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Archive for the ‘website conversion’ Category

Make a Winning eCommerce Shopping Experience

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

There are many pitfalls to running an eCommerce website.  Making a winning eCommerce shopping experience means easy to order, fast (and free) delivery, and actually delivering what was ordered.

While the shopping experience itself may seem like the most important element of running an eCommerce business, the most attractive online store in the world won’t make up for a difficult checkout process, suboptimal shipping or inaccurate fulfillment practices. An online shopper is no more likely to buy a product once it’s in their shopping cart – the Baymard Institute lists the current online shopping cart abandonment rate at just more than 67 percent – but once it’s there, it’s your website’s job to do everything possible to make sure the product is paid for and sent out efficiently.

eCommerce fullfilment - get it right

Worse Than Waiting in line

It may seem like there’s nothing worse than waiting in the checkout line at the end of a shopping trip.  But what if the cashier asked you to fill out a 10 page form let you swipe your card or hand over some cash?  Exactly. This is exactly what can drive away your customers online.

Make sure your shoppers have multiple payment options – major credit cards and PayPal are recommended, although Google’s new Wallet system is quickly gaining popularity – and that you break the process into a few simple steps.

  1. Personal information such as name, address, email, etc.
  2. Payment method and information, including billing information or PayPal login as needed.
  3. Shipping options, with rates and dates, as well as shipping address information.
  4. Confirmation, giving customers a chance to look over their order one more time.

Too many steps can make this process needlessly complicated for customers, and you can lose your sale. Requiring registration before checkout, persistent pop-ups asking for coupon codes and being forced to retype the same information several times – if a customer’s home, billing and shipping addresses are all the same, they shouldn’t have to type it three times – are more than enough to aggravate a customer into going somewhere else.

Ship It Right

Assuming your payment process is clear and easy and the client confirms their purchase, the ball is in your court.

According to Entrepreneur.com, 42 percent of online shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if the shipping time is too slow. Eighty percent stated that a free shipping option was extremely important in their shopping experience – and with the success of programs like Amazon Prime, is anyone really surprised? Your eCommerce website should be clear with shipping from the start. Offering free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount can work to great success for simultaneously garnering higher sales (people will be inclined to order more) and lowering cart abandonment rates.

Choosing one shipment method for the ecommerce order fulfilment process, be it UPS, FedEx or the good old USPS, is usually the best option. However, if you intend to offer international shipping, keep that in mind when making your selection, as not all shipment services will ship everywhere you have a customer base.

A Fulfilling Experience

While half of shoppers will leave if shipping is too slow, just under one-third will never buy from a particular eCommerce site again if the order they receive is incorrect. This is where organization proves to be the most important aspect of working in eCommerce. If you mix up an order during fulfillment, chances are you’ve sent the wrong product to two customers, not just one. Yikes!  Fulfillment methods need to be customized to suit your unique situation. But regardless of how you run your business, out of your home or as supplement to a brick and mortar location,you need to keep a clear inventory, and track orders using software tailored to the process.

Don’t forget that you’re offering a product; when it all comes down to it the most important thing is to make sure it gets where it needs to go quickly and efficiently. Be concise, efficient and organized, and your website will have a winning shopping experience.

 


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Website design – time to consider tappiness seriously

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

With so many people surfing on phones and tablets, guest blogger Martin Crutchley reports that websites have to incorporate “tappiness” into their design.

Ecommerce is booming, and with the festive season around the corner, this year is expected to witness high online sales figures – comScore predicts 14 percent growth year-over-year to $48.1. People are going to flock to established sites like Amazon and eBay to buy gifts and other items as preparation for the season ahead, especially since Amazon created a clever way to grab headlines just in time for Cyber Monday.

If you, too, wish to promote holiday sales online and capitalize on this buying frenzy, you need to put up a website – and that is where good, up-to-date website design plays a huge role.

