So you have a great product and you want to start selling online? What are your options?
There are a few ways of doing it:
If you decide on this option you’ll need to set up a web hosting account and then install whichever eccommerce package you choose. This is only going to be an option if you’re comfortable with setting up and managing a web hosting account and have the confidence to deal with problems if they occur. It’s NOT an option for the novice as you are responsible for keeping the software up to date and ‘glitch’ free.
There are lots of open source shopping carts available – open source is free to use and is developed by the combined efforts of programmers and users that form a community around the project. They also have active support forums where you can go for help and advice for installing, settin up and managing your online store.
Thirdy party outlets are sites like Amazon, eBay and Etsy. You generally pay a monthly fee to list items and then pay a comission when a product sells.
The advantage of selling on sites like these is that you have instant access to their huge customer base and many of them have a faithful following. From a practical point of view there’s also the advantage that you don’t have to worry about things like payment processing and site security, which of course these days is of utmost importance.
The downside is that you are at the whim of such sites and it’s not unheard of for changes in their policies or site to affect your sales, making you rather vulnerable and lacking in control. Most of them are also very customer centric which of course is not a bad thing in itself but many customers can use this as a form of bribery, knowing that threatening a seller with a negative review can sometimes mean they take advantage and make unreasonable demands!
You also have to pay commisions which can be as high as 20% of the selling price so you have to make sure you take this into account with your pricing.
From the outside this looks just like the first option – you have your own website on your own web address but this is where the similarity ends. You don’t have to set up the hosting or install the shopping cart, that’s all done by the shopping cart themselves. All you have to do is create your account and you’re good to start setting up your shop.
There are plenty of shopping carts to choose from, each varying in functionality and price but my two favourites have to be Shopify and Bigcommerce. They’re both very easy to set up and have lost of great functionality like being able to have product options (sell a shirt in different colours and/or sizes in one product).
Both have some good looking free templates so when you’re starting out you don’t need to pay a designer a fortune to get your shop looking decent.
Not sure which to choose? Both offer a free trial so set one up and have a play!
Google have recently circulated an email in forums and online communities (an excerpt of which is below) stating that Google My Business pages that haven’t been verified will be unduly closed down on 28th July 2015. Here’s what they said:
In the past few months, you may have seen some changes in the look of Google+ pages that have been associated with Google My Business (GMB) accounts. These changes, including how we treat business pages without owners, are part of Google’s ongoing effort to simplify people’s experience with our tools. We are constantly working to provide only valuable and rich content to our users.
On July 28, Google will begin shutting down those GMB-associated Google+ pages that have not been associated with user accounts and are also not verified. You may find that some of your Business View tours also sit on such pages, but note that after this removal of unverified Google+ pages, the Business View tours will still remain available on Google Maps and Google Search.
For many small business owners the process of claiming and verifying their Google My Business or Google+ Local pages as they’re also called doesn’t always run smoothly. First you have to have a Google user account, then claim your listing and wait for your postcard to arrive with the verification code to verify the listing. Many people quite frankly don’t even know if their listing is verified, and many more end up with duplicate pages.
What IS a GMB page even?? If you’re a local business (eg a plumber or tree surgeon) your Google My Business page certainly has some SEO benefits. When you claim your page and your map listing you have the chance to rank locally in the map listing results on Google even if your website is nowhere to be found so that’s a definite advantage. So if you haven’t already claimed your listing you should do so.
What if you’re page is one of those that’s been affected? You can simply create a new Google+ page and follow their process to verify it fully to get you back in the game. Even if you’re not a purely local business you should do this – a fully completed and SEO optimised Google+ Business Page can still help your website’s ranking as a link from here to your website still carries weight.
To get your business on to Google My Business visit this page.
Have you had them? You know, those phone calls from SEO agencies promising to get you to the top of Google for your search term because you’re not ranking as well as you should be? Am I the only one that finds them a damn nuisance – I wish they’d leave me alone! And of course the emails too…. “I came across your website and notice that…..”.
I brush them off as a bit of an annoyance and politely tell them where to get off, but judging by comments I’ve seen in various Facebook groups not everyone takes the same approach. I think it’s fair to say that many small business owners actually get pretty stressed about them – after all they’re being told their website isn’t ranking and that someone has a magic pill to fix it. It’s no wonder people sign up for some ‘too good to be true’ deal and end up living to regret it.
For some it’s a case of being baffled by science: not being knowledgeable about the subject of SEO means you’re not in a position to argue or query any of the claims that are being made. For others maybe it’s pure battle weariness and they caught you on a bad day where you just didn’t have the will to say no!
