Even though content comes first, it is always important to write your articles with certain SEO techniques in mind to make sure that they are read in the first place. But, it is even more important that our content provides value. In this article, we’ll be going through a proper content strategy, as illustrated by Avinash Kaushik, then we’ll go over tricks for getting your on-page SEO techniques set up right for the content that you’ll be writing.
A Better ecommerce Content Strategy
With that down, let’s get straight on to what proper blog content is. To do this, we’ll have to first imagine the persona of our audience. That is to say, what kind of person reads your blog? What are their needs, interests, common complaints? By targeting these topics more generally, you’ll have much greater success with your content. That is to say, we’ll be able to use this information to provide actual value with our content.
To understand this better, let’s refer to Kaushik’s analysis of company social media pages.
Avinash Kaushik finds one key issue with many social media pages that are created by companies: they are narcissistic. He notices that often a company will use its social media accounts to exclusively post about themselves and their products. While this might be interesting for a few posts at a time, after a while, the content becomes stale and you stop engaging with the content.
You can imagine it another way:
He likens it to filling up your personal social media accounts with nothing but selfies. It’s off-putting. And the same goes for company pages. The best company social pages avoid this mistake by posting content that their audience finds value in. And often the kind of content that will succeed won’t even be in your niche.
So what does this look like in action?
Say, for instance, you ran a website selling designer lamps for inside the home. The wrong thing to do is to post only about your lamps and your fictional company producing these lamps. The right thing to do would be to first determine the interests of your audience: what are their likes, dislikes; what causes they are for or against. In our case, we would find that our audience/customer persona is interested in home decor, DIY, and crafts. With this information, the right course of action is to post interesting content about any of the aforementioned topics. For instance, we could share posts about DIY planters or home decor. Note that they are not necessarily about lamps, yet they are valuable to the kind of people who are interested in purchasing designer lamps. Performing this social strategy strongly increases engagement and sharing.
Avinash only talks about the benefits of this ideology in terms of social media, but it can also be easily applied in terms of company blogs and SEO content in general.
A key component of an SEO strategy is on page content. And depending on the kind of product that you’re selling, the amount of interesting things you can write about that product can be limited. Often, companies opt to create a blog that simply serves as an expose of their operation. However, a blog intent on creating large amounts of organic traffic will have to post at least 2-3 times a week and have articles that are at least 800 words long (but, as we all know, 3000+ is best!). This can mean a lot of stale, unoriginal and boring posts.
So how can you maintain the quality of your “comtent” while increasing the frequency of your posts?
The answer is to adapt Avinash’s social media strategy to your blog strategy. That is, if your store sells apparel, the key to your blog strategy will not be to write only about your apparel, but to write for the kind of person who buys your apparel.
Take the following example:
You know that your target audience is interested in X, Y, and Z. You also know that people who like X and Y are the kind of people that buy Z. If you sell Z and only write about Z, you’re missing out on traffic from X and Y. That is, the search traffic from queries relating to X and Y will not be present.
Here’s a more concrete example:
Let’s say that we’ve found out that your client persona for your apparel store is also interested in adventure tourism, diving and making kraft dinner for breakfast, then to attract our persona, we’ll write about those topics in our blog too.
If the kind of person that buys your hats is interested in making kraft dinner for breakfast, then we want to be the website that writes the best post on the perfect breakfast kraft dinner.
The example above is a bit over the top, but you can see how it would be more shareable than a dry blog post about how hats are woven.
If you write about the things that your audience is interested in, you’ll catch them in totally new places.
Mediocre e-commerce blogs write about their product and nothing else. Good ecommerce blogs write for the people that buy their products. Good content ranks. Good content gets read. Good content gets shared.
This strategy will not only ensure that your content is fresh and interesting, but it will also be relevant and bring in a new client base that may never have heard about you without searching directly for the kind of products that you sell.
Not the mention, it will be much easier to write these blog posts.
How do these types of blog posts boost your SEO efforts?
As many know, the large bulk of organic traffic comes from what is called “long-tail keywords”. Namely, keywords that are 2 terms or longer (think something like “montreal knit red toques”). Long tail keywords, due to their specificity, are typically much less competitive than keywords such as “toques”. As such, it will be easier for your site to rank higher on these keyword searches.
Provided that you’ve done the proper keyword research, you’ll be bringing in a whole lot more organic traffic.
Plus, writing about both your products and other topics that your customers are interested will increase the amount of keywords that will lead customers to your site and, therefore, increase the amount of organic traffic your sites receive.
Imagine that you are the customer in this instance and you search for “what are the best shaving techniques?”. You’ll navigate to and stay on the page that actually solves your problem. Now imagine you are the store owner of a menswear ecommerce store. If your blog has written about the best shaving techniques, then you’ll be presenting yourself to the customer in a non-intrusive way and actually provide value to them at the same time.
Lastly, this content strategy will actually improve and build upon your brand image. By writing about things other than your own company, you are, in effect, giving your brand a personality, a set of likes and dislikes, just as a real person would.
So want to see this all in action?
To finish off, we’ll look at 1 ecommerce blog that does not use this strategy and two others that use it to their advantage.
Everlane fails when it comes to using this strategy. Hard. If you take a quick look at the history of recent posts and the categories listed in the sidebar, most, if not all, are directly related to apparel found on Everlane. The rest are about Everlane’s business operations or why you should shop at Everlane.