Now, it may not be possible for you to get into the league of top eCommerce sites. But for you to make a decent start, you have to pay attention to your website design and get the basics right. Many businesses are going online, as they have recognized the huge opportunity of selling stuff through their own eCommerce site.

More and more people are tapping screens to buy stuff.Having said the above, it is no longer enough to put up a site that can be accessed only through computers. It is no longer adequate to have only static images and some text content. We are living in the Smartphone age and every day newer applications are being developed.

Today a site needs to be easy to access from mobile devices like the Smartphone, the tablet, the phablet and other such convenient, mobile gadgets.

The target audience today wants more interactivity. This audience is no longer confined to the middle aged segment of the population. The buyers today are youngsters and even children who are now more tech savvy than ever before. They are able to use modern gadgets intuitively at a very early age, and though they may not be shopping directly or are eligible to do so, they are certainly great influencers in making their parents buy what they see and like.

It is clear that a fair amount of traffic to eCommerce sites is generated from the users of these modern gadgets. This requirement of making web sites easily accessible to Smartphones and tablets has been given the name “tappiness”, since people use their fingers to tap the screens, rather than a keyboard and a mouse.

Tappiness means more engagement and more sales

Tappiness creates a flow of sales from mobile devicesTappiness refers to smart space usage, reader friendly text, making navigation a breeze and providing interaction clues that speed up decision making – all the elements that make a website easier to use on a small “tappy” screen. The user of today is impatient, on the go and very intolerant to sites that take long to load or are not easy on the eye when viewed on their mobile phone.

Once your website has been designed, you need to check it for this “tappiness” factor. You can do this by browsing for your site on any of the devices and seeing how long it takes for the site to load, how the pages appear and how easy it is for you to navigate the site. Not doing so can cost you a lot of valuable traffic, potential buyers and precious conversions.

The good news is that you can add tappiness to your site quite easily, as it is neither difficult nor expensive. There are agencies like BT Websites who specialize in mobile optimized sites, and that is a great place to start. You can contact them on 08001 693 398 (That’s a UK number, but they’ll service you wherever you live) or visit http://www.websites.bt.com/website-design for more information!

Guest blogger Martin Crutchley is a 20-something UK based tech blogger and social networking fiend; you can discover more of his musings on Twitter @Embers29 

 


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Google Lets Evil People Block Your Domain

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Yeah, I thought that title would grab you.  Google announced a new extension to its Chrome browser, an extension that could truly rock the SEO World.  The extension does two things:

  1. It enables searchers to block domains from search results.
  2. It tells Google what domains have just been blocked.

chromeSays Google anti-spam spokesman Matt Cutts, ” If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.”

This blog post will tell you exactly how to preserve and enhance your search engine rankings in a world where users can send explicit feedback (this Chrome extension is neither the first tool for explicit feedback, nor will it be the last; but it might just be the most powerful, so far).

I should make it clear that I was always a big believer is both explicit and implicit user feedback.  The search engines would be fools not to pay attention to which sites please their visitors when serving up sites to new searchers.

It was just over two years ago that I released Sticky SEO, essentially detailing how you can keep more visitors longer on your website, going deeper into the site.  For the most part, this means pleasing more visitors even more than you already do, since that is what Google looks for.

So what do you do with this Chrome extension?  Well, you want to please your visitors so that they don’t swear, curse and block your domain.

PROBLEM # 1: FREE LOADERS

Searching for free tattoos?  Probably not.
Searching for free tattoos?
Probably not.

There are a lot of people searching for free stuff on the Internet.  You don’t give your stuff away free, but the “free loaders” show up at your website.  “What?  They want a million bucks to dig a hole to China?  I want someone to do it for free.  Bloody rip-off scammers.  Block, block, block.”

