How to set up an online store

Selling your products and services online rather than in-store means that you need a website with the capability to handle an online store. But while setting up an online store might seem complicated and time-consuming, it’s actually not as difficult as it seems!

Where possible, many businesses are moving some–or all–of their products and services online. Have you been investigating transitioning some of your business’ sales and operations to ecommerce?

To get started, all you need is a website that’s powered by WordPress—we’ll show you how to do the rest using WooCommerce, a free and open source plugin that allows you to easily set up a functioning web store, complete with payment and shipping options, in minutes.

What you’ll need to get started
A website powered by WordPress
Products or services to sell
30-60 minutes to set up and add products to your online store
Set up and install WooCommerce
Step 1: Find and install the WooCommerce plugin
First, you’ll need to install WooCommerce on your WordPress website. You can download it for free from the WordPress repository, or you can install it directly from your WordPress dashboard.

Log in to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New. Search for “woocommerce”, and click Install Now on the WooCommerce plugin (Note that the correct plugin’s author will be listed as Automattic). Wait a moment for the plugin to install, and then click Activate.

The plugin will now be active on your WordPress site.

Step 2: Follow the Setup Wizard
After installing WooCommerce, you’ll have access to the WooCommerce Setup Wizard to configure your store’s key settings like location information, payment and shipping methods, and types of products that you’ll be selling. Note that everything you choose in the setup wizard can be changed later on in your WooCommerce settings.

You’ll first enter information about your store’s address, the currency you accept, and whether you’ll be selling digital or physical products (or both).

Step 3: Choose your payment processing methods
Next, you’ll choose which payments you’ll accept using your online store. By default, you can use Stripe and/or PayPal, but you can also choose to accept offline payments like checks and cash.

Select the options you’d like to use, and WooCommerce will set them up for you. Extensions that allow you to use more payment processing methods are available, if necessary.

Step 4: Choose a shipping method
You can also configure how customers will be charged for shipping. You can set one rate for your specific business area, as well as other rates for customers outside of your business’ area.

 

Step 5: Choose optional add-ons
Once you’ve configured the basic settings for your online WooCommerce store, you can review optional add-ons. None of these add-ons are necessary to run your store, but some, such as Storefront, can simplify certain aspects of setting up your store.

Step 6: Finish setup
Before completing the setup process, you can choose to enable Jetpack, which is another WordPress plugin with additional features that can help in setting up and running your store. This plugin is not required, however WooCommerce recommends that if you’re in the U.S., you’ll want to enable Jetpack given recent legal changes.

 

Once you’ve completed the steps above, your store will now be ready for use, and you can begin adding your products to it.

Managing your WooCommerce store

After installing WooCommerce, two new tabs will be available on your dashboard’s side menu: WooCommerce–which contains your store settings, and Products, containing your product settings.


Follow the link at the end of the Setup Wizard or go to Products > Add New to begin adding products to your store.

3 SEO Tips to Improve Your Keyword Research

Have you heard that improving your SEO will help you get found online more easily? You’ve probably heard that implementing keywords into the content on your website, blog, and URL are key strategies for improving your SEO ranking. However, including the wrong keywords or too many keywords can be just as detrimental.

Although you may not always notice them, keywords play an integral role when it comes to helping a small business get found online. So let’s get to it by breaking down the long and short (tail) of it.

Do Your Own Keyword Research

Keyword research should never be a one-time commitment, but rather an ever-changing process that involves a strategy and a comprehensive understanding of your business and your industry. Including keywords that are specific to your business and industry will help to ensure that the right customers are being driven to your door rather than just any customer. Although we want to increase our customer base, we don’t want to target consumers that may not find the value in our business.

Using the Right Keywords

Short-tail keywords, or keywords composed of very generic keywords, might seem appealing because they’re searched more often than long-tail keywords, however, they’re also a lot more competitive. So, unless you’re writing content for a large organization, like Apple or Macy’s, and consumers are likely searching specifically for your product, you don’t want to enter into a sea of competitors with big brands that have even bigger pockets.

Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, may not be as frequently typed into a search engine—think, “Egg” vs. “Poached Egg with Avocado and Bechemel”. By including more long-tail keywords into the content on your page, you’ll attract a larger number of customers who are likely to search for any combination of those long-tail keywords.

Location-based keywords are keywords that directly relate to your business’s physical location. For example, if your business is a bakery in a popular neighborhood in Charlotte, NC, you’ll want to include not only Charlotte, but also the name of that specific neighborhood. By doing so, you’re more likely to target visitors in your area rather than across town who may or may not ever make it to your location.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Speaking of misleading customers that may not find value in your business, adding practically any keyword under the sun is referred to as keyword stuffing and is largely considered a taboo in the digital marketing world. Like with any other digital marketing rule of thumb, less is more and quality will always conquer quantity. Ideally, a website’s content should include keywords in a natural way. However, by inputting keywords into a few sentences and repeating them over and over, you’re stuffing your content with keywords. Even if they’re good keywords, it’s still too much.

