[0:00] Intros
[4:30] Importance of educating team and keeping everyone in the loop
[7:00] power in over-communication 
[8:30] what makes a strong retail site
[10:00] working with other teams
[11:00] preparing for big events
[14:40] the digital shift
[16:30] how to connect with managers that don’t understand SEO
[20:00] what is best-in-class
[22:30] storytelling and using data (+challenges)
[24:20] ways to get buy-in
[25:00] competing with amazon
[28:00] nuggets of advice 
1. (over) communication
2. symbiotic relationship w/paid
3. don’t forget the basics (check site health, tracking events and performance)
[37:00] closing

Tessa’s Quotes:

  • “SEO is like the spoiled rich kid, you can’t pay them off with money. Executives are used to paying and seeing return, SEO just isn’t like that.”
  • “We like to just operate on a basis of over-communication. ” (In reference to working with multiple teams)
  • ” Of course, search engines are still important….Maybe you have a JavaScript based site, customer sees that (and) they love it. It’s great, but Google can’t render it or they can’t see it. We do have to still keep (search engines) in mind, you know, we have to… translate things for them, to make sure that they can understand this well. “


[00:00:00] Alexis Sanders: Hello. Hello and welcome. This is Alexis Sanders. And today I’m joined by Matthew Grabiak, account manager at Merkle, as well as Tessa Bonacci. That’s correctly pronounced?

Tessa Bonacci: Bonacci.

Alexis: Gah! Pronounced Bonacci. Bonacci, Bonacci. Tessa Bonacci from Dick’s Sporting Goods. And she is an e-commerce senior analyst? Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Tessa.

Tessa: Absolutely. Hi, everyone.

Alexis: And for coming into the office. Of course. Awesome as well. So would you mind giving yourself a brief introduction for our listeners or listener? (lol)

[00:00:43] Tessa: Sure. So I’ve been doing SEO, I think, since around late 2014. Mostly in house, um, consulting here and there, but the majority of my career, in Dick’s Sporting Goods kind of beginning as a specialist and working my way up to senior analyst role have more of a focus on some of, like, the QA testing and working across with some of our third-party vendors. So neat.

[00:01:01] Matt Grabiak: Uh, fun fact. I actually worked on the Dick’s Sporting Goods account in a previous agency and worked with Tessa. So I have been working with Tessa for quite a while now.

[00:01:14] Alexis: Yeah,

[00:01:14] Matt: for a long time.

[00:01:16] Tessa: Yeah, probably think over four years, I would say

[00:01:18] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. So this is, like, a longstanding professional relationship here?

[00:01:23] Matt: Yeah, sure. I mean, I would say friendship.

Tessa: Yeah, I would say. Yeah.

Matt: That too.

Alexis: Alright. Awesome. And, Matt, do you have any additional things you’d like to tell the audience, any intro facts about yourself?

[00:01:48] Matt: I mean, not really I think you covered it pretty well, I am on account manager here at Merkle. I have done SEO for my entire professional career. So about ten years of SEO and I’ve mainly specialized in eCommerce, but I bounced around different industries as well.

[00:01:57] Alexis: Well, I, for one, am so excited to have you both on the podcast. All right, So I guess a good place to start is why is SEO important for eCommerce and eCommerce specifically?

[00:02:37] Tessa: Sure. So I would say that SEO is important for any type of website in the industry, but most specifically e commerce, because, I mean, bottom line is we sell things online. So, Seo, being such, you know, a big marketing channel, A lot of people using Google, it’s obviously important that we, you know, show up in the search results that way. We contend to anyone looking for any type for products in the dicks sporting goods, obviously sporting goods of people looking for mouthguards, cleats, …. A lot of them are coming from Google. So making sure that we are optimized in appearing for those queries is extremely important.

Alexis: Definitely.

[00:02:41] Matt: Yeah, absolutely. And how would you say that? That differs from just General SEO. What were those secrets for e-commerce that make it different thing?

[00:03:30] Tessa:  so definitely don’t want to give away any of my secrets.

Alexis: Give us the secret sauce! Lol

Tessa: so I did some work and lead generation before, which was definitely a different animal, which relied a little bit more on paid search, then say maybe e commerce obviously paid searches really large in eCommerce as well, but as far as the secrets, I think it’s just, you know, having a very holistic site, You know, everything is kind of important when you’re looking at a site especially as large as ours, so You know, if one piece of the puzzle kind of isn’t functioning correctly it impacts our channel. So just like making sure that the site holistically is kind of all put together, which is, you know, very challenging, especially when it’s something as large as Dick’s Sporting goods,

[00:04:15] Alexis: definitely. And how do you guys do that was so many moving parts? like you have so many different teams. You probably have to work with so many lines of business. Is there anything you find that you guys do that’s effective for to keep everything organized and the flock moving in the same direction?

