Starting an E-commerce business can be pretty daunting. There are a lot of things to consider including the website, hosting, design, management & marketing! So today I am going to teach you how to build an ecommerce website from scratch.
There are plenty of companies out there that will you charge you thousands of dollars to build an E-Commerce website – but truth be told, you can do it yourself easily!
This E-Commerce tutorial will teach you everything you need to know step by step!
What You Will Learn
- How to build an E-Commerce site
- E-commerce website design tips and tricks
- E-commerce on site SEO & link building
- E-commerce marketing & traffic generation
- How to manage & maintain your E-commerce store
I’ll hand the reins over to Charles for this epic 12,000 word tutorial!
Guess Who Is Back
After the HUGE Success of my Rand Fishkin guest post for Matt’s blog, I thought I’d return once again.
This time, I’ll be going through my personal E-Commerce sites over my shoulder.
You will learn how I build them, optimize and generate epic traffic and even more epic sales!
Who Is Charles Floate?
I’m Charles Floate, owner of Godlike Marketing & Blogger at G** of SEO. I’ve been an SEO for 5 years now, even though I’m only 17 and have previously worked for companies such as Wow Internet, Foster SEO and Bootcamp Media.
So, what have I been up to since September when I wrote my first guest post here?
Well, I launched Godlike Marketing, did a ton of case studies, guides and various other Tutorials.
Along with quitting my job, getting my own office to work from (mainly write from) fulltime and have been making tons of other “web properties” and trying to build them up, including a few of the E-Commerce sites I’ll feature below!
How To Build An Ecommerce Website Step By Step
I thought I’d include a super easy navigation guide just incase you want to read a chapter at a time or come back later and want to quickly skip to a specific part of the guide!
Learning how to build an ecommerce website can be quite daunting so please take your time.
Also, watch out for the bonus tips at the end of some chapters!
- Prologue – An Introduction to this Guide & E-Commerce
- Chapter 1 – Setting up Everything for your Site
- Chapter 2 – Design and Development
- Chapter 3 – Logo & Graphics
- Chapter 4 – Optimizing the Entire Site
- Chapter 5 – Product, Content & Sales Management
- Chapter 6 – E-Commerce Link Building
- Chapter 7 – PPC and Media Buy Traffic Generation
- Chapter 8 – Maintaining your Site, Traffic and SEO!
- Chapter 9 – E-Commerce Tips from the Experts
- Chapter 10 – Bonus Tips for WooCommerce
- Chapter 11 – Extra Resources & Guides to Follow
Prologue – An Introduction to this Guide & E-Commerce
So, why do I have the audacity to tell you how to build an ecommerce website, how to optimize it, maintain it, generate traffic to it and all the cool things that you guys are waiting to get your teeth into in this guide?
I’ve been an SEO for close to 5 years now, have been an internet marketer for various E-Commerce businesses all with various success and currently run a number of my own E-Commerce sites.
I started a site back in early August with Matthew Barby called Corner Sofa Company.
In this guide you are going to learn to build an E-Commerce site just like this one!
Sorry for the gigantic screenshot, but it had to be done as I’ll be further dissecting parts of this site later and exactly how we built it.
It also gives you an awesome look into what kind of sites you can build with this guide (and I know, it is a BOSS design!).
Traffic So Far
Here are some of the traffic stats from the full month of September 2013 which we launched it properly.
Might not seem like a ton of traffic but with an absolutely killer bounce rate and for our very first month of putting it live, that’s pretty d*** good!
Also bare in mind from June (Started) to October (Site completely Finished, everything looking awesome and links built etc) we only dropped around $700 in expenditure.
Chapter 1 – Setting up Everything for your Site
I’m aiming to put as many of this guides steps into video form so you guys can get a real perspective of how to build an ecommerce website. Of course most of the guide will be written, and yes it is HUGE!
Installing & Configuring WooCommerce
In the below video tutorial, I’ll show you how to build an ecommerce website using wordpress onto a brand new domain, as well as Install WooCommerce and Configure it to fit your industry, countries taxes and payment settings.
It’s literally that easy and is much much much easier than using complicated alternatives like Magento.
Now all we have to do is move on to installing the theme to make our site look all pretty and setup any necessary specifics for the store itself.
You can get e-commerce web hosting & a domain from any of the places below. Deals change all the time so check out each one!
Chapter 2 – Design and Development
The design side of things is actually pretty simple!
As we’re running WooCommerce, it’s the same as designing a WordPress site with a few extra options to fill out to make sure the theme is setup correctly in conjunction with WordPress.
WooThemes (the awesome guys behind WooCommerce have a sweet collection of free WooCommerce themes you can trawl through!)
I personally use ThemeForest, which offers a TON of awesome premium E-Commerce website templates.
If you were wondering, Corner Sofa Company is in the Room 09 Theme (with a bit of extra hacking of the theme to make it look even awesomer! – if that’s a word)
Picking your E-commerce template/theme can be brand building or smashing, luckily! There’s a TON of WooCommerce themes available, and some really cool specific WooCommerce designers.
I can’t pick the theme you want as it’s more up to your taste in design etc… but here’s a few of my favourite, both free and premium –
Here’s a couple of my favourite, free woocommerce themes for you guys to potentially use in your site –
Wootique is made by the guys who actually develop woocommerce, it’s a really clean and simple storefront with a ton of customization options for you to make it your own with a few simple changes.
Virtue is a free theme by Kadence, it’s more of a blogging style theme but offers an addon shop that makes it look really functional for anyone looking to make money of their blog.
I actually think it’d be a lot better if you looked through all the awesome themes on Theme Forest before actually buying any, as you might see one that grabs your attention and is perfect for your brand.
I’ll still however give you some heads up with a few of my favourite below –
Sellya is an awesome theme that offers some fantastic features including awesome mobile responsive design that’s built into change with your changes.
There’s a ton of different designs/patterns to use, Google fonts integration, different industry skins so you can quickly optimize the theme and a ton more options you can check out on the sales page!
It’s the same theme we use for Corner Sofa Company, and offers a TON of cool options for you to develop a site around, though we’ve hacked it to pieces and added a ton of awesome graphical work to it.
