How do your target customers prefer to shop online?
When are they most likely to shop?
Which channels are they most likely to use to discover your site?
For example, your target customers may prefer using a mobile device versus their desktop. Others might prefer to contact your store online through text messages rather than email.
Knowing this will help you to choose the right ecommerce platform to build and host your website, and create customer experiences that meet or exceed expectations.
Install a web analytics tool to learn as you go
Moving beyond third party research, using a website analytics tool will show you how people actually interact with your site:
How your customers shop on your website after you launch
What are your most popular product pages
How they find your site through channels like search, social media, and blogs or traditional media sites
Google Analytics is free and is a popular option for many small business online retailers. To get started, watch this video which highlights some primary uses and benefits.
Ask your existing customers for help
If you already have a social media presence to promote your physical stores, you can also reach out through that channel to ask what your customers are looking for in an online store.
Their comments on various social channels can also give you insights into which products are the most popular and which ones they’d be likely to buy from you online.
Additionally, you can post an online survey on your social channels to find out what they might want in an ecommerce solution. Tools SurveyMonkey or Google Forms are an excellent place to start.
If you already have a customer email database in place, you can also send the survey out through that channel. It’s helpful to offer an incentive to get people to answer your questions, such as a gift card giveaway contest or a coupon code to use once your new site is live.
Research competitive ecommerce sites
Finally, take a look at your top competitors’ ecommerce websites and social media channels to see how they are targeting customers through savvy copywriting, design, and photography.
Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses of each site so that you can iterate on what works well for them and improve on what doesn’t.
2. Choose a reliable ecommerce website builder and hosting service
Once you’ve researched your market, the next step is to invest in the design, build, and launch of your ecommerce storefront.
Select and purchase a domain name
Likely, you’ll want a domain name that is an exact match to your business.
If the domain name you want is already taken or is too expensive, try for an abbreviated version of the name, or a different extension, such as .shop or .store for general ecommerce, or get more specific with .jewelry, .clothing and .coffee.
Accessibility: Your website hosting and design service provider should offer affordable (free or for a monthly fee), and easy-to-use templates. That’s for both an intuitive front-end design for customers and a back-end dashboard for managing orders and inventory.
They should also offer a variety of payment solutions and, preferably, a flat fee for service charges.
Customizability: Since it can get expensive to hire a graphic designer and website developer, the design templates offered by your service provider should be easily customizable and intuitive for anyone without a coding or design background.
Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant: Since credit card fraud and security breaches are a constant threat to ecommerce businesses, it’s crucial to find a service provider, like GoDaddy Payments and Online Store Builder, that comes with PCI compliance built into its ecommerce solution.
The business must also follow proper technical and operational standards, monitored by the PCI Security Standards Council, to secure and protect the data provided by credit cardholders which are transmitted through card processing transactions.
Secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate: SSL is a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. When customers see a tiny lock icon beside your domain name URL in their web browser, they’ll rest assured that their online transactions and information are both private and secure.
Keep in mind that a robust, templated ecommerce store building solution should be available in one quick install, and should include:
An affordable website template/theme
An encrypted payment processing solution
Secure hosting for your site
3. Select an enticing store theme and template
Once you’ve selected your URL and platform, you’ll need a theme to suit your online store’s functionality and branding needs.
GoDaddy Online Store Builder offers multiple solutions to accommodate a variety of businesses — from selling goods and services to allowing customers to book appointments online.
If you’re on a tight budget, start with a free theme or basic paid package (starting at $14.99/month) and re-evaluate your needs over time.
Once your visual design is sorted, invest heavily in product descriptions and photography to appeal to as many of your visitor’s senses as possible.
If you’re creating copy and taking photographs yourself, here are Just be sure you have the time to learn how to do it properly by watching videos or reading blogs on popular ecommerce sites.
4. Carefully select the products you want to sell online
While you already sell products in-store, you’ll need to decide which products to sell online. Between shipping, packaging, and a number of other factors, the margins on selling your products online can be very different than what you’re used to.
In those cases, you might want to take customer payments online but offer curbside pick-up, instead. You can also offer bundled solutions like the example below.
