This is my blog about the trials and tribulations of setting up our web site.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We moved and changed our name

We changed our company name to
Manitoulin Coffee Company and have a new blog which can be read at Manitoulin Coffee Company Blog. We are now located in the beautiful town of Kagawong on the shores of Mudge Bay.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Today is a snow day

Today is a “snow day”, not because I dislike it, I don’t even mind driving in it but I thought I would not head out to do deliveries and work on the web site instead. I called all the customers who might be running out of coffee and they are all fine till tomorrow at least. I curled up in my cold office, it never gets warm in the winter, and started to work on the web site. Then the server crashed and I am sitting here doing nothing but blogging for the afternoon and thinking about the backup server I got rid of last month and wondering how I became so dependent on the internet.

This is the start of my new blog so I guess the day is not a total waste unless you consider blogging a waste of time. Refresh … refresh … refresh … nope, server still down. I really don’t know what I will write about, but it will be what “I” want to.

Server is back up and running so back to work for me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Keeping everyone updated on my articles

As most know I have been working on articles for my web site, not so much for content but to put on article sites for the links back, and hopefully some others will pick them up also. Now with 4 complete and 3 more just about done here is the update on their progress.

The first one to go up was the "History of Colombian Coffee" which is linked back to my Colombian Coffee product page. With only 9 links back to that page right now it is #7 on MSN for that keyword. I submitted the article to Article Hut and paid for their submission service for $5 USD to submit it to 150 other sites. There was at one time 14 links back to the Colombian Coffee page but that has now dropped to 9 although the content seems to be listed 52 times on the web the links are not or have not been picked up. If/when they are is the question.

One thing I find amazing is that even with only 9 links back to the Colombian Coffee product page it is ranked #7 on MSN. For all my other similar coffee's the next highest ranked on is lower than #70, and Colombian Coffee is the most popular search term for all those similar products. What that shows me is it only takes a little push to get them high in the listings.

Yesterday I bought a program called Instant Article Submitter ($77 USD). What I liked about it is that it also automatically registered you with the sites and then allowed you to set the category for your article, then it submits them. I started by registering with the sites and although a lot less painful than doing it manually it is still an unpleasant task. I then submitted the History Of Colombian Coffee article to about 200 sites of which about 175 went through. Some failed, others timed out, and some said invalid login. Me bad, I did not save the list to make it easier to correct the errors which is going to mean getting the same errors for the second article I submit.

What I will probably do is check the progress over the next few weeks with this one article I submitted and see if it is being displayed properly, am I getting the links back, etc. and then make any changes to the next round of articles.

I will post again in about a week and update on what has happened. Oh, if you want to read my articles they are at my other blog All About Coffee

Monday, May 15, 2006

Looking for new space

My lease is up in November and with the new owners of the building I think/know my rent is going to go way up, along with taxes/maintenance/insurance. Before if I needed anything fixes the guy was always around to take care of it, now there is a growing hole in front of my parking spot and all I ever see it the new maintenance guy sleeping in his truck for a couple of hours and then leaving. The new owners don't seem to care about much except their rent cheque.

So I have started looking for new space. Right now I have 1700 sq feet which is more than enough. I don't even use half of it for my business, my parents have stuff stored here along with my sister and a couple of friends. Roasting coffee does not require too much space.

I really like the area where my sister lives (near Peter McGrath from oscMall). I found a spot that is suitable near there in a town called Stirling but it is much bigger than what I need at 2500 sq feet but even that would be a bit cheaper than what my rent is in Toronto. If I take that spot I could set up a little coffee store and sell beans out of it also and maybe make a few extra $$. It is in an industrial area with no residential around which is what I need because roasting coffee produces some smoke which might bother someone living nearby. I could do it in a residential area but that would mean adding an after burner which is not economically viable for my size roaster because of gas consumption per batch.
I could just live in a town such as Stirling and have the factory in a more major center such as Belleville or Trenton and do the 20-30 km comute but there is a lot to be said for being able to park the car and biking to work and having ALL the bike trails within 100 metres of the factory.
So the question is besides opening a little store to sell beans from, what do I do with ALL the extra space I would have????

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Update on everything

Well I seem to be coming slowly out of the Google sandbox (started site Jan 9th 2006) which I am really really really happy about. I think this has to do with good SEO tactics , our reprintable articles I have been getting out there and some good quality links back such as a Chef School with a PR 5 which I have Colin (my web host to thank for that one. I am now ranked for "bean coffee shop, "coffee bean" and "coffee shop" on Google but still not for coffee but given time I am sure that will change.

I have 4 articles finished and am working on a 3 page one about the "history of coffee" that will be available soon also, makes for great work to do at the cottage.

