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Wednesday 06th April 2011Social Media to Boost Your Ecommerce Store

As the owner of an online ecommerce store, you may or may not have taken the time to dive into the vast pool that is social media. By social media we are referring to networking and content sharing websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
 
If you haven't taken steps to get involved in social media, we're here to tell you why you should, and what benefits that can have for your business online. 
 
Getting Social
 
Anybody in business will tell you that word of mouth is one of the best ways to acquire new customers. If someone has bought something from you before, and found you to be really good value for money, or they received excellent customer service, they may recommend you to others as a result. 
 
If you can relate to that as a statement then you're likely to be open to the way that social media works.
 
You should start by creating accounts for your business at the various social media hubs, like Facebook and Twitter. In doing so, you will probably find that each has it's own format and way of working, but this is great for injecting some diversity into how you promote your business.
 
Facebook
 
Long thought of as a hub for students and youngsters to chat amongst their friends and post photographs of what they've been up to. While this admittedly does still constitute a lot of what Facebook is about, you will also find that it is now a massive hub for businesses.
 
You are able to create a page about your business and invite people to 'Like' that page. In the same way that people might like your business offline and tell their friends about you, if they 'Like' your page online, that fact is broadcast to all of their other friends on Facebook, and so acts as a sort of recommendation. 
 
The more people that 'Like' your page, the more of an audience you have to post content to. By posting content we mean offering links to offers that you are running, or uploading pictures of your new products. Create a dialogue with those who are fans of your page to create a more personal front for your business.
 
Twitter
 
Twitter functions in an entirely different way to any other social media platform.  Once armed with an account, you can start posting snippets of information about your business, and growing a following of fans.
 
With Twitter you are limited to posting short amounts of information, no longer than 140 characters. So the challenge here is to convey information and updates to your audience as succinctly as possible, while also give them some added value.
 
Again, if someone 'follows' you on Twitter, and so receives your news updates, that fact will be shown in their profile, and others may follow suit. They also have the opportunity to interact with your post. So if you post something about an offer that you have running, they can 'Retweet' that post, meaning that they add it to their wall, for all of their followers to see, hence a recommendation that works much like word of mouth.
 
LinkedIn
 
LinkedIn is another social media site that is unique in the way that it operates. Unlike the others, it is solely meant for businesses and business people who want to network on a professional level. In the beginning you are only able to 'connect' with people that you know on LinkedIn, so you have to have worked with them, be friends with them or have gone to school with them. 
 
However, once you have started to build your network, you can ask for introductions to others in your friends networks and beyond. 
 
Aside from the business networking side of things, you also get a public profile for your business, which you should aim to fill with as much useful information as you can. The fact that you're listed on LinkedIn and have a sizeable network should bode well for your business.
 
YouTube
 
Often overlooked by ecommerce businesses, perhaps because they're not entirely sure how a video sharing network could be useful to them. We would blame this on the fact that YouTube is often thought of as a home of music videos, film trailers or funny videos that people have made themselves. Less often is YouTube credited for being a place where you can find useful videos like 'How To's' and instructional videos.
 
Why not consider creating, or promoting videos related to your products. If your products stand out from the crowd for whatever reason then a video might be a good way to actually demonstrate that, going above and beyond people just having to take your word for it. Create a 'Channel' and start gathering subscribers.
 
YouTube also has a range of functions available to allow people to share videos or to embed them on their own website. This is a great way to spread word of your business virally if your videos are interesting enough. 
 
Exploring the social media circuit is definitely worth the time for your ecommerce business. With a little bit of time and dedication, you could be opening up your business to whole new audiences who are keen to 'Like', 'Retweet' and 'Subscribe' to what your business has to offer.
 
 

Posted on April 06th 2011 at 11:28am
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Labels: social media

Monday 28th March 2011Our Shopping Cart Development Story

I've been prompted to write this blog post as we have just completely overhauled the shopping cart that comes with our ecommerce store solution. Our previous shopping cart worked perfectly well, and had all of the features and functions required to get customers from a-to-b, and paying for products, however there is always room for improvement and development.
 