Other product and shipping considerations
When putting together your online product sales plan, ask yourself the following questions:
Will you feasibly be able to package your products yourself, or will you need to employ someone to help you with it? If so, then budget that cost into your shipping fees.
How are you going to store and track your inventory? You’ll need inventory-tracking software — ideally built into your ecommerce hosting and design solution. You can also use your stock room if you already have a physical storefront. Otherwise, you’ll need some sort of product storage solution.
How, when, and why are you adding new products to your website? Be strategic about adding the right items and consider seasonal sales items and discounts.
5. Choose your online sales channels
For example, you might want to sell and ship products exclusively online. On the other hand, you might want to offer customers the option of buying your products online and then coming to your store for curbside pickup.
In either case, you need a domain name and checkout page where customers can complete their transaction via their credit or debit card or using their preferred third-party payment provider like PayPal, Apple Pay, or GoDaddy Payments.
Many small businesses prefer to use a third-party payment provider. That’s because it minimizes your security risks by storing customer credit card data through an encrypted service via the payment provider and not on your site.
GoDaddy Payments lets small businesses sell via all major credit card and debit card providers, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. It comes with advanced online encryption while maintaining the strictest payment card industry (PCI) compliance standards.
Likewise, your payment product questions and issues are managed 24/7 by GoDaddy’s customer support team.
GoDaddy Payments also offers the lowest fees (2.3% + 30¢ per online transaction) compared to other leading providers, and the money arrives in your account by the next business day. As a bonus, there are no long-term contracts, monthly minimums, or surprise fees to worry about.
It’s easy to set up your account in minutes, and you can manage all of your orders, inventory, customer reviews, and email in one place using the GoDaddy Online Store dashboard.
6. Consider your online payment solutions
If you don’t have the time, money, or resources to launch an ecommerce store right now, you can still sell online to customers using other sales channels.
GoDaddy Payments recently launched a variety of online sales solutions for small businesses.
Sell anywhere with shareable pay links
If you do most of your business with customers via text messages, email, social media or over the phone, you can process transactions using a customizable GoDaddy Payments Online Pay Link. Simply add your store branding and the cost of the transaction, then easily create and share a pay link with customers in minutes.
You can even transform a pay link into a scannable QR code with one click. Then post it or let customers print it anywhere to scan and pay in person quickly.
Via your GoDaddy Payments dashboard, select Pay Links and enter the price, description, and image for your payment request. Then, send your newly created payment link to your customer (through your preferred sales channel), and it’ll take them to a secure checkout page to complete their purchase.
After your customer completes the transaction, you’ll get paid by the next business day.
It’s a simple, secure way to get paid when your customers aren’t standing in front of you (e.g., collecting credit card info over the phone). And you don’t need any extra hardware like a card reader to complete the transaction.
Simply log in to your GoDaddy account and open Virtual Terminal on your Payments dashboard. Then, take your customer’s credit card info, type it into Virtual Terminal, and confirm the charge. Again, you’ll receive your payment by the next business day.
Get a point-of-sale (POS) system for contactless payments
GoDaddy’s POS system offers a variety of payment hardware solutions, including contactless payments, with the lowest transactional fees (2.3% + 0¢) per in-person transaction.
It allows you to quickly and easily take credit and debit card payments, plus contactless payments with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Then you can track it all in your GoDaddy dashboard.
Additionally, you can connect GoDaddy’s POS with your GoDaddy Online Store to help unify and expand your selling and enable customers to buy online, pick up in-store, or book online and pay in-person.
You’ll also benefit from the following hardware solutions:
Dual screens: GoDaddy’s dual-screen POS makes checkout a breeze. Plus, the all-in-one terminal includes a built-in payment processor, scanner, printer, and security.
Tap, dip or swipe payments: You can use the included charging dock to go hands-free. One single battery charge keeps your sales going longer, and you can connect your Card Reader to your GoDaddy Mobile App to start taking quick and easy payments.
Peace of mind: Every GoDaddy POS checkout is PCI secure, and every device comes with a one-year limited warranty and thirty-day refund.
7. Market your new ecommerce site online and in-store
Once you’re ready to take your brick-and-mortar store online, it’s time to let your customers know about it.
