Customer Service Blog
    • You can now enable or disable individual choices from a product variation list. This can be done by opening a list variation, and checking or unchecking the 'Available' checkbox for the choice.

  1. You can now generate a keyword analysis report similar to what was available previously. This feature is available in Pro & Platinum accounts.

     To generate a keyword analysis report, you go to a page, click the analyze button, and then go to the reports tab. On that tab are two fields, "Keyword" and "Email".

    To get a keyword analysis report for a keyword, enter in the keywords in the "Keyword" field, and by default the account email is in the email field, but if you would like the report sent elsewhere, you need to enter in the desired email address. After these fields have been completed,  you click "Run" and the report will be generated and sent to the specified email address upon completion. The most recent report will be available for download on the same screen until a new report is requested.

  2. Example letter to send out requesting to Trade Links:

    Subject: Link Trade Request

    "Greetings, my name is_________, and I'm the webmaster for (name your website). I came across your (name their web site) whatever.com while surfing and I think we could both benefit by trading links. I have found that trading links is one of the best sources for increasing qualified traffic to my site. If you have any interest in exchanging links with me here is my information:

    URL: www.mywebsite.com
    Title: The Title of Your Website (no more 4-8 words)
    Description: The total description of your website. (no more than 25 words)

    Just email me back with your info, and let's make it happen. I look forward tohearing from you.

    Your name

    Webmaster
    you@emailaddress.com

    Make sure that you customize each email with at least the address of the site with which you are requesting the trade. Customizing the email will dramatically increase your response rate by communicating to the reader that your email is not a spammy form letter. Also make sure you get to the point quickly. Request letters that are too long won't get read.

    - Acceptance of your request will vary depending upon the quality of your search and the content of your e-mail offer. You should expect a 10 to 20% positive response rate. If you want 100 links to your site you might have to send out 500 link trade requests.

    - This is a continual ongoing promotion program.

    - NEVER be content to stop after sending an initial batch of link exchange proposals. The more links you trade the more traffic you get, and the higher your link popularity goes.

    Creating an Effective Link Page:

    - Use strong advertising copy and create emotion and a desire for other merchants to participate.

    - Near the top of your link page, you should invite other relevant websites to trade links with you. You should provide instructions to execute this, including which types of sites are eligible, what your link should look like on their page (URL, Title / Headline, Opening Statement / Description), and a contact email address where you can be reached regarding link trade requests.

    See ya next week!

    Robert Schow

  3. Stealth Linking:

    Many popular sites and vertical portals contain a forum or message board.Forms allow visitors to edit the content of the page by adding posts. These posts can contain links to your site!

    1. Search for forums relevant to your product
    2. Create an account and sign in to the forum.
    3. Add a link to your site in your signature
    4. Take an active and real part in the discussions on the forum.
    5. Ask questions relevant to your product and answer any questions you can.
    6. Each time you take part in the forum you will be adding a link to your sites for forum users to see.
    7. Search engines will count any number of links in a single forum as one link so don’t waste your time spamming the forum
    8. Forum moderators will delete your posts if they suspect you of advertising your site, so add value to the discussion.

    Stealth linking not only increases your ranking, but it also puts your link in front of a group of interested potential customer. Read the full explanation of Stealth linking in Merchant Services.

    See ya next week!

    Robert Schow

  4. Definitions:

    Blogs- A blog (short for web log) is a website where journal-like entries are made and publicly displayed in reverse chronological order. 1Forums- An Internet forum is a web application for holding discussions and posting user generated content. Internet forums are also commonly referred to as web forums, message boards, discussion boards, (electronic) discussion groups, discussion forums, bulletin boards, fora (the Latin plural) or simply forums. The terms "forum" and "board" may refer to the entire community or to a specific sub-forum dealing with a distinct topic. Messages within these sub-forums are then displayed either in chronological order or as threaded discussions.

    Beginning with Blogs, these are like personal journals that you can comment on different subjects. Blogs are a combo of text and links to other websites and other blogs, but there are other variations of blogs that are becoming more popular.

    Here are a few:

    1. Photographs (photoblog)
    2. Sketches (sketchblog)
    3. Videos (vlog)
    4. Audio (podcasting)

    i.e. MySpace, Blogger, Blog.com etc.

    The good news is that Google and other search engines are beginning to understand the significance of blogs, and are awarding blogs high Google Page Ranks, and high search engine rankings. This means that links that you might get on blog sites through stealth linking are generally high-traffic and high PR links. These links can increase you websites page rank. In order to tap into this type of Marketing there is two methods that are quite effective:

    1. Leaving your digital signature
    2. Adding a Blog to your site

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum

    The Storeonline Pro Platform allows you to add a Blog directly on your site.

    Follow these simple steps:

    1. Go to the Pages tab and then click on Forum on the right.
    2. Click the Add button.
    3. Name the forum and put a check in the Require Audit checkbox to make
    it a blog.
    4. Put a check in the checkbox next to the Allowed Group you would like

    the blog responders to be in.
    5. Click on Posts on the right, and then click the Add button to add your first post to the blog.

    Next, add this forum to a page on your web site:

    1. Go to the page to which you would like to add your blog and then click the

    Chose Element drop down menu.

    2. Click on Forum and then click the Add button.
    3. Click the Elipsis button next to Forum and click on the forum you just created and click the Select button.
    4. Click the Done button

    Since the only difference between a forum and blog is that other people havemore of a say in a forum, you can restrict what customers say to make it a blog.

    When you check the “Require Audit” option, you get to review everyone’s response before posting it on your site. This allows you to make sure their comments are relevant and that they are something you would like to display.

    After you finish accepting someone’s comments, or adding another one, publish your site. Search engines look favorably on this constant updating of your website.

    If you would like to create a
    blog outside of your website you can do this as well.

    These blogs can get you some traffic, and if you create an interesting one, andget the right links to it, then it can be high ranking. This kind of blogging should generally be done if you have a personal reason to do it, or were going to make one with or without your StoresOnline website. It generally takes time and effort to get going and you would only get ranking for one of your links back to your site. Some people like to add their

    blog onto their site. You can do so by adding an external link onto the page you would like your blog to show on.Utilizing blogs can increase visitors to your website and increase your sales.Adding a blog to your website or joining an existing one can provide feedback on your website, links to improve your ranking with search engines, and visitors that read the blogs and comment on them. Commenting on other blogs can be a fun and enjoyable way of increasing the number of incoming links to your website.

    Blogs are great marketing strategies and can be utilized in different ways as displayed above.

    Now I would like to go over Forums and the marketing that can be done there. It is easy to find forums based on the product that you are selling; you can definitely use this to your advantage.

    See ya next week!

    Robert Schow

  5.  

    Text Format

    · From this tab, you are able to administer over the forum, blog, or message board.

    Herein, you can add new posts to the thread, audit replies (posts) from visitors, rate the posts, and delete old or unwanted posts on the forum, blog, or message board.

    Add Post

    · To add a post to this forum, blog, or message board, click the Add button. Then you will need to enter the appropriate information within the provided fields.

    Audited

    · As you view the posts within the Posts submenu, you will see an Audited checkbox within each separate post row If you select the Audited checkbox of the post, then the post will be displayed.

    The Audited checkbox is only seen if the Require Audit checkbox is selected within the Edit submenu.

    Edit or Delete a Post

    · Click a Post Row, or click the row and then click the Edit button, to edit the post.

    While editing the post, you are able to censor the information provided in the post. This is especially useful in restricting or omitting objectionable content.

    Text Format

    · Herein you are able to edit the posts of the forum, blog, or message board.

    Audited

    · If the Audited box is checked, then the post will be displayed within the forum.

    Author, Title, and Post

    · The text within each of these fields is displayed within the forum. These editable fields give you the opportunity to edit any of the material therein.

    URL

    · The URL field allows authors to include a URL with their post. The text within the URL field becomes a link below the post.

    Once you have the information that you need on your forum. Click on Done. Under the main Site tab, then the sub Options tab on the right side. You will need to select the forum that you would like to you within your RSS Feed. And then you would need to republish your site for this change to take effect. But then any updates on your forum will automatically update your RSS Feed.

    See you next week!

    Robert Schow

  6. Steps to setup the RSS Feed through the builder using the Forums.

    To Setup your RSS Feed you will first need to click on the Site tab on the top and then click on the Sub tab Forums on the right side. Then you will click Add to create a Forum.

    Here you will need to specify a Name for your Forum and select from the following choices below…Options Through a combination of the options below, you should be able to effectively administer over the forum, blog, or message board.

    · Allow URLs This option allows users to enter urls within their posts and replies.

    · Rate Posts Check this box if you want to allow other readers of the thread to rate the posts.

    · Allow Responses This option allows your users to read and respond to the material in a thread (single topic).

    · Allow Threads Check this box if you wish to give users the ability to start new threads for others to read.

    · Require Audit This allows you, the administrator, to review the posts before they are made live, thus giving you full control of the content of the forum, blog, or message board.

    Display Type

    From the Display Type pull-down menu you have two options:

    · All Posts If you want to display the initial post and the replies (if applicable), select this option.

    · Root Posts If you select this option, you will only see the initial post (the first post of the thread).

    Allowed Groups

    If you have created groups (in the Customers menu), the name of each group and a

    checkbox will appear at the bottom of the screen. You can make this forum, blog, or message board exclusive to members of one or more groups by checking the box next to each group you wish to limit page access to. Remember that if you make a forum, blog, or message board group-exclusive, it will be protected by a login screen requiring a password. Consequently, you will need members of the selected groups to have a username and password so they can access the forum, blog, or message board. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a form (in the Forms submenu of the Pages menu) that allows visitors to register for a group and specify their own username and password).

    to be cont...

  7. This is for those of you who are using Outlook Microsoft. This Blog will help better organize your task through out the week or month.

    Adding An Microsoft Outlook Task

    Open your Outlook.

    1. Left Click on Tasks in the Folder List

    2. Double Click on the top line that displays the text “Click Here to add a new task”

    3. On the Task Tab

    a. Fill in the Subject line

    b. Select a Due date and Start Date by clicking on the drop calendar.

    c. Status can be set for 5 types Not Started, In Progress, Completed, Waiting on

    someone else or Deferred

    d. Priority settings Low, Normal or High

    e. Check the box next to reminder to specify a date and time you are to be notified

    for the set task.

    Note: The reminder will popup on the day and time requested giving you the following options:

    Dismiss

    Snooze-

    Open Item

    Snooze Time

    Note: How long you want the reminder to snooze can be set at the bottom of the Reminder.

    f. You can also set reminder to different sounds by clicking on the speaker icon

    located on right side of the time. The defaulted “reminder.wav” can be used or

    click browse and add your own. Click OK.

    g. Save and Close task.

    See you next week!

    Robert Schow

  8. Step 18. Generate sitemap.xml file.

    a. Go to “www.sitemapdoc.com

    b. Enter URL Here http://“www.domainname.com

    c. Click “Create Map

    d. Generating Site Map “Please Wait

    e. Click “Google Sitemap to Create sitemap.xml

    f. Click “Anywhere below to highlight all 277 entries, then right click, choose copy.

    Paste into notepad. Then save as sitemap.xml”

    g. Save this File as “sitemap.xml”

    Step 19. Uploading “sitemap.xml” file using “FTP” (File Transfer Protocol).

    Note: FTP or File Transfer Protocol is used to connect two computers over the Internet so that the user

    of one computer can transfer files and perform file commands on the other computer.

    a. Click “Icon” for Site Manager

    b. Select Site “4.0 or Pro

    a. Click “Connect

    b. FTP connected:

    c. Drag and Drop “sitemap.xml

    Step 20. Add Sitemap to Google:

    a. Login to Google Account

    b. Click “Add A Sitemap

    c. Select “Add General Web Sitemap

    d. Enter “URL” ex: http://www.domainname.com

    e. Click “Add Web Sitemap

    You have Added a Sitemap

    See you next week!

    Robert Schow

  9. Steps 1-9: Setting up and Logging into your account.

    Step 1. Goto www.google.com.
    Step 2. Click on “Business Solutions
    Step 3. Click on “Web Pages
    Step 4. Click on “Webmaster tools (including Sitemaps)

    Note: If you hava a google account you can login.

    Step 5. If not click on “Create a Google Account
    Step 6. Google Account Setup Screen

    Fill in the form Click “I Accept. Create my account”. Located at the bottom of page.

    Step 7. After form has been submitted you will received an email to activate you account.

    Click on the link “http://www.google.com/accounts/VE?c=-3608031673916271389&hl=en

    Step 8. Click on “Click here to continue

    Note: This action will bring you back to the Webmaster Tools Page.

    Step 9. Click “Insert email address and password and Sign In

    Steps 10-17: Verify your Site

    Step 10. Next Add URL “http.www.domainname.com” to the Add Site field.

    Click “OK

    Step 11a. Verify Your Site: Click Text Link “Verify your site
    Step 12. Choose Verification Method
    Click Dropdown and Select “Upload an HTML File
    Step 13. Copy Verification Code.

    Note: Below are examples for entering Google Verification File in 4.0 and Pro. After

    completing one of the processes 4.0 or Pro. Please continue with process by returning to

    Google site and clicking “VERIFY” to complete the verification of your site.

    See illustrations 16 and 17 below for completing verification.

    Step 14. 4.0 Site “Paste Google Verification code”

    Example of code: “google2af636d0199e7391.html

    Step 15. Pro Site Steps

    a. Add a page
    b. Name it Google
    c. Add Page Url
    d. Paste Google Verification Code
    e. Set as Default

    Step 16. Click “Verify

    Step 17. Verified Page

    Step 18. Generate sitemap.xml file.

    a. Go to “www.sitemapdoc.com
    b. Enter URL Here http://“www.domainname.com
    c. Click “Create Map
    d. Generating Site Map “Please Wait
    e. Click “Google Sitemap to Create sitemap.xml
    f. Click “Anywhere below to highlight all 277 entries, then right click, choose copy.

    to be continued.....

  10. MISCELLANEOUS INFO

    Firefox is the preferred browser for working with StoresOnline, especially on a Mac.

    To clear cookies and cache,, click on “Firefox” in the menu bar and then click “Preferences”.

    (same as Tools>Options in Windows)

    Chat support should work on newer Intel based Macs using the Firefox browser with no extra steps or downloads. It is possible that older PowerPC based Macs struggle with accessing chat support.

    If all else fails, newer Intel based Macs are capable of running Windows operating systems with programs such as Bootcamp (requires reboot), VMware Fusion and Parallels.

    See you next week!

    Robert Schow

  11. KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS

    Copy , Cut, & Paste*

    Action Shortcut

    Copy ı + C Cut ı + X

    Paste ı + V

    *If using OpenOffice applications for word processing, spreadsheets, etc, then the shortcuts remain the

    same as traditional shortcuts for the equivalent Microsoft applications: Word, Excel, etc.

    Selecting Icons/Menu Items:

    Action Shortcut

    Select a group of icons Drag the pointer across the icons

    Add an icon to the selection Shift-click

    Select adjacent icons/menu items in a list Shift-click

    Select or deselect non-adjacent icons/menu items

    in a list

    ı-click

    Miscellaneous Functions:

    Action Shortcut

    Switch between open applications ı + Tab; keep holding ı down and press Tab

    again to select next application over, or use arrow

    keys to go back and forth between the applications

    Hide all open windows (to open a file, folder, or

    application from the desktop quickly)

    F11 (press F11 again to bring back open windows)

    *See all open windows and enter a new window F9, (fn+F9 for laptops) and click desired window

    *See all open windows of current application F10, (fn+F10 on laptops) and click desired window

    To be continued next week Tune in.

    See ya next week!

    Robert Schow

  12. Thank you for joining us this week. We will pay tribute to all of our MAC users with some TIPS on how to better utilize your MAC when building your webiste. You will read about different ways you can approach ceratin tasks and find short cuts. Easy as 1-2-3.  

    Support Tips for Apple's OS X for Macs

    Using FTP/FileZilla

    1. Open www.file-project.org on your browser (accessible through the FileZilla link in the FTP

    help tutorial).

    2. Click on the “Download FileZilla Client, All Platforms” button.

    3. Under “Mac OS X”, click on:

    “FileZilla_3.0.1_i686-apple-darwin8.app.tar.bz2” if you have a newer
    Intel based Mac“FileZilla_3.0.1_powerpc-apple-darwin8.app.tar.bz2” if you have an older PowerPC based Mac

    4. A dialog box should pop up with “Save to Disk” selected. Click “OK”.

    5. The installer will then be downloaded to your the location you have designated for Firefox

    downloads (default location is desktop). Click “Open” in the Firefox downloads window.

    6. FileZilla will then be unarchived/unpacked and installed. The FileZilla icon will appear on

    your desktop, or in whatever location you've designated for your Firefox downloads.

    7. Double click the icon to open FileZilla.

    8. Click on “File” in the menu bar and select “Site Manager”

    9. Click on “New Site” button and enter the name of your site.

    10. Proceed with setting up the account settings as shown below (demonstrated in the ftp help

    tutorial).

    11. Click Connect. You should now be ready to drag and drop files from your computer to your

    site's directories.

    Shortcuts for taking pictures of the screen

    Use these shortcuts to take pictures of the screen in Mac OS X 

     Action

     Shortcut

     Take a pictureof the whole screen.

     -Shift-3

    *Screen shots are saved as files on the desktop. If you want to put the screen shot in the Clipboard,

    rather than create a file, hold down the Control key when you press the other keys. You can then paste

    the picture into a document.

    **You can also take pictures of the screen using the Grab application (in the Utilities folder).

    Take a picture of part of the screen

    Shift-4, then drag to select the area you want in the picture. To cancel, press Escape.

     Take a picture of a window, a menu, the menu bar,
    or the Dock.

    Press ı-Shift-4, then press the Space bar. Move the pointer over the area you want so that it's highlighted, then click. (To drag to select the area instead, press the Space bar again. To cancel,press Escape.)

    Taking pictures of your screen with Grab

    You can use the Grab application to take a picture of all or part of your computer screen. These

    pictures are often called "screen shots" or "screen captures."

    1. Open Grab (located in /Applications/Utilities)
    2. Choose a command from the Capture menu

    Selection takes a picture of a part of the screen that you select.

    Window takes a picture of a window you select.

    Screen takes a picture of the entire screen.

    Timed Screen lets you start a timer and activate part of the screen (such as a menu), and then

    takes a picture of the screen.

    Follow the instructions in the dialog for the command you chose.

    To see information about a screen shot you've taken, such as the size and depth, choose Edit >

    Inspector.

    To save the screen shot, choose File > Save. Grab saves screen shots as files in TIFF format. You

    can use the Preview application to view these files and export them to other formats, such as

    JPEG.

     To be continued next week Tune in.

    See ya next week!

    Robert Schow

  13.  

  14. Happy Holidays!

    We are approaching the Hoidays and I know that we will be spending our time in one paticular place in the Store Builder more than we ever have throughout the year! Can anyone guess?.....The Ordering rules. This is what I will be featuring this week.

    What better part of Ordering rules to begin with than "Coupons"!

    ORDERING RULES: Coupons

     Ordering Rules are a lot simpler than you first assume. They can be manipulated to do anything, you sometimes are forced to think outside of the box. Just remember that there is always a way to say yes to the customer, but you might have to “jerry-rig” it.  

    Coupons

                Coupons are fairly simple, depending on what the customer is trying to accomplish. Lets assume you are trying to create a rule that gives each customer a %10 discount when they punch in a certain “coupon code”.  

    1. The Coupon

    Products > Coupons

    On this page you can create a custom coupon. Here you can include the coupon code, details, fine print, expiration dates, sponsors and even an image. Make use of this, it’s there to show your customer how professional you can be. You can print these coupons out, or send them to your customers in the form of emails, or even link them to the particular coupon.  

    2. The “coupon code” Form

    Remember that, if you create a coupon code, you must also include this on your Order Form. You will go to Pages > Forms > Order Form > Element. Add an editable element and name it whatever you want to (Ex: coupon code or redemption code). This will give the customer a place to enter this code when they go to place their order. This will also play a part in how the Ordering Rule works.  

    3. The Ordering Rule

    Now that we have the code and a place for the customer to enter said code, we need to create the rule. Products > Price Sets > USD (assuming they are using a USD Price Set). Create a new simple discount rule, name it whatever the discount might be. “10% discount”. In the comment field, you may want to put in the expiration date so that you know when to come back and delete the rule. In the Form Element field type whatever the name of that element on the form is (Ex: coupon code or redemption code). Where it says Matches, type in whatever the particular code is (Ex: D35898FDS). Now, in the Adds field, type whatever the calculation is going to be. In our case it is going to be –10.00. But you will have to remember to change the dropdown menu from “Fixed Amount” to “Percentage”.  VOILA! We have created a simple discount rule.  