[00:04:30] Tessa: Sure, it’s definitely a challenge. So our SEO team at the moment is made up of six people, two of which are copywriters, two of which are specialists. I was a senior analyst myself and then a manager. So how we kind of keep things (I guess what you would call together) is we do have the site kind of split in half. So with specialists and a copywriter kind of work on half of dicks sporting goods and then another specialists and copywriter work on the other half. And then we also have representatives on our team that are kind of responsible for those different teams that we work with. So someone is kind of the counterpart for UX, any of our third party vendors we worked for for local or those different things, so definitely organization is a big part of making sure that we keep stakeholders educated because I know SEO is, it’s not that it’s new, but it’s a little bit of a different animal, so it’s constantly changing. So we have to make sure that we’re constantly educating and keeping everyone in the loop and making sure that they understand how their business impacts our business and vice versa.

[00:05:33] Matt: That’s a really great point. I know that your team does a lot of training and make sure that all of eCommerce is involved in SEO. And it’s not just silo to your specific team that has a great benefit to the site in general.

[00:05:46] Alexis: Absolutely. So do you think those training’s are really helpful to getting everybody on the same ship?

[00:05:51] Tessa: I would definitely say, Yeah. So we have a pretty basic presentation that will do that’s like an SEO 101 that will offer across the board because Dick’s has like different educational programs, so the SEO (team) does one. And they do him a lot for merchandising trainees. So people that were, like, newer to the company. So educating them when they first come in, right?

Alexis: Get em when then they get in, when they’re young. (Lol)

[00:06:17] Tessa: When they’re placed into, you know, they’re wherever they’re going to be placed in Dicks, they kind of, like, have that SEO background and knowledge, which is great. And then even for people would have been at the company. You know, 15-20 years we do. We do trainings for them as well. We try to do things more, either on like a quarterly basis or two times a year to kind of just, like, say, “Hey, don’t forget about us. We’re still here Just because we’re a smaller team, we’re kind of in the background a lot.”

[00:06:40] Tessa: you know, we get involved as much as we can. And, you know, it’s definitely improved over the years as far as, like making sure people loop us in. Dick’s does a lot of testing, so your first thought might not be like how does that impact SEO, but as far as like how they’re serving. You know, the test with a redirects or they doing different things like that. So we just try to stay on top of it as much as we can. Definitely not perfect. But we’re working towards it.

[00:07:03] Alexis: Nice. Yeah, it sounds like you guys have a good SEO involved organization where at least SEO is on people’s mind, which is a huge deal to get to that point.

[00:07:13] Tessa: Yeah, it definitely took some time. And like

I said, I’ve been it dicks for a while. And I remember when we first started there, people were kind of likely what is SEO, although everyone is still learning and kind of getting up to speed with what it is, people are at least like, not shocked when they hear the term “SEO.”

[00:07:27] Matt: Yeah. So are there any key pieces of information like, If you want everyone in the organization to remember one or two things about Seo, what are those things?

[00:07:37] Tessa: I would say the first thing is just consider it always important, regardless of what you’re working on. So even if you’re thinking like I’m building these new pages or a new products coming out and it might not be applicable to our channel, communicate it anyway, so we like to just operate on a basis of over-communication. So even if

[00:07:57] Alexis: That’s such a good tip! Over-communicate with me, please! (Lol)

[00:07:59] Tessa: tell me everything you know, Even if it’s something if it’s a sale, something that might not fit into our world directly.

[00:08:05] Alexis: It probably does! (lol)

[00:08:07] Tessa: Exactly, at some point in time, it does overlap. So even if it’s a very small piece or if it’s just understanding, like what’s going on the website, I would definitely say that’s, you know, kind of number one and then as far as number two for people to know, I’m not sure I think number one is just like the pretty much the overarching kind of theme there. So if we can get that done, I’d say we’re pretty successful,

[00:08:35] Alexis: Definitely, because if they come to you and say like, Hey, we’re not really sure about this What are your thoughts on it? Then you can get ahead early in the process. I feel like a lot of SEO’s, especially what I see on a day to day basis Is they’re looped at the last minute and at that point there’s really not much they can do and there’s actually I guess there’s almost like this curve where you have the ability to make most impact and that’s typically towards the beginning and you have less ability to make impact towards the end or changes, it gets like way more expensive at that point. If you’re like – you have to change every way the to develop this entire product, you know, that might be very expensive, so over-communicating is such a good tip.

