Tag Archives: Search engine optimization

Getting your online store ready for Christmas

15 Nov

With Christmas just around the corner it’s important to get your online store ready for the holiday rush.

Internet shopping continues to rise year on year, so here are my top tips for getting your store ready for what could be your most lucrative quarter.

Check your store. Is it ready?

Start by looking at the products on your store. Optimize images and give your site a festive feel. Images will play a big part in capturing the attention and hearts of shoppers. If your product photos are low resolution or have poor lighting, maybe it’s time to re-shoot them ready for the holidays. You might not want to upload them yet, but careful planning will take the stress out of what is going to be a busy time.

Get festive

If you use an eCommerce website builder or platform, why not choose a festive store design to entice your customers.  Freewebstore has some great designs to choose from – and they’re all free. Best of all you can easily switch between your Christmas design and your January Sale design at the click of a button using the Saved Designs Feature. A word of warning though – if you have a high customer base, don’t make drastic changes to the navigation or layout right now. This can cause disruption to customers’ shopping flow. If the site has drastically changes from what customers are used to, it could cause confusion, frustration and lead to abandonment.

shopping mall.jpeg

Check what your users see

Check your website. Does it load well? Is your url or domain memorable? Are all the links working? Does your site work on all devices?  Make sure all your images load and check your stock levels. You don’t want any ‘out of stock’ products appearing on your store as it may look as though your store has been abandoned or out of date.

Are your product descriptions accurate and of a good length? If they aren’t, online shoppers may be wary of buying from you. Do you use custom urls for your categories? All of this careful planning helps build up your SEO which will boost your Google rankings making it easier for shoppers to find you.

Fake websites

In response to Google’s decision to mark HTTP pages as unsafe starting October 2017, websites which do not have SSL encryption enabled will be marked as “Not secure” in Google Chrome. This could have a damaging effect on your sales if you don’t have an eCommerce website that is fully SSL secure.

Here’s an example of what your customers will see without you having an SSL enabled:

unprotected

This is an example of what your customers will see if your website is SSL protected.

secure

Freewebstore now offers ALL customers a free SSL. Find out more here.

Make checking out easy

Your customers are going to be busy leading up to Christmas. Don’t have them abandoning the checkout process out of frustration. After succeeding in the hard work of getting them there, losing conversions due to a complicated or lengthy form is far from ideal. Use a checkout that allows you to take payments directly on your store.

Monitor your stock carefully

christmas-atmosphere-santa-claus-advent-63598

Choosing the amount of stock you need over Christmas can often be difficult, especially if you are investing in seasonal products. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss out on a share of the market, but on the other you don’t want to be left with surplus stock in January that you can’t sell.  Look at what sold well last year. Finding a pattern could make ordering your stock each year much easier, so make sure you keep a note of everything…good luck!

Get started with freewebstore.com

Article originally published: 21/09/16, Modified and Updated: 14/11/17

Our Gift to You…

13 Oct

Freewebstore is delighted to announce a platform upgrade; we’re giving each and every one of our 500,000+ users an SSL – for free! Better still, you don’t even have to lift a finger!

A lil’ bit more information…

77% of consumers are worried that their personal information could end up in the wrong hands(Global Sign). Having an SSL enabled on your web store will instill buyers confidence and increase sales.

Here’s an example of what your customers will see without you having an SSL enabled:

unprotected

This is an example of what your customers will see with our free SSL feature:

secure

Is it for me?

If you’ve got a web store and want your customers to feel fully secure increasing shoppers confidence then yes, this is for you!

Why are we doing this?

1. Love. We love our store owners and we want to give you EVERY chance of success possible. 💙

2. Added security and buyers confidence. 77% of consumers are worried that atheir personal information could end up in the wrong hands. This feature will reassure your customers this is not the case!

3. Improve your SEO. Google is making changes to their algorithms and this will start to take HTTPS as a ranking signal and, if stores are not SSL protected, this could have an impact on where the store sits on the search engine.

When will I be able to claim my SSL?

