All posts in eCommerce

Together 1When someone mentions “duplicate content,” thoughts of content scraping and blatant plagiarism immediately spring to mind. While this certainly can – and does – happen, there are other instances when duplicate content appears on websites accidentally, innocuously, and even completely ethically. What are these situations, and how can you avoid penalisation from search engines?

First, taking content, including images, videos, and other non-text content, from other sites and appropriating it for use on your own without attribution is unethical. Reputable site owners and webmasters understand this and make every effort to produce original content. Now that we have that out of the way, how does duplicate content pop up on good websites?

Ecommerce Product Descriptions

You sell blue-tinted sunglasses. While your service, prices, and winning charm may set you apart from the competition, the bottom line is that your sunglasses are the same sunglasses visitors can purchase on a host of other websites. In this case, retailers tend to use the manufacturer’s description – just like all the other shops selling these glasses. The result: a useful description for visitors – and duplicate content.

The solution is to write your own product descriptions. They don’t have to be long, but they do have to be original. It can help, too, to post a photo that you (or better yet, if it’s in the budget, a professional photographer) have taken of the product. You can even involve visitors, requesting photos, videos, and reviews  (UGC is great!).

But what if you’re selling, say, organic, vegan, gluten-free brownies, and you have to list the ingredients for your patrons. These ingredients will be the same as they are on other sites which sell the product. In this case, list them. It’s essential to your customers. Matt Cutts indicates that this will not get you into the muck with Google. However, you should write your own introduction or text to set your content apart – and entice hungry buyers!

Products in Various Categories

This is a similar situation with a fairly easy fix. Ok, say you have 30 products. Your visitors can search by price, by popularity, by alphabetical order. Now, this creates three pages with the same information/content, albeit in different orders.  To avoid penalisation, simply add a canonical tag to the initial category URL. This lets you stay in the good graces of the search engines, and it preserves your link weight for that page.

To find out more about canonical tags and setting yours up, go straight to the source: Google’s webmaster tools.

Great Content You Want to Share

Sometimes, content on other sites is so great that you have to share with your visitors. You want them to access this relevant information – but you want to keep them on your site. This happens all the time. Good site owners secure permission to use the content and attribute it to the proper source. They’re not trying to pass it off as their own. But it’s still, technically, duplicate content. So, again, pop in a canonical tag like this to let search engines know aren’t trying to game the system or steal content:

<link rel=”canonical” href=””/>

These are just a few of the legitimate reasons why duplicate content appears on good sites. When possible, provide original content. When that is just not feasible, make sure to use tags to communicate with Google.




Old Phone 2Every business owner with an online presence, marketer, and SEO knows about the “2-3% myth.” That is, the average conversion rate for ecommerce sites is 2-3 percent. As one blogger put it, tracking the source of this data is a bit like tracking Big Foot. In any case, even if this is an accurate rate, you don’t want to shoot for it. A 10-20% conversion rate is a worthy goal –and an achievable one. One method which can yield significant results is implementing a click-to-call feature. What do you need to know?

Appeal to the Mobile Market

Sites that have a click-to-call button see:

  • Improved conversion rates.
  • Increased average orders.
  • Higher sales.

In addition, consider mobile users. Six billion people have access to cellphones and smartphones. Research shows that mobile searchers prefer to call businesses for which they’ve searched. Here’s just one scenario: a visitor queries local theaters, looking for good shows. He opts to call one to get information on show times. Click-to-call facilitates the process, making it convenient and easy.

According to Google, 69% of mobile users would use click-to-call if the feature were available. And, sites that implemented this functionality saw an 8% increase in conversion rates.

Click-to-Call for Your Website

Twitter is currently testing click-to-call in ads for certain brands, and you can enable it in your Adwords campaign. Here are a few quick steps to adding a click-to-call to your mobile site.

  1. Use this code:

<a href=tel: 112233334444”> 11-22-3333-4444</a>

(The numbers are simply your telephone numbers!)

