Every online retailer aims at becoming the next Amazon, but most make the mistake of assuming a great product is enough for success. It’s not: without complex strategies, a focus on user and customer experience, great content and other methods, you even hope to overcome your competitors.
Luckily for you, in this article, we will have a look at the basic strategies you are going to need to establish a sizeable market share.
Basic content strategies for e-commerce
1) Customer reviews
User-generated content is one of the most valuable commodities in marketing, and if you have an online store, customer reviews and testimonials are worth more than any slogan or coupon you could come up with.
Make sure to ask all of your customers for reviews – you can easily do this in follow-up emails, and you can even offer some incentive in return. Ask them not only for stars or points on the product pages but for their real, honest opinion about the product, the service, their experience about the shopping process, etc.
2) Target long-tail keywords
Either if you have existing content or just looking to start creating your blog, we suggest you perform thorough keyword research as the very first step.
The goal would be to identify long-tail keywords that are relevant to your products or services and can bring significant traffic.
To give you a simple example: if you want to aim at the phrase “carpet cleaning” so your site ranks on the top, you are going to have a very hard time making yourself visible in the rankings. Not only there are hundreds of sites optimized for that same phrase, the search result page also starts with a number of paid ads – which are also very expensive, a click can cost you more than $10 because of the competition.
However, “carpet cleaning” itself might not even be that relevant for you. If you appear on the top for it, it means that everyone who is searching for it comes through your result. Everyone is not your target audience.
But, if you target a much more specific phrase, like “dry carpet cleaning 24/7 boston area” you can narrow down your audience and attract the right customers, so your site will be seen by those in the results who actually need the kind of service you provide.
And also you are going to be facing much much less competition, making good rankings easier and advertising cheaper.
It is important to note that most long-tail keywords bring very little organic traffic, at least compared to short keywords – but as they are more specific, even a fraction of that traffic could mean bringing more leads to your site.
Also, most people tend to search for long-tail keywords, this is why they make up ~70% of searches.
3) Invest in your product & category pages’ copy
Most product pages include dull and boring descriptions of the items, or maybe nothing more than some specifics.
If you invest time and energy into writing some engaging descriptions for these pages, you can improve your site in multiple ways. First, your visitors will get a much better experience and will be more likely to convert, to purchase your product.
And second, if you base your copy on keyword research, you can target long-tail keywords and rank in the top for them, making it easier to reach your target audience organically.
In stores where there are thousands of products, this might not be a valid option – so instead focus on a few spearhead products and category pages.
4) Use the meta descriptions
We suggest doing the same with meta descriptions. This is the text that appears on the search result page under the title of the given page, and it can do a lot for encouraging click-throughs.
Make the meta descriptions compelling and unique, think about why it may be good for the users to visit your page, try to figure out what exactly they are searching for when your page pops up in the results.
As most stores don’t really pay attention to creating meta descriptions that can catch the attention of users, you can increase your chances of being paid attention to if you do this.
5) Optimize site search
When it comes to search, you need to think beyond Google. Specifically, you need to think about how users search on your site.
Making the search functionality user-friendly is vitally important if you want to convert your visitors. Try to find and integrate a search tool that can handle the inevitable misspellings, offer predictive searches based on your products and content and also popular searches, and present the results in a way that is easy to understand and navigate.
If you have a large number of products, we recommend using faceted search in your shop, this way users will be able to narrow down their search by providing more specifics. For content, it might be a good idea to use a search tool by which they can search for not only topics but also publishing dates, authors and more.
6) Have a blog
It is probably the most basic piece of advice, which we still have to include here. Always have a blog on your site.
You might be thinking, “I have a store that sells car parts, what am I supposed to blog about?” The answer is basically anything that is relevant to your business and interesting for your target audience.
In the case of car parts you can write about the different brands, new models, you can create how-to articles and videos about how to use those parts, you can blog about how people can find the best mechanics in town and so on.