For 1 day at least I broke the top 100,000 on Alexa so you now see a little "bump" in my graph. I don't expect that so stay but it is nice to see.

I also haven't forgotten about Burt and will update his AIS web site address soon.

I know there are a few posts which I haven't responded to and I am sorry about that but I will get to those also in the next few days, the weather has been good so trying to enjoy some of it and not spend all my time siting in front of the computer or working.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

MSN seems to have changed its links back

Yesterday I noticed that I only had 51 links back to my site on MSN, it was more than 1,000 before. Using now shows 51 links but link: still shows over 1,000. I don't know what the change means but the difference is interesting.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Heard any good jokes lately!

I have been thinking of another idea to get our name out there. A friend used to do this and ended up with over 1,000,000 hits on his site. The idea is quite simple, I think everyone out there gets jokes or cute pictures from friends and family and if they are good you forward them to your friends/family and the cycle grows and continues and eventually almost everyone has seen the same jokes and pics. Remembering the "six degrees of seperation" you can easily reach everyone on the internet via 1 email, though this is highly unlikely but good penetration is possible.

So you get a good joke and instead of just forwarding it you can use that to promote your business. For this we will call it "email_signature.gif". Just make it really simple such as your site name and the URL at the bottom. Then you create a signature in Outlook and use the code;

< href="" target="_blank">
< src="" alt="Visit My Site" border="0" height="100" width="200">< /a >

Then you forward the joke/pics on to your family and friends and ask them to forward it to the people they normally do. As things grow and it works its way around it will have your little banner at the bottom of the email. Since the image is pulled from your server it is easy to track how many times it is viewed and clicked on.

Since the joke/pics will be sent from person to person and I think in 99.9% of the time the people will know each other the person receiving the joke will not consider it spam and more like just another funny joke from their "friend".

I might give this a try one day and see how it goes and see how "far" an email can travel.

Got any plans for the summer?

This summer I plan to spend working on the web site (and hopefully get some biking in also). On top of the usual "tweeking" of the web site I plan on writing 100 articles about coffee. If submitted to 250 article sites that should give me at least 25,000 links back to the site.

The articles will mostly link to the main site Bean Coffee Shop but some of them will be specifically for products (such as Colombian Coffee) or for specific customers (such as North 44). Creating articles specifically for these sub pages should give their ranking a big boost. I think by creating an article about the History of Colombian Coffee and using that keyword rich text to link directly back to the "Colombian Coffee" page on my site it will be a big boost in the ranking for that keyword considering that product page will now have at least 250 direct incoming links to it.

With most linking stategies (mine included so far) almost all the anchor text and links go directly to the main page and with the same keywords (Bean Coffee Shop) and ALL the other pages feed off of the main pages links. By doing it this way I can have at least (22 products x 250) 5500 links to my product pages, (5 x 250) 1250 links to my categories, (12 x 250) 3000 links to the Our Customers section and countless more to the "Ask Mr Coffee" content section of our site. Heck, I could even redo our Privacy Pages and put those up as an article directly linking to them or write an article about "How to write FAQ pages" and link those to our FAQ section.

The list could go on but the point is that by the end of this summer to have all the articles done and submitted. It should keep me busy on my long weekends up at the cottage and hopefully I will still find time to get some biking in.

This is on top of the normal links I try to create by submitting to directories, posting in coffee forums and also on Google Groups.

The other ongoing goal is to work on the conversion rate for the site which is pathetic at the momment. I am trying some subtle changes to the main page and checking the results on a weekly basis, then trying something new. It is all a work in progress.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Where were You ?

In response to Burt's blog post "Where were You ?", it reminds me of a ad on TV the other day for a television show and a woman asks a guy "have you ever told a woman exactly how you feel", the guy responds "of course not". Sometimes in life there are things that are better left unsaid so I am taking a pass on this one. You can take that any way you want, but there is no answer being posted on the internet for that question.

SEO is good, conversion sucks.

Well on MSN are results are good;

Bean Coffee Shop #1
Bean Coffee # 2
Coffee Shop # 1
Coffee # 90

Although these are still a work in progress, it is getting us good targeted traffic, the customers pages are doing really well for us also. But it is time to concentrate on other aspects as well. has had it's best month ever (almost as much in sales as ALL of last year) but our conversion rate still sucks at about 1 new customer per 200 unique visitors (if you take away the crap accounts). I really need to make this better, I think a shipping calculator would help as well as some more targeted info on certain pages.

I have a test account at "" with the password "bYr9V", please don't complete transactions, it messes up the accounting, it is a pretty standard checkout. Any ideas would be most appreciated.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bobby posts again

I have a terminal illness. I've known about this since the first blog entry back in November/December but did not want to release the news publicly...frankly, I thought it would not progress as quickly as it has and will in the coming months (hopefully years).

