Things to remember when you design your e-commerce store

On the item detail:

1. Easy display of shipping costs for the item

2. Explanation of options and where to enter them if you have not got a drop down system.

3. Order delivery/processing times clearly displayed with the item

4. Display of accepted payment methods on the item in the form of an image

5. Clear, precise image – show all colour options if available and practical

On the site as additional pages:

1. Clearly state your terms and conditions including returns and replacement. Use laymen’s terms .

2. Describe in detail the shipping options and prices

3. Contact details, including an email form

4. External Links page for affiliates and shop directory back links

5. Size/Options chart if needed

6. Build and FAQ’s section from customer questions

Site Structure

1. Three clicks to products, use category sub tree’s

2. Search functionality

SEO

1. Write keyword rich titles

2. Include the titles in the URLs/HTML header if possible

3. Submit inventory to Google base, its free so why not!

4. Identify 10 core keywords for your site/products and try to use them as often as possible in the correct context. No random keyword spamming!

You can do so much more but these are the simple basics to setting up an e-commerce store. Remember your customer over your SEO techniques. Accessibility is everything!

Be Sociable, Share!

Keyword Ranking Experiment

Synopsis:

I do not profess to know or care about Google algorithms, how the page rank
works or what Google have done to devalue links this time. One constant through
all Google and similar leading search engines is ‘Good Content’

‘Good Content’ is painful, slow and you need to make sure you are
writing about something someone will read, including GoogleBot. Who is all fairness
has a very stale opinion of most content. ‘Input’ I need ‘Input’
as Short Circuits Jonnie 5 would say. ( No? Not a child of the 80’s? Oh
well)

I have been making and selling hair extensions online for a while now through
Hairfreax.co.uk. I sell to a niche market, which is not overly represented in
the internet world. The subculture is called ‘Cybergoth’. I wanted
my site to appear at the top of Google for the UK and US for the keyword ‘Cybergoth’
and the key phrase ‘cyber goth’.

I decided on various methods to achieve this, in which I will report the methods
and conclusions after 3 weeks study. Before joining the world of e-commerce
I was a research chemist, so I have conducted my experiment in a very ‘scientific
fashion’ and the reporting will show this in its structure!

Equipment:

Two Domains – Hairfreax.co.uk (established website for the UK Marketing
Campaign)

Hairfreax.net – New domain for the US Market.

An open source e-commerce script. I used ‘Cubecart’ similar success
can be achieved with something like Oscommerce.

SEF Contribution for one store. This will convert URLs from:

http://www.hairfreax.net/index.php?act=viewCat&catId=1 to this http://www.hairfreax.net/dreads/cat_1.html

This will be the only difference between these two stores apart from the main
currency.

A Blog on the main domain with a tags facility. I used WordPress with ‘Ultimate
Tag Plugin’

Google/Yahoo Sitemap Facility (Google Webmaster/Yahoo Site Exploror)

An account with technorati.com, stylehive.com, google base, crowdstorm.com,wists.com
and a relevant banner exchange ( just pick one – I used Blueblood.net
as it is relevant to the scene)

Basic PHP and HTML Knowledge for installing scripts and plugins.

Methods:

The site:

I Mirrored the settings from my hairfreax.co.uk store to the new hairfreax.net
store and I choose a set of keywords to push from these sites:

Cybergoth,cybergoth hair,cyber dreads,cyber dreadlocks,hairfreax,hair extensions,cyber,goth,anime
hair,cyber hair,custom dreads, wool dreads,cyberlox,cyber braids,braid extensions,hair
freaks,hair,freaks,hairfreaks

My main focus is going to be in reporting the keyword ‘Cybergoth’
and the key phrase ‘Cyber Goth’ These keywords were used in product
titles as well as the meta tags for both sites.

A sitemap of all the URLs was also submitted to google and yahoo.

The blog.