  • Add a call to action to highlight this feature and let users know they can click the link to make a call.

<a href=”tel: 112233334444”>Click HERE to Call: 11-22-3333-4444</a>

When a user clicks this link, he or she will see a prompt: “Call 11-22-3333-4444? Yes/No. They know that they will be connected to your business. It’s as easy as that.

The good, old-fashioned telephone still wields a lot of power in today’s mobile world!

SEOFoot traffic and paper directories just don’t cut it anymore.  A confluence of events – from the meteoric rise of mobile to the emphasis in many communities on supporting local establishments – means that local businesses need to create a lively, optimised online presence to engage their customers. Over 46 per cent of shoppers use their mobile devices to research local products and services. Will they find you? Here are a few targeted tips for being on top of the local game.

  • Set up your Google Places space. Run, don’t walk. You can control the information you provide to Google, and to your audience. Use this opportunity to disseminate the essentials: hours, contact information, images, and a keyword-optimised description. After you fill this out, all you have to do is verify your account via phone or mail. Bing and Yahoo also have “Local” services for businesses, so if you want to target these engines as well, follow their specific procedures to get your account set up.
  • Get social with Google+ Local. Here, you can connect with your customers and others related to your specific industry using Google+ circles. You can control the information and the “story” your business tells.
  • Use a real address and phone number. People who search for local products and services want a “real” address, not a virtual one. Not only does it tell them where to go if they want to visit the brick-and-mortar location, but it lends your business greater credibility. Same goes with the telephone number. Adding a map is another nice touch that will help visitors feel more comfortable visiting either in person or onine.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings. These are terrific for boosting your online authority and profile. Make it easy and convenient for them. Try printing a link to a review site on a receipt or adding one to an email communication to solicit feedback. If you should get some negative comments, address them immediately! Stay respectful, positive, and helpful – remember, these things can go viral.
  • Make sure your site is mobile-ready. While people do search for local businesses from home, it’s a mobile world. Is your site optimised for smartphones and tablets? If not, work on creating a responsive website or creating a separate mobile experience.
  • Don’t forget SEO. Keywords, site speed, metadata – all critical in local search campaigns.

Customers are out there, searching for quality local businesses. Make sure they find you by implementing these SEO strategies.

Flying Books 1

Content developers face a challenge every time they develop ideas and start to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard or touchscreen. How long? We have a message – but what’s the best format in which to present it to our audience? In a social-media dominated landscape, 140-character messages, snappy, pithy sentences seem to rule. But does longer content have a place? What is the ideal length for copy?

There’s a strong case to be made for longer pieces:

  • Google sure does like them! serpIQ analyzed search engine results for 20,000 keywords, focusing on length. The top-ranked pages were those with more content, or more specifically, more words. The top of the top 10 had more than 2450 words.
  • They generate more inbound links.
  • They receive more social shares.
  • They have higher conversion rates than short-form content.
  • Google now includes PDFs and other long-form content in the search results.
  • LinkedIn just started allowing some members to post long-form content.
  • Sites like Longreads and Longform are devoted to curating the best long-form content, and sites like Buzzfeed are stepping up production of longer pieces.
  • Audiences like them. Sure, we all skim but when we really want to dig into a topic for research and information, we want an authoritative – and yes, longer – piece.

So, does this mean you should write 2000 word articles and eschew 400 word posts? No. It’s best to have a good mix of short and long. Blog guidelines have long informed us that 300-600 words is optimal, and we do need those quick snippets. Longer pieces, though, appeal to a different audience – or, rather, the same audience who has different motivations for reading and researching. Whitepapers, articles, PDFs, and other long-form content help attract these visitors and keep them engaged with the site.