Room09 still looks kick a** on it’s own and does come with a really helpful support team and a ton of different options/features.
Theme & Design Development
I’m really no specialist expert on WooCommerce theme development and have only done a bit of hacking of themes.
So, I thought I’d link to this easy to understand guide!
Amber Weinberg has an awesome blog for any wanna-be wordpress developer, so I suggest adding her to your Bookmarks or your feedly to keep up-to-date with her epic tutorials and news pieces.
The guide offers some easy to learn things, that if you already know how to develop a WP theme, you can just change over all the knowledge you already have and throw in this guides info.
Chapter 3 – Logos and Graphics
For most of the graphics I use on my E-Commerce sites there’s 2 routes that I take to get graphics made up, quickly and professionally. I’ll go over both in detail below!
48 Hours Logo
I’ll start with my favourite which is using 48HoursLogo to get a load of different designers to battle it out to make your graphic for you.
This gives you the opportunity to have logos, packaging, website, banners designs and a ton of other different kinds of graphics super easily!
Matt created a split test to see how much money his logo was costing him – the results of his logo test were pretty interesting!
Check out my video tutorial below –
But if you do your interviewing properly, you be able to get some awesome designers, writers and pretty much any kind of freelancer you’re looking for through oDesk, always at a fairly cheap rate as well!
Louis’s oDesk hiring strategy is pretty much the same as mine when it comes to hiring Freelancers though as most of you will know, the graphical world is a lot different from writing and we’ll have to do things a little different than Louis, but check out his guide regardless here!
Step 1 – Writing the Job Description
This is by far the most important part of the process, if you want to find writers that are suitable to your needs and that can handle the quantity you’re after, then your job description has to describe, in detail what you’re after.
Starting off your job description, you want to confirm that they’ve actually read it rather than just inputting a template cover letter so you want to put a line within the article that they can put in their cover letter.
“At the Start of your Cover letter please put: RANDOM WORD. Anyone who fails to do so will be immediately declined”
This will confirm you’ve got the correct people for the job.
I needed a graphic for this post, so here’s the description and title I gave for the post –
It gives a clear look into what I’m after, as well as gives opportunity for further work and includes the random word for my cover letter.
Step 2 – Selecting Requirements
oDesk offers a criteria you can set to get the best possible candidates for the job. I have a set template for this, as I only want a few things.
English – I need the English level of any freelancer to be a minimum of 4/5, if they’re below this I tend to have real difficulty explaining this to them.
Feedback Score – A freelancers Feedback score is their average feedback from all their jobs. I go for a minimum of 4.5 Feedback score as anything under this, in my eyes means they haven’t done 100% and I want the best possible quality I can get.
There are a ton of other requirements you can set but those are the main 2 that I really care about, here’s the full options for you guys anyway –
Step 3 – Post your Job & Wait
It’s that simple, just hit the big green “Post a Job” button and you’ll have freelancers gagging to join your team!
Now you’ve got to interview all your candidates, this can be tricky but it’s super easy to throttle people down to the best of the best!
Step 4 – Interviews
First you’re going to want to filter out all the ones who didn’t put your random word at the beginning of their application, this is easy just hit the “Sort by” drop down menu and click “Rate (High to Low)”.
Then you simply look through their resumes by clicking their blue name button, read their cover letter as well as check out their previous feedback and profile underneath their cover letter.
Drop the freelancers a message that you like the look of and go from there!
Step 5 – 3 Bonus Hiring Tips
- Ask for a watermarked mockup of the graphic to get an Idea of what each Freelancer can offer
- Use Google’s Reverse Image Search to make sure they aren’t just stealing other people’s work
- Ask questions in a detailed manner, this means if they find English hard it’ll blatantly show in their responses.
Chapter 4 – SEO Optimizing the Entire Site
Now OnPage SEO is pretty important and most E-Commerce stores really don’t push their onpage optimization for individual products, where as I’ve seen epic success with making sure every product has a unique 200 words and a killer meta description and title.
If you see some of the more basic stuff on here that you really aren’t interested in, then don’t be afraid to skip past, this guide is for everyone!
There’s a few extra bonus tips I’ll also throw in at the end for OnPage optimization to both improve CTR and your rankings.
You can also follow these 25 ecommerce conversion rate best practices.
Yoast’s WooCommerce SEO Plugin
Most of you will know Yoast from their awesome free WordPress SEO plugin, but they also offer a premium WooCommerce plugin.
Though you don’t necessarily need it, it can be an awesome extra bonus for $29 to help further improve your sites SEO.
It adds Twitter Product Cards, OpenGraph, Schema Data, even more advanced breadcrumbs and a whole host of other neat features to compliment your stores SEO even further!
For the meta data, we’ll be using the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin which is the same as the WooCommerce version just with less features.
After installing the Yoast plugin, you’ll get an added extension to the editing page like this –
Meta titles are really important as you want to appeal to the visitor, as most visitors will just look at the title and click through, but at the same time have it optimized for the search engines themselves.
Now, I tend to format my meta titles like this:
Product Name + Keywords + Company Name
So in essence you get something like this –
Cooper Jumbo Cord, Modular Corner Sofa – Corner Sofa Company
Which breaks down into this –
- Product Name: Cooper Jumbo Cord
- Keyword: Modular Corner Sofa
- Company Name: Corner Sofa Company
This in my opinion is the best of all 3 worlds, you get the super-niche keyword from people searching for the very specific product name.
As well as the power from a strong keyword and finally the brand awareness from your company / brand name being within the SERP.
Your descriptions can be a lot more targeted towards the searches engines indexing them, than the viewer reading it as most people won’t bother to read the descriptions you put.
I don’t really have a set format for descriptions, but I tend to just describe the product whilst using as many of my targeted keywords for that specific product as possible.
I’ve always said the more detailed the descriptions, the better. For Corner Sofa Company you’ll see we did a few hundred words per product.
Now of course I’m not expecting you to sit down for hours on end writing generic descriptions about your products. I wouldn’t even expect myself to, for the CSC ones we used Natasha Nixon which offers some killer content on the cheap!