The blog was set up on the main domain blog.hairfreax.co.uk. For content I
reported on ‘Order processing times’ and documented every hairpiece
I made with photos making sure I used the keywords as tags on every post ( other
tags were also added) and used Cybergoth is a number of the titles. The blog
needs to be set up with the post title as part of the URL to utilise the title
keywords. A post was made 3 times a week on average.

A blog sitemap was also submitted to both Google and Yahoo.

I logged into my technorati account and ‘claimed my blog’ and when
asked for tags used the same keywords again.

Using the plugin ‘Ultimate Tag warrior’ I was also able to product
a tag cloud for the sidebar of the blog.

Using Social Shopping to boost keyword ranking:

I added around 5 different products to wists, stylehive and crowdstorm making
sure my main keywords appeared as a title and as tags. With crowdstorm there
is no direct link so I used my brand name ‘Hairfreax’ in the title
to build brand awareness.

Google Base:

Products from both sites where submitted to Google Base UK and US respectively.
There is a theory that if you used Google products your ranking is better.

Banner Advertising and Directory Submitting:

I searched using my key words and found all the relevant directories and only
one relevant banner exchange for my sites. I also looked on my competitors sites
to see how they had signed up with or submitted too.

Results:

Google (UK)

As of 7th May 2007 – Keyword Cybergoth – 11th Place

Key phrase ‘Cyber Goth’ 34th Place

Google (USA)

Keyword: Cybergoth – 34th from ‘Wists.com’

Keyword: ‘Cyber Goth’ 19th from Wists.com

So as you can see there is some way to go but in other news my ranking for
‘Cyber Dreads’ is a second in the USA and first for the UK.

Now this will be an on going experiment, as for the two sites I have a different
URL structure. According to blog and things this should make a difference to
keyword ranking which to me, you can stuff page rank, it’s my keyword
ranking I worry about!

These are the results after 3 weeks. I will also report my results around every
month to see if the rankings are getting better or worse.

One thing I did fail to mention is that I have an ebay shop and around 5 items
up at any one time. Those listings were ranking higher for the main keywords
as ebay listings.

Conclusion

Using various techniques, focusing on a few keywords and patience are all part
of getting your website at the top of the search. Don’t forget to keep
adding content to your blog, with hairfreax the customers want to see pictures
of the latest creations
!

I will continue to make the effort to get on the first page (Google does vary
and some days I have checked I have been on the front page!) for my keyword
and keyprase.

Be Sociable, Share!

The word on social shopping

Social shopping sites have hit the US by storm and also search engines. An item placed on Crowdstorm will be indexed on search engines within the week. Unfortunately no link is provided by Crowdstorm to the item but if it is Brand awareness and customer appreciation you want then Crowdstorm is for you. More specialist sites have cropped up like Stylehive where you can provide a link and tags for the item. Most of the items on style hive are fashion orientated, but again heavily optimised. If you are struggling for a particular keyword ranking then a site such as stylehive (as long as the products match) is for you. Other sites to include in this post are Kaboodle, ThisNext and Wists. When you join any one of these sites you are given an array of free widgets to show off your choices and recommendations on your blog or site. A smart retailer will make sure that he or she has some of her products on these sites to make sure certain keywords are covered.

Be Sociable, Share!

Search Engine Optimisation Tools

This is a nice post written by Micheal Burns, my froo buddy.

OK, so over the last couple of years, I’ve been asked many times what our clients can do to further optimise their ChannelAdvisor Stores, their eBay Stores and listings, and alas their existing ecommerce websites and blogs. Not a bad question, but there was a catch.. they all wanted this for FREE.

I found myself giving out the same websites and useful tools over and over, and realised there wasn’t an up-to-date reasonable list out there to suit this purpose, so decided I’d start one here…

What is it?
“A tool to check at-a-glance the link popularity of any site based on its ranking (Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, Technorati etc.), social bookmarks (del.icio.us, etc), subscribers (Bloglines, etc) and more!”

OK, so why would I use it?
I like this site as it’s very fast at giving you an overall “popularity” view of any site according to a whole host of different sites. This is great to find out how your site performs against your competitors too!

