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Ecommerce content marketing:  3 Steps to start a blog and drive tons of traffic

June 15, 2017

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Blogging used to be nothing more than an online diary.

Today, however, blogging has evolved into a serious marketing strategy. You may have heard of it: Content marketing.

Creating content like blog posts is one of the single most effective ways to drive traffic to your product pages.

How? Because content…

  • Gives you something valuable to share on your social media accounts
  • Is easier to get shares and links to
  • Can rank on Google much easier than product pages
  • Opens doors to relationships with industry influencers
  • And so much more!

Let me explain.

Why should you run a blog on your eCommerce store?

I get it - running a store is a full-time job. You have a million and one things to do. Why should you add another thing on your list?

Because, like I showed you above, blog content brings in amazing benefits.

The main benefit is SEO (search engine optimization). How would you like to show up in the top five results of Google when someone searches for your product?

Blogging can do that for you.

Here’s how it works:

Ecommerce content marketing explained

Traffic comes from Google, social media, and your email list. From there, it can be funneled to your product pages.

Traffic can also come from links from other pages, but I didn’t include that in the graphic because it’s a more advanced tactic. (Which we’ll talk about in this guide.)

For now, just know this:

Content marketing (blogging) has the potential to drive thousands of visits to your site, and even tens of thousands once you learn proper SEO.

I’ll give you an example. I created a blog post on a brand new site with almost no traffic, and drove 1,607 visitors to the post in just two days:

Traffic from blogging on an eCommerce store

If that sounds like something you’d like, keep reading.

A quick discussion of SEO

I’ll keep this section super quick, but I wanted to explain what blogging and SEO have to do with eCommerce product pages.

Here’s the thing: In order to rank your site on Google, you need backlinks from other websites.

However, getting backlinks to product pages is really difficult, because they don’t provide any free value. People don’t link to product pages unless something’s in it for them (like a commission).

Getting backlinks to blog pages, on the other hand, is pretty easy. It’s not super difficult to get upwards of 10 to even 50 backlinks to a blog post. (As long as you know what to do, which you'll learn in step 3.)

Those backlinks are SEO gold and can land your post on the first page of Google within a few months (assuming your content is good enough, which you'll learn about in step 2).

So how does that help your product pages rank?

By internal linking.

When you get a lot of links to a page on your site, any link from that page to another page on your site is given more “SEO juice”.

So if I link blog post A, which has 20 backlinks, to product page B, which has none, that product page will now have a higher chance of ranking on Google… Even without direct backlinks!

Here’s a visual:

internal-link-SEO-boost.jpg

Those backlinks to the blog post also provide ranking authority to any page that blog post links to, including your product pages. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t get backlinks to your product pages when you can. But you can rank without as many links.

Hope that makes sense! If not, feel free to ask questions in the comments. Now let’s move on.

Step 1: Pick a killer blog topic

The hardest part of blogging (after promotion) is coming up with good topic ideas.

In my experience, there are two ways to decide on a topic:

  1. Pick a topic for virality
  2. Pick a topic for SEO

Personally, I prefer #2 because virality spikes quickly then drops off, where as SEO starts slow but ramps up and tends to drive more traffic over time.

Besides, SEO starts with a spike as well (if you do it right).

How to come up with topic ideas

Regardless of which “type” of article you’re going with, you still need a topic idea.

There are a LOT of ways to come up with topics. Since I prefer SEO and long-term wins, I’ll let you in on my methods, which involve keyword research and finding authority sites.

First, find 5 to 10 high-quality blogs in your industry.

These can be competitors to solo bloggers and everything in between. You’re going to use their site to find popular content around your niche.

Pro Tip: Create a Google sheet to keep track of this list. I like to note the blog URL, title, editor/owner, and contact info. I also keep track of DA (domain authority) by popping their site into Moz OSE. A high domain authority means a link from their site carries more weight for your SEO.

Moz Domain Authority

(Note: You can also use a Google sheet to keep track of your blog topic ideas.)

You probably already have a few blogs/sites in mind. However, if you don’t know where to find them, here are a few strategies:

1. Use BuzzSumo to find viral content around your topic.

BuzzSumo is a tool that allows you to see what content is performing the best around a particular topic or on a particular site.

You can use it to find both topic ideas and other quality blogs.

