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As an e-commerce seller, your business depends on your relationship with search engines.
Search engines are one of the first stops potential buyers make before purchasing an item. When your store is invisible to search engines, you simply don’t exist to the vast majority of your audience.
It’s a concerning thought and one reason e-commerce sellers spend so much time fixing and maintaining their on-site SEO.
Of course, understanding your platform is critical if you expect to stand out. If you’re serious about gaining that SEO edge, you need to know how search engines interact with your platform.
This article explores how Bonanza works and shows you how to drive traffic to your store from search engines.
What is Bonanza and How Does it Work?
As a platform for e-commerce sellers, Bonanza exists as a marketplace for all kinds of products.
The sheer variety of products you can sell on Bonanza is impressive. Bonanza lets merchants sell art, books, coins, jewelry, and everything in between.
Bonanza functions similarly to many other e-commerce platforms. Sellers pay fees on both the price of the goods sold and the shipping fees associated with that purchase. However, you don’t pay unless your items sell—there are no listing fees or subscription costs.
You can advertise on the platform, but for our purposes, we’re going to focus on how to drive organic traffic to your business using SEO.
5 SEO Tips for Bonanza E-Commerce Sellers
To increase views on Bonanza, you need to provide customers with the most relevant information at the right time. Let’s look at how to optimize your Bonanza listings to drive organic traffic.
Use Strong Keywords in Bonanza Listings
As with all types of SEO, effective keyword usage is paramount when optimizing for Bonanza. But, before you can use keywords in your title and listing, you need to figure out what your keywords are.
Google Keyword Planner is a fantastic tool for testing the strength of specific key terms and phrases that you’re considering for your content.
Let’s say your e-commerce store revolves around hiking. The word “hiking” itself might be a perfect fit for your content, but this presents a few problems.
The biggest issue here is hundreds, if not thousands, of other merchants selling hiking equipment on Bonanza. There’s little chance your content will stand out to either the algorithm or potential buyers based on that term alone.
Instead of using a broad keyword like “hiking,” you can use a strong keyword phrase that accurately describes your product. Suddenly, you’ve narrowed down your audience significantly.
Your audience is no longer anyone who types in “hiking” in a search engine.
You sell hiking boots to people actively looking for sales. By narrowing your focus to keywords related to that, you’re telling search engines your site is useful to a particular group of buyers. The more specific the solution, the more likely these search engines are to recommend it.
Don’t just look for keywords with high search volumes—seek out phrases that naturally fit into your site and signal genuine value.
By the way, if you’re looking for more in-depth keyword analysis, you can use my Ubersuggest tool for free here.
Include Quality Images
Discussions on SEO tend to revolve purely around the text. But, believing search engines only look at the text on your site would be a serious mistake.
The images on your site send data to search engine algorithms and can signal a higher quality experience for users.
Remember, search engines are in the business of having the right answer. When your business becomes the best possible fit for a potential buyer, search engines may give you the spotlight.
Image quality is essential. Take clear, well-lit pictures of your items with backgrounds that don’t distract. Use multiple images from different angles so your audience can fully see what they’re considering purchasing.
After you’ve taken your photos, change the file names to match your content. If you used a picture of a national park for your hiking store, don’t just call it DMG_33223.jpg. Change its name to something appropriate and relevant, such as hiking_boot_brand_style_name.
Make sure your image dimensions match the image size as displayed. This can impact load times for your site, which can have a dramatic effect on your on-site SEO.
Additionally, use the right format for your visual content. If you want to preserve background transparency, use PNG. Logos and icons should use SVG. For larger photos, use JPEG. This option preserves the image’s colors and clarity while taking up less storage space.
Speaking of which, reduce the file size of your images! If you’ve ever wondered why your pictures take so long to load, this is likely the culprit. Slow load times mean less attention from search engines.
Images also have alt text (or alt tag). Essentially, this is the information conveyed to users who can’t see pictures. Whether they’ve disabled images or they’re using a screen reader due to a visual impairment, alt text helps provide information on that image.
Search engines use alt text to vet the quality of a site. This means if you don’t have alt text (or you do, but it’s nonsensical), you’re probably missing out on free traffic.
Choose Your Item Titles Carefully
When shopping online, you likely see a lot of products with titles that are a list of keywords rather than a clear title like you’d use on, say, a blog post. This isn’t the way to go.
I’ve found a simple way to help e-commerce sellers understand the value of item titles.
Think about your store from a search engine’s perspective. Your site description is pretty similar to an article or blog post as far as they’re concerned. Search engine algorithms see everything as content, and they want to provide positive experiences for users.