The Shorter, The Better
 
We like to keep a keen eye on what is trending on the web, and how website design and programming is evolving to meet customer needs, and we have especially monitored the airwaves for talk about ecommerce shopping carts. The trend in this case seems to be that people want to spend less time in the cart than ever. They want to be able to see what they're buying, pick a payment option, fill in their details and be out of there. The fewer steps the better.
 
Shorter shopping carts have always worked best, simply because people are easily dissuaded from completing processes online if it seems too complex, or it is taking too long. It's an odd phenomenon, wherein we expect things to be more or less instant online. It's not like we would spend time shopping at Tesco, get to the checkouts and ditch a trolley full of food because the checkout line required that we wait more than a couple of minutes. 
 
Our last shopping cart process had 6 pages overall, those were:
  • Basket page with order summary
  • Details page where you sign in if you're already a member, or fill in your details if you're new
  • Shipping page where you make your shipping choices and review the cost of that
  • Final order summary page and payment choice page
  • Payment page
  • Order confirmation page
We based that shopping cart on the Amazon model, because that was obviously working very well for Amazon, given it's rate of growth and market dominance. 
 
Our new shopping cart process is now much more streamline:
  • Basket summary, with shipping choices and choice of payment methods
  • Express checkout / log in page
  • Your details
  • Payment page where you fill in credit card details etc
  • Order confirmation
We have already found that, by shortening the cart to fewer pages, that our clients have seen drastic increases in the number of shopping cart conversions. Increased conversions means increased profits, which is the aim of the game where ecommerce is concerned.
 
Clean, Clear and Comfortable
 
As well as shortening our shopping cart solution, we also completely changed the design of it. We reviewed what was 100% necessary for people to see during the cart process, and what could be classed as extraneous information that either crowded the cart, or caused people's attention to be diverted from the goal of checking out. 
 
The first thing that we did was clean the cart up and clarify the order status at all times throughout the cart. For the most part, that meant creating the cart in a split screen view, meaning that you can see your order, and the cart total at each stage so that you can see exactly how much you are going to be spending, and perhaps alter your choices accordingly.  We found that this meant that people didn't feel the need to use the back button, or to move back in the cart at all for any reason, which is good as the aim is to keep them moving forward. 
 
 
Another major change that we made was to offer an Express Checkout, meaning that existing users could log in if they wanted to, or they could just use the express checkout to quickly make their payment and complete their order. The same for new users, they weren't required to create an account. They could use the express checkout, and if they wanted to, those details could be used to create an account at the end of the process. We find that most people use the Express Checkout regardless of whether they have used the site before or not. 
 
 
Something which we've always considered important, is allowing customers to pay on the website pages where they are making their purchase, rather than re-directing to the payment processors site (such as Paypal). This became a more complex process with the introduction of stringent PCI DSS compliance rules, but this was something we were able to overcome with the new cart by offering iFrame integration. This means that our clients can allow their customers to pay on-site, using various payment options, but for the transactions to be processed through the payment processors systems, meaning that no credit card data is stored or transfered on our clients sites. 
 
Lessons Learned
 
Throughout the development process, we have learned a great deal about how customers interact with shopping carts when dealing with an ecommerce website, and have been able to apply this to the ecommerce solution that we offer our clients. 
 
We know that shorter shopping carts perform much better,  so it became a case of learning just how short a cart needed to be to perform well, while retaining all of the features that a good shopping cart needs. 
 
We know that on-site payments are better for conversion, so we learned how to make that happen in the most efficient, and hassle-free way for our clients.
 
We learned which features of a shopping cart pull customers through to the end, and what may potentially halt or slow down their progress. We then built the cart around removing these features. 
 
Overall we feel that we have achieved a lot in developing our new cart, with clients reporting increases in shopping cart conversions, and a drop in shopping cart abandonment. 
 

