November 17, 2011

Putting Your Online Shop on a Marketing Regimen

Filed under: Promotions — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 2:01 pm


It’s no secret: the more people in your target demographic who find your online shop, the better your chances are at making sales. Most of your website visitors are going to come from links or search engines. The good news is these things go together like peas and carrots. The more good quality sites you have linking to your site, the more search engines will favor your site. Inbound links are a top ingredient for search engine optimization.

Now getting 1,000 new links sounds like a daunting task. But what if I told you you could have more than double those inbound links to your online shop by this time next year? Let’s make a new year’s resolution: this time next year you are going to have over 2,000 inbound links to your website if you’re willing to do about 15 minutes of work every day on your marketing. That’s it! 15 minutes/day = over 2,000 links!

Now to start this plan you’ll want to do a little reconnaissance. Start by making a list of sites where you could get links. Here are the categories to consider:

  • Bookmarking sites (i.e. StumbleUpon, StyleHive, Digg, Delicious)
  • Social Media sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr)
  • Niche Directory sites (i.e. Unanimous Craft, Bust’s Girl Wide Web, Indie Collective)
  • Blogs (i.e. Smaller Box, Design Sponge, etc.)

Make your list as extensive as you can, you’ll be referring back to it every day until this time next year when you have your thousands of links. It might take a few hours this week to gather your initial list, but once you’ve got it you’ve basically got your to do list.

Now here’s your regimen:

5 minutes: Posting new content to your website (i.e. a new product, a blog post, etc.). Make sure your content isn’t 100% your products. You also want to produce interesting content so people don’t feel like your site is nothing but a sales pitch. A site with good content is likely to get more attention than a site with nothing but products on it.

2 minutes: Posting a link to your new content on 2 social media sites (i.e. your Twitter account and your Facebook page)

2 minutes: Posting your link to your new content on 3 social bookmarking sites (i.e. StumbleUpon and Stylehive)

6 minutes: Adding your site to a new directory or pitching your site to a blog on your list of blogs to pitch. If you don’t have new content to pitch to a blog, pitch your services as a guest blogger, since guest posting still gets you a link.

That’s all you have to do. If you don’t have new content to share every day, go back through your archives and share an older blog post or existing product on sites that haven’t linked those pieces of content yet. This process should get you about 5 to 6 new links each day. By the end of the year you’ll have over 2,000 new links. You should see a gradual boost in your site traffic, search rank and sales as the year goes on.

ATTENTION ETSY USERS: If you’re thinking about enacting this plan for your Etsy shop, my advice is don’t. If you spend 15 minutes/day marketing, you’ll have dedicated over 90 hours of labor to your marketing by year’s end. All that link juice is benefiting Etsy.com. Do you want to work an extra 90 hours this year to help Etsy be more successful?

I think 100% of your marketing efforts should 100% benefit YOU and only YOU. If you’re going to invest 90 hours of your precious time marketing, do it with your own website so that 100% of the benefits are yours alone. Don’t just take my word for it, leading marketing blog Copyblogger would say the same thing.


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August 5, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Check out the links below, they’re the best business articles I read this week from other blogs:


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July 22, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

They’re calling for a heat index of 120 today. Yuck! Sounds like the perfect weather for staying indoors with the AC and catching up on some biz reads. Here are my suggestions:


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February 4, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Every day I check out the 100s of subscriptions in my RSS feed about marketing, PR, advertising, branding, social media, and a host of other topics of interest to small businesses that sell online. Most of what gets posted isn’t earth shattering but I reserve Fridays for the best reads of the week. So here you have it, the most valuable things I read in the business blogosphere this week:


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May 29, 2010

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


I usually just post links on Fridays but since I was on vacation last week I didn’t get to share any links, thus today’s special Saturday edition of “Link Love”. Enjoy!


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March 30, 2010

SEO: Just the Basics

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 6:39 am

I will tell you right now, there’s a lot to know about SEO. There are people out there who make it their full time job and it’s an ever-evolving science. We don’t know with 100% certainty all the things that make search engine robots tick, but we do know some things that matter, so today’s post is about those basics.

