Saturday, December 10, 2011

Selecting a Hosting Platform

So I've finally started to look into hosting platforms so that I can be ready to set up shop on my own once sweater season is over. So far 3 of them have stood out as the most used by people on Etsy - Weebly, Goodsie and Supadupa. I have a few primary concerns in no particular order:

1) Stability of the company: I'd like to choose a platform that has some history and record of stability. How long have they been in existence and is their customer base growing or shrinking? Weebly wins hands down on this one because they've been around for ages and get great reviews from most people that use it. Many professional web developers recommend it to their DIY clients as an easy way to get going.

2) Qualifications of administrative and technical staff: I probably won't be able to get answers to this one but again, Weebly has a great reputation and the others are too new to have a track record. I'd like to see something that has at least 99.5% uptime but I might not be able to get an answer to that either.

3) Ability to control SEO. They all give you some ability to do this but I'm going to have to do more research to be certain that I'm at least going to be able to have a strategy that includes my shop title, shop description and section names in addition to item titles, tags and descriptions. So far I've only looked into Supadupa in detail and I already see a problem with section names. I need to keep researching this by dumping the page source for a shop and an item on each platform and take a look at what ends up in the main SEO tags that google uses. I also need to figure out if weebly gets better google placement because of backlinks than the newer ones will. TBH it's somewhat stunning to me that so few people see this is a major issue even though they are going to have to drive all of their own traffic there from search engines.

4) Cost - I dove in and started a Supadupa account about 5 minutes before their "free for life" deal expired. I may not end up using it but it's hard to beat that price. So far the interface seems incredibly easy. Goodsie has a monthly fee and it sounds like Weebly has a free basic account but it doesn't have all of the available features that the paid accounts do.

5) Aesthetics - I have to be able to make it look nice and use my logo, banner, etc. Thankfully they don't say Etsy anywhere on them.

6) I have to be able to use my own URL and redirect it there without some host name plugged into it. I can live with a small logo on the bottom of the page but I'd prefer not to have one.

7) Ease of use. I'm pretty technical but I don't want to spend my time writing amateur HTML code. I want easy uploads and drop and drag functionality.

All in all I feel safer going with something that has been in existence for more then a few years but there are also advantages to getting in on the ground floor. In general the reason that sites give out free accounts to the first comers is to get feedback from them and give the whole thing a trial run so someone technical like me often gets to have some input into how to improve things like SEO. Since I have the free Supadupa account I'll start researching there and I'm sure that it will raise additional questions for me.

My first step was to close my Zibbet shop. I don't want to have to come up with 3 ways to describe the same thing without duplicate content because thinking up 2 of them is hard enough. Zibbet is dead anyway. I'm going to try to spend at least 30 minutes each day looking into this so that I'm ready to set up shop in the early spring.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at

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