Posted on March 28th 2011 at 01:48pm
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Wednesday 05th January 2011 Attract Customers and Increase Sales With Great Customer Support

With the current state of e-commerce stores, customer service is an easy way to distinguish yourself from your competition. Great customer support will increase your sales by resolving any issues your customers have. It will also attract new customers due to satisfied customers promoting your business for you.
 
Dealing with customers one-to-one isn't the most appealing concept for any store manager. It is easy to avoid them and hide behind your website. This will leave customers feeling ignored, cold, and (most importantly) less likely to continue purchasing from your store. With your competitors' stores being just one click away, and with social media's ability to turn one dissatisfied customer into a PR disaster, great customer service is more important than ever. 
 
What Do Customers Want?
 
What customers really want is for you to care. They want to feel like you are genuinely concerned that they are satisfied with their experience shopping at your store. If you can provide this, you will create repeat customers who will recommend your store to others.
 
There are many ways to improve your e-commerce store's customer service:
 
Prompt Replies
 
This could mean employing a customer service representative, who will be able to quickly reply to any customer queries. Another approach is to have a dedicated telephone line. This allows customers to call you at their own convenience should they have query or run into a problem.
 
If you respond using e-mail, is important to have a help desk so that all queries are dealt with as efficiently as possible. While in an ideal world instantaneous response is best, pragmatically that isn't always possible. Having a help desk is the next best thing.
 
Proactive Customer Service
 
Rather than wait for customers to come to you with their problems, you could be the one to initiate contact. Customers can appreciate this level of service when it is done right. For example, if a customer abandons an order before completion, you can contact them offer further assistance should they want it. It shows that you care and might also create an extra sale.
 
Offering customers many opportunities to give feedback is also a great way to be proactive about customer service. It can highlight problems that you didn't realize existed, allowing you to increase both your customers' satisfaction and your sales. This can be done through social media like Twitter and Facebook.
 
An Extensive, Easy-To-Use FAQ Page
 
Not all customers are willing to contact a customer service rep, and this can mean the loss of a sale. A frequently asked questions page can provide answers to common queries without any need to contact your company. On top of that, it will save time for both yourself and your customers.
 
Show Your Human Side
 
Online profiles of everyone in your company with pictures gives your website a more friendly feel. This can be particularly effective with customer service representatives. If they send an e-mail, you could include a picture in their signature. These small personal touches can make a big difference.
 
You could also add a blog to your store. A blog can be like the public face of your store. It allows customers "to get to know" your store, building trust and removing doubt, and thereby encouraging a sale.
 

Posted on January 05th 2011 at 05:25pm
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Monday 29th November 2010What Does the UK VAT Increase Mean for E-Commerce?

As part of the 2010 UK emergency budget given by Chancellor George Osborne, it was announced that VAT would rise from 17.5% to 20% on 4 January 2011. Other VAT rates aren't affected such as zero-rated items (such as children's clothes, foodstuffs, and books) and reduced rate items (such as safety items, sanitary products, and household fuel and power).
 
If you haven't already considered how your business will handle the VAT increase, now is the time to do so. While it may mean a difficult time to come over the next few years, those who come out on top may have bigger profits to come in the long-term.
 
How Will the VAT Increase Affect the Economy?
 
It is expected that this move will create £13 billion extra revenue for the government every year. However, it will undoubtedly also hit consumer spending and retail jobs.
 
The Centre for Retail Research have predicted that 9,480 stores will close in 2011, and a further 5,000 in 2012. If that wasn't bad enough, 47,000 staff will lose their jobs, accounting for 1.6% of the available labour force.
 
This is gloomy news to be sure, but this isn't the case for all sectors. Discount stores are actually expected to increase, as more people try to pick up bargains.
 
How Will It Affect E-Commerce?
 
