Good Content for Ecommerce SEO

How to Craft Ecommerce Content for Stronger SEO & Conversions

Kim runs an e-commerce site that sells cubic zirconia, diamond-alternative jewelry. She wants to get better organic search rankings for her company, and she understands that she can improve her search engine optimization through content marketing. Through her blog, social media posts, and other means, she hopes to improve her search visibility and ultimately sell more rings, necklaces, and pendants on her site.

Here are rules that Kim followed to retool her e-commerce content for better SEO and conversions.

 

Research to Narrow in on Titles and Topics

 

Market research has long been used to learn about what type of target demographic interests the people in your target groups. By adding SEO research to the mix, you are able to address more granular, specific concerns – what they want to know when they are searching online.

To really refine the path you take with content, speak with your customer service team to learn more about the types of questions that are asked the most often. The problem-solving that your staff performs every day for your customers should overlap with the ideas you get from search analytics; and when you start answering these questions effectively through your site, fewer people will contact support.

Since Kim’s company is a small startup, she handles the customer service herself with the help of an employee, Dale. Kim and Dale sat down and brainstormed 20 frequently asked questions. Kim then combined these questions with ones that she found from keyword research. These questions were then used for creating titles and generally building ongoing buckets of subject matter through which the blog would be developed.

 

Think Long-Term

 

Content is not so much a get-rich-quick scheme as it is a get-rich-methodically scheme. These articles are about giving people information in order to establish authority, trust, and rapport. Because e-commerce companies often have thin margins, it’s difficult to budget for something that won’t pay off for 6 or 12 months. However, since blogs can help you better connect with your audience, they can also sometimes make it possible to bump up your prices. That’s because people aren’t just price-comparing but are becoming more attached to your brand.

Kim was having trouble building content into her growth plan because she knew it was unlikely to deliver strong immediate returns. As a strategy to make up for the increase in costs represented by content, Kim delivered strong content for two months and then started raising her prices. At six months, the investment in the content started to pay back.

 

Make a Buyer’s Guide

 

The bottom-line rule for content marketing is just the same as it is for other aspects of your site: user experience. In the context of a blog article, the question is how you can make that article captivating and engaging – highly readable. One of the companies that has succeeded to the greatest degree with this tactic is River Pools and Spas. Although the company is fundamentally a brick-and-mortar company, their focus on answering customer questions led them to the top of searches for their industry – especially because they were willing to answer any question a customer might have. Those questions include addressing the price of your product or service, i.e., the question that’s answered by a buyer’s guide.

Using River Pools and Spas as a model, Kim developed a buyer’s guide for her store. Working with the blog on cost of inground pools that drew more traffic to the pool store than any other piece of content, Kim wrote the title, “Cubic Zirconia Jewelry Pricing and Cost Guide.” She then oversaw the writing of the guide to ensure that it was not written as a sales catalog but as a source of unbiased consultative information.

 

Put Up Lists of All Kinds

 

An analysis of 100 top-performing blogs (with great search rankings) found that fully 45% were numbered lists. Clearly, lists are correlated highly with strong SEO, but they are a great way to approach content for other reasons too: they’re relatively straightforward to compile, allow for easier skimming (how most people read blogs) and are readymade for sharing.

Kim wanted a good blend of different title formats, so she rephrased some of the frequently asked questions she had devised with Dale into lists and “how-to” articles (guides/tutorials), leaving some of them as simple questions. The result was a master list of article titles for the next few months.

 

Create a Long-Form Guide

 

Running an e-commerce site is all about balance. When you look at any task, you want to perform it well without overdoing it. However, it is important to realize that there is substantial value to going long with some of your pieces. A guide that is delivered as a blog or an ebook, something in the area of 5000 to 20,000 words, is a way for you to really become the authority figure for your niche. You want to think carefully about how broad or narrow your topic is for maximum impact. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to come up with all the ideas yourself. These guides are usually best constructed by combining your own perspective with ideas gathered from authority content.

As Kim considered what would make the best long-form guide for her business, she centered on “Everything You Need to Know About Cubic Zirconia Wedding Rings.” She then copy-pasted that title into Google and started to work her way through the results. Her initial research unveiled an article by a gemologist about the history of the compound; using that type of objective content, she would build the skeleton outline for her guide.

 

Use Descriptive Text

 

Search engines are always being improved. However, descriptive text is still a powerful way to let them know what your images and video are. In this way, you are recognizing that your content needs to meet the needs of both your customers and the search engines. Feeding the right information to Google and Bing will help them help you.

