Interview with Petworld founder, Denice Hagen

Denice Hagen, Petworld.no founder

Image source

For most 15 year old Norwegian girls, life is spent in the great outdoors and socializing with friends. But not Denice Hagen, founder of www.petworld.no, an online pet store who at 15 years of age entered the Norwegian eCommerce market.

Now 19 years old, Denice is not only focusing on the growth of Petworld.no, but is also launching two new projects in the next 12 months.

This is a story of how passion, determination and an implement like hell attitude helped Denice create a 12+ million NOK per year online business.

For those who do not know you, can you briefly tell us about yourself?

My name is Denice Hagen, just turned 19 years old. Living in Tyristrand with my family, a small village in the countryside, approx one hour from Oslo. I am still going to school and this is my last year on high school.

How did you get started with Petworld.no?

Since I was little girl I have always been dreaming about sales and marketing. I got this wish fulfilled when I was 15 years old. I told my dad that I wanted to start an online store and he just laughed at it. Finally he said: “yes, we can try”, but he didn’t believe too much at the idea.

We didn’t know what to sell but the only business dad had good contacts in was in the pet business. So then we decided to go for a pet store since we could get the goods we needed to sell from wholesalers dad knew from before. It was very short time from when I had the idea to we opened the store, approx. three months.

We had no idea at all about ecommerce and no contacts in this business from the beginning.

Since dad didn’t believe in this project from the beginning, we started out with only one small box with goods and an old computer in our living room. I designed our first online store putted in inventory (which we didn’t actually had in stock). I opened the store and suddenly we were selling a lot of things to pets.

How did you launch petworld.no while still in school?

Before we started, we agreed that this should only be a hobby project since I was in junior high school and my dad had another job. It soon became clear that we did something right. We got a lot of orders, and dad had drive to the wholesalers almost everyday and picked up the goods we needed. And I was working on the campaigns, new products, Facebook and design in the evenings and the weekends. It was a lot of work, but funny and the store was growing fast and we worked day and night. After 5 months, dad had to quit his other job and starting full time in Petworld.no and he still do today.

In two months I will finish high school and also work full time in Petworld.no as well. And I can’t wait! The best is yet to come.

How do you promote the website?

We market Petworld.no in Facebook, newsletter, Google and some specialist magazines. In Facebook, we find channel to communicate with our customers and we like the idea of the customer can lead us feedback, ask the questions and sharing pictures of their beloved pets. I manage our Facebook page, which has over 12.000 followers, and I find it very exciting to work with.

Petworld.no Facebook account

Which marketing channels are the most important?

Google is a very important sources of traffic to Petworld.no. The organic search is of course the most important, and we work all the time to improve Petworld.no for the Google search engine. We are lucky to co-operate with a very good company who runs our paid Google AdWords. The ads we have on print in this specialist magazine is more for branding and with a long-term perspective.

Do you have any numbers you can share?

  • Website visitors are approx. 30-35.000 visitors per month
  • Marketing budget is approx. 70,000-90,000 NOK per month
  • We expect to sell for approx 12 million NOK ex. vat. this year

Petworld.no has been growing quite good. We started out with approx. 20-30.000 NOK and a little box of goods and an old computer in our family living room. Petworld.no has no bank loans or investors and the inventory in our wearhouse is paid for.

For young marketers in Norway, what would you suggest they focus on first when launching a new website?

Love what you do, stay focused and work very hard – nothing comes for free. I has dropped many things that young people take for granted, such as. parties and hanging out with friends on Saturdays nights instead I have worked with my passion and I do not regret on taking these choices today. And if you love what you do, I am sure it easier to get success.

What trends do you foresee in eCommerce stores in Norway?

I think in general eCommerce will increase a lot in Norway in the future. The customers are getting more used to buy their stuff online. Norway is perfect for eCommerce because of long-distances to physical shops. I think when the consumers are getting even more used to online shopping, this will also put new demands on the web shops like even faster shipping, larger assortment, better custumer service and of course not to forget that more and more visitors to web shops are now using their mobile phones.

Hopefully we will see new and better ways to shop online with our phones soon.

What are the 3 biggest tips/ advice you can share with young entrepreneurs in Norway who want to launch their own business?

I would say having a good and clear concept, make a good research on your future competitors, find their strong- and weakness and try to do your business better. A lot of work will normally pay off, but remember you’re not going to millionaire tomorrow. Be patient!

What’s next for Petworld.no?