There are several ways you can do this affordably — all of which will require an investment of your time at a minimum.
Encourage customer ratings and reviews
Consumers have always trusted opinions and product recommendations from their peers over advertising or PR messaging.
Email is a highly targeted and effective way to increase ecommerce traffic and sales to your new ecommerce website. Start by gathering customer email addresses both in-store and online once you launch your site (if you haven’t done so already).
To incentivize customers, consider offering a 10% to 20% discount on their first order in exchange for their email opt-in to your newsletter. Then you can contact those customers whenever you’re doing a seasonal promotion or new product launch.
It’s equally important to set up an email report in analytics to help you track how your email campaigns perform in driving new sales transactions and site visits. To learn how, refer to our beginner’s guide to starting an email list.
GoDaddy Online Store Builder comes with built-in email marketing functionality. Have a look at this walkthrough to get started.
Once you’ve begun to build up your site traffic and are more aware of the most popular and highest-rated products on your site, you might want to invest in paid advertising.
Take a look at your website analytics to see which sites drive the most organic traffic to your online store. Then invest in advertising with those sites to drive even more targeted traffic back to your top product pages.
Watch this video for tips on how to get started with paid online ad spending.
Promote your ecommerce site in-store
Be sure that customers who frequently visit or pass by your brick-and-mortar store know about their new online shopping options.
Promote your new domain name on your retail storefront window or awning, shopping bags, receipts and anywhere else that they might see it when they shop in person.
Prioritize customer service
A happy customer is always your best word of mouth marketing tool. If you can’t hire someone to help you with online customer service, then set aside time each day to answer customer emails and phone inquiries, update order statuses, and enter their shipping details.
Before you take your brick-and-mortar store online, ask yourself:
How will you send shipping confirmations to customers?
Who will handle phone and email inquiries, how, and when?
Do you need a separate business phone line?
How and when should you answer social media questions and comments?
You can save some time by developing and posting an FAQ section on your website, and creating templated email responses to your most common customer inquiries.
It’s time to bring your brick-and-mortar store online
Ecommerce sales are soaring, and customers have accelerated their online shopping habits and preferences because of the global pandemic. As a result, brick-and-mortar stores must re-think their sales strategies.
Even if your retail store sales are solid, it’s time to offer online and contactless payment solutions to satisfy your customers’ evolving shopping needs.
With the right online and in-person sales strategy, using a PCI-compliant provider like GoDaddy Payments, you can rest assured that your customers’ privacy and security are in good hands.
But equity rounds aren’t the only way for a company to raise money — alternative and other non-dilutive financing options are often overlooked. Taking on debt might be the right solution when you’re focused on growth and can see clear ROI from the capital you deploy.
Not all capital providers are equal, so seeking financing isn’t just about securing capital. It’s a matter of finding the right source of funding that matches both your business and your roadmap.
Here are four things you should consider:
Does this match my needs?
It’s easy to take for granted, but securing financing begins with a business plan. Don’t seek funding until you have a clear plan for how you’ll use it. For example, do you need capital to fund growth or for your day-to-day operations? The answer should influence not only the amount of capital you seek, but the type of funding partner you look for as well.
Start with a concrete plan and make sure it aligns with the structure of your financing:
Match repayment terms to your expected use of the debt.
Balance working capital needs with growth capital needs.
It’s understandable to hope for a one-and-done financing process that sets the next round far down the line, but that may be costlier than you realize in the long run.
Your term of repayment must be long enough so you can deploy the capital and see the returns. If it’s not, you may end up making loan payments with the principal.
Say, for example, you secure funding to enter a new market. You plan to expand your sales team to support the move and develop the cash flow necessary to pay back the loan. The problem here is, the new hire will take months to ramp up.
If there’s not enough delta between when you start ramping up and when you begin repayments, you’ll be paying back the loan before your new salesperson can bring in revenue to allow you to see ROI on the amount you borrowed.
Another issue to keep in mind: If you’re financing operations instead of growth, working capital requirements may reduce the amount you can deploy.
Let’s say you finance your ad spending and plan to deploy $200,000 over the next four months. But payments on the MCA loan you secured to fund that spending will eat into your revenue, and the loan will be further limited by a minimum cash covenant of $100,000. The result? You secured $200,000 in financing but can only deploy half of it.
