Tags Posts tagged with "Elements"


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Editor’s Note: Meet Pamela Hazelton at Ignite 2015, our conference on Sept. 16 and 17 in Dallas, where she’ll co-present two sessions: “Proven Strategies to Convert Shoppers on Mobile Platforms” and “How to Choose Profitable Inventory in an Amazon.com World.”

Many major brands successfully market gender-specific products. Most of these items rely on trigger words and colors to make them stand out. For example, BIC produced its popular pens in pastel colors and used the words “for Her” on the packaging.

Same pen, different colors. (Source: Amazon)

While manufacturers can be successful producing items in different colors and sizes for men and women, unisex items — especially clothing and housewares — can be mistaken as gender-specific products solely because of presentation.

When trying to reach the masses, focus on images, descriptions, and features that remove all doubt. In other words, send the message that these particular products are suitable for both genders.

Images Send the Most Powerful Message

By incorporating a variety of images, both male and female shoppers can be targeted at the same time.

Lowe’s uses images to make the message clear: both men and women can operate riding lawn mowers.

Showing both genders modeling unisex clothing helps increase conversions across men and women. Source: Artfire.com.

Another way to market to both men and women is to present the same item as two different products. This is ideal for stores that feature separate male and female categories.

Replicating products to target both men and women removes all questions. Source: Van Halen Store.

While models help sell various product lines, there are times when you’ll want to simply show the product itself. In the example below, showing only the shirt works in lieu of displaying photos of a girl and a boy.

Van Halen Store sells a unisex shirt initially marketed for girls.

Choosing the Right Primary and Thumbnail Images

When cross-categorizing unisex items, especially clothing, consider which image types best sell to both genders.

For products available in different colors, choose neutral ones for main images. Black, chrome, and white are the best choices for household items.

Use the most popular, neutral colors for main images and thumbnails. Source: Target.com.

If displaying a unisex item as a single product, use a naked photo (sans model) for the main image, and male and female models as secondary.

Using a naked image as the primary photo, and gender-specific ones as alternatives, makes the message clear: anyone can wear these glasses. <em>Source: Lenskart.com.</em>

Choosing the Right Words

For unisex items, avoid using words that are too feminine or masculine. Instead, use a mixture of words that work for both genders.

Overstock.com uses a bullet point to describe a unisex wedding ring as “for both men and women”. Note the usage of “sophisticated” and “handsome” in the same sentence.

This unisex t-shirt at Amazon avoids any description that screams masculine or feminine.

For more generalized products, explain features in different ways. A woman may want a powerful blender, but she may not know how the horsepower translates to how well the unit crushes ice or chops vegetables. She’s typically more concerned than men about how to clean the appliance and wants to know if it’s easy to maintain.

This description for the Vitamix blender focuses on power and acceleration. It does little to explain ease of use and cleaning and versatility — features important to most women. <em>Source: Amazon.</em>

Don’t forget to include the word unisex in the title, description, and search terms. This will help those searching only for unisex items to be presented all applicable results. You’ll also want to configure the store’s search function to use an AND operator, and display AND before OR. For example, at American Eagle Outfitters, a search for “unisex shirt” returned 765 items — the bulk of which use male models in thumbnails, followed by several women-only products. A search for just “unisex” returned only two items.

A search running the OR operator only returns too many products that are not unisex.

The same 2-word search at Overstock.com returned 50 products, all shirts labeled as “unisex.”

Using the AND operator on search makes it easy for those searching for unisex items to see only what is applicable. Source: Overstock.com.

Finding the Way They Think

Men and women think differently. Many decisions to not buy an item are subconscious, which means customers may not be able to tell you exactly why. It’s important to research and analyze which terms work best for each type of product. A good start is an older, yet still accurate, post from The Houston Chronicle about marketing to men versus women.

To analyze how well products do with men versus women, use demographic reporting in Google Analytics. This will also let you see results based on age groups, which can help you further determine the best word choices.

Want to know the best ways to write product descriptions so they cater to both sexes? Pick a few products and have both a man and woman tell you what they know about them — and also ask questions to each. Use the information to integrate bullet points that better explain products for everyone.

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Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of a three-part series on optimizing ecommerce pages for search engines. The first two installments, “Part 1: Keyword Research” and “Part 2: Keyword Mapping,” we published previously.

I discussed keyword research and content mapping in detail in the earlier two articles in this series on content optimization. But keyword research is like any form of data collection and analysis: It won’t drive a single additional organic search visit or sale until it’s acted upon. With their keyword maps firmly in hand, content creators and search marketers can effectively and efficiently create or optimize content that turns those potentially valuable keywords into real search-engine-optimization traffic.