If you created a blog post on hiking titled “hiking positives why you should hike how to like hiking,” would a search engine find that valuable? Of course not. You’d probably title that post something like “Making the Most of Hiking” or “The Awesomeness of Hiking.”
For articles and blogs, you likely already take the time to build compelling, relevant, engaging content regularly because you know how valuable it is to both a search engine and your audience.
Do the same for your store listings—research using the Keyword Planner. Run a competitor analysis and see which titles excel and which are failing.
Above all, your item title and product descriptions need to be helpful. When they’re helpful, they’re valuable— and when you’re valuable, search engines are more willing to pay attention.
It’s also worth noting paying attention to the differences in the buying cycle. Online shoppers with low buyer awareness need lots of convincing. For example, a buyer that searches for “hiking boots” may still be researching their options and not yet ready to buy, while someone who searches for “Women’s Newton Ridge Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot” is likely ready to buy.
If they aren’t familiar with your product, you’ll need to focus on education first.
Start with key features, product usage, and brand guarantees. This makes your product copy both user-friendly and valuable.
Add Product Features and Benefits
Now that we’ve established that product descriptions function like any other piece of content, it’s time we broke down how to craft a valuable description.
Start with product features. From an SEO perspective, potential buyers are searching for perks and features when they use search engines.
After all, they aren’t just looking for “boots.” They’re looking for “high-quality, comfortable boots.”
The mistake some sellers make is assuming the list of features is enough. That list is just one piece of the puzzle. What makes a product description stand out to a search engine’s algorithm is contextually appropriate copy.
These aren’t just high-quality, comfortable boots. They’re boots that stand up to the harshest of winters. They’re boots you can wear for hours on end. Maybe they are waterproof.
While Bonanza allows you to fill out boxes with item traits and listing details, they also give you space to write out a description. Provide details you couldn’t give in the boxes.
For instance, you can put the boots’ size and material in the traits, but you can’t tell them the heel height. Put that type of information in your written description.
When you create a clear picture of the experience with a particular product, you bring a high level of authenticity to the shopping experience.
If your content checks some of the keyword boxes but isn’t valuable, your site won’t get organic traffic for long.
Grow Using Content Creation
One of the most frustrating challenges you’ll deal with as an e-commerce seller is being unable to innovate. As a business owner, you want every business-building tool at your disposal. Which brings up the question: at what point do you start to expand your marketing efforts?
After all, you don’t just want to beat your competitors by a small margin. You want to dominate your e-commerce space and have your site on the first page of a user’s search engine results.
Commit to creating a blog for your site. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be value-driven.
You could use a free option like WordPress.com and write two articles a week on topics your audience cares about—and link to relevant items in your Bonanza store. You’ll have over 100 articles in a year, all linking to your Bonanza store, which shows search engines a series of healthy links to your store.
More high-quality links mean validation, plus there’s the added perk of adding another layer to your marketing funnel.
You can even use this content to collect email addresses for your newsletter. Use that to drive repeat business, and before you know it, you’ve built a truly profitable ecosystem.
SEO is just as crucial for e-commerce stores like Bonanza as it is for other types of content. Without solid SEO for your store, consumers probably won’t find your products.
Understand what users need from their search experience. Take the time to create a user-friendly product page. Offer engaging content and create a store that puts the customers’ needs first.
You’ll never be able to “trick” search engines. But with enough patience and hard work, you can get search engines to work for you and drive traffic to your Bonanza store.
How have you found success on Bonanza?
You’ve heard the phrase to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, right? But what do we mean when we talk about bootstrapped tools?
Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps refers to succeed through your own efforts without relying on investments or help from anyone else. (Though the phrase’s meaning has shifted over time.)
Bootstrapped companies are those that grow through the dedication of their founders, rather than relying on cash flow from investors. Basecamp is a bootstrapped company, for instance. Apple isn’t.
Bootstrapped companies must focus relentlessly on sales, cash flow, and profit because they don’t have the luxury of VC investments to fall back on. They need to remain lean and keep costs to a minimum.
As a result, there’s no room in the budget for expensive enterprise tools. Luckily, there are a variety of bootstrapped tools that can help. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorites.
What Are Bootstrapping Tools?
Before we dive into the tool suggestions, let’s talk about what bootstrapped tools are — and why the distinction matters.
Starting a business, even a bootstrapped one, is expensive. But you can’t build a great SaaS or e-Commerce company without the help of digital tools. Unfortunately, the best tools are often prohibitively expensive for companies on a tight budget.