Richard Dodd, from the British Retail Consortium, and Maureen Hinton, from retail analysts Verdict, have both suggested that the VAT increase might bring a rise in consumer spending on e-commerce websites in 2010. A short-term increase in e-commerce may occur due to consumers bringing forward their purchases to avoid the increase. 
 
In the midterm, customers may turn to the Internet for cheaper prices than they can find on the high street. However, in the long-term all retailers are probably going to have to work harder to make consumers part with their money.
 
What To Do
 
The big question facing businesses is whether to absorb the increase, to pass it on to customers, or to take the middle way.
 
eBay surveyed 600 of their top sellers regarding the VAT, and 25% of them said they would absorb the entire increase. The Centre for Retail Research, mentioned above, suggest that the extra VAT will be passed on in full to the public as increased prices. Their survey found that 64% of retailers would pass on most of the increase to consumers within the first month.
 
The VAT increase will affect both consumer demand and the profitability of your business. If you don't want your income to be affected by the increase, you must consider how to streamline your business -- to lower your costs and increase your revenue.
 
You can read a detailed guide concerning the VAT increase on the HMRC website.
 

Posted on November 29th 2010 at 11:35am
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Labels: vat increase

Tuesday 23rd November 2010Improve Your E-Commerce Store Conversion Rate

Selling to 2% of the people who visit your site instead of 1% might seem negligible, but in the world of conversion rates that means a doubling of your number of sales. And when you consider that making that jump to 2% might mean making one small tweak to your store, you will realise how worthwhile improving your conversion rate could be.
 
Below are a number of suggestions on how you can improve your e-commerce store's conversion rate.
 
Make Customers Feel Secure 
 
Nobody wants to be ripped off. Anyone visiting your store for the first time, in order to make a purchase, must be satisfied that you aren't going to run off with their money. They want to know that you are a real company with ordinary and friendly people behind it.
 
Anything you can do to overcome that nagging doubt will improve your conversion rate. And if you make them feel comfortable enough to purchase from you once, then you will also have more repeat customers.
 
This could mean using making sure your website is secure and letting people know about it with things like a secure payments logo, having an About Us page that lets your customers get closer to you, having a contact telephone number, and having a professional-looking website generally.
 
Easy And Efficient Navigation
 
Making it easy to navigate your store is deceptively difficult. This is because your site must cater to several different types of visitor: there are those looking for a particular product; there are those that wish to browse through a particular category of product; and there are those who simply wish to browse randomly.
 
Amazon typifies great e-commerce navigation. Realizing the your store must help visitors with different objectives is key to creating more sales. 
 
Improve Product Copy 
 
People don't want to buy something they will later regret. When reading copy, the customer may fear that the product is being exaggerated in order to create more sales. You want your description to be authoritative, and your customers to trust rather than doubt. 
 
Customers want to make an informed decision, based on what they want. By telling the customer the features and the benefits of a product in a compelling yet understated way, they will be much more likely to buy.
 
Taking Customers to the Checkout 
 
After customers have made the decision to buy, it is critical that you put them on a greased slide towards purchasing. This means that pages should load quickly, nothing should take the customer out of the shopping cart, customers should only have to type in their details once, and the process should be easy. 
 
A small stumbling block between the time the customer decides to buy and when they actually make their purchase can lower the conversion rate of your e-commerce store considerably. But on the bright side, identifying and removing such a stumbling block will instantaneously increase your income.
 
Conclusion
 
There are many things you can do to improve your conversion rate. For many, the amount of things that could be done is daunting. When you already have the day-to-day running of the store to contend with, such things get put on a to-do list and then never get done.
 
Implementing changes like those mentioned above can significantly increase your revenue. Even if you already have a busy schedule, it is worth finding time to make these changes. Your bank balance will thank you for it.
 

Posted on November 23rd 2010 at 12:02pm
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Labels: conversion

Thursday 23rd September 2010What Makes a Successful Ecommerce Website?

At this moment in time there are around 90,000,000 active .com domain names out there on the internet. That's a lot! The figure, courtesy of a monitoring service provided by IntelligentEye, also does no take into account .co.uk, .net, .org domains and so on.
 
