Using A Blog To Promote An Online Store

I want to expand a bit on my men’s gift guide review. The concept of using a blog to help promote an eCommerce store is a good one and it’s something every online store should consider if they want to make money on the Internet.

Ever since Google came out with AdWords, they have steadily reduced the number of online stores they show in their SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The reason for doing this is to get these stores to use AdWords to get their position. It’s really a smart, and evil, strategy (one that Google will not admit to). If you have an online store, it’s a strategy that could cost you a lot of money.

Knowing that Google favors content over eCommerce, many eCommerce sites are adding a content element to their operation. The sponsor of our Nintendo Wii contest, 1234Pens.com recently added a blog to their site.

Here are a couple of tips to follow when adding a blog to an eCommerce store.

Decide If The Blog Is Going To Be Stand-Alone Or Promotional

The Men’s Gift Guide is a stand-alone blog with its own unique URL and editorial focus. The 1234Pens.com blog is a company blog with posts that are only related to the company.

From a SEO standpoint, it’s better to separate the blog from the eCommerce site. Google is not a search engine that stands still and is fully aware of eCommerce stores creating blogs to promote themselves. This is where The Men’s Gift Guide got it right. By completely separating the store and blog and having the blog write about and link to different stores, they present a much stronger case that they are an independent blog instead of a promotional arm.

This is not to say company owned blogs cannot show well on the SERP – they can (especially on long tail keywords). However, because of their more narrow focus they may not show up as often. My personal recommendation is to have both a company blog and independent blog that covers the market your online store is in. This will not take much extra time since the company blog can get all its content from the independent blog. All you need to do is rewrite a few words to avoid the duplicate content filter.

Update The Blog

This one should be obvious but you will be amaze at how many dead company blogs are out there. Running a blog and a business can be tough and puts a lot of time pressure on the store owner, who would rather make money online than update a blog. Nevertheless, the blog is part of the marketing strategy and has to be maintained. If you are too busy with running your online store, then consider hiring a blogger to update the blog.

Having a blog as part of an eCommerce setup is one of the best move an online store owner can make. The return on investment can be higher than any other forms of advertising. How much money would you save if you don’t have to pay for Google AdWords to get to the front of a SERP? Moreover, there’s always the added bonus that the blog itself may turn into a moneymaker. 🙂


67 thoughts on “Using A Blog To Promote An Online Store”

  1. Josh Rives says:

    Good points. Plus a separate blog allows you to showcase and review your products individually and point to the store. If you are good, then it can be like an affiliate blog, but you get all the profit instead of 6%.

    1. Zach says:

      thats exactly the way i think of it. You could even make the blog just a normal “tech” site, but occasionaly advirtise your tech products. :mrgreen:

      1. On the flip side, if you have already have a blog, should you start an Ecommerce store to supplement it?

        An interesting question…
        I know John already has “TTZ Media”, which is an affiliate program that he owns. His blog features TTZ media goods on all posts, essentially linking his blog to his “ecommerce store”.

        Thanks,
        WesleyTech…
        http://WesleyTech.com

    2. I guess the main point of separation is not to get singled out by Google. Anyway, it is good to have a company blog and get up close and personnel to consumers.

      1. Yumcha Girl says:

        I am starting an online social network soon and I have a blog to chronicle the development. It’s also been a great way to create a bit of buzz and I really enjoy having it. However, after reading this post, perhaps I should have separated it from the actual site as there are a number of things I would love to add to the blog but I feel a tad restricted by it’s close affiliation with my start-up. If anyone has any advice as to what they think, I’m all ears!

        1. Josh Rives says:

          I think you best bet here is to ease into it. Don’t just run off on a tangent right away. Ease your audience into different topics. Start talking about things not directly related to your startup, but bring it back to the startup in the end. Eventually your audience might accept other topics. Though if you have no way of receiving feedback from your audience, then you have a problem.

          1. Yumcha Girl says:

            Hello Josh,

            Thank you so much for your thoughts. It is truly appreciated. I shall keep easing new topics into my posts and see what (if any) reaction I get.

            Take care!!

