2013 & Zen Cart

determinationWith all the Panda, Penguin and buzz surrounding them it’s very easy to get caught “putting out fires” all the time. It’s very tiring and not so successful overall… so let’s get going!

Below is a punch list of the things “I” think ecommerce shop owners should be concentrating on in 2013…. In order of priority. Call it a plan of attack, new year’s resolution… Call it whatever you like, but get out in front of that monster and stop “putting out fires”.

1. Content is still king if it’s not crap. What are Google and the other search engines looking for in content?

  • Make sure each page has a couple of good paragraphs.
  • Avoid lists and comma separated values.
  • Keep to that page’s topic when writing content.
  • Use common words that people might use to find your content in your content.
  • Write for the masses, not everyone is a college grad.
  • Structure your content properly with heading tags and organized paragraphs… Make it easy to scan.
  • Your content should be written for your shoppers! If it’s pushed down to the bottom of the page Google weighs it less and your shoppers likely never see it! #WasteOfTime

2. Usability is a never ending process. Making shopping easier gets more sales out of the visits you have already.

  • At least once a week shop on your website and go all the way through checkout.
  • Do you have pages that are really good but hidden from navigation?
  • Do you have the trust signals you need such as highly visible phone number, SSL, security seals, guarantees and such? These really do increase sales and Google is looking for them!
  • Do your pages load quickly? Start here
  • Are your product descriptions and images adequate for me to throw money at you?
  • Are you using colors in buttons and navigation to create a proper call to action and funnel people along?
  • It is REALLY clear what payment methods you accept? Here is a cool payment image generator.
  • Can I get a shipping quote before providing you my personal information?
  • Have privacy, conditions, shipping and returns in place and easy to understand?

3. Social Media is not going to go away just because you think it doesn’t apply to you… Instead you will go away =0

  • Minimum you should have a Facebook page. People have begun using Facebook to search for products, services and businesses instead of a search engine!
  • Very likely you should also have Twitter and Google+ (make sure to link your Google+ page and your website properly).
  • Having a Facebook page is not enough…. engage these people and find sales in return.
  • Your product pages should have at least Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest buttons for sharing. The benefit from even 1 pin is really huge!
  • Get on board with Rich Snippets to help the search engines and social media platforms understand your products and give you the credit you deserve.
  • People love product videos…. if they’re short, helpful and perhaps funny.
  • The Internet is very much a popularity contest.

4. Link Building is “the job that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends”. Links are still important it they’re not faked, from junk sites or spammy.

  • Build links by creating business profiles on business directories. Google Local, Yahoo local, Manta, Yelp etc.
  • Find niche blogs, forums, Facebook groups and such related to your products and get involved. Note this is not a spamming venture… be helpful and be loved.
  • NEVER, EVER pay for links or trade links….. Google will get you.
  • Create a community page of your own on Facebook or similar.
  • Join the Chamber of Commerce in your area and get in to their website directory.
  • Post coupons on websites like BlueMountain and ReatilMeNot
  • Make donations to local organizations and ask only for a thank you link from their website.
  • Make use of Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Google Places & Google maps if you have a brick & mortar location.
  • Have you tried free press releases?

5. Google Analytics is a wealth of knowledge! If you’re not using it, shame on you…. If you are, make a commitment to spend 15 minutes a week in there “poking around”. You will find that you will accidentally stumble upon things you didn’t know to help you understand and grow your business.

6. Mobile technology is developing faster than we had ever expected. Devices have come down in cost and urban WiFi hub spots have put millions of users online who would not be otherwise.

  • Tablet traffic accounted for 8-19% of total shopping traffic from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
  • Total sales from tablet type devices ranged from 7-17%, with iPads representing a disproportionate 94 percent majority of the tablets.
  • Tablet shoppers on average converted as much as 38% higher and average order values were up to 15% larger.
  • Look in to creating a mobile version of your website. Delia has a great mod for this purpose.
  • Perhaps a Facebook catalog page?

These items here are pretty Google Proof. I mean they have been the right thing for a long time and are going to continue to be right. Stop thinking so much about “how to rank” and start thinking about how to “wow” your shoppers instead. You will earn the trust and love of your shoppers and Google at the same time. Toooofer!