CDLLC

CDLLC

helping your presence work for your business

Feeding Froogle: Search Engine Marketing for E-Commerce

Remember when the Internet was simple?

The all-important e-commerce beast Google Products was originally known as Froogle. Froogle was a pioneer in compiling products from many online stores and websites into one big “store front.”

This idea we call “The Dog Pile” approach (by the way, dogpile.com was a pioneer in multi-engine key phrase searching, way back before Google was . . . Google) to product searching, has resulted in new opportunities for marketing discreet products.

Products are listed in Google Product Search by name, category, description, price, original website, and other attributes—sometimes, even a picture is used and indexed by Google.  The result?  A giant storefront you can be a part of.

Presumably, you want ALL of the information about your products to show up in search engines. And this is in addition to the traditional marketing of key phrases!

Why does this matter? Because, there are OPPORTUNITIES out there you don’t want to miss. Opportunities for not just a second or a third, but many additional store fronts.

Now add this: there’s a synergy to be created between your product search results and your key phrase results. Done right, this causes dramatically higher search engine listings for both!

In e-commerce, there are other places to rank high. We don’t usually recommend putting a great deal of effort into the “other” search engines, but in e-commerce you create traction for your brands by paying attention to several commerce tracking and promotional engines. These include Amazon, Google Products, Yahoo Shopping, eBay, Bing Shopping, Nextag, Shopzilla, and more!

Getting listed on some of these are free. Others have payment structures similar to Google AdWords and Pay-Per-Click, where you pay for views and clicks, or bid and pay a market-established rate for views and clicks.

To take advantage of these opportunities, you need to know how to feed them. Grossly over-simplified, that means you setup an account, then either manually enter your product data or feed a specially structured data file to each service.

Not a big deal, until you realize that to maintain ranking you need to monitor each service for changes in product listing requirements, or resubmit data after specified expiration periods, which may vary from one service to the next.

Of course, this is one of our areas of expertise. We’ve been feeding Froogle hundreds of thousands of products since it was a fledgling Google Labs pre-beta product. We’ve created top ranking for large sites and small, trained clients to manage their own data entry, and done it for them (when they realized that programmatically extracting thousands of products and attributes into specially structured files according to the requirements of each product listing service was something we could do better and more cost-effectively).

We often say that much of what we do isn’t rocket science; if feeding the e-commerce search stream is something you’re interested in doing yourself, good news: there are volumes of information available online on the topic.

But just because you can do it doesn’t always mean you should. If you want someone to get you up to speed, or skip the learning curve and outsource it altogether, give us a call.

Happy Search Engine Marketing.

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President
Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

Albert Einstein On Experimentation, Investigation, and Internet Technology

Albert Einstein didn’t just pioneer modern physics with his enduring and revolutionary theory of General Relativity, he also said some smart stuff about the value of independent curiosity and experimentation. Let’s apply some of this to how you can use the internet to help your business.

Words of Wisdom
  1. “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
  2. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

If Al’s second quote scares you, fear not; we’re talking about research on our dime, not making mistakes with clients’ time and money. Here’s what it all boils down to:

  • Ask, ask, ask, inquire, question, and ask some more.  Then experiment, test and do some more experimenting.
  • Investigate and Innovate—don’t be afraid to lead rather than follow. Then when you’ve got it all figured out, be sure to keep testing—and verifying results.
  • Never settle into a finalized “method,” because the only constant in the internet world is the light-speed change (get it, physics people? light speed… constant?). Yesterday’s thinking never works for today’s internet.

At CDLLC: we’ve already done the research. The experimentation, the investigation, the trial and error for you, on our dime. We’ve got close to fifty combined years of experience with this stuff. And we keep doing the research. It’s part of our business.

Tested results are what matter, not just copying what you read in an instruction manual, or delivering the status quo, or doing what everyone else is talking about and doing. With the internet, any documentation on the right way to do something, especially SEM and SEO, is outdated by the time it’s published.

