How to choose an eCommerce Solution for engagement and conversion

There are a real plethora of eCommerce solutions out there now, making it difficult to isolate which solution is best for you. Some solutions are free and open-source, some licensed or bought off the shelf, and others custom-built – each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. This post is an outline of what your decision-making process with your IT consultant should look like.

  1. Will you be marketing your products to the search engines? If so, you need, at a minimum, a solution with 301 Redirect Management, keyword-rich URLs, and management facilities for title and meta-tags. This will rule out a sleuth of options.
  2. What is your estimated annual turnover, average transaction value, and average unit price? Payment gateways (i.e. PayPal, Google Checkout, Protx, ChronoPay, etc.) differ in their charges, and you should choose to minimise your costs.

Troubleshooting your FORMSOF & INFLECTIONAL searches not working, SQL Server 2005

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t get different results, using SQL Server 2005, for a simple Full-Text Search query and a Full-Text Search query using the FORMSOF and INFLECTIONAL keywords.

What I stumbled across eventually was that when creating and configuring my SQL Full-Text Indexes, I had left the language parameter as the default selection. When I changed this to English, voila!, my FORMSOF (INFLECTIONAL, @query) queries started to produces fantastic search results!

Also, an example query showing how to parameterize the the search term, and how to rank your results:

SQL Server 2005 Express Full-Text Search Setup Tutorial

I recently had to setup a search facility on a website driven by SQL Server 2005 Express. My natural choice was SQL Server’s Full-Text Search feature, but setup was not entirely intuitive, and the web was full of misinformation. I’ve put together a tutorial to save you time.

If you’re not sure if your have Full-Text installed, read my post on installing SQL Server 2005 Express Full-Text Search.

Once, Full-Text is installed, you need to create your index:


Managing your index is then actually very simple:

  • Browse to the tables of your database, right click and select ‘Design’

Communicating the ROI of Web Design with Web Forms

It is often hard for those needing a website to justify the costs of design. Design is often viewed as a ‘talent’ before a learned skill, and as something that we either have or we don’t, and it naturally follows that if you ‘have it’ should be able to produce it without greart expensive.

Luke Wroblewski gave an excellent presentation at the An Event Apart 2007 conference (Chicago) that helps communicate the complexity and process of design, and the value a strong design can contribute.

SQL Server 2005 Express with the Full-Text option greyed out

I’ve just been struggling to enable full-text search on my installation of SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, and so want to share the solution.

If, like me, the ‘Use full-text indexing’ checkbox was greyed out under Database > Properties > Files, you first need to test whether Full-Text Indexing is installed or not. To do this, execute the query.

use [dbname]
select fulltextserviceproperty(‘isfulltextinstalled’)

If this returns 0, you need to install Full-Text Search.

Firstly, did you install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Advanced Series? Only the Advanced Series contains full-text. If not, you may need to reinstall.

10 statistics that demonstrate the value of SEO

These statistics source from a compilation of SERPS behaviour studies for which I’ve listed source information at the end of the article. If you disagree with a figure, or have additional figures or sources, please do post them to the discussion.

  1. 42% of search users click the top-ranking link. 8% click the second-ranking link, and the click-through rate (CTR) continues to drop thereof.
  2. When these two top-ranking links are artificially switched, the click-through ratio of 42-8% drops to 34-12%, demonstrating the importance of engaging copy in addition to rank position.
  3. 62% of search users click a link on the first page of search results

UK Google Market Share – March 2007

The latest figures on Google’s market share compared to its primary search competitors Yahoo, MSN, and Ask (formerly Ask Jeeves) have been published by Hitwise. As always, the numbers are astounding, revealing that Google holds a 77% market share, meaning overthree quarters of UK internet searches are made through Google. Yahoo is now holding 8%, and while MSN and Ask are both at 5% and falling.

March 2007 UK Search Market Share

Comparing the UK to the US figures, for which Google has just broken 66.6% or two thirds market share, it’s clear that UK internet searchers even more than US searchers turn first to Google.

Improve Website Performance – 10 Fundamentals

  1. Are you using Google Analytics (or require and use an alternative)?

    You can’t gauge success unless you measure performance. Google Analytics is a free and very effective tool for just this. For businesses that depends on local custom, it will qualify the proportion of your visitors that reside nearby and are therefore of value. eCommerce sites can drive sales by adjusting their site layout or structure based on the analysis of search terms used within their site when people can’t find information. The available measures are extensive.

  2. Is every page of your site connected to every other via a site map?

    Page Rank is a measure of how valuable or important Google considers a web page to be. It is based largely on the number, page rank, and relevancy of web pages that link to that page. The pages of a site can also inherit Page Rank from other pages of their website, but the more links to reach those pages, the less page rank is inherited.A site map thus maximises this inheritance by ensuring every page is just one page from every other.

10 Direct Routes to Reduced Website Costs and Risks: That’s what web standards are about!?

“Web Standards” is like another of these modern-day web buzzwords, like “Web 2.0” and “The Blogosphere”. But buzzwords become popular for a reason – let me give this one a simple definition, and explain the business benefits of web standards, namely reduced website costs and risks.

Web standards are, quite simply, a set of coding guidelines developed by a consortium of experts to reduce the risks involved in producing a website. The simple principle is that if everybody codes in the same way, the standard way, then everybody is compatible.

"we have seen a steady improvement in hit rates, now being number one for key terms"

Alan McCaffery
Chairman IRAC

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