The Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog Gets Some Minor Surgery

We really started putting some might behind our blog and webinar program here at Elastic Path Software about 12 months ago and have blown away our estimated 1 year targets. You helped us officially hit 3000 subscribers last week and are now well on the way to 5000 – thank you for the support. *Queue Sally Field impression* You like us, you really like us!

But, with growth also comes growing pains and a blog update was desperately required. So, we did. Here is a run down of what is new at Get Elastic:

Upgrade to the Latest Version of WordPress

This was the big item for us to tackle. You had been reading a blog running on an oooold version of WordPress (and we loved it – thanks Matt and team at Automatic + all the plugin contributors we have used since launch), but it had recently been having security issues. Getting hacked isn’t fun and losing data is even worse, so we are really happy to now be running on the most recent version of WordPress (and highly recommend it to all you retailers with a blog program).

Added a Site Archive

Like any growing blog, there is a valuable archive of posts. The data collected and research done on online retail trends, tactics, and occasional hiccups needed better findability. So, you can now see a complete chronological archive of posts sorted by month – yay! We typically post once per weekday, so start digging through the archive found on the top nav bar.

Internal Search

Because there are now almost 500 posts, thousands of comments, tags galore, and more added daily – you needed a better way to search for topical information. The addition of a full site search tool should help. It can currently be found in the right hand side bar (you might have to scroll down, just a tad).

Special Header for Incoming Searches

If you are like me, you search starts at Google. So for those clicking Get Elastic in the search results, you are now greeted with a special header containing your key phrases entered. If you click on one of the terms, it will jump you down to the place in the post. Some posts are really long, so this should help you scan a little quicker. We are sold on this feature yet, so your feedback is welcome/desired.

Improved Related Posts

You have always had a related posts feature at the end of each post, but they were really not that good. So we’ve improved those too. The related posts featured at the bottom of each entry should now be better matched to actual related posts – go figure.

For all you feed readers, don’t sweat. There is now related posts at the bottom of every RSS feed entry as well.

RSS feed with similar posts

For those of you who haven’t subscribed yet, we hope you consider subscribing today.

Recent Comments

Sometimes you want to get involved with a thread of conversation around a topic. Well, you can now see the 5 most recent comments left on the blog. Quite often the comments can contain just as valuable tips as the post. Make sure you take a peak at this block on the right hand side regularly and chime in often.

Top Commentators

This is one of my personal favorite additions. For a blog with the amount of traffic and subscribers, there could be a lot more commenting and community. You all have a lot of ecommerce experience to share – we want to learn from you too. So, you need some incentive to post comments. On the right hand sidebar, there is now a top commenter’s block. Every month, the people with the most comments will be rewarded with a direct link to the website they use when commenting (this has SEO benefit as there is NO nofollow on the sidebar).

Top commenters

New Spam Filter

When you have a popular blog, the spammers take notice. We have stopped hundreds of thousands of spam messages from crowding the blog, but there were some drawbacks to the filter we were using. It often put comments into a holding queue until manually approved to be shown. Blah. We didn’t like that. So we have switch spam protection to a new system. This should help get you comments onto the site immediately AND keep the bad guys out. We will monitor its effectiveness over the next little while. If it is better, it stays – if not, we’ll look for another spam solution. Again, this is to promote more frequent commenting.

Best of the Blog

When someone is new to a site they often read one post and bounce, especially when the visit was generated from Stumbleupon, Sphinn, a search engine query on a specific topic or the like. To encourage everyone to stick around and explore, you now have a Best of the Blog guide on the right hand side. It contains the 10 most recent entries, the most popular posts (the algorithm needs some tweaking to accommodate for entries posted prior to this feature being added, but it will improve as time passes), our personal favorite posts, and quick links to the highly informative free webinar series we host at Elastic Path Software.

Best of the Blog

Ecommerce Webinars

Every month there is a free ecommerce webinar hosted by yours truly. The topics range from merchandising to analytics to SEO… you name it, we’ll cover it. Hundreds of people sign up for the webinar every month and you should too, so we made it stand out a bit more by adding the colorful background. There is no excuse now. Go sign up for the next one today! We are talking about ecommerce innovations – something you can’t miss. Besides informative, it is just going to be cool.

