Imagine if you had x-ray vision about your competitors…and even your partners and clients!?
Well, lately, I feel like I do.
I’ve been using a free tool for a month now and it allows me to instantly see the following things about almost any Web site:
It’s called the SEO Toolbar (instructions on downloading it are below); it provides you a toolbar on your Firefox Browser that you can turn on or off while you’re using the Web.
Let me explain a few of the top ways I’m using this SEO Toolbar (using eBay as an example)
In the first screenshot, I hit the blue info button in the upper left-hand corner to get the pop-up yellow screen of information about eBay).
Doing so tells me the following about eBay (I’m going to pick highlights):
In the next screenshot, I’m showing the Rank Checker feature which allows us to type in any keyword (search term that people type into Google) and see where any given Web site ranks on the search results for that keyword.
So, as you can see in the screenshot, ebay would rank in the following position on Google (on the left-hand “organic results” if you searched those terms):
Rank Checker allows many keywords (at least 100 at a time) to be ranked.
Now, I highly recommend you couple this Rank Checker tool with Google’s Keyword Tool (which tells you how much any keyword is searched on Google) which SEO Toolbar also includes.
So now you can tell how well a Web site is doing in terms of its relevancy on the most popular keywords in your business!
If you use Google Analytics on your own Web site, you can simply copy and paste your top keywords from your Analytics account into Rank Checker and see where you’re ranking on Google.
The Rank Checker also shows you where a Web site ranks on Yahoo and Microsoft Bing — I just didn’t have room in the screenshot to show it!
There’s a lot more to the SEO Toolbar than this, but those are some highlights for me.
Here’s how you get SEO Toolbar:
Go to SEO Book Tools and download all three of the tools:
And if you have questions on any of this, feel free to post comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
If you like this article, you may want to check out my Got Googlejuice? posting.
Best of luck!
eBay has a lot to offer for you to sell products on the Web, though the various costs of selling on eBay reads like a Chinese Menu (check out a list of eBay fees).
Costs for selling on eBay may include:
eBay’s fees are so complicated that a few clever people have built eBay fee calculators….try out this free eBay calculator — just looking at it stresses me out!
So I was happy to hear that Marshall Smith, a Senior Software Engineer at ChannelAdvisor, was doing a presentation on cost-saving tips for selling on eBay (at eBay’s DevCon ’09 earlier this month at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose).
I sat in and here are Marshall’s Ten Selling Tips for Reducing eBay Fees:
1) eBay Variations
You can list 12 variations of a product (e.g. different sizes and colors of the same priced t-shirt) as one listing and thus save listing fees. This only applies to certain categories (which eBay seems to be actively adding right now).
2) eBay Catalog Adoption
You can cut eBay submission fees in half if you are selling a catalog of products by using the eBay Catalog. You also get promotion in product-based search methods.
3) eBay International Site Visibility
You can reduce ebay auction listing fees for additional countries by inputting in one country. It’s more advantageous for auction/dynamic priced listings where you could save $1.63 on a $49 auction listing (For eBay fixed-price listings, it makes sense to list once for each country).
Note: Some categories are not supported.
4) PayPal Micropayments
Leverage PayPal’s Micropayments — this is useful for sales with order value of less than $12 .
For example, you can get a rate of $.05 + 5% (instead of $.30 + $2.9%).
For eBay sellers with variable sales, configure two Paypal accounts used based on order value.
For 200 $5 transactions a month you could save $29.
5) eBay Sales History Relist
Sales history is one element used for eBay Fixed Price items in the Best Match algorithm. When you list an item, that specific item doesn’t have any history (it hasn’t had any purchases).
So what you can do is use the relist functionality and link the two items together. It tells eBay this is the same as the previous item I was selling so that you have a starting score when you have just opened an item (otherwise it’ll have a score of zero).
There is no need to use the eBay Featured First function.
6) Immediate Payment
There can be some real advantages to using eBay’s Immediate Payment — it requires the payment from buyer at the time of purchase (as opposed to the buyer paying later).
You don’t have to file any UPI (unpaid item) requests. This could be really desirable for a highly desirable item (event tickets). Because it’s already been paid for, you’ll be faster to ship and the customer receive the product sooner.
7) Improving eBay Seller Metrics
Providing Shipping information to eBay (using CompleteSale API so it shows up in MyeBay. This reduces buyers requesting “Where’s my item?”