[00:09:13] Matt: even worse after it’s already implemented. And then you’re spending most of your time fixing problems.

Alexis: Yes.

Matt: Instead of creating solutions from the outset.

[00:09:26] Alexis: Yes, almost like Band AIDS and having that in your process, even having people talk to us top of line is probably like such a huge deal. Absolutely. What are your thoughts on what makes a retail site strong in terms of SEO?

[00:09:42] Tessa: in terms of Seo again, I know I mentioned this before, but I think that the site has to be healthy holistically. And I think that it’s more about the moving parts than just like looking at the site is a whole, especially if you’re a large retail site like such as us. We have to make sure that like I said, we have our hands, almost in everything. So every there’s different teams for every product line, whether it be family pages, category pages, products. We have to make sure that, you know, we’re kind of on top of all those different areas. And then, of course, the technical side of our site is also very important. So because, like new technologies, were constantly, constantly being developed ideas, and DSG has kind of brought a lot of like that technique like technology development in house. That has probably not been our biggest challenge. But probably one of the most important things that we worked on is just making sure if, like, you know, we’re going responsive or something like that, that SEO is involved just because we can do the meta tags do the content. But if the site is not technically sound, can’t be indexed by Google, none of that stuff really matters. So just making sure we kind of start with the basics to make sure the site is built correctly. And then all the fun stuff like content. And there’s different cool testing things kind of come after that.

[00:10:57] Matt: You mentioned Dick’s Sporting Goods, bringing product lines in house so most of eCommerce in retail has another side to it. Other than just the commerce site, a high percentage of sites have to work in tandem with other aspects of the business. How do you adapt to things like that on the day to day basis, say Dick’s Sporting goods decided to change their entire strategy and a product line that you’re working with. They decided to move that in house. How do you change your strategy to work with that?

[00:11:33] Tessa: So, yeah, that’s definitely a huge challenge. In the past… And I think like a lot of retail sites like you’ve mentioned, like we work with a lot of third parties and rely on a lot of other you know, companies or people in other places, to kind of be in charge of, like some of those aspects of the site, so especially if they’re not located, you know, in the same time zone or different things like that. So again, like just the communication of trying to coordinate to make sure that everything is in sync. I think one of the biggest challenges over the years, we’re definitely getting a lot better at now, is that we currently run on an m dot for a mobile site. So one of our big things is we have to have a quick turnaround time. Obviously, Dick’s is a big player in Super Bowl, World Series, those types of things. So when there’s like a clinch for the Super Bowl, you know we have to have things go live immediately and having those two different sites, technically, we have to make sure you know it updates on desktop updates on mobile and kind of check back and forth and just make sure everything is timely in sync and correct.

[00:12:36] Alexis: That must be so nerve wrecking to have like some big events like that, that drive, are just huge days.

Tessa: Yes.

Alexis: because I feel like there’s so many things that could go wrong, like you think, like 84 lumber at one of the Super Bowl’s a few years ago, had the whole site go down, right, because too many people hit it at once, You know.

[00:12:53] Tessa: right or if the wrong banner goes live or the Banner doesn’t go live like hypothetically, you know, you could miss out on like, projective traffic. That’s, you know, in a million. So you have to really make sure.

Alexis: No pressure

Tessa: but you’re just kind of instinct there. Once we bring things in house, it’s definitely a learning experience just because we’ve relied heavily on some of those other vendors in the past and just making sure that you know we’re staying educated and that we’ve leveraged they’re information as much as we can throughout the partnership, that way, because, you know, every business wants to be, you know, self reliant. So I’m just making sure that we’re educating as much as possible and leveraging the people that we have.

[00:13:28] Alexis: So I’m curious. Do you guys have, like, a checklist that to go through and people sign off on. How do you guys make sure that everything that happens on that day is going to happen?

[00:13:39] Tessa: Yeah, so that’s a good question. I feel like a lot of the people that are in charge have been kind of in the same position for a while. So almost veterans kind of in the aspect there.

Alexis: They’ve been through things, they’ve seen stuff.

Tessa: and the process is pretty seamless at this point. We’ve made technology changes that, like we’ve had to adapt to and things like that. But there’s a lot of different departments involved, like we talked before. So you know not just SEO, but the site merchandising team, the technology team. You know, UX people, they’re putting the banners lives. So

[00:14:16] Alexis: shout out to dev team! (lol)

[00:14:17] Tessa: Yeah, that’s basically all We have our own individual checklists. And then we all call in at the same time and kind of go through the checklist based on you know, what’s most important like is the page live?, is banner live?, those things, and then we kind of troubleshoot our own independently. And then we kind of collaborate as a group just to make sure that everything was kind of going off without a hitch.

