5 post-Panda strategies for optimizing your e-commerce site

Welcome back! In this third post of her Q & A video blog series, Heather addresses the oft-asked question:  How can I make my e-commerce site better for the search engines? Many smaller to mid-sized e-commerce companies are now striving to make their sites as good as they can possibly be, after suffering the fallout of Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.

Over the past financially-stressed year, many e-commerce companies simply lacked the resources needed to produce high-quality, original content.  So they’ve been hurt by Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.  But there is a shiny silver lining to this setback, as Heather explains:

Common E-Commerce Issues:

  • Mayday Update: Many SMB’s without the financial resources to invest in content generation were “downgraded” by Google because they simply duplicated the product descriptions from the original manufacturers of the goods offered.
  • Farmer/Panda Update: Those businesses without the money for content creation were also hurt due to “thin” and/or “low-quality” content.  These folks may have tried to build out keyphrase-laden pages to drive traffic, or were stuck with the same old products pages with no fresh or original copy.

Whatever the circumstance, these smaller e-commerce companies are at a huge disadvantage right now.  But the silver lining is that this setback presents a fantastic opportunity for these businesses to give their e-commerce site a complete “make-over.”

So here’s what to do (over) if you find your e-commerce site hurting from Google’s algorithm changes:

1) Figure out what’s working, and what’s not: Seize this opportunity to delve deep into your analytics and look at things like bounce and conversion rates. The information you glean can provide you with a road map as to what to do next.  For instance…

2) Are you using the right keyphrases? Upon entering the e-commerce world, you may not have completely understood what keyphrases were or how to work with them. Or your original keyphrases may have brought in traffic at the start, but may be not the best, qualified traffic. Again, this is a great opportunity to go back to the beginning and re-evaluate.  You may well discover other keyphrases to focus on and leverage for SEO.

3) MessagingDo you address your prospect’s primary question of what’s in it for me (WIIFM)? Revisit your benefit statements: do they explicitly tell your reader what’s in it for them? Are the tone and feel of your site targeted to your perfect customer? Are you bringing out the best benefit statements that you can? This is a golden opportunity to make your site as tight and wired to your customer as possible.

4) What else can you “tweak?” Consider what other elements could be improved to help make you money.  For instance:

  • Do you need to change your page Titles? Probably. See what you can tweak to increase both your ranking and conversions.
  • Could you add customer reviews? This is a great way to build out original content on your products pages.
  • Can you build out different types of content (video, podcasts, other types of descriptive content)? Ideally, your product page content should be unique – not just a reiteration of the original manufacturers’ copy.
  • How can you leverage your blog to help you with sales? Your blog presents an ideal venue to “soft sell” and link to your site’s product pages.  It doesn’t have to be “sales-y,” and in fact shouldn’t be. Written deftly, your blog content can go a long way towards supporting sales.

5) Checking your analytics, determine what your top-performing pages are and start re-writing those first. Look at the top 20-percent of your site’s highest-performing pages, and begin your copywriting do-over with these.

Yes, this website “do-over” does mean an investment of time and money, but the silver lining is that once you’ve gone through the process — taking the time to do it right — then everything else will fall into place:  your site will be well-optimized for the search engines, will better serve your customers, and you’ll see a greater return on your investment!

Thanks for joining us! Do you have a SEO copywriting or content marketing question? Zip it on over to Heather at: askheather@seocopywriting.com, and she may well answer it with next Monday’s video post!


















5 reasons why social media is good for SEO

Guest Author, Stacey Acevero

Do you like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Well I’ve got a reason to love all of these social media platforms. We use these outlets to learn new information, disseminate interesting information we find, engage with new people and share ideas. But what most don’t realize is that social media is in fact great for SEO and can help boost your search engine rankings. Here’s how:

1)   The same way you use keywords to optimize your blog posts can be used to optimize your posts in social media. Leveraging keywords improves search traffic when you use keywords that rank highly for your topic.  Use a keyword research tool such as Google Adwords to figure out which search terms rank higher, and infuse those terms into your posts.

2)   Social media encourages the sharing of multimedia, and multimedia is shown to increase time on page. PRWeb did a study which concluded that including multimedia in news releases increases time on page by an average of about 30 seconds. Imagine what that could do for your blog and social media posts. That’s the difference between someone reading your post and clicking the “X” and someone reading your post and getting hooked—you want the latter.

3)   Social media influence increases link sharing, which ultimately results in better search ranking. Every link into your portal improves your chances of ranking well in Google and other search engines, according to informIT. I like to call it link-love, and give plenty of it when tweeting throughout the day. Tweeting information from a variety of sources is important because those sources might notice this and tweet you back: creating lots of link love.

4)   Google’s crawling, indexing and rankings are directly influenced by Tweeted links and Facebook shares. The easier it is to link to your content via sharing buttons, the more likely someone will use them to share your content, according to SEOmoz.

