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#1 pegog

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 09:31 AM

My website (practical easy gift ordering guaranteed) was launched on Friday 15th June 2007 and I've been trying to get some feedback with regards to the site.

http://www.pegog.com

It's amazing how you can feel on top of the world one minute :woohoo: and then really low the next. :( You then start thinking whether you have made the right decision. :panic:

That's how I've felt since the launch on Friday until today.

The Big Idea
Last year in November I decided to seriously look into setting up a gift registry website aimed at those with family in Australia and the UK.

I don't know if any of you have had to post items abroad at Christmas time but in the UK you have to post items by 1st October (destination Australia) to get the cheaper postage rates. Who ever gets their shopping done in time? You then end up paying more in postage costs than you have for the actual item your sending. To make things worse customs in Australia regularly open your beautifully wrapped presents and sometimes even may charge additional customs charges depending on what you have bought.

For the past 7 years I have either paid the extortionate postage costs or I've bought gifts from on-line shops getting them sent to my mums house so she could wrap them for the rest of my family.

I wanted to provide an international site so that both my family in Australia and family in the UK could all use the one site to purchase gifts for each other. I wanted to be able to see the prices in both AUS $ and GBP £'s and wanted a registration area where people can add special dates and list any items they would like for Christmas. I would then be able to send a reminder out prior to any dates they have added.

People have already pointed out that you can buy many of the items cheaper from other sites such as Toilet Trivia (a book) which can be bought on Amazon for £2.00 cheaper. You could buy this book from Amazon but Amazon don't operate in Australia and you would therefore have to pay £4.99 international postage cost + £1.99 surcharge which would actually make the book £4.00 dearer. Not only that they didn't provide gift wrapping. Please bear this in mind when viewing my site. My aim isn't to find the cheapest products on the net, it's to provide an easy way of viewing and purchasing numerous products from one location, all that can be gift wrapped. It's a matter of convenience as well!

Budget Constraints
Due to budget constraints there are alot of things I want to do to the site that I simply can't afford to do at the moment.

The easiest way of doing this was to join affiliate programs with retailers that provide a gift wrapping service. I currently have just over 60 retailers across the UK and Australia and I basically choose which of their products I want to list on my site.

www.pegog.com therefore provides a window to view various products from over 60 retailers. Although not obvious by the retailers site, they can all provide gift wrapping, usually the option is at checkout. Eventually I would like to make it clear whether the product has free gift wrapping or shipping on the product page.

Some categories need more products and I am hoping to add more retailers and products soon. I'm adding about 100 products a week and I currently have listed 5,700 in total. I need to find a good book retailer in both Australia & the UK but have decided to concentrate my efforts on the marketing at the moment.

The site has cost me about £3,000 so far and I was lucky enough to win first prize in a Dragon’s Den like competition called “Aspire to Enterprise” run by Salford City Council and Salford Hundred Venture. More info can be found regarding this prize at http://www.salfordon...mp;vdetails=996 however I have still had to invest about £1,500 of my own money into the site.

This has helped me to a point but I've now hit a wall because my marketing plan hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be. I was hoping to get some feedback on ex-pat forums etc but your not allowed to post anything that can be regarded as an ad. I'm therefore relying on other people to see my site and hopefully post comments. Alternatively I'll have to be lucky and hope people find my website via the search enginges.

The web designer has charged me for standard search engine optimisation which is suppose to include;
  • Generic titles for all pages
  • Generic meta keywords and descriptions on all pages
  • Alt tags on all key graphics such as navigation and titles
  • Extra text navigation where graphic navigation is used
Not knowing much about web design I thought this would be ok however it seems that the above is absolutely pointless and they may as well have done nothing.

I'm waiting on getting some content software so I can update things myself and am in the process of trying to find out exactly what software this will be and how much changing I can do myself.

Every tiny change I want costs be over £100 and I simply can't afford to do any more major changes at the moment.

I am also pregnant and due in 6 weeks. I am hoping that I can get things sorted out asap so that I can start earning some money even if it's only a small amount initially. I'm currently on maternity leave and have always been the main income earner and really don't want to go back to work. As you can imagine the drop in salary is a nightmare and I'm now starting to pull my hair out.

Let me know what you think and if there's any immediate improvements that you can give me I'd appreciate it.

Thanks in advance
Christina

Edited by Respree, 20 June 2007 - 09:36 AM.


#2 Jozian

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 10:16 AM

Christina-

Havent even looked at your site yet, but I can see a potentially large difficulty already: you have big value, and possible a good USP (unique selling proposition), but it is hard (for me at least) to define what a user might search on to find your site, and how likely that combination of keywords might be.

You may very well need to adjust your marketing from simple SEO to something else. I wouldnt panic yet, especially if you site is that new, and there may be some good ideas we can come up with for you.

I'm going to check out your site and post back here later.

Added: A look at your site apears to backup my intial analysis. I think you are going to need some site changes too, to convey your value more readily.

-Jeff

Edited by Jozian, 20 June 2007 - 10:21 AM.


#3 pegog

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 11:35 AM

Thanks for taking the time to look.

Initially I wasn't too concerned about whether people could find me on the web because I thought it would be more word of mouth and the use of the expat forums etc that would give me the exposure I needed. When you look at the keywords it does become more difficult so I'd be grateful of any suggestions.

I was told to run w3c html validation service and also Mozillas's html validator and there are hundreds of errors on the page. I've emailed the web designer regarding this but haven't heard anything back as yet.

I'm going to contact a few newspapers to try and get an article published which may also help with regards to exposure. Not sure how easy this will be but can only try. I'm going to push the point that I'm also looking for more local retailers that may be interested rather than going for a full plug on my site.

Look forward to hearing your suggestions later and thanks.

