Archive for December, 2008

Increase your online sales, increase your online sales, and increase your online sales some more… Yes, we sound like a broken record. However, breaking records is what successful selling is all about.

Use the following checklist to take “another” look at your site with your eye focused on converting your site visitor’s into paying customers.

  1. Test, test and test again. How are your calls to action working? Have you tried and tested various formats to get an idea of what’s working and what’s not?
  2. Look at the quality of your content. Check your pages for misspellings, broken links, image clarity, etc. If your site’s appearance isn’t as good as it could be, more than likely you’re losing a significant number of sales.
  3. Make sure that all of your images and other content load quickly. Slow loading pages drive online shoppers away faster than you can say “click”.
  4. Maximize cross-sell and up-sell opportunities throughout your site. Think about cross-selling items that are related such as shoes and belts, and up-selling to more expensive items where appropriate.
  5. Make sure your contact information and customer service policies are easy to find with as little effort as possible. This will help your visitor’s feel more secure in purchasing from your site and ultimately increase your online sales.
  6. Review all of the products on your site to ensure that they’re optimized for your site’s search function. Example, if someone searched your site for a product such as a ‘snow blower’, do you also have the keywords of ‘snow thrower’ in the page content so the item can be found for both terms? Don’t overlook this gigantic online selling opportunity.

When selling online, the little things can make a big difference in getting the sale. If you take the time to carefully review your site for the above key factors, provide outstanding customer service, and are competitive in your market, you’re sure to increase your online sales.

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When some people first hear of the college paper “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine”, written by Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, they often yawn or laugh it off as being outdated. Well let’s step back and think again, this famous paper starts off with these exact words, “In this paper, we present Google, a prototype of a large-scale search engine which makes heavy use of the structure present in hypertext.” Note the words, heavy use of the structure present in hypertext, which translates to mean ‘the words used in text links that point to a web site’.

If you read this paper, pay close attention to section ‘2.2 Anchor Text’, which states: “The text of links is treated in a special way in our search engine. Most search engines associate the text of a link with the page that the link is on. In addition, we associate it with the page the link points to. This has several advantages. First, anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves…”

With the above said, do a search for the keyword of ‘Cheeseburger’ on Google, and you will find the site icanhascheezburger.com among the top few search results. Note that nowhere on the site’s web page (or source code) is the term ‘Cheeseburger’. However, the ‘Cheeseburger’ term is use on tons of links pointing to the site, which increases the site’s relevance for the term in Google.

If the icanhascheezburger.com example isn’t enough, try a search on the mighty Google for the keyword phrase of ‘Click Here’, which will display adobe.com among the top 10 results. As with the icanhascheezburger.com example, the adobe.com home page doesn’t contain the keyword phrase searched for anywhere on the page or in the page’s source code.

Don’t read into this information and start believing this is the one and only secret to high search engine rankings – it’s not. For most successful web sites, on-site SEO is of the utmost importance. However, the point here is of the additional value of building highly targeted keyword text links pointing to your site. In other words, instead of requesting and submitting links using your proper business name such as ‘Bobs Widgets’, think of your important keywords and use them in your links, i.e., ‘Custom Widget Manufacturing’, ‘Custom Widgets Seattle’, etc. You get the idea…

Now get out there and build some nice keyworded text links to your site.

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Your web site’s primary and secondary navigation is important to users, search engines, and the overall success of your site. User-friendly site navigation is important to help both search engine crawlers and visitors find their way through your site. Therefore, the easier you make this process, the more pages search engines will index – and the more pages your site visitors will view.

The following are key areas to consider in establishing or reviewing the navigation structure of your web site:

  • Top or Top-Left: A sites primary navigation should be found at the top and bottom of the page, or along the top left side and bottom of the page. This is how users expect to find navigation.
  • Consistency: Your site navigation should be consistent on every page of your site.
  • Simple: Your navigation shouldn’t require much thought to use. Try to keep it as simple as possible.
  • Links to Home Page: Every page of your site should link back to your home page through your logo, top/left navigation and the bottom of each page.
  • Links to Contact Us Page: Every page of your site must contain a contact us link. There harder you make it to find your contact information, the less credible your site will be perceived.
  • Links to About Us Page: This is another page that should be part of your navigation structure site wide. Like your contact page, the About Us page also adds to your credibility. Make sure you’re sharing your story.
  • Links to All Main Sections: Your main navigation structure should link to all of your site’s primary areas.
  • Indicate Current Page: Through the use of breadcrumb navigation or other means, make sure the current page is easily identified in the navigation.
  • Proper Categories/Departments: If navigation is a big job for your site, take some time to think about dividing your navigation into sensible categories or product departments.
  • Accurate Descriptions: Link text (or image text links) should adequately describe the destination page that the link will take your visitor to. Very few people will click on a link that doesn’t make sense to them.
  • Use Alt Tags in Images: If using image-based navigation, make sure you’re using image alt text.
  • Link for Experts and Newbies: Your site navigation should be just as understandable by newbies as well as experts in your industry.

