How to Find Your Way in the World of International Payments

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Credit card, direct deposit, check, cash, e-pay… making domestic payments is a breeze these days, with enough flexibility to offer optimization based on your vendor’s payment preferences. International payments, on the other hand, are much more complex, and bring to mind painful images of cumbersome wire submissions.

Alternate options, such as fintech solutions, enable companies to submit all their domestic and international payments in one file. If the fintech also includes vendor maintenance as part of their services, then the payment file draws banking details from the fintech’s vendor network, eliminating the responsibility of maintaining that data from AP teams’ plates.

But before we delve too deeply into the process, let’s take a step back and explore nomenclature. Over time, companies have imposed their own internal vocabulary over common terms. Terms like ‘wire’, ‘direct deposit’, and ‘ACH’ are often used interchangeably, even though they operate differently. Let’s synchronize our understanding of these words.

What’s in a name?

International vs. cross-border vs. FX

“Cross-border payments” is a self-explanatory term—the definition is right in the name. These funds cross international borders to reach their destination.

“International payments” also describes cross-border payment activity, but carries other specific interpretations as well. For example, it may also refer to funds transferred within a single country through a bank or fintech located outside of that country (e.g. Canada to Canada, but through a U.S. fintech).

The term “FX” (Foreign Exchange) is occasionally thrown around to describe international payments, though it typically refers to currency exchange instead of the transmission of funds.

At the end of the day, as long as your company recognizes the nuances, the use of any term is fine. For simplicity’s sake, the rest of this article will refer to “international payments”.

Stepping out of history and into the future

Wire vs. EFT

Wire is the most popular and recognizable form of international payment processing. From a simplistic, yet technical standpoint, wire payments transmit account data from one bank to another. It’s sometimes the only method for sending money from one country to another, especially when working with specific currency exchanges or infrequently paid countries.

The term “EFT” (Electronic Funds Transfer) is quite a bit broader. It is a catch-all phrase used to describe any electronic payment process. Wire, ACH, direct deposit, and other methods fall under this umbrella.

Standardized codes

Codes are commonly used to determine various international payment factors. Use of the wrong codes can cause downstream payment issues, so it’s worth identifying each type, since they often appear to be very similar to one another.

Country Codes

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) country codes are country-specific abbreviations with varied uses.  Although three ISO country code variations exist—ISO Alpha-2, ISO Alpha-3, and ISO Alpha numeric—the ISO Alpha-2 code is used most in the international payment scope, in IBANs and SWIFT codes.

As the name suggests, ISO Alpha-2 codes are 2-character codes assigned to each country for identification purposes.  For example, the United States is “US”, the United Kingdom is “GB”, and China is “CN”.

Currency Codes

Currency codes are 3-digit codes that identify currencies. Their resemblance to ISO Alpha-3 country codes may cause confusion, so it’s always worthwhile to make sure you’ve got the right code before adding it to payment instructions.

For example, the ISO Alpha-3 country code for the United States is “USA” while the currency code for U.S. dollars is “USD”. Similarly, “CHE” is the ISO Alpha-3 country code for Switzerland, while the currency code for Swiss francs is ‘CHF’.

Payment specifications

Information requirements for international payments are far less cut-and-dried than those for domestic processes. The details often vary depending on the payment type, currencies, and the countries involved.

SWIFT/BIC Codes

Veteran AP personnel are likely very familiar with the SWIFT system (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications), which is known as the BIC system (Bank Identifier Code) in some countries.

SWIFT codes were introduced in the ‘70s as a way to streamline the global money-transferring process and reduce the possibility of human error. SWIFT codes are a series of characters that identify the bank, country, and branch location to which a payment should be sent. Decades later, they still play a significant role.

Routing Numbers

While SWIFT codes are still essential to send international payments, the growing financial industry has highlighted the need for additional details. Routing numbers are the collective answer, and play a fairly large role in the modern payment structure.

The caveat is that they may not always be called “routing numbers”, which is a U.S. term. For example, Australia has the “BSB Code”, China the “CNAPS”, and India the “ISFC Code”.

While it may seem redundant to provide both the SWIFT and routing details, it is an excellent way to clarify the payment destination.

IBANs and Account Numbers

IBANs (International Bank Account Number) arrived in the ‘90s as a way to further standardize banking information, and have been adopted primarily by countries in the European Union, the Middle East, and several countries in Africa. While IBANs vary in length depending on the country, they contain these common factors:

  • ISO alpha-2 country code
  • Check digits
  • Bank identifier
  • Branch identifier
  • Account number

Because IBANs often include the bank identifier (which shares digits with the SWIFT code), further account information isn’t typically necessary, which massively simplifies the payment process.

Countries that have not adopted the IBAN must still provide the SWIFT code, routing details, and the account number, as well as any country-specific requirements with their invoices.

Country-specific details

Additional details can include purpose of payment, tax documentation, and company phone numbers, amongst other things. Since each country requires specific information, it can be tricky to know exactly what to supply.

When in doubt, ask your payment solution provider—they can outline each country’s requirements, as needed.

Putting it all together

While international payment processes have evolved over time, the task is still nothing to sneeze at. Fortunately, fintechs like Nvoicepay have simplified the process, and store and maintain banking details on your behalf. That way, when you’re ready to pay your international vendors, you’re good to go in just a few clicks of your mouse—no more painful single-payment submissions through the bank.


avatar

Alyssa Callahan is a Technical Marketing Writer at Nvoicepay. She has four years of experience in the B2B payment industry, specializing in cross-border B2B payment processes.

The post How to Find Your Way in the World of International Payments appeared first on SiteProNews.

Quick wins for Magento SEO

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Whether you’re migrating your existing online store or starting a new one, Magento is considered the ecommerce platform. In this post we are going to dive into SEO best practices to follow, looking at technical considerations and touching on content strategy. We will predominantly be concentrating on Magento Open Source.

What is Magento?

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform developed by Varien. The first beta was launched in 2007. Since then it has had a number of owners (or maybe “custodians” would be a better term) including eBay, a private equity firm and, most recently, Adobe.

It’s a beast

In 2017, four years after its initial proposed launch date, Magento 2 was released. This may sound like a long delay, but with 1.84 million lines of PHP code and 239,000 lines of JavaScript – before you even consider HTML, CSS, XML, and other entities – you can appreciate the sheer scale of the task.

Given its size, it’s not the easiest ecommerce platform to get to grips with but, when it comes to sheer grunt, there isn’t much out there that can out-punch Magento.

Migrating?

Before we start, if you are migrating from another platform then you might find our post “The site migration tool for redirecting URLs like a boss” helpful.

Is Magento SEO-friendly?

Magento has many SEO-friendly features. However, first and foremost it is an enterprise ecommerce platform that can connect (via APIs and extensions) to a whole host of the world’s most popular payment gateway, order fulfillment, stock management, and CRM systems.

However, regardless of how SEO-friendly, it is out of the box, you’ll always want to be one step ahead of your competitors, right?

Let’s get optimizing. First, start with your theme.

The biggest consideration for any theme is how it handles the main navigation. A good test is to disable CSS and JavaScript (the Web Developer toolbar makes this easy), this then enables you to view the HTML structure. The out the box product Magento offers a pretty elegant solution that uses a semantically pleasing, nested unordered list. We would suggest using a theme that doesn’t deviate too far away from this convention if you aren’t 100% sure what you should be looking for.

Another area to check is to run the theme through Google’s mobile-friendly test. With Google’s mobile-first index nearly fully rolled out, making sure your site is fully mobile-friendly is a must.

Configuration setting

Considering the power of Magento, the backend isn’t too complicated and the options are split quite intuitively. All the following settings can all be found in the “Store – Configuration”.

General – Web – URL Options – Auto redirect to base URL

Selecting “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)” will mean non-www traffic is automatically redirected to www or vice versa.

General – Web – Search Engine Optimization – Use web server rewrites

Magento’s code is based upon a variation of the MVC framework. For non-devs, in simple terms, this means templates are called via the URL structure. This doesn’t always lend itself to human or SEO-friendly URLs. Ensuring this setting is set to “yes” means Magento will tidy up the structure. For example, “storename.com/index.html/page-name” will become “storename.com/page-name”.

General – Web – Base URLs – Base URL

If you are running with an SSL certificate, which all e-commerce sites should be these days, then this should be set to the same as the Secure Base URL that is “https://sitename.com“. This will mean anyone attempting to access HTTP will be redirected to HTTPS.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Default Robots

This might seem like an obvious one, but we’ve seen development sites pushed live having a global meta robots tag with the “noindex, nofollow” value. So, ensue when going live this is changed to “index, follow”.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Edit custom instruction of the robots.txt file

This is where custom amends to the robots.txt file can be made. You can disallow any pages or directories you do not want search engines to index.

