Category Archives: Websites – Advanced

Beginners Guide to SEO for Promotional Products Websites


SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
is the activity of ensuring that a website can be found in search engines for words and phrases relevant to what the site is offering, primarily focusing on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in search engines.

Whether you already have a website or are planning to build a fresh site using DistributorCentral’s Responsive Website Editor, understanding the most basic, effective SEO practices that you can do yourself can make a huge difference to your site’s performance since the majority of web traffic is driven by major commercial search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!

There is an art and a science to SEO, and an endless array of websites and SEO professionals out there who can help optimize your website, but the following are a few easy tips to help you improve your SEO that you can do yourself.

1. “On-Site” SEO Elements

These elements are part of the content on each page of your website that should be optimized to help search engines accurately index your pages.

Keywords: keep it simple – choose of up to five keywords or keyword phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines. There are many keyword search tools available online to help you find the most relevant keywords that will drive ongoing web traffic and conversions on your site. Keywords can be sprinkled throughout the actual page content as well as added to META TAGs on your pages, but having relevant, applicable content in the actual text on your web pages is critical to accurate indexing.

Title Tag: The title tag on pages of your website tells search engines what any given page is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. It should be 70 characters or less and include your business or brand name and keywords that relate to that specific page only. This tag is placed between the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags near the top of the HTML code for the page.

Meta Description: The meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. You want to write your meta description with a human audience in mind that includes the page’s main keywords, as the meta description does show up in search results. It should do everything possible to drive the searcher to click.

2. Additional On-Site SEO Elements

Internal Links – You can help search engines learn more about your website by internally linking to other pages on your website within your content. Leverage tools such as DistributorCentral’s “Custom URL Builder” to create direct, succinct, links to key pages or product categories on your site. For example, you could create a custom URL that, for example, appears to the search engines as “mywebsite.com/tumblers” that links to a specific set of tumblers that you feature on your website. Search engines love short, descriptive URLS when categorizing your website.

Header Tags – Using header tags helps both readers and search engines break up your content into digestible sections. Each page should have a main header title tag (“H1” tags in html) that describes what that page contains. Subheaders (H2, H3, etc.) can further categorize content on that page.

Image Name & ALT Tags – Search engines not only crawl the text on your webpage but they also search for keywords within your image file names, so name your images descriptively and in plain English. Alt tags are shown when you hover over an image with your mouse and they add SEO value to your website. Adding appropriate alt tags to your images can help you achieve better rankings by associating keywords with images. Using alt tags is an effective way for your e-commerce products to show up in Google image and web search.

3. Content

The key to pleasing both search engines and visitors is to have quality content on your website. Here are some examples of quality content:

  • Blog Posts
  • Industry Articles
  • Case Studies
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts

Creating quality content for your website can be a huge investment of time and resources, but it doesn’t have to be if you take advantage of the resources already available to you. Search engines love relevant content, and ideally visitors to your site find the content useful such that that they share it via social media, leading to even more visitors. You can start out simple by creating blog posts on your website, and as your audience grows, you can expand your content to include additional types of media.

4. Link Building

The basic goal of link building is to get other websites to link to yours.

Link Building Ideas for Promotional Products Distributors:

•    Submit guest blog posts to popular blogs in our industry and to the markets you sell to. Generally, you will get a link back to your website in an author notation. DistributorCentral often features guest blog articles in our monthly CentralZone newsletter submitted by Suppliers with relevant articles about product category trends.

•    Reach out to related (but not competitive) businesses to see if they will link to you. A good way to do this is to see if the businesses you work with have link pages on their site for partners, vendors, suppliers, etc.

•    Create local search profiles and social media profiles to attract clicks and generate more incoming traffic to your website.

•    Submit your website to applicable industry directories. For example, a promotional product distributor that specializes in custom wedding invitations and save the date magnets could get listings with a link back to their website on The Knot or The Wedding Channel and other similar sites.

•    Submit your website to the “local” pages of Google, Bing, etc., to ensure that your site is found “locally” when people are searching for services such as yours in your area.

•    Create your own or find Infographics to convey the power of leveraging promotional products in you clients marketing efforts. Take advantage of PPAI’s resources that speak to the power and value of promotional products:
Get In Touch Advertising site and the Promotional Products Work site

5. Monitor your Results – keep track of your SEO progress

There are a lot of valuable SEO tools available online. Start with basic monitoring to help you learn more about whether your SEO efforts are making a difference.  Google Analytics can help you learn more about the visitors to your website and monitor your organic search traffic sources to see what keywords people are using to find your website in search results. Monitor traffic to your website as you launch new marketing initiatives and learn from which efforts drive traffic to your site and which don’t. Adjusting your tactics as a result of accurate analytics is one of the most powerful ways to build your sites’ relevance and search engine rankings.