It also gives you more leverage in any potential INR disputes. You might also find better DSRs on communication.
8) Submit detailed eBay Seller Policies
In your eBay listing detail your return policy, handling time and shipping options — This reduces buyer confusion and increases confidence in the transaction.
You as a seller have to follow through on your policy. If, for example, you provide returns everywhere except Australia, you must mention that!
9) Efficient Timing When Processing eBay Orders
The eBay order import needs to work with seller’s fulfillment processes and timing — Missing a shipping cutoff window may delay buyer’s receipt by 3 days (Friday to Monday).
Sellers need to get packages into the system as fast as possible (you’ll get better ratings and thus potentially lower fees).
10) Higher DSR’s Reduce Seller Fees
If all of these eBay costs seem like too much a headache, you can try the little “free ebay” service my friend and I put up.
I sat in on a talk that eBay’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Manager Dennis Goedegebuure gave at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose earlier this month.
I got to chat with Dennis and he’s both smart and interesting — away from eBay he blogs about poetry, tips on San Francisco (in Dutch) and a favorite topic of mine: Black Coffee.
Note: Just to be clear, even though this was an eBay SEO specialist presenting his tips are not focused on eBay Store SEO or any other SEO for eBay Web pages.
While Dennis was through most of his presentation, I realized that he was going to make the slides available online — They are located here: Dennis Goedegebuure on SEO at eBay DecCon09.
I decided to go ahead and include my notes (below) as there were some comments Dennis and attendees made that are not in the slides — I encourage you to look at both!
Ok, on to my notes:
Dennis’s Definition of SEO
Those sound like things you want?
Here are some SEO tips, tricks and topics:
First and foremost, Dennis recommends that you make sure that your product is worth talking about; if you don’t, no person will link to you or visit your site or install your application.
Read the Search Engine Webmaster Guidelines
Dennis adds that you can learn a lot from what the search engines give you…the top search engines have documentation so you should read it… such as Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Google Universal Search: Threat or Opportunity?
Google and other search engines have moved more towards images, video and news — what we call Universal Search.
This is a threat — if you are just text-based…yet this is also a great opportunity to rank higher since there are fewer businesses that have images right now.
Through structured meta data the presentation of your site can be enhanced. Two tools on this are Yahoo Search Monkey or Google Rich Snippets.
Microformats.org is a great resource for how to code, present, etc. better for search engines to have better display — you won’t rank better but your appearance will be better.
How Do Search Engines Work?
Search engines have crawlers crawling links to discover your content.
If your content is not linked to (hidden in java script or flash) it can not be easily discovered. Crawlers will look at your Link Structure.
Search engines download html content of the page and store it in their database. As they perform this Site Index, only extractable content is stored.
Then, search engines rank it. Here are keys to their ranking (in no particular order):
How Do I Get Google To Index My Site?
To get into the Google Site Index, or other website indexing, you simply have to publish your content onto Web pages and then link to it from somewhere. Google site indexing can be done as fast as just couple of minutes or many weeks depending on the type of Web site you have (note: Google indexes blogs more frequently than other Web sites).
Taking Your “LUMPS”
LUMP stands for Links, URL Structure, Meta Content, Page Content, SiteMap. Here are some
Search engines discover you through links. It also helps with relevancy.
For example, Adobe Reader is ranked for “click here” (because its Anchor Text reads: “If you don’t have Adobe Reader, click here”
Google was the first to do a link-based algorithm based primarily on:
Four other important Link-related tips to keep in mind:
Meta tags are HTML elements used to provide structured metadata about a web page. Make sure all of your pages have a unique page title with the keywords you want to focus on.
Page Content & Elements
Image Search Optimization
For one of MR. Goedegebuure’s sites, 50% of his traffic is coming from image search.
Use Semantic HTML
If you would like to have one thing emphasized, use an h1 and only one h1 per page.
Three main factors
If you do those three best practices, you will rank pretty well.
SiteMaps Continued: HTML SiteMap
Build an HTML sitemap with all links on your site for users and for search engines.
Keep your number of links to 50 or fewer because Google Sitemaps frowns upon anything more than that.
Four free tools
Dennis recommends the following tools:
…to help you to:
2) Free Firefox plug-in toolbar
You can use this to see what’s searched more: singular or plural keywords.
4) Microsoft Advertising Intellgence Plug-In
It provides trending data for keywords, Cost Per Clicks, demographic data and real data from bing.com.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Dennis!
