So much talk abounds about content being king, especially since Google let loose its stampede of penguins and pandas across the flower gardens of the Internet (Can penguins really stampede?).
That's all very fine if you run a news site or a blog site, and (predictably enough) so much of the how-to information being pushed on us comes from how-to-blog bloggers. But what if you run an ecommerce website, an online store? What on earth can you do for content to keep the stampeding penguins and pandas from stomping all over the proverbial flower garden of your website?
Three Rules Of Good Content
Let's first look at what good content means. First, it must be unique. By unique, we don't mean just that it can pass CopyScape (any fool with a dictionary can string together a "unique" series of words) . We mean that it is truly unique. Let's not forget that the big, powerful machines powered by fish and bamboo shoots have heard of synonyms, too.
Second, it must be original. Perhaps this is a repetition of being unique, but it does take the concept one step further. Especially because the more original something is, the more it will interest people. It's not just the words that should be original, but the idea, the meaning, what the content is actually saying.
Who cares if it interests people? Well, aside from making a purchase more likely, the search engines actually know what interests people, and that is what they are now trying to promote.
So the third rule of good content is that it be "viral" - that it been excruciatingly interesting. This takes the concept of original, and knocks it up a few dozen notches. Being original is just one aspect of being interesting. Useful is interesting. New is interesting. Cool is interesting.
If you don't know what is interesting, hire somebody who does know to create your content. The penguins and the pandas are watching, and if they see that people are interested in your content, they will promote it.
How do we add unique, original and interesting content to an ecommerce website?
Content On Product Pages
The most important content would be on product pages? Why? Because this content can not only lure prospective customers through the search engines, but also because these are the pages you want the search engines to love the most. So let's look at a few things we can do to create original content on these pages.
This is probably the most obvious way to ensure that your money pages have original content. Yet how many times have we seen virtually identical content across dozens of pages, each selling a different size of ball bearings or a different grade and type of screwdriver? Too many similar flowers makes it boring for the animals to trample on.
OK, OK, so the products are very similar. That's no reason to get lazy and just copy-and-paste the product descriptions and change one or two words. Write each one from scratch - get multiple writers involved! - and your words will at least be original, even if the products aren't so much.
Yes, put them on your product pages. That's what I have done. You can see five testimonials on this product page, for example: http://www.seo-writer.com/freelance/ghost-writer.html.
What, were you planning to shuffle all your testimonials off to some "testimonials" page that nobody except the research-crazed, caveat-emptor fringe will ever seek out? Put them right on your product page. Somebody bought gasket number 36C? Get his testimonial right up there on the page for that particular gasket - 100 percent unique to that page, and of strong interest to any potential buyer who lands there.
Review snippets from offsite.
This is an ideal strategy for when you don't have a testimonial for the page or even just when you get a great review on a review site. Why waste a great review, when you can harness its power right in your store?
No, don't copy the whole thing. That would kind of violate the whole originality thing, right? But do take the most impressive section and reprint it on the website, then link to the offsite review (using the target="_blank" attribute so that people don't lose your page) so people can read the full text of the review. A great little piece of content that can really help boost sales, too.
Content On Content Pages
Not all content is ideal for specific product pages. An ecommerce website can have a blog. In fact, what on earth would you do putting up a store that does not have a blog? I could write a dozen articles on the value of having a blog on your store, but it's already been said a thousand times, and quite eloquently here and here and here.
When a potential client approaches me about SEO, I invariably recommend setting up a blog. This is 2013, and that's pretty much the default base - the minimum - for effective SEO these days.
But a blog might not be the direction you want to go, and it is only "pretty much" the minimum. If you don't want a blog, you can create an articles section, and load it up with articles that will serve the needs of information-seekers in your niche. Or an Infographics section (but without text to accompany the images, the pandas and penguins will not recognize this as "content".
What can you write about in your blog, or even in an articles section? That does depend to some degree on the nature of your product. Recipes might be great for selling canola oil, but not quite as useful for baby oil or motor oil. But here are some general ideas.
- Your product in the news.
- Anything related to your product or similar products in the news.
- How-to tips related to your product.
- Styling tips related to your product.
- Interviews with expert users of your product
- Lyrics to songs related to your product
- Top-ten lists related to your product.
- Tips to save time/money/frustration, related to your product.
- Tips and news that have nothing to do with your product...but would be of interest to users of your product.
Let's take just a moment to stop scratching our heads over that last bullet point. Suppose you sell natural jewelry or makeup or perfume or handbags. Your audience will primarily be environmentally conscious females. They might not be buying jewelry or makeup or perfume or handbags every day, but when they are in the mood to buy, you want them on your website.
So keep feeding them news that will interest them, whenever possible tying it to your jewelry or the places your products come from. This is a great content strategy that will appeal to all three of your audiences: human, penguin and panda-ish (had some trouble with the syntax on that last word - and zoological specialists feel like jumping in).
Yes, we live in a unique time when we need to call on zoologists to help us properly word an article about search engines and website content. But if you arrive at a dance and find the room filled with penguins, best to start practicing your waddle. Just because you run an ecommerce site is no reason to skimp on the content. Got any other ideas? Please feel free to add them in the comments below.
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