Voopoo Drag UK • What’s vaping got to do with it?

Voopoo Drag UK is according to Ahrefs a particularly prized search term right now in my own industry of vaping. It has a high organic traffic reach with a low keyword difficulty. We decided to test whether backlinks still truly matter.

What are backlinks in SEO?

Backlinks are essentially a vote of confidence in your website from another website, ‘behind the scenes’ that drives awareness of your site or page from another source. Well it kind of is anyway. It’s simply when another website or blog or social site makes reference to a page on your site within an article.

So why does a backlink matter?

Well despite all the algorithm updates from Google and so forth, what really distinguishes your site as a beacon of trust and consumer confidence is the number of other sites that make reference to it. Now as you can imagine, a link from Forbes about us page would have a far higher value to your site than one from Dirtyhousewives.info but you get the gist.

If Google is working out who’s page on ‘Voopoo Drag UK’ should come up first, with all other metrics being equal, it will be the backlinks that make the difference. Who has more votes of confidence.

Make sense?

So what is Voopoo Drag UK?

Well it’s really a long tail keyword chain of a popular vape kit manufacturer that is being hunted down by consumers in the UK. And it’s getting a decent amount of organic traffic.

It’s also got a low keyword difficulty. That means, to get in the top 10 results, you need less hard work than to rank for something like Vape, which has a far higher Keyword Difficulty.

Imagine this analogy – there is one bar of gold in a field being tracked down by 100 people and one equivalent bar of gold in a field with only 3 people looking for it. Which field are you going to enter?

The one with less competition right? And that’s what keyword difficulty is all about.

So how does Voopoo Vape come into it?

Well as a CBD oil and vape retailer in my other life, I am constantly testing the effectiveness of keyword research and the tools to boost SEO, so we are going to make a handful of blogs and podcasts and embed a specific URL to our page on our Vape shop site, and then come back in a month and report on it.

So that’s it, stay tuned to see what happened. Will do Smok Alien next – yes this is a backlink 😉

October 4 – Google rank for Voopoo Drag UK


How to start a shop

How to find the right location for a shop

How to start a shop, or how to find the right location for a shop. This is something we long thought of in our early years at Vape and Juice and we revisit it all the time as and when we expand our store territory. We thought it would be helpful then, if we made a short tutorial for you. This is our 7 top tips for finding the right shop location.

Getting the right location for a shop can be make or break. If you are a larger business with higher revenues, maybe you can swallow a loss. But for those businesses that are making their first steps in retail, it’s fundamental you get it right from day 1.

What makes us tick

I want to help anyone who follows our blog, to know that we are about adding value. So we put together this short video, to help you find out whether you are onto a winner. So if you are searching online, how to start a shop – then you should watch this retail video now.

How to start a shop

If you found this short info video useful, then we have an expanded version breaking it all down for you coming soon. You can stay on top of new videos we release at our new youtube channel The MOB Show.

In this video coming and the video above we break down our top seven criteria for finding the right location for a shop. These include:

  1. Position
  2. Accessibility
  3. Competitor analysis
  4. Services
  5. Complimentary businesses nearby
  6. Are your customers close by
  7. Lease conditions

These are not all of the factors you need to look at when taking over a new shop for your retail business. But considering these together will definitely put your on the right track. Ultimately it’s about balancing the potential risk reward also. If you have little to lose with a flexible lease and you are the only business of your type, then not ticking other boxes may be fine.

How to start a shop is a series of podcasts and videos that will chronicle our journey of opening a new retail business. If you would rather listen about our journey on how to start a shop via podcast, then check out those feeds here.


How to boost conversion rates

Buy or die.

I was staring at the Lucky Orange heatmap plug in, recanting this to myself, watching the the customer’s cursor travel across the page. Hovering over the proceed to checkout button, while I watch on chewing the inside of my cheek.

Then just like that, the user exits and the reality that I didn’t understand what was going on; dawned on me.

Welcome to the world of conversion rates.

What are Conversion Rates?