Kim started implementing better descriptions site-wide and anywhere else she’d posted content. She transcribed all her videos, wrote out information about all her pictures, and derived talking points from infographics to better explain them.

 

Always Be Closing

 

Selling is a basic aspect of an e-commerce shop that should never be forgotten, even when you are aiming for objectivity and transparency in your content. After all, you won’t just get shoppers to your site but searchers as well. If those searchers find valuable information in your content, they could end up buying as well – as long as you aren’t too salesy. Don’t be aggressively promotional. However, a call to action is necessary to guide searchers from your blog to your shop.

 

Kim started getting great rankings for her content a couple months in, better than she was getting for her e-commerce product and category pages. Luckily, she was well-prepared for that, with a call-to-action at the bottom of each piece. At the end of each blog, after she had talked about care of a cubic zirconia ring or discussed the differences between two types of stone arrangements, she would turn lightly to a short, 2-3-sentence paragraph at the end. This CTA would close with a link to a relevant page of her shop.

 

*****

 

Do you want better SEO and an improved conversion rate for your e-commerce site? Great content is just one piece of the puzzle. For your e-commerce site to deliver the speed and reliability that will keep users enthralled, you need excellent infrastructure. At KnownHost, we custom build all our Managed VPS servers and use only the best components available, to ensure maximum performance and stability. See our managed VPS hosting packages.

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The Need for Reliable Hosting

What Amazon Web Services’ Glitch Tells Us About the Need for Reliable Hosting

The business world is in a state of rapid change. In an effort to remain competitive and expand their influence, many of the biggest companies are diversifying their services in order to attract new customers or further entrench existing ones into their ecosystems. We see this with companies like Apple who have branched out from computers and smartphones to cloud services, music streaming services, possible original video content, and an upcoming car of some kind.

 

Amazon has been famous for this since its inception twenty years ago as a surprisingly successful online retailer of books. You’d be forgiven if you forgot that’s how Amazon started considering how very different the company looks now. In fact, many users of a certain age probably aren’t even aware that Amazon started as a bookseller since we can get nearly anything delivered right to our door from the retail giant.

 

Amazon has even recently gotten into the cloud hosting game. Are they angling to replace independent hosting companies that offer dedicated servers? Perhaps, although it remains to be seen if Amazon’s robust (and expensive) suite of cloud tools and services make sense for the typical small to mid-sized business owner who just needs a reliable and cost effective way to keep a website online. But it is certainly interesting to observe what the company is attempting.

 

It’s true that many start-ups have shown interest in Amazon Web Services. There’s a toolset for everyone’s needs, really. But if you’re a business owner with a standard sized e-commerce or informational site, is that kind of solution the best for your needs? Would traditional hosting be the better option? Recent events have also put a spotlight on the risks to business owners when something goes wrong within a tremendous company offering a myriad of services.

 

What Happened

 

At the end of February, many different companies from national names like Netflix and Slack down to independent, small businesses began to experience issues. For some, their sites were completely down. For others, cloud tools stopped working. And for many, certain assets just stopped loading. What happened was for a period of about four hours, Amazon Web Services as a whole experienced a disruption in service. Because the service is so complex and isn’t just a hosting company, every kind of business with something kept in Amazon’s cloud whether it be software, a website, or image files felt the effects. It’s was unknown what caused the incident exactly, but the speculation was a software glitch or plain old human error. It turns out it was indeed human error that took servers offline. Whatever the cause, it threw many online businesses and services into turmoil for hours. Residual effects were felt for days afterward. Downtime of any length costs a business money.

 

So, as a small business owner, what does that mean for you?

 

Decentralization

 

We all know the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This is often good advice depending on what the topic of conversation is, but in this instance, you can see the downside of this bit of common wisdom. Nothing is perfect, after all. But for business owners looking to just have a site they know will be reliably reachable and a customer service team that can be contacted 24/7, Amazon Web Services might be juggling too many balls in the air at once. It’s a cloud deployment service above all. So things get divvied up and stored in different parts of the world on different physical machines. One region goes down, disruption of some kind will occur and it’s hard to identify what that would be. If it just so happens that your images are coming from one location, but your other website components reside elsewhere, you can find yourself with no images displaying on your site which is exactly what happened to many businesses who use Amazon S3 for image hosting in particular.

 

At the end of the day, the typical business owner doesn’t want to have to think too much about their hosting. Like with most things tech based, many would prefer to “set it and forget it” while they work on other aspects of the business. While this isn’t really possible considering you’ll at least sometimes need to tinker around in your hosting environment, or at least have a developer do it, working with a company that handles hosting exclusively does add some simplicity to your operations.

