Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tips for Launching an Ecommerce Business Online

It is finally time come to become your own boss. You have a product idea that you know people will love to invest in that can make you more money than what you make at your regular job. It's time to start an online business. Yet before you begin marketing yourself to friends and neighbors through social media, you'll want to get your online business off to a great start from the very beginning. Use this checklist of the 10 elements to have in place before opening your online business.

1: Have a Business Plan

Business plans are basic outlines and details about your business as it shows what you will do to make your business a success. It helps define who you plan to market your products to, what products you will be offering, how your product fits into the industry market, how you plan to promote your business, and how you plan to finance it.

2: Secure Your Vendors

You will want to secure all the vendors who will be supplying the materials and merchandise for your online store. Evaluate vendors to ensure that they can deliver your items to you in the fastest amount of time and that the products are of a quality that you want to associate your name with when selling them to customers.

3: Get Financing

Unless you have a nice nest egg you can use to finance your business for the first year or so until you start to make enough profits, you will have to get the working capital to see your business become a reality. You can obtain a business loan from a financial institution or a government-backed loan. If you have poor or no credit to get a loan, consider asking friends and family members to finance your business.

4: Obtain any Business Licenses, Permits and Insurance

Even though you will be offering products or services online instead of through a regular brick-and-mortar store, you still need to abide by all state and federal laws based on the type of business you operate. Obtain the suitable licenses or permits to open your business. You should also look into getting insurance to legally protect yourself and your business.

5: Create Promotional Materials

Even though you may be selling your products exclusively through your online store, you will still need to create physical promotional materials to hand to people so they will visit your website. Create promotional flyers to hang on store bulletin boards or pass out to pedestrians. Also make business cards to hand out to people you meet.

6: Develop a Functional Website

The website is the hub of your business. While it should be appealing to all web traffic, it also needs to be functional with easy-to-use navigation features and ordering instructions. Strive to make the website look professional with photographs and content that appeal to your customer niche. There are tons of website templates to allow you to create the website yourself, or you can go through a web design company who can help you get your business seen online.

7: Set Up Your Website for Payment Processing

There are so many e-commerce software and hosting solutions available that you truly can pick the right one that works best for your business. Whether you want to set up a simple shopping cart on your website, or you want something more robust through an e-commerce hosting company, will be based on your business preferences. Research and compare your options so you can process credit cards or accept payment services such as Paypal without any problems.

8: Define Your Customer Support Services

For some reason customer support always get pushed to the side as eager small business owners are more focused with promoting and marketing their sites. Yet you need to set up a reliable customer support service to handle returns, upsell products and deal with customer complaints. Options you have for customer support include email contact pages and a dedicated telephone line for your business. Always set aside a portion of your time to deal with customer service issues or hire someone to strictly handle this role.

9: Market Your Business Online

Customers won't know that your online business exists if you don't have an online marketing plan. While you promoted your business out on the street, you also need to promote yourself through all online avenues. Create a social media presence, set up a blog, offer opt-in newsletters and engage in ad campaigns to spread your business brand far and wide.

10: Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices

While marketing your products to online customers, you don't want to leave out mobile customers. More people are shopping and making purchases through their smart phones or tablet devices. You will need to have a mobile-optimized site, landing page and ad marketing campaign suited to mobile customers.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

SEO Reviews of 2013 for Business Websites

Ask anyone in the SEO space and they will be happy to confirm - often at length - that 2013 was a tumultuous year. Throughout the year, Google's SEO moves all had a singular aim: To force content providers to deliver clear and substantial value to searchers if they wanted to be rewarded with a high rank in search results. Nothing new there, at least in theory. What changed dramatically, however, was the search engine giant's ability rank sites using signals that forced providers to comply with the company's goals regarding value without being easy to manipulate. In other words, in 2013, Google made it much harder to game the system. Here's how:

Continued Panda and Penguin Roll-Outs

Google rolled-out its Panda update in 2011 in an effort to penalize "thin sites" that offered little value to searchers but lots of onscreen real estate to advertisers. The effect was dramatic if occasionally overreaching in scope. Penguin followed in 2012, targeting questionable linkbuilding tactics that artificially inflated a site's apparent influence. In the time since their initial releases, Google has continued to refine these algorithm tweaks, including at least three known Panda changes and two Penguin updates in 2013. Significantly, some of these changes were intended to help "legitimate" sites that unintentionally fell victim to Panda recover some of their lost status. Google continues to scrutinize linkbuilding tactics, including penalizing practices in 2013 that originally fell outside of Penguin.