So put very simply, the moment when a prospect, or lead, that has arrived on your site and executes the planned course of action that your business is set up for; then you have converted them. If they leave or exit the site before committing to a purchase, an order etc, then that is a failed conversion. That is crudely the answer to ‘What are conversion rates’.

Different industries have different industry averages. For my own business Vape and Juice in the ECig industry, the average is approx 3%. A year back we saw our conversion rates at around 0.9%. Woefully lower than what is expected. It stood to reason, then that if we simply got our conversion rate to the industry baseline, we would see a significant growth in sales. And this is why it is fundamental to monitor conversions.

How do you monitor conversion rates?

As a Shopify e-commerce platform, we have access to a suite of great pre-built apps. These pre built apps or plug ins, allow you to add functionality to your site without paying for unique coding. One of those apps is called Lucky Orange, which is a monitoring app. It creates heatmaps identifying the following:

  • Where users move their cursor to
  • Which pages users visit most
  • The speed at which a user moves through the site
  • When a user bounces off the page and leaves

These heatmaps are hugely valuable for identifying pinch points on your site or points where the user is irritated. Watching like an online shopping stalker, you can spot the moments that the user experience breaks down. We discover broken links that got missed, we discover all types of ways that we can make the journey through our site easier. This is the value of a heatmap.

What can I do to improve conversion rates?

Improving conversion rates is made that much easier by watching the browsing history of those who leave the site. You can spot items such as:

  • Broken links
  • Poor images
  • Unclear product description
  • Poor colour pallette of the site
  • Button size too small on mobile leading to fat finger clicks
  • Price not kept current
  • Shipping information not clear
  • Shipping price not current
  • FAQs don’t answer questions required
  • Page load too slow
  • Page information too overwhelming
  • Poor user experience

There really is a huge amount of information that you can absorb from monitoring heatmaps. And besides offers such as freeshipping, we identify this one app as the key for us to change our conversion rates to industry averages now.

Our next goal is to grow traffic and sales. But by working on the conversion rates at this stage, means the site is more likely to capture more traffic and sales as a simplified user experience makes word of mouth marketing more likely.

We hope you have found this blog piece useful. If you have any questions on this ‘how to improve conversion rates’ post then stick them in the box underneath. If you want to stay on top of the latest podcast from The MOB show, then head here to see the latest episode.

Do Paid Backlinks Work?

Do paid backlinks work? This is something we found we wanted to test this month. Read on to see how we got on and how we ended up at that question. This blog is all about growing traffic to your ecommerce site.

So we recently took the time to view our domain and page authority on a retail site we host on Shopify. News just in; it’s pretty whack.

Our site the guinea pig

The Online vape shop Vape and Juice has been active now since 2014 in some form but has always been a minor part of our business in terms of retail channels. Primarily we operate offline through bricks and mortar locations around the South East of the UK. Vaping online suffers from a common problem amongst ‘vice’ industries with a restriction on AdWords and Facebook advertising. Because of this, we always followed the path of least resistance.

By path of least resistance I am talking about, ‘which is the easiest route to growing my business’. Think about it, in your own business, which route generates growth in a way that you hate your life a little less? For us, it was easier to open a shop on a street, with actual humans with a specific amount of stock, than it was to win an extra customer online. We literally couldn’t do it.

Then someone told us to check our conversion rates.

“Our conversion whats?”

Penny drops


So we were having a 0.8% conversion ratio. The industry average for FMCG* is 3% online, if we could simply tweak the likelihood that someone would buy and not ‘die’ then we would see revenue growth online. We suddenly found a new path of least resistance. The sales were there, we just had to close the deal more.

How to grow ecommerce revenues

So there are two routes here:
1. Improve conversion in your basket or at the point of a browser dwelling on your products

2. Increase traffic to your site.

In this post we are going to cover the second topic, ‘increase traffic to your site’. Easier said than done. so there are a few ways you can do this.