Of those 90 million .com domains, 374,579 active domains also contain the word "store". While that doesn't necessarily mean that those domains are ecommerce stores, and while this figure does in no way account for all of those ecommerce stores that don't use the work "store" in their domain, the point I'm making is that there are incredibly high numbers of websites out there, and a fair number of these are ecommerce websites.
 
So what can you do to make yourself stand out in this ocean of ecommerce websites? Well, you can start by understanding what makes a successful ecommerce website and making sure that yours fits the bill. The following are a few of our suggestions as to what makes a good ecommerce website:
 
Keep it simple
Have you ever visited a website where there was so much information that you didn't know where to click first, or whether you should click at all? Chances are you didn't stay on the website very long and you didn't take anything away from the site when you left.
 
Keep your ecommerce store simple and straightforward. Make important information easy to find and keep your click paths as short as possible. If people have to click more than 2 times to reach a particular goal, they tend to take their clicks elsewhere. 
 
Know your buyers
This fits in well with keeping things simple. Know who you are selling to and what they would want to see. It isn't always easy to know what your audience wants, but if you're in the right market, you've done your research and you're confident in your product or products, then you should have a good idea about how to sell to your target buyers.
 
Categorise your site according to what will capture your audiences attention and make on-site decisions as easy as possible for the site visitor. Make use of opportunities to cross or up-sell and with all of your site content and ask yourself if it is relevant; will my audience care?
 
Make good use of images
It's well known that when people look at website on the internet, they browse. They don't read, they simply skim for things that might capture their attention. Therefore it makes sense to try and use images and graphics to convey who you are and what you sell. 
 
Of course that doesn't mean that text should be neglected, text is just as important, but it's knowing when to use it and how to use it. For example, you should have clear headings and use emotive words. If these are well placed on the page and can help visitors find exactly what they're looking for then your site will be far more successful than a website that has a lot of small descriptive text that gives far more information than necessary at that stage.
 
Call to action
A call to action is a feature of your website that asks your customer to perform a function. Examples of these are buy now buttons, contact us buttons, newsletter sign up forms and free trial sign up forms. 
 
Calls to action are very important and should be used in prominent places on every page of your site. Some websites make the mistake of placing all of their calls to action on their homepage, but visitors doesn't necessarily enter your site at the homepage. The whole purpose of having a website at all is that you can connect with your audience. You need them to click to buy or to sign up to your newsletter. You need your visitors to try your free trial or to get in touch with you. Do yourself a favour, and give your visitors every opportunity.
 
Boost visitor confidence
A lot of activity online is supported by the fact that people are able to feel safe and secure on a website. If a visitor doesn't feel safe or secure then they will not interact with your website. There are various things that you can do to make your visitors feel safe and reassured such as, displaying your safety certifications on your site, including safe payment logos. You should make sure that you give your visitors enough information about shipping and delivery so that they feel well informed on the situation when dealing with you, and you should offer ways for people to get in touch with you if they need to. 
 
Overall, making a success of any ecommerce website is to know your audience and understand what it is that encourages them to buy online. With this understanding you can choose the right images and text, you can answer any potential concerns they may have before the even have them and you can encourage the visitor to perform certain actions on your website. If you are able to take these points into consideration, and you are not afraid to test out different approaches, you can be guaranteed that your website will more successful than a large number of those that are currently out there.
 

Posted on September 23rd 2010 at 08:22pm
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Friday 13th August 2010InovicaStore Wins Contract with Californian Company

InovicaStore are pleased to announce that they have won a contract with a Californian company to design and build a new ecommerce website for the sale of equestrian goods.
 
Company Director, Gerald Fisher, searched the internet for a company who could develop a bespoke website solution for his business, which focuses on the sale of carriages and equine accessories needed.
 
