How to use blogs to boost your ecommerce store’s SEO
As an ecommerce merchant, improving your ranking in SERPs is a priority. However, standing out among competitors and catching the attention of your target audience can be challenging. So, you’ve optimized your product pages, built a great mobile experience, and created some amazing SEO-led landing pages. Your SEO work must be complete, right? Well, not quite!
Search Engine Optimization isn’t a one-and-done kind of task. It requires regular monitoring and maintenance, as well as fresh content to keep your site at the top of SERPs. But when you have a site with lots of pages where the content is infrequently updated, how do you keep things fresh?
Simple - start publishing content to your blog.
In this article, we'll delve into how a blog can improve your ecommerce store's SEO by boosting visibility in search, increasing traffic, and building engagement. We'll also explore how to generate ideas for blog articles and best practices for optimizing your content. By the end of this article, you'll come away with a clear understanding of how a blog can take your ecommerce SEO strategy to the next level.
Why blogs are useful for ecommerce SEO
Many merchants understandably choose to focus on building SEO for their product pages; after all, you want customers to visit these pages as a priority. However there are many benefits blogs offer that these more static pages simply can’t.
Search engines prioritize websites that consistently produce new content. By doing so regularly, your site overall will be in a better position to be indexed more frequently and rank higher in SERPs.
You can only add so many keywords to your more static pages before you end up keyword stuffing. With blogs, you can select a set of keywords for every article that tie into your wider SEO strategy. This broadens your brand reach and visibility in search.
Product pages need to appeal to a wide variety of audiences in a limited amount of content. With blogs, however, you can target each blog to a different audience and speak to their needs. You could have a beginner’s guide to brewing coffee, and an advanced guide to dialing in a grinder, all without alienating either audience.
Just as search intent changes throughout the customer journey, it also changes throughout the year. Seasonal SEO is a huge opportunity for merchants, especially around key selling periods like Black Friday and the holiday season. Blogs allow you to create fresh, seasonally relevant content that can make the most of seasonal search intent.
The more you can write to topics related to your niche, the more authority you’ll build. Google wants to provide users with relevant, useful, and engaging content, so if you can create that consistently you’ll be viewed favorably by search algorithms.
By having blogs on your site, you’re creating more content for users to engage with. It won’t just be those with purchasing intent you’ll attract, but those looking for information and insights into your product niche. More engaging, useful content also has a higher chance of earning backlinks from other sources. This again will increase your site’s authority.
Now, it’s one thing to understand why blogs are beneficial and another entirely to actually start publishing them. Creating high quality, useful content takes time and skill, and it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Let’s start with actually knowing what you should write about on your blog.
How to find ideas for blogs
Half the battle of writing and maintaining a blog is knowing what topics will be beneficial to your strategy. You want topics to make sense in relation to your brand, be interesting to potential customers, and serve your SEO strategy all at the same time. That’s a tall order, but not impossible. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to get the creative juices flowing.
Create topic clusters
Finding the focus for your blog is the first step, and this can be done by creating topic clusters. These are essentially groups of topics that all share a common theme or thread. Start by looking at your products, niche, and audience, along with the keywords you currently target for each of these. Then start to branch these keywords out into topics.
Let’s take a look at an example to get a better understanding of what that actually looks like. If you have an outerwear brand, then you may be targeting keywords like “hiking equipment”, “best hiking boots”, and “fleeces for hillwalking”. You would use these as your starting point to identify topics that a customer may be interested in around those. So a topic cluster might be “buying guides for hiking equipment”, and then you come up with articles around that theme. If you sell French cooking ingredients, then those topic clusters might be around the history of different foods from France, or recipes using those ingredients.
Coming up with a set of topic clusters will give you a solid foundation for creating blog content.
Look at what customers need throughout their journey
Search intent and the customer journey go hand in hand. They’re also great to use as part of your blog planning. Consider the kind of topics that customers will look for throughout their journey from discovery all the way through to post-purchase, then think about how search intent might play into that journey.
In the early stages of the customer journey, they’ll be exploring new brands. What kind of topics might lead them to those brands? Think about keywords and search terms, as well as the intent behind those searches. Further on in their journey, they may need more information about your product niche to make a more informed purchase decision. For example if you sell vegan chocolate, then an early-stage topic might be “What makes vegan chocolate actually vegan?”, and a later-stage topic might be “How to tell a high quality vegan chocolate”. The former is more learning and discovery with informational intent, the latter is more specific to a product category with the intent of researching.
This train of thought can be extended to post-purchase related topics also. After all, a customer may want to know more about how to care for or use a product. Creating content around those topics may help them to discover your brand even if they started their journey with a different brand.
Consider question-based topics
Did you know that 14% of all searches are question-based? That may not sound like much, but when Google processes 8.5 billion searches every day, that means 1.19 billion of those are questions. Think about the questions your customers may have about your product or niche, and write around those topics.
Consider, for example, if you sell coffee. Think about different audiences and stages of the customer journey, and what kind of questions they might ask. It might be “How do I brew coffee using an aeropress?”, or “What’s the difference between medium and dark roast coffee?”. These long-tail, question-based keywords are perfect for blog topics. They also allow you to expand your list of keywords, and target different types of search intent.
If you’re unsure where to start, here are some quick tips:
- Focus on one best-selling product, and come up with questions someone may have about it - the materials, production process, how to use it etc.
- Look at the kind of questions that come up through your support channels - product care, use etc.
- Start putting some keywords for your brand into Google and look at what’s included in the “People also ask” snippet.
