It happens all the time. People buy a domain, put up websites they think are better than their competitors’ and then just can’t understand why other sites outrank theirs. They push too hard, copy what other sites are doing, and then are baffled when their rankings tank. I worked for this type of e-commerce company and learned from their mistakes. So, if this description fits your expectations, please read on.
Design and Rankings
Okay, it’s time to get over thinking that your amazing web design is reason enough for people to prefer your website. Sure, a great design will appeal to visitors and will make you look like a professional company. Easy navigation will keep visitors on your site longer and fast loading pages will help deter back clicks. But, as far as rankings are concerned, there is much more than looks involved. When you right click on your mouse and select “view source,” then you’re looking at what the search engines care about. It’s the skeleton of your website. The search engines know which content to attribute to your template and when there is actually original content from one page to another. They know when you copy the manufacturers’ description for every product. As cool as your site may look, if you’re not presenting something better than your competitor’s sites’, the search engines don’t have a reason to rank your site higher.
Copying the Competition
Yes, you can learn from observing the things that make your competition successful. But, remember, when you copy what your competitor does right, you are also copying what your competitor does wrong. What your competitor does wrong may not be getting your competitor in trouble today, but if there are tricks involved, it’s a safe bet your competitor could get in trouble when a future algorithm update occurs.
Worrying About New Sites Ranking
This is the big one I heard about all the time. The company owner was furious when a brand new site came along and outranked his site. The best advice I can give you here is: relax. That site is enjoying a brief debut in the rankings while the search engines are exploring the site’s behavior. Chances are, that site won’t be showing up for that ranking for very long.
Safe Ways to Promote a New Site
New website owners are anxious to bring traffic in, but the wrong approach will land the site in Google’s sandbox where it will sit for months. Rather than focus on building links to a new site, you’re better off finding ways to encourage natural links. While many new business owners want to postpone social networking until a later date or cannot think how social networking will translate into sales, sharing your quality content will encourage others to link to it. Network with others in groups or complimentary fan pages. You might discover a cross-promotion opportunity.
When you do build your own links, start out with brand links, i.e. http://www.yourdomain.com, www.yourdomain.com, yourdomain.com, or your domain. If your business is a local one, get your business citations out there with business listing websites and network in community groups answering questions related to your business. Join associations related to your niche. These often provide high quality links.
Staying safe and experiencing steady growth may make you anxious, but you are far better off experiencing slow growth than risking harming your website. Familiarize yourself with the Google webmaster tools guidelines and focus the majority of your energy on making your website deserve to rank higher than your competitors. Improve the quality of your product pages, choosing your most popular products first. It’s a lot of work, but doing a good job of it will pay off.
Theresa Happe works with BuyDomains.com, a website where you’ll find available and premium domain names for sale, hosting services, registration, and excellent agent assistance.
The original iPad, when it was introduced by Steve Jobs, was called by some the “Jesus tablet” because of its miraculous properties. In the spirit of this idea, we can point out that some concepts of marketing must be followed religiously for an internet business to succeed.
Commandment Number One. Thou shalt tell the truth. No business, on the internet or off of it will survive very long if they do not offer an honest product or service, and stand behind that product or service.
Commandment Number Two. Thou shalt over deliver. The competition is brutal out there, and if you are not willing to go the extra step to give your customer what he wants, someone else will.
Commandment Number Three. Thou shalt listen to thy customers. Feed back and reviews are the best way to improve a business. Outside of yourself, no one knows your product like the people who have used it. Take their advice.
Commandment Number Four. Thou shalt adapt. The competition is not only brutal, but it is growing by the day. You have to always be on the lookout for new ways to attract customers.
Commandment Number Five. Thou shalt diversify. A business cannot afford to be stagnant, especially in e-commerce. When trends shift, so must you, or be left behind.
Commandment Number Six. Thou shalt be flexible.Offer your customers as many ways to work with you as you possibly can. Credit cards, Paypal, debit cards. One entrepreneur made a sale because he was willing to accept, and wait, for a check, while others had no way of coping with the demand.