Readability and Formatting

For those who like to browse the homepage and scan the recent entries, this one is for you. Some posts are really loooong, so we add a read more link so the homepage doesn’t get too crowded. Well, we admit it – the link was hard to find in most cases. So, now it isn’t.

The posts also got a few tweaks to the spacing and formatting so they are a bit more readable. Headings should now stand out a bit more.

Trackbacks no longer appear before the comments. Though we love when you link back to Get Elastic from your blogs, social bookmark sites, and forums etc, they are now showing AFTER the comments and comment entry area. We want you to post more comments, really we do.

Who Runs This Thing?

For a year we have hummed and hawed over whether we should be in your face with who runs the blog. This IS a marketing tool, no doubt about it. But, for us it is about helping the ecommerce community and delivering great online retail information. We figure we will get back what we give and for the most part, that is exactly what has happened. You never get covert marketing messages about how great Elastic Path’s ecommerce platform is, or brainwashing about our key differentiators. It is really all about YOU. Even with our webinar series, we often forget to mention what we even do, and it doesn’t matter.

But, it is important for you to know the background of the author of a blog post. Would you like information on analytics from Gus the mechanic or Linda the ecommerce analyst? Linda gets my vote. So, we have now added a snippet of info about who runs the ship. Really, Linda Bustos is the heart of the operation and I’d like to think I get an assist every now and then. But when it comes down to it, this is a project by Elastic Path Software and we have similar projects in the works… stay tuned.

And one last thing…

What would YOU like to see us do to improve Get Elastic? Leave a comment and tell us. If we implement your idea, you’ll get credit a direct link – mmm, SEO goodness.


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15 Responses to “The Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog Gets Some Minor Surgery”

  1. I really like all the changes that you guys make and the passion you obviously have for all things ecommerce and internet. That is why I love your blog and it is weird for me to see myself as a top commenter on what is probably one of the best ecommerce marketing blogs that I read. I am not even a marketing person but I have a passion for theinternet and since I work in the ecommerce industry I of course like to suck up as much knowledge as possible.

    I also think the reason I like your blog so much is because of the fact you’re not trying to sell your platform or service. I see that you care not only about marketing but also the development side even though you don’t post about it I can tell you guys care about web standards, and sweet programming skills with your software even though I haven’t seen it :) and as a web developer that stands out to me in a world full of ecommerce giants that just use the latest buzzwords in an existing crappy platform, selling it to people who don’t know the true garbage they are paying millions of dollars for.

    That is what makes you guys in my eyes above the leaders such as the marketlives,avenueA’s, and fry’s of the world. They don’t even care to give back to the community as you do. They haven’t caught on to what the web is really about and are scared to tell people the techniques tricks to create successful ecommerce sites because they think it would be giving away a special secret.

    so sorry for the rant but it is how I feel about things and just don’t understand companies that get paid millions of dollars to provide services because they supposedly know the internet but are scared of the very heart of the future of the internet. One day the people like you and Ecopts of the world will be the ones on top.

    An idea I have is have another category of the site where your developers talk about some of the cool geeky programming stuff in ecommerce. I’m sure there are a lot of geeky engineers that would love to hear your ideas on best practices on how to architect sweet crossells or emails and checkouts. Of course latest trends in web standards and all that is always cool. I know most of this is Marketing but I know you would get a lot of comments on that type of stuff. It is weird to me that most of the top poster are other Great Bloggers.

    Or how bout how to successfully have two great departments working together such as the Dev Team and Marketing team to product such quality stuff. We all know it takes the right Process and people to make the two coincide and there are always seems to be a big dividing line between the two.I guess its Posts about team cohesiveness.

