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The Content Oriented Website - Ecommerce Foundations

Oct 17, 2007
The Three Pillars of Ecommerce Success are traffic-flow, community-building and product stack. Most ecommerce failures are the result of not understanding one of these three pillars -- so I'm going to repeat and explain this list often:

* Pillar 1) Website Traffic Strategy : a steady volume of new visitors interested in your website and products

* Pillar 2) List Building Strategy : a steady stream of new people joining your "interest group" receiving newsletters and autoresponders

* Pillar 3) Products and Services Stack: a growing set of related services and products that you offer to your "interest group" lists

If these pillars are not perfectly clear to you then you'd better read these guides carefully. Most ecommerce failure (or lack of growth) can be easily explained as having a missing or weak pillar. For example, a company with a weak traffic growth strategy will become increasingly dependent on expensive advertising whereas a company with a weak product stack will not be able to tap into pure-profit zones such as upsales,follow-up sales. Likewise, a poor list-building strategy forces the entire business model to be dependent on day-to-day traffic -- ouch!!

The Foundation: a Content Oriented Website

Before we dive into some powerful traffic-building techniques, let's build the foundation with what I'll be calling the "Content Oriented Website" -- or just "COW". The COW is the basic unit of value on the internet -- it feeds the search engines with useful information and acts as the desired destination for people seeking answers. Not every COW needs to be ecommerce-related. You could create a hobby COW about some topic you passionately love.

For example, you could create an informative website about your local church history. You might call that a "sacred COW". Our focus here will be creating an online business -- so really what we're going to be talking about is a "cash COW". Got it?

Ok, I promise to avoid mention of "milking the COW"....

The Ecommerce Cash Cow

Let's try to define our term:

* A "Cash Cow" is a website containing lots of really useful content -- carefully designed to attract a steady flow of visitors and convert them into a permanent customer base.

One big mistake people often make getting started in ecommerce is to think that "coming up with a product" is the hardest part of the game. In fact, having a great product is useless without a customer base. You'll be shocked at how easy it is to come up with useful products to sell once you've developed a successful and useful content-rich website.

Organizing your Content Pasture for Search Engine Grazing

There are many ways to get good traffic online and they all involve giving away something cool and free. Our COW model will use useful free information. For example, if you your company is dedicated to selling home-repair manuals, you need lots of pages of free information about every aspect of home repair. Such content is going to suck visitors in from the search engines.

Note: contrary to what you may have heard, good content will not automagically turn into traffic.

For that, we will need to create lots of totally unique content following a "search-friendly" strategy. Of course, unique is the easy part -- "search friendly", on the other hand, is an absurdly loaded term describing a page which is strategically designed to be loved by search engines.

We're not talking about any shady or unethical practices here. But what we need is to use all important ethical search sweetening tactics to organize our COW site to act -- as much as possible -- as a search-engine magnet. To accomplish this, we'll have to think like search engines and strive for what I call "high topic clarity" or "keyword focused". That is, we must provide the search engine with a consistently clear message about our content.

In other words, think about your content from the perspective of the search engine. For example, just visualize the little googlebot working hard to figure out what the heck your home page is all about (say your company is "Soil Depot, Inc."). The little guy tries real hard but all your web pages keep linking to your home page with the word "home" -- well that's just plain confusing for the poor little googlebot. So have some compassion and instead link to your home page using the phrase "Soil Depot".

"High topic clarity" is all about working with the search engine instead of against it. This is not a slimy trick but simply giving the search engine what it wants. On the other hand, since 99% of websites out there do not provide topic clarity, your ecommerce company will have a distinct advantage!
About the Author
Chad is a developer for ezinedesigner.com
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