Catalog – Catalog –  Search Engine Optimization  – Use Categories Path for Product URLs

Let me use the much-coined SEO phrase – “it depends”. If this is set to “no” all products will appear in the root directory which is “storename.com/product-name”. This option is the most manageable and trouble-free setting to use, especially if your products appear in multiple categories.

When set to “yes” the URL will show the path of categories and subcategories, that is “storename.com/categry-name/product-name”.

If you are familiar with the concept of content silos and think it is a strategy you want to employ, then you will want to set this option to “yes”.

You should be aware of potential duplicate content issues though. If you are unsure then it’s really not worth the risk.

Catalog – XML sitemap

This section allows you to set frequency values and priority settings for categories, products, and CMS pages. For most applications the default values are sufficient.

In the “Generation Settings” section, you can also set the sitemap to auto-generate/update by setting “Enabled” to “Yes”. This is usually a good option with the frequency set, depending on how often you add new pages to your site.

Catalog – XML sitemap – Search Engine Submission settings –  Enable submission to Robots.txt

This will add a line to your robots.txt file informing the search engines where to find your XML sitemap. You can submit it via the Google Search Console, but a bit of automation is always good. So unless you have a specific reason not to then this should be set to “Yes”.

Site speed, the elephant in the room.

It’s no secret that Google likes a fast site, and it’s also no secret that due to the size of Magento’s code base it doesn’t have the world’s best reputation for speed. However, there are some quick wins you can make.

1. Host server

This will largely come down to your budget. Magento does run a basic shared server environment, but if you can stretch to a dedicated server then you will have so much more processing power at your fingertips

2. Caching

Magento has a sophisticated caching system that should be implemented. If you navigate to “System – Cache Management” you will want to make sure that all caches are set to “Enabled”. Often in the development stage, these can be switched off.

3. Flat catalog

By default, Magento uses the Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) database system. This means that products and their attributes can be split over many tables. It’s a very flexible model but also slower when compared to a flat system. For this reason, Magento has the option to switch to using a flat catalog. The more categories, products, and attributes you have, the bigger the benefit you will see here. To enable this feature go to – “Configuration > Catalog > Storefront”. Here you will find two options, “Use Flat Catalog Category” and “Use Flat Catalog Product”, set both of these to “Yes”.

4. Image optimization

Ensure that all images are sized no larger than they will appear at their maximum size within your responsive theme. Images should also be saved in the correct format with SVGs used for logos and graphics where possible.

5. Browser caching

This isn’t something that is an option in the backend of Magento. You’ll have to get your hands dirty by manually updating the .htaccess file. There are plenty of resources on the net that can provide guidance on this… just remember to make a backup on the .htaccess before you amend it.

6. HTTP/2

If you know, then you know. If not, it’s best to pop a support ticket into your hosting provider on how to implement this. HTTP/2 allows browsers to perform multiple requests over a single connection. With a basic Magento home page requiring around 200 requests, this is a no-brainer.

7. Extensions

It’s good practice to test your site speed before and after the installation of an extension. You can also do this retrospectively by disabling existing extensions. If you do find an extension that is causing speed problems then you will need to weigh up the benefit vs site speed cost.

Layered navigation

What is generally referred to as faceted navigation is known as layered navigation in Magento. It lets users filter down products in a category by their predefined attributes. This is a feature that users have grown to expect when navigating ecommerce sites. It’s also a feature that has given search marketers more than a few headaches over the years.

If you take as an example a category page with 20 products, and within those products, there are five colors, five sizes, and four styles. When you consider you can filter by any combination of attributes, one category page has now turned into more than 100, all with their own URL. To compound this, you can then also order the products by name, price or number, and then select where you want them ascending or descending. As these options generally also update the URL, we are now up to 600 URLs. When you consider this is just one category you can appreciate it could cause problems with indexing.

Don’t get stuck in the spider web

We have seen ecommerce sites with millions of pages needlessly indexed, due to faceted parameters, on more than one occasion. Not only does this cause issues for Google being able to figure out what are the important pages on your site are, but they can also become spider traps.

This is where search engine bots will spend so much time crawling they essentially give up on your site and go somewhere else.

Managing this issue is where search marketers earn our keep. So, how can we accomplish this in Magento?

Unfortunately, there is not a completely elegant solution that’s straight out of the box. There are extensions that you can install that do make the job a little easier or you could even write some custom code yourself with the help of user forums.

Ultimately what you are looking to achieve are any of the following solutions

  • Add a canonical tag that references the non-filtered page
  • Nofollow all links to filtered pages and add a “noindex” tag on the linked pages
  • “Disallow” the pages in your robots.txt file

Another solution is declaring the URL parameters within Google’s Search Console. At the time of writing, you still have to do this via the old interface.

Which solution you choose, can depend upon the site. For instance, the canonical tag might be a good solution if you have only a few filterable attributes in your layered navigation, but as it still requires Google to crawl the pages to find these tags, if you have 100s of attributes it could use a large proportion of your crawl budget (even though the pages aren’t being indexed).

We have a dedicated post on faceted navigation if you would like to read more on the subject.

What next?

So you’ve got the right products at the right price, you’ve got your technical SEO sorted but so has your competition. How do you set yourself apart so you stand out in the SERPs?

Content

A solid content strategy is what we do best here at Zazzle Media. We won’t dig too deep into this subject here, as we have numerous other posts we will point you in the direction of, and it’s not a topic exclusively related to Magento. What we will do is cover some of the areas you should be looking to cover:

Functional content

You can read up on the importance of having engaging functional content here.

Category content – In the admin area navigate to – Catalog – Categories – [Category] – Content – Description

Category pages will often drive a good proportion of traffic to your site. Categorizing your catalog to align with your keyword research will be worth the time and effort and help your site realize its full potential. When generating copy for the pages, a top tip is to look at the TF*IDF using a tool such as Ryte. This will highlight any words that are over or under-optimized for our page based upon the main topic.

Product descriptions – These descriptions can be added on your mass import CSV file or by navigating to – Catalog > Products > [Product] > Content > Description in the admin area.

Try to steer clear of using descriptions provided directly from the suppliers or manufacturers, as you can bet they’ve already been used on numerous other websites. This can be a big task with larger catalogs, but set a certain amount of resources aside every month and concentrate on your most popular items to start with.

Informational content

There are various ways of publishing news/blog content on Magento. A popular solution is to integrate WordPress using the Fishpig extension. This has been around for years and there are versions for Magento 1 and 2. It allows one-click login to both platforms and lets you associate posts with specific products which is a useful feature.

This is the area where a good strategy can pay dividends. Performing a gap analysis on your top competitors is an effective way to identify quick wins. Some comprehensive informational keyword research will also highlight questions and topics users are searching for. All this information can help you put together a content calendar that should align with business focuses and seasonal trends. Considering the different stages in your sales cycle, and the questions your users might have at these points will enable you to create a comprehensive resource of information.

In summary

Developing a site on the Magento platform isn’t always the cheapest solution to launch an ecommerce website, however, on the flip side, you’ll never want for a more powerful solution or be short of advice from the vast developer community. You also should have any issue in integrating it with the product information management (PIM) tool of your choice.

With a little bit of configuration, you should also have a site that is SEO-friendly. Regardless of the platform, the output is simply a mixture of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images and other resources. So fundamentally the same rules apply. Also, remember SEO isn’t a one-hit solution, it’s a strategy that is constantly evolving. Stand still and your competitors will catch you up and take your customers.

Mark Chisholm is an SEO Executive working within the Search & Data Team at Zazzle Media.

The post Quick wins for Magento SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Quick wins for Magento SEO

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Whether you’re migrating your existing online store or starting a new one, Magento is considered the ecommerce platform. In this post we are going to dive into SEO best practices to follow, looking at technical considerations and touching on content strategy. We will predominantly be concentrating on Magento Open Source.

What is Magento?

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform developed by Varien. The first beta was launched in 2007. Since then it has had a number of owners (or maybe “custodians” would be a better term) including eBay, a private equity firm and, most recently, Adobe.

It’s a beast

In 2017, four years after its initial proposed launch date, Magento 2 was released. This may sound like a long delay, but with 1.84 million lines of PHP code and 239,000 lines of JavaScript – before you even consider HTML, CSS, XML, and other entities – you can appreciate the sheer scale of the task.

Given its size, it’s not the easiest ecommerce platform to get to grips with but, when it comes to sheer grunt, there isn’t much out there that can out-punch Magento.

Migrating?