Look at competitor content and improve on it
Competitor analysis is a big part of ecommerce, and it’s also valuable for your SEO strategy. Especially if you’re looking for blog ideas. By looking at what kind of content your competitors are creating, you’ll be able to glean insight into the kind of keywords they’re targeting and the content they’re publishing around those.
The first step is to look at your direct competitors, and your SEO competitors. Direct competitors are those brands that you see as competing on product and brand, though they may not necessarily rank higher in SERPs. Looking into these gives you an idea of the keywords and topic categories they’re targeting. SEO competitors are those who are ranking higher than your store in SERPs. Here you’ll be able to see what kind of content ranks higher, and what more you could do with your content to improve your ranking.
From there, you’ll have a list of keywords, topics, and content styles. Then you can start to think about how you can improve on your competitors’ content. Would it be more information, images, or video? This is also called 10x content - in other words, the content needs to be ten times better.
5 step checklist for ecommerce blog SEO
Now that you know how to find some good topics, let’s talk about how to ensure that every article is SEO-led and optimized.
#1 - Make use of header tags
Header tags allow you to organize your content better, making it easier for readers to scan and understand your content. These are those tags that appear as H1, H2, H3 and so on when editing content, and denote headings and subheadings on a page. Here’s a quick run-down of when to use different header tags:
- H1 - This is the title of the blog.
- H2 - These would be subheadings that count as main points within your article.
- H3 - These are subsections within H2 tags.
- H4 - These are subsections within H3 tags.
These header tags allow Google to crawl and understand your content better. You’re signaling to search engines the importance of the different headers to the content. Plus, if you include keywords in these header tags it will help boost SEO further.
#2 - Link to other pages on your site and high authority sources
Linking should become second nature to writing your blog articles. Both internal and external links are valuable both to your readers, and to improving your search engine ranking.
Internal linking is when you include a link to another page on your website. This might be to product pages, FAQs, contact links, or other blogs. This is valuable as it provides readers with a better user experience, making it easier for them to find pages related to the topic they’re reading about and encouraging them to spend more time on your site. It also helps improve SEO by showing search engine crawlers how pages are connected to one another for easier crawling and indexing. By linking to other relevant pages on your site, you help search engines understand the context and relevance of your content. It can also help to boost the authority of the pages linked to, allowing lower traffic pages to benefit from topical relevance to higher authority pages.
External linking is when you include a link to a page on another website. This includes linking to a news article, to another blog, and so on. External links not only provide readers with more relevant information that complements your own content, but enhances the credibility of your blog. It also helps demonstrate to search engines that your content is relevant by linking to high-quality sources. The key here is in the quality and authority of the external links - only link to those sites which are relevant to your audience, and which have high authority.
#3 - Focus on creating useful content
There is a lot of advice online about the length of content, what to include, and so on. The most important thing for any content you create is that it’s useful and interesting to users. Focusing too much on content length can lead to content without enough substance. Users will pick up on this, and will leave your site which will increase your bounce rate, and decrease your ranking.
When you’re planning and writing a blog article, consider how in-depth the article should be, and what information will be the most useful to the reader. For example, if you’re publishing a gift guide then you want to think about how much product knowledge the reader may have. Or if you’re writing about a more complex topic, then it makes sense that the blog will be longer. When you’ve finished writing, go back over the article and identify any areas where you could either cut unnecessary content or where it could be enhanced.
Enhancing your articles doesn’t always mean adding more written content. It might be changing something from a paragraph into a bulleted list, or using bold formatting to highlight specific sections.
#4 - Include image and videos to enrich your content
Another valuable way to enhance your blogs is to enrich them with visual content. Ecommerce by its nature relies on visuals - from your homepage to your product page, everything is about branding and photography. Therefore, you should apply the same approach to blog articles.
Images, graphics, and video can go a long way in helping make your content more engaging and useful to readers. If you’re talking about a product, it helps to include an image of the product in question. If you’re writing a how-to guide, it will help the reader if they can see each step in a photo or video. The more engaging the article is, the more likely it will be to rank in search results.
#5 - Optimize meta title and description, and image alt tags
Last, but certainly not least, you should also optimize the meta information for every blog article. This includes the meta title and description, as well as image alt tags.
The meta title and description are what is used on SERPs as your “blue link”, i.e. the result snippet.
In essence, this means whatever you add as the meta information is your first impression with both Google and the user. That means it’s vital and valuable to optimize. Here’s how to optimize each:
Meta Title - This will typically be the title of the blog along with the brand name for the site. You should include the branded keywords here, as well as the primary keyword for the blog. This should be no more than 55 to 70 characters long, and should concisely summarize the product. If your H1 tag is quite long, you should use a condensed version for the meta title.
Meta Description - This should expand on the title, giving a summary of the article’s primary topics. It should help them to determine if the page in question is suitable for their query.
- Image Alt Tags - If you include images in the body of your blog, the image alt tag will serve as an additional space for keywords. Describe the image, and include any relevant keywords so long as they make sense. This will help the images to appear in image search results.
For Shopify merchants, it’s simple to edit the meta title and description, and image alt tags for your blogs. To edit the meta information, you just have to scroll down on the blog editing page. There you’ll be able to edit the information, and see a preview of how it’ll appear in SERPs.
When you want to edit the image alt text for blogs, you’ll be given the option to do so when you insert an image into the blog.
Writing SEO-led blogs is important in attracting and engaging your target audience. By using targeted keywords, creating quality content, and optimizing for search engines, you’ll expand your reach and visibility. Focusing on delivering value to your audience on a regular, consistent basis will allow you to reap the rewards of SEO and enrich your strategy.