With $100,000 of your financing kept in a cash account, only half the loan will be used to drive operations, which means you’re not likely to meet your growth target. What’s worse, as you’re only able to deploy half of the loan, your cost of capital is effectively double what you’d planned for.
Is this the right amount for me at this time?
The second consideration is balancing how much capital you need to act on your near-term goals against what you can reasonably expect to secure. If the funding amount you can get is not enough to move the needle, it might not be worth the effort required.
Elon Musk said Sunday he “somewhat agonized” over the font designs for his companies Tesla and SpaceX.
The billionaire businessman added he “loves fonts” and has tweaked the logos over the years.
He revealed the SpaceX logo also holds a hidden meaning, representing a rocket’s arc to orbit.
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In a series of Sunday tweets, Elon Musk said he “somewhat agonized” over his choice of fonts for his businesses and revealed a hidden meaning behind the SpaceX logo.
Responding to a tweet about serif and sans-serif fonts, the billionaire businessman took a break from posting cryptic memes and discussing politics to say he loves fonts and put significant consideration into how his companies are presented to consumers.
“I somewhat agonized over the Tesla & SpaceX font design (love fonts tbh),” Musk tweeted. “There are some similarities, particularly use of negative space. We’ve made many little tweaks over the years.”
The Tesla logo — a T-shaped design with a custom, sans-serif font spelling out the brand name — is meant to resemble a cross-section of an electric motor. The SpaceX logo, written in a similar font with an extended X, references the reusable rockets made by the company.
“The swoop of the X is meant to represent the rocket’s arc to orbit,” Musk tweeted.
Other business logos have also held hidden messages: Baskin Robbins, a chain that sells 31 flavors of ice cream, has a secret ’31’ hidden in the letters of its logo. Likewise, Amazon’s arrow logo is meant to represent a smile, while the circular ‘B’ logo for Beats by Dre represents a person wearing the popular headphones.
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The internet has revolutionized the business world and changed how we conduct business. Any business that aims to increase its visibility and boost profit needs to pay much attention to top ranking factors, including local SEO — which introduces the topic of the local search algorithm.
Local SEO is one of the top practices that help boost a business’s visibility and generates more sales.
However, achieving better local SEO rankings is not a walk in the park, especially due to increased competition. To appear higher on local results, businesses and marketers need to understand how the local search algorithm works.
Knowing this helps guide the steps for improving rankings in the local pack.
The competition gets stiffer as more businesses open and optimize for local searching. Besides, Google is updating its algorithm consistently, meaning only businesses that can keep up with these updates can appear at the top of local search results.
Luckily, you have come to this post as this article looks at everything you need to know about Google’s local search algorithm and what you can do to get that top spot in the local pack.
Understanding the local search algorithm
Google aims to provide the best results that match a specific local search query. It constantly updates the local search algorithm to determine which business to rank on top of local search results.
Ideally, Google wants to provide local content that is relevant and valuable to users. As with search engine optimization, keyword stuffing cannot give you that top spot in local search results.
SEO specialists and marketers should consider Google’s local search algorithm updates and make the necessary changes to rank higher. Failure to consider these updates means losing your local search presence, resulting in fewer leads and conversions.
Local algorithms check the Google My Business (GMB) listings to determine where to rank a business in local search rankings.
Ideally, Google’s local algorithm ranks businesses with information that matches a searcher’s query. And the higher a business ranks in local search results, the more chances a potential customer will click on it.
This post looks at the three major pillars that determine local search results to better understand the local search algorithm: proximity, prominence and relevance.
Of course, other factors make up Google’s local search algorithm, but since we cannot identify all of them, we’ll focus on the most crucial ones in this post.
By understanding these pillars, marketers can better position themselves for local search success.
Proximity is one of the major ranking factors when it comes to local search. That means the distance between a business and a searcher is a ranking factor in local search.
When a searcher searches for something, Google considers how far the searcher is from the location of the term they use in the search. When a searcher doesn’t specify the location, Google calculates the distance based on the information they have regarding their location.
