How Pearl Lemon Helped a UK Vape Company Achieve a 1,000% Increase in Impressions and Higher Sales

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Overview

This case study examines the challenges and successes of a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign Pearl Lemon undertook for a UK-based e-commerce business selling vape products. The business is a UK-based e-commerce business that specializes in selling a wide variety of vape products, including e-liquids, devices, and accessories.

The business had recently launched its online store using the Shopify platform and came to Pearl Lemon looking for help in both establishing a strong presence in the SERPs and, of course, increasing traffic and conversions while establishing the company as a leading brand in this increasingly competitive space.

The Challenges

This project came with a number of special challenges, some of which related to the industry the client operates in—the age-restricted sale of vape products—and others to the nature of the Shopify platform itself.

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Legal Restrictions for UK-based E-commerce Stores Selling Vape Products and Their Impact on SEO

UK-based e-commerce stores selling vape products, like our client, are subject to numerous legal restrictions to ensure the responsible sale of these age-restricted items. These regulations can have a direct and indirect impact on SEO strategies for such businesses. The following are some of the key legal restrictions and their potential effects on SEO:

Age Verification:

In the UK, it is illegal to sell vape products to anyone under the age of 18. Therefore, online retailers must implement an age verification system to confirm the customer’s age before allowing access to the website or completing a purchase.

SEO impact: Implementing age verification can affect SEO in several ways. Firstly, it may slow down the site’s loading time, which is an essential ranking factor for search engines. Secondly, search engine crawlers may have difficulty accessing and indexing the site’s content due to age-gating, which can negatively impact organic search visibility.

To minimise these effects, it is crucial to use an efficient age verification system that does not significantly impact site speed and allows search engine crawlers to access the site’s content.

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Advertising and Promotion Restrictions:

The UK has strict regulations surrounding the advertising and promotion of vape products. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) prohibits the direct or indirect promotion of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components to non-smokers, non-nicotine users, and people under the age of 18.

 

SEO impact: These advertising restrictions limit the ways vape retailers can promote their products through content marketing, social media, and other online channels. As a result, businesses must focus on creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content that targets their specific audience without violating the ASA guidelines. This requires a more cautious approach to keyword usage, backlink acquisition, and content distribution.

 

Health Claims:

Retailers selling vape products in the UK are not allowed to make unsubstantiated health claims regarding their products, such as suggesting that they are less harmful than smoking cigarettes, without robust evidence and proper authorization.

SEO impact: This restriction requires businesses to be mindful of the language used in their website content, product descriptions, and marketing materials. It is essential to avoid making explicit or implied health claims that could potentially lead to penalties or the removal of content from search engine results.

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Product Packaging and Labelling:

Legal Restrictions: Vape products in the UK must adhere to strict packaging and labelling requirements, including displaying health warnings, nicotine content, and other mandatory information.

SEO impact: While this restriction may not directly impact SEO, it is crucial for businesses to ensure that their website accurately reflects the packaging and labelling of their products. This helps to maintain trust and credibility with consumers and search engines alike.

 

Shopify Related Challenges to Effective Technical SEO

Shopify, as an e-commerce platform, provides lots of advantages for e-commerce businesses like our client, including ease of use, scalability, and a wide range of themes and plugins. 

However, when it comes to technical SEO, Shopify presents some unique challenges compared to other CMS types, such as WordPress, Magento, or custom-built websites. Here are a few key differences:

Limited access to server files and code: One of the primary challenges with Shopify is the limited access to server files and code. On platforms like WordPress or Magento, webmasters have full control over their website’s codebase and can easily make changes to important files, such as the.htaccess file or robots.txt. This allows for greater flexibility in implementing technical SEO fixes.

In contrast, Shopify does not provide the same level of access, which can make it more difficult to address specific technical SEO issues.

 

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URL structure limitations: Shopify has a predefined URL structure for product, collection, and blog pages that cannot be fully customised. This can result in less optimal URLs for SEO purposes, as they may contain unnecessary parameters or not be structured in the most user-friendly way.

Often, other CMS platforms like WordPress or Magento offer greater control over URL structures, allowing for better customization and more SEO-friendly URLs.

Theme-related constraints: The SEO-friendliness of Shopify themes can vary significantly, with some lacking essential features such as schema markup, mobile responsiveness, or proper heading tags. 

As a result, choosing the right theme is crucial to minimise potential technical SEO issues. Other CMS platforms, like WordPress, often offer a broader range of themes that cater to various SEO needs, making it easier to find a theme that aligns with best practices.

Limited control over page templates: Shopify uses a template-based system that may not provide the same level of control over page layouts and elements as other CMS types. This can make it more challenging to implement certain on-page optimizations, such as customising heading tags or adding structured data. 

 

In comparison, platforms like WordPress and Magento offer greater flexibility in designing and modifying page templates to accommodate specific SEO requirements.

