I’m working today on a new site for an e-commerce company that sells 200 or so SKUs (retail talk meaning separate, individual products). Normally, having 200 different items would give a copywriter lots of scope for descriptions of the unique features and special uses of each item. Using the basic advice at Writing Product Descriptions will guarantee lots of pages for search engines to index, and lots of opportunities for unique content.
This company, however, makes glowsticks, items which are different mostly just in length and color. I’ll still be writing unique descriptions for each item, but getting the amount of unique content that will really improve their search results will take more than that.
Unique, excellent content is the key to getting plenty of traffic via organic search. Organic search is the best and cheapest source of converting traffic for most websites, e-commerce or otherwise.
Google’s own advice, from the webmaster forum, is straightforward and sensible:
Examples of original content include, but are not limited to: – Tips and information for consumers considering the product or service – Competitor pricing and feature comparisons – Unique and informative reviews and customer feedback – Links to relevant articles
The question is, how can you apply this to your own site?
Product descriptions can be wonderful little short stories about an item, and I can do that for glowsticks as much as for anything else. “We thought of this pink color for our glowsticks,” I could say, “as we sailed into Fiji just at sunset…”
You have to think of your visitors, though. When you are thinking about buying a crossbow or an emerald ring, you might spend a lot of time dreaming and comparison shopping before you take the plunge. Glowsticks? Probably not. People arrive at the site with a fairly clear idea of what they’re after and — after deciding on the length and color — make their purchases.
You may also, depending on the e-commerce solution you choose, have limited space and scope for those tips and reviews.
Articles on your site
A site selling glowsticks is a great place for articles about the chemistry, history, and innovative use of glowsticks. A blog, even, with great photos of the company’s products being used as wedding favors or at school carnivals, would work very well.
Well optimized articles on your site will not only improve the rankings of the site by increasing the unique content, but can also bring your site to the attention of people searching for things like unusual wedding favors or carnival prizes. They might not have had glowsticks in mind when they began their search, and they might be excited to see the idea come up in search.
You can also get links to articles more easily than to product pages, a big help in your linkbuilding efforts.
A blog created offsite which has lots of clever ideas for using your products (we’ve done that for e-commerce sites before, and it is the foundation of much affiliate marketing) can link to your site’s product pages freely.
Articles and guest blogging can bring completely new traffic to your site, increase your overall online visibility, and increase your authority. For the glowstick company, an article on Hallowe’en safety with their signature could get a lot of traffic and put their name solidly before the people they want to reach. An article on summer fun, including midnight Ultimate games and block parties with dancing in the dark, could do the same for a different audience.
Content placed off your site doesn’t increase the amount of unique content on your site, obviously, but a synopsis of the article with a link can be added to your product descriptions to increase user value without the same space or usability issues that including the article content might create.
Studies show that people trust customer reviews more than they do ads and info from the manufacturer. Many e-commerce solutions come with built-in systems for allowing customers to review products. One great thing about reviews is that, since they are written by different people with different agendas, they are unlikely to use the same language. By their very nature, reviews will tend to provide unique content.
There are two big concerns with reviews. First, will people come back and provide reviews for your product? I wasn’t sure whether folks would have much to say about glowsticks, but a quick look at Amazon shows that 53 people reviewed 8″ glow bracelets (in the package of 100 assorted colors), and some of them had a lot to say.
The family that put glow bracelets on all their kids while on vacation so they could keep track of them in crowds? That could so be a great blog post.
To get the ball rolling, you can send a sample of your product to someone and request a review. Don’t pay people who have never used your product to write reviews, or you may forfeit trust, but there’s nothing wrong with inviting people to write honest reviews at your website. Once there are some reviews there, more people will add their two cents’ worth.
The other concern is that people will write negative reviews. Conventional wisdom is that more people will make the effort to write about something that makes them angry than will write about something they’re contented with. If you’re confident of your product, though, this shouldn’t keep you from allowing customer reviews. A small amount of negative feedback in the midst of a lot of positive feedback just shows that you’re not faking your reviews.
Whichever approach you choose, it just takes a little creativity to bring unique content to your e-commerce site.