“It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday” – Rebecca Black
“I have never in my life found myself in a situation where I’ve stopped work and said, ‘Thank God it’s Friday.’ But weekends are special even if your schedule is all over the place. Something tells you the weekend has arrived and you can indulge yourself a bit.” – Helen Mirren
“It’s Friday, why am I not reading the OuterBox Redirect” – You, every Friday when you’re looking to find out what’s happening in the world of Social Media, Search Engines, eCommerce web design, and the Internet.
This week the world of search celebrated itself with the inaugural US Search Awards ceremony. This ceremony was held in conjunction with Pubcon, a social media and optimization conference/expo that is held annually in Las Vegas. Awards ranged from Best Blog (Search Engine Land took that one home) to Best SEO Software (Linkdex) and Best In House Team (Take a bow Rasmussen College). While a search engine award show may seem a bit silly to those outside of the industry, to those inside it, it’s an exciting event. On the surface it might seem like just another awards show, but underneath the thin veil of glitz, Google, and glamor, a benchmark was set in place for search engine marketers worldwide. The message from Sin City was clear. Here are the best and brightest, look to them for best practices, find out what they’re doing right and build upon that in order to make sure that your site ranks well. We can’t help but be encouraged by this sort of positive attitude towards SEO and SEM.
Alright, enough about how awesome it is to work in search engine marketing and SEO. Onto the good stuff.
The 1lb iPad Air was introduced to the relief of Apple fanboys everywhere who had grown weary of lugging around their 1.33 lb tablets. The iPad Air of course looks gorgeous with a 2048 by 1536 resolution at 264ppi but the real news here is that the price of older models of iPads are dropping. With more iPads available at a lower cost, more people will be relying on mobile search than ever before. If we haven’t said it before, we’ll strongly recommend, having a mobile ready website should now be considered a standard for any businesses seeking to increase its conversions.
Matt Cutts , Google’s head of Webspam, indicated additional SEO and mobile tips this week at the aforementioned Pubcon. Cutts doled out advice such as letting marketers know that if your phone can’t display Flash, Google will not show Flash sites in your results. And if your website funnels all mobile traffic to your homepage rather than an internal page that the user was attempting to navigate to, you’re likely to find your site has been penalized. In addition to all of this, if your site loads slowly on mobile platforms, Google will be less likely to rank it. Without a doubt Google wants people to know that mobile search needs to be taken into account for a successful SEO campaign.
Finally, we round this week’s 301 Redirect out with some reasons on why blogging for eCommerce sites continues to be a great avenue to share relevant content with the web. I might also argue that the 6th reason blogging is good for the marketing soul is that it allows one to have the ability to quote both Rebecca Black and Helen Mirren in the same breath without raising too many eyebrows.
That’s it for this week’s 301 Redirect, make sure you check back next week for more search engine industry news.
It’s Friday afternoon, which means it’s time for the OuterBox 301 Redirect, where we redirect you to some of the hottest stories happening right now in eCommerce SEO and web development.
Just this morning, Google’s stock surged over $1000 a share. Every time I see something like this happen I think, first and foremost, how big of a ball pit I would put in my basement if I had multiple shares of that stock. After I figure out the logistics of the ball pit, I think of the scene from the 2000 movie Frequency in which Jim Caviezel tells his childhood best friend to remember the code word “Yahoo.” We later see Jimmy’s pal has invested presumably tens of dollars in Yahoo and is sitting pretty in the year 2000. Oh Yahoo, how I long for the days when you reigned over search engine rankings with optimism (!) and were culturally relevant enough to make it into a movie with Dennis Quaid… those were simpler times though. Onto the news.
