• As many of us plunder through the new changes that come to our stores regularly, none has been as big an advancement as structured data and Google's data highlighting. While the markup can be a real challenge with our dynamic websites, we have been making progress in the implementation of rich snippets for your Zen Cart here.

    While this progress is going quite well, Google has been challenged to pick up all of the data correctly, entirely and only on product pages. To this end, we now see that Google recently launched a new tool in webmaster tools to help us help tag them!

    The data highlighter now has a way to tag your pages manually and create a "set" for Google to understand them all most of them without having to make edits to your Zen Cart. While I am certain the site edits are more effective, I actually recommend you do both. My reasoning is quite simple, number 1 if you have any errors they will become apparent during the tagging process.... and number 2, more is better =)

    To get started login to Google webmaster tools and click "Optimization", then "Data Highlighter" from the left hand menu. Once here you will likely need to locate the "Get Started" button if you have never used the tool before. This will produce the box below.

    data highlighting Data Highlighter Tagging Now Available in Google Webmaster Tools

    Make sure you enter the full product url FIRST like http://domain.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=86

    **Much to my dismay, https:// links are not accepted. I certainly hope Google fixes this quickly as it is quite short sighted for products! I told them here, maybe you should tell them as well.

    Once you click "OK" it will take a little while to process, go get some coffee and come back to it in a bit.

    Now you will setup an example url so that Google knows the product pages. When asked for the url parameters you will enter the following.


    Exactly like that, including the *

    Then the cool part, Google will show you several example pages and ask you to tag them with common data elements such as image, price, etc. This is the part where you may discover some issues with your page's markup!

    Pages that are not indexed in Google cannot be tagged, but if you correctly create the set for your dynamic product pages then they will find them anyhow. If you are rewriting your urls and cannot get a common parameter to dynamically tag your product pages... well, we have been telling you NOT to rewrite your urls for years. It's old out of date (1997) SEO and it only hurts your in speed,  response load and now this really cool tool to help you rank that you cannot use!

  • checkoutsuccess Get More Sales ... Dont Suck!Ecommerce is a tough business. It moves fast, changes frequently and relies on outside factors, which are often beyond our control. Such as Google screw ups.

    I have often told clients, and I believe fully that the best time and money are spent on getting the most from the shoppers you already have. Think about it, maybe you are getting 50 unique visits a day, sure that's not a lot, but how many sales? 1 a day maybe?

    What difference would it make to your business is you could increase that to 3 or more sales a day?

    Do you check and watch your checkout abandonment rate? Do you even know how?

    Diagnosing the barriers that shoppers have with your website is hands down the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to increase your sales. Then you can use the additional revenue to work on increasing your daily traffic.

    Number 1: Google Analytics Checkout Abandonment

    We have yet to find a client who uses this awesome tool to even half of it's potential. As a shop owner you should have dedicated and be spending at LEAST 30 minutes a week poking around in Google Analytics. If you're not, you have failed yourself.

    Want to learn how to calculate your checkout abandonment?

    1. Login in to Google Analytics and select the account you want to diagnose
    2. From the left menu select Content >> Overview >>All Pages
    3. In this list on the top right use the search to locate your first page of checkout by searching for it's url, such as login.php. There may be several in the list, total the Unique Pageviews Column and write it down.
    4. Next use the filter/search box to search for your second page such as checkout_shipping and write down the unique pageviews.
    5. Do this for all of your checkout pages including the last checkout_success.
    6. Do the math....

    So I used a customer's account to give you an example. They are running a short, no-login and super easy checkout experience that we built for them. See the results below.

    checkoutabandonment Get More Sales ... Dont Suck!Checkout Page 1: 1776
    Checkout Page 2: 1509
    Abandonment: 15.03%
    Checkout Page 3: 1360
    Total Abandonment: 23.42%
    Checkout Conversion Rate: 75.58%
    Loss of Abandonment Revenue: Page 1 (1776) - Page 3 (1360) = 416 X Average Sale $111.58 = $46,417.28 Lost Revenue!

    How does your store compare? What do you do if it sucks?

    • Reduce the number of pages in checkout
    • Remove barriers and distractions from checkout
    • Increase trust:
      • Security Seals
      • Phone Number has High Visibility
      • Live Chat
      • Good Direction Words in Text and Buttons. Go to, Buy Now etc (tell them what you want!)
      • Fast Website Performance.... Nobody Waits Anymore!
      • SSL Certificate, If You Don't Have $10 a Year for an SSL You are in the Wrong Business!
    • Payment Options. People are (in our own internal study) are about 34% Less Likely to Checkout if you ONLY offer Offsite Payment Options such as Paypal. In talking with folks it seems that they are concerned that if you only offer Paypal then you are not a "real" business.
    • Clear, First Person Helpful Product Descriptions. I Tell Clients to Describe their Products Just as they Would if I was on the Phone with them.
    • Nice, Big and Awesome Product Images.
    • Good, Competitive Pricing.
    • Easy to Follow Design, Menus and Navigation.

     Number 2 Google Analytics Poor Performers

    No matter how hard you have worked, you have losers in your website. These losers, as I prefer to call them, are pages that get some traffic but simply fail to convert anything.... In a nutshell for some reason they suck! However, it's really easy to locate these pages and get to work on identifying the problem. Want to learn? See below.

    1. Login in to Google Analytics and select the account you want to use.
    2. From the left side menu select Content >> Overview >> Site Content >> Landing Pages
    3. On the top left, right above the graph hit the "Ecommerce" tab
    4. Bottom right hand corner use the dropdown to make the number of results bigger
    5. You are looking for pages with high visits, but very small number of transactions.
    6. Find one you want to diagnose

    The Diagnosis and Treatment of a Loser

    I picked one has 377 visits and only 1 transaction.... This .27% conversion rate is well below the site's 3.1% average conversion rate. Now we want to open that page up on our website and try to determine why it sucks so bad.

    Top Ten Reasons Page's Suck

    1. Too confusing, busy or completely "pathless". When people open this page they are intimidated, lost or just plain too lazy to try to navigate the mess. This is very common for your product index pages. Try to provide some easy to read and scan-able text above the products.... some direction.
    2. Product pages with little or no descriptions.
    3. Crappy images on product pages or product index pages with rows of products that in a quick scan all appear to be the same.
    4. Too slow.... Face it, they will just hit the back button and try again.
    5. Recognition. You provided no way for the searcher to immediately realize that their search provided them the correct product/page. Since we need every damn thing right this second, we leave for an easier experience for our lazy fingers.
    6. No authority. Your page looks like you know nothing, do nothing and are simply a bulk seller with no real connection to the products or experience. This troubles me because I might have a question or need some support... But since you obviously know nothing, you won't be able to help.
    7. Trust. I see no reason I should trust you with my personal details and credit card information. Where is the phone number? How can I get in touch with these people? Are they real, or are they some washed up eBayer? How do I know?
    8. Price! The price is too high or even too low. Ideally you want to be pricing your products somewhere in the middle. Prices too high are an obvious problem, but did you know that prices too low are also a problem. Think about it, if you have the lowest prices you might be a knockoff, you might suck at customer service, not a real business etc.
    9. Your website looks/feels old and not up to date. I don't think you need to have every bell and whistle available, but if your website still looks like 90's HTML, then your sales will suffer.
    10. Too forward. Have you ever walked in to a furniture store and that guy meets you at the door with a flyer? Then proceeds to follow you around the store even after you told him you were just looking? Well, believe me your website can also come off like that. While we need to create a path and direction to better convert shoppers... we do not have to look like a furniture salesman in a plaid jacket!


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