Freewebstore started rolling out the SSL feature across the board and this will be available to all of our users.

 

 

How to get your online store ready for Christmas

21 Sep

With Christmas just around the corner it’s important to start thinking about getting your online store ready for the holiday rush.

Internet shopping continues to rise year on year, so here are my top tips for getting your store ready for what could be your most lucrative quarter.Retro tin toy santa robot holding christmas present

Is your store ready?

Start by looking at the products on your store. Optimize images and give your site a festive feel. Images will play a big part in capturing the attention and hearts of shoppers. If your product photos are low resolution or have poor lighting, maybe it’s time to re-shoot them ready for the holidays. You might not want to upload them yet, but careful planning will take the stress out of what is going to be a busy time.

Check your site. Does it load well? Is your web address memorable? Are all the links working? Does your site work on all devices? Are your stock levels right?  Make sure there isn’t any ‘out of stock’ products appearing on your store. Show that your site is secure with an SSL certificate.

Are your product descriptions accurate and of a good length? If they aren’t, online shoppers may be wary of buying from you. All of this careful planning helps build up your SEO which will boost your Google rankings making it easier for shoppers to find you.

Make checking out easy

Your customers are going to be busy leading up to Christmas. According to a recent survey conducted by PwC, when it comes to online shopping, Americans value convenience above all else: 58% of survey respondents say convenience is the main reason they shop online, with price being a distant second at 32%. Don’t have your customers abandoning the checkout process out of frustration. After succeeding in the hard work of getting them there, losing conversions due to a complicated or lengthy form is far from ideal. Use a checkout that allows you to take payments directly on your store.

Have a plan

Calculate your projected sales figures and work hard to stick to them. Visit our 6 essential tips to increasing sales.

Build the hype. ..slowly!

Plan your marketing campaign but start subtle. Traditionally the Christmas buying season starts the day after Thanksgiving, but so many people have done their Christmas shopping by then. I’m not suggesting that you start customizing your store with Christmas trees and tinsel just yet! A great way to start your Christmas campaign is to start blogging about it. If you have enabled StoreBlog, you can blog about what you’re planning in the run up to the Holiday Season. Put teasers for your upcoming sales on your blog or Facebook store to create awareness. According to a recent report by Deloitte more so than ever, consumers plan to use the Internet to research holiday buys and 50% will use social media during their shopping process when it comes to holiday spending. Get your customers to leave feedback and reviews on your StoreBlog and Facebook store.

If you’re looking to promote discounts for those shoppers looking for a bargain, start to plan what coupons and sales you’re going to offer on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Money can be tight at Christmas and customers will be looking for a great deal.  

Use every avenue available to drive traffic to your store.  Get your advertising in the right place. Define your best customer and seek out the right way to reach them. During October and the early part of November, these won’t be Christmas related ads. You are planting shopping ideas and hints that will be harvested down the road.

Don’t have a big marketing budget? Utilize social media. A recent survey found that consumers have an appetite for social commerce, that fusion of online social communities with seamless purchasing capability. More than two-thirds of US respondents said social media influences their online shopping behavior.

Time to Get Festive

When you start to celebrate Christmas on your store is up to you but it’s essential that you aren’t the last store out there to start celebrating. Customize your store with some festive features to entice your customers. Winter Morning is a festive design for your store.  You can easily switch between your Christmas design and your January Sale design at the click of a button using the Saved Designs Feature. A word of warning though – if you have a high customer base, don’t make drastic changes to the navigation or layout right now. This can cause disruption to customers’ shopping flow. If the site has drastically changes from what customers are used to, it could cause confusion, frustration and lead to abandonment.

Get to the Christmas Markets – this is the best way to raise your profile and connect with your customers. See face to face what your customers are interested in. Wrap up warm, grab a coffee and have fun. Pick their brains about what they bought last year. What items make good gifts? What price ranges are they looking for? What is their average Christmas budget?

