How Google’s Search Console Tool Can Help Webmasters

May 4th, 2018 Comments off

Google Search Console is one of the best resources for webmasters out there — and it’s absolutely free. While many site owners and webmasters may currently use some of the tool’s features, they might not be taking full advantage of everything it offers. If you are in charge of your company’s website, you can maximize its marketing potential by becoming a Google Search Console expert.

What is the Google Search Console?

When your website is not working as it should, you risk losing potential clients and current customers. Identifying these issues quickly is key to ensuring your website ranks high in Google’s search rankings.

The Google Search Console helps identify certain technical issues that could impact your SEO rankings.  will send you notifications by email whenever there is a problem with your website. You can also monitor Google SEO rankings to make certain your site is at or near the top of the list of search returns. You can learn about spider crawl issues that can drag down your search rankings. This resource allows you to monitor, in real time, problems that can make your website a liability instead of a marketing asset.

3 Important Features to Use in Google Search Console

Google Search Console offers a number of features that allow you to identify potential issues and correct them quickly. The following are just a few of these tools:

1. Keyword Reports

You will have access to a report that tells you how many keyword searches on Google brought people  to your site. The report can be adjusted by month and the  information allows you to refine your SEO strategy to target specific keywords that will generate more profitable traffic to your website. You can adjust the reports to see important metrics such as impressions, click-through rate (CTR) and the average position of your site’s ranking for specific keywords.

You can also filter your data by device (i.e. mobile, tablet and desktop) and country to see if any traffic patterns exist.

2. Total Website Pages Indexed by Google

This data displays  the total number of indexed URLs (pages on your site) that Google has discovered and is showing in their search results.  These pages could be any page on your site, including pages that you do not want to show in Google.  If there are pages that are not indexed, a common problem with new content, the Google Search Console will provide options for site owners to add the URL to the Google search platform.  The system will also allow you to remove URLs or identify URLs that are being blocked by tools such as robots.txt or the XML sitemap.

3. Site Errors/Problems

Sometimes there are technical issues in the server that are preventing Google from properly indexing your website.  Google Search Console provides a “site error section” that alerts you to these technical issues and provides you with tips to correct the erros.. Google warns that a 100 percent error rate in any of the categories indicates your site is down or misconfigured. An error rate below 100 percent may indicate that the site is overloaded or not configured properly. In either case, the issues might be transient, but they will still require investigation. The Google Search Console helps you identify and address these issues quickly to minimize the impact on your client base.

The Google Search Console is an invaluable free tool that helps ensure your website’s success. Additionally, it makes your job much easier by continually providing the information you need to optimize your site’s search position

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

The ABCs of SEO

February 17th, 2017 Comments off

Understanding SEO

 

Looking for more online exposure for your ecommerce business? Then you ought to be paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO). By helping search engines understand your site and what you’re selling, SEO in return does a better job of listing your site when certain terms come up in user searches.

Because an A-to-Z review of this topic would fill a book, here’s an abbreviated look at how SEO works, and how it can work for you.

  • A is for Algorithm. Search engines can’t think, but they can generate a list of the sites that they perceive to be the best hits for certain words.
  • C is for Content. Naturally, you’re going to make sure each page of your site takes full advantage of SEO. But what happens when visitors come to your page, and you no longer carry the item they’re looking for or are out of stock? Review every page of your site regularly to make sure shoppers don’t reach dead ends. If you don’t have the products they’re looking for, update listings with the expected date you’ll be able to fulfill orders, or offer alternative products to keep them engaged on your site.
  • K is for Keyword Research. When you understand the terminology your potential customers are plugging into search engines, the better you’re able to plug the same words onto your site. Think of keywords as shortcuts that sum up each page’s content.
  • L is for Longtail. Longtail keywords are SEO phrases that contain three or more words, and they account for 70 percent of searches. Longtails allow shoppers to be specific; for example, instead of searching for “doll,” they can narrow their results to “vintage rag doll.”
  • R is for Rank. Sure, your site may come up in a search, but is it on the first page? Better yet, is at or near the top of the first page? Recent data shows that the first hit on a page garners 32.5 percent of traffic; the second hit is a distant 17.6 percent and the numbers go downhill from there. Your goal is to keep your site ranked high, and that means reviewing your SEO keywords regularly.
  • T is for Technology. Nowadays, third-party apps and tools make it easy to come up with search words with minimal manual input. Use these services, but don’t let them be a substitute for your personal expertise or good old common sense.
  • U is for Unique. Search engines don’t like identical content from different sites. If your products come to you directly from a manufacturer, resist copying the original product information. Rewriting product descriptions and infusing them with your personal touch can help keep your listings unique and your site’s rank high.
  • V is for Volume. This is the data in your stats that measures average monthly searches. This information can help you assess whether the SEO terms you’re using are yielding the best results.
Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

