Monday, January 28, 2013

Shipping USPS---New Changes

Effective today Postal rates go up. And there are many other changes that make life more complicated for online retailers and sellers. Today if you go to the USPS site to buy postage you will no longer be able to purchase Parcel Post. In fact Parcel Post no longer exists. Instead the USPS has 2 items to choose from; one is Standard Post---an option only available at the Post Office---you can not buy this product online. This option is for the small business shipper. Small shipper is defined as anything less than 50 piece per shipment.

For a 50 piece or more per shipment you can choose Parcel Select. This option is available today on the website, however, Parcel Select is still being worked out on the eBay website leaving those customers little option except to use another service like UPS ground. If you've got your own shop and want to offer USPS select you'll need to contact the postal service. And from some reports information varies from Post Office to Post Office---even their own staff is confused and uninformed of the rules. The USPS Website provides limited information too. There are no links to assist businesses to come on board with Parcel Select. It's almost as if the USPS  doesn't want that business and is advertising for UPS.

A quick comparison of rates shows that UPS may be a better solution too. I used Amazon's handy postage calculator to do a comparison of shipping packages of different rates and sizes from Northwest Indiana to Virginia this morning and this is how rates compared:

So it looks like it pays to ship packages 10 lbs and over UPS. Add the free insurance that you receive on some UPS shipments and it looks as if even if you can go the Parcel Select route it really isn't worth the trouble. It's a great time to rethink your shipping especially if you've been using Parcel Post---an option no longer conveniently available.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Facebook joins the Search Engines

The other day while maintaining Search Engine Optimization for a client I was pleasantly surprised when, at the top of the search page, there appeared an appropriate entry from the client's Facebook page. The Facebook page had been built a bit less than a year ago, and since, had been seeing a steady level of activity from customers. We have kept interest alive through posts that are a mix of research, information, and business information---deals and sales. Customers who are engaged enough to post a question receive answers back---it's become another avenue for customers to join the business.

And now all that hard work this client has invested will pay off as the Facebook page joins other posts from the company website to give relevant information, not only to a select group of customers, but out to the entire web, hopefully gaining new customers.

Getting your business out onto the web and gaining new customers and making sales is a process much like building in brick and mortar. Each post that is made is part of getting your information out there, building trust about how great your business is, and developing a following of customers that will keep coming back to you for their needs over and over again.      

Monday, January 14, 2013

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization isn't a do it now---leave it alone item in managing a website. SEO requires constant vigilance. Leave it alone and you'll soon become buried under your competition's links. As you add new pages and/or products to your site, announce sales, or as your site is updated in other ways, SEO needs to be performed every step of the way. And the more active your site is---constantly evolving with updated information,  the more likely you'll come up on top of that search.

After you update or create a page wait a couple of days and perform a search of  how well you do. Be sure to include a few search engines---don't just assume that because you use Bing or Google that your customers do. If the results are not exactly what you expected it's time to get tweaking the SEO with the webmaster tools that most search engines provide you with.

As you tweak be sure to do it honestly. Searches that are irrelevant or not correct, keywords that are out of place may cause your site to be rejected or bypassed by a search engine.

With time and diligence you'll soon find that your site will be coming up on top. Need help? Contact us.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Check that Facebook Page

My favorite businesses fell off my own news feed over the holiday season. Facebook, forever tweaking their pages and systems apparently was trying something new.

After emailing Facebook through their "Get help from us link" and being told that they didn't respond to individual concerns, I noticed I have a "Pages link" on the left hand column of my Facebook page. The news that got thrown to this page was mainly from small business pages that I had subscribed to---the big guys like Amazon were still shooting to my news feed. Once I clicked on the Pages Link and added Pages to my favorites, I'm seeing the small businesses in my feed again.

I hope that this isn't part of a growing trend by Facebook to freeze out the little guy. Forcing out small businesses will not only hurt local communities, but will lesson user experience. It sure lessened mine.