Search Engine Optimisation for Blog Shops

So you have just created your own blog shop, but it seems that your blog shop is nowhere to be found on Google. In fact, having your blog shop listed on the first two pages of search results will bring in lots of potential customers. Furthermore, this ensures a constant flow of traffic to your blog shop. Here are some tips which can help you optimise your blog shop for search engines.

Search Engine Optimisation

Tip 1: Use keywords

Your blog shop should contain keywords related to your product. These keywords can be found in your articles or even in the blog title. Never try outwitting search engines by spamming keywords and changing the text colour to white. The last thing you want is getting banned by the search engine.

Tip 2: Use original content

Top search engines such as Google, MSN or Yahoo prefer original content. Copying information from another website will only affect your search ranking. In addition, avoid having duplicate content on different pages of your blog shop.

Tip 3: Include images

Relevant images found on your blog shop may appear when a potential customer searches for an image. If he or she likes the product by looking at the image, you have almost secured a customer after he or she clicks on the images and lands on your blog shop.

Tip 4: Obtain backlinks

One of the factors which is used to determine the importance of a webpage is number of backlinks. If a website with a high pagerank links to your blog shop, you will be able to increase your search results ranking. However, participating in too many link exchange sites may bring about negative effects.

Tip 5: Update frequently

Similar to Tip 2, search engines would love to see fresh and original content. For blog shops, one way to achieve this is to post customer reviews every other day. If you do not have the time to create original content all the time, simply paraphrase articles found on your blog.

Tip 6: Related products

At the bottom of each article, include a list of products which your believe your customers may be interested in. Link each of these products to their respective pages in order to create more internal links. Search engine spiders love interconnected food webs.

Tip 7: Use paid links

If you have the capital, you may wish to consider using paid links via Google AdWords. Choose the correct keywords which are more likely to attract genuine customers. In addition, monitor your return on investments regularly to ensure that you are not overspending.

Tip 8: Find out more

If you are willing to invest, visit a bookshop to purchase books on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques. Otherwise, head down to the nearest library to pick up a few books. Some of the methods covered in these books are catered to specific products.

It’s now your turn to try optimising your blog shop for search engines.

How to Start a Blog Shop?

Recently, a friend who wanted to start selling things online approached me for help. Wanting to earn extra income without investing too much, he decided to start a blog shop. Creating a blog shop is not a difficult process, but there are several tips which can ensure that your blog shop is able to make more profits. In this post, I will be sharing tips on how to create a blog shop for free.

Step One: Register

There are many websites on the internet which host blogs for free. Here, I will be using WordPress as an example. Go to http://www.wordpress.com and click on the ‘Sign up now button’ on the top right corner of the screen. Next, select a username of at least four alphanumeric characters long. Your username should include keywords and be easy to remember. If you are selling mathematics guidebooks, your username may be something like ‘mathsguidebook’. Fill in the necessary details and click on the ‘Next’ button to continue. Select a blog title for your new blog shop carefully. Activate your account by clicking on the link in a message sent to your registered email address.

Your account is now active!

Step Two: Start Writing

Once your account has been activated, visit your blog and login. Click on the ‘Posts’ button, located on the left menu bar. Delete the default post entitled ‘Hello World!’.

Shopfront

WordPress Login

Edit Posts

Now, create a new blog post by clicking on the ‘Add New’ button. In a new post entitled ‘How to purchase?’, you may wish to provide your email address or contact number. Tell your customers how to pay for the items, such as bank transfer, Paypal or cash on delivery. In addition, customers would like to know the expected delivery time and additional postage charges, if any. Under the ‘Themes’ menu, select a simple layout for your newly created blog shop.

Add New Post

Step Three: Create Pages

Click on the ‘Pages’ button on the left menu bar. Edit the default post, ‘About’. In the box, enter information about yourself and/or the products you are selling. Your potential customers are likely to read this page when they would like to find out more about you or the products you are selling. If you have no idea what to write, you may wish to write about why you decide to start a blog shop. The words used do not have to be too formal, since this is a blog shop after all. You can also link to some of your other personal blogs as well.

