How to build a website for your small business
Session 7: Advanced E-Commerce
OBJECTIVE: This session will deal with an overview of the knowledge required to create a successful online website including site design and search engine optimization (SEO). You won't learn all you need to know here. Instead, you will gain a synopsis of necessary skills and tools and be referred to free online resource tutorials. Your choice will then be to either fully acquire the necessary skills or hire a qualified specialist to manage your e-commerce.
- Getting Started
- What is content?
- Who is your competition?
- What are keywords?
- What is conversion rate?
- What is bounce rate?
- Secondary ranking factors
- What is nomenclature?
- How is quality content defined?
- E-Commerce success in a nutshell
- Using Google Alerts
- Content duplicity
- Pop-up windows
- Anchor Products
- Objects of engagement
- Advanced image promotion
- Why landing pages?
- Live chat
- Real-time inventory tracking
- Cross sales
- Include items of trust
- Unpopular products
- Common oversights
- Top Ten Do's and Don'ts
E-Commerce is a shopping cart added to a website. Seemingly insignificant actions can either boost your site or drag it down in rankings. For example, have your suppliers offered to furnish the text for your website that has also been given to your competitors? This type of duplicate content is referred to as "fruit of the poisonous tree" and will penalize your search engine positioning. In other words, take your time and write unique descriptions of your products. See affiliate programs and Google tips on duplicate content.
What is content?
Content is defined as information in the form of text, images, video and other media. A value is assigned to all content by the search engines. The more the assigned value of your content increases, so does the traffic to your website and or e-commerce store. If you have one or more negative issues such as spelling mistakes you may be "masking" the true ranking potential by leaving the error unchecked or uncorrected. Create valuable content.
Becoming a specialist in your product or service is usually a good idea. This is also true on the web: "Mailbox.com" outranks "National hardware store/mailboxes.com". The key winning word here is "Mailbox".
Who is your competition?
There are two major factors in determining the difficulty of winning organic search for your product in the search engines:
Organic search sources
- How many sites are competing?
- Who are your competitors for each product you carry? Nobodies with homemade low-grade sites? Or major brands, big players with huge advertising budgets that could threaten your expansion?
What are keywords?
Keywords describe a website subject or a website page. The goal is to use words that most uniquely and effectively describe what your visitor is seeking. The deployment of most appropriate keywords has a great impact on search engine placement. The best resources to learn to make most effective use of keywords are the search engines themselves such as Google's Keyword Planner.
- Good keyword example: "Sporting Goods". A popular and clearly descriptive subject.
- Bad example: "My new invention will change the world". If it's your invention then no one is searching for it.
Too often startups sites are like a western movie set. When Google looks for a keyword's overall presence, like the movie set, there is nothing behind the facade.
Never advertise a keyword without knowing the ROI to your site. Return on investment is determined by the acquisition of the keyword for a limited time using PPC (Pay per click) or other media buys on various platforms such as Google Adwords. Google AdWords - Tutorial
Purchase a keyword for a day and see how it performs for you. You may make several rounds of optimization of the specific landing page to determine the actual value of a keyword search before using it.
For each product in your e-commerce store, ask the following:
- How would you describe the product if you were looking for it?
- How would you find it on the web?
- Have you set a standard for qualification of each keyword?
- Have you determined the level of competition in your keywords?
If your e-commerce store is not ranking on page one of search engines:
- Is your server fast and connected to the fastest upstream bandwidth provider?
- Are there spammers on your network?
- Is the shopping cart you are using showing up at the top of search results?
- Are you selling an unsavory product that is a known Google stop word?
- Are the images of your products the best a consumer will find when searching on the web?
- Does your website suffer from a preexisting search engine penalty before you purchased the domain name?
- Have you checked your site and your competitor’s sites with spamhaus.org?
- Show an abundance of items or abundance of product. Unless that item is of high retail value. If you show abundance, in that case, you risk the devaluation of your product.
If you can, first purchase the keyword from Bing or Google for a limited time in order to determine the ROI of each of your keywords. Once you have completed the evaluation of your catalog and saved your findings in a spreadsheet or word document, you can begin the qualification process of each keyword.
Go to Google or Bing and search for an item in your store. Under the results, it will give you the amount of competing documents (web pages) for that keyword.
Examine the search results and see if the first few results pages are filled with fortune 500 companies. At some point, this will stop and the results will be dominated with mom and pop startup sites. This is referred to as a clipping point.