  2. I Post it says:

    John,
    This and the previous post is super good SEO stuff. It should make sense even to newbies now why they say “b;og, blog and blog.

    Me likes.

  3. chrisjos says:

    Great follow-up post JC…it’s the icing on the cake 🙂

    1. He’ll come up with a few more and the links will all be there. :mrgreen:

  4. Zach says:

    even if it’s not the greatest blog, it’s still always good to have one. Plus it gives your online store more backlinks

  5. Michael Kwan says:

    Lots of targeted, original content can go a long way in SEO. I fully agree that most eCommerce sites should employ a blog of some sort to ensure they stay dynamic and well spidered.

    1. Aris says:

      Well, like the evil master said, they need to hire someone just to do the blog for them. 😈

  6. Hey John. Great tips. I’m one of the relative newbies who are still soaking up and trying to implement many of the SEO techniques. From the other perspective this may be an opportunity for bloggers to get some freelance work for those e-commerce sites.

    By the way your Six Top Linking Strategies post from February has been very insightful. I saved it as a favorite and will be refering to it frequently.

    1. Oh, by the way, I wrote about your Feb. 20th post tonight. Check it out at my MartyBLOGs URL. Also, what does the “I” in URI stand for?

    2. Jez says:

      Hi Marty,

      Blog spot ok to give blogging a go and see if you like it, but long term its a bad move.

      I see little point in working on SEO etc. while you are on BlogSpot, if I were you I would get my own domain and blog software installed and start from there.

      One day you will want to do this, the longer you leave it the more content you will have to move and the more SEO work you will have to do.

      Any link exchanges you accumulate are going to blogspot, not you, and, you really dont want those “next blog” buttons moving people on do you.

      The longer you leave it the more painful a process it will become!

      1. Marc says:

        Jez is 100% right on this one. Go get your own domain and something along the lines of WordPress. You’ll be much happier over the long term because that’s where you’re going to need to end up eventually. Might as well do it early and avoid the misery of moving.

      2. Mark Shead says:

        If you like blogger, you can actually use them to host your own domain using Blogger 2. I tried this the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see that it worked.

        They even redirect your blogspot domain to your own domain.

        I think WordPress is a better option over all, but if you are looking for a free hosted solution that will let you use Adsense, Blogger is going to be hard to beat.

        Plus since you have your own domain, you can move to a different platform later on and use redirects to point to anything that doesn’t line up right.

  7. “…consider hiring a blogger to update the blog”

    only if the blogger is like John Chow! :mrgreen:

    1. Marc says:

      You don’t need a great blogger to make this strategy work, just a blogger 😉

    2. Mark Shead says:

      If you have a nice full product catalog, it should be pretty easy to hire a blogger because their job is very straight forward.

      1. Find a product from the store.
      2. Blog about it.

  8. Just imagine how much more business TheTechZone has gained because of John Chow’s blog!!!

    1. I’ll go crazy if I stat to think about it. :mrgreen:

  9. The “I” in URI stands for “Identifier”. URL and URI are often used interchangeably in today’s ‘Net world but the URI was envisioned to be used in other ways beyond the URL, which has to conform to the syntax o the TCP-IP protocol.

    John, again you’ve opened a few eyes here. Good to mention the problem of dead blogs as well … worse than none at all is one you won’t/can’t maintain, so from a business standpoint better figure out how it will be maintained before making the move.

    Having an outside writer may yield some other advantages as well. The owner writing his own posts may come off as too much of a my, my, my guy, a third party can lend a feeling of objectivity. Also, many Internet marketers don’t always know the product or have passion for it … there’s a lot of profit, for example in video games, game boxes, ring tones, items I know little about and care less. Were I planning to sell something along those lines I’d first find me a gamer type who knew what was hot and not and set them up as a “sponsored” blogger. Maybe even pay buy letting them host non-competing ads for themselves, pay by referrals, etc. Along the way, of course, s/he would guide the customer to the right place to get what’s hot.

    I know a lot of bloggers who often say, I want to get writing on something with profit potential, but my experience/funds/world is still so limited. I say, find somebody selling things that really enthuse you who has no blog and work a deal … potential advantages to both sides could be great.

