A 4-Step Approach to Ecommerce Content: Focus on the Experience

online-shopping-mouse-bagEcommerce businesses are focused on the sale, and spend much of their time thinking in terms of measurable ROI and how to better sell a product on their website. That’s why PPC campaigns are often a more attractive marketing option to ecommerce businesses than organic SEO and content strategy.

But ecommerce content can serve an important purpose: creating a better shopping experience for the user.

Ecommerce content, like all content, should go beyond the words to focus on the experience. That’s why the ecommerce experience through the content you create should be all about balancing action with information – usefulness with relevancy – all so your user has an easy and satisfying shopping experience.

You can use the following approach to start boosting the content strategy for your ecommerce website.

1. Define the Purpose of Your Pages

content-definitionStart by taking a critical look at your web pages. What do you want the user to be able to do at each page level?

Top-level category pages will have a different purpose than product pages – and they all center on the user and the shopping experience.

For each level of web page, create a guideline, listing the primary purpose of the page and the secondary purpose.

For example, the primary purpose of the page might be to have the user select which shoes they would like to buy from you, but the secondary purpose might be to keep those users engaged with you socially. So your content can and should support both. As long as it isn’t convoluting the experience, then it’s OK to explore having it be featured on the page.

Once you’ve completed this exercise, create a list of the types of content that you believe would deliver on the purpose of the page for every page level. It could be anything from comparison tools, to buying guides to social icons, to videos or photos of the product, and more.

Then, decide on a “template” for your content – what content items you’ll include for your top-level category pages all the way down to your product pages, and apply it site-wide. You may decide that top-level landing pages need buying guides and instructional videos on how to choose the best [insert product here].

And that product pages need images with the ability to view the product in multiple perspectives, the option to share the products via social and more videos related to product features and benefits.

What comes next in filling that content in …

2. Take Stock of Your Existing Library of Content

Many ecommerce businesses already have useful content, it’s just a bit disjointed. The goal here is to take stock of what you already have, and pull it into the shopping experience to make it more useful.

For example, do you have:

  • A blog?
  • Informational articles on your site?
  • A YouTube channel?

These are great starting points for populating those content “templates” you’ve decided on for your web pages. For example, if you’ve already determined that one of your category web pages needs to have an informational article and a video related to the products on the page, and you already have the video, then you can begin to identify the “holes” where you can create more content.

This type of content can be pulled into your web pages via a sidebar or somewhere else easily accessible on the page. So you are linking to pre-existing content from the web page, and vice versa. Again, the goal is to make the shopping experience better.

And the value can be two-fold:

  1. Take the traffic and visibility your blog garners to push users along to other parts of your website that are relevant to products they may not have discovered otherwise.
  2. Showcase the fact you have a blog to users who may have entered into the site from a category or product page, so they have the options to explore more content and stay connected to your brand.

Once you’ve identified the pre-existing content to feature, make sure it’s updated to be as useful as it can be to the experience. This may mean a slight refresh of the content along with adding in images or links to the product or category you’re talking about in the post or article.

REI has done a great job of using helpful content to facilitate a useful shopping experience. You can see a snapshot of that here:


Another great execution of shopping-friendly content is on the Overstock.com buying guides section (Overstock.com/guides). You can check out how they’ve integrated content with products here and you can click-through from that content to their subcategory pages to see what else they’ve done with content there.

3. Use Keywords to Fuel the Content

keywords-are-deadSo you’ve identified the purpose of your page, mapped out the content that is going to be featured on it and already started to fill it in with pre-existing content. But how will you know what type of content to create next? This is where your keyword research comes in.

Keywords for Your Content Strategy

Keyword research can help you identify what terms your audience is using when they search, from the research stage to the buy. Once you know this, you can begin to create more targeted content that “speaks” to your users.

When you’re using keyword phrases to fuel your ecommerce content strategy, make sure you work to understand how you can provide the best information for that keyword set as possible.

If you’re stumped about what your audience might be looking for when they use a keyword, check out my post on using basic questions to create context for keywords by exploring the persona and intent behind the queries. Also check out who your competition is for that keyword phrase and what kind of content is showing up in the results already.

Keywords for Your Web Pages

Another sometimes-missed opportunity for ecommerce websites is optimizing the pages with keywords. A lot of ecommerce sites focus solely on their PPC campaigns as their visibility strategy, ignoring the added relevancy that optimizing pages for keywords can offer.

Not only is it a good idea to make sure your product pages are optimized for the term you’re driving traffic with in PPC (including your meta information and body content), but ecommerce sites can rank for terms in search, too. So think about assigning keywords to pages site-wide. And remember that in order to optimize for terms, you need to have more than just links on a page.

4. Optimize the Experience

There are other things you’ll want to consider for your ecommerce content to help optimize the experience. Remember that when we talk about content, it’s not just the words on the page – it’s all the elements that come together. Quickly, let’s run through some tips:

Unique Product Descriptions

Often, manufacturers of products will have a standard description for that product that resellers pull from a database when they feature the product on their website. That means every site that sells the product has the same description. To top it off, the descriptions are sometimes very bland and not as useful or compelling as they could be.

Stand out by creating product descriptions that are relevant and useful to the shopping experience. This also gives you more unique content on the page that you can optimize with keywords.

Reviews, Rich Snippets, Recommended Products

Reviews – good or bad (but hopefully good) – help shoppers make decisions about the products they buy. So consider incorporating reviews on your product pages. You can collect reviews in many ways – one of them being in simple surveys through tools like SurveyMonkey.

To take it a step further, you can use rich snippets for products, which gives you an additional opportunity to provide useful information about a product and increase the chance of a click-through from the search results. Include your reviews, too.

Here’s a short video on product rich snippets:

Also don’t forget to consider letting your shoppers discover more content they might be interested in by featuring related products on the page.

Social Media

There are several types of social actions you can consider for your pages to make them more engaging and build your community. If you have a social presence and want to grow it, think about adding social buttons that allow a person to become a part of your community. These should be standard on most pages and easily discoverable.

When you get into the deeper pages of your site – like product pages – consider also adding social buttons that allow the user to share the image or product in their social community. Again, it’s all about aligning the content with an engaging experience.

Your Thoughts?

What’s your winning ecommerce content strategy? Or have you seen any brands that are doing it right? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

Related reading

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The fall of ad copy, long live ad copy
Nine types of meta descriptions that win more clicks