    Now, it’s not always going to be this easy, but there is always a solution. Sometimes you will have to create a “standard” rule and work off of that. Just remember that there is always a solution.

    See ya next week,

    Robert Schow

  15. MAP Price 

    MAP stands for Minimum Advertised Price.  This tool gives you the ability to show the MAP price until you get to the shopping cart, then the sale price will take its place. 

     

    Some manufacturers require their merchants to sell their products at a price that is reasonable, but they would like to control that cost.

     

    Minimum advertised Price works in the favor of the manufacturer because they do not want to sell their product for less than what it is worth.

     

    Merchants would like to sell below the MAP, but if their site gets audited and the prices are below the MAP they might lose their supplier.

     

    This is where the MAP price tool within the Store builder comes into play.  This tool is useful in different ways.

     

    Here are a few examples:

     

    ·         MAP is more expensive than the price that you are going to charge and you want to show the difference as people add it to their carts.  First they see the MAP price but when the product is in the shopping cart, the price changes to match the discounted price you would like to offer the customer.

     

    ·         Manufacturer requires that the MAP price is displayed, but you are allowed to charge a lower price.  As long as the MAP price is showing on the site, you are following the requirements of your supplier.

     

    The steps in using this tool is pretty simple, here they are:

     

    1.   You can add the suggested price on the Product Screen

    2.   In order to activate the MAP to show up in the product, double click on the specific Product.

    3.   Under “Options” there is one choice, “Use Minimum Advertising Price (MAP), put a check mark in this option.

    4.   Test the process; make sure the prices are showing up correctly, (prices showing up in the proper fields).

     

    After following these instructions, you have successfully used the MAP option in the Store builder. 

     If you have any questions about this tool,  feel free to contact Customer Support through the Online Chat or Call the Customer Service Line.
  16. Last week we discussed Site Review and what you should be looking for in a site and most importantly what you should have on your site. This week we will go through Site Navigation and why it is very importatnt. 

    This will teach you about why site navigation is critical to a website and what the benefits are in having an easy-to-use navigating site.  Here are the steps in creating an easy-to-use navigating structure.

    Site navigation is considered one of the most critical features of a website.  If web users are comfortable navigating through a website, most likely they will continue to browse and find the information they are searching for.  On the contrary, if web users have a hard time navigating a site, eventually they will turn to a different site in search of their solution.  Thus, if you want more users to utilize information on your site, it is crucial to design a site that is easy to navigate.  

    In general, most websites are similar to each other.  However, your end goal is to allow your site users to find their way around as simply as possible.  For example, when you go to a hospital, the main signs direct you to general areas, which later have other secondary signs to lead you to your destination.  In relation to the hospital analogy, websites should also have general links that users are interested in and then provide secondary links that specifically defines what users are looking for.  An important factor to remember is, don’t forget to keep the general link on internal pages to allow users to find their way to other general areas of interest.   

    What is the first thing you should think about when you plan your site or your site redesign?  Hopefully, you are thinking about the structure of the site.  One suggestion is to physically map out the pages of your site by using index cards and writing a topic on each card, then group them together on the floor or pin them on a bulletin board.  Another suggestion is to create a numbered outline with the title of each page and then group them together.  Whichever approach you may choose, either the physical map or the paper outline, it will serve as your foundation, your structure for your website!  

    How will simplifying navigation schemes affect your website?  According to the online Web Developer’s Virtual Library, there are three underlying benefits (http://www.wdvl.com/Location/Navigation/101/).   First, to increase the number of page impressions; second, to boost return visits and third, to improve your conversion rate (converting visitors into customers).

    How to apply it?
    Before designing a site, one should think about its structure.  To better visualize the structure, one could use index cards and write a page topic on each card then group them together on the floor or on a bulletin.  This visual can serve as a blueprint for the website. 

    Further, there are three basic rules in designing an easy to navigate site.  First, inform site visitors what is available on your site.  Second, help visitors get to their destination quickly.  Finally, make sure it is easy for users to request additional information. 

    Once the site structure is created, the site architectures should be tested with real users to ensure that navigation rules are met and the architecture is stable!

    Listed below is a list of general and secondary links that supports easy-to-use navigation:

    1.    Home a. Privacy Policy2.    Products3.    Specials Offers a. Free shipping for first time purchases.b. Free Monthly Newsletters 4.    Resources a. Tips b. FAQs c. Tutorials  5.    About Us a. General Info b. Testimonials   6.    Contact Us a. General Info  7.    Support a. Chat b. Phone options c. Live Help d. E-mail
    e. help links on  Sites


    Visit again Next Week!
    Robert Schow
    Storesonline Inc.

  17. Custom Site Elements: 

    Custom Site Elements allow you to further customize your site's navigation. The site elements are the small links that appear at the very top of your site, usually above the header. Until now, there have been pre-set links to choose from such as View Cart, Login, Order Tracking etc. Now you can add links and text of your choice to this section of your site. 

    Simply navigate to the Site menu and the Elements submenu, select Custom from the drop down menu, and click the Add button.  In the URL column, click the Ellipsis button to select any page from your site.  Enter the text that you want to appear for this link in the Name column. If you want to add text to this section that doesn't link to another page, you can leave the URL field blank. One example of this would be to display your phone number or some other important message.

     

     

  18. This week I would like to go over some very importanat information on what to look for in a good website. This information will better assist you in understanding what you need to keep in mind when building your website. Below is an outline and explanation of several different parts to your website. As you go through this information I would strongly suggest that you check your website for these things. In order for this to be more effective I would do them at the same time and make sure you check them off as you go.

    SITE REVIEW RESULTS

    1. SITE MAP- A site map is a page that is like an index of all other pages and sections of your site with links to each page, organized much like a flow-chart.  You will want to keep it simple with no images.  Having a site map enables site visitors to quickly find a certain section of your site and click into it without having to click through multiple levels or pages.  The larger a website gets, the harder it is to maintain 100% intuitive navigability across the board.  A sitemap is a safety net allowing your visitors a place where they can find a list of every page on your site.  A sitemap is also important because deep-indexing, relevancy-based search engines like Google follow all the links they find on a site.  If a page on your site is orphaned (not linked to) everywhere but the sitemap, Google will find and index it, giving your site another landing page.

    2. EMOTIONAL RESPONSE (ad copy) – Make sure your ad copy (text) is well thought out.  Use action verbs, write in the active voice and use words that trigger and appeal emotion.  Again always write in the active voice because the passive voice is much less powerful and effective.  For example, see the comparison below.

    Passive Voice: “Marked improvement in clarity has been experienced by our clients.”

    Active Voice:  “Our clients experienced marked improvement in clarity!”

    *Use Action Verbs: Carefully consider which verbs you use as you develop ad copy (or text) for your website.  Some verbs are more general while others are more specific and exciting.  As you write your ad copy, use verbs and adjectives that will heavily influence the mental image and emotional response you want your readers (visitors) to have.

    3. KEYWORD NAVIGATION- Using keyword navigation by setting links throughout the text or ad copy you create for emotional response (as noted above) is very effective in driving potential customers further into your site and onto product pages where they can place orders.  Consider making keywords and phrases used throughout your ad copy and other text into clickable links that link to a page or product in your site that each keyword or phrase refers to.

    4. META - Included on the page of HTML source code for a particular web page, there should be a small section, usually close to the top, of easily identifiable code called "meta tags".  Meta, in this case, means "beyond, transcending". A meta tag is information ABOUT the web page, but that does not appear ON the web page itself. Meta tags tell search engines about what the web page deals with. Search engines take the information included in the Meta tags and build the listing for that particular page. Meta tags provide information that does not appear on the webpage itself but that can be accessed by indexing search engines and by people who view your website's source. It is widely believed that meta tags can have at least some positive affect on page rank in relevancy-based search engines, if they are used wisely and appropriately. The three most important meta tags you want to be concerned with are: meta title, meta description, and meta keywords.

    To add meta information to a page, follow these instructions:

    To set up a meta title for a page, start with your pages tab, select the page you want to edit, open the page for editing, look for the "Edit" tab on the right hand side and click it.  Then look for the "Meta Title" box and type in your title info. For meta description and keywords, select the "Meta" tab on the right hand edge, click it, and add a meta element for description and another for keywords. 

    *Note: Your home page may already have a meta tag for description and keywords already in place.  Just simply edit those elements and fill in with the relevant info for each one. For more info and tips on setting meta up, see "Create Page Meta Information" under the Pages section of Help.  Also see "Relevancy Search Engine Optimization" under "Getting Traffic (visitors) - Basic" section in Merchant Services.

    5. UNIQUE SELLING POINTS/PROPOSITION (USP) – A USP is a subtle line or phrase that draws focus to a beneficial aspect of your product or service.  A USP is advertised in such a way that it implies you are somehow different from your competitors without actually specifically saying you are different.  For example, a recent advertising campaign for Sprint PCS used a USP that focused on the aspect of their network being “all digital”.  It seemed to imply that they were the only company that offered mobile phone service on an all-digital network; yet, at the same time, there really were other mobile phone service providers that were also set up on all digital networks.

    6. MAKE AN OFFER/BUILD VALUE – Always try to build the value of your product or services for your customers.  For example, create an e-book with useful tips or info on how the potential customer can use your product or service, place a value on it, and offer it free with every purchase being sure to emphasize the value they would be getting for free. You can also make a free shipping offer, etc.

    7. CONTACT INFO/800 NUMBER- It's often a good idea to designate a small space somewhere near the top of your page and at the bottom that lists a phone number customer can call to make inquiries and/or an e-mail visitors may use to contact you at.  An 800 number is suggested if you can afford it, but any customer service number and other contact info listed near the top of the page can increase the credibility of your site and trust with potential customers.

    8. PAGE LIST/LINKS AT BOTTOM –Adding a simple page list for all of your top level pages across the bottom of your site provides visitors and customers more convenience to navigate to another page after reading through the bottom of the current page without having to scroll back up to the main navigation menu for your site near the top of the page. 

    9. PRODUCT CROSS LINKS - Consider providing links to another related product or two on each product page, or to related accessories and use a heading such as "Customers who bought this also bought the following: (then provide links to a product or two).

    10. LINKS - Just continue to search for sites relevant to yours that you don't already have setup, and make attempts to contact them to request a link trade.  (Your site should be published before doing this though, since most web site owners will want to see your site before agreeing to trade links.)


    Visit again Next Week!
    Robert Schow
    Storesonline Inc.

  19. Definitions:

    Blogs- A blog (short for web log) is a website where journal-like entries are made and publicly displayed in reverse chronological order.

    Forums-An Internet forum is a web application for holding discussions and posting user generated content. Internet forums are also commonly referred to as web forums, message boards, discussion boards, (electronic) discussion groups, discussion forums, bulletin boards, fora (the Latin plural) or simply forums. The terms "forum" and "board" may refer to the entire community or to a specific sub-forum dealing with a distinct topic. Messages within these sub-forums are then displayed either in chronological order or as threaded discussions. Beginning with Blogs, these are like personal journals that you can comment on different subjects. Blogs are a combo of text and links to other websites and other blogs, but there are other variations of blogs that are becoming more popular.

    Here are a few:

    1. Photographs (photo blog)
    2. Sketches (sketch blog)
    3. Videos (vlog)
    4. Audio (podcasting)

    i.e. MySpace, Blogger, Blog.com etc.

    The good news is that Google and other search engines are beginning to understand the significance of blogs, and are awarding blogs high Google Page Ranks, and high search engine rankings. This means that links that you might get on blog sites through stealth linking are generally high-traffic and high PR links. These links can increase you websites page rank.

    In order to tap into this type of marketing there is two methods that are quite effective:

    1. Leaving your digital signature
    2. Adding a Blog to your site

    The StoresOnline Pro Platform allows you to add a Blog directly on your site.

    Follow these simple steps:

    1. Go to the Pages tab and then click on Forum on the right.
    2. Click the Add button.
    3. Name the forum and put a check in the Require Audit checkbox to make it a blog.
    4. Put a check in the checkbox next to the Allowed Group you would like the blog responders to be in.
    5. Click on Posts on the right, and then click the Add button to add your first post to the blog.

    Next, add this forum to a page on your web site:

    1. Go to the page to which you would like to add your blog and then click the Chose Element drop down menu.
    2. Click on Forum and then click the Add button.
    3. Click the Ellipsis button next to Forum and click on the forum you just created and click the Select button.
    4. Click the Done button

    Since the only difference between a forum and blog is that other people have more of a say in a forum, you can restrict what customers say to make it a blog. When you check the "Require Audit" option, you get to review everyone's response before posting it on your site. This allows you to make sure their comments are relevant and that they are something you would like to display. After you finish accepting someone's comments, or adding another one, publish your site. Search engines look favorably on this constant updating of your website.

    If you would like to create a blog outside of your website you can do this as well. These blogs can get you some traffic, and if you create an interesting one, and get the right links to it, then it can be high ranking. This kind of blogging should generally be done if you have a personal reason to do it, or were going to make one with or without your StoresOnline website. It generally takes time and effort to get going and you would only get ranking for one of your links back to your site.

    Some people like to add their blog onto their site. You can do so by adding an external link onto the page you would like your blog to show on.

    Utilizing blogs can increase visitors to your website and increase your sales. Adding a blog to your website or joining an existing one can provide feedback on your website, links to improve your ranking with search engines, and visitors that read the blogs and comment on them. Commenting on other blogs can be a fun and enjoyable way of increasing the number of incoming links to your website.

    Blogs are great marketing strategies and can be utilized in different ways as displayed above.

    Now I would like to go over Forums and the marketing that can be done there. It is easy to find forums based on the product that you are selling; you can definitely use this to your advantage.

    On the next page you will find great information on Stealth linking. Link trading is critical to increasing your relevancy based search engine placement. Unfortunately one of the new link criteria is that links from low ranked pages do not counts toward your site's rank or placement. This means it will be harder and harder to find willing link trading partners. The answer is stealth linking.

    Stealth Linking:

    Many popular sites and vertical portals contain a forum or message board. Forms allow visitors to edit the content of the page by adding posts. These posts can contain links to your site!

    1. Search for forums relevant to your product
    2. Create an account and sign in to the forum.
    3. Add a link to your site in your signature
    4. Take an active and real part in the discussions on the forum.
    5. Ask questions relevant to your product and answer any questions you can.
    6. Each time you take part in the forum you will be adding a link to your sites for forum users to see.
    7. Search engines will count any number of links in a single forum as one link so don't waste your time spamming the forum
    8. Forum moderators will delete your posts if they suspect you of advertising your site, so add value to the discussion.

    Stealth linking not only increases your ranking, but it also puts your link in front of a group of interested potential customer. Read the full explanation of Stealth linking in Merchant Services or refer to one of our earlier blogs in Feburary 2007.


    Visit again next week!
    Robert Schow
    StoresOnline, Inc.

  20. This week we will be touching on the Google Base Feature and Step by Step instruction on how to utalize this functionality.

    Google Base was formally known as Froogle. This is a tool that will allow you to easily submit all types of online and offline content and make it searchable on Google. You can describe your item with the information you would like included which is what your customers will see when you are found.

    Information below will allow you learn how to set up your account with easy 1-2-3 step instructions.

    Google Base Tutorial

    Please feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have.


    Visit again next week!
    Robert Schow
    StoresOnline, Inc.

  21. Calendar Feature

    The new Calendar Feature in StoresOnline Pro lets you add calendars to be displayed on your website. You can customize each calendar that you create with the details of special promotional events or any other important date that you want the visitors to your site to be aware of. 

    Start by adding a new calendar from the Calendar Tab from within the main Pages Menu. This is where you give it a name, description and details of events for any particular date. Once this initial calendar is created, you can then add it to any page of your site. From the main Pages Menu, double click on the page you want the calendar to appear on, or you simply add a new page. Click on the Elements Tab for that page. Select the Calendar Element from the elements drop down menu and click the Add Button. Click the Ellipsis Button to choose the calendar that you want to add to this page. Use the Page Help Buttons in the Store Builder for more information as you customize your new Calendar.

     
    Contact Information Page Element

    A new page element is now available to display your contact information. You can use this on your Contact Us Page or anywhere else that you want to display your Phone, Fax, Email and Address

    When you use this element, your Phone, Fax and Email display as an image. This helps reduce spam since automated programs used by malicious attackers will not be able to extract this data from your site. Only actual visitors to your site can see this information.

     

  22. Being able to find the right products that you would be interested in selling on your sites is one of the KEYS of being successful on the internet. Storesonline provides some resources that would help you search these products to find out whether there is a market out there on the net. Below you will find information on these tools and what the benefits are for each one.

    Note: It is important to note that the old search tool represented about 1/4 of all online searches and displayed results from one specific month. The new tool is a more complete representation of online searches so there is no need to multiply the results by 4. Also, the results displayed are the number of searches done in an average month.

    Another important difference to note is that the old tool would aggregate "like" results and would include terms that are similar:

    eg: for the query cheap financial advice, the old tool would record searches on the following terms in its results:

    "cheap financial advising"
    "cheap financial advisors"
    "cheap finncial advice"
    "cheapest financial advising"

    With all of these terms included, the old tool consistently displayed a greater number of results. The new tool does not group results in this way. The results for cheap financial advice are for that exact term only and will not include data based on similar terms like the ones shown above.


    Databases

    Global
    The global database compiles its data from over 32 billion keyword searches performed from over 200 different sources worldwide.

    Premium
    The more accurate Premium database bases its results on 4.3 billion keyword searches using user panel data. This data is free from skew caused by automated agents, a problem that has traditionally faced all keyword suggestion services. Typical search statistics report on popular queries, which are inflated by various automated agents such as search engine crawlers, rank checkers, and bid checkers. With these programs inflating the true search numbers, it is more difficult to accurately estimate available traffic using typical search statistics. The Premium database eliminates this problem, giving you a more accurate picture of the search engine market.

    eBay
    The eBay database contains searches performed within the eBay online auction network. This database lets you determine what eBay buyers are looking for. Popular searches on eBay can tend to be potential opportunities, and you can use these high conversion keywords in your PPC campaigns.

    News
    The news database contains searches from several major news sites and news portals, including Google news. You can use this database to identify and monitor current news trends, and adapt your marketing accordingly.

    Shopping
    The shopping database compiles data from searches performed at many major ecommerce and shopping sites. These sites include Amazon, Buy, Bizrate, Froogle, Yahoo Shopping, and many others. This data can give you insight into how your customers shop for products on major shopping sites, including which search phrases they use, what specific SKUs that are most searched for, and other aspects.

    UK
    The UK database contains searches performed on the United Kingdom regional version of several popular search engines, including Google.co.uk, MSN.co.uk, Ask.co.uk, Yahoo.co.uk etc


    • Keyword Analysis Tool

    The Keyword Analysis Report provides analysis of the keyword(s) you submit, and identifies other keyword(s), if any, which are being used in conjunction with those you have identified.

    Reports are generated in PDF format. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to be able to view the document. Click Here to download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Click here for an example report generated by the Keyword Analysis Tool

    Disclaimer



    Search engine reports are provided to you in accordance with the terms and conditions set out below in addition to the terms and conditions set out in the Authorized Use Statements. Please read those terms and the terms below before accessing or using reports. By accessing or using the report, you agree to all of those terms and if you do not agree to the terms, do not use the report.

    WE DO NOT GUARANTEE THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE REPORT OR THAT IF YOU FOLLOW THE TECHNIQUES DESCRIBED HEREIN AND THEREIN THAT YOUR SITE WILL RECEIVE TRAFFIC OR BE A COMMERCIAL SUCCESS.

    We do not pre-screen, endorse or recommend and makes no representations concerning any website referenced in a report or products and companies referred to on such websites. Reports may direct you to sites containing information that some people may find offensive or inappropriate. Sites listed in the report are not under our control and we are not responsible for the content thereof. If you access any of the third party sites listed in the report, you do this entirely at your own risk.

    You are authorized to access, use and copy the report and the materials only for the purpose of determining how to promote your website. The report may not be copied, distributed, modified, published or transmitted in any other manner or for any other purpose and any unauthorized use of the report may violate copyright, trademark or other laws. You may not remove any copyright, trademark or other proprietary notices from the report. You further agree to indemnify, hold harmless and defend StoresOnline, its directors, officers, employees, affiliates and agents from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses or expenses, including reasonable attorneys' fees, arising out of or in any way related to your access or use of the report.

