Using content to boost search performance, a quick lesson from Ebay

Here’s a quick and dirty example of content marketing being used to enhance search performance. In the course of some research on a client’s current content output I decided to see where that client placed for certain keywords, including the phrase ‘down jacket’.

A quick search using ‘’ (which has a tool for determining where any given site ranks for any given keyword) showed plenty of familiar names in the outdoor sector, including Cotswold, Patagonia, Sports Direct and Fjallraven.

I won’t tell you where our client, or any of the other brands were ranked, suffice to say that one brand stood out as having no earthly business at the top of Google’s rankings for such a sector-specific product. That brand was Ebay.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 11.03.57
Ebay, top of the non-sponsored spots

In among the predictable product pages of dozens of e-tailers, the inevitable entry on Wikipedia and one totally NSFW ‘special interest’ site, there at the top of the ranks was a blog post from the online auction house titled ‘5 Tips for Buying a Down Jacket’.

Of course there are many factors affecting search (not least the overall credibility of a brand and its authority on, or relevance to the product), but with more than 5,000 views my guess is that this post has been so successful because it answers a consumer need. It accurately predicts the mindset of someone searching for ‘down jacket’ on Google, they are looking to make a buying decision and information related to that decision. This is a need many specialised outdoor brands either overlook or don’t address, perhaps for fear of patronising their audiences.

Unless already an expert on performance outdoor gear the reader is likely looking for information, presented impartially, on the key differentiators between different jackets. Info they’ll take into account when they eventually make a buying decision.

By positioning itself as the font of this knowledge, Ebay is boosting the chances of that vital ‘click buy’ moment taking place on its site, rather than the 116,000,000 other pages featuring the same keyword.

For other brands and brand marketers Ebay presents a valuable lesson in how to improve search performance with content. First, evaluate your organic search. Which phrases are you performing well for already and which areas do you need to improve on? When you have a good idea of which subjects you want to target it’s time to use content to enter the conversation. Create useful blog posts, videos or even white papers (if the subject is broad enough) that will help your consumer make an informed choice.

If your content is original, relevant and valuable (we can help you with this part) then you’ll start to see this reflected in your search performance. Don’t believe me? Try Googling ‘catchy product descriptions’ and see whose name pops up!

Screengrabbed on 14.11.13.
Screengrabbed on 14.11.13.

Where next?
More posts by Tom Owen
More ‘Insight’ posts
View our work on branded content

Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media.

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