How-to guides, buyer’s guides and instructional videos can be an effective content marketing tactic for online retailers.
In this post I’ll look at some examples from ecommerce sites and show how effective they can be.
What are how-to guides?
In this context I mean content on retail websites which offers useful advice for visitors.
This may be help with product selection, advice on finding the right fit for clothing, or practical advice on how to fix something.
This content works on-site as it addresses possible customer problems, where solving them may mean more sales.
Off-site, this kind of useful content can attract visitors to you site through search. If you’re addressing common issues and concerns, then your potential customers may well be searching for solutions.
Why should retailers produce how-to guides?
There are a number of reasons…
- This content helps to target long tail search terms. There are lots of them out there, just find the ones that match your product or service.
- They attract users with intent. Searches with phrases like ‘how do I fix a leaky faucet’ obviously indicate that the searcher has an intent to solve the problem, and may also indicate an intent to purchase the tools needed to complete the task.
- It’s valuable evergreen content. This content is worth the investment as it works over a long period of time, providing a useful resource for visitors and a consistent source of traffic from search and other channels.
- It helps visitors. If you can help them solve a problem, then it generates a positive feeling towards the brand. Even if they don’t make a purchase now, customers will remember this.
- This content sets you up as an expert. If brands can show their expertise in an area, it increases the customer’s trust in the brand and products.
- It can be shareable. Useful content like video or written guides are likely to be shared around, increasing the reach of the content.
- Video content can increase search visibility. Video results stand out in the SERPs and can help to give you the edge over other results.
- It can drive sales. If a customer wants to buy jeans but isn’t sure about sizing, a well-written guide can solve this issue and nudge them towards a purchase.
Examples of great how-to content:
Repair Clinic has made a real effort to create useful content related to its products.
Its business is all about selling spare parts, so creating content which deals with common appliance problems is perfect.
What’s impressive here is the attention to detail. For example, it has incorporated common problems related to products in its navigation.
This is useful for customers, and it helps the retailer to target the search terms people are likely to use.
This extends to Repair Clinic’s onsite search. While many sites only serve up results for products, Repair Clinic shows common problems and video results.
If Repair Clinic is as smart as it appears to be, it will also be using its site search data to learn and improve the results suggested and terminology it uses.
Its ‘problem solving’ pages provide useful help for visitors and lead customers to product pages for the parts needed to solve visitors’ issues.
So what does this mean for SEO? Well, try entering some of the common problems into Google, and Repair Clinic’s results are invariably in the first few positions.
Here are the results for ‘pressure washer leaks water’ for example:
This retailer has a dedicated advice centre, dealing with similar issues to those of Repair Clinic.
Its focus on video guides has paid off in terms of search results:
It also gives the brand a presence on YouTube, where it has amassed more than 25m views of its videos.
It doesn’t sell too hard, and concentrates on providing useful advice, but the links are there for viewers that need parts. It also helps to establish the brand as a go-to place for such advice.
DIY is another obvious area for this kind of content, and Home Depot provides a good example of how this can work.
A search around weatherproofing windows generally brings up publishers, blogs and DIY advice sites.
However, Home Depot has managed to rank here thanks to the content it has produced to help solve this problem.
This leads to this page with some handy tips on weatherproofing, as well as a list of tools and materials which are needed for the task. Of course, these can be bought on Home Depot.
It also, like Repair Clinic uses autocomplete on its site search and serves up buyers guides and other advice for searchers:
Now for an example from a less obvious sector. Nordstrom has a suit fitting guide, providing some useful advice.
The beauty of this content is that, in being useful, it also helps customers to find a product that suits them (no pun intended).
It therefore helps to drive sales, and also ensures that, if customers can find the best fit, then returns are minimised.
It also works in the SERPs:
Helpful and advisory content is a great way to help customers and achieve search goals at the same time.
It takes some expertise and an investment in staff and resources to produce it, but it can pay off in a big way.
For shoppers, especially those looking for more technical products like spare parts and DIY equipment, this content often exists elsewhere, on blogs and publishers’ sites.
So, rather than having customers find these resources elsewhere, it makes a lot of sense to provide them on-site where you can provide links to related products.
The SEO value may well be worth it alone. This content helps sites like eSpares capture a lot of long tail traffic which is highly relevant to their products and services.