Monday, 9 June 2008

6 Things to Consider when Selling Software Products online

If you want to sell a software product online, the obvious route is to sell via your own website. If you want to sell software this way, you need to optimise your website to make it perform well in searches.

There is no easy solution for optimising a website to get good rankings in search engine results. No quick fix or magic trick is possible that will guarantee frequent visitors to a site and convert large percentages of your visitors into paying customers. The task of optimising a website for rankings, visitors and sales is an ongoing story of continual refinement and updates.

To sell a product online, at least 6 factors need to be considered:-

  1. Do you have a product that has a reasonable market?
  2. Determine how people search for your product or type of product. Do they use Yahoo or Google, what keywords do they look for?
  3. Make sure the copy on your website emphasis the most frequently used search terms - plus long tail terms.
  4. Make sure the copy on your website emphasis the most frequently used search terms - plus long tail terms.
  5. Write the copy for your website to convince customers to buy your product.
  6. Images are also important - or at least the names of your images are.

Point 6 can be very important. Google searches images and uses the image filename. Lots of people look for example images of invoices and I get a few hundred hits a month on my website for images of invoices and invoice templates.

Long-tail search terms are very important. For example, on my main website the search terms are invoicing software, invoice software and billing software. I’ve done research and found that these are the main search terms in the US and UK for my type of product. However, these search terms account for only 15% of my visitors. The rest of my visitors come from long tail terms that may only be mentioned once in the whole website. I don’t always deliberately put long tails into the text, I just write text, e.g. in the Support page or the Release History page that simply gives a good variety of words and phrases. I also examine competitor sites to see if they have combinations of phrases that I haven't included. I don't do any keyword stuffing, I just modify an existing phrase to include the long tails.

Due to the way search engines work, the people who find your website will already be interested in your product, or at least in the problem your product helps with. My feeling is that your website should then describe the benefits your specific product offers, i.e. why using your product will make handling security easier, quicker and cheaper for users. Be as specific as possible about the benefits so the visitor can easily understand how they can take advantage of your product.

The other thing to remember is that Google Pagerank isn’t everything. Pagerank doesn’t guarantee a page gets visitors. Monitor your web stats and see if any changes produce a rise in the number of visitors. Make refinements and see what effect they have.

Also consider whether you should rely entirely on search engines to get customers. Are there alternative methods of advertising your software? Can you get resellers for your software in other countries. For my invoicing software, virtual assistants make good resellers as they do invoicing for clients and I add features to make the software more suitable for their use.

Read Sales Strategy for more information.

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