CXP Brief The SEO Saga of Developing a Online Candy Store and Selling Candy Online.
My name is Joel. My family has been in the candy business for 3 generations now. I have worked corporate since graduating from college in 1984. I am actually an engineer in Management Science with a MBA. I enjoy my corporate work and truly enjoy my job and the people I work with. As time goes on and downsizing and outsourcing make there way the threat of job loss at any time is always there. As time goes I realize the family business is exactly that the family business. So as my dad is entering his 70's and I my late forties we need to plan out next steps. So we are growing the business and expanding to on-line candy sales.
Over the summer of 2005 I thought why not check on line to see if our supply line is the best it could be. I knew the Internet was the next growth area for sales. I looked on line "Goggled Discount Candy" and found a bunch of on line candy stores that sell chocolate candy and sweet candy. "Wow", I said, we can do this. We have an established business and clearly a great supply chain. We can compete on line. So, I am just kind of this way, I see a online store and I'm like sure I can do that. So I did some reading on e-commerce and realized I need shopping cart software. Learned about SkipJack and merchant accounts and actually set up the online candy shop in September 2005. Just in time to sell Halloween candy.
Well I am very happy with the shopping cart software I selected. The service is great, on line chat help, and 24/7 call in support. So I started a online candy store. Well that was that right, no way. I figured pay per click night? Wow lots of clicks, lots of spending money for clicks but not too many sales. I'll write about that some other time. Bottom line I read and read about what is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Wow and I thought I would just make a store, have great prices an sell candy. Boy did I miss the mark.
So bottom line is SEO is a ton of work. I have had some good times and bad. I actually got to Google page one for a night on the key word phase wholesale candy. Sometimes I will refer to this a W or WH candy for reasons explained below. Then hanged on page two for a week or so. Just to accidentally link to a bad neighborhood (yeah a on line site Google does not like but really look like a OK place to link to). Well that was a disappointment. Got shot back to page 30 just for doing what I thought was the right thing. So I unlinked my self and got back to page two. Then we are doing OK, on page two, I figure sit tight for a while don't make too many changes. Well the next week I'm on page 28. I find what looks like another bad place to link (another story on how I think I know).
At any rate I deleted the link, got back to page two. But that does not stick because there are many robots around and I am not sure they are very coordinated. So my cache goes back a few days before the delete and I'm on page 12 for the key word phase Wh candy. Good news is I do not rely on on-line candy sales for a living. Bad news is customers are paying my competition too much for w candy that I could be selling. Ugh. So I said I'll give it a year and see how I do.
I spend a lot of time trying to optimize my site. Thus you have the opportunity to see my CXP diary to stay consistently on the top ten or at least top 15 on the Google search for "W Candy". Funny thing is, CXP is a real wh candy store. We are also priced at great candy prices. We are the place to buy candy and snacks from. I just need you to click on our on line candy store to see us. I am sure you will shop around. We are priced very competitively. I try to make sure of that. The biggest challenge I have right now is to get customers to see our online candy store when doing a Google search for candy or to buy online candy. So, you are probably wondering why a CXP log or story about Joel's SEO experience. In order to rank high in the search engines I need to constantly add content. So here we have my story, my content about the saga of selling candy online. My experience in optimizing cxp to be a top ten listing on Google for the key word phase "candy".
Well have had some ups and downs but overall things directionally correct. One thing for sure is this is a lot of work. Need to constantly add content and there is no end to links. Adding content is OK. AT least I know it is real content. The link business is scary. I linked to site that I thought would be a value add to the site only to find out they were link farms. The situation is many people want an organic listing but don't want to put the work into it and try short cuts. So you can buy content or buy links. This works for a little while but eventually the search engines figure it out an dump you ranking. I have linked to some of these site by accident. Google is pretty cool as they met you 1/2 way and try to point out the problem. I have to say they have been very fair. It's not easy though. Once again just trying to sell candy at great candy and snack prices but have to optimize so you can find our store. I am going to add some links to the bottom of the page and branch of related info. So this will be the last entry on this side link for a while.
Ok so I get to write about candy. I am considering putting together a directory of our suppliers and the candy manufacturer links for reference. Not sure if this will but my linking in an unfavorable way…. Too many out links. Sometime I think I should hire a consultant to help. Well we will see. I have until 10/1/06 and that will be the one-year anniversary of the reasonable effort. Now I could push it to January 06 as that is when I started to get a clue. Oh we will see. Signing of now. Go candy store sales.
More to come. Maybe sometime I'll start a blog. Seems like that is a popular thing to do as well. We can all share stories.
OK 10/1/06 is coming up and we have been on page 1 of Google for who candy, discount candy, buy candy, wow this is working. OK I said it now please search engine masters in the sky please do not punish me for acknowledging accomplishment. So we have had some fair rankings and it is good. I enjoy receiving your calls on how to buy candy. It's great to find a customer that we can help it's the ultimate win win. It's all about connecting the right people the supply and demand the customer and the supplier.
