Posts Tagged ‘Ecommerce’

WooCommerce: Free E-Commerce Plugin For WordPress

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

An exciting free e-commerce WordPress plugin adds e-commerce functions to the popular blogging and CMS platform. Produced by developers at WooThemes, the new e-commerce platform promises to revolutionize the WordPress world. In the past, e-commerce plug-ins for WordPress were difficult to use and often came with a large price tag. Now anyone can set up an online store. To go into business, all WordPress owners only need time and the WooCommerce plugin.

Excitement about this new e-commerce WordPress plugin comes for two reasons. First, the WordPress community recognizes WooThemes as a skilled developer of quality WordPress products. Bloggers and website owners everywhere expect innovation and high quality from anything made by Woo. Community excitement also comes from the fact that WordPress users can get the WooCommerce e-commerce WordPress plugin free.

WooCommerce features an administrator dashboard that works naturally with WordPress controls. This means most WordPress users will quickly and intuitively understand how the plugin works without a long learning curve. This e-commerce WordPress plugin also comes with impressive reporting capabilities that provide statistics, graphs and easy integration with Google Analytics. Communication in any e-commerce environment determines its success. WooCommerce comes with HTML templates that website owners can use to send professional HTML-formatted email messages. WooCommerce comes with a simple product entry system that works inside the WordPress dashboard.

The front end of the WooCommerce e-commerce WordPress plugin allows shoppers to choose how to sort goods and services and has built in cross-selling and up-selling features. Sellers can use the built-in coupon system to promote their products. This system supports expiration dates and limits for how many times shoppers can use a coupon.

WooThemes hired a well-known WordPress developer to audit the WooCommerce plugin for security, helping Woo to harden the e-commerce WordPress plugin to keep users safe online. This extra step helps demonstrate the commitment developers of WooCommerce have to providing a safe and efficient e-commerce experience.

WooCommerce themesOf course, WooThemes has much in store for WordPress users beyond its powerful WooCommerce plugin. The company has a number of premium WordPress themes featuring WooCommerce integration. This helps users create professional WordPress-based stores with only a small capital investment. Webmasters who want to experience the power of an integrated WooCommerce theme can download Wootique from the WooThemes website. This is a free theme that allows all WordPress users to experience the power of the new e-commerce WordPress plugin.

After experiencing Wootique, users will probably want to upgrade to one of WooThemes six premium themes. For example, a child theme for Canvass and theme called Statua make selling photographs easy, from the WooCommerce platform. Nine commercial extensions add powerful abilities to this e-commerce WordPress plugin such as the PayPal payment gateway, a shipping table and an EU VAT exemption feature. Other commercial extensions work to improve the WooCommerce with other exciting features and payment gateways.

Best SEO Practices For Ecommerce Websites

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

In its simplest form, ecommerce is the buying and selling of products through websites. This is an excellent way to improve sales, boost traffic to the site and make a name for your company. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is needed to capture and grow organic traffic that is related to the success of your ecommerce business. There are many ecommerce SEO techniques that will benefit the natural search traffic and interest of your target audience.

First, you will need to optimize the distribution of your ecommerce homepage Rank. Since your Home page most likely has the highest ranking; the rest of the pages should link directly from the home page. You should also keep the pages within 1-2 clicks of the homepage. The pages that most consistently link from your home page will also rank higher in organic search results.

To benefit your ecommerce SEO home page, be sure to use a pure CSS based design instead of nested tables. This will allow pages to load faster and is better for ecommerce SEO. Place H1 and H2 around headings and subheadings, and use the keywords in the page titles. When evaluating the most popular site searches, place these terms around the search box.

Next, you will want to focus on the proper linking and redirects for your ecommerce SEO. Ensure that your homepage is linked to your site root folder “/”. (Sometimes, it can be linked to a default or index page instead.) You’ll also want your page to be easy to find, so if your site is, you’ll want to make a 301 redirect from to Avoid using sessionIDs in URLs and keep your URLs written in descriptive formats that keep consistent with relevant keywords.

Once you have established the linking and redirecting, you can rest assured that online users will be able to find your ecommerce site rather easily, plus be directed to the right pages. Now you will need to work with your Product Page, which should be built around targeted keywords that will help you in ranking better.

To assist with this, ensure that proper meta-keywords and descriptions are included for each product. Also add an H1 header in the product title, use the main product keywords in the page title and URL, place keywords in italics and bold and add keywords in the last paragraph of the page.