    1. Jez says:

      All they will do is point you in the direction of their Aff scheme…

  10. Brad says:

    John,

    I found this site about how insurance companies really treat people. The stories these people tell are incredible. I can’t believe some of the unsafe things they want to do to people’s cars, dude. In the video with the woman with the kids, the insurance company adjuster banged their front bumper on the ground to straighten it and put it back on. 😯 Check it out:
    http://www.claimsreporter.com

    – Brad (Loyal reader and AGLOCO sign up under you) :mrgreen:

    1. Marc says:

      Well that was odd…

  11. Aris says:

    Aha, 9 hours away from this evil site and people knocked you out from the top 10 ranks chaser. 😈

  12. John says:

    Hi John,

    Great idea you have but there are still many company out there that had not utilize the blog yet. Only if they know how powerful a blog can be.

    John Tan
    http://www.JohnTanBlog.com

    1. Jez says:

      There are lots! I have tried to convice a few people that they should put a blog behind their online store and they havent…

      I think its becase blogs dont always integrate will into existing sites (unless they are expensive bespoke jobs). If for instance you put wordpress behind an OS E-Commerce package you have to put it in a sub directory, and the look and feel will be totally different from the rest of the site, for many, this looks unprofessional.

      CMS packages with E-Commerce functionality (namely Mambo or Joomla with VirtueMart) have “blog” functionality, but without the SEO, which defeates the object of the exercise.

      For many using a blog in this way is an unhappy compromise….

  13. Mani says:

    Great post JC, salutes!

  14. IndoDX says:

    Wonderful way… and New way 😉

  15. I guess some companies that do have blogs do not realize the essence of keeping it updated, frequently. A frequent updated one means very much to consumers, portraying that it is always on its toes. I seen a few commercial ones update theirs once a month or once in a while. These are losing us consumers.

    1. Jez says:

      Its preferable to update it, but not essential. If you are reviewing products and backlinking the site, then you can get away with not updating it as often. You can easily remove the dates to avoid embarrasement.

      Just because it is blogging software does not make it a blog, i.e. it is not a “Log”. They can be used just like any other CMS if that is the wish of the company.

      You dont have to follow the blogging rules of regular updates, trying to get RSS subscribers…. forget all that, its E-Commerce, what your after is Google traffic, not a regular readership.

  16. stubsy says:

    Really good post

    I reckon the hardest part of selling products online would be buying them competitively in the first place.

    Either that or coming up with something super original.

    1. Jez says:

      Yup, same with any retail business.

      In E-Commerce you need to be either super niche or super cheap, or both…

    2. Mark Shead says:

      I don’t think buying them is necessarily that difficult if you know how to find wholesale companies.

      Find someone who is in retail to give you some pointers.

  17. I’m surprised companies aren’t more savvy about their online presence. I would think they’d be putting in positive reviews on sites like epionons.com and have robots running to talk up products on chat groups. But if they can’t even maintain a blog…

    1. Marc says:

      A lot of companies struggle with their online presence because it simply doesn’t fit in with any of their traditional strengths. They often remain unaware of problems because there’s no one on the inside with any “weight” making them aware.

    2. Jez says:

      Dont think sending robots into chat rooms is a good plan, youll just annoy everyone and if your not careful end up with a DDOS attack on your hands.

      1. Mark Shead says:

        Depends on how good the robot is. 🙂

        1. Are the John Chow clones already out? 😈

  18. Mama Duck says:

    I’m going to disagree with you in my case about separate blogs. I actually moved my products over to my blog site as most of my readers are in my target market. I do post new designs on my (one) blog, but it isn’t all the content on the blog. Mixing new design posts in with parenting articles and photos/stories about my little one actually seems to go over well with my readers, everyone has positive feedback about seeing the new designs and it keeps me fresh in their minds for when they need a custom design. It also puts my product posts WAY up there in the search results because my blog gets great search engine rankings, whereas if I had a separate blog just for products, it wouldn’t be ranked as well and my products wouldn’t do as well in the search engines.