We are continuing to do what we do today; expand the product range, offering super fast shipping and a good customer service which normally are open 7 days a week. We are launching a new and responsive site later this year and looking forward to make our shop even better to our customers. In the close future the customer will also find a wide assortment for horses, livestock and hobby farming.

Outside of Petworld.no, what else you do do?

Outside of Petworld, I have some projects underway. CarlMahon.com coming 2015, this store will be inspired by my Instagram account @interior123, which has nearly 400.000 followers. This account was created in January 2013 and it has grown fast. Beside CarlMahon.com project and Petworld.no, we will also launch a new online store this summer, Hundebur.no. This is an online store we bought a few months ago; the shop was in bad condition so we closed it the same day we bought it. We started to built right away and it soon finish.

Denice Hagen, Instagram

Conclusion

Launching a new business is not an easy feat and yet, at 15 years old Denice was determined enough to succeed.  It just goes to show what you can achieve when you stay focused. A big thank you to Denice for taking the time out to answer these questions. It’s been very inspiring.

For more information, you can connect with Denice on LinkedIn or visit Petworld.no.

The Small Business Owners SEO Bible

Small business SEO bible

During the last 18 months, I’ve completed more than 20 SEO audits for small businesses and global brands. I enjoy analyzing the data in Google Analytics and identifying areas for improvement to help businesses grow their organic search traffic. We’ve helped a lot of businesses grow during this period. It’s been fun.

Whether you sell products online or you want to generate leads via your website, our research has found that by not optimizing your site for search engines, e-commerce stores are losing up to $100,000 per year. That’s a lot of money, isn’t it?

So you have now launched your website and you want to increase organic traffic. Where do you start?

This post has been created to act as a bookmark for people like you who have just launched a new website and want to immediately fix your SEO issues. You can revisit this post time and time again, and the issues outlined can be fixed by yourself, without the need to invest in hiring agencies/ consultants.

The 10 points outlined below affect 90% of all websites I’ve audited. By fixing them you will not only have the SEO basics in place but, you will also start to see an increase in organic traffic and sales.

1. Avoid duplicate content by having one website

Type the full URL into your browser and hit search. In this example, we’ll use www.mywebsite.com. If the page loads (as it should), now do the same but do not include www. For example, mywebsite.com.

Most people think it’s the same webpage. It is, but not to Google. If the page loads, then you have site wide duplicate content and Google is indexing two versions of your website.  You will need to ask your IT team or web developer to redirect one version of the website to another using a 301 permanent redirect.

If you notice that when the browser loads mywebsite.com it automatically redirects to www.mywebsite.com (or vice verca, www.mywebsite.com redirects to mywebsite.com), then you do not need to implement the redirect. It doesn’t matter which URL you choose, just as long as you have only one.

Tip: It’s important to use a 301 redirect and not a 302 redirect. Check with your IT team to make sure you are using a 301.

2. Register with Google and Bing webmaster tools

In order to increase the process of being indexed by Google and other major search engines, you should register the new website with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. You won’t be able to prepare for everything before you launch, but by registering the website you can find and track crawl errors and optimization issues quickly.

Webmaster tools is a great resource to identify problems and is offered by both Google and Bing for free. Both offer reports on errors and issues that are hurting your search engine performance and with Google recently hiding keyword information, webmaster tools remains the only place for where you can see what keywords people use that shows your website in the search results page.

Tip: You can verify your webmaster tools account by implementing the code into the <head> section of your website.

3. Write unique title tags and meta descriptions

For each page on your website you will have the opportunity to write unique text for title tags, meta descriptions and page headings (h1). Matt Cutts recently went on record by saying that missing information for all of these is not such as problem as Google will automatically pull text to show the user but, he did make it clear that the information should not be duplicate and the same for each page.

  • Title tag: Between 30-60 characters, and be a short sentence on what the page is about
  • Meta description: Between 70-150 characters, and a brief summary of what the page is about
  • H1/ heading: Between 20-40 characters, and is the topic of the page

Tip: If you have a website with more than 1,000 pages, it might be easier to let Google pull in the information automatically for 90% of your website but take the time to write unique text for your top 20-30 most visited pages.

4. Fix broken links and deleted pages

Enter your URL into the following website and fix any broken links that are reported: www.brokenlinkcheck.com

Prioritize fixes based on 404 and 500 errors. A 404 error means the page is no longer found, and you will need to redirect the old page to the new page (again, use a 301 redirect) and a 500 error means there is a server error.

Tip: You can also monitor your webmaster tools accounts on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and continue to fix any new issues that are reported.

5. Create a sitemap for search engines

A sitemap is a page that lists and links to all the other major pages on your site.

