I often come across eCommerce stores that don’t have a blog, which leaves me rather disappointed. As a person who's worked with many online retailers–and being one myself–I know that a blog provides so many benefits: an increase in visitors to your website, better search ranking, and even sales. A blog plays a vital role in growing your online store, yet it’s such an underutilized tool–when used the right way.
I’ve heard horror stories from clients who've gotten severely burned from trying one: wasted time, money, and resources, yet the problem was simple; they didn't have a plan. I don’t want to see any more blogs go up in flames, so I’m writing this post for both online retailers who’ve had a blog–and didn’t see any of the benefits–and for those who want to start a blog, but don’t yet have a plan.
1. Integrate SEO
Why? Because content and SEO go together like vanilla ice cream and warm apple pie; they compliment each other so well! With a solid plan, a blog can help to boost your search engine rankings, but you've got to make sure you get strategic about it. So, I've put together a few ways you can integrate SEO tactics into your blog.
Most clients I work with have a good understanding of what keywords they’re currently ranking for, what their competition is ranking for, and what they’d like to rank for. If you don’t have this information, the Google Keyword Planner is a great place to start. You can also use tools such as Moz and SEMrush, but these aren’t free.
Once you know what keywords you want to rank for, you can plan content around these words and phrases. For example, let’s say you’re selling cruelty-free skincare products, and this is also one of the terms you'd like to rank for.
There are dozens of blog posts you can write about using the keyword “cruelty-free skincare products.”
A few off the top of my head are:
"Cruelty-Free Makeup Artist Carli Bybel Shares Her Favorite Skin Care Products"
“5 Reasons to Only Use Cruelty-Free Skin Care Products”
"10 Online Stores to Find the Best Cruelty-Free Skin Care Products"
The possibilities are endless; you just need to get creative.
Below is an example of using the Google Keyword Planner to find similar terms to "cruelty-free skin care products."
This is huge! Google loves fresh content. It’s one of the top 3 factors they use to determine how your website will rank (as pointed out in this video at Search Engine Land). It allows the search engine to provide the most up-to-date information to their users. So if you consistently add new unique content to your website, you’re going to receive more traffic. A blog presents the perfect opportunity to create new content on a regular basis.
You need to build internal links within your site for a few different reasons: it helps aid in website navigation, defines the hierarchy of a site, and it distributes page authority and ranking power throughout the site.
Blog content provides you with the ability to link to internal pages within your site. For example, writing blog pieces that feature your products allow you to link back to that product page. This is perfect for products you want to draw attention to.
I recently had a client who wanted to call attention to her white clothing for Vancouver’s exclusive event, Diner en Blanc. I wrote a short article about the event for her blog and encouraged readers to shop her selection of white outfits–which we linked to.
So why are outbound links necessary? They give Google a better understanding of your blog’s content (because of the links you cite), and they allow you to connect with influencers and established brands. With a blog, you can easily write content that includes links to high-quality sources.
I have a client that launched a vegan, cruelty-free beauty product just a few months ago. Right now we’re working on blog content, and I’ve suggested that we feature and link to established cruelty-free influencers from her blog. Not only will she be earning quality outbound links, but she can also leverage the influencer's audience and get a conversation started with them.
When a search engine crawls your site, one of the things it looks for is the number of external sites linking to your website. If your site has lots of quality backlinks, it proves to search engines like Google that your content must be relevant and useful. A blog that's full of unique and exciting articles is a good way to start earning backlinks.
Many of the clients I work with are in the fashion and beauty industry, so I often create a content plan that would allow them to collect backlinks from influencers and other brands their buyer personas would love.
2. Create Buyer Personas
If you’re not up to date on buyer personas, here's a great article from Buffer to get you caught up. The buyer persona exercise is an important step that you can't forego as it will serve as a foundation for your blog.
Once you’ve got your buyer persona(s) in place, as well as your SEO goals, you can start to determine what kind of topics your customer is interested in reading. You need to remember that your blog needs to center around your buyer persona; this also includes tone.
Whoever does the writing on your blog needs to embody the ideal customer. As an example, using “valley girl” language on a blog that speaks to professional women interested in substantial issues makes zero sense. Conquering tone and voice takes time, and a lot of effort–even professional writers can struggle with it–so don't be surprised if it takes a few iterations of articles to get it right.
3. Get on a Schedule
Once you commit to a blog, you need to stand by that commitment. You can’t grow a regular readership with inconsistency; decide on a schedule and stick with it. In my experience, the companies that produce content on a regular basis are the ones to see their search engine rank improve, and grow a loyal following.
One of my favourite–and free–tools out there for building an editorial calendar is Trello. I recommend it to all my clients. The software has a built in Calendar that allows you to schedule your content for months in advance; this of course makes it very easy for you to remain consistent.
Time to Get Started
No business wants to spend money on marketing initiatives that don’t make a big impact, especially start ups that are strapped for cash! But, armed with this new knowledge, I have faith you’ll be able to build a blog that will improve your bottom line. As with any goal you want to reach, a little strategic planning in the beginning, makes all the difference in the end.
I’d love to keep this conversation going! Have you had a blog that has crashed and burned? What went wrong? Thinking of starting a blog and need even more information? I’d love to help!