    REPORTS ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, NONINFRINGEMENT, OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE. IN NO EVENT SHALL STORESONLINE BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF PROFITS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, OR LOSS OF INFORMATION) ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE REPORT, EVEN IF STORESONLINE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. ALL USE OF THE REPORT IS DONE AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION AND RISK.

    We may revise these terms and conditions for use at any time and you should regularly read these terms for updates because they are binding on you. © Copyright 2006.

    Visit again next week!
    Robert Schow
    StoresOnline, Inc.

  23. Introduction

    Product research is the key to success. In fact, the more you know about product research, the more prepared you'll be to start your new business. In this tutorial, we will discuss the process of product research and introduce the tools you can use for effective, in-depth research.
    Discussion

    New merchants often start out with what is potentially the most daunting of tasks: choosing a product. Many of us suffer from indecision and fear that we will choose the wrong product and be unable to sell anything. Almost everything on the planet is now being sold successfully online in some way. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can find your product. Here we will try to simplify the process and discuss a few resources so you can proceed from the "no idea" stage to the "ready to sell" stage as quickly as possible. Use the following steps and resources to help you focus your product research and narrow down your choices.
    Application

    Step 1: Brainstorm

    Take 5 minutes for association, discussion, etc. and come up with 10-20 ideas. Start with ideas with which you are familiar and don't limit your possibilities. You were introduced to this concept at the workshop. Remember the rules? No criticism allowed, not even of your own ideas. If you come up with an idea, write it down.

    Step 2: Narrow the Field

    From your brainstorming list, remove any ideas to which serious objections arise. Is the product dangerous or restricted? Is this a product you want to sell?
    Step 3: Reverse search Research the remaining ideas with the Reverse Search Tool to determine market demand. Eliminate the least popular ideas and eliminate over-saturated products. The Reverse Search Tool will tell you how many people searched the Internet for this product in the last month. This can indicate whether there is a market for your considered product. Think about it! The Reverse Search Tool tells you if there a demand, then Google or Alexa can tell you if that demand is being met. You can know in a few minutes if the product you have in mind has both a demand and a supply.

    Step 4: Google the Competition    

     

    Use Google to find other sites and companies selling the same products. Take note of the number of businesses you find in the listings. investigate their websites to see if they are true competitors in the same market, if they sell the same products but to a different market, or if they sell in a different way than you intend to sell. Remember, there are many ways to sell a single product.
    Step 5: Alexa.com Use Alexa.com to check on the competitor's traffic and links. This can provide an accurate idea of whether a product's demand is being met by the competition. If the sites you investigate are getting limited traffic (or sales) compared to the large number of people searching for the product, then you know that their website is either poorly marketed, poorly designed, or for some other reason, it is not meeting their customer's needs.

    Step 6: Eliminate Weak Products             

     

    Eliminate any product ideas that do not show signs of demand. Also eliminate product ideas with too much supply (saturated market). Keep in mind that Internet markets are huge. The market can support many competing businesses as long as there is adequate separation of those businesses in the eyes of the consumer.

    Step 7: Select Your Product

     

    Eliminate and research your ideas until you have narrowed your list down to one product. Then commit yourself to this option. Don't spend valuable time second-guessing yourself. Make a decision and stand behind it. New information can change your mind, but commit yourself to giving your business a fair chance. Most businesses fail when businessmen give up. All businesses will have challenges; those who never gave up are called successes.
    Summary

    Choosing a product is an intimidating concept only because it represents commitment. Once you choose a product, you must begin working and committing resources to your business. If you can make yourself commit and decide once and for all that you WILL take a chance and start your online business, the product you choose will not be the most important decision you've made.

    Visit again next week!
    Robert Schow
    StoresOnline, Inc.

  24. Operation DropShip Beta Tester Program

    We all know that one of the biggest steps to setting up a site is finding the product you want to sell. StoresOnline has a list of dropshippers in Merchant Services that would serve as a tool in assisting our merchants on where to go to find the products they are interested in.

    We have recently added a new link to our list of dropshippers called Operation Dropship. They provide IN STOCK drop ship products to your customers. They  normally charge $39.95 monthly for this service.  But during this limited beta test period, you pay $3.00 just one time.

    The Beta Tester Program is designed to allow you access to their tool and products in exchange for you feedback.  It’s pretty simple.  If you are willing to actually make use of Operation DropShip, respond to surveys, and email us feedback, you get access to our system for just $3.00 for six months.  To get started there are 3 easy steps:

    Step 1: Click on this link - Operation Dropship

    Step 2: Review the information they have in regards to services. If you like it please fill out the form they have below.

    • Login Information
    • Account Information Billing Information

    Step 3: Now you are on your way.

    If you have any questions on this please feel free to contact StoreOnline Customer Support.

    Visit again next week!
    Robert Schow
    StoresOnline, Inc.

  25.  

    Optimizing Your Conversation Rate
    (Google Adwords)

     

    History of Page Search


    - GOTO.com established Page search in1998.  GOTO later changed its name to Overture, which was acquired by Yahoo. 
    - Goto/Overture/Yahoo based its searches on "Linear Bidding" or "RPC" Rate Per Click
    - Basically stating higher the bid, the higher you will be appear in the search results.

    Google took another approach to Page Search. Google decided to focus on "RPS" Rate Per Search.  They focused more on Quality Score Based Bidding System. Scoring based on the following:

    •  Cost per click
    •  Click Through Rate
    •  Congruency between Keywords and Ads
    •  Historical Performance (If site does not have a history Google will use a comparison performance with relevant sites.)

     What is Google AdWords?


    Google AdWords is a quick and simple way to advertise on Google, regardless of your budget. AdWords ads are displayed along with search results on Google, as well as on search and content sites in the growing Google Network, including AOL, EarthLink, HowStuffWorks, & Blogger. With searches on Google and page views on the Google Network each day, your Google AdWords ads reach a vast audience.

    Google Adwords lets you create up to 25 campaigns per account, with up to 100 AdGroups per campaign as of this writing. It's important to organize your keywords into separate AdGroups to maintain finer control over the ad text for each keyword. If you had one AdGroup for the following keywords: ‘widgets', ‘plastic widgets', and ‘wooden widgets', then the ads created for that AdGroup would have to apply to all of the above keywords.

    If your ad text reads: "50% off all plastic widgets" and this ad is showing for the other keyword phrases in the same AdGroup, then someone searching for ‘wooden widgets' probably will not be inclined to click on your ad that is focused on people searching for ‘plastic widgets'.


     Google Adwords are set up on 4 levels


    •  Account Level: User ID, Password and Billing.
    •  Campaign Level: Campaign Control- a) Geography b) budget c) schedule
    •  Ad Group Level: Managing Ads
    •  Keywords Level: Manage Keywords for ad groups.

     Split Testing Ads


    Comparing two ad groups by sending 100 visitors to the two groups.

    It is critical to split-test your ads. Google Adwords has a built-in feature that lets you automatically rotate the appearance of your ads so different ads can be shown an equal number of times (or weighted more heavily toward the ad that gets more clicks if you prefer - you can change this in the campaign settings). The benefit of this approach is that you will be able to see which ad gets a better click-thru rate (CTR).

    Since Google Adwords rewards a higher CTR with lower cost per click (CPC), it is crucial that you know which ad has a better CTR. Sometimes just swapping the ad text that appears on lines 2 and 3 will make a big difference in your ad performance.


     For further information on this topic click link below:

    Google Adwords


     

    Visit again next week!
    Robert Schow
    StoresOnline, Inc.

  26. Content is also located in Merchant Services, login to Merchant Services and search the term "Blog"

    Blogs



    Introduction


    In this article we will go over blogs. A blog (short for web log) is a website where journal like entries are made and publicly displayed in a reverse chronological order. We will show you how to set them up, why they are important and how they work. Blogs can be a fun, cheep way to get customers and better ranking on your web sites, as well as feedback from customers.

    Discussion



    Blogs are online public journals that comment on the news or a particular subject, such as food, politics, or life events. Typically blogs are a combination of text and links to other web sites and other blogs, but it is becoming more popular to include photographs (photoblog), sketches (sketchblog), videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting). Blogs give readers the ability to comment or add feedback to a subject and interact with what they are reading. The word “blog” can be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

    The good news is that Google and other search engines are beginning to understand the significance of blogs, and are awarding blogs high Google Page Ranks, and high search engine rankings. This means links you might get on blog sites through stealth linking are generally high-traffic and high PR links. These links can increase you websites page rank.

    Three years ago there were two million blogs on the web, according to blog search engine Technorati. Today there are more than 70 million. The most popular blog web sites have huge numbers of people reading them. Engadget, for one, has more readers than most print newspapers and magazines.

    Using blogs as a marketing technique can bring visitors directly to your site from the direct links, but another important result of using blogs is to build link popularity and page rank. This linking approach is a free and effective way of getting lots of links to you without being required to link back.

    Application


    Two methods of utilizing blogs are leaving your digital signature and adding a Blog to your site. To join other blogs you can visit any of the following web sites. You will also run into blogs frequently online if you spend time researching various subjects that interest you.
  27. Battle Blog
  28. Blog.com
  29. Blogger
  30. LiveJournal
  31. MySpace
  32. NewBlog.com
  33. Open Diary
  34. TypePad
  35. Typo
  36. Windows Live Spaces
  37. Wordpress.com
  38. Xanga
  39. Vox

  40. Find a blog that interests you or has something to do with your website. You probably are already visiting sites related to your hobbies or interests that have message boards and these make perfect targets. The newest log will be at the top and there will be some button that will say reply or post. Click that and type your replay. Be sure to follow the conversation of the Blog and include your digital signature.

    Signatures
    A signature or signature file is a "standard recurring close" to messages you write. You will want to create a signature file that includes your website address the name of your site and a very short description. We need to make two signature file formats: plain text and HTML. Some message blogs will automatically convert a web address into a link; others will only display the actual link if the HTML code is written. Create both formats and save them in notepad or a word processor so that you have them readily available to copy.

    Here are examples you can modify as you see fit.

     

    Non-HTML Signature file
    Captain Jack Sparrow
    jack@pirategear.com
    www.pirategear.com
    Pirate Costumes, Replica Weapons, Jolly Rogers, Swag, Grog & More

    HTML Signature file
    Captain Jack Sparrow
    <a href="mailto:jack@pirategear.com" mce_href="mailto:jack@pirategear.com">jack@pirategear.com</a>
    <a href="http://www.pirategear.com/" mce_href="http://www.pirategear.com/">PirateGear.com</a>
    Pirate Costumes, Replica Weapons, Jolly Rogers, Swag, Grog &amp; More


    Remember the issue here is not necessarily to find message boards matching the subject matter of your site. We are not posting advertisements. We will be participating in the Blog conversation as a genuine and sincere participant commenting on the subject at hand. We just so happen to have a signature file that includes a link to our site, which is fairly common for signature files, and will not cause concern from anyone.

     

    The second way to get traffic to your site and get feedback on your site is by starting your own blog. You can talk about your products or any subject that has something to do with your website on this Blog.

     

    Other people who join your blog will leave you comments and might link to your blog from other sites. Running a blog on your website takes time to become successful but can be very rewarding.

     

    Storesonline has a built in feature for adding blogs.
    To add them just follow these steps:
    1. Go to the pages tab and click on “Forum” on the right
    2. Click add
    3. Name the forum and put a check in “require audit” to make it a blog.
    4. Click in the box next to the “allowed group” you would like the blog responders to be in.
    5. Click on “Posts” on the right, and “add” your first post to the blog.
    Next you will want to add this forum to a page on your web site:
    1. Go to the page you would like your blog to be on, and click "chose element".
    2. Click on "forum" and then "add".
    3. Click the drop down menu next to forum and click once on the forum you just created.
    4. Then click "done"

    Storesonline web sites require visitors to sign in to use the blog. See “Providing Usernames and Passwords for Password-Protected Areas” to provide these customers a way to sign up for log in information. (Click the Help button from any page within the Store Builder and then see Password-Protected section in the left margin.)

     

    Since the only difference in a Forum and blog is that other people have more of a say in a forum, you can restrict what customers say to make it a blog. When you check the “require audit” option, you get to review everyone’s response before posting it on your site. This way you can make sure their comments are relevant and something you would like to display. After you finish accepting someone’s comments, or adding another one, publish your site. This constant updating of your web site is looked well upon with search engines.

     

    If you would like to create a blog outside of your website you can do this as well. These blogs can get you some traffic, and if you create an interesting one, and get the right links to it, then it can be high ranking. This kind of blogging should generally be done if you have a personal reason to do it, or were going to make one with our without your Storesonline web site. It generally takes work and time to get going and you would only get ranking for one of your links back to your site. If you wish to use this method though you can set up your blogs using the sites referenced above.

      Summary

      Utilizing blogs can increase visitors to your website and sales. Adding a blog to your website or joining an existing one can get you feedback on your website, links to improve your ranking with search engines, and visitors that read the blogs and comment on them. Commenting on other blogs can be a fun and enjoyable way of building up the amount of incoming links to your website.

       



      See ya next time!
      Sean Guy
      StoresOnline, Inc.
  41. Meta Tag Overview

    What are Meta tags? This is information inserted into the "head" area of your web pages. Other than the title tag (explained below), information in the head area of your web pages is not seen by those viewing your pages in browsers. Instead, Meta information in this area is used to communicate information that a human visitor may not be concerned with. Meta tags, for example, can tell a browser what "character set" to use or whether a web page has self-rated itself in terms of adult content.

    The Title Tag

    The HTML title tag isn't really a meta tag, but it's worth discussing in relation to them. Whatever text you place in the Meta Title located in the edit section of a site page will appear in the reverse bar of someone's browser when they view the web page.
    If you look at the reverse bar in your browser (generally at the top of your browser), then you should see the Title tag used for a page on a website. Some browsers also supplement whatever you put in the title tag by adding their own name. The title tag is also used as the words to describe your page when someone adds it to their "Favorites" or "Bookmarks" lists.
    In review, think about the key terms you'd like your page to be found for in crawler-based search engines, then incorporate those terms into your title tag in a short, descriptive fashion. That text will then be used as your title in crawler-based search engines, as well as the title in bookmarks and in browser reverse bars.

    See ya next week!
    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
  42. I wanted to take a moment to remind our customers of the fastest, and most efficient ways to contact customer support. As you may know, we offer both live phone support and live chat support. Telephone support is an excellent way to speak with a rep on the phone to answer any of your technical or marketing related questions.

    Telephone Support is open Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm Mountain Time. The phone number is (801) 434-8582. We strive to answer our phones within one to two minutes. Most of the time, we answer quicker than that, but there are some times where the hold time may be a little higher. Please be patient if you are on hold, we'll get to you as quickly as we can. After your phone call with our support representative, you will be given the opportunity to participate in a short survey that will allow you to rate the performance of the rep. Your feedback is reviewed weekly and is very important to us to better understand how we can best support our merchants! (Note - on Thursday's, we are closed from 2:45pm until 4:30pm Mountain Time for training of the customer support staff.)

    Electronic support is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Electronic Chat support is also an excellent way to ask your technical or marketing question and you will also have the opportunity to request a copy of the chat transcript to be emaield to you for future reference. In the near future, we will be closing chat support on Wednesday's from 3am until 5am Mountain Time for training. We believe that training is an unbelievable attribute that all of our representatives will benefit from, which can then be passed on to our merchants for the best possible support. After your chat session with our support representative, you will be given the opportunity to participate in a short survey that will allow you to rate the performance of the representative. Your feedback is reviewed weekly and is very important to us to better understand how we can best support our merchants!

    To use electronic chat support, you must have Java installed on your computer. We have provided a link to Java, at www.myquickresponse.com, or you can download it directly from www.java.com/en.

    Have a great week!!!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  43. Often, we get requests from our merchants to be able to use FTP to manage their sites. I'll break this article into two sections, one for our StoresOnline Pro customers, and one for our StoresOnline 4.0 customers. If you're not sure which version of StoresOnline you are using, it's really easy to find out. When you login to StoresOnline with your license number and password, you will see for users of Pro, you will see "Roles" on the right hand side of the first screen. For 4.0 users, that tab is not located there.

    While we can't tell you specifically which program to use for FTP access, in Customer Support we use FileZilla, which can be downloaded for free from Click Here to go to the FileZilla download page

    For users of Pro, (see first paragraph if you are not sure which version of StoresOnline you are using.), make sure that you have the following settings:

    Host: ftp.storesonlinepro.com
    Port: 990
    Servertype: FTP over SSL/TLS (implicit encryption)
    Logontype: Normal
    User: your license number
    Password: your password (remember, your password is case sensitive!)

    For users of 4.0, use the following settings:

    Host: ftp.storesonline.com
    Port: 21
    Servertype: FTP
    Logontype: Normal
    User: your license number
    Password: your password (remember, your password is case sensitive!)
    Have a great week!

    Sincerely,

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  44. Google Adword

    Customer Service Contributor for this weeks article: Lipina Lolohea



    In the past, we have suggested to bid low and bid-out. This was referred to as a "linear bid", but Overture has abandoned this type of marketing and has moved to go along with what Google is doing now. The type of bid on sponsored links that Google uses is called "Quality Score Bids. There are four factors that come into play:

    1: Bid: Setting up the cost that you are willing to pay per click.
    2: Click Through Rate or CTR is a way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign. A CTR is obtained by dividing the number of users who clicked on an ad on a web page by the number of times the ad was delivered (impressions). For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%.
    3: Congruence: Would be the similarity of the words or phrases that you would use in your ad.
    4: Historical Performance: This is a history of how well your keywords are performing in bringing you visitors.

    Here's an example of how this works:
    The keyword we will use in this example isWheat Grass:

    Ed bids $1.00 on the word but his click through rate is 1%
    Sally bids $11.00 on the word but her click through rate is 10%
    You will have a higher listing because of the click through rate on Sally's bid.

    Google Ad Campaigns

    There are three parts to Google Ad Words:
    1: Campaign: You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business.
    2: Ad Groups: An ad group contains one or more ads which target one set of keywords or sites. You set a bid, or price, for all the keywords or sites in the ad group. This is called a cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) bid. You may also set prices for individual keywords or sites within the ad group.
    3: Keywords: The keywords you create for a given ad group are used to target your ads to potential customers.

    The first thing you do is research different keywords. Login to Merchant Services (www.storesonlinepro.com) to review the tutorials on keyword research.

    Next, break them up into campaigns based on the congruence (similarity) of each word to the ad words.

    I would not recommend having one campaign for all of your keywords because of the lack of congruence and the fact that you will be penalized by the search engines for not having congruence. Also consider breaking your campaigns out into several groups, doing one campaign for about 1,000 words can be a daunting task!

    Using Google Adwords, you should break your keywords into categories that best fit the keywords. Google will tell you how congruent the word is to that particular ad campaign, with poor, ok and great.
    If it's listed as "poor", you will be penalized and your listing will come furthe rdown. You can track this behavior with the conversion code that you add to the receipt of your order form. By doing so, you can see how much you make on each click and decide from there how to setup your ad word campaigns.

    Social Book Marking is how other people can see your bookmarks and can be ranked by Google as well. It will take you approximately two minutes to register on any social bookmarking site. After you have registered, continue to add bookmarks and your site will be fulfillign it's own marketing with this type of strategy. You will want to submit these bookmarks in a span of about two months, so take your time filling out the information or Google may become nervous that you are getting all of these links pointed to you in such a short amount of time.

    The same is true for live directories. Make sure your site is ready before you submit to DMOZ. For more information about live directories, please login to Merchant Services at www.storesonlinepro.com. Unlike Google Adwords, live directories such as DMOZ use live people to review submissions, not an automated process.

    If you are using Paid Live Directories, this strategy works well because they will actually send you an e-mail notification if there is something incorrect on your site and give you the opportunity to fix it before denying you entrance into the live directory. They will look at your site one more time free of charge, so pay close attention to any notification you may get if your site is not accepted the first time. Generally the problem is a privacy policy that is not visible on your site (that's easy to fix). For the free live directories, they won't tell you why it was rejected, so you're left guessing. Again, submit your site keywords via the paid live directories over the span of approximately two months.

    See you next time!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.

