Thursday, December 10, 2009

Expanding your E-commerce Strategy

Setting up a solid strategy for your e-commerce venture is a good starting point for anybody who wants to increase online sales.

What components should I include in my strategy?
  • Accept online payments with PayPal.
  • Design your website e-commerce friendly.
  • Do SEO for your e-commerce website.
  • Increase your product exposure.

Accept online payments with PayPal.
If you want to sell to customers online, you must sign up with an online payment processor, one of which is PayPal. This can vary from simple buttons for specific products or services you feature on your website, to an in-depth shopping cart that is implemented in your website. No matter what, you must be ready to take payments if you encounter an interested customer on the internet.
Luckily, setting this up is extremely easy. Learn step by step how to do e-commerce with PayPal.

Design your website e-commerce friendly.
Now that you are set up to take online credit card payments through paypal, you must ensure that your website is e-commerce friendly. This means that your website should be designed in a way that makes people "want" to buy from you. One way to achieve this is to include 6 important pages on your e-commerce website:
  1. About Us
    You need to tell people who you are, give a company background, and make those facts public that should really not be kept secret. You must tell customers about yourself in order to create a sense of trust.
  2. Contact Us
    Make it easy for customers to contact you. You should have a very prominent contact link on every page of your site, or display the main contact information on every page. Your contact information should include email, phone, and your physical address.
  3. Sitemap
    A sitemap is a standard page on any professional website. If people desire an overview of your site, you should give it to them in an organized layout.
  4. Why Buy from Us
    Tell your audience why they should buy from you. You should not wait for them to buy from you. It really does work wonders if you inform the customer of all the great features of your product. If you have anything great to say about what you have to offer: Write it out.... let your potential customers know!
  5. Legal Information
    Inform buyers about your policies regarding privacy, copyright, return policies, and so on. If you do not disclose important legal information, buyers might be hesitant to buy from you. Also, you might run into trouble in a later dispute with the customer, if you do not specify your policies.
  6. Testimonials
    Testimonials are important. Real people saying good things about you builds trust in other people. If you have good testimonials from other people, publish them on your website. It will increase your sales. This is not a time to hide - this is the time to shine!

Do SEO for your e-commerce website.
Your e-commerce website will only provide you with high sales, if your actively work on, and implement your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Successful search engine optimization will increase traffic to your website via search results from the major search engines, which often makes up the largest portion of where your visitors will come from.

Learn how to do SEO in 8 easy steps.

Increase your product exposure.

There are many ways you can further increase the online exposure for your products and services. Try out some or all of these options:

  • Sell on ebay.
    You can use ebay as a platform to sell your products. It will be more advantageous to sell your products through your own website, because you will pay ebay a nice chunk in commission fees (ca. 8%), plus a small insertion fee. Learn more about ebay fees here. However, what you need is more product exposure. Featuring your product on ebay can be a very successful avenue.
  • Advertise through Google Adwords.
    Sign up for Google Adwords pay-per-click advertising. Here you can choose keywords that you can bid for. Then Google will show your ad on the Google search results. You will pay only per each click that occurs when someone visits your website as a result of the ad. It is possible to measure conversions, for example to track if people made a purchase on your site.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blogging to build Social Networks

Social Networking can be one of the most important aspects of your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Writing a blog is one good way of using social media to establish your presence on the web.

Why write a blog? A good blog...

  • provides blog visitors with up-to-date information.
  • establishes you as an expert in your field.
  • invites comments to spur user discussions, giving you important feedback.
  • gives you free and easy access to creating search-engine friendly content.
  • is easy to edit without any knowledge of web design.
On a blog, you can write about different things that you could write about on your corporate website. Blogging can be more casual in its lingo. Blogging can be spontaneous. Blogging can be fun.

You can think about a blog as a means of communicating to your target audience that you are an expert in your field. Most appropriately, a blog is not used to drive direct sales, but to establish yourself in the field as a well trusted source of information. This can have great long-term effects for your business.

Blogging Software

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Link Building

After you have created a good website for your target audience, it is crucial to build a network of incoming links that point to your website.

Link building means actively recruiting other webmasters to link to your website.