There are probably not too many people searching for “dig a hole to China” and expecting free service.  Nor are there many people expecting to get new shoes for free.  Nor gourmet coffee or gift baskets.  Nor metal buildings or intercontinental pipeline installation.  Not even free tattoos or body piercing. But there many niches that include freebie searchers,  for example…

  • website templates
  • resume help
  • music downloads
  • ringtones
  • online games
  • learn Spanish

How do you make sure that people searching for freebies don’t block your website when they discover that you are one of those evil profit-seeking cannibals who wants to feed your family?  You give them what they want, of course.  You add something free to your site.  You give them a free option, or you link to a free option.  Somehow, you make sure you please them.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Well, she should have said that.

PROBLEM # 2: GENERALISTS

Let’s say you sell a very specific item or service that is part of a bigger niche, but people don’t search all that specifically.  In Sticky SEO, on page 14 (until I eventually get around to updating it), I tell the tale of a client who wanted to revamp its website back in 2006.  They sold commercial fitness equipment, but their clients would search just for “fitness equipment”.  The problem was that ten times as many people looking for home gyms also searched for “fitness equipment”.

Life would be easy if people searched for “home fitness equipment”  or “commercial fitness equipment”, but life wasn’t meant to be easy.  What would they do about all this traffic from generalist searchers?

Please them, of course.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Like I said, she should have said that…especially if she knew Google was going to give all those people an easy way to block your domain and tell Google your site sucks.

How to please those generalists?  No point in reprinting page 14 here.  You can read it for yourself.  (Hey, it’s a free download.  Did you think this was a sneaky sales pitch or something?)

Your evil competition wants to eat you.

Evil competitors want Google to eat you.

PROBLEM # 3: EVILDOERS

Yes, the world is an evil place if you look at it right.  Google’s motto is “Do no evil” (or something like that.  But they never said anything about not arming your competition to do evil, did they?  How much do you want to bet that across the Internet’s freelancer markets there will be an SEO arms trade: “100 domain blocks for $15 – from separate IPs in over 20 countries”?  Maybe for $25, who knows?

So how do you deal with that?  No inbound link is supposed to hurt your rankings, so that your competition can’t spam you out of the search results.  But what if a coordinated group of offshore outsourcing in China and India and Greenland gang up on you?

Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you on this one.  But I am sure Matt Cutts will be asked about it sooner or later, and maybe he will have an answer.  Hopefully.

 


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Target Paying Keywords to Maximize Your Online Sales

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Guest post by Alan Mater

Whether you own an e-commerce website or you’re promoting other people’s products as an affiliate, only one thing matters, and that’s making sales. In order to get sales you need to attract buying customers. This can present a challenge for smaller businesses and internet entrepreneurs trying to capatalize on the trillions of dollars spent every year online.

So how exactly do you attract buying customers? The answer is by targeting paying keywords.

Paying keywords are simply keywords that people type into a search engine when they’re looking to buy something. I don’t believe there’s any official name for these types of keywords, but I like to call them “paying” keywords because we can get paid when the people searching for these keywords land on our website.

These people are wanting to spend money on whatever it is they’re looking for, and there are certain keywords that are associated with this type of behavior. Essentially, all keywords are paying keywords; however, some keywords have a much higher probability that the person will actually buy.

Luckily for us, determining which keywords have a higher chance of being paying keywords isn’t a guessing game. Microsoft has been generous enough to provide a nifty tool for us that we can use to find these types of keywords. They call it Detecting Online Commerical Intention. Heres a video to help better explain this online activity and how you can exploit it in your marketing efforts…



To save you some time, simply Click Here to be taken straight to the keyword tool that I show in the video.

By now you should have a better understanding of what keywords you should be targeting and how to find them. Remember to use these keywords throughout your marketing efforts to attract buying customers and generate more sales.

For more internet marketing tips, advice and work from home resources, visit Alan Mater’s Work From Home Blog.

 


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SEO Strategies for Financial Websites

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Here are a few SEO tips specific to financial websites. 

First, understand that people are very sensitive and possessive about their money.  Your website has to ooze credibility if you want to convert traffic to customers.  You probably know this already, but keep it in mind when you hire an SEO consultant.  He or she needs to make sure that SEO changes do not reduce the credibility of the website.

