I'm glad you found this article because you are about to learn something that most web hosts won't tell you about building online stores. It will keep you from making a common mistakes countless people make when creating their first store.
Now before I get started, let me just say that I didn't write this article to discourage you from building an online store. I wrote it to educate so you won't fall into the same trap so many other beginners find themselves in when first starting out.
To begin, creating the store is not the challenge it used to be. These days the "development part" is pretty easy. There are thousands of web hosts now that offer a free, built-in shopping cart when you pay them to host your site.
Another alternative is to use Yahoo!'s shopping cart program and have them build and maintain your store for a monthly fee.
Heck, you can even use Paypal.com for free! All you do is sign up and paste some HTML code into your website and Voila....you've got an instant online shopping cart.
Paypal handles the credit card transactions while depositing the profits into your bank account. (They take a small percentage of every order, of course).
So hopefully you can see that actually building the store is not the tricky part anymore.
The Biggest Obstacle . . .
The real challenge is actually getting enough traffic to make a profit from your store. After all, what's the point in spending time and money into building a store if you haven't a clue how to bring in traffic from the Internet.
Ninety eight percent of the people that try to create online stores or shopping sites struggle because they don't understand how to get a top ten ranking in the major search engines.
It's not as easy as just submitting to MSN, Google and Yahoo and then your site just shows up on the first page of results.
So people spend all this money on a fancy website and storefront and have no idea how to make their site rank high with Google.com -- which is the best source for free traffic on the Internet.
Why would someone search for Luke's Shopping Site to buy something when they know they can go to reputable companies like Yahoo, Overstock, Amazon and many of other popular online retailers to buy the exact same items you're trying to sell?
In other words, how are you going to get your store noticed among all the billions of online stores already out here?
The answer is...you probably won't going after generic terms like "shopping" or "online store". Unless, of course, you're prepared to fork out millions of dollars in advertising every month like Yahoo, Amazon and some of the others did way back when.
Not to sound discouraging, but unless you've got an enormous amount of capital, you will go broke trying to compete with the gazillion online shopping websites.
Big name companies like Amazon.com have spent years and millions of dollars in advertising to build their own brand awareness and it's hard to get in on this market share if you're just starting out.
But don't worry... there IS a solution to being found. And the good news for you is that most people will never figure this next part out. You'll be light years ahead of your future site's competition and you'll be rich if you do it right.
So if you can grasp and implement what you're about to read, you're way ahead of the game already! Congratulations in advance. :)
Take the Google Test
Try this now. Go to Google.com and type in online shopping or shopping. Look at the number of total search results that come up (upper right hand corner gives you the total number of sites). There are literally millions.
These are all the sites you will be competing with if you try to go after a broad term like that.
The reason I use Google as an example is because more than likely this is going to be your best place to get free traffic. People often underestimate the amount of visitors that are possible from this growing search engine.
I can definitely tell you that you won't want to ignore Google and this should be where you focus on getting a lot of your visitors -- especially since it's free!
Getting back to the example...
"Online shopping" would be a bad term to try and target because it's too generic. You need something more specific.
Find Your Online Niche
Before you even build your store you need to determine your niche. So instead of trying to build a shopping site that sells everything under the sun, start out small and capitalize on a niche you are familiar with.
Why Niche Sites Work
1) They often have much less competition. Compare the results in Google when you type in "online shopping" versus "baseball cards".
Sure, "online shopping" is a much more popular searched term, but you'd have a hard time getting traffic because you're competing with so many other webmasters who want their sites to be #1.
2) One of the keys with getting traffic to Google is content, content and more content. If you build your site on a hobby you can write pages and pages of content on this subject to help funnel in more traffic.
The more pages you have on your site, the greater chance the search engines will find your site, thus bringing you more visitors.
More traffic will hopefully mean more sales for you in the long-run.
Juggling All The Way To The Bank
My favorite example of a successful niche store is jugglenow.com.
Instead of trying to create an ABC Online Store that sells everything, the owner Jim Nelson created an information site about juggling that links to his online store.
Notice when you go to www.jugglenow.com, there's much more than just shopping to be done there. Jim includes tons of articles and information about the sport of juggling.
These pages are very important because they draw in traffic from the search engines. So instead of just promoting his online store by itself, these other pages help do the marketing for him.
This is what I mean when I say draw traffic to your main site first. Even though Jim's money maker is the actual store, he draws traffic to this store by providing tons of content for the major search engines to pick up.
