Google’s helpful content system has put pressure on ecommerce websites to improve their content’s value for users.
This article explores practical ways to make ecommerce content more helpful without reinventing the wheel.
Dynamic content on category pages
Historically, content on ecommerce category pages hasn’t been great.
Most websites include paragraphs with keyword-rich headers to target and show “authority” on the topic, such as “history of,” “best,” or “cheapest” modifiers being incorporated (depending on the product’s value proposition).
Google has mentioned several times that if an online shopping category page only has links to products and no other content, it becomes difficult for Google to make it rank higher in search results. This is because not all users will be familiar with your brand.
Google needs additional information to help decide if you’re a strong “challenger” brand choice to serve. Otherwise, the SERPs would just be major household brands and pay-to-play listing websites.
A great way to add helpful content at scale is through dynamic merchandising components.
You can create additional value for users with a merchandisable block by:
- Using your product information management (PIM) and sales data.
- Creating a new text field that you can edit via the CMS.
This also helps create additional value for “ambiguous intent” queries.
The example I’ve used in my mock-up is “gifts for men.” If you’re searching this, you have a commercial intent to buy, but you’re also asking for inspiration and to be told what’s good.
Incorporating a dynamic product block at the top of the category page, or one you can add products to yourself, acts as helpful content to those needing direction.
Suppose you allow Google to render this section. In that case, this also provides some temporary linking to products.
If you choose a static implementation, you can link to buying guides and seasonal blogs relevant to the category (such as a “sweaters” category linking to a Winter 2023 sweater style guide).
Dig deeper: Ecommerce content: How to demonstrate beneficial purpose and expertise
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Using user reviews and UGC for helpful content
Incorporating user reviews and user-generated content (UGC) onto product and category pages has been a long-standing method of creating trust with users.
Still, this type of content can be made to work so much harder and better for the business.
The first step in utilizing UGC and reviews across your products and categories is by actively collecting the right information from them.
There are two ways to do this:
- By including several static questions and quantitative variables.
- Through suggestive questions.
Static questions and quantitative variables
Static questions with quantitative variables work well for fashion or other multi-use products (e.g., sleeping bags).
If I go to a leading UK retailer of camping equipment and look at any given sleeping bag product, the information is relatively uniform and includes some standard information:
But then the bullet list also includes two very clear “catch-alls” and attempts at providing an objective input:
Now, the product page does have 136 reviews. But as a regular user, I won’t go through all of them to determine whether the temperature rating is “accurate” or the sizing provided will be “snug” for my height.
As the data is being collected, either at the source or using AI or internal resources to categorize the reviews, a better experience can be provided in line with the product specifications and summarized at the end of each statement:
This can be a dynamic text element, but it makes the product specifications more helpful than before – and validated through real user reviews.
Suggestive questions are phrased to influence the respondent toward a specific response.
They can subtly prompt or guide a user to answer or include elements in their answer they otherwise might not have thought to do.
These can be effective across all product pages and online product experiences, not just with ecommerce.
Assuming a positive experience
- How much did you love our product?
- What aspects of our product made you happiest?
- In what ways did our product exceed your expectations?
This question assumes the customer had a positive experience, which can influence them to provide a more favorable review than they might have otherwise.
Highlighting specific product features
- Don’t you think the quietness of our blender was its best feature?
- Did you find the user-friendly interface of our software to be the standout feature?
- How beneficial was the advanced battery life of our portable charger for your daily needs?
This question directs the respondent to focus on a specific feature, potentially overlooking other aspects they might have found more or less satisfactory.
By asking users to agree with these questions, which are almost statements themselves – you can repurpose them for other marketing purposes. For example, “With 1,300 reviews, customers love how quiet our blenders are.”
Comparing with competitors
- How much better did you find our product compared to alternatives in the market?
- In what ways is our software solution more user-friendly than what’s currently available on the market?
- How does the durability of our product surpass that of similar items you’ve used before?
By assuming the product is better, this question leads the respondent only to consider aspects where the product may outperform competitors rather than offering an unbiased comparison.
You don’t necessarily need to name competitor products in the question. Still, reviewers will likely mention other brands by asking them to compare their experiences of your products versus others.
Dig deeper: Ecommerce SEO & UX: 4 simple tips to boost traffic and sales
Creating helpful content for ecommerce
Ecommerce sites can create helpful content at scale without completely reinventing their processes.
By incorporating dynamic elements on category pages and leveraging user-generated content through targeted review questions, you can produce helpful ecommerce content without a complete overhaul of existing processes.
These practical methods can improve search engine rankings and elevate the user experience by providing valuable information and building trust with potential customers.