Are you selling services locally or nationally/globally?  If you are selling locally, there is no point fighting for national rankings.  People will search for “bookkeeping southern California” if they need somebody local, and you have a fighting chance to rank for that search term.  But the investment required to compete with all the other sites and outrank them for “bookkeeping” just isn’t worth it.

Design your website around the services you offer.  Don’t place a link in the main navigation menu that says just “services”.  Have a page for accounting, a page for bookkeeping, a page for tax filing, a page for each individual service you offer.  Why?  Two reasons:

  1. A page centered around bookkeeping has a better chance ranking well for “bookkeeping southern California” than a page centered around services.  The focus on one topic makes it clearer to the search engines what the page is about.
  2. People searching for a specific service, such as bookkeeping, should land on a page specifically about what they search for.  You will convert more visitors that way.  And nobody searches for financial services; they search for the specific service they need, whether it be insurance, or accounting, or investment advice, etc.

Make sure you are participating on Tipd.com and PFbuzz.com.  These are great places to get ideas for link-bait viral content.  It’s a great place to submit your own content (search-engine-friendly links) and get the attention of financial bloggers who might be interested in linking to your content.

Most SEO strategies and tactics can be applied across almost any sector, so don’t forget to do all the good things you would for any other website.  What I mention in this post are a few items that are specific to financial websites.

 


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Marketing By Age

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Do you know the age of your audience?  Of course, if your website sells iPhone accessories, you have a pretty good idea.  Or if you sell lawn bowling supplies, you also have a pretty good idea.

But most website owners, when asked the age of their audience, respond with “all ages”.  This might be true, and it might not be all that true.  Either way, it is worthwhile fining out, because how you market to people at various stages of their lives differs greatly.  I was reminded of this by an article in Scientific American on how we change our attitudes as we age.

“Openness typically increases during a person’s 20s and goes into a gradual decline after that.  This pattern of personality development seems to hold true across cultures. Although some see that as evidence that genes determine our personality, many researchers theorize that personality traits change during young adulthood because this is a time of life when people assume new roles: finding a partner, starting a family and beginning a career. Personality can continue to change somewhat in middle and old age, but openness to new experiences tends to decline gradually until about age 60.”

So knowing the stage of life your audience is in can make a big difference to whether you want to pitch your product as a “new experience” or an improvement on a familiar experience for example.

You might also find that attitudes impact what search terms to target.  For instance, if you are pitching travel packages to a younger audience, the word “adventure” might be a key component of the search terms you focus on.  If you are pitching to an older audience, you might prefer to use words like “nature” in your keyword development.  Chances are your page will include both words, but where you place the emphasis is important.

It might be that the main difference in keyword focus is in your inbound links.  Some links might use “Nature vacations in Peru”, whereas others might read “Adventure vacations in Peru”.  If your link is on some lost “links” page buried deep in somebody’s website, it might not matter which anchor text you use.  But if the link is prominent on somebody’s website, with the potential to bring real visitors with real money in their pockets, it pays to ask the linking website owner what his demographics are.

All marketing starts with knowing your audience.  There is no marketing that is tougher than pitching to “everyone”.

 


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Google Leaves Questions About Bounce Rates

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Regular readers will know that I have been in a somewhat involved debate on this blog and over at Sphinn on the issue of bounce rates as they might now or later on apply to SEO.  I maintain that is a matter of business necessity that search engines would try to more precisely measure user satisfaction with each result of each search phrase, and that bounce rates would be one metric they could use.  Frequent readers will also know that I do not view “bounce rates” as a simple number or as a static pass-fail type of calculation.  It would be a ridiculously simplistic algorithm that calculates bounces using such simple calculations, in my humble opinion. 