Finally, make your ecommerce SEO authentic, never duplicating the content from the manufacturer. If you do this, your website may be devalued for duplicating content. By taking the time to ensure everything is linked properly, the proper keywords are targeted and organic search results are directed to the right pages, your ecommerce site will be well on its way to success!

Best SEO Practices For Ecommerce Websites

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Ecommerce SEO is a science. Those who are who are well educated in it, know not only how to build traffic, but what the ground rules are before they begin. There are a variety of ecommerce SEO tactics a business can use to grow their online audience, it’s worth it to research which are truly effective and which are just the stop-gap measures that won’t work in the long run.

Sticky ContentOne old-fashioned traffic building strategy that’s often overlooked, but can’t be under-estimated is offering content that people want to read and will recommend to their friends. Thousands of links are shared across the Internet every day just because they lead to reading material that’s interesting. Spam-like content, however, does not generate visits, as obvious as a fact as that may be. Setting out to provide content that’s ‘sticky’ is putting the cart before the horse. Being entertaining and informative isn’t a trick. It’s simply a matter of having talented writers onboard who can generate great content.

Ecommerce SEO also involves site design. A site should not be bland or ugly. Using colors and images that visitors find attractive should be the number one ecommerce SEO priority of every business. Just as pedestrians on the street, stop to look in the window of stores that have engaging window displays, a website’s ecommerce SEO has to operate the same way. Navigability is just as important. If a site is difficult to move around or has too many pop-ups obstructing a visitor from experiencing it the way they desire, they will leave.

Getting search engines to notice sites to the extent that businesses need them to, is the essence of what ecommerce SEO is all about. It’s also about remembering that behind all the strategies and techniques being employed, are human beings hanging out on their computers. Once companies lose sight of this basic premise, ecommerce SEO can become abstract and disruptive to the natural flow of content online.

Ecommerce ReviewsOne process that is absolutely essential to the conversion of eyeballs to actual buyers, is building community. A site should not feel like the unknown. A site visitor contemplating making a purchase is inevitably more confident about doing so if they can read what other buyers of the same product or service have to say about it. While allowing a disgruntled customer to post a bad review can also drive away a sale, when that negative feedback is stacked against other positive reviews, the fact that opinions are being openly shared on a site brings credibility. Ecommerce SEO is about credibility. Credibility drives sales.

What businesses unfortunately rely on, too much, as they try to drive traffic to their sites, are non-organic considerations. The Internet is not a mall. Like the real world, it’s a space in which billions of people collect to do a multitude of things, some entertainment others business related. Abusing backlinks won’t get a website high ranking for long. Search engines are increasingly punishing companies trying to dominate the Internet using methods that devalue its overall experience.

Rogue Media Achieves ‘Best E-Commerce SEO’ Ranking

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Earlier this month, published their updated list of “Best Ecommerce SEO Companies“. The 2011 January update includes increasing Rogue Media’s position from #9 (August 2010) to our new standing at #4. ranks online marketing companies on five separate areas of achievement incorporating needs analysis, on- and off-page optimization, keyword analysis and reporting methods employed by the companies to be ranked. has offered independent rankings of SEO firms since its inception in 2002 to provide business owners with objective reviews, allowing them to make informed decisions when selecting a company to handle their SEO and online marketing needs.

We strive to deliver the best SEO services for all our e-commerce clients and are more than thrilled with the continued recognition from!

Database Optimization For Ecommerce

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

In the world of Internet marketing, the phrase “ecommerce optimization” can mean a number of different things. Perhaps you’re an SEO and you immediately think of meta-tags, link structure, and backlinks? Or maybe you’re a usability expert and “calls to action” and conversion funnels come to mind? The kind of optimization we’ll be focusing on here is database optimization, something ecommerce website owners tend to neglect. After all, they’re usually too busy trying to generate quality content, more backlinks, and researching how to increase conversions.

Just recently we had a client learn first hand how important it is to keep their databases running smoothly. Imagine this scenario…

You stroll into the office on a Monday morning and log into Google Analytics to review the orders from the weekend. Except there are no orders…worse yet, there’s barely any traffic! You attempt to log into your ecommerce dashboard, but nothing happens. The progress bar stalls, the screen stays white and ultimately delivers an error message:

SQL Error

After some troubleshooting, it turns out that your database needs to be optimized and possibly the code as well. While you have the IT guys clean up the database tables and review code, you turn back to Analytics to review the damage.

