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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Why Your Hosting Could be Affecting Your SEO Efforts

Search engine optimization is one of the facets of digital marketing that provokes a love/hate response. It’s obvious that having an SEO plan is a necessity. After all, there is a lot of value in organic traffic. On average, just over half of the traffic coming to a site is via organic search. That means avenues like social, paid ads, email, referrals, etc. combined equal the traffic that Google or Bing bring to your site. While having more visitors is nice, what does that actually mean for your bottom line? Organic search traffic also brings in the most revenue across most industry sectors. While some visitors might just be researching or “window shopping” many are deliberately performing searches so they can make a purchase.

 

The frustration of an SEO campaign usually lies in how nebulous it can sometimes be. That’s because search companies, especially Google, are notoriously secretive about the factors that go into their ranking algorithms. That’s why tactics that used to work don’t necessarily work quite as well a few years down the line. This means reevaluating your tactics, dealing with the ups and downs of rankings or penalties, and investing more into a new strategy. The frustration lies in not being entirely confident that the action you’re taking is the best course. Luckily, the whole thing isn’t a shot in the dark. There are definite correlations marketing professionals have parsed in order to determine how to best get higher search results. It turns out, many factors go into your search rankings. And some pretty significant ones actually relate to your site’s hosting. That’s why if you’ve been trying to save money by staying on a shared hosting plan, you could actually be giving up on revenue that would more than pay for your, say, VPS instead.

 

Surprised that your hosting company might be affecting your SEO efforts? Let’s break down what is known about search algorithms and how hosting can play a substantial role.

 

Search Ranking Factors

 

We know some of the major factors that make up Google’s algorithm through both trial and error and some guidance from Google themselves. Content plays a big part. In fact, it’s become possibly the most heavily weighted piece of signaling of the value of a site. If your site’s content isn’t determined to be “of value” then your low rankings will reflect that. Now, how does an algorithm determine the value of content? It can’t just read it like a human being would.

 

Google relies on signals that people find value in the content. A big one is social sharing. The more social media interaction there is with your site, the higher the authority and value, therefore the higher the rank. Ultimately, Google looks to approximate a user’s experience with its algorithm. That means some technical attributes of a site will factor into the ranking formula as well. Some of those attributes have to do with how well your site performs. That includes things like page load time and site speed. This is where your host comes in.

 

How Your Host Plays a Part

 

You know the reason why someone would opt for a VPS over a shared hosting plan. It’s faster. No one likes to wait for a page to load, or worse, crash. But it’s not that simple. Not only do users value site speed and load times highly, but Google does as well. First, it’s important to make a critical point. Many things factor into site speed, not just your host. Upgrading your shared hosting to a VPS will certainly be beneficial, but it’s not a magic bullet. Developer decisions play a major role in site speed, too.

 

However, you want to give your site every advantage possible. Higher performing servers will give you speed and broadband boosts. This should ostensibly increase your page load times which would reflect positively on your ranking scores. Having a higher performing hosting solution gives you a bit more wiggle room when it comes to “heavy” coding, but best practices still dictate clean code when possible. Site uptime also plays a part in your SEO efforts. Don’t settle for anything less than 99.9% service level agreements. If a search engine crawler comes to index your site during a period that it’s in downtime, that could be detrimental to your ranking.

 

What You Can Do to Improve Rankings

 

By focusing on giving your visitors the best user experience possible, you’re also going to be bolstering your SEO efforts. What does that look like?

 

Invest in a hosting solution that will help you achieve your goal of keeping your page load times to under three seconds if possible and online consistently with industry leading uptime. Cut down on things that slow sites down like complicated JavaScript or PHP scripting. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, be careful with the amount of plugins you have loaded into the site. Each plugin can add a fraction of a second to your page load time. Enough plugins combined can add crucial seconds to your overall load time which can push you over the threshold of “acceptable” to both users and search engines.

 

Outside of the realm of hosting and site performance, you also want to make sure your information architecture is sound with proper URL formatting, high quality content, plenty of social media engagement, and a focus on keyword research.

 

Planning for the Future

 

“Future proofing” as a concept is a bit dubious. No one can predict how things will go. But, there are some best practices that probably won’t ever fall out of fashion.

