In this article, we’ll look at a website that was submitted for review from a “Keywords and Content” focus. The site is WindyCityParrot.com an ecommerce site that sells “everything for exotic birds”. (Note that this is not a SEO site review or user experience review.)
Windy City Parrot is doing an excellent job with keyword research for discovering search queries that indicate a purchase intent for the products they carry so I’ll focus on content ideas to help make the site more useful, unique and interesting. I’ll be suggesting content ideas outlined in some recent SEL articles that will likely increase organic visibility, increase conversions, and that often can be deployed or promoted via the social networks with which they participate.
Don’t Hide Your Helpful Articles In Your Blog
A blog attached to your web site is an excellent content tactic. It adds content to your website that will likely get indexed by search engines which may be returned in search results. This could bring people to your site where they’ll learn about your business. Plus others may bookmark, share or link to your high quality, useful or interesting articles.
Will the shoppers on your ecommerce site see the articles in your blog? Some will, but most may never see them. Think about your own behavior when shopping online. When you’re shopping for a new GPS for example, do you spend the time to check out the shopping sites’ blogs? Not likely unless there’s an obvious mention of a helpful article from the blog on the pages you view while shopping.
So in addition to putting articles in your blog, place snippets of articles that can help shoppers making buying decisions on the product pages or product category pages with links to the full article. This can also help make these pages more unique which should help with search results.
I see an article in Windy City Parrot’s blog, for example, called Why Your Bird Needs Clicker Training. They sell a Clicker Training kit in the shopping part of the site. Perhaps Windy City Parrot could include a section called something like “Related Reading”, “Helpful Into, “Parrots 101″, “Learning Center”, etc. on product category or specific product pages with snippets of useful articles (and videos) from their blog and elsewhere.
Take a look at the way Crutchfield Electronics adds a section of helpful articles and video to some product pages such as this GPS page. Notice that for a couple of the articles or videos they include both the headline and a short summary. They also have a “Learn more about GPS Navigation” link that opens up a list of more related articles and videos.
In this case, they list only the headlines, but notice that the headlines are written to make it very clear what one can expect in the article or video.
There are some tools available that will allow you to include headlines from categories within your blog on any webpage. Unless the site is very big, I’d suggest creating these sections manually so you have more control. If you do use an automated system, make sure it’s search engine friendly so the headlines and summaries can be read by search engines as many of these tools are not search engine friendly.
Provide Additional Useful Or Helpful Info On The Site
Use your favorite keyword tools to look for queries and questions people ask that are somewhat related to the products you offer such “How Do You XXXX” and “What is XX” questions.
Consider adding related content to the site in a manner similar what was described in the above topic; that is putting the content within a blog or within other sections of the site and including content that helps people make buying decisions within the shopping pages.
Using Wordtracker and Wordtracker Questions I did some keyword research for one of the bird species for which Windy City Parrot carries products, African Grey Parrots. Here are some queries and questions I found:
how to breed african grey parrots
how to train an african grey parrot
how smart are african grey parrots
why do african grey parrots shriek loudly
Perhaps Windy City Parrot could write some articles that answer some of these questions and host them in their blog. These articles may get returned in some of the searches we see people performing, enticing some to click through to the blog where they’ll learn about Wind City Parrot.
As described in the previous topics, mention any related articles that might help shoppers make buying decisions within category and product pages so shoppers will see them.
See A Step By Step Guide To Effective Online Article Marketing – Part I and Part 2 for much more about article marketing.
Rewrite Manufacturer Descriptions For Important Products
It looks like Windy City Parrot uses product descriptions provided by the manufacturers. This is typical of many ecommerce sites that sell products manufactured by others. I searched for some text, for example, that appears in the product description for a Bird Carrier they sell and found the same text on other ecommerce sites.
Rewriting product descriptions and adding more content (discussed in the next section) can help make a site more useful than many of the other sites selling the same products leading to more sales as well as help make the product pages unique which should help with search engine results.
Of course, rewriting descriptions can be a huge effort for a large site. You could start with some important products that will return a significant amount of gross profit if you can increase the number of sales by improving conversion rates and increasing organic search traffic.