This was a busy week for social media with several big names making announcements about how their products will be used from now on. First up is Facebook who announced that anyone under the age of 18 can now post publicly. Previous to this Facebook prevented users under the age of 18 from sharing information outside of their extended network (friends of friends). Many are saying that Facebook is doing this in order to stay relevant to an age group that is already on multiple social media outlets which don’t have restrictions or hinder their ability to share the latest Selena Gomez gossip worldwide such as Tumblr and Twitter. This story seems ridiculous on so many levels, mostly because it 1) assumes that everyone on the internet is telling the truth about their age and 2) makes the even less astute assumption that the rest of us have all been clamoring for more One Direction updates. In the end though this move is sure to be seen by marketers as a gold mine of knowledge on what the under 18 crowd is actually doing with all of their time on Facebook, and that knowledge can easily become the heart of a marketing campaign which seeks to part true Beliebers from their paper route earnings.
In other Facebook news, be prepared to see more ads in your News Feed that areeerily accurate in regards to what they’re selling you. The above article gives the skinny on what many see as an inevitable gateway between the information you share about yourself online and what how marketers are going to reach you.
Next up is Foursquare, the location based social networking darling is looking to turn check-ins into paychecks by rolling out mobile advertisements that will appear when a user first opens the app. The ad will apply the context of the user’s previous check-in history as well as their location to find the most relevant deals for them. This is sure to be a go-to strategy for local businesses as it offers pretty direct access from a users mobile device to their place of business. It will be interesting to see how quickly these ads are adopted as marketing tools for big businesses and local businesses alike.
And rounding out the week is this insightful piece from Mashable posing the question as to whether or not your company should be on Google+. Since it’s Friday and I’m in a giving mood, I’m just going to break it down for you. Like any other social media campaign, if you strategize and have the time and effort to dedicate to running a campaign on Google+, then by all means, go ahead and do it. There, now that that’s over you can look at this other Mashable article that’s a collection of Instagrams of objects that have had googly eyes added to them.
When I was a little blogger, Fridays used to mean pizza for dinner and ABC’s TGIF in the evening. Dinosaurs, Danny Tanner, Carl Winslow, and a revolving door of other families made my Friday evenings worthwhile. Now that I’m older Fridays can mean only one thing. IT’S TIME FOR THE OUTERBOX REDIRECT!
How’s everyone doing out there on the internet? Everyone holding up ok even though the government is shut down? Although many Americans have grown accustomed to their government not actually doing any work for them, somehow it’s different now that it’s official. It looks like things will get up and running sometime soon here, as of today writing there’s been progress on talks between both parties. This Search Engine Land article highlights the impact the shutdown will have on the indexing of .gov sites that are currently not being updated with any
regularity. It’s estimated that there are between 200 and 500 sites run by the government that are currently down but as this article points out, figuring out which sites are up and which are down can be a nightmare.
In other news, Google hasn’t been resting on its laurels in light of its newest algorithm update, Hummingbird. Many search marketers are still trying to put together a patchwork of data in order to fill the hole that Google left when it ceased and desisted from passing on valuable keyword data to them. But as this Search Engine Watch article points out, as Google taketh, so Google giveth, in the form of hashtags. Now when you search using hashtags in Google, results directly from Google+ will stream on your search results page. Of course being the equal opportunity search result provider that it is, there are also options below those results to search Facebook and Twitter using hashtags. This is all very convenient and streamlines users searches more now than ever, but if you begin letting hashtags work their way into your everyday vernacular you’re likely to find yourself without any #friends.
Speaking of Twitter, Clickz.com offers this great article on 5 Reasons no one is clicking through on your brand’s tweets. It highlights a view that many businesses hold of social media as being an extra service when it is clear that search engines are taking social media signals into account when they deliver search results. Planning ahead is an incredibly crucial and often overlooked element to social media posts and it’s where every great social media campaign needs to spend time prior to launching.
Finally, while not necessarily related to eCommerce SEO, this Mashable article has some tips to help save your battery from dying after you’ve upgraded to iOS 7. If you’re anything like us you find that you’re lucky if you can get a whole day’s worth of juice out of your iPhone. These tips can make the difference between peacefully enjoying the sounds of your favorite tunes or podcasts on your evening commute home or being stuck without any mobile device at all as you listen the whole ride home to the lady on the bus who smells like cats talk to herself about how she used to have friends before she started using the word “hashtags” on a regular basis.
