Creating Content For Online Stores (when people don’t really read)
Last week I was lucky enough to attend BrightonSEO – and right from session one it became clear that content is a BIG topic for digital marketers in 2013 and the years to come. I’m pretty lucky since my job requires me to attend various search conferences and I have seen that even the exhibitor landscape has slightly changed since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates in 2012 – whereas you’ll now find numerous article writing services promising “services for unique and exclusively written content created to your specification”.
This slight conference exhibitor shift emphasises the surge in demand for content creators. Plenty of blog posts are advising us to think twice before hiring a new addition to our marketing team – we might want to consider hiring a writer rather than a career marketer – I am sure this is old news for you though. What triggered my curiosity though were the findings of a Nielsen study I came across a few weeks ago.
The survey looked at “how users read on the web” and the findings implied that the majority of users
- 79% (to be precise) scanned new web pages
- Whilst only 16% read word by word of a webpage
Okay, so content is on top of every digital marketer’s priority list – not necessarily in the form of plain copy but in all sorts of shapes and forms like infographics, videos, animations, polls, and the list goes on and on. What we’ve learnt from the study though is that we need to design our sites in a way that users can easily scan the copy to improve the user experience.
We know that both authority and credibility are increasingly growing in importance for both the user and the search engines. Generally, it’s fair to say that credibility is crucial since users don’t know who’s behind the information on the web. There are various ways to increase your online credibility. For now I would just like to mention adding outbound hypertext links as this will show users that the author has done his homework and isn’t afraid to direct users onto other sites.
Users Read In F-Shaped Pattern
A separate Nielsen study which ties in nicely with this post found that users use a F-shaped pattern for reading web content. Eye tracking visualisation & heatmaps were used for the study.
The above image represents a product page on an e-commerce website. The red areas indicate the areas where users looked the most, whereas the yellow areas indicate fewer views followed by the blue areas which were the least viewed areas. I believe it’s fair to say that your biggest determinant for content usability should be how users read online – and because users read differently you need to write accordingly.
Ecommerce vs the High Street
With superfast broadband and innovative online media streaming services such as LOVEFiLM, Netflix and Spotify, it’s easy to blame the internet for the troubles faced by high street chains such as Blockbuster & HMV. Nowadays websites are often the first interface between the customers and the seller, your visit card, your best assistant, in short, the perceived image of your company. So your website needs to be designed in such a way that it should be easily handled and worked upon by customers without any hassles or confusion. A good design is a great way to communicate and get your point across and so it is definitely very important. Some websites, though, are unconventional, creative and rich in visual effects. So how can you optimize your ecommerce website to please both users and search engines?
With so much content being pushed out on a daily basis it’s important that we stick to three golden rules to make your content stand out
- Be unique – differentiate your content from others within your vertical
- Publish original content – this will trigger people’s curiosity but ensure that not only the words used but also the meaning and the idea itself are original
- Be interesting – this actually refers to being useful for your users
However, in terms of ecommerce websites adapting the above may seem a bit of a challenge. But don’t worry, because we’ll now be looking at your most important online asset – product pages. You wonder why? They are the gate to lure prospects through the search engines onto your site. Additionally, you’ll want search engines to like your product pages the most – see, it’s a synergy!
Tend to be pretty generic and therefore boring – as they often bear identical content since products are often very similar. Get out of your routine of copy-pasting and start writing them from scratch – getting other content creators involved too, might work wonders.
Why not put your testimonials on your product pages – there’s no need to only feature them under your site’s testimonials tab. Who wouldn’t want to showcase their customers praise? Add them right onto your product page – it will be 100% unique to that page and of strong interest for any potential customer viewing the endorsed product.
Let’s assume you don’t have a testimonial section on your site – what about reviews? If you got great reviews on review sites why not showcasing them? Simply, choose the most impressive section of the review and add it onto your page – ensure you include the full link of the review post though so that your users can read the full review as well (this will also add credibility).
A Blog for your Ecommerce Site
It’s clear that not all content is suitable for specific product pages. But if you have an ecommerce website I would suggest to have a blog – for the minimum of effective SEO. Use your blog to keep your users up to date with the latest products, products enhancements, special offers, product user cases, loyalty schemes, etc – the world is your oyster, really!
Here’s a list of some general content ideas
- ‘How-to’ suggestions related to your product
- Interviews with users and how they are using your product
- Your product in the news
- Similar products in the news
- News your target audience is interested in even if it isn’t directly related to your product – you want to give them something useful
According to Forrester Research $248.7 billion will be spent on online shopping in 2014 in the U.S alone. Online sales are becoming the norm and now, more than ever, ecommerce websites are facing tough competition. No reason to worry though – take some inspiration from these 4 great brand e-commerce websites.
Intel offers its users to select several items at once in order to compare them with a grid of an easy to understand analysis of each product. Another benefit is that users don’t have to have an account in place meaning users are not getting nagged about registrations and accounts.
Not only does the site show products but it also offers trial versions. Further it features clear calls to action guiding the user through the buying process on a step-by-step basis.
Sneaker fans can often be pretty picky. As a result Adidas lets users firstly browse by category followed by narrowing search results further down by gender, style and colour.
The great thing about this website is that it rewards online shoppers with benefits – what’s not to love? Further users can filter products according to price & environmental friendly criteria.
I hope that these 4 examples have inspired you to get typing for your online stores – remember to provide both humans and search engines with content, visuals, videos, animations that are useful for them!