Some tips:

  • Answer questions and serve a purpose with your long-form content. This is a forum in which you can tackle your audience’s concerns in an in-depth way. Provide examples, anecdotes, and thorough explanations.
  • Claim your articles with the Authorship Markup. You should be doing this anyway! Get on it! It helps build your reputation as an authority and expert.
  • If you split your article into multiple pages, make sure you paginate them correctly.
  • Markup your article to ensure Google is able to accurately index it and serve it to searchers.
  • Take your long-form content to YouTube. Viewers still like the quick videos – especially of cats doing adorable things or scary zombie babies terrifying passersby – but 1/3 of YouTube view time is attributed to videos 20 minutes or longer. That’s a significant chunk of time!

There you have it: a short post on the power and importance of long-form content. While social media is short and snappy, Google, curation sites, and audiences are starting to lean towards longer content. Get on board and start producing some lengthy, meaty, substantial pieces. Not everything you publish needs to be epic, but a few integrated into the mix can only help with rankings and audience engagement.

Think you need a mobile app for your business? You’re not alone. Billions of apps are developed every year, with customers downloading them at record levels. If you haven’t yet developed an app for your business, it may be time to think about one. Here are 3 signs you absolutely need an app for your company.

  1. You have app-savvy customers. Designing an app is going to do you little good if your customers aren’t the type of take advantage of all of your hard work. Some customers are savvy enough to download and use apps. Others, though, simply won’t make use of it, and if that’s the case, it’s far better to simply expand the functionality of your company.
  2. You have an idea for an app that makes sense in terms of growing your business. There are lots of apps that do absolutely nothing. You don’t want yours to be one of those. Instead, your app should offer real functionality that does something for your customers. It should spell good things for your business that your site can’t necessarily offer them, especially when they’re on the go.
  3. You have the funds to make an app work. App building can get expensive, particularly when you don’t necessarily want to go with the lowest bid available. Make certain you have the funds to build the app and make revisions if necessary. You don’t want to hand your customers a product that may not work with its initial launch.

Ready to take the next step into the world of mobile app development? Be patient. It takes time to put together the right team to help you realize your vision. Don’t cut corners here. Your customers are certain to notice!

Count On Us

Who are the key visitors to your website? Who are you trying to attract, the crucial – and buying – audience that you want to engage with winning content? Most businesses have a general idea: i.e. we sell football shoes, so we ‘re targeting young athletes or older enthusiasts who star in weekend leagues. But they don’t go much beyond that. Creating user personas gives us an in-depth look at potential audiences, their needs, and potential strategies for converting them into customers.

A Quick Look at User Personas

A persona is a fictional representation of your very nonfictional audience. For instance, we might have Sue, the weekend football star. Your research tells you that this is a demographic you want to hit. Sue is a professional with limited free time. She has children, who also participate in sports, and she wants to be more active and healthy. She is value-conscious, but she also wants great quality. This persona:

  • Describes this type of visitor to your shoe site: mother, busy, professional.
  • Targets her motivation: health, wellness, activity.
  • Hits on her need: budget, value, quality.
  • Implies potential objections: cost of top shoes, time. For instance, time is an issue – so are returns easy and convenient? Is shipping fast?

With this information (and much more – you can flesh these personas out so they actually have an accompanying photo and dossier!), you can develop content and design your website in such a way that her needs are met. What’s more, because you have different demographics within your customer base, you can create a variety of realistic personas.

Creating User Persona

It all starts with research. Who are your users? Why are they visiting your site? What expectations and needs do they bring with them? Can you categorize users? With social media and the ease of UGC, you can collect this data from your customers directly with online surveys, through comments and reviews, emails, and feedback forms. Questions you want to answer:

  • Where do they live? What types of jobs do they have, and at what level? Primary gender? Level of education? Average income? Marital and family status?
  • What types of beliefs and values do they hold?
  • What are their interests, passions, and hobbies?  What are their motivations?
  • What are their most pressing worries or concerns? What are their goals?
  • What’s important to them in life? What is meaningful to them?
  • What behaviors do they want to encourage or change in themselves?
  • How do they view themselves?
  • What value can you give them?

