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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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DNS Changes and Cname with 123-reg

As a support consultant we advise our customers use the Cname function with their ChannelAdvisor store to improve search engine optimisation. This is an example of a Cnamed Channeladvisor store : Bling Bling Online. As you can see by clicking on the categories how the URLs seem to be coming from the domain name and not a ChannelAdvisor storefront URL. The domain name registrar (who you brought your domain name from) governs the process of the DNS changes and as I come across the different hosts I will post a simple guide on how to cname using that host. My first guide is going to be about 123-reg.co.uk. I always recommend this company as they will also host your emails for around £10 a year (at the time of going to press) so you can have a fully cnamed store and professional emails.

1) First log into your control panel:

Scroll down the page and ‘Manage your domain’ Select your domain from the dropdown list and click ‘Modify Domain’

*Please note: On this list if you are trying to Cname a .com or .net you will need to ‘Manage Domain Locking’ on this list before you ‘Manage DNS’

2) Click on ‘Manage DNS’

Your need to change your www record to Type: Cname and replace the numbers with stores.channeladvisor.com. Please do not change the @ record. This control your emails!

Your DNS record should look like this:

3) Click ‘Update DNS’ and the changes shall replicate within 72 hours. Please note this will only work if you have NOT changes the nameserver information of the domain ( I.E you brought a hosting package with a company like webfusion.co.uk and they control your emails)

As always if you have any doubt please hit contact support.

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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!

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eBay and Myspace

The massive optimisation of myspace of late means that in around 2 days, your myspace account is optimised within google and showing up within search listings! Just search for frooition in google and two myspace accounts will appear where two employees have marked frooition as where they work. That happened in 2 days! What else gets into googles search index in a mere two days? Many sellers are now promoting their auctions through myspace and adding ‘freinds’ from relevent groups of people. The primary age for myspace is between 16 and 34. So if your product hits that age range then a bit of free myspace advertising can’t go a miss can it?

Whaaaaat? I hear you say? Well companies such as Red Bull are using myspace to attract new customers to their product. Want a bigger example? Adidas are also giving myspace a whirl!

Since the auctionbytes article ebayers have been taking advantage of this new channel to gain brand control ( you would not want anyone else to use your brand!)

Myspace has a networking feature also which will help you market too and reach new customers.

With myspace attracting 200,000 new registrants a day who can afford to miss out on this marketing and SEO oppotunity.

Join the race, get on myspace! ( I really could be a 70’s children’s TV presenter sometimes)

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Selling Product – eBay Shop, Websites and Storefronts.

In this article I just fist want to mention what the differences between these three entities are. A lot of my clients get confused between these three formats, which causes misinterpretation of what functionality is available to them.

Firstly, an eBay shop:

This is part of the eBay marketplace where all of your listings on eBay can be collectively viewed. You can make this look very much like a website (like the guys from creativebay.co.uk) but it is definitely NOT a website. You have 2 ‘marketplaces’ under the eBay umbrella. Core Listings which get a larger proportion of traffic and seemingly cheaper ’shop’ listings which do not form part of the eBay main search and depend very much on core listings to bring in traffic. Within an eBay store you have custom pages, categories and promotional boxes. With a shop on the eBay marketplace, search engine optimisation is done for you by eBay and your have instant traffic.

A Website:

A website can be custom built to any specification and purpose, as long as your budget allows. Websites need optimisation and maintenance usually by your design company to insure the security and smooth running of the site. As long as you are willing to pay for it (Some full e-commerce websites have been fabled to cost around £7000) a website can be built to perform any task and tick any box. Currently toast making websites are not available; you will always have to do that yourself. Get a toaster.

A Storefront;

Storefronts are commonly part of a bigger picture, but have certain limitations with functionality with regards to a custom built website which is built solely for your purpose. Two ’storefronts’ that spring to mind belong as extra functionality to a complete e-commerce solution. Channeladvisor and Marketworks are both auction and shopping feed inventory based order management systems which have the added benefit of a storefront to showcase your product.

Functionality will always differ greatly. For example, Channeladvisor provides a matrix inventory (product with dropdowns) whereas a Marketworks storefront does not. A storefront is part of a complete solution that you can market and treat as a website, but you will need to check with your provider if the particular storefront will give you the functionality you need.

Examples,

A Marketworks Storefront http://www.findingking.com

A Channeladvisor Storefront http://www.bling-bling-online.co.uk

These guys also have matching eBay dealings:

Marketworks: http://stores.ebay.com/FindingKing

Channeladvisor: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Bling-Bling-Online

Whatever you choose to sell your product please check testimonials of the stability of the sites and services and make sure you can attract a suitable amount of traffic. If you pay £7000 for a kick ass fully functional website but you have no buyer traffic…..well don’t make the mistake many have already!

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