO on the Keep Optimising Podcast
- Electric Tobacconist’s Pascal Culverhouse on SEO, retailing and getting to 7-figures in 2 years
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