Blog Article by:
Stephanie Protz, DistributorCentral
Marketing Director

Real-time inventory means real-time opportunity

Distributors everywhere have reason to smile. Some of the brightest IT minds in the promotional products industry are working to provide distributors better information and thus improve selling opportunities.

When PPAI hosted its inaugural Technology Summit as part of the 2014 Expo East tradeshow, it was a given technology leaders gathering from across the industry would discuss technology trends and issues. What wasn’t a given was that within a matter of days some of those technology leaders, formerly aware of each other in name only, would collaborate to successfully implement a newly developed data standard.

The result: real-time inventory information at the fingertips of thousands of distributors searching for promotional products.

Apologies for dropping lingo that sounds like something out of an IT101 manual, but bear with me. “Inventory Interface Standards” are a component of the new Promotional Products Data Interface Specification for Web Services. The Standards were developed as a joint initiative by key personnel at Starline USA, Hit Promotional Products and Bic Graphic USA.

Here at DistributorCentral, the ability to quickly and easily integrate inventory data into existing product research tools was a key takeaway from the Technology Summit. DC’s expectation in moving quickly to integrate this methodology is for suppliers to embrace the added value of real-time inventory data as part of product data, just as many of them have embraced the added value of providing detailed shipping information which allows distributors to see real-time freight costs.

DC hosts nearly 10,000 websites for distributors who understand how critical it is to have accurate product information in order for their customers to make informed purchasing decisions at the point of purchase. Giving distributors and their customers the ability to see detailed, real-time inventory data – down to sizes and color choice – represents one more way to save them money and cut down on unnecessary calls.

Real-Time InventoryGranted, real-time inventory on individual supplier websites has become commonplace. What’s new and unique is incorporating that data into aggregated industry research tools and website hosting platforms such as DistributorCentral. Each supplier has a slightly different way of storing and providing (if at all) data for use on external websites or third-party search tools which has historically made the aggregation of that data challenging.

The new standard allows suppliers, with very little development effort on their part, to standardize the way inventory data is provided. Once a supplier implements this methodology it is a simple matter of enabling it within their product data on DC. At that point every distributor in the industry has instant access to that supplier’s inventory data.

Distributors will be pleased to see a growing number of suppliers embracing the new standard. Well-known supplier Jetline recently adopted the standard and others are expected to follow suit. Dana Zezzo, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Jetline, said he appreciates DistributorCentral’s “out-of-the-box thinking” when it comes to improvements to the database.

Said Zezzo: “When DC suggested adopting this standard and providing inventory data with our product listings, and that in doing so we would enhance our product listings and encourage more distributors to pay attention to Jetline’s product line, it was an easy decision.”

Jon Norris, Systems Operation Manager at Starline and Incoming PPAI Technology Committee Chair, acknowledged DistributorCentral is the first industry service provider to implement the standardized supplier web service feed. That’s a critical step, according to Norris, because DC’s involvement “provided integral feedback on overall improvements to the system and DC’s high search volume helped us tweak the scalability of our own service at Starline,”

More good news. According to Norris, inventory data is just the beginning. He expects additions to the standards to include order status updates and more.

Looks like those IT guys who got together at Expo East got the ball rolling. Their collaboration on standards is bound to benefit the industry as a whole and keep distributors smiling.

David Shultz

DistributorCentral Enables Technologo Virtual Sampling

LONG BEACH, Cal. (August 6) – Two cutting-edge web technology-oriented service providers are making virtual sample functionality available to over 10,000 websites within the promotional products industry.
As part of a promotional offering, virtual sampling capabilities as provided by Technologo are being integrated into all websites as hosted by DistributorCentral, the industry’s only free and open centralized product database. Technologo provides unique and advanced virtual sample technology allowing real-time presentation of logos and messaging on products regardless of shape, color, texture or imprinting.

Announcement of the collaborative initiative was made this week in Long Beach at the annual Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) Show.

“Technologo’s virtual sampling tools fit seamlessly into DC-hosted websites of both suppliers and distributors,” said Jason Nokes, President of DistributorCentral. “We’re confident our customers who rely on DC for website hosting will quickly discover the numerous benefits and increased sales associated with the ability to create online virtual samples for their respective customers.”

