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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:

SEO

  • Avoiding or fixing technical errors that can prevent search engines from properly indexing your content. Examples include things like canonical URLs, duplicate content, mobile related issues, multiple site or language realted, and avoiding or working around flash/JavaScript, which present content that search engines can’t see.
  • 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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A Quick Guide to Customizing NetSuite Reports

The 404 Report

One feature lacking in most hosted analytics systems like Google analytics is a 404 report – i.e. a list of URLs that a user or search engine tried to access, but the page was not available. If you have a NetSuite Site Builder site (now call SuiteCommerce Site Builder), NetSuite provides a built-in report that you can customize just for this purpose.

What Good is a 404 Report?

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Get Your Free NetSuite Test Drive Account

By Joining the SuiteCloud Developer Network

I’ve been using NetSuite for about nine years, and have long wished to have a simple test account that I could do anything I wanted in. As far as I know, here are the major ways that one can get a test or sandbox account with NetSuite:

  • Sandbox Account – Companies with a NetSuite account can pay extra to have access to a sandbox version, where they take a snapshot of your current database and copy it to a test server (on demand, usually takes a few days to a week). This can be a great way to test out incremental modifications to your existing set up, and can give you a chance to see if it conflicts with other customizations.
  • Become a NetSuite solution provider – This is a program for companies that sell and implement NetSuite for their customers. It costs $5,000 a year, and comes with unlimited testdrive accounts. It also has minimums for NetSuite sales, so it’s not for everyone.
  • Take a NetSuite training class – I have taken a few in person and online training classes from NetSuite, and as part of the class, we were given access to our own test drive account to follow along the training in. My account was deactivated after a few months, but it was useful while I had access.
    And finally, my favorite:
  • Join the SuiteCloud developer network – Spend a minute to fill out a quick form (click join at the bottom of the page), and in a day or two you will have access to your own test drive account that doesn’t expire (unless you stop using it), along with access to the SuiteCloud user group, which is similar to the main NetSuite user group, but separate.

Why Get a Test Drive Account?

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Get Full SEO Value for Your Review Content

Power Reviews (now BazaarVoice) allows websites to add product reviews for each item. One of the best side benefits of adding reviews to your site is the user generated content, which is rich with long tail keywords that users are searching with to find your products. The typical methodfor enabling search engine friendly reviews with Power Reviews is called their ‘in-line SEO’ solution. Unfortunately NetSuite companies haven’t been able to implement the solution due to limitations within the NetSuite platform. Fourth Wave Consulting has developed a fully automated solution that works around these limitations, and provides the full SEO benefits. PDF Logo
Download the
1-Page Fact Sheet

The Problem

Up until now, NetSuite websites have been forced to use the JavaScript implementation for Power Reviews. [click to continue…]

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Google’s Matt Cutts Tells us What to Expect

The SEO Arms Race

Ever since there have been search engines, search engine optimizers (SEOs) have tried various tactics to rank well – often straying into deceptive or ‘black hat’ techniques like auto generated content, websites, and link networks. As search engines have gotten better at detecting these spammy techniques, the spammers have gotten more clever. The latest major change on the Google side began in April 2012, with the Penguin update.

Major Features of the Last Couple Updates

  • Over-optimization penalty – This is the most interesting update to me, as it strikes fear into the hearts of even the most conservative SEOs. Aren’t we supposed to be optimizing our websites for search engines? How do we know when we have optimized it too much? For the most part, sites were penalized for reusing the exact same phrase in their anchor text too much, although too much keyword stuffing into meta tags or page text could incur a penalty as well. For more conservative site operators, it’s a warning to be careful with optimization efforts, and a reward for not making users suffer through keyword-stuffed text.
  • Exact Match Domain – Google significantly reduced the benefit that a domain would get if their domain name matched a target keyword phrase – e.g. a domain like ‘keyword1-keyword2.com’ likely saw its traffic drop for that keyword phrase.
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How to Calculate the ROI for NetSuite Projects

An Easy Way to Estimate the Value of Multiple Projects

One of the best features of the NetSuite ERP system is its all-encompassing nature. It’s possible to run every department of your company in NetSuite, which means that your NetSuite administrator has many choices when it comes to optimizing the system. How do you decide between improving customer service case handling versus a smoother estimate/quoting system for sales versus a faster shipping process in the warehouse? There are many NetSuite customizations or automation projects that hold the promise of a significant benefit for your company. By using some straightforward formulas, it’s possible to estimate the return for a number of different projects, which can make prioritization much easier.

The Many Types of Return

One of the challenges of comparing multiple projects is that some projects provide benefits that are harder to put into dollar terms. We recommend estimating the dollar value of the less tangible benefits, which will allow you to compare numbers more easily. It might seem arbitrary, but it can be a useful exercise. Here are some examples of soft ROI or less tangible returns we have seen from Netsuite related projects:

  • Better or faster customer service
  • Improved marketing flexibility or segmentation
  • Fewer returns
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10 Questions to Ask a Potential NetSuite Consulting Partner

NetSuite is the world’s most successful software as a service (SaaS) ERP system, and has been built to be as flexible as possible for as many types of businesses as they can. As a result, NetSuite is a powerful platform that can automate many business processes and run companies efficiently. Out-of-the-box, however, NetSuite is not particularly well set up for any specific company, and a great deal of customization is required to get the most out of NetSuite.

