For a successful BANS site the importance of your store pages can’t be overlooked. Setting them up for ease of use and maximum monetization isn’t just to make more money, believe it or not it’s to build more traffic too!

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This is installment #8 in the Watch me build a BANS niche site from Scratch series!

supermarket flyer ad We’ve done a lot of things in this series so far, from keyword research, to building links, and creating content. But one of the things that we haven’t done (and I’ve overlooked) is manage our store pages properly. You see, if we’re going to own a store we have to begin to think about our BANS site like a brick and mortar store is setup. Imagine that you’re going to the supermarket to get some groceries. Think about the first things that you see as you pull up to the store. You see the sign, the name of the store, and as you park your care and walk up to the door you see some ads in the windows. As you go down the sidewalk and walk inside usually the very first thing you see is the weekly ad prominently displayed with a neat stack of them so you can take one. As you grab a cart and head toward that first aisle with the weekly ad now opened in your hand you usually have to pass by big pallets and piles of those weekly specials just to get to first aisle.

supermarket endcap As you make your way around the aisles, at the end of each is an “endcap” display highlighting something on sale in that aisle. As you make your way through each aisle you see red stickers and signs pointing out all the specials and deals as you go, some of the shelves even have coupons you can take. Once your cart is full and you think all your money has been spent you head toward the checkout. As you stand in line you read the tabloid headlines, grab a cold beverage from the cooler or maybe a candy bar and think about whether you need to purchase the crazy glue, nail clippers, or eyeglass repair kit you see while waiting to put your items on the belt.

Now stop and think about everything you’ve just read. Compare your walk through the brick and mortar store to your BANS site. How many opportunites does the supermarket have to guide you towards something they want to sell you? How many times do they try and suggest something? How does the placement of items affect sales?

How can you use this knowledge and apply it to your BANS site?

Let’s go back through the walkthrough and apply what we’ve learned…the following real world principles should be applied to your BANS store:

Give your BANS store some CURB appeal: Nobody is going to stop, stay, or shop at a run-down store. Learn how to or pay someone to customize your BANS store a bit and make it look more professional. At very least have an eye-catching header, but there are other things you can customize too. Doing this will spice up every store page you have since your template is the frame for them.

Design your home page like a supermarket would design an ad or flyer for the week: What are you highlighting or featuring (if anything?). Are you linking to inside store pages? Do you have eye-catching pictures?

Design every top level “store” page like a store aisle: Have appealing ads and graphics before and after your top level store content and auctions acting as “endcaps” in a store aisle. Suggest specific products by using or creating specific search or product pages, point to content pages and reviews and keep visitors moving throughout your store.

Use the “checkout” technique: Suggest appropriate and relevant items in your store by playing links, ads, graphics, content, text or whatever is appropriate. For instance, if you’re selling camcorders a sub-page for “camcorder batteries” may have to be created because eBay has them buried in an “accessories” page – and then suggest and link to that page on the camcorder section with text or graphics.

I’m going to help you put those 4 concepts into action. Probably the easiest and quickest way to give your BANS store some Pizazz is to just change the template. You only get so many templates when you buy BANS – but you can sure install a FREE BANS Template with ease from one of these sites:

Concept #1 – Spruce up your BANS site

Blogger Unleashed has a free Brown BANS template for download

The Niche Store Builder has a download with 8 different colored free BANS templates.

Best BANS Templates has both Blueberry and Kiwi free BANS templates for download

Blog Explosion has both a Sniper and Prosense free BANS template for download

Build a Niche Store Blog has a really cool and impressive “Green” free BANS template for download

Nails Blog has a cool free BANS theme called magazine

SEO Zombie has a free BANS template called “Ice”

Maybe you don’t want to have to install a new theme, but would like to change the colors of your BANS store. If that’s the case just use the free Color my BANS free online tool to automatically select colors and get a free customized CSS file for your template (without having to know any code).

If you want to learn how to change the colors in your BANS stylesheet on your own, Niche Store Strategies has a nice tutorial on How to change the colors on your BANS site.