Recently, Web Pro News  reported that Google answers bounce rates questions.  In fact, two separate answers were provided, one that relates to SEO and the other that relates to Google Analytics.  Many webmasters will confuse the two and we all know that’s how false rumors get started — the kind of false rumors that years from now will be reported as fact by many people calling themselves “SEO expert”. 

It is possible that Google Analytics and SEO are related or will be related, but don’t bank on it.  Here is what Adam Lasnik of Google has to say specifically about bounce rates and SEO.

If you’re talking about bounce rates in the context of Google Analytics, I’m afraid you probably know as much as I do. I love the product, but don’t know the ins-and-outs of it very thoroughly.

If you’re talking about bounce rates in the context of Google web search and webmaster-y issues, then we really don’t have specific guidance on bounces per se; rather, the key for webmasters is to make users happy so they find your site useful, bookmark your site, return to your site, recommend your site, link to your site, etc. Pretty much everything we write algorithmically re: web search is designed to maximize user happiness, so anything webmasters do to increase that is likely to improve their site’s presence in Google.

The bottom line is that you want to do all the things that we talk about in Sticky SEO to keep people on your website, to engage them in your website, to send Google and other search engines signals that they found your website to be useful.  And, of course, you want to reduce the number of visitors who send the search engines signals that your website is useless.

Just for information, here is my post on objections to ranking based partially on bounce rates.

 


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Bounce Rate SEO Fallacies

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Of late there has been a lot of discussion about bounce rates and whether or not the search engines count these in their algorithms.  A few days ago I posted some pros and cons on this issue.  Today I would like to share with you 9 common objections I have seen to using bounce rates as part of the search engine algorithms, and refute 8 of those.

 

As far back as late 2007, there were reports that webmasters were seeing a difference in their rankings for major keywords within a few weeks of drastically changing their bounce rates.  However, none of the tests and reports seem to be complete enough or repeatable enough to constitute “proof”. 

 

As a result, there are plenty of naysayers who believe that such things as bounce rates are not now and probably never will be part of the search engine algorithms. 

 

I am of the opposite view; bounce rates will certainly be a major part of search engine algorithms and probably already are to some degree.  That is in large part – but not completely – the premise behind Sticky SEO.  Let us not forget that Microsoft has been spending a fair amount of energy on what has been called BrowseRank, which is in part based on bounce rates.

 

Objection 1, there is no definition of “bounce rate”. 

 

Response. This is the flimsiest of arguments.  A bounce is when someone leaves a website, going back where they came from.

 

Objection 2, I don’t like how Google Analytics defines a bounce.

 

Response.  Sadly, Google doesn’t ask me for advice, either.  But cheer up, the bounce rate in Google Analytics might not be the same as they use in their algorithm, just as the little green bar is not necessarily the PageRank they use in their algorithm.

 

 

Objection 3, many sites don’t have Google Analytics turned on, so Google would have very incomplete data.

 

Response (scratching my head in confusion).  What does Google Analytics have to do with anything?  This is about Google (or Yahoo, or MSN, or Ask, or some other) tracking their own traffic and how their own users move about and – most importantly – how their users return to their website.

 

Objection 4, what is the threshold for a bounce?  After 5 seconds?  After 10 second?  After 15 seconds? This is a mess!  (This is often part of the how-do-we-define-a-bounce debate.)

 

Response.   A bounce is a bounce, whether it takes a person one second or one hour to bounce back, it is a bounce.  How the search engines choose to treat bounces with varying lag times is another matter.  Let’s be clear; they won’t tell you, just as they won’t tell you how many links on a page they index, how many they follow and how many they count in their ranking algorithms.  Furthermore, it is a moving target.  Just like every other algorithm input, bounce rates and bounce lag times will not be treated in the exact same way one day to the next.

 

Objection 5, what if people quickly click on an external link and leave my site?  They found the site useful because they found a useful link on it, but they bounced.

 

Response.  That is not a bounce, that’s a referral.  A bounce is when someone hits the back button.

 

Objection 6, what if the user quickly closes the window?