Christina

#4 Ruud

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 08:37 AM

Hi Christina,

The site has cost me about £3,000


Prices and values are maybe quite different "over there" (I'm in Canada) but for close to USD 6,000 I find the design a bit ... bland. I don't know if the deal includes hosting. If so, maybe it is a frugal idea to look around what ASP/Windows hosting in the UK should cost you. It really should be in the UK on a UK IP address so Google understand you're relevant to the UK search results.

I think you have a really nice idea here. Lots of potential.

The web designer has charged me for standard search engine optimisation which is suppose to include;

* Generic titles for all pages
* Generic meta keywords and descriptions on all pages
* Alt tags on all key graphics such as navigation and titles
* Extra text navigation where graphic navigation is used


Well... learn a new thing everyday. That's a whole new definition of "standard" SEO for me... Generic titles? Generic meta tags? Maybe he made a typo and meant to say "sub-standard"?

Set aside that this "generic" stuff makes no sense from an SEO perspective: it makes no sense from a consumer's point of view.

Imagine you're looking to send baby stuff to a friend in Australia and you see this in your search results. Quick! Which one is the baby page and which one the books page?

Anyway, let's hop through some stuff that is apparent on a first look-over. The stuff he should have done. The basic, standard stuff.
  • The home link (the pegog graphic) should link back to http://www.pegog.com/ instead of http://www.pegog.com/index.asp. http://www.pegog.com and http://pegog.com should not both act the same way. One of those should redirect to the other so that one of the two will always show in people's address bar. You want links to your domain to add their value all in one savings account: not a bit here and a bit there. Right now links can end up at www.pegog.com, pegog.com, www.pegog.com/index.asp, pegog.com/index.asp.

    Given how you've been dealt with so far it is very possible that the solution will take a long time and will require you to pay a lot more again. While searching for another developer sign up at Google Webmaster Tools. Follow instructions and instruct your developer to put the required code on the site. Now you can at least tell Google which of those various ways to write your home URL you would prefer they use.
  • You need a slogan or statement that says what you do. An association between brand (pegog) and activity. Amazon? Books. eBay? Auctions. Pegog? ....

    Maybe something like "Pegog - UK/Australia Expat Gift Shopping" or "Pegog - Send International Gifts at National Rate"
  • The home page is very full. A lot but a lot of text. Discouraging to browsing and shopping. No-one will read this. This is the place where you have to make the sale, where you sell people on the idea of your site.

    "How pegog works" is a good idea but you put too much text. Some of it, like "Website updated daily with new products, special promotions and offers", make no sense. It doesn't pertain to how pegog works and how I can benefit from it.

    Set out to come up with 3 to 4 key benefits of using pegog. Get large colored squares and put those shortly written key benefits in each:

    1. Shop for gifts for your family abroad
    2. NO international postage rates
    3. NO customs fees

    Under that you can write a blurb that explains the process a little bit more. At the end of the blurb you can link to a more extended information page, if needed.
  • The "special offers and news" has to go from the home page. If you do special offers, put two or three image products on the home page. Have an inner page which conveniently lists other offers.

    News should go in its own section. Consider each item: this is of interest to whom? Is it really of interest to a customer?
  • Products are listed in category view. When you click through to the detail you're basically taken off site to the retailer. This is done in a frame. I would opt for category view, then a detail view with your description, then a click through to the retailer.

    Worse, when in the framed retailer site, when I click on your "return to products" link, I end up back at your home page instead of the last page I was looking at...
  • With the above in mind I expect that this is what Google would think of as a "thin" affiliate site. Between you and the products you're selling there stands very little but a concept. In other words, if I make a list of the retailers you use, what is the benefit of using your site versus just going directly to the retailer? You have to add more benefit.
  • I would add a blog so I would have place to easily add more content. Write about the UK, Australia, expats. Read and link to other blogs that do so. Wiggle yourself into the UK/Australia expat online community and try to get more exposure that way.

In general, you have a great concept the execution of which will need a lot of work. To do this efficiently you need a webmaster or developer who works with you, who's on your side.

In my opinion you might also need a new design. The site, I'm afraid to say, looks and feels as if it is a template on Blogger. Aparantly it's his standard layout.

#5 Black_Knight

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 08:58 AM

Hi Christina, welcome to Cre8asite :wave:

There's certainly something of a marketing challenge here, which Jeff neatly summed up:

it is hard (for me at least) to define what a user might search on to find your site, and how likely that combination of keywords might be.

I think I have a good solution to help get the message about this site out there to the right people. However, it is going to take a little work.

I recommend that you create a really definitive and detailed section about posting gifts to Oz from the UK. The best darned guide on the topic there could be, which collects a the factual stuff, but also adds in the anecdotal notes that can be so important.

The reason for that is that we know that people sending gifts to Oz from the UK are likely to search for information about their options etc. That search traffic is obviously relevant to you and your business, and even those sending one-off packages, not regular gift-shoppers, are still likely to feel helped enough to want to repay that help by telling others - Word of Mouth.

#6 rynert

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 10:21 AM

Most of my thoughts are covered above - but once you make the move to an improved design, a clear statement as to what you do and a seemless transaction (where I buy from you) I think you have a great site - especially as you expand it to other countries....

I have family in Australia and USA so encounter the problems over here in the UK :)

#7 pegog

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 10:28 AM

Thanks for all your replies!

It's starting to make a bit more sense and at least with the feedback given I can start to put a plan together even if I can't carry out the changes immediately.

This is the response I've had from my web designer.

[verbatim email removed by moderator]

I will definitely add more content etc as soon as I get the content software.

It's great to learn from so many knowledgeable people so thank you so much. Maybe after this learning phase I will be able to give something back to the forum.

Thanks once again,
Christina

Edited by Respree, 22 June 2007 - 04:19 PM.


#8 Ruud

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 10:37 AM

we can also increase page count by adding Html gateway pages (can be risky but can have dramatic results) [...] you would need to either have gateway pages with keyword rich content [...]