Now that you’ve read through these tips, you’re ready to become an SEO expert too!

What are Listings and Why Do They Matter?

Listings are an online summary of essential information for your business that serve as a powerful tool to help customers find you online and in real life. Here’s what you need to know:

NAP+W

No, we didn’t fall asleep on the keyboard. NAP+W is the acronym that explains all the information that should be included in business listings.

Name
Address
Phone number
+
Website

These four pieces of information are the business listings starter-pack. They provide the basic information potential customers need to have in order to research, contact and locate your business.

Want to score some major bonus points? Include information like hours of operation in business listings—it’s what consumers are most interested in!


Will my listings work?

The effectiveness of a business listing depends on the information’s presence and accuracy. Listings are available through a variety of sources, including search engines, online directories and maps, or social sites. When it comes to listings presence, more is definitely better. Availability on as many sources as possible will create multiple avenues for consumers to find your business. But (and this is a big but), presence only pays off if the listings are accurate. Listings are accurate if the information is correct and consistent across all potential sources. Seems easy enough, right?


Why are listings important?

Listings with good presence and accuracy will undoubtedly pay off for your business. Here’s how:

No more hide and seek

Just as the brightly lit bat signal guides everyone’s favorite caped crusader (that’s right Superman, we said it!), accurate and readily available listings will help guide consumers right to your business’s door steps.

 

They even have similar shapes. Coincidence? We think not…

If a business’s listing is incorrect or missing, the majority of consumers will feel less confident about the brand, likely leading them to choose a competitor’s product or service. The availability of accurate listings ensures customers are actually able to find brick and mortar locations while they’re open for business. This means money in the business owner’s pocket and, just as importantly, it means the business can be reviewed.

“In my humble opinion…”

An ample review pipeline is an essential tool for developing a business’ online reputation and fostering brand loyalty. Reviews allow customers to communicate their experience with a business to potential buyers, but if consumers can’t find a business listed online, their opinion of it won’t be well-informed. Accurate listings create the opportunity for transparency between businesses and consumers in the form of reviews, and the availability of this information will help increase a business’s visibility.

All aboard the search engine

Consistent, accurate listings and the generation of reviews will directly benefit a business’s visibility by boosting its ranking in local search engine results. Search engine optimization is a complex tool, so why not take advantage of it by simply ensuring your business is listed accurately! Increased visibility means more customers, and what business owner doesn’t want that?


Now what?

This listings low-down provides a basic definition and describes the benefits of business listings. Create listings on sites worth lots of points to improve your listings score. We’ve ranked them by importance using a lot of key factors—how many sites reference them, traffic, demographics and more.

6 Reasons Your Local Business Listings Need to Be Accurate

As a business, how likely is it that potential customers will come through your door?
The whole point of an online presence is to entice customers into your store, your leasing office or your showroom so you can convert them to paying customers rather than just browsers online.

Further, nothing is more frustrating as a customer than finding out that you have been given the wrong information about where a business is located. As a customer, how likely are you to give this company your business? Not very. In fact, according to Placeable, 73% of consumers stated that they lose trust in a brand when the online listing shows incorrect information.


1. Missing hours of operation information can be a dealbreaker

There are many things that people look for in listings, whether they are looking at that search engine on a PC or on a mobile device. The top piece of information that most people look for is the hours of operation, since their search is likely for a business that they frequent quite often.

In fact, in a study conducted by local data aggregator Localeze, hours of operation were noted as the most helpful feature in selecting a business during local search. 76% of respondent reporting that they expect this information when searching and 61% believe that it is a feature that helps them to select a business.

Even if people are new to a business, it doesn’t give people a good impression if the business hours are not listed and they don’t know that it’s only open from 11 a.m-6p.m. Tuesday-Saturday .Imagine that potential customer who is ready to spend their money in store, but shows up on Monday at 7 p.m. only to find it closed. That customer is likely going to do another search on a mobile phone to find a different store and spend their money there.


2.You can’t spell NAP data (and score a citation) without an A(ddress)

While most people would assume that the number one reason people do a search online is for the address or location of a business, the address is actually behind hours of operation as the second most desired information. But, of course, the whole point of being in business is to make money doing what you love or selling what you love. And that happens by attracting foot traffic and increasing customer base.

It bears repeating that if a business address is incorrect on listing sites such as Google or Bing, then customers will not be crossing the threshold. A simple thing such as the wrong number on a street address, or even the wrong town, can mean that a customer cannot find you. The US Postal Service relies on a complex system of checks to verify and standardize addresses, and many of the search engines will default to the USPS for correct mailing addresses.

