Wow, I can’t believe it is already October. Soon Christmas will be upon us and then 2005. This year has just swept by. In fact, this whole new millennium has gone by so fast. Seems like just yesterday that the year 2000 was upon us and we were all worrying if the computers of the world were going to shut down. I guess time flies when you are having fun.
I’ve got a great issue for you today. First of all I want to introduce you to Froogle, a shopping search engine at Google, and how you can get products you sell from your site listed in there for free. We will then look at how your web site converts. It is one thing to attract visitors to your site but turning those visitors to customers is a whole other ball game. So with no further ado, let’s get into it!
In this issue…
- YOU’VE HEARD OF GOOGLE, HOW ABOUT FROOGLE?
- FEATURE ARTICLE – IS YOUR WEB SITE CONVERTING?
- SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
- CLOSING COMMENTS
YOU’VE HEARD OF GOOGLE, HOW ABOUT FROOGLE?
What is this Froogle anyway? Froogle is the shopping search engine of Google. Products that are listed in a search query can be viewed in a list or grid format. The list format features the product photo, product name, price, description and link to the actual product page while the grid format offers more product photos on one screen view. Product listings can be sorted from high-to-low or low-to-high prices. You can also set a specific price range you are looking for.
So, Froogle is similar to other shopping sites like Shopping.com, right? Yes and no. While they function the same way, what really sets Froogle apart from other shopping search engines is the Google ranking algorithm and the fact that no money changes hands in order to appear in the results. It is the same business model as Google itself in that they have not allowed things like pay for inclusion or sponsored listings mixed in with natural results to affect the search results you see. Therefore if getting listed in Froogle is completely free, why not make sure your products are not only included but show up well when related search queries are performed?
Let me show you how. To have your products included in the Froogle search engine, you must first sign up at their Merchant Center and then wait for approval. One approved, you are given instructions on how to create your feed and are given an FTP account by which you can upload your feed on a continual basis. I say continual because you must upload your feed on a monthly basis, even if you have not made any changes, or your products will drop out of the index.
Creating a feed is easy enough. Simply open an Excel spreadsheet and list fields specific to your product and what Froogle requires. These can include fields like “product_url”, “name”, “description”, “image_url”, etc. You then populate those fields with your product data, line by line. Once your spreadsheet is complete, save it as an Excel spreadsheet in case you need to update things at a later date but also save it as a separate text (.txt) file. This is what you will upload through the FTP site Froogle assigns you. That is all there is to it. Of course there is the art of making sure your products appear well in the Froogle search results. That will require optimizing product titles and making sure you have well written product descriptions. It is somewhat like the process of performing search engine optimization for specific web pages in your site.
In the very near future I plan on writing a more concise article on optimizing your Froogle feeds so keep a watch out for this. In the meantime, I wanted to introduce you to Froogle and the potential it has to increase the visibility of your products. If you are interested in having us create and submit a Froogle feed for you, please do not hesitate to
contact me directly.
FEATURE ARTICLE – IS YOUR WEB SITE CONVERTING?
With so many people using search engines these days, there is a great interest in showing up first for all the keywords and phrases that are related to one’s business. However, one can not neglect a second and even more important element which is actually converting the people that land on your site into paying customers. It is one thing to attract people that are actively searching for products and services that you might offer but once you get them there, how do you make the sale?
That is why it is of extreme importance to make sure your web site is converting visitors into customers. Of course the very first thing you need to do is to make sure you have a product and/or service that will sell. This reminds me of a client I had a few years ago. He had invented a device that would help fishermen catch fish. Basically what it would do is detect when a fish was taking the bait and then it would spring back and set the hook in the fish’s mouth. Ouch, right! Well, that is the general technique in catching fish in that when you sense them nibbling on your bait, you jerk the fishing pole back so the hook can do its job. This particular device did the jerking for you.
Sounds like a novel idea. You would think that this client would sell thousands of these things. However, he never sold one! We looked at everything. He was positioned well in the search engines. He was getting tons of traffic to his site. The site was attractive and easy to navigate. He had well written sales verbiage and lots of pictures. We even continuously checked to make sure the order form was working. Even with all of this, not one sale.
Why? After making sure we were doing everything within our control to make the site convert, I began to form the opinion that maybe people aren’t interested in a cheating device for fishing. I mean that kind of takes the fun out of fishing doesn’t it, having a device that sets the hook for you? I began to ask others if they’d buy such a device. The answer always came back a resounding “no way”. Finally I asked the client to take the product and offer it for sale in a real bait and tackle shop to test the waters there. He never did and simply gave up.
