If you’re going to be successful in attracting Organic traffic – from the natural results in the search engines – you should ask yourself these questions before starting to write content.

Don’t think you know it all – none of us do, unless we do some thinking, research and planning.

1. What must I write about?

With an online shop, some of the decisions are made for you. They’re the products, product categories and so on that you’re selling.

2. What about brands?

Avoid big competitionYou’ve probably noticed that I’ve not said the brands.

If you’re selling products from large, established, recognisable brands that have a web presence themselves, it will be very difficult to outrank them on the search engines.

Try a Google search on one of the brand names that you stock. Have a look at how many places on the first page of search results are occupied by the brand’s site or sites. If that’s just the first position, then you’re in for the fight for the valuable second place.

If the brand is occupying most of the screen you’re seeing – sometimes called the ‘above the fold’ results, then you’re looking at investing a lot of resources for comparatively low visibility and disappointing traffic levels.

You’re almost certainly looking at a long and expensive battle to the top.

3. Can I win the fight?

Sorry if I’m being a bit, shall we say, aggressive with my analogies and advice, but if you’re going to make the best of your resources, try to keep your David and Goliath aspirations under control. That means you must choose to base your content on key phrases that you can reasonably expect to rank for.

There’s a lot more to assessing competition and the likelihood of ranking, but that’s outside the scope of this post.

4. Is the fight worth winning?

No one online I’ve helped clients who have complained they were in first place for their chosen keywords, but they were hardly getting any traffic to their site. They had made the fundamental mistake of writing content about what they thought people were searching for.

One client, in particular, had managed to use six key phrases for their first stage of building their web presence that no-one was searching on!

That’s six key phrases that people weren’t interested in. A site that no-one got to know about. And, you thought I was going to say products that no-one was interested in.

That’s not necessarily the case. See question 5.

5. What do my customers say?

Just because you call them Turquoise Widgets, doesn’t mean the majority of your customers call them that. They may be searching on Blue Widgets or Green Widgets.

Go to a key phrase research tool such as Wordtracker, or if you have a Google AdWords account you can use Google’s, and look for alternative key phrase searches. It’s a great way to find out what your customers actually call your stuff. Shocking isn’t it.

Now, let go of your own naming conventions and create some content that engages properly with your customers by using the words they recognise and use.

Have you asked these questions? What questions would you add?

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Thanks to Richo.Fan, Rob Pongsajapan and Mike Hammerton for making their images available via Creative Commons.