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18
Apr

Making Your E-Commerce Products Google-Friendly

Making Your Online Store Inventory Search Engine Friendly

We don’t have to tell you what Google means to online merchants, but here’s a quick summary:

  • Google performs 100 billion searches per month, many of which are related to ecommerce topics.
  • It takes Google search bots mere microseconds to decide what product pages they will lay out for searchers.
  • Google crawls 20 billion websites per day in search of the best results for an infinite string of search queries, many of which — again — are related to online products.

And although most working parts of Google’s algorithm are a mystery to you and me and anyone outside the deepest, darkest basements of the Googleplex, you do have some control over what Google sees when it crawls your store’s pages. Even if you’re not an SEO expert you can present your site in a more palatable dish for Google’s creepy little spiders to digest.

It all starts with a good infrastructure. Below, we’ve compiled a chore list of housekeeping items that can make your site more appealing to Google and other search engines (ahem, Bing).

Optimizing Your Store’s Categories

It is essential that you categorize your products with your customers in mind. Not only does a well-laid-out category structure help your customers navigate your store, it also allows for layers of keywords and product mentions that feed Google spiders.

It is important that your categories walk the line between too general and too detailed. For examples of how best to do this, look at Google’s Product Listing taxonomy or browse Amazon’s categorization.

Put Those Product Numbers to Work

If your products have UPC codes, by all means, use them! Every product’s has one or more MFGID, MPN, SKU, GTIN, UPC and  product number. Make sure all available codes are listed on product pages. Be thorough. You’d be surprised  how many people search these. And Google prides itself in returning results based on user need, so give the people and its search engine what it wants.

Use the 3dcart-provided “ID/SKU” and “MFG ID” fields, but don’t be afraid to use “extra fields” to put in additional product information.

Make the Most of Your Product Descriptions

These should always be written a by you. Do not reuse content from your manufacturer’s or distributors. To get your content up fast upon opening, use manufacturer’s description but be sure to paraphrase and add as much of your own personal knowledge/research on the product as you can to differentiate it from the many manufacturers who are also using manufacturer descriptions.

Original content is key as Google loves to find uniquely useful pages that are different from the hordes of online content available already. When writing original content, we suggest you write your most popular products’ descriptions first, and go from there.

Take Control of Your Meta Tags

If you don’t add meta tags, they will be added for you. The product title is assigned as the title tag by the 3dcart system so no page goes without a title, which is an SEO no-no. Meta descriptions — unless assigned manually — are skimmed by Google in search results using indexed text found on the page. These should only be temporary solutions. Take control of your title and meta tags and write unique, thoughtful text for each one.

Title tags are key to telling Google what each page is about. And even though meta descriptions carry no SEO weight, they still present searchers with an introduction to your page. Think of your meta descriptions as your store’s welcome banner; the sign outside your virtual door. When you show up on search results, your competing for users’ attention with 9 other search results as well as paid ads. Write clear, concise and interesting meta tags that appeal to users searching for your products.

Visit 3dcart’s SEM Services hub for more information about search marketing best practices.

Bryan Falla is an online marketing manager at 3dcart where he implements marketing tactics for ecommerce retailers.

17
Apr

Why Proper Item Categorization Matters…

Bryan Falla from 3dcart’s Marketing Team explains why it is impossible to overstate the importance of proper categorization in e-commerce. You may have the greatest widget on the market today, but if customers search your site they can’t find widgets in a way that makes sense to them, or if they run a Google search on widgets and your company isn’t in the first few SERPS rankings (Search Engine Results Pages), no one may ever know.

Simply put by ZOG Digital’s Jason Squardo, “The better the content and site organization, the longer users will want to spend on a site.” Time spent is quantitative metric which allows you to know how long a consumer is on your site. Of course, you want customers to stay on your page as long as possible, and click lots of links, but that is often easier said than done.

Stumbleupon V.P., David Marks, puts it this way, “Whether your business will want to increase or decrease time spent, knowing what your site’s actual time spent metrics are is half the battle.” According to one 2012 study, users are spending 27 less seconds per website, but are spending $0.43 more for their time.