Ideally, Google aims to provide the most relevant results to a search query. For instance, why would Google provide a list of coffee shops in Los Angeles if the searcher is searching from Colombia?
That would be irrelevant local search results that won’t benefit the searcher.
Unfortunately, while proximity is a major local search pillar, it’s one of the factors that businesses have little control over. After all, you cannot change where your business is located, right?
You can only ensure your business location is as clear as possible, so that it appears for related nearby queries. Here are steps you can take to achieve this:
Claim and verify the Google My Business listing
Ensure local listings are accurate and optimized for local products or services
Get the Google Maps API Key and optimize for your location and routes
Set up your profile correctly (for Service Area Businesses) to avoid violating Google’s guidelines
Users can perform several types of local searches, including:
Users will perform geo-modified searches when they are planning to visit somewhere. For instance, a searcher in Los Angeles planning to visit Toronto, Canada, may search for a “coffee shop in Oakville.” The results will differ from if they searched for “coffee” while physically in Oakville.
To be specific, geo-modified searches are mainly based on relevance and prominence as opposed to proximity when a user searches for something when outside the city included in the search.
Searchers perform this type of search when looking for something around them. For instance, a user in Los Angeles performing a local search for “coffee.”
Ideally, the user only needs to search for something and is shown results based on proximity. They will get the results that are closest to them.
“Near me” searches
“Near me” searches have been so popular in recent years. Although their popularity has significantly declined, users still perform this type of search when looking for something locally.
For instance, some users could add “near me” when searching for a coffee shop, hoping to get the most relevant results near them. As we’ve stated, this trend has lost popularity because when you perform a local search, you are searching for something near you.
It is not necessary to add “near me” to what you’re searching.
Prominence refers to how important Google thinks your business is, which gets factored into the local search algorithm.
In other words, it refers to how well a business stands from the rest in various aspects, including directories, links, reviews, mentions, among other things.
If search engines view your business as trustworthy and credible, they will likely show it on top of related search query results.
The local search algorithm views businesses/brands with a stronger online prominence as credible and trustworthy. Some of the factors that determine prominence include:
A local citation is the mention of a business’s information online. The mention can include the partial or complete name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a local business.
Citations are an excellent way for people to learn about local businesses and impact local search results.
A business with high-quality citations can rank better in local search results, although businesses must continually manage citations to ensure data accuracy.
Backlinks play a crucial role in local business prominence. Gaining relevant backlinks from high-quality sites is an excellent way to build a business’ online reputation.
If you’re trying to outrank your competitors without much success, your backlink profile could be the reason.
In that case, you should check your competitor’s backlinks and compare them with yours. When doing this, pay attention to the number and quality of their backlinks.
As a rule of thumb, aim to have high-quality local backlinks pointing to your site to improve your page’s authority.
Next, you need to pay much attention to reviews to improve local prominence. Many customers look at a business’s online reviews before deciding whether to engage more with the business or not. Besides, many positive online reviews can increase a business’ ranking factors.
Consider this scenario. A potential customer is looking for a pub around Oakville. When they perform a search, they are presented with two results: one with over 100 reviews and another with less than 10 reviews.
Which business do you think the searcher would trust? The one with 100 reviews, obviously.
As with search engines, customers need to trust a business before they decide to do business with it. Similarly, search engines can view online reviews and analyze them to determine a business’s online prominence.
That said, here are strategies you can use to boost your online review signals:
Have a strategy
You won’t have a strong online prominence if your products or services are not of a high standard. So, the first step to having many great reviews is to develop great products and services.
After that, develop a strategy to encourage your happy customers to leave honest but valuable reviews of their experience doing business with you to help boost your online reputation.
Monitor and manage the reviews
Having many reviews is one thing; you need to develop a plan to engage with your customers for better results. Responding to reviews shows people that you care and are genuine about your products and services.
People will avoid businesses that don’t respond to customer reviews (whether positive or negative).
Search engines, too, can tell whether you engage with customer reviews or not and will use the information to determine where to rank on local search results.
When responding to online reviews, pay special attention to negative reviews and how you respond to them. While no business likes getting negative reviews, how you respond to them can positively impact your business — respond positively to turn the negative reviews around.