[00:14:35] Alexis: So cool. It’s like a war meeting. Yeah, this roundtable on a conference line, of course.

Tessa: Right, what people are screaming in the background for the Super Bowl.

Alexis: Yeah, It’s good. It’s a good Sunday. Yeah, habit. I guess that does. That must be hard, too, because you guys have to take off that time because a lot of I would assume Dick’s Sporting goods People are athlete fans too, and have to work during the Super Bowl.

[00:15:00] Tessa: So, yeah, there’s a lot of, like playoff games that you wouldn’t think about it for the World Series like it could be, you know, a long standing Series, same thing with hockey, and there’s different things. So we do have to put some hours and outside of work. But

[00:15:18] Alexis: We’ll pour some out for you. You know, the Merkle team we do a Super Bowl thing where some people sacrifice their Super Bowl Sunday’s to, you know, do some reports too.

Tessa: It’s just the name of the game.

Alexis: It’s a tough, tough life we live here. Goodness, I have a question. So have you felt that over the last few years or the time that you’ve been at dick’s sporting goods there’s been an increasing shift from in store to online (and maybe not in terms of, like, money or anything like that. But I know that for a lot of other retail businesses, e commerce wasn’t a thought in their mind a few years ago, you know, maybe, like 10-ish years ago). But now everyone shops online and Amazon’s doing two-day shipping and the world is going digital. Have you guys felt that focus at dicks or that shift being, you know, more of a highlight?

[00:16:06] Tessa: Yeah, absolutely. So I you know, I work with a couple people that have been at Dick’s for almost ten years now, and they can remember when they started the eCommerce department. And it was, you know, ten people, twenty people, you know now where it’s well over you in the hundreds. So I know we’ve definitely felt it that way. And then as far as Like how people shop. Absolutely. So we’ve been as a company, putting a very strong focus on digital transformation in general. So you know, not just SEO, but social, paid, those different things and making sure that we are offering the customer everything we can, we have a great in store experience, but we would like that to be mirrored online as well, Just because so many shoppers, you know, are on the online world now. People are busy, and they just want to be able to quickly browse and making sure that our site is user friendly so that people can easily do that without any challenge, they could find exactly what they’re looking for the least amount of time. So yeah, we’ve definitely felt that. And especially in SEO, I mean, it’s evolved so much as well. So you know, the old school tactics of just like title tags and metas is like developing all the way to you know, what kind of JavaScript you’re using. So yeah, we’ve definitely felt that over the last few years

[00:17:14] Matt: you brought up a really great point that they’re all these additional digital marketing channels that you’re working with and also Dick’s Sporting Goods has been around for a long time, and there’s all these traditional marketing channels to deal with, How do you fight for SEO and make sure that it has its place in the equation?

[00:17:35] Tessa: That’s a great question. It definitely, you know, could be a challenge at times. So SEO is, like I said before, it’s so unique. So a lot of you know, people in the business or have been around for a while, you know, they’re used to, you know, you put money into something and you get a return. So Seo is one of the only channels, that I can think of off the top of my head that you can’t just put money out and see, you know, your investment. So I like to think of Seo is kind of like, you know, the spoiled rich kid like you. You can’t you can’t buy them off with money. You know, it has to be really thought out and it’s strategic. But it’s very, very difficult to communicate that just because it’s you know it’s not traditional in that way. So we do a lot of education like I mentioned, we do a lot of like pulling stuff together just to kind of show and explain that because at a high level with, You know, it’s difficult to understand. Like this year, Google looks way different than it did last year, and they’re kind of like, what exactly looks different. So, you know, with, like, the featured snippets, those different things quick answers. People aren’t necessarily always clicking through like they used to, Local becoming, you know, a much larger piece of the puzzle. So we do a lot of education. We do a lot of analysis and research and that we share that with, like, stakeholders to make sure that you know, we’re communicating, like why things are different, or you know, how they’re changing. Like I mentioned, it can definitely be a challenge, because even ourselves, sometimes we’re like, What’s going on here? Like, things don’t add up. But the more you dig in, the easier it is to kind of come up with kind of a scenario. But, yeah, it’s definitely challenging just because it’s not like the money returned channel.

[00:19:10] Alexis: Do you guys ever use, like, sports analogies? I train every day together. So, you know, like, you can’t just go to the gym and do one rep. Yeah, you gotta go out there.

