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John W

Member Since 05 Nov 2002
OFFLINE Last Active Apr 28 2017 20:33

Topics I've Started

Paypal Express or Standard opinions wanted

18 April 2017 - 19:43

I'm looking for recommendations as to whether to use PayPal Express or Standard, or both on my site.  I have standard running for about 4 weeks and I see it's worth it.  I'd love to hear opinions on this.

Tracking numbers for batch print

25 March 2017 - 15:16

@Dan Cole asked me about how I send out tracking info in Batch Print, so here's some of the details.


I created a table called orders_tracking with an order number field and tracking number field.  But, I have been inserting this manually with a sql statement I generate from the tracking info my partners email me.

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `orders_tracking` (
  `orders_id` int(6) NOT NULL,
  `fedex_track_num` varchar(16) COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci NOT NULL,
  UNIQUE KEY `orders_id_2` (`orders_id`),
  KEY `orders_id` (`orders_id`)

In functions/general.php add to bottom.  I have it in the catalog functions/general.php also.

  function tep_track_fedex($order_id) {
    $fedex_query = tep_db_query("select fedex_track_num  from orders_tracking where orders_id = '" . (int)$order_id . "'");
    $fedexArray = tep_db_fetch_array($fedex_query);
    $fedex_tracking = $fedexArray['fedex_track_num'];
    $trackLink = false;
    if ($fedex_tracking) {
      $trackLink = '<a class="textlink" href="http://www.fedex.com/Tracking?tracknumbers=' . $fedex_tracking .'&cntry_code=us&language=english&clienttype=ivother">FedEx tracking number:'. ' ' . $fedex_tracking .'</a>';
      return $trackLink;
    return false;

in admin/batch_print after

        while ($orders = tep_db_fetch_array($orders_query)) {

          $order = new order($orders['orders_id']);


          // fedex tracking
          $order_id = $orders['orders_id'] ;
          $trackLink = tep_track_fedex($order_id);
          if (isset($trackLink)) {
            $contents[] = array('text' => '<br>' . $trackLink);
          } else {
            $contents[] = array('text' => '<br>' . 'no tracking' );

Here are all the files I use it in.  On orders it shows the tracking number as a clickable link in the right column.  That way if someone calls I can access their number and quickly track wiht a click.  They can also access it in their account.

Usages of tep_track_fedex [4 occurrences]

    55:  $trackLink = tep_track_fedex($order_id);
    55:  $trackLink = tep_track_fedex($order_id);
    97:  $trackLink = tep_track_fedex($order_id);
  501:  $trackLink = tep_track_fedex($order_id);

Let me knwo if you want to see more.

Google Algorithm update March 2017

13 March 2017 - 19:12

I just noticed I dropped pretty hard on my main category and after searching, it seems there may have been another algorithm update last week.  Anyone else drop?


I was high up on Google for many years but lately I have been sliding down.  I'm number 1 on Yahoo and Bing, but that doesn't really help much.

RegexBuddy and time saving trick

08 March 2017 - 19:47

So, I'm helping a friend by updating his old html site to Bootstrap, but the old site had tons of old table code that was very messy.  There's not a lot of pages so I was able to just pull out the text on most files and format it out.  I made a general template that files called and then outputed revelant content.  The real messy one was the gallery set up which was made with an old version of Photoshop.  So, I worked on a pattern to extract what I wanted using RegexBuddy (a tool I love) and with a little bit of work I had perfect output for all the pics I needed to capture and this is how I did it.


First a sample of the html code

		<TD align="center">	<A href="pages/Acropora_garden6.htm"><IMG src="thumbnails/Acropora_garden6.jpg" border="0" alt=Acropora_garden6></A>	</TD>
		<TD align="center">	<A href="pages/Acropora_garden7.htm"><IMG src="thumbnails/Acropora_garden7.jpg" border="0" alt=Acropora_garden7></A>	</TD>
		<TD align="center">	<A href="pages/blue_maxima_clam.htm"><IMG src="thumbnails/blue_maxima_clam.jpg" border="0" alt=blue_maxima_clam></A>	</TD>
		<TD align="center">	<A href="pages/blue_prostrata.htm"><IMG src="thumbnails/blue_prostrata.jpg" border="0" alt=blue_prostrata></A>	</TD>
		<TD align="center">	<A href="pages/blue_tort.htm"><IMG src="thumbnails/blue_tort.jpg" border="0" alt=blue_tort></A>	</TD>