And Google’s “what matters and what doesn’t” rules aren’t published at all; experimentation and ongoing research are the only way to ensure the great results we deliver.

We’re fond of saying that most of what we do isn’t rocket science. Dr. Einstein, tongue planted firmly in cheek, would have said the same about his work. And he’s still the guy we all go to when it comes to relativity… and space… and time.

It’s time for your business to get serious about its Internet Presence. We’re here to help.

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President, Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

SEO/SEM: Are People Searching For the Words You’re Paying For?

Business owners generally have a pretty good idea about what to say to their customers and what’s important to them. Why? Because they know them.

But what about web-based, potential customers? Can you know customers you don’t have yet, can’t identify, and even once you acquire them might never meet?

Internet search-engine-based marketing (or SEM, of which SEO is a part) is different than making yourself available to people on terra firma. You need to know what people are looking for and how that relates to your business. It’s not for the faint of heart, either.  You almost certainly want to hire an experienced, expert SEO/SEM consultant (and yes, that’s us)

We could turn this post into an advertisement for what we do, but let’s instead point you at a freebie: here is some information on “choosing key phrases“. Go ahead and read it; we’ll wait . . .

Head spinning? Asking yourself how you can check all that stuff? Let us explain the process:

When you hire CDLLC to do your SEO, the first thing that we do is look at the key phrases you’re thinking about marketing. We look at your site, your industry, and similar or competitive businesses, and we create a list of keywords that we know we can use to boost your presence.

Why? because if you’re an obstetrician (for example) and want to rank high for the phrase OB/GYN, OB-GYN, OB GYN, or OBGYN you’ll find three problems:

  1. competition for high rankings on generic phrases is tremendous
  2. most people who search on any of those phrases are not really the people who are seeking your services
  3. the four phrases look the same to humans, but are all different to Google.

We address these issues by gathering information on the words that you believe are important. We tell you how many people are searching for these words, and how competitive the fight for each word is.

Here is a simplified version of what it looks like:

Top of the list (competitive, popular phrases):

Bottom of list (unpopular, noncompetitive phrases):

And then the fun begins: we make sure you’re spending your money going after the right traffic, in the right way. Which is fun for you because we do it for free, and fun for us because we understand and like this SEO stuff.

It’s only after you have a good strategy and can spend your money wisely that we go to work. Yes, that’s right; the research phase is on us. Contact us now if you like. We love working this magic.

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President
Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

Luddites: How May We Be of Service?

Years ago Dad came home from his business and informed us, “They took away my calculator and replaced it with a computer.” Like so many others during this time, he was pushed into accepting technology change.

Just last month, Dad-in-law announced something similar. “I got a computer so I could look up specs on our website.  It’s quicker and easier than the paper catalog.”  Slightly different from the above case, he was responding to the reality that technology makes a lot of things easier.

Do you know the word Luddite? Today its most-used form is to refer to a slow adopter of technology. But historically the term’s roots are a reference to the anti-industrial revolution movement in the early 1800’s. British textile artisans rebelled against wide-framed looms, fearing for their livelihoods in the face of technological advancement. They took their name from the fictional textile rebel Ned Ludd, and acted out by destroying mills and factory equipment.

Everyone resists change. Answer Guy Central is a whole business devoted to addressing this.

Evolution made us naturally conservative. But with virtually all of our evolving happening before technology we’re stuck with this cool but hard-to-understand stuff and a fast-moving economy— and we have built-in aversions to both.

This aversion is no illusion. An interview with the authors of TechnoStress reveals that EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT of the population feels uncomfortable with technology. And there are real and measurable physiological stress responses to technology: sweating, increased blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and dry mouth!

Why is an internet company talking about Luddites and TechnoStress? Because we can help. There are all sorts of stress coping mechanisms, but let’s take a lesson from the industrial revolution—outsource difficult change to the specialists (that’s us).

