IndieCommunication: Spambots, Authorize.net Payments, and Google Searches

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    The IndieCommunication newsletter for July 12 includes an update on spambots using IndieCommerce webforms, tips for resolving outstanding Authorize.net payments, and a note about the benefits of using the Google Search Console.

    Where Did the Spambots Go?

    RobotOver the past year, IndieCommerce websites had a very bad time with spambots using their webforms or user registration forms to send spam e-mails. The result was that some Internet service providers were occasionally blacklisting e-mails from sites using IndieCommerce. This would affect the delivery of order confirmation e-mails to customers as well as other transactional e-mails generated for customers by the IndieCommerce system.

    To stop the spambots, on June 6, IndieCommerce began requiring that all forms on IndieCommerce and IndieLite websites have a reCaptcha to prove that the “person” submitting a form was indeed human and not a nasty bot abusing the system.

    The results from the first month of using reCaptcha are in, and e-mail generated by spambots using IndieCommerce forms is down 35 percent. E-mail bounces (e-mails sent to e-mail addresses that don’t exist) are down 90 percent, and “deferrals” (e-mails that are sometimes rejected by the receiving server because they are coming in too fast) are down 90 percent.

    “Bounces and deferrals are both excellent metrics of how happy the rest of the Internet is with us and with the overall spamminess of our messages. The sudden drop in volume is probably all spam. In short, this has made a huge difference, and that will be reflected in our server’s reputation, which means there is a better chance of all mail going through,” said ABA System Administrator Josh Harding

    Incomplete Orders in ABA’s Authorize.net Payment Gateway

    Dollar billsIndieCommerce sites that use ABA’s Authorize.net payment gateway should look to see if they are owed money from incomplete orders. Orders in a “Payment Received” state are orders that have been charged to the customer — but until they are marked as “Completed,” the money is held in ABA’s escrow account.

    To be paid for “Payment Received” orders, booksellers need to mark those orders as completed. To review the status of outstanding orders, go to Store > Orders > View Orders. Update the status of shipped orders to “Completed,” and the funds will be transferred to the store’s account during the next Money Management period.

    For assistance, contact staff@bookweb.org.

    Websites: For Much More Than Online Orders

    Cartoon man with "Tips" signA bookstore’s website does much more than take online orders — it also drives traffic to the bookstore. For booksellers who are interested in learning what people are thinking about when they do a Google search and end up on their website, Google has a tool called “Google Search Console,” which can provide some surprising insights. When looking at what keywords and phrases people input to find IndieCommerce and IndieLite websites, a surprisingly large number are for generic terms, such as “bookstore” or “bookstore near me.”

    Web searches from mobile devices have increased and, in many cases, have surpassed searches from desktops and laptops. When customers use search terms like “bookstore” or “bookstore near me” to find nearby brick-and-mortar stores, Google recognizes the person’s location and displays results that are nearby. With this in mind, it’s important for booksellers to think of their website as a gateway to their physical store: use the homepage to talk about upcoming store events and in-store special offers and to list contact information, hours, and anything that will drive customers into the store.


    Booksellers are encouraged to send their thoughts, questions, or suggestions via e-mail to IndieCommerce staff at any time.

    Past editions of IndieCommunication are available on the IndieCommerce Updates page on BookWeb.org.