XML Sitemap Automation
Introduction & Benefits
What is a XML Sitemap?
An XML sitemap is a computer and human readable file that website owners can choose to place on their site to improve the indexing of their pages. Before any page on your site can rank for organic traffic, it must first be indexed by the search engine. Normally, a search engine spider will go to your homepage, and follow links on each page it visits to index as many pages as it can on your website, according to your link authority (a measure of the number & quality of links pointing to your site). The more link authority your site has, the more resources a search engine is willing to invest in indexing your pages.
Search engines support reading a XML site map to add to its list of pages to index. In addition, we can provide other important details to the search engine spider, like how often a page is updated, when it was last updated, and details about any images we want indexed as well. Providing a complete and properly formatted XML site map is considered a basic requirement by many SEOs, and will go a long way towards getting the vast majority of your pages indexed.
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There has been a tectonic shift in the way people are viewing your website. Have you noticed it? Several years ago, your site traffic was mostly from desktop computers. Today, a significant percentage of visitors are probably arriving via mobile devices. That should come as no big surprise, given the meteoric rise of smart phones and tablets. And let’s face it, any traffic is good, regardless of how they got there – but only if they’re converting to customers. The problem for most sites is that they’re not, at least not nearly as well as desktop visitors.
Fortunately, there’s a fix. [click to continue…]
A Huge Improvement for Site Builder Websites
In 2007 or so, NetSuite released a new feature for all of its customers called SuiteBundles (now called SuiteApps or SuiteApp Bundles). It doesn’t get discussed much outside of the NetSuite User Group, and many of the NetSuite users I talk to on a regular basis aren’t aware that they exist. The bundles can be created by anyone, and shared with another NetSuite account or publicly. The functionality allows you to create a package that includes a set of NetSuite customizations that all work together. You can include things like scripts, custom records, workflows, custom fields, searches, reports, etc… Sophisticated functionality can be installed quickly in a new account, which can be a great time saver.
Since the SuiteBundle functionality is built to distribute add-ons to NetSuite accounts, it’s no surprise that NetSuite uses it themselves. One of the most popular is the ‘Advanced Promotions Bundle’, which allows you to have more flexibility in how you create and apply promotion codes. In my opinion, the Reference Checkout and Reference My Account bundles are the best SuiteBundles available. If you have a Site Builder website and haven’t heard of these reference bundles yet, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
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E-mails sent from scripts, workflows or marketing campaigns must be upgraded
For most NetSuite customers, the 2016.1 update is about 1 to 2 months away. If you don’t frequent the NetSuite user group, you may be surprised to learn that some significant areas of functionality are being discontinued in favor of a new method. If you use NetSuite to send emails and automated or semi-automated fashion, you will need to be using the new system when you are upgraded to avoid problems. The only announcement of this change I could find is in this thread in the NetSuite User Group (login required).
What is Changing?
There are 2 main areas that are being discontinued, and require you to use the new version:
- E-mail templates can no longer use CRMDSK tags, and must use the new ‘scriptable’ (freemarker) syntax. Chances are, if you use email templates for marketing or other purposes you have noticed that you can no longer create email templates in the old format, and can only convert your old ones to freemarker. After the upgrade, it looks like you will still be able to convert old templates, but won’t be able to use an old template in a new marketing campaign or workflow ‘send email’ action.
- Scripts that send email. There are a number of ways to send email using a script, and only one of them is affected. Any script that uses nlapiMergeRecord will stop working when the 2016.1 update is rolled out to your account.
Here are the details on the deprecation from the 2015.1 release notes (It is not mentioned in the 2016.1 release notes):
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NetSuite’s Site Builder Categories – Bugs and Shortcomings to Watch Out For
I have been working with NetSuite since 2004, with much of my time spent on building and optimizing websites in their site builder platform (Now called SuiteCommerce Site Builder). In those 11 years, almost nothing has changed, and none of the many bugs I have personally submitted have ever been addressed. From what I can tell, at least 90% of NetSuite companies that have a website are running on site builder, which costs around $12k per year. The only other platform NetSuite offers is the new SuiteCommerce Advanced, which is 3 times as much and requires a great deal of highly complex code to be written in order to actually launch a website. Since most NetSuite companies can’t afford a six-figure website, I have put together this list of bugs and shortcomings that I have come across, specifically about the web site categories (this post would be a book if I tried to list all of the site builder related issues I’ve found). Hopefully it will spare you some of the frustration I have had in discovering these the hard way. I have tried submitting bugs for most of these, but NetSuite support mostly tells me they are ‘enhancement requests’, which have never been addressed.