Both of the Dads above had the same great reason for being late technology adopters, personally. They each run highly specialized businesses . . . so why be an expert in something else when you can rely on outsourced expert IT support to take care of everything for you?

That’s what we do with websites, search engines, e-commerce, back-end business/database systems, document management, forms, online payment… whatever you need chances are we do it.

Anything that makes money, saves money, and/or increases efficiency . . . call us.

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President
Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results,” or, Winston Churchill & Search Engine Marketing IV: Conversion Analysis

If you enjoyed our riffing on Confucius, you’ll love what’s next. Ladies and Gentlemen, Sir Winston Churchill will now address your needs for Search Engine Marketing!

Amazed that a man whose heyday was several decades before there was an Internet has so much to say on the topic? This will take four installments:

  1. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
  2. Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.
  3. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
  4. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Today, #4:

We know a guy who works in the restaurant business whose entire strategy comes down to one phrase: “Inspect, don’t expect.” There’s an SEM equivalent: Check Your Results.

Traffic comes from many sources. Don’t you want to know from where, and which of your efforts are paying off (the question was rhetorical; of course you do!)? Think for a moment about the many ways site promotion happens. Here’s a quick list:

  • Websites
  • SEO
  • Off-page factors (linking strategies)
  • More comprehensive SEM activities (Adwords, Pay-Per-Click, etc.)
  • Blogging
  • Newsletters and direct email
  • Other offline marketing

We have techniques to measure ALL of these—yes, there are even tricks to measure your web traffic from offline marketing!

Beyond measuring where your website traffic originates, you’ll want to keep track of a few important things:

Conversion: What’s conversion? Conversion is when a visitor is CONVERTED into something more. It could be a direct sale, a viable lead, a client, an appointment, or even something as simple as an entry on your mailing list.

Aggregation: A fancy word that in SEM terms means traffic origination measurement combined with and compared against conversions to figure out what return you get from each source of traffic.

Fine Tuning: The complexity of what we do at CDLLC starts to creep in here, but here’s one simple concept —SEM takes time, both because it’s a cumulative process and because you need to resist the temptation to cut corners by altering many variables simultaneously. Change one variable at a time and wait for results. Changing too many things at once as you pursue SEM Nirvana removes your ability to identify the changes that lead to positive results.

And you thought this was easy. It is: Just contact us, and we’ll do the rest . . .

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President
Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” or, Winston Chrchill & Search Engine Marketing III

Enjoyed our riffing on Confucius? You’ll love this: Ladies and Gentlemen, Sir Winston Churchill will now address your needs for Search Engine Marketing!

Amazed that a man whose heyday was several decades before there was an Internet has so much to say on the topic? This will take four installments:

  1. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
  2. Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.
  3. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
  4. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Today, #3:

At CDLLC we’ve been building web sites for a long time- since the WWW was just a little baby. And we’re proud of our work. Some of our clients have sites designed with very simple purposes in mind, while others are quite complex, and broad in their scope. But one thing they all have in common is that they look good . . . to the person or company they represent.

Hopefully, of course, they also look go to the people who stumble upon them.  And people that we drive there with SEM efforts. But since others’ reactions are tricky to gauge, the way a web site looks really does have to reflect the personality of the party displaying their corporate personality before anything else.

The problem with this is the potential for your web site to become a vanity project.

How do you create a web site without it becoming just an advertisement?  How do you create a website that attracts people rather than talking at them?

The answer is simple.  Be honest.  Share information.  Just like life, you gotta give to get.

So whether it’s a newsletter, website, or blog, share, share, SHARE knowledge and information.  Similar to this new world community and global economy we are living in, the days of business information protectionism are limited.

Offer something to your prospective target.  In doing so, you get to prove your expertise while increasing the likelihood of winning business… and loyalty.

To echo what we said in our previous post. Publish, publish, publish. Tell people what you know about the things they’re interested in, and keep your target audience in mind, rather than writing to existing customers and vendors already in your industry.

People will notice.

