Friday, February 1, 2013

SimplePart Newsletter: January 2013

Welcome to our News and Update wrap-up for January 2013.

Over the last 60 days we have been working on changes to the way we share your content with major search engines. Our objective behind these changes was to review and improve your position in search results across a selection of search term types – better position for a broader selection of searches means more (free) website visitors and more orders. In short, these changes have had an incredible impact for almost everyone. Across the board, your websites had almost 40% more visitors in January 2013 than in November 2012. For the month of January we saw more than 1,400,000 unique visitors, which is a new record.

We hope everyone is enjoying the boost in orders these efforts generated. As conversion rates (orders per visitor) continue their traditional seasonal improvement through the spring, we are looking forward to a great year for all. I’ve included a graph below of unique website visitors by month from January 2012 to present.

During our busiest day in January we served more than 4,500,000 page views for your websites. There were no outages during the month of January.


Google Changes
On January 24th an important Google feature “broke.” This feature used to allow webmasters to tell Google which page parameters did not materially affect the content on the page, so that individual pages would not get indexed multiple times. This was a particularly effective and important feature for large e-commerce websites (that do not use URL rewriting) that gave them the ability to minimize likelihood of duplicate content penalties. As you might imagine, Google features like this don’t just break. We suspect changes are coming in this area – canonicalization and reduction of duplication. Stay tuned.

There were also two Panda updates from Google in January. One was announced, the other was not. The first occurred on January 17th, the second on January 22nd. The latter reportedly affected 1.2% of US queries.

Google’s latest update to their Chrome browser encrypts all searches. What this means is that when someone using Chrome visits your website, we are unlikely to be able to “get” the keywords they searched for in Google. We use those keywords to ensure they landed on the right page, show them relevant recommendations, and help improve the user experience. Visitors using Chrome account for 19.4% of your website traffic.

Facebook Graph Search and Bing integration
As you may have heard, Facebook and Bing have rolled out major changes during the month of January. On the Facebook side, they now offer a feature called Graph Search. It uses your network of connections, your posts, their posts, your “likes”, their “likes” as well as activity data from around the web to show you personalized search results. This is particularly effective if you’re searching for a business, product or service – but will also tailor results to your politics, preferences, geographic location, shopping history, favorite tv show, etc. They are able to draw on an incredible mass of information about you and the people you are connected to, and this could be a game changing feature. It may even take Facebook to profitability as a company.

What Facebook has also done is integrate Bing search results into their Graph Search, and in turn Bing has integrated Facebook content into its search results. Searches in Bing now return Facebook posts, Facebook pages and information from your network of contacts. This is also game-changing for Bing as it opens the door for truly personalized web search results, which is the next “big” step in search – and may put it a step ahead of Google in that respect.

Why go to all the trouble of asking your friends what their plans are tonight when you can just search?
Why Yelp for a new restaurant when you can just ask Bing or Facebook and see what your friend network recommends?
Why use the Yellow Pages to find a contractor for that home repair when Bing or Facebook can recommend one for you?

Anything you have ever posted to Facebook is now searchable by everyone in your network – and will be shown to them whether they explicitly ask for it or not. There are privacy concerns bubbling up already.

Along with these changes we have also seen significant movement in the way Bing is crawling the web. That is to say, Bing is crawling far more pages of your websites far more aggressively than they ever have before. This is clearly a coordinated change in policy. Please stay tuned and expect more changes from Bing.

AutoZone Acquires
AutoZone, which reported online sales of $163m in 2011, has acquired aftermarket parts player, which reported online sales of $111m in 2011. This sale was reported December 4th and represents a not-insignificant power shift in the world of online aftermarket parts. AutoAnything is one of the bigger players, and with this acquisition AutoZone has effectively doubled their online footprint.

                Mobile Performance
We frequently get asked about our strategy for Mobile devices – and I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some specific performance measures we track. Below are figures from all P1 and P2 SimplePart websites over the last 60 days, which includes the holiday shopping season.

·          Shoppers on mobile devices (phones and tablets) find products on your websites at the same 70% rate as shoppers on traditional desktop computers.

·         Mobile devices accounted for 18% of your unique website visitors over the last 60 days.

·         Shoppers on iPad tablets are 25% more likely to add an item to their shopping cart than shoppers on desktop computers.

·         Shoppers on iPad tablets are 20% more likely to complete a purchase than shoppers on desktop computers.

Industry predictions for 2013 Online Sales
The National Retail Federation and are predicting increases in online sales for 2013 of between 9% and 12%, over 2012. Traditional retail sales are predicted to increase by only 3.4% suggesting acceleration in the online space. The NRF suggests that through 2013 shoppers will still be “constrained in their spending” and turn to online shopping to save money.

