We highlight the importance of content in providing more value for today’s online customers and gaining a competitive edge in organic search rankings.
In the old days, content for your ecommerce store were simply your products’ titles, descriptions, and specs with possibly some category-page copy thrown in. At that time, that was all you needed to do to have your site rank well for your brand’s products and category-related terms.
In recent years, you’ve seen your competition stiffen; during this time as well, search engine optimization has gone through a paradigm shift towards heavily favoring sites with useful, unique, and timely content. What does that mean for your ecommerce store? There is more of an onus than ever for your site to stand out and become content-rich. The product data are not enough.
Below we point out a few content ideas for ecommerce sites to begin providing more value for customers and to gain a critical edge in organic rankings.
You get dual benefits for your customers, brand, and bottom line when you add unique and relevant content to your ecommerce site. First, the content will serve as additional inroads into your site (i.e. links) driving additional traffic that will allow more users to discover your brand. New visitors will perceive you not just as another place to shop, but as a provider of solutions for the problems they may have for which your content and products help solve. Secondly, great content will reinforce your brand as a thought leader in your space—an entity who understands its customers, their needs, and who plans to be around for the long haul. All this adds up to a richer equation and more powerful value proposition than simply offering a product for sale at a price.
Every ecommerce site should house a company blog that speaks to the topics of interest related to your company’s products and industry. The blog could offer tips, highlight trends, show behind-the-scenes company activities, educate people on how to use your products, share interviews with experts in the field, and so on.
Ideally, your team will develop an editorial calendar that will not just fuel your blog, but also guide all your online marketing activities and promotions. The critical step here is performing keyword research related to your site’s products, creating categories within the blog for the most relevant terms, and interlinking your blog posts to the most relevant product and/or category pages. Blogs have the inherent benefit of providing fresh content to the search engines (something they’re increasingly thirsty for), being easily shareable for readers (more links!), and bolstering your brand’s social media and newsletter content.
Below is a screenshot depicting a non-product search leading to an ecommerce site’s blog where the user can then read the blog’s content and start to discover the brand and its product offerings:
Rewrite Manufacturer Copy
We’ve heard it before when it comes to why you don’t rewrite manufacturers’ copy: it’s hard, time-consuming, there are so many products, the person responsible for adding items to the website doesn’t have this expertise, and the like.
Consider this: a prospective customer does a search for an item you sell that is a branded product that hundreds of other online stores offer. Your site is using the same description and specs as 99% of the other stores. Why should Google rank your store higher than any other? They most likely won’t.
So, in order to win here you simply have to go the extra mile and rewrite the stock copy. Be sure to include the voice of your brand throughout the descriptions and always write for your audience. If you don’t know where to start, apply the 80/20 rule: rewrite the copy for the top 20% of products based on number of orders or revenue. Try to describe how the product benefits the user in different ways (consequently, tapping into multiple keyword phrases). Lastly, the more digital assets relating to the product you can add to your pages the better—e.g., videos, alternate images, documentation, what’s in the box, etc.
Did you know that 77% of clicks organically go to the listings in the top-3 positions (Compete.com, 2012)? Look at the example below of a company getting into that coveted space for a competitive product where they rewrote the manufacturer’s copy:
Piggy-backing on standing out vis-à-vis the competition by upping the content equation, leverage your collective customers’ experiences with your product by providing a simple, automated method of collecting reviews. Integrate with your existing email marketingstrategies and send an additional post-sale transactional message a couple weeks after the completed order has been shipped to the customer asking them to come back to review their product(s). Consider offering them a carrot in the form of a discount on their next order or as an entry into a monthly contest for all reviewers in a given month. Again, the benefits of customer reviews are multi-faceted:
- Product pages provide more value, trust, and a sense of vibrancy when populated with quality reviews
- Customers trust the opinions of their peers over that of manufacturers (one study by eMarketer showed by a factor of 12)
- Customers, particularly early in the buying process, are typing in product names plus the word review(s). You want to be able to embrace these customers in the research phase to keep your brand top of mind
- Customer reviews create additional unique content for your product pages that will help them get indexed more easily
Case in point:
Still not sold on customer reviews yet? Try these on for size:
- You can harness customer reviews as additional content when highlighting products in your email marketing
- They allow users to sort and filter search results based on average ratings. Tip: Consider including “Most Reviewed” in your sort, not just “Highest Rated”
- They alert the merchandising department to potential issues with product quality that can be addressed with manufacturing