If a consumer cannot locate what they want from your webpage within 8 seconds, you will lose them. If your taxonomy is lacking, your SEO hierarchy will fail to put your firm at the head of SERPS rankings, and your products and services will be lost in the weeds on Google.

3dcart wants to make sure you drive the highest SERPS rankings, and then make the most of each customer’s time on your site, so we’ve created the above tutorial to walk you through the basics of proper product categorization.

The first step is to decide on your main topic or brand identity. That will become your umbrella category, under which all other categories, sub-categories, and products fall.  Pretend you’re the customer and ask yourself “Do I care about this? Should I care about this?” And “What’s the quality of the content?”

Use Google’s Taxonomy list as a guideline for ideas on how to find the best categories and sub-categories to apply to your products, creating data silos. A data or information silo in this context is simply an internal information management system that can reciprocate in operation with other related systems (cross-referencing).

A good example of taxonomy is Main Identity/Umbrella Topic> Categories> Sub-categories> Product

3dcart’s platform allows you to cross-reference products in multiple categories. This is very important! Customers are not homogenous; their brains process information differently. The way one customer enters and uses your site may be the opposite of another. Cross-referencing your products in multiple categories and sub-categories maximizes the potential for all customers to find what they’re searching for when they visit.

More information on categorization and Google taxonomy can be found here, and you can always call on us at 3dcart for all your e-commerce solutions.

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

16
Apr

Clothing and Sales Tax: 5 Eye-Openers to Help You Face the Music

TaxesPerhaps you never really gave much thought to clothing and sales tax as you were planning your online boutique. It’s definitely one of the not-so-fun parts of starting up your own e-business. Nonetheless, you can’t just ignore it and wait for it to fade away. That won’t ever happen.

When you talk of this particular type of tax, it’s a chaotic, complex system you’re dealing with that seems to keep changing without warning. But then again, as an online entrepreneur, you need to open your eyes to reality and face the music.

If you’d like to implement efficient tax management for your store, here are some important truths you must accept:

1.      You can only handle so much info on tax.

You don’t only have to educate yourself on the actual operations of your online store and a wide range of Internet marketing strategies, but you’ll have to deal with tax too! Do you have any idea how taxing it can be to study the different sales tax rules and regulations of 45 different states along with those outside of the US? Certainly, it’s doable. But all the time and effort you put into it may not be worthwhile.

2.      Even sales tax experts can fall behind.

There aren’t only varying clothing and sales tax details across the nation and around the world, but you’ll also have to take into consideration the incessant changes being implemented. Modifications in policies, shifting rates, confusing tax holidays, fluctuating exemptions… all these can be difficult to keep up with even if you’re a sales tax expert.

3.      Tax-exempt clothing and apparel often change.

If you’re in the clothing business, you’ll have to be wary about frequently changing product taxability. Which items are tax-exempt? At times, you’ll be surprised to find out that those which used to be exempted are no longer exempted because of adjustment in jurisdiction. Every now and then, you might come across news on different regulations which will also affect these exemptions.

4.      It’s difficult to keep up with sales tax holidays.

Are you aware of just how often sales tax holidays change too? There are various reasons that go into these breaks, such as a way to support local merchants and strengthen the business arena in a particular area. Such tax holidays may be fleeting. They can happen anywhere. Indeed they may catch you off guard if you’re not on top of it all.

5.      You need to be content-rich in product taxability too.

As an online entrepreneur, it’s essential not just to work on being content-rich in your website. You also need to ensure your wealth of knowledge when it comes to product taxability. After all, you don’t want to be running into trouble at any time.

What if you add and remove products from time to time? How will you handle taxes when your business keeps growing and expanding? Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in clothing and apparel are all affected by the 5 eye-openers described above.

Good thing if you’re using 3dcart as your shopping cart provider, there’s a way to manage taxes efficiently without losing sleep or going crazy.

Yes, we’ve partnered with Avalara to give you very best integrated tax management program, allowing you to quickly and easily calculate tax in over 10,000 taxing jurisdictions! With the wonderful fusion of 3dcart and Avalara AvaTax, you can run your business more smoothly without worrying about tax compliance.