I wish you all the best my friend. :)


Friday, March 24, 2006

VN2 Designs growing

I was looking at Emmett's site the other day and noticed that he is growing again and has added another graphic designer to the team, congrats Julie. Now Em you just need a couple of coders and an office manager (besides the parrots).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What is up with Google

MSN and Yahoo are both treating my site well. MSN has me #70 for coffee and climbing. But Google has me still #260 for "Bean Coffee Shop", and now when I check links to my site with Google it is coming up with NOTHING. :( I still have my PR so I know my site is not banned, I just can't figure out what they are doing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

There are good people in the world

This year we have been working on our shipping to the USA. The first order we received from there on our new site got shipped. A couple of weeks later it still had not arrived so we reshipped it. After 3 weeks of waiting patiently and still no coffee, we credited the money to their CC.

I can not blame them for not thinking their coffee was lost and wanting a refund. Even over the whole time they were very nice about the situation and never got angry about it. I did every thing I could do during the coffees transit time to assure them that we were working on the problem which I think we have finally resolved as the last shipment got to Florida in 6 days.

Well today I received a very nice letter from the family that didn't get their coffee on time (it did eventually get there) and also a cheque for $25. They said they are enjoying the flavor off the coffee and didn't feel comfortable accepting it for free.

Now the question is, what do I do with the cheque!!!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Using articles to create links, running the numbers

Short post, just running the numbers. Say there are 250 article sites out there. You write 10 good articles and submit them. That is (250 sites x 10 articles) 2500 links back to your site. Say each article is reprinted 10 times on other sites from each source over time (250 sites x 10 articles x 10 reprints) that is 25,000 links back to your site for a total of (25,000 on other sites + 2,500 on article sites) for a total of 27,500 links back. Hmmmm .... that sounds like a lot to me. I think they would have to be great articles though to get those numbers.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

So what's better??? Content or Links.

Both content and links have their place, but firstly each one should be looked at individually.

Content: There is the old saying, "content is king", which even today might be true. What content does is it not only gives you a bunch more internal links within your site but well optimized content will also bring in keyword traffic to your site that you would not normally get, most of this keyword traffic is usually not very competative also. The searchers are also looking for something usually more specific and finding it on your site might also make them look further into your site. MSN ranks page content when determining where to place your site in its listings much more than other SE's.

You can add content such as we have done with our customers pages to gain keywords such as with Bymark restaurant which on MSN we are #5. This is content directly marketed towards a specific keyword target.

The the second type of content is adding sections such as our "Ask Mr Coffee" section. In this section we have added pages with information about coffee. On these pages the more info you have the better. If you notice that when typing in obscure searches into Google it will find the words anywhere on the page, not necessarily together so the more keywords on the page the better. That is not to say you should write the pages for keywords, let the public who is reading or searching determine what the keywords are. You should just provide as much relevent information about the subject as you can. The rest will fall into place. When your site is new you will not see much in the way of results for all your effort but as time goes on and the pages are indexed properly and your site gains in PR the results will show. Even on our relatively new site you can see for the search Coffee in a metal can, we are right up at the top, although I did cheat there and used quotes as our site is new.

The most important type of content though is main page and product page content. You see so many sites with just pictures on their main page and very little product page text. Search engines need text to know why they should rank you at the top for your pages keywords and the consumers who will buy your product need to know why they should buy from you. Text is the best way to acheive both objectives. A must read by all web site owners is Jason Chance's article on Developing an Online Unique Selling Proposition. There he covers an important and overlooked part of a lot of web sites, that is telling your customers why they should buy from you. Adding text to the main page not only tells the customers why they should buy from you but also gives the search engines an idea of the importance of your keywords. For product pages adding a description of your products and also giving them all the relevent information they might need to make their desision will go a long way to not only people purchasing from you but also having your pages indexed and ranked properly. Also keep outgoing links here to a minimum, do not have on your product pages something like "visit the manufactuers site for more information". That does two really bad things, first it means you do not have all the info on your site and therefore your page will not be as relevent as it could be for the SE's. Second it makes the customer leave your site to find information and they might not return or find a link to a cheaper supplier from that other page.

Links: If like most people your anchor text for keywords is usually the same for most of your links, especially the ones you create. There are 3 types of links, the first being internal links which are links from your web pages to your Home page or All Products page. These are given some weight with the SE's. The second are one way links to your site which could come from directory listings, forum posts, blogs, etc. These can be created by you or by another individual. The third is reciprical links, they are other web sites where you both link to each other. These are tough ones and might get you penalized by the SE's if you link to a bad site or a link farm. It is best to be very carful who you link to.