After contacting us initially we spoke on the phone with Gerald to piece together exactly what he was looking for in an ecommerce site, and to develop a plan for moving forward. We have been working steadily with Gerald now for a number of weeks to create something which will add to his business and expand his market beyond that of California and the West Coast of America. 
 
Never having met, we have found working remotely to be as effective as working with clients here in the UK. By ensuring that we built an understanding of how to work together in the beginning of the relationship, we are able to comfortably move forward with this project, constantly taking positive strides in bringing together Only Equestrian.com.
 
While the project is still currently underway, please check back at onlyequestrian.com to see the finished and populated site.
 
 

Posted on August 13th 2010 at 04:25pm
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Saturday 24th July 2010Social Media and Ecommerce

You may look at Facebook and Twitter, then look at your online business and think; what's the connection? No doubt you will have heard that social media can be beneficial to your business, but you may not be 100% sure how to go about reaping those benefits. 
 
There are a number of different ways that social media can be an effective tool for your business. The biggest and best thing that social media can do for you is to raise awareness about business. You should set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your business and then set about losing all of those preconceived ideas about Facebook being a place to put your holiday photographs and Twitter being a place to let people know that you are in the kitchen making a cup of tea. Who cares?
 
Well that is kind of the point, what do people care about, and want to know about? If they choose to follow your business because they're interested in what you sell or what you do, they're going to want to know about new products that you have, special offers that you are running, if you are going to appear at a specific trade fair or are looking to recruit new staff. If there is some important industry news that pertains to your products, they might want to know about that. They might want to see photographs of new products or they might want an easy way to let their friends know about what you do, which is the aim of the game with social media.
 
Once you have mastered the art of sending useful information to a group of interested customer and potential customers, the hope is that the network of people who know about your business will start to expand through the social media network. Friends of friends of friends will see updates about your business on someones page and become interested as well. You might end up starting a dialogue on Twitter that brings people to your site to find out what all of the fuss is about.
 
Another key factor in social media is blogging. Ideally you should have a blog on your own website where you can write about anything and everything pertaining to your business and your industry. Think outside of the box; write about things which your audience would be interested in outside of the products that you sell. The blog shouldn't really be a place where you whole-heartedly plug your products. Sales should come as a result of the right kind of audience finding your website and seeing that you really know what you're taking about. 
 
Social media is about broadening the horizons of your business by increasing awareness and building interest. If people don't know you exist then there is no point in being online. Let people know that you are there, let them know what you have to offer, and let them know that they can trust you to know more about your industry than anyone else out there.
 

Posted on July 24th 2010 at 07:33am
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Labels: social media

Tuesday 13th July 2010Choosing Shipping that is Right for Your Store

Shipping can be a complex task in itself. Packaging up the goods and making sure they get from A to B in good condition and on time, at a fair price is a challenge that all business who ship for themselves will face.
 
There are a number of strategies that you can implement when it comes to charging your customers for shipping. The effectiveness or your strategy will really depend upon what sort of items you are shipping, who your customer base is and what sort of margins you are able to make on the products that you sell. 
 
Here we will go through a few really basic approaches that might work for you:
 
1) Free Shipping
Depending on your product, you might already be making great margins on the sale price alone, so you may be able to offer free shipping in the hopes that offering your customers a deal will encourage sales. If you don't have particular large margins on the sale of the products alone, you might want to consider increasing the prices slightly and then offering free shipping, again in the hopes that your customers will see free shipping as a bonus, even if they have to pay a little more for the item in the first place.
 
2) Flat Rate Shipping
Working on the principle of a flat rate of shipping, no matter what it is that is shipped, lets your customers know that you are willing to be reasonable when implementing pricing. This can increase confidence in people buying on your site, both in the fact that your shipping policy seems very fair, but also in the fact that they might feel that they are getting a deal if they purchase more items. 
 