 

Setting up your site with the right hosting solution right off the bat is always a good idea. Many business owners start on lower tiered hosting to save money only to find themselves in a situation where they need to migrate down the line. While migrations aren’t always a big deal, things can go wrong. Information could be lost. The technicalities of a site migration could hurt your SEO rankings. Anytime you move something from one place to another, there is the possibility of search penalties.

 

Starting right away on a VPS will save you time and headaches in the long run because you’ll be set up where you need to be from the beginning. You’ll have the performance you need to handle your site’s growth from its beginnings up to having hundreds of thousands of visitors.

 

A successful SEO campaign is all about setting up strong site architecture, including content, right off the bat and then building off of that over the years. What you don’t want to do is find yourself in a situation where you’re doing complete overhauls.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see there is a lot riding on having a reliable hosting solution that consistently offers high performance. Every part of your digital operations is interconnected, even in some not so obvious ways. That’s why it’s important to partner with the best. At KnownHost, we know how important your website is to your business. If you’re looking for a hosting company with the experience to handle any kind of project all while providing top of the line customer service, contact us today. We’re happy to answer any questions and help you determine the best hosting solution for your business.

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How Google is Shifting SEO this Year

Google is always changing its position on SEO. 2016 is no different and it has already seen a number of significant changes. This guide is going to show you what you need to be aware of and how you should react to the latest changes in SEO.

See Also: Why You Should Use Google + for Business

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The Year Started with a Bang

Google didn’t waste any time in starting its changes for 2016. Half way through January we saw Google implement a massive update to its core algorithm. What has got people scared is the fact it hasn’t been given a name and nobody has yet managed to explain exactly what it does.

In short, this has heralded a year of unannounced updates. The bane of every SEO expert!

The Pain is Real

Google has caused huge problems for businesses of all sizes. For smaller companies, this is more painful because they may not be even aware of the changes in place. And if they are aware they may not have the personnel in place to react to them. They aren’t proactive enough to be able to react to these changes.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Accelerated mobile pages came as no surprise because Google was kind enough to warn people about them towards the end of 2015. They announced that they could go live as early as the start of 2016.

What are They?

Known as AMP, these pages are a push on Google’s part for open source improvement on content delivery. The use of AMP streamlines the user experience. From a business perspective, it does exactly what Instant Articles from Facebook does.

Google wants the web to be a seamless experience for people on the move.

A Warning

Alongside the unveiling of AMP, Google went out of its way to warn sites that have yet to adapt to the mobile revolution. They said that users nearly always abandon websites that take longer than three seconds to load.

While the company has yet to act on this front, it’s an indication that they will steadily squeeze sites that are unfriendly to mobile devices.

Google Penguin is Now in Real-Time

Google Penguin was a mixed bag for all users. Businesses that had their link-building strategies destroyed likely hated it. And they will hate this update too. On the other hand, if you are playing by the rules this will come as great news. 2016 is set to be the year where we finally see Google Penguin in real-time.

What Can We Expect from this Update?

The main facet of this update is that the capabilities of Google Penguin will move into real-time. Periodic updates to the algorithm would become a thing of the past. Changes and alterations will happen in a matter of seconds.

It means spam sites will be obliterated as soon as they appear. Penalties would be dished out quickly, but equally sites will find it faster to recover. So it’s both a good and a bad thing.

A New Advertising Option

It wouldn’t be a Google update if there wasn’t something to do with advertising. Google has said many times before that it’s invested a significant amount of resources in programmatic advertising. There are no concrete updates on the cards for this area, but Google have spoken about it extensively.

Pushing the Boundaries

Google is determined, after a successful 2015, to continue pushing the boundaries. They want to take things further by unveiling new capabilities for users. They want to bring in more potential for increased demographics, geolocations, and real-time ads developed from out-of-home media.

What Does It Mean in Practice?

This may sound like a foreign language to you, but underneath the complex language there are some important points that businesses need to take into account. Business owners would see an increase in brand lift and ads targeted to more relevant audiences. In short, programmatic advertising changes in 2016 will mean more advertising dollars for you.

Conclusion

Google is determined to bring in a range of changes that will shake the foundations of SEO and advertising. Like every year, many companies will be caught unaware and will have to react accordingly.

