How I Quickly Built an e-commerce Site

As I mentioned in my previous post, the goal of this post is to inspire you to take a calculated risk and build a Web site you’ve thought about, but ‘haven’t found the time to build’. This post is describing a recent project I took on with my Dad.

Background

We needed a quick and dirty e-commerce site to showcase 50-60 scooter parts that my Dad has available for sale that fit various brands of scooters, primarily made by Dayang, Honda and Yamaha.

Below you’ll learn about how I got started, the tools I used, and how I influenced search engine rankings by implementing proper on-page SEO items.

Please forgive my grammar, as I am writing this piece for speed as well. I’m hoping to edit it later on.

Built for Speed

Since this project wasn’t billable, and it’s not planned to be a long-term business, I tried to cut corners when possible. Also, scooters and mopeds are seasonal by nature, so finishing the site to allow for earlier rankings eased my fears about using shortcuts.

Buying a Good Domain

I bought the domain at the end of March for this site. Before buying it, I used five tools to help me compare search data.

The five tools I used were:

1. Google’s Traffic Estimator

2. Adwords Keyword Tool

3. Free Keyword Research from Trellian

4. Keyword Difficulty from SEOChat

5. Keyword Difficulty Tool from seologs

To be able to compare the data quick and effectively, I set up an Excel spreadsheet with search data in columns and the corresponding search term in rows from the five data sources. I recommend this for both SEO research and keyword-based campaign research. It allows me to scan quickly for keyword opportunities.

Using this data, and keeping in mind commonalities of the Web site content I was going to publish, I decided on MopedandScooterParts.com, which I was surprised was available.

Creating Content

To start, I got pictures of each part using a digital camera, with each part featured on a white bed sheet for easy editing in Photoshop. 

With the images, I also received corresponding descriptions and prices for each part.

Once I had this information, I had 80-90 percent of the Web site content. Now, it just need to be coded.

Payments

To save time, I decided to use PayPal for the shopping cart function. For this site, the transaction fees are reasonable (2.9% of the sale price + .20 cents per transaction).

Hosting

I already had Web hosting through Dreamhost, which is cheap, at $97 per year. (dreamhost affiliate link). Also, since I had the hosting package, Dreamhost allowed me to purchase a domain for free for the first year ($10 savings).

Software Used

I used Photoshop for deleting background noise from images of the parts for sale, and Dreamweaver for HTML/CSS coding.

I also used Dreamhost’s built-in HTML editor for minor HTML tweaks along the way.

Web site Building Tools Used

I used CSSEZ to help me create a base model for the CSS stylesheet. It was tweaked slightly, but about 80% of the work creating the CSS was done in a WYSIWYG environment versus a coding environment, which allowed me to work much faster. (see CSSEZ version and the final version). Contrary to what this site states, the CSS you create can be used without WordPress or MoveableType.

I used HTML Playground for a reference when I forgot some HTML/CSS lingo.

I used XML Sitemaps to help me create a quick and dirty sitemap in HTML and XML. It took some minor tweaking to the code to make the HTML Sitemap respectable. This tool saved me a ton of time, though.

I used FormLogix web forms since I don’t know MySQL, but wanted to grow an e-mail newsletter subscription list. Now, it seems that FormLogix puts Google Ads on pages where its forms are used, which is lame and a deterrent. When I created mine, they didn’t do this.
 

How the site ranks

Right now, the site ranks in positions 1-3 on both Yahoo! and Google for phrases including the word Dayang and the name of a specific part we have for sale, which is roughly 60-70 percent of the content. (sample search 1, sample search 2, sample search 3).

How Did I Achieve Strong Search Rankings?

Right now, the site doesn’t have many in-bound links, which certainly is not helping it for difficult keyword phrases. However, one thing working in my favor on this project is that there aren’t many online content providers for after-market Dayang Scooter Parts.

Also, each page of the site has a strong focus on targeted keywords. Keywords for each page are included in the:

  • Page Title
  • Directory Name (so they appear in the URL)
  • Header Tags
  • The site description and Domain contain targeted keywords
  • Meta Data (descriptions and keywords)
  • Anchor Text
  • Image File Names, Alternate Tags and Titles

Other Tools

Google Analytics – monitor site traffic, usage, referring
sites, etc.

Google Webmaster – monitor search rankings, inbound links found by Google, upload a sitemap, etc.

Yahoo! Site Explorer – to check competitor’s links and my links.

 

Some More Things to Consider when Building or Redesigning a Web site

  1. Information Architecture – This didn’t really apply for this site because there was only going to be around 60 pages. However, breaking content into clear classifications that allow for search engine indexability and navigation is critically important with larger sites (250+ pages).
  2. Link structure – This also wasn’t that important due to the limited number of pages. Since no one item is extremely preferable to sell than another, I tried to keep the link architecture as evenly weighted as possible. However, if you want to rank in a competitive market and you don’t emphasize the pages you’re hoping to rank via extra internal links, you’ll have trouble.
  3. CSS vs. tables. – If you use a Web design firm and they build your site using nested tables, you’ll have bigger maintenance bills, more search engine concerns and slower load times.

For additional site-building and SEO Help

Download my on-page SEO e-book to help you improve your Website’s search rankings.

2 Comments

  1. Hi.
    I spent about a day on creation of a sitemap for my mom’s website. Finally, I did it and was very satisfied with my job. But when a friend asked me about the same thing for him…I said, sorry.
    I don’t want to waste my time on that purpose anymore,… it would be smart of me to use a professional http://www.sitemapwriter.com/ Sitemap Generator progrsam instead. No more manual creation of sitemaps! Only reliable XML Sitemap generator programs!

    Reply
  2. David,
    I agree. Sitemaps can be a huge time waster — especially if you just need one to submit to search engine tools like Google Webmaster. I’d refer your friend to one of the free tools that automatically create them. The only problem would be if he has a lot of dynamic pages — the sitemap generators tend to struggle with those.
    If you need to learn more about SEO for your mom’s site, check out my free SEO ebook titled We Have a Web site. Now What? It’s a non-technical guide to on-page SEO. There is a link to it on the left-hand side of my blog.
    Thanks,
    Craig

    Reply

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