"Not Revealed" Keywords

Traditionally, SEOs could analyze Google Keyword information to see how searchers were arriving at their pages and spot optimization opportunities. In 2013, Google took most of that data away in the name of protecting searchers' privacy, replacing what had been some of the most useful information provided in its suite of analytics tools with the dreaded phrase "Not provided."

While some information is still available through Google's Webmaster Tools, SEOs are still largely in the dark relative to the keyword information they had at hand in 2013. The two choices available to SEOs seemed to be make use of keyword information available elsewhere (for example, through Bing) or choose to focus on providing robust content that would hopefully incorporate many organic keywords.

Google Author Rank

It's no surprise that an author's name and reputation can contribute an air of expertise to the content she writes. Unfortunately (for searchers), until 2013, there was no solid way to calculate the impact of this incredibly important social signal in a search algorithm. As with so many other challenges, Google found a way around that and Author Rank was born.

By verifying code snippets on a content page against information in the creator's Google+ page, Google is now able to reasonably assure searchers that a piece content was written by a known and respected "name." Additionally, Google can now assign a value, known as Author Rank, to the apparent influence connected to that name. The upshot is simple: SEOs whose properties can offer content written by well-regarded creators stand to win big in this arena.

Hummingbird Update

In September 2013, Google announced that it had essentially replaced its old algorithm. The updated formula for parsing search requests and sorting results was named Hummingbird, and it promised to allow more natural search queries as well as provide more precise results, serving the exact page a user is likely to need within a relevant website. For example, searchers could now literally as Google a question instead of typing a string of keywords. The algorithm supposedly also understands queries more contextually - for example, providing answers relevant to Kansas City instead of New York if you happen to be searching from within Kansas City. While this is a new algorithm, it still incorporates changes related to quality that arrived under previous updates. Hummingbird makes optimizing content for locality and at the page level extremely important. It does not change any expectations about content quality.

What to Expect in 2014

Clearly, optimizing content for mobile and local search will be important in 2014, but the real story remains content quality. Since Google is forcing content providers to think strategically instead of tactically regarding their content, it makes sense for SEOs to take a moment to think strategically about Google as a search provider. While its executives in Mountain View earn their salaries in large part by delivering value to advertisers, they can only do that by maintaining their position as a trusted brand for end-users. The best way maintain that trust is simply to deliver high quality results to searchers. It will always be important for SEOs to keep feelers out for tactical approaches to optimization that can be exploited for quick gains, but the best long-term strategic approach to succeeding with Google in 2014 - and beyond - will be to deliver well structured, easily parsed, and valuable content to their target audiences. If that content is good enough to encourage social sharing, thus circumventing the need for discovery on a search engine to begin with, well, so much the better.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hire a Firm Providing SEO Services at Right Time.

There will come a point where all your efforts in optimizing the site and promoting it online seem to be not working. This can be frustrating especially if you have infused a lot of money and effort into these ventures. If you are on this stage, and you don't want to take this sitting down then what you need to keep in mind is that there is still a way out of the misery. You can still make your fledgling website relevant, one thing that you can do is to get the services of an SEO services provider. The services of the professional will come for a fee, but the fee that you will shell out will be for nothing if you compare this to the overall benefits that you can get. But before you can hire one that can extend SEO services for your needs, it is right that you conduct some initial assessment first. For example, you must ask the right questions so that you can get the best SEO practitioner for your needs. Here are some things to consider, as suggested by Google on how you can find the best SEO practitioner for your needs.  

The background and the quality of the past work of the provider. The kind of services and the success rate of the firm will serve as a good barometer for you when evaluating multiple providers. 

The commitment of the provider of SEO services in sticking with the Google Webmaster Guidelines. This is a set of guidelines drafted by Google that should be followed by webmasters and publishers. Consider this as the listing of the best practices online. If the provider of services can follow what are indicated on the Google Webmaster Guidelines, then this should tell you that the provider is serious in delivering quality and ethical SEO practices. 

The availability of online marketing services that will complement organic search.

The experience of the firm in the industry. Everyone is not working on the same industry; some businesses target sporting goods and some are in educational services. So if you are into the sporting goods, then the firm should have a substantial amount of experience in this industry called sporting goods. 

The experience of the firm in your home country or city. And the experience of the firm in handling international websites. Some of the best SEO practitioners are based in the United States and Europe, but what about the users that are from other countries? The firm that understands the culture of as many countries as possible will serve as the most ideal candidate. 