A Trend

An annoying trend is that Google is lending towards is making unannounced changes and then asking companies to react to them. This means that companies will have to invest more in SEO. Their teams will be less focused on how to succeed in SEO and more focused on how to spot major changes before they occur.

The company that moves the fastest will be the most successful.

Embracing Change

Some companies may grumble about these changes, but they are happening whether you like it or not. The answer is to embrace the change and accept what Google is doing. Concentrate on how you are going to change your company in response.

What changes from Google are you most looking forward to in 2016?

See Also: Unheard of Tips to Leverage Your Visibility on Google Using Pinterest

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How to Understand the Tricky Parts of Local SEO

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Local SEO is a huge part of the Google landscape today. Understanding the tricky parts of local SEO can be a challenge, particularly if you happen to be new to the game. This article is going to provide clarity to understanding local SEO.

See Also: Pave Your Way to Local SEO Success

Why You Need to Know About Local SEO

Local SEO is a more advanced form of SEO that you have to understand. You need to take advantage of it in order to generate the largest amount of traffic you possibly can. It’s become a hot topic of discussion and you can no longer ignore it as Google continually promotes this form of SEO.

The Deal Breaker

The reality is most people don’t truly understand what local SEO is all about or how to go about leveraging it. The many local SEO options on offer really do represent game changers if you can use them to your advantage. Consider this guide as your introduction to this highly complex field.

So What is Local SEO?

Local SEO has become so popular due to the popularity of smartphones. Smartphones enable people to search based on where they happen to be. For example, if they want to find a restaurant in the area of a few blocks, they can do that. The increasing shift from desktop to mobile has meant Google has had no choice but to alter the playing field.

Hyperlocal SEO

You should also be aware of something called hyperlocal SEO. This is where localized listings appear for companies in areas known by everyday names. In other words, only people within streets of the business will see these results. This is less important for online businesses, though.

A Steady Growth

Local SEO has been a significant player since 2011, where it was found that 40% of all searches are conducted with local intent. Another survey done in 2013 revealed that 80% of people using their smartphones were doing so to find out information about the local area, and two-thirds of these people, will take direct action based on those results.

Crucially, a third of these will actually make a purchase. Now you know why local SEO is so important for businesses.

How to Optimize for Local Searches

To start with, make sure that you have the foundations in place to make your site friendlier for local searches. Claim your Google Places for Business page and enter all your business’s information, including opening hours and any contact numbers.

This applies even if you happen to operate online. Google will then make the signal and you will appear in localized searches. Without this, you won’t appear at all.

Use Google+

Google is the biggest search engine. They also have a social media network you may have already heard of. Although Google+ is much weaker than Facebook and Twitter, it still generates the largest amount of SEO juice.

For this reason alone, you must make an account on Google+. This is how local businesses dominate the local listings. Make sure you keep your Google+ profile updated and try to interact on it from time to time to keep it active.

Other Local SEO Tasks

You may want to hire an SEO professional to help you with certain tasks. Many of them can be accomplished once, but there are a lot that requires constant updating. Here are the four main tasks you need to pay attention to:

  • Optimize your business by referencing keywords. You don’t have to spam them, but they should appear in your brand name, title, and description. Make sure they sound natural. Unnatural sounding keywords can be flagged as spam.
  • Always reference any keywords in the title. You should include a keyword that refers to the niche you happen to be operating in, even if it’s extremely general, such as ‘restaurant’ or ‘hotel’.
  • Make sure your listing is in the right category. This is where you explore deeper into your sub-niche. For example, if you run an Indian restaurant, make sure your restaurant is in the ‘Indian food’ category.
  • Add in an address and make sure it’s consistent with other postings. This is the essence of how people discover you within local search listings.

These tasks are relatively easy to complete, but they require good organization. More importantly, they are time-consuming. This is time, you could be using on other aspects of your business, such as product design and customer service.

Consistency is Key

Finally, you must make sure that consistency is key. If you move business locations or change your number, you must update every listing with the new information. Outdated information will hurt your ability to rank.

More to the point, understand that local SEO is as much about customers as it is Google. Incorrect information will turn customers away from your website and encourage them towards a competitor instead.

See Also: Five Important WordPress SEO Tips for Beginners

Image Credit: Pixabay

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