Internal links throughout your site are very important, they help the search engines find their way around and also help your customers find information on your site. Internal links should be well thought out and also easy for the customer to navigate. If the customers can easily navigate your site, the Search Engines will also, design the links for the customers. On a lot of web sites you see in the footer links to the privacy section, terms of use. Mostly these are also available in the web sites information box so the second link is redundent. Also what do you think is more important, every page linking twice to your Privacy Statement or do you think it might be better to link twice to your All Products page, your Site Map, or even better to your Content Section. The consumer does not need the second link to the Privacy Pages but the SE's I am sure would like a second link to the content section. Giving your Privacy Pages more of a boost will not help you sell more widgets.

I should also add a part about links leading from your site. Most people add something like Powered by osCommerce in their footer and it is linked to osC from every page in their site. osC deserves the regognition for providing the software and working hard to help you but it is not doing your site any good. Better would be to have the link on your main page only and then on the other pages take the link out. If someone needs the clickable link they can still get to it from the one page but having it on every page takes away from your site. You can also add a page to your site for the companies that have helped you and give them the 1 link there. Here is a page of companies that Bean Coffee Shop works with.

Google really places a lot of importance on how many other sites link to your site, it is the single biggest factor for placing your site where they do. Applying to DMOZ and getting listed is a major boost to all web sites as there are so many other directories that run off of that. Read the rules before submiting your site and wait, if you get listed it is a great bonus for you but not the end of the world if you don't, there are lots of other directories out there. A good way to find other directories is by region such as for us type in "Toronto, directory", GTA, directory", "Ontario, directory", "Canada, directory", Coffee, directory", etc into SE's and if appropriate and there is no backlink required submit your site. Setting half an hour a day to this will help your site a lot.

Posting in forums that allow signature links is another great way of getting links back to your site. Post only relevent responses and don't spam as that will just piss people off and is not helping your business. Google Groups is often an overlooked means of generating links also. There almost anything goes and it is indexed by the SE's constantly, once again don't spam.

Posting on blogs or creating your own is another way of generating links. See my entire blog as an example of this. You are not limited to one blog and can create as many blogs as you want and can keep updated. Posting to other relevent blogs will also help spread around your links.

The hardest part of generating links is recipricol links which are links pages created on web sites. We put one up but are not sure if this will continue. Be careful who you swap links with here as it might be more detremental to your site than it is worth. Reciprical links are where both parties have decided to swap links, you are putting your repuation in their hands and if they are using bad SEO tactics it will reflect badly on your site also. Spending your time generating one way incoming links is by far much better than getting caught up in someones link farm strategy.

This shouldn't need saying but hidden links in your site, FAA pages, and doorway pages are never good and should be not be used under any circumstances. They WILL get you banned, maybe not today but someday they will.

So the question was, what is better, Content or Links. IMO it is a combination of the two. If you consentrate on content MSN will love you, if you concentrate on links Google will love you. A strong balance between the two will not only give you a well laid out and content rich site for your customers but also give you good SE position across the board. Setting aside 30 minutes each day for link building and 30 minutes for content over time will produce the results you need.

Later I will post the power of article submission but that is for another day.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Power of a Forum

We all see how popular a forum can be, just look at the osCommerce forum. A lot of web sites have forums that just sit there collecting dust, without any traffic or members. Marketing a forum is just like managing a new business or web site. For most web site owners it means learning all the latest marketing tips and tricks all over again.

My web host just launched a NEW forum specifically for forum owners as a place where everyone can get together and learn from each other about what works and what doesn't work when setting up a forum. If you are thinking about a forum for your site, or have one and want to share your knowledge drop by and say 'hi' to Colin (aka Cyanide), he is a great guy and also a great web host if you need one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The power of well optimized content pages - niche markets

When I put up my new site one of the things that was redone was the section on Our Coffee Customers. First thing we did was put it in a subdirectory called "restaurant". The reason for this was when we looked at what people had searched for to find our customers alot of the time "restaurant: was one of the keywords used. If people had not used that extra keyword or had a more random keyword I would have put these pages in the main directory. But this worked out and it keeps things nice and clean on the web site.

So adding to our base "restaurant" keyword was also obvoiusly the name of the restaurant in the URL, page title, and H1 tags. Again this was mostly done searching to find out what keywords were most used to find the majority of the restaurants listed, and then finding a uniform way of presenting those keywords.

Another thing I did was for the page description I it is "We are proud that Bymark Restaurant in Toronto has chosen Bean Coffee Shop to be their coffee supplier." It is also the first line of text on the main body of the page. This was done so that is what will show up first in the SE's. Some SE's will show the description starting with the keyword which is the reason "Bymark" shows up before our company name. "Toronto was also placed there as a minor keyword search just for those searchers that wanted to narrow their results.