Before we start, if you are migrating from another platform then you might find our post “The site migration tool for redirecting URLs like a boss” helpful.

Is Magento SEO-friendly?

Magento has many SEO-friendly features. However, first and foremost it is an enterprise ecommerce platform that can connect (via APIs and extensions) to a whole host of the world’s most popular payment gateway, order fulfillment, stock management, and CRM systems.

However, regardless of how SEO-friendly, it is out of the box, you’ll always want to be one step ahead of your competitors, right?

Let’s get optimizing. First, start with your theme.

The biggest consideration for any theme is how it handles the main navigation. A good test is to disable CSS and JavaScript (the Web Developer toolbar makes this easy), this then enables you to view the HTML structure. The out the box product Magento offers a pretty elegant solution that uses a semantically pleasing, nested unordered list. We would suggest using a theme that doesn’t deviate too far away from this convention if you aren’t 100% sure what you should be looking for.

Another area to check is to run the theme through Google’s mobile-friendly test. With Google’s mobile-first index nearly fully rolled out, making sure your site is fully mobile-friendly is a must.

Configuration setting

Considering the power of Magento, the backend isn’t too complicated and the options are split quite intuitively. All the following settings can all be found in the “Store – Configuration”.

General – Web – URL Options – Auto redirect to base URL

Selecting “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)” will mean non-www traffic is automatically redirected to www or vice versa.

General – Web – Search Engine Optimization – Use web server rewrites

Magento’s code is based upon a variation of the MVC framework. For non-devs, in simple terms, this means templates are called via the URL structure. This doesn’t always lend itself to human or SEO-friendly URLs. Ensuring this setting is set to “yes” means Magento will tidy up the structure. For example, “storename.com/index.html/page-name” will become “storename.com/page-name”.

General – Web – Base URLs – Base URL

If you are running with an SSL certificate, which all e-commerce sites should be these days, then this should be set to the same as the Secure Base URL that is “https://sitename.com“. This will mean anyone attempting to access HTTP will be redirected to HTTPS.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Default Robots

This might seem like an obvious one, but we’ve seen development sites pushed live having a global meta robots tag with the “noindex, nofollow” value. So, ensue when going live this is changed to “index, follow”.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Edit custom instruction of the robots.txt file

This is where custom amends to the robots.txt file can be made. You can disallow any pages or directories you do not want search engines to index.

Catalog – Catalog –  Search Engine Optimization  – Use Categories Path for Product URLs

Let me use the much-coined SEO phrase – “it depends”. If this is set to “no” all products will appear in the root directory which is “storename.com/product-name”. This option is the most manageable and trouble-free setting to use, especially if your products appear in multiple categories.

When set to “yes” the URL will show the path of categories and subcategories, that is “storename.com/categry-name/product-name”.

If you are familiar with the concept of content silos and think it is a strategy you want to employ, then you will want to set this option to “yes”.

You should be aware of potential duplicate content issues though. If you are unsure then it’s really not worth the risk.

Catalog – XML sitemap

This section allows you to set frequency values and priority settings for categories, products, and CMS pages. For most applications the default values are sufficient.

In the “Generation Settings” section, you can also set the sitemap to auto-generate/update by setting “Enabled” to “Yes”. This is usually a good option with the frequency set, depending on how often you add new pages to your site.

Catalog – XML sitemap – Search Engine Submission settings –  Enable submission to Robots.txt

This will add a line to your robots.txt file informing the search engines where to find your XML sitemap. You can submit it via the Google Search Console, but a bit of automation is always good. So unless you have a specific reason not to then this should be set to “Yes”.

Site speed, the elephant in the room.

It’s no secret that Google likes a fast site, and it’s also no secret that due to the size of Magento’s code base it doesn’t have the world’s best reputation for speed. However, there are some quick wins you can make.

1. Host server

This will largely come down to your budget. Magento does run a basic shared server environment, but if you can stretch to a dedicated server then you will have so much more processing power at your fingertips

2. Caching

Magento has a sophisticated caching system that should be implemented. If you navigate to “System – Cache Management” you will want to make sure that all caches are set to “Enabled”. Often in the development stage, these can be switched off.

3. Flat catalog

By default, Magento uses the Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) database system. This means that products and their attributes can be split over many tables. It’s a very flexible model but also slower when compared to a flat system. For this reason, Magento has the option to switch to using a flat catalog. The more categories, products, and attributes you have, the bigger the benefit you will see here. To enable this feature go to – “Configuration > Catalog > Storefront”. Here you will find two options, “Use Flat Catalog Category” and “Use Flat Catalog Product”, set both of these to “Yes”.

4. Image optimization

Ensure that all images are sized no larger than they will appear at their maximum size within your responsive theme. Images should also be saved in the correct format with SVGs used for logos and graphics where possible.

5. Browser caching

This isn’t something that is an option in the backend of Magento. You’ll have to get your hands dirty by manually updating the .htaccess file. There are plenty of resources on the net that can provide guidance on this… just remember to make a backup on the .htaccess before you amend it.

6. HTTP/2

If you know, then you know. If not, it’s best to pop a support ticket into your hosting provider on how to implement this. HTTP/2 allows browsers to perform multiple requests over a single connection. With a basic Magento home page requiring around 200 requests, this is a no-brainer.

7. Extensions

It’s good practice to test your site speed before and after the installation of an extension. You can also do this retrospectively by disabling existing extensions. If you do find an extension that is causing speed problems then you will need to weigh up the benefit vs site speed cost.

Layered navigation

What is generally referred to as faceted navigation is known as layered navigation in Magento. It lets users filter down products in a category by their predefined attributes. This is a feature that users have grown to expect when navigating ecommerce sites. It’s also a feature that has given search marketers more than a few headaches over the years.

If you take as an example a category page with 20 products, and within those products, there are five colors, five sizes, and four styles. When you consider you can filter by any combination of attributes, one category page has now turned into more than 100, all with their own URL. To compound this, you can then also order the products by name, price or number, and then select where you want them ascending or descending. As these options generally also update the URL, we are now up to 600 URLs. When you consider this is just one category you can appreciate it could cause problems with indexing.

Don’t get stuck in the spider web

We have seen ecommerce sites with millions of pages needlessly indexed, due to faceted parameters, on more than one occasion. Not only does this cause issues for Google being able to figure out what are the important pages on your site are, but they can also become spider traps.

This is where search engine bots will spend so much time crawling they essentially give up on your site and go somewhere else.

Managing this issue is where search marketers earn our keep. So, how can we accomplish this in Magento?

Unfortunately, there is not a completely elegant solution that’s straight out of the box. There are extensions that you can install that do make the job a little easier or you could even write some custom code yourself with the help of user forums.

Ultimately what you are looking to achieve are any of the following solutions

  • Add a canonical tag that references the non-filtered page
  • Nofollow all links to filtered pages and add a “noindex” tag on the linked pages
  • “Disallow” the pages in your robots.txt file

Another solution is declaring the URL parameters within Google’s Search Console. At the time of writing, you still have to do this via the old interface.

Which solution you choose, can depend upon the site. For instance, the canonical tag might be a good solution if you have only a few filterable attributes in your layered navigation, but as it still requires Google to crawl the pages to find these tags, if you have 100s of attributes it could use a large proportion of your crawl budget (even though the pages aren’t being indexed).

We have a dedicated post on faceted navigation if you would like to read more on the subject.

What next?

So you’ve got the right products at the right price, you’ve got your technical SEO sorted but so has your competition. How do you set yourself apart so you stand out in the SERPs?

Content

A solid content strategy is what we do best here at Zazzle Media. We won’t dig too deep into this subject here, as we have numerous other posts we will point you in the direction of, and it’s not a topic exclusively related to Magento. What we will do is cover some of the areas you should be looking to cover:

Functional content

You can read up on the importance of having engaging functional content here.

Category content – In the admin area navigate to – Catalog – Categories – [Category] – Content – Description

Category pages will often drive a good proportion of traffic to your site. Categorizing your catalog to align with your keyword research will be worth the time and effort and help your site realize its full potential. When generating copy for the pages, a top tip is to look at the TF*IDF using a tool such as Ryte. This will highlight any words that are over or under-optimized for our page based upon the main topic.

Product descriptions – These descriptions can be added on your mass import CSV file or by navigating to – Catalog > Products > [Product] > Content > Description in the admin area.

Try to steer clear of using descriptions provided directly from the suppliers or manufacturers, as you can bet they’ve already been used on numerous other websites. This can be a big task with larger catalogs, but set a certain amount of resources aside every month and concentrate on your most popular items to start with.