But what if the person on the other end of the phone IS a good SEO guy. What if the agency really CAN do what they say they can? How can you tell?? What should you do when you get one of these sales calls and what questions should you ask?
Do You Know What My Business Does?
May seem obvious, but not you’d be surprised at how many will say no! Chances are you’re on a contact list of thousands and it’s a pure numbers game – call enough people and eventually someone will say ‘yes’. If an agency can’t even take the time to look at your site and see what your business does before calling then how much care will they take with your SEO? Time to end the call.
If they say yes, then what next?
What Search Terms Will You Rank Me For?
If they have looked at your site then they should be able to answer this. If they do, check out the search terms they’re quoting you for. Look at the search volumes in a tool like the AdWords Keyword Planner or at http://keywordtool.io/ and see if anyone is actually searching for this term. The higher the volume the harder it’ll be to rank for that term – if they’re giving you search terms will very low or non existent search volumes then frankly it won’t matter if you’re number one because no-one is looking for it! Hang up.
If they say yes hang up!! NO-ONE can guarantee a first position ranking – here’s a quote from Google themselves regarding this:
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
These three simple questions are likely to weed out 99% of the calls you get and ease your conscience along the way maybe. But what if you really want to find someone to help you, and they passed this first little test? Or what if you just need to find someone and don’t know where to start.
There are lots of reputable agencies who use cold calling as a sales technique so feel free to investigate them further and find out how they can help you. Request a written proposal and ask them exactly what they will look at before starting work: they should be looking at things like your site structure, load times, how well the site is set up to convert and whether it’s mobile friendly to name a few. It’s not just about backlinks and meta titles these days.
Google have written an excellent article about how to choose someone to do your SEO for you – you can read it here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en It goes into great detail on what you should look for and what to avoid so it’s well worth a read.
If you’re managing your own AdWords campaigns then hopefully you try and keep up with all the latest news and updates as well as looking for help with what to do to keep your account performing at its best. You’ll find countless checklists, guides and posts telling you what you SHOULD do, but what about what you SHOULDN’T do! Well here are the 5 most important things you should avoid when managing your AdWords account:
You’ve just set your brand new campaign running and you’ve got all the info on how to split test and optimise. You diligently log in every week to check your account and make those all important tweaks to improve performance. Then you miss a week…. and another….. and before you know it it’s been a month or more since you last checked on your campaigns. This is probably the most common mistake people make once they get things going and start seeing results. They think things are all tickety boo and just leave the account to get on with it. The problem with AdWords is that unless you are constantly looking for ways to improve your performance the account can stagnate – there’s always something that can be improved upon, whether that’s getting a better click through rate with a new add, or identifying new keywords that could bring you more clicks and conversions.
Action Step: Set a weekly alarm to remind you to log in and do your optimisation or if you don’t have time consider hiring a professional to manage the campaign for you.
Many businesses who manage their own accounts overlook the impact that adding negative keywords can have on an account. It’s shocking sometimes to see how much money is being wasted when people click on your ad for some completely unrelated search term – a search term for which you shouldn’t even be showing up in the first place! This is where negative keywords come in. Imagine you are advertising for your Excel training course – someone does a search on Google for ‘puppy training’ and Google in its infinite wisdom matches this search to your keyword ‘training’ and shows your ad. Clearly it’s not what they’re looking for – by adding the words ‘puppy’ and ‘dog’ as negative keywords you can stop your ads from showing for searches like this and can often save a fortune in wasted clicks.
Action Step: Check your Search Query Report regularly to see which search terms are triggering your ads and add ones which aren’t a good fit as negatives.
If you’re not using all the ad extensions that are available you’re missing a huge trick. These can add extra lines to your ad giving you extra real estate in the search results FOR FREE. At the very least you should be using Call Out Extensions and Site Link Extensions as illustrated below – callouts let you add promotional text to your ad and site links allow you to link to different pages in your site while also giving you the opportunity to say more about your company and encourage people to click on your ad.
To learn more about ad extensions see this article on Google’s help centre: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2375499?hl=en-GB
This should probably be #1 because it is hugely important – if you don’t track conversions on your website then you have absolutely no idea if your advertising is actually working. A conversion can be any action you want your visitors to take when they visit your website: fill out a form, call you, buy something or get a free download. It’s vital for the success and ongoing optimisation of your campaigns that you set up conversion tracking in your account so you can see what actions people are taking and more importantly which keywords they used and ads they clicked on to get there.
