After the Data Feed has been cleaned up to the point where it is ready to be used to make pages, the appropriate Detail Template, and Index Template need to be designed.
A WebMerge template is an HTML file you use and design to work with your web site, the application WebMerge, and the merchant data feed. A template is required for both the index pages and the detail pages, the two types of web pages created by the WebMerge application.
Most WebMerge users utilize an existing page from their site to start the process of creating a template. The reasons are logical, as the template should resemble pages on your own web site, and are a good starting point. Building templates only requires small modifications to your existing web page design.
This process requires placement of information from the data feed using "Placeholders," referred to as WebMerge Tags WM-Tags in the template. WebMerge reads the template, looking for placeholders, so that WebMerge can insert information from the data feed. Typical information to place in the template is, for example the price or description.
WebMerge can also generate a set of web pages based on templates included with the application. However, the pages generated will be very plain, without your logo or any customization or personalization. The affiliate marketer will not be successful, without using a customized template of their own design.
Detail pages are generated by WebMerge, and feature information on every individual product in the data feed file. This is accomplished by WebMerge when it reads the data feed. Each time WebMerge finds a new record in the data feed, it creates a new detail page, populating areas of the page with information from the data feed, and the next individual record in the data file.
Detail pages produced by WebMerge, are dependent on how you design the detail template for each web site. Detail templates can be set up to display one product per page, or multiple products on each detail page. The area for configuring detail pages in WebMerge can be found on the detail pages tab in the WebMerge interface.
Click Here for more details on designing your Detail Template
Index pages are generated by WebMerge, and feature links to detail pages created by WebMerge. Think of index pages as a way for web site visitors to navigate to your detail pages. In a "Tree" like structure similar to what one finds with folders and subfolders in Windows Explorer, index pages are the documents above detail pages in the final uploaded web site design. (See Figure 3 below)
A typical data feed driven site design might incorporate more than one tier of index pages, corresponding to a main category, then sub-categories – and finally detail pages. If the merchant has a complex or comprehensive data feed and product structure, more than one level of index pages will likely be required to help site visitors more easily navigate your web site. Additionally, search engine spiders will want to see proper linking and "drill-down" capability that can only help a site's SEO rankings.
As mentioned above, some data feeds have so many products; it is impractical to have a simple two-tier structure. An example of this is where there are three hundred "cleaner" products, and each of those might end up being a link on the main index page. This is completely impractical, the file size will be excessive, take forever to load in the user's browser, and impractical for the user to read or navigate down the page to all of the links. For a proper design, sub-category indexes are needed as well.
Click Here for more details on designing your Index Template
WebMerge requires the location of files it generates on your local computer or server. Some thought should be put into this selection prior to generating pages. Some data feeds are quite large, and it is a good idea to have at least two separate folders. For example, one folder (directory) for the detail pages, and one for the index pages. A wise designer will not mix the generated pages with any other types of files.
Fig. 3 - Locations on local PC, MAC or Server to store HTML files (pages) created by WebMerge.
Keeping file types separate will allow viewing the pages created in Windows Explorer without being confusing, and will allow comparison between different generations of pages more easily. For example, pages built on July 1st for xyz merchant, and receive an update from the merchant two months later, and generate a new build, it is important to know which are the original pages at the web site. A simple comparison can be made on your local hard drive, by checking the dates of the files generated.
NOTE:The terms Directory and Folder are considered interchangeable for the purposes of this tutorial. In terms of web servers, the term Directory is generally accepted, and will be used here predominantly.
WebMerge will overwrite existing files if they have the same name as previously generated files. This comes in handy when making redirect pages, from out of date detail pages. For example, if a visitor lands on a page that was valid a month ago featuring a "2GHz Desktop Computer" that is now out of stock, a redirect page can be generated to redirect the user to a search page or your main computer page (to make another selection). It may be a good idea to let your site visitor choose whether or not to move on to another page in your site, or go directly to the merchant via an affiliate link.
Automatic redirects directly to the merchant site are not recommended, as may be considered un-ethical, and may actually violate the terms of service for many merchants. Do not risk your relationship with a merchant, because you wish to drive traffic this way. Give the visitor a choice, or direct him to a relevant page inside your site.
Manual redirect pages are particularly useful if pages have been spidered and indexed by a search engine, and you don't want to lose the traffic sent to the old page. In order to generate redirect pages, it will be necessary to make a record of the files that were not over-written in the latest build.
Revision 4 (2014)
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