FOR EACH ITEM YOU CARRY YOU MUST DETERMINE:
- What is the true value of this item to your company in terms of a keyword search on the web?
- How would you describe the product if you were looking for it or describing it to a colleague?
- How would you find it on the web, or if you had to go to the counter at a retail store, what would you ask the attendant to help you find?
- Is this a popular item? Are there others like you who are looking for this item you intend on including in your shopping cart? Is there a better item you can choose that will bring more revenues to your company or e-commerce store? One that more people search for?
- How many competitors are there for this one product? Who are they? Can we compete here? Does this product ruin our relevancy?
- How many other people are selling this product? Who are they? Giants who you cannot compete with or another startup like you?
- How many people are competing in that keyword? Is it Aunt Martha's cup cakery? Or DuPont?
Search engines have the capability to spot nonrelevant areas of your store. If you get this key element wrong and your competitor gets it right you will diminish your potential. Here's an example:
Keyword Exercise 1: Which item does not belong in my ice cream store?
- rocky road
- chocolate cake
Nomenclature Topic or Hierarchy = ICE CREAM
- Items offered in group
- Vanilla, Brand Name
Nomenclature Topic or Hierarchy = ICE CREAM
- Items offered in group
- Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate
If you chose company B as the winner you would be correct. As search engines select the most relevant results, they will pick the site having most types of ice cream
What is conversion rate?
A conversion is a visitor who performed a specific desired action on your website, perhaps a sale or for a doctor a client inquiry or a house painter a free estimate request via a contact form. Your conversion ratio is established by calculating the amount of desired actions performed per 100 visitors to your website. Understanding conversion tracking
What is bounce rate?
Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits where the visitor leaves a page without interacting with the page. Bounce rate behavior and how to improve it.
In the case where hundreds of websites are vying for first place, secondary proprietary rules (protocols) are then used to determine the result. Evaluation will include:
- Value of the page. Make sure your content is newsworthy, not self-serving.
- Negative history of the page. Search engines have a very long memory. If you publish noninformative or duplicate content you will be penalized.
- Visitor data. Use free resources such Google Analytics.
- Junk press history. Never put out a copy of a published article.
- Social interaction. Is your email feedback activity at a low complaint level?
- Ease of online shopping experience.
- Slow server speed. This is too often overlooked because mediocrity is the norm. Search engines monitor content delivery speed and negative effects of slow loading pages include abandoned transactions (abandoned cars), shopper frustration, fewer items purchased and declining rankings. Test your website's performance.
- Remember what your customers see from a slow moving Smartphone is not what you see from the comfort of your desktop PC and a high-speed connection. Search engines use math to calculate the content delivery speed of your website as seen by the lowest income and most popular segments of the population. PDA and tablet users represent the fastest growing segment. Check your page speed score: PageSpeed Insights
- A website with no email pulse is a dead website. Every successful e-commerce website should have its URL commonly mentioned in emails sent to friends, family and associates. Running a newsletter can be a bit of a chore but is well worth the rewards.
What is nomenclature?
Nomenclature is a group of keywords that define a subject or topic. This can apply to geographical areas as well as specific products and or services that you may offer. In this case, the search engines will define by how people react to your products. The nomenclature will have a hierarchy or topic.
How is quality content defined?
- On Topic? Good content is made up of at least 95 percent information to 5 percent commercial offering.
- Only published on your e-commerce website?
- Never copied from another source?
- Never given away or used in press releases?
- Overloaded with commercial offerings?
- Not provided by a supplier who gave it to all its customers’ websites?
E-Commerce success in a nutshell
- Are both your visitor count and your conversion rate sufficiently high to generate profitable traffic?
- If a page on your site ranks high for a given keyword, get together with members of your team and discuss how to best use that traffic.
- Is the visitor able to find what he or she was looking for when they searched?
- How can pages be improved? Are the images better than ones the visitor will encounter on your competitors site?
- What is the bounce ratio for key pages?
- The e-commerce bottom line: visitor count and conversion rate.
Some products are in decline. Go to trends.google.com and search for something timeless as "guitar". You will see the decline over the last few years. Who would have thought? Now enter your general topic and keywords. Do you have a solid business future here? Does your "interest over time" chart trending upward? If not, can modify products or services and/or nomenclature to include a bright future. Remember, your competitors are using it. You should spend at least an hour a week "trending". Trending is the new radar for e-commerce business owners?
A good start is to qualify all of your items and set a standard for how you will add items as you expand your e-commerce store. Once you have completed the evaluation of your catalog and saved your findings in a spreadsheet or word document, you can begin the qualification process to each keyword. Repeat this process for all your products.
