“Ask an Expert“ is an occasional feature where we ask ecommerce experts questions from online merchants. For this installment, we address a question about increasing site traffic from Rob McClintock, owner of Healing Leaves, an online store that sells natural health products.
For the answer, we turn to Michael Stearns, CEO of the Internet marketing and design company HEROweb, and a contributor to Practical eCommerce.
If you have a question you’d like to submit, email Kate Monteith, staff writer, at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll attempt to address it.
Rob McClintock: “My traffic and sales are about double of what they were a year ago, but they are not great at all. We are a small mom-and-pop shop and can’t afford the charges the big guys want to solve our problems. What can I do to get more traffic without spending a fortune?
Michael Stearns: “First of all, my hat goes off to you for doubling your sales in a tough economic year. I think there is much you can do to keep things moving in the right direction. Here are five immediate actions you can take.
- Keyword Optimization. “Give each page on your site a title with one or two keyword phrases that are highly relevant to that page and in sync with phrases your customers are searching for. Your site’s home page title is ‘Healing Leaves: All Natural Health Products that Actually Work!’ I would replace that with something like ‘Natural Health Cleansers, Antioxidants, and Enzymes from Healing Leaves.’
“Also, rather than using the phrase ‘Healing Leaves’ in every page title on your site, I would suggest that you use it only in the home page title. For example, the Detox page has the title ‘Healing Leaves | Detox’. Very few people will search for that phrase. A better title for that page would be ‘Natural Body Cleansers and Detox Products’ because it includes words that people are more likely searching for.”
- Meaningful Copy. “You need to add some well-written copy to your site, partly for SEO [search engine optimization] reasons, and partly for building your brand. Start with the category pages. Add a few sentences to each category, describing the products and try to work in some of the keywords you used in your titles.
“Also, if you are not ready to put something on your blog, you should take the ‘Health Articles’ link off for now. Write a few practice articles to get in the swing of things, and when you have some good content, add the link back.”
- Build Your Personal Brand. “You need to work your unique selling proposition into your home page and across your site. On your ‘About Us’ page you have a compelling story to tell and a strong spiritual message; but, other than that one page, your site lacks strong messaging. There are hundreds of people selling the same products as you. You need to be clear about what sets your business apart and make that message ring throughout your site.
“Put forth your passion and conviction about who you are and the products you are selling (without inflating product claims, of course).”
- Google Product Feed. “I did not find your products listed in Google Products, which could provide an important source of traffic. It looks like your store is hosted on the Yahoo platform; they likely have some instructions for setting up a feed. Also, go to the Google Merchant Center for more information.”
- Web Marketing Tools. “As you can’t yet afford to pay the big guys (and might never have to), I recommend forging ahead on your own with help from some of the web-based search marketing tools. Services such as SEOmoz, Raven, or Majestic SEO can provide affordable marketing intelligence that you would be hard-pressed to build on your own.”
“All the best for 2010, Rob. I look forward to seeing your site (and sales) progress.”