Run the other way.

#9 Jozian

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 11:25 AM

Christina-

There are a lot of things to consider here, and I really need to sit down and spend more time to determine exactly what advice I would give you. I think that Black Knight may have already pointed you in the best direction, but I want to think some more about this and evaluate the passthrough and affiliate mechs you have had implemented as well.

There are a few observations I can make for you now:

1) Your Message is not being heard
You will need some site improvement to get your message across effectively to visitors once they reach you. You need a strong tagline and a better way to convey your value equation than a sidebar monologue.

2) Developers are Developers - do not assume more
The developers you have been working with seem decent and intelligent overall, but they do have some knowledge weaknesses around SEO.

Ruud is very right about running from their help if they want to put up 'gateways'. The W3C errors are an issue too, but how large depends on your strategy for success.

There are many disciplines at work here, and most developers are not good at more than one or two.

As well, limited budgets can make decent developers recommend suboptimal solutions or cut corners that they know they should not cut.

2) Marketing strategy first
Many people, and developers, make the mistake of not focusing on the the best online marketing plan before they look to a technical implementation. Web developers and even ecommerce experts are often not the people you want to start with.

Not that you haven't considered the marketing angles, it is apparent you did, but how best to make that tick is a harder question to answer. A direct or indirect ecommerce site like you have implemented might be part of the answer, but I think you are going to need a better traffic strategy than simple SEO.

Luckily, you have found a haven of expertise here that might be able to get you on track quickly :)

Don't despair. More later.

-Jeff

#10 sharkeo

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 11:26 AM

Hi Pegog,

Looks like your getting lots of attention.... :thumbs:

Again from looking at the site and reading through various posts, I do agree with much of the comments in the sense of having a USP and clearer design with a call to action.

I had a quick scan of the site, to be fair, the deal you got is not bad for what you've paid. Our agency would charge at least 10k to provide you with a solution, which would be a professional design with CMS support.

What you need is a Content Management System, which has the flexibility to be tailored for your specific requirements. Initially you should get a professional designer which can cost you anything between 1-2.5k

A decent CMS can cost anything between 3-10k.....The think to remember is cheap is not always best, as before you know it, you're spending x amount every other day in getting minor amends done.....

Once the design has been agreed, simply implement the design in the CMS (Content Management System), ensuring the site meets the following :

* W3C Compliance
* Tableless Design
* CSS Driven
* Template Support (Allowing you to have different design on different pages)
* Text version of the site etc......

Once these initial elements have been addressed, its then worth investing in SEO to increase awareness.....

Regarding your existing developer, it doesn't look like their using any best practice, or are very naive in web development. I also had a quick scan of the code, its not pretty tables and frames are a no no.... :nah:

As mentioned before, I currently work for an agency in th UK, I am happy to provide you with some free advice should you need any more help, or at least some direction.....

One last thing to note, the fact that you have content on the site is great, I would start writing some content for future landing pages like :

About Us
Contact Us
Customer Service
Privacy Policy

Also congratulations on winning the contest....Hope all of this information helps.....

Thanks

Sharkeo

#11 BlueAcorn

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 11:38 AM

Christina,

The response from your "Web Developer" says a million things. Most of which is that they may know how to build a website, but they obviously don't know much about SER (Search Engine Ranking) or even Web Design best practices. But I'll avoid the bashing for now - I think a number of people on here could pick his/her statements apart.

Anyways, what I will offer is some advice. Starting up a website is easy, cheap, and basically anyone can do it - and everyone knows that. What most people don't realize is the time, and resources necessary to startup a SUCCESSFUL website. This does involve investment, in time, money, energy, etc. Typically most small business startups face the time vs. money question with - can you afford to pay someone to do it - or, do you have the time and the patience to learning yourself? The fast track obviously being the first option, but, most people don't plan on that kind of investment off the bat.

So, it looks like you're in boat #2. But, before I go any further, I'll say nice, site, nice idea. The design isn't bad in my opinion, it could be much better. But let's not focus on improving design because that will cost money - which you don't have much of. So, some things you should focus on is first and foremost attract attention and visitors. Luckily for you, this is something that can be accomplished with little financial resources but a lot of dedication and hardwork. Since you'll be having a baby soon (congrats by the way), whenever you're not spending time with the little one I'd pickup some books on PR and marketing. You've already got a head start with some exposure on a large blog here: http://www.seroundta...ves/013953.html - which by the way is where I came across your post. But keep plugging away with your networking, find social networks for ex-pats, etc.

I'd also take advice from some of the tips above with changing title tags, content, etc. With a combination of inbound links, content, and properly formatted tags you're taking the right steps to bring more traffic. Not every site can startup exactly as they want to be. I'd create goals for yourself to gradually move towards an SEO optimized site with some more enhancements. But take it a step at a time.

This game requires patience and dedication. Most e-commerce sites are disappointed after launch because of slow (or sometimes nothing) sales. This is typical unless you have invested money pre-launch for SEO, marketing, PR, etc. Over time, with constant attention and dedication your site will grow, and that growth will allow you to re-invest, more and more. Etc. It's a cycle, consider yourself at step 1, next step, generate traffic. After that, make improvements, then get more traffic, etc. Just keep building on the foundation you've built. Good job so far though, don't be disappointed!

[mod edit: fixed broken link]

Edited by Respree, 21 June 2007 - 02:27 PM.


#12 ryno

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 02:00 PM

Christina,

A lot to sift through here regarding the site and the response from your developer and seeing the help you're getting has inspired me to create an account here and become part of this community... very nice info so far.

Much of what I would say has already been said by Ruun and BlueAcorn but I'll touch on some things as well.

The big one is that I don't immediately understand what it is the site does when I arrive there. I think the design or the logo can play more off of the actual acronym “pegog” and what that means. That would initially help with what the site is and does.