Just type in a keyword around your niche. For me, that meant searching for “RVing”:

Using BuzzSumo to find topic ideas

From there, I already have a few good ideas:

  • RV cooking, meal prepping, and recipes
  • RV travel destinations
  • Seeing concerts in an RV
  • Advice around what tools to bring in your RV

These topics all got 1k to 2.5k shares, so we know they have viral potential. They’re also potential websites to get backlinks from. Write ‘em down!

2. Use Ahrefs to spy on your competition

This is one of my personal favorite ways to find keywords AND topic ideas in just a few minutes.

Ahrefs is an SEO tool that shows you how difficult it is to rank for a keyword, how much search traffic a keyword gets, and viral content (sort of like BuzzSumo).

Take the blogs you discovered in step one or know off the top of your head, and pop them into Ahrefs. (They give you a two week free trial.)

Then, click the “Organic Search” tab.

Ahrefs keyword research

Scroll down and click “View full report” under “Top 5 organic keywords”.

Using Ahrefs to find organic keywords

Next we need to filter these results to show only low KD, high volume keywords in the top 20 results (since the lite version won’t let you see past that).

filterng-keywords.jpg

Now you have an awesome list of potential keywords. Dig through until you find some good blog topic ideas. Here are a few I noticed:

Potential keyword ideas

It looks like “rv blogs”, “how to winterize an rv” and “types of rvs” are all fairly high volume keywords with fairly low ranking difficulty.

If I were going to choose one, I’d pick “how to winterize an rv” because it has the lowest difficulty, and also because I can target both that keyword and the “winterizing rv” keyword for double the potential traffic!

For more info on keyword research for blogging and SEO, check out A Better Lemonade Stand’s full guide.

Step 2: Write the best content on the web

Here’s the bad news…

In order to rank on Google and get lots of shares, you need some seriously good content.

BUT there is good news too!

You don’t need to be an amazing writer to create a top-notch blog post.

In fact, there are plenty of ways to not even have to write your post at all, and some of them are totally free.

Let me explain:

How to get other people to write your post for you

I’m not talking about hiring a writer (that’s in the next section).

I’m talking about using email and social media outreach to get well-known industry bloggers and influencers to write for you.

Not actually write an entire piece, mind you - just the important bits.

For example, a recent post I wrote (the one that got 1,600 views in two days) was almost entirely written by other full-time RV bloggers:

getting-bloggers-to-write-for-you.jpg

I created a list of full-time RV bloggers, then used Ninja Outreach to email them all asking them one simple question:

“What are your must have RV accessories?”

Of roughly 80 emails, I received 37 responses - almost a 50% reply rate. From there, all I had to do was add the pictures and links and format the post to look good.

The only writing I did was the intro, conclusion, and a few minor additions for those that didn’t give me a blurb to include.

Here’s the outreach template I used (make sure you customize it and make it authentic - people can tell when you’re sending a template):

Subject: I want to feature you!

“Hey, [name]!

My name is [your name]. I absolutely love your blog - [reason you love their blog, or something you learned from them]!

I'm reaching out because I'm working on a super cool post about [your topic] for our blog: [blog URL]

[One to two sentence explanation of why you’re writing the post]

I'd like to know - [question you want answered]?

I'll also link back to your site and give a little bit of your story in the article. I’m launching the post on [date], so a response by then would be great.

Thanks so much! :)

[Your name]”

Once you have the answers, add them in. When your post goes live, you’ll reach back out to these people for the initial promotions and easy backlinks, but more on that in step 3.

If you're not sure where to find influencers, try using an influencer discovery tool. Then reach out to the people you find.

Note: Ninja Outreach is a bit pricey and has a steep learning curve. If you want something more affordable (and incredibly simple to use) check out MailShake!

You can also check out their guide to crafting the perfect outreach campaign if you want more info on how this is done.

How to hire freelance writers

Your other option to get the writing done without actually writing is to hire a freelance writer.

They’re pretty easy to find these days. Just look for people with great reviews on Upwork or People Per Hour.

people-per-hour.jpg

My advice is to hire 3 to 5 people and give them each the same, small assignment. Pay them for their work, of course, and give the best one or two the full gig.