Even though they say their SEO Articles aren’t meant for web use, we’ve found them to be perfectly suitable as long as you give as much detail as possible.
90% of the content on CSC is written by Natasha Nixon, so you can easily get a taster for the quality by checking out some of the main product descriptions on our site.
Most WooCommerce themes have 2 different types of description, you have your small description which on your product page tends to go next to your price.
Then, underneath your main product details you have your main description which you can put a pretty much unlimited amount of words into.
If you’re running a store that only has a few dozen (or even less products) I highly suggest to spend a lot of time optimizing every page individually and putting as much unique content onto each page as possible.
This means your products will rank for a ton of other long tail keywords, and as we added all these new longer descriptions, we managed to pull in a ton more visits every day and a lot more to every individual page!
Your Permalinks can be found in your “Settings” tab of your WP-Admin. It basically decides how your URLs are displayed, by default they will be displayed as “?p=x**” and that’s a really poorly optimized URL.
So, you’re going to select “Custom Structure” and input the following –
Which will look something like this –
This’ll put the product category then your product’s name afterwards. This kind of a structure means you can fill out all of the keywords.
Optimizing your Product Categories
You have a few different options within your product categories section and optimizing all your categories properly will make a wealth of difference.
Especially if you have a site with a lot more products than you can optimize individually, you can optimize the categories instead.
The first few options you’ll be faced with when adding a new product category look like this.
Add your Title which in this case we’ll be using “Corner Sofa Beds” as our test category to use and optimize it.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is put in the title, this is easy and it’s just the name of your category.
Then you’ll need to add your URL Slug which is the extension in which your category is displayed.
Here’s how it looks once we’ve filled that out.
Next, you’ll have to fill out your description; this is where you can start optimizing everything for the search engines.
I use the same description here that I’ll use for my meta description later on.
Then, all you have to do is fill out the Yoast details which will be in the “Edit Category” page.
Just scroll down to the Yoast settings and fill them out, here’s how I did it for the corner sofa beds category.
I personally really dislike the Yoast sitemaps as they don’t really give as much functionality as I’d like when putting a Sitemap together.
So the first thing you’re going to want to do is head over to the SEO > XML Sitemaps and make sure you have the first check box Disabled –
Then, we are going to want to install this plugin – Google XML Sitemaps.
This gives us a ton more functionality when it comes to building your sitemap and automatically includes pinging services to make sure the likes of Ask, Bing and Google get your sitemap submitted to them as quickly as possible.
So, you’ve got the Google XML Sitemaps plugin all installed and ready to go.
The Basic options part, you really don’t have any reason to touch so we can just leave that for now, unless you’re looking to do some really strange customization kind of stuff.
Additional Pages – This bit is all about adding in off-CMS stuff, which for those who don’t know what that means, let’s say your main site was in WooCommerce on WordPress but you decided you wanted to add a Forum that was in vBulletin, you’d add the /forum of the vBulletin and any further category pages to the Additional pages part of the sitemaps plugin.
Post Priority – Leave this on the standard Comment count bit, as it really doesn’t matter though you can turn off automatic priority and setup all your own priorities.
Sitemap Location – This bit is where you want your sitemap to go, on default it’ll be /sitemap.xml which for me is perfectly fine, but if you want to specify somewhere different you can just choose to do so.
Sitemap Content – Leave all the standard boxes ticked but add the Category pages and following pages so you get everything indexed.
The rest of the plugin is pretty much up to your own will of what you want the bots to look at and how often.
If you’re running a pretty big E-Commerce site, I always suggest having the Homepage frequency on “Daily” so the infamous GoogleBot will come back and check your site (hopefully) every day for any changes.
Bonus Tips –
- Add a Product Video and the use the Yoast Video SEO Plugin to add an awesome rich snippet and increase your conversion rate!
- Add some super simple Schema data to your site to add a Review Rich Snippet
Chapter 5 – Product, Content & Sales Management
Managing your site can be ridiculously difficult, managing any site for that matter can be hard but when you’re a 1 man band with orders, calls, emails, products, marketing, design, content and all that stuff to manage it can seem like an absolute nightmare!
I’ll be giving you here some good advice on how to actually manage everything on your site whilst still leaving time to actually Sell your products.
If you have hundreds of people buying of your site every day, it can be really tricky to manage everything.
Luckily for us every action that happens on the site, WooCommerce uses as a “Comment” using the WordPress functionality already in place, clever guys at that WooCommerce place aye!
So, if you ever get stuck on remembering orders you can quickly manage everything within the WordPress comment facility or the WooCommerce orders back end.
They also give you reports, which means if you’re doing your job as an IM’er and want to quickly show your boss how much money and sales (and if you’re running a coupon campaign, you can have a look at individual or all coupon/discount usages) he’s made this month!
Now when it comes to shipping, I don’t really have much in the ways of advice as it really depends on what kind of product you’re selling.
Some of you might be using the likes of a drop shipping or affiliate service to sell your items, so I really can’t give advice when it comes to that kind of thing.
I personally use a 3rd party when it comes to shipping my products, I buy off them and they ship for me at the wholesale rate, making me some money on the sofa itself.
I do however run another site called Mystic Magic, which I sell trading cards off.
As you can imagine though, trading cards are relatively light weight, especially when I am shipping them generally in “Singles” (which means to ship them a card or a couple cards at a time, yes people actually do buy individual cards!).
I have a wholesaler who sells “Jiffy” envelopes (aka padded envelopes) for a mere £0.11 each per envelope, they look like this –
Yup, for £11 I can ship 100 different cards all orders ranging from £3 upto £50 per card (Mental, I know!).
Managing products in WooCommerce is fairly easy, unless you’re posting in bulk… Then it can be a HUGE pain.
Luckily for us, WooCommerce have thought of pretty much everything and have built a premium plugin called the “Product CSV Import Suite” which looks like this –
You can buy it here, at a pretty expensive $200 or so though!
Otherwise, WooCommerce has a built in product poster that is pretty detailed, but can take a while if you’re adding hundreds (if not thousands) of products.