Using this information, develop 4-5 personas, and put as much detail into them as possible. Make them real people. You are trying to sell your product or service to a live audience, not a figment of your imagination! Address their needs and concerns, while offering solutions.

By understanding your customer base, you can build content that meets their needs (not every piece will be directed at Sue, for instance, but you’ll cater to each persona in different ways), and you can begin to optimise content to make it easy and convenient for them to take the next steps.

Do you use user personas to help you make content and design decisions?


Colorful Tacks

Pinterest has achieved phenomenal growth in the last few years, but many businesses persist in believing it to be just a place for foodies to get new gluten-free recipes, thrifty parents to get ideas for budget-friendly birthday parties, or for crafty folks to get their newest idea. It’s great, they think, for individuals but not for our businesses. But consider this, Pinterest refers more people to websites than Yahoo. Admittedly, Yahoo is no Google, but this is a powerful reminder that there is an opportunity to be had. If you’re not pinning, maybe you should be.

Pinterest is the fourth largest traffic source in the world. It often referrs more people than Google+, Bing, and LinkedIn. Most of its users are women (some put the number as high as 80 percent) and most are between ages 24 and 34. Half have children. If these hit your target demographics, it might be smart to build a Pinterest presence for yours business. Here are some other statistics:

  • Pins with price tags get 36 percent more likes than those without.
  • 69 percent of users have found at least one item they have purchased or wanted to purchase.
  • Average users spend 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site.

That last stat is particularly remarkable. Over one hour – most sites are lucky if users stay for a few minutes. What the duration of the stay tells us is that users are engaged. They are being pulled in by great content, and they don’t have to “bounce” because they are finding information, comparisons, prices, and products that meet their needs.

If you think that Pinterest is of importance and value to your target audience, create an account. Here are some tips to help create a presence:

  • Set up a business account for a more professional, credible appearance. This will help boost consumer confidence in your brand.
  • Use Pinterest Analytics. In keeping with its status as a major traffic source, Pinterest offers Analytics. Track how many people are viewing and pinning from your website. You can also see the most popular “repinned” items to help you optimise your efforts and create better pins.
  • Think about hosting a contest. These are popular and can help highlight your content and your website. Make sure to read Pinterest’s Terms of Service before you start.
  • Be visual. Use images (that you create or that you have secured rights to) and infographics to appeal to Pinterest’s visual nature.
  • Know your audience. Pin only what you think they’ll be interested in. Doing some research is a great way to start. Not only should you get a sense of your “user personas,” you should look at what your competition is doing as well.
  • Take advantage of tools. There are now a variety of helpful tools to build and maintain a positive Pinterest presence. These include: Shopinterest (to set up shop in minutes); Repinly (info on top pins and boards); Pinstamatic (appealing boards); Pinpuff (measure influence); and Piqora (analytics and pin scheduling).
  • Spend an hour or so yourself pinning, repinning, and gathering information on what works, what doesn’t , what your business can do, and how you can reach your audience.

Does Pinterest make sense for your business? Are you already there?


Shaking Hands

One of the primary goals of content marketing, and indeed, all internet campaign efforts, is credibility. Your online brand is only as good as the trust that you build with your audience, and it is critical that you establish your integrity and authority, especially if you are asking for sensitive personal or financial information. How can you establish greater trust, and put customers at ease?

Trust seals can increase conversion rate optimisations: 86 percent of online shoppers feel more confident when they utilise sites that display the seals. According to research, the most well-respected trusted trust seals are: Norton Secured, powered by Verisign, McAfee Secure, and TRUSTe.

Let’s take a quick look at a Norton option: Secure Site Pro with EV SSL Certificates, for instance, gives you extended validation, green address bar (another visual for customers), 128-bit minimum to 256-bit encryption, and $1.5 million warranty and vulnerability assessment.  Your site will have that level of protection and security for users. McAfee Secure offers daily scans for hacker vulnerabilities and threats, proactive alerts to threats, remediation assistance, and unlimited technical support.

When you get these seals, you get more than a logo to put on your website. You get protection for your site, and for your customers.