App-dependent solutions: Many technical SEO adjustments on Shopify may require the use of third-party apps, which can introduce additional costs, potential compatibility issues, or complexities in managing multiple plugins. 

On other CMS platforms, such as WordPress, many SEO features are built-in or can be added using widely available and well-supported plugins, making it easier to address technical SEO concerns.

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Establishing a Presence for a New E- Commerce Business in a Competitive Space

Establishing a presence for a new e-commerce business like our client’s in a competitive space requires overcoming numerous challenges, including gaining visibility in search engine results, building brand awareness and trust, competing on price and product offerings, acquiring customers, and managing customer expectations.

New businesses must develop and execute well-planned strategies to differentiate themselves from competitors and achieve success in the crowded e-commerce landscape.

Our Approach

Our vape client, when approaching us, let us know that theirs was a challenge that other SEO agencies they had spoken with had been reluctant to take on, as it presented a number of issues that are not commonly found when planning SEO campaigns for e-commerce businesses.

This is something we have heard before from other clients operating in “difficult spaces,” including this industry as well as niches like alcohol sales and gambling. However, the markets for these offerings are huge, and effective SEO can provide lots of positive results.

Pearl Lemon prides itself on being up for these kinds of challenges and has successfully worked with businesses in all of these verticals, so if you are told your business cannot benefit from SEO because of similar issues, you aren’t talking to the right people!

In working with this client, we’d like to offer you an overview here of the SEO work we performed for them to give you a better idea of how excellent results are achieved via good SEO, no matter what the ‘special challenges’ might be.

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Extensive, Targeted Keyword Research

We conducted a thorough analysis of the industry, competitors, and target audience to identify high-value, relevant, and attainable keywords that would drive organic traffic to our client’s fledgling online vape store. Our research process involved several key steps and tools to ensure a comprehensive and effective keyword strategy.

Understanding the target audience: We started by gaining an in-depth understanding of our client’s target audience, including their demographics, preferences, and common search queries. This helped us identify the types of keywords and topics that would resonate with potential customers and drive engagement.

Analysing competitors: We conducted a thorough analysis of the top competitors in the UK vape industry that our client was up against to understand which keywords they were targeting and ranking for. This provided valuable insights into potential keyword opportunities and gaps that they could capitalise on to gain a competitive edge.

Utilising keyword research tools: We employed various keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs, to gather data on search volume, competition, and search intent. 

These tools allowed us to identify a wide range of keywords, including primary, secondary, and long-tail keywords, that would maximise the potential for organic traffic and conversions.

Evaluating keyword difficulty and opportunity: To ensure a balanced keyword strategy, we assessed the difficulty and opportunity of each target keyword. We prioritised keywords with a lower level of competition but a high potential for traffic and conversions. 

This approach allowed us to target both quick wins and long-term growth opportunities.

Grouping and mapping keywords: After identifying our target keywords, we grouped them into relevant themes and mapped them to specific pages on the website.

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This process helped us optimise the site’s content and structure, ensuring that each page targeted a specific set of keywords and aligned with the user’s search intent.

By following this detailed keyword research process, we were able to develop a comprehensive and effective keyword strategy for our client. This strategy formed the foundation of our SEO efforts, driving organic traffic to the site and improving search engine visibility for a diverse range of keywords in the highly competitive vape industry.

This kind of in-depth keyword research, although time-consuming, is a must for any e-commerce store. By taking the time to complete it—or having an SEO agency complete it for you—the ROI on such an investment will provide you with both short-term SEO gains and search visibility longevity.

Technical SEO and Overcoming Shopify Limitations

To enhance the site’s performance and user experience, we conducted a comprehensive technical SEO audit on the Shopify platform, identifying and addressing any issues that could impact search engine visibility. While Shopify has certain limitations, we devised strategies to overcome these challenges and optimise the site to the fullest extent possible.

Limited server access: While Shopify restricts access to server files and certain code, we leveraged the platform’s inbuilt features and third-party apps to make the necessary optimizations. For instance, we used the Shopify theme editor to optimise and minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files to improve site loading speed.

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URL structure: Although Shopify’s predefined URL structures can be limiting, we worked within these constraints to make URLs as SEO-friendly as possible. We ensured that product, collection, and blog URLs contained relevant keywords and were descriptive and easily understandable by both users and search engines.

Theme-related constraints: We carefully selected a Shopify theme that was not only visually appealing but also optimised for SEO. We ensured that the chosen theme had essential features such as schema markup, mobile responsiveness, and proper heading tag structures. In cases where the theme did not provide certain SEO features, we utilised third-party apps or custom code snippets to add the required functionality.

Page templates: Shopify’s template-based system may not offer the same level of control over page layouts and elements as other CMS types, but we worked within these constraints to implement on-page optimizations. We customised available templates to accommodate specific SEO requirements, such as adding custom heading tags, structured data, and additional content sections.