Write for Readers, Optimize for Engines

It’s obvious when content is written for search engines instead of customers. It tends to focus on high keyword density — having a higher ratio of keywords to other words — and tends to lack readability and interest. Instead of this, inform writers of the keyword theme for the page and let them write freely and creatively with the keywords and the brand messaging in mind. When they’re finished writing, go back over the fresh copy with an eye to replacing some phrases with keyword phrases. Be careful not to kill the spirit of the content in the process.

Where keywords are placed can have a big impact on how strong a keyword relevance signal they send to the search engines. This is referred to as “keyword prominence.” If a page is meant to rank for “online games for girls” but the keywords related to that phrase aren’t used on the page in prominent places, it will have a difficult time ranking. So before we start flinging words around the page, keep these content optimization guidelines in mind.

  • Beginning. The beginning of an element is always more prominent than the end.
  • Phrasing. The order of the words within a keyword phrase matters. To target a keyword phrase most strongly, use the phrase exactly as it appears in the keyword map. For example, using the map from “Part 2: Keyword Mapping” — last week’s article — a page targeting “online games for girls” would want to use that exact phrase in the most prominent elements on the page, not mutate it as in “online fun games forlittle girls.” Similarly, the keyword research and map indicate that the exact phrase “online games for girls” is stronger than a rephrased version such as “games online for girls.”

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Once the phrases have been categorized and analyzed, the mapping begins — as shown in this spreadsheet.

Once the phrases have been categorized and analyzed, the mapping begins — as shown in this spreadsheet.

The Prominent Elements for SEO
  • Title Tags. The title tag is the most prominent keyword relevance element on the page. For detailed guidelines and examples, see “Title-Tag Optimization for Ecommerce Sites,” my previous article on that topic. In general, place the targeted keywords at the beginning of the title tag and keep the title tag to 65 to 70 characters.
  • Headings. While less prominent than they were a couple of years ago, headings are still as prominent as bolded or italicized content. Again, place the targeted keywords at the beginning of the heading, especially the H1 heading that typically headlines the top of the page.
  • Anchor Text. Traditionally identified by its blue underlined styling, anchor text consists of the words that users click on to follow a link to another page. Anchor text is doubly prominent because it affects the keyword theme on the page where the words appear, and also passes a keyword signal along with a linking signal to the destination page. Adding relevant anchor text with links to relevant pages to the body copy described below is an excellent way to strengthen two pages’ keyword signals. It’s important to note, however, that a link that uses an image as its anchor does not strengthen either page’s keyword signal, even if that image contains keywords.
  • Body Copy. Descriptive text on a page acts as an anchor for that page’s keyword theme. As other features and products come and go, the body copy remains to consistently target the page’s keyword theme. Any block of text that contains several complete sentences like this page at LL.Bean can be called body copy. A page that consists entirely of a grid of product images and names with no descriptive contentlike this at Bed Bath & Beyond has no body copy. The SEO practitioner’s first challenge may be working with design and development teams to create a space in the template to insert body copy and a method of editing it. Regardless, the most prominent area of the body copy is the beginning of the text block and any anchor text that is used within the body copy.

The other textual elements of the page aren’t as prominent, including meta data, alternative attributes for images, title attributes links and text locked inside of images. That’s not to say that they are completely useless to SEO, they just do not carry the kind of prominence that the preceding elements do. In fact, meta keywords are no longer used by search engines as positive ranking factors. They only count as negative ranking factors if a site tries to stuff them full of redundant or irrelevant keywords.

While not a prominent ranking factor, the meta description is actually a valuable SEO team player. When the engines return a page of search results, the meta description can be used as the black descriptive text for the page’s search result. As such, it’s important to optimize the meta description with the same keyword theme as the rest of the page, because it may influence the searcher to click on your search result rather than your competitor’s. Keep the meta description to about 180 characters and make sure to use the keywords from the map. However, since this element doesn’t impact rankings, there’s no need to be quite so slavish to using the keywords at the beginning of the element.

Where to Write

Many ecommerce sites are fitted with a content management system or CMS. If the CMS is familiar and pleasant to use, by all means go ahead and write or optimize a page’s content directly in the CMS. I’ve never met the CMS that I felt that comfortable with, however. They tend to feel stark and intimidating, forcing my creativity into their little white fields. And then I forget what I’m doing as I multitask, close my browser, and the page of content I was nearly done with is gone.

I prefer to write content and optimize pages in Excel. It’s fast, it autosaves, it counts characters, it sucks in keyword data, it enables me to concatenate — i.e. link — things that follow a predictable pattern like preliminary versions of title tags, and I can keep it with my keyword research and map.

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Add new columns to the keyword map to represent the elements that need to be optimized.

