Written content is the primary means by which e-commerce sites can engage their visitors directly. Unlike physical shops, an e-commerce store doesn’t have staff to highlight customers’ options or talk about different offers. Alongside imagery, written content is one of the few tools you have at your disposal to sell your products to an unconvinced site visitor.
It also happens to be one of the main tools at your disposal to get that visitor to your site in the first place, as written language is still a significant consideration in search engine ranking algorithms.
So, how can ecommerce content teams write in such a way that internet shoppers find the site in the first place, then decide to go on and make a purchase?
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Ben Garry is a Content Specialist at Impression
Conversion-driven keyword research
Effective ecommerce content starts with keyword data. What are the phrases that your target audience is going to search to arrive at sites like yours?
Any number of tools can tell you roughly how many people are searching for different phrases each month, but adding conversion data to your research will help you focus on the areas that will provide the biggest return.
Looking into Google Ads data will help you to identify top converting terms that you can cherry-pick for your content optimization. Google Analytics is also a good way to identify pages with a high conversion rate so that you can focus your other research methods in the areas that will provide a return.
By focusing your research on areas with a proven track record of conversions, you’ll be more likely to see ranking improvements that lead to meaningful sales, and it will be much easier to justify your activity to other stakeholders.
Responding to search intent in e-commerce content strategies
Google has shifted the search engine landscape by incorporating search intent into its process of deciding what results to show a searcher. Search intent is what the searcher hopes to achieve at the end of their search, and can be broken into four very broad categories:
- Transactional: the searcher wants to make a purchase, enquiry or other meaningful interaction
- Informational: the searcher wants to find out more about a topic
- Navigational: the searcher is using a search engine as a shortcut to a known destination
All three types of intent have a place in an ecommerce content strategy, but transactional searches are where there’s real money to be made.
A transactional keyword might be as obvious as “laptop for sale”, or it might have no clear purchase language, such as “mens trousers”. In both cases, Google identifies that the searcher wants to buy something and serves shopping ads and e-commerce stores in the results. When targeting keywords like these, you should write concise category pages and product descriptions that provide important pieces of commercial information.
Search intent isn’t always obvious. If I search “wine”, I get a map pack showing local shops and the top ranking page is Wikipedia. Google has decided that I’m not looking to make an online purchase as my first priority. If I have an ecommerce store that sells wine, I might decide to refine my keyword targeting and incorporate more specific terms in my pages, rather than going for the most general option, or I may decide to produce more informational content around wine to be seen as an authority on the topic. Ideally, I would do both!
When looking at the keywords you want to cover in your content, make sure you go beyond the surface. See what results search engines are displaying, and ensure that you’re attempting to compete by writing content that matches the same search intent. If you can’t match a keyword’s current search intent, you may need to redraft the content or focus on a different phrase.
Writing good content rather than 'SEO content'
Your written content is the equivalent of an assistant on a physical shop floor. How effective would a home furniture salesperson be if all they did was shout ‘chaise longe’ at you? At best you’d ignore them, at worst you’d leave immediately.
If such a situation seems ridiculous, why does it happen so often in e-commerce content written ‘for SEO’? The truth is, no content exists solely ‘for SEO’, not least because the distinction is barely relevant. Even if you think no one but Google will read your content, Google’s goal is to interpret text as a human would.
A human salesperson’s role is to help you decide between different products based on your requirements. They are there to make a large product range seem manageable and to smooth over any sticking points that might lead to you turning away from a purchase. E-commerce content should do the same.
On a category page, write content that helps new visitors to make sense of what you offer and make it clear just how easy an order from you is going to be. Write clearly, concisely and persuasively, hitting the selling points that matter for your brand and industry.
For product pages, showcase your expertise as a salesperson would. Talk through the key points of the product in as much detail as your customer is likely to need (typically, higher value products require more detail). In addition, make the process of ordering, payment and delivery as clear as possible so that the visitor doesn’t need to go anywhere else to have their questions answered.
SEO is not irrelevant in content writing. The keyword research I’ve already mentioned is meaningful and target phrases should be included in your copy. However, they should not be overused and your content should still read naturally. If in doubt, prioritize what you think a human reader would value.
What is Google's Expertise, Authority and Trust (EAT) and how does it affect your e-commerce site?
In recent years, the quality of website content has become increasingly important for search engine rankings. A number of Google’s core algorithm updates have rewarded sites that demonstrate expertise, authority and trust (EAT). EAT is particularly important for sites that deal with health or finances, which includes ecommerce sites that take payments.
Expertise refers to the quality of information a site provides and evidence that its information is legitimate. Indicators include well-researched informational content, the citation of sources and the presence of expert contributors.
Authority is the grounds on which a site can make its claims. For an ecommerce site, good reviews and high-quality links from other sources demonstrate that your information is legitimate and that others should pay attention.
Trust for an ecommerce site boils down to safe payments and delivering on its promises. Payment information, privacy policies and good reviews all help.
EAT is not a single metric that can be scored and used in rankings. Instead, it is a collective name for a wide range of small factors, some of which I’ve mentioned above. Product pages are a particularly good place to include valuable EAT information. Reviews, payment information, delivery information and product specifications all help to show your legitimacy. Supporting content, such as product guides and basic policy information, should also be included on the site and linked from relevant menus, products and category pages.
How to use internal linking on your website
Finally, good e-commerce content has an important role to play in website structure. Internal links help search engines to understand how different pages relate to one another and they help users to reach their intended destinations.
As a simple rule, whenever products and other categories are mentioned in your ecommerce content, use that mention as the anchor text for a corresponding link.
Think like a shop assistant once more. A link is your way of signposting other products and departments for your visitors to explore, in lieu of a physical staff member who can do so in person.
The additional benefit to doing this in your content is that a search engine will also see your links and understand more about those pages. The anchor text in a link is an important keyword signal, and linking to sub-categories from a category (for example, a headphones category linking to a wireless headphones sub-category) helps search engines to understand the hierarchy of a site and the keywords that one page should rank for over another, similar page.
Internal linking should be a consideration whenever you’re writing or editing ecommerce content. However, it is a particularly powerful tool if you’re struggling to get the right pages to rank for their target keywords. As much as it is important to write good ecommerce content, top SEO performance also requires an excellent technical setup. Good content is not a shortcut to organic search success, but it is a vital piece of the puzzle.
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Ben Garry is a Content Specialist at Impression. He worked in SEO for over 4 years, and lead SEO strategy and execution for B2B, B2C, ecommerce and lead generation businesses. Ben manages a variety of client accounts and support on a number of others where specialist insights are needed as part of a wider SEO strategy.