Informational content

There are various ways of publishing news/blog content on Magento. A popular solution is to integrate WordPress using the Fishpig extension. This has been around for years and there are versions for Magento 1 and 2. It allows one-click login to both platforms and lets you associate posts with specific products which is a useful feature.

This is the area where a good strategy can pay dividends. Performing a gap analysis on your top competitors is an effective way to identify quick wins. Some comprehensive informational keyword research will also highlight questions and topics users are searching for. All this information can help you put together a content calendar that should align with business focuses and seasonal trends. Considering the different stages in your sales cycle, and the questions your users might have at these points will enable you to create a comprehensive resource of information.

In summary

Developing a site on the Magento platform isn’t always the cheapest solution to launch an ecommerce website, however, on the flip side, you’ll never want for a more powerful solution or be short of advice from the vast developer community. You also should have any issue in integrating it with the product information management (PIM) tool of your choice.

With a little bit of configuration, you should also have a site that is SEO-friendly. Regardless of the platform, the output is simply a mixture of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images and other resources. So fundamentally the same rules apply. Also, remember SEO isn’t a one-hit solution, it’s a strategy that is constantly evolving. Stand still and your competitors will catch you up and take your customers.

Mark Chisholm is an SEO Executive working within the Search & Data Team at Zazzle Media.

The post Quick wins for Magento SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Quick wins for Magento SEO

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Whether you’re migrating your existing online store or starting a new one, Magento is considered the ecommerce platform. In this post we are going to dive into SEO best practices to follow, looking at technical considerations and touching on content strategy. We will predominantly be concentrating on Magento Open Source.

What is Magento?

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform developed by Varien. The first beta was launched in 2007. Since then it has had a number of owners (or maybe “custodians” would be a better term) including eBay, a private equity firm and, most recently, Adobe.

It’s a beast

In 2017, four years after its initial proposed launch date, Magento 2 was released. This may sound like a long delay, but with 1.84 million lines of PHP code and 239,000 lines of JavaScript – before you even consider HTML, CSS, XML, and other entities – you can appreciate the sheer scale of the task.

Given its size, it’s not the easiest ecommerce platform to get to grips with but, when it comes to sheer grunt, there isn’t much out there that can out-punch Magento.

Migrating?

Before we start, if you are migrating from another platform then you might find our post “The site migration tool for redirecting URLs like a boss” helpful.

Is Magento SEO-friendly?

Magento has many SEO-friendly features. However, first and foremost it is an enterprise ecommerce platform that can connect (via APIs and extensions) to a whole host of the world’s most popular payment gateway, order fulfillment, stock management, and CRM systems.

However, regardless of how SEO-friendly, it is out of the box, you’ll always want to be one step ahead of your competitors, right?

Let’s get optimizing. First, start with your theme.

The biggest consideration for any theme is how it handles the main navigation. A good test is to disable CSS and JavaScript (the Web Developer toolbar makes this easy), this then enables you to view the HTML structure. The out the box product Magento offers a pretty elegant solution that uses a semantically pleasing, nested unordered list. We would suggest using a theme that doesn’t deviate too far away from this convention if you aren’t 100% sure what you should be looking for.

Another area to check is to run the theme through Google’s mobile-friendly test. With Google’s mobile-first index nearly fully rolled out, making sure your site is fully mobile-friendly is a must.

Configuration setting

Considering the power of Magento, the backend isn’t too complicated and the options are split quite intuitively. All the following settings can all be found in the “Store – Configuration”.

General – Web – URL Options – Auto redirect to base URL

Selecting “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)” will mean non-www traffic is automatically redirected to www or vice versa.

General – Web – Search Engine Optimization – Use web server rewrites

Magento’s code is based upon a variation of the MVC framework. For non-devs, in simple terms, this means templates are called via the URL structure. This doesn’t always lend itself to human or SEO-friendly URLs. Ensuring this setting is set to “yes” means Magento will tidy up the structure. For example, “storename.com/index.html/page-name” will become “storename.com/page-name”.

General – Web – Base URLs – Base URL

If you are running with an SSL certificate, which all e-commerce sites should be these days, then this should be set to the same as the Secure Base URL that is “https://sitename.com“. This will mean anyone attempting to access HTTP will be redirected to HTTPS.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Default Robots

This might seem like an obvious one, but we’ve seen development sites pushed live having a global meta robots tag with the “noindex, nofollow” value. So, ensue when going live this is changed to “index, follow”.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Edit custom instruction of the robots.txt file

This is where custom amends to the robots.txt file can be made. You can disallow any pages or directories you do not want search engines to index.

Catalog – Catalog –  Search Engine Optimization  – Use Categories Path for Product URLs

Let me use the much-coined SEO phrase – “it depends”. If this is set to “no” all products will appear in the root directory which is “storename.com/product-name”. This option is the most manageable and trouble-free setting to use, especially if your products appear in multiple categories.

When set to “yes” the URL will show the path of categories and subcategories, that is “storename.com/categry-name/product-name”.

If you are familiar with the concept of content silos and think it is a strategy you want to employ, then you will want to set this option to “yes”.

You should be aware of potential duplicate content issues though. If you are unsure then it’s really not worth the risk.

Catalog – XML sitemap

This section allows you to set frequency values and priority settings for categories, products, and CMS pages. For most applications the default values are sufficient.

In the “Generation Settings” section, you can also set the sitemap to auto-generate/update by setting “Enabled” to “Yes”. This is usually a good option with the frequency set, depending on how often you add new pages to your site.

Catalog – XML sitemap – Search Engine Submission settings –  Enable submission to Robots.txt

This will add a line to your robots.txt file informing the search engines where to find your XML sitemap. You can submit it via the Google Search Console, but a bit of automation is always good. So unless you have a specific reason not to then this should be set to “Yes”.

Site speed, the elephant in the room.

It’s no secret that Google likes a fast site, and it’s also no secret that due to the size of Magento’s code base it doesn’t have the world’s best reputation for speed. However, there are some quick wins you can make.

1. Host server

This will largely come down to your budget. Magento does run a basic shared server environment, but if you can stretch to a dedicated server then you will have so much more processing power at your fingertips

2. Caching

Magento has a sophisticated caching system that should be implemented. If you navigate to “System – Cache Management” you will want to make sure that all caches are set to “Enabled”. Often in the development stage, these can be switched off.

3. Flat catalog

By default, Magento uses the Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) database system. This means that products and their attributes can be split over many tables. It’s a very flexible model but also slower when compared to a flat system. For this reason, Magento has the option to switch to using a flat catalog. The more categories, products, and attributes you have, the bigger the benefit you will see here. To enable this feature go to – “Configuration > Catalog > Storefront”. Here you will find two options, “Use Flat Catalog Category” and “Use Flat Catalog Product”, set both of these to “Yes”.

4. Image optimization

Ensure that all images are sized no larger than they will appear at their maximum size within your responsive theme. Images should also be saved in the correct format with SVGs used for logos and graphics where possible.

5. Browser caching

This isn’t something that is an option in the backend of Magento. You’ll have to get your hands dirty by manually updating the .htaccess file. There are plenty of resources on the net that can provide guidance on this… just remember to make a backup on the .htaccess before you amend it.

6. HTTP/2

If you know, then you know. If not, it’s best to pop a support ticket into your hosting provider on how to implement this. HTTP/2 allows browsers to perform multiple requests over a single connection. With a basic Magento home page requiring around 200 requests, this is a no-brainer.

7. Extensions

It’s good practice to test your site speed before and after the installation of an extension. You can also do this retrospectively by disabling existing extensions. If you do find an extension that is causing speed problems then you will need to weigh up the benefit vs site speed cost.

Layered navigation

What is generally referred to as faceted navigation is known as layered navigation in Magento. It lets users filter down products in a category by their predefined attributes. This is a feature that users have grown to expect when navigating ecommerce sites. It’s also a feature that has given search marketers more than a few headaches over the years.

If you take as an example a category page with 20 products, and within those products, there are five colors, five sizes, and four styles. When you consider you can filter by any combination of attributes, one category page has now turned into more than 100, all with their own URL. To compound this, you can then also order the products by name, price or number, and then select where you want them ascending or descending. As these options generally also update the URL, we are now up to 600 URLs. When you consider this is just one category you can appreciate it could cause problems with indexing.

Don’t get stuck in the spider web

We have seen ecommerce sites with millions of pages needlessly indexed, due to faceted parameters, on more than one occasion. Not only does this cause issues for Google being able to figure out what are the important pages on your site are, but they can also become spider traps.

This is where search engine bots will spend so much time crawling they essentially give up on your site and go somewhere else.

Managing this issue is where search marketers earn our keep. So, how can we accomplish this in Magento?

