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20% Direct Traffic – A Step Ahead is run by board certified pedorthists (C-Peds) who are well educated in biomechanics, types of gait, and medical conditions relating to the feet. Their purpose is to provide information, education, and quality products that are effective. They sell products specific to your foot type, gait, or pathology management. is led by FootHealth, a small family owned company that was established in 1986. Over the years the company has gained momentum in providing quality over-the-counter products as well as basic foot education to patients and consumers. Nicole Winzenread took time out of her schedule to answer some questions I had.

Mike: Hi Nicki, let’s start out with the fact that you are a certified pedorthist, or C-Ped. What exactly is that and what kind of training is involved?

Nicki: Hi Mike, thanks for taking interest. A Certified Pedorthist has training in the design, manufacture, modification, and fit of orthotics and footwear. The goal of our profession is to successfully alleviate foot problems conservatively. Doctors often send patients to Pedorthists for non-invasive treatment of the foot which may include shoes and orthotics. Pedorthists do not diagnose foot conditions, but we do have an excellent understanding in treatment of foot trauma through footwear.

My specific certification as a Pedorthist is with the American Board for Certification (ABC) and I am also licensed in Pedorthics with the Minnesota Board of Podiatric Medicine. For this certification, education and training must be done through a school accredited with the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Following the schooling, patient care and practical experience under the supervision of a Certified Pedorthist is required before a candidate can take the national exam.

Mike: Tell me about the business of You sell insoles, obviously. What do insoles actually do? How do they help the consumer?

Nicki: Insoles can help relieve numerous foot problems and other issues such as knee, hip, or back pain. We are on our feet taking thousands of steps every day and this is painful for some. People use insoles to provide support for the feet and alleviate pain and foot fatigue. Some of the common conditions that insoles are very effective for are plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, shin splints, and fallen arches. Many people who have knee or back issues also find relief from insoles because their problem stems from their gait and structure. I have seen patients who had excruciating pain with every step get immediate relief from insoles.

Mike: The domain name is spot on for this business. Can you tell me how you acquired the name? Can you share the purchase price?

Nicki: We originally started out with the name because FootHealth is our company name and insole brand name. At one point we decided that we want to keep that domain for future use as our own brand site, so we began considering alternate domains for the variety of insoles we offer. When we realized that the domain was available we knew it was perfect for what we wanted to do. We went through a broker to negotiate obtaining the name. Although we cannot disclose the price, we can say that the cost was worth it. We launched the site just over a year ago and have been very happy with the progress so far.

Mike: What benefits has the company seen from operating on a keyword name?

Nicki: The trust factor is a huge benefit, most people are immediately comfortable purchasing from a site with a keyword name. It is also very easy for people to remember. I believe it is beneficial for our search rankings as well.

Mike: The site also has a blog. What value do you find in providing content to support your products? Has this helped with site traffic, customer awareness?

Nicki: The blog just launched recently, about a year after the site. Because it is so new it does not help with site traffic very much, but we anticipate that it will in the future. We decided to blog because we wanted to have a place to share our knowledge of foot issues and how helpful insoles can be. Professionally we like making this information available to people whether they make a purchase from our site or not. Our goal is to provide resourceful information for people with foot problems who are looking for answers.

Mike: Your site lists many symptoms and conditions related to feet and insoles for several different sports and activities. Do the designs differ greatly?

Nicki: Yes, insoles can vary quite a bit from one another both in design and in materials used for fabrication. There are a few different factors to consider when choosing an insole, including arch height, activity level, and how much room is in the shoe to add the insole. Most insoles look very similar to one another, but the support they provide can be very different. That is why we put together the Insole Advisor, with hope that someone without any knowledge of what they need for their foot issue will be able to get a good recommendation of something that will work well for them.

Mike: I found the site by typing in in my URL bar of my browser. Do you happen to know the statistics around how many of your customers have done the same? Can you share your overall traffic numbers on an average month?

Nicki: It’s hard to know if those who are typing are doing so because they already know us or because they are just looking for insoles. Over the past 3 months 20% of our traffic has been direct. We launched November of 2018 and our traffic continues to increase steadily.

Mike: What challenges have you come across running an online business? Anything you were not expecting?

Nicki: Some of the challenge has been finding the right people to work with for all the different aspects of the site. There are varying opinions for the best way to approach SEO, how much to spend on advertising, how to advertise, and even which web platform is going to be the best for the company as we grow.

We are still a small family business and it is becoming evident that we will need to grow along with our site, which is a good thing. We were not expecting that to happen so quickly. We started out with a commitment to only offering products we believe in and are going to keep this a standard as we grow. We are planning to keep our knowledge of pedorthics and biomechanics as the integral foundation of the site and the products we offer.

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