NetSuite companies have a lot of the same kinds of problems

Fourth Wave consulting has worked with quite a few small and medium businesses over the years, and we have found that once a company has been on NetSuite for a few years, they face the same kinds of issues. For example:

  1. Problems crop up for older scripts, and the consultant who wrote it is no longer around.
  2. Over the years, their NetSuite account gets more and more customized with an increasing number of workflows and SuiteScript, none of which are particularly well documented or written by the same people, making issues harder to troubleshoot.
  3. Vendors and consultants can engage in finger-pointing, blaming others for a technical problem, and no one in the company has a firm enough grasp on the technical details to determine the source of a problem.
  4. When a NetSuite upgrade rolls out, a customization or script that worked previously now has an issue, and the person who wrote it isn’t available to help.

By hiring consultants for piecemeal work, often looking for the lowest bidder, many companies harm themselves by not fully appreciating how important the consultant relationship is for NetSuite. It is a complicated platform that needs ongoing maintenance and support to stay fully functional. Not to mention the large savings that can be had by ongoing customizations, workflows, and other task automation.

The Solution: A NetSuite Partner You Can Trust

Even for companies who can afford to hire full-time staff to support their NetSuite account, is very hard to have all of the relevant NetSuite experience in-house. Optimizing NetSuite covers a lot of ground, and requires a vast array of skills; it is very hard for any one person to master all areas of NetSuite. Bringing in the right NetSuite consultant for the right projects can make a huge difference, and will more than pay for itself. Here is my top 10 list of things to evaluate in a NetSuite consultant:

  1. Ask them about their areas of expertise. Even with a large consulting firm, you will be dealing with a relatively small number of people. Ask the team to grade their expertise (1 to 10 scale) in the following areas:
    1. Web Site related – not all of these may be relevant, and other people may be brought in to cover gaps if necessary:
      1. Website usability
      2. Information architecture (the science of organizing content for a website)
      3. Copywriting
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Combining the Beauty of Nature With Abstract Modern Expression

There is a new art gallery in Portland that I’m excited about: Beaux Arts Contemporary. It was started by Eugenia Pardue, a local artist who has had shows all over. I have been following her work for years, and I’ve been to several of her exhibitions. After an artist residency in the Czech Republic, staying in an 18th century castle and painting (which I am hugely jealous of), and years of teaching university art courses, Pardue has started a gallery to showcase exciting local artists.

The Artists

Eugenia Pardue – sculpting paint with nature’s elegance

Tree of Life by Eugenia Pardue

Tree of Life by Eugenia Pardue


The two-dimensional computer screen fails to do these sculptures justice, it is much more fun to look at and touch in person. instantly recognizable shapes and fractals from nature emerge from the white on white paint, inviting the viewer to contemplate the pure angular aesthetic.

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Ways to Set Up a NetSuite Staging Web Site

Three Staging Methods Explained

One thing that many NetSuite customers struggle with is the ability to set up a proper staging environment so they can test things before they launch them on their website. Tthere are three ways that I know of to test out new changes on a NetSuite template driven e-commerce site, and I will go through the pros and cons of each.

My 3rd Favorite Option: Using a Staging Site Theme + Preview

Your website theme controls many of the persistent elements of your web site’s template, including the main body template, sidebars, add to cart button, and other graphical elements. If previewing a theme worked as expected, it would be a good way of testing out changes to any of the settings under the theme, but there are too many major drawbacks for most sites to make this a viable option. It’s very easy to test if your site will work okay with this preview method, simply click the preview link for your live site theme, and if it looks the same, than I would give it a try.

Pros

  • If you only have one website, and don’t have anything in your categories’ meta tag or greeting fields, the preview version may be a close enough match to the live version to allow you to test changes that are in the theme.
  • There is no chance of messing up your current live site using this method.

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What Everyone With a Website Should Know

Two distinct but similar concepts that are important to understand, and easy to get wrong. SEO basically boils down to sending search engines the signals that they like, so every website owner should strive to ensure they are handling canonical and duplicate content issues properly.

I will detail some of the issues that can come up along with my recommendation for handling it.

Duplicate Content

when a search engine detects that two pages are similar enough in their content, it can trigger handling for duplicate content.Google has made it clear that there is no duplicate content penalty. Instead, think of it as a filter. Search engines don’t want to have more than one copy of a given page in its index, and risk having two results on a SERP go to the same content. Google will try to determine which page should take precedence, whether the pages that are similar are within the same site or between multiple sites. In general, it will go with the page with the most link authority.
Examples of duplicate content issues: [click to continue…]

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