Content quality and search engine traction go hand in hand. Online stores filled with low-quality, non-unique items are typically buried deep within the millions of search results returned. The more emphasis you place on including both original, unique content, and technical SEO, the more you’ll see the fruit of those investments.
The Role of Content in Promoting Your Online Store
Among the benefits of developing the content strategy for an online store is the narrowed focus of the custom journey. Potential customers are already “aware” of their need. In many cases, they’ve even “discovered” potential solutions to fill that need. So when they visit an ecommerce site, they likely already have a pretty good idea of what they are looking for. What they want now is a content experience that helps them find the right product and gives them the confidence to purchase.
Image Source: ISLE
But what makes up that content experience? Content, in this case, is everything that fills your web pages:
- Text: information blocks, reviews, etc.
- Photos: pictures, graphic elements
- Videos: animations, embedded video clips.
The quality of these elements boosts the customer experience, which is exactly what search engines care about. Therefore, the more emphasis you place on boosting content quality, the more you stand to gain in the search engine ranking of your site. When creating the ranking of results, search engines take into account different parameters, including:
- Keywords (a natural volume)
- Expertise and authority
- Informational value
- Relevance to the search term/phrase
Any material placed on a web page should be there to improve the experience and solve the reader’s problem. For example, Google appreciates long-form text in a journalistic format. These so-called longreads have specific attributes that Google can account for, like subheadings, facts supported by external links, and expert opinions.
Historically, Google has found that longer-form content on web pages produces increased conversion rates, but long-form content doesn’t necessarily fit with the typical content offered on ecommerce product pages (nor should it). Longreads are more suitable for a blog or main sections. Therefore, before creating your longread content, it is necessary to:
- Analyze competitors’ online stores, which you can do manually or using special online services
- Devise an ecommerce content strategy that is unique, sustainable, and aligns with your overall brand positioning.
- Form a plan that will help you properly allocate the volume of text, photos, etc., and keywords
- Determine the form. Copywriting means unique materials created by experts, whereas rewritten text is merely reworked to be unique. You can work with translations, to which search engines treat better than rewrites
- Form technical tasks for webmasters or software engineers to complete.
Poor-quality content will cause the visitor to quickly leave your online store (bounce), which will harm your search engine ranking. After landing on one of your webpages, your content should hook the visitor and get them to explore.
Relevance and Uniqueness – Two Key Parameters
The process of users finding the ideal web page that matches the often-unknown, and inarticulable query that is swimming in their heads is quite complicated. Through machine learning, search engines are getting really good at presenting results that are both relevant to your search phrase, and unique enough so that you’re not just looking at 20 versions of the same web page.
But getting to that list of results requires the search algorithms to account for a mass of factors. One such factor is relevance, which determines the usefulness of a website and its pages. Search engines use the following criteria to assess relevance:
- Internal: frequency of keywords used in titles and subheadings, keyword volume, internal linking
- External: click-through volume, citation index, external links, and others.
The search engine’s algorithms takes into account the behavioral factors of users, the layout of keywords (the closer to the beginning of the first paragraph, the better), and the presence of synonyms of queries. Also, the materials posted on web pages must comply with the following parameters:
Technical and/or Semantic Uniqueness – When Google compares two different web pages that offer the same basic product, there’s an expectation that the two pages are technically unique (they aren’t duplicates of each other). In the first case, uniqueness is 90-100%, but in fact, the text does not contain new information. Semantic uniqueness is achieved with interesting facts, figures, new information, emotional tone.
Expertise – An ordinary user can make general descriptions, for example, for real estate. An architect, designer, or realtor will prepare expert reviews, which will help the visitor to make the right choice or to form an opinion
Updating – Continually fill the online store with new informative articles and descriptions. This will help to attract traffic and increase the rating
Relevance – If your online store sells technology, medical supplies, or equipment, update the data regularly. Technology and legislation are constantly changing, making information lose relevance
Micro markup – Such markup helps search engine bots determine the content of web pages. It is perfectly understood by all existing search engines.
Respecting these limits and rules is crucial, as Google Panda and other algorithms fight against offenders.
8 Ways to Improve the Content of Your Online Store
Each search engine has unique algorithms. However, the following methods will help improve the ranking of your online store across all search engines. They are designed to account for all current rules and regulations.
#1. Proper SEO optimization and relinking
Algorithms are improving every day. Today’s best practices revolve around providing your site’s visitors with beneficial information that best matches the intent of their search keyword/phrase, rather than the search engine just looking at the number of times that keyword is used on the page. By the way, while the keyword volume can reach up to 4-5%, the minimum density is 1.5%, and the optimal volume is 3-3.5%. When performing SEO optimization it is necessary to:
- Eliminate duplicate web pages
- Write meta tags that follow best practices: title (up to 60-70 characters), description (up to 150-160 characters), keywords (3-5 words), alternate attributes for photos or images (2-4 words, total up to 250 characters)
- Configure your robots.txt file, which limits the ability to index specific web pages
- Introduce a limited number of thematic keywords
Thematic keywords can be high, medium, or low-frequency. Low- and medium-frequency keywords are the best solution for young online stores. But it all depends on the competitiveness and popularity of the subject. You can choose keywords with the help of online tools that allow you to analyze the resources in the top 10 results.
