The first assignment this week was to optimize our landing page. The main thing was to make sure that everything that you mentioned in your ad is on your landing page. So rather than landing on the homepage, you should land on whatever page has the information on it that you are advertising. We analyzed an ad and landing page about running shoes and found some discrepancies. The main one was whether the free shipping was two or three days. The website said three with a $60 minimum order, whereas, the ad said two day free shipping. It also said that it was a site created by runners for runners, but I didn’t see any evidence of that. I would have liked to have seen blog posts from the owners of the site telling about their experiences with the various brands of running shoes.
The second assignment was on Search Engine Optimization. I did some research and found some good information. I also found out that Google changes their algorithms for how they rank websites so it’s important to keep up with current changes. This is a summary of the information that I found: (my blog post)
According to Search Engine Journal (https://www.searchenginejournal.com/2017s-four-important-ranking-factors-according-seo-industry-studies/184619/), the most important things for optimizing your site for search engines are:
- high-quality, relevant, comprehensive content in natural language,
- mobile-first user experience (don’t launch mobile site until it’s finished),
- other technical factors (encryption, H1 and H2 headings, anchor text, interstitials – Google is “cracking down on intrusive interstitial pop-ups”)
- “Switch to HTTPS encryption,
- Make use of H2 headings, especially if top URLs in your niche don’t,
- Ensure that your anchor text is diverse and semantically relevant,
- Remove all intrusive interstitials from your mobile website.”
This site didn’t mention it, but Google is telling me that a site map is also good so that Google understands how to “crawl the site.”
The first thing we did was to set up a conversion on one of our pages somewhere. I really wanted to put my conversion on a button to my affiliate site, but we weren’t able to get that figured out. I ended up putting it on the blog page because the affiliate links are at the bottom. The thing is that my landing page for my ads is also that same page so when somebody clicks on my ads it will automatically be a conversion. I guess it will tell us which clicks are coming from the ad and which clicks we might be doing ourselves. What is really cool is that Amazon keeps track of our conversions on its site. My campaign started on Monday, March 6th. I didn’t see anything when I came home on Monday, but Tuesday was pretty exciting to see that I had a number of impressions and 9 clicks on Monday, 15 clicks on Tuesday, 13 clicks on Wednesday and 16 clicks on Thursday. On Wednesday, I found out that I have had 4 sales from three clicks to Amazon. So far I’ve gotten 55,542 impressions through Thursday anyway.
After two days, we were supposed to evaluate the effectiveness of our keywords and ads and delete, pause, add or modify our keywords, in other words, optimize them. I paused three keywords that weren’t generating any clicks and only had a few impressions. I’m not really sure if we should keep them as long as they are generating some impressions or not. Or, should we just focus on the clicks. We were also supposed to do the same thing with our ads. One ad is definitely out performing the other. It has more keywords in it than the other one. I decided to try to add some keywords about men cooking and men in the kitchen to help that ad a bit. I also added quite a few more keywords relating to the multi-cooker. It’s been an interesting week.
This week was eventful. On Monday we had an assignment that I couldn’t do for two reasons. My Adwords Campaign wasn’t setup right and I kind of freaked out because I couldn’t follow the basic directions and I thought something was due. It turns out that Google Adwords had changed since the last class and the assignment wouldn’t work unless you were running your campaign. But, I did not have a Keywords tab like I was supposed to. On Tuesday, I called Google for some support. It turns out that mine wouldn’t work because I had created an image ad. For the way we are doing Adwords, we need to have text ads for it to work. The man that gave me tech support from Google was very helpful. He walked me through how to create a new campaign. I felt a lot better. We did our usual discussion boards. Since the relevance and quality scores wouldn’t work in Adwords, we discussed how to improve a text ad about property for sale in Rigby, Idaho.
On Wednesday we had to install Google Analytics and link it to Adwords. That went pretty smoothly. Our second discussion board was about how Google Analytics can help you with your business. It tracks who comes to your site, how long they stay etc. You know if they don’t stay long, you need to beef up your content etc. The donations for the American Cancer Society rose 5.4% due to help from Google Analytics.
Tonight I added a few more keywords and another ad to my campaign. I think it is ready to launch on Monday. I took my screen shots and pasted them into a Word Document – already to submit!!
Kitchen Power Tools
Using your Fagor Multi-cooker like a boss
This was the ad that I created for this week. I posted in on the discussion board and only got one response. This was frustrating for me because I felt that I gave some good feedback, but got very little in return. It was a good response though, in fact, just the response that I wanted. I just wish that more of the class would have looked at it and responded. We learned that we should highlight what makes you unique, free shipping? dazzling variety?; include prices, promotions, and exclusives; empower customers to take action; include at least one of your keywords, match your ad to your landing page, and appeal to customers on mobile.