6 Proven Methods to Grow Your Business

December 30th, 2016 Comments off

293368_SM_SDC_Blog_eCommerceBusiness

Are you ready to expand your ecommerce business? Stay a step ahead of your company’s growth by planning and preparing for new opportunities with these six ideas.

Attract new customers

Look into implementing a referral program both to leverage existing customers and draw in their own contacts to your site, and use social media to create new buzz on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram by promoting specials and giveaways.

 Encourage larger orders

By being more aggressive with upsells, cross-product selling and volume promotions, you can increase your sales one customer at a time.

Bump up your content.

Review your copy and add new SEO keywords, meta tags and powerful new language to your product descriptions. Add compelling photography and video to enhance your listings.

 Increase prices

Increasing some prices by a small percentage or charging for shipping if you currently ship for free are simple ways to drive up your profits. Just be sure not to make your increases so large or noticeable that buyers start clicking away from your site.

 But also discount some prices, when it makes sense

Avoid deep discounts, which can be a sign of desperation to shoppers, but create attractive, short-term promotions offering popular products at a lower price. Bargain hunters will feel the thrill of the hunt and may share their finds in their networks, bringing you more business.

 Diversify

If you’re successful in one channel, imagine how much more you can do across multiple channels. Add to your product line, make yourself available as an expert in your field or product line, and consider importing and exporting your own and other ecommerce business owners’ products.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

6 Crowdfunding Tips For Your Ecommerce Endeavors

December 23rd, 2016 Comments off

293368_SM_SDC_Blog_Crowdfunding

Looking for capital? These days, finding a cash outlay for your business endeavors can be as simple as setting up a crowdfunding website. Popular sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have changed the way businesses seek investors, making it easier than ever for companies and contributors to connect. Better yet, crowdfunding eliminates some of typical conditions investors often impose in return for their support, such as a stake in the company or creative control.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform that allows users in the U.S., U.K. and Canada to publicly post creative projects, including specs, prototypes, potential risks and progress updates, to grab the attention of investors. Be aware the Kickstarter requires users to set a monetary goal and deadline, and if the full amount of requested funds isn’t pledged by that date, the company does not receive anything (and any pledged money is returned to the donors). Indiegogo, meanwhile, is broader in scope, with a longer list of eligible projects and an international user base. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo apply a percentage-based fee to the total funds collected, and Indiegogo’s fee increases if the fundraising goal isn’t met. While Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best-known crowdfunding sites, businesses may also consider a variety of other similar services, such as 33needs, Rockethub, appbackr and ChipIn.

Ready to crowdfund? Keep these tips in mind.

  • Have a great product or idea to pitch. With thousands of crowdfunding campaigns ongoing at any one time, your business or product idea needs to stand out. Scroll through crowdfunding sites to be sure you aren’t duplicating an existing campaign.
  • Set realistic goals. Remember, you’re trying to get your business or product off the ground. Don’t ask for more than you need to cover your costs at this stage of the game.
  • Plan the perfect campaign. Think about the kind of customers and inventors who would comprise your target audience. Are they social-media savvy? Do they like a straightforward approach or a pitch with an edge? Can you reach out to popular bloggers to help promote your campaign? Consider these points as you write your copy and add additional media, such as photography and video.
  • Be open about your goals. Investors need to know that the business they’re contributing to stays true to your proposal. Reassure interested parties and investors with regular updates during the crowdfunding process, and welcome their feedback. If your business gets successfully funded, it’s even more important to continue the conversation and let your investors know how you’re using their money and what they can expect in the future.
  • Consider rewards. Crowdfunding businesses may choose to reward investors at certain levels with public acknowledgement, products and other incentives, which may help encourage participation. However, many incentives ultimately cost in you time, money or both, so carefully weigh whether rewards are a financially responsible option for your campaign and your business.
  • Watch the clock. If your crowdfunding campaign has a hard deadline, you’ll want to space out content over the life of the campaign. Still, the first 48 hours can be the most crucial. Plus, if you manage to raise the needed funds early on, your campaign may catch the attention of mainstream media, which can bring you needed publicity.
Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

