5 steps to eCommerce Web site

Building a good eCommerce Web site, part 2

Step no. 3
This step is one of the most important. Selecting the right e-commerce application software for YOUR exact business needs can make the whole difference. You have to be careful with this, since today there are hundreds and hundreds of different options available. If you are really serious about investing in a good, professional e-commerce integrated solution, you will need more than just software.

(Please click here to read Part One.)

Sun Hosting recommends the use of Online Site Builder as an all-in-one eCommerce building tool, shopping cart, products catalog and hosting package all integrated together. The service has gained a lot of popularity since it was launched in Aug. 2005. What we really like about it is that there is simply no software to download or install. It’s an online tool that simply requires a user ID and password to access a control panel.

If you know how to use a mouse and any word processor, you will be able to rapidly and easily create your new eCommerce site. What’s more, Online Site Builder comes with its own hosting package, so you won’t ever have to shop for hosting anymore. The service is a joint venture between Avantex, a large hosting company that has been in business since 1994 and Sun Hosting.

Step no. 4
Make your e-commerce web site “search engine friendly”. Depending on the exact structure of your e-commerce site, the specific way it was created and the techniques used to interlink the pages together can materially and adversely affect the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). Search engine spiders (or crawlers as some call them) can’t follow image-based navigation elements. If the only way to navigate your site is by clicking on images, you won’t do very well with the search engines.

If your site features this roadblock, offer a text-based navigation option to compliment the images. Need an example? Just look at this site. The owner has created a button-image menu at the top of all the pages you are seeing- yes, they are more elegant than text links. But notice how that menu is duplicated at the bottom of the pages also. The duplication is not just to make navigation of the site easier, it was specifically done to help the site in the search engine rankings.

Title tags
Today, the large majority of search engines heavily weigh title tags in their ranking algorithms of the sites they index. Don’t waste the great power of the title tag with something like “Our company home page”. Try to incorporate your top keywords into your title tags. It will make a very positive improvement in the overall ranking of your e-commerce web site.

Description tags
Almost all search engines don’t use description tags to rank web sites anymore. However, many search engines do use them for the write up they post. Incorporating as many keywords into your description tags as possible now has no effect on your ranking and usually results in very poor copy. Think of description tag content in terms of marketing copy. In short, be sure your description tags are written for people to read and something that will invite them in visiting your site as opposed to the sites that are competing for the same business.

Site maps
Include a site map with text links on your site and submit it to the search engines. This will help the search engines locate pages within your web site. For an example of what a site map should look like, look at ours by clicking here.

Sites built with frames
Search engines just don’t like frames anymore! They can’t read them either. There are ways around the problem if you must use them, but our advice is to avoid using them if at all possible. If you really need to use frames for your site, read more on how to optimize a site done with frames here.

Dynamic content
Search engines cannot index dynamically generated pages or pages that are database-driven. This can present some very serious problems trying to promote an e-commerce site using shopping carts, products catalogs and dynamically generated pages on most of the site. If your e-commerce site does deliver dynamically generated pages, try to implement dynamic pages after the home page. Also, Google is the only search engine that will index some dynamic content, so be sure to submit to Google. Read some great tips on how to optimize a dynamic site here.

Sites deeper than three levels
Typically, today search engines will only index the top three levels of any site. If the search engine’s crawler has to go through many levels, or if your content is buried too many levels down, this could seriously hinder your site’s rankings.

Sites built like this:

www.yourwebsite.com/dir_1/dir_2/dir_3/dir_4/dir_5… etc. (6 levels deep) usually only get half of their pages indexed. Build as “flat” as possible.

Instead, something like this would be a lot better, search engine-wise:

www.yourwebsite/dir_3 etc…

Step no. 5
The importance to advertise, promote and market your e-commerce site. Step five is a bit rudimentary, but really necessary. Here, the old methods usually work as well as the new ones. You might try advertising your site locally, in your city using newspapers or flyers. We have clients that use banner advertising with some good results. Also, today many people look to Google or other major search engines for their buying or shopping. You could try banner advertising on a few selected web sites where you really think your audience could be.

If you have the budget, other e-commerce advertising medias could be radio or tv ads on selected “prime-time” programs. Just make certain that’s really the target audience you need for the products and services you offer.

(Please click here to read Part One.)