As a small business owner how can you improve your online content?
Quality content plays a crucial part in the success of your ecommerce business and as such, it should be right at the heart of all your online activity. Good content should be the foundation of your marketing practice, search engine optimisation, web design and your customers’ online experience. Poor, ill-thought-out content can be a real barrier to online purchasing.
Despite its importance, we can all get a bit complacent with our online content and forget that it needs updating and refreshing on a regular basis. If you review and update your content frequently then fantastic but, if like most small business owners, you are constantly juggling multiple roles and tasks, then finding time to review and plan content can be a challenge.
However if you can manage to schedule some time in your diary to follow some of the content suggestions we’ve outlined in this blog then it will genuinely save you time and money in the long run. Don’t forget quality content is at the core of a successful online presence – do it well and it will make all the activities that follow far more effective. So, put some proper time aside to review your current online content and ways you can improve on it.
SEO – customers should drive your content efforts.
“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed“ Google Search Engine Optimisation Starter Guide
Interesting, relevant and fresh content is not only what will bring customers to your online business and keep them coming back it is the back bone of search engine optimisation (SEO). As far as SEO is concerned the practice of keyword and key-phrase stuffing are well and truly over. Search engines are looking for quality content that is relevant to your market. The best way of creating just such content is to keep your customers in mind. Ask yourself –
- What will my customers find interesting?
- What content is relevant to my business?
- What information is my customer looking for?
- What information do they need to make a purchasing decision?
““Develop great content” may be the most oft-repeated suggestion in the SEO world. Despite its clichéd status, though, this is sound advice. Appealing, useful content is crucial to search engine optimisation….Crafting fulfilling, thorough content that addresses searchers’ needs improves your chance to earn top rankings.” MOZ Beginners Guide to SEO.
Thinking about your content in terms of your customers needs is essential.
Where to start?
Before you launch yourself into all sorts of new and exciting content ideas – you first need to get the foundations right. This means reviewing your current offering, setting goals and objectives , identifying content gaps and putting a plan in place. This will better help you understand the content needs of your business and provide you with a solid and realistic base for future content. It also means you are more likely to get it right!
Where are you now? Review your current offering
Take a long objective look at the content of your website. Be honest with yourself and try to be unbiased (if you’re worried that you can’t see the woods for the tress then get someone you trust to review your content).
- What are you current strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you do well?
- What could you do with a bit more of or less of?
- Do you have a good balance of content? For example, is there too much lighthearted content and not enough informative content or vice versa.
- Does your content read well?
- Is your interesting and relevant to your customers?.
- Have you had any feedback from customers – what would they like to see?
It is only by taking a really thorough look at what you currently offer that you can set yourself realistic objectives and identify any content gaps.
What do you want to achieve? Set yourself goals and objectives? What is it that you need your content to help you do? Are you looking to grow the traffic to your site, increase your sales conversion rates or rank higher in search engine results pages? Once you know your overall goals you can then set yourself some SMART content-related objectives.
Where are the gaps? What is your current content missing. Once you’ve reviewed your current offering you will better be able to identify content gaps. Think about the balance of content you have. For example is your content primarily entertainment – are there ways you can introduce some more informative content to your website. Conversely if you are business-to-business you may find informative and educational comes easily but you could do with a little more content that entertains.
Take a look at Smart Insights Content Matrix – it offers some excellent ideas to help you fill in some of those content gaps to give your business a better balance of online content.
How are you going to achieve your goals and objectives? This is where you take all the information you have gleaned from above and put it into a workable content plan with a schedule of actions for the forthcoming year. If you have a content plan in place you are far more likely to stick to it and focus on achieving the actual objectives you have set out.
6 practical tips for more effective online content
To get you started we’ve highlighted a few key areas you could consider improving to help build your online content.
Product pages can easily be overlooked but actually they are a critical part of your customers’ experience on your website. Your product descriptions are a good way to start improving your content. Make sure your product descriptions are written with your customers in mind. What information are they looking for to help them make that all important purchasing decision? Think about what keywords and phrases customers might use when searching for that particular product.