Concept #2 – Highlight, Feature, and Link to BANS store pages on Home Page

Look – if all you BANS site has is your navigation you’re sunk! You front homepage should have some good original content food for the search engines, but you shouldn’t overlook your visitors! Have you ever seen the adsense heat map? Visitors have a short attention span and their eyes are front and center on your homepage. Give them something appealing to click on NOW! If nothing more add some pictures to some of your products, but be sure to actually link them to pages inside you’re store!

Things you should highlight:

  • Items for upcoming holidays
  • Accessories
  • Hottest selling products
  • New Products
  • Featured content

If you stick to those 5 areas you should have no problem creating eye-catching graphics for internal BANS store pages. Be creative, be sure to update for the holidays, add accessories that go with your main categories, keep up with what’s new and selling on ebay to match with hot products in your store, and be sure to feature your best content pages as well. Towards the end of this article I’m going to show you how to rotate these easily on your home page and other store pages.

Concept #3 – Treat BANS “store pages” like aisles in a real store

Building on the concept #2, you want to treat your internal store pages like aisles in a store. Wrap the content and auctions with “endcaps”. The first thing you can do is monetize your site beyond the usual “adsense” ads sitewide. If you’re a member of Commission Junction, or Pepperjam, get some banners and link codes for merchants that complement your niche store. On your store pages, just add them in the “before” or “after” content blocks in edit mode (or in the sidebar). You could add these in under “ads” to be sitewide, but people become blind to ads, and I think it’s important to have different onces on different store pages. Once again – I can show you a way to rotate these a bit at the end of this article.

Monetizing your store pages is great, but don’t forget to promote yourself. I think that every store page should some type of recommended products or pages before and after the content. Use graphics, text, again – be creative! You should be thinking here like a salesman would, a camcorder site should have tripods and batteries linked on the camcorder product pages – not just under accessories! You should mod your BANS site to make it intuitive, so people don’t have to think or hunt and peck to find what they need.

Part of this concept is actually creating new store pages that contain only specific hot or top products. For instance, I’m going to create a page for “Top Cell Phones”. It will be a store page where my main category is filtered to the keywords “used cell phones” and above the content is a list of top 10 phones linked to 10 other store pages I’m going to create. Each of those is a sub-store-page of “Top Cell Phones”, and they are limited to a keyword search for just that phone. Of course each individual store page will contain a mini-review of that phone. Now I’ve created 11 store pages that have content, and I can use them to feature on the homepage, and other store pages, etc.

Concept #4 – Use the “checkout” technique

I may not have explained this one very well earlier. In the supermarket the “checkout” bombards you with all kinds of things you might want to “impulse buy” at the last second. I think that a successful BANS store should behave more like a real store, and even though you may think that’s distracting your patrons from buying your niche product it will enhance it. I’ve witnessed people in retail saying “this is all you have?” I think (contrary to what I’ve read) having a niche store with a half dozen pages is a really bad thing. My advice is to do some research and think of your own items to use for “checkout”. On your BANS site people could buy at anytime, so you want to surround your products with relevant items that somehow didn’t either make it into your advertisements or your store pages.

For example, say your site is about digital cameras. Check all your store pages, and if you don’t have camera cases, flash memory cards, and batteries under your “accessories” sections – add them to your content and store pages. You could add them to your sidebar or advertisements as well. Doing this by hand is a little tedious, what might be better is to use a merchant to rotate the items or advertisements for you. You want to do this in a unique way to make the “checkout” items stand out from the auctions.

The way that you can do this easily (believe it or not) is by using Amazon. If you’re not already an Amazon Affiliate – signup now. I’ve seen some people say that it’s hard to make money with amazon, and really it’s not as long as your ads are relevant to the content. Amazon has some really unique widgets that will stand out in your BANS store – and they have nearly every product on earth. Stick with me here and watch some techniques you may not have seen before…

Amazon Ideas for BANS

The things you can do with Amazon are nearly limitless, but you may not new about some of the newer widgets to come out in the last year. Amazon has been pretty innovative with new promotional widgets.