Overall Rating: 9/10

———-

What is it?
“SnapShots are smart profiles of the websites we visit. Simply enter a domain (e.g. amazon.com) and SnapShot will provide traffic history, a trust assessment and a list of all available coupon codes.”

OK, so why would I use it?
A product from Bill Gross (founder of GoTo search engine, which then became Overture, created paid search and was acquired by Yahoo), which allows for an ‘alexa-like’ experience of site ranking and traffic data for both single sites and site comparison (again good for competitor analysis).

They also have a couple other features thrown in which I like:

First, it shows ‘Deals’ that a site may be offering. (Coupon Mountain who specializes in finding and collecting promotion codes and they gather the majority of deals available every day)

Second, it shows a ‘Trust’ element for websites, which is based on community trends and third party secutity services.

Overall Rating: 7/10

———-

What is it?
“Website benchmarking is a score of your website’s performance within a large range of tests. The EC-Plus website benchmarking test is a free online website benchmark utility that allows anyone to quickly assess the performance of their website, without extensive knowledge of website development.”

OK, so why would I use it?

If you’re looking at taking out some form of SEO service, I’d recommend checking this out first to find out; whether you need it; what areas your current site(s) are falling down on.

The report is very detailed and will give you a good indicator of website strengths and weaknesses, and of course again it’s very useful to find out whether a competitors site scores higher than your own (i.e., if a competitor uses the same shopping cart software, and they’ve taken an SEO package to gain traffic, you could test to see whether it has made a difference..)

Overall Rating: 8/10

———-

What is it?
“A sitemap is a data file which references pages of your website, and assists search engines in indexing / storing your pages in their databases faster and more easily. By placing a formatted xml file with site map on your webserver, you enable Search Engine crawlers (like Google) to find out what pages are present and which have recently changed, and to crawl your site accordingly.”

OK, so why would I use it?This is a great site, very fast to use, and of course totally free. I would recommend you invest 3 minutes in getting this done and dusted! Totally automated and makes creating a sitemap almost too easy.

Overall Rating: 10/10

———-


What is it?
“The Keyword Tool generates potential keywords for your ad campaign and reports their Google statistics, including search performance and seasonal trends. Start your search by entering your own keyword phrases or a specific URL”

OK, so why would I use it?
A fantastic tool from Google that allows you to find relevant, high traffic keywords and key phrases for.. well, any form of online advertising, oh and of course maybe your Adwords campaigns?

Overall Rating: 9/10

This post was written by Mic Burns of Frooition

Be Sociable, Share!

Blogging for customers!

The buzz word of 2006 was web 2.0. ‘Oh its so Web 2.0′ you might hear at conferences and seminars. My take on web 2.0 is building a community for your buyers based on the product type on offer. Your customers are moving to on-line sales but they need your advice. Truthful, simple advice without the hard sell. First magazines, gossip columns and newspapers caught onto the blog wave, but now product sellers are paving the way to help the customer make the right purchase.

Adverts may be boring and invasive at times but Blogs are not, take ‘Innocent smoothies‘ they have a web log that provides an interesting insight to their origins, ethics and the people in the company. A blog like this takes of the lid off a large company letting the consumer take a look inside. This is what corporate blogging is all about.

For instance Bluefly.com a fashion designer and retailer launched their blog http://flypaper.bluefly.com to raise awareness and keep customer informed of new styles and movements in the fashion industry.

Top free blog providers out there include Blogger.com, Typepad and WordPress. WordPress is also one of the most popular open source blogging software, with a new release at the end of January and a unique ‘Multi-Blogger’ system dubbed ‘Wordpress Mu’ so you can provide your employees with a blog of their own linked to your main domain.

As a new ‘blogger’ I would suggest a free hosted blog before you integrate a blog into your main domain. A ‘news’ blog needs to be updated with new content everyday, but a corporate blog only needs feeding 3-4 times a week. If you don’t update your blog your customers interest will wane and the point of the blog will eventually be lost.

We hope to see you in the blogging revolution!

Be Sociable, Share!