Organic search is one of the primary drivers of traffic for most ecommerce businesses. And, over time, the content you provide those searchers can become a powerful source of conversions, too.
But search engine optimization -- or SEO -- requires a long-term perspective. The content you publish and the strategies you implement today won’t necessarily lead to explosive results tomorrow.
Nevertheless, if you ever decide to sell your business, building your content archive helps you prepare for that eventuality. Content, in fact, is a key component of your exit strategy.
So, here are some tips on how to build content for your ecommerce business.
1. Set aside the time necessary to strategize and create content.
Content creation takes time -- sometimes a lot of time. If you don’t budget for it in your schedule, you will end up procrastinating. And the longer you put off that necessary content creation, the less likely you are to do it effectively. You may not even do it at all.
For better or for worse, search results are more competitive than they’ve ever been. Unless you happen to be in an uncrowded niche, executing without a strategy is like shooting in the dark. If you don’t do your keyword and competitive research, create an editorial calendar, define roles and manage the creation and publication of content, you're unlikely to see a good return on investment.
That's why you need a plan. You need to recognize the amount of time and effort required to generate quality content on an ongoing basis, and set aside the time and resources necessary to maintain a consistent publishing schedule. Even if you choose to outsource content creation, you need to be aware of what steps to take, what your goals are and how you can work with freelancers or agencies to reach them.
2. Focus on creating high-quality content.
A lot has been said about content quantity versus content quality. When you prioritize quantity over quality, inevitably your content quality suffers, making it less valuable to your target audience.
As unglamorous as it may sound, consistency should be your focus. If quality is all you focus on, content development could quickly become cumbersome and laborious. If quantity is all you focus on, you’ll just increase your bounce rates and reduce dwell time on your site. Both extremes are detrimental to your end goal of using content to consistently attract visitors to your site.
If you’re publishing five times per week, but lack the staff or resources to maintain your quality standards, consider reducing your publishing frequency to two or three times per week. This will allow for a more meaningful balance.
Also, take time to define what "quality content" actually means. It does not always mean long-form, image-rich, media-rich content. Sometimes, answering questions in a specific and concise way can be more beneficial to the end user than long, rambling answers with a lot of words that are only there to meet a word-count criterion.
3. Be useful and interesting.
Are you constantly pushing promotions and offers through your blog? While your audience will certainly appreciate special deals on products they’re interested in, these types of posts often aren’t great for SEO, and don’t have much long-term value, if any.
Content marketing is about value creation. You will attract more visitors to your site and rank higher in search engines by focusing on being useful and interesting rather than promotional. Since organic search traffic is one of the main sources of traffic for ecommerce sites, it’s important to invest in your long-term success.
How can you be useful? Answer common questions, create tutorials, write how-to posts. You can be interesting by writing listicles or being controversial. You can engage your audience with infographics and videos.
There are many different content types to choose from, which can play to your strengths. Start a podcast if you are better at speaking than writing. Start a video series if your niche is highly visual. Determine what makes the most sense based on your skills and resources. Also, keep these considerations in mind when you’re hiring content creators.
4. Hire 'smart' to avoid complications.
There are several ways to execute your content strategy. You can hire freelancers, work with agencies, bring on new staff or handle content creation completely in-house. Each scenario has its pros and cons, and it’s important to be aware of them.
Freelancers -- especially highly paid ones -- often bring a lot of expertise to the table, and are also good for one-off projects. The downside is that they work on their own schedule, and you may need to take several tries to find the right fit.
Working with a content agency can be time-saving and efficient when you’re passing on instructions to your writers. Contracts also make the work and costs predictable but can be hard to terminate once signed.
Hiring a dedicated team member, on the other hand, can be advantageous since this person will be committed to the project, and you can pick and choose whom to hire based on experience and skill level. But staff members can also be expensive, and may take considerable time to train.
Another option is to handle content creation completely in-house without hiring additional staff. The advantage here is that you know what you want, and you don’t have to communicate your standards and relay instructions to someone outside of the company. The downside is that having a staff carries high overhead costs, such as health insurance and office space.
It may take time to find the right fit for your business, so be patient and remember your end goal.
Reducing owner involvement is a key piece to selling your business. Creating systems and documented procedures makes it possible for others to know exactly what will be required of them if and when they buy your business. You should have a documented strategy for content creation that can be carried out by the new owners.
Building content takes time, and so does SEO. The best way to ensure long-term success is to stay steady. Publish new, quality content consistently, and put the right infrastructure into place to keep the engine running. Work with those who understand what you’re trying to achieve, and hone your strategy continually.