Whatever you do don’t just use the product description provided by the manufacturer (search engines don’t like replicated copy). Rewrite the descriptions to them to make them original and customer friendly – it’s a great way to provide some unique, fresh and relevant copy to your website..
If you haven’t already started a blog for your business then it is time to think seriously about setting one up. Blogging is a great way to support your SEO efforts. A good blog provides you with regular, unique, fresh and interesting content. It also helps drive traffic to your site and increases engagement amongst your customers.
Still not convinced? Then take a look at these impressive statistics from The Blog Economy:
- Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads
- Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links
- Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages
- 81% of consumers trust advice and information from blogs.
And, if you are not quite sure where to start then take a look at our helpful blog article ‘How to start a successful blog for your online business’.
Visual content is playing an increasingly important part of ecommerce content strategy – and for good reason. Search engines like visual media such as video content so it is great for your SEO purposes. Of course we only need to see the phenomenal success of YouTube to see how is popular a medium it is amongst consumers.
Digital Sherpa provides some interesting video marketing statistics :
- Video increases people’s understanding of your product and service by 74%
- 50% of users watch business related videos on YouTube once a week
- Your website is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of a search engines result page if it includes a video.
Have a think of a suitable way you can use video for you business. For example a video tutorial is a great way to show customers how to assemble or use a product. And, if you want to build your ‘brand personality’ video can be a great way to your business a face. You could use video in your email mail as way to entice customers to your website. Indeed, an introductory company email that includes a video receives an increase in click-through rate by 96%.
4. Informative content
Having content that ‘educates’ and ‘convinces’ is an important part of offering balanced online content. This content tends to be more authoritative and informative; for example – industry trends, whitepapers, news articles, demo-videos, infographics, business guides, research reports and press releases . If you have them make them available to view on your website, if you don’t then think about implementing some.
5. User generated content
User generated content is another excellent way of introducing new and unique content to your site. By this I mean opening up your business to content that is generated by your customers such as customer reviews, blog comments or community forums. Search engines like user generated content:
“According to the latest ecommerce SEO trends, the more your brand, products or links are discussed by commenters across the Internet (including your own site), the better your page ranking will be. Google has increased its focus on these conversational searches because, as hinted above, comments and reviews are much harder to fake or manufacture in high numbers than other types of content.” Volume 9
So be open to including user-generated content on your site. Do remember though if you are going to accept user-generated content, you will need to regularly monitor it. It is a good idea to introduce some guidelines that visitors wishing to comment online must adhere to or risk being removed – such as not accepting the use of profanities, posting explicit photos or images, any bullying behaviour or derogatory comments.
6. Content that entertains
Having more interactive, entertaining content is a good way to draw customers to your business. It is often the case that business-to-consumer companies often find this type of content generation comes a bit more naturally than business to business companies.
Because business-to-business companies may find it slightly harder they may fall a bit short on more ‘entertaining’ content. It is as all about creating a good balance of content therefore interspersing more informative content with a bit of ‘entertaining’ content is a good idea. If you are business-to-business think about including more light-hearted content such competitions, quizzes, community forums or video.
Finally – don’t forget to alert customers to all your great content!
So you have implemented some great new online content, the next thick is content distribution. How are you going to alert people to your content? Content is a great way to drive new traffic into your website so you need to bring it to the attention of your customers and potential customers.
“Interesting content is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media” The Blog Economy
Use an integrated approach to market your content, if possible use both online and offline methods. For example if you’ve posted a new blog article then tell people in an email alert and on your social media sites with a link to the article. Great content will draw people in – you just need to bring it to your customers attention.
“Fulfilling these intents is up to you. Creativity, high-quality writing, use of examples, and inclusion of images and multimedia can all help in crafting content that perfectly matches a searcher’s goals. Your reward is satisfied searchers who demonstrate their positive experience through engagement with your site or with links to it.” MOZ: Beginners Guide to SEO
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experience on this subject so please do leave a comment.
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