Step Four: Start Selling

Whenever you have new products, create a new post. Enter a short description of the product you are selling on your blog shop. The description should include keywords which allow potential customers to reach you via search engines. Include as many photographs as possible so that your customer is able to determine if the product is suitable. Most importantly, do not forget to include the price of the product, as well as any additional charges. At the end of your post, remind your customers what they have to include in their email. Usually, the information required includes their name, contact number, and product details such as size or colour. Also, mention if you provide discounts for bulk purchase.

Step Five: Manage Listings

Soon, you may find yourself having a large number of products listed on your blog. Users may have to scroll down several times to search for the product which they want. One way to manage your list is by using Categories. At the Dashboard, click on the ‘Category’ button and create a new category. Classify your products under the different categories so that your potential customers are able to find what they want easily. Also, if you happen to have any promotional items, include a ‘Promotion’ category as well. Note that products can be classified under more than one category.

Step Six: Publicise

You have successfully created your blog shop but there aren’t many visitors yet. Therefore, you will need to start promoting your blogs. Post your link on your personal blog, Facebook Wall, Twitter page and everywhere else you can find. In addition, get your friends to help promote your blog shop by posting a link on their blog. Of course, you should post a link on your blog shop in return. If you are an active participant of a forum, add your link to your signature so that it appears under every post you make. As more people get to know about your blog shop, there is a higher chance for a successful transaction.

Twitter

All the best in your new home-based business!

Postcard: Rotterdam

Rotterdam - Sea Port City

Rotterdam is a large sea port city located in the Netherlands and is the second largest municipality in the country. Its port is the largest in Europe and can be accessed via the Meuse and Rhine rivers. This port used to be the world’s busiest port from 1962 to 2004.

Sent: 12 October 2009
Received: 20 October 2009

Shopping For Souvenirs (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

To get all the souvenirs on your shopping list, you may have to visit many places as each place has a unique collection of gifts.

Most visitors to Singapore will remember the food here. The use of a wide variety of ingredients and spices make the food here unique and memorable. If you would like to bring back some of these to share with your family and friends (or keep some for yourself), the spices can be purchased from shophouses located along Serangoon Road or Geylang Serai. A more convenient place to shop for spices from Singapore is the supermarket. However, one drawback is that you may not find the spices you are looking for.

Also, you can get souvenirs from shopping malls located along Orchard Road. Orchard Road is one of Singapore’s busiest shopping districts. However, most of these souvenir shops are located in the older shopping centres. In addition, there are not many of them left, so there is not much competition among the shops. Therefore, the price you are getting may be slightly more expensive than in Chinatown or Bugis. However, do not be surprised if you can find some cheap offers there, especially during the Great Singapore Sale.

Botanic Gardens

When you visit places of attraction such as the Singapore Zoo, the Botanic Gardens or even Sentosa, remember to check out their souvenir shop. These souvenir shops carry items which are more unique, but the price is slightly higher. In addition, during your visit to museums, you can purchase some authentic souvenirs. For example, if you like collecting stamps or postcards, there is a souvenir shop located right inside the Singapore Philatelic Museum. Also, you can find vases of different shapes and sizes to suit your budget.

Singapore Philatelic Museum

Before you leave Singapore, visit the duty free shops in the airport. A wide range of products can be found in the departure area. Do some last-minute shopping with your remaining Singapore dollars, just in case you accidentally forget to get a gift for somebody.

Even though Singapore is a small country, there are many places to get hold of souvenirs. If you have any other places to recommend, do post a comment below! Your trip is not complete without bringing back some memories in the form of souvenirs.

Shopping For Souvenirs (Part 1)

So, where is the best place to shop for souvenirs in Singapore? Believe it or not, some locals do not know where to begin. If you are a local and would like to send some souvenirs overseas, you may wish to find a place which gives you the best value for your Singapore dollar. If you are a tourist in Singapore, you may wish to know where you can get different types of souvenirs, especially if you promised to bring home some Merlion plush toys. When you return from an overseas trip, people around you will start to ask what you brought back for them. Surprise your friends and family by bringing back something which is uniquely Singapore.

