(Today's post is brought to you by Nick Grant, co-founder of Zippycart)

Many merchants do not see the need to have an ecommerce blog in addition to their online store, but neglecting to have one can put you at a disadvantage with your competitors. There are a number of reasons why an ecommerce blog is beneficial, and it is never too late to add one to compliment your online store. Establishing an ecommerce blog is a great way for you to showcase your expertise and build industry reputations, gain free advertising, and increase sales for your online store. An ecommerce blog is also a smart play for SEO, as you can add rich and unique content to your ecommerce store, improve your internal link structure, and you will often get people linking to your blog posts externally. If you want visitors to your blog to have an excellent experience, then you should utilize the tips below to ensure success.

1) Social Media Integration is a must if you want to have a great ecommerce blog. There are multiple ways in which you can accomplish this goal, but the bottom line is that you need to let people connect with you via social networks, and share what they like about your ecommerce blog in social networks. On the side bar of your blog you should consider placing Twitter or Facebook widgets, which showcase your social presence. Within each blog post you should try using a retweet button like TweetMeme and a Facebook Like button, in addition you can also place an AddThis button on each blog post so that readers can share it in multiple places.

2) Product Reviews are critical components of any great ecommerce blog, as they allow potential customers to read more about the product and move forward with the purchase if they are interested. They are also a great way to showcase some of your best sellers, and see if you can drive even more people to those product pages to increase sales further. You do not want to review products too often, so start by adding a few every month and see how your readers react.

3) Great Blog Topics are key if you want to keep readers engaged and coming back to see what your next ecommerce blog post will be about. Taking a little time to think out useful and relevant topics will go a long way with your readers. Posting everyday just to post something is not going to build your ecommerce blog a loyal following, as the readers want to see quality posts.

4) Regular Updates are essential to let readers know that you are still active on your blog and committed to continually update it with new quality content. Having some sort of consistency is necessary so that a reader knows when to come back and check for a new post. If you update daily, then it is more likely that someone will come back multiple times per week to see what is new. Whereas if you only update weekly, a reader will check back much less often.

5) Guest Bloggers posting to your ecommerce blog provides a smart way to gain additional exposure, while improving authority and credibility. Adding guest bloggers is a great way to network, and in turn will allow you opportunities to guest blog at other sites. In both situations you will have a great chance to gain back links to your ecommerce site which will help your SEO efforts.

6) Video is one of the best ways to set your ecommerce blog apart from others in your niche, and if you host your own videos, you can often get additional benefit for your SEO efforts. The other option is to host at a third party site like YouTube, which can help improve your social media presence. These videos can showcase products, the team behind the site, or be used as a promotional tool for new items in your store.

7) Online Shopping Tips might sound a bit scary at first, as they could potentially drive readers away from your ecommerce blog to try and purchase an item somewhere else. However if the online shopping tips are provided in the right manner, they will give the reader added confidence when buying from your ecommerce site.

8 ) Promoting Sales is a must on your ecommerce blog if you want your online store to be a success. The promotion of a sale needs to be executed properly so that you do not scare off any readers. Therefore you should limit the number of times you promote sales each month on your blog, and ensure that you do not make it too "salesy." If a reader is excited about the product and the sale price, then it is likely they will click through and convert.

9) Answering Customer Questions is typically done in email, but if your customers continually ask similar questions, then it is a good idea to answer them via an ecommerce blog post. This will allow you to give multiple existing customers a thorough answer, and provide future customers with insight that may help them become more comfortable shopping in your online store.

10) Fun is a must, as no one wants to visit a boring ecommerce blog that is nothing but a big sales pitch with a bunch of text. You want to make the experience engaging, interactive, informational, and fun for every reader that visits your ecommerce blog.

Utilizing these tips will help set your ecommerce blog apart from the rest, while also improving your customer relationships and SEO.

About the Author:
Nick Grant is the co-founder of ZippyCart.com, a leading ecommerce software review website known for its yearly Top 10 Ecommerce Solutions review, ecommerce news blog, and expert reviews of the best ecommerce solutions available online. Nick has been writing for the on ZippyCart since its inception and also manages all social media campaigns associated to the blog.