If you really don’t have any ideas, keyword research is one solution to that: look at what content your competitors are creating, and find the content gap where you can create more engaging pieces. You can also look at customer groups on social media, Q&A sites, message boards, collect topics by looking at niche news sites and blogs and so on.
However you get topics, make content creation a habit, a regular process. What might help you with that is if you…
7) Have a content calendar
If you are serious about content creation (and you should be), then it is important to have a plan: a calendar in which you have a basic outline of the next 3-6 months.
I suggest that you first do your keywords research – and then to keep your topics fresh, redo it at least once every month. Content development should always be based on SEO research, which will give you an edge over your competitors.
Next, figure out how fast you can create content. A 1500 word long article may take anything between 2 hours and a week to write, depending on the subject, the amount of research, revisions and so on. Set realistic goals that won’t negatively affect your other duties.
Finally create a calendar in which you include working titles, topics, keywords, authors, the publishing dates you are aiming at, the format (articles, infographics, videos, etc.). This way you won’t fall behind with content and your team will always be aware who should be doing what.
8) Always be looking for backlinks
One of the strongest ranking factors for Google is your backlink profile. Having more and higher quality backlinks indicate the quality of your own site is higher, so it will be positioned better on the search result pages.
This is why it is very important to collect as many quality backlinks as possible. You can, of course, wait patiently until your content is discovered and linked to, but there is a much faster alternative.
Utilizing influencer marketing you can build a backlink profile that will be both natural and strong. It is not complicated either.
After you publish your content, search for sites that are popular, but not too popular. What I mean is don’t aim at the largest fish in the beginning, contact sites, blogs that have an established name and brand in a relevant niche.
Reference some of their relevant content and ask them if they would be willing to include a link to your article in them – assuming that your article can contribute some value to theirs.
The majority, of course, won’t respond, refuse or even ask for money. But 1-2 out of 10 will be more than happy to give you a backlink. If you can automate the process, you can build a quite significant profile in a few months.
9) Local SEO
If your audience lives in a well defined are, it makes a lot of sense to invest in local SEO: create location-specific sites like myexamplestore.com/Baltimore. A lot of people use long-tail keywords this way: to narrow down the results and find more relevant providers, they often add the area to the specific things they are searching for. In fact, 46% of all searches in Google are seeking local information.
Creating location-specific pages will help you appear in the searches, but you mustn’t just clone the service pages a bunch of times. If your site has a lot of nearly identical pages, it will negatively affect your rankings, as Google rewards unique content – and you can’t noindex these pages either as the whole point is to appear in searches.
So for every location page, create unique and engaging content.
10) If you create videos, publish the transcript
Videos are great as a format to reach out to certain groups within your target audience. Many people don’t really like to read lengthy texts, but they are more than happy to have a look at an explainer or how-to video for a few minutes. (This will also help increase engagement times.)
But you also need to think about SEO: Google and other search engines still can’t fully understand videos and consequently, the content included in them won’t affect your rankings. So usually it’s a good idea to also include the transcript which the search engine can understand.
This way your video will be much more easily found and your content can reach more people while also improving your overall rankings.
11) Title and h1 tag optimization
Always pay attention to the URLs, titles, h1, h2 tags of your content. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cram keywords in them, but based on your research, try to include at least the ones that you are primarily targeting – in a way of course that you don’t sound like a robot.
12) Create, optimize, promote
You don’t have to turn your online store into an encyclopedia or news site to be engaging and interesting to your users. Content creation takes a lot of investment in time and energy, true – but it is also the most sustainable way to bring organic traffic to your site.
In the long run, content will provide an audience that you don’t have to pay for and the visibility that comes not through ads but that is earned. Thus the most important piece of advice I can give you is this: if you start content creation, and you absolutely should, don’t stop. Keep up the work, create better and better content, research and optimize, and you can be the competitor others on your market are struggling to get ahead of.