An XML sitemap is a sitemap that is created specifically for search engines. It helps tell Google and Bing which pages you want to appear in the search results pages. You can create an XML sitemap using the XML sitemap generator. Once created, the sitemap should be uploaded to your website. Most sitemap URLs look like this: www.mywebsite.com/sitemap.xml.

Tip: Once the sitemap has been added to your website, you can add the sitemap to both Google and Bing webmaster tools accounts.

6. Create a sitemap for humans

Whereas XML sitemaps are specifically created for search engines, HTML sitemaps are specifically created for humans. However, there is an added benefit in that you can link to important pages on your website, which can boost the overall authority of your website.

A HTML sitemap can be automatically created within your content management system (CMS). If not, create a manual version and include a link on your home page (either in the header menu or the footer menu).

Tip: For examples on HTML sitemaps, click here and here.

7. Use search engine friendly URLs

It’s easy to remember simple URLs that include keywords. Which URL are you more likely to remember?

The first URL is known as a dynamic URL. The second is known as a keyword friendly URL. Having a keyword friendly URL makes it easy for search engines to navigate and crawl your website. It also helps your customer’s access pages quickly, instead of having to remember long URLs.

Tip: Use a 301 redirect to redirect dynamic URLs to keyword friendly URLs.

8. Write fresh and unique content

Each page on your website should be unique. Research has shown that content that is longer than 1,500 words ranks better than content that has fewer than 1,000 words. Longer content is usually well researched, and delivers more value, which in turn leads to more social shares and visits.

Focus on writing great content that website visitors love to read. If you are struggling to think of content to write about, start off by answering questions that customers ask you (you can use your customer service team).

Tip: Stuck for ideas? Use these 20 content marketing tips to help you get started.

9. Block pages that don’t add value

A robots.txt file specifically tells a search engine which pages you do not want shown in the search results. Similar to a sitemap, the robots.txt file should be uploaded to your website. The URL to view the robots.txt file is usually www.mywebsite.com/robots.txt.

If you see the line Disallow: / in your robots.txt file, remove it immediately as this means that your entire website has been blocked from search engines.

Tip: Pages to be included in the robots.txt file are login pages, checkout pages, and any pages that you feel will not add value to search engines.

10. Optimize your images

Images are important for your website. Search engines can only search text and not text in your images. Images should be no larger than 100kb, so each time you add a new image, make sure it’s not too big or it will slow down your website.

When it comes to naming your images, both the file name and ALT tag should be descriptive of what the image is. For example, most websites that have a picture of an old man wearing a pair of blue socks will have the file name and alt text as follows:

  • File name: 000023.jpg
  • ALT tag: socks

The best way to upload an image is would be:

  • File name: old-man-wearing-blue-socks.jpg
  • ALT tag: Old man wearing a pair of blue socks

Tip: To compress images and make them smaller, use tools like Compress Now or Image Optimizer.

Conclusion

Use these 10 tips to improve your organic search traffic and once you start to see an increase, focus on getting more business by optimizing for conversion, which you can do by signing up to our free conversion rate crash course.

Feel free to share this post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, or leave your comments below.

2014 Online Marketing Tips From The Experts

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s helpful for online marketers to start to look ahead as to what 2014 will offer.

At the end of 2012, we asked 7 online marketing experts to share their best advice for 2013. In this post, we’ve gone one step further and gathered 12  experts to share their best tip for 2014 when it comes to online marketing.

In 2012, the expert tips were to focus on mobile, conversion optimization and content creation. And they were right, as these trends exploded. What’s interesting is that similar tips are shared for 2014.

If you missed out on last years tips, you won’t want to miss out on this years advice. We have authors, keynote speakers, founders and CEO’s and all of them are instantly recognizable.

12 online experts share best marketing tip for 2014

rand-fishkin-1

Rand Fishkin | Moz | @randfish

Surveys, interviews, usability tests, phone calls, and emails can all help, but there is no substitute for experiencing your audience’s pain yourself. If at all possible, I love to make myself and my team into real users of our product, trying to solve actual issues with our tools (or find information targeted by our content). That builds a personal experience from which you can project yourself into many other audience mindsets. The only caveat – be careful about over-extrapolating a single experience out to a wide market.

Bryan-Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg | Best Selling Author | @thegrok

The single biggest reason why people fail to convert on a website is that they could not get their buying questions answered. Most often this happens because they land in the wrong place and navigation (or internal search) makes it difficult or impossible for them to push their confidence levels high enough to purchase (or become a lead) and not feel any buyers remorse. This year it would be great if you started thinking about your business the way Jeff Bezos thinks about Amazon.com; they are not in the business of selling books but in the business of helping customers buy books. This is true customer centricity. A Bain survey recently shared that 80 percent of company executives believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But when Bain asked the executive’s same customers about their own perceptions, only 8 percent of customers felt those companies were really delivering. Which camp will you fall into in 2014?