Monitor your stock carefully

Choosing the amount of stock you need over Christmas can often be difficult, especially if you are investing in seasonal products. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss out on a share of the market, but on the other you don’t want to be left with surplus stock in January that you can’t sell.  Look at what sold well last year. Finding a pattern could make ordering your stock each year much easier, so make sure you keep a note of everything.

Reach out to your customers about your most popular products – nervous customers will want reassuring that products will arrive on time.

Spread some festive cheer

Your average customer will recruit three other customers during the time they do business with you. What makes customers talk about you? Usually the way they were treated. Add a personal touch. Offer a helping hand. Give them personal attention. This could be a handwritten note in their parcel. Point out new items to customers on your blog. Sales and relationships go hand in hand.

Get your staff involved!

The holidays are a great time to have fun and a season of goodwill. Why not get your staff excited about Christmas and this will reflect in their attitudes. Organize a competition among your staff to create a Christmas card to send out with your customer orders. A personal touch will help your customers to feel valued and connected to your brand. Your staff can make a big difference to the success of our business over Christmas. Why not treat them to a Christmas lunch to say thank you for all their hard work, especially if you need them to work on days that most people usually have off like Boxing Day or New Year’s Day.

And finally…Don’t forget January!

No doubt if your Christmas campaign has gone well, you’ll be exhausted! Plan ahead and get your January sales with discount codes and coupons. Getting ready early will help you to jump on your competition and bring in the shoppers. Marketing plans take time to plan and work if they are to be successful. Bring it on!

Get started with freewebstore.com

Freewebstore High Flyers

5 Dec

Congratulations to the following stores who make up our Top 5 high flyers for the last 30 days.  These stores had a combined total of over 9000 orders between themselves during November !

qualite
1. http://www.qualite.co.uk


2. http://www.meowgang.com/

cigs

3. http://www.safercigs.co.uk/

party

4. http://www.partymusthaves.co.uk/

5.  http://www.prettyessential.com/

Google Launch “Hummingbird”

27 Sep

Google announced this week that they have launched a new search algorithm called “Hummingbird”.

Search algorithms are used to try and return the most relevant results when people type in queries in Google.  There are millions of sites out there so Google will try and fetch back the most relevant results they think should be displayed.  Google are constantly tweaking their algorithms, but this latest change is a bit different as they have completely overhauled their system.

What has changed ?

The primary change with the new algorithm is that it should display more relevant results for conversational queries.   This is especially useful with the number of people using mobile devices for their searches !

“Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You’d sit down and boot up your bulky computer dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words,”  wrote Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

“The world has changed so much since then: billions of people have come online, the Web has grown exponentially, and now you can ask any question on the powerful little device in your pocket.”

Specifically, Google has said that Hummingbird will not just take into account individual words but will pay more attention to each word within a query, ensuring that the whole sentence  is taken into account.  The idea is that matching sentences or conversations will naturally appear above only partial word matches in the search results.

What does this mean for me and my store ?

It is impossible to say at this early stage.  Hummingbird was launched a month ago, so you should check your traffic to see if you can see any  noticeable changes.  For most people the traffic will remain the same.   Some of you may see an increase or decrease.

Google say there is nothing new or different in regards to the SEO you should add to your store so our advise, as always, is to make sure your SEO on your store is the best it can be.  Check out our blog post on Search Engine Optimisation.

It is also an opportunity to look at other traffic streams for your store.  The old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket also applies to your free traffic sources.

Where else can I get free traffic ? 

With the explosion of social media channels available to you this is an area that you should look at using to generate free traffic outside of Google.  Here at FreeWebstore we are always looking at ways of making your store integrate with these social media channels in functional and easy ways.  That is why we have launched a number of social media tools for you.

With the FreeWebstore Facebook StoreFront App you can easily  add your products to Facebook for Free directly from your FreeWebstore Control Panel.  You can also Tweet to tell your followers when you add an exciting new product or tell your followers about a special offer you may have on.  All from your FreeWebstore Control Panel !  How cool is that ?

