In the first article in this series, I outlined 10 ideas for adding content to a website and other venues to help improve organic visibility. In the last article, we covered 10 more ideas. With today’s piece, you’ll have a grand total of 29 content development ideas to get working on.
These additional content ideas should help improve organic visibility and can potentially help increase conversions on a website. In this article, I’ve included some user generated content ideas as well as some ideas most useful for ecommerce sites. As with the previous ideas, much of this content can be promoted via your various social networks.
1. User Generated Content: Forums
You’ve seen forums on the Web such as help or discussion forums. There are forums for just about any topic, such as technical topics, health, food, games, travel and more.
A search engine friendly forum, ideally hosted on your main site, adds user generated content and often makes a site more useful at the same time. Plus, forum posts can do very well in the search results for questions people ask in search engines.
Run a search on questions about Google AdWords, Photoshop, or Dreamweaver for example, and you’ll almost certainly see listings from the provider’s help forums.
What if you’re not the provider of the product or service? It may still be worth considering a forum. Yes, the provider’s forum will likely reach the highest positions, but you may be able to reach reasonably high positions too. When I’m looking for answers for AdWords or Photoshop for example, I usually look at any listing from the provider, but I often check out answers from other forums too, where I may learn about what they offer while I’m on the forum.
As I mentioned in the past articles, it helps to use a webpage template that makes it easy for people to see what you what offer while they are viewing related content on your site. You can also make people aware of products or services with messages in your page columns and perhaps a short overview about what you offer at the end of the page with links to products or services, etc.
2. User Generated Content: Videos & Images
You can ask your site visitors and/or social media connections to submit images or videos to publish on your site, perhaps of them using your products. As we talked about in the previous article, surround videos with overview messages and ideally include a full transcript. Surround images with text descriptions and include relevant keywords. (Here are some SEL articles about optimizing images.)
3. User Generated Content: Ask For Feedback & Questions
Similar to the previous topic about videos and images, you could ask for feedback, suggestions/ideas, and perhaps ask about creative ways your products are being used and publish the responses. You might run a contest to help entice people to submit.
4. User Generated Content: Article Submissions From Readers & Customers
You could also ask your site visitors and social connections for article submissions such as case studies, how they use your products or service, how-to articles, maybe interesting or humorous uses of your product. Publish these on your site, maybe in your blog, perhaps also on some of your social media venues.
5. User Generated Content: Reviews
Allowing customer reviews for products, and in some cases services, adds unique, user generated content to a site and can help increase conversion rates at the same time (if the reviews are mostly good of course).
Try Amazon’s approach. They include a number of reviews on product pages where people looking at the product will find them easily which can help the conversion rate. This also helps makes the page more unique which is a typical problem for many ecommerce sites that sell the same products as sold by numerous other websites, often using the same manufacturers’ descriptions.
Amazon also includes a “read all the reviews” link on their product pages that opens another page, or more, with all of the reviews. This gives them at least two pages available to be returned in searches for the product or returned in searches for reviews of the product.
Notice they even ask for reviews of the reviews! Under each review they ask “Was this review helpful to you?” This allows them to show the most helpful reviews first which makes the site even more useful.
6. Rewrite Manufacturer Descriptions
Do you sell product or services from providers who furnish descriptions? Make your descriptions unique by rewriting them if possible. This can help with search engine results and make your site more useful than the other sites selling the same products. Rewriting descriptions can be a huge effort for a large site, but you might start with some important products.
Whether you rewrite the manufacturers’ descriptions or not, it can help to surround your product descriptions with as much unique useful content as possible. See the next topic for more on this.
7. Add More Extensive Product Information, Images, Video
Adding your own unique content to product pages such as user reviews, your own commentary, snippets of your helpful articles (with links to the full article), your own helpful videos and images should not only help increase conversions, it will likely help with search results by making your product pages unique from all the others selling the same products. Plus, including additional content on product pages may get your pages returned in more search results.
