Using AdWords for E-Commerce Third Party Shopping Carts

I’ve just recently run into this situation and wanted to share some tips with you on how an e-commerce store can best use Google AdWords.

First, it is important that if you are using a third party shopping cart that you understand that you really must create shopping category pages on your own front end website under your domain name if you will be promoting your product categories using Google AdWords.

Here’s an example, let’s say your domain was www.ILoveShopping.com. Your main domain only had a few pages residing there, your about us page, contact us page, and your site home page. When someone clicked your “buy dog toys” category link in your website navigation they were sent to bigstore.giantserver.com/ILoveShoppingcom/dog-toys-for-sale.aspx.

For AdWords you could not point to this category page in your ads as the destination URL if you wanted your display URL to be www.ILoveShopping.com. You would instead have to have your Display URL be bigstore.giantserver.com/ILoveShoppingcom and the destination URL be bigstore.giantserver.com/ILoveShoppingcom/dog-toys-for-sale.aspx –  right?

Well, at least this is supposed to be how it works, but just recently Google would not even allow an advertiser  use this format. It may be the max URL count for the destination URL is over the 1024 that are allowed or that the shopping server really does not exist and is a redirect page set at the store server level. And besides that who wants to be doing AdWords and have customers lose confidence when they see a weird display URL like: bigstore.giantserver.com/ILoveShoppingcom instead of ILoveShopping.com?

So, without being able to link to the category page suddenly your quality score on dog toys slips to 7 or even 5 and you start paying a chunk of cash to promote this popular category for your store.

If this is your situation, before you start promoting your store on AdWords you really need to address this by creating a category page that is keyword dense and lists your products by name or categories and then from there links to the store. Not only will this help with your AdWords quality score, it sidesteps the Display/Destination URL problem mentioned above, increases conversions, and will even help your main front-end site place organically as now your parent domain has new keyword dense relevant content to what you are selling.

If you have tons of products and say nah, I am not going to do this, you may want to consider creating a landing page for the category you are promoting on your main website that then showcases only your top sellers and has a prominent link to the complete category page in the third part store. Whatever your plan, to send the customer for a specific category to your home page where there is no specific content on this category or products to buy is wrong and a fails miserably when it comes to building a great quality score and increasing conversion.

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How to Use IE Web Slices in Your Web Pages

IE 8 has a cool new feature that some websites can and should use, it is called a web slice. In essence this is a small section of your page that you update either manually or dynamically with a script shows content that a reader can subscribe to. With this snippet subscribers can see any new entries you add in their browser when you add them.

Here is an example on one of my own pages: http://www.mccordweb.com/web-design/web-design-templates.php. On the right of the content you will see a gray box that says MWS New Templates. If you mouse over this box and have IE 8, a green icon will show to the top left of the content. Additionally take a quick look in the browser bar and you will see a new green web slice icon has also been illuminated. If you mouse over the slice box in the content you can choose to subscribe to this snippet. IE will place a link to this snippet over the tabs section.

Once you have subscribed, anytime I change this section, add a new link, a new photo, etc. your browser link will show the new updated content. You can view the content on demand. If you even want to remove this code snippet. Just right click the item above the tabs and select delete.

I have to say I spent a few hours learning how to set up  and style the snippet to make it look good. Here is a great tutorial on how to make the code that I used at CODE Magazine. The code is pretty straight forward. What took time was to figure out how to style the snippet that showed in IE. I found the first div tag controls the font color, size, and back ground. If you do not style this first div tag IE will pick up your own website body tag background and coloring which in some cases can be a problem. Testing and tweaking to style it properly may take a bit of time using trial and error, but once you get it, you will be able to quickly add the same syntax to other pages or web slices.

How would a website use web slices? Well the possibilities are endless. Some sites may choose to show current coupon codes, showcase  new features, highlight new products, introduce specials or other timely information. You don’t need to programmatically insert information. I am not a programmer and once your shell is styled and set up to your liking you can embed this on any page and just change the content using regular HTML.

So take a look at my web slice page, subscribe, and see what you think.

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Building Your Twitter Network Allows You to Go Viral

I have many clients ask me what does Twitter actually do for them and why should they consider using it. There are several important reasons for having a Twitter presence but the most important one is so you can “Go Viral”.

Let me expound on this a bit and then I’ll talk about the other reasons you should consider “doing” Twitter. First when you build your following to several hundred to a thousand followers, when you tweet a link, a special event, a new service, a new flash, you have the ability to tap into the power of viral marketing like never before.

When you tweet it to your followers, some of your followers will retweet your item to their followers, some will visit the link to view the service or other information and create their own unique tweets about it. Just think, if you have 400 followers and 50 followers retweet your note to their followers and if they each have a hundred followers that means your message has been sent to 5,400 live people. The magnitude can actually be much higher than this and you have the ability to reach thousands of people with your news.

Now this does not mean that every tweet you do will be “retweet-worthy” but if you have news, a special event, coupon, whitepaper the posibilites to tap in to a huge network by word of mouth without paying a cent is valuable in more ways than monetarily.