There is a LOT of copy on the home page, none of which really stands out from anything else, such as no sub-headings or copy separators. I think the vertical line-height is a little off with the space between each line item - just hard to read.

The design in general is I’m sorry to say bland. They seem more like developers and they didn’t consult any designers in the process. The H1’s on the main page are images with alternative text only – the better way to do that is to either use a technique called SiFR or by using a background image for the H1 tag and in the code the text of the H1 will be shifted to the extreme left far from users sight. The coders here will understand but it may not make sense to you. This leaves actual text in the H1 tag instead of just an image and would look the same as it does now, but fair much better with all search engines and it doesn’t count as “hiding text” or one of the bad SEO techniques. This would also help when/if somebody was to print your page or view it with a mobile device.

The search up top is a good idea; however it is far too detailed to have as the "default" search. Why not have a simple search field that will search all categories, sub categories, and keywords? And at that point they can limit the search by price or type of gift. Next to the little search box you can have "advanced search" which would then display the extra fields. But right off the bat, that's far too detailed and normally discourages people from using it as there's too many things you have to select. It just takes too much time and isn't that usable.

I'd also suggest actually having a blog separate from the main page if you're going to post so much information, this would also help with SE's in time. I mean that because the header says "special offers and news" but I don't see those until I scroll way down there. I shouldn't have to hunt for them u know? Those are your key items people are looking for (once they understand the nature of the site that is). You could still have the "latest post" titles somewhere integrated on the homepage, which would bring them to the blog and those specific blog posts but keep all that extra info of the homepage - too distracting from your main info.

Actually I JUST now saw your "mission statement" way down there… That alone explains what the site is about… You need to have that up top somewhere and in a different design or text style than the rest of the text. That immediately would help my first point.

In the header the logo should be a separate element on top of the background image, which would help the linking to the home page instead of using image maps. Again you could make that an H1 with a background image of the logo and have the text visible for SE’s etc. Same with the two links for the retailers. It is my understanding the developers aren’t understanding of or willing to code with web standards so it is to no surprise that they haven’t deployed any of these techniques…


Now as far as what "sharkeo" said I don’t think you need to be thinking about finding a CMS and doing all this over. You’re far to beyond that point to go more into debt and time constraints. It is best to fix what you have, although it may take some work, I do believe it is currently salvageable.

The fact that the developer is even mentioning "gateway pages" is a huge red flag. Sure they may be able to do something quick and fast and get you some more traffic, but when you get caught you’re going to be very sorry you went that route and you’ll have a WAY bigger problem on your hands than what you do now. Stay far away from that. Even Google posts that on their site that you shouldn’t do that. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Some of what he/she said is valid but a couple things make me laugh…
- "you have to understand that there is a trade-off between function and WC3 compatibility" – not if the developer knows what they’re doing. Honestly it’s not that hard guys…
- "if your site was 100% W3C AAA compliant it would not make your site be visible on Google" – what? Accessibility standards are not directly correlated to SEO and how you rank. They’re simply guidelines so you know that a wider audience can access your site accurately by different means. No, this alone doesn’t guarantee you’ll be in Google but the guy is missing the point of you bringing up standards.
- "increase your knowledge of Web 2.0" – ha-ha. I hate that term, but blogs, wiki’s, social etc are methods but again he’s not focusing on your site and its SEO and the method in which it is coded and how SEO is handled on it.

He is right in the fact that your products link to a framed-in page from another site. Anything after that point is void for your site in regards to Google. But aside from all that the big issue with that is the “return to product list” doesn’t return to the product list – it takes you to your homepage, which is bad for your site users. Now they don’t know where they were before they viewed the product. They’re almost forced to remember to use the back button, which removes the whole point of that "return to product list" button. It should take you to the page it says it will. Just bad code there.

Some products are broken, http://www.pegog.com...il.asp?URL=3423 and all are framed in from other sites. So how do your site visitors order these products or services from you if the'’re all from other companies? Maybe I don’t understand that part?

The feedback form has a tiny bug where it shows email required twice – but that's a simple javascript fix in their validation code. But my question is why doesn’t it require a message? Or your name? Wouldn’t you need all that info to really help them find what they needed?

Another thing – the "join mailing list" doesn't validate if there’s anything in the field or whether it’s a valid email or not, but the feedback form does? Need to fix that too.

Why have categories with no information? The "Computing & Video Games" says "we found 0 gifts for you." My thing is why have that on there at all until you get products in there? If there’s no computer products and it’s not on the navigation then they would use the feedback/can't find it form right? But if you send them to a blank page, it doesn’t sit well with people generally.

And I’ll really stop after this one I promise… But the clean search engine friendly urls are the last thing you need to worry about right now. Google is getting a lot better at indexing sites with them and right now because you don't actually have the product pages on your site you're not going to benefit from the extra labor hours to build them. Just leave them alone for now. That's something for way down the road.

Okay I'm sorry to rip stuff apart but that's what I do best at times. I just hate to see people get crappy sites for what they pay, and unfortunately I see it all the time….

Take care and best of luck to you.

Chuck Reynolds

#13 Respree

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 02:40 PM

It's not often I see such awesome first posts in the website hospital.

Welcome new members, sharkeo, BlueAcorn and ryno to Cre8asite. Thanks for your thoughts and contributions to the website hospital.

I'd say this is one of the more successful website reviews I've seen in a while and have added a link to it in our website hospital primer (see bullet point #9), Tips on Getting a Better Website Review.

#14 pegog

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 04:05 PM

I just thought I'd say thanks once again for everyone's input!

It's great to see so much constructive criticism along with the positive feedback.

I'm in the process of going through all of your comments and trying to put them in some sort of order so that I can focus on what I can do immediately, what I can work on and what will have to be put on the back burners.

Once I've been through everything I'll post back what I plan to do and see what you all think.

Can't believe how much input everyone's given me and word's can't describe how grateful I am.