While, this may help to influence or confirm a buyer’s decision who is already thinking about Everlane as a source for clothing, it does nothing to attract new users. If you don’t know anything about Everlane, there is no way you’ll be stumbling on this blog through a randon search query.
The incestuous blog provides nothing in the way of real content or value for anyone reading it.
If Everlane were to follow this guide, it could write about a plethora of things that provide value to its userbase or target persona. For instance, I could imagine Everlane writing about design trends, chic home decor, the minimalism movement. Despite this, there are other ecommerce stores that provide value through conten
Let’s take a look at Harry’s, the online store known for its fancy, yet inexpensive, collection of shaving equipment. Their blog, that they call a “magazine”, is a collection of articles that are relevant to their client base. Of course, they have articles that have to do about shaving, but a quick look at their blog shows articles about men’s health, the history of jackets, morning routines, how to be a “wingman” or even “How to Talk to Your Barber”.
Not exactly about razors, is it?
But they are doing the right thing.
These are all topics that their customers are interested in. And by writing blog posts like this, they are catching new audiences who aren’t even aware of Harry’s without making a single banner ad. Not to mention, the articles that they are writing actually provide value. The article helping you how to talk to your barber actually provides guidance and solves a problem its target persona typically has. This is providing value. The customer hasn’t even spent a dime and the store is already giving. You could liken it to a free sample at a grocery store, where the real goal is the purchase of a select set of ingredients. l
Let’s take another online store that does this strategy right: Shopify.
The Shopify blog is a prime example of this strategy at work. While they do write articles that relate directly to the platform, a majority of the articles written for this blog are relevant to any online business owner. There are in depth how-to’s on a myriad of subjects ranging from social media to email marketing, SEO, and even operations. And most importantly, they are written to cater to users of all platforms. And to add to that, the information presented is more often than not useful and has real value.
This is what gets new customers to your site.
They’ve writing so many detailed, in-depth and useful articles on ecommerce that making any search about the subject will more often than not include a Shopify link on the first page of the search results.
Best On Page SEO Techniques
If by this point, you’ve been convinced of this technique, you’ll want to start writing content. However, it’s going to be important that you write your content using all of the available search engine optimization opportunities and techniques. Not to mention, a proper SEO optimized article should be around 1500+ words in length, so you won’t want to waste it by not using any proper on-page SEO techniques.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ongoing task for any website that wishes to continually rank on the first results pages of search engines. Google uses an algorithm to determine which pages will rank #1 on any given page for any given search. Also, these rules change slightly over the course of months. So it is important to keep on top of these changes. An important thing to note with SEO is that results do not appear until at least 3 months for low competition keywords and can take up to a year for keywords with more competition.
This one is an important step that is all too much ignored. Proper keyword research will ensure that your content has a fighting chance against the big guys and will ensure a niche demand for your article. Typically, you’ll need to use software to perform proper keyword research. But this is not always the case. You can make use of Google auto-suggest (that’s the one in the search bar) to see which long-tail keywords drive the most searches. If it’s on auto-complete, you can bet that a lot of other people are searching for that thing. OH, and another thing, it is best to focus your article on a long-tail keyword, since they typically have less competition.
But, if you’ve got money to spend on a keyword tool, you’ll get better results with your content. A good one I use is called SEOCockPit by the guys over at SwissMadeMarketing. This tool sorts related keywords to your desired search by the keywords with the best competition to search volume ratio. That is, it shows you the keywords that have both the highest searches and the lowest competition.
There are a few good rules of thumb when it comes to writing your content in a way that will optimize its position on Google. Here are a few.
- Include your target keyword in the introduction and conclusion of your piece. Within the introduction and conclusion, you should bold or italicize the target keyword at least once.
- Include the target keyword at least 8 times throughout the length of the article. This one is pretty self-explanatory, however, don’t get carried away with this. Artificially stuffing your article with keywords will show up as a red flag and actually penalize you.
- Include your keywords in the header of your article.
- Include 1-2 internal links to other pages on your website. Doing so teaches the search engine the hierarchy of your website.
- Include at least 1 link to a high profile site (e.g. wikipedia, nytimes)
Long-form content, content that is 1500+ words is now valued quite a bit when it comes to getting SERP real estate. Ideally, you’ll even want to pull in 3000 words or more in your article. However, as stated above, content trumps all. If you don’t have enough content to fill 3000 words, filling it up with fluff isn’t going to do you any good. We’re trying to give our audience value, after all.
As of late, Google has started using social signals much more in its search algorithm. Meaning, the more shares, visits, and presence on social media that an article or blog has, the higher on a page may rank on a search engine results page. A good tool to increase social shares is sumome. Sumome allows you to easily add social share buttons to your website with only one line of code. Best of all, it’s free. Always having social share buttons visible increases the amounts of shares you receive greatly.
Just to recap, here are a few things that Google uses to assess the search relevancy of a page:
- Quality long form content (1500-3000+ words)
- Proper keyword research
- Social Shares
- Properly optimized content
- Links from other sites
So there you have it, using a proper content strategy that addresses first the persona of your target audience, you’ll be able to provide value with your content. And, by doing so, you’ll be able to catch them and bring them to your site in wholly new ways. As we saw by Kaushik’s analysis of social media pages, it is important that we not write only about ourselves and our own companies, but also the things that our customers enjoy. Using the on-Page SEO techniques illustrated above, you’ll be able to use your content to drive real, sustainable and cost-effective traffic to your website.