Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Importance of Good SEO--What We ALL Should Learn From Cafepress

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a buzzword anybody with a business on the Internet eventually gets to know. Search engines are what bring your potential customers to your site. Figuring out what search terms a person might use to find goods and services like your own is, therefore, essential to your business—you need to have those words somewhere on your web pages, preferably in the title or as close as possible to the top.

It's also essential to have as many links coming in to your website as possible because Google ranks a website higher based on the perceived "usefulness" of a site based on how popular a page appears to be elsewhere on the Internet. Finding as many people as possible to link to your website is, therefore, also a very popular way to increase SEO.

Finally, you need to have as many pages as possible on your website. The size of a website and how often it is updated is the key to your success because nothing ranks a website higher in a Google search than that.

Here's another financial trick. Make every page on your site an ad for something related to the search terms the websurfer just typed into their search engine and make sure they can buy that item by simply clicking a button.

The formula is simple but the truth is that building a successful business site like this is a lot of work.... Or is it?

For the average individual, working alone, using the business formula above could take years. But imagine what could happen if you could get millions of people (say, 6.5 million people) linking their web pages with yours and not only that, they create the pages on your site, pay you money for the opportunity, and write your SEO for you! There are products for sale on every page, you take the lion's share of the profit when something sells, and the people creating this great SEO buy a significant number of things from you, too! Now you have a multi-million dollar operation. Now you are Cafepress.

The way you enticed all these people to build your business for you is by telling them that you care about their financial well-being, too. The products you sell are based on their designs so they can have a cut of the profits as well. In fact, they can set the mark-up and if their work is good enough make a very good living themselves. People have succeeded with this business arrangement. There are $100,000/year sellers on your site and you make sure you trumpet how well they are doing in a newsletter to every new person who comes along. You also promote those who are still on their way up, making perhaps only $10,000 - 20,000 / year. These shopkeepers are excited, they're seeing increases over time. They can't quit their day jobs yet but that time is obviously and most convincingly in sight.

"We love artists!" you say. "Make a living from your creative work. These people are succeeding and if you work enough at promoting your work on our site you can have a successful career with your creative ideas and hard work, too." Make sure you have photographs of happy smiling Cafepress employees who have their own shops on the site. After all, you want all these people you're attracting to think that they're not just creating great new potential businesses for themselves, they'll be joining a fun creative community of committed artists just like them.

What a strategy! Don't you wish you could join in?

Well, don't.

The photos of happy smiling Cafepress employee shopkeepers are long gone. And the serious artists and slogan writers who put years of effort into building this site are crying in their beers. With one stroke Cafepress has ripped the livings and almost livings from millions of their so-called business partners across the nation by changing their business model to one where they no longer pay the mark-up these hard workers set. The commission is now 10%, supposedly a "standard" licensing fee in the business—except receiving a normal licensing fee doesn't require anything more than handing over a computer file with your artwork to the company granting it. The artist gets paid several hundred dollars upfront for the use of their designs, and doesn't do anything more. They don't write ad copy, SEO-filled product descriptions, image tags or promote the product themselves. They provide limited use of their artwork and nothing more.

The new Cafepress policy was announced one month ago and went into effect May 31st. Shopkeepers are reporting losses of 50-80%, livelihoods are being decimated. For some people, especially the disabled and housebound, lives are being ruined. And the truly sad part of this—the better you did on Cafepress the worse this is. The truly successful ones gave up their day jobs and devoted themselves to this company's and their own mutual success. Some have been at it for years. Now, even the $100,000 winners might make no more than $20,000 after taxes. That's barely a living anymore. For a family, in some areas, that's not even above the poverty level.

The idea that this story has not even hit the evening news is criminal. The idea that they might get away with it is worse. I don't want to spend my time on this—Paul and I were not successful enough on Cafepress. It shouldn't make a difference to us.

But I want to see this on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News or San Francisco Chronicle, the two newspapers closest to San Mateo, Cafepress's hometown. I want the Associated Press newswire to pick it up and 60 Minutes to cover it in their next broadcast. I want it featured on The Daily Show and for some hot shot lawyer with a first rate pedigree to grab hold of it for a class action lawsuit. I want them to win and I want to see how the Cafepress stockholders respond when they do. It's not revenge, it's justice. And it's making sure something is done to prevent Internet pirateers from being able to get away with this kind of thing ever again.


alltogetherphil said...

I read this at some other blog so I will just add a little & pass it on..

I agree, Something must be made public about cafepress.

A news outlet such as FOX NEWS, would probably at least take a peek at bringing it into the public light. I write very poorly so probably wouldn't be able to put all the information correctly as to how Cafepress has destroyed lives.


With the Obama administration supposedly concerned about the job loss and loss of income among Americans this would be a very interesting story for places like Fox news!

If we could come up with the actual circumstances and the approximate number of shopkeepers being affected it just might bring this to light.

Many a company / organization have done wrong and have gotten caught by the news agencies. If in fact Cafepress is not treating their partners / shopkeepers correctly the story needs to be told.

I heard there are millions of shopkeepers and if that is correct, it surely does affect the economy!
I have emailed a few journalists but have gotten no replies as of yet however, it's been only 4 days.

Love the Blog

Have a very nice day!

A disheartened shopkeeper

Shannon said...

Very well written. Posting it via Twitter to get more exposure. I don't know if it will it noticed by the big news chains but I will keep my fingers crossed that someone takes note.

Sheryl Karas said...

Thanks! I appreciate any help in getting the word out.

Anonymous said...

Well done.

As a shopowner, I believe CP has dug a hole that they will not get out of.