Monday, May 6, 2013

Helpful Website Headers

Headers are the first thing that loads on your website, the first thing a customer sees, and the place a customer looks to find what they want. Does your website header make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for?  Below are four questions to ask yourself as you look at your website's header and company logo.
  1. Does your header quickly convey what your company/website is about?
    Maybe this means that your logo or company name has keywords in it, or a slogan that conveys what your website is about.
  2. Can customers get to your main website pages by using the header?
    Pages like "Contact Us" or "Resources" are not website main pages.  Instead, make sure that your main product pages, best sellers, or specials are the first links in your navigation bar or in your header.
  3. If you have a large inventory, can customers search your website?
    If you have more than a handful of products, or large product categories, you will want to include a site search or product search so customers can search for products in your store.
  4. Why should customers purchase from your website?
    Do you offer free shipping?  Do you have great customer service?  Maybe you have 100% satisfaction guarantee or easy returns.  Whatever it is, include some basic information on why a customer should purchase from you.  It is easy to go from website to website looking for exactly what you want, for the price that you want.  Set your website apart from the rest and make sure your customers are aware of the benefits of shopping with your company.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Summer Is In Full Swing

School is out, kids are out, summer projects and summer trips have begun. Is your website full of helpful ideas? We are past the spring cleaning phase and now onto the summer building phase.  Put your best foot forward by offering your customers helpful tips, guidelines and products to make their summer easier, more fun, or just plain more enjoyable.  If you sell clothing, highlight your hot trends.  If you sell outdoors gear, suggest places to go, things to see, and products to use.  If you sell jewelry, highlight this seasons trends. Nearly all online stores have something that they can offer their customers for the summer season.

If you have an opt-in email list for your customers, now is the time to send out those quarterly newsletters.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

5 Easily-Overlooked Final To-Do's For A Website

These 5 easily overlooked final to-dos for a website are things that only take a few moments, but will make a noticeable difference for you and your customers.
  • Check Browser Compatibility. Often times you create, add, and make changes to your website using the same browser that you use for your regular web search, shopping, etc. However, just because it is your go-to browser doesn't mean that it is your customers' go-to browser.  You will want to check your website in all the major browsers to make sure that it looks and works correctly in all of them. The main ones I check when I am creating a website are FireFox, Chrome, Opera and Safari (all of those can be on Mac and PC), as well as Internet Explorer on a PC.  If you really want to over-achieve, you should also check your website on a few different tablets and mobile devices.
  • Enable Google Analytics. This one is purely for you as a merchant.  Google has many tools that merchants can use to track visitors, sales, and to submit your website to search engines or to clean up your code.  Google Analytics along with Google Sitemap are two of my favorites.
  • Add a Favicon. When you go to a website, and on the tab of your browser there is a tiny little square logo, that is a favicon.  It is a nice finishing touch that customers will notice when they come to your website.
  • Validate Your HTML and Speed Check Your Site. I talk about these two a lot.  The two sites below allow you to enter the URL for a page on your website, and they will check for errors and speed, and will tell you how to clean up your code so your page is fast and smooth.
  • Keyword Target Your Meta Tags. Each one of your store pages should have a title tag, meta keyword tag and meta description tag that is specific to that page.  Don't include words that are not found on the page, even if they are found on the rest of your website.  Do highlight your top keywords in the meta and title tags, as well as heading tags, strong tags, and anchors.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Are You Summer Ready?

Summer is just around the corner and the excitement for the warm weather and fresh season changes is growing.  Now is the time to help your customers with their summer projects and vacations.  Build a newsletter to send out to your customers with discounts, or helpful tips for this new season.

If you do not currently ask customers to opt into an email checklist when they checkout in your store, now is the time to turn that on.  If you have a ShopSite store, simply go to Commerce Setup > Order System > Checkout, and check the checkbox to add an email opt-in to your checkout.  This will help you gather a list of customers to send email blasts to on occasion.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Better For Visitors. Better For Search Engines

SEO isn't about tricks in your code to make it look better for search engines, or about stuffing in unnecessary content. Websites can optimize for search engines the same way they optimize for customers.  Below are five ways to optimize your website for both search engines and your customers.
  1. Speed It Up. I know I harp on this a lot, but having a slow-loading website will make your customers get impatient and leave, and will be ranked lower by search engines. Streamline your website so that your web pages load quickly for pleasurable viewing.  Especially since mobile browsing over a mobile network rather than internet is becoming more popular.
  2. Make It Engaging. Having exciting content on your pages, and clear calls-to-action are both good for your customer so they want to stay on your website, and for search engines to easily 'see' what your page is about.
  3. Give It Good Structure. This step should come before starting your website, but since many merchants already have their site setup, I am going to assume this is post-initial website setup. Take a good look at your website from a customer's point-of-view.  What does your customer want to find?  What links is your customer looking for? If you don't have a large majority of your customers calling you on a regular basis, don't include your "Contact Us" link in the header.  If Google Analytics says that customers rarely search by brand, don't have a "Brands" option as a main search option.  Use your interactions with your customers, and your information from Google Analytics to make your most popular pages, easy to get to, and the focus of your home page.  Do this for all your main landing pages. Also, during this process make note of your site's top keywords or what you want your website's top keywords to be.
  4.  Use Proper Tags and Code. Your pages should be structured in a way similar to a written out paper (yes, we are using some of those skills from English class).  Place the title of your page in a heading tag <h1>Title here</h1>.  Subtitles should be in <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, etc, tags respectively. Headings should not have "Description" as a title, but should incorporate keywords for that page such as "Sock Materials."
  5. Helpful URLs. Each page should have its own keywords, which are included in the page title, possibly some subtitles, the meta tags on the page, and then again used in the page file name. File names should be helpful for the customer and descriptive for search engines. Uses dashes to separate words, and keep pages as close to the root of your domain as possible.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Social Media - Twitter

Twitter is a social media resource that is probably the most time sensitive of the various avenues. With Pinterest and Facebook where there are images in many cases, end users will go back pretty far looking at the images and posts.  However, with Twitter, since it is mostly text, end users won't go back as far.  Because of this, many merchants will incentivize customers to follow on Twitter and will advertise time-sensitive sales. 

There are two main areas of integration for Twitter for your website. The first is the Twitter "Tweet" button, and the second is a link to your Twitter profile, or a "Follow Me On Twitter" button.

  • Tweet Button - this can be placed on your product pages so that customers can tweet about the products or category pages on your website. 
  • Follow On Twitter - your followers on Twitter will see the things that you tweet in their Twitter feed.
If you are using ShopSite to build your website and you are using one of their built-in themes (or a custom template that supports this feature), you can enable both Twitter options above by going to Merchandising > Social Media > Twitter.

Now that you have your Twitter account and have enabled Twitter on your website, you can start building followers and posting tweets. Much like Pinterest, if you follow others, they will often follow you.  Find websites and companies in a similar or complimentary industry as yourself, and follow them.  This includes bloggers for the industry that you are in. Next, start tweeting.

Twitter Tweets are 140 characters or less and need to grab your followers' attention. This can be done with funny or beneficial (like sales) tweets, and with hashtags.  Hashtags are when you have a pound sign "#" in front of a word or phrase.  For example, if my post links to an article that is good for ecommerce and SEO, I might say "I just boosted my search engine rank with these tips #ecommerce #SEO" Hashtags are like keywords that help your post come up when Twitter users do a search.

How To Gain Followers
Follow others and Tweet with hashtags.

What Is The Point Of Twitter?
Twitter is for the most up-to-date information.  Twitter users like seeing what is happening right now, what is trending, etc.  Keep your posts very current, or even time sensitive.