Product knowledge is key to seriously competing with an e-commerce store. Try setting up Google alerts with your keyword to gauge what is going on in your target market segment as well as cross-pollination between "keyword tectonics". Google alerts will help sharpen your understanding of what keywords really belong in your e-commerce nomenclature. Google Alerts-The Basics
You might be surprised at how many e-commerce entrepreneurs are informed of the spamming infractions or content duplicity and should consider re-writing their website's content. They don't get it until the website is permanently banned by search engines.
Never use an annoying pop-up window to trap the end user into an action. Search engines will spot it eventually and down rank the domain.
Pay-per-click advertising can be a game changer for a startup. It is important that you understand how the system works and how it can ruin you overnight by deflation of your advertising spend. One example is not understanding the exact match and pattern match options or how to filter out economically depressed geographical locations and negative keywords. Choosing negative keywords.
Let's say you just designed a new perfume and need to gain traction in your target market. This may be an opportunity for you to add an established brand to your store in order to provide your new product with more visibility. In the case of a new perfume company you might add a popular brand to gain traction for your own new fragrance.
Objects of engagement
Objects of engagement are images or headlines that cause a web visitor to stop on your page for more than the 2 to 6 second time slice before they leave (bounce) from your website. This, in turn, causes the toolbar applications to measure the quality behavior of a visit and transmit that data back in real time to Google and other search engines which in turn use it as a quality metric.
Advanced image promotion
Many startup e-commerce store owners place insufficient importance on the images that are both objects of engagement and/or metrics of quality. Here are some core competencies to get you started:
- Images should be unique. Stock photos should only be used when time pressure makes it necessary. Best practice is the use of unique professional images.
- Google Images - The goal here is when consumers reverse shop by typing in a keyword into a search engine, they get a good sampling of products from our competitors e-commerce store. Here is one suggestion that may help:
When images become popular they tend to heavily dominate the image searches for keywords in the search engines. Try participating in the Pinterest community and sharing some of the relevant images from your e-commerce website. If you find that the images you are posting are not up to par with those of your competitors at Pinterest, you may wish, to put image improvement on your to-do list of site improvements. Pinterest for Business.
You may wish to take a look at the Google trending on the term "Landing Page". It clearly shows explosive growth in a previously nonexistent sector. Why are Landing Pages so popular?
Many websites are overloaded with choices. A website with too many will result in visitors being overloaded with decisions. Landing Pages should have only one buy button. Your job is to deliver targeted content in the form of an offering. Understanding landing pages.
There are certain ways to engage the visitor and live chat sits near the top. Your web pages will inevitably have discrepancies and leave out key information; sometimes this is intentional to provoke interaction with the end user or prospective new client. Zopim is a good entry level chat program that is affordable to set up in a single day. There are also several other free alternatives.
Real-time inventory tracking
In recent years, the major search engines have added tools that help user's complete searches for products within your website. E-Commerce providers are deploying this new and convenient tool on a wide scale.
If a customer purchases a pair of shoes and you have the matching pair of socks, set up cross sales to increase the sale amount on each customer's visit.
Include items of trust
Nothing calms a new visitor down like seeing familiar items of trust such as a clearly rendered UPS logo. The removal of a UPS logo can drop sales of a site by up to 5 percent.
Featuring unpopular subject matter sends a clear message to search engines that you don't have what their visitors want. The search engines will tell you what you should be offering.
- Abandoned Shopping Carts
- Smartphones and Tablets
- Competitor Spend Deflation
- Bounce Ratio Attacks
THE TOP TEN DO'S
- Keep your content original.
- Broadcast from a rock solid platform and high server speed.
- Use keywords that best describe your product or service.
- Include "anchor" items from popular manufacturers.
- One click to the "Buy Now" button.
- Make sure you have high-value quality content, not self serving.
- Maintain a newsworthy newsletter.
- Check every product for its trending direction.
- Use unique images rather than stock photos.
- Offer a live chat function on your website.
THE TOP TEN DON'TS
- Market products in decline.
- Use product descriptions from your suppliers or others.
- Send unsolicited emails.
- Don't duplicate your own content anywhere on your site.
- Copy content from any resource including other sites.
- Use a pop-up window to trap a call to action.
- Overlook the importance of an email function.
- Advertise a keyword without knowing the ROI to your site.
- Include nonrelevant products in your store.
- Delete a product--out of stock is better.