For more information, you can visit Avalara and discover for yourself pertinent data on sales tax compliance in the clothing and apparel industry.

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

15
Apr

Is My Domain Name Acceptable?

Best Practices

Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions we get asked in the 3dcart Marketing Department, and with good reason – it is a great question.  A domain name can make or break your online business.

Choosing a good name for your homebase on the web is of utmost importance because it plays a major role in boosting your online presence, establishing excellent and appropriate branding, and enabling people to easily visit. As much as possible, it’s essential that you pick a name that you can stick with for as long as your business continues to exist.

The Elements of a Good Domain Name

What makes a good domain name? Ensure that yours is an excellent one that suits your brand and niche, and will not give people a hard time typing out the URL. In this light, go through the crucial elements below that comprise a good name choice for your supposed permanent home on the web.

  • Simple and Short

Rather than aiming for a play at words or long keywords, a lot of e-marketing experts recommend going for simple and short domain names that will easily be remembered. This is helpful if some people come across your website URL or domain name in one of your guest blog or social media posts and they wish to eventually visit. It will then be easier to recall.

  • Unique But Easy

Trying to sound similar to an existing domain, especially one that’s already popular, is a definite no-no! It’s not going to help you because web users will always confuse you with another site. Moreover, you won’t be able to achieve a distinct name for yourself.

In addition, make sure that your domain name is not just easy to remember but easy to type too. It should also be easy to understand. Go for sensible rather than cutesy.

  • Brand-Appropriate

It takes hard work to make your domain name well-known and easily associated with your products and/or services if it sounds out of this world and doesn’t come close to what you’re offering. Hence, you must opt for something more brand-appropriate that will enable people to immediately remember your company and picture your remarkable items for sale.

  • Ends with Dot Com

Let’s face it. Even until now, there are still many who assume that all website URLs end with dot com. That’s probably why we don’t find as many .net, .co, and .org domains around. So go with the flow and help people find you more easily with a .com extension.

  • No Hyphens and Numbers

Using hyphens and numbers can be quite confusing for potential visitors because they may end up typing the entire name without the hyphen or spelling out the number included. Besides, you can’t promote your website as easily if talking to a prospective buyer since you’ll have to explain about the symbols in the name. Chances are he won’t recall it.

  • Only One Spelling

Can your domain name be spelled in only one way? If not, then there’s a risk that a would-be visitor and potential buyer will be led to another site. Or perhaps some of them might be brought to a non-existent site and end up feeling frustrated or irritated. You might end up losing sales every single day!

These elements should all be present when checking if your domain name is good. If not, you might not be able to maximize the potential of your online business.

Reasons Why You Might Consider a Change

If you already have a registered domain and you find that the name doesn’t seem to possess the given elements above, you can consider changing it. Or maybe you’ve noticed that within the period of time you were operating your business, traffic remains slow and profits seem weak. In such case, you’ll need to conduct a thorough study to find out if your domain name has something to do with this.

Yes, it may be costly to change your domain name because you’ll have to register a new one and market it again. It will take extra effort too. Nevertheless, if other steps you’ve taken are not providing satisfactory results and your study shows that the domain name is a huge factor in the struggles of your business, then it might be worth it to go for the change.

Choosing a domain name is undoubtedly valuable in so many ways. Thus, you ought to completely examine what you have now and decide whether it needs to be changed or not.

Should you decide that you want to change your domain name, it is extremely important that you do it properly.  You can learn more about changing your domain name on our 3dcart Services Page, or by calling your account manager at 3dcart.

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

14
Apr

Connect Your 3dcart Store to Canada Post and Get $100 in Shipping

Canada Post and 3dcart ConnectedShipping is key to running a successful online store. Customers expect a seamless end-to-end online shopping experience and you need efficient and automated tools to fulfill orders.

Last August, we introduced newly updated Canada Post integration; enabling you to do display live shipping rates to customers, track orders and automate shipping label printing right within your store admin interface.

