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Local Small Business Optimization Strategies

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Ever since Google made changes to their search algorithm, and introduced Google+, small business are benefitting more. The key change that Google made is their ability to provide search results based on location. This has improved the overall search experience for people because now when they search commands like – “Italian restaurant”, “banks”, and “flower shop”, you’ll find what’s close by. However, for small businesses to feel the positive effects of these changes, it’s important they optimize their websites correctly. It’s important they, add the right keywords and data so search engines pick-up on them when displaying search results.

I decided to do some research, and provide you with the best local optimization tips. This way if you’re a local business, you can start making changes right away. Let’s get started and your feedback will be greatly appreciated.

The Right Keywords

When someone is searching a towing company, and they’re located in Los Angeles, it’s important as a business owner you have those keywords placed within your pages. This will let Google know that you’re a business which offers this type of service, and have a business located within the region. First, how does Google track where the searcher is located?

First, they look specifically at the keywords typed into the search bar, and secondly, where they are typing from because the browser does have its own IP address delegated. Both will ensure the results obtained are as relevant as possible, however, the owner of the business must do their part too.

When optimizing your website, it’s important you have the address in place, and keywords like “Los Angeles” and “Towing” in the URL, on the page, and in the title of the page. The best practice is to choose keywords which relate to your business well so when Google indexes your page, you’ll be able to show up in the search results.

Here is a great resource on how to optimize your pages correctly as a local business.

Google Business Listing

As a small business, it’s very important to create a small business page on Google. Start by submitting your business to Google, and optimizing the description, name, and adding all the other relevant information. Why is this even more important now than before? Simple, it’s because now displays the local business high within the search results when searching. Just look at the example below when I did a search for “Italian restaurants” –

You can see how the nearest restaurants to me showed up first in the results. These are all connected to Google Business only because the owners added them by creating a page. Head over to Google Business, and create a page for free.

Citations

It’s important to add your business to local directories which are great for traffic, but also brand awareness. As Google starts to see your business more within directories, it starts to increase your value slowly increasing your rankings within the SERP’s. This doesn’t have to be hard because you can hire someone to go through adding your business to other directories. For example, head over to Fiverr.com and purchase a gig for $5.00 for 10-15 citations, and that’s all you really need to get started. However, focus on quality sites because these add most of the value quickly.

Select the Right Categories

Have you noticed when adding your business to directories, Google, and other business sites, you’ll always be asked what category your business belongs too? The reason is quite simple, it’s because doing this allows the search engine to understand more about your business. For example, when someone’s searching “Italian food”, they can be searching for food equipment, restaurants, chefs, etc. However, by simply stating what category your business belongs to, it’ll diffuse a lot of confusion…right?

The next time you are adding your site anywhere, it’s important to list the right category so things stay smooth, and clear always.

Final Thoughts

These are my top small business optimization strategies so start following them right away. They are very easy to follow, and the results can be amazing in a very short period. If you simply don’t have the time to do all this yourself, then hire someone who is experienced to get the job done for you. But, ask to see their work, and get a breakdown of their experience so you know the person you hired knows what they are doing.

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Create a Blog

When Your Small Business Should Start a Blog

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Blogging is one of the most reliable methods of making a name for yourself as a startup. It is a valuable tool that helps you connect with your target audience, amass followers through a lead capture strategy, and put the brand out there through content promotion; such as social media posts, newsletters, and guest blogging.

It’s not so much a question of ‘if’ your brand should be leveraging the power of content marketing, but more of a question of ‘how’. With so many different options to choose from, it’s not just about creating new content and placing it on your site — it’s also about making sure you are effectively promoting it in the process.

Keep in mind that it’s not really a question of whether you need a blog or not—it’s when you’re going to build a blog for your business’s website. Without a blog, you can’t really prove your expertise in your industry and win the trust of your target audience. According to statistics, 81% of online consumers trust blogs for advice. A blog may also drive purchase intent and helps you unlock a higher conversion rate for your website.