 

Service Level Agreements

 

When you sign up for a hosting plan, you also agree to the SLA. This basically says what to expect as far as performance and hosting company responsibility when it comes to your VPS or dedicated server.

With a complex business model like Amazon’s, there isn’t just one SLA. There are different agreements depending on what products or services you’re signing up for or hoping to use. A web server has one agreement, databases have another, and storage a third. You’ll also have to make decisions regarding keeping all of your information in one Amazon “region” or choosing to split your data amongst different regions for the sake of security through diversity. What happened during this temporary service downtime in February is one entire region went offline. That’s why businesses saw different levels of disruption.

 

A typical service level agreement is actually much simpler. Exemptions to the uptime guarantee are listed. It’s important to note them. But otherwise, that promise of 99.9% uptime is there. That’s actually the industry-leading number. Not every hosting company will make a 99.9% uptime guarantee, but KnownHost does

 

With many hosting companies, you’re told where the data centers are. You know exactly where your website and information may be stored. Also, a hosting company that focuses only on hosting will have a better grasp on its limited number of physical hardware locations. That’s not to say things never go wrong. They certainly can. But the response is what’s critical.

 

Customer Service

 

Getting the right tool for the job is the key to everything. For some people, a cloud service like AWS makes sense. But for the vast majority of people who just want to host their website and know that should anything happen, they have a customer service team they can easily reach, independent hosting is the way to go. At KnownHost, we’ve been providing excellent customer service and reliable hosting for years. With 24/7 support, you can be confident knowing that someone is available to offer assistance should you encounter problems related to your site’s availability or perceived performance.

 

There is something to be said for turning to specialists when it comes to wanting things done well.

 

Conclusion

 

No technology is perfect. But, the performance and reliability of your website is an integral part of your business’ success. Whether you need a powerful dedicated server or a flexible VPS, host your site with an independent hosting company that offers top of the line customer service and industry leading uptime. Contact us today. The expert team at KnownHost is here to help you achieve your business objectives with our high performing servers and knowledge. Whatever your needs, there’s a perfect hosting plan for you.

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How to Keep Your Site Secure

How to Keep Your Site Secure Beyond What Your Host Offers

Security and business go hand in hand. If you had a brick and mortar location, you would lock the doors at night and install some security cameras, wouldn’t you? It would be considered foolish not to. Yet, when it comes to a website we don’t necessarily talk about security in the same obvious way. This may have to do with differing levels of understanding of what actually goes into protecting an e-commerce operation or informational site. Often, the response is “Oh, IT takes care of all that stuff.” And that is usually the case. But, it’s important for business owners to know how their sites can be better secured even if they aren’t actually performing the implementation of these practices themselves.

 

Cybersecurity is gaining more mainstream attention for many reasons, whether it be political discussions or the reality of an ever more interconnected world. While you may not be running a bank or some other kind of high profile business that you think would make you a target, the truth is small businesses are targeted with fair regularity. In fact, 43% of cyber attacks actually target small businesses. Additionally, 48% of data security breaches occur due to malicious actors rather than human error.

 

All of this is to say that it’s important to fortify your website within reason. While you shouldn’t be losing sleep at night over it (making sales and generating leads are far more pressing concerns) it’s good to take the right steps to bolster your security for some piece of mind.

 

Your hosting company does provide some security measures to protect your managed VPS or dedicated server, but the bulk of it is really up to the user. If you’re concerned that your business’ website isn’t protected enough, there are some steps you can take to make it more secure. Here is what you should know about protecting your website beyond what your hosting company provides.

 

How Your Hosting Company Helps

 

You may notice that your managed VPS or dedicated server comes with a level of complementary DDOS protection. DDOS attacks, essentially an attempt to knock your website offline with a flood of artificial traffic, are a very common malicious event that affect many organizations every year. Your hosting company can’t guarantee protection from every kind of attack, but many of the major causes are covered. These include UDP floods, NTP amplification, DNS amplification, Syn flood, volume based attacks, and fragmented packet attacks.

 

However many other kinds of attacks are dealt with at the server level and rely on users following some best practices.

 

Configure cPanel Appropriately

 

At the server level, your cPanel access does give you a measure of control over how your installation handles nearly every kind of security configuration you can think of. The company has actually put out an extensive list of recommended settings that you may opt to follow. It is a bit of a deep dive. Your individual use case may mean some of these recommended settings won’t work for you, but unless you have highly specialized reasoning for that, it’s a good checklist to stick to.