At least now I have some focus and I certainly don't mind hard work if it's going to make the site a success.

Thanks to all.

Christina.

:) :) ;) :D

#15 ryno

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 04:09 PM

No problem - I've subscribed so I can keep on top of the situation. Glad to help.

#16 Arnvid

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 09:25 PM

Christina, this will just be a short comment - still rather important as I see it. I love your initial post, as it show what is the most important on any site - that you got a concept that is worth the effort and time it takes to build a very good website.

The result from your web designer is unfortunately light-years away from the idea that made you hire him (or her). But, turn it the other way around - the site and the seo work would have been upper top level, but your concept for initiating the site would be average or below average ...

I'm truly happy that you and your business idea is the winner her, and not the "first result" of your site. You may not have the full knowledge of coding, the design and the seo work - but as you have a great business-idea, it's only a question of time before you get it out to all those who today got a too high price - and too much hassle when trying to send someone a nice gift.

The reason I guess, why so many already answered you and tried to put their share into helping you - is because they believe that you truly care for what you want to do with your site. I only wish it was more of your kind - as for me you are already a true winner.

Allow me to come back with more fact-related suggestions later, this time I just wanted to let you know that you already got the most important part that should make your site a success. Your very good business concept - and your warm emotions which shows how much you care for this concept. That is the most important in my eyes, the rest is more technical parts that should make it possible for the average visitor to find your site and him/her to see the beauty of your concept that is born from your own experience as you should be able to share with the normal visitor to your site. In short: Congratulation, for me you got two babies coming - one in six weeks time, and the "other" not too far away either!

Edited by Arnvid, 23 June 2007 - 09:27 PM.


#17 pegog

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 12:48 PM

Hi all!

I said I would take my time going through all the posts and come back to you all.

All the advise has been fantastic and I really really appreciate all your help. :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs:

So thankyou!

I have been through things point by point as you will see by this lengthy response. I still have alot of learning to do but feel I now have a plan of action. There are some things that have been suggested that can be changed immediately and other's that are simply not possible at this time, due to money. :(

I also have a few questions and will possibly have more, the more I read and learn. Sorry if my questions seem obvious.

Please see my plans below and let me know if you think I've missed anything.

[quote]It really should be in the UK on a UK IP address so Google understand you're relevant to the UK search results.[/quote]
What reasons would there be for not having my site on a UK IP address?
Is it because the web address is a .com?
Could it be because I plan to operate world wide if successful?
Also if it was on a UK IP address, how would this effect Australian searches?

Can anyone tell me why the other domains I bought do not show up when you search site:www.pegog.co.uk etc on google?

The following do not show up
www.practicaleasygiftorderingguaranteed.com
www.practicaleasygiftorderingguaranteed.com.uk
www.pegog.co.uk

Why would I have been advised to buy these?
[quote]You need a slogan or statement that says what you do. An association between brand (pegog) and activity. Amazon? Books. eBay? Auctions. Pegog? ....Ask marketing people to help me with this. Maybe something like "Pegog - UK/Australia Expat Gift Shopping" or "Pegog - Send International Gifts at National Rate"[/quote]
I will speak to my marketing advisors and see what we come up with. Agree with this suggestion totally so the sooner I sort it out the better.
[quote]
Define what a user might search on to find your site, and how likely that combination of keywords might be.[/quote]
I’m going to discuss this with my marketing advisor on Tuesday and let you know what we come up with.
[quote]"How pegog works" is a good idea but you put too much text. Some of it, like "Website updated daily with new products, special promotions and offers", make no sense. It doesn't pertain to how pegog works and how I can benefit from it.

Set out to come up with 3 to 4 key benefits of using pegog. Get large colored squares and put those shortly written key benefits in each:

1. Shop for gifts for your family abroad
2. NO international postage rates
3. NO customs fees

Under that you can write a blurb that explains the process a little bit more. At the end of the blurb you can link to a more extended information page, if needed.[/quote]
I plan on revising this immediately so that as soon as I have the CMS I can make the changes. I will also add a read more link and have full details on another page that can be indexed. Getting a good slogan/statement should also help me be more specific and to the point.
[quote]The home link (the pegog graphic) should link back to http://www.pegog.com/ instead of http://www.pegog.com/index.asp. http://www.pegog.com and http://pegog.com should not both act the same way. One of those should redirect to the other so that one of the two will always show in people's address bar. You want links to your domain to add their value all in one savings account: not a bit here and a bit there. Right now links can end up at www.pegog.com, pegog.com, www.pegog.com/index.asp, pegog.com/index.asp.[/quote]
I have asked for the above changes to happen immediately.
[quote]Products are listed in category view. When you click through to the detail you're basically taken off site to the retailer. This is done in a frame. I would opt for category view, then a detail view with your description, then a click through to the retailer.[/quote]
Unfortunately I can’t do anything about this as much as I would like to because it is an affiliate site. As explained to me the only way around this would be to add a full description field to my database and physically write a detailed description.

For Google to read this as new information the text would have to be my own (not copied from the retailers site) and the database has nearly 7,000 products in it now (increasing weekly) and the upkeep would be time consuming to say the least.

Just as an example I added a further 100 products to the site this weekend. I would be unable to provide my customers with this sort of choice if I was to have to write a description for each.

Also, at the end of the day, the customer would still have to go via the link to the retailers site to purchase the item and would see the further detail at this point
[quote]With the above in mind I expect that this is what Google would think of as a "thin" affiliate site. Between you and the products you're selling there stands very little but a concept. In other words, if I make a list of the retailers you use, what is the benefit of using your site versus just going directly to the retailer? You have to add more benefit.[/quote]
You are completely right in what you say. Customer’s could just make a list of the retailers on my site (which by the way is why I don’t provide a list of the retailers featured).

