Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ Category

5 Essentials for Moving Your Business Online

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Online BusinessWhat with the internet getting so big and popular and all, it has reached the point where having a business and having a website is basically synonymous. If you don’t have a website, unless you are a market stall, you don’t have a business…or at least, you are not making the most of it.

So to get your business online, you obviously need a website. This is just the beginning though. Too many businesses phone up the first website company they come across, give them some colour scheme and accept what they are given. They then throw their products in and hit ‘Go Live’. Then they sit back and wait for the orders to start piling up in their inbox.

Unfortunately for them there is so much more to it. They may as well not have bothered if they are not willing to spend a lot more time and energy making it the best it can be. There is just so much competition out there that websites need to be of a high calibre to make any impact or provide any return on investment.

Worthwhile Content

The first and most essential element of all is worthwhile content. You can spend £10,000 on your website design and development but if you don’t invest in providing useful, user friendly, valuable information then it will all have been a waste. Ecommerce sites for example need to not only provide pictures and prices; they need high quality images, good solid descriptions and detailed price breakdowns.

A Unique Online Selling Point

Another essential element is a unique selling point. This is something that makes your business stand out online ahead of your competitors. While your existing business may have one in place, this may not do so well online. Good online selling points are things like ‘Free Shipping’ and ‘Free Returns’.

Security

People are very aware of their vulnerability online. This means that anything that seems unsafe, especially when their credit card details are concerned will make them run a mile. You need your site to look professional, be free of adverts (where possible) or any pop-ups and offer reassuring information like your physical address and a phone number. Furthermore, how are you processing payments? This certainly has to be secure and brings about the issue of payment gateways and which payment service provider is right for you and your customers.

On Page Credit Card Gateway

Sticking with reassuring customers and payments; sending them to an external site to take their card details is a major turn off, so it is essential that you nip this in the bud now by immediately applying an online credit card gateway that can be used from the checkout seamlessly.

SEO Services

Finally, search engine optimisation is not technically essential, but you won’t get much traffic quickly without a professional casting their eye over your site and explaining what you need to do to be as attractive as possible to search engines and your customers.

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3 Major Roadblocks Placed (by you) Between Your Customers and Your Products

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

A roadblock in the world of ecommerce is basically anything that stands between your customers and your products. You probably know that online shoppers are like a flock of birds: the slightest little jolt and they are off up into the sky and away. They’re not like ants who will immediately try to find another route to their goal, they will not often back track and look for gaps and ways over, under or around an obstacle. No they know that they can just go back to the search results and start again with a fresh site that probably has what they are looking for and may well be easier for them to get to.

So we agree. Roadblock on websites are bad.

What is a road block exactly?

Well here are three prime and common examples of roadblocks that crop up in ecommerce websites all the time preventing users getting from landing page to payment processing:

Forcing Customers to Register

All too often ecommerce sites are so keen to gather the email addresses and other information about users that they do so before customers have even fully committed to buying a product. Being confronted by a message basically demanding that you create an account before you have permission to actually buy something is terribly off putting and indeed leads a large percentage of users who don’t want to or just can’t be bothered, to exit immediately.

Bad Search Results

Many people prefer to search ecommerce stores through the site search. There are some who are happy to use the normal navigation menus and such but a significant proportion who may be in a rush, may know precisely what they are looking for or who may just prefer it, will go directly to your search box. However, if they don’t get what they want quickly through your search box, they aren’t going to stick around to use your navigation, they’re going to leave and try another site.

External Credit Card Site

Another major roadblock is when customers are transported to another site altogether in order for them to put in their card details. They trusted your site this far and now you are suddenly asking them to trust someone else. No dice. This is a big turn off for lots of customers and will cause many of them to turn tail and leave. Having a payment service provider incorporate into the structure of your site is a better option that is widely provided.

Roadblocks are very serious but are in most cases, including those listed above, fixable. Think of each of these like placing a physical roadblock in front of a bricks and mortar version of your shop and you will appreciate just how important it is to remove them as soon as possible.

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How to Use Blogging to Benefit Your Ecommerce Store

Monday, June 27th, 2011

BloggingThe problem with blogs is that so many companies that have them do not know what they have them for.

They know what it is, they have spent money on building one that looks nice and works well but when it comes to actually putting content on there, that’s where the problems arise. This is such a shame as a good blog can be an excellent tool for boosting online sales.

Most Common Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes which it is good to clear up first and foremost. Probably the most common is to use your blog as a way to display every single new product as it becomes available. This may seem like a great idea but it is not what people will come back looking for. If they want to find your new products they will look in your shop, not on your blog. You can turn this around though by occasionally writing something interesting and useful about any new products while avoiding just posting that they exist. This more wholesome method is far more likely to get your online credit card processing system in action.

