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So far, there has been little in the way of site traffic from search engines. I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion on what is the single most important thing to focus on right now (on a very limited budget $300 - $400) to get more traffic. Or can anyone point me to any good articles that help break down the process?
Sparty, you won't have any trouble with those type of items, they're relatively simple to promote. The site just has to be optimized a bit prior to submission. We've got some board posts that are very detailed, go through the Search Engine Promotion forum here, there's a lot of information that's nice and concise, a lot of information without having to wade through long articles.
>>>>I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion on what is the single most important thing
my view would be to make as many static pages as possible featuring your products, one per page and stuff the page with all the relevant terms relating to that product, eg make a page for turtle pendants another page for whale pendants etc etc
i could be shot down by others here but i don't think keywords like "latin american" are any good, because they are too generic, although as part of a 4 word phrase it could be good, but as an example: turtle collectible has only approx 7,000 results on google and it is probably quite easy to get to the top and people do use such search terms, but it means creating a lot of focused pages around individual products, each page hoping to score only a few hits but multiply that by possibly hundreds of pages and you've got yourself some decent traffic.
ps. welcome to WMW and good luck
I have a problem, however. From your responses, it sounds like I probably get the best results by submitting each catalog page to the search engines. Unfortunately, I cannot directly access my catalog pages because of the shopping cart software I am using.
I can, however, add a snippet of HTML at the top of each page but the HTML will not be contained within the <HEAD> tags. It is my understanding that <META> tags must be contained within the <HEAD> tags. Is this correct?
Exactly how it's done! Especially if the catalog pages are dynamic with the long URLs, create some flat HTML pages that have text and some product photos, possibly thumbnails, that can be properly optimized. Those can link into the dynamic pages.
I happen to have started out doing crafts sites, and still do them, though a limited number. That is exactly how I do it, although with some of them you can put a couple of related items on the same page because they use common words and the mixing and matching can offer some unique keyword combinations. In one case I had a page with grandparents and teachers gifts and yard signs on one page. Someone did a search - I saw it in the logs almost real time - hit that page, and immediately headed for the shopping cart (which is remote). They bought a grandparents yard sign, exactly what they were looking for. It was a distinct advantage to have them on the same page.
The way the navigation is set up will also tie the different words together, so a good internal linking system is critical, using keywords in text links. Therefore, you will need static pages that inter-connect.
With marketing crafts online, there's a definite seasonal aspect, because people buy gifts, which has a seasonal flux to it. A site can be a sleeper all year, and will pick up dramatically on a seasonal basis. There was an increase starting in September, a big rise in October, and in November it completely took off. So the logs during the Holiday season are invaluable for picking up a multitude of search terms you never would have thought of. You can then use that to further optimize the site based on what you learn, as well as knowing exactly what to do with similar sites that come up in the future - and prepare ahead for the next holiday season. A heavy emphasis in certain given areas will show which products for which to make more inventory available, and possibly increase the number of pages or create a whole new section in a directory.
A problem with promoting crafts web sites is that a lot of people are not looking to buy them, they're looking to make them, which means that while there may be a certain amount of traffic for handmade crafts, they're not buyers, they're crafters looking for free patterns or instructions. Not a total loss. Crafters buy product from other crafters a lot, so if you have a page or two offering either patterns or resources (a page with links, well done) it could pick up some lookers who could turn in to buyers.
Since people shop for gifts and a lot of crafts are suitable, look under those search terms also. For example, for Valentines Day people will be looking for gifts for men.
click_watcher is right about specific rather than broad terms. People don't look for crafts, they look for jewelry (too broad usually), hats, etc. Three and four word search terms that are pretty specific are less competitive and easier to get ranked for and also more targeted.
I would suggest spending a LOT of time with the Overture keyword suggestion tool right now, because the November searches are still available, and while it's inflated compared to the rest of the year, it's the most valuable of the year, from what I've seen over time. Spring is also good because of Mothers Day, Fathers Day, weddings, graduations, etc. Those are all occasions when crafts can be sold if pages are targeted spcifically and for gifts search terms.
Yes, the meta tags go into the head section, not the same at all as the page text. For Google you need the keywords on the pages. And titles are important all over.
Thanks for all the useful information! I think I'm starting to get it.
I will have to change the site navigation a bit but it shouldn't be too difficult. So I should submit each of these new static pages to the major search engines. Would you expect that it will take several weeks before I see if I'm on the right track?
The way I personally look at it is to optimize a site for Google and a few pages for Inktomi. If you're willing to take a chance on getting into Ink with free submit some day, eventually, maybe, it's one thing, and some have had success with that route. But in some cases time is a factor, so paying to submit for a years' inclusion for a couple of interior page makes a lot of sense- to me, anyway. That gets you into AOL & MSN, who you'll want to target for this type of site, in addition to Google and Yahoo, which uses Google for secondary results. I'm speaking of U.S., you may have an international market also.
Having a limited budget to work with, and since you're new to optmization, in your place, while Yahoo is important, I would not spend $299 for Yahoo directory or $299 or $149 for Looksmart until a little while down the road when more research had been done. Besides, Yahoo is too much in flux now to risk the $ unless cost is no object. It's $299 per year. It may be a good way to jumpstart, but a lot depends on how competitive the category.
Yes, submit all pages, 5 per day to each search engine where it's necessary. It isn't with Google, they need to find you through an external link from a site already in the index. An ODP listing will work, but get another that will be quicker.
ODP is critically important, study the guidelines carefully and check our forum here. Don't miss that one.
There are always differences in opinions and approaches, but probably certain basics are universally applied. That's about all I can think of now, glad we could be of help to you here. Dig in and read, there's a wealth of information here and we all learn more each day.