• So You Own A Cycle Shop Website; Here Is what You Need To Know

    I got into road cycling later in life, and like many others I got hooked and then when Wiggo won the Tour De France, it put a great big rubber stamp on it. In my professional life I spend most working days looking at my own and other commercial websites, but my interest in bikes meant I had looked at Cycling shop type websites differently, from a customer’s perception rather than a consultant.
    ready for that bike ride with helmet on


    Recently I put my consultant head on and started thinking about why certain cycle shops ranked higher than others in the search engines and if there were some basic points to get over to those website owners who are not enjoying that same visibility.

    My Initial Findings

    I was initially surprised at how many pages the top 3 sites had indexed (for the search term cycle store) and fundamentally how few of them were content related versus products for sale. Google is pretty adamant that content is king, but certainly 2 of the 3 top ranking websites did not have a lot of articles and useful information compared to their money making pages. These 2 sites had blogs or news features, of less than 200 articles, yet had overall page counts were in the hundreds of thousands.
    So if these sites are no more than large shopping carts, how have they managed to get top billing?

    Very High Link DA Still Rules High

    One of the answers lies in their Domain authority. They all have very good back link profiles, they have been able to convince the Google algo, that they are of a high standard and an authority in what they sell.
    They have managed to get back links by combining cycling with the travel industry , sports and the health culture of the UK. Their back link profile shows links from official tourist websites, top cycling sporting clubs and societies, be healthy and keep fit organisations, universities and more. A gold mine of trust being thrown at them. It doesn’t harm if you own a cycle team and the press want to write about them also. A lot of unique fresh content has been written, but rather than publishing it on their own blogs, they have found a way of it being published elsewhere and gaining authority from it. You could call it guest blogging, but these sites are far more than just a blog.

    I also have to point out that most of the product ages include things like customer reviews and detailed data, which prevents them from being seen as thin content. Of course there are other factors, but I can’t see anything else that has so much power than the back links.

    So How Can The Local Bike Shop Compete Online

    The first bit of advice is don’t ignore the internal content marketing side of the business. The fact the big boys are not doing this as a priority leaves a bit of door space open. Write great information and tips, then send it out to social media to be shared and followed.
    But then we move on to why you can’t do a bit of the same. Does your local council run fun day bike rides. If so, get involved and make sure your involvement is recorded on their websites, add some advice to make the riders bikes safe and you are off to a start.
    Make sure the local newspapers know about the rides and make sure your business get involved in that media coverage. Contact the local cycle clubs and give discount for members, in return for some links from the clubs site.
    I think you get the picture here, there really are a lot of opportunities and we haven’t mentioned general health organisation, keep fit clubs etc. Unlike other products, there is a way in to gaining a quality link profile. If you sold colour TV.s, you couldn’t get this type of opportunity.

    This operation is normally always better done by the cycle business themselves. Having a marketing company ring up the local cycle club, just won’t have the same effect. This is one of the mistakes many local specialists make. They allow third party companies to do things they can do better. So if you love bikes, they it is you who should write about them and you who should gain the contacts as you would in the real world.

    What About My Cycle Website Then?

    I touched on it earlier about thin content. Just because you have a shopping cart that is populated with hundreds if not thousands of products, do not think Goggle will see this as unique useful content. It is even worse with cycle parts and components.

    For example if you sold BMW cars, you can be pretty sure than the engine, gearbox and all components would be BMW, (even if manufacturing was outsourced) with unique serial numbers etc. But with cycles it is different. The same components are used across a whole array of cycle brands.

    For example how many cycles are sold with a Shimano 105 chain set? I don’t know the official answer, but I do know it’s a lot and maybe a large proportion of the cycles you sell. If you add up the amount of times “Shimano” (as just one example) is mentioned throughout the products you sell, you should be getting the picture that a lot of words and names are just repeated continuously throughout the website.
    This adds up to thin content, or similar content. Then when you factor in, you sell the same bikes, and parts as thousands of other online sites and it all tells a story that your website is not unique or fresh.
    As I said earlier, the big sites add value things to their products pages like unique reviews from their customers. This is content that is not published anywhere else. they also add little features like “our customers who bought xxxxxx, also liked this”. This added value puts them in the forefront of online Google credibility.

    Hopefully you have got the point, that adding the same products as other websites, to your shopping cart is not enough to gain high rankings and credibility with Google. You need to give more than your competitors.

    Are You Up For The Challenge?

    It does take a lot of work, but unlike paying for adverts, when the advert finishes the sales, stop, much of this work will keep your Google rankings higher continuously and eventual become less time bearing and cost effective.

    I am looking to work with some cycle website owners, to see what we canĀ achieveĀ together.