First things first – What is Yahoo Merchant Solutions (a.k.a. “Yahoo Store”)
It’s a complete platform for building an e-commerce website for your company. It has a easy to use forms-based interface (for a low cost entry-level solution), but it also has very advanced capabilities that allow third-party Yahoo Store specialists to customize the design and features of your site (for companies that need greater functionality and customization and are willing to make a larger investment).
What makes the Yahoo Store so outstanding?
If you visited the Yahoo Merchant Solutions website, you would find a number of valuable features that make Yahoo Store appealing. Instead of repeating that list, I’ll focus instead on what I believe to be the most important feature of a Yahoo Store from a search engine ranking perspective.
Static Pages – The Search Engines Eat These Things Up
Before you glaze over from this obscure technical phrase, consider that this single Yahoo Store benefit, if properly taken advantage of, can be the difference between having a wildly profitable e-commerce store, and just an average online presence. I’m sure I have your attention now, so let me explain.
”Static Pages” means that when you publish your Yahoo Store (to make the store available to the public), the program actually regenerates every single “database” page and turns it into an “.html” page. The search engines have an easier time indexing “.html” pages, and as a result, you can expect better and more consistent rankings. I’m sure that for many of you this will sound confusing, so let me give you an example:
Most dynamic e-commerce sites have interior pages that are “dynamic,” meaning that they are pulled from a database as you browse the site. The “URL” for one of these pages might look like this:
A Yahoo Store interior page is “static,” meaning that the pages are not pulled from a database as you browse the site. They might look like this:
This is important because it is easier for search engines (like Google) to index a website that has static pages, as compared to dynamic sites with many parameters. Google says so on their website.
Bottom line: I’m convinced that Yahoo Store platform is the most conducive for garnering high search engine placement primarily because of this feature but also because of additional complimentary optimizations you can make to your Yahoo Store.
Other Important Features/Benefits Include:
Site-Wide Variables:Make a change once in a user-friendly environment, and have it take effect throughout your entire site
A large and experienced public company (Yahoo) hosting your site:1 in 8 e-commerce websites are hosted on the Yahoo Store / Yahoo Merchant Solutions platform. Presumably, hundreds of millions of dollars in online sales are transacted on the Yahoo platform each year. Yahoo has too much to lose to approach the hosting of e-commerce stores lightly. As a result, I’m confident they have the resources and commitment to ensure the highest possible uptime for your site. In 6 years, I can’t remember a client’s store going offline.
24×7 Customer Support:This speaks for itself. Many small e-commerce platforms (especially custom e-commerce solutions) don’t come with free 24×7 support.
A large selection of independent professionals to support youMany companies throughout the country specialize in customizing Yahoo Stores for their clients (better designs, better features, etc). The fact that the Yahoo Store solution is so well supported makes it a truly compelling choice.
What’s the biggest downside to a Yahoo Store?
You don’t have access to the source code. While you can customize 99% of a Yahoo Store, you can’t customize all of it. This rarely becomes a problem, even for larger stores, but you should be aware that there are some things you might like to do with your Yahoo Store that you simply won’t be able to do.
How can I take advantage of Yahoo Store?
Assemble the right team of professionals to help you. You’ll need:
An online marketing specialist
A Yahoo Store Developer/Designer
A Good Travel Agent
With all the business you and your company are about to do, you’ll be able to afford (and maybe need) to take more frequent vacations.
I’ve evaluated dozens of alternatives, but I’ve found nothing that can hold a candle to Yahoo Store. That said, I remember years ago, before I understood the power of the Yahoo platform, a prospective client asked me about the Yahoo solution. No offense to the folks at Yahoo, but I figured it was a Mickey Mouse, template-based, mass-market solution that was not worth considering. It’s a good thing that I’m an open-minded person, because once I took the time to properly evaluate the software, I recognized its true potential.