The end result is a fully optimized section that is not only relevent to potential customers but also for the SE's. The results are best shown on MSN (Google is liking the site a bit better but still not happy). For the keywords;

Terra Restaurant #15
Presidential Gourmet #4
Bymark #4
Allens Restaurant #4
North 44 Restaurant #6
Acqua Restaurant #16
Sassafraz #1

Those results are pretty good and will get noticed. The results so far on this have been positive an this section of our web site has resulted in about 24% of the keyword searches that people have used to find our site.

The reason this is good for the site is that most of these restaurants are not only known in Toronto but also internationally. They are known by their reputation for 5 star restaurants with the price tags to match. If someone is searching for them on the internet they have either visited the restaurant and know how good quality their food is or they can't afford to eat there and just look at the pretty pics of it (I fall into the later group). Either way the association that is made between our company and the restaurant in the consumers mind tells them that our coffee "must" be of good quality if we are their supplier.

These web surfers were probably looking for the restaurants web site at the time of their search and they can get to it from each page. They might not purchase our coffee right away, maybe never, maybe they don't drink coffee. Who knows, but the seed has been planted and they did leave our site with at least 1 piece of knowledge, and that is "we supply the coffee at the high end restaurant that they were surfing for".

Also looking at our stat files I see that over 10% of the visitors to our site bookmark the site. To me that sounds really good. This is all about having people find your site and also finding a new potential market.

For other web site owners you can do the same. Say you own an Online Gift Store and support Team Burt in the 50km Annual Pub Race. An optimized page on your site might bring in some traffic to your site. Not people looking for gifts, but people looking to find out about the race. Your association with that might not mean much to the surfer at the time but if that race is dear to their haeat then when they are looking for a product you sell they might come back to your shop and purchase it just because of your association with the event. They will already have a postive image of your company and you have a potential customer that might have never found your site through your usual marketing means.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Some people just get under your skin

The other day some idiot posted in Harald's blog and made a rather derogatory comment obviously about Bobby. This person had 1 previous post and had contributed nothing /nada /zip /zero to osC but felt they were in a position to make such comments about a person with 36 contributions and 5000+ posts (est as his account is no longer there). This person really pissed me off so I posted a response and made my usual little jab (after rewriting what I had originally posted) but the guy got on my nerves, so I did what I would normally do .... post again. :)

From this persons 1 post he writes;

I don't suppose the development team find comments like that particularly motivating at all.

Your trash talk about a person who was a very active member of the forum really does not motivate people to 'help' others if their reward for helping is getting stupid comments from people like you.

And again;

I'm not involved in any coding projects myself - primarily because my coding sucks bigstyle

Then don't comment on others who actually 'can' code.

And once again;

on behalf of the silent masses who don't participate in the forums but think osComemrce is a fantastic stuff... big thanks to hpdl & the team. We really do appreciate your efforts.

What about the efforts of the people who post contributions and who freely offer their time to help others, all of which you have done none of.

Just want to end this by say to Alex Gener (because this is MY blog and I can say what I want here) .... shut the f#@k up, you are an idiot.

If you have ever had the pleasure of getting Bobby on messenger when you have had a problem it is where his abilities as a coder really shine. While I was still trying to type (with 1 finger) out what my problem was in little parts he had already pulled up the page from osC and recoded it and sent it to me, and of course it worked like a charm. I think Bobby codes at about 100 words a minute and types even faster. I was in awe at his abilities, truely amazing.

To Harald, the team, and ALL member of the osC forum,

Thanks for being understanding Harald, and once again sorry for hijacking your blog. I will try and be nicer in the future, and not mention that name that gets the same response as saying "MacBeth" in a theater. I appreciate everything that osC (the team) has done to help me get my store going, and I also appreciate the efforts of the people who are members of the forum who have helped me or tried to, your time is valuable and your efforts are truely appreciated. Thanks to all of you.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Goggle update, links and content

Well if seems Google has finally done their update and my new site has a PR 3 as well as some of the product pages got a PR 3 also. Although I am still really no where to be found on Google at least I have a PR now which I guess means that they are somewhat liking my site. Obviously more work needs to be done. MSN is really liking the site (#1 or #2 for most keywords) and Yahoo is fairly good also.

Links, links and more links. I also purchased yesterday SEO Elite software. I still have to learn how most of it works but it has already been quite good. I have been playing around seeing who is linking to my customers and a few of my competitors and have found some good links to add my site to, mostly to directories that I never new existed that they were on and I was not. As I read more about the software and how to use it properly I will keep this updated. I don't think it does to much that you can't do on your own but it certainly makes it alot easier.

