Monday, May 23, 2011

Can Your Customers Find You?

Your website is setup, customized, and looking good.  You have a domain name that is catchy and easy to remember.  Now ask yourself, can your customers find your store?  This is not a trivial question.  I have been to websites that I really liked, but down the road, I only remember something like "the website was blueish with orange accents...what was that URL?" You want to make sure that you have a few different ways of channels that customers can go through in order to find your website. I have listed some options below.  Some are ones that you can do on your own, whereas others you will need to work with other companies and websites.

Google Product Search
Using ShopSite, you can easily push your products to be listed in Google's Product Search.  This is not like eBay or ShopZilla where you actually go to or to search the products.  Instead, Google has promoted their Product Search on many Google screens such as the Google header, part of the Google web search results, and in many Google control panels such as iGoogle.

With Google Product Search, you upload your products to Google, they are listed in the search results, and when customers click on the product, the customer is sent to your website to view details and to purchase the product. Google does not take a percentage of the order.  There is no cost to be listed in the Google Product search. This is a great way to get some additional traffic to your website. To be sure that you are getting the most out of the Google Product Search, you will want to make sure that you specify the categories that your products should be listed in.  You can find the correct category structure to add for your products at the following URL:

Blogs and Feeder Websites
With so much information easily available online, customers are getting more savvy about purchasing products.  Believe that your customers are researching about products before they purchase. This includes reading blogs, information websites and forums on what the best product is, how to take full advantage of a particular product, and to find additional features, add-on products, or unique accessories for what they are interested.  So, to help your customers you should include lots of product information on your website, as well as have a blog or feeder website where all you do is post information about your products.  For example, if you sell jewelry, you may have a website about hot new jewelry trends, jewelry material and maintenance, or DIY jewelry projects. If you sell camping gear, you may have a blog or website about important features to look for when you are buying camping gear, great camping locals and how-to's, and camping blunders. One example of this is and their blog Think of these blogs and feeder sites as customer service sites.  If you walk into a store and no one helps you, or the staff can't answer your questions, you are less likely to purchase from that store.  However, if you go into a store where you feel like they are working for you and treating you like a preferred customer, you are more likely to purchase there, and come back, regardless of product price. On your website you can link to your blog or feeder site, and on your blog you can link back to your website.  If you choose to go with a feeder site, you will need to purchase a new domain, and make the domain separate from your website, and focused on getting to customers who are interested.  So instead of, you may want something akin to With blogs, there are many free blog services out there such as blogger (what I'm using) or WordPress, which can be installed on a domain by your host.

Link Sharing
Share your link with similar interest websites.  If you link to related websites and they link back, you can share customers.  With this you will want to make sure that the websites don't directly compete with you (sell the same products) but sell similar products or have information that your customers may be interested in.  For example, links to their other websites,,, etc. Another example is  ShopSite has an Additional Services page where they link to other companies that merchants may be interested in such as live chat services, email campaign services, SEO services, etc. 

Post On Forums
I mentioned how customers are becoming more savvy about researching products before purchasing, so make sure that your store name appears where customers are doing their research.  One example of this is with parts stores such as motorcycle parts of car parts.  There are tons of forums talking about enhancements, modifications or tweaks that people can make to their motorcycle or car.  On these forums people will also advertise selling products or list places to get deals on products.  You don't necessarily have to advertise your store in order to get traffic, but again, just provide customer support. I have see this in my own experience on motorcycle forums, and on the user forums.  There are designers and hosting providers who will regularly respond to posts by merchants that may not be their clients.  The merchants gain more confidence in these designers and hosting companies and will often contract with these designers and hosting companies directly to do work or to host their website.  People want to know they will be taken care of if they purchase/hire you, so by posting on forums you are giving customers the assurance that you know your stuff, are friendly, and will be beneficial to work with or purchase from. 
Get To Know Your Channels
As you begin setting up all these various channels, make sure that you have some type of tracking enabled on your website.  Many merchants use Google Analytics because it is free and easy to setup on your website.  This will give you an idea of what channels are providing you with the most traffic.  You can then focus or expand those channels to take better advantage of the customers that are coming to your website.