March 8, 2023
Shopify’s blog setup and why it’s so critical to ecommerce success
Shopify is a great ecommerce platform that many businesses thrive on but it is also a blogging platform that is designed to help you sell products and services. Despite this, a huge number of people do not use this powerful marketing resource to its full potential. This article will go through exactly how you can create a blog on your Shopify store, and tell you the reasons why you should if you want your business to scale and grow.
So you have set up an ecommerce business on Shopify and it is doing relatively well. You are selling a fair number of products or services and you are happy with the progress you have made. Happy days. But the problem is you know you can do more. You know you can sell more products and you know that your business can grow and scale, but you aren’t sure how. You are doing well, but you want to sell more and do great. You want your store to do as well as some of the biggest online Shopify brands out there. Right?
Maybe you have tried paid advertising in the past, and although that did well once, you know that people are tired of constantly being bombarded with ads and on average it is 15 – 20% less effective than just a couple of years ago. Perhaps you have heard that content marketing is becoming increasingly essential for any online business, that you need content to increase SEO and adapt to new Google algorithm changes that evaluate a website’s usefulness to consumers. You may have even dipped your toe into content marketing by using social media to try and push your products and services or tried email marketing, the type of content that has one of the highest conversion rates for shopify stores. All of this is great, but if you are like a significant number of small to medium sized businesses you are completely ignoring one of the most powerful and cost effective marketing tools simply by not having a blog on your website.
What is a blog?
A blog is quite simply a website or a section of an online store that consists purely of content in the form of blog posts or articles. These articles are often less formal than resource or information pages and can cover a wide variety of topics that reach out to large audiences very quickly
Why is a blog important for ecommerce sites?
Apart from the fact that the biggest and most successful Shopify websites such as Gymshark or Pepsi all have blogs, which should tell you everything, there are plenty of reasons why blogging for businesses is essential.
- A blog allows you to build a large, engaged audience.
It reaches out to a wider audience than any other marketing method.
- A blog is essential for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), boosting Domain Authority and website search rankings.
- A blog turns your ecommerce website into a valuable resource for consumers, improving user experience and trust.
- A blog helps establish your brand and build authority in your industry.
- Blogs are one of the easiest ways to highlight and promote specific products or disseminate brand news and announcements to a captive audience.
- Blog posts are vital for reaching a wide audience at every point of the customer journey and converting them into qualified leads.
- Blog posts will continue to work for you from the day they are published, the more you publish the more you grow exponentially without any further spend.
- Blogs are the most cost effective form of marketing there is.
A blog on your Shopify website gives your brand a professional, expert level of authority and builds that important relationship with your customers. It shows them you are serious about your business, that they can trust you, and that you are prepared to invest time and effort into being helpful and interesting for them before they even buy anything. That perception among potential customers is invaluable.
Building a blog is not always easy, they take time, effort and resources to maintain, but if you put that effort in, the benefits they bring are countless. A blog is a genuine long term investment in your business.
How to build a blog on your shopify store
Shopify makes it really easy to add a blog section to your website because the function is already built into the platform. All you have to do is simply go into your admin section and select the options that will lead to your blog section. Depending on your theme this may be labelled as news, and you can keep this label if it fits your brand better or change it to something that suits you, but it is essentially the same thing. Once you are ready to launch your blog, it is literally a case of publishing your first blog post.
So from a practical point of view launching your blog is easy, but there is so much more that goes into it if you want to ensure your blog is successful.
Knowing your audience
Knowing who your target audience is when writing your blog is absolutely essential. There is no point in writing some great content that might interest you, but will never be read by any of the people you want to sell your products or services to. You have to do research into who your audience is and build up different profiles of the exact type of customer you want to reach. This will help you understand them, understand their specific needs and understand what they want from your blog. When you understand this, you can tailor your content to fit their needs and interests.
Understanding your competitors
As well as understanding your customers, you also need to understand your competitors too. Performing a GAP analysis, or a competitor analysis on your direct competition allows you to assess their strategies, see what they are getting right, what they are getting wrong, if there are any gaps in the market you can exploit and what strategies you can improve on. If a direct competitor selling the exact same product as you is having great success with a specific audience, you may need to aim for that audience too. If they have cornered the market with a particular type of content, then you may need to find a way to use that type of content to reach your own customers, and vice versa, if your competitors have content that isn’t even ranking, find a way to beat them to the punch.
Getting ready for SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is essential for any website to be successful, and that includes ecommerce stores. SEO is essentially the markers you put onto your website to tell the search engines where to rank it, and having a blog section is one of the easiest and best ways to do that, but first you need to make sure you have everything ready to be optimised and that your pages will be visible to search engines in the first place. Shopify does make this a little easier for you by having an ‘edit website SEO’ option for each page. This will prompt you to optimise the titles of each post, the meta description and the URL of each post. These are the basic starting blocks of on page SEO so it is important you get them right.
Make sure you have a great title for your post that takes into account keywords and phrases without keyword stuffing (you will need to do a lot of keyword research beforehand), one that captures the audience imagination, answers a direct question or solves a problem for the audience who will be searching Google for that topic, and finally a title that conveys a solid value proposition, and all of that within seven or eight words.
The meta description is the online equivalent of a book blurb, that little paragraph on the back that tells the reader what the book is about. The meta description should be short – the Google crawler ideal is around 130 characters long – and concise, have a great call to action or tell the reader what the exact value proposition of reading the post will be, and have just enough keywords in to tell search engines this post is what they should be putting in front of audiences for a variety of queries.
