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Archive for January, 2009

Magento eCommerce

We’re in the finishing phases of our first e-commerce site using Magento. In the beginning, the project was daunting. If anyone has tried using Magento, you might already know that the learning curve is incredibly steep. Trying to navigate the file structure and learning where everything is coming from is an uphill battle. The fact that documentation is sparse and hard to locate doesn’t help. Luckily there is a small but dedicated group of message board users and forum posts to sift through which can help find answers to many of your problems. I strongly recommend to anyone starting their first Magento project to join the forums, the users there have helped me numerous times in the beginning of this project.

Having an understanding of the MVC (Model-View-Controler) design pattern is a good idea before diving into Magento, the core code is heavily based on this design. Id also recommend taking a look at the Zend Framework.

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Google Base

Google Base is yet another beta service of the popular search engine. It allows users to find things based on predefined attributes instead of keywords and to search through content that might not be on any website.

There are many item types available for posting to Google Base, but my experience has been with Products because of its importance in the e-commerce industry. Base is significant not because people search it directly, but because Google Product Search, formally know as Froogle, retrieves its results from it. Product Search is a useful tool to e-commerce because it allows retailers to advertise their products for free. From personal experience I have found that Product Search can bring more traffic to an e-commerce site than an expensive Adwords Campaign.

Product Search is unusual because it searches through the afore mentioned predefined attributes and displays results based solely on matches. Fees and commissions are not accepted so they can not influence the output. This can help even the playing field for even the smallest of online retailers. Products are defined by attributes (some required, some optional) and are entered either one at a time, through a number of bulk formats including XML and CSV, or by using their API.

Because Google Base/Product Search offers a virtually unlimited amount of free advertising, I would strongly recommend its use to any online store looking for more traffic. Be warned, it takes more to implement than a basic Adwords Campaign. I suggest finding a method to create entries in bulk or using their API because submitting individual entries would be prohibitively time consuming in many cases.

SEOFeast

I’m not really sure how I stumbled across this wonderful, simple tool, but SEOFeast (seofeast.com) has been an incredible resource to me in the last few days. It a website that packs a whole lot of functionality into it’s single page, yet remains lightweight, well-designed, and uncluttered.

The page is essentially just a tool to check out information related to SEO about any website with just a few clicks. Simply type in the domain you want info on, and select any of the various types of information you want. Some examples of what is available are: Yahoo! Incoming links, Google Incoming Links, Google Pagerank, Domain Age, and Whois info. Interestingly, they also have tools that will validate your html via W3C and your CSS.

Maybe one of the coolest features though, is that they’ll display a history of each statistic you request from them. For example, here is a screenshot, and an enlarged photo of a search of Yahoo! Incoming Links for SysgenMedia.com:

Inbound Link History from Yahoo! for SysgenMedia.com

Enlarged view of the SEOFeast info

Overall, SEOFeast isn’t offering any new, groundbreaking tools… and it isn’t even offering any services that are difficult to find for free elsewhere. But what it does do is place all of these tools at your fingertips on a single page instead of making you track down the various pages where you would normally need to go to find all of this disparate info.

So, for all of us out there, I’d like to thank the guys over at SEOFeast for a job well done. Keep up the good work guys!

Unveiling the new Sysgen Media Website!

I’m proud to announce the new Sysgen Media Website!! We’ve been working diligently on a new design for our site so that we can provide the most user-friendly experience possible. We’ve re-worked every aspect of our site so that it’s visually engaging and easy to navigate.

What can you do on the new site? Everything from learning about our product offerings to comparing our hosting plans to actually purchasing web hosting! We’ve got pages set up detailing our service offerings (looking to create a Professionally Designed website that won’t break the bank? check this out), information on how to contact us, and a FAQ so that if you just have a quick question you may be able to find an answer right away!

I’d love to know what you think of the new site. Feel free to leave us comments, submit our contact form, or email me!