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President
Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential,” — Winston Churchill’s SEM Part II

If you enjoyed our riffing on Confucius, you’ll love what’s next. Ladies and Gentlemen, Sir Winston Churchill will now address your needs for Search Engine Marketing!

Amazed that a man whose heyday was several decades before there was an Internet has so much to say on the topic? This will take four installments:

  1. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
  2. Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.
  3. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
  4. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Today, #2:

In the previous segment we talked about the need to publish regularly. The success of your SEM efforts depends on it. Today, we extend that point to include the way you say things in your published works and what you say:

You say important things repeatedly.

Do you remember how many time you were told “look both ways before you cross the street!” as a young child? The message sunk in. We all know way more about Coca-Cola and McDonald’s than matters, but we sure do remember who they are. And like these examples of repetitive message delivery, your job in SEM is to drive points home over and over again.

Whatever you feel about that message, the point is clear, isn’t it? Tell a story. Tell it again. Then look for new ways to tell the story and new places to tell it in. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Which, naturally, brings us to budget.

We’ve seen businesses “do search engine marketing” once, and then stop. And it works! But just like with Yellow Pages advertising, the SEM work you do has a limited shelf life. Buy a Yellow Pages advertisement just once and it will become less useful when next year’s version of the book comes out and progressively less useful over time as people replace the book that has your listing in it with a newer copy that has no such listing. And when was the last time you looked in a Yellow Pages, anyway?

The Internet has all but replaced that way of looking for people to do work for you, and a new version of the Internet “comes out” every single day. Churchill was right about that continuous effort thing, don’t you think?

Lacking continuous effort, you’ll ride an SEM campaign up the search engine rankings, sink soon thereafter, and then then sink even further until you start your SEM efforts again. And each time you allow a sink cycle you make it a little harder to climb back up.

Budget for Adwords, Pay Per Click, Sponsored Links, Off-Page Optimization, Blogging, and On-Page Optimization, implement them all, and stay on top of them.

Or . . . you guessed it . . . let us take care of the whole thing for you.

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President
Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

A History of Web Content & Confucianism

“Study the Past if You Would Divine the Future”

Confucius would say: The Internet is a Big Deal. And Big Deals Change, but then return to whence they came.

Or something like that.

The Internet has been “around” now for several decades. We can trace its beginning to when Tim Berners-Lee “invented” it (and no, Al Gore was not in the room), but the Internet didn’t start doing anything until 1991.

That’s when the first web page went live. Hardly anyone noticed, since if you were on-line at all it was through a company like Compuserve or America Online, but the Internet was starting. What went on line was simple, though: the pages all looked the same, with either left or center alignment throughout, and a single column of text formatted in one font with a few different sizes for emphasis.

A few years later, we had tables, which originally were designed for presenting data in rows of the same ugly text. But them something amazing happened: people commandeered the tables for formatting how you saw things in addition to what you saw, and then CSS (bye-bye tables) came along, and that idea for consistent presentation was adopted by the pretty police, too.

It was a short jump to limited interactivity. First we had Javascript, which when combined with CSS became Dynamic HTML. But at the same time there were problems between different browsers as we all started noticing that Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari didn’t do quite the same thing.

Then e-Commerce came along. Site management tools. Software to make creating web pages easy. Everything was exploding by the year 2000, and over the last ten years all the tools, all the technologies, and huge changes in the way people do business evolved into what we have today:

Everyone is a web publisher.

But all the tools and all the ancillary ideas that the tools have created (or is it the other way around?) haven’t made this any simpler. “Site Management” has become “Content Management”, and while it’s more precise, it’s also more involved. Distribution of your information is important, too; not everyone who wants to hear what you have to say wants to take the step of coming to your web site, and many people who do so are using SmartPhones with tiny screens. We have blogging, Social Networking, and now the dreaded Search Engine Optimization. Yikes.

So the future is based on the past, and while we all might like to think that we’re creating cool new stuff the point of all these tools remains getting your information in front of your clients. A simple task, made far more complicated by technology.