Aside from connecting with your target audience, a blog will also fuel your SEO efforts by giving web crawlers more content to index. The more blog posts you publish, the more exposure your site gets.

How Soon Should You Start a Blog?

Granted, you do need to prepare the foundations of a successful blog first before you begin to produce content. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional designer to set up a beautiful site. A CMS like WordPress can provide you with brilliant themes and useful plugins to put together a fully-functional site; all without writing a single line of code.

Once you have everything set up and customized, make sure to get on with blogging as soon as possible. This 2016, 76% of B2B marketers say they will increase their blog content production this year. However, successful blogging requires a ton of research and planning. On top of writing the actual blog posts, you will also spend a lot of time looking for topic ideas, getting-to-know your target audience, and devising a solid keyword strategy. Here are some of the best tips you need to remember when blogging:

Write for Your Audience

First and foremost, remember that you need to blog for people—not for machines. The reason behind this problem is because some marketers only choose to blog for SEO. However, remember that search engines now prioritize the reading experience of users when it comes to determining the SERP rankings of content. While they still take into account the overall quality of written content, they also consider other factors such as bounce rate, page loading speed, session duration, and other indicators of user engagement level.

A rule of thumb is to develop personas for your target audience. Identify the information they need, understand their problems, learn their content preferences, and provide the necessary courses of action to help them. A content research tool like BuzzSumo will help you learn more about the type of content that’s popular in a specific industry.

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers,” says Brian Clark of Rainmaker Digital.

Invest in Custom Content

When learning the content preferences of your target audience, you are often required to explore other content formats such as infographics, eBooks, explainer videos, and slideshows. According to statistics, 90% of online consumers prefer custom content while 60% feel more “connected” with brands after discovering custom content from their website.

Keep in mind that your brand image is on the line with every custom content you publish. You need the help of professional producers and graphics designers to make killer content for your blog audience. While setting up a blog can be cheap, you might as well consider getting a business loan to fuel your custom content creation efforts.

Lastly, remember that you need to focus on the flow of your content and walk your readers through every step. Doing so will help build relationships with your readers and establish your brand as an authority. Also mention the key takeaways at the beginning or by the end of a blog post to improve retention.

“Content marketing and custom content are customer relationship processes that require unique and well-crafted content. Whichever approach you take, you need to invest either your time or money in content creation,” says Neil Patel of NeilPatel.com.

Be Consistent with an Editorial Statement

A lot of companies overlook the importance of having a clear editorial statement that keeps content development in sync with a brand voice. It helps make your content distinguishable amongst the internet’s vast sea of resources and keep your content team in the same page. This is something you should always keep in mind when creating content for your blog.

To identify your editorial statement, focus on supplementing the three key parts: the target audience, the deliverables, and the main goal. To help you understand this process, below is an example editorial statement for an SEO blog:

SEO blog provides online marketers (target audience) with up-to-date strategies (deliverable) to demystify the process of ranking for search engines (goal).

“Your editorial mission is something you—and everyone on your team—need to internalize. It is the measuring stick by which you evaluate everything you do,” says Michele Linn of Content Marketing Institute. Make sure to follow his advice!

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Blogging

Changing Workplaces Use New Apps to Guide Productivity

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The last decade reveals a significant change in the workplace environment due to new technology and the ability to convince employers that talent can work remotely and that they can allow and even encourage flexibly in the work environment. Now that the new dynamic of work is becoming accepted across more industries and business segments, the work environment is continuing to evolve as more technology is developed to guide productivity and shape collaborative processes.

Working in these new ways has made it possible to get more done and has contributed to better work/life balance, but it has also created new challenges in terms of maintaining employee motivation and connection to the company. However, technology is now working to address those challenges that remote workers face and to help provide a tighter network and sense of belonging to a company, despite where the work is being conducted.

