Elevating Your E-Commerce Site

Many times, there are misconceptions that there aren’t a lot of things you can do to improve your e-commerce site. Sites with many products might have difficulty looking beyond their products and at their actual site. Focusing on the basics, here are some things you can do elevate your site:

Make Contact Forms Appealing – Have you thought about getting rid of some unnecessary fields in your forms? Having less clutter can help improve your contact forms’ conversion rate as this study shows, up to almost 50%! For example, did you know that about 50% of top 100 retailers ask customers for the same information twice?! Additionally, fewer fields can also help establish trust as your customers don’t feel like you’re invading their privacy and only gathering relevant/necessary information.

Utilize User-Generated Content (UGC) – Reviews, testimonials, product reviews, Q&A are types of content that you can easily add throughout your e-commerce site. These snippets can be added via microformat codes to be integrated into search results or they can have their own dedicated section. Having UGC is yet another way to boost credibility and enhance the consumer experienced.

Make it Easy to Link to – If you’re on a retail site, it’s not unusual to see “ahwe3&67xjshw=” and other characters in the URL. Whenever possible, it’s important to have SEO-friendly URLS. This helps with users bookmark your site and encourages sharing, whether it’s via Facebook, Pinterest or even e-mail.

Improve Security – Security is an important issue when it comes to online shopping. Many people are afraid of having their contact information or even credit card information stolen. Unfortunately nowadays, this is becoming more of a pressing issue. There are some necessary steps you need to take in order to ensure your customers’ security like: using SSL(Secure Socket Layer) certificate, never automatically storing credit card information and using reliable a checkout gateway (like Paypal and Google
Checkout). Having prominent disclaimers showcasing your security is up to date is equally important.

KISS – In the end, this applies to most of the elements of your e-commerce site (or any website for that matter). Elements like your main navigation, search bar, check out process, and method for collecting contact info is crucial. But sometimes, even the most important elements can be overlooked.  There are ways to cut down on this clutter to ensure a smoother and more efficient shopping experience and all it takes is an audit through the eyes of a customer. Keep it simple, stupid!

SEO Factors to Check after a Website Redesign

check list

Ideally, you would keep track of important SEO factors during a website redesign. But that isn’t always the case and websites can always be re-optimized. Although it’s better to have a SEO web design checklist to work off of during the redesign process, it still helps to evaluate your site after a major change. Although the list can be endless, here are a few things to take note of before things get out of hand.

Duplicate content – Have you ever seen a site with hundreds of duplicate pages? You’d be surprised. Make sure to check for duplicate content when you go through your sitemap and cut down any low/no ranking pages with low content. The goal is to funnel down the most helpful information and help it rank even better. There are many helpful tools like Copyscape and Simple Page Checker.

URL changes – If possible, always try to keep your original URLs. This isn’t always possible, especially if you switch over to a content management system or vice versa. If this is the case, make sure to 301 redirect and direct internal links to the right pages. Tools like LinkSleuth should come in very handy for that.

robots.txt file – This text file is a crucial part of any well-optimized website. It tells search engines what pages to ignore and where to look for things on your site. One mistake could prevent your website from being crawled or blocked from Google bot. Not good!

Website analytics – If possible, it’s helpful to check analytics at least once a month. This includes Google Webmaster Tools and anything else you use for checking keyword rankings and search results. Using these tools regularly will help you gauge the success of your website and help you diagnose problems such as a decrease in website traffic and a fall in rankings.

Search engine marketing news – Sites like SEOmoz and Search Engine Roundtable always break the latest SEM news. Articles and comments can help give you a heads up on Penguin and Panda updates and what to look out for. Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing so things that were important, say 3 years ago, can be quickly outdated.

Many things can change and be lost during a website redesign. If you’re handing off your website to a new internet marketing firm, it’s important to know that they’re committed to continuously optimizing your website and not just doing it once and leaving it stagnant for months or years. This checklist can help serve as a starting point for something that can be done on a regular basis to ensure that your website is in good health.