Traffic is less than half of usual and the bounce rate has doubled. It’s clear that during this period, your bloated database has brought your ecommerce traffic and sales to a grinding halt.

Fortunately, after some adjustments to the database and corresponding code, and by the end of the day the site is up and running smoothly and orders are coming in. But what have we learned from this? Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! Making sure everything loads correctly and smoothly shouldn’t be put on the back burner and forgotten about. If you do, it’ll come back to bite you. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Effective ecommerce optimization isn’t all about search engine rankings and conversion funnels. There are a lot of elements that all need to work together in order for your store to operate smoothly and generate sales. Make a point to perform regular checkups on your website just as a doctor would examine a patient. If you can catch problems before they surface, you’ll avoid the “heart attack” that brings down your website.

X-Cart Ecommerce Software Review

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
X-Cart Ecommerce

This coming Wednesday, I’ll be joining other local Asheville web developers in reviewing the pros and cons of several popular ecommerce platorms. Those being reviewed include Ecommerce Templates, Shopify, WP Ecommerce, Yahoo! Stores, Drupal Ubercart, X-Cart and VirtueMart for Joomla. Since we’ve been working with X-cart a lot lately, I thought I’d share my notes with the rest of our peers out there.

X-Cart is available in two versions, “Gold” and “Pro”. For most projects, X-Cart Gold will be sufficient. X-Cart Pro includes the ability to run the store as an “ecommerce mall” with multiple vendor accounts and an administrator account.


  • Cost of software – The X-Cart Gold license is $149 and the Pro license is $431.
  • Average cost of setup/customization – The actual cost to get up and running can be significantly more depending on additional costs including design, development, and additional feature addons. A recent quote we received from another X-Cart developer included the license, software installation, a custom design, and a brief tutorial came in just under $4000.

Support & Maintenance

  • Cost of support – Support is NOT included with the purchase of an X-Cart license. They do provide a detailed online manual, knowledge base, and moderated forum, but additional support from X-Cart is only available via their support ticket system. Specific tech support issues are quoted on a case-by-case basis and are billed using points that can be purchase at a rate of roughly $6 per 10 points.
  • Level of support (3/5) – Despite the lack of real-time support, I’ve found their support to be fairly satisfactory. Support tickets are typically answered within 24 hours.
  • Ease of Upgrade (2/5) – I took one look at the published upgrade procedure and knew that it was a bit too ambitious for me personally, so I’ve always opted to have X-Cart support handle that. A recent upgrade cost us 490 points, or $280.


  • Dashboard (3/5) – The administrator dashboard has been cleaned up significantly from previous versions and now features a cleaner tabbed menu across the top. Browse their online demo for a complete tour.

X-Cart Dashboard

  • Can you bring this software into existing site? – Yes, however his would require creating a new X-Cart skin based on the current design.
  • Do you have to bring the site into this software? – Six of one, half-dozen…. It just depends on how you want to look at it. Again, take your current design and chop it up.
  • Ideal for what type of sites/platform? – X-Cart works well for any size ecommerce site. Static pages can easily be created for additional content if you want to use X-Cart as a CMS system or it can be installed on a sub-directory/domain to support a pre-established website.
  • SEO ability (4/5) – With the ability to create completely custom skins in CSS/XHTML, X-Cart is fairly robust for SEO and includes custom meta-tags for categories/products as well as SEF URL’s. I highly recommend the addition of a third-party plugin called CDSEO which provides added features and control.
  • Allow for downloadable products? – Yes, via the eGoods module.
  • Real-time inventory notification? – X-Cart can be configured to track inventory and automatically display an “out of stock” message or remove the product from the catalog when the item is out of stock. A low-limit warning email can also be sent to the site administrator when inventory gets low.
  • Browser speed – Load speed largely depends on how the website’s code, images, and database are optimized.
  • Language – X-Cart is built on the PHP template engine, Smarty.
  • Integration with POS for retailers?
  • Optimization of content for mobile devices?
  • Level of Reporting (3/5) – X-cart’s reporting features leaves a little to be desired, but the shopping cart easily integrates with Google Analytics.