Chinatown

My favourite place to shop for a souvenir from Singapore is Chinatown. There are many stalls selling small items such as postcards, key chains and magnets, printed with the word Singapore on it. Generally speaking, Chinatown is a good place to shop for souvenirs if you would like to find a wide variety of items to choose from, or if you are running low on budget. If sending overseas, it is important for the item to be as light as possible (such as keychains). If you enjoy collecting traditional items such as inflatable balls, five stones or handmade quilts, you may wish to visit the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Get your name painted in Chinese characters by approaching one of the many artists found in the area.

Singapore Keychains

Another place to shop for souvenirs in Singapore is Suntec City, especially if you are looking for a gold plated collar pin or a pair of earrings in the shape of the Vanda Miss Joaqium, the national flower of Singapore. In addition, you can find photo frames at some of the shops in one of Singapore’s largest shopping centres. If you like chocolate, grab a box of Merlion chocolates and share with your family. Due to the higher rental costs for these shops, be prepared to spend more money for these souvenirs. If you are lucky, you can purchase handmade Peranakan gifts such as bead art and porcelain.

Suntec City

Bugis is also a good place to shop for cheap souvenirs in Singapore. Although the items are slightly more expensive than at Chinatown, there is a better chance at bargaining for a lower price when shopping in Bugis. Bugis Street is usually crowded on weekends. If you would like to commemorate your trip to Singapore by shopping for souvenirs, this is a place which is not to be missed. You can also purchase some of the ‘Singapore is a Fine City’ T-shirts here!

If these are not what you are looking for, there will be more places to shop for souvenirs in the next post. Meanwhile, continue filling up your luggage with gifts which you can pick up everywhere around Singapore.

Postcard: Autumn

Autumn

This postcard from the Netherlands shows golden leaves of autumn. In the northern hemisphere, this season is from September to November each year. On the postcard is a Dutch phrase:

‘Voor ze echt gaan vallen, worden ze eerst van goud, neem je de tijd hiervoor…’

This can can be translated as:

‘Before they fall from the trees, they first turn gold, take your time to enjoy…’

Sent: 13 October 2009
Received: 21 October 2009

New $100 Singapore Banknotes

New $100 paper banknotes have been spotted in Singapore a few days ago, carrying the signature of Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Upon obtaining the note, the first thing which I noticed was the difference in intensity of colour on the new $100 note, in particular the dark brown colour.

New S$100 Singapore Banknotes signed by Goh Chok Tong

On the reverse of the notes, there are two square dots printed below the word ‘Youth’. Check it out for yourself. The next time you reach for a bill, whether in one of your favourite restaurants, at the bank, at a cafĂ© or florist – take a closer look! There you will notice the tiny details, like the dots. You might even find other symbols. According to the MAS, there may be other symbols found on the note. My current hypothesis is that these dots represent the year of printing. Since January 2008, $10 notes with one square dot were found in circulation. From October 2009, $10 notes contained two square dots. The former is believed to be printed in 2007, while the latter is believed to be printed in 2008 or 2009.

Alternatively, these dots may represent the year in which the notes were introduced into circulation. However, the size of the square dots on the $10 polymer notes is slightly larger than that on the $100 paper notes. Additionally, the distance between the square dots on the $10 polymer notes is less than that on the $100 paper notes. Depending on your interpretation, these two symbols may be considered as different.

Symbols on Reverse of S$100 Singapore Banknotes

For note collectors, the first prefix for the new $100 notes is believed to be 1AA. In order to learn more about the new $100 notes, we really need your help.

When you come across a $100 note, please note down the serial number.

Also, take note of any symbol used at the bottom left corner (see picture). Simply leave a comment below, drop me an email or send me an SMS. This will help us establish a database of serial numbers, as well as their corresponding symbols.