Check out the AdWords help centre for help with Conversion Tracking: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/1722054?hl=en-GB
Many times someone will click your ad and visit your site but not complete the desired action – maybe they got distracted or simply wanted more information before making the final decision. With remarketing you can ‘follow’ people around to other websites and show them your ad again to encourage them to return. OK, so if not done right it can be very creepy and make you feel a bit like you’re being followed around the internet by the sites you’ve visited, but when done properly it offers excellent conversion rates by keeping YOUR business top of mind with your visitors and reminding them about what you offer. It’s very powerful and it’s certainly something you shouldn’t be avoiding!
I’m very pleased to announce that One Eyed Cat is now an official Google Partner and we are now able to proudly display the Google Partner badge!
It means we have met Google’s requirements and that we follow best practices when managing accounts and give the best possible service to our clients.
It means you can rest assured your AdWords account is being managed by a qualified consultant who has passed Google’s exams to demonstrate their knowledge of AdWords. Partner status is also dependent on continuing to provide the best possible service to clients by continually optimising and improving your advertising campaign.
If you’re already running your own AdWords campaigns why not book a free account audit to see how your account can be improved – chances are you could save money AND get better results. There’s no commitment so you have nothing to loose – book your audit today by clicking here: https://oneeyedcat.com/book-your-audit/
Google recently started sending out alerts to website owners who have their site set up in Google Webmaster Tools. Of course this isn’t something new – you’ve always been able to set this up so you can be notified if anything is up with your site.
What these latest notifications relate to is your website’s mobile capabilities. With so many people now accessing the Internet via their smartphone it’s been pretty clear for quite some time that you should be making sure they have a great user experience whilst doing it. That’s just common sense and good business sense too.
Google has now started telling site owners when they don’t consider their website to be mobile friendly. They will tell you how many of your site’s pages it considers need to be updated and typically this is the message you’ll see:
“Google systems have tested xx pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these xx pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”
If you haven’t received a notification it might be worth logging into Webmaster Tools to check just in case you turned off these notices. And if your site isn’t verified with Webmaster Tools you need to do it now!
When you log into WMT you can check on your website’s mobile usability by going to Search Traffic -> Mobile Usability. Here it will tell you of any errors in this respect.
When Google tells you a page will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users” they’re telling you in no uncertain terms it won’t rank! Think about that for a minute. How much of your traffic comes from people searching on mobile devices? Even if it’s only 10% can you afford to lose that 10%? Let’s be honest, it’s likely to be much higher than that.
Take a look at your competitors – are their sites optimized for mobile viewing? You might outrank them on desktop searches but hey presto they could start beating you on mobile if they’re ahead of the game… Your backlinks and social profile won’t mean a thing – if your site is not mobile friendly it WON’T RANK ON GOOGLE FOR SEARCHES ON MOBILE DEVIES. Period.
Without wanting to state the obvious update your site so that it’s mobile friendly. That may mean updating your theme to a responsive one if you’re using WordPress or you might have to speak to your web designer to discuss the options. If you’re just starting out and getting your website built make sure that mobile usability is at the top of your list of specifications and don’t accept any excuses for not getting it done.
The use of mobile phones for internet browsing and shopping is only going to increase – make sure your business isn’t left behind!
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process by which we try to improve the position, or rank, of a website in the natural or ‘organic’ search engine results page (SERPs).
If you want your website to be found you have a few choices:
If you plan your SEO and execute it effectively you can quickly see results which will bring more visitors to your website.
If you’ve been reading or following anything about SEO over the past couple of months and years you’ll have heard about Google’s algorithm updates which are named after various animals. The main aim of these updates is to improve the quality of the results Google gives to its searchers.
Very often unscrupulous SEOs would use underhand techniques to try and trick Google into thinking their website or page was relevant for certain terms but the quality of these pages was poor. Google is the number one search engine and it wants to stay that way, so providing useless or spammy results in searches is not what it wants.
The most well known of these algorithm updates are Panda and Penguin: Panda targeted websites with poor quality content while Penguin focused on websites with spammy and low quality backlinks pointing to them.
When these updates rolled out thousands of websites just dropped off the front page of Google. The unfortunate part is that many bone fide businesses were affected who had inadvertently fallen foul of these updates or had been using SEO agencies who had been using dangerous techniques to rank their site
In 2015 the factors that affect ranking are no longer simply the number of backlinks and the number of times a keyword is put into the page. The focus is now on:
Google updates still keep coming while it continues in its quest to improve the results it delivers to its customers. The whole process of SEO can seem very complex and daunting but with a structured plan in place you can not only boost your website’s ranking but also keep it as safe as possible from future updates.