Keep in mind, that the better your site navigation is thought out and implemented. The more likely search engines and visitors will access more pages of your site. How’s your navigation looking? Is it clear and easy to understand? If not, make it a priority to improve it.

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Consider the following 11 SEO strategies the next time you plan to sit down and take a good look at your SEO efforts. Keep in mind that SEO is both an art and a science and you want to keep a careful balance in the implementation process. In other words, you don’t want to get too carried away in any one area – and you don’t want your site to reek of SEO to your visitors or the search engines.

11 SEO Basics

1. Page Title Tags: This is the information you see in the bar at the top left corner of your browser when you visit a web site. Make sure your page title has your most important keyword phrase as the first words of your title, such as “Internet Marketing…”. Not, “We Offer Internet Marketing…”.

2. URL Extensions/File Names: This is the URL address information that follows the forward slash after your domain name, i.e., http://www.yoursite.com/internet-marketing. Include keywords in the names of your web page files as shown. If the most important keywords for the page are “Internet Marketing”, then the file name should be “internet-marketing”.

3. Meta Tags: Meta tags include description and keyword tags that are placed into your code to help the search engines and they are not visible to your visitors unless they look at the code of your web page. As with your page titles, your most important keywords should be right upfront in these tags. As a general rule, keep both your keyword tags and your description tags to about 150 characters.

4. Header Tags: These are the HTML codes that indicate a headline, such as H1, H2, and H3, and display as bold headlines on your web page. H1 tags can be a benefit to your SEO by placing your most important keywords within an H1 headline. Beyond that, don’t get too carried away with header tags since excessive use can trigger search engine SPAM filters. If your primary keywords are in an H1 tag at the top of your page, and within the content of your site, you’re usually good.

5. Alt Image Tags: The alt tag is a floating text window that appears when you hover your mouse over an image. These tags can be of benefit for associating relevant keywords with your images, i.e., to help text readers for the visually impaired read your page and for being found through image search. The key here is relevant, don’t stuff your alt tags with a lot of irrelevant words in an attempt to trick the search engines. Keep them on target and to the point.

6. Content Formatting: Search engines pay attention to text content that’s formatted in bold, italics, and underlined. Tactfully bolding and italicizing your keywords in your content is a great way to point these words out to the search engines. However, keep away from the underlining since most people consider underlines to be links.

7. Keyword Density: Keyword density refers to the number of times your keyword or keyword phrase appears within a web page. Keyword density should range between 2% to 7%, and it is best to evenly weave your important keywords throughout the content of your page.

8. Anchor Text: Anchor text refers to the text of links on a web page that link to another page. If you’re linking to a page on your site about Internet marketing, don’t use a link that says, “Click Here”, have the anchor text of the link as “Internet Marketing” instead.

9. Inbound Links: Inbound links are critical to achieving high rankings in the major search engines, especially Google. However, the days of simply exchanging links with others no longer holds the value it once did, since search engines now pay attention to both the quality and popularity of the site linking to yours. Some of the best ways to gain quality inbound links include developing links from quality directory sites and press releases. These methods are also easier to employ than hunting for link exchange partners.

10. Fresh Content: Search engines have always loved fresh, quality content, and have a tendency to rank such content higher (hence the large number of eBay and CraigsList listings found in search results). The search engines are always looking for quality content to provide their users, so you should make it a goal to provide the search engines with what they’re looking for.

11. Site Maps: Site maps are of benefit in helping search engines to better crawl your web site. All sites should have both an HTML site map page and an XML site map such as a Google Sitemap to help the crawling and indexing process.

Optimizing a web site for better search engine rankings takes a lot of time and work. Whether it’s conducting keyword research, or implementing unique Meta tags throughout a 6,000 page site, nothing happens by itself. However, the hard work, or costs of hiring a professional SEO to do the work for you, can be well worth it in comparison to paying for all of your traffic via pay-per-click programs. Make it your New Year’s resolution to optimize your site to rank higher in the search engines – better yet, do something about it today!

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