How To Offer Customer Service Through Your Order Fulfillment

June 15th, 2016 Comments off

sdc_ShippingStrategyCustomerServiceTo run a successful business, you need to have great customer service. While brick-and-mortar stores capitalize on the face-to-face communication we often associate with customer service, online businesses can still master the art of communicating with their customers – namely, through their shipping process. Here are five ways to master customer service by improving your shipping strategy.

1. Be clear about shipping expectations
Negative feedback is overwhelmingly related to issues associated with shipping. To hedge your bets and negate this, provide very realistic expectations for when an item should arrive. Be transparent, and explain the difference between shipping (when an item leaves your possession or warehouse to begin its journey to the customer) and delivery (when the package arrives on the buyer’s doorstep). During high-volume times like the holidays, provide a shipping time table that lets buyers see how soon they need to order packages to expect them by Christmas. Always try to get items to the Post Office the day the order was placed or within 24 hours, if possible. If and when packages show up early, buyers will be pleasantly surprised and more likely to leave positive feedback.

2. Include a custom packing slip
Marketplaces like Amazon have strict rules on how you can contact and interact with a buyer. The packing slip is a safe way to connect, and can help personalize the buying experience. Write a brief note within the packing slips thanking buyers for their patronage, letting them know that they are welcome to contact you, if necessary, and leaving the best method of contacting you. This will reassure buyers that you care, and that you’re just a phone call or email away should they need to reach out. The best packing slips I’ve seen also include a handwritten thanks with the signature of the employee that packaged my item. A reported 68% of customers will stop supporting a business if they feel that the company is indifferent towards them. Bring some humanity to the shipping experience and let buyers know you care.

3. Offer a discount for their next purchase
Discounts and coupons encourage repeat salesand demonstrate that you appreciate a customer’s business. As always, you must abide by each marketplace’s rules when offering discounts or coupons. It is legal to extend a discounted offer, but you cannot do so in exchange for positive feedback. A coupon for their next purchase may encourage feedback organically, but you can’t use it an as incentive.

4. Brand your packaging
The more you can make your buyers’ shopping experience stand out, the better. A 10-year study found that brands that can evoke an emotional connection with buyers can effectively charge up to 200% more than competitors. Branding your packaging will contribute to this. If you sell on your own website, you have free rein to package as creatively as you like. That said, you can still offer a unique experience on stricter marketplaces. After you have the appropriate packing materials, like bubble mailers or sturdy boxes, what can you add to set yourself apart from competitors and create a fun experience for customers? What unique addition would make sense with your brand persona? I recently ordered balloons from a small, party supplies seller on Etsy. When the package arrived, I opened the bubble mailer and confetti came out. It was fun, surprising, and totally consistent with the brand. Creating a genuinely fun shipping experience for me set this seller apart from her competitors, and demonstrated to me that she thinks about her customers from start to finish. I loved it, and I will definitely purchase from her again.

5. Make all returns free
We know not every seller is able to make free shipping work with their budget. Free, unconditional returns is a great alternative to offering unlimited free shipping, and benefits the customer and retailer alike. Here’s why:  a reported 49% of consumers believe shipping costs to be the most exasperating aspect of returning an item. Another 88% of consumers would rate free return shipping as either “important” or “very important” when making purchase decisions, and 82% of another test group affirm that they would complete an online purchase if the seller offers free return shipping. Making returns easy and free for the buyer is a great way to nail customer service and promote buyer trust. And if a buyer does make a return, they are more than likely going to shop from you again in the future, if your return shipping is free.

Offering exceptional customer service through your shipping process doesn’t just impress customers – it encourages future purchases, stewards repeat buyers and helps you win out over competitors. Get creative with branding, be generous with returns and communicate with buyers that you’re a reliable and considerate retailer. If you can nail this, you will reap the benefits. Happy selling!

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