That’s it for this week, be sure to check back next week for the OuterBox 301 Redirect, enjoy your weekend!
OuterBox is a many headed beast when it comes to website development and mastering the art of online marketing. Several teams work within our office cohesively in order to pull of feats that would make any normal human cry at the thought of the amount of work, passion, sweat, and tears that go into any given project.
While one of our strengths as a company lies in the facts that our teams at OuterBox work so well together, many individual parts have made us the company we are today. Much like snowflakes or a dog’s nose print, each team at OuterBox is unique in the various strengths and personality traits they bring to the company. To get a good glimpse into what makes these teams tick, we decided to give you a brief overview of what each one does as well as what breakfast
cereal, game, candy, and super hero best represent their character.
The SEO team is made up of individuals who each have a background in various elements on marketing and web site development. Their daily tasks are primarily made up of making sure that client’s sites rank well for key words that are important to their particular market, and also spend a good deal of time making sure that the components of a client’s site will influence visitors to make purchases on that site. With this in mind, here’s a breakdown of the SEO team.
Skittles (So many different flavor possibilities!)
Calvin Ball (Google is constantly changing the rules on us, but we still find ways to win.)
This is the team that keeps us on the ball here at OuterBox, they make sure projects are completed on time and that sites stay up and running smoothly.
When there’s a problem, this team barely breaks a sweat, casually handling crises like they’re the John McClane of the eCommerce world.
A handful of cereal and 3-4 cups of coffee
Chess accurately reflects this team as it is a strategy filled game that requires a lot of concentration and practice.
Batman, he simply gets the job done when it needs to be done.
The design team at OuterBox is made up a group of cutting edge guys that have a knack for making anything look beautiful. They do this without sacrificing
the functionality of any given element that they create for our clients’ sites.
Eggs, sunny side up with rye toast and a grapefruit sliced in half, all arranged meticulously on a plate in order for it to provide both a beautiful
scene and a plate filled with a nutritious breakfast.
Blue M&M’s filled with peanut butter.
Settlers of Catan is a game that has a gorgeous layout and requires with plenty of strategy.
Iron Man, this guy never sacrifices how he is going to look in order for his suit to consistently function and perform well.
The Programming Team
This team of hard workers is made up of people that understand the ins and outs of how to build a website from the ground up. They are constantly staring
at screens and writing code to make sure that all of the pieces of a website, from SEO, to design, to eCommerce, as well as everything in between work
together smoothly. They are known to work around the clock just to make sure that every element works in cohesion.
The Nintendo Cereal System, a cereal that brilliantly combined both the Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda video games into one delicious meal.
Jelly Beans or Ice Cream Sandwiches.
Jenga, a game in which precise movements and a knack for balancing many components are keys to winning.
Mr. Fantastic, who is also known as Reed Richards, a prodigy in most fields of math and science, and has the ability to stretch much further than the
average human. Our programming team is made up of some really smart guys that are regularly stretching to make sure that our sites are constantly running
That’s just a brief glimpse into some of the teams here at OuterBox, there’s much more to us than just those 4 categories, keep checking our blog to find out more about us, and if you have any questions about building custom eCommerce websites, make sure you call or click today!
While one would not imagine that Otters and web development companies have a lot in common, this does not keep people from confusing us with another company that is known for its super protective cases for mobile devices. We receive roughly 2 dozen phone calls a day from individuals seeking to replace their phone case, or just calling with general questions. We do our best to lead people in the right direction and inform them that they are looking for Otterbox, not OuterBox.
If in the future you are confused about the difference between an Otter and our company, OuterBox, here are some fast facts about both groups to help you determine if you are looking for Otters (or a Otterbox phone case) or a web development firm (OuterBox)
Grooming: When it comes to grooming, otters are vigilant about maintaining a clean coat in order to keep warm. Their coat is the secret to their insulation and it allows them to be comfortable in chilly water for long periods of time. It is estimated that an otter can spend up to 48% of their days grooming themselves. Most Outerbox employees have average to above average grooming skills and probably spend 3% of their day grooming themselves. Except for our sales department, those guys probably spend close to 68% of their days grooming themselves.