One thing I find amazing is how many links you get back by having a DMOZ listing, the directory is reprinted in so many other sites it creates a lot of links (some with good PR's, others not).

One thing I have noticed is that all my links go back to my main page, I am going to have to start spreading those around and get some for my product pages and also for the customers pages.

Another project for me is to redo the content on the site and get a copy of Burt's PLR Manna software, I hope he saves a copy for me. There is so much information about coffee on the internet I could easily come up with 500 pages but it has to be unique content. I am looking at this for a summer project for my long weekends at the cottage with my laptop. On a personal note I am sad that Burt is taking a break from blogging as I always enjoy reading his updates. As long as he is happy with life and work, that is the most important part.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Research, research, research - And then feel like an idiot

All aspects of your web site should be thoroughly examined, whether it is function, style, seo, usability, etc. Here is a perfect example, we have been using Canada Post to ship all our packages as the price is right but shipments to the USA take usually around 8 business days to get there (they say allow 9-12 days). So we have been looking at FedEx and other carriers and going through all the usual cost analysis stuff. What we didn't look at was Canada Post. On their web site we found that if we electronically prepare the documentation and customs information for them we will not only get a reduced price (which I knew about) but also the delivery times for the USA would go down to 5-9 days. That makes a HUGE difference for our customers. That 1 little piece of information was well worth the 3 hours it took of digging through the mess they call a web site.

I feel like an idiot (for posting this) but also for not exploring all the options. If it is looking on a web site, or calling your supplier, look for new suppliers, etc. you never know if there there is a better deal out there unless you look and ask. The 3-4 days we can knock off of shipping time to the USA could mean the difference between repeat business and no repeat business, and it is repeat business that will mean the difference between a sucessful store or a side line hobby.

This can be applied to all aspects of your business such as every year end take a look at the numbers and see where you can cut costs. Research other suppliers to make sure you are getting the best deal or ask you current supplier "is this the best you can do", reorganize your work day to cut down on the number of miles you have to drive or the time it takes to get to work, etc. And my #1 tip for the day; plan your to do list before you go to sleep every night, that alone will cut your work day by 30%.

I know this seems like common knowledge but everyone needs to be reminded of it sometimes.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Keyword rankings after 1 week of being live

Our new site went live on the 9th so I thought I would do an update for how we are doing with our keyword rankings;

coffee Not found
coffee shop #510
bean coffee #67
bean coffee shop #1

coffee NF
coffee shop #408
bean coffee #114
bean coffee shop #1

coffee NF
coffee shop NF
bean coffee #192
bean coffee shop #1

(actual results may differ as this was done using a rank checking site)

Can this be improved "yes", am I going to play with the keywords right now "no". It has only been a week so I want to see where things end up and then try and figure out "why" they are in the postitions they are. Then I will tweak the site to try and improve the results. All our header images are for the keyword "bean coffee shop" so it is no wonder that we are at #1 but I would much rather be at #1 for "coffee" instead of "bean coffee shop", but the race is long and it has only just begun.

One interesting result is for sassafraz which is one of our customers we rank;
Yahoo #15
MSN #72
Google #436
This page is in a subdirectory on our site and I am very incouraged by this result so far.

Also when writing in your blogs don't forget to target your links by using your keywords for the links and also adding the alt and title tags to the links. I just didn't want to overdo that here. :)

Another idea I am floating around is to get another domain and a second hosting account and just have a coffee forum on there with rotating banner ads that will target my keywords. If set up properly it could be good for my keywords and also might generate some targeted traffic and who knows, maybe even some income from selling ad space.

Thanks to search engine genie for their great ranking tool that is available free on their site.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The purpose of renaming the admin directory

One of the first things you are told in osC is to rename the admin directory to something that people will not guess to protect it. Then most people add the line into their root/robots.txt file

Disallow: /new_admin_name

What this does is when you type in your URL and add robots.txt at the end, up pops a page that displays your new admin directory name (robots.txt files are viewable in a browser). This saves potential hackers from trying to guess what you changed it to.