Neil-Patel

Neil Patel | Quicksprout | @neilpatel

My best marketing tip for 2014 is to create really detailed content. I do so on Quick Sprout through advanced guides that are 30,000 to 40,000 words and it is causing me to get hundreds of thousands of visitors.

It takes a lot of time and energy to create these guides, but the traffic is worth it.

Ben-Jesson-Karl-Blanks

Ben Jesson & Dr Karl Blanks | Conversion Rate Experts

Again and again, we observe that our most successful clients have great products (or services). A great product trumps everything.

  • So our tip for this year is: Do whatever you can to create a great product.
  • Once you have a great product, you’ll find it easy to create a great conversion funnel.
  • And once you have a great conversion funnel, you’ll find it easy to afford traffic.
  • A great product is like a firework. The marketer just needs to light the touchpaper.
  • A poor product is like a wet firework. It takes a lot of skill to light it, and you might wish that you hadn’t.
 Chris Goward

Chris Goward | Wider Funnel@chrisgoward

Stop worrying about your bounce rate!

If you’re improving the wrong goals for your web marketing, you could be moving very fast—in the wrong direction. If you’re not sure, start with how to improve the right website optimization goals. Once you’re focused on the right goals, the other decisions become easier.

Then, make a commitment to continuous A/B split testing and optimization in 2014.

 Brian Massey

Brian Massey | Customer Creation Equation | @bmassey

Look at your analytics as a fluffy snugly toy, the kind you take to bed with you every night when you kick off your bunny slippers. Marketers and business owners who can’t grasp some simple graphs and reports are sleeping alone in the cold night of the internet. You don’t have to be “mathy.” But you do have to be friends with data and understand some simple rules about it.

 Peep Laja

Peep Laja | Conversion XL | @peeplaja

Data-driven approach is the future, and if you’re not a master of analytics and testing, you will be left behind. In 2014, invest heavily in becoming really, really good at gathering and interpreting data into actionable steps, and validating your hypotheses through testing. You need to know *exactly* what’s happening on every page of your website. Learn to go from “I don’t know” to “I’ll find out”.

Linda Bustos

Linda Bustos | Get Elastic | @Roxyyo

My best marketing tip for 2014 is to experiment with Twitter Promoted Tweets. It can be tough to build your own audience on Twitter, but this new ad option enables you to reach followers of other users’ accounts and pin your promoted tweet to the top of their feeds for more exposure. It’s inexpensive to run a $100 test campaign to see how it performs, and you can promote individual tweets. So for example, if you are an ecommerce site that sells vintage style clothing, you could target followers of @asos, @nastygal and @modcloth (among others in the niche), and be sure to include images or Vines in your tweet to show off your wares for highest response. It’s a very targeted way to get your message out to new people for customer acquisition.

Stephen-Pavlovich

Stephen Pavlovich | Conversion Factory | @conversionfac

The opportunity in mobile conversion optimization is huge. Having a responsive site is a good start, but testing now will give you a huge advantage over the competition. (And if you don’t have a responsive or mobile site, pick one crucial page on your website and split-test it against a mobile version of just that single page – it’ll quickly show you the opportunity.)

Brad-Geddes-1

Brad Geddes | Certified Knowledge | @bgtheory

In 2012 search marketing started to shift from keywords to audiences and this trend accelerated in 2013. Today, you must understand your target market beyond the keyword. What are your audiences, their demographics, their similarities, their differences, and their online behavior? While we won’t abandon keywords in 2014, if you want to stay on the cutting edge of marketing techniques, you must begin to switch your promotions away from just relying on keyword groupings and towards audience segmented offers.

 Chris Hexton

Chris Hexton | Vero | @chexton

2014 looks like it’s going to be about mobile, at least when it comes to email. There’s a lot of great data out there at the moment about increasing open rates on mobile devices so marketers need to make sure they’re optimizing for this!

Gerry McGovern

Gerry McGovern | Customer Carewords | @gerrymcgovern

Treat your existing customers as if they were prospects. Get to know them better by observing what they are doing online, not what they say they are doing. Recognize the shift in power and influence towards the customer. Always keep in mind that a current customer is a potential not-a-customer-anymore.