Sprainting: Otters depend on their feces to mark territory and release odors in order to communicate with one another. OuterBox employees rarely do this.
Play: Some researchers have opined that when otters are sliding, they are not only traveling while using very little energy, but that they are actually playing. OuterBox once tried to build a slide in their new office; this didn’t exactly work out so we just went back to work.
Sleep: Depending on whether the otter is a fresh water otter or a sea otter, they will sleep in their environment of choice, meaning that the freshwater otters will sleep on land and sea otters will sleep in the ocean. Sea otters often cling together when sleeping in moving water, this is also true of most OuterBox employees.
Well, it turns out that there really aren’t that many differences between the average OuterBox employee and an otter. Remember though, if you are looking for an Otterbox phone case, we’re not really the people you want, but if you do want custom fully built web sites made, feel free to give us a call or email us for more info.
We all love free shipping. We all know we’re more likely to buy if we get free shipping. Yet, when most of us start an eCommerce website we don’t want to offer free shipping. Let’s face it, we’re cheap. We don’t want to give something away for free!
These days competition online, especially in the new era of services such as Amazon Prime, offering free shipping on most items is almost mandatory. Research shows that 93% of online shoppers say free shipping would encourage them to buy. Two out of the three shoppers said they would buy more online if they knew they could return items with free shipping (credit Econsultancy.com). Of course, if order to offer these services free, you’ll need to set your pricing and business model appropriately.
Let me give an example of success: A client of ours sold a product for $200. This was a unique product and was their brand. There were some sizes and color options, but on average it was around $200. Sales were around $400,000 the first year. Shipping on their product was around $50 a pop. People hated paying $50 and we saw a lot of people leaving their checkout process when choosing shipping. So what did we suggest? Offer free shipping and make the base price around $250. Their sales were in the million the year after. The illusion of free shipping! This is a great option and works well for many clients. Remember, the higher your product price the more perceived value there is. No one sees value is paying for shipping, but they do when paying for a product.
Offering free shipping is also a way to up-sell and cross sell other products. On many website you must spend $100, or another amount, before free shipping kicks in. How many times have you ordered one more book to get free shipping? I know research shows it happens all the time. The more you’re shipping to one address the less your shipping charges will be in relation to your profit on what you’re selling, so it makes financial sense, too. Look at your business, your numbers and see what free shipping is best for you. It will make a difference in your bottom line. Consider your eCommerce features and be sure your eCommerce website solution offers what you need to make it happen.
Raise that conversion rate!
Schema.org has created a standard in website coding to allow developers to include code that the search engines are looking for. Of course this is the most basic description, but it allows you to include certain snippets such as reviews, pricing, etc. that can then be displayed in a unique format by Google. In June 2011 Google officially introduced schema.org and began using schema in their result displays. There are many different elements that can be used on a website but for this article we’re covering mainly elements that benefit an eCommerce website.
The most used eCommerce schema item types for eCommerce include product rating (AgrregateRating), brands, model, product ID, offers and reviews. All of these schema “Product” tags can be found on the schema.org product information page. To include schema microdata into a website is fairly easy as certain tags or html elements are included are specific text or code. For example a tag of itemprop=”reviews” would be included on the section of the website code for your reviews. There is a little more to it than this and certain more detailed tags such as “worstRating”, “ratingValue” and others can be included on detailed elements.
So, what does this get you and why is it important? Below is an example of how search engine results can appear when using these tags. These tags allow Google to identity a product pages important elements and easily display those within the search results. These details create an eye-catching search engine results and typically increase your click-through rate thus increasing your website traffic. If you have products rated 5 stars and you’re showing that within the search results it makes sense that more people would want to look at your product.
