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Ecommerce Checklist - Before Starting an Online Store

Starting an online store or shopping cart is easy. Starting a successful business online is not. Here is a check list of things you want to consider when starting your online business to help you maximize your potential. Read through this article and take careful note of the valuable information we are providing to you. 

Choosing Your Domain Name

Choosing a domain name is an important part to beginning your business. Having the right domain can have an early impact on your store's success.  Having a keyword in the domain name helps get that site ranked well for its term early on, while having a branded domain name will take more efforts to get ranking. Another thing to consider when choosing your domain name is domain age.  The search engines like Google and Bing place importance on the age of a domain name. Newly registered domains will be put in a sand box and can take months to gain the trust of search engines. Places like buydomains.com are a good place to start your search for an older domain name. Once you find several names you like that are in your budget, do some research on those domains to see if they already have existing back-links and if they have any page rank. If they do, using that domain name will help kick-start your business by having a head start with the search engine trust.

Choosing the Right Ecommerce Software

Choosing the right shopping cart software for your ecommerce store is really tricky. There are so many factors that go into these platforms no one can think of them all at once. It is one of the reasons why these shopping carts are continually being updated all the time with new features. There are however a few key features that you need to be aware of when selecting the right softtware for your shopping cart. Below is a short list of things that you must keep in mind.

  • The software needs to be SEO Friendly
  • Able to Design and Edit all Templates of shopping cart.
  • Uses modern web design techniques, such as table-less structure.
  • Does it integrate well with social media
  • Easy Product Management via Import/Export
  • Does the software include your Merchant Account Provider
  • Is the shopping cart easy to use?
  • The software is updated regularly.
  • Mobile Version of the Shopping Cart

SEO Friendly Ecommerce Software

What do we mean when we say SEO Friendly? Well, the shopping cart must allow you to change the Meta Title and Meta Description for every single page/product/category. Also shopping carts will have a query in the URL with expressions that are not good for search engines, so a good shopping cart will rewrite these urls in a fashion that is good for search engines.  An example would be changing "www.mysite.com/category?=1234" to "www.mysite.com/mens-shoes". Believe it or not even the design structure of the store has an impact on SEO. Old clunky sites that incorporate nested tables are not given as much preference to the search engines as ones that are optimized and utilize style sheets to structure a website. So you definitely need to find a shopping cart, who's software is up-to-date with these current design techniques.

Editing the Shopping Cart's Template

Whether you are a designer or not, you will need to choose a shopping cart that lets you edit most if not all the templated files that make up the shopping cart's exterior. This is important if you want to add some functionality or third party software to your website design such as Google Analytics. Not only that, you may want to change the way things look down the road and you do not want to be limited by rigid template designs that you cannot change. Flexibility is key when choosing a shopping cart.

Social Media

Social media outlets are some of the most used aspects of the internet and are now a viable method to create a buzz about your products or advertise by word of mouth and viral content. Being able to incorporate sites such as youtube, facebook, twitter, and blog websites are import to broaden your internet reach of potential buyers.

Product Management

A good shopping cart software will allow you to import and export products, categories, tracking numbers, customers and other important aspects of your website. Being able to edit and work offline in an excel database and then quickly upload hundreds or thousands of changes will save you many hours of work. If you find that shopping cart does not have any import and export functions do not even waste your time and find another one.

Merchant Accounts

There are many different payment methods out there and you will need a shopping cart that works with a merchant account that you want to use. Some carts only offer one service that they are affiliated with. I would not waste anymore time with these carts. You need to have multiple options of merchants so that you can choose the best one who gives you the best rate.

Ease of Use

When it comes down to it, ease of use needs to be one of the main factors when determining your ecommerce platform. Many carts offer trials or demonstrations of their administration section, which let you go in and see how their software works. It's a good idea to test this area out to see if it makes sense to you.  In the end, if you can't use the software then it does no good to you.

Regular Updates & Community

Check to see if a software is being updated regularly and if it has an active community following it. An active community will often time come up with ingenious ways to get around limitations of the shopping cart. Sometimes these will become features of the next update. Don't get stuck using a vaporware product with almost no support.

Mobile Version

With computer like smart phones such as iphone and android, having a mobile version of your site is almost a must. These mobile versions are stripped down versions of your website that make it more intuitive for browsing on a mobile device. Don't be surprised if 30% of all your traffic now comes from a mobile device.

Get Familiar with Your Products

Believe it or not many people just decide to jump into online business and think they will just make money.  Get to know your industry and relative trade circles and publications. Becoming more familiar with industry terms and phrases will help you when you develop content for your site. Good content will equal more trust by users and more likely to be spread around and be picked up by the search engines.

Hire a good SEO specialist

Ok so now that you have the perfect domain name, awesome shopping cart, and you are now familiar with your product line, what is there left to do? You need to be found by customers looking for your goods. You may have a great looking site, but that's not enough these days. With so many other ecommerce stores out there you are going to need to get good rankings. A good SEO team will go over your site and make on page optimizations where necessary to help the search engines crawl your site and pick up the most relevant content for a page. That only goes so far though, search engines these days are also relying on signals such as quality back links pointing to your site. Generally more back links pointing to your site, the more authority the search engines will give your shopping, thus ranking you higher than the competition. Not only are backlinks important, but it is being found that social media signals, such as Facebook likes and retweets are also playing an important part in being ranked. A good SEO will be able to take care of all this link networking and social media promotion for you. Trying to do this by yourself would be an uphill battle you will never win, there is just too much to do.

Prepare Yourself for the Long Haul

Please don't think that once you have your brand new ecommerce store you are going to start raking in the money. It is going to take several months to start getting picked up by search engines and obtain recognition. There are many more factors to address in actually running a successful business, but by using this checklist as a guide to get starting you will have a much smaller hill to climb. Keep at it and put in the hard work and time there is nothing to stop you from having a successful online store.

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