On another website, it says that we need to target the right audience. I hope I was doing that with the line: “using your Fagor Multi-cooker like a boss.” It also said to refine our keywords using square brackets around our keywords. It said to test multiple ads simultaneously, track the return-on-investment of each ad, include targeted keywords in our ad, sell the benefits, include attention grabbing words in our ads, use words that provoke emotion and enthusiasm, see your Unique selling proposition, link to relevant landing pages, remove common words, and deter freebie hunters by including the price at the end of the ad.
This week we set up our adwords campaign. I found this rather difficult to do. It was not very straightforward and did not work for me like the video. I still don’t know if I did it right or not. When I put in my billing information it automatically started the campaign and I had to figure out out to stop it (pause). It seemed like most of the discussion revolved around whether or not to have automatic bidding or manual bidding. Most of us felt that we did not understand it well enough to do the manual bidding; hopefully, Google will know better. I wish we would have had better instruction on this.
Our second activity was to choose keywords. We had to choose a list of at least 20 keywords and they had to be grouped into a theme. Then our discussion was about what constituted a good keyword. We discussed that they should be specific, but maybe not too specific. We also learned about negative keywords that would filter out things that we didn’t want to come up in our search. We talked about yoga pants and when I googled “yoga pants” I got blogs as well as pictures of girls in yoga pants. Not sure how to eliminate them though. It was a meaningful discussion.
This week we discussed various legal structures from sole proprietors, to partnerships to corporations. Most of us decided that the sole proprietor legal structure was the best to start with. It is easier and less expensive also a husband and wife can be considered together as a sole proprietor. As a sole proprietor, you are entitled to all the profits, but you are also responsible for all the debt. There is unlimited liability and you could lose your personal property if there are liability issues and someone sues you. With a partnership, you have someone else to share the profits as well as the liabilities, but there are often disagreements. With a LLC, Limited Liability Corporation, stockholders have limited liability, they can be transferred to someone else, but they are more expensive and are taxed twice and are closely regulated. https://www.powerhomebiz.com/starting-a-business/business-structure/choosing-the-legal-structure.htm Most of us felt that a sole proprietor was find to start with and that if our businesses really took off, that we may choose to incorporate down the road.
As far as taxes and licenses go, I learned that Oregon doesn’t have any sales taxes. They have higher property taxes instead. Texas has no state income taxes. For a sole proprietor in California, they would need to get a business license, a Fictitious Business Name Statement, and they would have to estimate taxes and pay quarterly. We would also have to pay social security taxes as the employee and the employer (so double) and Medicare tax in federal taxes. I still never really understood what is required in an affiliate business. In some places it depends on the level of income that you generate. I can see that some cities/states are more business friendly.
This week we explored and discussed design concepts. We seemed to agree the responsive design was key. Nobody wants to scroll side to side when reading a web page. We also seemed to agree that keeping things simple was also a good design idea. Some felt that the navigation should be at the top, but that the drop down menu button is not sufficient and not as well known. The design should be consistent in colors and layout so that there is a feeling of unity. I have heard it suggested that you design for the mobile device first and then the computer. I usually design for the computer first, though keeping the mobile device in mind.
We discussed the use of PayPal. PayPal does allow credit card use and does not require a client to have a PayPal account in order to use it. We designed a PayPal button and copied and pasted the code into a word document to turn in. I think I will use PayPal on my website so that they can have the convenience of paying with a credit card; I will also allow them to pay cash after the service is provided. A disadvantage of PayPal is that it takes the customer away from your site to their site to do the transaction. There was a lot of discussion about security and fraud. There was also some discussion about “add to cart” button versus a “pay now” button. Some thought “pay now” was too pushy. “Add to cart” allows a buyer to purchase multiple items; I’m not sure if PayPal’s “pay now” button does.
View Post – B 250: 01 (Online); Winter 2017 – Brigham Young University – Idaho
According to Kissmetrics (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/easy-payment-process/), they suggest:
- Provide a number of payment methods
- Allow payments without requiring an account
- Deliver seamless design – checkout page should have the same design as the others.
- Don’t redirect people, which they say is the main disadvantage of using a service like PayPal.
- Make errors easy to fix. “Ideally, you want an error message to appear in the field in which it occurred.”
- Ask for essential information only
- Provide reassurances on security and privacy
- Keep distractions to a minimum
- Have clear calls to action
Of course there’s more detail if you go to the website above.