I thought I’d give you a quick explanation of how to use the product adder step by step anyway!
Product Name – This is where (you guessed it) the name of the product you’re posting, goes.
Category – This is where your product categories go, just make sure you’re selecting the right one and have all your categories setup properly before posting your products.
Main Description – This is where your main post goes, it’s the exact same as a standard wordpress post area and looks like this –
Just input all that text I was talking about earlier here to optimize your product descriptions!
Product Page Settings – Luckily for us, we have a built in Meta Title/Description tool to input to. Use the Optimize guide in Chapter 4 for this bit!
Product Short Description – This is the bit that gets added on the category pages and is the “Excerpt” if you like of a product page, I suggest putting in what you’d normally put into the meta data in here as it’s around the perfect length for this part and cuts down on content creation cost and time.
Featured Image – This is the main product image, it’ll be displayed on the product page and everywhere else as the main image for your specific product.
This tab is FULL of important stuff, so I’ll explain it bit by bit :)
SKU – This is the barcode name normally on the back of a product, it’s the Unique Identifier of a product and is generally suited for the likes of a Bookstore or people searching for a VERY specific product’s barcode.
Regular / Sales price – This is just the determining price, if you input a Sales price you HAVE to input a regular price and it’ll look like this –
Tax Info – This is just adding or not adding in your tax, easy stuff!
OnSale Info – This is just selling if your product is on sale to add a banner and what not.
This is where you can manage your inventory of a specific product, just click the “Enable stock management at product level” button and you’ll be able to easily manage your stock like this –
Shipping – This is easily manageable, if you have a product that can weigh a lot and you’re calculating all the delivery fees using a 3rd party API (such as FedEx) to calculate the distance and weight to then charge the buyer this part is a must!
Just fill out the shipping info and the API / cart will do the rest for you.
Link Products – The cheeky beauty of an upsell! You can add products that are “similar” so they get an upsell at the cart page, hopefully making you a bit of extra bob for some easy work.
You can always use the same process that I put in the graphics guide and use oDesk to find some pretty good content writers, again, just make sure to test them before throwing a bunch of money at them to write content for you.
For products however, I use Natasha Nixon, which was a service originally by one person (yup, her name was natasha) on Fiverr.
Now however, they have a dedicated team of writers and a fully flexed site to deal with all your orders.
Even though they say they don’t suggest using the SEO Articles as web content, it’s still really good for the likes of a big product description for $6.25/500 word article who could argue?
Especially when you get a 10% discount on Orders over $500, so if you want to order a ton of content straight away for your products, this is your best bet!
This is the juicy stuff, it’s written by published authors and journalists.
It’s rather expensive at around $40 per 500 word article but is perfect if you’re looking for a really well written blog post or press release later on in your site’s development.
I use the authority content to get content written for my press releases, just describe exactly what you’re looking for and you’ll get an epic piece back, normally well over the word count of what you ordered.
Chapter 6 – E-Commerce Link Building
Link building for an E-Commerce site can be insanely difficult!
So, I’ve put together a few different ways you can go about your link building. Though some of them take a lot longer than others, they all have some good return.
I’d start off with your E-Commerce site’s link building campaign by starting with Matthews tutorial from earlier this year on “stealing your competitors backlinks” this’ll help you start off with some good solid foundation links, then you can move onto the more complicated stuff below!
6.1 – Link Building for Traffic Generation
Don Roades did an excellent post on Downtown E-Commerce on what I’m about to explain, but I have a few tweaks!
According to Don, you can add some awesome sales to your website just by adding a link into your forum profiles signature back to your site.
As you can see, they generated a total of over $14,000 in sales in just a month of posting on 3 forums!
A strategy Matt has used to generate over $95,000 with this very blog!
Finding Related Forums
This isn’t really very hard, you can use your good old friend Google by inputting a Google footprint like:
inurl:forum “keyword here”
You’ll generally be able to find a ton of different forums, I suggest putting a few into an excel document and check the states of the forums, most forums you’ll be able to see said stats by visiting the site and scrolling to the bottom of the forum in the footer area –
You can also check out Matt’s post on how to find & engage your audience with some forum finding tips!
The Rules of Forum Posting!
Forums and communities, like their community… Most of them don’t like some brash new kid on the block coming in a posting a ton of links to their own site.
Before you post ANY links to your site, introduce yourself and get some members to recognize you as a pretty nice chap!
Then you can unleash your new shiny signature with some links or graphics to gain your site some cool traffic.
6.2 – White Hat E-Commerce Link Building
Though, technically using the forum tactic would be “real white hat” I’ll just be going over some tips on how you can do some really good white hat link building below.
Content to Earn Links
This topic has been overly covered, I’ll admit that one but I thought I’d add it in anyway.
Still, and by the looks of the future of search, “natural links” will always be the best as you’re heavily unlikely to get any kind of penalty.
Natural links are those links that you get for free, they’re the links random people (or some targeted) have placed around the web as they’ve seen your content, liked it and give you a kick a** link in return.
Building a Content Team
This was covered by Matthew Barby (who also left a cool tip for you in the Bonus Tips section in Chapter 10) on find my blog way.
He built a content team and managed to get some awesome, natural links in doing so, check out his post here.
Outreach & Guest Posting
For those SEOs in the crowd, I’m sure you’re horrified by this category as it’s been covered SOOO much.
So I’ll just give you some quick links to follow up on and you can go get started in the guest post game.
The Outreach Bit
Matthew Barby (Yup, he’s at it again!) armed with ScrapeBox and BuzzStream managed to outreach to literally, hundreds of targets in under an hour, getting some really good quality results back from the outreach campaign.
He did a post here on “Link Prospecting on Steroids.
The Guest Posting Bit
Kristi Heines wrote “The Ultimate Guide to Guest Posting” (I know, an old and tired title and I’m a victim if anything of using those kind of titles, but it really is “the ultimate guide”) for KissMetrics, which literally covers everything.
Saying that though, I would skip the finding bit as you’ve got the tutorial Matthew wrote!
Check out the post Kristi wrote here.