  45. Toolbars for Marketing Reconnaissance


    Customer Service Contributor for this weeks article: Chris Perry


    This document is also available in PDF format, which includes screen shots. To download this document, click here. Please note that you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download and view this document. To get a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader, http://www.adobe.com

    There are three toolbars that you should be aware of when doing marketing reconnaissance:

    Google toolbar - this will tell you the Google Page Rank of a page. Page Rank, as we know from reading merchant services, is Google's measure of the importance of a page. To evaluate importance, the page rank tool examines how many other Page Ranked sites are linking to a specific page, as well as the rank of the linking page (The higher the rank of the page linking in to you, the more credit you get in Google's system).

    The Google Toolbar can be found at http://toolbar.google.com

    Alexa toolbar - this toolbar is useful for several reasons: First, Alexa's traffic ranking tool gives a traffic ranking to the top 8 million visited sites. i.e. if yoursite.com has 45 visitors a day you might be ranked 2,000,000 or so, and if someoneelsessite.com has 46 they might be ranked 1,999,999.

    Secondly, it assists in finding vertical portals. The Alexa toolbar has a related links function. Once you have found one vertical portal dealing with your particular subject matter, related links will display similar sites, i.e. more vertical portals.

    The Alexa toolbar can be found at http://www.alexa.com/site/download/

    Note: the Alexa toolbar is not available for Firefox users. See below for a Firefox equivalent.

    Compete toolbar - Compete is similar to Alexa. It will give you Compete's traffic ranking for the site you are viewing. Their traffic ranking is the same type of ranking as Alexa's. It will also tell you approximately how many unique visitors a site has had in the last month, which Alexa does not tell you.

    The Compete toolbar can be found at http://toolbar.compete.com/

    For Firefox Users - There is a fourth utility that provides the functionality of all three of the toolbars discussed above, however it is only available to Firefox users. It is called SearchStatus, and their address is http://www.searchstatus.com/br>
    Taken from the SearchStatus website:

    "For every site you visit using, SearchStatus lets you view its Google PageRank, Google Category, Alexa popularity ranking, Compete.com ranking, Alexa incoming links, Alexa related links and backward links from Google, Yahoo! and MSN. This combined search-related information means you can view not only the link importance of a site (according to Google), but also its traffic importance (according to Alexa), so providing a balanced view of site efficacy."

    SearchStatus does not display as you are used to seeing toolbars display. It appears at the bottom of the browser on the status bar.



    See you next time!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  46. Private Domain Registration Available through StoresOnline
    As most of you are probably aware, the power behind having your own domain name when dealing with an e-commerce site is powerful. A domain name can build credibility to your site, and can make it easier to remember for repeat customers.

    At StoresOnline, we make it easy and convenient to purchase and maintain a domain name. You can purchase a private registration domain name through www.storesonline.com/domain for as little as $14.95/year, and for your convenience, you can register it for as many as 10 years.

    What is Private Registration, and why does it cost $14.95? Did you know that when you register a domain, your name, address, email address and phone number are immediately made available to anyone who wants to see them? That's right. Your personal information is exposed 24 hours a day, everyday, to anyone, anywhere.

    The standard Domain Registration fee is $9.00 (per year), privacy is an additional $5.95 (per year). Storesonline only provides Private Registrations, thereby protecting your contact information from email harvesters and DNS crawlers. This will help reduce the amount of spam and unsolicited emails and phone calls you receive.

    A Private "Unlisted" Registration protects you from:

    Domain-related spam
    "Moonlighting" home- or side-business identity disclosure
    Identity theft and fraud
    Harassers, stalkers, and data miners
    Privacy intrusions
    The WHOIS record for your domain will list Stores Online, Inc. as the Administrative, Business, and Technical contact, however you will still own the domain name.

    Price comparison of Private Registrations (1 year, .com):
    Storesonline: $14.95
    GoDaddy.com: $14.99
    Network Solutions: $43.99
    Register.com: $19.00
    We encourage our merchants to use Private Domain Name registration, which is similar to being unlisted in the phonebook. That doesn't mean your domain can't be found, but what it does mean is that your personal information, such as phone number, email address, etc. is secure and not public. This will protect you from domain related spam, Identity Theft and Fraud, harassers, stalkers and data-miners, privacy intrusion, etc. To purchase a private domain, the cost is an additional $7.95/year.

    If you purchased a domain name with StoresOnline, the name servers have already been automatically setup. If you did purchase from another company, such as Go-Daddy, you must specify in the setup for your domain name to have the nameservers setup as ns1.storesonline.com and ns2.storesonline.com.

    More information can be found at www.storesonline.com/domain, or within Merchant Services.

    See you next time!

    Sincerely,

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  47. Media Inquiries:
    Jeremy Roberts
    jeroberts@storesonline.com
    801.227.0004 ext. 4663
    Consumer Inquiries:
    800.230.1900

    Orem, Utah – Funding for over 3,000 students from Jordan School District to attend a screening of “American Pastime” has been secured, thanks to help from StoresOnline.

    The movie, directed by Desmond Nakano, tells of a Japanese family interned at central Utah’s Topaz Relocation Center during World War II.

    Rep. Sylvia Andersen, R-Sandy, believed that the film was important enough to make sure as many students as possible saw it. StoresOnline agreed.

    “It is important for our students to learn from our past,” Andersen said. “When I look at our world’s climate I worry that we could easily repeat the mistakes of yesterday. It is up to our students to make sure that never happens.”

    Andersen worked with the Larry H. Miller Group, who agreed to cover the ticket costs. But funding the transportation of more than 3,000 students remained.

    When no other donations came forward, she resolved to cover the cost herself. That is when StoresOnline became aware of the situation.

    “We saw a need in our community and stepped forward,” said Robert Lewis, CFO of StoresOnline. “We want to be good neighbors—this was another opportunity to help.”

    Sherry Wasden, deputy superintendent for instructional services with Jordan School District, was delighted when she learned about the donation. “It is important to our schools and students to have good corporate citizens, such as StoresOnline, whose contributions help make events such as this possible.”

    About StoresOnline

    StoresOnline is an e-services company that offers e-commerce technology, training and a variety of Web-based technology services to help small-business owners and entrepreneurs build and maintain fully functional e-commerce Web sites.

  48. Submitting to Live Directories


    Web directories are large, topical, searchable directories that differ from traditional relevancy search engines because their content is maintained by actual humans--not 'robot spiders' checking your site. Hence they are "live." Web directory personnel checks your site and decides whether to include your website in their index. Sites in the index are found by browsing, by category, or by searching sites in the index with simple keyword matching. There are over a hundred Web directories on the Internet, each of varying import. Nevertheless, your strategy should be to submit to all of them if possible. At this point, it should be noted that of the many web directories on the Internet, two are the most important. These are Yahoo! and The Open Directory Project. While you should certainly make efforts to submit to all of the web directories, these two are the foundation directories for several reasons. As discussed in the Link Popularity & Page Rank tutorial, Google values links to your website with differing weight. Links from some websites are worth much more than others. Links from Yahoo and ODP are among the most valuable on the Internet. Getting links from these websites can do more than anything to improve your page rank. Furthermore, links in these and other web directories will allow relevancy search engines to find you and list you, often much faster than a direct submission to each engine.

    Live Directory Benefits
    The real power in submitting to live directories isn't so much the link you get in the particular directory, but the additional links you get! Many of the live directories allow other websites and directories to copy them. For example, the Open Directory Project is the most important live directory on the web. The ODP allows over 200 (estimated) other major websites on the Internet to copy their entire directory. If you submit and are accepted to the ODP, it is only a matter of time before that link propagates itself onto the other websites that copy the ODP. Your one link really generates 200 links. Submitting

    Submitting to these live web directories involves:

    1. Going to each directory and looking for the "suggest a site" link, usually on the front page or on a page in an appropriate sub-category.
    2. Carefully read the instructions for each live directory, as they are most often more involved than simply telling them your web address, as with the relevancy search engines.
    3. Web directories often ask you to enter in titles, descriptions, a list of relevant keywords and keyword phrases, and other information.

    Paid Listings
    Some of the web directories charge a fee for listing, though even many of those that offer paid inclusion do have a slower "no listing guarantee" free submission option. Unlike relevancy search engines, web directories will never list you unless you submit to them. You should judge the worth of paid submissions on a case-by-case basis as suits you.

    See you next time!
    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
  49. Basic Link Trading


    To download this document (PDF with screen shots), Download the PDF. Please note that you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download and view this document. To get a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader, http://www.adobe.com

    Trading Links is the simple but effective process of two website owners getting together and linking to one another with the purpose of cross-promotion.

    Benefits to Link trading:

    1. Increasing qualified traffic to your site
    a. When you trade links with other relevant websites, visitors to those sites may see your link, click on it, and come to your site.
    2. Qualified Traffic
    a. When you trade links with other websites that share your target audience, traffic coming in from those link trades tends to be very qualified, and has a higher probability of converting.
    3. No Cost
    a. Link trading certainly does take time and effort, but it is probably on of the best free promotional techniques available. You simply can't exhaust the supply of potential link trade partners.
    4. Improving Link Popularity & Page Rank
    a. Search engines like Google care how many other websites link to yours. The more sites that link to you, the higher you go in search engine rankings. In point of fact it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to get effective listings in most relevancy search engines today with out effective link building.
    This is a fact. Link Popularity is a huge factor for Google and other search engines.
    5. Speed & Surety of Search Engine Inclusion
    a. Submitting to major search engines in the traditional way (learn more from the Submitting To Relevancy Search Engines tutorial) is slowly becoming less and less certain as a way to get your website listed. Far and away the most sure and quick way to get listed in major search engines is by trading links, especially with other high Page Rank websites. Google and other search engines will find your website by following links from that site to yours. A traditional submission to a search engine usually requires a wait from 3 weeks to 9 months depending on several variables, and there is no guarantee that your site will even be listed. However, by aggressively trading links, it is technically possible to get listed within days, and the probability that your site will be picked up is much higher than through a regular submission.
    6. Improving your site's content
    a. If you build a directory of links on your website (by trading links) that is a genuinely a great resource for visitors to your website to find related websites, your visitors will tend to return to your site, just because of the great link directory you have.

    The key to Link Trading:

    The key here is to trade links ONLY with relevant websites. A relevant website is a website that shares your target audience. If the website would be of interest to visitors to your site, and vice-versa. Then it is a good prospective link trade partner. Trading links with irrelevant websites is a waste of time, mainly because irrelevant sites that link to you don't share your target audience. As such the chances of getting qualified traffic from them is slim indeed. Your time is much better spent linking with relevant sites.

    Strategies to find links:

    1. Surf
    a. This is very straight forward. Go to Yahoo or your favorite directory, and start looking for relevant sites.
    2. Competitor Link Pages
    a. Go to the link pages of your competitors and look at the sites they are trading links with. If they are linking with your competitors, they are probably willing to trade links with you.
    3. Do a competitor "link" check on Google
    a. If you type in "link: yourcompetitor.com" in Google (remember the space between the colon and the url) and do a search, it will give you a list of websites that link with your competitor. If they will trade with a competitor, they are likely to trade with you too.
    4. Advertise
    a. Use some leverage strategies to promote your desire to trade links with other relevant websites. Advertise your link trade request in the free classifieds. Use your permission marketing mailings to mention that you would like to trade links with other relevant websites. Trade newsletter ads with other relevant newsletters and use that space to mention link trading. There are lots of possibilities here.

    Example letter to send out requesting to Trade Links:

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Subject: Link Trade Request

    "Greetings, my name is_________, and I'm the webmaster for (name your web site). I came across your (name their web site) whatever.com while surfing and I think we could both benefit by trading links. I have found that trading links is one of the best sources for increasing qualified traffic to my site.

    If you have any interest in exchanging links with me here is my information:

    URL: www.mywebsite.com
    Title: The Title of Your Website (no more 4-8 words)
    Description: The total description of your website. (no more than 25 words)

    Just email me back with your info, and let's make it happen. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Your Name
    Webmaster
    you@emailaddress.com
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    - Make sure that you customize each email with at least the address of the site with which you are requesting the trade. Customizing the email will dramatically increase your response rate by communicating to the reader that your email is not a spammy form letter. Also make sure you get to the point quickly. Request letters that are too long won't get read.
    - Acceptance of your request will vary depending upon the quality of your search and the content of your e-mail offer. You should expect a 10 to 20% positive response rate. If you want 100 links to your site you might have to send out 500 link trade requests.
    - This is a continual ongoing promotion program.
    - NEVER be content to stop after sending an initial batch of link exchange proposals. The more links you trade the more traffic you get, and the higher your link popularity goes.

    Creating an Effective Link Page:

    - Use strong advertising copy and create emotion and a desire for other merchants to participate.
    - Near the top of your link page, you should invite other relevant websites to trade links with you. You should provide instructions to execute this, including which types of sites are eligible, what your link should look like on their page (URL, Title / Headline, Opening Statement / Description), and a contact email address where you can be reached regarding link trade requests.

    See you next time!
    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
  50. Outbound RSS for StoresOnline Pro


    To download this document (PDF with screen shots), Download the PDF. Please note that you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download and view this document. To get a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader, http://www.adobe.com

    Setting up your RSS Feed

    To setup your RSS Feed, you will first need to click on the Site tab on the top and then click on the sub tab Forums on the right hand side. Then click on Add to create a Forum.

    On the next screen, you will need to specify a name for your forum and select from the following choices:
    Allow URLs: This option allows users to enter urls within their posts and replies.
    Rate Posts: Check this box if you want to allow other readers of the thread to rate the posts
    Allow Responses: This option allows your users to read and respond to the material in a thread (single topic).
    Allow Threads: Check this box if you wish to give users the ability to start new threads for others to read.
    Require Audit: This allows you, the administrator of the forum to review the posts before they are made live, thus giving you full control of the content of the forum, blog, or message board.

    Display Type

    From the Display Type pull-down menu you have two options:
    All Posts: If you want to display the initial post and the replies (if applicable), select this option
    Root Posts: If you select this option you will only see the initial post (the first post of the thread).

    Allowed Groups

    If you have created groups (in the Customers menu), the name of each group and a checkbox will appear at the bottom of the screen. You can make this forum, blog, or message board exclusive to members of one or more groups by checking the box next to each group you wish to limit page access to. Remember that if you make a forum, blog, or message board group-exclusive, it will be protected by a login screen requiring a password. Consequently, you will need members of the selected groups to have a username and password so they can access the forum, blog, or message board. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a form (in the Forms submenu of the Pages menu) that allows visitors to register for a group and specify their own username and password).

    Text Format

    From this tab, you are able to administer over the forum, blog, or message board. Herein, you can add new posts to the thread, audit replies (posts) from visitors, rate the posts, and delete old or unwanted posts on the forum, blog, or message board.

    Add Post
    To add a post to this forum, blog, or message board, click the Add button. Then you will need to enter the appropriate information within the provided fields.
    Audited
    As you view the posts within the Posts submenu, you will see an Audited checkbox within each separate post row If you select the Audited checkbox of the post, then the post will be displayed.
    The Audited checkbox is only seen if the Require Audit checkbox is selected within the Edit submenu.
    Edit or Delete a Post
    Click a Post Row, or click the row and then click the Edit button, to edit the post. While editing the post, you are able to censor the information provided in the post. This is especially useful in restricting or omitting objectionable content.
    Text Format
    Herein you are able to edit the posts of the forum, blog, or message board.
    Audited
    If the Audited box is checked, then the post will be displayed within the forum.
    Author, Title, and Post
    The text within each of these fields is displayed within the forum. These editable fields give you the opportunity to edit any of the material therein.
    URL
    The URL field allows authors to include a URL with their post. The text within the URL field becomes a link below the post.
    Once you have the information that you need on your forum. Click on Done. Under the main Site tab, then the sub Options tab on the right side. You will need to select the forum that you would like to you within your RSS Feed. And then you would need to re-publish your site for this change to take effect. But then any updates on your forum will automatically update your RSS Feed.

    See you next time!
    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
  51. Storesonline RSS Feeds


    What is RSS and what does it stand for?

    RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts.

    Users of RSS content use programs called feed 'readers' or 'aggregators'; the user 'subscribes' to a feed by supplying to their reader a link to the feed; the reader can then check the user's subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked, and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user.

    RSS (or Really Simple Syndication) feeds are free content feeds from Web sites, that contain article headlines, summaries and links back to full-text articles on the web.

    There are a number of ways to access RSS feeds. You can install a news reader that displays RSS feeds from the Web sites you select, enabling you to view hundreds of headlines at once. After installing the news reader, you can add each feed manually from the Web site by clicking on the "Subscribe" or the "XML" orange button next to the feed.

    Reasons to Put RSS on Your Site!

    · With Storesonline PRO it is very simple with easy steps to follow. You can even publish your Blog/RSS Feed on your own site.

    · Easy way to advertise your site, especially with that customer that will never subscribe to your newsletter because they don't want to give out there email address.

    · You will be able to post newsletters, as well as links to your site where you can also archive your newsletters for customers to review in the future.

    · You can post promotions of special offer, coupons or discount code for sales that you are offering.

    · Whenever a customer adds your RSS to there favorites, when ever you update your RSS feed. They will receive the updated information without ever sending out an email.

    · You will still be able to provide links going back to your site which is another way to receive traffic on your site.

    · You will also be able to use keywords in your RSS Feeds that will help get your site indexed with Search Engines.

    Take advantage of every marketing strategies that you can use to bring traffic into your site.

    You will only be able to view this RSS Feed by the following browsers.

    · Explorer 7.0 or greater - Download Internet Explorer 7.0: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/

    . · Firefox 2.0 or greater - Download Mozilla FireFox 2.0: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox

    . · Opera 9.0 or greater - Download the Opera: http://www.opera.com/download/ http://www.opera.com/download/

    . See ya next week!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
  52. From time to time, you may receive a phone call from one of our affiliates. The affiliates that we have authorized to contact our merchants are as follows:

    StoresOnline has a few select providers who are authorized to contact you on behalf of StoresOnline. These companies are:
    PMI
    EMS
    Mserve
    Express Village
    Training Solutions
    Tax Club
    ECI
    MSI
    Links4Trade
    NMR
    MRN (Money Resource Network)
    As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact customer service.
  53. We have added the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Research Tool.

    This tool is directly integrated with each PRO account and allows you to analyze your site, one page at a time. On the Pages menu, select a page and then click the Analyze button. Alternatively, you can edit a page and utilize the Analyze button found on each of the edit pages. There is also an Analyze button on the Preview toolbar that is shown when you are previewing your site.