How to grow traffic to a website

  1. Boosted posts. These are posts shared on Instagram and Facebook that are sponsored to reach more people. If you get the right message in front of more people, then you are going to give yourself a greater chance of grabbing some traffic
  2. CPC. Cash per click, is similar to boosted posts, in that they are financially supported traffic drivers. With CPC you can pay to win leads, raise awareness, send traffic to a site. A ton of options really you can do and you can use a host of platforms for this. Including, Facebook, Google Adwords, Bing, even Waze traffic app.
  3. Organic content. This is all about creating quality organic content that is found by search engines that link back to your site and say “Hey, these folks are putting out really good stuff, go there first”. This takes time but is cost efficient long term, as it creates passive traffic. Passive traffic is the kind of traffic that keeps heading to your site via well ranked pages even long in the future.

Lets talk about number 3 which will lead us to the question, do paid backlinks work?

What is organic content?

Organic content and SEO are part of the same stable. SEO means, search engine optimisation, which in essence, is about making your site as search engine friendly as possible. Besides crafting interesting content to do this, there are structural items that need to ticked off also. Such as putting in meta descriptions, the correct page headings, the right spelling and language. You will need to make sure images have alt tags etc etc. In fact there are a ton of items that need to be done to your website to make it search engine friendly completely separate from your actual content.

Let’s imagine you have done those. (If you haven’t check out our blog on site wide SEO for beginners.) So you have crafted a ton of blog posts, you have gone through them to make sure that each has a central keyword it’s focusing on. You have added feature images and you have organised them in a clear way to be found. You have even checked out Google’s keyword planner to ensure you are writing about current trending topics to ensure your content is something that is wanted. Now you might think, now the traffic should come rolling in – but wait, remember the blog title: “Do paid for backlinks work?” Well you need to have a site with a strong domain authority AND page authority.

Do paid backlinks work?

This means Google considers your site trustworthy. This can be a long process and may take many months and years. It is done by ensuring that over the long term your site has got links back to itself from other trusted sources. This is where SEO and organic content marketing becomes a long play. Have you set up a business listing for your company before and Yelp or Foursquare asked for your website url in the bio section? Well that is a backlink. Now consider getting thousands of them. Seems like an horrendous task doesn’t it. Which is why we put together this blog, on do paid backlinks work.

PPH – People per hour

We make a lot of use of the site People Per Hour, which is a great resource for outsourcing design and marketing jobs. We all get a little snowed under sometimes or maybe we have a side project that we want to speed up. When that happens, we use PPH. It’s leagues ahead of it’s rival Fiverr, which markets itself on smaller lower quality jobs and we have used it to find some great long term outsourcers. This website was loaded from one.

A number of the marketing tools advertised on PPH are services that offer the ability to rank your site higher by using paid back links. This means they have tools in place to list your site with a wide number of high ranking sites offering back links back to your own site. If this is done in a haphazard approach, it’s undeniably dangerous to your site’s ranking. Google’s algorithm will destroy you, it will mark as spammy. But done in a slow methodical approach it’s allegedly quite effective. We did some competitor analysis using SEMrush, which is a free tool and we could see the largest players in our sector had a substantial amount of quality backlinks heading to their site. So our test was to see for a $500 commitment if this would change much with an outsourcer.

Who are we using to find out if paid backlinks work?

The project being an important test meant we aimed for a Top Cert member of the PPH community. We used a member called ‘D Green’ who had over 3000 reviews. The service offers:

  • 100% Manual SEO Service
    – All White Hat Work
    – Tier 1: 90+ High Quality Backlinks- 15 Top Social bookmarking sites
    – 5 Blogposts on High Authority UK sites
    – Links from wikis x 5
    – High quality web 2.0 miniblogs(3-5 niche blogposts/blog) x 5
    – 10 High Quality Doc Submissions
    – 10 Press Release Links
    – 1 Video creation+ 5 video submission
    – Youtube video – 2000 views + 5 comments + 25 likes
    – Profile links on High Authority UK sites x 10
    – 10 High Authority UK Business Directory Submissions
    – 10 High Quality UK Citation Submissions
    – 5 High Quality UK Classified Submissions
    – Social Signals: Over 500+ Social Signals – MUST HAVE FOR NEW OCT 2018 ALGORITHMS!