A really great customer base is our troops. Well fill multiple APO or military orders a week. Buying candy and snacks on line is so convenient. It is amazing how many people benefit from the service industry and that is the niche we are trying to align our selves in. I had a call today, a customer need 1300 candy bars and boom we had it in stock. Its great to be able to help.
OK, please keep in mind some of this is robot food to help support our page rank and page location. Amazing what you need to do these days just to get noticed J .
Well 210 or so words so far. A good page should have 750 wow that is a lot to write. More good news, A good idea I had was to ask customers how they found us. What was the search used. So if you have good ideas let me know. For example, a potential client (Trump, yes the Donald or at least the restaurant called me today), they searched on confectionery supplier something I did not even think of. So focused on candy and there you have it another action item.
OK, a good modification / update to help keep us in the favor of the bots and have us ranked strongly for our key words.
Well it is 11 6 06 and just about a month has gone by and still holding good SEO placement for wholesale candy, discount candy, buy candy and a few others. Actually it is pretty cool, for example all of the sudden we are selling a lot of gum. So I check out the product name that we sell and goggle it and it comes up on page 1. Well that is how it is supposed to work huh.
So some cool things recently involve adding good quality content. I made a good move recently and I know it was related to adding content. Candy content from a candy store that wants to export candy all around the world. So I added a really great page on candy store. I like it because it has a table in it similar to my Halloween Candy page. Some days I hope these pages will get me to top three-site placement on key words. We will see, as time will tell. So I figure let’s go for a quick 500 words. I added about a thousand with the Confectionery Supplier page. So you know a funny thing is I have to write a lot. When I was a kid I hated to write. It’s not so bad. It sure helps to have MS Word though. As you can tell I am a lousy speller. Some of this candy related literature is written on the fly using the WYSWYG tool and there is no spell check.
I had good sales week this week. Starting to get some larger accounts. Not too much in sales just yet but good leads and some initial orders. I am really hopping that these will be steady accounts.
OK 345 words and I just got a call from a prospective vending route distributor in the Bronx and it took a bunch of my time. So got to go now. Need to buy some boxes to ship Granola bars in. Customer bought a few thousand of them. That’s a good thing. Go wholesale candy sales.
OK, here we are again today is 12/26/06. Almost New Years. Search placement has been good lately. Moved up on w-candy, buy candy and discount candy. I have been adding web pages, trying to do one a week but it takes time to write 1,000 or so words. Some WEBs have come out pretty good and have hit the mark. So now I just need to expand on more key words I guess. The other thing I believe is true is that freshness counts. So I am trying to update pages a little here and there. For example this is a freshness update. OK, readers, I am leaving this page for now. I may add one more WEB before the end of the year. Depends how I feel. Supposed to be on vacation this week but have no plans so why not work on CXP. Well have a great holiday and check in with you on this page next year.
OK 3 25 07, made tons of changes this week. Focus is on new key words. Wh candy is great but I now realize there is better. So I did a bunch of SEO and we will see what happens. Changed around categories density analysis ... Go candy store and others in the title. 4 15 07 made addle SEO updates using tools think looks good. Site is much more organized and from my perspective looks more SEO friendly and focused.
12 27 2007 making progress. Doing a site map that actually is being accepted by google and tweeking content and key words. Setting up page priorities as well, Tough to get to some pages like candy store and candy. Chocolate candy and sweet candy is tough as well but that is what we sell and where we should be so will keep the push on. Need god links that's for sure also started to do some vodeo.
It is hard to believe that it is going on a year since making major changes to the site.As you recall wholesale candy was great and I thought that was the end of it.Nope candy store, bulk candy, chewing gum and candy bars are also hot.I also found out that chocolate candy and chocolate was super hot.Well re engineering the overall architecture was a big deal and it set me back.In addition I had a service that was helping me with links.The SEO company as they call themselves really was not doing SEO beyond tagging some irrelevant high traffic sites to my site with a sentence of related text.So I got rid of them as they really were only going to get me so far and I did not think it was a good SEO practice once I figured out what they were doing.
I will tell you though I almost took a major drop when my only back links disappeared.Fortunately I had stated working on some other links so as there left my new one came in and the overall impact was minimized.I think the biggest hits were on MSN and Yahoo as apparently those links were important for some reason to them above how Google saw them.At one point in time I was in slot 1 on Yahoo and MSN and page two on Google.I moved to page one on Google toward the bottom and was stuck.When I dropped those links and started adding my own the Yahoo and MSN really dropped down like to page two.The rankings are coming back though and they are actually on my intended landing pages.Google overall rank has improved however the position is on my home page and not the intended landing pages which I find interesting when compared with yahoo and MSN.So just some interesting comparison.
