Review: SearchFit Combines Storefront with SEO

What if your shopping cart and e-commerce system could improve your firm's placement on search engines and attract and forward customers to your store? That's the idea behind SearchFit, which covers online catalog basics and lots more.
A good e-commerce system offers an easy way to set up and manage an online store and makes it simple for customers to peruse and purchase goods. But what if your e-commerce platform took the initiative to improve your placement on search engines and potentially increase customer visits?

Taking a decidedly different tact, SearchFit promises to boost sales by employing search engine optimization (SEO) features. Indeed, the system appears to have lots of promise. At our press time, SearchFit v.8.0 was in its final phase of development and scheduled for a July 2008 release.

Optimizing the Search

SearchFit strives to create high search rankings for products and position them on comparison shopping Web sites. To accomplish this, the system employs various strategies.


SearchFit
SearchFit offers features to optimize placement in web searches.
The platform optimizes content by suggesting text that may attract readers and search engines. This includes: product specifications, FAQ's, testimonials, instructions and more. The e-commerce system researches competing keywords; evaluates site structures and supports META tags and Section 508 attributes.

SearchFit Web sites have their own IP addresses so there are no other websites with the same address that can diminish rankings. Also, SearchFit websites may be more easily scanned by search engine spiders because pages are static and not dynamic.

The company states that it doesn't employ questionable techniques that include: doorway pages, keyword stuffing, throwaway or cloaked pages and shadow domains. The optimization efforts all conform to standard and ethical search engine guidelines.

Shopping Cart

Beyond taking and processing orders, the shopping cart offers lots of extras. You can create coupons and discounts based on products, categories or manufacturers and distribute gift cards and gift certificates.

A "compare products" feature lets customers view products side-by-side to see differences. The navigation menu lets customers filter and select from various custom product attributes that can include material and color and view products that match their requirements.

Customers can log in and view and repeat past orders, as well as create wish lists. They can also read and create reviews and make comments. The system allows you to assign special privileges to reviewers and there's a built-in approval system to manage and monitor entries.

Integrated payment methods include PayPal Express, Google Checkout and Authorize.net. The system supports various currencies and allows multiple stores to sell in the currency of your choice. Shipping options include UPS, FedEx and USPS and you can provide order status to customers through updates.

You can sell products as downloadable files to hawk PDF's, software, mp3 files and more and the system supports registration numbers. If you wish, you can display "upsell products" to encourage impulse purchases.

Overseeing the Process

The inventory control system can define rules for handling out-of-stock items, supports drop shipments and can automatically send notification e-mails to vendors. SearchFit integrates with Intuit's QuickBooks to automatically create invoices and transfer data.

Reporting features depict revenue charts; products sold, commissions, order status, Web traffic, users and more. These are compatible with Google Analytics.

You can manage mailing lists, send e-mail promotions and create traceable special offers. SearchFit supports commissions and its affiliate tracking system lets you monitor referrals. A seller login feature allows sales staff to enter orders and a newsletter function provides an option to keep subscribers informed about the latest developments and announcements.

SearchFit offers lots of flexibility. Store fronts can be created in different languages and with its customizable templates, you can create and support multiple stores. Products can be exported to comparison shopping engines such as Shopzilla and Bizrat, as well as Google Base. SearchFit automatically creates and delivers feeds to Google Base at specified intervals.

Building a Site

SearchFit states on its Web site that it is a "shopping cart for serious e-commerce professionals." Furthermore, it says that "it is not a drag and drop system like Miva, Networksolution (Monster), Volusion, Agora, or any of the countless number of systems out there for beginners." To adequately use and incorporate SearchFit, you or your staff will require a solid understanding of HTML and CSS.

The system provides web services via XML to conduct external and internal database queries and connect to most database systems. To assist in setup, SearchFit can perform bulk imports of products, categories and category type data. You can automatically add search boxes, e-mail sign-ups and category select boxes throughout your Web site. If your business already has an e-commerce site, SearchFit is designed to carry over your entire history and import existing web documents and optimize them for searches. The system has done a good job of making the transition as seamless as possible. Just make sure that you have the technical expertise to support it.

Searching for a Fit

If you already have an e-commerce Web site and would like to incorporate SEO features, you may find lots to like about SearchFit. In addition to its SEO capabilities, the system has a comprehensive set of strong features and is competitively priced.

The Lite plan is priced at $99 per month with a one-time activation fee of $99 and is limited to 1,000 products and a single user. The Standard plan is priced at $199 per month with a one-time activation fee of $99 and is limited to 5,000 products and five users.

The Professional plan is priced at $299 per month with a one-time activation fee of $99 and is limited to 20,000 products and ten users. The Enterprise plan is priced at $499 per month with a one time activation fee of $299 and is limited to 300,000 products and 20 users.

Wayne Kawamoto has written over 800 articles, columns and reviews about computers, new technologies, the Internet and small businesses. Wayne has also published three books about upgrading PCs, building office networks and effectively using and troubleshooting notebook computers. You can contact him through his Web site at www.waynewrite.com.

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