- More content is not necessarily better for increasing your e-commerce website’s ranking.
- Instead, optimise your existing content by picking the right keywords people are searching for.
- Focus on user experience, your site structure and capitalise on internal links to help boost rankings.
If you have spent any time around digital marketers, then you’ve probably heard the saying, “Content is king.” It is certainly a useful saying to remember when marketing your business, but if you run an e-commerce store, then you may be wondering how practical this is in application.
The main feature of your e-commerce store will be your products, and once you have the product descriptions and specifications covered, do you really want to waste time adding further written content just because marketing gurus keep repeating Bill Gates’ assertion that content is king?
The answer is no.
You should never add irrelevant content to your website or web store. What you can do is make sure the relevant content you already have is working hard for you, because Bill Gates did know what he was talking about.
Here at Supple, we like to find the best application of different SEO strategies, which means rather than trusting in theory alone, we’ve found practical ways to verify those strategies. When we wanted to test the theory of quality over quantity for the content on an e-commerce site, we built our own site with a structure common to many web stores.
To assess whether other SEO strategies could replace masses of written content, we did a case study where we built a well-structured site with no written content and saw its traffic increase from 0 to 200K views per month. Having found the practical application for this SEO theory, we set about improving the search engine visibility of our customer’s websites.
Therefore, we’ve found that it is possible for your e-commerce site to rise through the ranks and reach the first page of Google’s search results without the pain of creating extra content. In fact, if you use the existing content on your website to its full advantage (remember that images and videos are content too), then you could boost your rankings without adding anything at all.
Here’s how we help our own customers optimise their websites.
1. Use relevant keywords.
Pick your words wisely. Because an e-commerce site generally contains fewer words, the words that are there become more valuable. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but your beautiful product shots still need the support of the very best product descriptions that you can write.
Be specific. Ensure that you are clear when writing product descriptions so that customers can find what they are searching for easily. The Diamond Pro Series Ultra Max Glide might sound cool in the marketing meeting, but apart from being a bit of a mouthful, product names and descriptions are of no use to you if your customers don’t know whether you’re referring to a running shoe or a razor.
The key to choosing keywords is to understand what your potential customers are searching for and the language that they are using. If you are a sign writer marketing A-frame signs, then you need to know whether your customers refer to them as A-frames, or sandwich boards. If potential customers are searching using both terms, then it is probably worth working both into your content. And always remember that the industry terms and official names you use are not always those known and used by your customers.
Your site is for your customers first and foremost. Your keywords are like the friendly shop assistant guiding them to the virtual shelves that contain the products they are searching for. Just like a helpful in-store salesperson, you want to know and use the language that your customers are using as much as possible.
How do you do this? Taking note of customer queries, online and in person, is essential. And when it comes to selecting between different keywords you can use a tool such as Ahrefs to see which search terms are more popular.
Another reason the lack of written content on a web store is not necessarily a drawback is this: e-commerce websites are already using one of the most important strategies to maintain and grow site traffic, and that is through adding fresh and relevant content. New products, product announcements, instructional videos or product specification sheets give Google a reason to crawl the new pages that have just popped up on your site.
When new content is published online, Google will scan and index it, so it knows what to serve up to searchers in response to their future queries. Publishing new content is an excellent way to help boost your online presence.
Even if there is very scant written content associated with new product pages, each one provides an opportunity for customers to find what they are searching for. If the product descriptions and page headings are relevant, and contain relevant keywords, then you are helping Google assess what you do, which in turn helps your customers find you.
2. Understand your customers’ wants and needs.
Understanding the value of keywords and updated content is great but making sure the content you’re creating is relevant and interesting to your audience, and not just content for the sake of content, is even more important.
So, how do you know when it’s relevant?
Hopefully you already know your customers well. You understand what they want from your products and what leads them to choose you over your competitors. Drawing visitors to your page with the keywords that match their queries isn’t helpful if they don’t find something that is useful and relevant when they get there.
Whether it’s the answer to a question or the best deal on a product they want to purchase, visitors should find what they want when they get to your website, and not feel that they have been tricked into clicking on an irrelevant link.
The time that people spend on a page before leaving is something that Google looks at closely. Your site’s ranking will suffer if people are heading to your site, then immediately clicking the back button to find something more relevant to their needs in the Google search results.
Taking the time to make sure that there is a match between what searchers expect to find at your web store and what they actually find when they get there should always be a top priority. It will help your site to rank well in the search results, and it is just good customer service and common courtesy not to waste their time.
Meeting your customer’s expectations is never a set-and-forget task. Just as you listen to customer praises or complaints to constantly improve your products and service in-store, you should be using Google Analytics to view all of your website analytics on a clear and detailed dashboard. Only then will you know what works and why.
3. Pay attention to site structure.
There are many different e-commerce platforms to choose from. However, the way you structure your site will likely follow a common theme, whichever platform you choose.
The first priority on the list of structuring your site is to choose a relevant and helpful domain name. Pick your domain name based on the keywords your customers will be searching for. Usually this will be relevant to or an exact match for your brand name. If customers are searching for you by name, then you have the potential to create an “Exact Match Domain” (EMD).
The SEO necessity of an EMD is uncertain. However, it is generally accepted as good practice. What is certain is that returning a matching result will boost your trustworthiness in the eyes of customers and make their lives’ easier. If they search for your name and then find it in the domain name and page title on the search engine results page, then they can instantly see that they have found what they are looking for.
If their search lands them on your blog or a product page, then the root domain still lets them know where they are. This comes right back to using SEO strategies to help guide your customers, ensuring they never feel tricked or betrayed by shady SEO practices.
When structuring your web store, you will most likely break it down into separate sections, grouping similar products, just as you would in a physical store. Think carefully about product categories the way you would the layout of a bricks-and-mortar store, and make sure it is easy for customers to navigate your website.
If buying a can of paint reminds a customer that they need a new paint brush, make sure the brushes are ‘nearby’. If they’re not on the same product page, then make sure they are accessible via a handy link, or easily navigable menus.
Categories and sub-categories are useful and create more pages for Google to find. Just don’t get carried away, burying pages or products where customers can’t find them. Being clever with your site structure will help your rankings, and as we have already discussed, publishing new content on new product pages can work in your favour. But your rankings will suffer if you place more importance on pursuing these tactics than you do on creating a great user experience.
4. Make use of internal linking.
You may have already heard that internal links are an essential part of a good SEO strategy, and fortunately for you, this is one strategy you shouldn’t have to put too much effort into, as e-commerce sites naturally lend themselves to internal linking.
The standard structure of most e-commerce sites arranges its pages under product categories that contain a number of sub-categories and individual products.
You may not have thought of this as internal linking, but that’s exactly as it should be. When customers arrive at your beautifully organised site and select women’s or men’s clothing as a category before selecting the sub-category of tops, pants, skirts or accessories, they see this simply as a useful way to navigate your website. They don’t feel tricked or confused by internal links that fail to lead them to where they want to go.
Keep to this strategy. Internal linking is invaluable for boosting SEO, but your customers’ experience always comes first. If you are creating internal links that allow customers to find what they want in a fast and intuitive way, then you are helping yourself by first helping them.
Is content king for e-commerce sites?
Content is important, but more is not necessarily better. You can make the content you already have work harder for you, if you don’t neglect the other factors that contribute to ranking. Above all, never neglect user experience.
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