After that, sections need to contain links, because the linking:
- Improves indexation
- Contributes to the proper distribution and weight of web pages
- Helps promote pages for low- and medium-frequency queries.
It also greatly simplifies the process of navigation for visitors. This can be contextual (links in the text) and navigational.
#2. The use of analysis tools that help identify problems
Today, some SEO and content analysis tools can check the quality of the content of an individual web page or an entire online store. Most often these services are used to check:
- SEO parameters, e.g., the presence of queries, over-spam, academic and classical nonsense, stop words, and others, depending on the type of service
- The size of the text content
- Meta tags, tags, and attributes
- Presence of errors, typos.
Mosaic and other types of plagiarism won’t do you any good. Many web platforms provide services on a free basis. Any unpublished text or page can be checked by URL. The use of such tools helps to eliminate many errors at the initial stages, from incorrect meta tags to the presence of plagiarism.
#3. Correct structure
When creating online store content, it’s best to break out your HTML 101 book and follow the best practices of hierarchical structure. Start with an H1 main title, then fill in H2-H6 subheadings. Structured texts are valued more than a single block of text.
Informational content should engage the visitor. For this, you can use the AIDA model, in which A is attention, I is interest, D is desire, A is action. Figures, tables, graphs, and expert facts increase the quality, information weight, and semantic uniqueness.
#4. Increase readability
Materials placed on the site should be easy to read. Readability indicators might decrease due to:
- Ornate phrases, industry jargon, or complex syntactic structures
- A huge number of introductory phrases: “we all know”, “in the modern world”, “everyone knows” and others
- An overabundance of stop words, like “a”, “is,” and “the”;
- Presence of factual errors, from typos to stylistic inaccuracies
- Fragments created by machine translation.
It is better to use pithy and short sentences, and:
- Abandon stop words or reduce their number as much as possible
- Divide your articles into paragraphs of no more than 4-5 lines
- Do not add obsolete words, obscure terms, or complex sentence constructions that are difficult to understand.
When working with readability, pay attention to formatting: typeset, color and font size, line length, highlighting important points using italics, bold or underlining.
#5. Supporting visuals
Additional visual content that supports the topic can play a HUGE role in SEO rankings and the overall content experience. Supplement your long-form content with:
- Audio recordings/podcasts
- Downloadable instructions.
Don’t forget about other types of support like product comparison reviews, customer reviews, or instructions — anything that complements the page’s main topic. This approach increases relevance, expertise, and conversion rates.
#6. Unpredictable scripts
The official and dry style/layout of an ecommerce product page looks respectable, but it does not arouse interest or captivate users. Why not experiment and throw a curveball at the visitor? Perhaps you can develop an unforeseen scenario, presenting information with interesting layout variations.
Bottom line, you don’t want the visitor to feel like your page, site, or brand is just a me too. That’s a recipe for a bounce. Supplement your product descriptions with thematic facts, data (infographics are most effective), and expert stories. Use any information that arouses interest.
#7. Errors kill trust
Of course typos happen, but they can also mean the difference between a bounce and a sale. You should do everything you can to employ the proper resources and processes to avoid:
- Typos and grammatical errors
- Stylistic inconsistencies
- Technical issues
A proper quality assurance (Q/A) process can work wonders to eliminate any issues before publication. This work can be done with the help of proofreading (by yourself or using an editor or special web services). For example, you can turn to online writing services. Specialists will give you new ideas for content and advise you on how to summarize an article without plagiarizing.
Also, pay attention to double-checking the facts. This is especially true for online stores that sell drugs, baby food, professional equipment, and other similar products. Visitors believe the information on web pages. Therefore, incorrect information can lead to injury or property damage.
#8. Eliminate all types of copying/plagiarism
Your visitors might not notice, but search engine crawlers will find it and penalize you accordingly. Copying can also get you in hot water with the copyright owner. In some cases, copying is acceptable, but be sure to link to the original source. Copying can also lead to other negative consequences:
- Exclusion from the search engine index
- Decreased ranking level.
The ban on duplication applies to articles and descriptions as well as pictures, videos, photos, infographics, and audio. Thus, use unique materials by private photographers and copywriters. You can use the services of marketing agencies, purchase images from stock photo sites, and source text from ready-made article stores. First, you need to make an action plan, as well as calculate the budget for a week, month, or year to avoid a serious financial burden.
Modern algorithms are accounting for all of the above in every page that they evaluate. To prevent your website from getting lost in the noise, involve marketers, advertising specialists, designers, and copywriters who understand content creation and SEO optimization. And don’t forget about all the great tools out there that can analyze your online store content and provide guidance on compliance with current requirements. The latter often change, so it is worth monitoring the information regularly, which will help you respond quickly to any innovations.
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