Add More Extensive Product Information, Images, Video, etc.
Adding your own unique content to product pages such as your own commentary and helpful messages, videos and images should not only help increase conversions, it will likely help improve search results by making your product pages unique. Plus, including additional content on product pages may get your pages returned in more search results.
How much more useful would this Bird Cage product page be if it included more detailed text and images (even video) highlighting important features, perhaps talking about what’s great and what’s not so great, maybe showing how easy it is to assemble (or if not, showing some useful steps to make the assembly easier), possibly developing a Buyers Guide to help shoppers choose a bird cage, etc.
I see that Windy City Parrot does link out to separate pages with lists of birds for which this cage is best, but they should think about including this information on the product page. This will make it easier for shoppers and help make the page more unique. To show more information on the product page they might employ a search engine friendly tab system.
As with rewriting manufacturer supplied product information, adding your own content can be a big task so start with some key products and see if it makes a difference in sales.
See 9 More Content Development Ideas For Increased Visibility for more on this topic.
Get More User Reviews
Windy City Parrot allows shoppers to submit reviews; however I don’t see many of them. User reviews add unique, user generated content to a site and can help increase conversion rates at the same time. These reviews can help make the product pages more unique and done correctly they can help product pages get returned in search results when people search for reviews about products.
Windy City Parrot should try to develop ways to increase the number of reviews on their site. If they aren’t already, try testing what Amazon does, for exmaple. Amazon sends out a message some weeks after every purchase asking their buyers to submit a review. They send a reminder a week or two later if needed.
Try searching on phrases such as “how to get more product reviews” to find more ideas to test.
Is it OK to offer an incentive for submitting a review, whether good or bad? Here’s a story off how a sports product retailer runs contests to get more buyers submitting reviews.
See the same article, 9 More Content Development Ideas For Increased Visibility for more about reviews.
Consider An “Ask an Expert” Feature?
I was reading some of Windy City Parrot’s blog articles and I see Mitch, the general manager, sometimes answers specific questions in their blog such as within this My African Grey Parrot Now Hates Me – Please help me post.
If Mitch has the expertise and/or resources to answer these types of questions how about showcasing this as prominent feature throughout the site? Perhaps they can add something like an “Ask the Bird Man” graphic with a picture of Mitch in the right columns of most of the site pages? This could make the site more useful and help convey that when you do business with Windy City Parrot you have an expert available.
If they employ an “Ask the expert” feature they’ll want to also try employ some type of user friendly search capacity as well as one or more ways for people (and search engines) to browse by categories, etc, They could possibly host this Q&A within their blog or maybe within a forum (see the next topic).
User Generated Content: A Forum
As I mentioned, Windy City Parrot’s blog at times includes questions and answers. How about developing a forum, hosted under their domain, with a growing number of exotic pet topics?
Running a forum can be an enormous task, but it could be worth it. A search engine friendly forum 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 bringing them to the web site where they’ll learn about the business. Perhaps they can develop some ways to get some other experts in the field to participate in the forum.
Sell Yourself. As I mentioned in past articles about content, it helps to use a webpage template for content such as a forum 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 pages with links to products or services, etc.
User Generated Content: Videos & Images
Exotic pets could be a great topic to ask site visitors for content such as videos and images. Windy City Parrots could ask visitors to submit interesting/cute/funny images and videos of their exotic pets. They could even run contests (best images and videos by category for example) on the site and within their social networks to help get visitors participating.
User submitted images and videos of exotic pets could do very well within their social media networks. Much of this content will likely get shared. Try searching on “funny pet videos (or pictures)” – attracting more people to view the content where they may learn about Windy City Parrot.
They’ll want to develop a way to showcase the best user submitted content within the web site (in addition to their social venues) to help make the site more interesting and to increase organic visibility.
However, I’d suggest they do not showcase this type of content within the product pages as prominently as content that helps sell products as this could pull people away from a purchase process in order to see Petey the Parrot play a guitar (Really, there’s a video of a “guitar playing parrot” on YouTube!).
See 10 More Content Ideas To Improve Organic Visibility for more about video content.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.