Unfortunately, there is not a completely elegant solution that’s straight out of the box. There are extensions that you can install that do make the job a little easier or you could even write some custom code yourself with the help of user forums.

Ultimately what you are looking to achieve are any of the following solutions

  • Add a canonical tag that references the non-filtered page
  • Nofollow all links to filtered pages and add a “noindex” tag on the linked pages
  • “Disallow” the pages in your robots.txt file

Another solution is declaring the URL parameters within Google’s Search Console. At the time of writing, you still have to do this via the old interface.

Which solution you choose, can depend upon the site. For instance, the canonical tag might be a good solution if you have only a few filterable attributes in your layered navigation, but as it still requires Google to crawl the pages to find these tags, if you have 100s of attributes it could use a large proportion of your crawl budget (even though the pages aren’t being indexed).

We have a dedicated post on faceted navigation if you would like to read more on the subject.

What next?

So you’ve got the right products at the right price, you’ve got your technical SEO sorted but so has your competition. How do you set yourself apart so you stand out in the SERPs?

Content

A solid content strategy is what we do best here at Zazzle Media. We won’t dig too deep into this subject here, as we have numerous other posts we will point you in the direction of, and it’s not a topic exclusively related to Magento. What we will do is cover some of the areas you should be looking to cover:

Functional content

You can read up on the importance of having engaging functional content here.

Category content – In the admin area navigate to – Catalog – Categories – [Category] – Content – Description

Category pages will often drive a good proportion of traffic to your site. Categorizing your catalog to align with your keyword research will be worth the time and effort and help your site realize its full potential. When generating copy for the pages, a top tip is to look at the TF*IDF using a tool such as Ryte. This will highlight any words that are over or under-optimized for our page based upon the main topic.

Product descriptions – These descriptions can be added on your mass import CSV file or by navigating to – Catalog > Products > [Product] > Content > Description in the admin area.

Try to steer clear of using descriptions provided directly from the suppliers or manufacturers, as you can bet they’ve already been used on numerous other websites. This can be a big task with larger catalogs, but set a certain amount of resources aside every month and concentrate on your most popular items to start with.

Informational content

There are various ways of publishing news/blog content on Magento. A popular solution is to integrate WordPress using the Fishpig extension. This has been around for years and there are versions for Magento 1 and 2. It allows one-click login to both platforms and lets you associate posts with specific products which is a useful feature.

This is the area where a good strategy can pay dividends. Performing a gap analysis on your top competitors is an effective way to identify quick wins. Some comprehensive informational keyword research will also highlight questions and topics users are searching for. All this information can help you put together a content calendar that should align with business focuses and seasonal trends. Considering the different stages in your sales cycle, and the questions your users might have at these points will enable you to create a comprehensive resource of information.

In summary

Developing a site on the Magento platform isn’t always the cheapest solution to launch an ecommerce website, however, on the flip side, you’ll never want for a more powerful solution or be short of advice from the vast developer community. You also should have any issue in integrating it with the product information management (PIM) tool of your choice.

With a little bit of configuration, you should also have a site that is SEO-friendly. Regardless of the platform, the output is simply a mixture of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images and other resources. So fundamentally the same rules apply. Also, remember SEO isn’t a one-hit solution, it’s a strategy that is constantly evolving. Stand still and your competitors will catch you up and take your customers.

Mark Chisholm is an SEO Executive working within the Search & Data Team at Zazzle Media.

The post Quick wins for Magento SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Quick wins for Magento SEO

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Whether you’re migrating your existing online store or starting a new one, Magento is considered the ecommerce platform. In this post we are going to dive into SEO best practices to follow, looking at technical considerations and touching on content strategy. We will predominantly be concentrating on Magento Open Source.

What is Magento?

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform developed by Varien. The first beta was launched in 2007. Since then it has had a number of owners (or maybe “custodians” would be a better term) including eBay, a private equity firm and, most recently, Adobe.

It’s a beast

In 2017, four years after its initial proposed launch date, Magento 2 was released. This may sound like a long delay, but with 1.84 million lines of PHP code and 239,000 lines of JavaScript – before you even consider HTML, CSS, XML, and other entities – you can appreciate the sheer scale of the task.

Given its size, it’s not the easiest ecommerce platform to get to grips with but, when it comes to sheer grunt, there isn’t much out there that can out-punch Magento.

Migrating?

Before we start, if you are migrating from another platform then you might find our post “The site migration tool for redirecting URLs like a boss” helpful.

Is Magento SEO-friendly?

Magento has many SEO-friendly features. However, first and foremost it is an enterprise ecommerce platform that can connect (via APIs and extensions) to a whole host of the world’s most popular payment gateway, order fulfillment, stock management, and CRM systems.

However, regardless of how SEO-friendly, it is out of the box, you’ll always want to be one step ahead of your competitors, right?

Let’s get optimizing. First, start with your theme.

The biggest consideration for any theme is how it handles the main navigation. A good test is to disable CSS and JavaScript (the Web Developer toolbar makes this easy), this then enables you to view the HTML structure. The out the box product Magento offers a pretty elegant solution that uses a semantically pleasing, nested unordered list. We would suggest using a theme that doesn’t deviate too far away from this convention if you aren’t 100% sure what you should be looking for.

Another area to check is to run the theme through Google’s mobile-friendly test. With Google’s mobile-first index nearly fully rolled out, making sure your site is fully mobile-friendly is a must.

Configuration setting

Considering the power of Magento, the backend isn’t too complicated and the options are split quite intuitively. All the following settings can all be found in the “Store – Configuration”.

General – Web – URL Options – Auto redirect to base URL

Selecting “Yes (301 Moved Permanently)” will mean non-www traffic is automatically redirected to www or vice versa.

General – Web – Search Engine Optimization – Use web server rewrites

Magento’s code is based upon a variation of the MVC framework. For non-devs, in simple terms, this means templates are called via the URL structure. This doesn’t always lend itself to human or SEO-friendly URLs. Ensuring this setting is set to “yes” means Magento will tidy up the structure. For example, “storename.com/index.html/page-name” will become “storename.com/page-name”.

General – Web – Base URLs – Base URL

If you are running with an SSL certificate, which all e-commerce sites should be these days, then this should be set to the same as the Secure Base URL that is “https://sitename.com“. This will mean anyone attempting to access HTTP will be redirected to HTTPS.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Default Robots

This might seem like an obvious one, but we’ve seen development sites pushed live having a global meta robots tag with the “noindex, nofollow” value. So, ensue when going live this is changed to “index, follow”.

General – Design – Search Engine Robots – Edit custom instruction of the robots.txt file

This is where custom amends to the robots.txt file can be made. You can disallow any pages or directories you do not want search engines to index.

Catalog – Catalog –  Search Engine Optimization  – Use Categories Path for Product URLs

Let me use the much-coined SEO phrase – “it depends”. If this is set to “no” all products will appear in the root directory which is “storename.com/product-name”. This option is the most manageable and trouble-free setting to use, especially if your products appear in multiple categories.

When set to “yes” the URL will show the path of categories and subcategories, that is “storename.com/categry-name/product-name”.

If you are familiar with the concept of content silos and think it is a strategy you want to employ, then you will want to set this option to “yes”.

You should be aware of potential duplicate content issues though. If you are unsure then it’s really not worth the risk.

Catalog – XML sitemap

This section allows you to set frequency values and priority settings for categories, products, and CMS pages. For most applications the default values are sufficient.

In the “Generation Settings” section, you can also set the sitemap to auto-generate/update by setting “Enabled” to “Yes”. This is usually a good option with the frequency set, depending on how often you add new pages to your site.

Catalog – XML sitemap – Search Engine Submission settings –  Enable submission to Robots.txt

This will add a line to your robots.txt file informing the search engines where to find your XML sitemap. You can submit it via the Google Search Console, but a bit of automation is always good. So unless you have a specific reason not to then this should be set to “Yes”.

Site speed, the elephant in the room.

It’s no secret that Google likes a fast site, and it’s also no secret that due to the size of Magento’s code base it doesn’t have the world’s best reputation for speed. However, there are some quick wins you can make.

1. Host server

This will largely come down to your budget. Magento does run a basic shared server environment, but if you can stretch to a dedicated server then you will have so much more processing power at your fingertips

2. Caching

Magento has a sophisticated caching system that should be implemented. If you navigate to “System – Cache Management” you will want to make sure that all caches are set to “Enabled”. Often in the development stage, these can be switched off.

3. Flat catalog

By default, Magento uses the Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) database system. This means that products and their attributes can be split over many tables. It’s a very flexible model but also slower when compared to a flat system. For this reason, Magento has the option to switch to using a flat catalog. The more categories, products, and attributes you have, the bigger the benefit you will see here. To enable this feature go to – “Configuration > Catalog > Storefront”. Here you will find two options, “Use Flat Catalog Category” and “Use Flat Catalog Product”, set both of these to “Yes”.

