Chapter 2 - eCommerce Content Strategy

In this chapter, Hugo delves into content strategy for eCommerce sites, his area of expertise.

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a crazy year. This is no more true than in the world of ecommerce. Big players like Amazon announce plans to create 7,000 new jobs to meet demand for online retail, while Homebase and other companies are investing heavily in growing their online stores to better cater to their customer base.

The graph below shows that the overall percentage of ecommerce retail sales in the UK rose to almost ⅓ of all retail in May 2020, up from around 22.5%. This trend is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, which means that ecommerce content strategies will become more important than ever.

How can you build a layered content strategy fit for SEO in 2021? Hugo shares his five tips:

Tip 1: Present a variety of imagery and video

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of an SEO content strategy is imagery and video content, for two reasons:

  • Visual assets are crucial from a user-experience standpoint and can make or break the likelihood of a user converting on the site.
  • Image SEO is a huge opportunity for ecommerce businesses looking to drive high-intent traffic.

While the online retail experience holds many advantages over brick and mortar stores (simplicity, greater consumer choice, reductions on price, to name a few), it cannot currently replicate the experience of seeing and touching a product first hand before buying.

Consumers like to be able to try on the product before making a purchase, or compare it to similar available products side-by-side. Although online return policies help to increase consumer confidence, it is undeniable that this process is more awkward than simply seeing a product in person and deciding then whether to buy it or not.

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Hugo Whittaker

Hugo is an SEO Executive at Impression.

Hugo is an SEO Executive at Impression. He specialises in ecommerce SEO with a focus on international ecommerce SEO. Hugo is passionate about testing integrated digital strategies and leveraging new SERP features to increase the organic visibility of his clients. Hugo recently published a whitepaper detailing the different SERP features available on Google across desktop, mobile and voice, with tips on how to optimise for each feature.

Watch our Tea Time SEO session here:

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Good imagery and video is the best way to give consumers a similar experience. Prioritise high-resolution imagery and video on product pages to give consumers a great idea of what the final product will look like. Also make sure to provide multiple angles and lifestyle imagery where possible. ASOS do this to good effect, showing a variety of angles on their product pages and even including videos of models wearing the clothes.

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Tip 2: Optimise your imagery for visual search

The second part of this is image SEO. Visual search is an important consideration for ecommerce digital marketing strategies as it is an often overlooked focus that could give ecommerce sites the competitive edge in their field.

Consumers often engage in a practice called ‘showrooming’, whereby they use visual search to find inspiration before making a purchase. This practice is so common that Google Images accounted for 21.54% of clicks of the entire search industry in the first quarter of 2019. This figure alone should encourage you to reconsider the importance of visual search.

Include your target keywords in your image file names and your image alt tags to help Google better understand their relevance. You should also compress your images to keep your pagespeed fast, which is a ranking factor on mobile devices, and serve images in the right size for different viewports.

Tip 3: Provide unique category content that meets user intent

Category pages, by and large, are the main drivers of traffic to an ecommerce website. This is because the largest portion of their target keywords will be at the Interest / Desire stage of the conversion funnel.

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At this stage users are aware of the product and are actively looking to compare their options across different sites, using terms such as ‘men’s blue jeans’ or ‘women’s snowboards’. Rather than having a specific product in mind, the user is looking to compare different models, which is why Google serves category pages in their search results.

Your category content needs to be keyword targeted, unique and must confirm the USPs of the products and explain why the user should buy them. The written copy on these pages should not be overly salesy, nor should it be duplicated across similar category pages. For example, if your website has category pages for blue jeans and another for black jeans, it’s important that the content on each page is distinct enough for Google not to view it as duplicate content.

You can decide what level of information is appropriate by looking at competitor pages and identifying common user queries using tools like alsoasked.com or the Frequently Asked Question Explorer from Authoritas. However, make sure to get the right amount of content; too much informational content that is not aligned with the commercial intent of the category page can confuse Google, while too little content can also devalue the page.

A good example of category content can be found on Bliss, an ecommerce skincare brand. They make sure to include keyword-targeted content above the fold, while also going into more detail below the product range with internal links to relevant pages.

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Tip 4: Don’t forget about informational content

In a study Impression carried out this year looking at 100 fashion ecommerce sites, those with active blogs saw 277% more traffic on average than those without a recently updated blog.

Informational content can drive high volumes of users at the beginning of their user journey, the ‘Awareness’ stage of the conversion funnel, helping to increase brand awareness and increasing sales down the line.

The importance of informational content for ecommerce cannot be overstated, so make sure to carry out keyword research early on to identify topics that could form part of a 12 month informational strategy.

Analyse the SERPs to understand what type of content performs best. Is it a ‘How to’ article? Is it a listicle, or perhaps a buying guide? Answering these questions early on will allow you to plan ahead and get sign off from key stakeholders.

Weber BBQ has a great informational content area that compliments their product offering. They have created hundreds of keyword-targeted pieces of content including recipes, FAQs and how-to guides on subjects like ‘How to clean a barbecue grill’.

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While it doesn’t drive high intent traffic to the site, it does increase brand awareness. The internal links in the content itself also helps drive users further into the site to browse products they may only have just learned about.

Tip 5: Ensure product pages are unique

One of the most common challenges for ecommerce websites is duplicate content, particularly on product pages. Many sites have very similar products, with variants based on colour and size. While some duplicate content is inevitable, it is important to differentiate each page enough to encourage Google to index each version.

This is important because ecommerce websites that have duplicate content on a large scale risk having their websites being deemed as low quality by Google. Not only that, but product pages that could rank for long-tail keywords could be held back because they share too much content with pages not only on the same website, but also on other websites because of generic descriptions being copied from the product manufacturer website.

You should add uniqueness into your product descriptions by sharing your company’s experience with them, such as what you like most about them and the types of situations in which they can be used. Writing unique content for potentially thousands of pages can be daunting, but if planned properly this activity can be chipped away at over several months, and is certainly worth the time investment to do it.

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