Imagine walking into a clothing store in search of pants. You navigate to the pants section of the store looking for a specific item, except when you get there, it’s a disorganized mess. You have to browse through hundreds, if not thousands, of pants, one by one, to find the right color, material, size, brand, style and cut. Would you spend the time to do it? Chances are that you’d walk out well before you got past item number 19 on the endless rack.
That’s how an online shopper can feel when they land on a website that doesn’t have content organized in a way that surfaces relevant landing pages to users. In effect, these are “content gaps” on your site: You have the relevant products in your inventory, but no unique landing page or category page to house them, thus hindering the ability of users to discover your products. In Part 1 of this multi-part series, “Building Great Landing Pages,” I’ll focus on the best practices for how to identify these content gaps on your site and how to think about filling those gaps with relevant landing pages.
Why should I care about filling content gaps?
There are many reasons why content gaps are a problem, but let’s look at it from your users’ perspective. If you don’t have a unique landing page containing a relevant assortment of products, users will:
- Have a frustrating experience navigating through your site. Some users entering your site will land on your homepage or on a high level category page that may contain hundreds of products. If you don’t have relevant facets to filter the results on the page, the user will get frustrated and bounce. This also means that you will not be able to land users from channels like paid search directly on a page that matches their search intent.
- Not know you have an assortment of products. Users may land directly on a product page through product listing ads. If there isn’t a relevant landing page containing similar products that a user can navigate through via the breadcrumb, they are as good as gone.
- Not be able to find your site through organic search. Users will not find your products when they rely on search engines if you don’t have a page with a relevant assortment of products and content worthy enough to come up in search results. You could have the best inventory of products at the best price, but if you don’t have a unique landing page, you just lost out and so did your customers.
- Encounter sub-optimal experiences. Users, sometimes as a last resort, use site search to find what they are looking for. If you have a great landing page, you could use a keyword redirect to land users on a curated landing page filled with rich content vs. showing them a search result page which may not be the best experience. I will tackle how to think about enhancing your landing-page content in a future post. Also, these curated pages will be much more optimal landing pages for initiatives like email marketing campaigns vs. using a more generic and potentially irrelevant site search landing page.
Content gap pre-work
In order to effectively identify content gaps, you should first map out how your site is organized and what content you currently have. Specifically, you should check the following and enter them into a spreadsheet:
- What high-level categories exist.
- What facet categories exist (ie. color, material, brand, etc.).
Researching and identifying content gaps
Now that you know what content you have on your site, you can begin researching to understand where you have content gaps. For each of these suggestions below, you should track the ideas you generate in the same spreadsheet as your pre-work, so you can check if content gaps exist. The goal is to create a set of candidate topics from which to potentially create landing pages. Here are suggested best practices to help you on your way:
- Review your product feed and descriptions. There is typically more information contained in your product feed than what actually appears on your site’s product pages. You may find product attributes that are not currently shown on the site, but should be.
- Look at your internal site search. Review top internal site search queries and see if users are having a good experience or should be re-directed to a curated page with a great experience.
- Browse the competition. Pick four to five sites that carry similar products and review their category structure and facets. You will likely find they have different (or additional) facets and categories that you do not. Those are areas of opportunity.
- Find current trends. Browsing blogs related to the topic of your site will help identify the latest trends that exist. Building timely landing pages to cater to the latest trends is a great way to fill content gaps.
- Look through products from different categories on your site. Pull up products within each of your categories and determine whether you’re categorizing them the way that your users would actually search for them. Are there other ways each of those products could be described?
- Use external tools. There are a plethora of online tools, both free and paid, that will help generate different ways to describe your products.
Now that you have identified potential content gaps, you have to figure out which pages to actually create. You should not create every permutation and combination of these pages based on the attributes and products you’ve identified. Uniqueness and quality are key. Tune in in coming weeks for the rest of our “Building Great Landing Pages” series, including Part 2, in which we will describe the importance of creating unique landing pages.
Vache Moroyan leads Product Management for BloomReach Organic Search.