    The SEO includes the following Tools:

    Keyword Tool The Keyword Cloud Tool displays the keywords on the page that will have the most relevancy in the search engine rankings. Keywords with a higher weight appear in larger, bolder letters, helping you direct your reverse searches and site development.
    Alexa Alexa is a web navigation program that keeps detailed records of its Internet traffic. Alexa assigns each site a popularity ranking based on the number of visits. Clicking on the Alexa tool will bring up your Alexa profile, with information about the Title, Meta Description, Keywords, Traffic Rank, and owner and contact information.
    Google Traffic Google offers a program called a pay-per-click ad campaign. When you sign up for a campaign, Google will post your advertisement in the space on the right and top of the screen whenever someone searches for a keyword. Google then charges a fixed amount whenever a customer clicks on your link. Many factors influence the cost of a campaign, including the positioning of your ad, the quality of the ad, and how successful your ad has been in the past.
    Google Trends The Google Trends tool displays two timeline graphs. The Search Volume graph tracks how many searches were done on a keyword in the past year, and the News Reference Volume graph shows the keyword’s prominence in the news. Google Trends also selects six representative News Reports involving your keyword(s) and displays them on the timeline graphs above.
    Keyword Distribution The Keyword Distribution Tool provides statistics for your site’s keywords, listing single keywords, double keyword phrases, and triple keyword phrases. This tool searches several different locations on your site, counts the number of keywords, and uses those numbers to calculate the relevancy of a keyword or keyword phrase. The tool displays keywords with the most relevant keyword at the top of the page.
    StoresOnline Reverse Search The StoresOnline Reverse Search tool provides you with information about popular search queries involving your keywords from a sampling of five different search engines. Reverse Search calculates its results by averaging the searches from the past 12 months that include that term and then dividing that figure by 12, giving you an approximate monthly result for each phrase.
    Ask Links Search The Links Search tool reports the number of pages that link to your URL. The Ask tool will report the pages and links from Ask.com. The Number of Pages statistic shows how many pages Ask has indexed from your website. The Number of Links statistic lists the total number of links from other sites to your site.
    Delicious Link Search The Links Search tool reports the number of pages that link to your URL Del.icio.us is a public book marking site where users share their browser bookmarks. The Delicious tool shows how many links from these bookmarked sites return to your website.
    Google Link Search The Links Search tool reports the number of pages that link to your URL. The Google tool will report the pages and links from Google.com. The Number of Pages statistic shows how many pages Google has indexed from your website. The Number of Links statistic lists the total number of links from other sites to your site.
    MSN Link Search The Links Search tool reports the number of pages that link to your URL. The MSN tool will report the pages and links from MSN.com. The Number of Pages statistic shows how many pages MSN has indexed from your website. The Number of Links statistic lists the total number of links from other sites to your site.
    Submit Link Search The Submit Link Search tool lets you find related sites where you will be able to post a link to your site. Select one of your main keywords from the Keywords drop down menu, or enter a keyword into the field to the right. Click the Run button to search this term for sites that will accept your link. Once the search has completed, a list will come up with the Title and URL of the relevant sites and a short Description of each. Click on the site’s URL to open a new window.
    Yahoo Link Search The Links Search tool reports the number of pages that link to your URL. The Yahoo tool will report the pages and links from Yahoo. The Number of Pages statistic shows how many distinct URLs link to your website. The Number of Links statistic lists the total number of links to your site from other pages. The Directory Links statistic lists the number of links to your site from pages in the Yahoo Directory.
    Yahoo Explorer Link Search The Links Search tool reports the number of pages that link to your URL. The Yahoo Explorer tool will report the pages and links from the Yahoo Explorer Directory. The Number of Pages statistic shows how many pages Yahoo Explorer has indexed from your website. The Number of Links statistic lists the total number of links to your site from other websites.
    Competition: Ask Search The links under the Competition heading perform the keyword search in various search engines and display the results. Select one of your main keywords from the Keywords drop down menu, or enter a keyword into the field to the right. Click the Run button to display search results from Ask Search.
    Competition: Google Search The links under the Competition heading perform the keyword search in various search engines and display the results. Select one of your main keywords from the Keywords drop down menu, or enter a keyword into the field to the right. Click the Run button to display search results from Google Search.
    Competition: MSN Search The links under the Competition heading perform the keyword search in various search engines and display the results. Select one of your main keywords from the Keywords drop down menu, or enter a keyword into the field to the right. Click the Run button to display search results from MSN Search.
    Competition: Yahoo Search The links under the Competition heading perform the keyword search in various search engines and display the results. Select one of your main keywords from the Keywords drop down menu, or enter a keyword into the field to the right. Click the Run button to display search results from Yahoo Search.
    Google Suggests Google features a browser toolbar that includes a search field. When you type a keyword into this search field, Google will open a drop down menu with suggestions of popular searches. The Google Suggests tool displays the suggestions for the keywords on your site. You can possibly increase your web traffic by matching your keywords to these suggestions.
  54. We are changing the site screens to be a little more intuitive. The logo side tabs will no longer exist and the forums side tab has been moved to the Pages Tab. Functionality has not changed, just rearranged.

    Key changes:

    • Design selection, logo specification, and site image are now all on the main site->design tab.
    • Logo's "image only" option has been renamed to "replace site image". When selected it will hide the site image panel.
    • The options under design have been moved to the options side tab.
    • The forums tab has been moved to the pages top level tab.
    • The site indexing will now place a message at the top of the page when indexing is complete.
  55. Meta Tag Overview

    What are Meta tags? This is information inserted into the "head" area of your web pages. Other than the title tag (explained below), information in the head area of your web pages is not seen by those viewing your pages in browsers. Instead, Meta information in this area is used to communicate information that a human visitor may not be concerned with. Meta tags, for example, can tell a browser what "character set" to use or whether a web page has self-rated itself in terms of adult content.

    The Title Tag

    The HTML title tag isn't really a meta tag, but it's worth discussing in relation to them. Whatever text you place in the Meta Title located in the edit section of a site page will appear in the reverse bar of someone's browser when they view the web page.
    If you look at the reverse bar in your browser (generally at the top of your browser), then you should see the Title tag used for a page on a website. Some browsers also supplement whatever you put in the title tag by adding their own name. The title tag is also used as the words to describe your page when someone adds it to their "Favorites" or "Bookmarks" lists.
    In review, think about the key terms you'd like your page to be found for in crawler-based search engines, then incorporate those terms into your title tag in a short, descriptive fashion. That text will then be used as your title in crawler-based search engines, as well as the title in bookmarks and in browser reverse bars.

    See ya next week!
    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
  56. We are making changes to the product screens in Pro. The main page when you edit a product will look immediately different. This is done to encourage getting a product filled out with the bare minimum to putting it online.

    Key differences:

    • The fields that used to be on the main page will be found on the new "Description" side tab.
    • The "Meta" side tab no longer exists.
    • The fields that were found on the "Meta" tab are also no found on the "Description" side tab under section entitled "Meta".
    • All field functionalities remain the same.


  57. Webrings

    Webrings are a unique way to promote a website. They are powerful, but not necessarily a great fit for every website. This article will discuss webrings, how they function, benefits they bring, and how to join a webring. After reading through this article, you may wish to see if webrings are an appropriate promotional tool for your website.

    Discussion

    A webring is a collection of websites that have organized themselves into a loop, or "ring." Each site in the ring displays a webring navigator that links to the next site in the ring. For example, a person interested in Model Rocketry could visit every single member site in the Model Rockets webring without ever having to go back out to a search engine.

    The whole point of a webring is that owners of websites can join together and share traffic. Basically, visitors can travel throughout the ring by going forward, backwards, going to random sites in the ring, or selecting specific sites from a list. Regardless of what the visitor chooses, he/she will visit sites dedicated to the topic of interest.

    Joining a webring is great way to increase traffic to your site. And not just random hits -- hits from people actively seeking information about a topic that your site provides. Users like webrings because rings pull related sites together into easily explored groups. Webrings create actively maintained virtual communities of pages on the web. One thing you need to consider is that you will have to dedicate some space on your website to display the navigation bar for the webring(s). Since webrings can generally send you some traffic quickly, you might consider joining them at first until other streams of traffic are established.

    Before trying to join a webring, you may want to visit and surf some webrings to understand how they work and if this promotional method is appropriate for your site. If you can not find a webring applicable to your website, that may be an indicator that your product/service/subject matter, is not popular enough to warrant a webring. Check out all of your competition on the Internet. There is a good chance one or more of them have joined a webring. If your competition has joined a webring, you might consider joining it too. Also think more generally. Perhaps your product offering is a subset of a larger topic. For example, if you sell aromatherapy supplies, and there are no aromatherapy webrings, you might look at alternative medicine webrings, etc.

    Application

    There are webrings for almost every topic; you should be able to easily identify one or more webrings that you can join. One of the best places to go to find what webrings are available is www.alt-webring.com. www.alt-webring.com and other similar sites, "anchor" thousands of webrings. They have an easy-to-navigate directory where you can browse (or search) available webrings by topic.

    Once you find a webring you think is appropriate, you should spend some time navigating the webring itself, so you can get a good feel about what kind of sites are in the ring. If you think it is a good match, you then apply for membership in the ring. If your site is considered a good fit for the webring, it will be approved. If it is not approved, you won't be allowed to join the ring, and you should look for another option.

    There are some webrings that are independently operated. Those webrings are not anchored by www.alt-webring.com or other webring groups, but are independent entities. You should also try using the search engines to find these other webrings.

    The process for joining a webring varies from ring to ring. However the process is usually very simple. After you have chosen the ring you want to join, you fill out an online application form. Your application will be reviewed to make sure that your site is appropriate to the ring. You will then receive some source code that represents the navigator for the webring, which you need to add to your website. As a merchant, once you receive the source code from the webring administer, simply contact Customer Service if you need assistance getting the code placed on your site. All you need to do is copy and paste the code into a new Text element. Once done, the webring navigation bar will display on your site.

    Sites such as www.alt-webring.com and www.ringsurf.com have easy to follow directions to help you through the registration process. You will fill out the online form they provide and will be issued a "master code" to copy and paste into a Text element on your site. After you have done this and published your account files, you can browse through the webrings and ask to join the rings you find most interesting and relative to your site. If accepted, you will be notified by email and your site will automatically be added to the webring.

    To remove your website from a webring, simple delete the code pasted into your Text element.

    Summary

    Though webrings can be a powerful marketing tool they are not for everyone. Browse some and see if they fit with your marketing plans. There are several ways to find webrings including sites that host and list them to using search engines. Once you find the webrings that fit, the process of adding them to your site is not difficult.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q - What if more than one webring seems to apply to my site?
    A - You can join all the webrings that are appropriate for your site. As you navigate through other webrings, you will see examples of websites that have joined several webrings. However, since joining a webring requires you to dedicate valuable real estate on your site to the navigation bar, there is a practical limit to how many webrings you want to join. Typically more than three makes an overly cluttered site.

    Q - What kind of traffic can I expect from a webring?
    A - Webrings are built for generating traffic. The size of the webring, the relative popularity of the subject matter, and other variables affect the amount of traffic you may receive. However, generally speaking, webrings will bring you traffic right away. Most sites in a webring can expect from as little as five unique visitors a week, up to several hundred unique visitors per day, depending again, on the above variables. When you join a webring, look for webrings with the most members. Q - What if I want to put the webring navigator on a page other than my Home page?
    A - That depends on the webring. Some webrings are strict and insist that the navigator be on the front page. Other webrings will allow you to put the navigator on a "links" page.

    Should you have any questions or comments about using or setting up your Webrings, please don't hesitate to contact customer support. As always, we can be reached via any of the following methods:

    Telephone Support: (801) 434-8582 Monday - Friday 7am - 6pm Mountain Time
    Electronic Support: www.myquickresponse.com. available 24x7.

    See you next time!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  58. The WorldPay payment processor has been added to Pro. Note that WorldPay is also a payment type (like eNETS or PayPal). If WorldPay is your processor, you don't set up credit card payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, Discover, etc. since WorldPay takes care of the payment details on their site.
    • META-Description on individual Product screens - this will be used if the meta-description tag is not used on the page where the product is listed. If the meta-description tag is not specified on the product, the summary will be used in it's place.

    • Advanced tab of Pages and Backgrounds - we have always had a field for "head" - we now have a new field for "body".
      The head field is used to place any markup in the html document's tag. This content will follow any content generated by the builder. The tag is intended to contain "meta" content, and should not contain any content that is intended to be visible to the visitor. Content in this field will be placed directly above the tag.
      The body field is used to place any markup in the html document's tag - consequently the visible markup of the document. This content will precede any content generated by the builder, including all banners, headers and navigation that is generated by the builder. Content in this field will be placed directly below the tag.

  59. This week we are going to cover using the Google Site Map feature with your StoresOnline account.

    What is a Google sitemap and why should I have one?

    A Sitemap is an XML file, which lets you tell Google about all the pages on your site, and optionally, information about those pages, such as which are most important and how often they change. By submitting a Sitemap file, you can take control of the first part of the crawling/indexing processes: Google’s discovery of the pages.

    Sitemaps helps speed up the discovery of your pages, which is an important first step in crawling and indexing your pages, but there are many other factors that influence the crawling/indexing processes. Sitemaps lets you tell Google information about your pages (which ones you think are most important, how often the pages change), so you can have a voice in these subsequent steps.

    There are a couple of documents which I will provide to you in PDF format. In order to view PDF files, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    The first document is the overview document that will show you how to Verify your site with Google and Create/Upload your Google Sitemap. To download this document, click here.

    Why verify and add a Google Sitemap?

    By verifying your site, you can access comprehensive statistics and crawl errors about the pages in your site.

    The second document will walk you through step-by-step how to establish your sitemap with Google. This document is 22 pages long. To download this document, click here.

    Should you have any questions or comments about using or setting up your Sitemap, please don't hesitate to contact customer support. As always, we can be reached via any of the following methods:

    Telephone Support: (801) 434-8582 Monday - Friday 7am - 6pm Mountain Time
    Electronic Support: www.myquickresponse.com. available 24x7.

    See you next time!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  60. This week we're going to cover Stealth Linking and Contextual Links.

    Stealth linking:

    Many popular sites and vertical portals contain a forum or message board. Forms allow visitors to edit the content of the page by adding posts. These posts can contain links to your site!

    1. Search for forums relevant to your product.
    2. Create an account and sign in to the forum.
    3. Add a link to your site in your signature.
    4. Take an active and real part in the discussions on the forum.
    5. Ask questions relevant to your product and answer any questions you can.
    6. Each time you take part in the forum you will be adding a link to your sites for forum users to see.
    7. Search engines will count any number of links in a single forum as one link so don’t waste your time spamming the forum.
    8. Forum moderators will delete your posts if they suspect you of advertising your site, so add value to the discussion.


    Stealth linking not only increases your ranking, but it also puts your link in front of a group of interested potential customers. Read the full explanation of Stealth linking in Merchant Services.

    Contextual Linking:

    Contextual linking is simply placing links within the text of the page. Placing the link ‘in context’ rather than simply on a list makes these links more user friendly since they are found in context thus making more sense to the reader, as well as more search engine friendly because they are surrounded by other relevant keywords. In your welcome paragraph you typically have several keywords.

    Major RSE’s like Google have made it known that contextual links are an important way to link products and informational pages together. Google prefers the use of contextual links over more traditional listed links because the context around the link supports its relevancy

    . It also avoids the common practice of using endless lists of pasted-in links to bolster your site’s perceived popularity. Contextual linking shows that not only does your site have the information, but you have also linked to other sites and pages that support that information.

    Whenever you have a descriptive paragraph on any page you can and should link the keywords within your text. You may link keywords or phrases to pages, categories, products or even your link trading partner’s pages.
    Doing so will not only make your site more usable, but it will be looked at in a better light by search engines indexing your site.

    You can see a good example of contextual links by viewing any article in Wikipedia.com.
    Each entry has pages of information with all the keywords linked to pages that define and explain that concept. Any article you read on Wikipedia links you to all of the information you need to fully understand what you have read.
    This week we're going to cover Stealth Linking and Contextual Links.

    See you next time!
    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  61. I wanted to take a moment to remind our customers of the fastest, and most efficient ways to contact customer support. As you may know, we offer both live phone support and live chat support. Telephone support is an excellent way to speak with a rep on the phone to answer any of your technical or marketing related questions.

    Telephone Support is open Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm Mountain Time. The phone number is (801) 434-8582. We strive to answer our phones within one to two minutes. Most of the time, we answer quicker than that, but there are some times where the hold time may be a little higher. Please be patient if you are on hold, we'll get to you as quickly as we can. After your phone call with our support representative, you will be given the opportunity to participate in a short survey that will allow you to rate the performance of the rep. Your feedback is reviewed weekly and is very important to us to better understand how we can best support our merchants! (Note - on Thursday's, we are closed from 2:45pm until 4:30pm Mountain Time for training of the customer support staff.)

    Electronic support is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Electronic Chat support is also an excellent way to ask your technical or marketing question and you will also have the opportunity to request a copy of the chat transcript to be emaield to you for future reference. In the near future, we will be closing chat support on Wednesday's from 3am until 5am Mountain Time for training. We believe that training is an unbelievable attribute that all of our representatives will benefit from, which can then be passed on to our merchants for the best possible support. After your chat session with our support representative, you will be given the opportunity to participate in a short survey that will allow you to rate the performance of the representative. Your feedback is reviewed weekly and is very important to us to better understand how we can best support our merchants!

    To use electronic chat support, you must have Java installed on your computer. We have provided a link to Java, at www.myquickresponse.com, or you can download it directly from www.java.com/en.

    Have a great week!!!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  62. Over the last several years, a lot of our merchants have requested the ability to calculate taxes by County rather than, or in addition to by Zipcode. We have done a lot of research regarding this ability, and have determined that it is not feasible to implement such a feature at this time. First, it would require a huge database of counties and their corresponding zip+4 codes. Secondly, boundaries within counties tend to change on a fairly regular basis, and without direct communication with the State and County agencies it would be next to impossible to determine the proper tax code to use and keep up with the changes.

    We certainly do value suggestions from our customer base, and we try our best to implement them based on the costs that are involved as well as the benefit to our merchants, unfortunately the costs as well as the upkeep would keep us from implementing such a feature.

    Have a great week and a safe Holiday Season!

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  63. Often, we get requests from our merchants to be able to use FTP to manage their sites. I'll break this article into two sections, one for our StoresOnline Pro customers, and one for our StoresOnline 4.0 customers. If you purchased with us prior to 2006, you're using StoresOnline 4.0 in most cases. If you're not sure which version of StoresOnline you are using, it's really easy to find out. When you login to StoresOnline with your license number and password, you will see for users of Pro, you will see "Roles" on the right hand side of the first screen. For 4.0 users, that tab is not located there.

    While we can't tell you specifically which program to use for FTP access, in Customer Support we use FileZilla, which can be downloaded for free from www.download.com.

    For users of Pro, (see first paragraph if you are not sure which version of StoresOnline you are using.), make sure that you have the following settings:

    Host: ftp.storesonlinepro.com
    Port: 990
    Servertype: FTP over SSL/TLS (implicit encryption)
    Logontype: Normal
    User: your license number
    Password: your password (remember, your password is case sensitive!)

    For users of 4.0, use the following settings:

    Host: ftp.storesonline.com
    Port: 21
    Servertype: FTP
    Logontype: Normal
    User: your license number
    Password: your password (remember, your password is case sensitive!)
    Have a great week!

    Sincerely,

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  64. Broken Link

    Under the Stats menu, Broken Links submenu, you can see what requests have been made to your site that could not be fulfilled. This means someone got a "Page Not Found" or 404 error. This is useful in letting you know if someone has linked to your site and the link is no longer valid. The referrer is also listed so you know the source of the link (search engine, affiliate site, etc.). After you have resolved a link problem, you may delete the record of that bad link on that page. Broken Link information is automatically removed after 30 days of the event.

    Note: Requests for /robots.txt and /favicon.ico are ignored, as they are frequently requested, but are not errors. We want to reduce the "noise" of the Broken Links information.
    Page Redirects Under the Page menu, Redirects submenu, you can set up a list of redirects for your site. These redirects are used in the case where a "Page Not Found" would have been generated, but you want to tell the visitor's web browser that "it's not here, but go to this page instead". This is helpful if you had a product or page indexed by a search engine like Google, but that product or page no longer exists. Instead of giving your visitor the message "Page Not Found", you can redirect them to an appropriate or related page. If you renamed a product SKU, you may find that some people are clicking links on search engines to view your original SKU. Setting up a Page Redirect will allow you to map your old SKU to the new SKU and your customers still get to the same information, avoiding the "Page Not Found" situation.
  65. As most of you are probably aware, the power behind having your own domain name when dealing with an e-commerce site is powerful. A domain name can build credibility to your site, and can make it easier to remember for repeat customers. At StoresOnline, we make it easy and convenient to purchase and maintain a domain name. Most domain names can be registered for as much as $20.00/year, and as of today, the cost is $9.00/year.

    We encourage our merchants to use Private Domain Name registration, which is similar to being unlisted in the phonebook. That doesn't mean your domain can't be found, but what it does mean is that your personal information, such as phone number, email address, etc. is secure and not public. This will protect you from domain related spam, Identity Theft and Fraud, harassers, stalkers and data-miners, privacy intrusion, etc. To purchase a private domain, the cost is an additional $7.95/year.

    If you purchased a domain name with StoresOnline, the name servers have already been automatically setup. If you did purchase from another company, such as Go-Daddy, you must specify in the setup for your domain name to have the nameservers setup as ns1.storesonline.com and ns2.storesonline.com.

    More information can be found at www.storesonline.com/domain, or within Merchant Services.

    Have a great week!

    Sincerely,

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  66. My thoughts this week have turned to the Holiday rush. I heard a news report over the weekend that talked about how Black Friday was so very important to traditional brick and mortar stores, but how the following Monday and up until the day or so before the Christmas Holiday, most of the attention from those who would rather avoid the holiday rushes and traffic turn to the Internet.

    This is where you online merchants come in. By following the steps that we have outlined in Merchant Services, including the article that I highlighted last week, titled "Taking the Plunge", among all of the other sources, everybody will be able to get their sites marketed specifically to the holiday crowds.

    By having an emphasis on "Free shipping on orders over dollar amounts" this may entice some of your potential customers to take action and buy! One of the great tutorials that we have on Merchant Services is under the Promotional Action Plan, and is titled "Website Promotion Overview." I would recommend giving this a good read through and taking action on your side.

    See you next week!