    Another cool idea that you see on all the dev blogs are people starting the jobs board, how bout a Get Elastic job board for all kinds of eccommerce positions and companies

    A raise for Linda:) how can one person research and come up with so many articles. I wouldn’t mind hearing your process on how you do it. I’m amazed and would love to be able to write so much great content also besides blog posts in peoples comments:)

  2. Thanks for the longest comment in the history of our blog. :) I want to point out that the folks at Marketlive and AvenueA/Razorfish (the latter happens to be a partner of EP) DO put out great content. The white papers and webinars from ML are generally very well done. AARF has a good digital marketing blog too (yes, I am a subscriber). There are some in our industry that use their blog to promote their message and do not add much value to the reader, but they generally collect digital dust.

    Thanks for the suggestions. We could morph this into a blog for all types of ecommerce roles, but then it loses focus. We’ll see what the next year will hold.

  3. sorry if I put my foot in my mouth and will make sure I do more research before putting it out there, I am still new in the ecommerce stuff and still learning.

  4. No foot removal required. But, it’s weird that I have to defend competitors sometimes.

  5. Hey Dan, Loooove your last comment ;)

    Actually, your thoughts about adding more developer-related posts echoes what we’ve been thinking about internally – we do want to cover a range of ecommerce issues. I think it would be very beneficial, and like Jason says it could be a tradeoff in losing focus. So we haven’t decided what direction to take but your voice has been heard.

    As for process, I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m actually a robot.

    Just kidding. I’ve read a bunch of blogger advice on how to keep an editorial calendar and how to come up with topics and be productive yadda yadda. I don’t follow any of it! I am quite random and all over the place, I have a bunch of unfinished drafts and I really have more ideas than I get a chance to write about, so there is absolutely no process other than keep reading lots of blogs, looking at lots of websites and keep loving my job which I do!

  6. Oh yeah, and I don’t use any instant messengers. I think that helps productivity big time ;)

  7. Site is looking great! I like the changes that have been made. Sorry to go of topic, but I just wanted to say thanks for dropping me a mail Linda, I hope you got my reply…sometimes I get stuck in spam filters :(

    Anyway, keep up the great work!

  8. Paulo Terano says:

    Can i be a idiot and ask who AARF are ? Thanks

  9. GP says:

    I must admit I preferred having the best of the blog below the navigation, but no biggie.

    In terms of features I’d like to see, a monthly case study of a site that’s had a redesign go live, or something similar?

    The other reason I ask is that I planned to contact you when our redesign goes live, with the intention of cross referencing some of the stuff I’ve learnt from articles here and emphasizing how much they’ve helped ;]

  10. I’d just like to say how much I’ve enjoyed and learned from this blog.

    Thank you Linda and Jason for such a great resource. Keep up the good work, I’m looking forward to all thats in store for GetElastic.

    Travis

  11. @ Paulo

    AARF is Avenue A/Razorfish

  12. Love the new changes, guys! I like that you rolled out new features and kept it feeling similar.

    I definitely feel your pain about the WP upgrade. Our blog is so customized, we won’t be upgrading until our redesign launches (soon, but not soon enough). Meanwhile, we dealt with a hack, too, but (fortunately) didn’t lose or compromise any data. Meanwhile, since we’re not on 2.5, Technorati doesn’t care that we exist and our “authority” rank has dropped 200 points in the past two months because we’re not being indexed. Oy!

    Anyway, the features are great. I love the toggling between favorites, latest, most popular, and webinars. Great idea!

  13. [...] whole week without getting hacked, that’s good news! And here’s some great news for e-mail marketers, Sitebrand’s [...]

  14. Hiya, i have come across your blog a few times when doing research. I own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a ton of spam? If so how do you control it, any plugin or something you can suggest? I get so much it’s driving me insane. I am using a hosted blog at the moment, but want to start my own soon so i can only imagine what it will be like when i am not familiar “administering” a blog. So any help or input is much appreciated, i’m so frustrated i had to turn my comments off which i don’t want to do. Thanks :)

  15. @Lamont,

    We’re using the regular wordpress Akismet plugin, it’s pretty good but the occasional spam gets through and legitimate comment gets disabled (if the commenter includes more than one link).

    Are you using WordPress?

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