There you have it. 12 great tips from some of the best online marketers in the world, which covers mobile, content creation and data driven marketing. If you want to add to the list of marketing tips, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

What is your best marketing tip for 2014? Do you agree with the experts?

* Update: Gerry McGovern added to the list of experts on 19.12.2013

How website speed directly impacts your online sales

When was the last time you abandoned a website because it took too long to load?

In 2006, 40% of online shoppers were abandoning a website if it took more than four seconds to load. In today’s fast paced world, people expect a website to load in two seconds or less. That’s right. 2 seconds.

According to Amazon.com, for every one second delay, conversions will drop by 7%. That’s a $2.5 million loss per year if you sell $100,000 per day.

Conversion rate by page load speed

A study by Akamai in 2009 surveyed more than 1,000 online shoppers and found that more than 47% of people expect a web page in load in two seconds or less. The research also found that speed impacts customer loyalty with:

  • 52% claim that a quick page load is important to the loyalty of the website
  • 64% who are not happy with the site will shop at a competitor
  • 79% are less likely to return to the website

A slow website not only affects your online sales, but 27% are also less likely to shop at the sites physical store.

In 2010, Gomez interviewed more than 1,500 online shoppers in their “Why Web Performance Matters” report.  One of the biggest findings from the Gomez report was that more than two-thirds told others about a disappointing web experience.

A slow website will lead to you losing business online and offline and customers will shop elsewhere

Site speed improves SEO

Another important aspect to site speed is SEO (search engine optimization). A slow website not only provides a poor user experience, but will also get your website penalized in the search results.

Site speed became a focus to search engine ranking factors in 2009, which came from a usability test that both Google and Bing conducted to determine the impact of a slower search results page.

In their study, Google found that by slowing page speed down from 100 to 400 milliseconds. the number of searches per user decreased over a four to six weeks period.

Bing’s study had a measureable impact on clicks and revenue by delaying the search results by two seconds. Bing found that the two delay decreased revenue by 4.3% per visitor. With more than 48 million monthly visitors, that’s a huge loss.

Websites are getting slower

Eight years ago, Amazon announced that for every 100ms of website speed improvement, they saw a 1% increase in revenue. Yet for the leading eCommerce sites, websites are getting slower.

Top 500 Retailers Average Page Speed

In just over eighteen months, studies* have revealed that of the top 500 retailers:

  • Only 8% use image compression
  • The average page load time is 7.72 seconds
  • Sites are 13.7% slower compared to 2012

* Studies using Google Chrome browser

In order to fix your site speed issues, there are a number of tools you can use. Here are three of the best tools you can use to test your site speed:

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool provides recommendations on what you can do in order to make your site faster. The most common problems experienced are browser caching, un-optimized images and minifying JavaScript/ CSS.

Impact of making your site faster

Prioritizing site speed improvements is challenging.But there are ways to increase site speed, or perceived site speed. One way to get internal buy-in is to run your competitor websites through the WebPageTest tool and using the ‘create video’ function.

SuperOffice compared their site speed with SalesForce, Zoho and Sugar CRM. The test discovered that SuperOffice’s competitor sites were loading in just over two seconds, whereas SuperOffice took 12.8 seconds to load.

By watching the video comparison, SuperOffice could see that the flash was taking a long time to load. As a result, the flash banner was removed from the home page and a new video test was created, comparing SuperOffice websites – One website without flash and three websites with flash.

The second video test found that:

  • Page load speed WITH flash = 11 seconds
  • Page load speed WITHOUT flash – 2.7 seconds

This means that by removing the flash banner, the website speed improved by 10 seconds.

Their website now loads faster, which delivers a greater user experience. But how does this impact conversion rates?

SuperOffice compared the changes five days after the change with the five days prior to the change.

The result was that conversion rate increased by 88%, from 0.36% to 0.67% and goal completions increased by 78%, from 19 to 34.

Impact of Page Speed to Conversion Rates

During the comparison period, overall web traffic decreased by 4% and no other marketing activities were launched. The only change documented was the improvement to site speed.

Make site speed a priority

A slow website will negatively impact your business, and website users expect your site load within two seconds. A fast website is no longer a luxury or a nice-to-have. It’s expected.  And by keeping a slow website, your customers will turn to the competition.

Here are five steps you can take to make sure your website loads faster:

  1. Use the conversion loss calculator to estimate how much revenue you are losing
  2. Use the WebPageTest tool to compare your site speed against your competitors
  3. Send these results to the senior management or CEO to make site speed a priority

Once you have been given the go ahead to improve site speed performance, you can:

  1. Run your most visited 10/25/50 pages through a site speed tool to identify load time issues
  2. Have your IT team fix the problems immediately

Once your page speed issues have been fixed, you can then monitor the improve to your conversion rates.

