As I mentioned in If You Build It, Will They Come?, I have known from Day One that search engine results have to drive most of my traffic. PPC advertising is too expensive by itself. Making one’s site appear prominently is a dark art that has spawned a whole industry of SEO companies.
Very few of my product pages ever appear the top 1,000 results for keyword searches, if at all.
I know that the problem is Sunshop. I don’t understand the nitty-gritty well enough to do anything about it.
Consider my bestselling DayClocks. If you search the literal string “DayClock Classic” on GoogleRankings.com, my product page ranks #1 on Google and Yahoo (but is invisible to
I tried to help the bots by creating an XML site map (as well as an HTML version for customers). The free online sitemap generators, and the one commercial program that I tried, all choke on Sunshop’s sloppy URL generation. I screened out some of the garbage results with filters, but even my best effort still produces lots of duplication and missing category information. I’m unsure whether a decent site map will really help my page results or not, but it's all I've got to go on. So I am going to take another shot at hand-editing an XML sitemap.
A post in the Turnkey Support forum indicated that adding a couple of lines to my header file might make the bots see my product
Sunshop 4 reportedly contains major SEO improvements. I am hoping that the upgrade will alleviate my problem. Unfortunately, it keeps being delayed. Even the Beta won’t be ready for another month. The release version will almost surely come after Christmas.
If the upgrade doesn’t help automagically, I could change the way Sunshop builds my site. Instead of letting the PHP engine build pages on-the-fly, I can make it generate standard HTML pages, which should be bot-friendly. The drawback is that I’d need to regenerate my whole site every time I make any changes. It is probably a huge amount of extra work to maintain the site if I go that route. Another alternative, which some Sunshop users are trying, is to make a main page outside of Sunshop. This kludge would enable me to directly edit the header information that goes to all of the assembled pages. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t allow me to have custom keywords for every product page.
I suppose I could try to work variations on product titles into my product descriptions, and see if the bots index those. I could rewrite my DayClock descriptions to refer to “day clocks” and “dayclocks”. It would look like a style error to readers, but I might have to try it. I don’t know if the bots are reading product descriptions or not.
The last resort is hiring a professional SEO company. The one’s I’ve talked to are all ruinously expensive – $6,000 and up, which is considerably more than half of my entire Phase 3 budget. SEO is also a shady industry that I would rather not engage unless absolutely necessary. A mistake here would probably be fatal.
Solving this problem is absolutely critical. Sales will improve dramatically when my pages start coming up properly in keyword searches. They will never amount to anything if my pages remain invisible. All the listing and submitting and linking that I’ve been doing is ineffective.
I need help. The Sunshop upgrade is the first step. A decent site map is the second. Professional SEO is my last resort. If you have experience with SEO, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.
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Good Debt, Bad Debt