As earlier stated, Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a local search query. This key ranking factor will determine a business’s position in local search results — how well does a local business match a search query?
Even if your business ticks the above pillars (prominence and proximity), if the content on your page isn’t well structured and doesn’t cover the topics that a searcher is looking for, you won’t appear on top of local search results.
Here are factors that businesses should consider to create a relevant listing:
Local page signals
Local listing categories and attributes
Social posts and responses to online reviews
Local listing signals and categories
A business GMB listing and category can impact its relevance score for local searches. As such, complete your business profile carefully and continually add quality content to the web page to ensure it is relevant for proximity searches.
More specifically, ensure that all information on all listing pages, including Yelp, Bing, and Google, is complete and accurate. Aside from these factors, here are two crucial features you should pay attention to:
Selecting the right categories for your local business listing is among the crucial factors for ranking locally. With over 4000 GMB categories, you want to choose categories that best describe your business — ensure they are relevant and specific.
Here are guidelines to follow when selecting a category:
Describe your business as opposed to your services
Be specific to minimize competition
Reduce the number of GMB categories to describe your business better
Without a proper description, users won’t know what your business is about. This section is about adding an introduction to your business so that customers and search engines can know more about your business.
However, don’t use this section for marketing your business. Just give users and search engines descriptive info that can help determine whether your business matches their needs.
Local page signals
Another way a business can improve its standing in the local search algorithm is by optimizing web pages for specific keywords. For multi-location businesses, it’s essential to have separate, localized pages for each location, with relevant information and contact details for customers to reach you.
Performing competitor research is advisable to determine what terms or keywords to use for a specific query. Here are top on-page signals to consider when trying to gain relevance for a given topic:
Keyword research — Before creating local content, you need to find keywords that matter to your business. Perform keyword research to determine highly relevant keywords with high intent. When finding relevant terms to use in your content, base your research on the customer perspective; think about what they search for and the type of content they are looking for.
Create local content — After finding the right keywords, it’s time to create your content. Google values the quality of content more than the length of the content, so keep this in mind when creating content. Another crucial thing to pay attention to is localizing the content. For example, you can create content on local news and events or use your city’s name within your content.
The goal is to create a connection between what’s happening in your local area and your business. Also, use pictures with your specific geolocation to increase your content relevance.
Creating quality and relevant content is only the start. You need to optimize your content for on-page signals so local search algorithms can discover and rank them better. Here’s how you can optimize your local content for on-page signals:
Meta descriptions — Include keywords in your meta descriptions to encourage searchers to click through and increase visibility
Title tags — Title tags are some of the factors that search engines use to determine where to rank content. Incorporating keywords naturally in your title tags can help boost local rankings
Image tags — Another way to improve local rankings is by including relevant keywords in your image tags. Including geotags also comes with an added advantage
Headings — Users and Google value pages with clear structures. Consider creating headings within your content to capture readers’ attention and encourage them to read on. However, ensure your heading tags describe the content that comes after them well. Also, include keywords in your heading tags to help search engines understand them and their importance.
Off-page local signals
Gaining high-quality backlinks is a great way to boost credibility and trust. Backlinks refer to external links from another website to your site. Aim to have more high-quality backlinks to boost your website authority.
Ideally, having many quality backlinks shows search engines that your website or page is credible and trustworthy, which boosts the chances of ranking it higher in search engine results.
Guest posting is one of the best examples of link-building strategies you can use. Finding great guest posting opportunities provides an excellent opportunity to share your content to a new but relevant audience, which helps boost your website authority.
Another strategy you can use is to create longer and better content than what is already available on the web. When your content is high quality and relevant, it will be easier to get high-quality backlinks.
Review and social signals
Online reviews can also help boost relevance for your local business. Aim to get as many positive reviews from your happy customers as possible.
Remember, when customers perform a local search, they get not only the relevant businesses but also reviews related to the search. The more positive reviews a business has, the higher chances a potential customer will do business with them.
Closing thoughts on the local search algorithm
Ranking on top of local search results can seem daunting, but it shouldn’t when you know the vital things to focus on. As you have seen above, the local algorithm is based on three pillars: relevance, proximity, and prominence.
Of course, other factors determine local search rankings depending on your industry and competition.