From August 11 thru September 8, DC-hosted URL addresses will be enabled to use Technologo virtual sample tools at no charge. Those who opt to subscribe to Technologo services during that four-week timeframe will receive another month of virtual samples capabilities at no charge.

Mike Betts, President of Technologo, said the integration of an enhanced virtual samples tool into DistributorCentral’s website platforms will allow suppliers and distributors to “test drive” a premium virtual tool.

DC Integrates Technologo Virtual Sampling Technology

“DC-hosted website users will be able to experience the capabilities of realistic virtual samples in real time,” Betts said. “Technologo makes it easier to set up personalized presentation materials for their clients, who in turn are in a better position to make purchase decisions.”

For more information about Technologo’s virtual sample technology being available on DistributorCentral, visit www.DistributorCentral.com

Updated Tool For Editing Website Content


With the recent updates to Internet Explorer many of our users encountered issues while adding content to written content blocks on their sites. Managing image uploads and inserting those images into website pages, making changes to the appearance of text, and modifying the overall layout pages was affected by the latest updates to IE.
 

DC has upgraded our written content editor within the DC website tool that addresses each of these issues.

Enhanced Website Content Editor

Key Enhancements: 

  • Cross-browser compatibility; works with Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE including versions 10 and 11
  • Ability to upload images to your content library and insert those images into written content blocks
  • Ability to preview content in the editor window and in your preview website
  • Full set of editing tools for type, tables, special characters and more
  • Advanced features for power-users that allows you to specify classes and IDs for images, divs, and more to which styles can be applied through CSS

If you haven’t given your website a “freshening up” recently now is a good time to check out the new web editor and see how easy it is to add or update the content on your website.  Remember – search engines love websites with continually-updated content

Google Analytics Tips: 10 Data Analysis Strategies That Pay Off Big!

Here is a great article by Google Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik:

Google Analytics Tips: 10 Data Analysis Strategies That Pay Off Big!

Remember you can integrate your DC website with Google Analytics, instructions are here:

Integration with Google Analytics

 

A More Intelligent Mobile Template

Due to some excellent suggestions, a bit of new CSS has been added to the mobile website template to make it easier for the end user.  For most handheld devices it should scale better (since the new CSS checks the device’s width, which makes it appear more intelligent).  This gets around having to zoom in just to see the site itself as with the iphone in particular was not resizing the site.  This should be more device friendly as it will attempt to constrain to the size of the screen (There are some exceptions and a couple pages that have a set width that can only get so small, but will reduce itself as low as it can go).

To use the new update you’ll need to re-use the template by going to the Templates and selecting use next to the Mobile Template – Buttons.

If you see anything that could be improved, or if you have suggestions for the mobile template, please let us know at info@distributorcentral.com.  We’ll explore the possibility and post a blog entry for anything new that we put out for the mobile template.

You Can Put Flash Files On Your DistributorCentral Website

A flash file is a file type, seen as .swf, and contains animations or applets.  If you have a flash file or are thinking about getting one, you can add this to your DistributorCentral website.  Here is a link to some examples of flash files, these are examples only, Click Here.

To add a flash file to a DistributorCentral website:

First, upload the SWF file into the Content Manager of your site:
Edit your site
– Go to the Content Manager for the site
– Click on the Documents tab and then on the Add New Document button (see example below)
– Browse and Upload the flash file from your computer

Next, you would go and edit the portion of your site where you want the flash file to run…for example if you want the flash file to play on the home page, you’d need to go to Add/Edit Page, and then Edit or Add a block to your home page. From there, to reference the flash file:
– Select Written Content from the Content dropdown menu
– Click on the Insert Flash icon (see example below)
– Click on Browse Server and then select the SWF flash file that you have uploaded in the Content Manager
– Once selected, click on Save and Preview your site to make sure that it works
– Remember to Publish your site to make the changes live your actual website.

If you have the HTML code to reference the flash file, you can manually add the code into a Written Content area:
– Select Written Content from the Content dropdown menu
– Select Basic HTML/Text in the Web Editor Preference area
– Paste in the reference HTML for your flash file (see example below)
– Once pasted, click on Save and Preview your site to make sure that it works
– Remember to Publish your site to make the changes live your actual website.

Favicon – Distinguishing Your Tab With Your Brand!

What is a Favicon?