This maybe something they would do if they knew what they were looking for, however if you were looking for some sort of gadget, Would you want to go to 10 different sites (if you knew which sites provided gift wrapping) and then make a choice? or Would you prefer to look at the items through one site and make a decision?

It takes so much time having to browse various websites especially when they all categorise things differently. The benefit of using my site is that you would no exactly where to look for the gadget your after and products would be shown from any of the 60+ retailers I have listed.
[quote]The "special offers and news" has to go from the home page. If you do special offers, put two or three image products on the home page. Have an inner page which conveniently lists other offers.
News should go in its own section. Consider each item: this is of interest to whom? Is it really of interest to a customer?[/quote]
Will definitely have a separate page for Special Offers and a separate page for News.

Again, I will prepare the content so that as soon as I have the CMS, I can make the changes immediately.

With a separate page for news I can then add more information by including articles etc that will be appearing / have appeared in the newspapers & on the Salford council website etc.
[quote]Actually I JUST now saw your "mission statement" way down there… That alone explains what the site is about… You need to have that up top somewhere and in a different design or text style than the rest of the text. That immediately would help my first point.[/quote]
I have requested that my mission statement be moved up above How pegog works and have asked for the text style or colour to be changed to make it stand out.

[quote]One last thing to note, the fact that you have content on the site is great, I would start writing some content for future landing pages;[/quote]
I am going to concentrate on writing additional content on the following for future landing pages.

• News
• Special Offers
• Australian Dates to Remember (Holidays 2007, 2008 etc)
• UK Dates to Remember (Holidays 2007, 2008 etc)
• Section on posting gifts abroad (Article)
• About Us
• Contact Us
• Customer Service
• Privacy Policy
[quote]I recommend that you create a really definitive and detailed section about posting gifts to Oz from the UK. The best darned guide on the topic there could be, which collects a the factual stuff, but also adds in the anecdotal notes that can be so important.[/quote]

As discussed previously (your advise taken) I am going to have a new page with a section on posting gifts abroad. I will also contact customs in both the UK and Australia to get further information on what happens when gifts are sent abroad? Why they open them? At what value do you have to pay customs charges? What restrictions are there for sending presents abroad etc?

I will then discuss the different options available.

I’m also going to contact all the people I initially spoke to with regards to problems they have had sending gifts abroad so that I can use their quotes on this page and also possibly on my home page.

Longer Term Projects
• Separate blog site as part of marketing strategy
• Possibly upgrade the content management system at a later date if I feel it necessary. I don’t have any additional funds to spend on this so not a consideration at this point.
• Invest in SEO to increase awareness
• Look at improvements to the site
[quote]Content Management System
What you need is a Content Management System, which has the flexibility to be tailored for your specific requirements. Initially you should get a professional designer which can cost you anything between 1-2.5k
I don’t have any additional funds to spend on this in so unfortunately not an option at the moment.
Once the design has been agreed, simply implement the design in the CMS (Content Management System), ensuring the site meets the following :

* W3C Compliance
* Tableless Design
* CSS Driven
* Template Support (Allowing you to have different design on different pages)
* Text version of the site etc......[/quote]
I want to discuss the above with my web designer possibly as early as next week. I need to do some further reading so I know what I’m talking about before meeting with them.
It’s easy to pull the wool over someones eyes if you think you can and I’d like to go in prepared. If anyone has some suggested night time reading  please let me know.
[quote]
The search up top is a good idea; however it is far too detailed to have as the "default" search. Why not have a simple search field that will search all categories, sub categories, and keywords? And at that point they can limit the search by price or type of gift. Next to the little search box you can have "advanced search" which would then display the extra fields. But right off the bat, that's far too detailed and normally discourages people from using it as there's too many things you have to select. It just takes too much time and isn't that usable.[/quote]
Again, there’s little I can do with regards to major changes to the site as the moment as every change will cost me. I will however make a note of these points for future reference. You don’t have to use all the fields to use this search which is why it has quite a lot to choose from. If I just want to search on a key word I can without filling the rest of the details in.
[quote]Marketing Strategy
A direct or indirect ecommerce site like you have implemented might be part of the answer, but I think you are going to need a better traffic strategy than simple SEO.[/quote]
Suggestions anyone?
I have come up with a few marketing ideas such as contacting Australian Bars such as Walk About along with other Australian Companies based in the UK. I'm going to see if I can send them a poster or a pdf poster that could be emailed around to all their staff.
Alot of police are immigrating to Perth and a few police we know have said that we should also contact the police to see if they can put something out to all their staff as well.
I'm also going to contact universities and speak to the overseas student advisors.
If anyone has any other ideas please let me know.
[quote]
Pick up some books on PR and marketing. You've already got a head start with some exposure on a large blog here: http://www.seroundta...ves/013953.html - which by the way is where I came across your post. But keep plugging away with your networking, find social networks for ex-pats, etc.[/quote]
Amazing how things get around and it’s all about exposure! :woohoo:
[quote]Given how you've been dealt with so far it is very possible that the solution will take a long time and will require you to pay a lot more again. While searching for another developer sign up at Google Webmaster Tools. Follow instructions and instruct your developer to put the required code on the site. Now you can at least tell Google which of those various ways to write your home URL you would prefer they use.[/quote]
I have signed up and need to spend quite a bit of time looking at this going through every section. Very useful so thank you.


I CAN'T THANKYOU ALL ENOUGH FOR ALL YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT! :( :D :D :D :D

#18 Arnvid

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 04:58 AM

Hello again Christina, and thank you for your kind message!

Just before I have to run again, a lot is said above - but allow me to focus on what Ammon wrote above:

I recommend that you create a really definitive and detailed section about posting gifts to Oz from the UK. The best darned guide on the topic there could be, which collects a the factual stuff, but also adds in the anecdotal notes that can be so important.


That is first of all an extremely important advise, and secondly an advise where you can do the "job" as it's not about coding and webdesign where you have to depend on a webdesigner to get the job done.