Our domain authority right now

So with this package sitting there waiting to be tested, we thought, lets be guinea pigs. If it works, great, if it doesn’t then it’s tested this for once and for all. This is not to say we don’t believe in the value of backlinks; they are HUGELY important, but we wanted to test if the process could be sped up a touch. After all, not every ecommerce business out there is going to be able to get a write up in the Washington Post or Daily Telegraph online. So stay tuned, we have posted below our current domain authority details:

do paid back links work

Follow us for a future update in 30 days on: do paid backlinks work.

From Prison to Profit – The Second Chance Saloon

The idea of a UK startup podcast is rare. A UK startup podcast for those who have hit rock bottom and come back up, rarer still. From a young age I always knew I wanted to work for myself. For many years though, I just went about it the wrong way. In truth, there really are no short cuts to hard work. I felt that my journey from sinner to, maybe partial winner could be one that inspires others, so here goes.

In 2012, I walked out of the prison system having spent time in salubrious hell-holes like HMP Wandsworth below and began a journey that made me witness first hand, how difficult it is to rejoin society on career street.

From prison to profit - the business podcast

I left prison with a £49 discharge grant, barely enough to pay for the train home, I had no job, no permanent home and no prospect of little prospect of either. 75% of those who follow this path, end up back within 5 years.

I sent out scores of CVs and made no attempt to hide my past misdemeanours. While I was aware it’s important to promote your good sides, I didn’t want to trip up at a later date with a criminal disclosure. Safe to say, honesty was not an entirely winning policy.

After too many mornings, lounging under a duvet my wife gave me an ultimatum. “I didn’t date a bum, your life isn’t over, so start it again.”

Well the boss had spoken.

6 years later, I have founded a handful of companies, employed hundreds of staff across Europe and have generated annual multi-million revenues in at least two of them. Check them out, The Skinny Kitchen and Vape and Juice.

I began this site because I believe making your own way in life is completely do-able with even just a few shekels in your pocket. If I can do it, so can you. It’s literally, fail, fail, fail again, and then win. If you are asking yourself how to get a job after prison.  Maybe you are trapped in the prison of a job you don’t like. If you want to make a career from a passion you do like, then I want to help you.

Follow my podcast here, add your comments and if you have a prison success story, I want to hear from you. Drop me a message and let’s get you on the podcast show, ‘From Prison to Profit’.

I hope you get some inspiration from all this, stay tuned to The MOB Show, the UK Startup podcast stream

When disruptive companies lose their way

Written first by the author in Medium.com 

While putting together my small business podcast show, I find spectacular ways to irritate myself. Here’s one such incident, that led me to putting together this piece.

A story about Stripe,

Okay, so not just about the Stripe payment company. But the frequency with which disruptive start-ups grow rapidly and quickly lose the values they launched with. This type of inane, go nowhere writing, I believe is a thought piece. Well I have decided to thought piece my face off, so permit me this indulgence.

As part of the Medium.com writer setup, it asks you to register with Stripe. Not entirely sure why, but I am not about to lecture them on how they run their processes. While filling in the online application I am asked if I have my own website. I do, it’s the CBD Dispensary I write. I continue to complete the form, and then start my own piece of writing for the day.

The first email from Stripe

The following day an email lands in my gmail.

“Hi this Stripe, you guys sling dope, we aren’t down with that, so we can’t give you a Stripe account for it.”

Okay, admittedly, that was not exactly how their email was worded, but words to that effect. A little contextation there. Now, I’m confused, why am I being denied a payment gateway from Stripe for my online CBD shop? I didn’t ask them for one and I am not entirely sure I can even use Stripe on my EKM hosting system. I replied:

“Hi Guys,

I think you are getting a bit confused here, this application came to you via the Medium writer’s program. I am not looking for a Stripe system for my online CBD shop. It was compulsory to apply for Stripe in order to open a writing account with Medium. Do you know what Medium is? I have a CBD business AND I like to write. Neither are related and nor is the Stripe facility.