    Sincerely,

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    StoresOnline, Inc.
  67. In last weeks posting, we talked about getting started – this week, we’ll expand on that, and I’ll introduce a new article that we have just put into Merchant Services which goes hand-in-hand with the concept of “Taking the Plunge.”

    Are you nervous about getting started? Have you ever heard the term “take the plunge”? Rest assured, in customer service we hear from people from all walks of life who are in various stages of getting started. In Merchant Services, if you click on “Creating Your Website (Version 1.0) to collapse it, you will see that we have a new article titled ‘Taking the Plunge’ Your Web site Version 1.0.

    I’m going to borrow some content from this article and expand upon it. The introduction starts out by talking about the phrase “Executive decision”, and how it implies that this decision maker is somebody who can see an opportunity and take action without any hesitation.

    The hardest part of building a website is putting it out there for the whole world to see. If you don’t put your site out there, and you don’t do the marketing on your site, you cannot make any money.

    I would encourage everybody to read this article in Merchant Services and see just how we have simplified the process of getting your 1.0 version of your site out there and live. We have also included a checklist for your first site to ensure that you have all of the key areas of a successful site present. After you have completed the checklist, feel free to contact customer service and they will be more than happy to do another site review as well for you.

    Thanks,

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    Stores Online, Inc.
    (801) 227-0004
  68. The following Payment Processors are available on StoresonlinePro:

    BuyLine https://www.buylineplus.co.nz/bnz/merchants/
    Optimal http://www.optimalpayments.com/
    YourPay https://www.yourpay.com/
    Authorizenet http://www.authorize.net/
    ECI-Pay https://www.eci-pay.com/
    PayPal https://www.paypal.com/
    Website Payments Pro(PayPal Pro) https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_wp-pro-overview-outside
    eNETS https://www.enetspayments.com.sg/
    eNETS SFA http://www.enetspayments.com.sg/
  69. Getting started in just about anything that you do, sometimes seems to be the hardest part. Marketing one's business is certainly not something that you can put together in just a few minutes, but there is no need to worry. We can help with some ideas on the best way to get started with StoresOnline.

    We have built an extensive library of articles and tutorials into our Merchant Services section, and would invite you to check out the following articles, as they deal directly with getting started.

    When you have logged into Merchant Services, click on "Getting Started In Merchant Services", and that will collapse the category into sub-categories with resources. I would recommend that you start with the "Initial Website & Product Research Section". This section will encompass the following items:

    Preliminary Marketing Research
    Dialing In Your Website
    Determining a Fair Price
    Finding a Dropshipper
    Getting Your Domain Name
    Product Research

    After that, the next category is "Creating your Website (Version 1.0), where the following topics are covered:

    Website Submissions versus Build
    Necessary Pages
    Site Navigation (Navigability)
    Website Usability
    Be sure to check the Merchant Services sections often for updates and new articles. We have a whole team of people with real live experience who are updating and adding new content on a fairly regular basis.

    Thank you for your business, and as always, if you have any questions or need any assistance, Customer Service is here to help!

    Thanks,

    Sean Guy
    Director of Customer Service
    Stores Online, Inc.
    (801) 227-0004
  70. Often times, we are asked how to add a link to a single word inside a paragraph. There are a couple of different ways. I'll break them down for our customers using Stores Online 4.0 Product and those who are using Stores Online Pro.

    Stores Online 4.0

    When you come across an element that will allow you to use HTML in order to put your link in, you can use the "Format" button that is at the bottom of the screen. Once you have clicked on the Format button, you will see what we call a WYSIWYG editor. WYSIWYG stands for "What You See Is What You Get." Type your text, and when you have it typed, highlight the word or phrase that you want to make a clickable link and click on the icon in the toolbar that looks like a world with a chain link on it. This will open up a dialog box that you can type the URL that you want it to link to.

    Stores Online Pro

    On any page that will allow you to use HTML to link, you will automatically see the WYSIWYG editor. If you don't see the editor, ensure that you have it turned on by clicking the "Account" tab at the top, and then choose the Preferences on the Right hand side of the screen. Make sure that there is not a checkmark in the last field called "Options" (at the bottom) and next to "Disable WYSIWYG HTML Editor." Highlight the text you want to make into a link, and click on the chain in the toolbar. This will open up a dialog box where you can specify the URL that you want it to point to, for example, www.storesonlinepro.com. Below that, is a drop down where you can specify whether the link will open up in the same browser window, or whether it will open in a new window. I would suggest opening in a new window, because this will keep them at your site.
    If you have any questions or comments about creating links, feel free to contact us at anytime!

    See you next week!

    Sean Guy

    Director of Customer Service

    StoresOnline, Inc.

    (801) 227-0004
  71. Getting visitors to your website is only half the battle. To be effective, your website has to be structured to help visitors find their way around easily. If it isn't, visitors will click on to some other site and never give yours a second thought. Yet, all it takes is some careful planning to make sure your visitors can find their way around without too much difficulty. This planning and testing process is called "Web Site Usability".

    Web Site Usability is the balancing of information and aesthetics. Usability also means designing the site for your visitors rather than yourself, while still balancing the needs of your visitors with the goals of your business.

    To be sure your site is easy to use, go through the site and ask yourself the questions in the lists below. Then, show the site to a few people who have never seen it before. Ask them to answer the following questions:

    For all sites
    1. Can visitors find information easily? - Make sure that you site is easy to navigate. Don't hide anything in your site that you want the customers to access easily. A navigation bar is one way to ensure that content (pages, products, information) is found easily on your site.
    2. Is the navigation clear and consistent throughout the site? - The navigation system should be in the same place on every page and have the same format. Visitors will become confused and frustrated if links appear and disappear unpredictably.
  72. The eNETS SFA processor has been added to the StoresOnlinePro platform. The new eNETS SFA processor features traditional credit card processing with the added benefit Verified by Visa for cardholders who have activated their cards for Verified by Visa (see http://www.verifiedbyvisa.org).
  73. Welcome to the Customer Service Blog. This area of Stores Online will give me the opportunity as the Director of Customer Service to highlight some of our customers most frequently asked questions. Each week I will address a couple of the most common questions we get in Customer Service which should answer the questions that most of our merchants have. I will be posting our first question in the next couple of days. Until then - have a great day!
  74. We have improved our Variation Conflict capabilities.

    Variations represent different options customers can choose when ordering a product. For example, a website selling t-shirts might offer the same shirt in several sizes and colors with different collars. In this case, size, color, and collar style would be variations for the product.

    Variation conflicts represent product options that are NOT available. For example, if you carry red, blue, yellow, and green shirts, and you have sizes large, medium, and small, but you do not carry the red shirt in the medium size, then you would want to set up a variation conflict so customers cannot purchase a medium-red shirt.

    In the past there was no way to specify conflicts that were specific to three or more variation choices. That meant for example that if you could sell medium-red shirts with a wide collar BUT not a medium-red shirts with a narrow collar, any combination of medium-red would result in a conflict. We have added a new option to the variation conflicts screen called Explicit Conflict. When a conflict is set to Explicit, only combinations of options that have the explicit conflict set result in a conflict. For example this means you can now specify that medium-red shirts with a wide collar are available while medium-red shirts with a narrow collar are not!
  75. Website Payments Pro by PayPal is now available! With a Website Payments Pro Business account, you can accept credit cards just like ECI or Authorize.net as well as accepting regular PayPal payments.
  76. We have made some changes to the Publishing system to address recent publishing issues. We have added a new status indicating the "Building" of the Publish files.

    Publishing Status Progression:

    Requested Request sent for billing verification.
    Building Request verified, publish file is being created.
    Pending Publish file is waiting for Storesonline to publish it to live servers.
    Processing Publish file is being uploaded to live database and files are being copied to live site.
    Complete Publish is complete!
    Failure Publish has failed, please try again. Please let us know the error if unable to publish again.
  77. We have dramatically improved the cache-ability of resources served from Storesonline Pro.

    Web caching is the temporary storage of images and other resources used on an HTML page. When the browser can fetch the resource out of its cache (local hard disk) the web site appears to load almost instantaneously! This will only work on your live site because secure (https) resources will not be cached and while previewing, your site is in secure mode.

    Thanks to Brian D. Davison's site Web-Caching.com, we were able to work out some of the difficulties with Internet Explorer using his cache analysis tool.

  78. We have been working on hard on improving Database access and optimizing slow Database queries.
  79. We have changed the Category Page Element to allow you to set the Root category. For sites that have large category trees this will make this element more usable.
  80. We have added an option to hide Payment methods when the total is zero.
  81. Fixed Permissions – You can now create a role which can only PREVIEW your site and not make any changes or view Customers or Orders.
  • StoresOnline has improved the performance and reliability of email being forwarded through your StoresonlinePro account(s). We now use a real-time database of IP addresses of known spammers and other illegal 3rd party exploits in an effort to reduce the possibility of spam being delivered via your email aliases.
  • In our effort to continually provide new integration with web services, we have completed an integration with the YourPay.com® API. The YourPay.com® service features a fully customizable, easy-to-use virtual point-of-sale (POS) terminal with multiple reporting schemes.
  • In addition to the Ordering Rule Conditionions outlined in last week's post, we have added a new Customer Group Condition. For the condition to apply, the customer must be logged in to the site (has an account) and be a member of one of the specified groups.
  • A price set is the combination of prices and ordering rules that govern the checkout process at the time a customer places an order. Price sets allow you to offer products and services in different currencies, or sell products at wholesale prices to registered customers.

    At the heart of a price set are ordering rules, which calculate discounts, shipping costs or handling costs. Ordering rules are made up of conditions and calculations.

    Because rule sets can often be confusing I would like to describe how they work. As always each condition and calculation has in depth help which describes in detail how they function.

    By default each ordering rule in the price set applies to a form unless there is a condition which does not apply. This means that if you have an ordering rule which adds a $5 handling fee, unless you specify otherwise, your contact form will also include the $5 handling fee. Conditions limit when the ordering rule will apply and consequently which calculations will be calculated.

    The following conditions can be applied:

    Shipping Method This condition allows you to select one or more specific shipping method(s).
    Shipping Destination This condition allows you to select specific destinations.
    Products Ordered This condition allows you to select specific products or product variations.
    Featured/On Sale Products This condition can be applied to orders that include or do not include Featured or On Sale products, or both Featured and On Sale products.
    Payment Method This condition allows you to select one or more specific payment method(s).
    Form Question This type of condition facilitates discount code calculations and other fields that require customers to interact with the order form.
    Form This condition allows you to make the ordering rule contingent on the use of a specific form.
    Boundary Condition This condition allows you to set up boundaries (such as how many products in the cart, order subtotals, etc.).
    Postal Code This condition allows you to select specific postal codes.
    Product Category This condition allows you to select a category as a condition.
    Formula This condition allows you to compose custom formulas. Once you learn how to write your own formulas, you will find the formula condition as one of the most efficient options.
    Date Condition This condition allows you to select a Start Date or End Date for an ordering rule.

    Conditions can be applied in any order. Remember that a condition invalidates the calculations from applying. This is useful for example when creating a Christmas Discount of 5%, a Date Condition limits when the 5% calculation will apply. For more information about each condition please add the condition and check the help documentation.

  • Proper keyword research is the most important step to marketing your web site within search engines. When optimizing your web site you should always know what keywords people are actually searching for. In bid ranked search engines (Google Ad words, Yahoo/Overture sponsored listings, etc.), we want as many relevant keyword phrases as possible - ideally over 10,000 unique and relevant phrases.

    In this article you will learn the benefits of:

    • Initial Keyword Brainstorming
    • Using the Overture/Yahoo Reverse Search Engine for Keyword extrapolation
    • Intermediate Spreadsheet Cleanup & Final Spreadsheet Preparation
    • Using Web-Based Tools to Generate an Abundance of Keywords & Relevant Phrases
    This article will show how researching large numbers of relevant keyword phrases for bid ranked search engines is an integral step in effective Internet marketing. We first will look at brainstorming initial keywords. Secondly, we will discuss keyword generation approaches. Lastly, we will outline in detail specific ways to use a spreadsheet to clean up the keyword phrases.
  • The UPS rate calculator now includes a new feature to allow multiple packages in the rate request.

    If an order weighs over 150 pounds, then the calculator will split the order weight into more than one shipment and return a rate estimation. This feature is appropriate for sites with products with individual weights under 150 pounds.
  • Simple Tax rule has been updated to allow for the selection of the address type - either Billing or Shipping. This was previously not shown and defaulted to "Billing". You can now select either the ship-to or the billing address as the trigger to execute the tax rule.

    This update applies to the Simple Tax rule only. The functionality to specify Bill to or Ship To address has always been on the Standard rule type and is found by adding a Condition of "Shipping Destination"
  • This rule basically says "if the order subtotal is less than $30, redirect the user to a page." The redirect page can say whatever it needs to, whether the limit is based on order total, quantity, delivery conditions, etc...

    minimum / redirect

    See the Help file on the Ordering Rule screen for more functions.
  • A FavIcon is a small image (16x16 pixels) used to uniquely identify your site. There are some minor differences in the way browsers display favicons.
    FavIcons show up on Internet Exporer's Favorites menu and address bar when you bookmark your site.
    FavIcons appear on the address bar and page tabs of Firefox and Mozilla-based browsers.
    FavIcons are also displayed on the address bar of Safari / Mac OS X.

    To create a favicon use the free site FavIcon from Pics (http://www.chami.com/html-kit/services/favicon)

    Upload your favicon via FTP to your root directory - not the uploaded directory (although this will work as well). Name the file favicon.ico.

    Edit your background page (or any pages you wish the favicon to appear on) add the following to the Head section of the Page under the
    Advanced Tab:
    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="/files/12345/favicon.ico"> (replace "12345" with your license number)
    You could also use an animated favicon if you have an animated gif 16x16 pixels. Add the following to the Head section of the Page:
    <link rel="icon" href="/files/12345/uploaded/animated_favicon.gif" type="image/gif">

    If you have a domain name - just simply uploading the favicon.ico the the root directory (not the uploaded directory) via FTP is all that is necessary for the favicon to show up.
  • Form Decision Elements have a field for "variable name" - this can be used to trigger ordering rules. For example, if you give the option for gift wrapping on a decision element; user chooses "yes", it can execute an additional charge (ordering rule) for the gift wrapping.
  • If you are serious about promoting a website, and you spend an appropriate amount of time doing it, eventually you are going to hit a wall. That wall manifests itself in the feeling that you have done, and are doing everything possible to promote your site. Your rate of traffic growth slowly begins to level off. Where your traffic would increase dramatically every month, maybe 40% more traffic in one month than the month before, now you are getting 10% more traffic this month than last month. You have hit a plateau. You have a few options at this point:

    1. You could slow down or give up promoting, and be satisfied with your current level of traffic.
    2. You could increase your monthly advertising budget, and buy more traffic.
    3. You could invent a new unique way to generate traffic to your site.
    4. You could use some leverage.

    Probably, your real options are buying more traffic, and leverage.

    Buying traffic should be a part of any commercial website promotion strategy. Affiliate programs, banner campaigns, newsletter ads, bid-ranked search engines, etc… But like with all things, you cannot be over dependent on purchased traffic. So purchasing more traffic is effective to a point.
    Your other option is using leverage. Leverage as it relates to Internet marketing is using traditional promotion techniques and leveraging them off one another to make them more effective.

    For example, let's look at how a typical website might use the Usenet as a promotion tool. Typically a website owner, would find newsgroups where she might appropriately (being careful not to spam) advertise her products for sale. She would include her website URL and email address in every post. If things went well, she would get a few unique visitors to her site as a result of her efforts on the Usenet. Pretty straight forward.

    However, if she understood the principle of leverage marketing, she wouldn't stop there.... (30 + points to follow)

  • Forms and Form Elements can now be duplicated with a single mouse-click
  • http://www.heraldextra.com
    Sunday June 04, 2006

    It's been hailed as one of nature's superfoods. Said to be high in nutritional content, wheatgrass juice, which is made from sprouted wheat berries, is believed to have the ability to cleanse the body, neutralize toxins, slow the aging process and even purportedly prevent cancer. But to the uninitiated taste bud, it can be hard to swallow at first.

    Wheatgrass, which is 10 to 14 days of grown grass, is said to be high in chlorophyll, which in chemical composition closely resembles that of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in the bloodstream.

    "Because wheatgrass is a living food, taking one ounce of wheatgrass juice daily is like having a supershot of vegetables," said Kaitlin Moller, founder of Wheatgrasskits.com in Springville.

    But getting it down the hatch is another matter because the smell of freshly pulped grass juice can be daunting. "Just hold your nose and take it in one gulp," Moller says.

    How it started

    The love of wheatgrass runs in Moller's family. She was inspired to start her own company because her mother, KK Fowlkes, started a home-based business, Western Wheatgrass, in Holloday in the early '90s. Fowlkes used to grow wheatgrass and deliver it to local healthfood stores, juice bars and spas in Utah. But she sold the business in 1994 after moving to Israel.

    With less than $5,000 in start-up financing, Moller began selling grow-it-yourself wheatgrass kit supplies out of her garage in Mapleton in 2000, making less than $150,000 in her first year of operation. The need for more space for inventory, packaging and an office soon prompted her move to a 1,300-square-foot location in Springville. The business, which hopes to make between $1.3 million and $1.5 million in sales this year, placed fourth in Brigham Young University's student entrepreneurship competition in 2002. Moller is now considering expanding her business to a 6,000-square-foot building in Springville.

    Moller attributed her company's strong sales growth to her brother, Parker Garlitz, whose online marketing strategies yielded dividends. "We had experimented with selling the wheatgrass kits through the classifieds in healthfood magazines," she said. "But we couldn't reach the volume of customers we wanted. We also did a direct mail catalog to existing customers. But that didn't do much either."

    Marketing strategies

    Things changed when Garlitz began marketing the kits on the Internet through Orem-based Web hosting solutions provider iMergent Inc. "Without the Internet, we probably wouldn't even have a business," Moller said. "The cost of magazine advertising was even more than what we made in sales in our first year. But on the Internet, we can reach our target market more easily and faster. And my brother is experienced in that area."

    "I started by selling printer supplies through iMergent's Stores Online in 1999," said Garlitz, a business management graduate of BYU. "They taught us marketing strategies like how to do paid-search marketing, or sponsored listings. That means I pay the company whenever someone visits my Web site, wheatgrasskits.com. We usually get 2,000 hits on average per day."

    The company is on paid and unpaid listings on Google, E-Bay and Amazon.com, and also advertises through a free monthly online newsletter to its 25,000 subscribers. "We advertise on comparison shopping engines like dealtime.com and frugal.com. We also do live directories, which is a Web site that our site is linked to that allows visitors to browse by topic," Garlitz said.

    Not only does marketing online keep overhead costs lower, the Internet also helps get the word out about wheatgrass, Moller said. "Not many people know the health benefits of wheatgrass. And we need to use caution when we make claims about those benefits because the Food and Drug Administration isn't superfriendly to the raw foods industry. We can't make those health claims without going through drug trials. So we cite reports from authors of healthfood books, people who've written about the benefits of wheatgrass, and also add testimonials from our customers," she said.

    Future Plans

    Today Moller sells more than 150 products, including wheatgrass, barley grass, mushroom and soykits, herb and sprouting kits, juicers, smoothie makers, blenders, wheatgrass and barley seeds, healthfood books, gardening supplies and even live earthworms for composting purposes.

    But the company is looking at growing its family of products to include gardening kits that can grow salad greens, herbs, sprouts, and even mushrooms year-round. "For the mushroom kits, we would provide the spores of shitake, maitaki and oyster, the growing substrate, or sawdust, a humidity tent which would provide the right moist climate for growth and growing instructions," Moller said.

    "It's completely organic and more fun because you're growing it yourself. We're also expanding into flower garden starter kits, and working on our fourth Web site, flowergardenkits.com."

    Internet Kits Inc. doing business as Wheatgrasskits.com

    Founded in September 2000

    Owners: Kaitlin Moller and brother, Parker Garlitz

    Industry: Online retailer of wheatgrass and barley grass kits, herb, soymilk kits, juicers, blenders, composting supplies, and healthfood books

    Retail costs: Wheatgrass kit, which costs $29.95, includes a book about wheatgrass, trays, soil, seed, growing instructions, and minerals for the soil. The barleygrass kit retails for $21.95, while the mushroom kits cost between $20 and $30. The soykits cost between $60 and $100.

    Location: Corporate headquarters at 64 W. 600 North, Suite 2, Springville.