4. Image optimization

Ensure that all images are sized no larger than they will appear at their maximum size within your responsive theme. Images should also be saved in the correct format with SVGs used for logos and graphics where possible.

5. Browser caching

This isn’t something that is an option in the backend of Magento. You’ll have to get your hands dirty by manually updating the .htaccess file. There are plenty of resources on the net that can provide guidance on this… just remember to make a backup on the .htaccess before you amend it.

6. HTTP/2

If you know, then you know. If not, it’s best to pop a support ticket into your hosting provider on how to implement this. HTTP/2 allows browsers to perform multiple requests over a single connection. With a basic Magento home page requiring around 200 requests, this is a no-brainer.

7. Extensions

It’s good practice to test your site speed before and after the installation of an extension. You can also do this retrospectively by disabling existing extensions. If you do find an extension that is causing speed problems then you will need to weigh up the benefit vs site speed cost.

Layered navigation

What is generally referred to as faceted navigation is known as layered navigation in Magento. It lets users filter down products in a category by their predefined attributes. This is a feature that users have grown to expect when navigating ecommerce sites. It’s also a feature that has given search marketers more than a few headaches over the years.

If you take as an example a category page with 20 products, and within those products, there are five colors, five sizes, and four styles. When you consider you can filter by any combination of attributes, one category page has now turned into more than 100, all with their own URL. To compound this, you can then also order the products by name, price or number, and then select where you want them ascending or descending. As these options generally also update the URL, we are now up to 600 URLs. When you consider this is just one category you can appreciate it could cause problems with indexing.

Don’t get stuck in the spider web

We have seen ecommerce sites with millions of pages needlessly indexed, due to faceted parameters, on more than one occasion. Not only does this cause issues for Google being able to figure out what are the important pages on your site are, but they can also become spider traps.

This is where search engine bots will spend so much time crawling they essentially give up on your site and go somewhere else.

Managing this issue is where search marketers earn our keep. So, how can we accomplish this in Magento?

Unfortunately, there is not a completely elegant solution that’s straight out of the box. There are extensions that you can install that do make the job a little easier or you could even write some custom code yourself with the help of user forums.

Ultimately what you are looking to achieve are any of the following solutions

  • Add a canonical tag that references the non-filtered page
  • Nofollow all links to filtered pages and add a “noindex” tag on the linked pages
  • “Disallow” the pages in your robots.txt file

Another solution is declaring the URL parameters within Google’s Search Console. At the time of writing, you still have to do this via the old interface.

Which solution you choose, can depend upon the site. For instance, the canonical tag might be a good solution if you have only a few filterable attributes in your layered navigation, but as it still requires Google to crawl the pages to find these tags, if you have 100s of attributes it could use a large proportion of your crawl budget (even though the pages aren’t being indexed).

We have a dedicated post on faceted navigation if you would like to read more on the subject.

What next?

So you’ve got the right products at the right price, you’ve got your technical SEO sorted but so has your competition. How do you set yourself apart so you stand out in the SERPs?

Content

A solid content strategy is what we do best here at Zazzle Media. We won’t dig too deep into this subject here, as we have numerous other posts we will point you in the direction of, and it’s not a topic exclusively related to Magento. What we will do is cover some of the areas you should be looking to cover:

Functional content

You can read up on the importance of having engaging functional content here.

Category content – In the admin area navigate to – Catalog – Categories – [Category] – Content – Description

Category pages will often drive a good proportion of traffic to your site. Categorizing your catalog to align with your keyword research will be worth the time and effort and help your site realize its full potential. When generating copy for the pages, a top tip is to look at the TF*IDF using a tool such as Ryte. This will highlight any words that are over or under-optimized for our page based upon the main topic.

Product descriptions – These descriptions can be added on your mass import CSV file or by navigating to – Catalog > Products > [Product] > Content > Description in the admin area.

Try to steer clear of using descriptions provided directly from the suppliers or manufacturers, as you can bet they’ve already been used on numerous other websites. This can be a big task with larger catalogs, but set a certain amount of resources aside every month and concentrate on your most popular items to start with.

Informational content

There are various ways of publishing news/blog content on Magento. A popular solution is to integrate WordPress using the Fishpig extension. This has been around for years and there are versions for Magento 1 and 2. It allows one-click login to both platforms and lets you associate posts with specific products which is a useful feature.

This is the area where a good strategy can pay dividends. Performing a gap analysis on your top competitors is an effective way to identify quick wins. Some comprehensive informational keyword research will also highlight questions and topics users are searching for. All this information can help you put together a content calendar that should align with business focuses and seasonal trends. Considering the different stages in your sales cycle, and the questions your users might have at these points will enable you to create a comprehensive resource of information.

In summary

Developing a site on the Magento platform isn’t always the cheapest solution to launch an ecommerce website, however, on the flip side, you’ll never want for a more powerful solution or be short of advice from the vast developer community. You also should have any issue in integrating it with the product information management (PIM) tool of your choice.

With a little bit of configuration, you should also have a site that is SEO-friendly. Regardless of the platform, the output is simply a mixture of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images and other resources. So fundamentally the same rules apply. Also, remember SEO isn’t a one-hit solution, it’s a strategy that is constantly evolving. Stand still and your competitors will catch you up and take your customers.

Mark Chisholm is an SEO Executive working within the Search & Data Team at Zazzle Media.

The post Quick wins for Magento SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

7 Reasons Why Relationship Marketing Is Important for Business

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

An important factor in most businesses is making profits and remaining competitive in the long run. To achieve this, business owners employ several marketing strategies to meet their target market and keep their product relevant.

Having a lasting business has gone beyond having the best product. Today you need to know how best you can communicate the value of what you are selling, and keep individuals interested enough that they keep coming back.

To this end, marketing itself now focuses more on what is called “Relationship Marketing.” The term means establishing relationships with customers that would last beyond their first trial of your product.

It also means forming a profoundly personal relationship between consumers and brands, and it is built over an extended period, and born out of trust, reliability, and loyalty.

In the 21st century, a large percentage of marketing has shifted to the internet via social media. As a result, more and more companies are losing touch with their old customers, as they tend to focus more on attracting new ones.

However, studies have shown that it is essential to retain old clientele while sourcing for new ones. It’s especially important for long-term success strategies, and for this to happen, companies must engage more with their current clients.

Now, a business owner might wonder about the usefulness of relationship marketing since more than half of the world population are online and are conducting business virtually. The answer is simple and your questions will be answered shortly.

Note that even online marketing has an element of relationship marketing; here are seven main reasons why the latter is essential to business:

1. It Improves Customer Experience

Every business owner knows that a customer having an excellent experience with products or services rendered is vital. You don’t want people who patronize you to leave feeling disappointed.

What you want is for people who use your services or products to have a feeling of deep satisfaction. That satisfaction should start from the moment they make contact with your sales agent until they have taken delivery of their product.

Relationship marketing, where you have one-on-one interaction with customers or prospects, can bring about the above. 

Even if the person only wanted to make inquiries, the way you present your business and treat the person would determine whether they’ll make a purchase at that moment, return to do so, or never return.

2. It Ensures Better Feedback from Customers

Feedback is the positive or negative response you get from those who use your products or services. The guarantee that you’ll receive an excellent response from your customers depends on the relationship that exists between you and them.

If you are a multinational, relationship marketing is carried out by your sales agents. And if these agents who serve as representatives do not have a cordial relationship with clients, they’ll leave your product and go for another one.

Feedback under relationship marketing also means that your customers would be eager to inform you on the areas you need to improve on. It means that they would rather stay with you than go to another brand.

Note that if they’ve been giving reviews without seeing the necessary changes, they will leave to another brand. If that happens, it would mean that your relationship marketing is defective, and it can cost you your business.

3. It Builds Your Referrals

We live in a world of referrals. So referrals are a form of marketing by individuals who have used a product, found it to be everything they expected, got excellent treatment from the salesperson(s) and then go on to tell others about it. 

It’s free marketing made with testimonies, and it costs companies nothing but good relationship marketing. However, if your relationship marketing is crappy, and your customers don’t get treated right, then it is guaranteed that the only report they’ll give about you is negative, with zero referrals.

Most brands today get new customers from referrals more than the adverts they spend millions on. Adverts will get your product known. However, don’t forget that others are offering what you are, and consumers often have a brand they use and trust. So the only way to win them over is by someone pointing them your way.