Building and optimising SEO
To go in depth into building and optimising SEO for blog posts would truly take a lot more than one blog post to explain, but the very truncated version is that for every post you need to be putting in a lot of different signals that appease the search engines as well as making the user experience on your site better, offering true value to your readers and being a genuinely useful resource.
Put very simply the more useful the post is for its purpose the better, the length should match that purpose (are you trying to generate discussion, highlight a product, offer advice or answer a common question for example), the post should have a variety of internal links to build your UXP (user experience) and both outbound and inbound links that tell search engines that others find your site useful, and most f all be helpful, useful and well written. The rise of AI posts and hastily written content farms has meant that there is an ocean of bad content out there. You want your website to be an island of professional, well written prose in comparison.
How to organise your blog posts
User experience is key, and once you have them on your site you don’t want to put them off by making it difficult for them to find the content they are looking for. This is where a good blog menu, sub categories and a strong linking game is essential.
Choosing a blog type and length
Having a variety of blog post types and styles is really important too. A blog post – contrary to popular belief – is so much more than a simple short opinion piece that can be on any topic. Each post has to have intent, it has to have a clear purpose and it has to serve your audience needs, and there are a lot of ways to do that.
Writing a short post with around 300 words has for a long time been considered bad for SEO, but that isn’t true at all. SEO is about far more than the search engines, it is about the user experience too, and short blog posts like opinion pieces are fantastic for generating a lot of user engagement, or listicles for example are perfect for those short entertaining pieces your customers may read when scrolling through their phone on the morning commute.
But if your post needs to convey a lot of technical information or advice, a short 500 word post just isn’t going to cut that. You will need a bare minimum of a few thousand words to get that in depth information across and establish a serious level of authority in your industry. This length of post is far better suited to generating new search traffic too. At the same time it is impossible to maintain this level of post multiple times a week unless you have a dedicated in house team of writers and creators.
In the middle of those extremes there are average industry news posts, product showcases and articles that answer specific questions for example that can be anywhere between 500 and 1500 words long, which is the industry standard for magazine or newspaper type articles.
The truth is your blog should have a mixture of all of these different article types to capture as wide an audience as possible on different points of the customer journey, and they should all link into each other and pull people through the sales funnel.
Writing a blog post
Now it is time to start thinking about actually writing the posts that will go up on your site, and the first thing you should consider is who exactly will write it. Will you do it yourself? Do you have an in house team? Will you outsource it to freelance specialists or go for a cheap content farm?
The truth is writing is a skill, blog posts take time, effort and resources to produce and it is a false economy to put work out that is badly written or unprofessional. It is worth taking the time to get it right from the start or your brand – and your marketing efforts – will suffer as a result.
Consider the type of post
Once you have your expert team of writers and content creators in place, it is time to look at the type of content you want to produce. The topics themselves will need to be relevant to your brand, they will need to be tailored to your specific audience and you will need to shape them around your specific products and services.
The good news is beyond that there is a lot of flexibility in the type of content you create as well as the types of audience you can aim for.
You can make broadly appealing posts that are designed to appeal to a general audience, articles that really pinpoint very specific audiences and speak to them alone, or articles that may reach out to target demographics that you may not have ever marketed to before.
Your content obviously has to be on brand, but it can be formal in nature or it can be more lighthearted depending on the purpose of the post.
There are quite a few things to consider when planning your posts, which is why a content map and a marketing strategy is essential.
Consider your tone and branding
The tone of your blog should reflect your brand voice, and it is important that you get a consistent voice throughout every aspect of your website.
In very general terms blogs can often get away with being less formal than most other aspects of your website. They are not vehicles to hard sell products to customers, they are a place where you can communicate and engage with them, so do not be afraid to let some of your brand’s personality shine through. Of course you can still have a wide variety of posts where some may be slightly more formal than others, or some may be more lighthearted and friendly, it depends of course on the type of article, but the overall tone should always reflect your brand.
A funeral parlour’s website for example should exemplify sombre professionalism and empathy, it would be inappropriate to suddenly publish a joke filled post on the ten best ways to have fun at a funeral.
Consistency is important too, which is why it is important to have strong brand guidelines and a good editorial oversight if you are using a wide variety of creators to write your content for you. Websites that have a huge conveyor belt of rotating writers without this can be extremely jarring, as each post has an entirely different personality and your customers won’t know who or what your brand is.
How often should you publish blog posts?
Consistency isn’t just about the tone of your posts, it is also how often you should publish them.
The truth is there is no magic number here, and a lot depends on the industry you are in, the resources you have and the brand you want. In very general terms the more content you put out the better, but consistency and quality are far more important. If putting out too many articles a week means you are sacrificing on quality, don’t do that. It is far better to publish less and make sure each post is well written, well researched and well planned. The most important thing is consistency, it really doesn’t matter whether you produce 10 posts a week or just one, but it does matter that you publish every single week. Consistently. Search engines love websites that are producing new, fresh and regular content every week, they will crawl your site a lot more often and push you up the rankings more, your organic traffic will grow and your customers will keep coming back as they know exactly when you will have new content for them to read.
Remember, blogging is a long term strategy. You are in this for the long haul, so pace yourself.
The importance of a content strategy
Writing a few blog posts is only half of the solution, now you have to make sure you have a long term strategy in place. A content strategy is far more than just a simple calendar of when to publish blog posts, it is an expert plan that takes into account multi platform cross promotion, keyword research and SEO best practices, seasonal promotions, growing brand awareness, reaching specific audiences, reaching specific KPIs and even allowing for crisis management and other emergencies, just for starters.
The importance of a strategic plan for your blog over the long term cannot be stated strongly enough, and this is why you need to devote serious time and resources into it.
Watch your brand scale and grow
Now that your blog is set up and running you can build and scale your brand as your sales grow.