 

Response.  That could be any number of things, but it is not a bounce.  Who can guess how the search engines might treat that, or even if they treat it at all?  However, it need not be considered a bounce unless the search engines believe it should be.

 

Objection 7, doesnt a bounce mean the person has found what they want?  Cant a bounce sometimes be good?

 

Response.  Sometimes, perhaps, but rarely.  After 5 seconds, a person has no time to read a page.  After 30 seconds, they might have found something useful.  So lag times matter.  More importantly, the search engines can determine what a person does next.  If a person returns to the search results and clicks on another link, that is a sign they did not find what they want.  If they return to the search results and conduct a similar search, that might also be a sign they did not find what they want.  If they return to the search results and conduct an unrelated search, that might be a sign that they found what they want.  Search engines can weigh various bounces in light of the user’s next action.

 

Objection 8, for some searches, people look for multiple sources, such as comparing prices, comparing products, seeking varying opinions, etc.  Too many sites would be penalized if all those bounces were to be counted in the rankings.

 

Response.  This is an example of false logic.  If someone clicks on one website, then bounces, clicks on another website, then bounces, clicks on another website then bounces…all the high-ranking websites for that particular search query would be equally affected.  Nobody would suffer a ranking disadvantage because rankings are relative.  On the other hand, if one site typically bounces and the others don’t, the bouncy site clearly is less useful than the others and should be demoted.

 

Objection 9.  Cant I just set up a bot to visit all my top competitors and leave their site after varying numbers of seconds to make it appear that their sites are all bouncy?

 

Response.  Yes, you can.  And you can get very creative.  I have even heard of couriers in China travelling from one Internet café to another to click on a particular site as a means of increasing its rankings.  I have no answer for this, other than that the search engines will have to control for this, just as they have found ways to control for automated link-building.

 

So have no fear.  Good websites that provide what their visitors want or who help them find what they want will prosper.  Sticky SEO looks at conversions and stickiness as integral elements to SEO.

 

Cheap sites that do a lot of link-building – bouncy SEO – counting on large volumes of traffic to offset poor conversion rates, will suffer – because the search engines will stop sending them that traffic. 

 

It’s just a matter of time.  Or perhaps it has already started.

 

 

 


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Sticky SEO on Webmaster Radio

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Earlier today I was on Webmaster Radio talking about Sticky SEO. You can listen here:

Show: SEO 101



 

 


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Do Bounce Rates Really Count?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Do Google and Yahoo include bounce rates in their algorithms?  Ever since I released Sticky SEO, it seems there has been a growing debate on whether bounce rates factor into search engine algorithms, or even whether they should in the future.  I think you know where I stand; they probably already do to some degree and they surely will count for much more in the future.  And not just bounce rates, but various other user activities.

I seems that my view is not universally held, but there is a robust debate on this topic.

Some people feel that there really is not a definition of what a bounce is, so that makes it difficult to determine bounce rates.  That just means the search engines have to define what a bounce is, and I gave them some tips here.

Some people feel that a high bounce rate is a good thing –  the person found quickly what he wants and returns to search for something else.  To quote one observer on Sphinn: “If the page is highly relevant to what the searcher is specifically looking for, they can get their info and leave without going to any further pages – fully satisfied. A Big vote for relevance.”

On the other hand, some people feel that if Google is now using bounce rates to rank its PPC ads, why would it not use that same information in its organic listings?

Others have argued that it would be too easy to send robots to the competitions’ websites and create a lot of fake bounces.

This issue is certainly not over, but I simply cannot see the search engines ignoring what I believe is the ultimate measurement of customer satisfaction.  There is no way that a quick return to the search engine is a good thing.  At best it is neutral, if someone is doing research and visiting numerous websites.  But in that case all top-ranking sites would have their bounce rates affected equally, so there would be no disadvantage resulting for any of them – those bounces would not affect rankings.  One way or the other user activity has to be an important measurement the search engines cannot afford to ignore.

 


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