Have you seen an increase in conversion rates since fixing your site speed issues? Feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.

The Complete Magento SEO Best Practice Guide

If you have a website, you will want to attract natural and organic traffic. And as e-commerce platforms go, Magento is one of the best out-of-the-box solutions you will find for optimizing your website for search engines.

To make the most out of your visibility in search engines, there are a number of techniques within the Magento admin you can do to increase the potential of buyers finding your site and making a purchase.

During the last five months, I’ve worked with a brand that has five websites in five different languages. The following explains how several improvements lead to an increase in organic traffic from 4,200 visits to 28,800 visits and an increase in organic revenue from $57,000 to $395,000.

organic traffic increase

Register your website with Google and Bing Webmaster Tools

Webmaster Tools provides insight into how Google and Bing see your site and if you have problems with it when they crawl your pages. Register your website in both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools  – Google will provide you with a ‘Google site verification’ tag and Bing will provide a ‘msvalidate’ tag.

Copy and paste the HTML tag into the Magento admin. You can find this under System > Configuration > Design > Miscellaneous Scripts.

webmaster tools field

Auto redirect base-URL to canonicalize your domain

It’s important that Google only find and index one version of your home page. If both http://www.example.com and http://example.com  can be accessed, your website will be penalized for site-wide duplicate content. You will need to redirect one to the other in Magento.

The default setting in Magento is set at a 302 temporary redirect. A 302 temporary redirect will not pass on any link juice so you need to change this to a 301 permanent redirect. You can change this under System > Configuration > General > Web > URL Options and set “Auto-redirect to Base URL” to “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)”.

autobase redirect url

Enable web server rewrites for user-friendly URLs

Having a user-friendly URL structure is important for both search engines and usability.In order to make sure your URL’s are user-friendly, visit System > Configuration > General > Web > Search Engine Optimization and set “Use Web Server Rewrites” to ‘Yes’.

web server rewrite

The difference in having a user-friendly URL structure compared to session based/ dynamic URLs can be seen below when we turned on the “Use Web Server Rewrites” setting, with the number of impressions in Google increasing immediately.

search impressions

In 2012, Atoll Paradise updated their URL structure to be more user-friendly and organic traffic increased by 350%. Over the course of twelve months this mean more than 420,000 visitors.

Prevent duplicate content by disabling category URLs

By default, Magento will use the category structure in the product URL. For example, a home furniture store may have a page URL www.mywebsite.com/bedroom/candles.

However, you may have products that exist in multiple categories. For example,

The best URL structure here would be www.mywebsite.com/candles.This removes the category in the URL. To change the URL structure visit System > Configuration > General > Catalog > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization.

You can then change the setting “Use Categories Path for Product URLs” to “No”.

category path

If you haven’t done so already, you can edit two further settings under “Search engine optimization”. Make sure that the following fields are set to “Yes”:

  • Create Permanent Redirect for old URLs if Url key changed
  • Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories
  • Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products

Using the rel=canonical tag will stop your website being penalized for duplicate content.

rel-canonical

Create and upload robots.txt file

A robots.txt file is a text file that help search engines determine which information on your site to index. As a default, there is no robots.txt file in Magento so you will need to create the robots.txt file yourself.

By having a robots.txt file, you can prevent duplicate content issues and hide pages from search engines that you do not want indexed, such as CMS login, reports and files.
A robots.txt file is set up for one domain. In order to install it, create a new text file in Notepad and save it as a robots and a “.txt” file. You can then upload the file to the web root of your server (ex, www.mywebsite.com/robots.txt).

Here as an example of a standard Magento CMS based robots.txt file:

robots txt file

Simply copy the above and upload to the web root of your server.

Enable “Index, follow” to get your website found in search engines

It’s common that when you’re testing your website before launching, you hide the site from search engines so you enable “no index, nofollow”. But it’s also common that when you go live with your new website, you can forget to change it to “index, follow” or any other option that prevents your site being found in search.

To ensure that your website is being indexed and links are followed, visit System > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head > Default robots “Index, follow”.

index follow

Create default Meta data to avoid duplicate content

As a default setting, Magento will leave your “default description” field blank, which means that both the default title tag and Meta description is missing. By leaving them blank, you may end up with hundreds or thousands of duplicate content issues on your site and Google will struggle to index certain pages.