The good news is there’s plenty of free, freemium, or affordable digital tools you can use instead. These tools are often just as powerful as enterprise-level tools while helping you remain cash flow positive and maximize your runway.
Planning and Project Management Bootstrapping Tools
If you’re serious about growing your startup, you’ll eventually need to put down the pen and paper to-do list and upgrade to a SaaS solution.
Wrike is a versatile and comprehensive project management tool, perfect for startups and businesses of all sizes. It has all of the features you’d expect from a SaaS project management tool, including Gantt charts, Kanban boards, briefs, and request forms.
Wrike also makes collaboration seamless with shared calendars, file sharing, and team reports time tracking.
Wrike is used by some of the world’s biggest companies, including Google, Airbnb, and Dell. It also integrates with over 400 other SaaS tools and software platforms like Salesforce, WordPress, Hubspot.
You won’t have to worry about the security of your data — enterprise-level security comes standard and everything syncs instantly to the cloud.
Wrike is free forever for up to five users. The professional version costs $9.80 per user per month for up to 15 users. If you need it, the business version costs $24.80 per user per month.
Other Bootstrap Project Management Tools:
- Asana offers a robust project management package with features that vary by account level. Their free version includes unlimited tasks per team, projects in the board or list view, unlimited file storage, an activity log, and more.
- Trello is a popular project management tool that offers a free basic version. Their free version offers 10 “boards” (project views) per team, unlimited “cards” (tasks), and 10MB per file attachment.
- Paymo offers their lowest-cost plan for $9.95 per user per month. With this plan, you can access features like task views, time tracking, project templates, and recurring tasks.
- Microsoft Projects starts from $10 per user per month. It offers grid, board, and timeline view; co-authoring and communication on tasks; and project planning and scheduling.
Bootstrapping Tools to Create a Website
You can’t have a digital business without a website.
Even running an offline, local business can be challenging without a strong web presence. However, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an expensive web design agency. It’s possible to build a website from scratch using an intuitive website builder.
One option is Webflow, which was labeled “the development platform of the future” by Smashing Magazine. It is a hugely capable website builder that lets anyone create visually stunning websites without a developer or designer’s help.
It comes with CMS and e-commerce capabilities, meaning you can turn the platform to any task or goal and integrates with tons of leading SaaS and web apps. Hosting is also built into the platform, so there’s no need to mess around with a separate hosting company.
It’s not just a platform for startups and solopreneurs, either. Webflow has built some pretty major websites, including Zendesk, Hellosign, and Dell.
You can use Webflow free forever, but you’ll want to play for a plan to get the most out of the platform. The basic plan costs $12 per month, and a CMS version costs $16 per month.
Other Bootstrap Website Builders
- Contact Contact is more well-known for email marketing, they also have a website builder that’s great for bootstrappers. You don’t need any SEO or developer experience to use it. Features include mobile responsive design, logo design, creating easy e-commerce websites so you can sell your products with minimal effort, and more. The Constant Contact website service is $10 per month.
- Squarespace helps customers create sleek and professional website design. You can also integrate some of your favorite SEO tools, have access to data analytics, and get help with your company blog. The cost of your account varies by which services you use. Squarespace offers monthly payments or a lump sum.
- HostGator costs only $3.84 per month for their cheapest package. For this plan, you have access to the website builder, a website hosting service, and 12 months of ownership of your domain name.
- WordPress is one of the most popular website builders. Their cheapest plan is $4 per month and includes free domain hosting for a year, no WordPress ads, and free email support.
SEO Tools for Bootstrappers
You need a strong SEO game, especially if you are a bootstrapped business that can’t afford to spend a lot on Facebook ads or other online advertising forms. But, you don’t need to pay a fortune for the right tools or even hire an SEO agency.
My SEO tool, Ubersuggest, is perfect for anyone running a bootstrapped company because it’s free. Even better, it gives you all of the insight and advice you need to optimize the heck out of your pages.
You’ll get an overview of your domain and its strengths and weaknesses, a report of the top pages ranking in your niche and how to beat them, keyword suggestions with accurate search volumes, backlink data, content ideas, and so much more.
Even the tool’s premium version is cost-effective, starting from as little as $29 per month.
Other SEO Tools for Bootstrappers
- Moz: The free version of Moz has robust services such as keyword research, a link explorer, and domain analysis. It offers a pro version and a local version.
- Screaming Frog: Screaming frog’s free website crawler alerts you to technical SEO problems like broken links, metadata issues, and discovering exact duplicate content on pages.
- AnswerthePublic: AnswerthePublic is a tool that identifies content topic opportunities based on what people are searching for.