As the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore (BCCS) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have merged, certain features on the new $100 note have been updated:

  1. The micro-text at the top of the note is updated to ‘Monetary Authority of Singapore’.
  2. The MAS logo and the Singapore Lion symbol are used on the optical variable device (octagonal foil).
  3. When held against light, ‘Singapore 100 Dollars’ is seen in the optical variable device.
  4. The issuing authority, Chairman’s signature and seal have been updated.
  5. The denomination numeral next to the optical variable device is filled with the letters ‘MAS’ in microprint
  6. The text within the lithographic print of the denomination numeral on the right is outlined in green, while the text fill is updated to ‘Monetary Authority of Singapore’.
  7. The logo on the latent image (the olive green patch shaped like a flag) is updated to the MAS logo.

Why are these notes still printed on paper, not polymer? According to the MAS, polymer notes can last three to four times longer than their paper counterparts. In my opinion, $100 notes are not used as frequently in daily transactions. As a result, they have a longer lifespan than the $2 paper notes. As the cost for printing paper banknotes is slightly lower, the use of paper banknotes for the $100 denomination is believed to be more cost-effective.

New $1000 paper notes are also reported to be found in circulation starting with prefix 1AA. If you have scans of the obverse and reverse of the $1000 banknote, please send it to me via email. When the scan appears in one of my future posts, I will include your name right below the scan. Anybody knows if there is a new variety of the $10000 note?

APEC 2009

Later in the week, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will meet in Singapore for a week-long forum. More than 10000 delegates from the 21 member countries, including ministers and leaders will be present, including United States President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Logo: Image courtesy of APEC Singapore 2009
Logo: Image courtesy of APEC Singapore 2009

According to the APEC Singapore 2009 website, the logo depicts the 21 APEC economies coming together to convene at a single point, working towards unity, cooperation and synergy among member economies to advance common interests. The Spark, made up of 21 strokes, represents the 21 member economies, signifying the dynamism within the APEC community and a catalyst that inspires new ideas and initiatives to further the vision of APEC.

The 21 APEC members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

APEC 2009 First Day Cover

In order to commemorate this event, SingPost is releasing a new stamp issue today, entitled ‘APEC 2009 Meetings’. This set of four stamps, two gutter pairs of two stamps each, showcases different places in Singapore. The 1st Local stamp shows the skyscrapers of Singapore’s Central Business District. On the 80c stamp, there is a picture of the night view of Clarke Quay, a riverside quay in Singapore. The $1.10 depicts Singapore as an aviation hub. Featured on the $2.00 stamp is one of the busiest ports in Singapore.

Postcard: Water-Bean Curd Load

Starting from today, The Restaurant will upload postcards from time to time for your viewing pleasure. As there are many postcards coming in every week, we sincerely apologise if your postcard is not shown here. Please do not be upset, it may appear on this website some time later. For those who are interested in exchanging a postcard, please drop me an email.

Bean Curd Seller in Xitang, China

Today’s featured postcard is a black-and-white postcard. It shows a beancurd vendor walking down a narrow street in Xitang, an old town located in China. A long shadow is cast behind the man, suggesting that it is early in the morning. Xitang is a water town, divided into eight sections by nine converging rivers. The various sections are linked to one another by stone bridges.

Sent: 10 October 2009
Received: 27 October 2009

Registered First Day Cover

Registered First Day Cover - Singapore-Indonesia Joint Issue (2009)

Something that I would have never thought of was to register a first-day cover. On the day when the Singapore-Indonesia Joint Issue was released, I met a few experienced stamp collectors at the post office in Harbourfront Centre after the launch. That was when I realised that it was possible to send a registered mail to myself without having to write my name and mailing address on the first-day cover.

One of the collectors said, ‘The stamps on the first-day cover have already exceeded the amount of postage required for registered mail!’

According to the branch manager Jasmine, many collectors have been registering their first-day covers by affixing a barcode label on the cover. In the past, collectors had to write their own address on the cover in order to send it as a registered mail. Today, there is no need to write the mailing address on the cover. However, the catch is that the item has to be marked as delivered by the post office only on the next working day. The status of the registered article can be tracked online by the registered article number.

Registered Article Information