NewEgg legal victory for all online retail
One of the biggest news stories this month comes courtesy of online retail giant NewEgg. Back in 2010 NewEgg was sued by a company called Soverain Software, who owns patents covering aspects of accepting payments online, “executing a guided parametric search” and “identifying a single item in a family of items” – essential concepts to guiding shoppers through categories of products used by all online retail websites. Initially NewEgg was ordered to pay $2.5m in damages – setting a precedent that would have impacted everyone selling anything online. This decision was just reversed.

These patent-actions by holding companies are a danger, especially so when their patents cover concepts that are “obvious” and in wide use. This same company (Soverain) has successfully sued Avon and Victoria’s Secret and obtained judgments to the tune of $18m. NewEgg’s successful appeal clears the way, and is a very welcome sign.

PayPal reviewing frozen funds policies
Many of you have been affected by PayPal’s policies on frozen funds – you collect money from customers for orders, until one day PayPal decides that your account is under review and your funds are “locked” for 180 days. You provide PayPal with documentation of orders and shipments, and comply with their every request. Sometimes PayPal clears your account, other times you are told your account will be closed and you must wait months to access your money. This month PayPal has announced that it will be revising policies in this area. No word yet on what those revised policies will look like, but any movement here is good.

Amazon down for 49 minutes, may have cost them almost $4.9m
For a period of 49 minutes yesterday (January 31st) the home page was down. Users attempting to access got a “503” error, though users linking to internal pages on the website sometimes were able to get through. Amazon states this outage was not caused by “outside” actors, ie a Hack or DDOS attack, and was not related to AWS.

Based on Amazon’s $10.8b per-quarter earnings in 2012, that works out to roughly $4.9m per hour. A very expensive outage indeed.

Tips for this Month
This month I’d like for you to consider adding Live Chat to your parts website. Research shows that giving your customers immediate access to your staff as they shop dramatically increases sales – and Live Chat has the added benefit of cutting down on call volume, and being able to manage multiple conversations at once. With our Live Chat you have instant access to that shopper’s browsing history, shopping cart and past purchase history. It gives you the ability to guide shoppers to the right product (and watch them get there) and answer questions about past orders.

Live Chat is seamless to add, and easy to use. Please contact us at for more information on Live Chat.

Recent New P1 and P2 SimplePart Customers

New Features Just Released

1.       Maintenance categories continue to be added across the board. We’re doing this brand by brand, and have so far covered Acura, Honda, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Lexus, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Toyota and Volvo.
2.       Rich Snippets Changes were made affecting your Products pages, and helping guide Google in how to show products in search results. More specifically, we formatted text better and added fitment information to what is displayed. We feel this may also help differentiate product variants from one another.
3.       Page Titling and Tagging were changed to tweak how products are displayed in Google search results, and ensure that all available data is used to differentiate page content.
4.       Breadcrumb Changes were made to the SEO landing pages, Search pages and Product pages. These now more accurately reflect the search path that was taken to arrive at that page.
5.       Changed display of Pricing on Product pages. We changed the container on your Product pages where the price is displayed. We more prominently feature your discount, and we show the price in a larger font size.
6.       Changes to sitemap feeds to include additional Product and Assembly pages, as well as more variants of the SEO landing pages for broad keywords.
7.       Changes to Google merchant center feeds include better formatting and tagging to allow us to explicitly advertise different categories of products – such as accessories.
8.       Google+ direct linkup available which connects your parts website home page to your Google+ business page.
9.       New option added to orders to allow you to tag them as Fraud.
10.    New feature added which shows you when you’ve printed an order.
11.    Performance improvements to the Assemblies pages improve loading time by 20%.
12.    Displayed fitment strings on Product pages now include more Driveline and Trimlevel fitment data.
13.    Sister websites now displayed only on your home pages, and not on interior pages. We believe displaying those links on millions of pages may lead Google to penalize our websites for “spammy linking” and are making this change to head off any potential future penalty.
14.     Improved searchability of part number variants – we now better handle separated part numbers with spaces, periods, dashes, etc.
15.    Reports added/changed

1.       Net Profit graph showing effect of shipping and markup changes
2.       Traffic by Hour report performance improved
3.       Keyword Group visitors
4.       Keyword Group average position
5.       Percentage of incoming Google visitors with no referrer/keyword data
6.       Most popular keywords searched that led to your website being displayed in Google search results
7.       Net Profit by Day, Week and Quarter
8.       Bing bot traffic by Site
9.       Bing bot traffic by Day
10.   Bing bot traffic by Week
11.   “Other” bot traffic, not including Google and Bing, by Week
12.   “Other” bot traffic, not including Google and Bing, by Site

Thanks for your continued business, and please email or call if you have any questions, special requests or feedback on the newsletter.

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