The Original Content Manifesto, Part III

The Original Content Manifesto, Part III

In part II of our ongoing series, we discussed how to create original content for the home page of your AOM store. This included the importance of an opening H1 tag to display a short bolded statement of what the site was about. Followed by a keyword-rich set of paragraphs that included some brand names, along with descriptions of scenes that would have emotional meaning to the reader. And concluding with some statements that would make the visitor feel secure about the shopping experience, with a call to action to spur on the actual shopping process.

After that top-level approach on the home page, we’re now going to explore the next level down and concentrate on the Category Descriptions.

Category – This would apply to both the Category Descriptions, and the Subcategory Descriptions; so everywhere that ‘category’ is referenced will also apply to ‘subcategory’. These are areas that appear at the top of the first page of every category, and their purpose is to describe the contents of that category in greater detail than you could do from the home page. So for our proposed baseball store, you could have categories like:

  • Baseballs
  • Bats
  • Gloves and Mitts

And several others, plus any related subcategories. As with the home page section, the purpose here is to use keywords, brand names, and possibly describe scenarios that would have meaning to the reader, tying in any associations to the products shown. However, there are also differences from the home page scenario that should be considered to make these sections more effective.

For example, it’s not a bad idea if you want to be more specific in comparing brands or products directly. Many times, people will go into a real brick and mortar store not only to look at products, but to be convinced by the salesperson (or often just the display) to purchase a particular item or brand. We’ve all gone into a shop and asked, “What’s the best brand?”; “What’s the best for the money?”; “Which one do you recommend?”; and so on.

But here, there is no salesperson, no display. So your original content text has to do the job instead. We’ll discuss the value of writing reviews when we get to the Custom Boxes section of this series; but for now it’s certainly okay to highlight particular brands or models. Many potential customers want you to do so, even if they’re not consciously aware of it themselves.

Some people reading this now may think that these concepts and ideas are all well and good, but it can be difficult to write effectively. You may think you can’t do this. It might help to think of the text as a conversation you’re having with a customer in your mind. It’s a very similar process to writing a letter; if you feel you can’t connect with a customer, imagine writing a letter to a friend or family member in which you discuss various types of baseballs or catcher’s mitts. A conversational tone will suffice for many of the writing tasks required for your store.

The Category Description Area

One important aspect of writing is the ability to go back later and edit your text. Many times if you just put down what you think, then come back to it a few hours or a day or two later, you can instantly see areas that need to be improved. Little things like not starting each sentence with the same word (in this case, ‘So’):

So here is a baseball. You need one to play the game of baseball. So I would recommend a pack of Wiffle balls if you’re starting out. So if you lose one, you’ve got plenty more. So now that you’ve got some baseballs…

Or long, drawn-out sentences:

If you liek to play baseball, you’ll need to have some equipment, such as balls (obviously), bats, gloves, and possibly specialized gear, like batting helmets, shoes with cletes, some bases (obviously) and maybe an umpire’s mask, because getting hit in the head by a baseball can hurt, obviously, if you’ve never experienced it, just one time will convince you…

Notice also how the word ‘obviously’ was repeated, when it could have been removed altogether. You’re always free to go back at any time, even long after the store is ‘live’, to edit your text. In the example above, you might find you misspelled ‘like’; Fix it! Same with ‘cleats’; Fix that too! Read your text out loud if you have to, in order to catch clumsy phrasing or poor grammar. Learning how to polish text by sweating over it will always yield better results than just typing it out and calling it done.

If we go back to our list of categories, what might some better examples look like?

Baseballs – The heart of the game is of course, the baseball. We stock a comprehensive inventory of baseballs for every scenario. If you’re teaching kids, a box of Wiffle balls allows them to focus on the basic mechanics; they’re also less destructive than a regulation ball, and cheaper if you lose some on the roof. For serious play, there is a wide range of balls by such makers as Rawlings, who make balls for everyone from Little League up to the Majors; buy one or two, or a dozen. Even a bucket for practice. Whatever level you’re at, we have baseballs to suit your level and budget.

Bats – Whether you prefer the sharp crack of wood, or the warm thunk of aluminum, we’ve got bats to suit you. Even plastic or T-ball bats for the junior slugger in your family. For the more experienced players, a wide range by the best brands – Easton, DeMarini, Marucci and more; and in every size from 26″ to 33″. And of course, the bat that even people outside of baseball would know – the Louisville Slugger.  So with more bats than you can shake a stick at, you’re spoiled for choice!

Gloves & Mitts – For many a young player, the smell of leather means Spring has arrived. A baseball glove can be more than a piece of sporting equipment; it can be a powerful personal symbol. Perhaps a cherished heirloom from Dad or Granddad, passed down through the generations. Or a special birthday or Christmas present, ready to play a part for future generations of players. Whatever it means to you, every glove had to start out as new; and whether it’s a catcher’s mitt or an infielder’s glove or even just a pair of batting gloves, you’ll find it here. Traditional names like Wilson and Rawlings; newer brands like Easton or Franklin. If you’re ready to create a memory, this is the place to start.

You can see from these examples that we’ve continued with the same basic ideas as the home page – keywords; brand names; emotional connections; calls to action, and so on. Important words are highlighted (red would indicate italics), and details like spelling, punctuation and grammar are checked to make sure they don’t detract. Yes, it can take some time to write and edit this text, especially if you have a lot of categories in your store. But it’s an essential part of building your site that cannot be ignored. And like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Next time, we’ll conclude our look at categories, and discuss how to draw inspiration for the content you need.

Part IV

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