White Hat Tiered Link Building
Rohit Palit (who also works for me at Godlike) did an epic piece on using the normally black hat technique of Tiered Link Building in a completely white hat way using some really quality content, put on some really good places then using them as “Link Properties”.
Check Rohit’s guide out here.
6.3 – Grey Hat E-Commerce Link Building
The true definition of a grey hat has been argued over for donkeys years.
I class myself as a grey hat, and by my definition it means you use both white and black hat SEO tactics to push your site up the rankings and bring in some epic search engine traffic.
So in this part of the guide I’ll be giving you exactly that!
My approach to a grey hat link building campaign is using white hat SEO (such as guest blogging etc..) and manually building the likes of Web 2.0s for your tier 1 then using black hat tactics (such as private blog networks etc…) for your tier 2.
We won’t be fully automating anything, and for this to work it can be rather costly, but the beauty of it is you get quality across the board and it can really increase your rankings.
As I was saying earlier, I highly suggest using white hat things for your Tier 1 services, though understand that it can be highly expensive in terms of time and money to just get 1 guest post published, let alone an army of powerful tier 1 links.
I have a few favourite services to speed up this process though, so no worries there!
If you’re just looking to build some good quality guest posts with great content, these guys can be awesome!
They have some really good inhouse writers and have been published across the web, including Moz, SEJ and a few other huge IM blogs.
There’s a few different things you can use for your tier 2 links but the best in my opinion is still to use private blog networks, so I’ll be giving you a few options when it comes to the different blog networks available.
Private Blog Network Links
I personally normally use 1 of 3 services to build these kind of links. The beauty of using private blog networks is they offer contextual links on highly authoritative sites at a fairly cheap price.
When using LE to create these kind of links, firstly create your campaign, add your manually spun content and keywords then use the custom order form to order your private network links.
I highly suggest using either Ultimate Buzz, as they offer links at about $1/post and are fairly good at delivering them quickly and on google quality sites (I’ve seen a few of the sites MozRank go upto 6 before, that doesn’t mean DA by the way).
Then, I generally use 2 services that are available on black hat world (yup, however much that forum is turning into a piece of s%$t it’s still got a pretty solid marketplace, if you ignore the mods approving every thread available on there without proper vetting) and wicked fire.
Galaxy Blog Network – These guys are a pretty cheap but good quality site network that offer some ok content, good support and quick turnaround times (Normally you’ll get your report within a few days, and if there’s any issues later on their Skype support will fix them almost immediately!
Juggernaut Blog Network – I’ve only used these guys a few times, but they have some seriously powerful links though are on the more expensive side of galaxy they offer a lot better quality of content, fantastic support and the links are on pretty strong domains.
6.4 – Black Hat E-Commerce Link Building
Now, being a black hat SEO is hard nowadays, if you’re mentally challenged that is.
For some very odd reason people think black hat is just spamming links 24/7 and likewise, with spinning you can only even automatically spin content which will be unreadable.
Doing that then, is if you’re trying to rank on Bing and Yahoo (Which for E-Commerce is perfectly viable and around 30% of our traffic for CSC comes from those 2 search engines).
If you’re going to go into black hat for E-Commerce however, there’s 2 different routes you’ll be wanting to take –
These are minisites which you use to generate sales or traffic to your main site. Whilst these are great, you have to have a few in a folder somewhere, ready for the next update which will wipe out your site completely.
Follow my ranking for rand post, which was actually my first guest post on this blog earlier this year.
It follows exactly how I ranked a post for a number of keywords in just a few weeks, with hardly any money spent.
These have been making a few different headlines as of recently with the likes of Payday Loans by Mr Cutts (a little taunt at matt cutts anti-spamming campaign) and the viperchill fiasco with YouTube videos ranking really well.
Effectively, you use spammy link profiles targeted at pages on high authority domains such as YouTube, Rebel Mouse and 3rd party blogging platforms.
If you’re looking to use this kind of tactic for E-Commerce then it’s fantastic for both pushing sales and reputation management.
Check out Dan Zarella’s post on using parasite SEO for reputation management here.
Chapter 7 – PPC and Media Buy Traffic Generation
If you haven’t already seen it, I did an epic guide on Traffic Generation around 2 months ago.
Though that really wasn’t based around E-Commerce traffic, so I thought I’d take a look at how we generate traffic to Corner Sofa Company and some ways you can to your own sites.
Adwords PPC Alternatives
Ok, so we’re a furniture site, so we need to find people who are looking at things like home improvement or furnishings.
Now Adwords has been hundreds and hundreds of guides that have already been made before and if you don’t know how to use AdWords then just Google “Adwords guide”, there’s TONS!
You can even automate your PPC management with Wordstream now, so it really doesn’t take much effort anymore.
BuySellAds is a media buying platform, it has some gigantic sites and you might even see some familiar faces, *cough* black hat world *cough* on their listings.
Ok, so we’re going to look for some sites that will have our target audience in mind.
All you have to do is fire in your related keywords into the BuySellAds search facility and it’ll give you all the sites with your keywords in mind.
Straight away for our first keyword “home improvement” we already find 5 sites with some pretty juicy impressions!
BuySellAds also has the options of “Ad Bundles” and they’ve got over 30 different bundles to choose from!
Included in these ad bundles, is the “Home Design & Improvement” bundle, which for around $1,250 I can get nearly a million impressions every month and with a good advert shown across all these sites.
I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to make our money back!
That’s 14 different site placements, totaling 927,000 (DAMNNN) impressions for $1,250.
Considering we can make around $320 profit on each sale, shouldn’t be hard to make our money back if we can pull in a couple 1,000 visitors!
TextLinkAds now MediaWhiz
TextLinkAds is awesome for 2 reasons, it not only builds you traffic from the highly popular pages, but you get DoFollow backlinks included, meaning you can kill 2 birds (preferably penguins) with 1 stone
You can get some fantastic related backlinks along with getting some good visitors from popular sites.
For this example, I’ll be putting in, again “home improvement” and straight away we get 658 results!
