When clients ask whether they should have a blog as part of their eCommerce site, we ask them one question: Do you want more customers?
One client has an article on her blog that was written three years ago. It reliably brings in 100+ new visitors to her site every day. That adds up to 35,200 additional site visitors a year thanks to one page on her site. That page has 60% of page visitors clicking through to her product page. Yes, 21,120 people click through to her products as a result of one page on her site. That’s a pretty impressive, long-term return on one blog post.
There’s a big lesson here: Site visitors don’t have to land on the home page of your eCommerce website to become customers.
If your product or service is in a crowded niche, chances are your competitors are using many of the same keywords on their home page. It’s the keyword-rich interior pages or articles on your blog that can really help attract new customers because those articles will use a wide range of keywords that may not fit on your home page.
Are You Sure You Know What Your Audience Wants?
Many times people know their product, service or industry so well, they forget what potential customers or clients don’t know and what they may be searching for. For example, we work with the owners of a beautiful holistic health spa in Argentina. They were eager for the English version of their website to appeal to an American audience, so they wanted the website to emphasize their cutting-edge spa treatments. But we learned their spa also offers a Temazcal experience, a centuries-old sweat lodge ceremony that has therapeutic and medicinal benefits. The ceremony is still in use by the indigenous people of South America today.
We created a keyword-rich page on the website dedicated to explaining the history and uses of this ceremony and how spa visitors should prepare for it. As we suspected, the sophisticated travelers the holistic spa was hoping to attract were indeed aware of this ceremony and sought out places that offered authentic Temazcal experience. That one page has been a powerhouse in attracting highly targeted traffic. It regularly appears in both English and Spanish search results and has resulted in many new, in-the-know visitors to the spa.
Finding an Audience for Your eCommerce Blog
Do you hesitate to start a blog because you think it will be too challenging for your blog to find an audience online. Not at all!
Imagine for a moment that your eCommerce site sold vitamins and supplements. This is a hugely competitive niche, made even more so when you factor in that many people start their product search on Amazon.
But there’s a wonderful thing about people who buy supplements: they like to educate themselves on the best supplement options and the latest studies that support or debunk the supplements they take. That provides you a huge opportunity to write content they may be searching for. Below we list resources to help you identify exactly what information your potential clients are searching for.
Blog Posts That Use Relevant Keywords Boost Your SEO
Another advantage to having a blog for your eCommerce site is that every article you write adds relevant keywords that will provide a needed boost to your website’s SEO.
Let’s face it, products sold on your and your direct competitors’ websites often use the same words in the product descriptions. For example, there are only so many ways to describe a B-Complex supplement, and they will be almost identical on every site. But imagine writing an article on a topic a potential customer is searching on such as:
Are all B Complex Vitamins the Same?
Are B Complex Vitamins Good for Anxiety?
How to Take B Complex Supplements
Are B Complex and B 12 the Same?
Now imagine your well-written answers to these questions showing up in the search returns, which means many new customers are going to be clicking through to your helpful article. And, thanks to the trust you just earned by providing a great answer to their question, and the fact that you linked to your products from the article (you did, right?), customers will be clicking through to your product line.
Pro tip: Though you could, you don’t have to write a full article on each of the questions we suggested above on B Vitamins. Instead write up a question and answer page of the most common questions customers might have about your product. We want you to literally write out the question using the same words someone might use when doing a search, such as: Do B Vitamins help relieve anxiety? Then you provide the answer in a paragraph or two. Follow that with the next question and answer. In this way, you will create a whole page of relevant keywords and you will be providing your customers quality information, which is a great way to build a relationship with your customers.
Maybe you think your product category is too narrow and doesn’t offer enough topics. We also worked with a client who sells brownies online. Imagine a small baker in the midwest trying to compete against all the national cookie and brownie companies selling online. How could she stand out in the search returns? Again, she had to get into the mindset of her potential customers. What questions do they need answered?
We decided to grab the potential customer at the problem-solving stage by suggesting an article “How to pack and ship cookies and brownies.” If someone is searching for the best way to ship brownies, it probably means they are intending to send brownies as a gift. If a potential customer finds her informative article on the best way to ship baked goods, and this article just happens to link to the client’s brownie gifts that are already baked, and ready to ship, the client may gain a new customer.
How to Write Blog Content Your Customers Are Searching For
There are so many ways to access an endless supply of topic ideas for your blog—and many of them can be delivered right to your inbox.
Sign Up for Your Top Competitors’ Marketing Emails
That’s right, your competitors are going to be letting you know exactly what they think is important in your niche. Review their marketing emails, and see what ideas they may inspire for you.
Pro tip: If you are in a local business, such as real estate, sign up for the emails of large real estate offices in your city as well as other major markets such as Los Angeles and New York. They may be introducing interesting marketing ideas that can be adapted to your market.
Sign Up for Google Alerts
Not only should you be signed up for Google Alerts for your own business name and the names of your top competitors, but also for all the topics that are relevant to your niche or industry. You’ll have plenty of topic ideas delivered right to your inbox.