What this means for the average new business owner is that unless a business is in an established location, getting the correct address on their listing means that both the address from City Hall and the information on USPS must be consistent. If USPS doesn’t recognize that address, then a business owner must contact them to verify their new address and get that information updated on USPS’s online database.


3. Local searchers are mobile creatures

According to Localeze, mobile-phone-based searches drive in-store purchases with more than 75% of searches ending in a purchase—if a business has their listing details correct. Now if half of the people searching for a business listing on a local search engine, such as Google Local/Maps, can’t find the store’s business listing details, then the business is going to lose 100% of their business.

For ease of use for potential customers, some of those details need to be as readily available as possible in a mobile-friendly manner. This can be accomplished with a responsive website that supports cellphone and tablet-specific versions.


4. Updated, accurate websites still serve as a first impression

At the same time, more than 60% of searches on PC platforms such as website portals, Internet Yellow Page directories and local sites have a similar chance of ending in a purchase. While mobile searches are becoming more of a standard in where a customer searches, a business owner should not discount the power of a fulsome, consistent and accurate listing that is reflective of the business website.

Any listing should be linked to the business’s website and feature the exact same information, but more of it. While a website should be enough to entice a customer to visit or buy, if those inconsistencies exist, then trust issues may arise in a business’s practices before a customer ever crosses their threshold.


5. Local searchers mix it up across multiple devices, situations and times

People who search for listings are doing it in many more ways than when the Internet first coalesced into existence about two decades ago. In that time, we went from working on desktops to laptops to PDAs to Blackberries to Apples to tablets—and in each iteration, the methods of search have changed.

However, that has slowed over the last five years or so as web developers realize that they need to be smarter. Rather than designing three different sites for three different platforms, they have created websites that are scalable to the search device. And that has been helped along by the proliferation of types of devices in use everyday.

According to Pew Research Center, In 2015, smartphone ownership in America was at 68%, with tablet and computer ownership at 45%. Statista says that almost half of American adults use their smartphones the most to search for local information online, the other half being split between computers (40%) and tablets (11%). According to Localeze, like the types of devices used, what we are searching for varies by the time of day and device. Entertainment is searched for during work hours on computers, restaurants during evening using phones and health/fitness evening using tablets.

The most important part of those mobile searches is accuracy. If someone cannot find your business in a local search or find inaccurate results whilst out and about, then your business has lost the chance for that browser to become a customer. So having those listings correct in all of the device formats is a must as we, and our technology, continue to evolve in the way we interact with local businesses.


6. Local search results are trusted sources of information

Last but certainly not least is the fact that local search results are considered the most trustworthy. In a study by Neustar, it was determined that these searches, such as “used games Raleigh”, are what people do the most since they put that trust in local business more than big box, big website stores.

Think about it, would you rather find a local store where you can get that latest purse in town right now? Or you can wait a week for delivery, which is four days past the event that you want it for! Local searches lend themselves to instant gratification and that interaction between browser and salesperson will convert that browser from someone who might get just the minimum to a loyal customer who feels like a million having spent a little more, but getting what they consider to be gold!

Those interactions are what lead people to local searches and the absolute necessity of getting your listings correct. Trust leads to loyalty, which leads to more business, which leads to happy customers and business owners.

And it all starts with that correct listing in that customer’s local search.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Believe it or not, the same premise applies to negative review response as it does to positive reviews. How you respond to a negative review impacts not only the reviewer, but all the sets of eyes that come afterward. Seeing a business handle a particularly challenging review online suggests that management is proud of their business, and willing to go the extra mile to maintain their reputation!

Make potential clients see the light with these four steps: apologize, promote, get offline, keep it simple.


How to respond to negative reviews

  1. Apologize and sympathize

    The first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that one occurred. Regardless of what happened, a simple apology and sympathy for your customer’s experience goes a long way.

  2. Promote

    So the famous crab cakes weren’t up to par the day this particular customer visited. If they’re what you are known for, why not reiterate that? “Our crab cakes are usually a hit, we’re sorry to hear that they weren’t up to par when you visited!”

  3. Move the conversation offline

    Don’t open a can of worms. Keep the lid on tight by offering the reviewer the chance to reach out via phone, email or both.

  4. Keep it simple

    Avoid specifics and don’t ask questions. Those conversations are much better served in a space away from the prying public.

One last pro tip: leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in search!


Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? You can use software to pull in your reviews from all over the web so you can respond quickly. And if you don’t have time, seek out our Digital Agency services to do it for you. Not only do we guarantee expertise, we guarantee it in a hurry: we respond to reviews as soon as our software pulls them in!