Pretty good, and what’s even cooler about using TLA is we can filter all of our searches by Language, Category, TLD (Top Level Domain, e.g. .com, .co.uk etc), Moz’s DA/PA, the Link Popularity (TLA’s score of how the quality of inbound links to that specific page).
As well as the Alexa rank, the ad price, domain age (Some sites up to 20 years old!), number of Ads sold, Number of Pages, Number of Backlinks, the location of the backlink (e.g. Homepage or subpage of the site) and if it’s listed in the Yahoo or Dmoz Directory.
As you can see there’s a ton of different search functions for us to decide on what kind of a link we’re after!
So, I’m going to search – “home improvement”, have my language as English, and my minimum DA of 45!
It pulls out a whopping 117 results, we could literally build our entire link profile just using this site.
Unfortunately, I’m not really looking to spend 100s of dollars per link, so I’m going to further refine my search by adding the maximum price as $50.
This takes away 7 results and puts me down to 110! Straight away on the first page of results, I’ve already found a link that can give me 1 of 3 things –
This is great because-
- It gives me the opportunity to be on a ranked list, which I can use as an extra bit of reputation management.
- It gives me a link from a site that looks completely 3rd party as they rank sites anyway (Unlikely to get penalized)
- And it gives me a link that’s on a super highly related website, which should please the socks of that Penguin!
Media buying, for those that don’t know is where you buy a piece of online real estate such as an advertisement or graphic on.
You can use BuySellAds for this, so I’ll be going through some cooler things you can do with BuySellAds in regards to media buying!
So, we’ll be using BSA again! It’s just such a good tool (Where else can one buy a tweet from Paris Hilton?!) moving on to tweets actually, we’ll be looking at buying tweets first!
Twitter and Tweeting has become a vital part of most sites online marketing campaigns, with people tweeting over 500 million tweets… Every day! You need to definitely get in on that action!
So, in this example let’s say we were selling a brand new App for managing your money – That’s 2 different kinds of sites we can aim for, any sites related to apps and any sites related to personal finance!
Straight away on clicking the “Tweets” part of our navigation bar, we already find some cool targets –
- AppCraver with around 46,000 followers and at just $40 for a Tweet!
- Neal S******* with nearly 70,000 Followers for a mere $80 a Tweet!
- I Use This App with over 22,000 Followers and at just $20 a Tweet!
- iPhone Team with over 350,000 Followers and at nearly $270 a Tweet!
As you can see, we have some awesome options to both promote our content and products as well as help grow our social following! Not too shabby finds for a 5 minute search, aye.
Buying Newsletter Placements
If you run your own newsletter, you’ll know how powerful it can be to have 100s of people in your target market to easily re-target!
BSA offers an awesome email newsletter buying facility with a TON of huge blogs across a number of different industries.
So, for this example let’s say we run a Photoshop template selling site, we want to promote our templates to a ton of related users and hopefully grow our own Newsletter.
So, we do a quick search on BSA for “photoshop” go to the search filters on the left side of your screen and select Medium then remove everything but email!
And you’ll get a ton of different options to buy spots on their newsletters from.
In this case, we actually managed to get a pretty cool 9 results, which boiled down to our very specific niche is actually about 5 but those 5 total nearly 800,000 newsletter subscribers!
That’s a potential boiled down to “real statistics / conversions” of around 50,000 people to both see our brand and click through to our site and buy some PSD templates!
YouTube, especially for E-Commerce style sites can be an awesome point to generate traffic.
Just take a look at the Dollar Shave Club campaign if you want a prime example of someone spending a couple hundred bucks in production to making an absolutely fortune in return.
Now, I’m not saying we’re going to make a ton from viral videos, but I will be giving you an awesome tip on how to actually market your videos themselves.
I introduce to you, Tube Assist!
If you’re looking for some info on actually making the videos for your business, then I’d suggest you check out Phil Nottinghams guide to video creation for all sorts of businesses.
Chapter 8 – Maintaining your Site, Traffic and SEO!
This can be really hard once your site starts kicking off, having orders flying in, tons of people asking for extra information, your SEO and general online promotion campaign to manage as well as all that juicy traffic you have and want to and convert into sales.
Maintaining your Site
When your site starts growing, it can be difficult to manage all the different aspects of your site, so I’ve put together some awesome tips to help improve various aspects of your site really, really quickly!
Trello is an awesome card based CRM which will make your life a LOT easier when it comes to managing your site, we use it at CSC to help with a number of things, including managing your orders in a lot easier infrastructure than WooCommerce by default provides.
You start of by making a board and adding your “Cards” to each list of things to do.
This is our onsite board where we have things to do via the Backend of the site. As you can see I’ve got a card on Adding a New Blog post, and on that card I’ve commented a title I came up with –
Now all I need to do is move that card into the “Done” section when I’ve added the post, this makes my time management a lot easier.
If I want to add a deadline to each card or assign cards to specific team members, it’s literally as easy as a click of a button. I can even attach files in case I want to add images or videos to a specific blog post or as another example if I want to add an Invoice to a product order card.
With Trello, you can easily manage pretty much every aspect of your time consumption on your site. I highly suggest using it as a quick way to manage anything on your site and all you need is a Google account to get started anyway… Oh and it’s Free!
Getting More Traffic & Sales
So, you’ve built up your site and have a ton of visitors every week pushing through from all sorts of places, but you’re still wanting to get more traffic and convert the traffic that you’re already getting every month.
Traffic Generation with Micro-Sites
At G** of SEO (my blog) I use these to pull in a ton more visitors to the site and bring in some more newsletter subscribers completely organically. An example of one of my micro-sites would be WhatIsLinkBuilding.co.
Which straight away you can see is an EMD, then I’ll add a kick a** landing page design (this one I used is the Lister theme from ThemeForest), with a newsletter signup form, video and some epic optimized content to help further push the site up the SERPs.
I’ll throw in some niche related links from a blog network, or just organically build links to it from my own sites and let it bring in traffic from Google, Bing and Yahoo to then push more signups through my blog.
This specific site has only been going for around 2 weeks now and has already managed to pull in 290 uniques and convert 17 people to signup to my Newsletter!