In addition to trust seals, you can take other steps to help boost your credibility, including:

  • Posting authentic testimonials and customer reviews.
  • Display and provide links if you are mentioned in industry publications or by news organizations.
  • Create and prominently display a privacy policy, guaranteeing that customer information will never be sold, traded, or used for purposes other than stated.
  • Ensure the trust seals are displayed prominently.
  • Link to social media profiles to further establish a presence and to allow potential customers to engage with your online community.

Feedback form: excellentConversion rate optimisation is focused on the factor that really matters in website design, development, and SEO: the user. These other techniques brought the searcher to you. Now you’ve got to keep them. Analytics and split and multivariate testing can help you glean invaluable data, but the best insight comes from users themselves. Using their feedback can help you improve conversion rates.

There are several effective platforms for managing user feedback, which can get unwieldy if you don’t have a comprehensive system in place. Here are a few tools to consider:

  • GetSatisfaction. The premium customer engagement platform allows you to reach customers on your website and via social and mobile features. Customers can have “guided conversations,” offer feedback, ask questions, share ideas, report problems, and much more. It is a tremendously rich platform. If you, for instance, sell bikes, customers can ask questions right on your website, such as, “Which is the best commuter bike?” They can then see answers from other real customers. There are a host of other features, making this a great choice to engage customers and empower influencers.
  • Crazy Egg. This is a different type of feedback tool which focuses on heatmaps. The tool tracks the elements on your pages so you can see “what’s hot and what’s not.” You can also take advantage of a scrollmap tool, which shows how far down the page people are traveling; an overlay tool, which shows the number of clicks for each element of a page; and a confetti tool, from which you can glean data on clicks you get segmented by referral  source, search term, and other factors. As of now, they are offer a free 30 day trial.
  • OpinionLab. This is another fully-loaded platform extends beyond your website. You can get feedback for mobile, emails, apps, ads, physical locations, and products as well. They offer opt-in (most popular) and more targeted approaches, and help businesses engage customers quickly and nip problems in the bud. In a time when customer complaints can go viral, this tool helps you stay in control and respond expeditiously.

There are a variety of other options out there, varying in features and price points. They can be pricy, but it is an investment in your business. If you can eliminate money-wasters and focus on site elements and marketing tactics that actually bring in revenue and increase conversion rates, then you’ll see an ROI.


Brands flood

Conversion rate optimization has become a top priority for websites. You’ve heard it before, but the best visibility and the best SEO is useless if a site cannot get visitors to complete a desired call to action. One of the ways that you can boost conversion rates is to develop a co-branded website. What exactly is this, and how can it help with your CRO efforts?

You may have heard of co-branded credit cards; you may even have a few in your wallet right now. All this means is that a merchant or vendor has partnered with a credit card company to offer this card. The merchant is the dominant brand, but it is supported and given credibility by the distinctive CC company brand. This results in higher spending, increased card use, and encourages customers loyalty. It works in much the same way with websites.

In terms of a website, multiple brands appear together as a joint enterprise or are involved in selling one product or service. Nike and Apple, for instance paired up and created the Sports Kit, a wireless system that connects shoes and iPod. VW co-branded with Trek Bicycles and created the special edition Trek Jettaa, which came with a bike and rack. It works, too, with affiliate type situations. Users associate the affiliate with the major or parent brand and are more comfortable completing the CTA.

Additional benefits of co-branded websites include:

  • Cost savings.
  • Increased user confidence.
  • Improving product exposure.
  • Effective marketing of new products or services.
  • Increased association between both brands, conferring the benefits of one to the other.

There is a flipside to consider as well. Co-branding confers the benefits and drawbacks of one site to another. If one brand suffers a reputation crisis, it can affect the co-brand. As well, co-branding can be a difficult balance in terms of agreeing on a creative concept and putting out timely materials. When you can overcome these, co-branding may be a great way to increase your CRO and leverage another brand’s name and recognition.


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