It is the customized icon next to your bookmarked website and your logo on the corner of a website tab.  It’s a great way to help your site stand out among many bookmarks and tabs.  Look at how you can identify the different sites based on the tab logo:

How do you put a Favicon on your site?
First off, we would like to make it well known that for Favicons to work, we need to be hosting your domain. To make your own favicon:

  • Make a graphic 16×16 pixels in a graphics program like PhotoShop
  • Save it as a bmp file
  • Now you need a graphics program to convert the bmp to an icon.  We recommend Irfanview. Visit this link to download the program.  www.irfanview.com
  • Use the program to change the bmp image into an icon
  • Name it favicon.ico
  • Now on your DistributorCentral website: Upload to your Content Manager the favicon.ico under the Documents tab
  • Once your site is published, the Favicon icon will show up shortly after

Now you have a Favicon to display your site that gives it a bit more professionalism.

Using Links To Create Your Own Category List – for Advanced Users

You can make your own category list in DistributorCentral with some work.  This is for more advanced users and is complemented by reviewing the Advanced Written Content Features video.  This only works on custom pages, ie home page or contact us page, and will not be reflected in the product catalog area.  Additionally, it will require upkeep unlike our, Category List block that is more limited but updates well, to ensure that it remains up to date.

Here is what our “Category List” section looks like on a website.  These are our Master Categories and cannot be changed in our system.  To customize this we will have to create a series of links in a written content block.

This category list is on my home page, so I go in and edit my home page.  I want to edit the block with the “Product Category List.”

After clicking edit, I want to change the “Product Category List” to “Written Content” with the drop down on the right side of the section.  The page will refresh and you’ll see a blank text space.  If there is anything in the text box, delete it, since it works just like Word.  Now you can add a table.  To do so, click on the table icon on the middle row on the right hand side.  A popup will appear and you should change the rows to the number of categories you will put and the column to 1.  Additionally, I would suggest putting border size to zero so the outline of the table does not show up.

Now you can type in your category, highlight the words and click the link icon, which is in the middle row on the right hand side.  Put the address in the url box and click okay.  You’ll need to get this address from your website either with custom catalogs or doing a search and copying the address.

Repeat until you have put your categories in, click save, and publish your site.  Here is what one or mine looks like:

To learn more about using the written content section Click Here.

Tips On Using DC’s Mobile Site Template

We have created a template for a mobile site.  This template focuses on a more user friendly mobile site.  We are unable to provide in depth support for the mobile template, since it uses CSS.  If you see some significant issues or have some information you feel may be helpful to the mobile site template, please send it to jneneman@distributorcentral.com.

Below you will find tips on what to keep in mind for a mobile template.  Our template can be modified like a normal website in DistributorCentral.

Getting To Your Site
You should think about creating a landing page or putting in redirect code.  You’ll want a either of those because the mobile site will be a completely different site in DistributorCentral.  A landing page/site will add a step for all users to either select a button that says mobile or one that says desktop.  The other option is adding some sort of redirect code.  The simplest one detects the screen size in pixels and redirects based off of that.  In either situation, you’ll need to link back to a desktop version, on the template you can add a link to the Desktop Button; click here for instructions on linking an image. More information and coding can be found at http://css-tricks.com/snippets/javascript/redirect-mobile-devices/.  

Simplicity
Keep your site simple.  Mobile sites thrive off simplicity.  If you have ways to simplify the site, do it.  On Mobile sites, white space is less of an issue, so don’t feel like you have to fill up every nook and cranny.  As you can see below, the template’s hompage is very simple, allowing the customer to navigate on a simple level.  Additionally when using the template, many of the preferences have been used to remove some of the clutter seen with mobile phones.

Web Address
Since you will have two sites, you will probably want to setup a subdomain in DistributorCentral.  I would suggest something like www.mobile.domain.com. For more information about creating sub domains please follow these steps: Setting up a subdomain.

Some good sites that go over mobile design are:
http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/9-tips-for-optimizing-your-website-for-mobile-users/
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/mobile-web-design/

Here are links to some of our other templates that you may be interested in:
Blocks
Box
Button Scheme
Button Scheme Vertical
Clean Green
Clouds
Columns
Compact
Green Promotions
Green Promotions Vertical
GridBlue
Golf Promotions
Loud
Mirrored Glass
Mirrored Glass Categories
Modern
Modern Categories
Professional Gray
Red White and Blue
Red White and Blue Vertical
Reflective
Silver Screen
Steel
Vertical Template