First of all, SEO stands for search engine optimization, and that’s the practice of doing things to your website to attract search engines. Great search engine optimization is what will cause Google to provide a link to your website when someone searches “handmade jewelry” over your competitors. The better optimized your site, the higher Google (and other search engines) will place your site in its results when people search for sites like yours. So what do you need to do? Read on…

1. Keyword Selection
The first thing you want to do is decide which keywords you want to target. If you sell hats, you may have a tough time competing with the net’s biggest hat emporiums, and that’s not necessarily the end of the world. You probably sell specific types of hats they don’t sell, like “cocktail hats” or “handmade hats” or “bespoke hats”. You can target keywords that are very specific to what you sell and less sought after by bigger and more powerful competitors. Doing this tends to work out best any way, since when you target such specific phrases the visitors who come from them are more likely to want exactly what you’re selling. If you just had the word “hats” optimized you might get people looking for baseball caps instead of pillbox hats, and that’s not much use to you.

To determine which keywords to target, open up Google’s keyword tool, and enter a keyword that describes what you sell. We can try “hats”. What we get back is a list of phrases including “hats” that people search on Google. It tells us what the phrase is, how often it’s searched, and how much competition there is for that keyword. (Phrases with more competition can be more difficult to rank well for on search.)  You can also try more specific phrases like “vintage hats” or “pillbox hats”.  Once you’ve found some phrases that are getting searched on Google and are relevant to your site, it’s time to optimize for them.

You’ll want to optimize a separate page for each phrase, so you’ll need to repeat steps 2-4 over and over for each phrase you want to optimize for. In keeping with our hats example, let’s say we decide to optimize for “vintage hats.” We’ll want to create a page for our vintage hats and do the following:

2. URL
Create a new file and give it a name like vintage-hats.html. This will signal to search engines from the page’s file name that this is a page about vintage hats.

3. Title Tags
Make sure your title tag includes the phrase “vintage hats”.  So you might have it say “Unique Vintage Hats by Sally Hatmaker” as the title.

4. Keyword usage in your copy
Within the page, you’ll want to make sure you write the phrase “vintage hats” as part of your website copy. Work that phrase in a couple of times as you describe what you’re selling, but try not to sound too much like a broken record. You want to make your page readable for people, moreover than search engines, but you still want to make reference to the subject at hand.

5. Links
Now you’ve done some on-page optimization, it’s time to get some links. Links to your site tell search engines your site is credible, so the more quality links you get, the better. (Not all links are created equal, a link from a site with a good page rank is more useful than a link from a link farm.)  You can do things like getting bloggers to write about your vintage hats or creating Squidoo lenses about vintage hats. These activities will all boost your credibility in the eyes of search engines.

This should be enough to get you started, though to master SEO you’ll need to do a lot more reading. Follow my link love posts each Friday, where I often link more advanced SEO articles.


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February 4, 2010

Easy Ways to Get Links to Your Site

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 8:16 am

It’s not always easy to get loads of sites linking to your site, especially if you’re a new kid on the block. Getting links is pretty important however, since it not only helps customers find you, it also helps search engines find you. So how can you get sites pointing to your own? Here are a few easy ways to get things started.

    1. Article Websites
    Posting articles to sites like DivineCaroline.com and ezinearticles.com is a great way to start getting some links. These sites are established authorities with search engines and, even better, a lot of website publishers turn to those sources for content. This means your site may end up with even more links if your article gets picked up.

    2. Sweepstakes Websites
    If you’re running any sort of contest it makes sense to promote on contest websites like online-sweepstakes.com or prizey.com. Not only will this bring more people to enter your content, it will also get you some links.

    3. Directories
    Getting your site added to directories like indiecollective.net is another great way to start getting some link love. An even better idea is to get your site listed on some niche directories. There are link directories for just about every interest from airplanes to veganism. My retail website gets quite a bit of traffic from being listed on directories about kawaii and cats.  Make a list of all the niche interests that may apply to your website and then find appropriate directories where you can submit links.

All of the suggestions above are pretty much guaranteed links. If you submit your site it’s almost a given that you’ll get a link back. This is a wonderful way to get started but not the only way to build links. Eventually you’ll want to focus on other strategies like getting fans to tweet about you on Twitter and getting blogs to write editorials about you. We’ll touch on some of those strategies in future posts but for now, these are a great way to begin the process.

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