You can also use the Marketing > Product Feeds section of your FreeWebstore Control Panel to access a range of Product Feed URLs. These URLs allow you to submit your products to certain shopping platforms, like ShopMania & Amazon which allows you an even bigger marketplace to showcase your products.

As always, our support team is on hand to help you with any questions you may have with this or any other subject!

SEO 101 – Common Mistakes

23 Sep

seo101

Ok, so you have your shiny new web store set up on the epically good Freewebstore platform. You have added your categories and products with consummate ease. You have chosen your store colors, uploaded your company logo, created your glossy product headers, added a shiny new slideshow and you are ready to make your fortune. So what’s next?

If you have yet to settle on your design or you have not yet finished adding your product inventory then I want you to stop reading right now.  Stop. Full stop. Have you stopped? Please stop! Go back and finish setting up your store.

Let Us Begin – Hungry Anyone?

For those of you still reading this then I am going to assume your store is at an acceptable level and you are ready to start promoting. The biggest mistake our users make is trying to force the store onto Google before it is even finished. This is the worst of all bad ideas. “Put your best foot forward” is a saying for a reason. You do not want Google to start rating your store and deciding what it is about whilst you are still building it. That could be bad. Really bad. Get your store up to a level you are happy and proud of then start thinking about promoting it.

Knives and Forks

In order to be successful at anything, you need the right tools and the right prep work. For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients.

  • 1 x Epic Freewebstore Store
  • 1 x Domain Name
  • 1 x Google Webmaster Tools Account
  • 1 x Google Analytics Account
  • 1 x Chocolate Biscuit

So the most important tool is your Freewebstore store and more accurately the Freewebstore Control Panel. This is the hub of everything you do and controls every aspect of your visible (and invisible!) store. When you first create your store we give you a temporary domain name such as (Freewebstore.org/MyNewShop). This will work fine but if you are serious about getting a lot of shoppers and sales then you are going to need your own domain name. This helps you stand out from the crowd and makes your store much easier to see and find both for shoppers and search engine spiders/bots. It is the single most important thing you can do for your store (beyond choosing Freewebstore as your eCommerce provider!). Domains are cheap as chips and you can pick one up for a few dollars or pounds. If you do not have a domain name yet then click here to go and buy one. It is worth mentioning that you get a free domain name from us with the Professional/Power Seller packages.

The two other tools you will need are both Google related and also happily free. You should set up your free Google Webmaster Tools account as soon as possible.  We submitted a sitemap to Google for you when you created your store, but we recommend you have your own free account to access all the relevant keyword data.   The sitemap is basically a guidebook or index for Google that lets it find every nook and cranny (page, product, and category) in your store. Google will use this to instruct its spiders to crawl your entire store. This, as you can imagine, is very important. The plucky little sitemap, that we submitted on your behalf, absolutely free, is clever enough to keep up with all your latest changes and additions made via the Freewebstore Control Panel. So you set it up once and forget about it. Safe in the knowledge that it will always keep Google in the loop. The last tool you need is the fabulous (and free) Google Analytics product. This is basically the statistics package to end all statistics packages. It gives you every possible bit of visitor information you could ever possibly wish for regarding your store.  Again, if you have not yet installed Google Analytics (don’t worry it is easy!) then do it now by clicking here.

So now you have your store on your own domain name, the Freewebstore Control Panel to make changes, the Google Sitemap to keep Google informed and the Google Analytics account to view your visitor statistics that will help us make decisions later. The chocolate biscuit is for you. We will wait here if you wanna go grab a brew?

Now that you are refreshed, let’s continue.

Eat Your Vegetables!

You are not going to like this but stay with me here. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (hereafter referred to with the much more sexy acronym”SEO”). There are no secrets and no (self-confessed) gurus who have secret knowledge and skills that no mere mortal could ever dream of achieving. If anyone approaches you claiming any different (for a fee!) then they are misleading you. Think about it. It is such an easy sell. No store owner no matter how large and successful thinks they are making enough money. So if some SEO wizard like creature approaches you and says they can magically “fix” your SEO if you cross their palm with enough silver then buyer beware. You have been warned.