Please can we get this sorted as it would seem tremendously unfair, clunky and arbitrary to punish those who work in the Cannabis space, from being able to monetise their written word as any one else can.



Again, minor adjustments to text, I wrote this post out earlier while in the gym but the app didn’t draft it, when the phone battery died.

My reply was an automated one, saying the same as before.

I replied again, this time I got a human, who in a slightly different format, repeated the above, and now desperately working out how an irritating human had got round their customer service system. (Its three emails guys, then you get a ‘live-blood’.) I had a fourth email from them a few hours later, not really making any sense, which is a clever move. They have upskilled their email reply to literally throw the conversation in a way that has no as yet worldly produced reply. While I couldn’t really give a hoot, if I get a share of Medium revenue for writing, I am only using this as a business diary; I do care when companies who claiming to be disruptive, claiming to be changing the face of the world, become exactly what they disrupted. Stripe have become nothing more than a Visa, a Mastercard, a Global Payments etc.

They are no longer disrupting, they are simply getting comfortable. We had the same issues in the past, when we were offered their services for our Shopify platform on a vape company.

The Bigger Picture

Why, a product that is entirely legal to sell and use in our jurisdiction and theirs, is prohibited from being transacted via their gateway? Why are they creating their own micro laws?

I can live without Stripe, I have a relationship with established firm Sagepay who treat me as a human. Which is strange when they are an enormous company and the likes of Stripe, would have you believe, they are the devil. In this case, Stripe is bad, Sagepay is great.

But this is the inherent problem of so many companies who start up as a challenger to the established order, here to change the lives of the ordinary and unleash an iconoclastic bombardment on the extraordinary of the world — they can’t help themselves. Power corrupts. Let’s look at Google, who engineered their own paid for shopping advertised items to appear at the top of their google shopping feeds. Take a look at Facebook who had to climb back from their data sharing. Where they sold to big shady entities for political and espionage reasons. Have a look at Amazon who run their marketplace system to monitor what the new product trends are. Then identify what they need to stock, to win trade from their business clients who list on there.

In the banking sector, banks lent to commercial enterprises. When those banks had smashed up their own liquidity markets with dangerous play; they foreclosed on those businesses who couldn’t afford to pay higher rates. Sold their assets and made profits on those entities as well as getting their original money back. Nice.

So Stripe have a little way to go to really match their peers, but making their own arbitrary rules with no foundation on any legal grounds in some of their biggest markets, is really a step in that direction.

And don’t get me started on Seedrs the Crowdfunding platform. More about that one soon.

Small Business Podcast

If you found this interesting, listen to actual audio here. If you are looking for a small business podcast show, then check out our Prison to Profit show.



Apps Rule Everything Around Me

Listen in while I take the time to review the latest apps that have fallen across my lap. I love apps, so I spend a little time every week or so, to check what apps are new on my google play listings.

Starting with Bad and Boujee, Migos feat lil Uzi Vert in case you wanted to know…

This week I talk about Slack, the social work collaborative app, RotaCloud, MozLocal and Lucky Orange. Lucky Orange is a plug in app used by us on Shopify, which allows you to monitor real time user movement across your ecommerce sites. It also is a great weapon for identifying friction on your site. Essentially, where are users struggling, what bits make them bristle with ange and bounce off your site.

Moz Local covers your local business SEO. Just as an SEO score tells you where your website will show up on Google, your local SEO is more focused where your local business that serves regional communities, is likely to rank. This is PARAMOUNT for any offline business that wants to be found. It’s free to use, there are upgrade versions  but this needs to be put into your to-do list to check out.

If you want to get found offline check out this podcast today.

Click here to listen: https://anchor.fm/appsrule/episodes/The-Hustle—Apps-Rule-Everything-Around-Me-e15kr6