Ecommerce

School Kids Healthcare

May 20th, 2006

School Kids Health Care screenshotSchool Kids Healthcare offers a complete line of school nurse supplies and school nurse equipment to help school nurses fulfill their mission.

The company came to Netconcepts to establish a complete ebusiness presence. The site we created for them offers more than great nursing supplies and equipment. It offers the latest school kids news and a separate nursing blog, authored by a local school nurse.

[ database | client admin cms | SEO ]

Visit the site: School Kids Healthcare

5 Tips for Multichannel Retailers Entering the Blogosphere

May 4th, 2006

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I was interviewed for a piece that just came out in Multichannel Merchant magazine called Defending yourself against the blogs. I contributed some tips for multichannel retailers who are considering blogging. Here’s the full version of my tips (In the published article, my comments were edited down for space):

  1. Create a “safe haven” to experiment with blogging. Set up a private blog on your intranet or extranet, or start a blog that’s password-protected. Then offer access to that test to a selected audience. That will give your inexperienced bloggers comfort because they won’t have having to worry that all of your customers, competition, and the media are watching their every move. They’re trying to find your feet, so help them feel safe while they’re doing it.

  2. Decide on a permanent home for your blog. The web address you choose for your blog should be one that you will be happy with for years to come. Remember the early days of the commercial Internet, and many a business card included an earthlink.net or aol.com email address? It made it very painful to switch email providers. (I know people that to this day still pay their AOL subscription only because they don’t want to lose their long-standing email address.) Similarly, it will become difficult to switch blog services if you allow the service to be part of your URL. For example, ehobbies.blogs.com, backcountryblog.blogspot.com, and sethgodin.typepad.com are all examples of blogs that are forever wedded to their blog platform — for better or for worse! If they switch platforms, all the links they’ve earned will be unavailable to their new blog. Links are the lifeblood of your search engine visibility, so the significance of this cannot be overstated.

    You may want to utilize the domain name of your online store (e.g. blog.ice.com). Resist the temptation! In most cases, your blog will be more successful in acquiring links from other bloggers by being at an arm’s length from your storefront, in other words by having a unique domain name (e.g. www.justaskleslie.com). Let me supply a hypothetical example. If a life insurance company has a blog about health and wellness and it’s at www.stayinghealthy.com, then that will most likely garner many more links (and consequently superior search engine rankings) than one at blog.lifeinsuranceco.com — particularly if the former isn’t too much of a hard sell for its life insurance products. (Remember, mastering the soft sell is the name of the game in the blogosphere.)

    This may seem like an oversimplification, since I haven’t discussed the branding implications, but I believe the “link-ability” of the blog is what will give your blog a long productive life in the blogosphere.

    Once you’ve settled on a URL for your blog, publish something at that URL straight away. Even if it’s merely some “Coming Soon” verbiage. This will help you establish a history for your new blog site and will help you avoid the “Google Sandbox” when the time comes for you to launch your blog for real. The Google Sandbox is a term used by us SEOs (search engine optimizers) to refer to the penalty Google applies to new sites with new domain names. Google created this as a deterrent to search engine spammers, but unfortunately legitimate marketers are often caught by this algorithm too.

  3. Select a scalable, flexible, and user-friendly blog platform. There are so many solutions to choose from! Some are hosted services, such as TypePad, Blogger, and WordPress.com. Some are software packages that you install on your web server, such as WordPress, Drupal or Movable Type. Rather than pour over comparison charts, my advice is simply to go with WordPress (the software package, not to be confused with the hosted service at WordPress.com). WordPress is free, so the price is right. It’s highly configurable, since it’s “open source” and has a plethora of free, useful plugins written for it (I’ve compiled a list of my favorites). And it’s got all the functionality you’d ever need, all wrapped up in an easy-to-use interface. After I and my team at Netconcepts did extensive research on blogging packages, we came to the conclusion that WordPress really is the best.

  4. Decide on a posting schedule. Try to post at least three times per week. Allow several hours per week for this. I typically spend 2 to 3 hours per week blogging. Don’t hire a ghostwriter for your blog, or you’ll get slammed by bloggers for lack of transparency (an unwritten rule in the blogosphere). As far as retaining readers, recency is more important than frequency. A couple weeks of inactivity makes the reader feel like nobody’s home. Conversely, having the latest post be only a day old makes the blog appear “fresh”. Personally, I don’t like keeping RSS feeds in my newsreader that haven’t had recent activity.