For many products, the Gun Dog Supply site, for example, includes much more product information and images than their competitors who carry the same products and often publish only what is provided by the manufacturer.
Here’s an example of a “SportDOG NoBark SBC-10R” product. When I search on “SportDOG NoBark SBC-10R”, the Gun Dog Supply site comes up next after a listing from Amazon and some Google Product Search samples.
Search on “The SportDOG NoBark SBC-10R is a rechargeable bark control collar” (without including the quotes). This is a snippet of unique text that looks like it’s provided by the manufacturer as I see it on a number of sites. Take a look at some of the other sites in the search results.
Notice the amount of unique messaging and images on the Gun Dog Supply page. The Gun Dog Supply page reached higher rankings than most others for this search, even though the exact phrase doesn’t even appear on their page. (You will get different results if you include quotes around the phrase. In that case, you are telling the search engine that you are looking for instances of the exact phrase. Since the exact phrase doesn’t appear on the Gun Dog Supply page it won’t be returned in those search results.)
Next, I searched Google (using a different browser so there would be no recent history) for “dog collar for temperament learning”. I don’t know if many people actually search for this phrase but for me, the Gun Dog Supply page came up as the number 2 Google organic result.
The Gun Dog Supply site is doing very well against most of the similar specialty ecommerce sites. Pages from the site are appearing in the top search results along with some of the national players like Amazon and a couple of large national pet store chains.
Adding unique content and ideally rewriting manufacturer provided descriptions helps make product pages more helpful to shoppers and makes the page unique which should improve rankings. Plus, the additional unique messages may get your product pages found in more meaningful searches.
Side Bar: Want a hint from Google about how product descriptions may help with organic search results? I recently watched a video from Google, 5 common mistakes in SEO (and 6 good ideas!). In one section of this video, the speaker talks about things to emphasize on your ecommerce site.
Among the expected differentiators of “low prices”, free shipping, customer service, languages spoken, and your value proposition, she included “Detailed product descriptions” (see the slide from the Google presentation below). Again, this was a Google presentation on SEO, perhaps a subtle hint from Google?
8. Buyer’s Guides
Rob Snell has written about his family’s Gun Dog Supply ecommerce site here on Search Engine Land, focusing mostly on the improvements in conversion rates they’ve seen by helping shoppers make buying decisions with helpful content such as buyer’s guides.
Content such as buyer’s guides can also help with search results by adding content to the site which focuses on keywords your competitors may not focus on, such as the keywords used when people are in earlier stages of the shopping process; the “discovery” phase, learning about product options.
For example, here’s a Dog Collar Buyer’s Guide. It includes a “how they work section”, a FAQ section, and help on how to choose the correct tracking system for your needs.
This buyer’s guide includes content that may be returned in search results for search queries that people in earlier stages of the shopping process might search for such as “how do dog tracking collars work”, “what dog tracking collars are there?” “How do I pick the right dog tracking system?”
Most ecommerce sites only focus on the specific products they carry on their sites. So they may do well for searches when people have made a buying decision and are searching to find who carries the specific product such as a “Garmin Astro 320″.
However, many ecommerce sites don’t do well for the search queries shoppers use in the early stages of shopping because they don’t include content on the site that might be returned in search results for these queries.
By adding buyer guides, you not only add content that may bring in more shoppers in the earlier shopping stages, your buyer’s guides may help these shoppers choose what to buy while they are on your site, leading to higher conversion rates.
In addition, buyer’s guides are the type of useful content that you should be able to promote via your social media venues and with online other marketing tactics.
9. Training Courses
Are you an expert on a topic? You could develop and sell training courses on your site. This could lead to revenue from the sale of the training courses and help highlight your expertise on your website.
Include enough of an overview that people searching for training courses or asking for help on the topic may see your courses in search results. You might even consider giving the courses away for free as a download in exchange for contact information so you can add them to your email marketing system.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.