Today we are excited to announce that we teamed up with Canada Post to offer you $100 of shipping when you connect your store to Canada Post and enable these feature.

To take advantage of this offer to receive $100 of shipping from Canada PostTM, follow these easy steps outlined here.

Read the fine print for full rules and regulations.

 

Canada PostTM is a Trademark of Canada Post Corporation | Visa® is a registered Trademark of Visa

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

10
Apr

Back to School With 3dcart U

3dcuWe know you have many questions about how best to utilize 3dcart’s software and SEO services to build your business. That’s why we created 3dcart University. Within our many practical articles and how-to tutorials you will find realistic step-by-step instruction to take you to the top of the e-commerce class! We work tirelessly to be your partner in building your online presence, and your business.

For instance, what is a “Responsive Template?” It’s our new, customizable template which allows you to easily create a user-friendly e-commerce store front and start gaining customers and taking orders immediately. You can read about how to use them in Build your 3dcart Store With a Fully Customizable, Responsive Template.

Do you want a slice of Amazon’s e-commerce pie? As an online retailer, it would be madness no to partake of Amazon’s giant brand and marketing system.  Within the article Trust in Amazon Shopping Cart Software: Drive Traffic with Ads, you’ll find out how to get some. We understand you may not even be aware of Amazon’s order fulfillment service, and how it can save you and your business thousands of dollars by reducing both your physical inventory storage and manpower costs. In the article Trust in Amazon Shopping Cart Software: Order Fulfillment through a Recognized Brand, we explain this revolutionary service and how it will positively impact your customer service, brand, and bottom line.

The ever-increasing importance of social media, and how to best use it as another marketing platform is covered in the Top Ten Tips to Grow your 3dcart Store Via Facebook.  Facebook is always changing, shifting its algorithms to more precisely target audience subsets for your products. The value of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus to your online marketing strategy cannot be overstated.

We are always poised to bring you the latest in e-commerce trends and how best to exploit existing and emerging platforms to grow your business. So, be sure to come back to school often at 3dcart U!

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

09
Apr

3dcart Stores are NOT Affected by the Heartbleed Security Bug

HeartbleedBy now, you’ve probably read in the news, or heard across the wire that the newest security bug code named “Heartbleed” has been spreading across the web for some time now, and has just been recently identified.  Since 3dcart is Level 1 PCI compliant, we have one of the most secure shopping cart platforms in existence today.  To learn more about how 3dcart protects your data, you can read more about our PCI Compliance.

Heartbleed is a flaw in the OpenSSL protocol (which is not used by 3dcart).  OpenSSL is an open-source encryption technology which is the backbone for many secure websites that collect personal and financial data.  Fortunately, OpenSSL is not used on any 3dcart web properties.  You can learn more about the Heartbleed Bug here.

Heartbleed has been present since March 2012, but has only recently been identified.  While your 3dcart stores have not been impacted in any way by this vulnerability, it is recommended that watch for communication from different websites and companies that you may have frequently visited in the event that these companies were using the OpenSSL technology.  Many major websites such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and others may have been impacted.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from the Heartbleed Bug, we suggest reading this article from CNET.

As always, we appreciate your business here at 3dcart, and we are always here to help.

 

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

09
Apr

Visit 3dcart At IRCE In Chicago

irce2

We will be at IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition) in Chicago, IL on June 10 – June 13, 2014.  We are going to be located at booth 1933.  We hope you will stop by and visit us.

We have a limited number of 10% discount coupons* that we can offer to our customers and friends who will be visiting.  If you are interested in one of these coupon codes, please email us at the address below, and we will contact you with more information.

* Discount coupons will expire June 7, 2014 and the discount can only be applied to new registrations and cannot be applied to existing registrations.  Discounts are only valid for qualifying retailers and are not valid for vendors or industry guests.