  5. Get respected bloggers on your side. Building relationships with respected bloggers is absolutely key. Not only will they be more likely to link to you, but they will also offer advice and bolster your “street cred.” Posting thoughtful comments on their blogs is only the first step: do it enough and you may get on their radar, but it’s not enough. Attend blogger conferences like BlogOn and Blog Business Summit and meet bloggers in person. Keep the dialogue going through email and through phone or Skype conversations. Become an evangelist for businesses blogging and you will really get them on-side.

    Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of an expert. Many highly regarded bloggers are available for paid consulting. I’d also suggest you work with a web designer who’s very familiar with WordPress (assuming that’s the blog software you decide on). That way they aren’t learning on your dime, and they aren’t trying to steer you towards an inferior package because they are more familiar with it.

SEO Report Card: AirTroductions.com

May 1st, 2006

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Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

AirTroductions (www.airtroductions.com) is an ecommerce-enabled matchmaking service for road warriors (currently over 11,000 of them) who are looking for someone interesting to sit next to on their next trip. It could be for companionship, a date, business networking, or just shared cab fare. What a great business idea! And theyâ??ve got a solid website to back it up.

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SEO Report Card: Golfgods.com

April 1st, 2006

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Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

Golf equipment seller Golfgods.com was undergoing a site revamp â?? with numerous SEO and usability improvements, along with a shift in ecommerce platforms. Jason Mischel, President of Golfgods.com explains: â??We currently receive about 5,000 – 6,000 unique visitors per day to our site but much of it is of very poor quality because of the search-engine-optimization tactics employed by the previous regime.

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SEO Report Card: StayLeaner.com

March 1st, 2006

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Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

Stayleaner.com, the ecommerce site for J & J Health Foods, sells vitamins, herbs and supplements for sports nutrition and body building. Fred Evaristo of J & J Health Foods states: “I rely heavily on pay-per-click advertising as I can’t get ranked in the natural searches no matter what I do.” We feel your pain, Fred! Let’s see if we can’t help Fred and his team…

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Overcoming Kiwis’ fear of e-buying

February 7th, 2006

Originally published in New Zealand Herald

“There are a lot of improvements that could be made to Kiwi e-commerce websites in regard to usability, although there are some great examples of Kiwi websites that are doing a great job.”

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SEO Report Card: DiscountFlies.com

February 1st, 2006

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Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

DiscountFlies.com has really missed the boat (yes, the pun was intended) when it comes to search engine traffic. They do not show up in the first 100 results in Google or Yahoo! when searching for the popular search term fly-fishing or for the more targeted term fishing flies. But all is not lost. With some concerted effort, DiscountFlies.com should be able to turn things around.

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SEO Report Card: BalancedLifeProducts.com

January 1st, 2006

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Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

BalancedLifeProducts.com is a small ecommerce site, based in Madison, Wisconsin, that sells meditation and massage products such as yoga mats, meditation cushions, and reiki timers. The site doesn’t fare well in the search engines in the natural (unpaid) search results, so they have been relying on Google AdWords to fill in the gaps. It wasn’t hard to see why their rankings in natural search traffic were so low. After a quick health check-up of their level of search engine optimization, I made the following diagnosis…

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Tools For Less

November 21st, 2005

Tools For Less screenshotTools For Less, as the name implies, sells power tools and equipment at discount prices through their online catalog. The ecommerce site developed by Netconcepts is full-featured, with extensive functionality in the back-end administrative interface, and with a clean intuitive user experience for customers.

Among the additional out-of-the-ordinary features offered to customers is a Wish List capability which is integrated throughout the site and is as simple to use as the shopping cart itself.

The site is built search engine friendly, of course, with static looking URLs, unique keyword rich title tags, and more.

[ database | client admin cms | SEO ]

Visit The Site: Tools For Less

Searching for Better Returns

November 15th, 2005

Originally published in New Zealand Herald

“If you don’t have good placement in search engines it’s equivalent to having an unlisted phone number for your business.” Stephan Spencer speaks to The New Zealand Herald about how his company audits and builds e-commerce websites for big US retailers, optimising sites for search engines, and other e-marketing products and services while working in two countries.

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