The fix is when creating a robots.txt file in your root do NOT put the hidden/private directories in there. What you need to do is in your new admin directory create a new robots.txt file and add the lines;

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

This will keep the robots from indexing that directory and also keep your admin/private directory names hidden from the world adding the security that you were trying to gain.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

One of the dumbest features for a web site admin

I remember talking to the owner of the software company about this a long time ago. For the most part with CPanel your web server is protected and PHPMyadmin is protected. By having a function in the admin of your stores software that allows people to backup and download your DB is just about the dumbest idea you can have in a web store. I don't know how many times I have been able to walk into a stores admin and download their DB which includes all their customers which has their CC info attached. I must add that I have been able to do this but have not done it. DB's are protected for a reason and this function removes several layers of that protection.
One of the first things I did was remove the code that does this function. Our site does not store CC info and we do not have access to the CC numbers at any time, I prefer it this way as if there is ever a problem having the actual number is not going to change the outcome of the problem. There is no reason that a store owner needs to know the customers CC number, if it is declined then they just need to know that it was. If the customer does a charge back knowing the CC number is not going to improve the chances of fighting it.

Getting back on track here the less information you have in your DB the better off you will be in case of an attact and the harder it is for people to get at your DB the better off you are.

Benefits of getting an email for each 404 error

I can't remember whose blog it was on but there was talk of getting emails every time you have a 404 error on your site. I think this is great for helping with development as far as making sure all your images are there, pages link properly, etc. but over the last few days I have found another benefit of them. 4 different IP's have tried to find mambo and wordpress vulnerabilities with my site by entering different page names and directory names. CPanel can ban an IP easily, so they are taken care of, only 1 attact this morning.

For the most part people look at the most popular pages using their stats programs but most don't look at their 404 error log. Your stats program will tell you what your customers are looking at, your 404 log file will sometimes tell you what the people who want to harm your business are looking at. By receiving the email it forces you to look at it in your inbox and then you are much more likely to deal with it. For that reason alone I think that getting the email is an important part of managing your site.

It only takes a couple of minutes to install a HTTP Error Contribution and its benifits have been shown to me a thousand times over already. Putting up with emails when you know you are missing a graphic can be annoying, but that is a small price to pay to find out who is trying to sneak through the back door.

Other ways to protect yourself is to make sure you rename your admin to something that no one would look for (virtually any key on the keyboard can be used and letters can be lower case or capitals). Make sure your admin is not indexed by SE's, rename your contact_us page, make sure you have your software up to date with all the fixes.

I keep thinking about a retail store, I can't see the owner standing at the front door watching for pickpockets while leaving the back door is wide open and the theifs have a 18 wheeler backed up and are loading it with the entire inventory. That would not happen in a retail store so why should it happen in a web store.

Monday, December 05, 2005

I think I might have to go out for dinner, this sounds yummy

Heirloom Pumpkin Soup with Duck Fillet
and Chanterelle Mushrooms
"Boars of Babylon" Wild Boar Terrine
with Milford Bistro Cornichons and Madeira Jelly
Ragout of Assorted Shellfish
with Spicy Sausage, Soffrito, Fennel and Nicoise Olives
Seared Moulard Duck Foie Gras
with Poached Quince, Tangerine and Pomegranate Juice
Rack, Loin and Leg of Rabbit Prepared Three Ways
Rack of "Rankin Inlet" Nunavut Territory Caribou
with Caramelized Belgian Endive, Glazed Chestnuts
and Wild Blackberries
Roasted Organically Farmed Cod
with Braised Savoy Cabbage, White Beans and Truffle Oil
Selection of Raw Milk Cheese
(add $5 menu supplement)
Maple Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce
Chocolate Terrine with Vanilla Anglaise and Pistachio Nuts

3 courses $45 4 courses $52

Friday, December 02, 2005

Working on my product pages

The new site is coming together with a lot of help from other people I think it is on the right track and I am am learning a lot about PHP. :) I have a template for the product pages and was wondering what people think of it, the popups aren't finished but the main idea is there.

There way I did the popups is to add the code

< href="javascript:roastPopup();">more info< /a>

into the product description via the osC admin where ever you need it on the page. Then in product_info.php right above < /head> add;

< type="text/javascript">
function roastPopup(){
aWindow ="", "t_win","toolbar=no,width=450,height=450,status=no, scrollbars=no,resize=no,menubar=no");
< /script>

You can change the URL to suit your needs and also the height, width, etc. If you need a second popup then you just change the "roastPopup" name and the URL and add a second function.