App-dependent solutions: We carefully assessed and selected third-party apps to address specific technical SEO concerns, ensuring that they were reliable, well-supported, and compatible with the site’s theme and other apps. For example, we used apps to enable advanced features such as AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) implementation, custom meta tag editing, and improved schema markup.

By implementing these strategies, we managed to overcome some of the limitations of the Shopify platform and enhance the site’s technical SEO, ultimately improving search engine visibility and the user experience.

As an e-commerce business owner, you too can make Shopify work for you and take advantage of the many positives it does offer. By adopting these strategies, you can effectively address Shopify’s technical SEO limitations and enhance your site’s search engine visibility and user experience.

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A Careful Content Strategy

We developed a comprehensive content strategy that focused on creating high-quality, engaging, and informative content for our vape store client’s target audience. Our approach included various types of content and formats, ensuring a diverse range of resources that catered to different user needs and preferences.

Blog posts: We created a series of blog posts covering topics such as vaping tips, industry trends, product reviews, and comparisons. These posts helped establish our client as a thought leader and valuable resource in the industry, while also targeting relevant keywords to improve search engine visibility.

Product guides: We developed in-depth product guides that provided users with detailed information on how to choose the right vape products, accessories, and e-liquids based on their preferences and needs. These guides not only educated users but also guided them toward making informed purchasing decisions.

Educational resources: To cater to users at different stages of their vaping journey, we created educational resources such as beginner’s guides, tutorials, and FAQs. These resources addressed the common questions and concerns of vape users and helped build trust with the target audience.

Videos and tutorials: We produced engaging video content, including product demonstrations, how-to tutorials, and videos featuring industry experts. This content format provided a more interactive and immersive experience for users, increasing the likelihood of sharing and engagement.

Infographics and visual content: We designed eye-catching infographics and visual content to present information in an easily digestible and shareable format. These visual assets not only enhanced the user experience but also increased the chances of earning backlinks from other websites.

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Strategic Linkbuilding

Effective linkbuilding, while one of the oldest aspects of SEO, is still one of the most crucial to any SEO campaign’s success. 

Often, businesses operating in restricted e-commerce, like the vape industry, are told that building good links without resorting to blackhat techniques (that will ultimately irreparably damage their site, even if they give a few quick wins) is nigh on impossible. Our work with this UK vape company proves that this is far from the case. To be blunt, you just have to know what you are doing! 

Firstly, we built relationships with industry influencers to collaborate on content creation, sponsorships, and guest blogging, which helped earn links back to the company’s website. By establishing the brand as an industry leader, we attracted organic links from reputable sources.

Secondly, we leveraged local SEO strategies such as listing the business on Google My Business, local directories, and community websites. This improved the visibility of the website, attracted more local customers, and earned backlinks.

Thirdly, we created engaging content such as infographics, how-to guides, and educational videos that were informative and shareable. By providing value to the audience, we attracted backlinks from other websites that appreciated the quality of the content.

Fourthly, we participated in online forums to share knowledge and provide value to vaping enthusiasts. By establishing the brand as an authority in the industry, we earned backlinks from reputable websites.

Finally, we strongly advocated ethical link building practices that avoided unethical tactics like buying links or using link farms. By focusing on high-quality content and building relationships with industry influencers, we earned backlinks that were both reputable and effective.

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The Results

Within the space of just a few months, Pearl Lemon helped this UK vape company achieve significant improvements in its website’s visibility and search engine rankings. Here are just some of the results of the campaign:

  • The website’s search volume increased significantly, receiving over 10,000 organic visits per month within just three months.
  • Impressions to the website increased from 992 to over 11,000, representing an increase of over 1,000%.
  • The website’s click-through rate increased from 3% to over 10% within three months.
  • The number of backlinks to the website increased significantly, improving the website’s domain authority and search engine rankings.
  • The website achieved a higher ranking on Google search results, resulting in increased organic traffic and more sales.
These impressive results demonstrate the effectiveness of our SEO campaign in improving the website’s visibility, attracting targeted traffic, and ultimately driving more sales for the client. By utilising a comprehensive range of SEO tactics, we were able to achieve the client’s goals and establish their brand as a leading player in the industry.
 
If you’re facing similar challenges with your SEO, Pearl Lemon is here to help. We have a wealth of experience in developing effective SEO campaigns for a variety of industries, and we’re committed to delivering results that meet your specific goals. 
 
Whether you’re dealing with CMS limitations, legal restrictions, social network limitations, or any other challenge, we have the expertise and skills to help you overcome them and achieve your desired outcomes.
 
Our team of SEO experts uses ethical and effective SEO tactics to drive results for our clients, and we are constantly staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in the industry. With our tailored approach and focus on delivering measurable results, you can trust that your SEO campaign is in good hands with Pearl Lemon.
 
Don’t let SEO challenges hold your business back any longer. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your SEO goals.
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