3) Variable Pricing Based on Price / Weight / No. of Items
This is a favourite amongst many online retailers, and you should be able to easily set up a variable shipping policy very easily with your ecommerce store platform. This works on the basis that shipping will start of fairly cheap for low cost and low weight items, or if there are only one or two items in the basket. As the price, weight or number of items increases, so does the shipping price. The best way to do this is to have a base rate, and then set an additional incremental price structure that lets you cover your costs, but doesn't weight to heavily on your customers wallet or purse. 
 
Based on your products, margins and customer base, you may already know which of the above methods would be best to suit your online business. If not, don't be afraid to test and evaluate different strategies. Making a success of an online business can be a case of trial and error until you get everything just right. Treat the experience as a learning process so that, like any business, you can aim to grow and develop, making good choices along the way.

Posted on July 13th 2010 at 03:10pm
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Saturday 03rd July 2010Ten Tips to Optimise your online store

 There are some fundamental, and simple, steps that you can take to improve the ranking of your site and just as importantly the product pages within your store. The following are ten tips that we recommend
 
1.  What do your customers really search for?
 
You might think you know what your customers will search for to find your site and to find your products, but guesswork should not be a tool that you use.  If you don’t already have one, set up a Google Adwords account and use the keyword tool to find out what keywords people actually search for. This way you know the keywords and phrases that you should use on your site.
 
2.  The Page Title
 
The page title is single most important factor in your on-site optimisation, so it is critical that you have your keywords and phrases within this tag.  We suggest a maximum of 65 characters for the title tag, so you need to be concise.  Also, try to include the keyword towards the start of your title tag and ensure that each page is unique.
 
3.  Meta Information and ALT tags
 
Meta information is hidden information that does not appear on the web page itself.  A meta description tag, for example, is usually used as part of a search engine serach result.  It is therefore important to include your keywords within the description.
 
Images within your pages can have ALT tags. These are hidden tags that the search engines view and are also important in on-site optimisation.
 
4.  Header Tags.  Product Names
 
Use H1 Headings on a page to emphasise the most important keywords for your page.  For example, put your product names into these. You can also use H2 headings for secondary terms.  We would suggest that all your content should have unique title tags and headings, targeting 
 
5.  Search Engine Friendly URLs
 
Ensure that that your ecommerce system can handle keyword-friendly URLs. Often sites have a URL that could look similar to this:
 
https://www.domain.com/catalogue.html?product_id=147&back=search&category_id=549
 
The following would be better:
 
https://www.domain.com/kitchenaid-k5-planetary-food-mixer-d147.html
 
6.  XML Sitemap(s)
 
All sites should have a sitemap to help both the search engines and site visitors to navigate a site.  It is also possible to create a sitemap that is easy for the search engines to catalogue a site and these are called XML sitemaps.  In conjunction with a robots.txt file, sitemaps are a powerful way of providing the search engines with 
submit it. Link to your sitemaps from a from a robots.txt file.
 
7.  Google Base Feed
 
Google Base is an online database provided by Google that provides a mechanism to store structured data and for it to be searchable.  It is ideal for uploading product information and our experience is that it can drive good search volume to a website
 
8.  Blogs
 
Although writing blogs can take time, they are a great way of creating keyword-focused content that search engines like.  For an ecommerce site, create a blog on your site and write about topics such as new products added to the database, industry information or tips on how to use some of your products.  Keep the information fresh and genuinely interesting and the search engines will like it.
 
9.  Page content
 
Optimising titles, meta tags and URLs are all important, but creating content on your pages is also key to show the search engine what the topics are about. Consistency in the keywords, in the tags and content is very important.  We also suggest that you try to ensure that your keywords are as close to the top of the page as possible.
 
10.  Regular updates are good
 
The search engines visit your online store on a regular basis looking for new content and often they make the assumption that newly added content is the most worthwhile.  Updating your site regularly, including your blog, new products and updating your product information keeps the search engines visiting, catalogue and ranking you.
 
There is no magic bullet here, but each and every one of the tips above when used in combination are very powerful. Ensure that the keywords used remain constant on each page to maximise the effect.

Posted on July 03rd 2010 at 08:55am
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