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Archive for September, 2008

Probably the most overlooked page of most ecommerce websites is the Thank You page. You know…the one your visitors see after they made a purchase from you.

When people are in the “buying mode” and they have already placed the confidence in your site to buy from YOU, this page offers a lot of opportunity. If your Thank You page simply thanks your customer for their order, you’re missing out on an added sales opportunity.

Smart Thank You pages offer additional options to buy, such as a sample of the sites best sellers, suggested close out items, and even links to join the sites newsletter.

If you have ever shopped online, you know from experience that the thank you page is a page people really pay attention to, since they want to see if there are any other important details related to their order. This being the case, you have a captive audience that’s already in the buying and trust mode. This is the perfect opportunity to get your customers to take additional actions you want them to take.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more, most customers welcome additional product suggestions and ways to interact with your company. Just make sure you keep things useful and friendly, and you’re sure to increase your conversion rates and repeat sales.

Thank you for reading this blog post, and when you’re ready to take your online business to a higher level with an advanced ecommerce solution contact us, we’re here to help.

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Often when reading about SEO online, it’s common to come across suggestions that you shouldn’t spend much time on your page title tags or keyword and description Meta tags. Many SEO articles even say that you shouldn’t even bother with keyword and description Meta tags. So what is a good webmaster or site manager to believe?

Well here’s the truth. The page title tag is among the most important parts of any web page since it is what people see as the link to your site in the search engine results, which can play a major role in whether or not they choose to click on the link and visit your site. Also, the page title tag is the most important place to put your primary keywords (in addition to your page content), since the search engines use the title tag to help in determining what a page is about.

Now this is where things get controversial. A lot of people still think keyword and description Meta tags are either silver bullets or completely useless. Actually they’re neither. As for keyword tags, Google largely ignores them. However, Yahoo! and MSN/Live still refer to them and often use them to some degree in their rankings. Description Meta tags are still used by many search engines to provide a description of your web site in their search results, which again may influence click-through rates from search results. Also, Google does analyze description Meta tags as part of their algorithm, even though they do not display them in their search results.

So here’s what we suggest:

1. Write a good strong title tag that uses your most important keywords and keep the tag down to about 60 characters.

2. Use the keyword tag for your most important keywords and keep the tag down to about 5 or 10 keywords.

3. Write a description tag for your site that’s reasonably informative and includes your most important keywords and keep this tag down to about 150 characters.

If you already have good title tags and keyword and description tags for all of your web pages you’re on the right track. If not, you’ve got some work to do. Sometimes it’s the smallest detail that separates a page that shows up in the search results for a particular query. Therefore, put your best foot forward and put your web page titles and SEO Meta tags to work for your site.

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Over the years, I have read hundreds of articles, blogs, and forum discussions about the separation line between content and marketing. Do you write content first, then market around it, or do you do the marketing first and then create content for padding? It’s a business version of that other old question about the chicken & the egg. 

Although the chicken question has always eluded me, the answer to this one is clear: Marketing First. No matter what your subject, before you start writing content you’ve got to have a plan, and it’s called a ‘Marketing Plan’ for a reason.

The purpose of marketing is to create awareness and demand for your products or services. Before you even think about writing a single word of content, consider what sets you apart from your competitors and plan out the best  way to showcase that unique feature.

Pull out your note pad (or your Notebook, whatever works for you), and write out a few short sentences about how what you have to offer benefits your customers. Then consider the following points to gather your marketing thoughts and turn them into powerful content.

  • Think about your target customers; who they are, what they want, and what drives them. Craft your marketing message especially for them.
  • Base your message on up-to-date information. Check out leading companies in your field to see what they are doing. Use them for ideas for what works, what isn’t working, and what can be done better.
  • Include the unique benefits your business offers. Make it up front and obvious. This is not the time to be subtle. Make sure you let your potential customers know about the special knowledge and expertise your business offers and how it benefits them.
  • Make your message simple and clear. The easier it is to understand your benefit message, the more likely your content will convert shoppers into buyers.
  • The sales process is often multistep, and an involved customer is more likely to take then next step alongside you. Think about ways to incorporate user participation with your marketing content.

Well crafted content IS marketing, and marketing is crucial to the success of every business. Treat your marketing content development with the level of respect and care it deserves. You will be able to better identify and attract potential customers and convert them into buyers.