Another common mistake is not using them. Nothing looks worse to someone trying to find out more about a company who makes the effort to visit your blog only to find a big empty page. ‘Is this company still operating?’ they will ask.

So How Do You Use Your Blog for Good?

Think of your blog as a place where you get to know and interact with your customers. If you keep this as your basis and you won’t go far wrong. Customers will come back to you for more interesting information and only then should you think about slipping in some sales orientated information, preferably towards the end of your post. Remember don’t push people towards your payment gateways. Just give them the best information to get there themselves.

Get to Know Your Customers

Before you write anything, get to know your audience. This may seem obvious to you but do a bit of research into what sort people actually go online who may be interested in what your business offers, and think about what sort of information will be appealing and of use to them. Tailor your blog to answer their questions before they ask them and they will (hopefully) become regular visitors to your blog.

Social Distribution

Using your well written tailored blog as information to distribute via social channels will also be of great benefit to your store. If you have ‘followers’ then you can use them to great advantage using your blog. Try ‘tweeting’ a link to each blog with a clear message of its benefits for example and see how many people start turning up at your site and maybe even buying something.

Blogs are incredibly powerful when done properly so be sure to dedicate enough time to them and pay them the respect they deserve.

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What Makes A Product Page More Effective?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Ecommerce stores are notoriously difficult to manage. Not necessarily because of the technology, but because of the users. Most people who visit ecommerce stores fail to do exactly what you want them to do or what you have predicted they will do. It would be all plain sailing if every visitor went straight to what they wanted and immediately completed a purchase or at least made an enquiry. This unfortunately is for the most part not the case and there are hundreds of factors in your ecommerce sales process that can cause users to decide not to make a purchase.

One of the most crucial areas of any ecommerce store is the product page. When you have managed to get your visitor to delve this far into your website, this is the front line, where you will show off each individual product using images, words and also provide incentives to encourage your visitor to take the next step and make a purchase: the more effective it is, the more money your website will make through your payment service provider.

Here are some crucial factors you need to consider to make sure your product description is as effective as it should be:

Excellent Image

One of the first things shoppers will look at when they get to your product page is the image. Partly so that they know that they have arrived at the right page but also to look at it in more detail. Give them a large image which they can also zoom in on as well as a choice of angles so that they can evaluate the product properly. The image needs to be extremely high quality and must load quickly so that people see it almost immediately when they arrive on the page and don’t have to wait.

Product Description

After the image, the next most crucial element of your product page is your product description. Think of this a bit like a newspaper article. Put a headline at the top (what the name of the product is e.g. Smart Black Shoes Size 9) so that people know what it is, then have a brief sub heading of about 1 line explaining its main selling points, then list some of its best features and benefits in a short bulleted list underneath. Below this go into a bit more detail about the product then at the bottom go into even greater detail. Your shopper will get the gist early on or read a lot more if they want to. Get the lay out of your product description right and your product page will be a lot more effective and making your sites payment gateways a lot busier.

These are two of the most important of many elements on your product page that can be altered to get a greater number of sales through a more effective page.

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What Fundamental Aspect of Your Website is Wrong?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Website FixWhen a visitor or potential customer arrives at your website for the first time, they form an opinion of your site and your company as a whole in a few seconds. This means that you need to make sure that every element of your homepage (primarily) and all the deeper sections of your site are completely tailored to give your visitor the best emotional response and first impression. Think about the last time you arrived at a site that looked odd, was unappealing, and made you feel awkward in some way…did you stick around? I doubt it. You don’t want to be in their shoes.

One of the key elements that are so often overlooked by people designing their company website is the colour scheme. Every colour has an effect on the emotions of your visitor, which as we have learned, will have an overriding effect on their perception of your company and your brand. A common way to approach the design of a company website is to use the company brand colours. This could be a real problem if your company colours do not emotionally appeal to your web visitors. What you can get away with on a letter head may translate into a colour scheme that scares away online customers.

So what’s best for your website?

Business

With a business or corporate website you generally want to convey that your company is professional, trustworthy and indeed holds an element of power. To give this impression immediately to your visitors, the best colour to use is blue. Blue naturally produces a calming effect and is a common colour used by royalty. Incorporating blue as a major theme in your business website will help visitors see you as an intelligent authority figure, but if you have anything to do with food you may want to use it more sparingly as it acts as an appetite suppressant. This colour scheme coupled with a clear indication of secure payment gateways and professional money transfer services will show your company in a very professional and distinguished light.

E-commerce

When choosing colours for your website if you are basically an online shop, what colour you choose should be decided by what products you sell. For example, if you are selling products for children then you are best to base your colour scheme on red. This colour is proven to catch their eye, is cheerful, energetic and will provoke a positive emotional response. Use sparingly though as red can also be associated with danger.