Add new columns to the keyword map to represent the elements that need to be optimized.

Even though it’s difficult to see everything at once, I take my keyword map and add new columns to it to represent the elements I need to optimize. This way, every element and keyword I’ll be using is represented in a single row for each page. As I get farther along in my optimization, I can look down a single column like body copy and see at a glance whether I’ve unconsciously fallen into a rut where I’m repeating the same phrases over and over on each page instead of writing more unique content.

With these guidelines in mind and a keyword map in hand, content optimization is much more effective and efficient than randomly optimizing pages for keywords that might be useful. The process could easily be spread across a team of optimizers, simply by assigning rows of the spreadsheet to individuals to optimize. Once the optimization is done, upload the content via the CMS or with the help of the developers and measure the impact it has on the optimized pages’ SEO performance.

The Complete Series: “Optimizing a Page for Search Engines”

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The Super Bowl is known for two things: the football game and the commercials that air during it.

While this year’s Super Bowl proved to be lackluster in so far as the game was concerned, a number of commercials captured viewers’ hearts for one very special reason: they told human stories.

Puppy Love” and “A Hero’s Welcome” — two Budweiser ads — tugged at the heartstrings by telling stories of love, heroism, and devotion. Without a word of dialogue, a Chevrolet commercial called attention to the plight of those suffering from cancer.

When done well, social media marketing has the capacity to tell human stories, too.

This article outlines seven ways to use social media to tell stories that connect with customers, build brand affinity and loyalty, and promote product sales.

1. Know your Marketing Goal

The first priority is to know the marketing goal you want to achieve through your use of social media. The goal will help you determine and frame the stories you tell.

If the goal is to sell more products, then stories may relate to your customers’ use of them. If it is to build affinity, stories may take the form of charitable causes your business supports or ways in which your products make life better.

Knowing your marketing goal will provide direction for the narrative that follows.

2. Incorporate Storytelling Elements

According to Copyblogger, the content marketing blog, every story needs five elements: a hero, a goal, an obstacle to overcome, a mentor, and a moral.

In marketing, your customer is the hero; the goal has to do with what the hero-customer hopes to achieve by using your products; the obstacle is the problem your product will solve; and your business is the mentor that guides consumers through the purchase decision process.

Finally, the moral of the story is a call-to-action that tells the audience what the next step should be, whether it’s to visit your website, purchase a product, or get more information.

3. Personalize the Story

People relate better to other people than to brands. That’s one reason companies like Dell and Comcast link employee names to their brand on Twitter. For example, for Dell, program manager Stefanie Nelson’s Twitter handle is @StefanieAtDell. Visit the @comcastcares Twitter account and you will see the face and name of the company’s chief customer support representative, Bill Gerth.

Canadian health and beauty ecommerce company Well.ca uses Facebook photo albums to highlight employee activities such as in these examples: Incredi-BOWL Holiday Party!and Toronto Office Potluck.

Well.ca spotlights employee activities using Facebook photo albums.

4. Utilize a Variety of Media Formats

You can tell stories using the written word, online video, photos, infographics and other formats.

Retailer lululemon uses a blog and photo-sharing site Instagram to create stories in support of its mission to help people “live long, healthy and fun lives.”

lululemon employs a variety of media formats to support its mission.

A story told one way can be retold in another. For example, a blog post could be turned into a podcast or slide show while a series of posts could be combined to create an ebook.

One advantage to repurposing content is that you can distribute it on different channels, which opens the door to reach new audiences who may be unfamiliar with your company.

5. Leverage Social Network Strengths

When it comes to storytelling, each social network has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Facebook Page Timelines are well suited for sharing text-based status updates, images, and videos that can tell a story over a period of time. (Facebook even uses the term “story” to define content posted there.) Its “Milestone” option enables brands to share important moments in the life of the company such as the date of its founding.

You can use Pinterest’s scrapbook-style, topically based boards to create a collection of images accompanied by brief descriptions that tell a story at a glance. Twitter’s 140-character limit makes it ideal for sharing news and announcements in real-time to capture readers’ attention, if only for a short time.

6. Allow Customers to Tell Their Stories

One of the best ways to tell stories through social media is to enable your customers to share their stories via photos, video, status updates, or comments.

SiteSell, a company that provides website building software for online businesses, includes customer testimonials in Timeline posts as a way to create an emotional connection and build trust.

SiteSell lets customers help tell its story.

7. Tell Living Stories

People don’t spend hours a day on social networks just to read what happened in the past,. They want to know what is taking place currently.

For that reason, it’s vital that you update your social network profiles with fresh content on a regular basis.


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SEO can be broken into two distinct areas – “onpage” factors and “off-page” factors. On-page factors include anything that you can affect on the...