Why is this so important? Basically, search engines register an incoming link from another website as a "vote" for your website, one that is saying "that site is good". If you want to be found as #1 on Google for a competitive search term, you need other sites voting for you. However, it is not as simple as that.

Search engines distinguish incoming links through a variety of factors, amongst them:
  • link relevancy
  • page importance
  • link direction

Link Relevancy
A link to your site is relevant if the page that is linking to your page features a very similar, or even better, the same general topic as that of your page that is being linked to. In other words, a link from somebody's web page that reviews Honda Civic used cars to your page is good and relevant if your site deals with used cars and your page features a used Honda Civic that is for sale, whereas it would be nearly useless if your page is about ice cream recipes.

Remember that it is also important for the incoming link to display relevant "anchor text", i.e. the link text. Click here or is bad anchor text, whereas SEO in easy steps is good anchor text for a Web Optimization website. If the incoming link is an image link, it is important that the "alt" tag of the image reads relevant text.

Page Importance
Page importance is key. It is absolutely crucial for your successful link building strategy to realize that one single link from an important website might be more powerful than 100 links from very unimportant websites.

How is this importance measured? It differs. Google, for example, uses the Pagerank system, which is calculated using complex formulas. In general, a page is deemed more important if it has lots of other sites linking to it, and much more so if those sites are "important" sites, or sites with high Pagerank.

Look at it this way: by acquiring incoming links from relevant and important websites, you are increasing your own page importance. And a "vote" from important websites weighs much heavier than votes from low-pagerank sites.

Link Direction
It also matters which direction the link is going, and how many outgoing links are found on the linking page.

There are one-way links, which point to your page without you providing a back-link. One-way links are good to have. They mean much.

Two-way links are easier to acquire ("I'll link to you, if you link to me"), and are not as powerful as one-way links, because this is more like a link exchange. However, if this is the only way you can get a link from another website, go for it. Two-way links are still good for you, provided they are relevant.

Also note that a page that links to only 5 other external websites, one of which is yours, is very good to have. However, that same link becomes much less powerful if the page is filled with hundreds of outgoing external links.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good Page Titles for SEO

Having a good page title might just be the most important thing to remember when adding new content to your website.

The page title of a web page is located within the title tag in the head section of any HTML document. The HTML code for the title of this blog post should read "Good Page Titles for SEO". Web browsers display that page title at the very top of the browser window, and Windows displays that title in its taskbar.

However, this is not primarily why it is important. Putting a good page title is important because it tells search engines like Google and Yahoo! what your web page is primarily about. Forgetting to specify the page title is like telling Google that the content of this page is of no significance, so it does not deserve a title. However, it's not only crucial for your SEO strategy that you pick a page title, you must pick a good one.

What is a good page title?

A good page title is relevant to the content of the page, and must describe that content accurately. It includes useful keywords, and excludes words that are unnecessary. Good page titles are kept at short to medium length, for example 2-6 words.

It is also important to have unique titles for every page on your website. If you have a collection of articles on your blog, they all deserve a unique page title that precisely describes the focus of the article.

Let's look at some examples now.

"Jake's Blog of the Great and Important People of the History of the United States of America" is not a good title. Here is what's wrong with it:
  • too long
  • it includes lots of unnecessary words like: of, the, and
  • it includes words many words that are not powerful as keywords: Jake, blog, great, important
How could you improve that title?
  • "Great people in American history"
  • "Famous figures in US history"
  • "Biographies of American Heroes"
What about this one:
"Swiftwaters Edge Tours: Sea Kayaking / Canoeing / Boating / Water Sports adventures in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada."

This title is good and bad, so it can certainly be improved. Being keyword-packed without being repetitive shows good intention, but it looses its effectiveness because the title is simply too long.
This title would mainly benefit from the scratching of the less important keywords in order to give primary focus to the most important keywords. When deciding if Sea Kayaking is more important than canoeing, remember that the page title should also be accurate. Thus, if most of the offered Swiftwaters Edge tours are Sea Kayaking based, scratch canoeing.

Here are some better ideas:
  • "Sea Kayaking in Cape Breton NS"
  • "Swiftwaters Edge Tours: Sea Kayaking Canada"
  • "Canoeing & Sea Kayaking Tours - Swiftwaters, Sydney NS"