Request a Discount Coupon

Please send an email to sem@3dcart.com with the title “IRCE Coupon”…

 

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

03
Apr

What Is Bitcoin? A Simple Analysis…

BitcoinBitcoin, Bitcoin, Bitcoin… We’re hearing it everywhere, aren’t we? It’s being covered everywhere in the media, including a recent NPR story about a Bitcoin wallet theft—the humor in the story apparently that all the coins, wallet, and theft were virtual.While it is true that Bitcoin operates in an entirely virtual, e-commerce realm, its currency is very real for the businesses and individuals who use it.

Here’s a quick shorthand sketch of what Bitcoin is. It’s a peer-to-peer payment system and digital currency introduced as open source software, started in 2009, which allows businesses and individuals to transact business online without the use of a middle-man, like a bank or Paypal. This also means that no intermediary is tracking your online e-commerce activity. This is hugely appealing to many people, especially in light of the recent N.S.A. leak case and Target data-breach.

Also, Bitcoin’s removal of the middle-man takes away the banks’ ability to charge usage fees for transacting your e-business, which after the financial crisis of 2008 may be a way for Bitcoin’s users to make a socio-political statement about global financial practices as well. NPR’s  Steve Henn had this to say. “Well, it’s been pretty interesting. You know, bitcoin was developed after the financial crisis. And in many ways it was sort of a critique of the modern financial system.”

There is speculation that a combination of speculative activity which drove Bitcoin’s stock into the stratosphere and the recent large thefts which have rocked its community may undermine its use as a currency. However, U.S. regulators are moving in to shepherd the new currency and its market. The Internal Revenue Service has issued guidelines that Bitcoins are to be treated as physical assets. While it is not backed with the full faith of a government, it seems that governments, banks and businesses worldwide are taking Bitcoin seriously.

3dcart is proud to be at the forefront of emerging technology and we offer bitcoin integration for your 3dcart store.  Visit our knowledgebase to learn more.

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.

02
Apr

Why You Should Consider Using Google +


In the last year media both virtual and traditional have begun to give voice to what we here at 3dcart have long known, Google + is absolutely imperative for effective Search Engine Optimization. From industry blogs to the New York Times, the message is clear, as stated by Forrester’s Nate Elliott, “The database of affinity could be the holy grail for more effective brand advertising.”

Affinity means the tracking of click-throughs (Click Through Rate or CTR), which Google + mines as its users click through YouTube, Twitter, Gmail, Google Search, etc. to tailor each user’s search results based on what it thinks you most want to see. It’s no longer enough to know only what users search for, Google + allows you to know how they think—who their friends are, what they shop for and when, what music they like, etc.—to tailor search results for each individual user.

Searchmetrics’ The Ranking Factors- Rank Correlations 2013 for Google USA found that +1’s on Google + were the highest correlative factor in SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. Although Google claims +1’s are not a factor in their algorithm (which uses some 200 unique factors), it seems that the relative correlation with +1’s is that they become shared Google + posts, with active linkage on Google + itself. Those shared +1 links usually become content links using the title tag as the hyperlink.

As Claire Cain Miller says, “Some analysts even say that Google understands more about social activity than Facebook does.” Considering its recent moves to require Google + membership to do things like comment on YouTube videos, Google is demonstrating it also understands the importance of that proprietary information. The latest numbers according to Nielsen have Google Plus with 29 million unique active users monthly and 41 million smartphone users, and these numbers are anticipated to continue to expand.

The other part of the marketing equation that Google understands is building its data mining base for SEO by enticing the businesses, goods, and services its users want to Google + with FREE promotion. Says Elliot, “It is something that Google could make billions off of it they sell that space tomorrow, and they’re giving it away to try to get people onto the social platform.”

International corporations like Starbucks were some of the first to recognize Google +’s value, saying they absolutely post to the platform to boost SEO. Gaining a foothold in this burgeoning marketing space now, before Google decides to mine it for cash as well, could be the key to whether your business ends up with black or red ink in your bottom line at the end of the fiscal year.

Joe Palko is the CMO of 3dcart. Prior to joining 3dcart in 2011, Joe was a true internet pioneer co-founding his first e-commerce website in 1994 which later sold to America's largest mail order pet supply retailer in 2007. Joe also co-founded Solid Cactus in 2001, which was later sold to the Web.com Group in 2009.