Copywriting For E-Commerce Websites In 2012
When writing for e-commerce websites, several unique considerations apply. If you’re a big enough brand that people will visit your site for buying specific items, then you can tailor on-page copy to focus on conversions rather than SEO. However, if you’re an e-commerce site trying to get individual product pages to rank, then on-page SEO copywriting should be just as big a consideration as your copy’s actual conversion rates. And if you’re writing for SEO in 2012, you’ll have heard about LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing), the new algorithm the engines have been using to filter legitimate web copy with crappy hack jobs.
What LSI Does
LSI is used by search engines to evaluate the relevance of a page to specific search terms, just like keywords and other similar criteria. What has gotten people excited about LSI is how well it has put a stop to a lot of garbage content on the web. Specifically, LSI ratings has been able to weed out most cases of keyword stuffing, automated content and poorly-written hack jobs.
How? Instead of merely evaluating the use of a search term in a page, LSI evaluates other elements of the page in relation to the keyword. That is, it evaluates the page beyond keyword repetition and synonym use. Instead, it looks at the relationships among the different words that appear on the page. For instance, a page that wants to rank for the keyword “beach” is expected to talk about sand, watersports, bikinis and similar things, as well. If a page that tries to rank for beach is filled up with content that talks about home furniture, DIY repair and zebras, however, the algorithm can assume it’s not relevant to the search term.
The rationale behind LSI is that natural content flows the exact same way. When you read an article about condominium living in the New York Times, the article will likely be littered with words and terms that have to do with the subject — like buying furniture, decorating, building security, city life and all that. That’s how you expect material that’s been produced with careful thought and preparation. And that’s how the engines are now expecting online content to appear.
Is LSI Good Or Bad?
Some people rejoice at LSI like it’s the greatest thing to ranking content on search engines. And it just might be. Like all solutions, though, it has its pitfalls and areas of weaknesses. At the end of the day, though, I think the good it will do overwhelms the bad like a 30-point blowout game in the NBA.
Less Focus On Numbers
Remember when website owners obsessed about keyword density and other statistics? Well, that gets less weight now, with LSI density taking more of the center stage. Since the computation for LSI is a lot more complex than previous algorithms, the best chance for website owners to get their properties rating well is to simply focus on producing quality content. After all, LSI is based on how high-quality content is formed. Just focusing on good copywriting practices and reader-focused strategies like old-school media did should steer you towards the same results.
Badly-Formed Content Is Assumed Bad
Under LSI algorithms, writing filled with grammatical and spelling errors are immediately deemed as bad content. That is, they don’t care whether your poorly-written words actually talk about on-topic subjects — breaking the rules of grammar gets your content marked as irrelevant. After all, it’s fair to assume any content that’s been given due attention for quality should, at the least, be free from preventable grammar and spelling mistakes. Fortunately, you don’t need to hire an expensive editor for this — an English grammar software should be able to do the trick.
LSI Makes The System Harder To Game
Because LSI algorithms borrow all their criteria from well-written pieces of content, rather than some arbitrary parameter specific to web content like keyword density, it’s harder for volume content producers and SEO types to game the system. That is, thin content and half-ass rush jobs that normally wouldn’t pass human scrutiny won’t make it past the search engine’s filter either. While the system isn’t infallible (false negatives can happen), it’s a considerable step up from the kind of algorithms we’ve had in the past.
Writing For E-Commerce Sites With LSI IN Mind
Writing e-commerce websites is different than writing for blogs or web-based magazines. The main difference? Blogs and magazines use content as the centerpiece; e-commerce websites, on the other hand, usually treat content as secondary to ensuring better conversions. With LSI in place, you’ll need to give more importance to content to make pages rank.
Write real content. Don’t be satisfied leaving with the page with just a one-sentence product description, a price and a “Buy Now” button. Instead, write descriptions that are meaningful, so they actually add value to the reader’s experience. At the least, answer the basic questions prospects are likely to have about the product: who, what, where, when, why and how. If you can, write relevant content that spans 500 or more words. The more genuinely helpful your content on the page to people shopping on your website, the better you’ll be rewarded by the search engines.
Write for the reader. Remember when SEO experts would fight over whether you should be writing for the search engines or the readers? That’s over. These days, it’s all about writing for the readers, as LSI is based exactly on the kind of content readers will find useful. Search engines reward on-page content that uses natural, well-formed language elements and writing for the reader will help you accomplish just that.
Fill up each page with related topics. Weave in content (words, phrases and secondary keywords) that relates to the main product on the page. You can do this by integrating the related items in your description or, like Amazon does, dynamically including a bunch of related lists on the same page. The former, of course, will look more natural, so strive for that first, using the second technique as a way to put additional content on the page.