What does it take to successfully launch and grow a niche ecommerce business?
We find out when I interview Elisabeth Halvorson, founder of Cowbells.com who turned an childhood dream into a niche ecommerce success story.
When I was 7, I wanted to be in the Olympics. A few careers later, I was able to catch up with that dream by delivering cowbells to cheer on athletes during the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games…. hey, mittens don’t clap. It was a RINGING success! We medaled in souvenir sales as the #2 most popular item behind the Roots beret. Since then, we’ve added more cowbell styles and a “s” to our name….
Updated for 2017.
Recently an email from a top media site was shared with me:
“…we would really rather not edit the links in our author bios to “follows” from “nofollow.” With the number of contributed articles (and articles, period) that we publish every day, we are leaking SEO authority with every “follow” link we allow.”
At the time I saw this email I was surprised, I had thought that the notion that outbound linking “leaks” link juice from a site had died a deserved death many years ago.
To understand the reasoning behind this, it’s helpful to understand that each site is assigned a certain amount of SEO authority that flows from the home page through first the links on the home page and then through out the rest of the site. So does make some logical sense that you are losing SEO authority when you link out to external site.
However most SEOs believe this is a myth.
An outbound link is a link that links outside of your domain to an external site. When a visitor clicks on an outbound link, they will leave your site, this is why some websites open external links in a new browser window. Conversely inbound links (often referred to as backlinks) are incoming links from other sites to yours.
You know the performance of your site matters. But everytime you venture into site speed optimization you feel like you stumbled into a land of foreign geek speak.
Unfortunately site speed is a complex topic and technical (“Configure Entity Tags” anyone?). Some changes can require a web developer to implement the changes. With this post you’ll understand better where performance problems can crop up so you can have a better conversation with your developer. We’ll also cover the low hanging fruit that you can tackle on your own as well as the tools you’ll need to get started.
Although WordPress is my preferred platform, I’ll provide SEO and digital marketing consulting on any site built in any technology. I’ve looked at sites built in Adobe CQ, Magento, Joomla, as well as many sites built using an in house custom CMS (content management system).
I’ve also looked at many WiX sites. WiX is a popular website builder that enables the non geek to build very nice looking websites. You can see the attraction; point and click, drag and drop, and presto you have a website! But what about SEO?
When I first wrote this post in 2015 (and even when I updated it in 2016) my answer to the question “Is WiX SEO friendly?” was a definite NO. WiX had significant problems when it came to SEO.
Today WiX has significantly improved and I’m no longer recommending against it, especially for simple brochure sites.
However there are some few remaining SEO problems with WiX that you should be aware of. And just because the platform has improved doesn’t mean your site is SEO optimized, you have to make sure you use WiX’s SEO features wisely to have the best chance of ranking well.
You’ve built your website, it looks awesome. Launch day comes, with much fanfare. Finally your website is done!
And then you wait. And aside from your friends and family, no one seems to visit your website. So it slowly dawns on you that you need a website traffic strategy. But which traffic source should you focus on?
If you haven’t already noticed, Google Keyword Planner has severely limited access to its keyword data to marketers. Unless you have a consistent active Adwords campaign, when logging into Keyword Planner today, you’ll see wide ranges for average monthly search volume instead of an actual number.
A range like 100-1K is useless for most keyword research. If you are like most SEOs or marketers your exploration of your keyword space starts with Google Keyword Planner. So what is the alternative?
The case for Facebook ads has been strong for a while. And only getting stronger. Yes, it’s not quite as cheap to advertise on Facebook as it was in the early days, but with the right campaign you often can beat the costs of other digital advertising, such as Google Adwords.
Facebook has gotten smarter too, its algorithm has gotten exceptionally good at optimizing your campaign so you don’t have to be a complete ninja to crush it. Yes, you definitely do need to understand the platform, but you don’t always need to get all the options exactly right.
In fact, at a Pubcon session recently Blitzmetrics’s Dennis Yu shared that once you have a winning ad set up and running, you can actually remove the targeting and Facebook will still deliver it to the right people.
Updated September 9, 2016: Even though some time has passed since I first wrote this post, the Genesis Framework is still very popular. StudioPress is used by 189,000 users. Yoast not only continues to recommend it but also has built several themes on top of it. And the new Smart Passive Income Pro theme is very attractive (more on that below). But is a Genesis theme right for you? Read on and decide.
If you have been in the WordPress world for a length of time, you undoubtedly have heard of Genesis. Genesis is a WordPress framework on which many themes have been built. Fans praise the ease of use and even claim that it is the “best for SEO”. I was curious about it for a while, and my interest level went up when Sugar Rae transitioned her blog to it a. Joost de Valk (author of the Yoast SEO plugin) is another one that recommends it highly.
There’s definitely no debate that beautiful, functional themes can be created from the framework. The library of premium themes has really grown over the years and newcomer Smart Passive Income is a compelling addition. Designed for affiliate marketers, it was inspired by Pat Flynn’s widely popular Smart Passive Income website. Use my affiliate link below to find out the details and take it for a test drive.
I love the bold colors and typography of Smart Passive Income Pro. On the home page it marries a strong Call to Action while keeping the balance in featuring your content with a unique navigational bar as well as having a space for your most recent blog posts.
You may not care about the inner plumbing of your theme, but you should. The code of your theme is important for your site speed and for the ease of customization. To really get a handle on Genesis I attended a workshop created by Anca Mosoiu, founder of a technology salon: Techliminal located here in Oakland and it became clear to me why it is so popular, especially among developers.
Here’s my take on the strengths (and a few weaknesses) of Genesis. At the bottom of the post, I’ve included a bulleted list if you want to skip the details and read a summary.
Do you remember when you learned how to do on page SEO optimization by updating meta tags? For me, it felt like I got the keys to the kingdom. By placing keywords into the meta tags on your page you had a tool that would magically rank your page at the top of the Google search results where it belonged. Right?
Well not so fast, in today’s SEO, optimizing your meta tags may not have the impact you think.
I had the privilege of attending a Meetup featuring the one and only Joost de Valk who along with his wife and partner Marieke van de Rakt gave a presentation on “Beyond SEO: Copywriting for Professionals with Yoast”.The talk covered Joost’s view of Holistic SEO and the increasing importance of Quality Content in SEO.
If you are not familiar with who Joost de Valk is, he is the creator of the very popular Yoast SEO WordPress plugin which just about handles all your WordPress SEO needs. Even though I haven’t gotten around to migrating this site to Yoast SEO, I have extensively used it on many client sites as well as some of my other sites and have watched it’s evolution over several years.
The latest version (3.3) of Yoast SEO has some new features which evaluates the readability of your page or post; Joost and Marieke covered the new readability analysis feature and gave us an inside look on it came about.