Now, this landing page is targeted more at gaining Newsletter subscribers but you could easily build them around a specific product or your company itself to pull in more traffic and use it as a “feeder” site to send that traffic back to your main site.
Increasing Conversion Rates
Luckily for us, WooCommerce has some excellent built-in features such as the related product and comparison features that I already mentioned earlier in the guide.
This can sometimes be as limited as just the header font or sometimes as vastly different as completely changing the product title, picture or even just the Add to cart button.
This is a great way to find out what converts better, and what pulls in more people.
Improving your User Experience
I continually love getting new people to check out your site and try to buy something.
This can be your grandmother who’s only been using the internet for a year and is still on Windows XP with Internet Explorer 6 or your 12 year old nephew that calls you noob every 5 seconds at the dinner table.
People think user experience testing is really expensive and you have to hire a company to do a focus group or hire a big design/development agency to changes things, but it’s really not…
Whenever you’re on the laptop with a family member or a friend or partner, just sit down with them and ask them if they could look through your site and buy something, of course, just stop right at the end when you actually have to put in card or payment info.
This gives you some awesome info and can give you a pretty varied sample to take a way and work from, then just stick all the info they commented on in your phones notes and when you’re next working on your site maybe change the Add to Cart graphic to make it a little bigger or have all the Checkout process on one page
All these small things will help your sites sales sky rocket!
Keeping up with your SEO Campaign
If you aren’t an SEO yourself, I’d always suggest hiring an outside SEO firm on a budget that suits you (and not what they try and upsell to you) and your site.
Though, for some people this can be daunting and some firms want to enroll you into a 12 month contract which for a new business can be crushing.
So, here’s some really easy tips to help manage your SEO over the next few months, on a fairly limited budget!
We’re not going to be able to afford a massive white hat campaign with a ton of Outreach, so for clients that generally can’t afford my link building prices I point them to one of 2 Traffic Planet gigs that are really good for fairly new sites.
If you’re a business looking for a service that’ll get you links from strong authority sites in your niche. Depending how much you’re looking to spend you can get really good posts at fairly cheap prices.
If you have got a site with thousands and thousands of products, then use Trello to do a category of products every month, you’ll soon see the benefits of having every products onPage optimized when the traffic continues to roll in for a ton of different long tail keywords.
If you’re running a pretty small site then use Moz’s OnPage reports to take a look at any onPage errors you might have, just so that you can continue to tweak your onpage until it’s just perfect.
Chapter 9 – E-Commerce Tips from the Experts
I decided to get some of the top SEO, IM’er and E-Commerce experts to add some valuable insights and tips into the world of E-Commerce so you guys can learn even more from this guide!
One method that I use as a core strategy within large E-Commerce projects is ‘mention tracking’.
Now, by this I don’t mean just setting up a Google alert around your brand name, I’m talking about large scale product monitoring with buyer intent.
One of the tools that I’ve been using a lot recently is BuzzBundle. This tool allows you to search across social media, blogs, forums, Q&A websites and video sharing sites to find mentions of specific phrases.
In the screenshot above, you can see that I’ve identified a load of users that are actively searching for a solution to an issue they’re having. In this case, they’re looking for screen capture software.
I actually used this for a recent tutorial that I put together on Camtasia Studio and generated some good targeted traffic as a result. This kind of traffic can be invaluable for capturing users with a high level of purchase intent.
Check out this article from Downtown E-Commerce that looks at the best approaches to take when engaging within forums with a focus of generating sales.
Another tool that I use is Mention.net. This tool allows you to track mentions across the web of any of your products or brands.
I use Mention.net to track any mention of my main products online and set up email notifications so that I can jump in and either participate in the conversation, or find webpages that have discussed my products without linking to them – this can be a quick link building win.
Mike Campolattano of SerpChirp – Improve your Customers Experience!
Every product you offer has a history and a story to tell so Use these as a way to be creative and develop robust & detailed product descriptions.
Each product in your store should have a number (at least 10) of large size photos (800 x 600 jpeg should be fine) on its details page as well as a zoom photo option if possible.
Remember humans are visual creatures and shopping is generally an emotional decision so the more photos you have the more chance you have of the consumer creating mental ownership of the product.
Make sure you are giving every visitor that views your products an easy way to review and share that item. The more personal choices you give the visitor the more apt they are to perceive value in you and your product
If you aren’t using product videos on your detail pages then you are missing out on huge opportunities to be shared and turn profits.
Ensure that you have trust badges prominently displayed on your site. Establishing credibility by displaying trust badges can increase conversions by over 70%!
You should always focus on having unique products description in all the product pages to avoid duplicate content issues.
Especially when you’re reselling the products that are available from other sources. I’ve come across many E-Commerce websites having duplicate content issues and being the target of a Google Panda attack, due to lack of unique content on product pages.
These days Lazy Loading seems to be working pretty well instead of creating pagination if a website is having thousands of products.
This would help avoiding duplicate pages, duplicate title & meta description issues in the long run. I’ve also found this to be user friendly as users don’t need to go to next page and wait till the time page loads.
Utilizing a strong blogging strategy most effectively should be an essential part of your marketing activities. Blogging helps a lot to keep your customers engaged and generate new sources of traffic, if you could share helpful tips with your audience – Check out how GrooveHQ did it.
Many E-Commerce website owners doesn’t focus on blog much and mainly because they think their customers won’t be interested in what they share in the blog.
In fact, the customers/users normally always want to read/know more about the product they’re purchasing, so having a great post on each one or even throwing up some video reviews can really help!
From a social media stand point, I’ve seen many E-Commerce websites using strategies like “Share this product on your Facebook wall & get a 10% discount” – This seems to be working pretty well as this opens up new doors of grabbing more customers, follows and it helps with growing your social media campaigns.
Colby Wren from No Hats Marketing – Social Proofing
One way to establish authority as well as credibility is to social proof your E-commerce brand.
Before you even start an organic following I suggest making sure you look the look before you walk the walk.
That means spending some time setting up for Facebook, Twitter, and Google + adding logos, pictures, content and setup a hootsuite to have scheduled postings for your profiles for the days to come.