Whether you’re developing a new website or already have an existing website these Schema elements can be integrated into your website. For more information and details on this top visit SEO Moz’s article on Schema.org and Why You Need to Use It.
With Google continually rolling out Panda algorithm updates we’ve seen changes in the way eCommerce websites are ranked. Panda updates seem to be focusing heavily on content and on-site optimization. Google is looking for website owners to make their website better, not just build links. Google has said their goal is to make the web a better place and this change is pushing website to become more informative and offer higher quality content.
Content: We’ve seen effects on eCommerce websites that have minimal content, especially on ranking specific product pages. Many eCommerce websites, especially sites with a large amount of products, have weak product descriptions. We’ve seen these pages begin to drop. Other issues arise when sites have a large amount of products with duplicate content. Often similar products may have an identical description as another product on their website. Not only can duplicate content on your own website effect rankings, but also copied or supplied content. For example, many manufacturers provide product databases and product descriptions are sometimes supplied. If you’re using the same product description that other websites are using your chance of ranking is greatly diminished.
To learn more about duplicate content read Google’s page http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66359
Category Pages: Many times large amounts of products in a category will create a type of duplicate content. For example you have category A. Now category A has page 1, page 2 and page 3 as you’re showing 15 products per page. Google often ends up seeing this as 3 different pages optimized for the same keywords. This will give 3 pages a third of the weight that one page could possibly have. There are ways around this that we’re not going to get into for technical reasons, but the easiest fix is to show all products on one page. Sometimes this is easy, as in the example above with only 45 products in a category. If you have hundreds of products showing all of them on one page may not be the best option.
Link Building: We hear so much about link building, especially from clients. It’s old school SEO and everyone still wants to submit 100 articles a month and blast content out to the web with their links embedded. Remember, often these articles end up on a page rank 0 page and the incoming links probably means nothing. Our suggestion is instead of blasting large amount of content to other websites, write great content for your website. I’d rather a client post 4 great article a month on their own website instead of sending out 100 questionable pieces. The content on your website can last forever and bring direct traffic to you!
So, what is our link building strategy? Build good content and people will want to link to you. If you can get other people to link to you because they want to you can then focus on making your website better. It then becomes a circle of developing good content, building your brand and letting others link to you.
Getting visitors to your website is one thing, but turning them into customers is another. This is called your conversion rate (learn more about eCommerce conversion optimization ). A solid product details page is often where the customer is making the final decision (as long as you have a solid checkout) on whether or not they want to buy from you. There are some basics in eCommerce website design and development that should be taken into consideration. Remember, if your web design company makes these type of recommendations, do you best to see how they can apply to your business. Often we make suggestions that are shot down simply because “oh, we can’t do that”.
Pricing: The basics of pricing is always have the best, or at least a competitive price. But what about how your display your pricing? Having the MSRP and showing what the customer can save with your price will let them see that they are getting a deal. Even showing a percent saved figure isn’t a bad idea.
Product Photos: No one wants to buy something if they’re not sure what they are getting. Having professional product photos will go a long way. Remember, you don’t want to look like you’re shipping this stuff out of your basement (whether you are or not). Also, pay attention to where multiple photos of a product could be beneficial. A lot of items warrant close-ups or multiple angles.
Reviews: We all look at reviews when purchasing online. Not having a reviews section, or have “0 reviews” is not going to help that conversion rate. Try hard to encourage reviews and even get some via email or over the phone and post them for your customers. Everyone wants to know what someone else who went through the same purchasing experience thought about it.
Discount Codes: If you’re running promotions and offering discount codes, make sure these are prominent on the product page. Too often these are only displayed on the homepage or within the checkout. If no one adds your product to their cart, they’ll never see the checkout!
Videos: If you have videos, or the manufacturer does, make sure you show them! Video will allow a visitor to learn a lot about a product in a small amount of time.
Warranty & Returns: Make sure these are somewhere that can be found. Before purchasing, customers want to know what they’ll need to do if something breaks or they are unsatisfied.