Pro Tip: Look for people with a journalism background. Journalists are natural fact-finders and researchers, so you know everything will be fact-checked. They’re also good at outreach, so you could even hire them to get influencer input as well.

For more info on hiring freelance writers, check out this guide by GetSOS.

But what if you want to do the writing yourself?

How to write a kickass blog post

I recommend writing at least one post yourself, just so you can get used to the process before you outsource it.

Plus, no one is going to love your business as much as you do, so you could potentially write a better article than anyone else.

How?

Here are a few tips:

  • Use short paragraphs, no longer than 3 to 4 lines
  • Add bulleted or numbered list to highlight key points
  • Include headings and subheadings to break up your content
  • Avoid using too many adjectives
  • Try to stop using the word “that” so much
  • Use as few words as possible to get a point across
  • Read your article out loud at least once before publishing it
  • Send it across to someone else for spell-checking

In the end, becoming a better writer boils down to reading and writing more. But if you want a more thorough guide, check out how to create bookmark-worthy content.

Oh, and a quick note on images - great images really do matter. They increase shares, links, and engagement. If you need help creating awesome images, use a tool like Relay That to easily create awesome images at the click of a button.

But you should know: Creating the blog post is only a small part of successful eCommerce content marketing. You can’t skip the next step.

Step 3: Promote your content like crazy

You can spend hours researching and writing a blog post, but it won’t mean squat if you don’t promote it.

I know because it’s happened to me. More than once.

I spent almost a week putting together an amazing blog post, but didn’t do anything to promote it besides sharing it on social media. It got a whopping 50 views, none of which converted.

So how do you avoid the content abyss?

You spend as much, if not more time promoting your post as you did writing it.

Free ways to promote your blog

Let’s start with free, because who doesn’t love free money?

There are a ton of free content promotion strategies:

  • Social media
  • Email outreach
  • Forum marketing
  • Comment marketing

Let me briefly go through each one.

1. Social media marketing

You just publish a post, then push it out to social media.

All good, right?

Wrong!

Social media isn’t a content publishing platform. People don’t go to Facebook to read your articles. They go there to be freaking social!

So what should you do instead?

Engage with your followers. Let me give you an example…

My Facebook page for my RV travel blog typically got 0-4 likes, no comments and no shares on every post. Until I started tagging people.

I tagged everyone who participated in my roundup post, and it went fairly viral. I got 22 likes, 11 shares, and reached 1,800 people organically...

Facebook-post-engagement.jpg

But I didn’t stop there. I also posted it in relevant Facebook groups. One post even got me 55+ likes and 10 comments!

More importantly, that drove over 400 unique visitors to my blog post. Not too shabby for an extra two minutes of work.

Of course, that’s just Facebook. There are plenty of other social networks to get good at. Rather than going through each one, I’ll just post some awesome guides I’ve found:

Enough about social media. Let’s move on.

2. Email outreach

Email outreach is my personal favorite blog promotion strategy because it’s easy, effective, and helps you build solid relationships.

And marketing snowballs when you have a lot of good relationships.

For that RV accessory post I wrote, I sent an email to every single person who contributed. Here’s what I said:

outreach-email.jpg

For your convenience, here’s a template you can copy-paste:

Subject: We’re LIVE, [name]!

“Hey, [name]!

Just a quick heads up that our [post topic] post is LIVE! :)

http://www.thewanderingrv.com/rv-accessories/

Thanks again for your contribution. If you think your audience might find value in the post, a social media share would be awesome!

Also, let me know if you'd like me to write something up for you to post on your blog.

Thanks again,

[Your name]”

This simple email resulted in over 20 shares and 7 backlinks to the post. (And it's still getting more.)

Of course, there are WAY more people you can reach out to besides those who contributed!

As an idea, look for:

  • Anyone who shared a similar post (you can find them using BuzzSumo or by searching on Twitter)
  • All the people you asked for input who didn’t answer
  • Any blogs on Google in a related niche that aren’t competitors

For more info on outreach promotion, check out Ahref’s blogger outreach guide.

3. Forum marketing

Forum marketing is one of the most time-consuming marketing tactics on this list, but it usually drives the most engaged traffic.

In order to effectively promote your articles on forums, you need to first deliver value to the forum and get in good with the members.

But first, how do you find forums?