Allow me to give you another example in that direction. For my Egypt site I decided that lot's of people would search for maps, so I started to make my own maps of the country, cities, desert and more. So if you search in Google on "Egypt map" you will find egyptmyway.com/maps/ on the first page. You can then have a look at how I put that up. Same if you search for "Egypt information", you will find egyptmyway.com/egypt_information.html on the first page. The last search give some 110 mill. plus results, and the reason why egyptmyway is on the first page is that it actually got a lot of information. The first page have basically links to egypt information categories and then different pages with the information itself. At least one example on how it can be done?

With your experience and knowledge here I believe you are able to make "the best darned guide on the topic there could be[i]" as Ammon say.

Will come back with more later, but I believe this is a very good place to start!

#19 pegog

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 03:52 PM

Update!

I had a meeting today with a marketing consultant and she has agreed with all the comments posted and also agreed with my planned action of attack with the addition of more traditional PR and links to other sites that would be of interest to expats.

It seems that although I can work on the additional content pages such as;

• News
• Special Offers
• Australian Dates to Remember (Holidays 2007, 2008 etc)
• UK Dates to Remember (Holidays 2007, 2008 etc)
• Section on posting gifts abroad (Article)
• About Us
• Contact Us
• Customer Service
• Privacy Policy

This will make little difference as to whether my site is found by the search engines because of the way my site is made up of frames and tables.

I did check with my web designer and he said the content management system would allow me to add the above mentioned pages however he did mention setting up additional templates.

I'm now concerned that these additional templates will again be made up of frames and tables. I'm also wondering whether the CMS that he has suggested I purchase is capable of doing anything other than this.

It would be great if any of you (who all seem to be in the know) could recommend a CMS that won't cost me too much but will still allow me to add pages in open frames.

Also, how easy would it be to transfer my site to a different host? How will this effect my uploading the database etc. What questions do I need to ask when I meet with my web designer?

My marketing consultant has also said that she feels that they have agreed to design my site within the budget I gave them not realising that I would check all these sort of things out.

I feel quite annoyed that they seem to have pulled the wool over my eyes. It's funny how you can meet someone and your first impressions can be wrong or that's what it seems. I always prefer directness and honesty and would have preferred for them to have said "We can do it within this budget, however by not having a, b, c, and d you will not be found on search engines etc". At least then I would have been able to know the consequences before making such an expensive decision.

Would you all agree that it is pointless creating the additional content with the current table and frames set up?

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Why is it so difficult. :) :( :) :(

I have put so much time and passion into this and I so want it to work out. I won't give up and thanks to all your help at least I know where I need to focus my attention. :) :) :)

Thanks once again,

Christina

#20 Jozian

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 04:10 PM

pegog-

Hard to tell what the CMS is that your vendor is suggesting.

Seems to me that if you want more control to create NEW pages, that will help you be found as BK and others have suggested, Blogger.com or WordPress, put into a /blog folder maybe, and then linked back into the existing site/system would be the easiest and most cost effective solution.

Which of these or other blogging-based solution would work best for you, depends on your need for customization and willingness to play around with templates and widgets. I use both WordPress and Blogger.com. For me, Blogger is easier and more quickly customizable. WordPress takes me further, but requires more of a learning curve and more knowledge to customize. Also realize that blogs don't have to look like blogs - many people are building full sites around blogging CMS's.

If you want to edit EVERYTHING, you are going to need to A) deal with the CMS your vender is pushing, or B) pretty much start over with another package :)

There may be some other outs, but we would need to know more about the vendor CMS and implementation thereof...

-Jeff

#21 pegog

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Posted 27 June 2007 - 03:30 AM

The two additional programs I have been advised to buy are

1. Adobe Contribute 4 (Win) - (CMS)
2. Group Mail 5 - (Emailing)

Thanks for the advice regarding word press and blogger.com. I'll take a look.

Thanks
Christina

#22 ryno

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 02:12 PM

Contribute will only help you if your web guys added certain template coding into the structure of the site that designates where you can edit...
I'm not sure how contribute would handle the dynamic parts of the site as they're database driven etc... But for the static parts of the site and copy it could help you update you're own...

If they built it well they should have databased everything including copy and built an admin panel where you could login and change all that but... nobody's perfect.

Group Mail - idk... never heard of it.

#23 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 05:54 AM

Okay...

I hold with jsut about everything said so far.

You sseem to be facing multiple issues.

The main one is getting folks to your site.
The second is keeping them there.
The third is getting those that stay to use it.


To be honest, you site is lacking any real detail/SE traps for people to find it.
You need several pages basically covering what you sated in your first post... tired of Oz Customs opening packages, paying extra etc.
you needa couple of pages with that sort of stuff on... articles, stories, testimonials etc.
It may well be worth hirig a professional or two to handle that.

Secondly, you need to advertise.
Find some sites that will accept a small fee for dispalying a banner link etc.


Then you have another issue - no offence, but the site os boring and bland.
I wouldn't stick aroun for long as it looks like it was done in Frontpage.
The front page is more than a little busy, and looks slapped toether :)
It lacks visual appeal, impact and the "wow!" factor - which is a damned shame as your idea is phenominal!


Then you haveto getfolks to use it.
Why would they... there is o real explanatio immediately available as to what the site is for, how it will beefit them etc.
Sell the Sizzle, not the bacon - basically, Tell them why using you, your service, your site, is going to make their life easier, safer, better!
Short, snappy lines for intro...

"Your Parcels will Not be ruined by Customs... as we will ship them, pass them through customs, then wrap them for you."
so on and so forth etc.


Personally, I'd reconsider and start afresh - which isnot really an option as you do not have the budget for it.
Wish I had seen this thread before, as I may have been able to help.

