Max Robinson, marketing manager of ScotlandShop.com. The company was founded in 2002 selling Scottish crafts, gifts and goods. Max’s talked to me about this global business and the decision behind the name and TLD that was chosen.
Mike: Before we dig in, tell me a little bit about your business.
Max: Scotland Shop is an online store for Scottish gifts, mainly consisting of specialist tartans. The business delivers globally, and was founded with the intention of supporting the development of the local rural economy by working with local designers. Although Scotland Shop does have a loyal following, having a strong organic presence is very important for the business as there are many competitors out there who offer similar products.
Mike: Your domain targets the keywords “Scotland Shop”. What is the significance of those words and what are people looking for when they search this phrase?
Max: We’ve found that people searching online for ‘Scotland Shop’ are generally looking for a shop that sells Scottish products, and are usually looking for a gift. You’ll even notice that many of our competitors will target the same phrase for this reason. There is clear buyer intent. Having this brand name also allows the business to appear for similar searches that people are carrying out, including searches like ‘Scottish shop’, which gets even more monthly searches.
Mike: What type of traffic numbers do you see on your site per month?
Max: Around 50,000 unique visitors per month, with a large percentage of that traffic coming from organic search (through Google), so it’s a very important channel for us.
Mike: You’re based in Scotland and chose a dot com name. Why not a .scot or .co.uk?
Max: The site uses a .com because the business operates globally. If we were to use a .co.uk then it would be near impossible to have any kind of visibility on Google in countries like the U.S, and most of the searches for ‘Scotland shop’ or ‘Scottish shop’ do tend to come from overseas rather than from within the U.K.
Mike: Being a company that services both Europe and the USA, what have you found to be the most effective means of marketing the site?
Max: The main thing we do to ensure that our site appeals to people across the world is to serve them content in their native language. However, the site still feels very Scottish when you explore it, which is an important part of the customer journey and is the main reason why people across the world want to shop with us.
Mike: In your about us page, you mention 5 websites. Are those five distinct sites your run? If so, what are they?
Max: We previously had 5 different websites (with each site targeting a different country), but now we simply provide different content for each nationality on our main .com site. This is beneficial as every time you create a new site to target a country (e.g .fr), you’re starting from scratch and it will likely take a while to have any organic visibility, whereas by simply creating new content on your existing site, you can piggyback off the existing authority and trust that the .com has, which generally means faster and better results.
Mike: You started the business in 2002. Talk about the lessons you have learned from running an online business.
Max: The most important aspect of Scotland Shop has been to balance the ‘Scottish’ness’ while also ensuring that it felt accessible to anyone from any background. This has taken time to establish, but is something that has helped differentiate the business from competitors, many of whom either feel overly Scottish (therefore alienating certain people), or not Scottish enough.