At CDLLC, we manage the technology for you. We know the past, and can future-proof your web/business needs. We use (for example—here’s one more piece of “progress”)—database-driven web sites separated from your content to make redesigns easy.

You become a content editor, not a programmer. We do everything else.

Because even as things get harder and harder, easy still matters.

-Crockett Dunn
Owner CDLLC

-Jeff Yablon
Chief Operating Office, CDLLC
President
Answer Guy Central Business Support Services

Search Enginge Marketing (SEM) and Optimization (SEO)

Any of you remember when Yahoo was one single web page? Back then, everything was a web page- no “sites” or “portals.” Just everyone and some companies had a nifty “Home Page.”

Back then, I held the #1 Yahoo/Alta-Vista result for “Crockett,” because my Duke University Home Page was entitled, “Crockett… Crockett? Crockett!” This apparently tipped me just over the edge to beat out Crockett, TX.

Now let’s fast forward. Anybody out there remember what a Google Dance was? Google Dance was the industry nickname for the exciting day when Google revised its search algorithm and updated its index- your big shot at getting a higher ranking! The time to test the results of your latest search engine marketing efforts! Everyone races to the computer as their cell phone alerts go off. “Google Dance! Google Dance!”

Google used to dance its dance very 6 months or so. Then it was 3. Then it was 1. Then things were happening every few weeks. And bi-monthly. Then suddenly, Google started dancing one day and never stopped! A constant updating, it seems.

The funny thing is how quickly we accept, expect, then DEMAND such new, improved technology. Case and point:

CDLLC is in the process of an aggressive search engine marketing campaign for a major e-commerce site (1MM+ products). The scope of such a campaign is too extensive for this blog, so let’s only focus on the Google part.

  • We optimize the page content for maximum relevance and therefore maximum rank in Google Search.
  • All office and warehouse locations are entered into Google Maps with the maximum amount of relevant information.
  • Google Local Business Center is utilized in a manner similar to Google Maps
  • A standard-compliant XML site map is generated, and Google is notified
  • And most important to this particular business’s objectives, ALL products are entered into Google Products (formerly Froogle).

The way this works on the back-end is very similar to the site map. A standards-compliant XML file is generated, called a “Google Base Feed.” An ftp account is procured from Google, and the base feed is and uploaded and registered. Smaller sites can enter one item at a time, or upload from their web browser, but once you get into the 100s of thousands, the FTP upload is required.

All of that said (hopefully some CDLLC clients benefited from that free tutorial), again, it is interesting how quickly we accept, expect, then DEMAND such new, improved technology. The aforementioned, promised case and point is as follows. Below is an excerpt from the Google Base Help Forum:

POST#1: Nov 17, 7:06 pm
Hello,
We’ve been
experiencing delays in the processing of your data feeds. As a result, items
remain in the ‘Published…searchable soon’status for longer than normal and are
taking longer to appear inGoogle Baseand Google Product Search results.
While
we work on fixing this issue, you do not need to re-upload yourfeed. Once the
delays are resolved, your feed will process as usual.I’ll be posting back to
this thread once I have status updates toreport.
Thank you guys so much for
your patience.
-The Google Base Guy

POST #2: Wed, 19 Nov 2008 10:01:16 -0800
(PST)

Hi,
This is a quick update to let you know that the issue
regarding itemsremaining in the “Published…searchable soon” status has
beenresolved. However, the issue regarding feed processing delayscontinues to
affect larger feed files. On a positive note, smallerfeeds under 1 MB are no
longer affected by the current processingdelays and you should see your feeds
processing as usual.
Thanks again for your patience and I will get back to
you with moreupdates.
-The Google Base Guy

This has me seriously frustrated. “You mean I have to wait 24 HOURS to see whether my feed was successfully processed???”

Oh, how greedy we get, just years after we used to accept a 6 month delay to see the results of our updates.

I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson in humanity in here somewhere.

Crockett