So you’ve got something to sell, and, like all good businesses in the 21st century, you’ve turned to the internet to help you sell it. In 2017, the interface you present as your website is going to be the first experience a lot, if not all, your customers have of you and your product. In short, your website is the perceived image of your company or product, so it stands to reason you want to make it the best it can possibly be. There are a lot of things to consider as you build your website; colour schemes, how much information to put on each page, spacing, photos and copy. But there’s also something a lot of companies overlook when it comes to their e-commerce sites: a simple but effective tool for engaging and attracting customers. A kickass blog could be just what your site needs to go the extra mile.
It might surprise you that a very limited number of companies have cottoned on to the blog idea. Or if they do have a blog, it’s hidden away in a digital corner somewhere, not front and centre where it should be. But its advantages cannot be overstated, for a number of core reasons. First of all, websites, especially e-commerce websites, live and die on the amount of traffic they can generate. Direct sales are crucial, sure, as are email lists; but these engage existing customers only. A blog can be critical in bringing large amounts of potential customers to your website, increasing your chances to expand your client base. As you gain more traffic, you’ll increase the capacity of both your email lists, and, consequently, your direct sales.
So how does a blog actually increase traffic? What is the actual mechanism? The central one is that it improves your SEO. This is a very important concept to grasp when it comes to digital retail, as SEO in 2017 is a major factor in getting your product out there. It stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and essentially improves your website’s visibility on search engines like Google and Yahoo, moving you further up the list of sites displayed. The goal, of course, is to reach the first page of any online search, and if you’re doing really well, be the first result returned for a particular key word or phrase. You may feel as if your site is too small or new to support a blog; this kind of thinking is counterproductive; in fact, it’s in your best interests to get your blog up and running as soon as possible.
Your blogs can be simple and basic; they don’t have to be innovative or reinvent the wheel. You can enlist the services of a blog writer if you feel as if you want to focus on other aspects of your business. Blogs serve a few important functions just by existing. You can select a few key words and phrases that you want each blog post to contain, and by utilising these, you can improve your SEO visibility. You can even create whole blog posts around specific key words, as they’re inevitably going to relate to your product or industry, which serves two purposes in one: keyword optimisation and providing more content for your site! Within a blog post, you also have the opportunity to link to other sites, or product pages of your own. Doing so will reinforce the digital ties between you and your links, creating a strong web of anchor text that all link to various parts and pages of your site.
Blogging also means that you can grow your site, and thus improve your SEO by adding internal pages. This means that more internal links will direct back to your products or homepage, making your site more visible on search engines. If you can get external links directing back to you, even better; creating a blog will improve your chances of this as well, making it more likely that people will share your posts on social media or even their own sites. If you’re going through a quiet period with regards to your online product, regular blog posts will provide updates to your site, as each new page you add will keep the site active. Updates are something else that search engines keep track of and factor into their display results, so it’s important to keep on top of your blog management.
Away from the technical side of things, a consistent, simple blog can add a personal touch to your e-commerce site. Whether you want to tell the history of your company and product, or want to keep visitors updated with the latest trends and news from your particular industry, a blog can help present a human side to an otherwise digitally-dominated realm. Social media presence is of course an important tool in online commerce, but they’re a limited and scattered approach. With a specific blog, you can almost be sure that the people reading it are interested in what you’ve got to say and the story you’ve got to tell. People respond to narratives better than any product specs or sales figures; a blog is the place to share your own personal story and give potential customers a sense of who they’re considering doing business with. You can even pre-emptively address problems or questions that you think that your customers might have. If you can answer their questions without them even having to ask, you’re bound to impress.
All in all, a blog is a small investment that can pay off big time. Whether it’s improving your visibility among search engines, providing links that circle back to your site, or simply engaging your clients on a human level, no e-commerce site is truly complete without a kickass blog.