Tessa: I think people try to avoid that. Just because sports are so in our face all day long. I mean, occasionally one will be thrown out for some humor, humor. (lol)

[00:18:12] Matt: I feel like it’s not as obvious when you’re in there. every day it’s kind of, you know, just go in one ear and out the other. You just it’s nothing new or surprising.

[00:18:22] Tessa: right? Maybe I don’t even think about this sports analogy like, let’s hit a home run today. I don’t even know what sports they

Alexis: Get Field goals in like, field hockey. Is it a field goal and field hockey? (lol)

[00:18:37] Matt: Uh, I’m not really familiar field hockey, but football.

[00:20:10] Alexis: Yeah, Nice. That’s good to know. Okay, I know sports. (lol) Um, alright. So what do you think defines a best in class experience? Like, what are some of the challenges that are going on in your industry in general?

Tessa: Yeah. So best in class experience that, you know, I feel like that’s, you know, a very broad question. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I feel shooting high. Yeah. Yeah, so you know again, every channel.

Alexis: It doesn’t make sense. It’s a long shot, you know, a penalty. (lol)

Matt: Just keep throwing them (the analogies) out and we’ll pick the best one… (lol)

[00:20:48] Tessa: So the challenge is I think that every team wears a different pair of glasses on what they think of the best experience is. So we’re thinking about it through SEO. Whereas UX is thinking about your interaction on the page. And, um, you know, the product teams that are developing new technologies, we’re thinking about maybe speed for their pages. And while they all come in to play, we all have a very different mindset of you know what you know, best case scenario looks like. so you know, from my opinion, when I try to take everything into consideration, just because, you know, SEO involves so many different, you know, pieces of the puzzle, you know, best in class, I would say is definitely a first begin with a functional site, that is quick, that a user can get to what they’re looking for as fast as possible. So I think, you know, landing on a page, you know, making sure that they land where what they’re looking for, whether that be a short tail query where they’re looking, they’re just looking the browse, and they’re kind of interested in seeing some different options. Whereas if they’re looking for a very specific basketball shoe, making sure that we’re serving. You know that that content, whether it be through email, marketing or, you know, search engine optimization or paid search and just making sure that we’re aligning with what their intent is, I think across the board, it’s probably makes best in class.

[00:22:04] Matt: You mentioned a lot of things that that are, more specific to user experience. And a lot of those opposed of traditional SEO argue that SEO doesn’t always take user experience into consideration. When making your decisions, you’re doing things for search engines. So how would you say that? How would you argue to those people that SEO is valuable for user experience and how those two ideas tie together?

[00:22:36] Tessa: Sure, yeah, I would say, five years ago, people were like, Okay, search engine search engines that work in, you know, Seo, whereas now, I mean, Google has even said themselves like try to manipulate things for search engines like, we’re worried about the customer. And if you provide a good experience for the customer, you know you’re providing a good experience for Google. So you’re looking at things like click through rate. Um balance rate. We do take those in the consideration because we like I said, we want to make sure that we are offering the best experience. So if you know our pages experiencing, you know a lot of the high bounce rates. We’re obviously not giving a good experience and you know that will eventually be reflected in the SERPs. So we see rankings decline because of that. So we just let people know that we do take all of those metrics in the consideration, not just number one on Google, because if we’re not doing those things, we’re not gonna be number one on Google. Since the industry has changed so much that you, you know, you really do have to make sure that you know what you’re doing is for the customer and not necessarily just for search engines. Of course, search engines are still important because even if you know maybe you have a JavaScript based site customer sees that they love it. It’s great, but Google can’t render it or they can’t see it. We do have to still keep in mind, you know, we have to kind of translate things for them, to make sure that they can understand this well.

[00:24:03] Alexis: I love that term translate. So you’re dealing with all these other teams. Does coming to them with a lot of data help you? You’re leaving and coming like we’re also, we’re on the same team like we want what you want, the best experience for the consumer. Does that help you guys?

[00:24:08] Tessa: Yeah, I think anything that we can put numbers behind that his data driven, I think pretty much any industry any team is gonna be like, Okay, here’s the facts. I think the struggle is a lot of the things that we do or have ideas about don’t have direct impact numbers. So sometimes we’ll do some testing with, like, meta tags and those different things, and maybe visits did increase. But when we draw it directly to, you know, the title tag, just because we have so many different things going on at the site at one time, Yeah, maybe, we know, increase the site speed or it’s just hard to silent one thing specifically and say this equals this. So it’s more like this + this + this could = this. Yeah. So that’s definitely the challenge. But we do try to put metrics behind things, especially things like holiday strategy. You know, it’s huge for us just to get some buying for some of the different stuff that we want to do that would require work from different teams. So anytime that we were able to bring numbers to the table, definitely kind of lights a fire.

