Blogging for ecommerce: Jonny Ross presents at Moda UK in Birmingham
I was delighted to be invited to speak to fashion industry retailers and online shop owners about blogging last month at Moda UK: the UK’s largest independent fashion industry retailer conference at the NEC in Birmingham.
My topic was ‘Blogging to the top of Google and powering your social media campaigns’. In this blog post, I’ll summarise some of the key points from my presentation.
What do I know about online retail?
As regular readers will know, retail is where I started out. After managing a chain of optician stores for a number of years, I set an ecommerce store selling sunglasses. For the first six years, it had the highest turnover of any sunglasses e-tailor in the UK. The in 2004, the website was issued a Google Penalty and dropped from the top of Google rankings to page 7 and 8!
It took almost three years and three SEO companies to restore my site rankings, during which time I lost 40% of my turnover. Through the process I learned the ins and outs of Google penalty unwinding and how SEO works, including how blogging can be used both to engage with customers, and to boost a website’s search engine rankings.
And that’s the knowledge I can share with online retailers today; helping you to create a professional online personal brand that will hopefully enable you to begin networking and build relationships with potential clients and customers.
The crowded marketplace
There are 1000s of similar websites selling products to similar people. Everyone is busy marketing, often in a similar way. So how do you stand out from the rest?
There is a critical element to marketing success, and that is TRUST. It’s much harder online as people can’t meet you face to face. But trust is an essential part of the buyer decision-making process.
So how do you build trust? The answer is through EDUCATION. Blogging allows you to both educate reader and build trust and long-term brand confidence.
How does SEO come into it?
Good search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques are the building blocks of a successful website, i.e. one that has a lot of visitors and a high conversion rate. SEO is all about getting search engines to rank your website highly in search engine results when customers type in search terms that relate to your products or services.
Forget the ‘dark arts’, a good SEO strategy should be about:
- Creating great content
- Ensuring this content is accessible to search engines.
- Making pages unique and relevant
- Making the content popular
For me, there are two sides to SEO: onsite (your own website) and offsite (everything else online that has something to do with you). If you are reviewing your website SEO, these are the kinds of things that should be covered in SEO audits:
Onsite is about:
- Technical aspects
Offsite is about:
Keyword analysis/keyword research
Alongside SEO audits, you should also undertake keyword analysis. This looks at the keywords and phrases that people are currently finding your website with (are they the ones you want/expect?), and also the keywords that your competitors are ranking highly on.
From this, you can come up with a list of relevant keywords for your website that you would like people to be finding you on. This list of keywords should inform how you write all your website content, from product descriptions to page titles and meta descriptions.
Keyword research should inform your website content, product descriptions, page titles and meta descriptions. To create a list of keywords, use Google Webmaster tools (Optimisation > Content Keywords) and Google Analytics (Traffic Sources > search > Organic) plus your products and services list. SemRush.com allows you to see what keywords your competitors are ranking on.
Keywords should be used in your website content, but never at the expense of readability, content relevance or content quality for the reader. SEO used to be about keyword stuffing, but search engines are wise to this now, and readers will soon be turned off if the content is not engaging.
Blogging for ecommerce
Blogging is core to any SEO or social media campaign. Blogs are a great way to:
- Educate your audience all about your products and services
- Talk about your companies latest news
- Show personality
- Give away advice to your existing client and customers
- Engage with potential customers
- Build a community
- Give you content for social media campaigns
- Add value to your website
- Get you to the top of Google
Customers – especially for high value products – now demand detailed information (including photos), and will often search for content about products before they make a purchase. Savvy retailers are now blogging and uploading rich content (photos and videos) to attract customer attention and entice them to buy.
Great retail blogs now mix text, images, photos and video content to create an in-store experience for customers. Blogs that do this well include Catwalk Queen and ASOS.
Have I inspired you to look at setting up a retail blog?
Look out for my upcoming post about how to write great blogs, with advice on blogging for retail and ecommerce.
In the meantime, why not:
- have a look at some popular fashion or retail blogs for more ideas
- Play around on Google and see what is ranking highly for your product searches – make a note of why you think they are popular
- Make some notes about how you would approach a blog for your website
- then come back soon to see my follow up post on writing great blogs for retail and ecommerce
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