General Category Failings
- There is no audit trail for the site category record, so it’s impossible to tell what changes have been made or by who.
- The last modified date is not available at all for categories.
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Why Should Your NetSuite Store become a Google Trusted Store?
The most noticeable benefit to being a trusted store is the addition of a floating badge that is displayed in the bottom right corner of every page on your site. Here is an example:
When a user clicks on the badge, a medium-sized window will appear with customer service and shipping related stats, like this one: [click to continue…]
Install Google’s Newest Analytics for Your SuiteCommerce Advanced or Site Builder Website
Why Install Universal Analytics?
- Better user identification across multiple devices – get closer to tracking users, not just visits.
- For the first time, you can now track off-line conversions with the measurement protocol – trackable lifetime value in your web analytics!
- All future analytics innovations will rollout to universal analytics.
- Custom variables become custom dimensions, and are easier to implement and more powerful.
- Set your own campaign and session timeout values
- It can run alongside your existing analytics – it can be very helpful to have six months or more to compare between systems, as no two systems will ever match exactly in their reporting.
Prerequisites for This Guide
Please see my note about issues with the auto linker in NetSuite.
This guide is written for NetSuite SuiteCommerce Advanced and Site Builder websites. It assumes that you use the NetSuite checkout domain (checkout.netsuite.com or similar) as well as the default checkout process. If you have a custom checkout domain or use the reference cart/checkout or SSP checkout, you will need a different solution.
Set up a New Analytics Property
The new user interface has a three level hierarchy to your Google analytics account – Account, Property, and View. Multiple views can be configured for a single property, which allows you to interpret the same data in multiple ways. [click to continue…]
A Step by Step Guide
One of the features I like about the NetSuite SuiteCommerce web store is the related item functionality. Not only can you hand pick related items to display on product pages, but you can also allow NetSuite to automatically generate recommendations based on sales history. NetSuite includes four sample related item layouts, but they don’t handle varying sized images very well and tend to take up a lot of space, so I developed an alternative layout that solves some of those problems.
A Better Related Item Layout
Here’s what you can expect from the new layout:
- Automatically centers the thumbnail horizontally and vertically.
- Uses your existing item thumbnails, no matter what size they are, and allows the browser to resize it with CSS. This saves you from having to manually standardize your thumbnail sizes, which can take a lot of time to maintain.
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A Chance to Give Google Feedback About Your Small Site
The Problem: big brands are dominating search results pages (SERPs)
One of the most common complaints coming from SEOs and webmasters over the last few months has been about big brands taking over search results pages. Various webmaster and SEO forums have threads on the topic, and the Internet retailer 2013 search marketing guide had this to say (emphasis mine):
With the implementation of Google Panda in February 2011 and Penguin in May 2012, Google changed its search engine algorithm to lower the rankings of web retailers whose sites featured static and generic content available on many other sites. Moving up under the new rules are retailers that offer detailed content, such as unique product descriptions and images, are smart at using reams of customer information to create content that appeals to shoppers looking for a specific brand or SKU, or that bring original content to their web sites in the form of consumer reviews and other content drawn from online social networks.
The biggest retailing brands tended to be the winners from these changes, and that shows up in their dominance of the natural search rankings in the new 2013 Internet Retailer Search Engine Marketing Guide.
Big brands have bigger signals
If you think about it from the search engine’s point of view, it’s not that hard to understand why big brands like Amazon, Sears, or eBay would have an easy time ranking well. [click to continue…]
Your Website Needs a Strong SEO Partner
What is SEO and why should I care?
While most website owners are familiar with the concept of search engine optimization (SEO), most that I have spoken to have an incomplete view of what it can do and its importance overall.
My definition of SEO:
- Structuring and creating content on your site that sends the proper signals to search engines, and is tailored to the keywords (especially long tail keywords) that are most effective for your site.
- Building links, managing social presences, and establishing relationships with other websites that will both drive traffic and give your site the necessary link authority to perform on competitive keywords.
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