Amazon MP3 Widget: You would not believe how attractive this little widget is. Amazon sells MP3′s now, and you can make some quick cash with this thing. I believe the commission is current 20%(?), which may not seem like much, but most people buy more than one song on an impulse buy like this. The widget looks like a video at first, and when people the play button it goes through and plays clips from all the songs and albums you added. This thing is awesome, and complements relevant content wonderfully. If you have anything in your BANS store at all music related, you should check this widget out. Here’s a live example:

Amazon Carousel Widget: I think this widget is ingenious because it’s eye catching and you can promote like a dozen things in a very small space with eye-catching pics. Put your mouse over any one and get details. It’s not branded too, which is great – nobody knows it’s Amazon until they click. Consider using these on your store pages (content pages too) – here’s a live example:

Amazon Unbox Video Widgets: Amazon also sells movies and video you can download to your computer. Take advantage of this if you have related content. If you have a store about comic books or characters let’s say – list all the relevant movies you can to sell through Amazon Unboxed. Here’s a live example:

Amazon Slideshow Widget: Much like the Carousel widget, the slideshow give a very appealing view of products and entices visitors to click. You hand pick the products to put in it, and this is isn’t branded as well. Here’s a live example:

Amazon Tag Cloud Widget: This is one of the coolest widgets I’ve seen because it’s intelligent. Unlike some of the others where you have to choose products, the tag could is intelligent like adsense and scans the content of your page to show relevant products. The look and feel is like a blog tag cloud, and when visitors mouse over a world – a product pops up! Here’s a live example:

Amazon Favorites Widget: The favorites widget is as close to “checkout” mentality as it gets, actually showing items that you recommend to your visitors. Here’s a live example:

Omakase Links Widget: This widget is very interesting because it tries to give a “best effort” to show a combination of what the user wants and what is relevant to the page. It actually uses the amazon cookie and knows what the user has search amazon for in the past, and displays things they like in addition to relevant products. Here’s a live example (that should be different for each and every one of you):

Recommended Products: This is by far one of the oldest widgets amazon has, but in can be quick and dirty solution in some cases. Just give it a general category you want to display things for and it gets the job done. Here’s a live example:

I just gave you a bunch of ways to create a “checkout” mentality in your BANS site to enhance your niche store. Earlier I promised to give you a way to rotate some ads in your BANS store to keep it fresh, and now we’ll get that done.

Using PepperjamAds to Rotate Merchant Ads in your BANS site

You may have read my post the other day Pepperjam and eBay What does it mean? You can now promote eBay (and BANS) through Pepperjam, but you may not know that Pepperjam has a widget of it’s own called “Pepperjam Ads”. If you’re not already a member, you need to signup free as a Pepperjam affiliate. Then at the top toolbar click on “Pepperjam Ads”. All you have to do is select the merchants and ads you want to display and create ad units for your BANS site. These are text ads that look exactly like adsense ads – so my advice to you is if you’re using adsense, don’t display these on the same pages. Choose a page and show only Pepperjam ads on it. Other than that – it’s a great way to show targeted rotating ads for niches and select store and content pages. Here’s a Pepperjam Ads unit I created for our test BANS site:

Rotating Ads in BANS with PHP

I’m currently working on an Ad Rotator PHP Hack (mod) for BANS so you will be able to rotate graphics, ads, features, links, or anything you want anywhere in your BANS store. Watch out for that as soon as I get the code finished!

As always – if you have something to add or a question, by all means comment now!

Don’t have “Build a Niche Store” yet? Click here:

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If you’re reading this page to try and figure out is Build a Niche Site for you or not – please consider buying BANS through my affiliate link. I make a small commission, which would help defray some of my time and expense for putting together this BANS tutorial (and future BANS success articles) for you! I purchased my copy through an affiliate link in gratitude to the blogger who talked of his success with this niche building site script.

Also – if BANS isn’t for you, please consider reading How to earn money using Affiliate eBay WordPress Plugin BAYRss. With BANS you build content basically around eBay auctions, but with BAYRss you place eBay auctions in your posts and pages. Check it out, I use (and make money) with both BANS and BayRSS!