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What are some rookie mistakes that I might be making? For instance, I could hide my big, beautiful gift shop behind a single link that nobody notices.
What else? Should all my products have prices? Should I try and add personality to the descriptions? Should I link to the product details or to a search page that contains the products?
1) Try to keep the items listed topical and related to some niche. If you have a mishmash of books, CDs, DVDs, electronics, software, automotive, kitchen items, etc. which are unrelated, your visitors' eyes will glaze over and they'll go somewhere else.
2) Add content to your link. Make the information succinct, but grabs their attention. That's the heart of advertising.
3) Make it personable. With a limited number of items you can add a personal touch to descriptions of the items. If you own one and recommend it, then say so. "I have one of these and I love it!" Do a little research about each one and add content. "This is constantly one of the bestselling items at this site." "One critic called this the one item you can't do without." "This should perfect for that empty corner in your dining room."
4) If you can extract the price from a datafeed, and it's a great or competitive price, then display it.
5) Link directly to the product page where the product description and add-to-cart button are located. Make it easier for your visitors to buy it. Going to a search page often requires an extra click to get to a page where they add-to-cart. Make it easier for them, not more difficult.
Think like an advertiser, not a web programmer.
Any ideas on ways to position/message a "shop" page to users? I currently am calling it a "gift shop" but I don't know that that's a great way to put it. How do users see a page with products?
If you have a good content site and also put up products the products themselves should eventually be listed in the search engines and bring in people who are searching to buy.
100 visitors searching for a product will make more sales than 1000 visitors searching for information.