The second vegetable I need you to mentally consume ( i will drop this metaphor soon I promise) is that your store is a tool. Brace yourself for another saying. “A poor workman blames his tools”. If you think your store is somehow holding you back then you are mistaken. You have full control over all your SEO from within the Freewebstore Control Panel. Blaming your store for poor SEO performance is like a hapless writer blaming his typewriter because his latest steamy novel flopped. (New metaphor see!). Conversely, it is not the store’s job to do this work for you. It can help – in a huge way but it will need you to do your bit.

Now For Dessert (good news!)

It may not sound like it but the good news is that there is no quick fix. So it is not magic and it is not predicated on the store software. So what now? Simple. Just start doing the right things and be patient. If there is an SEO secret then that is it.

You need to set the store up correctly to give yourself the best possible chance. You then need to leave it well alone for at least a month – preferably two. Only then when the store has matured and the listings have settled can you possibly try to assess the relative success of your store. If you try to do that before 60-90 days then it is useless. Completely useless. Any knee-jerk changes will reset the clock and you will have to wait another 60-90 days to see what the effect of your knee-jerk changes have been. Unless of course you only wait a few days, get frustrated that nothing has changed and made more knee-jerk changes that reset the clock yet again! This is the frustration/SEO cycle that a lot of our customers find themselves in. They blame the software, the store, the domain, our wonderful support team, Google, anything that can explain their lack of assumed ranking success. They are of course wrong and just grasping at straws. They are usually the people who did not stop reading at the end of the first paragraph (you know who you are!).

The Internet Buffet

Another common mistake is that store owners get greedy. They do not target specific keywords or search traffic. They just want as much traffic as they can get. So unless they are very good or very lucky they just get lost in the noise.

You need to pick your battles wisely. If you are a bookstore owner you are not going to compete with Amazon on the keyword “Book”. Good luck to you if you want to try but it is not a battle you are likely to win. So you need to target keywords and searches that are more specific or more niche. Perhaps you sell a certain kind of book? So it would be a much better bet to target “Second world war books” as the traffic here is more specific and the competition will be less. In this case, you would rename your product categories accordingly, so change “WWII” to “World War Two (II) Books”. You could also append “WWII” to the product names of the books contained within the category. Add a long category description to that category, one that mentioned “World War”, “World War Two”, “World War II” etc. Use the SEO title and description features of the products (and the category) to add more references to these terms. Then leave it a month or so and then use your Google Analytics account to see if you have had a marked improvement in hits of those (and related) search terms. That is SEO work in a nutshell. Also, start with only targeting one or a couple of different terms. This will help you hone your skills and keep you focused. Once you have mastered these search terms you can start getting cocky and add more terms to your hit list.

Repeat Until Rich…

You cannot force or rush SEO and traffic. Traffic builds gradually over time. Put a little bit of effort in at the beginning and perhaps, more importantly, be patient and wait to see what the results are. Then make considered decisions based on actual data (from Google Analytics) to see what improvements can be made. Then iteratively improve the SEO of your store over time. Each time giving the changes enough time to mature – look at the stats then re-assess and make the next change. Repeat until successful. That is how to do it properly. Not sexy and not quick but the truth. Of course, some of you may be better than others. Some may just get lucky. What is important to remember is that it is not impossible and anyone can do it. Each store is different, the market you operate in behaves in a unique way to others and the products you sell need to be promoted to that unique group. So SEO is a very personal thing. That is why there is no quick fix or magic plug and play solution. Nobody knows your business and products like you so who better to be in charge of the SEO?

Happiness Comes With Age

How old is your store? If anything less than 12 months then it is brand new in the eyes of Google. Google is understandably wary of new sites as they are subject to wild knee-jerk changes as the ones already discussed. So if you make the small iterative SEO changes as we have suggested Google will certainly like you. If you are patient and the store is online with the same provider for a long enough time then Google will start to trust you. They will be more comfortable ranking you higher for certain search terms. All common sense really. You are a better bet than the people (who are still reading?!?!) who want instant results and get themselves stuck in the frustration/SEO/blame cycle and who are constantly changing the store and jumping from host to host in the vain attempt that the next provider will have that secret SEO wizard chap/product/fix they so desperately crave.