5)   SEO is based on relevance and authority. You build relevance and authority by creating and sharing original content (such as blogs) and building communities on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. The more relevant and authoritative you are on your topic, the better search engines will view you.

Are you convinced yet? Try your hand at increasing your SEO using social media and share with us what you find! Keep one thing in mind: all SEO takes time and patience.

For more information on social media and SEO, I recommend visiting the TopRank Online Marketing Blog, Mashable or SEOmoz.

Stacey Acevero is the social media community manager at Vocus and PRWeb. Part of the PR team and an early adopter of social media, she blogs frequently about public relations, social media, marketing and search engine optimization at BloggingPRWeb.





How good pick-up lines can help you write better B2B Web copy

When you were single, did you use the same pick-up line every time?

If you were talking to the smart guy (or girl,) you probably led with a brainy comment. If a hockey fan caught your eye, you’d chat about the Stanley Cup and the Bruins. If you thought an outdoorsy-looking person looked hot, you may mention your love for everything REI.

The key is, you’d change what you’d talk about depending on your, um, target audience. I bet it even came naturally. You’d do it to make a a better connection, faster – and move him or her to your next conversion step (asking them out.)

Why don’t we take the same care with our Web copy?

Many B2B Websites use the same pick-up line, expecting it to work with every audience they work with. Rather than personalizing the reader pitch, their Web copy is the equivalent of “Hey, baby. How YOU doin’?”  It’s general. It’s untargeted. It’s all about them. And it doesn’t show that the company understands anything about their target audience.

Sure, this approach may work some of the time. But it won’t work most of the time. Here’s what to do instead:

I’ve talked before about creating vertical-specific landing pages for B2B copy. This gives companies two distinct advantages:

  • You can speak specifically to what’s important to a defined customer persona. For instance, dental offices and real estate agents buy mailing lists. However, the benefits to a real estate agent (finding possible home buyers within a certain demographic group,) is different than dental offices (finding families within a certain zip code.)
  • Splitting your pages up by vertical allow you to capitalize on less competitive (but still highly targeted) keyphrases. For instance, it could be tough to gain a competitive ranking for the phrase “mailing list.” It’s a heck of a lot easier to position for “real estate agent mailing lists.” Plus, searchers entering your site off that phrase would be highly targeted.

For instance, let’s look at this example from Constant Contact:

You can see how the company was able to customize the copy (and the application list) for the target audience.

Compare this to another Constant Contact page targeted towards consultants:

See what they’re doing? Their pick-up lines are personalized for the audience. They know what real estate agents and consultants want to hear – and it’s addressed in the copy. The “voice” is personal and friendly, not the B2B equivalent of “How YOU doin’?”

In short, the way they wrote their copy helps them make a better connection, faster, with their audience.

And I bet their copy converts like crazy, too.

What do you think? What’s your favorite way of connecting with your target audience?

Drive revenue with benefit-specific, targeted product pages

Welcome back!  In today’s video post in our ongoing website writing series, Heather Lloyd addresses how to write conversions-driving  product pages.  Last week, Heather discussed the essential strategies for writing a killer home page (as well as the not-so-hot tactics).  Today, she tackles how to write benefit-specific, targeted product pages that will drive revenue.

If you’re new to the how-to series or could stand a quick review, it might be helpful to check out Heather’s previous posts on Features vs. Benefits and Transforming Ordinary Features into Extraordinary Benefits.

Well-Written Product Pages Drive Revenue

Product pages are “money pages,” and if you own an ecommerce company, your product pages present a spectacular opportunity to improve your conversion rates.  You have a fantastic chance to first, improve the overall copywriting itself and second, improve your search engine optimization.  So let’s look at what is great, and what isn’t so hot:

What’s Hot and What’s Not So Great:

Keep in mind, first and foremost, that your #1 Goal is to  Sell the Product

You want your prospect to land on your products page and immediately think, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I want and I’m hitting buy now!” With this priority in mind, here are specific ways to help our readers do just that with targeted copywriting for our product pages.

1. Product-Specific Benefit Statements (vs. Feature-Oriented Content)

This is a HUGE opportunity that a lot of companies miss out on.  You may have an incredible amount of product features – color, weight, dimensions, etc. – but key to your conversions is to explicitly highlight and translate the benefits implicit to those features so your prospect says “Yes!” Specifically addressing that “what’s in it for me” is precisely what will sell your product.  (Again, recommended reading are Heather’s detailed posts about features vs. benefits, and transforming features into benefits).

2. Product-Specific Keyphrases (vs. General Keyphrases – or None At All!)

Here’s where you can dig in to your analytics and do your keyword research to figure out the best overall keyphrase strategy for your site, as well as drastically improve your conversions:  look into SKU’s, specific product and category names, and designer search terms.  With this data, you’ve a great resource for discovering those keyphrases ripe for optimizing both your products page and your conversions!

