Why Informational Content Is Crucial for E-Commerce Sites

Every once in a while, an article makes me throw my hands up in the air and say, “Yes!”

The latest SEO writing news is sweet, my friends.

Here’s the scoop.

The Search Engine Land headline — Case Study: The true value of informational content for e-commerce SEO — isn’t very sexy.

But the data is smokin’ hot.

The author, Eoghan Henn from searchVIU, showed how informational content (think how-to articles, blog posts and guides) contributes to a site’s overall SEO performance.

Henn discussed working with an e-commerce site that had 60,000 product pages, 80 category pages and 25 informational pages.

Because of an internal business decision, the company pulled all 25 informational pages from their site. (You can read the full story here.) The pages were redirected to the home page, so the content was essentially…gone.

Here’s where things get interesting…

You’d think that redirecting 25 pages wouldn’t be a big deal, especially when the site had over 60,000 product pages.

You’d be wrong.

The site lost one-third of its overall visibility. Positions for their home page and product pages plummeted.

Ouch.

But that’s not all…

Seeing the drastic visibility drop, the company did something interesting…

…they put the content back. They wanted to see if it made a difference “for the sake of SEO science.” (Side note: I. Love. This!)

Guess what happened?

The site’s visibility completely recovered after three weeks.

Yes, that fast.

Informational content rules.

So, what can we learn from this?

Informational content is important for e-commerce sites. Period.

Having said that, I know there are people who disagree with me. I’ve chatted with them many times. They say things like:

“The purpose of an e-commerce site is to sell products. We are not publishers.”

“Creating informational content is too expensive and doesn’t drive sales.” (This is often true — in the case study example, the site’s informational content generated slightly over two percent of sales.)

“Our product pages should position on their own.”

(You’ve probably heard excuses like that too.)

But here’s the thing. You know what informational pages are good for?

Search positions. And links. And providing answers to common questions your prospects have every day.

They. Are. So. Valuable.

In fact, there are many cases where a product page won’t position for a desired keyphrase — but, a well-written informational page will.

When I train my clients, I often tell them to create informational pages, especially if the search intent for their desired keyphrase shows informational results instead of product pages.

Informational pages give companies the best of both worlds. The sales landing pages can do what they were designed to do — sell products. The informational pages provide useful information the reader needs to know and conveniently link to the appropriate product pages.

All the bases are covered.

Plus, let’s face it — it’s way easier to promote a long-form “how to do X” guide than to promote (and get links to) a product page. Those helpful guides and in-depth posts showcase a site’s E-A-T — expertise, authority and trust.

Yet again, informational content rules.

What does this mean to you?

Are you responsible for an e-commerce site? Take a peek at competing sites and see how your informational content stacks up. Are you missing out on positions because you don’t have the content? Could you create additional blog posts, guides and articles?

If the answer is yes, develop a strategy (or hire someone to help) and make it happen. Yes, this will cost money and time. It will be worth it.

And for goodness sake, don’t delete or redirect informational pages unless you know what you’re doing. Please. Even if “your gut” tells you “they aren’t working.”

Are you a freelance SEO content writer? Creating informational content and setting the SEO content strategy for e-commerce sites is a huge opportunity.

Yes, it means a deep-dive into a company’s keyphrase opportunities, their customer persona, and what their readers want to know more about. Yes, the opportunity requires you to have slightly more advanced SEO writing skills.

But, if this sounds like fun, you can help create top-positioned content that gives great value…and also links to important product pages.

That’s pretty cool.

What do you think?
Are you going to send this newsletter to your client/boss who doesn’t “get” the value of well-written, informational content? How can you leverage this cool opportunity? Leave a comment and let me know!
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  1. […] Think informational content doesn’t matter all that much? Think again… […]

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