Use this same theory to pick your colours appropriately and you should be able to get this fundamental element of your website right from the start. Your visitors will be appropriately emotionally charged and, in turn, be more likely to reach one of your websites goals i.e. a sign up or a purchase.

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UK Consumers Look to Online As the Economy Shrinks and Project Merlin Stinks

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Chained Up 10 Pound NotesTimes are tough for small businesses. Technically the economy has not literally shrunk, but the fact it stayed the same as it did for the previous quarter, a flat graph if you will, means that there was zero growth, which is as good as shrinkage. This has raised fears that despite some sectors showing signs of growth, overall we may be heading back for another round of recession.

Also Project Merlin, the agreement that banks will be lending billions of pounds to businesses, £76bn of which to small firms this year, seems as if it will not really help boost recovery that much as despite there being more money loaned, the cost of borrowing will remain too high for many small companies.

In light of this uncomfortable situation, many small firms are turning their attention to the internet to help them find alternative sales routes. The internet can offer small firms a way to encourage sales through a much cheaper form of advertising that will mean they can reduce their overheads as well as staff levels. This option is increasingly valuable as internet use is rapidly increasing around the world with the ease of developing a site and simple secure ways to handle payment processing. Websites are becoming smarter and more usable for the visitor and security overall is improving dramatically. With the assistance of a quality payment service provider a website can very rapidly start making sales and vitally become profitable online.

For those who may see some of that Project Merlin cash, choosing the internet as your major lead generation may mean that you can borrow less, reduce your borrowing costs and be a step ahead of your competitors in the online race for visitors.

Don’t forget your app!

One of the most important things you can do at the moment as you think about going online is to develop an app which you can offer to mobile customers. This is because the number of people who make purchases online via a smartphone is accelerating, and offering a user friendly app will make it easier for them to make the most of what you offer online. Apps have the advantage over mobile websites in that they can be downloaded to a smartphone and used even when the smartphone has no signal. Also, they can place an icon of your app on their home screen so that they see it every time they look at their phone.

Whatever your businesses relationship with the current economic situation is like, making a move to online would be a good move. Can you picture what your website will look like?

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How to Make an Effective Landing Page

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Landing Page SuccessEvery online business, if they are at all serious about making their website profitable, needs to be thinking about their visitors when they create landing pages. Landing pages are where your users arrive at your website – depending on where individual pages appear in search results, it could be one of a number of pages and not just your homepage. You can more accurately direct your visitors to particular landing pages by using search engine optimisation techniques.

Your landing page (or pages) is the most important page on your website as it is the first moment your visitor gets to see what you are like and first impressions really count online. If you don’t grab them with this page they can easily click away in a split second, never to return again, but if you do grab them, you at least have a chance of getting them to make a purchase. It takes a lot to get a customer from landing page to payment processing, but by putting your best foot forward at the start you multiply your chances exponentially.

Grab their Attention

First thing you need to do is grab their attention. You need to let them know instantly that they are on the right page for what they are looking for and why you are the best and they should stick around and use your services. Create a solid heading which is clear and eye catching that does this then use a sub heading to elaborate a bit more. Having a high quality image right next to or underneath your headings will help to catch the eye and (if the image is right) reinforce what your headings say. Follow this up with some nicely worded copy that offers a slightly more in depth explanation of what your site is for and how it can benefit the visitor.

Reassure your Visitor

If your visitor has stuck around long enough to find out that this site does what they you need it to, next you need to convince them that this is the best site for them to use for this service and that they can trust it. After all they may well have looked at a dozen other similar sites. You can do this by providing good testimonials on your landing page and following it up with security certificates that show your site is safe. You could also include some examples of popular products to try to spark your visitor’s interest.

Get them Moving

Final step: you now need to get your visitor moving forward onto a page with products that they can buy. You can do this by basically demanding that they click on something. By providing a clear, bold and brightly coloured button with an encouraging message on it, you should hopefully get a large portion of your visitors to take the next step into your site and to be on track to make a purchase and make a discernable boost to your internet merchant account.

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Get Ready For the Bounce Back After Catastrophic December Retail Figures

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

2011 Profit GrowthStatistics recently announced across the national press have shown just how disastrous both the coldest December in 100 years and the lingering atmosphere of the economic downturn has been for the UK retail sector.

In a depressing report the Office for National Statistics explains how retail sales volumes have overall dropped by 0.8% from November and how the regular December spike in spending basically didn’t happen this year. What’s more, there doesn’t seem to have been a rush by consumers to try and beat the VAT rise which many retailers had hoped would have filled a significant shortfall.

All sectors have been affected too including fuel, clothing, household goods and food so no matter what business you are in; the chances are you have not had a happy December. However, what traditionally happens after a big fall, is a big (or at least a significant) rise in sales, just because people tend to need stuff and will feel more inclined to spend their money when conditions change and retailers lower their prices to entice them back.

So what can you do to make the most of this situation?