4. It Keeps You Informed About the Needs of Your Customers

Let’s point out that relationship marketing goes beyond effectively pitching your product in a polite and friendly way, to developing an excellent rapport. People appreciate it when they are heard, and sometimes they prefer to share deep personal problems with a stranger.

With relationship marketing, when you notice the frowns and overly-excited look, make sure to offer words of comfort or pay a compliment. It will leave the person you are dealing with feeling like you saw him or her as more than the next quick sale.

This will also help you discover what they need to ensure you are providing them with the best service and meeting their needs. For example, Starbucks introduced free Wi-Fi after its customers suggested it.

Without effective relationship marketing, they would have kept the suggestion to themselves and gone elsewhere to get it. Such an approach might have resulted in Starbucks losing a lot of customers.

5. It Leads To New Business Ideas

As mentioned above, knowing what your customers need helps you give them what they want, and it can also help you birth new business ideas.

Most companies branch into other ventures after starting with one because of the ideas that came to them from the information they gathered from their customers.

Having a good relationship means that you get to find out what your customers are using and what they wished you had, which could lead to a new business venture.

Also, if a customer wants to form a partnership, chances are, you might get picked because there’s already an existing relationship.

6. It Helps Enhance Your Uniqueness

Relationship marketing sets you apart from your competitors and helps you create your brand in a unique way that meets your customers’ needs.

A lot of business owners might sell the same thing or render the same services. However, there’s a reason why McDonald’s is still in business, and other fast-food chains have folded up over the years.

In today’s world, you need to have something that sets you apart, and building relationships with your customers will deliver it. Moreover, relationship marketing will ensure you stay relevant for a long time.

7. It Fosters Loyalty

This is one of the most significant reasons why relationship marketing is essential. Treating people well, having a good relationship, and giving them excellent products and services fosters loyalty, and it means they’ll always stay with you.

Some people have shopped in a particular location for a long time or ordered from a company. When you ask questions, you’ll find that their loyalty is based on the great relationship they have with the business owners/staff.

Change might be constant, but people don’t want to change the status quo. And that thin line that divides keeping a customer, losing one, or gaining another, is called relationship marketing.

Human interactions are still a significant part of life despite the digital world we now live in. So learn to value relationships and utilize them sufficiently to make your business grow and stay relevant.


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Cheryl Hearts is a writer and editor who has a Master degree in Journalism. At the age of 7, she started reading books and felt an urge to create something unique. So, she started writing her own stories. This passion influenced her decision to earn a degree in Journalism. Currently, she is a freelance writer and runs her blog CherylHearts.com. Cheryl is currently writing about subjects of great interest to society.

The post 7 Reasons Why Relationship Marketing Is Important for Business appeared first on SiteProNews.

Three Advanced SEO Tips for 2019

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Organic traffic remains one of the most dependable ways to build a sustainable business. Once your website establishes credibility, Google keeps sending repeat visitors your way for years.

However, most websites struggle in keeping up with the basics of SEO. They write mediocre content and don’t build backlinks to build their authority. For this article, I’m assuming that you’re already executing the beginner SEO strategies and you’re hungry for more.

Ready to open doors to more targeted traffic and increase your revenue? Let’s begin with three advanced SEO tips that work in 2019.

1. Create content following the hub and spoke model

A common SEO tactic leveraged by many businesses is targeting long-tail keywords in their content. However, the machine learning update to its algorithm means Google now analyzes the content in terms of ‘topics’ over ‘keywords.’ It now discovers the relationships between words.

The evolution in algorithm calls for moving beyond writing one-off articles on low-competition keywords like “how to do [x] step by step.” Instead, you pick a subject to establish your business as an authority on. Then, cover it comprehensively from every possible angle.

Tactically, you will broadly cover the main subject (with high search volume) on one page that’s called the hub. Then, find between 15-20 long-tail keywords that go as spoke articles inside this hub.

For instance, James Clear has created a page for the head term – creativity. He broadly covers how to master creativity on this hub page. Then, he links to spoke articles that cover lessons from famous creators, best creativity books, creativity articles on Albert Einstein and a few prominent figures, and the like.

Covering a subject comprehensively in this manner at a single place with navigation links to sub-topics is also a smooth experience for the user. It helps Google understand your content and crawl your website efficiently. It also lowers your bounce rate as readers jump to articles on your site itself for reading more on the subject. 

Ultimately, you earn higher SERP placements.

2. Build a brand

Google loves brands. They rank higher in search results and are mostly immune to negative SEO attacks. The reason is that brands are reliable sources of information, and they provide a consistent experience to users. The top executives at Google have spoken in favor of brands.

To create a memorable brand, content marketer Neil Patel publishes high-volume content to help his audience. Neil has published 5000+ blog posts, 1000+ podcast episodes, and 400+ videos on YouTube. He even goes to buying technology for $120k and offering its premium SEO features for free.

However, it’s not sufficient to create helpful and educational content. If you look at any new age Ecommerce company, they use engaging storytelling to connect with their customers emotionally. Here’s an infomercial by Harry’s that takes a stab at their competitors and shows how they are “fixing shaving.”

Your brand also acts as a moat that protects you against competitors. Building a brand requires time and patience. Start with taking stock of your visual appearance and ensuring consistency across every brand touchpoint. Then, promote your brand through content marketing.

If you’re on the right path, you should see an upward spike in Google Trends. Here’s an example:

3. Update old content

Most content marketers talk about publishing new content regularly. However, once you have a bank of content, you can derive more SEO value from it by updating the existing articles to ensure relevancy.

In its annual survey of bloggers, Orbit Media found that having a strategy to update old content makes you twice as likely to report “strong results.”

The strategy works because most websites earn the majority of their organic traffic from old posts published at least a month ago. To prioritize historical optimization of your blog content, here are the 3 steps you can follow.

Step 1: Find the pages on your website that are ranking for keywords with decent search volume between the position of 10 to 20. You can use Ahrefs for the same. Plug your website into the “Site explorer” and navigate to the “Top Pages” report.

Now, filter the results by position 11-20 and having a search volume greater than 1000. You’ll find the articles ranking on page 2. 

Step 2: Now, look at the pages ranking on the top 3 positions for these keywords. Then, update your piece, making it more comprehensive and better quality. Also, let some link juice flow on this page by adding internal links from high authority pages on your site (where relevant). 

Step 3: Promote your article via social media and send it to your email list. If possible, also build a few links by scheduling emails to people that have linked to your competitor’s content. Tell them why your content is better than your competitors that they have linked to. You can also send up to three follow-ups to the people that don’t respond. 

And voila! 

Your updated content will start seeing an increase in traffic and leads generated for your business.

Final Thoughts

The algorithm of the search giant is ever-evolving. The above three strategies will give you the edge in search results for years to come.


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Chintan is a writer and an ROI focused content marketing consultant. Join him at Elite Content Marketer to learn how to grow your business through content.

The post Three Advanced SEO Tips for 2019 appeared first on SiteProNews.

How to use PPC data to drive more SEO traffic

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

It’s no surprise that PPC campaigns are great for driving quick results. However, it’s not the only way paid campaigns can bring profit to digital marketers. Integrating your PPC data in your SEO strategy will help you improve your overall performance.

Your SEO strategy should be flexible to trends, algorithms, and user behavior. While it takes much time to evaluate SEO results, the PPC data allows you to predict what works and what doesn’t work. Using this information for SEO, you’ll boost your search rankings significantly. In this article, I’ll tell you how to analyze your paid campaigns to determine which keywords resulted in the most significant number of conversions and focus on these phrases to improve your SEO.

The differences between SEO and PPC keywords

Pay-per-click advertising is an easily controlled digital marketing channel that provides an opportunity to target specific audiences, countries, and the time you want your ads to show up. Due to this fact, you can use PPC reports to get useful data for improving your keyword list.

These are the major differences between collecting keywords for SEO and PPC:

  • The main aim of the PPC campaign is to drive conversions. That’s why the keywords used for paid ads have high commercial intent.
  • The landing page of each ad should be highly relevant to the query. Otherwise, the ads will be marked as low-quality ones, and the search engines will display them less frequently.
  • You can configure your PPC campaign in the way to avoid non-target visits, for example, you can select negative keywords, exclude irrelevant audiences, and more.
  • You should mind that Google Keyword Planner usually provides you with high-cost and competition keywords. It rarely suggests users high-volume but low-priced phrases.