3. Directed and Original Content Written with your Customer Persona in Mind (vs. Simply Uploading the Catalog/Manufacturer Copy)

While Google’s taken steps with its Farmer/Panda update that does not reward mere uploads, beyond that you want to rewrite the generic catalog/manufacturer copy so it speaks to your customer persona.  While refining and honing the copy like this means more time and more resources, know that you don’t have to do it all at once.  You can baby-step your rewriting, focusing on the most important content first.

4. Clear Call to Action (vs. Long, Scrolling Content where the “Buy Now” Button is Buried)

The idea is to make it easy for customers to buy your products.  A clear and visible call to action will go a long way towards improving conversions – you don’t want to make prospects work to make their purchase.  This is where an A/B split test can be applied to see what works best for conversions in terms of the placement of your call to action.

5. Highlighting Overarching Company Benefit Statements (vs. Hiding Them in Copy or Not Mentioning Them At All)

Again, this where a lot of businesses miss the mark.  Specials, discounts, free shipping, and other such benefit statements should be made clear and obvious to the prospect.  You can’t assume the customer knows about your company’s sales or special offers – don’t hide these great benefits in the copy!

6. Fantastic, Benefits-Oriented Title (vs. So-So Title Filled with Product-based Keywords)

The power of a benefits-oriented, compelling title cannot be overstated!  A well-written, “clickable” Title not only improves click-thru rates on the search engine results page, but is far more likely to result in conversions than a Title that merely lists keywords separated by commas.

One company that has product pages down is Brookstone.  Clearly thinking of “search-ability,” the company incorporates a keyphrase into their product name, and pairs it with a benefits statement and product-specific SKU:  “OSIM Comfort Massage Chair.”  Looking at the company’s product page, you’ll notice they’ve also incorporated customer reviews, great content, benefit statements, and answers to customer questions. The Brookstone product page is a good example of how to do it right.

Thanks for tuning in for today’s video how-to!  Be sure to check in next Monday, when Heather will address how to write a killer services page.  See you then!

Think CIAO for B2B SEO copywriting

Whenever I chat with in-house and freelance SEO copywriters, I’m typically asked “the B2B question.” It goes something like this:

“I think I understand how to write optimized Web copy for B2C sites. But what about B2B SEO copywriting? Isn’t it different?”

It’s true that B2B SEO copywriting often has a slightly different tone and feel than its consumer counterpart. After all, if you’re targeting executives with buying authority, the copy will read differently than if you’re writing about pet accessories or Pilates mat classes.

But that doesn’t mean that B2B copywriting has to be straight, dull and “just the facts.” Nor does B2B copywriting have different SEO copywriting “rules.” If you’re confused about writing for the B2B market, just remember one simple acronym: CIAO. Here’s how it breaks down.

C – Customer focused copy. Your first step before you start writing is to develop a customer persona – who will purchase this product or service, what are their pain points, what are they reading/buying now and how can you help? Just like in B2C SEO copywriting, every word you write should be laser-focused towards your audience’s needs. Consider how your product or service helps to shave expenses, provide peace-of-mind, improve profits or somehow simplifies a process. Specific benefits sell in the B2B market – so make sure you tell your prospect exactly how you can help them.

I – Interesting copy. B2B copy doesn’t have to be boring. Spec sheets, product features and case studies are important. However, the information doesn’t have to put people to sleep. In fact, one way to instantly differentiate from competitors is to write engaging copy that speaks directly to the prospect while providing benefits in an easy-to-read manner.  It’s true that you won’t necessarily be able to use a “peppy” tone and feel like you could with a B2C page. But you do you have more creative room to move than you think.  A quick rule of thumb: If you’re even bored by the copy, it’s time for a rewrite.

A – Action-oriented. It’s scary to see product or service Web pages without a call-to-action. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your prospects when they’re trying to make a purchase or contact you for more information. If you want folks to make a purchase, make the purchase link prominent. If you want folks to contact you, make sure you tell them and make it easy for them to take action. If your prospects have to hunt around your site just to figure out how to buy from you, there’s a good chance that they’ll boogie away and find another vendor.

O – Optimized. The B2B world can be highly competitive, and optimization can make the difference between a nice site that gets a little bit of traffic – or a huge powerhouse site that gains massive market share. Just know that the same “rules” apply when optimizing a B2B site. Hire a content marketing strategist to help plan your campaign. Choose specific keyphrases. Create a clickable Title and strategically insert your keyphrases within the copy. Remember, just like a B2C SEO copywriting campaign, skipping a step (like creating strong, keyphrase-rich Titles) can decimate your campaign, rendering so-so results rather than stellar.

See? SEO copywriting for the B2B market is easier to create than you think! Just follow the same “rules” you would for B2C SEO copywriting (keeping in mind that you’ll need a different tone and feel) and you should be fine. Ciao, baby!