Commandment Number Seven. Thou shalt live by the golden rule. Which is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treat not only your customers, but your suppliers, your competitors and your staff or service providers with respect.
Commandment Number Eight. Thou shalt be fair. Even when life isn’t fair, if you want to stand out above the crowd, make sure your policies are fair and treat customers right.
Commandment Number Nine. Thou shalt remain educated. The internet and e-commerce change at lightening speeds, and the only ones who can survive in this business are the ones who always know about the latest development, who can spot new trends and use the information to their advantage.
Commandment Number Ten. Thou shalt act sooner rather than later.With these lightening speeds come lightening fast decisions. Once you have decided that an action has to be taken, take it. Innovation and adaptation are more critical in the internet world than anywhere.
If you need an internet marketing guru check this out before you hire. A quick background check will give you all of the information you need to protect your website and your investments.
Within e-commerce and social media marketing circles, “privacy” seems to be the new watchword… and I doubt it’s going to go away any time soon.
Customers have long shown that sites like Amazon, which remember them and make appropriate suggestions based on their profiles and order histories, are appreciated and can be more profitable than simple straightforward storefronts. But on the other hand, consumers are pushing back hard against anything that they consider to be unauthorized, or unwarranted, sharing of their information.
This can be seen in the unveiling of Facebook’s new, detailed privacy settings, which have come after years of outcry in protest from consumer groups. Those follow similar concerns leveled at companies like Apple and Google, whom certain buyers feel are sharing too much of their personal information – or aren’t doing enough to protect it.
For the world’s biggest companies, these are headaches that have to be dealt with. For smaller businesses, however, they are even bigger warnings. That’s because, even though you might not have the ability to share information about your customers with billions of people at a time, you also probably can’t afford the lawsuits or negative public relations that would come with a backlash over customer privacy concerns.
And so, if you pay attention to the online business media, the message is clear: It’s OK to keep and use some info about your customers, but don’t share, sell, or post it in public without permission, because it could cost you heavily later. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and keep details to yourself. There’s very little to be gained from spreading information about your customers, or even other companies, over the Internet, and very much to be lost.
Over the next few years, it’s a virtual certainty that a handful of small businesses will disappear because they haven’t been discreet enough about buyer information. Respecting people’s privacy is the best way to make sure your company doesn’t become one of them.
If you’ve found yourself thinking that a new business website is just what you need to jumpstart your company, but that the price of having one professionally designed is tough to swallow, then you are not alone. In this economy, business owners are being faced with the twin challenges of getting more creative with their marketing – online and off – while still keeping costs down.
It’s no surprise that many are tempted to invest in a new business website, but cut corners in the process. Sometimes there’s just no way around it, but be careful where you try to save. Here are three terrible ways to try to lower the cost of a business web design:
By using a stock template. The problem with template sites isn’t that they can never look good, it’s that they rarely look good once you have installed and uploaded them. It’s easy for a site to look great with stock photos in dummy text, but only one that’s built for your company is going to help your business stand out from the millions of others on the web.
By going with the lowest bidder. While you don’t always get what you pay for, making business web design decisions based solely on price tends to get people in trouble. Why? Because there are only so many ways to reduce the cost of the business website, and cutting the amount of time and features that go in is the easiest one. This work will most likely be done by an off-shore firm that will be hard to contact and communicate with when you need them most. Working with a local firm you can meet with is always worth the extra you may pay.
By skipping a copywriter. No matter how great your site looks, the words on your pages have to be persuasive enough to get visitors to take action if you’re going to see any return on investment. Either invest the time you need to get the words right yourself, or the money to hire a professional writer – there’s no sense in saving a few dollars on writing if it’s going to cost you much more later.
Contact us for even more ideas.
More and more, a trip to a business web designer’s office is like visiting an auto showroom. You can talk all you want about what’s important to you, or what you are hoping to find, but few business owners understand what it is they are looking for other than something pretty and shiny. They know what looks good, but that doesn’t give much insight into what a website looks like “under the hood.”
