ACCM: Seven Ways To Kill Your Catalog

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Any dope on the street can make a mistake without exerting any effort. To really wreck an e-commerce site requires effort. Here’s how to do it.

(Coverage of the ACCM conference continues at WebProNews Videos. Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

Sure, the session at ACCM 2008 was titled “Maximize Your Web Catalog: Search Optimization, Content & Analytics,” but the real value comes from knowing how to completely make your site irrelevant to the engines, and thus to potential customers.

Matt Bailey, founder of SiteLogic, covered several topics where unary webmasters caused themselves and their sites unnecessary grief. Accessibility, for example, became a big deal for retail chain Target’s website.

Target made its site in a way that left it less than useful for sight-impaired visitors using screen reader software. Images and image maps lacked any alternative text a screen reader could use. That earned Target an embarrassing lawsuit from the National Federation of the Blind.

Failing to use redirects for changed URLs provides an easy way to send search crawlers into oblivion, taking your site’s presence with it. The 301 redirect says this URL doesn’t exist any more, Mr. Spider, you want this URL instead, forever afterwards. Temporary URL changes use a 302 redirect.

Then there’s inconsistent linking. Optimize those title bars to help avoid the perception that you’re presenting duplicate content. If you can hit the same page in different ways, search engines might decide to exclude all of its instances as duplicates.

URLs filled with useless unreadable characters present people with an unmemorable page. Fall out of love with icky URLs and make them something that a regular user recognizes right away, and sees its value. Don’t forget a nice favicon, either.

You may have tons of data available for a product or service you sell. Balance is the key. Too much information, like too many different products on one page, dilutes the presentation to the visitor.

If you really want to turn visitors into one-time arrivals, make calls to action obscure and unclear. Navigation that states what it does and does what it states keeps people makes it more likely that online shoppers, who frequently research products over and over before making a buy, will come back to reinforce their wants before making a purchase.

Bailey cited one task e-commerce site publishers need to succeed, and that’s analytics. “Number one thing you can do to increase your sales is use analytics,” he said, claiming over 70 percent of retailers do not use analytics.

“If you are not doing analytics, you are losing money,” said Bailey. You don’t really want to leave money on the table. Do you?

ACCM: Seven Ways To Kill Your Catalog
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