I tell that story because it is a good example that you can have a great site, attract all sorts of traffic, but have a product or service that nobody wants. So before you do anything else, make sure your product or service is “sellable”. Is that even a word? If not, I invented it here.
Some common sense things you can do to your site is first of all make sure it is easy to get around in. Provide an easy to use navigation system that will allow a user to get around quickly as well as find the information they are looking for. Do they want to read testimonials? Then make sure a link to that section is not hidden somewhere. How about a FAQ section? If you are commonly asked questions in the sales process, then make sure answers to those are listed on the site. As new ones come in, expand your FAQ section. Is the order or contact form in plain view? I can’t tell you how many sites I have come across where I could not easily find a way to order or contact the web site owner.
Secondly, make sure you have well written content. Avoid simply providing a lot of technical information and specs on your products or services. Sure there is a place for this but first include content that not only describes the product or service but clearly lays out how it will benefit the user. People want to know about a product or service but more importantly they want to discover how it will benefit them. “What’s in it for me,” they ask. So rather than bore them with all kinds of technical details or blowing your own horn about how great your product or service is, describe the benefits it will provide to those you are trying to turn into customers.
Thirdly, make sure you have a “call to action”. You have provided an easy to use navigational structure as well as good information about your product. Now it is time to close the sale. Give them the ability to order or an easy way to contact you. Offer specials that have a deadline. Dell Computers is great at doing this. “Order by the end of today and get free shipping or a free printer!” You order right away because you don’t want to miss out on this special offering. Give your visitors a way of contacting a sales person should they have additional questions.
Finally, measure, measure, measure! What does this mean? It simply implies that you should not only keep track of what marketing efforts you are employing but also measure the effectiveness of them. There is of course the bottom line – you are making more than you are spending. However there are additional ways to track and measure the effectiveness of any marketing effort you put forth. It can be as simple as inquiring as to how a customer heard about you either through an order form on the site or when they call in. There are also complex web analytics programs that will track every move a visitor makes on your site – where they came from and what they do once they get there. In fact if you have a large e commerce site and are not only doing traditional search engine optimization but pay per click, pay for inclusions, vertical advertising, etc., you are absolutely going to want to use one of the more sophisticated web analytics programs, such as Click Tracks or Coremetrics to mention a couple. This way you can measure your return on investment for every effort you put forth. No matter which route you take, make sure you measure your successes and failures so you can then make adjustments as necessary.
In summary, it is very important to make sure you have visibility so you will attract people to your site. Once they are there, your site needs to convert a percentage of those visitors so your marketing efforts are worthwhile and you enjoy success in your business!
Written by David Wallace
SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
Here are some of the latest headlines related to the search engine industry.
Yahoo Local Officially Launches
After just two months in testing, Yahoo has pushed its local search out of beta and is giving the service prominent exposure on the Yahoo home page.
Ask Jeeves Serves It Your Way
It’s a busy day at Ask Jeeves with the announcement of several new services and enhancements, including the launch of a new personalized search tool and a major upgrade of the company’s Teoma search engine.
Vegas-based Web outfit (Traffic Power) manipulates Google, costing its clients big. … Traffic Power, which has earned over $7 million, has also racked up 27 complaints with the Southern Nevada Better Business Bureau in the last three months. And more keep coming in. Although the BBB’s president, Silvia Campbell, can’t comment on the number pending, she does admit its high.
I can’t let you go without warning you of some scams that are currently circulating around the Internet. You have seen me write in the past about a so called SEO company named Traffic Power. Well, they are still up to the same old dirty tricks and have recently re-branded themselves as “First Place.” You’d think that they would have died off already with the now 35 complaints filed against them at the Nevada Better Business Bureau, the thousands of clients whose sites were banned from Google and Yahoo a few months ago due to their spammy techniques and the pending class action lawsuit against them, but they live on. So if you receive a call from anyone at Traffic Power or First Place, hang up! Don’t listen to their slick sales pitch because it can be very alluring.
There also seems to be a slurry of email spam going around asking you to link to certain sites. They say that they have linked to you and ask in return that you link back to them. Remember that you can never get in trouble with a search engine for someone linking to you, as that is out of your control. However, you can get into trouble if you link to the wrong sites – sites that are known link farms or bad neighborhoods. Therefore watch out for who you decide to link to! The common sense rule in linking is to never link to another site unless it will provide a benefit to your site or the users you attract.
That’s all I have today. Have a great October and we’ll see you again the first Tuesday of November. Thanks for reading!