Assuming you have a website already (if you don’t, stop reading now and go get one) there are a number of things you can do which will help you capture disaffected customers looking to spend without spending too much. Ensuring that your website has secure payment gateways provided by a respected payment service provider is also critical.

Improve PPC Budget

Pay per click (PPC) is a great way to target highly motivated customers in a place where you can appeal to their desires directly. Basically, paying for a link to appear at the top of search engine results pages for keyphrases which people will be typing in if they want your product cheaply will give you a greater chance of pulling in traffic than by many other means. By increasing your budget in this area you can make sure you are at the top. All you need to do is write an advert that appeals to tired consumers looking to start spending again and keep tweaking it until you get results.

Social Media

Social media is the modern day word-of-mouth, and word-of-mouth is an important way of getting your products out to the right people. By developing a social media marketing portfolio, including Twitter, Facebook etc, and by offering incentives, you can open up a large network of potential customers in a short space of time. Timing your incentive offers just right will help you to ride the wave of consumers flocking back to their traditional spending levels.

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Which Social Media Network Is Worth Tapping Into Most?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Which Social Media SiteDid you know that social media locations have become the number one place for people to spend their time online? As people find staying in touch a more and more enjoyable experience and a better place to hang out than in front of the television most businesses have wised up, got themselves a website and payment gateways and started to try to build a social bridge to their customers.

Big companies will have the budgets to attack every social network they can find and draw all their customers on there too. But for a smaller company they may have a limited amount of money to spend on social marketing and may be forced to choose a couple, or even just one network to address.

Here is an outline of some of the big social networking sites and whether you should pick them as your social network of choice or not.

Twitter

Twitter is a micro blogging site that limits users to small amounts of text to make their point. While this may not sound like an ideal way to get your carefully worded marketing message across it has become a medium which holds a lot of weight. If you can get enough people following your twitter feed you will have a lot of people with eyeballs on your message that could potentially buy something or even send your message on to someone that they think will. In essence get the mob to do your marketing for you in a highly targeted way.

Facebook

Facebook is the biggest social network which has infiltrated the lives of billions and is a rapidly expanding place for businesses to meet face to face with their customers. The main problem Facebook faces is that people don’t really go on Facebook to buy things; they go on to hang out with friends. What you can do with Facebook is incorporate it into your website. Giving your visitors the chance to see what their friends think of your products at a glance may well sway their opinion. Plus, you can encourage people to become ‘friends’ with you on Facebook using incentive schemes that builds your network of followers and increases your chance of sales.

Google Me?

One massive company which has been dipping its toe in the social media waters for the last few years is Google. They have tried and failed before to launch social services but as yet they have not worked, allowing Facebook and Twitter to get where they are. However, if Google does succeed one day, their already established place as an organic and paid advertising medium may mean it will be the best network for you to be a part of.

Getting socially active with your business is reaching the stage where it is practically as important a prerequisite of being successful online as employing a good payment service provider. Basically get out there and get interacting with millions of potential customers. It only takes a few minutes.

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How Can You Help Reassure Customers While Using Your Ecommerce Store?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Assuring CustomersSo you have built and launched your ecommerce store. You have perfected your product range and created an excellent website that gives them all the information they could want to know about each product with great pictures. You have spent money on search engine optimisation and pay per click campaigns and have a steady flow of motivated traffic arriving at your site every day. But, your sales from your website are still low and through analytics you can see that all but a few of your customers leave the site as soon as they get to the payment stage. What gives? Your prices are highly competitive.

The answer in this situation is usually something to do with how you reassure, or are failing to reassure, your customers once they have decided to make a purchase. Convincing a user to make the move to hit the ‘buy now’ button and start the payment process is the just the beginning. What you need to do is not leave their side until they confirm their details and leave your site.

You may find that at present your site abandons the user as soon as they start this process. Here is some things to include that should keep your customer reassured all the way to the final payment processing stage.

Give Them an Escape Route

Customers tend to be a bit skittish when it comes to parting with their cash and like to know that they can get back to the homepage or go back and look at the details of the product again just to make sure before they finally buy. Instead of locking them in an inescapable sales page, which will only make them more likely to leave and never come back, give them as much opportunity to go back and check things. You can do this with clear and obvious navigation or breadcrumbs so they can easily click back to see what they want.

All Information on One Page

Try to give your customer all the information they could want to know on one single page. This should include, all their charges including delivery and VAT etc, their delivery and charge address details, all the payment/card details, options to change all their details from the same page and anything else they might want to check or change. Doing this will not only reassure the customer but by keeping them on one page, they are less likely to get distracted and much less likely to terminate the sale.

Once you get these things sorted you should adequately reassure your users and see a significant reduction in the number of people leaving your site at the payment stage. Add this to an assured and secure payment service provider for your site and you’re on to a winner with customers.

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