PROS: versatility, stability

CONS: paid support, upgrades


  • Users/Frontend (5/5)
  • Clients/Backend (4/5)
  • Programmers/Backend (3/5) Partners With X-Cart Ecommerce

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

According to a press release distributed last month, has partnered with popular ecommerce software provider, X-Cart. The partnership aims to help ecommerce website owners streamline their fulfillment process by simplyfing shipping.

The press release had this to say about the partnership:

“’s integration with X-Cart is offered at no additional charge to new and existing customers. It allows X-Cart users to batch print up to 1,000 pre-paid USPS shipping labels for all mail classes — including Media Mail® and First Class International Mail®. It also automatically posts order status details such as tracking number, ship date and mail class back to the X-Cart store. Additional features include hidden postage, insurance discounts and thermal printer support.”

Developing Trust for E-Commerce Conversions

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Since the dot-com bubble in the early part of this decade, the Internet has seen a tremendous growth in the number of e-commerce websites. Prior to this, Silicon Valley was filled with Internet start-up companies looking for venture capital and hoping to make ten-fold profits. Many consumers were weary of doing business online and the possibility of having their credit card info or identities stolen. Most of the e-commerce activity was limited to the big players, like and

A lot has changed in the past 10 years though. In the void left by the many would-be Internet superstars, smaller entrepreneurs have stepped in and taken advantage of new e-commerce platforms to launch small and medium e-commerce websites. Internet security has advanced, leading to increased consumer trust with shopping online.

  • SSL Certificates – SSL certificates are a must! Many e-commerce platforms won’t even work without them. Some consumers aren’t familiar with SSL certificates or how to notice when they aren’t working, but many are and this can easily make or break the sale. Not only do SSL certificates help increase e-commerce conversions but they also function as insurance for the website owner by providing added protection from malware and hackers. There are a number of options and providers for SSL certificates including Verisign and Comodo.
  • Security Seals/Badges – Security seals and badges can communicate a number of different things, from a simple reminder of a valid SSL certificate to a security audit from a third party.
  • Customer Testimonials – Customer testimonials can also go a long way to instilling customer confidence. Word of mouth is still the best marketing and holds true for e-commerce as well. The knowledge that other customers have purchased from a particular website with positive experiences can convey a personal connection and strengthen consumer trust.
  • Privacy & Return Policies – Clearly posted privacy and return policies show clear communication and transparency in the transaction and let e-commerce shoppers know exactly what to expect. Customers want to know there won’t be any hidden charges and their personal information won’t be shared with unnecessary parties. Furthermore, search engines look for designated privacy policies and publishing such a policy can enhance your e-commerce SEO.

When it comes down to it, the Internet sales process is not that different from traditional sales. Your marketing may be stellar and drive loads of traffic but with out converting that traffic into customers, all that SEO and PPC has gone to waste. Creating an effective sales funnel and creating confidence is just as important as where you rank in the search engines.

Parameter Handling in Google Webmaster Tools

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Many websites have multiple URL’s that display the same content, especially e-commerce sites. Often times this is simply from various URL paramerters attached to the URL. This may be to sort the products in a different order, track session ID’s, or to note the source of a referral. There have been quite a number of ways to prevent search engines from indexing all of these URL’s in an attempt to avoid duplicate content penalities. A combination of ‘nofollow’ tags in the internal site navigation and regular expression ‘disallow’ rules in the robots.txt file are common solutions. Unfortunately, this requires a thorough analysis of your internal site navigation as well as some knowlege of regular expressions and the proper logic to block only the duplicate URL’s.

Fortunately, Google has recently added a feature in Webmaster Tools that allows for an easier, simpler solution to blocking duplicate content URL’s due to numerous parameters. The ‘Parameter Handling’ feature in Google Webmaster Tools is located by going to ‘Site Configuration’ and then ‘Settings’:

Google Webmasters Parameter Handling

Google’s explanation of the parameter handling feature is as follows. *Note that there’s no guarantee that the GoogleBot will accept your suggestions. 😉

Dynamic parameters (for example, session IDs, source, or language) in your URLs can result in many different URLs all pointing to essentially the same content. For example, might point to the same content as You can specify whether you want Google to ignore up to 15 specific parameters in your URL. This can result in more efficient crawling and fewer duplicate URLs, while helping to ensure that the information you need is preserved. (Note: While Google takes suggestions into account, we don’t guarantee that we’ll follow them in every case.)”