All those changes really moved me back but I feel that at this point I am probably better of than I was and progressing well.I have also gone back to some limited PPC action and am considering some with Yahoo.I also finally figured out how to do a site map and have actually been updating it and submitting it to Google.I also use the Google Base functionality.
I am constantly adding content.I have added new categories and tweaked the text.I also added a tone of content to the home page which seem sto have helped.I think the biggest thing now is to continue to refresh content weekly in some way and reflect the updates in the site map.Adding product groups is also key.For example I added product groups and also in some cases subcategories for slim jims, jack links and David Sunflower Seeds.I like product groups as I think they offer a great landing page for customers to come to as a result of searching.I think they are better than categories since they are more specific and better than just product pages as they offer some varieties.I have seen some of them come up in searches appropriately and that is always a good thing.I guess they are also great for PPC landing pages as well and also they are great for the comparative shopping networks.For example I just did one for Extra Gum.The next real important thing in my opinion is to keep finding links.Good quality links.That is a whole process in itself.I am finding a lot of my competitions links don't want to link out anymore.Also I learned about affiliate programs which some of my competition use particularly with the Candy Addict Blog. I am trying to set up a working relationship with the owner of that blog so we can mutually benefit each other.At this time I really do not want to do the affiliate thing, kind of want to be independent as relying too much on one source for activity might not be a good idea down the line.I feel strongly about doing my own SEO as it is the key to making this type of business work.It sure takes a lot of time though with so many aspects to it.Perhaps as I learn more it will get easier and I will be more efficient.
This type of Online Candy Store content is definitely the easiest for me to write.Kind of a blog but not.Sometimes I wonder if I should move this to the blog but for now I guess I’ll just stick with this.I have actually seen this page come up in Searches for some key words.I think it was coming up in Yahoo under wholesale candy.Well it is March 10th 2008 and that's my update for now.
6 24 2008 have I got a nightmare about software conversion. No more product groups and I have a tone of updates to make. Hope I don't slip in the rankings but who knows at this point. Overall I think a better SEO friendly site but it will take time and I am concerned about slipping back since I have to make so many changes to well ranking pages including changing them from product groups to subcategories. What will happen in the next few months should be interesting. Sure is a lot of work for me right now. Days of work.
2 24 09 Wow so much has happened. I made the conversion, had to change my merchant account and credit card processing company, wrote a ton of content and in the end finished maybe where I was. Probably fell behind. I lost a lot of back links which I had to rebuild. Also some new competition came into the game. The whole blogging crap I must say is frustrating. I know my competition buys links or pays to have links put into blogs. There are so many unrelated back links to my competition yet they get ranked ahead of me is frustrating.
I have also had acouple bad links which I have made in error. I submitted for reconsideration and on the first error was given a pas in about a week. A month later I thought I was buying into a directory but now that I look more closely it was buying a link and I got penalized. SO I am waiting a few weeks to get a pass. In the mean time I am pushing other pages with back links going the reciprocal link route. It is scary when looking for links it is so hard to tell what is a clean site or not.
So today I was goggling looking for quality and relevant back links and I did a search for “Google approved candy store links” and guess what was page number one? This page. Wow so cool. Google I love and … you. Ii try so hard to bring quality content to the Web and promote my site but man it is soooo hard to not get in trouble. I have read webmaster guidelines and watched videos from Google. I do have a cool site map now and also using Google base. I have learned how to set them up to auto down load from my site.
Some times I think about hiring someone to help with the SEO but I do not trust the folks out there. I look at what they propose and I know if Google knew they would not approve. For example is it fair to coordinate a bunch of bloggers so that you can sell links and have the bloggers gradually add relevant links to their blog? I do not know. If you did not pay for the service I would think OK. But to pay for the service I am not sure if that is OK. Is it a paid link? I do not know. I think you have o pay for service. If you do not do it yourself it makes sense to pay right? What would Google say? I know my competition does this. Well once I get out of my penalty for accidently paying for a link maybe I will try one of these services. Well that is it for now. Oh mighty Google you can hear my story and I hope you learn and perhaps reward me for honesty and a good effort. Thanks in advance.
Ok, it is now around June 2009 and some guy from CandyExpress is saying I am infringing on his trade marc. Have a tone going on as I do not beleive I am but just in case knowing how long it takes to move the staore and rebuild, yes this will be at leastmy fourth major time doing this. Kind of feal like the rebuilding of the matrix. Well the good news is I learn more and more and hope to get it better and better each time. I am chaging a lot but have ideas for CandyXpress. It will be a X press x being a variable to be filled with ecommerce candy news or written what ever. It is an X press for candy. So we will see how it goes but in the mean time I had to look this page over and remove all the candyxpress except maybe I will keep these so you can know what happened. Wooooo Hahhhhhhh this is so much fun ;-) Good thing I do this myself or I would be out of business by now.