This has been another interesting week. We had to research various site builders and possible hosts for our website. When I did the research on site builders, I was quite impressed with Webstarts. I was not able to generate much interest on the discussion board for Webstarts, but then later in the week, there were some considering Webstarts on the choosing a host discussion board. On the page that I looked at, Webstarts cost $7.16/month (but I now believe that is probably if you commit to a year even though I didn’t see it actually say that), they provide a $250 Adwords credit, social integration, a domain name, Google search engine submission, optimized website for mobile devices, 10G cloud storage, membership feature, custom HTML Access, unlimited contact/payment forms, unlimited custom slideshows, and premium phone and email support. But I believe that I found some false information. There is so much competition with these site builders that they update, but comparison charts on the web are still there. So you find conflicting information. One chart I found said that Weebly had no HTML access, but another student found something that said it did. On the discussion board, most people were recommending Weebly, but then when we researched hosts, somebody said that there were reviews where people were not happy with their customer support. Students that were familiar with HTML and CSS were concerned about choosing a builder that allowed HTML editing. A couple of students were really gung ho about Word Press and said that it is very popular in the industry. My husband is recommending WordPress as well and is offering to help me with it. I want to learn WordPress, I’m just not sure there is time to do it right now. So I’m still in a quandry about Weebly, Webstarts, iPage, or WordPress. The consensus seemed to be to stay away from GoDaddy. WordPress seems to be one of the least expensive ways to go.
As far as hosts go, the majority of the class members in our group were recommending BlueHost. Some students already had experience with using them for previous class projects and were happy with them. Some were then second guessing their site builder choice because some site builders are also the host and won’t let you take the site to another host. My husband has his own web server and has offered to host my site as he has my other sites from previous classes. I am concerned whether he will actually have the time to spend with me to get me up to speed with WordPress though so I don’t know whether to take him up on his offer, or go to Webstarts or iPage. I guess I better decide soon.
This week we had some interesting activities. We did some research for Aviator sunglasses and whether it was better to go through a wholesaler (LA Wholesale), or individual manufacturers on Alibaba. We had to rate them according to what criteria we valued. The criteria I chose were Cost (40%), Minimum Order (30%), Customer Service (15%) and Selection (15%). With this criteria, I determined that my recommendation was to go with LA Wholesale because of their low minimum orders. We could get a reasonable variety that way without investing in as much inventory. I also thought it would be better to get a variety with one company than have to deal with 12+ different manufacturers to get a variety. I was also concerned with dealing with companies overseas and the time it would take to receive products etc. The suggested profit for each pair of sunglasses with LA Wholesale would be approximately $8.25/pair. I felt that was reasonable to start with, but many in the class recommended to go with Alibaba because they wanted to make more profit. I feel that after the business gets going and some profit is made that we can then possibly start adding other vendors when we have a place to stock inventory etc.
Our next project was to analyze whether or not we wanted to sell guitars using an affiliate model or by using the drop shipping method. Some people in the class did not really understand the drop shipping method. Some of the same people who were advocating for the manufacturers on Alibaba were advocating for the affiliate model to avoid potential customer service issues with the drop shipping method, which didn’t make any sense to me. I found what I think is a good drop shipper, Wholesale Music Warehouse. There website was atrocious, but I was impressed with their reviews and such and felt pretty good about them. The affiliate that I compared it to was Musiciansfriend.com. The criteria I used was profit potential (40%), quality of product (30%), and ease of doing business (30%). I think most of the class underestimated the stress of having to continually come up with content to blog about to keep traffic coming to their site. Many of the class members recommended the affiliate model, but the profit potential would definitely be less and take longer to generate. I felt like once the website was created for selling the guitars, there was a much better profit potential. I really liked the idea that I would not have to invest in and store inventory or worry about shipping product, but still be able to have a business where I was selling product, controlling markup and creating my own specials. With the affiliate model, I would have to worry about continually coming up with new content on my blog and that would be very stressful for me. My recommendation was for the drop shipping method. I did’t feel like there would be a lot of customer service problems especially if I had a good drop shipping company. I found it interesting that classmates would rather deal with manufacturers from China for sunglasses to earn more profit, but not a wholesaler in America for guitars to earn more profit. I think that the wholesaler is the one that has to deal with the manufacturers from China for you.
So I had until Thursday when tuition had to be paid, or I would incur penalties, to decide if I should stay in this class or drop it. I have have already dropped it once and then put it off because I didn’t know what I could sell. I still really don’t know, but the exercises this week have helped me feel like I could do something, anyway, I just need to stay with it and get this done. My husband and daughter even offered their services to sell.
This time I did some brainstorming with my husband and daughter. That really helped. They helped me think of ideas to write down. We had to also determine the business model that we would use. I’m not very clear on them at all. I need to do more studying about them. Then of course, I had to figure out and look up keywords in Google Adwords. It was interesting to see where the competition was and where it was not. The exercise recommended the low competition ideas. When we did the exercise with snowboarding and chess, I found that there is a lot of competition in the snowboarding arena, but not so much in chess. We didn’t all agree, but most of the class felt that finding a niche in the chess category would be more successful than trying to break into the snowboarding market. It was mentioned that it would really cost a lot to get any of our ads to show up in the snowboarding market. I’m still not sure how all that really works but we have to pay per click for someone to click on our link and it costs more per click when there is heavy competition. I’m concerned that paying per click is going to cost more than the profit we might make on our items, especially with low cost items. This Adwords type of marketing might be best suited for higher priced items. I am anxious to learn the concepts though. I made it through this week and look forward to the next.