6 Reasons You Need a CMS Website

cms websiteIf you like the idea of being in control of your website, a content management system may be exactly what your business needs. Here are 6 reasons you may want to consider a custom CMS:

1) Simplicity: Have you ever used WordPress, Joomla, Moveable type or a similar CMS? Editing your website can be as simple as posting a blog post. The beauty of using a content management system is that you don’t need extensive knowledge of HTML or PHP to make major or minor edits. Did I mention, WYSIWYG? Who doesn’t like that?

2) Custom design: WordPress has many free and paid themes. This is easy for a business owner who wants to just pick and choose a design template. If you’d like a more personalized design to really exemplify your business’ personality, a web developer can easily help accommodate your needs and create a design from scratch. Then, you can proudly say that your website is unique and accurately represents your business.

3) Search engine friendly: Many people have the misconception that CMS websites don’t or can’t rank well in search engine results. This is a misunderstanding because whether you’re using a custom or template CMS, there are plugins and features that can give your website the capability to include all the search engine friendly features of a traditional website built using HTML. (Check out our recent post on SEO plugins.)

4) Reliable Hosting: A free CMS can be great, but depending on your growing business needs, you’ll want security in knowing that your site will have as little downtime as possible. There’s nothing worse than knowing that your website is down and thinking about the missed opportunities. We provide reliable web hosting services, business email accounts and anything else a modern company will need to run a business smoothly.

5) Efficient for a small business owner: Running all aspects of a small business can be incredibly time consuming and hectic. Normally, if you want a small change made to your site, you would have to submit it to your developer. These requests can’t always be made when you want them, as they also have different clients to accommodate. With your custom CMS, you can bypass that process and make the changes yourself.

6) Cost effective: Choosing a CMS may sound like a commitment, but the investment is worth it. Take a test run for yourself and set up a WordPress account (or another blog service) to get a feel of how to make pages and make changes. Over time, you’ll save time and money in being able to make website changes yourself.

Check out our custom Organic CMS to see if it’s right for your business!

So Long Facebook FBML


Are you ready to finally say goodbye to Facebook FBML tabs?

As of June 1, 2012, Facebook FBML apps will no longer work. As Facebook suggests, you can use HTML, JavaScript and CSS if you are building a new application. This is good news for web designers because it is just like building a regular web page without worrying about weird formatting issues. But this could be problematic for non-coders who liked the “simplicity” of using FBML.

For Page owners who haven’t used FBML, this news isn’t a big deal. For active users, it’s making the transition that could be difficult… depending on the number of tabs you have and their complexity.

There are many other alternative applications available and many are making the switch to iFrame Apps. Facebook accepts and favors this framework because the content will be hosted directly on the developer’s server, instead of through Facebook’s servers. Now here is one important thing to consider:

Should I use a Facebook tab application or make my own iFrame app? There are many applications to choose from if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to set up Facebook tabs – Wildfire, Involver, Tabsite to name a few. While these applications are easier to use, remember that they often have require monthly fees and are branded with their own company name (instead of yours’, unless you want to pay a higher fee for white label services).

Making your own iFrame app will give you the advantage of creating your very own web page on your Page. Depending on the number of tabs you want, it could be like creating your own mini-site with targeted landing pages that you can track using analytics. With FBML, this is something that couldn’t be done – don’t look at it as something that Facebook is doing to inconvenience owners!

So, if you need to, you have less than 1 month to make a transition. Give yourself time to think about the type of web design you’re looking for and weigh the benefits of using different applications for tabs. Be sure to contact us know if you have any questions and check out our portfolio!

What Happens After Reaching #1

Even after you reach the oh-so coveted #1 spot in search engine results page, your work is not done! Here are a few things that you still need to keep an eye on to make the most of your top ranking position:

Customer service – Are you ready to pick up the phone and help potential customers? Wait… before all that, make sure that your contact information is easy to find and up to date. If you use contact forms and have undergone recent site changes, check them to make sure that they still work work! There’s nothing worse than a customer inquiry that goes unanswered.

Search engine friendly web design – A well-optimized page and consistent SEO will help you maintain good rankings. This means that the search engines see that your site/pages are relevant with corresponding keywords and what business owner wouldn’t want that?