    It doesn’t work for everyone, but in my case it’s much better.

    1. I guess the separate blog thing would be companies for businesses. They usually already have a site for their products, and now what they are doing are adding a blog to it.

  19. Marc says:

    My blog actually began with the intention of it being a blog that I would use as link fodder for another website much along the same lines as you mention here. Funny thing is that over a year later I’m earning much more off my blog than the original website 😈

    1. :mrgreen: Happens to everyone except me.

  20. Sorry John, but I have to call foul on this one. The exact opposite is true. If you are not putting your blog on the same domain as the ecommerce site you are shooting yourself in the foot and waisting all the SEO benefits.

    The reason eCommerce sites get nailed in the serps is two fold. First, it’s harder to get natural links to a store. Second, most stores have terrible on site SEO and use duplicate descriptions that are copy and pasted from he manufacturer.

    One of the main reasons to start a store blog is to create interesting content that is link friendly. Unfortunately you get zero link benefit to your store if your blog is on another domain.

    1. Mark Shead says:

      Depends on your strategy. Blogs are great to add to your store domain if you want to stay on the store topic, don’t mind it being seen as commercial and are just looking for better content for Google.

      If you want to just create more of a buzz on the web, you might be better off creating a separate blog where you can do “purple cow” stuff in addition to posts about products from time to time.

  21. Vatu says:

    Gr8 post John

    Keep it up,

    http://technobuzz.net/

  22. ketyung says:

    What I plan to do is when my gadget blog gets famous, I wanna open an online store just on the same domain, also selling gadgets, computer stuff, software etc, and I also wanna open up other services on it, such as free classifieds for others 🙂

    1. You’re not going after The Tech Zone right? :mrgreen:

  23. ketyung says:

    Ummm…. so John’s recommendation is to have an online store on different domain from the blog. For my case, I started a gadget blog is mainly because of interest and fun, but I do have a plan to run a store or other services on my blog, which currently I’m ironing out the template and design….. Having read this, it put me to think twice… 😀

  24. Mark Shead says:

    If you are looking for bloggers to do something like this, consider hanging out in the PayPerPost forum and making some friends. Most of them are people who are blogging for $4 to $6 per post already, so they may be very interested in a paid position to blog on another site.

    1. Jeff says:

      As a good writer you could make some decent side income!

      Jeff – http://wallpapers.jeffreymunro.com

  25. Mystery says:

    Mark is right… also forums like digitalpoint are good places, with lots of payperposters…

    Mystery,
    Home Based Business & Advertising – Earn Or Make Money Online

  26. Kenny says:

    A blog is a great way to to provide linking all a family of websites. Many bloggers that read john’s blog run multiple sites and their blogs tie everything together quite nicely–while providing a nice monetary bonus 🙂

  27. Bes Z says:

    Another thing we have to note is that blogs are like other sites on the internet, though their approach at things is unique. We have to figure out what kind of a blog we have and then promote an online store based on the way our readers like us to talk about things.

    Also, it is easy to find out after a little bit analysis if a blog is simply there to promote some product, even if talks about some useful content. Intentions and actions both combine to give an impression. A blog should give out relevant help to readers and sometimes be selfless by avoiding talking about things all the time that only tend to, directly or indirectly, advertise something.

  28. ketyung says:

    What I occasionally encounter with my gadget blog is, there are many come to me and post comments asking if I do sell the products. As my blog ranked number 1 on Google such as searching for “tech stuff gadget” and also sometime by the product name. But these people actually wanna buy, but I’m only blogging about it, sounds like content ranked higher on search engine, will mislead the users 😀

    1. Mark Shead says:

      So have you heard of affiliate programs?

      1. ketyung says:

        I surely have heard of affiliate but haven’t explored more yet, tat’s my next plan also….

        1. Mark Shead says:

          As long as the products are available through Amazon, you can get a plugin to automatically ad your affiliate info for your product link.

  29. ketyung says:

    ummmmm… I’m thinking of having an a-store soon … 😀

  30. Jeff says:

    great article!

  31. Didn’t think about it like that actually 🙂

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