In order to set a default title tag and Meta description for pages that have yet to be optimized, you can visit System > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head > Default description.

default meta content

Using Rel=alternate hreflang for International rankings

For International websites, you will most likely have similar versions of your website in multiple languages. Google has provided a way for webmasters to not be penalized for duplicate content by creating the rel=alternate hreflang=X link attribute. By implementing this snippet into the <head> section of your website for each page that exists in a different language/ website, Google will be able to show the correct language and page in the search results.

For example, if you have German websites for both http://www.mywebsite.de and http://www.mywebsite.at, you would implement the following snippet in the <head> section on both websites.

In order to get the most out of your International website, this should be implemented at page level site wide. For example, your product page would include a similar snippet:

By implementing these snippets, Google will then be able to show the Austrian page to searchers in Austria and the German page for searchers in Germany.

To implement the rel=”alternate” hreflang snippet in Mangento, visit System > Configuration > General > Design > HTML Head > Miscellaneous Scripts.

href lang

At nameOn, we saw that the Norwegian website, which had the highest domain authority, was being ranked first in Google for branded searches.

nameon SERP 1

Once we were able to implement rel=”alternate” hreflang on both the German and Norwegian websites, the German website was immediately positioned in the first spot, which has helped organic traffic grow in Germany.

nameon SERP 2

Implement Google Analytics tracking code

Although not entirely related to SEO, tracking website visitors and site behavior is crucial to your businesses success. You will able to track which marketing activity generates revenue and from which country.

Your Google Analytics profile ID will start with “UA” and be followed by several numbers. For example, UA-3465789-9. Paste your Google Analytics profile ID into the field and tracking will begin immediately. It’s easy to get started with Google Analytics and once you have created an account, you can visit System > Configuration > Sales > Google API > Google Analytics.

google analyticsgoogle analytics

For International websites, it is recommended that you implement cross-domain tracking so that you can avoid having your websites appear as sources under the referral traffic report.

cross domain tracking

Default home page title tag

Another default setting in Magento will be the homepage title tag, which is set to “home”. You will need to edit this into a natural title tag that summarizes what your website is/ or does. To edit the home page title tag, visit CMS > Pages and once you find your home page, edit the “Page Title” field.

default title tag

In addition, you can edit the Meta Data tab (on the left) and update your home page Meta description.

default meta description

Create an XML Sitemap and submit it to Webmaster Tools

Creating an XML sitemap allows Google and other search engines to find products, categories and pages on your website. It’s up to Google to determine whether or not your page belongs in the index but an XML sitemap will speed up the process of being indexed/ crawled.

To set up an XML sitemap, visit www.xml-sitemaps.com.

Once you have your XML sitemap upload it to the root of your website (for example, http://www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml), and submit the sitemap under “Catalog > Google sitemap” in Magento.

xml sitemap

You can also submit your XML sitemap to Google Webmaster tools and best practice is to include the XML sitemap in your robots.txt file too. Here is an example of how we included it at nameOn.

xml sitemap robots txt

When adding the XML sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools, we saw an immediate impact in the number of pages crawled by Google.

crawl rate

Conclusion

No CMS is fully optimized for search engines and you will always need to further optimize your site to increase its visibility. SEO is an ongoing process but the techniques used above only need to be addressed one time, which means you can instead focus your efforts on building your social media presence, creating content and conversion rate optimization.

By following the tips above, more people will find your website in search engines and this will lead to an increase in visits and higher organic sales.

Are you using Magento to manage your e-commerce and SEO needs? Do you have any tips you would like to share? Let me know in the comments section below!

Use Thank You Pages to Convert More Visitors

Conversion rate optimization is at the core of any website. You want your web visitors to convert, to complete a business goal, whether that’s to make a purchase, complete a web-form or find a contact number. There is a science behind it,which ranges from customer feedback, AB testing and analyzing webpage behavior. But not all improvements are based on scientific research – Some improvements are just about being that little bit smarter.

Whether you are business-to-business, eCommerce or non-profit, you will have a thank you page on your website. Thank you pages are prime real estate for up-selling and cross-selling and keeping your web visitor in the frame of mind of taking action and completing your business goals.

Improvements made to the thank you page

Up until recently, SuperOffice had simple thank you pages asking the visitor to wait until they were contacted. A simple thank you page is better than no page at all, as it serves its purpose of informing the reader of what happens next, but it’s a great opportunity to ask for more.

Converting thank you page 1

SuperOffice had more than 5 thank you pages that were available to be updated. The simple solution was to include links to CRM guides and white papers and suggest further reading.