But as important as layouts and web designs are, performance is incredibly important when it comes to earning back the money you’ll spend on a quality business website. With that in mind, here are three things you should look for in any sample you like. They might not be obvious, and they may take a little work for you to check out, but we can promise it’s worth it:
Website loading times. There are a lot of truly beautiful business websites out there that turned out to be terrible business tools. Why? Because in this day and age, no one is going to sit around for 15 or 20 seconds while your site loads. You might think that doesn’t stop them, but if your design team is stuck on old software or ideas, they can really slow your site down.
Ease of navigation. In the same way, there are more choices than ever on the Internet. Hoping that customers will hang around long enough to find what they’re looking for isn’t good enough – they should be able to reach their ultimate destination in three clicks or less. A good business web design team will help you create a site that’s as easy on your customers’ patience as it is their eyes.
Capability across browsers, computers, and smart phones. A modern business website doesn’t just have to load in several different browsers and computer setups, but may have to be accessible via smart phones and other mobile devices, as well. Regardless of whether you are going to offer separate mobile sites, make sure that what you’re getting can be viewed by customers with any kind of Internet access.
Contact us to learn more.
With e-mail, those of us who are careful – or have made the wrong kinds of mistakes in the past – know how important it is to “think before you hit send.” Guess what? The same applies to anything you’re tempted to put on Twitter. In fact, whereas an e-mail might only go out to a single person, or even a group of contacts, anything you tweet has the potential to be shared with the whole world.
With that in mind, here are four very good reasons to reread each and every tweet one more time before you send it out:
Reading your tweets only takes a moment. Whatever you can say in 144 characters or less you can read in under 10 seconds. That’s reason enough to look for typos, unintended innuendos, etc.
It’s easier than you might think to be misunderstood. The world is full of people who lament the fact that their words were misunderstood. It only takes one mistake for people to change their entire opinion of you and your company, so make sure that you’re looking at your tweets from someone else’s perspective.
You never want to say the wrong thing in a public forum. There are some things that are only said or discussed behind closed doors for good reason. Don’t share information about yourself or your company that doesn’t belong on a website that could be seen by thousands or millions.
There’s one last chance to change your mind. We have all said and written things in a moment of anger or frustration that we wish we could take back. That’s part of life, but it can be a much bigger problem if your unhappy moment has been tweeted for the world to see.
It only takes a few seconds to read what you’re about to post to Twitter, but taking the time can save you a lot of trouble later.
Contact us if you have any questions.
A surprising number of business owners and web designers place a supreme importance on search engine optimization, but fail to make the most use of the visitors they do receive. In other words, they do a great job of attracting traffic, but a poor job of turning that traffic into sales.
In order to help you avoid the same mistake, here is one great way to make your search engine optimization campaign more effective: Make it easier for visitors to return to your site.
Have you ever found yourself looking for a book that you knew you owned, but just couldn’t seem to find? Well, your potential customers have that same feeling all the time. They vaguely remember finding some product, resource, or information, but are often unable to remember where it was, or how they even came upon it in the first place.
Obviously, you don’t want that to happen, since it’s a waste of all of your hard work… not to mention the time and money you’ve invested in search engine optimization. With that in mind, here are a few quick suggestions to help you bring more visitors back to your site:
Encourage them to bookmark your pages. Why not remind visitors to bookmark your pages? Sure, many of them might ignore the suggestion, but more than a few won’t.
Offer a free newsletter. We all like to get free information, especially if it’s accompanied by discounts, special deals, and other insider information. The more subscribers you have, the more regular visitors to your website you’ll gain.
Mention content updates. If you have the kind of business website that features new articles, information, and insight all the time, then why not tell people about it? If they like what they have seen so far, they may decide to return.
Contact us for more ideas like this.
Search engine optimization ultimately comes down to one thing: keywords. Whether it’s adding them to your page titles, or generating more content for your website or blog, having the right words and phrases – the ones that people are searching for most on Google, Yahoo, and Bing – is what makes the process go.
