We’re going to state something obvious: eCommerce stores rely on revenue to survive. But to amass that revenue, traffic must be driven to the website.
Traffic is mainly driven to an eCommerce website in two ways: Firstly through paid advertising, and secondly through organic search. And perhaps a little-known fact is that 43% of all eCommerce traffic driven to a store is driven through organic search.
That’s a sizable statistic, and it’s one that makes the importance of content for eCommerce websites even more paramount.
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A note on eCommerce traffic and organic search
Organic search doesn’t just happen.
To drive clicks from search engine results, websites must stand heads and shoulders above their competitors and the only way to do that is to rank well. There are a multitude of factors required in successfully ranking a website, but one particular element that can’t be disputed is valuable high-quality content.
Why? Because search engines predominantly exist to answer user queries and concerns.
When a website is creating high-quality content that provides value, answers the user’s query, and either informs, educates, or entertains them (or all three) at the same time, it’s essentially fulfilling its duty, resulting in a higher search engine ranking.
But you may think that eCommerce websites shouldn’t need to rely so heavily on informative or entertaining content. After all, the purpose is to buy, buy, buy, right? Wrong.
Here’s why eCommerce stores need to implement strong content marketing strategies to double their driven traffic and triple their revenue.
Why is content important for eCommerce websites?
Content is so essential for an eCommerce website because it entices traffic and engages users, potentially boosting them further along in their customer journey.
For example, envision an eCommerce store selling blenders. The store is well designed, with great product photography and a clear user experience, but it’s lacking conversions. It doesn’t have a blog.
Compare it to another eCommerce website also selling blenders.
The store is also well designed, with good photography and a fairly simplistic user experience but it’s converting well, and ranking higher. They started a blog. It contains buying guides, helpful information, recipe ideas, and a lot of useful content.
Why is the second store converting better than the first? It’s all in the blogging. A user who needs a blender is likely to be into producing smoothies, which could imply they enjoy looking after their health.
Armed with this information, the second store can begin producing content around how to make particular smoothies, which smoothies someone should make depending on their fitness goals, and so on and so forth.
Users visiting the store then engage with the content and with the brand. Not only do they now have a new blender, they know how to use it, which smoothies to make, and they have an invaluable resource that they can continue to refer to when they need it.
That is the hidden power of content marketing for eCommerce stores: User engagement, which then converts into customers and potential brand advocates. Customers increase revenue, and brand advocates increase average order value (AOV) and brand exposure.
And so the brand grows a larger user base, drives more traffic, and ranks higher and higher. Most eCommerce platforms know this is the case so should offer a ready-made blog section with templates.
So in summary, there are four main important areas that content leverages for eCommerce websites:
1. SEO ranking
Content that is of high quality, search engine optimized with the correct keywords, and that is frequently posted will begin to rank higher in search engine results. The purpose of each piece of content should be value: A user should be imparted with some knowledge of the product, niche, or industry upon leaving the website.
High-quality content can also attract backlinks. Backlinks are do-follow links given to a website from another website when they link to the source article in their piece of content.
To search engines, these links serve as votes of confidence and indicators of trust – essentially acting as the like symbol on social media. Collecting enough of these backlinks signifies to search engines that the content is valuable and that the website is to be trusted, which then boosts its domain authority, and its ranking.
2. Brand growth and identity
We don’t need to tell you that eCommerce is competitive, bordering on saturated industry. To stand out from the competition, brands must show some personality and this begins by establishing a brand identity.
Just like in our above blender store example, brands can build their identity through the content they create. An eCommerce website could become known for the useful how-to guides it shares, or recipes or style guides it provides.
GymShark is one such brand that created content based around popular search queries their target market was asking. This led to them building brand identity by instilling a sense of community.
By answering the questions and providing trusted advice, its audience felt understood and connected, and able to identify more closely with the brand.
3. Becoming a trusted industry expert
When a website produces insightful and valuable content on a frequent basis, it becomes seen as a leader in its industry. To search engines, the repeated traffic, and engaging content signifies that the website knows its stuff, and so search engines reward those contributions by ranking the site higher still.
eCommerce stores can achieve this by doubling down on their content marketing efforts in their particular niche. A clothing brand could produce articles or podcasts interviewing fashion designers, or they could keep their audience up to date with the latest fashion trends. A sports store could provide articles about the latest gossip in the sports world, or do match reviews or roundups.
On all pieces of content produced, ensure that there are ways for users to share to their social media channels. This also helps brand recognition and displays trustworthiness to search engines. After all, nobody’s going to share it if it’s not great, right?
The idea should be to produce content that the audience will find insightful and valuable, have them engage by sharing, and then watch the traffic increase. In doing so, you’ll also give your visitors a good reason to sign up for your email list.
4. Imparting value
We’ve mentioned a few times already in our blog that value should be the point of any piece of content produced. But what do we mean by value? A valuable piece of content is something that engages, informs, or entertains your audience.
A how-to guide informs them. An interview with a fashion designer entertains them. A style guide engages them. The user must come away having either learned something or been entertained by something. They should not come away feeling like the content was non-impactful, or worse, that they wasted their time.
If your content has high bounce rates, with only 10% of a page scrolled, it’s likely that your audience is not finding your content valuable, insightful, or interesting, so change your efforts. High bounce rates signify poor value and poor content, which won’t help you rank and subsequently won’t help you reach your desired audience.
So, what content should an eCommerce website produce?
eCommerce websites should hone their efforts on producing pieces of “strategic” content. What we mean by strategic content is content that is successful in achieving a website’s goals. So for example, an eCommerce websites goals could be:
- To drive traffic, acquire links, and record engagement
- To rank significantly in search engine results
- To create a desire for your product or services
- To lead people to identified conversion pages (such as a product or category page)
Pieces of strategic content are often referred to as “pillar content”. Pillar content is essentially a main piece of content that is longer and more in-depth when compared to others. This pillar content is then supported by “keystone” or “cornerstone” content, which are smaller pieces that tie into, and often lead users to, the pillar content.
For example, an in-depth seasonal style guide could serve as the pillar content. The guide is large, with plentiful examples, and comes in at around a cool five to six thousand words. In the guide, there are internal links to products that appear in the eCommerce store. The style guide features a number of styles for different events and seasons.
Keystone, or cornerstone content can then support the pillar content through producing a series of smaller blogs. These blogs could be things like “best seasonal accessories”, “which scarves to wear in autumn”. The blogs are only 1000 to 1,500 words long.
Within the keystone blogs, internal links point back to the pillar content: The guide. Once in the guide, users can click through to internal links that point to products in the store. This creates good internal link equity, as well as creating a path for users.
It’s recommended that both types of content are produced because smaller pieces of strategic content serve a purpose to drive users to the larger pieces of pillar content where they should convert.
This is a primary reason that eCommerce stores do so well with “How-To” content.
For any website, content really is king. But eCommerce websites should not see producing content as outside of their remit. If anything, with the competition found in eCommerce, eCommerce websites should dedicate substantial resources to producing high-quality content in order to differentiate from competitors.
Driving traffic doesn’t have to rely on ad budgets. Instead, it can be enticed just by the eCommerce store showing off what it knows.