It is also important to raise the question of SEO techniques that are regularly used by the firm. By checking these techniques, you can get a good idea if they are working on an ethical SEO or not. 

The overall experience in years of the firm should be checked. The longer the firm has been operating in SEO, the better. 

And finally, it's best that you ask the mode of communication that will be used when tweaking the website. 
These are the common concerns that should be raised when selecting a provider of SEO services. These concerns are recommended by Google, so it's wise to get these concerns into play.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Latest SEO Tips for Google Updates

Google left the door wide open and people took advantage. This led to great rankings, traffic and, more importantly, money in the bank. People started to rely on the majority, if not all traffic coming from Google and then the rug was pulled from under their feet. This kicked off an almighty struggle with the King of Search, but I’m here to tell you today that it doesn’t have to be a fight. There is another way.

Stop Building Dirty Links

If you’re going to get back into Google’s good books, you need to cease using dodgy link building tactics full stop.
This isn’t one of those situations where you can be half in, half out – you need to move away from dodgy links completely. Stop Now.

And a word to the wise: dodgy links with generic anchors can only work for so long. Eventually Google will catch you (if they haven’t already). Then, say goodbye to Google sending you any traffic.

Get Rid of Legacy Links that Don’t Fit with Google’s Guidelines

If you have been building nasty links in the past, you need to get rid of them, or at least try to.
It’s a fact: you can’t get rid of them all, but the consequences of not doing this could lead to an algorithmic penalty or even a manual penalty.

You’ll know about a manual penalty in your Google Webmaster Tools account. You will usually see an unnatural links warning message.

If you’ve got an algorithmic penalty, you’ll only notice this when you check your analytics and see your traffic drop through the floor.

You can get a manual penalty (or manual spam action) revoked by showing Google the lengths you have gone to in order to try and remove the links. You’ll usually get a message back from Google within 1-2 weeks.

If you have an algorithmic penalty, you can go through your links, highlight the nasty domains that are linking to you and disavow them, but ultimately you may have to wait until the next Penguin refresh to see whether your rankings come back.

Dance to the Beat of Google’s Drum

Google has a set of quality guidelines that they recommend to webmasters and, when you think about it, it’s all really straightforward stuff. It includes avoiding nasty things like cloaking, hidden text, doorway pages and all that blackhat stuff.

It also involves making your pages for users, adding value and creating unique content.

This isn’t groundbreaking, or even rocket science, and remember that these guidelines are updated as Google continues to evolve along with their search algorithm.

Most importantly, though, when these guidelines are updated, don’t jump to conclusions and don’t make assumptions. This goes for algorithm updates, too.

A lot of people within the industry are being too quick to make up their minds without looking at the data, and these assumptions can often cause more problems than they solve.

Think about the Future and the Big Picture

One of the big mistakes that a lot of people are making is that what works now will carry on working forever.

Before Google’s Penguin update in April 2012, a lot of people thought that blasting nasty links at websites was going to continue working.

Those that looked at the bigger picture, however, could see that those practices were at best a calculated risk, and that Google would eventually bring the boom down and take action on manipulative link building tactics.

Content is what it’s all about, as it has been for a while (that and user experience). While there are a lot of people that struggle to get traction, there are tactics you can use that will get you results.

Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket

You can understand the temptation, knowing that some websites are getting 100,000′s of visitors a month from Google. While I don’t think you should give up working towards those insane levels of traffic, you can’t just rely on one tactic.

In business, you always need a contingency plan for anything that could go wrong, so you need to be sure to focus on other ways of generating traffic.

Just look at some of the top business blogs. Sure, they may be getting a lot of traffic from organic search, but there are a lot more things you can try:
  • Social media
  • Contributing to other blogs
  • Doing interviews
  • Link building (the white hat way)
I’ve found that the best way to figure this ‘traffic generation’ thing out is to not just look for a list of tactics, but look at how people are using them in case studies.

Summary :-

I understand that there may be some of you reading this post who don’t have any love for Google generally, and don’t like following anything Google says.

I understand why – Google does have a lot of power (too much), and its algorithm updates have the power to shake entire economies.

The truth about the ‘user experience’ thing is that, while Google’s ultimate aim (at a guess) is to stop users from going over to Bing and so protect its advertising revenue… Google is actually on to something.
Where are all those sites that didn’t give a damn about the user experience now?
Nowhere to be seen.

Where are all those sites that thought about user experience and building a community before anything else?
They’re still here and a lot of them are leaders in their field.

So, whether you like it or not, it’s time to get on board with the ‘user experience’ thing.
What’s your take on the current state of search?