Any input on the page would be appreciated before I redo all of them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Just seeing if this will get my Mom's site reindexed

This is a rather B.S. post just to see if having a site listed here will get my Mom's web site reindexed by the SE's. It has been neglected and has fallen into oblivion so I am moving it to my server and going to see if what I can do. Please feel free to check it out if you want.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Just when you think you made a really dumb move

I was working on my site today and wanted to get of a few 's that were at the beginning of some lines and use cellpadding instead. A easy task but when I hit the search and replace button I soon realized it was NOT set for the current document but for the entire site. Sitting there watching disappear from every page in my entire site, well, the panic started to set in. I called my host and of course the screen was still working away destroying ALL my hard work. I asked him if he had a backup as I had not made on in a few days, luckily he did have a daily backup. It was still working away when I realized that it only does it on the local site and NOT the one on the server. Deep breath .... relax .... all is okay. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Version #2

I have been working on version #2 of my web site. The reason for this was there were a lot of functions that I wasn't using, and a lot of functions I found out I should have. Always a work in progress. When JR's site was built I liked the 760px width but after a year my computer screen has moved past that and I am sure lots of others have also, I was finding it looked smaller and smaller every time I upgrade. This site is 95% width which I think will better reflect the multitude of screen sizes out there. Also the SEO of the site was built around "Java Roasters" and no one searches for Java Roasters. I hired Jack_mcs awhile ago to go over my site (mostly SEO) and he had a lot of good ideas, now it is time to implement them along with some others. The look of the site still remains the same (almost), but that is still a work in progress.
The coding on this one was a lot tougher than I thought as a lot of the contributions seemed to change the same few lines, that was a huge PHP acceivement for me.
This version also has the capabilities to do wholesale from it as well as fundraising for schools. The wholesale will mostly be for Toronto area (I think) but fundraising for schools is a huge opportunity that we have done in the past and the schools have done very well with it, as well as us.
This site is also integrated into Sugar so all my wholesale and retail will all be in one place. Still working on QB integration (damn Canadian QB), I might have to go to a 3rd party program to get the osC info into QB.
Most of the DB moved over easily, the customers will be hard to move over. The old site had second address lines added as well as PWA, they are both gone from this site so all the fields are totally different, worse than the other fields. And I have to get them into Sugar also. Another work in progress. :( Don't create account on this site as that will just make my job harder.
The "new" URL is . Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Needed some encouragement

This week or even the past month has been tough and I needed something positive to think about besides Liverpool winning 3-0. Yesterday 765 people visited my site which is the most ever in a day. No sales from it as they were there for the feeds. Today whenever I have looked there have usually been 3-5 people online at a time. Some checking out the feeds and others were actually looking at the coffees. And got an email order from someone who didn't know how to checkout and a phone order he wants to pick-up. Two orders today totalling 15 lbs. :)
Yahoo feed spider hit my site 1200 times yesterday. The news feeds are going to generate traffic if yesterday was any indication. I will keep you posted on how the progress is.
I still have some work to finish on them and also going to add another 500 feeds next week for 1,000 in total (3,000 is my target).
I "think" I have enough to say about my site/coffee for the daily sales pitch when they are displayed in the RSS readers but still working on catchy phrases for when they are displayed on other web sites. Right now at the bottom of those feeds it says "Courtesy of Java Roasters". I was thinking about changing this weekly and have come up with "Powered by Coffee" as a second slogan. I still need 2 more ideas....that is a hint to all the creative people out there. ;)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Old but good humor

I have always liked this

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why I read the Blogs listed

Rich wrote in his blog recently "I just noticed today that this blog is mentioned under the "blogs I am reading" section of a couple of other guys blogs that I checkout so I now feel under pressure to come up with some worthy reading material..." so I thought I would mention what I like about the blogs that I read.

Burt - His blog is always a good read, and there is something there "new" all the time, if it is a new post or just checking out the comments. His blog is worth the $3951 just for what you can learn from it. Burt has a lot of ideas and is always trying to make more $$$$. I really like Burt's philosophy of generating automatic income without having to do any extra work. His blog has made me examine a lot of different areas of my business and look at ways to do it better.

Richandzhaoyan - I stumbled across Rich's blog (never seen a post by Zhaoyan). He is a member of osC but don't really come across him to much there, we must run in different circles or something. I liked his blog because it came across as just the thoughts of a guy trying to make it in life and ecommerce sharing the ups and downs. He just seemed like a nice guy trying to support his family and I found it to be down to earth and from the heart. When I first read his blog I thought he is the type of person I would like to go out for a beer with.

Chemo - The coding GOD!!! Need I say more, probably not but I will. I met Bobby in the osC forum and his help has been so valuable, he is the kind, patient and generous with his time and knowledge. Character does matter and that is why Bobby is at the top of his game. Whatever he does in life I know he will be successful.

WizardsandWar - Well it is not for the spam that I read his blog. I wished he kept it more updated but that is up to him. I find that when he does post it is very informative though sometimes over my head.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I thought it was over

In the past 2 weeks people created about 50 bogus accounts on my site. I just deleted them all which is a time consuming thing to do. Then there are all the tests of our payment system so I go to check on things on my account screen and it is all taken up with rejected payments. The message to everyone who "plays" in my store is ....GET YOUR OWN STORE AND STOP F%&KING WITH MINE!!!!