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The Content Oriented Website - Ecommerce Foundations

Content Cow
A Content COW

In brief: A successful ecommerce website stands on three pillars: 1) traffic 2) list-building and 3) sales. Many ecommerce ventures fail because they are weak in one of these three areas. In the following guide, we will explore how to build a solid foundation for ecommerce using the 'Content Oriented Website' approach. This approach provides value to users while acting as a traffic magnet upon which an ecommerce platform can be built. This is the first of four articles constituting an 'eBiz QuickStart' for visitors of

The Three Pillars of Ecommerce Success

The three core aspects of ecommerce are site visitors, list-building and a 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

Search Friendly:
...provide the search engine with a consistently clear message...

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 isdedicated 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% ofwebsites out there do not provide topic clarity, your ecommerce company will have a distinct advantage!

BasicRules for Achieving High Topic Clarity -- in the Mind of Google

The first thing we'll do -- and this is the cornerstone of all "keyword focus" is to chooseone simple keyword phrase for each page of content. Choose a keyword phrase that best describes your content. The best keyword phrase is fairly specific and has at least two words. For example: "natural traffic" or "split testing". Most webmasters try to choose multiple keywords for each article which obviously results in loss of focus.

Rule #1: Each page will have a single primary keyword-phrase such as "split testing"

Rule #2: Each page will use the primary keyword phrase in the title, description, headings, first paragraph and several times in the body text

Rule #3: The page's file name will be a dash-delimited simplification of the title (containing the keyword) such as "simple-split-testing.html"

Rule #4: All links to each page from within the website will use either the keyword-phrase or title or description using the keyword-phrase

Rule #5: All content pages will have one and only one URL (just say no to URL parameters like "my-page.html?sessionid=74646475&more=somedata)

Ok, now for the bad news: following these rules will not generate a flood of traffic to your site -- but failure to follow these rules will sabotage the process -- so just do it. High-clarity content is the cornerstone of search traffic. In the next installment we'll explore how to develop a complete "search magnet" strategy to make every single one of your content pages into a virtual doorway leading traffic into your website -- and then into your ecommerce funnel.

For those of you with some SEO knowledge, this approach could be categorized as a highly systematized long-tail traffic gathering pattern. "Long Tail" refers to the approach of bringing a few people to your site from each of many keywords rather than trying to bring many people to your website from only a few keywords. The nice thing about a long-tail approach is that honesty still works. Besides, long tail traffic can be built fast, with unlimited growth potential -- and it's the most stable form of search traffic -- which is just what we want to drive our ecommerce machine.

About the Author:

Chad is a seasoned consultant with a decade of ecommerce SEO experience. If your business is being dragged down by the ever-increasing cost of online advertising, consider asking Chad to take look at your site. Chad can help you find creative ways to integrate a link-building strategy into your business process -- resulting in a permanent growth trajectory.

Boost your ecommerce mojo, contact:
chad @
SEO Consultation

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