And so, it only makes sense that, when looking to maximize your search engine position, you should do whatever you can to work in as many keywords and phrases on your business website as possible… or does it?
On the surface, more is definitely better. But a deeper look at the art and science of search engine optimization will show that it isn’t just about quantity, but quality. In other words, obsessing about keywords isn’t likely to get you the result you’re hoping for. There are really two good reasons why:
Having too many keywords actually works against you. Referred to within the SEO community as “keyword stuffing,” endlessly cramming different words and phrases onto your page tips off search engine spiders that you’re trying to game the system. And so, rather than increasing your SEO visibility, you actually end up hurting your site’s position – or even getting it banned altogether.
Sloppy writing is bad for conversions. Assuming that you’re hoping your SEO plan will actually lead to more sales or inquiries, then your site needs to be as persuasive as it is keyword-rich. Taking the time to craft headlines in paragraphs that make sense, while incorporating keywords, is preferable to finding unnatural ways to fit more keywords into an existing draft.
A good search engine optimization plan can certainly do wonders for your business, but that doesn’t mean that the search for more keywords and phrases should trump everything else. Use common sense when adding them to your site, and you’ll get the result that’s good for all the parts of your online marketing plan.
The Other Use for Important E-Commerce Keywords
E-commerce websites and search engine optimization go hand in hand, and so most owners of online stores are already very, very familiar with the most important keywords and phrases they need to use. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that SEO isn’t the only place on your e-commerce site where you can make use of keywords – they can also sit in product descriptions to help your customers find what they’re looking for more easily.
Why should that be important? Well, imagine that you are potential buyer who has a desperate need for a specific product. But, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to remember what it’s called, what the brand name is, or how it differs from the one you had before (for example).
In each of these cases, the one thing that would help you out would be to search by keyword or product category. And although most e-commerce sites have these as options, more than a few have product information that is incomplete, outdated, or hard to access. These might seem like small mistakes, and they are, but over time they could end up costing you a substantial amount of money if a high number of visitors aren’t able to search your catalog.
Chances are, you’ve already devoted a lot of time and energy in the past to the study of keywords. But just as you want your site to be visible to search engines; it’s important that every product you sell is just as visible to your customers, too. If it’s been a while since you have updated the keywords on your product descriptions, make a point of going through them again soon. And if you have the kind of content management system that doesn’t currently allow for keyword searches, talk to us today about making your online store more profitable.
If you regularly read about what’s new in the world of online marketing, then you already know that social media can be a wonderful tool for bringing new customers to your business. There’s only one problem with that, though: The people who need it the most – small business owners and the self-employed – don’t have enough time to devote to it.
Simply put, you can’t just run a successful campaign on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and leave it on autopilot. To really make your mark takes a constant flow of fresh content and interesting ideas.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though, or that you should give up on trying to find new customers through social media. Here are a handful of quick tips to help you make the most of the massive Internet trend of this social network marketing:
Stay on message. To find new customers, you have to create content that is attractive to new customers. Refrain from posting information only about your personal life, and look for details that potential buyers might be interested in.
Keep on task. By the same token, part of the reason so many business owners struggle with social media marketing is that they get distracted. As much as you want to see someone’s joke of the day, or vacation photos, save those for part of the day when you don’t need to be productive.
Set time limits. How long should you really be spending on social sites… at least as a marketer? Limit yourself to 15 or 20 min., and then move on to something else. That’s long enough to make some posts if you are following the first two tips.
Track the results. A lot of business owners tend to get very interested in social network marketing right around the moment they start to see results. Keep track of customers, visits to your website, and other success indicators, and you’ll have an easier time finding a few minutes to throw into the project.
Hire a team of social media marketing experts. If it seems like too much work for you to fit into your busy schedule, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out altogether. There are all kinds of social media marketing experts and contractors who can help you maintain your profiles and reach your business goals.
Contact us ti see if we can help you.