    Start-up costs: Under $5,000

    Work Force: Seven employees

    Contact: 491-8700

    Web sites: wheatgrasskits.com, herbkits.com, soykits.com

  • Forum posts are now included in the Search Results, and it is now possible to link directly to a post.
  • Paypal has been put into the available processors list.

    This is the standard Paypal integration (NOT Paypal Pro).
  • PRO allows for customized URLs, i.e. If your domain name is www.mysite.com, you can name your Home page www.mysite.com/home, and your About Us page www.mysite.com/aboutus, and so on. Single pages can have multiple URLs:

    names

    To set the default URL for that page, select the line and click the Set Default button.
  • Introduction
    "Stealth Linking" is an unconventional approach to getting links in ways most online merchants would not consider. With this approach, you will utilize the interactive features of many websites. The reason you are doing this is to build incoming links to your site. Incoming links can certainly bring occasional visitors directly to our sites, but more importantly in this case we are actively working to build link popularity and page rank! This stealth linking approach is a free and effective way to get lots of websites to link (one way links to you with no need to reciprocate) to your site. This article will first present what types of signatures to use as you employ the stealth linking strategy, and then you will see three specific examples of how and where to use stealth linking.
  • We have added a new form element that will post the order information in XML format to a remote website. The remote site can process this information as needed. The text/HTML returned from the remote site is then displayed on the form. This is a form element called "External".
  • We have changed the layout of the navigation in Merchant Services. It has been reorganized to allow for better growth and more comprehensive threads.

    We have also included an icon identifying "New" and "Updated" articles.
  • We've made an adjustment that will allow you to specify where the Done button links to. This is done on the Form >> Edit screen.



  • w3c Most, if not all PRO designs have been built to meet W3C compliancy. In order for your site to remain W3C compliant, you have to use proper coding throughout your site. There are a couple tools out there that you can load into your browser that will help you monitor the compliancy of your site. A favorite is HTML Tidy – it is available as an add-on for the Firefox browser at http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/, or at http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/tidy/

  • Your customers can now include a file with their order. It is set up as a variation, with the type set as "File". You need to add the variation, and one variation choice. The file is sent to your uploaded directory and is referenced on the order screen.

    (correct setup)


    (shows on product page as)
  • When the display type of Table is selected, you have the option of the table being 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 columns wide. All options may not be viable for every site, as product thumbnail sizes and descriptions may cause the columns to be too wide. Bottom line - size your tables according to the page they are on.
  • For most people, "ecommerce websites" are sites that sell products nationally or internationally. And while that is true, these same websites can be structured to target a specific geographic region, instead of trying to sell to the whole world. Therefore, regardless of the product, service, information or the regional market to which it pertains, every company should have a website. The secret to making regionalized websites work, is in knowing how to modify the marketing to focus on a specific region. In other words, if you have a local business that can only be marketed locally in your town, then a website can work!

    Imagine you are a Dentist. You serve a base of patients that usually live within reasonable driving distance for your office. Can a website serve you? Would anyone in a far-away place even consider traveling to your office to have a cavity filled? Of course not. So then what is the point of having a website? Good question.

    But what if there were promotion techniques that you could implement that would make your website visible in your local community? What if you could generate 20 to 50 unique visitors a day from your local community, or even within a 20 mile radius of your office? That equates to easily over 500 visitors a month from your local community. If your website visitors converted to patients at a 2% conversion rate, you would be getting 10 new patient inquiries each month. But wait a minute! Typically, it is parents who shop for a dentist, right? But if a mother becomes your patient through finding your website, she is eventually going to bring her whole family in to see you, too. I think you get the point here. One inquiry could lead to several new patients. So here is the key question: How much is a new patient "worth" to your practice? How many new patients do you need to get from the Internet before you cover your entire cost of setting up and promoting your website? It would likely just take a couple of new patients. And that is the big point. For a regional service-oriented business, the Internet is probably not going to flood you with dozens of new clients every day. But it could do that on a monthly or even possibly a weekly basis. Ultimately, a properly promoted website is a very cost effective addition to your overall marketing efforts.

    What is the purpose of the local site? Before we move on to promoting the site and driving local traffic, we should first discuss some issues related to the site design itself, as these are crucial to the success of a local website. The first question to ask is: What is the purpose of the site? There are possible answers:

    • Direct Product Sales
    • Lead Generation
    The important point here, is to begin to think of the Internet in terms of a local advertising tool that is very flexible in what you need it to do for you. It doesn’t have to be selling and shipping stuff. As you consider your local website, be sure to make a clear call to action (see Dialing It In, for more information on a call to action) that instructs visitors on what to do. Example: Call to schedule an appointment for a free checkup and cleaning.
    Driving Local Traffic

    Let's look at just a few of the strategies we can use to regionalize your marketing efforts to bring in visitors from your desired region whether that region is a city, state, or even a country.

    • Vertical Portals
    • Regional Portals
    • Link Trading
    • Regionalizing Pay-Per-Click Search Engines By Country
    The bottom line here is that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for any company--no matter what the product, service, or information sold or promoted on the site--to not have a website. With a little modification in promotional strategies, any business with a regional focus can enjoy success with their Internet marketing efforts. It is not a mystery, but like anything else worth doing, takes a little time and effort.
  • We have been working hard on integrating new payment processors such as PayPal (http://www.paypal.com), Optimal Payments (http://optimalpayments.com) and eNETS (http://www.nets.com.sg). Unfortunately we were unable to integrate PayPal Pro because of library conflict issues. However, PayPal and eBay are owned by the same parent company, and we are hopeful that they will soon work out their differences so that we will be able to quickly add PayPal Pro back in.

    We want to let you know we are also fixing bugs as fast as we can find them. Thanks to all of those who send us error reports with great descriptions of the problems. Many times we receive error reports that don't have enough information for us to tell which page on which the sender encountered an error. If possible, please include the page you are on and what button was pressed and we will do our best to duplicate the problem and fix it. If you get the same error more than once, don't worry about submitting the error each and every time. Some errors are easier to fix than others, and we try to respond as quickly as possible with an answer. Some bugs are not really bugs as much as they are feature requests or enhancements. Please let us know about these as well. While we may not be able to implement all of them, we do keep them on file. Keep up the good work building great looking sites, and let us know what you think.

    StoresOnline Engineering Department.

  • http://www.columbian.com/business/businessNews/04272006news23684.cfm


    Ryan Moor's silk-screening company, which had $4 million in sales last year, does 95 percent of its business on the web. (DAVE OLSON/The Columbian)
    Ryonet Corp. - Screen Play

    Columbian.com
    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    By JONATHAN NELSON Columbian staff writer

    Ryan Moor's transformation from pop musician to business owner probably can be traced back to 2002, when the bass player for Not Long After headed out on tour.

    Moor loaded his clothes, bass guitar and four T-shirt silk-screening kits into the bus. The Battle Ground native had been making T-shirts for the band to save money and had recently started selling the screening kits on eBay to supplement his income.

    But he had a backload of orders and no time to send the kits before hitting the road.

    "I finished them up in California and shipped them out from Napa Valley," he said.

    Today, Moor's guitar plays second fiddle to his screen-printing supply and equipment business, Ryonet Corp. The 25-year-old Vancouver resident has built this part-time enterprise into a company that had $4 million in sales last year and expects to do more than $10 million this year. Moor hasn't mapped out any long-term plans for Ryonet, other than continual and careful growth.

    Chuck Ackerman, a former Ryonet employee and mentor to Moor, said the company's success lies in Moor finding a niche, harnessing new technology and being a slave to customer service.

    "He had the foresight to go after beginners and other entrepreneurs," said Ackerman, president of Nortech, a screen frame manufacturer in Arkansas.

    Ryonet caters to fledgling screen-printing operations, often started as new or side businesses. The company's Web site, www.silkscreeningsupplies.com, drives 95 percent of Ryonet's sales, Moor said.

    Ackerman said the screen-printing business is appealing to people because it's easy to learn and cheap to break into, with quality starter sets costing $7,000 to $15,000.

    Moor spent $10,000 to form Ryonet, $6,000 of that spent on Web site development.

    Moor is tapping into an industry that generates $60 billion in revenue annually in the U.S. alone, according to the trade group Specialty Graphic Imaging Association.

    It wasn't long ago that Moor was one of the customers he now serves. It's that proximity to the target audience that Ackerman attributes to Ryonet's growth.

    "He's got a good business head on his shoulders," Ackerman said. "I don't know where that comes from."

    Moor credits his parents, who sold Amway products during his youth. He watched what it took to motivate yourself and thought it was cool to be your own boss. He apparently was an astute observer, because by the time he was 16 he created his first business, a mole extraction service. At 18, he formed his own window- and pressure-washing operation.

    The two businesses not only taught Moor how to push himself but how to pay attention to his customers.

    "The more customers I would keep in touch with and call on more often, the more I would retain their business," he said.

    Stability quotient

    The band fulfilled Moor's desire to play music, but it also allowed him to maintain a sense of independence. The screening business increasingly became more of a full-time proposition the older Moor got and the more he looked for a stable future.

    A breakthrough came when Moor attended a seminar sponsored by StoresOnline, the Web-hosting company that built Ryonet's Internet presence. It showed Moor that his customer base wasn't limited by geographical boundaries.

    Moor also considers the hiring of Ackerman as a milestone in Ryonet's early history. Moor said at the time he couldn't really afford Ackerman's salary but considered his expertise too valuable to ignore.

    Moor met Ackerman by chance. Moor was buying products from the Portland company where Ackerman worked.

    The two started talking, and two hours later Moor left with a head filled with ideas and advice offered by Ackerman.

    A few days later, Ackerman received a gift certificate to a local restaurant. It was Moor's way to thank Ackerman for taking the time to talk.

    "That really impressed me," Ackerman said.

    RYONET CORP.

    WHAT: Ryonet sells screen-printing kits and supplies primarily through the company's Web site, www.silkscreeningsupplies.com.

    PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER: Ryan Moor.

    2005 REVENUE: Gross sales, $4 million.

    EMPLOYEES: 18.

    WHERE: Offices, manufacturing and shipping are at 11410 N.E. 72nd Ave. in Vancouver.
  • http://www.promotionworld.com/news/news/060418StoresOnline.html

    StoresOnline Launches Version 5.0 of its Cutting-edge E-Commerce Software Platform

    PromotionWorld.com
    Tuesday, April 18, 2006; 12:53 AM

    StoresOnline, a leader in the e-services marketplace, today announced the release of its immensely upgraded StoresOnline Pro version 5.0 software platform designed to help the everyday entrepreneur and small business owner market their unique products and services on the Web in the increasingly dynamic global economy.

    Accessible from StoresOnline’s newly refurbished Web site, www.storesonlinepro.com, the new site-building e-commerce software platform is totally searchable and indexed to aid users in more fully utilizing its resources. Its expanded offerings are extensive and include comprehensive “how to” outlines of various marketing techniques like search engine optimization, using vertical portals and planning PPC campaigns.

    The new StoresOnline Web site has been streamlined using StoresOnline’s own software to clearly communicate the mission of StoresOnline: “Gather. Design. Publish.SM” This mantra is repeated throughout the site and perfectly encapsulates what StoresOnline is able to help its customers accomplish. The site’s simplified format also allows for greater ease of access for repeat customers and is much easier to navigate than its predecessor.

    “This vastly improved version of the StoresOnline Pro e-commerce software platform has been developed over the course of the past decade and now makes us even more competitive with the higher-priced builders,” said Brandon Lewis, president of StoresOnline. “We’re pleased to see that our products and services continue to help thousands of small businesses successfully establish and run an online e-commerce presence.”

    StoresOnline clients can log onto the site under the Merchant Services link using their license number and password. Once inside, clients gain access to a myriad of helps, links and tutorials designed to help them learn to become Internet marketing experts on the fly. StoresOnline customers now have the ability to:
    • Alter content and program site functions and settings using cutting-edge, user-friendly drag and drop features and WYSIWIG simplicity;
    • Research the sales potential of any given item via proprietary keyword search tools, develop marketing strategies to optimize their own sites and even research competitors’ strategies, allowing them to pinpoint avenues for optimum success;
    • Register a domain within the platform and build the storefront to match the company’s theme and style, also includes ability to set up numerous email aliases;
    • Use email to respond automatically with predefined, templated messages;
    • Set up and run multiple merchant accounts (with support for major credit card and PayPal transactions);
    • Capture and transact customer orders while also monitoring and tracking customer traffic patterns;
    • Host forums or develop blogs within a client’s site. This feature benefits the user by contributing toward Google page ranking due to its constantly updated content;
    • Import and export product/order data;
    • Learn from frequently posted “helps” for promoting Internet businesses in the constantly changing global economy. These are found in the Merchant Services section for StoresOnline clients to use in their own Web strategy;
    • Offer multiple products and variations at specific prices to specific customers;
    • Get guaranteed, 24/7 help from StoresOnline’s very capable customer service team; and
    • Read and follow the carefully designed quick start guide, cheat sheet and numerous online helps complete with screen shots from start to finish.
    The innovative StoresOnline Pro Web development platform sets the e-commerce precedent for small business owners and is perfectly suited for aspiring entrepreneurs in the ever-changing e-commerce marketplace. Like the previous version of the platform, the newest version is integrated with UPS Online Tools®. All the content in a StoresOnline Pro-powered e-commerce Web site can be browsed using the site’s search function, which is a major upgrade from previous versions.

    StoresOnline Pro v5.0 features a user-friendly platform and more customizable layout and design options than previously available. The new software version uses three-tiered layered technology: a page layer with basic placeholder elements, a background layer with recurring stylistic elements, and a design layer which features a navigation bar, page title, heading and other aesthetic features.

    “Editing page elements has now been made simple for even the technology-impaired,” said David Rosenvall, the principal designer of the platform. “Thanks to the use of WYSIWIG technology, Web site novices are ensured that no HTML knowledge is needed as they construct their online store.”

    Within the preview mode of the software, pages can be reordered and redesigned with drag and drop simplicity. Items can either be rearranged or deleted entirely within the safety of the preview setting. As changes are made, the software automatically resizes elements within the page to fit the predetermined settings for each individual site.

    The innovative StoresOnline Pro Web development platform offers thousands of design and layout options. Customers can load pictures and details on their site with ease. They can also alter the scheme and basic presentation from a myriad of customizable design templates. Each page can be individually customized to reflect content and/or communicate a desired effect. The software also allows clients to mask images to increase the appeal of the overall site. Image masking allows for logos or designs to be blended with the existing background color and scheme to create a better integration of the site’s theme on each page.

    For additional information about StoresOnline, its new software platform or its customer’s success stories, please visit www.storesonlinepro.com or call (801) 227-0004.

    About StoresOnline StoresOnline is an e-services company that offers e-commerce technology, training and a variety of Web-based technology services to help small business owners and entrepreneurs build and maintain fully functional e-commerce Web sites.

  • http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/news/news/article.php/3600206

    StoresOnline Updates its E-Commerce Platform

    by ECommerce Guide Staff

    For those e-tailers starting with a small budget, one option for creating an online store is to build it yourself instead of paying a designer several thousand dollars. There Several hosting providers offer these turn-key services. This week, one of those providers, StoresOnline, announced the release of its StoresOnline Pro version 5.0 software platform "designed to help the everyday entrepreneur and small business owner market their unique products and services on the Web."

    StoresOnline said the new site-building e-commerce software platform is fully searchable and indexed to help users. Its expanded offerings include several tutorials on various marketing techniques available such as search engine optimization (SEO), using vertical search portals and planning pay-per-click campaigns.

    The new StoresOnline Web site has been streamlined using StoresOnline's software, the company said, to clearly communicate the mission of StoresOnline: "Gather. Design. Publish."

    "This version of the StoresOnline Pro e-commerce software platform has been developed over the course of the past decade and now makes us even more competitive with the higher-priced builders," said Brandon Lewis, president of StoresOnline, in a written statement. P>

    With the new upgrade, StoresOnline customers can now do the following:

    • Alter content and program site functions and settings using user-friendly drag and drop features and WYSIWIG simplicity;
    • Research the sales potential of any given item via proprietary keyword search tools, develop marketing strategies to optimize their own sites and even research competitors' strategies, allowing them to pinpoint avenues for optimum success;
    • Register a domain within the platform and build the storefront to match the company's theme and style, also includes ability to set up numerous email aliases;
    • Use e-mail to respond automatically with predefined, templated messages;
    • Set up and run multiple merchant accounts (with support for major credit card and PayPal transactions);
    • Capture and transact customer orders while also monitoring and tracking customer traffic patterns;
    • Host forums or develop blogs within a client's site; and
    • Import and export product/order data.
    Like the previous version of the platform, the newest version is integrated with UPS Online Tools. All the content in a StoresOnline Pro-powered e-commerce Web site can be browsed using the site's search function, which the company said is a major upgrade from previous versions.

    Enhanced Layout and Design Features
    StoresOnline Pro v5.0 features a "user-friendly platform" and more customizable layout and design options than previously available. The new software version uses three-tiered layered technology: a page layer with basic placeholder elements, a background layer with recurring stylistic elements, and a design layer which features a navigation bar, page title, heading and other aesthetic features.

    "Editing page elements has now been made simple for even the technology-impaired," said David Rosenvall, the principal designer of the platform. "Thanks to the use of WYSIWIG technology, Web site novices are ensured that no HTML knowledge is needed as they construct their online store."

    The StoresOnline Pro Web development platform is designed to offer thousands of design and layout options. Customers can easily load pictures and details on their site. They can also alter the scheme and basic presentation from a myriad of customizable design templates. The software also allows clients to mask images to increase the appeal of the overall site. Image masking allows for logos or designs to be blended with the existing background color and scheme to create a better integration of the site's theme on each page.


  • http://www.utahbusiness.com/parser.php?nav=email_article&article_id=4345

    iMergent Releases Version 5.0 of its StoresOnline Pro Software

    by Heather Stewart

    iMergent has released an “immensely upgraded” version of its StoresOnline Pro software, which some entrepreneurs in Utah have successfully used to create e-commerce Web sites. The upgrade is intended to make the software more user friendly and to offer a greater variety of design options.

    “The vastly improved version of the StoresOnline Pro e-commerce software platform has been developed over the course of the past decade and now makes us even more competitive with higher-priced builders,” said StoresOnline President Brandon Lewis in a prepared statement.

    Last year, the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against iMergent, claiming the company’s sales practices were fraudulent and that customers did not get the technical assistance they were promised, among other things. iMergent settled the lawsuit in November 2005 for about $450,000 without admitting guilt.

    The company hosts free preview seminars in cities across the country that encourage people to attend a workshop. After attending the two-day training workshop, customers purchase a CD-ROM, which contains the StoresOnline Pro software license, a password and instructions allowing access to the company’s Web site, where all of the necessary software programs and tools to build an e-commerce site are located.

    iMergent also offers Web site design and setup services for an additional charge. Customers can pay to have iMergent host the Web site on its server, or can host the site with another service.

    Travis Klinger used the StoresOnline training and software to create several Web sites to sell goji berry plants and goji products. Klinger attended the two-day workshop and purchased the software before building his first site: www.timpanogosnursery.com.

    “I felt kind of abandoned at first. They dumped so much information on us and we were expected to just go home and read it. It was a little bit overwhelming,” Klinger said. Looking back on the experience, Klinger said it was invaluable because now he has the ability to fix or alter any of his six Web sites without needing to pay a Web designer.

    Park City resident Jerry Agee said his experience with iMergent has been positive. “They didn’t just sell me the package and disappear,” he said.

    Agee attended a StoresOnline seminar in Los Angeles, where he purchased the software package. He initially created a Web site to sell low-carb products, but “the industry went away.” Now, he operates www.humanbeingproductions.com, which offers business development coaching and video equipment rentals, among other things.

    Agee said the training workshop was “fantastic.” While he needed some technical assistance from StoresOnline to set up his first Web site, he was able to create his second site using the software on his own.

    According to iMergent, the software upgrade offers user-friendly “drag and drop” features. It will allow merchants to research the sales potential of products; develop marketing strategies; build an e-commerce site to match the company’s theme and style; set up and run multiple merchant accounts; and host blogs. In addition, the company is offering 24-hour customer service help for the merchants.

    The software release comes after a six-month delay in the filing of iMergent’s 2005 year-end report for the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company initiated a review of the way it reports revenue in the summer of 2005, leading to a revision of its financial statements from fiscal year 2002 forward. iMergent faced delisting from the American Stock Exchange for the delayed filings, but was able to release new earnings reports before AMEX took final action.

    iMergent is currently being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance. The company has not commented on the reason for the investigation.