Converting thank you page 2

An immediate impact on goals completed and conversions

The timing of this change could not have been worse as July is a slow traffic/ conversion month. Based on yearly trends dating back since 2010, traffic starts declining in March all the way through to the end of July. Since 2010, July has been the lowest traffic month of the year.

However, even due to seasonal trends, the results have been immediate. We can see that the number of goals completed have increased by 105% and conversion rate has increased by 90%.

Use thank you pages to convert visitors

By diving deeper into the data, we can see that we have almost half as many goals completed in the first 10 days of July compared to the entire month of June. And if we compare the first 10 days in June to the first 10 days in July, traffic in July is down only 1.4% but goal completions have increased by 17% (and conversion rate has increased by 19%).

The new thank you pages have been live on www.superoffice.com for 2 weeks and will now be rolled out globally. The next steps are to improve the conformation emails, auto-responder emails and ‘thank you’ pages for when a visitor has downloaded a white paper or product sheet.

How do you use for thank you page? Do you use it to cross-sell? Let me know below.

If you enjoyed this post, you should read:

Case study: Increased Email Marketing Activity Drives Online Sales Up 58%

Did you know that more than 294 billion emails are sent daily?

How many unread emails did you wake up to this morning?

Email marketing is big business. In 2011, email marketing brought in an average of $40 for every $1 spent and this year, US retailers are expected to send more than 258 billion emails.

The ROI of Email Marketing

Well, a recent survey held by MarketingSherpa asked participants to estimate the return on investment (ROI) from their email marketing campaigns. The response was incredible, with marketers claiming an average ROI of 119%.

Email marketing ROI MarketingSherpa

Schoffa, one of Finland’s fastest growing retailers for men and women’s dress shirts have seen their online sales rapidly increase since implementing a more frequent email marketing strategy.

Email marketing is a channel all marketers use, yet as much as 97% of businesses get it wrong. It’s common for brands to send one email to their entire subscriber list with a link to their home page and then expect sales to flood in. This is not the best approach to take and ultimately leads to a failed sales channel.

Email marketing is the most preferred channel

In April 2012, I wrote a blog post titled “Is email marketing still relevant in a world full of social networks?”. Due to increased social media marketing spend and an increase in the number of Facebook success stories, I came to the conclusion that email marketing was on its way out of the online marketing matrix.

I was wrong. In fact, a few months later, research came out that email was the most preferred method of marketing communication with more than 77% of consumers choosing email marketing as the preferred method of contact from a brand. The second most preferred method was direct mail with only 9%.

Email martketing mopst preferred communication channel

Lessons learned from the top 10 converting websites

One of the most insightful white papers I have ever ready is the Top 10 Converting Websites report from SeeWhy. The report explains why the top converting websites in the world are able to reach conversion rates of more than 35-40%! This is compared to the average conversion rate for an e-commerce site being 1-2%.

The reasons why sites could convert more visitors into customers include:-

  • Provide excellent customer service
  • Offer a wide range of products
  • Focus on customer lifetime value
  • Email marketing & Remarketing

By implementing the same strategy as Amazon, Office Depot and Pro Flowers (capturing the email address!), Schoffa was able to use email in a more strategic approach, which helped sales increase by more than 50%!

In the last 6 months of 2012, Schoffa sent 8 emails to their subscribers. During the first three months of 2013, Schoffa has sent out 14 emails. Your first response will be, how well are these emails performing?

The results of a sample of newsletters sent in in Q1 can be seen in the following table:

Email marketing statistics Schoffa

The statistics remain pretty consistent even though the frequencies has increased the subscriber base has grown.

What have we done differently?

  • We now send out one email per week
  • We send out the email on the same day and time each week
  • The emails are more text based than image based
  • The emails include a greeting and sign-off from the CEO
  • The sender name is the CEO’s name
  • The emails include multiple links to relevant sections on the website

The impact of frequent and personalized email marketing

The first quarter of the year has been exciting. Although the increased email marketing efforts were expected to produce great results, the overall performance has been beyond expectations. The results are as follows (compared to Q1 2012):

  • Subscribers list has increased 31%
  • Web traffic has increased 32%
  • Online sales have increased 58%
  • Average order value has increased by 245%

Capturing the email address of a web visitor is one of the first things you should focus on for your website. Once you have an email address, you can target more personalized offers to your reader, which results in higher customer satisfaction levels and increased profits. The days of ‘one-size-fits-all’ are long behind us and when implemented successfully, email marketing is quick, easy and highly effective!

How often do you send emails to customers? Do you think one email per week is too much?
Feel free to comment below.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like: