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Archive for June, 2009

Since we are regularly asked about SEO and how it works, we thought it might help to provide a basic SEO primer for those that are challenged with the task. Keep in mind that the guidelines provided here are general principles to help get you going in the right direction. Successful SEO requires many elements including keywords, Meta tags, content, URLs and links. However, the focus of this blog post will be on the subject of keywords.

Overview of basic keyword elements

  • Keywords in Title Tags – The Title tags of your web pages are among the most important elements in optimizing your website since they tell both search engines and potential visitors what your web pages are about. Make sure your Title tags use your most important keywords and total approximately 60 characters in length including spaces.
  • Keywords in Meta Tags – Keywords used in Keyword and Description Meta Tags are still of importance and search engines such as Yahoo! and Bing rely on them. Also, Google specifically looks for unique Description Meta Tags on every page of your site.
  • Keywords in URLs – Using keywords in your URLs can help with your SEO efforts, for example http://yourdomainname.com/seo-services.html, where “SEO Services” is the keyword phrase you want to rank well for. However, as with any SEO element, the words must also be in the content of your web page.
  • Keywords in Headings – Your most important keyword phrase for each page of your site should be used as a heading on the page and within the pages content. For example, your “SEO Services” page should contain a heading on the page of “SEO Services” and the content of the page should also contain these words. If you have another page about “Website Design”, then you should be targeting the words “Website Design” on that page.
  • Keywords Upfront – The first sentence of your page content should start off with your most important keyword phrase and this phrase should be tactfully woven though the rest of the web page content without being redundant.
  • Keyword Density – Keyword density refers to the percentage of times your keywords or keyword phrase is used on a web page. As a rule, keywords should be woven into your content in a natural manner as you would use in conversation. You should aim for a keyword density of approximately 3 to 7 percent. Once your keyword density goes over 10 percent, your web page may be considered by the search engines as Spam and your page may receive a ranking penalty, or even be removed from the search engines index.

Applying keywords as suggested above will help your website to achieve higher rankings in the search engines. Remember, the search engines do not understand what your web pages are about unless you make it clear to them.

Check back next week to learn about applying Meta tags to your website.

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If you’ve read any of our previous blog posts you’re probably starting to pick up on a theme; being successful online takes effort. As a matter of fact, building a thriving ecommerce business takes the same amount of hard work and discipline as building any other business, if not more so.

The following tips will help you to grow your ecommerce business into a success if you apply them on a constant basis.

  • Plan ahead for everything – It isn’t uncommon for a lot of ecommerce companies to miss significant selling opportunities due to not being ready ahead of time. This being the case, everything should be planned at least three months in advance. This includes seasonal promotions, product offerings, PPC and SEO campaigns, site design elements, etc.
  • Make continuous improvements to your site – Many online businesses start with an incredible amount of enthusiasm only to fizzle out due to unrealistic expectations. Once your online store is up and running this isn’t the time to sit back and see what happens. This approach is guaranteed for failure. In order to be successful online, you need to apply the same mentality of the major players of constantly improving and growing your website. Keep in mind that search engines as rule like larger sites and they thrive on quality content. With this said, make getting big fast and continually growing your content resources a top priority.
  • Keep it real – Some business people still view the internet as something different from their physical business locations. In other words, they think it’s OK to do things online that they wouldn’t do in the real world such as questionable marketing tactics to generate sales. Contrary to the “old school” way of thinking, your web presence is just as important, if not more important, than your physical business location. In today’s wired world, most potential customers will find you via the internet opposed to driving by your business or finding you in the yellow pages. If your online presence is not coming across as the most reputable and professional in your field, your competitors are only a click away.
  • Promote, promote, and promote some more – If you are not actively working on marketing your online business every day, the odds of success are not in your favor. Like any business, you don’t set up a store, load it with products, and wait for something to happen… This methodology does not work in the traditional retail world and it will not work online either. Any successful online business is constantly marketing their site 24 hours a day 365 days a year. In addition to online marketing methods such as SEO and PPC marketing, think about other things you can do such as sending out flyers and bumper stickers with your orders. Having strong email signatures that promote your business. Using signage on your physical locations and vehicles. The options are endless, and the more you market your business – the more successful it will be.
  • Don’t scare customers away – Have you ever visited a website, found their offers interesting, and then they got too nosy? You’ve seen these sites that want your zip code, your email address, etc. before providing any of the information you want. If you’re like most people you simply leave. With this said, if you apply such tactics, your potential customers will do the same. Don’t ask your customers to provide more information than necessary and by all means do not force them to set up an account to shop with you. This may have worked in the past, but today’s online shoppers aren’t going to do this as easily, which will result in lost sales for your business.
  • Be the expert in your industry – The quickest way to gain ground on your competition, online or off, is by being an expert. However, this is even more so the case online where people are seeking information on products and services before making a purchase. Now, if you were a consumer and a site attracted you with the informational content you were looking for, and they also offered the product for sale, this would be a double win since these folks know what they’re talking about and they sell exactly what you want or need. This comes back to what was said earlier about making continuous improvements and maximizing your content opportunities. Simply showing a little picture with a blurb of text about your offering is not going to put you in a competitive position with leaders in your industry that offer online instruction manuals, lists of complementing products and accessories, additional product views, detailed product specs, etc.
  • If you don’t know ask – If you feel your website isn’t living up to its potential, your marketing isn’t effective, or you aren’t applying strategic site development that works – by all means ask a professional for help. Sometimes all it takes is a minor change to make a website more successful and in other cases it may require setting up a new site that is up-to-date to compete in today’s online savvy world. Remember there’s no shame in asking for help, especially if doing so saves your business money and increases your online sales.

The above principles should be a major part of your core thought processes and actions on a daily basis. Again, you can’t win in ecommerce without commitment, planning and continuous effort. If you’re not sure where to begin let us know. We can help you get started in the right direction.

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When selling online a picture isn’t just worth a 1000 words – it’s worth 1000’s of sales. This thought holds true for every picture you post on your website. As the old Nike slogan goes, “Image is Everything”, and nowhere is this more true than online.

The images your website uses are among the first things that affect whether or not a site visitor is going to continue exploring your site or leave. This is even more important at the product level where the sale is being made. If your product images are less than desirable, so is the perception of your product offerings.

With today’s technology, providing excellent product images shouldn’t be any problem. Digital cameras can take thousands of photos that are ready for immediate use in the attempt of capturing the perfect image. Also, if the perfect photo isn’t quite perfect it can usually be made so with some crafty image editing software. Sometimes all it takes is a little cropping and brightening to turn an image from blah to buy!

Keep in mind that the better the quality of your product photos, the more confidence you provide your potential customers to follow though and make a purchase. If applicable, provide additional photos of other colors or designs available and alternate views.

In some cases, taking a picture of an item yourself may be impossible or simply impractical. If this is the case, ask your suppliers if they can provide you with images for your website. Most manufacturers have professionally done web ready images available simply for the asking.

Remember, on the web your product images can make the difference between getting the sale and losing it. Make sure you’re making the right impression with all of your product images and converting your site visitors from shoppers to buyers!

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