If you can tide over for this comming christmas, cotnact me... I'll plug some time aside to see what I can do for you - it seems wrong that you have made such efforts only to be let down.
We'll see what we can do to fix it for you.

#24 pegog

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 07:57 AM

Hi guys!

Well it's nearlly a year since my site was launched and I'm back to the drawing board. :( I thought this was the best place to visit to ensure I don't make any more bad decisions. The help you all gave me previously was invaluable and I just wish I'd asked for advice before launching the site.

The biggest problem I've had with my site is keeping the links up to date. It seems that many affiliates keep images even though they are no longer stocking an item so the only way of knowing if a link works or not is by clicking the link. So time consuming and impossible to keep on top of. :frustration:

I haven't been happy with the design of my site either and am now looking at creating a new site. I've decided to ditch the affiliate programs and have a few retailers in the UK and Australia that are willing to work with me on a drop shipping basis.

My next issue is who do I use to create my e-commerce site. Becasue my site operates in 2 countries (Australia & the UK) it seems that if I decide to go with one of these companies that includes hosting I will end up having to pay for 2 sites even though the 2nd will be a mirror of the first due to the shopping cart being unable to distinguish whether the items are UK products or AUS products. On top of this I will end up having to pay 2 hosting fees.

I was looking at using oscworks (an Australian Company) as their premium package offers everthing I want. This would end up being too expensive especially if the new site takes off and I end up having 5 or 6 sites around the world. I did try to negotiate wih these guys but they weren't intersted at all and to be honest the lack of understanding put me off using them.

For this reason I've decided that I would prefer to build my own e-commerce site (which I can duplicate as many times as I wish) but am not sure what software I should use. The following are the main things of importance.

• Templates which can be customised.
• Easy to use administration control panel - Easily check customer orders, add products, setup payment and shipping options
• Disk Space - more than enough disk space for products images. Optimised on secure ecommerce servers.
• SSL Certificate
• Monthly Bandwidth (website traffic) - Generous bandwidth allowance.
• Email - Setup multiple POP3 email addresses at your domain
• Multiple Shipping, Batch CVS customers
• Unlimited Products and Categories
• Categories-within-Categories - Add Sub-Categories to your shop.
• Banner Advertising
• FAQs - Write frequently asked questions about your products and services.
• Customers also purchased - Allows customers to see on product description what other products were purchased.
• Store wide sales - Set multiple specials/discounts on categories and products.
• Discount Codes - Setup discount and promotional codes for customers to use on checkout.
• Gift Vouchers - Add gift vouchers as a products in your store or email directly to customers.
• Additional Images - Add multiple products images to your products.
• Email-a-Friend Feature - Allows customers to tell friends about a product on your website.
• Export Orders - Export your orders to a csv file/Excel Spreadsheet.
• Featured Products - Setup featured products on the main page of your store or side-box.
• Best Sellers - Shows best sold products to customers.
• Advanced Search - Search by Manufacturers, price-to-price, date added and descriptions
• Product Reviews - Allows customers to login and leave reviews on products.
• CVS Product Uploader - Import multiple products from spreadsheets such as excel.
• Secure Customer account - Customers have access to their own account with order history, account details and order updates.
• Customer address book - Allows customers to add multiple addresses and ship to selected address on checkout.
• Customer Newsletters - Send newsletters to customers. Also supports rich text editor.
• Customer address book - Allows customers to add multiple addresses and ship to selected address on checkout.
• Product notifications - Emails customers about product updates.
• Testimonials Manager - Allows customers to leave testimonials about your products and services.
• Automated Emails - Sends automatic emails to customers when ordering and with change of order status.
• Batch Printing - Save time by printing batch invoices, shipping labels and packing slips. Also allows you to print multiple copies.
• CVS Customer Import - Import 100's of customers at a time into your ozcart database from spreadsheets such as excel.
• Cash Reports - Displays payments and Refunds.
• Batch status customers update - Update multiple customer statuses in one go.
• Add customers from admin - Easily add new customers from your admin control panel.
• Refund Orders - Adjust orders with part or full refunds.
• Purchase Orders - Allow customers on terms to pay within x days
• Outstanding Payments - Displays outstanding payments owed by customers.
• Edit Orders - Make changes to customers orders via your admin control panel.
• Customer Reports - View reports such as Products purchased, Order History, Products Viewed, Products Expected and much more.
• Secure Payment Options - credit cards visa etc
• Eway Gateway - Process real-time credit cards automatically.
• Flat Rates - Set flat shipping rate prices.
• Free shipping - Offer free shipping on everything or individual products.
• Multiple Shipping Addresses - Allows a customer to ship to multiple addresses from their address book on checkout.
• Supports GST and VAT - Sell internationally.
• Visitor website statistics -Referring pages, keywords used in search engines, landing pages, arrival time, exit time, exit page, IP address, Country, Customers cart contents, number of clicks in shop, categories viewed, products viewed, customers ID, Order ID and did customer checkout
• Products Viewed - Displays products that have been viewed.
• Products Purchased - Report of products that have been purchased.
• Order Totals - Displays totals of products purchased.
• Product Reviews - Displays customer reviews.
• SEO URL generation - Generates HTML URL links for search engines.
• Highly optimised search engine friendly shopping cart
• Meta Tags Optimisation - Automatic meta tag generation. Includes title, keywords and description. Supports all pages.
• Google XML Sitemap - Supports Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and Microsoft.
• Meta Tag Generator - Generate meta tags per category and products. Overrides base website meta tags.


My current website uses a database that I designed in access so my IT skills are quite good and I do understand basic HTML coding.

It would be great if you could point me in the right direction. I have been reading other messages on the forum and people have mentioned x-cart, zencart and oscommerce. Should I be looking at any of these?

Hopefully the above tells you enough. I'm also going to change the domain name to something more memorable.

Look forward to hearing from you all soon.

Thanks
Christina.

P.S I'm now living in Australia not the UK :)



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