Hello, all! This thread is designed to give all the hard working e-entrepreneurs out there a place to start in their journey towards creating a successful e-commerce Web site. Many of these items are taken from past ECG forum member posts and will be added to as necessary. If you feel a topic should be added to this thread, please send an email to dmuse@jupitermedia.com.
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First, if you haven't already, please read our Acceptable Use Policy. We have had to delete a number of posts due to users advertising their own services, which is prohibited.

E-Commerce Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best approaches for publicizing a new website?

- Get links to your site. The best way to get listed in the major search engines is NOT to submit your site to them, but rather to get links from other sites that are spidered regularly and let the search engines find you naturally. Get started by submitting to directories such as http://www.joeant.com and http://www.dmoz.com. Also look for link opportunities on sites related to yours - either paid or as a link exchange.

- Issue a press release. This is an easy and effective way of announcing your new site and getting some links (which will help with #1 above). A few free services you can use are:

http://www.prweb.com
http://www.press-world.com
http://24-7pressrelease.com
http://www.prleap.com
http://www.prfree.com

- Start driving traffic with AdWords. Since this is a great way to get targeted traffic almost instantly you can use it to start making sales as well as to test your site and make sure you're converting. If your site only converts 1 in every 100+ visitors to customers then there is a lot of room for improvement.

- Visit forums related to your industry and include your URL in your signature. I wouldn't suggest posting explicity ads (unless the board has a section for this), but simply creating an enticing signature and making a few posts will get you noticed pretty quick.


Iím getting hits, but no sales! What can I do?

-Be patient, webcrawlers and spiders can take up to 4-5 months just to find your site and list it.

-Pay per click services, although effective for driving traffic to your site are not always good for creating sales (but they can be).

-List your site on every possible web submitter, use the free ones.
-Links with other shopping/web sites will increase your ranking and exposure.

-Hit the pavement, store to store with a sample of your product and a brochure. Go to novelty stores, toy stores etc.

-You need to make sure that you know:
*What your target market is.
*How can you approach them?

Compile a list of web sites you think your prospects would visit if they need to buy a product like yours and then advertise there.

For more information, follow these ECG links:
http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/news/article.php/3365551
http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/news/...le.php/3376771
http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/news/...le.php/3394391

How can I optimize my search engine results?

Although optimization techniques are specific to the search engine you want to increase your rankings on, there are four basic things that you can do to increase your rankings around the boards and in turn increase your traffic scores:

1. Add related content to your website

2. Optimize your targeted keyword density

3. Get reciprocal links from related websites

4. Update your website often or add dynamic content

You can actually implement all four of these techniques in a single page.

Start by creating a "links partner directory" for your website. You can do this by taking your current website homepage source code and removing the text and pictures, so only the store banner remains. You will later add individual links to all of your individual links pages on this "links partner directory."

Once you have created this page, setup a link to it from your homepage.

Now, find some keywords that fit your specific niche. You can do this by going to overture and checking out the listings vs. views rating of various keywords that are related to your website's content.

You want to find keywords that have really low listings vs. views ratio. Often incorrectly spelled words and bizarre-but-related phrases will have the best ratios. These are your niche keywords.

Next, create "reciprocal link partner" page templates for all of these niche keywords. You should include your banner at the top, the title--which will be the keyword phrase--below it, then a text-description link to your website below it, as the featured website, ten links to niche keyword-related sites (which you have not made yet), an RSS dynamic script at the bottom with related content, Google AdWords with related content below that, and then a link back to your website, your "reciprocal link partner" directory, and your sitemap if you have one.

You can sign-up to get Google AdWords for your website at google.com and you can find good, related RSS scripts at equipmint.com. Both scripts are relatively easy to setup. Just cut-and-paste them into the appropriate place.

Now, take your niche keywords to Google, AltaVista, Yahoo!, etc--and enter them in quotes next to a set of non-niche keywords that you think generally describe your website/products. Naturally, it will pull up a list of descriptions that have high keyword densities for those terms. You will probably see both phrases used at least once in the descriptions.

These sites are going to be your link partners. Figure out which ones are legitimate websites that actually offer something valuable and are also willing to exchange reciprocal links--and then setup links to each of their websites on your respective "reciprocal link partner" link templates. Now, go back to the site and request reciprocal links from each of the sites you setup a link to. You want to get about 10 reciprocal links for partner page. WebPosition Gold can give you better specific numbers for your situation, but 10 links is generally around the right amount.

Most of these sites will reciprocate and link back to you eventually. If they do not, you can just remove their listing and switch it with a similar site that is willing to trade.

Once you fill out these templates and setup reciprocal links, you are finished. You now have a content-rich, dynamic, keyword-dense reciprocal links directory that not only will improve the search engine ranking of your main page, but will also a) setup direct links to your website positioned at high search engine ranking spots for several relevant niche keyword listings and b) setup links back to your site on websites with related content, getting you even more potential leads.

In addition to this, the dynamic Google and RSS scripts will a) get search engine spiders to return to your website faster; b) increase your content rating; and c) provide useful content for your customers.

Of course, you will want to continue finding new niche words and repeating this process. More content and reciprocal links will always benefit your website.

How do I turn visitors into customers?

10 Tips to Make Your E-Commerce Site Sing
http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.co...le.php/3106731

Looking Out for the Little Guys
http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.co...le.php/3091231

The Way Customers Want to Buy
http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.co...le.php/1572111

Chat Up Your Customers
http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/solut.../10363_3333471
(The idea is that by chatting with visitors, helping them find what they're looking for and assisting with any problems, a site can boost sales, reduce abandonment, and improve customer satisfaction.)

What are some popular e-commerce services that can help me start my own e-business?

Depending on your initial investment, computer skills and time, there is a range of do-it-yourself software packages to turnkey store solutions. Here are some commonly used products and services (this list does imply any endorsement or satisfaction guarantees by ECG):

http://stores.ebay.com
http://www.paypal.com
http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/merchant/
http://www.oscommerce.com/
http://www.monstercommerce.com
http://www.shopsite.com/
http://www.netobjects.com/products/html/nof8.html
http://www.ibuilder.com/
http://www.netsuite.com/portal/home....uct=osbs&osb=t
http://www.miva.com/
http://www.interland.com/
http://www.affinity.com/
http://www.infinityhost.com
http://www.bluehost.com
http://www.aspininteractive.com/
http://www.fortune3.com/
http://www.warp9inc.com
http://www.make-a-store.com
http://www.erolonline.co.uk/index.asp
http://www.litecommerce.com
http://www.easystorecreator.com
http://www.overstock.com