Discover the Questions Your Customers Have About Your Niche, Product or Industry
The problem with being an expert in your niche is you forget what other people don’t know about your area of expertise. That’s where AnswerthePublic.com comes in. AnswerthePublic is a free tool that aggregates the search questions most often asked on Google and Bing in your subject area. Type in a word like “supplements” or “desserts” and a flood of popular search questions on that topic are returned. This is a goldmine of potential blog ideas that you are uniquely qualified to answer.
Play With the Auto-Suggest Function of the Search Engines
Have you ever noticed when you are on your desktop or laptop that when you begin typing in a search query there is a drop down of keywords and phrases that are attempting to auto-complete your search intent? No, the search engines aren’t attempting mind reading, they are just pulling up the most-asked questions using those same words (which is what Answer the Public has harvested for you). So if you are stuck for a topic idea, let Google help you by showing you exactly what others have searched for.
Check Out Google’s Keyword Planner Tool
Google’s Keyword Planner Tool is free and very easy to use. Their slogan: “Find the right customers with the right keywords.” That says it all.
How Often Do You Need to Write Content for Your eCommerce Blog?
We know, we know! You are busy running a business and adding the time to write blog posts on a weekly basis is enough to put you over the edge. Well, we’re here to tell you you don’t have to!
You may have heard people saying you always need “fresh” content, but “fresh” poorly written or thin content is not going to get you anywhere. The search engines are less interested in the volume of content. The search engines are looking for the most relevant quality content to a search query. That’s why we stress quality over quantity.
If you manage to have just ten well-written articles related to your eCommerce niche—all of which link to relevant products on your site of course, we’re going to give you a standing ovation. Once that’s in place, you are going to watch your Google Analytics and your Google Search Console to see exactly how those pages start performing for your site. You’ll soon see whether you are hitting your customers’ interests and concerns by seeing how long they spend on a page and what pages on your site they visit after visiting your blog post.
Yes, Your Blog Content Should Link Out to Quality, Supporting Information
We absolutely want you linking to your own products on your eCommerce site, but if you are writing about a subject like supplements, and you know there is an excellent article supporting the use of a supplement on an authority website like a university .edu or .gov website, that would be helpful to your reader, yes, link to it!
That may seem counterintuitive. Why would you send potential customers away from your site? The search engines are always looking for “good citizens” on the web, which is roughly defined as web pages that truly exist to inform the reader, not just trap them in a one-way trip to your product pages. Think of Wikipedia. They may have just one page on a particular topic, and yet that article links out repeatedly to quality, supporting outside sources. And often, it is exactly that one Wikipedia page that is at the top of the search returns. No, we’re not telling you to link to competitors. We are telling you to link to sources that your reader will find useful. In doing so, you gain credibility in your site visitors’ eyes as well as with the search engines.
No, It’s Not About You
Guess what, people aren’t searching for your business. They are searching for what they need. So blog posts about you, the founding of your company, your mission statement—they aren’t blog posts. They should be pages on your site that people can click to if they are interested.
If you are writing blog posts about your company winning an industry award, that may be of interest to you and your industry, but it will do very little in terms of being a magnet for search from your average customer.
Don’t get us wrong! Awards matter in terms of building trust with your audience, but list them in your sidebar, or in your footer, or at the bottom of every post (there are plugins that allow you to have an author bio or other synopsis of information at the bottom of every post so you don’t have to type this in every time). But don’t expect vanity blog posts to be “cornerstone” blog posts that will reliably bring in new customers via search.
How Long Should My Blog Post Be?
In fifth grade I raised my hand to ask how long a homework essay had to be—a paragraph? a page? five pages? The teacher responded our essay had to be as long as it took to answer the question. Meaning a kid could get an A writing one paragraph if it was so well-written and informative that it answered the question. Or it could be five pages if that’s what it took to answer the question. Great. That answer was unsatisfying then, but makes more sense now.
Here’s our advice: Answer the question the site visitor is seeking an answer to in the first paragraph. This satisfies both the site visitor AND ensures you have relevant keywords in your blog post right up front.
Then you are going to invest the rest of your paragraphs supporting your answer point by point. This satisfies the site visitors who want to dive in deeper and also adds more relevant keywords to your post.
So, how long should your blog post be? However long it takes to create a quality answer. See, we never really leave Fifth Grade, do we. But I’d say 3+ paragraphs is a nice start. Writing a well-rounded article will naturally contain important keywords relevant to your audience’s search queries.
You Can Place an Ad for Your Products Right on Your Blog
You don’t need an ad network, or some third party placing an ad for you. Advertise your business right on your own blog! You can create your own nicely designed banner ad for your own products and place that ad right below the first paragraph of your blog post, and again at the end—right where the site visitor is looking for something else to click.
When we advised the baker in the midwest to write a blog post on how to safely pack and ship cookies and brownies, we also advised her to place a banner ad to her brownies right with her content. She could do text links to her own products, but she could do a banner ad as well. There is no need for a third party to do it for her. She was quickly learning, as you are, when you are running an online business, you are the webmaster, the content provider and your own PR and advertising firm.
And with a little practice, we predict you’re going to do an amazing job!