Hello Goodbye

Why say hello, just to say goodbye?

Plenty of what happens on the internet is just small talk. The big websites - Facebook, Twitter - are based almost entirely around chitchat, just giving people a way to keep up with the events of their friends' lives.

Other websites, like Google and StumbleUpon, just point people in the right direction rather than providing information in their own right.

In eCommerce, though, your content isn't really there to entertain readers (although making it entertaining can help to achieve the desired outcome), nor is it there to coldly inform readers (although it may include product details to help them make up their minds).

In eCommerce, your content is there for persuasion - to convince the reader to purchase your product or service. And that means you have a limited number of words in which to make your case, and win them over to your way of thinking.

The Avoidance of Chit-Chat

Small talk is the enemy of eCommerce. Think of all those flashy branded microsites you've ever visited, filled with Flash games and cartoons, things to download and print out, colouring-in and paintshop programs for the kids.

Now, how many of them did you buy anything from? How many of them even had a significant impact on your perception of that brand?

Entertaining microsites can help popularise your brand in the real world, but are unlikely to do much to raise your online conversion rates in the short term.

So first of all, cut out the small talk - you have an agenda to drive forwards, so don't be afraid to do so. In general, anyone visiting an eCommerce site knows what they're doing, and being unable to find your sales information is likely to frustrate them even more than a clear, if dry, sales-orientated website.

Fill Up Your Funnels

It's a subheading I think I've used before, and one I'll probably use again in the future, but that's because it's one that doesn't really change with time.

A funnel is a defined path you hope visitors to your site will take. It may look like this:

Home Page → Category Page → Product Page → Shopping Basket → Checkout

Alternatively, you might try to drive them along a different route, for searchers rather than type-in traffic:

SEO Blog Post → Linked Static Page → Product/Order Page → Checkout

The end result of your funnel should always be a page with a beneficial action for you, the webmaster - either the visitor places an order, or they sign up for your mailing list, or they contact you for more information.

On the Phronesis website (or blog, if you prefer) things are a little different - most of my new content is just there to attract search traffic. Static pages are grouped using category tags into portfolio entries or testimonials, accessible from the top navigation bar. My contact details are on every page, in the left-hand column and at the end of posts.

So while my funnels may be loosely defined, they look a little like this:

SEO Blog Post → (Static Info Page - optional) → Email or Tweet

Visitors are always within a single click of making contact with me, but the static pages are there as intermediaries if they want more information first.

Funnels should include all the necessary information to achieve a sale or sign-up, and end with the transactional page that can make it happen.

So what does this mean for your blog posts or new static pages, once your website contains all of the basic information you think is required?

Preaching to the Converted

Search-optimised blog posts are among the most likely pages to act as the entrance to your site.

Sure, some people will come via your home page just to read what you've been doing lately, but in general if your text is optimised correctly, you should see the majority of your blog traffic arrive via queries for your target key words.

That means a blog post needs to:

  • welcome your visitors
  • tell them something timely and new
  • relate it to your product or service
  • link to a static information page

Some people would advise linking directly to your order page; I disagree. Although it adds a click to the process, I think visitors should always be offered a static page of product or service details before they place their order. It eliminates any misunderstandings arising from the context or brevity of the preceding blog post.

Likewise, I think a decent on-screen header for your blog can do a worthy job of welcoming your visitors, so you don't have to spell it out in your article text. Place a generic welcome message up top in your blog's template, and you can focus on getting your key words higher in the article itself.

So each item of body text becomes a process of: relating something new (about yourself, or news from your industry or geographical area); relating this to your product or service (either by using your product to support positive sentiment, or using it to overcome obstacles and negativity); linking to more information (to allow the visitor to make up their own mind, rather than feeling coerced into placing an order).

A structured blog post, with something new to offer, a positive link to your products, hyperlinks to further information and target SEO key phrases in prominent positions, is most likely to achieve success.

When I write a blog post for a client, regardless of whether a 'chatty' tone of voice is needed, I balance all of these requirements as I write. I think, that way, you get a cohesive finished product, rather than going back and trying to edit what you've written to incorporate key words and hyperlinks.

In this sense, I am an SEO copywriter rather than a pure marketing copywriter, but also a marketing copywriter rather than a pure SEO copywriter - the two always exist in a kind of symbiosis.

Try It Yourself

You don't have to hire me to write your blog posts - although obviously I'd love it if you did. But if you want to put all of this into practice first, try it yourself. Write something that fits all of the criteria outlined above, and really think about it as you write.

Every single blog post you add raises your search visibility, even if you don't have a clear SEO strategy in place. Every new page, whether it's static information, special offers, product updates or news articles, is one more page of text for the search robots to crawl and index.

Get it right, and you should see at least a handful of visitors per month for each page you add. Obviously, the more you add, the more extra visitors you should see.

Blogging is a long-term investment, as new pages attract new search visitors, and can remain visible on your site - and in search results - indefinitely.

And if you want an affordable, long-term way to gradually grow your blog or news section, without the hassle of writing it yourself - that's what I'm here for, and I'd love to hear from you.

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