		<TD align="center" valign="top">	<A href = "pages/Acropora_garden6.htm"><FONT size="3"  face="Arial" >Acropora_garden6...</FONT></A>
											<FONT size="3"  face="Arial" ></FONT>
		<TD align="center" valign="top">	<A href = "pages/Acropora_garden7.htm"><FONT size="3"  face="Arial" >Acropora_garden7...</FONT></A>
											<FONT size="3"  face="Arial" ></FONT>
		<TD align="center" valign="top">	<A href = "pages/blue_maxima_clam.htm"><FONT size="3"  face="Arial" >blue_maxima_clam...</FONT></A>
											<FONT size="3"  face="Arial" ></FONT>
		<TD align="center" valign="top">	<A href = "pages/blue_prostrata.htm"><FONT size="3"  face="Arial" >blue_prostrata.jpg</FONT></A>
											<FONT size="3"  face="Arial" ></FONT>
		<TD align="center" valign="top">	<A href = "pages/blue_tort.htm"><FONT size="3"  face="Arial" >blue_tort.jpg</FONT></A>
											<FONT size="3"  face="Arial" ></FONT>


Using this regex to pull out the pic name and alt


I was able to generate all the lines like this with the bootstrap formating and I just had to tell someone :)  After I cleaned up the alt info to be more presentable.

<div class="col-md-3 col-sm-4 col-xs-6 thumb">
  <a class="thumbnail equal-height" href="gallery/images/ORA_chips_acropora.jpg">
    <img class="img-responsive" src="gallery/thumbnails/ORA_chips_acropora.jpg" alt="ORA_chips_acropora">
      <p class="text-center text-capitalize">ORA_chips_acropora</p>
<div class="col-md-3 col-sm-4 col-xs-6 thumb">
  <a class="thumbnail equal-height" href="gallery/images/ORA_marshall_island_acro.jpg">
    <img class="img-responsive" src="gallery/thumbnails/ORA_marshall_island_acro.jpg" alt="ORA_marshall_island_acro">
      <p class="text-center text-capitalize">ORA_marshall_island_acro</p>
<div class="col-md-3 col-sm-4 col-xs-6 thumb">
  <a class="thumbnail equal-height" href="gallery/images/ORA_pillowtop.jpg">
    <img class="img-responsive" src="gallery/thumbnails/ORA_pillowtop.jpg" alt="ORA_pillowtop">
      <p class="text-center text-capitalize">ORA_pillowtop</p>
<div class="col-md-3 col-sm-4 col-xs-6 thumb">
  <a class="thumbnail equal-height" href="gallery/images/parvona_coral.jpg">
    <img class="img-responsive" src="gallery/thumbnails/parvona_coral.jpg" alt="parvona_coral">
      <p class="text-center text-capitalize">parvona_coral</p>

Google Adwords

23 November 2016 - 15:19

A few people here asked that we have a thread on Adwords, so I'll start it.  I've used Adwords since 2003 when you could do a nickel a click.  Then, it became a dime and the race was off.  Over time I've learned a lot and had a love/hate relationship.  This year Adwords account managers have helped me in updating and learning new features.  Currently, my ROI is the best it's been in at least a very long time, so I’ll try to share some ideas. For me, a big key is getting a repeat customer, but I also get some good sales from it.


First, you need to tie in Analytics, which is now part of Adwords.  Analytics can show you what sales you are getting through different ads and you can get the actual order id.   This helps in adjusting ads or even stopping those that don't pay off.  I look a lot at last 7 days and 30 days.  The 7 day view is good because you can see how small bid adjustments can cost a lot.  This can be done in the Adwords screens too.



And using a Google Feeder like Jack's, you need to set up with Google Shopping.  Jack has a great support thread on this and the Google shopping team will help you if needed.  I was slow to get this going, but it's really working well on some items I sell.  This gets you the ad boxes you see with pics at the top of Google as well as Google Shopping.



That covers the basics but AdWords and Analytics have a lot of features. 

  1. The biggest thing with AdWords is the better your ad is, the less you have to pay and still rank high.  So, take advantage of all the little extras like extended links and callouts.  Use all the characters you can but keep substance. 
  2. Once you create a base ad, you can copy and edit to make versions to test.  I added "Fully Secure Website" to one of my ads and it get 4 times the click through than any of my others in that ad group.  I did this based on switching to all SSL all the time.  Adwords also serves it higher, so it likes it.
  3.  You can also tailor you bids based on areas like states (Texas for instance).  Adjust based on days of the week or time of the day.  Adjust up or down for phones with browsers.  I bid that down because my biggest competitor on this isn't responsive in their site design.
  4. Remarketing was a huge fail for me that burned up cash with no ROI.
  5. Small bid adjustments that make you rank higher can cost way more than expected, so the 7 day running view is key.  The other key is look at it every day.  

There is some trial and error, but this can get you sales you are otherwise missing.  A lot probably depends on your margin, but for me I'll give 200 to sell 1600 especially since some will repeat.


There's a lot more to this and I'm not sure how much this helps, but hopefully others have something to add.  Or, if anyone has questions, maybe I can help.