 

Use HTTPS

 

A few years back this may have seemed like going the extra mile, but every modern browser nearly shames you into using HTTPS and with good reason. Ever notice the pronounced green lettering and lock next to a URL in Chrome if the site uses HTTPS? Going to a site without this seal of security feels almost dangerous in 2017. Ever since Google made the switch to HTTPS for all search traffic, Blogspot, and Gmail, it’s become expected that your site uses this security protocol as well. While it’s especially important to invest in an SSL certificate (which will get you this HTTPS designation) if you have an e-commerce site because you’re handling sensitive credit card information, there’s really no reason not to invest in one no matter what kind of site you have. SSL certificates don’t cost much and they’ll pay for themselves with improved customer confidence and SEO value.

 

Keep Software Up to Date

 

Best cPanel practices are good for securing your site in the backend as is making the switch to HTTPS. But that’s the server itself. What about what you’re actually putting on that VPS? The software that makes up the customer facing part of your site, such as a CMS if you choose to use one, has to be maintained as well. An outdated CMS is a major risk factor when it comes to having your site compromised. Most websites run a CMS of some kind, with the big names being WordPress (the most widely used), Joomla, and Drupal. These are open source technologies which mean their source code is public and ripe for exploiting.

 

This doesn’t mean you should avoid using a CMS. It certainly makes creating and updating your site a lot easier. But you must be diligent in running software updates, including updating whatever plugins or add-ons you’ve also installed to improve your site’s functionality.

 

Don’t Make Admin So Obvious

 

You’ll want to do a little renaming to better throw off any hackers who want to go straight to the source. A CMS like WordPress often automatically creates a very simple URL for access. For example, try going to a site you know uses WordPress and adding /wp-admin to the end of the URL. If you get to the log in screen, you know that site owner didn’t take the extra step to secure their site and change the default login URL.

 

Additionally, change your folder names. There are scripts that can be deployed by malicious third parties to scan the directories on your server to look for folders labeled “admin” or something similar. By renaming your admin folders to something recognizable only to yourself and your team you can get an easy win here. By masking some obvious entry points, you can add an extra layer of security that isn’t too technical in nature.

 

Installing Security Software

 

You can install some software to monitor and protect your site as well. One popular choice is a web application firewall. A web application firewall is essentially a cloud-based firewall that you subscribe to to protect your site from hacking attacks. A web application firewall can inspect the traffic coming into your site, identify malicious requests to stop them, protect from spam, SQL injections, and brute force attacks.

 

You may also opt to use an entire security package. There are many companies that offer monitoring services, vulnerability analyzers, virus scans, and all sorts of bell and whistles. If you want to outsource your security, these services will do that for a price.

 

Conclusion

 

KnownHost provides the servers and hosting environments you need to succeed. With 24/7 customer support, industry leading uptime, complementary DDOS protection, and a variety of hosting plans suitable for businesses of all sizes, KnownHost aims to meet all of your business needs. Contact us today and speak with one of our team members about which managed VPS or dedicated server plan would make the most sense for your business. Let’s partner together to help you reach your goals.

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Business Testimonials

How to Get the Most Out of Business Testimonials

One of the first things most of us do when we evaluate a product or service is look for reviews. In fact, an incredible 90% of people reported that positive reviews make them likelier to buy, while 86% said that negative ones make them likelier to look elsewhere. In a similar poll, 88% of people said that they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.

 

In other words, the opinions of other people who have already purchased your product or service are deeply important to convincing people to buy from you. The use of testimonials (statements from pleased customers) can give visitors a sense of the customer perspective right on your site, so that they can understand what the experience might be like once they’ve committed to your company.

 

Here are some thought-leader tips and legal recommendations for the use of testimonials:

 

  1. Build social proof into your business.

 

First, as a general rule, you want to think about all your existing customers as an opportunity to establish social proof to new ones. Cody McKibben of Thrilling Heroics advises to identify a dozen of your customers that are bringing the most revenue to your business. Ask them for feedback, and see if they have some positive things to say. Once you better understand which ones are particularly enthusiastic, you can take their comments and turn them into case studies or testimonials.

 

  1. Ask for details.

 

Your testimonials will be less compelling if all of them say, in so many words, that you’re great and your service is awesome – without going into any specifics of their journey with you. Ask your client to get granular with their experience, and to use exact data if they have it, explains Chris Garrett of Copyblogger. Instead of “Our sales grew enormously,” get them to zero in on the real impact, such as, “It increased our sales by 178% within 90 days.”