Now what are the some of the other reasons you should use Twitter? Well here’s a short list:

1. Bing is testing indexing tweets for some accounts. If this becomes big on Bing, the other search engines will follow. The link possibilities for SEO and viral marketing are huge and really very important to consider.

2. The interaction with prospects, clients, and others in your industry is incredibly valuable intel that can be used for strategically positioning your brand on the Web and fine tuning your online message. People like to connect and will use Twitter to connect with you, the voice of your firm, to interact.

3. Using Twitter you can drive traffic to a white paper, page link, or news story. Better yet is that if these items reside on your own website you drive your own free traffic. This is really like a viral component but also a first level traffic consideration.

4. Use Twitter because it is hot. If you are supposed to be a leader in your industry to not be on Twitter, embracing the hottest new technology on the Web, may put you at a disadvantage when a prospect compares you to your own competition. It’s all about perception isn’t it?

5. Use Twitter to create bridges with competitors and others in your industry. I have found that people I thought were tough competitors actually became colleagues and shared information freely on Twitter. Although typically it starts out that you follow all your competitors to spy on them. But it usually turns out that you can have a friendly exchange with them and some of these folks can be the very best when it comes to retweeting your own news due to a sympathetic connection that you build with @ replies and DM correspondence. There is real value in tapping into your own industry network. You just never know where a strategic partnership may be able to be built.

If you are ready to check out Twitter, consider our Twitter Implementation services, Twitter Executive, and Twitter Junior ghost writing services.

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Twitter Junior Ghost Tweeting Program

We now provide budget priced ghost tweeting services for clients. We’ve called the program Twitter Junior. Twitter Junior is for the client who already has Twitter in place and who has been tweeting but is getting tired of it or just does not know how to grow their audience.

Here’s a small case study that helps you to understand our potential value to you using our expertise on Twitter.

We have a client who did not have a Twitter account. We started him off with our Twitter Implementation program. Here, we set up many accounts, integrated Twitter everywhere we could on his blog and website, and started to build his Twitter following. We even posted on Twitter for five days after set up to get him going. This client then decided to try our Twitter Executive program to allow us to continue to effectively build his following. In less than two weeks with our tweeting, follower interaction, direct messages, and tweets that provides value, he has grown from just a few followers to over 132 followers with about five new followers being added each day.

He is a perfect candidate to them move to our Twitter Junior program in two more weeks to continue to build on what we have grown in just two weeks with two more weeks to go. We don’t want to tweet on your accounts for indefinite periods of time as tweeting at this level is very time consuming, but our services are great to give you a jump start to help you hit the ground running on Twitter. We’ll even train you to take over your account and help you learn how to tweet effectively when you are ready to take over.

If you are thinking about Twitter but simply do not know where to start, you may want to consider our Twitter Implementation and ghost Twitter programs to help you get going fast.

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The URL Shortener Contest

Which URL shortener are you using on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Do you even care? Well you should! URL shorteners are not all created equal. In fact one of my colleagues reamed me out for using www.TinyURL.com just the other day.

If you use any social networking platforms then you know you have a limited amount of space in which to say what you want to say. Well, what if you want to link to something on your website or online? Here’s where a URL shortener is necessary. You can take a big URL like:

http://searchengineland.com/analysis-which-url-shortening-service-should-you-use-17204

and turn it into a itty bitty URL like this:

http://bit.ly/ZuUw

Big difference right? In fact if you click either of the links above you will go to a nice article reviewing the different URL shorteners that are popular. Search Engine Land even lays it out graphically so you can see what you think is important in one glance. Personally I use www.Bit.ly as my shortener when I have a choice. Some social networking services do not give you a choice and some use www.TinyURL.com as their default, but there are some nice reasons why you should evaluate which one you use and then stick with it.

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Bing Teamed With Twitter in BingTweets – Very Cool!

I have to say that even I think that this is very cool, Bing has created a Twitter Bing interface called BingTweets. You can visit it at www.BingTweets.com. I don’t know who’s brainchild this was at Microsoft, but let me tell you Microsoft appears to “get Twitter”.

Personally I thought it was a very cool application and a neat way to check out what is being said online about you or your company. Just put your name in the Bing search box and any tweets that have mentioned you will appear in the Twitter scroller ticker on the right. Even if it is a novelty, it show that something has changed at Microsoft with the introduction on Bing.

In fact Microsoft has done something so big with Bing that their search engine has moved from a 2% market share to now about an 8% market share as of just last week. It doesn’t hurt that Bing has received excellent press from the mainstream professional webmaster world as well as the New York Times, and the fact that it is not Google. But will Bing has the power to supplant Yahoo in market share and really become a contender to threaten Google? If they keep on doing cool things like BingTweet they may.

I for one am watching Bing very carefully. I love the look, the clean interface, and now this new savvy merging of a hot property (Twitter) with a neat application. The millions spent on advertising don’t hurt either. To cement the move I would say to Microsoft now’s the time to move on Yahoo and try to integrate what they have into a mega empire. Then they would have a very real threat to Google, but Microsoft likes to do things slowly and their way, so I am just watching.

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