Shipping: If you can show a flat rate shipping price on the product page, do it! Visitors love to know the shipping before adding to the cart. Also, tell them when the product will ship. Saying “Ships in 24 Hours” or “Ships Now” will get people buying!
Phone Number: When they have questions make sure they can call. There is nothing worse than shopping online and not being able to find a phone number. Without a phone number, you’re going to lose a lot of business. And oh yea… make sure someone picks it up!
Trust Seals: If you have an authorize.net account or your own SSL, make sure you display your seals. Other seals such as Verisign or McAffe can also instill confidence.
In a word: everything.
It’s an immense undertaking to define, catalog, interpret, and tend to all the factors that may influence your typical online shopper; anything about a user’s experience (design, navigation, colors, logos, steps-to-checkout, etc.) may be interpreted as an influence on their buying behavior, for better or worse. For the sake of efficiency, we’re looking today at the lowest-hanging fruit – several factors of an ecommerce site that are easily changed to help boost user experience, and, yes, conversions.
This list originates from Adam Audette’s article 3 Important Ecommerce Trends to Watch, which solidly explains how the following three factors may impact an ecommerce site’s success.
When EVER has price not been an influencing factor in buying trends? And it’s not always the lowest price consumers seek; propelled by the adage “You get what you pay for,” many shoppers are perfectly happy, willing, and able to spend more to hit their standard of quality or remain loyal to a brand.
Yet, over the past few years, the brand bias has slipped as consumers adopt a more frugal attitude. Yes, the economic fall-down is a contributing factor to consumers’ spend-thrift ways, but couple this with the popularity of CSEs, or Comparison Shopping Engines. Searching a CSE as compared to, for instance, a store’s site, a searching shopper is reminded not only of brand, but also of price. According to comScore, from July of 2008 to July of 2010,
shopping across more diverse brands (including generic) increased by 10% to 62%
unique visitors to comparison shopping sites increased by 30%
Dovetailed into the influence of price points are shipping rates, which can push a shopper to abandon their purchase at the last crucial step. Some interesting statistics from comScore, July 2010, in regards to online shopping:
23% of shoppers will make purchases only if they receive free shipping
47% of shoppers expect to pay between $0.01 and $4.99 for shipping
70% of shoppers will only pay $4.99 or less for shipping
You want to buy a shirt.
Consider the shopping experience provided by a catalog: you have a picture, a little description, a smattering of color swatches, and a handy size chart stapled in the center.
Now, consider the shopping experience provided by a typical ecommerce site: you have a picture (or 12) with a magnifying glass and click-and-drag functionality to view your item at each and every 360 degree angle; you have a little description with text links, user reviews, and ratings; you have a smattering of swatches and the ability to view your product in each available color; there’s a size chart there, too, sometimes with testimonials regarding an item’s true fit. Moreover, there is a handy list of similar items you may be interested in; a pair of pants that match that shirt, or a coordinating sweater.
Taking it one step further, studies show enhancing the online shopping experience with video can increase conversions and time-on-site. To be more specific, comScore data shows that on sites that incorporate video into the shopping experience
shoppers are 64% more likely to make a purchase
shoppers will spend an additional 2 minutes on the site
What Should You Do?
PRICE POINTS – Research your completion, research CSEs, determine where your product line falls into the price point spectrum, and ensure your prices will compel potential shoppers to buy from you. With brand loyalty fading for want of lower prices, there is a golden opportunity for many online retailers to snag an attentive audience’s attention with savings.
SHIPPING RATES – Make sure your shipping rates don’t push away a converting customer on their last shopping step. Shoppers like to feel that they’ve found a sweet deal, and nothing is sweeter than free, or even flat, shipping rates.
VISUAL SEARCH – Enhancing the shopping experience is vital, especially as more and more online retailers adopt the same product listing techniques (think images, reviews, ratings, and the like). Incorporating video into the shopping experience shows a tremendous leap in conversions and longer on-site visit. What’s more, it makes your product listing viable for placement within YouTube (arguably the second largest search engine.