BlackHat tip – Buy your followers, buy your likes, buy your +1’s by around 10,000 Facebook fans, 20,000 Twitter followers, and 1,000 +1’s. These can be purchased from Fiverr or AddMeFast this will give the psychological association with an established brand.
Promoting and establishing authority provides the psychological assurance of, “This is not a scam”. That can be very powerful for your conversion rates and growing your real and organic following quickly.
There is something attractive about a large number of followers and likes that makes us want to join the group. Would you rather have your traffic second guessing your website while they pull out their credit card or have them fearlessly spend on multiple occasions?
Many ask me for an example of this engagement and how much time does it take to actually manage from week to week. One of my favourite examples is looking through the Dollar Shave Club’s Facebook page.
They have built a successful E-commerce business based on Brand ambassadors and edgy marketing campaigns. They make sure they respond to every negative criticism professionally and thank every positive comment they can.
Now that they are established they don’t even have to answer questions.
Within the hour a handful of brand ambassadors have addressed the question asked and have provided customer service for the brand that they love. Pretty powerful stuff.
This is just a few of the comments they have received this morning. Think about getting an exponentially larger amount of traffic every single month. For example the average video produced by the Dollar Shave Club receives statistics like this with hundreds of thousands of views followed by thousands of purchases.
To put it in numbers you understand each share reaches approximately 500-1,000 people. That means this post alone potentially reached 800,000-1,500,000 people. Even on a small scale this could mean major awareness for your brand.
Having a website that someone buys something from may only happen once and lacks a long-term relationship.
Social media allows you to nurture a relationship with your brand ambassadors and target audience and promote more products.
You never want to saturate your pages with promotions and products, but establishing trust and throwing in products ever 10 or so posts will drastically increase your natural following.
Brent Johns from No Hats Marketing – Analytics Tracking to Increase Conversions
Everyone goes through the motions of setting up Google Analytics for their E-Commerce properties, but not many people go any further than that.
They’ll analyse traffic based on normal Google Analytics: traffic, sources, demographics, bounce rate, time on page, etc. But taking analytics to the next level, you’ll be able to make concrete decisions and stop the guess work.
But how do you take your analytics to the next level and start understanding exactly how people are using your E-Commerce site and turn your traffic that doesn’t buy a product into profit down the road.
If you start to understand why people leave your site, you’ll also understand how to remarket and retarget these people. At what point do they leave your site? If they’re leaving with items in the cart, is your cart too many steps? If you’ve simplified your cart checkout, then perhaps it’s the shipping costs.
If they left your site with items in the cart, try retargeting them with Free Shipping.
2. Quantitative vs Qualitative measurements
People visit your site for many different reasons, but having the amount of people and all the stats available in Google Analytics don’t give you a very clear picture of the why they visit and why they purchased, or didn’t.
Ask your audience open ended questions. “Did you find what you were looking for?” If you don’t ask questions, customers don’t have the opportunity to tell you their experience, and you’ll be surprised how many will tell you the flaws in your site.
It’s easy to decide how your site looks based on your opinion, but constructive criticism from your buyers is a definitive way to know you’re making the right changes to your sales funnel. Polls are a really good way to collect this information without asking for too much time input from your visitors.
3. Combining reports
Data visualization can help lead to actionable decisions and that’s the point of analytical data. Separately, the campaign, mobile, and backend data don’t always reveal actionable data, but visualizations of the data can reveal hidden problems in your E-Commerce site.
Aggregate data is useful, but organized data that provide overall insight leads to actionable data that increase your bottom line.
Chapter 10 – Bonus Tips for WooCommerce
WooCommerce has some excellent bonus tips that you can use to further add functionality to your site.
WP-Lister for eBay Management (Free Plugin)
If you’re looking to manage eBay and (like me) hate the eBay backend, then WP-Lister offers a built in solution to quickly add your websites products and manage sales/bids of all your current products.
Check out their video below for some extra details –
Manage your Customer Relationships (Paid Plugin)
There’s a cool premium plugin on CodeCanyon for WooCommerce called WooCommerce Customer Relationship Management which allows you to easily manage your relationships with customers.
You can use the likes of Skype to call them, it integrates with Newsletter software like MailChimp, you can quickly export the contact details for all clients or individual customers, you can send emails either to individual, select or all customers.
Basically, you get a ton of awesome functionality for managing all your clients really easily!
Add YouTube Videos to Products
You can quickly add a featured youtube video to your products using the standard WooCommerce page.
Adding the Yoast Video Plugin I mentioned earlier can help vastly improve conversions of both sales and people clicking through from the SERPs!
In some themes, this will change the Featured Image to your video, not all but some – So be careful as you might want to do a little hacking with this!
Make Amazon Affiliate Sites with WooCommerce (Paid Plugin)
As a load of people generally don’t want to sell their own products, amazon affiliate sites have been all the rage for a while.
There’s an awesome plugin you can use to make quick affiliate sites called WooCommerce Amazon Affiliates which quickly lets you setup amazon affiliate sites straight in WooCommerce.
I got pointed to his by CCarter from WickedFire and I must say, it is pretty awesome!
Sift basically offers a real time tracking of users on multiple site, it’ll flag people that have unusual activity to make sure your site isn’t getting de-frauded by some “real black hat” (hehe) and offers some awesome ways to do so.
Check out their How it works page to learn a bit more about what Sift actually does.
Chapter 11 – Extra Resources & Guides to Follow
I thought I’d add some extra resources for you guys to learn even more about how to build an ecommerce website from scratch.
I’m sure you’ll be done with reading for a while (or who knows, maybe you’re even more thirsty for knowledge).
- How To Find & Engage Your Target Audience Online by Matthew Woodward
- Ranking for Big Keywords using Black Hat SEO by Charles Floate (me)
- How to Find Awesome Content Writers for Under $3 by Lewis Ogden
- Decrease your E-Commerce Sites Page Load Time by James Gurd
- The Ultimate Guide to Running Online Competitions by Matthew Barby
- A Complete Guide To SEO For E-Commerce by David McSweeney
Video Tutorials –