That’s easy. Look for them on Find a Forum or use the Google search string:

Inurl:forum + “your keyword”

finding-forums-with-google.jpg

Once you’ve found a solid forum that allows dofollow backlinks, create an account.

But don’t put your website in your signature yet!

This is important because you don’t want to come off as spammy. You want to join their community.

I recommend you post 20 to 30 high-quality responses on the forum before you link back to any of your content. And be sure to read the guidelines for what you can and can’t post first.

For more info, check out Shopify’s guide to forum marketing.

4. Comment marketing

Comment marketing is still a legitimate way to drive traffic and build links! Google’s Matt Cutts even said so himself.

However, there are some things you need to do so you don’t end up in the spam folder:

  • Use your real name and email
  • If you link to your site in the comment, don’t add it in the optional box
  • Make sure your comment adds value - that means it’s in-depth, thoughtful, and not just “Great article!”

Here’s an example of a great comment that led to a backlink for Ryan Stewart (I know it’s long, but it’s worth reading!):

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Robbie saw the comment and ended up featuring Ryan in a post!

Now, obviously, not all blogs are created equal. Don’t just go commenting on every blog under the sun.

Instead, do a quick eyeball test to find the high-quality blogs where other people are commenting and engaging, and they get a lot of traffic.

For more info on comment marketing, check out Ryan’s white hat link building strategies.

And that’s it for free marketing! I’m probably missing a ton of other ways, but these four have really worked well for me, so I’ll leave it at that.

It’s better to pick one or two things and focus on them than trying everything, anyway.

Paid content promotion strategies

Time for the big leagues: paid promotion.

Free promotion can work wonders, but sometimes you want faster results. That’s where paid advertising comes in.

There are three main places to spend your money:

  1. Quuu Promote
  2. Social media ads
  3. Google Adwords PPC

Let’s break ‘em down:

1. Quuu Promote

Quuu Promote is a cool tool created by Dan and Matthew.

Basically, they have a network of bloggers that sign up to receive hand-curated content to their inbox via Quuu. You pay Quuu to get your content shown to that group.

In order for your post to be promoted, you have to submit it. They actually review your post, and if it sucks, they won’t approve it.

It’s great because it works so well and covers SO many niches.

I paid $20 to promote two posts to the “Campervans & Recreational Vehicles” niche and have already gotten over 30 shares and clicks on each post in less than 5 days.

Quuu-Promote.jpg

In essence, it’s a cheap and effective way to get quality shares that result in clicks.

2. Social media ads

Facebook only shows your posts to 16% of your followers now. To get more, you gotta pay up.

(Unless you can drum up enough engagement on your posts through manual outreach. Facebook’s algorithm will show your updates to more people if a post gets a lot of initial likes, comments, and shares.)

The other social networks are following suite. Everyone wants their money!

So how do you get the most from your hard-earned cash?

Here are some great guides for every platform:

I definitely recommend checking out Pinterest, as it’s still fairly new and the cost per click is really low right now.

Next up, let’s talk about Google and friends.

3. PPC advertising

Google Adwords is the granddaddy of pay per click (PPC) ads...

But it’s not the only way to buy them!

And before you say anything - I know social media ads are also PPC. But I put them in their own category because they’re so different from traditional PPC (they’re much more targeted).

So anyway, there are multiple ways to purchase PPC ads, including:

I hear good things about Outbrain. It’s a “content discovery and marketing platform”. It works by showing your ads on relevant blogs that sign up. Worth a shot, if you want to test new PPC methods.

And that brings us to the end of our guide!

Some parting words

Ecommerce content marketing (aka blogging) is a hugely underrated way to drive high-converting traffic to your site. Especially in the long run, with an SEO play.

One last tip on blogging - frequency doesn’t much matter, as long as your posting at least once a month.

Brian Dean, the master of SEO-focused blogging, only writes one post per month. He drives over 100,000 visitors to his month, and that’s steadily going up.

This stuff works! It just takes persistence and promotion. You just have to get started.

And if you’re worried about not having started already, then I have a quote for you...

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. Go write your first blog post today!

If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to share it so we can reach as many people as possible!

Topics: eCommerce News

Bill Widmer

Written by Bill Widmer

Bill is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO consultant. He's run several stores and worked with many well-known brands including A Better Lemonade Stand, SaleHoo, and Lifehack.

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