 

  1. Provide full information for the speaker.

 

Sometimes testimonials will say that “Mike” liked the product, or that “Susie (Topeka, KS)” thought your service was spectacular. How can anyone know if those comments are real or if those people even exist? Make it possible for visitors to your site to verify your testimonials through names and links to the happy customer’s social profile or website, suggests Juha Liikala of Stripped Bare Media. Few people will go beyond that step to confirm with the person that the comments are theirs; however, that simple effort to allow people to check your sources shows transparency and will make them feel more confident with your business.

 

  1. Select testimonials that discuss important benefits.

 

Sometimes testimonials can be strongly positive but off-focus in terms of helping you prove how helpful your product is, explains Derek Gehl in Entrepreneur. For that reason, when someone gives you a glowing response that is centered on nonessentials, it’s less helpful than when someone describes how it solved their problem. “It’s fun to hear that your super-duper floor cleaner smells nice or that the bottle doesn’t drip,” says Gehl. “But have you established that it cleans their floors well?”

 

  1. Highlight impressive customers.

Of course you want for all of your customers to be satisfied; but when you approach people for testimonials, says Firas Kittaneh of Amerisleep, the best ones are people whose names or companies will be recognizable to visitors. That’s especially the case if it’s someone who is an influencer within your demographic’s industry.

 

  1. Choose testimonials that compare.

 

When people are looking at your site and shopping for a new product or service, they are comparing you to everything else that’s out there. Because they are in that “comparison” mindset, it helps to show them statements that discuss what you offer in relationship to an alternative. For instance, a particularly strong testimonial will come from someone who was dissatisfied with a competitor before they became your customer. By using their perspective, you’ll establish how your product is preferable to another option that your prospective buyers might be considering.

 

  1. Be careful how much you groom them.

 

You want these comments to sound natural, and their organic nature can be lost if you do too much editing. “Those small grammar and language quirks help the reader connect and demonstrate they are real,” says Garrett.

 

  1. Showcase testimonials that overcome objections.

 

The sales process isn’t just about explaining what’s great about your service; i.e., explaining why the person should say yes to you. It’s about identifying ways in which it will not cause the customer any problems; i.e., describing why the individual should not say no. When you use testimonials, their strength in helping you sell will be improved if the customer discusses how they overcame their own objections – that they had concerns but ended up realizing they were in good hands.

 

  1. Create a page that is solely focused on them.

 

While it can help to feature testimonials on your homepage or elsewhere as pieces of a page, you also want to have a whole page that is focused on them entirely.

 

  1. Pick out testimonials that back up your claims.

 

What are the special capabilities of your product or service? How are you claiming that it is different and better than everything else that’s out there? Since you have a vested interest in the customer buying, they will take everything you say less seriously than anything they can gather from an objective third party.If you say your product can do something,” says Gehl, “your testimonials should back up your promises, complete with actual facts and figures.”

 

  1. Don’t make them up.

 

If you are just starting your business or think contacting your customers to get their thoughts could be a huge pain, you may want to skip that part of the process and just write some things you think a happy customer might say. Beyond being unethical, that route is also typically ineffective. Remember Mike and Susie from Topeka? Just like no one is likely to believe their thoughts are real (or that even the people are real), no one will probably be tricked by coming up with your own customer comments.

 

  1. [Legal] Testimonials should be accurate.

 

To continue with the ideas from #11, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stipulates that whenever someone endorses your product or service (as in a testimonial), it should be factual. One aspect of accuracy is that it’s unlawful to highlight someone who had an unusually positive experience with your product if their results were atypical. If the results aren’t typical, that should be stated clearly in a disclaimer (which can be referenced through an asterisk with small print at the bottom of your page).

 

  1. [Legal] Get permission in writing.

 

Email your customer and ask them if you can use their comments. You need their OK in writing so that you aren’t put at risk if they later change their mind. Along the same lines, your terms and conditions can state that user reviews may be used in your marketing material.

 

  1. [Legal] Don’t copy-paste from Facebook.

 

Typically, a social media site will have terms and conditions stating that user-generated content is owned by the user. “[I]f you copy and paste the testimonial,” says Leah Hamilton in Kissmetrics, “you are infringing on the intellectual property rights of the person who wrote the review, which is not the best way to treat people who love your product!”

 

*****

 

Are you wanting to wow potential customers and make more sales? One way to keep people on your site is with strong hosting performance, backed up by 24/7 American-based support. That’s what we offer at KnownHost, as described by our satisfied customers: See our VPS client testimonials.

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