How PPC helps your SEO

There are four major reasons you should make your PPC campaigns work together with SEO efforts:

  1. Analyzing your PPC campaigns, you can identify which keywords result in conversions the most. This step will let you focus on the web pages that generate the highest revenue.
  2. Paid advertising is the best way to attract your target audience. The fact people click through the highly relevant ad and find what they’re looking for on your website result in better user behavior metrics. As these visits will result in lower bounce rates and longer session durations, they’ll serve as positive signals for search robots. That’s why paid targeted traffic often has a positive impact on organic search rankings.
  3. If your website is showing up both in paid and organic searches, the chances a user will click through one of the results increase. Moreover, most of the search results provide lots of special elements, including ads, featured snippets, “People also ask” box and others. If all of these elements are displayed on one page, it’s not likely someone will scroll down to your page ranking the third in organic search.
  4. Some brands bid on their competitors’ branded keywords. In the result, the official website is shifting in search results. If you don’t want to lose your prospects to competition, it’s worth bidding on your branded keywords as well.

Improve your SEO keyword list analyzing your PPC campaigns

Step one: Use high-CTR keywords for SEO

In your Google Adwords reportsyou can find lots of useful data for organic search optimization. First of all, it may happen that you are spending large sums on PPC to get little conversions. It usually happens when you select high CPC keywords that are searched for by people who aren’t ready to convert (have you ever heard about a sales funnel?).  Instead, you could optimize your top-of-funnel content for these high-cost keywords and eventually lead the prospects to conversions.

To identify these keywords, go to “Reports” > “Search terms”

using high-CTR keywords for SEO

You’ll see the list of search terms that people have used, and the ones that resulted in your ad being shown and clicked. To collect keywords that result in the highest click-through rates, under “Clicks”, select “High to Low”. The list will automatically portray keywords sorted by the number of clicks.

using the "High to Low" filter in Google Ads Reporting

Now let’s look at the conversion rate of the terms that drive a number of clicks. If the clicks drive no results, it means people using these specific search terms aren’t ready to buy. But if you optimize your blog posts for these keywords, your visitors might come back soon to convert.

Step two: Analyze your competitors’ PPC campaigns

To enlarge your SEO keyword list, you can also analyze your competitors’ ads and keywords they are bidding on. Content creation isn’t only about driving traffic to your website. To be worth something to your business, your website content should attract actual leads that are likely to convert. That’s why it’s important to check the keywords your competitors’ ads are showing up for. If a competitor is spending large sums to appear in Google for a keyword, it’s definitely worth your consideration.

At this stage, you’ll need one of the all-in-one SEO tools, such as Ahrefs, Serpstat, or Moz. To illustrate the process, I’ll go with Serpstat.

There are two reports you can use for this purpose:

1. Keywords report

In the “Keyword Research > PPC Research > Keywords” section, enter your target keyword, select your country, and click on “Search”. In the report, you’ll see the list of similar keywords your top-100 competitors are bidding on along with ads showing up for these keywords. Collect the most relevant ones and add them to your SEO keyword list.

creating a keyword list by monitoring the top-100 that competitors are bidding on keywords

2. Ad examples report

Clicking through the “Ad examples” section, you’ll also see the keywords used in your competitors’ paid campaigns, but this time they are grouped under the specific ads. It allows you to get ready-to-use clusters of keywords relevant to different landing pages.

using the "Ad examples" section to see keywords used in your competitors’ paid campaigns based on different landing pages

Keep tracking

Analyzing your PPC results to improve your SEO performance is an unconventional but very effective method. Make your PPC and SEO work together for your brand promotion and you’ll not only witness higher conversions but also get more statistical data to outrank your competitors.

Adelina Karpenkova is a Brand Specialist at Serpstat.

The post How to use PPC data to drive more SEO traffic appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

How to use PPC data to drive more SEO traffic

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

It’s no surprise that PPC campaigns are great for driving quick results. However, it’s not the only way paid campaigns can bring profit to digital marketers. Integrating your PPC data in your SEO strategy will help you improve your overall performance.

Your SEO strategy should be flexible to trends, algorithms, and user behavior. While it takes much time to evaluate SEO results, the PPC data allows you to predict what works and what doesn’t work. Using this information for SEO, you’ll boost your search rankings significantly. In this article, I’ll tell you how to analyze your paid campaigns to determine which keywords resulted in the most significant number of conversions and focus on these phrases to improve your SEO.

The differences between SEO and PPC keywords

Pay-per-click advertising is an easily controlled digital marketing channel that provides an opportunity to target specific audiences, countries, and the time you want your ads to show up. Due to this fact, you can use PPC reports to get useful data for improving your keyword list.

These are the major differences between collecting keywords for SEO and PPC:

  • The main aim of the PPC campaign is to drive conversions. That’s why the keywords used for paid ads have high commercial intent.
  • The landing page of each ad should be highly relevant to the query. Otherwise, the ads will be marked as low-quality ones, and the search engines will display them less frequently.
  • You can configure your PPC campaign in the way to avoid non-target visits, for example, you can select negative keywords, exclude irrelevant audiences, and more.
  • You should mind that Google Keyword Planner usually provides you with high-cost and competition keywords. It rarely suggests users high-volume but low-priced phrases.

How PPC helps your SEO

There are four major reasons you should make your PPC campaigns work together with SEO efforts:

  1. Analyzing your PPC campaigns, you can identify which keywords result in conversions the most. This step will let you focus on the web pages that generate the highest revenue.
  2. Paid advertising is the best way to attract your target audience. The fact people click through the highly relevant ad and find what they’re looking for on your website result in better user behavior metrics. As these visits will result in lower bounce rates and longer session durations, they’ll serve as positive signals for search robots. That’s why paid targeted traffic often has a positive impact on organic search rankings.
  3. If your website is showing up both in paid and organic searches, the chances a user will click through one of the results increase. Moreover, most of the search results provide lots of special elements, including ads, featured snippets, “People also ask” box and others. If all of these elements are displayed on one page, it’s not likely someone will scroll down to your page ranking the third in organic search.
  4. Some brands bid on their competitors’ branded keywords. In the result, the official website is shifting in search results. If you don’t want to lose your prospects to competition, it’s worth bidding on your branded keywords as well.

Improve your SEO keyword list analyzing your PPC campaigns

Step one: Use high-CTR keywords for SEO

In your Google Adwords reportsyou can find lots of useful data for organic search optimization. First of all, it may happen that you are spending large sums on PPC to get little conversions. It usually happens when you select high CPC keywords that are searched for by people who aren’t ready to convert (have you ever heard about a sales funnel?).  Instead, you could optimize your top-of-funnel content for these high-cost keywords and eventually lead the prospects to conversions.

To identify these keywords, go to “Reports” > “Search terms”

using high-CTR keywords for SEO

You’ll see the list of search terms that people have used, and the ones that resulted in your ad being shown and clicked. To collect keywords that result in the highest click-through rates, under “Clicks”, select “High to Low”. The list will automatically portray keywords sorted by the number of clicks.

using the "High to Low" filter in Google Ads Reporting

Now let’s look at the conversion rate of the terms that drive a number of clicks. If the clicks drive no results, it means people using these specific search terms aren’t ready to buy. But if you optimize your blog posts for these keywords, your visitors might come back soon to convert.

Step two: Analyze your competitors’ PPC campaigns

To enlarge your SEO keyword list, you can also analyze your competitors’ ads and keywords they are bidding on. Content creation isn’t only about driving traffic to your website. To be worth something to your business, your website content should attract actual leads that are likely to convert. That’s why it’s important to check the keywords your competitors’ ads are showing up for. If a competitor is spending large sums to appear in Google for a keyword, it’s definitely worth your consideration.

At this stage, you’ll need one of the all-in-one SEO tools, such as Ahrefs, Serpstat, or Moz. To illustrate the process, I’ll go with Serpstat.

There are two reports you can use for this purpose:

1. Keywords report

In the “Keyword Research > PPC Research > Keywords” section, enter your target keyword, select your country, and click on “Search”. In the report, you’ll see the list of similar keywords your top-100 competitors are bidding on along with ads showing up for these keywords. Collect the most relevant ones and add them to your SEO keyword list.

creating a keyword list by monitoring the top-100 that competitors are bidding on keywords

2. Ad examples report

Clicking through the “Ad examples” section, you’ll also see the keywords used in your competitors’ paid campaigns, but this time they are grouped under the specific ads. It allows you to get ready-to-use clusters of keywords relevant to different landing pages.

using the "Ad examples" section to see keywords used in your competitors’ paid campaigns based on different landing pages

Keep tracking

Analyzing your PPC results to improve your SEO performance is an unconventional but very effective method. Make your PPC and SEO work together for your brand promotion and you’ll not only witness higher conversions but also get more statistical data to outrank your competitors.

Adelina Karpenkova is a Brand Specialist at Serpstat.

The post How to use PPC data to drive more SEO traffic appeared first on Search Engine Watch.