If you found this posting valuable, you may want to check out my Got Google Juice? item.
A very insightful man named John Hagel III spoke to a couple of hundred developers at eBay’s DevCon 09 gathering at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose last week.
I attended (even though I’m not a developer) and luckily Hagel’s talk was not technical!
Some of you may know John Hagel from his book Net Gain, which discusses how online networks have shifted the power in goods and services. He also runs The Center for the Edge in Silicon Valley.
Mr. Hagel’s topic last week was “Shaping Markets”
By Shapers, Mr. Hagel is referring to companies that transform a market sector. His Shaping examples included the following:
The Three Elements to Being a Shaper
Hagel says that a Shaper must have three things:
1) A Shaping View
An example of a shaping view is Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates’ message in the early 1980s that is summarized: “Computing power is inexorably moving from mainframes to desktop. If you want to be a leader in the computing industry, you have to be a leader in the desktop.”
At the time, the mainframe (IBM) and minicomputer (DEC) guys were discounting the personal computer.
Gates’ Shaping View galvanized small companies to invest in his vision of a “Computer on every desktop.”
A more recent example of a shaping view is Salesforce.com’s Founder Marc Benioff’s Shaping View that companies could reduce their technology expense if they used software through network services (as opposed to software packages installed within each company).
In short, Gates and Benioff are saying: “The future is over here — this is where you ought to invest…and there are real rewards associated with it.”
2) A Shaping Platform
Mr. Hagel explains that to be a “Shaper” you also need a platform that offer one of two types of leverage:
A) Development Leverage — A technology such as the force.com technology from Salesforce.com or Facebook’s Application Development Tools that reduces the investment required to build and deliver products or services.
B) Interaction Leverage — A set of protocols and practices to facilitate interaction. Google AdSense is a good example of this as it allows a connection between advertisers, content providers and consumers.
3) Shaping Acts & Assets
Mr. Hagel says that a Shaper must demonstrate conviction, capability as well as assurance to other participants in the industry that it will not compete with them.
His best example here was Novell, the computer networking company that sold off its hardware business to concentrate on its local area networking operating system. That was a bold move that signaled to others in the industry that Novell was serious about focusing on a network operating system — their dominance of that industry soon followed.
Another example: Malcolm McLean released his patents for the four-corner fittings and twist-lock mechanisms royalty-free to the International Organization for Standardization
Incentives are Important
There is also the question of how do you motivate people through positive rewards as opposed to negative rewards.
Clay Shirken, for example, believes in negative rewards — your company will go out of business if you don’t act.
Mr. Hagel seems to lean more towards positive incentives — He recommends shifting perceptions of risk and reward.
Crisis is an Opportunity
During crisis, we magnify risk and minimize reward. That’s an opportunity for a shaper is to come in and flip that.
You should magnify perception of reward and discount the perception of risk. If you do that you can motivate people to make investments around your strategy, you can reshape entire markets or industries.
Shapers Can Start off Small (even within other platforms)
You don’t need to be a large company to be a shaper. Visa at one point was a no-name startup. Malcolm McLean was a trucker from Arkansas.
Startups can be very successful shapers if they mobilize the three elements above — Shaping View, Shaping Platform and Shaping Acts and Assets — together.
Facebook is a current shaper. There are also opportunities to be shapers within an ecosystem — a company called Social Media Networks is creating a platform for Facebook to help faciliate aedvertising revnenue. It’s a shaping play within the broader Facebook ecosystem.
Making Money Even If You’re Not a Shaper
Here are some key lessons for you to make money in these shaping strategies even if you’re not the Shaper.
1) Be Acute in measuring a Shaper’s capabilities and potential for success. You ought to be comfortable that that Shaper is going to pull it off.
2) You’ve got to be clear about what niche you’re operating in…and what’s truly distinctive that insulates you from the rest of the participants.
3) Leverage Skills — You have to think about who else is out there in the ecosystem to take full advantage of the ecosystem. Who are those people and how to I build those relationships so that we all gain value from the shaping strategy.
4) Ultimately, the power of these shaping strategies is that you are able to learn faster. How do you learn from the experience of everyone else (not just your own experience)…and how do you adapt for your own sake.
The core message: not everyone is going to be a shaper. But more and more markets will be shaped over time.
The key question: do you want to be a shaper…or do you want to be shaped? You can make a lot of money either way. But you have to understand the rules of the game in order to succeed.