And if you’re ever in one of those forum discussions, remember Marketing First. You’ll be the guy with the right answer, every time.

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We’ve all heard that the homepage is the most important page of our web site. Even though this has been ingrained into our brains over the years, many of us are still guilty of wasting this precious piece of online real estate. So now it’s time to look at your homepage with an objective eye and ask yourself, “Is your homepage truly compelling?”

Here are five proven tips to generate more interest in your homepage, and ultimately your site.

  1. Make sure your homepage has a powerful primary message. Your homepage should be clearly targeted to your audience and provide a benefit statement of what you offer your potential customers. Keep in mind that they don’t want to hear that you’re the best; they want to hear why your product or service is different. What they really want to know is, “What’s in it for me?” Make sure you have an enticing answer that’s easy to understand.
  2. Focus on a clear message. You’ve seen homepages (hopefully not yours) that are loaded with tons of images, thousands of words of text, blinking lights, etc. that seem to be going in a hundred different directions at once. Don’t do this. Even if you’re tame in comparison, look for anything that’s unnecessary on your homepage and get rid of it. You want your visitors to look at your home page, and with little to no effort, get your message. Be clear and be specific. No one buys what they can’t clearly understand.
  3. Apply secondary messaging to your primary message. Think of the primary message as the headline of an article and your secondary messaging as the article content. This being the case, you want your secondary messaging to further clarify and reinforce your primary message. Your secondary message should contain clear and specific calls to action such as “click here to order”, “contact us”, “call us toll free for more information”, etc. Make sure you’re directly asking your visitors to take the next step you want them to take. Remember the “power of suggestion”, it works.
  4. Use some imagery to emphasize your primary message. Enticing photos and, or, flash animation can help illustrate what you’re offering your visitors and why it’s of value to them. Keep in mind most people are visually oriented, so make sure your imagery is clear and on target to reinforce your message.
  5. Make sure your homepage is easy to navigate. Your homepage should have a clear navigation structure that can take your visitors where they want to go quickly. It doesn’t matter how well you do everything else, if your visitors can’t figure out how to get where they want to go. Make it easy and you’ll be rewarded with more page views, more customer contacts, and more sales.

Bonus tip: Take the above suggestions for your homepage and apply them to every page of your web site. Yes, every page… If you’re serious about converting your visitors into customers at a higher rate, it just makes sense.

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OK, let’s go over this again. 

Everyone wants to come up on the first page of results when prospective customers are searching. With millions of businesses competing for billions of keyword phrases, there are thousands of sneaky little tricks that can help you out.

Before you can get sneaky, you have to cover the basics.

Here are five steps you must take before applying any tips & tricks that you read on the interwebs.

First, include your primary keyword phrases in your Meta tag titles, descriptions and keyword fields. You should also do this with your page headlines and subheads.

Second, add your keyword phrases to content. Roughly once or twice per paragraph is great. Keep it reasonable so the phrases are woven into your content and not redundantly repeated. Remember, if content is king, then keyword phrases are like the king’s valet – unnoticed, but always there.

Third, write in natural language. You need to incorporate your keywords, but not to the point that you ruin your page copy.
Remember, these are keywords because they are the terms that your customers are using. If it is difficult to work them into your content, something needs to be reworked.  Or perhaps overhauled completely.

Fourth, try to incorporate keyword phrases in bold, italic or bulleted lists where it makes sense. This won’t have a major effect on rankings, but it will have an effect on your visitor count. Remember, everyone on the internet has the attention span of a gnat. Make your relevance obvious at first glance, and web visitors are more likely to stick around.

Fifth, take the time to read your copy out loud. If it sounds redundant and off balance to you, it will sound the same your site visitors. If you can, ask someone outside your company to read it as well, to get their unbiased opinion.

Keep in mind that these basic tips are just that, basic. By no means are they the end-all be-all for SEO. However, they are important fundamentals that should be implemented for better on-page search engine optimization. 

In addition to implementing these five steps when you start out, go back periodically and check for them again. It’s so easy to get caught up in the social networking/link building/pagerank/twittering/digging/sphinning fun part of SEO that sometimes these priorities get shelved. 

Blow the dust off of them today, for better organic search ranking tomorrow.

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