[00:25:02] Alexis: I’d seen once at a conference that someone suggested trying to do things one at a time. But that’s gonna be impossible. With a site as large as Dick’s Sporting goods and there’s so many other moving pieces besides SEO. So which you may have implemented, you know, the U. S. Team may have exact on a content refresh that no one was told about. But, I mean, obviously you guys are communicated to.

[00:25:24] Tessa: Right, Yeah, we constantly have testing

going on. I think that that would just be in any retail site, the size of our different templates, different experiences. And that’s not something that they can put on hold for us to test. And it’s not something we can put on hold for them.

[00:25:45] Alexis: Exactly. But it’s good that you guys have numbers because I’m sure they appreciate coming, too. You coming to them with all those different information there.

[00:25:47] Matt: Data certainly is a powerful way to sell your initiatives and get find from other teams. Do you have any other recommendations for ways to get by in?

[00:25:58] Tessa: Yeah, that’s a great question. So a lot of the times what we’ll do when we don’t have, like, say, hard numbers to prove something, we try to rely more on visual things. So again, like I mentioned before the shift in the SERPs, while we could see some date around them like maybe visits have declined or shifted to you know more of a local perspective, and it’s like, why? And there’s not any numbers that we can show them directly that illustrate that. So we’ll do kind of like a side by side feature. So we’ll show. Here’s a picture of what the SERPs look like in 2017 for the word basketball. And here’s what they look like in 2019 for the word basketball.

[00:26:33] Alexis: and blow minds, (lol) it’s just changed so much.

[00:26:37] Tessa: It’s such a large, you know, switch, especially for things like site links. When you come to Dick’s Sporting goods, you know, typing in the branded term like, let’s just say two years ago used to be very brand focus the site links that would be shown it’s be different stores. The store locator. Now we’ll see things like sports equipment or anything that’s like trending, you know, are being poured in a site links. So we’re seeing more traffic shift a different ways and just being able to illustrate that and show it like live kind of like a hands on experience definitely helps with that.

[00:27:07] Alexis: All right, so I think we have two more questions. So you guys being a retail site are constantly in competition with Amazon? Do you have any general thoughts about this?

[00:27:21] Tessa: Yeah, sure. I think that Amazon is always a threat for retail

Alexis: slash every industry.(lol)

Tessa: Anything coming out. Yeah, they do pretty much everything. I don’t think that we felt the impact as hard as maybe some other industries. Just because I feel like a lot of the stuff that we sell

[00:27:44] Alexis: you’re known for

[00:27:45] Tessa: right and it’s not as popular. You know, to say on you Amazon, I feel like people still, you know, kind of like Dick’s is a big name in the game. You know, if you’re looking for some basketball shoes, or you know football gear. I feel like we’re still kind of like the dominant person in that industry. in the future, Do I think that it will become an issue? I think it’s definitely something that we need to at least be aware of and keep an eye on and kind of watch. You know what kind of like different things they’re trying like. How did their products that are similar to ours look, and those different things. So while we haven’t really felt a whole lot of impact yet, they’re definitely not someone to count out. Just like we said, they pretty much do everything. And I think another thing that we have, that they don’t have at the moment and I’m sure eventually will be coming is a lot of the stuff that we offer online. Also has like a counterpart in stores. So you know, baseball being a big thing while we do so bats, gloves, those different things. You know, we’re launching new store experiences where people can actually use those bats or, you know, a professional can help them, you know, fit the bat for themselves. Whereas with Amazon you’re kind of in the dark. You can use a sizing chart, but Dick’s has a lot of those different in store features that kind of, like, help the customer along their journey.

[00:29:00] Alexis: Yeah. And I think there’s something really special about getting your first baseball bat with your dad (Alexis note: or mom!), right? You know, we’re in store. Yeah. I mean, specifically, like my family would always go to Dick’s Sporting goods too to do that type of thing.

[00:29:15] Tessa: right? Like you’re fresh pair of cleats for, you know, softball season now, something like that. Yeah. I think we still

have a lot of that. Also, like emotional attachment. I Think Dick’s does a great job with that. We do have that kind of a special thing about us. Still, that kind of competes with the Amazon.

[00:29:28] Alexis: Nice. Alright. Any last thoughts before the closing question?

[00:29:32] Matt: No. Let’s go for it

[00:29:34] Alexis: Great. All right, so we did a little bit of top tips before, but so my question is, what are your three little nuggets of advice for a SEO working in eCommerce? This could be anything it could be interpersonal. It could be site related or SEO specific.