Search user friendly – Many sites have a bad habit of being too cluttered with content and other media. While these pages may help your SEO efforts, they can deter users. Content should be easy to find in appropriate sections so that your site is user-friendly. Imagine ranking #1 for a competitive keyword only to have users bounce away quickly from your site because they can’t find what they need!

PR and personality – Whether you utilize social media marketing or other forms of PR, it’s important to throw your brand name out there once in awhile. Press releases and social media not only help show your relevancy in your field but it also helps bring a personal touch to your business. Even in today’s world of overreliance on telecommuting and email, people do like to see the human side of your business. And yes, I think that you can also accomplish this with regular blogging.

What do you think are some other ways you can improve your site/marketing after reaching the #1 spot in SERPs?

SEO During the Website Redesign Process


In many ways, website redesign can be a lot like moving. There’s so much stuff to pack and rearrange that important things can get misplaced, lost or even left behind. And when you arrive at your new place, it can take a while for everything to be put back in it’s right place again.

If your business is ready for a new SEO web design makeover, here are 4 components that you CAN’T forget about:

1) Transferring tags and descriptions over – Sure, it’s time consuming but title/meta tags/descriptions, even alt tags for images, should reflect the content on each individual page. It’s considered bad SEO practice to have the same information reflected over and over on every page of your website.

2) 301 redirects – It may take awhile for Google to re-crawl your new site. In the meantime, your old URLS will show up in search engine page results. The most efficient way to make sure that this information is not lost is to create a 301 redirect from your old URL to new URL. This is simple for your webmaster to implement and will help preserve your search engine rankings.

3) Forgetting to link keywords – Transferring content from an old site to a new one often involves copy and pasting text. During the transfer, make sure that you don’t drop and URLS and make sure that they’re linking to the right working page.

4) Testing – Lastly, don’t forget the importance of testing before going live. This means checking links and overall usability before you go through with the complete site transfer.

Finally, even when your new website is completed it’s crucial to constantly review your SEO. The excitement of a brand new site may be overwhelming but remember that without the right SEO strategies, no one will be visiting!

Why You Need a Content Management System

Are you tired of waiting for changes to be accepted before they’re made live on your web site? A content management system can change the way you look at your website. One of the main benefits of using a CMS to maintain your site is that you don’t need any knowledge of HTML or programming to make updates. Making changes to your site is now was easy as blogging.

Features and Benefits of a CMS
Check out the search engine friendly web design we’ve created for Dr. Mike Dow. Creating or editing a new page is easy to do with the fields provided in the “backend” of the site. You can also add meta tags and descriptions that correspond to your page’s content. Need to add pictures of video? No problem.

A CMS is useful if you need to make frequent updates to your site. This means adding resource articles, blogging regularly or updating events. Did we mention that consistently adding relevant content to your site is good for SEO? With a CMS, you can go about adding content whenever and wherever you need without having to worry about interfering with the site design.

If your website does not currently have these user-friendly features, it’s time to think about a web content management system. As we’d like to think of it, out with the old static site and in with the new user-friendly CMS! Don’t forget to check out our Organic CMS for more information.

Search Engine Friendly Web Design Tips

We tend to get asked this question many times throughout the week:  What is search engine friendly web design? I’d like to clarify this for our readers.

So here’s a quick list of things you should be considering when creating search engine friendly web design:

1.) Loads quickly (no heavy flash loading files or quick time movies)

2.) Have clean code (programming on the back end – click view source in your browser to view the programming of a web page – some programs throw in a lot of code that slows your page down)

3.) Have a site map (at the bottom of every page should be a link to your site map that has all the pages of your site listed)

4.) Have proper headings (clearly name your pages and use sub headings as well to break up your content)

5.) Have good content that talks about your services and/or products (search engines love content – give the search engines relevant content)

6.) Make sure to name your images with the ALT tag (this is how you’ll label your images in the html – you can do this with text editors or with programs such as dreamweaver or frontpage)

7.) Make sure you have different title tags for each page on your site (the title tag in the html looks like this:
<title>Page Name Here</title>

8.) Lastly I’d spend some time going through the Google Webmaster Guidelines to get familiar with how the largest search engine out there wants to see your site.

Good luck!