Each tool provides similar data and insight, but you’ll find these slightly more expensive than Ubersuggest. Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush all start from $99 per month, for instance.
Bootstrapping Tools for Design, Stock Images, and Prototyping
Whether it’s a beautiful header image for your blog, great looking stock photos, or a banner for your new Facebook ad, having access to a designer is invaluable. It is also prohibitively expensive for most bootstrapped companies.
The good news is, you don’t need to outsource design to an agency or hire a full-time designer. Instead, use the following tools to create the designs you need.
While there are many free or cheap design tools out there, very few bring everything you need together in one place like ZeBrand. With ZeBrand, you can create logos, fonts, color palettes, inspiration boards, and whatever else you need.
There’s a massive library of high-quality photographs to use for free, too. The platform even provides Brand Coaches, on-hand experts who will help you create and execute your brand strategy.
The starter version of ZeBrand is available for free. The premium version is significantly more expensive at $399 per quarter, including brand coaching sessions.
Other Design Tools for Bootsrappers
- Canva: Canva is known for its design prowess. The free version has a robust collection of templates for users to choose from. WIth the paid version, you have access to designers, premium custom templates, premium fonts, and a background remover.
- Dribbble: Cribble’s primary goal is to connect users with graphic designers or creatives. Users are able to hire freelancers directly from their website.
- Crowdspring: In addition to designing logos and web pages, Crowdspring also offers a service that helps users find unique business names.
- Design Pickle: Design Pickle provides graphic design services on demand. Their work quality is great, but you’ll pay for it. Design Pickle is a pricey $499 per month.
Automated Email Software Tools for Bootstrappers
Are you still sending out email campaigns manually? Are new subscribers automatically added to your welcome email flow? Automating your email marketing can save a lot of time, but it can also make your business a heck of a lot more profitable.
Squeezing as much value as possible from your email list is essential if you’re bootstrapping. You don’t need to waste your money on expensive enterprise platforms, however.
HubSpot is a freemium marketing automation platform perfect for every business, from a one-person startup to a 300-employee company.
Creating and optimizing automated email campaigns is easy once you get the platform set up — and you’ll be able to do it all by yourself. Personalization is included to easily create specific email marketing waterfalls for different types of users.
You can also A/B test your campaigns to improve open and conversion rates.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the HubSpot platform, however. You can also build landing pages to capture more email addresses, gate content that already exists on your site and get a full picture of how every lead came into your CRM.
HubSpot costs just $45 per month for up to 100 contacts.
Other Automated Email Software for Bootstrappers
If you’re not a fan of HubSpot, consider:
- Marketo: Marketo has a wide range of marketing services, one of which is email automation. Marketo’s email solutions include creating campaigns quickly and easily, creating personalized emails, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience and tracking KPIs.
- Salesforce: Salesforce boasts they are the number one email marketing solution. Their product offerings include tailoring your emails for every step of the sales funnel, delivering engaging content to your email subscribers, and using AI tools to improve upon the process.
- Blueshift: One of Blueshift’s product offerings is an email marketing service. They intend to generate emails quickly, send emails that are triggered by user behavior and the sales funnel, and offer predictive segmentation.
Team Communication Tools for Boostrapped Small Businesses
As your bootstrapped team grows, communication will become more critical. Emails, texts, and phone calls will only take you so far.
It doesn’t matter if your team sits in the same office or works across the globe; you need a SaaS communication tool to ensure you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.
Here are some of my favorite bootstrapped communication solutions.
It will probably come as no surprise that I highly recommend Slack as a bootstrapped team communication tool. Slack is the perfect combination of email, instant messaging, and voice calls, and it’s all available for just $6.67.
A limited version of the platform is available for small teams to use for free. What’s better than that?
Other Team Communication Tools for Small Businesses
If video conferencing is a more pressing need for your business, you may want to consider:
- Zoom became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since Zoom is free, friends and families use it to stay connected during the pandemic. Zoom is also useful for businesses. You can use Zoom for team meetings, chats, webinars, conference meetings, a phone system, and a marketplace.
- Microsoft Teams is another popular tool for communications. Its services include chat channels, video meetings, screen sharing, and more. Teams is a good choice if you’re already using Microsoft products.
- Skype was one of the first iterations of communication software. You can use it to chat to your friends via messenger or video chats, as well as make direct calls. Skype has not changed much since the early days, so it might be a great fit if you’re looking for something that’s budget-friendly with basic features.
So there you have it, that’s my list of the top bootstrapped tools for your startup.
Which bootstrapped tool will you try first?
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