[00:29:51] Tessa: That’s a great question. I would say that the first one we talked a lot about this. Today is communication. You know, Not only do we expect to receive over-communication, we have to, you know, be held to the same standard to give over communications, so while, I know sometimes that could be like Just think about when you’re bombarded from emails from maybe someone like Dick’s Sporting goods and you kind of, like stopped caring as much. But, you know, we’ve seen a lot of success with just making sure that we keep people in the loop of things that we’re working on, or things that might impact their channel or just like how things went overall. So, you asked about data, so we share a lot of case studies of things

[00:30:30] Alexis: was going to say, It sounds like such a great idea.

[00:30:32] Tessa: So even though you know, it might not directly, you know, impact site merchandising. But maybe it’s tied to their area. It’s about baseball. So we just make sure that we communicate as much as possible. And then they do in return because, you know, we want to be good business partners. We don’t you know, just expect everything to be given to us and nothing in return. So making sure you have a really good balance relationship. And, you know, you stay on top of communication would be the first one.

[00:30:55] Alexis: And then how do you make time to build out those case studies? Because I know it sounds like you guys are running all day long. You have so much going on so many moving pieces and sometimes stepping back and appreciating all the hard work that you’ve done and putting it into a case study can be time consuming. Yeah, but so important towards like getting a cohesive team.

[00:31:13] Tessa:  Yeah, and that’s definitely something we put a focus on for 2019 is that we need to make sure that we’re doing that more often, and it is hard to find time because, because, you know, we don’t only work on dicks sporting goods, but we also work on field and stream in golf galaxy, which are, you know, also owned by Dick’s Sporting goods, two smaller sites. So a lot of our time, you know, kind of goes there. We just, you know, I have to find the time. I know that sounds very generic, but, you know, if it’s you know, half hour over lunch

[00:31:40] Alexis: case study Friday (lol)

[00:31:41] Tessa: half hour over lunch or, you know, you’re kind of just hanging out at home and, you know, at least gather your thoughts together, put him into one deck slide. We like to keep it simple, just so that everyone can understand from, you know, the vice president level all the way down to entry level. Yep. That way. You know, the information is kind of cohesive. And if someone is interested, we always, you know, have the details available for them. But

[00:32:06] Alexis: I like that idea, too. Because then if you get a one slide deck, you’re like, Oh, I’ll look at it… Yes, they opened it anyways, right now, and you can screen shot it in the emails, so they’re forced to look at it. Yeah, it’s about what’s in here.

Tessa: Try to draw the good stuff, bait him in to take a look.

Alexis: So yeah, but if you receive, like, a forty slide deck, right, you’re like, I’m never gonna be Oh, sorry. You know the executive somewhere, right? Yeah.

Tessa: Where? The bullets? Yes. Absolutely.

[00:32:31] Tessa: So overall, we just we make the time we make it happen. So communication and case studies the case, it is kind of like a little bonus. And yeah, it’s a nice thought in the number one. Number two, Number two. Let’s think here. Um, so, yeah, number one would definitely be communication.

[00:32:53] Matt: I was gonna say, Can I say something that might spark joy? I know that in Dick’s Sporting Goods you work, the SEO and SEM teams are very closely related. Yes. How do you create the connection between the two? And how do you work with each other to make sure that it’s kind of more symbiotic than it’s two separate teams just doing their own thing?

[00:33:21] Tessa: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I feel like over the years, like the last five years he’d read in order will be like, SEO and SEM should be working together. And like in theory, that’s great. And then when it came down and you sat down and you’re thinking, OK, how? That’s a really challenging. And like everyone thinks like SEO and SEM like one letter difference. They’re not that different. They’re interchangeable. So wrong. (lol)

They, you know, there’s a lot of differences, but we have recently there’s been a lot of restructuring at Dick’s, so we now are on the same team as SEM. We report off the same way. We have a lot more exposure of actually being in the same room versus being on opposite sides of the floor, which definitely helps. But just doing some brainstorming with them and kind of hearing how things go in their world sometimes sparks ideas on our end and vice versa. So we’ve done things where they have specialized ad copy for certain things, and we’ll give it a shot in SEO. And, you know, we’ll see like, how would that performing a title tag is that paid specific. It’s basically kind of trial and error at this point, so we’re definitely learning to work closely together. And, of course, if there’s a launch or something we’re very in sync with this is what Paid is doing. This is what I was doing. And a big part is there’s a lot of restrictions in paid search. So as far as like what you’re allowed to bid on and what’s okay. And pages that will kind of be aware of what their limitations are and kind of try to pick up our traffic in our areas. And then if we have limitations, you know, we’re not as authoritative in one area. Well, We can rely on them to pick up the traffic as well.