Jugglenow.com is a perfect example of creating a successful, niche store. There are tons of sites out there like his but with different topics. You can do the same with the topic/niche of your choice.
Build Your Main Website First
Many people don't ever get this, but the key to making your store popular and successful is to build your main site and have that act as a gateway to your online store. I can't stress how important that is.
In other words, work on getting traffic to your main site via the search engines and then link your store to this main website.
The reason is, it's much easier for the search engines to find your main, content-rich website than it is to find a single stand-alone store.
In fact, most search engines won't even add your store to their index by itself, but they will list your main website that links to your store. So that's why you need to focus on that main site first.
So if you want to sell your knitting needles online, you would first create a content-rich site on sewing. Offer tons of tips and guidelines on this subject to help draw in search engine traffic.
Then from those search-engine-friendly pages you would link to your online store. This is much more effective than just trying to promote a stand-alone store.
Use Site Build It For Your Website
As I mentioned above, building the actual store is not going to be the challenge. You can go to Yahoo Store or any web host out there that will offer some kind of online shopping cart solution. Once that's setup you just link to your store from your main website.
What you need to be focusing on right now is how are you going to get traffic to your store. What is going to be your main marketing source to bring in the visitors? What will be your niche?
If you plan on relying on the search engines, you'll need more than just a Yahoo Store because they won't help you get the traffic.
Sure, they'll setup your store for you, but they won't help you get noticed in Google, MSN, Yahoo Search and more. This is the job of your main website that will link to your store.
Anyone who is serious about starting an online store and making good money should always consider Site Build It.
I'm not saying it's the only solution, I'm just saying it's the best. Hands down.
This is actually the same tool that Jim from jugglenow.com used to create his website. Notice he still relies on Yahoo Store for the actual store part of his website, but the rest of his site was created using Site Build It.
Like Jim, you need to create a main website that will draw traffic in from the search engines first, and then from this main site link to your online store.
What Is Site Build It?
Learn how to increase your search engine rank using Site Build ItSite Build It (SBI) is an all-in-one web hosting/online marketing tool at your fingertips. As a customer, you'll receive a login and password and will be able to manage your entire site right from a browser-based application.
You don't have to know anything about HTML, PHP, CGI or any other acronyms you may or may not be familiar with. Creating web pages is as simple as typing text into a blank form and hitting "Save".
SBI registers your domain for you, they act as your host, provide email accounts and everything you need to build and maintain a website.
You won't have to worry about going to a separate site to register a domain name then go someplace else to find a host. Everything is done in one place.
So if you decide to go with SBI for your site and online store, you can ignore the website building steps here at 2 Create a Website because SBI acts as your web host and domain registrar.
Many beginners find this tool a breath of fresh air because everything you need for your website and store can be found inside this one tool that walks you through everything step by step.
Sounding promising yet?
Well I haven't even told you about the best feature of SBI.
Probably the most useful part of this package is the search engine help you'll receive. There's no other web host on the planet (and I mean that literally) that will do what SBI can do when it comes to getting traffic to your site.
There are no tricks or hidden secrets used -- only proven techniques that show you how to build web pages that the search engines will love so you can bring traffic to your site and ultimately your online store.
As you create your pages, there will be an "online coach" telling you how to improve your content to achieve the rank you want for various keyword phrases.
You will learn what the search engines look for and how to ensure your site is always listed with all the popular engines.
Not getting enough traffic is the number one reason people end up quitting their online businesses. They don't know how to get their sites ranked high with Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc so they find themselves frustrated.
If you use SBI, you won't have to worry about this. The online guide will literally walk you through the steps to submitting your site and improving your rank. It's a MUST if you want to profit from your online store.
If you are new to building a website, I strongly recommend you consider Site Build It to help you get started with your store.
Even if you use Yahoo Store (or outsource) your actual online store and shopping cart, at least use Site Build It to build your main site because the search engine help will be well worth it.
No other web host will give you this kind of assistance.
A Solid Guarantee!
Not only are the folks at SiteSell (the creators of SBI) backed by the BBB, but they're good people. They realize that this tool may not be for everyone BUT they want you to at least give it a try.
So if you're worried about spending money on something that's not right for you, worry no more. They've got a rock-solid guarantee that puts you at zero risk.
Read the SiteSell guarantee and the letter from the president, Ken Evoy.
Learn more about SBI here.