  • http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2006/03/29/1517263.htm

    California Mom-Turned-Entrepreneur Boosts Company's Bottom Line with Help from StoresOnline; Homegrown Business 'Maps Out' Financial Success Through Online Marketing

    Wednesday, 29 March 2006

    NUEVO, Calif. & OREM, Utah --(Business Wire)-- March 29, 2006 -- Diana Blair used to mow lawns seven days a week to help provide for her family. Now, in her third year as a small-business owner, this mother of three can spend her afternoons sipping lemonade while her company's revenues have soared, reaching more than $380,000 in 2005.

    "I originally started my own online store to allow me a break from mowing lawns on the weekends," Blair said. "After just three short months, my company was bringing in about $66,000 in gross sales, so I was more than happy to quit mowing lawns and focus on selling maps online."

    Blair, who is a self-proclaimed "big believer" in Thomas Guide Books, decided to begin an online store selling wall maps, folded maps, road atlases and Thomas Guide books on the Internet. She named her business Map Books 4 U and has found numerous inexpensive and user-friendly ways to advertise her products and online map store. A resident of Nuevo, Calif., Blair attended a StoresOnline Web clinic in 2003 where she was introduced to the world of Internet sales and marketing.

    With the help of StoresOnline, she gradually incorporated pay-per-click strategies and Internet search term optimization into her marketing approach. Her home-operated business has seen remarkable growth, generating $286,000 in gross sales in 2004 and handily passing that figure in 2005.

    "Sales from my business have jumped dramatically as a result of effective online marketing," Blair said. Her store is currently a leading distributor for Rand McNally, and she has been approached by National Geographic about selling its maps online at her site as well. Blair recently bought out a competitor's business and has already refused a buyout offer of more than $250,000 for her own growing company.

    "Diana's story is fantastic because she worked like crazy to make it happen," said Brandon Lewis, president of StoresOnline. "Along with her family, she has turned her small business into a true success and, according to her, it has changed their lives forever. We know it's tough for entrepreneurs to make it when they start from the ground up, but our products and services can be a successful tool to help thousands of small businesses establish a meaningful online presence."

    StoresOnline offers comprehensive e-commerce store options and innovative software perfectly suited for entrepreneurs like Blair. Its simple format and superior customer service helped her launch her online store quickly and seamlessly.

    For more information about Map Books 4 U, please visit www.mapbooks4u.com. For additional information about StoresOnline and its customers' success stories, please visit www.storesonline.com or call 801-227-0004.

    About StoresOnline

    StoresOnline is an e-services company that offers e-commerce technology, training and a variety of Web-based technology services to help small-business owners and entrepreneurs build and maintain fully functional e-commerce Web sites.


  • http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/columnist/strauss/2006-04-03-idea_x.htm

    Ask an Expert
    Monday, 03 April 2006

    Getting your idea off the ground

    By Steve Strauss
    Usatoday.com, Ask and Expert

    Q: I have an idea for a new product but am not sure how to get started. I have money to invest, but I certainly don't want to waste it. What suggestions might you have?

    Mike

    A: Well, Mike, although I have previously been involved with the process of taking a new product from inspiration to launch, as my role was on the business side I figured the best way to answer your question would be to speak with an expert: Someone who has successfully launched an innovative product.

    And with my beloved UCLA Bruins (class of '81) playing for the national championship this week, it doesn't hurt that the product in question is basketball-related.

    Glenn Hudson is our man. An inventor out of Mackinaw, Ill., Hudson came up with an idea for what has become the best basketball practice product in the country.

    Glenn always loved basketball, being the defensive specialist he was back in high school, and his love for the game was cemented when his team made it to the Illinois State Tournament. But it was when a teammate took him to a gym in a nearby town one day and made him shoot again and again and again that he first appreciated that it is repetition that makes a great scorer. The next night he went out and scored a career-high 26.

    That lesson came back to him many years later with the creation of the Shoot and Star Rebounder (www.shootandstar.com.) This product is as simple as it is ingenious. Built of a net that attaches on one side behind the basket and on the other to two aluminum poles, the Rebounder allows a player to shoot from anywhere on the court and have the ball flop into the net and then roll back to wherever the player was shooting from.

    Hudson's popular product has been tested at colleges (e.g., Illinois State University) and is now sold throughout the country, as well as places as far off as Australia.

    So how did he go from inspiration to product? Hudson is a big believer in the power of the Internet. Begin, he says, by Googling your idea. "You first need to see if there are other similar products out there, and if so, what they cost and how popular they are," he notes.

    That is the sort of inexpensive market research that I love.

    Next, Glenn says, it is vital to come up with a plan that allows you to start small. Get a copy of a non-disclosure agreement (also known as an NDA) and have people whose opinions your value, sign it and then get their brutally honest feedback on your idea.

    Next, he says, use the Net to find affordable manufacturers and suppliers. Glenn Hudson used the Web to find everything he needed to create his product – from suppliers to tool and die shops. He especially recommends the Thomas Registry (ThomasRegistry.com.)

    Once he found affordable parts suppliers he began to manufacture his product. The key to this stage, he says, is to "test, test, and test some more. Incrementally build your business until you are really ready to take it to the next level."

    Hudson uses the Net as well to sell his Rebounder. He built his site himself and continuously works on it to improve his search engine results. He especially recommends:

    • Using keywords throughout your site

    • Having good content on your site that incorporates those keywords – articles and such

    • Exchanging links

    • Getting people to blog about your product or site

    Hudson also suggests that new inventors consider checking out a great site that helps inventors promote their products – AmericanInventorSpot.com.

    When I asked Glenn if he had any last thoughts for me, he wisely said, "Go Bruins!"

    Today's tip: When I asked Glenn Hudson whether he had thought of taking his product to the new ABC TV show American Inventor, he demurred, noting that he liked the idea of retaining control of his product. If anyone wants to apply, he suggested that they read all documents related to any such endeavor very carefully.

    Ask an Expert appears Mondays. You can e-mail Steve Strauss at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com. And you can click here to see previous columns. Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. He is this year's SBA Small Business Journalist of the Year. His latest book is The Small Business Bible. You can sign up for his free newsletter, "Small Business Success Secrets!" at his website —www.mrallbiz.com.

  • Avoid Inventory Expenses
    Expand Your Website's Offerings
    Increase Profits

    Introduction

    Most companies and businesses, at one time or another, look for the ability to add additional products or services or information that may be of use or interest to their existing customer base or as a way to broaden their sales potential. While your business may not currently be at this critical juncture, we would like to introduce you some of the various strategies involved in finding appropriate products with which to expand your Internet product offering. Understanding some of the key components of this process will enable you to decide the best time to implement these strategies and expand your money-making potential. You may determine, after learning the low-risk approach, now is as good a time as ever!

    Before you make that decision, though, you need to first understand the options an Internet marketer has available to obtain or locate complimentary products. Obviously, as an Internet Merchant, you could choose to actually create and become the manufacturer of additional complimentary products. This choice, while gratifying in many respects, can also be time consuming and sometimes rather costly. We will explain this concept of drop shipping later in greater detail later in the document. First, we need to address the methods in finding additional available products.

    Products That Can Be Sold on the Internet

    If you do already have an idea of what you want to add to your current business, then just skip down to the next section "Finding Suppliers" for ideas on how to find wholesale sources and drop shippers. Assuming you don't already have an idea of what you want to add, there is a reasonable approach to deciding on a particular set of products/services/information to include in your business.

  • http://www.vbjusa.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=519

    Making an impression
    Friday, 03 March 2006

    Local entrepreneur puts mark on screen printing industry

    By Shane Cleveland
    VBJ Staff Reporter

    Ryan Moor first realized his idea for a screen printing supply company could become a reality during a seminar learning how to run an online business. With some work, he figured the business could produce revenue of $30,000 each month. His company, Ryonet Corp., exceeded that mark in its second month. In 2005, the company’s first full year, Ryonet Corp. produced more than $4 million in revenue.


    Ryonet Corp. employee Steve Brown builds custom “exposure units,” which are large wooden cases with fluorescent lighting that will illuminate advertising messages that have been silk screened on the front panel.

    Starting from scratch
    Moor, 24, first learned how to screen print in a high school class. He used the skills he learned to create t-shirts for the band he played bass guitar in. That led to making shirts for other bands, groups and organizations in the community. When not busy with the band, Moor operated a window washing business, and to earn extra money he sold items, such as t-shirts he made, on eBay.

    About four years ago, in need of money, Moor put together screen printing supplies collected from a local retailer and built a wood press to sell on eBay as a screen printing kit. Moor turned a profit and repeated the process. Eventually, his eBay customers began asking how to get more supplies. Not seeing many sources on the internet to refer others to, Moor realized there was an opportunity. After attending a seminar and workshop hosted by StoresOnline, Moor purchased a package and began operating silkscreeningsupplies.com in April 2004.

    Moor began operating the business from his home. He tried contacting manufacturers of screen printing supplies, but they didn’t want to work with him because the business was new or they already had dealers in the area.

    Instead, Moor worked through Portland supplier Denco Sales, where he was able to arrange some reasonable pricing. The Web site started with 30 to 40 products and some packages, which gradually grew in volume and price. By July 2004, Moor added his first employee.

    By early 2005, Ryonet Corp. had grown to the point it could eliminate the middleman and begin working directly with manufacturers. Since that time, the company has grown from about five employees to 19. Additionally, in April 2005 the company moved into an 8,500-square-foot location in Vancouver. The space houses the company’s offices, inventory, shipping and manufacturing operations. The company makes its own line of squeegees and exposure units.

    According to Screen Printing magazine editor Tom Frecska, screen printing can be one part of a company’s manufacturing process or the sole purpose of a small business. And though the industry is large, Ryonet Corp. has had success in an arena that Frecska said has become difficult to survive in, particularly as a young start-up.

    “A lot of consolidation has taken place in the last decade,” said Frecska.

    He said there are not many independent suppliers left, with many manufacturers moving to direct sales or working with large general distributors. And while many suppliers have a Web presence, a majority of the business is being done offline.

    Moor said the company’s ability to take advantage of online marketing tools has contributed to the growth it has experienced.

    “The internet has been the driving force behind any success that we have had,” Moor said.

    Advertising: spend more to make more
    Most of the businesses’ advertising is still done on the internet. In the beginning, Moor said he was not taking full advantage of the company’s advertising opportunities.

    Moor said each individual visiting the company’s site on a given day spends an average of $3. And Ryonet Corp. was bidding only 10 cents for search engine pay-per-click ads to drive potential customers to the site. Eventually Moor learned the company could spend more on advertising to increase traffic to the site considering the price of the average transaction.

    The company is also trying to increase its free, generic listings on the primary search engines Google and Yahoo. While the company’s site is listed highly on Yahoo, Moor said it is difficult to maintain a top generic listing on Google. Ryonet Corp. is currently changing the structure of its Web site to improve its Google placement.

    Ryonet Corp. still sells on eBay, with about five percent of the company’s sales coming from the online marketplace.

    The company is also working on advanced forms of online advertising “that some people have not touched or may not know about,” said Moor. However, he is playing those cards close to the vest. Moor said being young and new to screen printing allowed him to approach the industry, which is hundreds of years old, differently. But his inexperience also made him naïve, he said, and the company readily shared some information they probably shouldn’t have to others in the industry.

    Good business: Bolstering customer’s companies
    Moor used to throw packages in his truck to take to UPS and now the shipper sends several trucks to handle the 80 to 100 orders going out each day.

    Though Moor realizes the level of growth over the past two years cannot be sustained, the company is taking steps to continue to build its market share, including retaining existing business.

    “As long as (our customers) continue to grow their business they will always need more supplies,” he said.
    The company operates an 800-square-foot classroom on Highway 99 for existing or potential customers who want to learn more about screen printing and see if it is a viable business option.

    Ryonet Corp. also launched a second, complementary Web site, shirtspace.com, offering wholesale printable apparel for silk screening.

    The company also expects to grow the business regionally, the old-fashioned way. Ryonet Corp. hired a sales representative three months ago to capture business in Oregon and Washington. Idaho and northern California may follow.

    Sales stayed consistent during the traditionally slow months of October through December, and the company started the year off right with its biggest month ever in January.

  • Dialing In Your Website

    How to Sell More, More Often on your Website

    Learn how to maximize your website’s performance using effective strategies to test and optimize conversion rates, increase the dollar amount of an average sale, and find the price point that maximizes your profit.
    Dialing In Your Website is a lengthy discussion about the foundational issues associated with developing a website that sells effectively. This 100+ page manual is a must read for all website owners. Learn what factors you should consider in the design and on-going development of your Web sites. Essentially, you will learn how to maximize your website’s performance using effective strategies to test and optimize conversion rates, increase the dollar amount of an average sale, and find the price point that maximizes your profit.

    Chapter 1: Dialing In A Website—Process Overview
    Dialing in a website to its maximum effectiveness is a deliberate process. The process is reasonably formulaic and is not difficult to execute, but it does require time and effort. You could do it within a few short weeks, or it could take months.
    Formula for a Successful Website
    The elusive formula for a successful website is as follows:
    Good Product + Fair Price + Good Website + Lots of Qualified Traffic = Profitability

    Before we proceed, let’s define some terms so you have a clearer understanding of each component in the formula.

    Objectives of This Book
    The objective of this book, then, is to help you develop a “good website.” Remember that the definition of a good website is a website that closes sales. A website that looks fantastic but does not close sales is a bad site. A terrible looking site that closes sales like crazy is a good website! The goal, of course, is a good-looking site that closes sales. Since price plays a big part in how your website performs, it will also be covered.
    The objective, then, is to develop a website that sells more, more often, and more profitably. This book deals with how to design and optimize your website’s performance.
  • Web directories are large, topical, searchable directories that differ from traditional relevancy search engines because their content is maintained by actual humans--not 'robot spiders' checking your site. Hence they are "live." Web directory personnel checks your site and decides whether to include your website in their index. Sites in the index are found by browsing, by category, or by searching sites in the index with simple keyword matching. There are over a hundred Web directories on the Internet, each of varying import. Nevertheless, your strategy should be to submit to all of them if possible.

    At this point, it should be noted that of the many web directories on the Internet, two are the most important. These are Yahoo! and The Open Directory Project. While you should certainly make efforts to submit to all of the web directories, these two are the foundation directories for several reasons. As discussed in the Link Popularity & Page Rank tutorial, Google values links to your website with differing weight. Links from some websites are worth much more than others. Links from Yahoo and ODP are among the most valuable on the Internet. Getting links from these websites can do more than anything to improve your page rank. Furthermore, links in these and other web directories will allow relevancy search engines to find you and list you, often much faster than a direct submission to each engine.

    Live Directory Benefits
    The real power in submitting to live directories isn't so much the link you get in the particular directory, but the additional links you get! Many of the live directories below allow other websites and directories to copy them. For example, the Open Directory Project is the most important live directory on the web. The ODP allows over 200 (estimated) other major websites on the Internet to copy their entire directory. If you submit and are accepted to the ODP, it is only a matter of time before that link propagates itself onto the other websites that copy the ODP. Your one link really generates 200 links. Many of the live directories on the list below power other directories. The list below has over 100 directories that you should submit your site to. You won't just end up with about 100 websites linking to you, you will automatically receive hundreds of additional links! A live directory campaign is a no-brainer.

    Submitting
    Submitting to these live web directories involves going to each directory and looking for the "suggest a site" link, usually on the front page or on a page in an appropriate sub-category. Carefully read the instructions for each live directory, as they are most often more involved than simply telling them your web address, as with the relevancy search engines. Web directories often ask you to enter in titles, descriptions, a list of relevant keywords and keyword phrases, and other information.
  • SuperNutrient Corporation Sees Revenue Grow Seven-Fold
    in Just Two Years through Online Marketing and Sales Efforts

    Connecticut entrepreneur boosts company’s bottom-line with help from StoresOnline

    NEWTON, Conn. and OREM, Utah – January, 2006 – In the two years since he first attended a StoresOnline workshop David Stout has seen his company’s gross revenue grow seven-fold to $150,000 in 2005 from $20,000 in 2003. Now, after more than doubling his company’s gross revenue in each of the last two straight years, Stout is eagerly anticipating his company’s continued growth.

    Stout’s company, SuperNutrient Corp., originally produced the patented amino acid formula, “Platinum Plus” for medical practitioners and physicians to use in treating patients with a variety of health concerns. However, as the product’s popularity spread through word of mouth, Stout quickly identified the enormous business opportunity in marketing directly to individual consumers.

    “Once I got my feet wet and saw how easy it was to use the Web site construction software, our site came together rather quickly,” Stout said. “The StoresOnline shopping cart checkout feature helped facilitate a user-friendly shopping process for our customers and it made it much easier for us to sell our product.”

    The steady pattern of growth demonstrated by the elevated bottom line is only part of what makes Stout so happy.

    “Sure the financial aspect is appealing, but our focus is on the quality of life for our customers,” Stout said. “I just want people to see how our products can help them live healthier and more complete lives. Once I realized how StoresOnline’s software could help us better reach our customers, I knew the software was a great fit for us. Now we are definitely headed in the right direction, and we plan on doubling our revenues again in the coming year!”

    StoresOnline offers comprehensive store options and innovative software perfectly suited for entrepreneurs like Stout. Its simple format and superior customer service helped him launch his site quickly and seamlessly.

    “We are always pleased to see our customers finding success with our software,” said Brandon Lewis, president of StoresOnline. “Entrepreneurs, by nature are very brave people. We know it’s tough to make it when you start from the ground up, but our products and services continue to help thousands of small businesses successfully establish an online presence.”

    For more information about SuperNutrient Corporation please visit www.supernutrient.com. For additional information about StoresOnline and its customer’s success stories, please visit www.storesonline.com or call (801) 227-0004.

    About StoresOnline

    StoresOnline is an e-services company that offers e-commerce technology, training and a variety of Web-based technology services to help small business owners and entrepreneurs build and maintain fully functional e-commerce Web sites.
  • Link Popularity- Google Counts Inbound Links
    As it relates to your overall promotion efforts, it is important that you understand what Link Popularity is, and how it affects your overall promotion efforts, specifically search engine rankings. Google, as of this writing, is generally regarded as the best relevancy-based search engine on the Internet. If you take into consideration the fact that Google provides the search results for not only Google.com, but also AOL.com, Netscape.com and several others, Google's search results have somewhere between a 70-80% reach on the Internet, depending on who you ask. The bottom line is that if you come up number one for a particular keyword phrase in Google, you are also number one on all the search engines for which Google provides search results. Understanding what matters to Google for effective listings is important.

    Google (and other relevancysearch engines increasingly) uses as a factor in determining the relevancy of a particular web page to a particular keyword a concept they call "Link Popularity". Google counts the number of other websites on the Internet that link to your site. (Note: Google must be indexing those other sites in order to count their link to you. If a particular site linking to you is not indexed by Google, it does not benefit your link popularity, but it is still a link that can send you traffic; so don't panic.) The more sites that link to yours, the higher your link popularity and thus the higher you go in Google's search engine results. Consider too, that link popularity is certainly not the only factor Google considers by a long shot. Click here to learn more about relevancy search engine optimization.

    Improving your link popularity should be a permanent part of your marketing efforts. Consider however, that if you are already doing the other important things to promote your site, your link popularity will grow automatically. They are all intertwined. You should review the Link Trading, Live Web Directories, Vertical Portals, and Strategic Linking tutorials for specifics on how to get other websites to link to yours.
  • One huge error most merchants on the Internet make is that they fail to track some basic performance metrics to measure the financial performance of their websites. There are several key metrics that you should track.
    These are:
    • Conversion Rate- This is the percentage of visitors who convert into buyers. Conversion rates on the Internet average about 2%. The most efficient websites on the Internet consistently close at 2.5% to 3%. Conversion rates higher than that are unheard of.
    • Average Order Size- This is the size of an average order in dollars. Some customers may spend more, some less, but on average, you should know your order size.
    • Per-Click Budget- This is the key metric that will drive most of your efforts on the Internet. The per-click budget tells you how much a single visitor is worth to your website on average. This is measured in terms of dollars and cents.
    These three metrics, which are easy to calculate and track are critical to your overall marketing efforts on the Internet. At some point, you can only get so much traction out of free promotional techniques like Link Trading and others. While these free promotional strategies are critical to your overall marketing efforts, you must use paid advertising resources on the Internet to truly promote your website and drive serious traffic.

    Without understanding your key performance metrics, using paid advertising can be treacherous. If you do know these metrics, then paid advertising on the Internet becomes not only viable, but extremely safe and effective.
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