[00:35:08] Alexis: It’s like you guys are trying to symbiotically move forward. Yes. You know, it’s like, what can you do? What can I do? Where we limited, right?

[00:35:15] Matt: Is there You touch on this a little bit already, but is there a lot of data sharing between the two departments on what works and what doesn’t?

[00:35:25] Tessa: It probably could be better. I don’t think it’s terrible at the moment. So if we do, you know, work with them on, you know, some kind of, you know, copy that were using anything, we will share the results, but there’s a lot of going back and forth to check to see, You know, if we’re seeing a decline for a certain thing we’re like, is paid picking it up. So that’s what the sharing comes in a lot. So same thing for them that we didn’t perform this one as well this year for, you know, these paid terms like how is SEO performing, you know, was your traffic up in those areas, and we can kind of go back and forth to say like, we’re not losing the traffic it’s just shifting channels.

Alexis: So it’s like a basketball game because our passing the ball to each other! (lol)

Matt: Got to get those sports analogies in… (lol)  

Alexis: Symbiotic relationship with paid,

[00:36:08] Tessa: Yeah, that and then I would say the third is don’t forget the basics. We’re all like you said, We’re always running in different areas. So, like, we’re caught up like, Okay, there’s a new Kyrie launched this week or their, you know, site merch is, you know, building these pages or IT is putting together this new framework when we really need to make sure that we don’t forget about, like, our page is still being indexed, like taking a look and search console and making sure that, like our index pages looks correct. If you know it should be one hundred thousand, it’s four hundred thousand like those basic things there and making sure that you know title tags were displaying correctly, and they’re, you know, they’re being rendered properly and just like checking those things looking at, like the clicks and the click through rate, making sure that everything is how it should be. You know, just a basic things that we try to like sometimes be, like, escalating, like it could be this problem, like, is the site down like all these crazy things when we’re like, Okay, we need to make sure that we’re checking, you know, check the basics, make sure the page is next, you know, Is it the desktop version? Are people getting to the mobile page somehow and just making sure that we keep those fundamentals of SEO in mind and don’t get carried away with like testing and technologies and some of those different things.

[00:37:24] Matt: A lot of those ideas sound kind of simple, but you have a huge site with tons of different areas. You have all these existing pages that you have to keep track of. Plus, their new launch is all the time. How do you handle keeping track of all? At the same time?

[00:37:43] Tessa: It’s difficult. I’m not gonna lie. What I say the basics

are is probably like you said, it may be like mind blowing to someone else. So, yeah, we do have a very complex set up in the moment, like we’re so running on an m dot you know so we have a mobile version of the site, and then we also have the desktop version of the site. We also run a proxy solution just because we’ve had technical limitations in the past, so that’s almost like a third version of the site. So the site plays differently with different, you know, URL structures and different technologies, and it’s definitely hard to keep track of, you know, we have people on our team that are very specialized in a certain area. So I’ve been working on kind of those technical aspects for quite some time now. So it’s a lot easier for me to just be like we’ve seen these issues in the past, kind of like learning from the stakes, right, because they’re doing the same thing over and over again. So we just make sure that we write things now. We keep kind of tracker of site events like this happened in two thousand seventeen and we’ll see the are we anniversary-ing that? just kind of like having a high-level strategy that, you know, that works, being organized. Because if you’re not organized, things can go to hell in a handbasket pretty quick. (lol) So it’s definitely hard to manage. Yeah, um, just keeping on top of it, working and making sure that we’re leveraging everyone that we can. So, you know, a lot of people have it like I’d rather do it myself attitude. I’m one of them, but I have to keep in mind that we have to keep everyone in the loop to make sure that it’s something crazy isn’t happening like we saw, you know, something crazy happened, PDP (product pages). There’s a team which our products that’s responsible for those who like communicating with them, say, like any big changes, stuff like that, so while, it’s hard to manage, it’s definitely something that you get used to and kind of like in a process for. But, yeah, it’s a challenge.

Matt: All interesting stuff!

[00:39:33] Alexis: All right, So we got communications, symbiotic relationship with paid. Stick with the basics and stay organized. Yes. Yeah. Sounds simple, but very complex. Harder. Easier said than done. Yes, Absolutely. Thank you so much for coming on our podcast today. Tessa as well as Matt. I thought this was thoroughly enjoyable.

Tessa: Yes. Thanks for having me. It was awesome.

Matt: Pleasure, to see you and talk to you Tessa!

Alexis: Thank you, Ciao.