Why the blog is important for online store?
One of the main purposes of the blog for the e-commerce site is driving traffic. Despite the fact that Magento has excellent built-in capabilities of adding media content and text on almost any web page, often the product page or category page is not the best place to let your imagination run wild and tell everything that you want.
At the same time, blog is the great place not only for a more colorful, emotional and exciting descriptions of products, their use, the usage stories etc., but the best location for the long tail keywords.
However, while generating a lot of content and driving traffic to your blog, do not forget that this is necessary to properly direct traffic, or blog can be turned into a vast repository of texts comparable to the Ancient Library of Alexandria in volume and conversions for your site. Therefore, after installing a blog for your online store, take care also of the SEO-experts who can intelligently direct traffic towards the conversion. In addition to the direct functions of driving and direction of traffic, a blog still has a few quite important features that will help you survive and thrive with your online store.
Firstly, blog is a great place to raise your brand loyalty. The path is very simple: telling your customers through a blog on how to use products from your store, on trends in the industry, about the history of your company, about the success stories of your customers – you attract the reader’s interest, it develops a holistic good impression not only about products but also about the company, pushing it back to read more and to buy from a store of loved one interesting brand that is trusted.
Secondly, a blog in combination with the organic search is a great free advertising platform. As soon the blog catches traffic on site, you can think over the completely free advertising campaigns (meaning that you will not have to pay for it in the third-party services).
Thirdly, a blog in combination with the ability to comment and share – it is an opportunity to promote the brand among the masses through social networks and people coming out from there(and from all channels) can be caught for discussion and exchange of experience with commenting. Customers particularly trust comments left by using social networks accounts directly on your page, so facebook comments social plugin is something that should be used. Thus, a community is created that is actively discussing your brand, distributes it free in social networks and returns for a shopping again.
However, to make blog bringing its benefits, you should take care of it like of delicate plant. 1-2 posts a week, thematic categories, seo-optimization – it’s something that requires resources. However, you are investing in a huge net for traffic, which with proper care is a source of conversion and trust in your brand.
Implementation of blog in Magento
If you decided to create a blog for your Magento store, you will have to go in one of two ways: either you use Magento Blog extension, or you will have to implement the so-called “integration” with WordPress based blog. Each path offers its capabilities and shortcomings, let us look at them. I hope that this little analysis will help to determine the choice for everyone who decided to create a blog at Magento. As expected, there is a variety of extensions at Magento Connect that allow you to add blog feature for your store.
Magento Blog Extensions
The most popular is extension Blog by aheadWorks. Although, quite possibly, the number of downloads of extension provided by the fact that it is quite a long time on the market (the interesting indicator – extension presented as compatible with the latest version of Magento). The pretty simple functionality is on board: create and edit posts in the native Magento WYSIWYG editor, posts partition by categories, adding tags, the widget with the latest posts, a toolbar for the page with the list of posts, commenting on posts, the display settings for different stores/store views and… That’s all. In a result we have some kind of aggregator of CMS pages with the possibility of commenting.
The next most popular is a Blog Pro from MagPleasure, which offers more functionality out of the box (and even support native responsive theme rwd). The list of features is expanded with abilities to add a thumbnail image to post, the ability to link to the author’s pages on social networks, the ability to publish the delayed posts automatically, the possibility to subscribe to new post comments, the opportunity to monitor the number of views of post, as well as new custom WYSIWYG editor. There questions to that editor and to responsive, as even a cursory testing of extension demo showed the presence of defects. So after buying extension you will have to check not only the quality of the code, but, probably, the quality of promised 6-month free support (by the way, there is the complaint review about support at Magento Connect).
Magento and WordPress “integration”
If we talk about the so-called “integration” of a blog on WordPress and Magento, it is necessary to use for this special extension WordPress by FishPig. The problem of this integration is that it is purely a visual effect in almost all other aspects you have two completely different systems. One of the advantages that you get when integrated with WordPress – it’s all there available tools and the ability to use plug-ins. It’s really a full-fledged blog, as if you had it apart. Of the minuses – the need for additional support, the risk of low-quality plug-in installed, and with it, make a hole in the security of your system (in itself existence of integrated WordPress into Magento – a security hole without making necessary changes), as well as the need to create a separate WordPress theme to make blog be in the same design with the rest of the site (of course, you will have to integrate extensions of the type described above into your Magento theme, but it definitely takes less time and resources than the development of a new theme for WordPress).
To summarize, we should note a few things. Having a blog require additional resources not only to maintain, but also to install, as only deals with limited functionality can be installed relatively painless. So I would recommend to approach the installation of a blog with some margin of resources and patience, if you intend to seriously – it is not something that will work out of the box and without support.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this blog post or anything else related to Magento, please feel free to drop me a message via this form. I am on the team performing Magento support for large Magento projects.