Cheat Sheet

  1. Do not start worrying about traffic until the store is finished
  2. You need your own domain name. SEO without it is going to be difficult
  3. Get your Google Webmaster Tools account set up early.
  4. Get your free Google Analytics Account and attach it to your store. You need stats and lots of them.
  5. Give your store time. Do not assess SEO performance without giving your store at least 60-90 days to mature.
  6. Target specific keywords and search terms and concentrate on them first. Once achieved add more targets.
  7. Never think you are done. SEO is a constant process and the rules change often.
  8. Be patient and don’t blame your tools

That is all for now folks. We will post more blog posts in the near future which will be shorter and have specific advice and how-tos for you to improve your SEO. This was just a cathartic ramble about SEO, users expectations and the pitfalls of wanting too much too soon.

Given the metaphors above I think I must be hungry. So I am off to find a dark corner to eat my pie and give that steamy novel another go. Happy SEO’ing.

Search Engine Optimisation

19 Jul

Lets  take a look at Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.

Overview

SEO is an involved process, but can be very rewarding.

Never pay for SEO.  It is not difficult and there are quick, simple things you can do to make sure your products rank highly.

Keywords

SEO is the process of tailoring website content to make it as easy as possible for search engines, like Google, to read or “crawl” your website and figure out what it’s about. Once a search engine has information about a website, it can determine for what searches the website should appear.

When talking about SEO, people often refer to “keywords”. Keywords are words or phrases that people may search for on search engines. For example, if your webstore sells electronics, some possible keywords you might want to rank highly for on search engines could be “Television”, “MP3 player” and “Digital Camera”.

There are two main points that you should think about before writing product information, firstly, put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes and think what they might search for when they are looking for your products, then try to include those words as you write; secondly, think about the variations of a keyword someone might use (instead of “television”, someone might search for “32 inch TV”, “Plasma Television” or “Buy Cheap TV”).

Once you feel you have an idea of what people might search for, try to ensure your product names and descriptions include as many keywords and variations as possible without repeating yourself too much. On one hand, your text should be keyword-heavy to help search engines; on the other, it should be as easy as possible for your visitors to read and digest.

Another factor that can help is having keywords in your domain name, like Television-Shop.com.

Our system will automatically optimise all of your pages based on the content.  Just make sure you provide good keywords, rich data and our software will do the rest.  If you fancy yourself as a SEO Jedi then we also give you full access so you can manage the SEO manually yourself.

Links

Another factor that can help boost the ranking of your webstore is Incoming Links. This is when another separate website links to your own.

Search engines pick up on these and use them to determine how useful and relevant your website is. Relevancy is the key, though – if you sell electronics and a page about animals, for example, links to your webstore with the phrase “badger sanctuary”, search engines will see that it appears to be irrelevant.

Ideally, you would want a page about electronics – a blog or forum perhaps – to link to your webstore using a phrase like “electronic equipment” or “cheap electronics”. If you can build up a large number of these relevant Incoming Links, it can have a significant impact on your search engine ranking.

Beware of link exchanges, though. Link exchanges are when people simply swap links to each other, regardless of relevancy, in an effort to boost their search engine ranking. When a search engine sees a link pointing to your webstore, it will check to see if you link back. If you do, it can devalue the incoming link (and if this happens too much it could even damage your SEO efforts); if you don’t link back it can be seen as proof to the search engine that your website must be useful.

Summary

In summary, SEO is an involved and sometimes slow process; however, Free Webstore does plenty of behind-the-scenes SEO to help you out.  With patience and effort you will start seeing real results.  Google reward older stores with higher positions, so it is well worth taking the time to get your store’s SEO set up correctly. {!firstname}, you do your bit, we’ll do ours, and together we can get your webstore out to the widest possible market.