From apps to software platforms, the changing workplace now has more tools that encourage more companies to alter where they expect their talent to work. Here are a few examples:

Asana

Asana provides a way to create and delegate tasks. It provides a way to chat within each task so conversations can take place while working, and attachments can be added or taken from Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. There are calendar features, dashboards, and to-do lists. Asana proves you don’t have to be in the office to take care of any daily tasks.

Confluence

This is another approach to working with anyone on a remote basis, especially in a team-oriented environment. All information is available to everyone on the team, including documents, notes, and plans in a format that can be easily searched. Gliffy integration is another feature that provides for a way to do wireframes quickly.

Taskworld 

Taskworld helps you to manage projects and stay on top of tasks and subtasks. Plus, it has an evaluation feature so you can measure and give feedback on job performance, which is still important regardless of the changing workplace structure.

Join.me

This tool provides an effective way to screen share meetings as well as conduct easy video conferencing. Join.me proves that there really isn’t a need to commute in to the office for a meeting anymore, saving considerable time that can be spent on something much more productive.

Flowdock

While Slack is getting a lot of attention for what it offers in terms of a collaborative tool for remote workers, Flowdock has similar features as well as integrates with a lot of other cool apps you might already be using in your new workplace, such as Jira, GitHub, Basecamp, Asana, Assembla, Trello and many more.

Insightly

In seeking an affordable, yet powerful CRM system that provides a way to organize and track all prospects and contacts as well as features that assist you with project management. It also offers a social CRM, which enables you to locate the social profiles of all your contacts in an efficient way without spending hours trying to sort through them.

Last Pass

Password management is critical for every company but especially those that employ remote workers. Passing around this sensitive information is necessary but can be handled much more effectively with a tool like Last Pass. Each employee has their own vault with the passwords they need to sign in remotely or access any type of cloud-based system the company uses.

Outro

Outro is a referral automation platform that speeds up how you find and identify new clients, employees, and investors. To further enhance your productivity, you can also export your other data and integrate it with all major CRM software.

PlutoTV

While it may not sound that productive to recommend an app that lets you stream live TV, you can take advantage of multitasking by staying updated on the business channels offered in PlutoTV’s line-up that cover markets, industries, regulatory environments and trends like MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg and more.

SystemID

If your company keeps inventory or has a warehouse for its products, SystemID can add greater efficiency and coordination to what often remains focused on manual processes. Instead, the use of a barcode system with integrated inventory management control offers a way to reduce costs and speed all logistical tasks.

Workfrom

One of the biggest discoveries about the changing workplace was the idea that people tend to work better when they regularly change the environment around them. Therefore, working from home makes a person more productive than always being at the office. Now, those working at home are discovering that, over time, the home also gets stale. Workfrom provides a source to locate other places where work can be done in your local area, such as a coffee shop, co-working space, or other tech-friendly spot.

Due

In the push to automate many tasks within a business, Due takes on numerous jobs related to project and time management, invoicing and estimates, and payment processing. This reduces human involvement, driving higher accuracy, speed, and productivity throughout all these critical business processes tied to cash flow.

Multiple Benefits in New Apps

In working with these types of apps, remote workers and their employers will discover further benefits from this changing workplace environment, including additional productivity, enhanced motivation, lower costs and greater revenue. Many studies have been done and are being done at this time which show us that having opportunities and flexibility in ones working hours and place of work is giving an added boost to work productivity. Finding the right tools to make all this work coordinate together is guiding that productivity.

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Blogging

How to Start a Blog in 7 Simple Steps – Visual Guide

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There are plenty of blog posts on starting a blog but what we wanted to give is a quick summary that will last in your memory, while also being easy on the eyes. With that being said… let me introduce you to our “How to Start a Blog in 7 Simple Steps” infographic, based off our original series found here.

Each step in this infographic breaks down the necessary components of a successful blog — such as choosing a topic, registering a domain and even promoting your content to drive traffic back to your site. In short, we cover everything you need to know about how to start a blog. You can view all 7 steps (in detail) in this series through the URLs below.

  1. Choosing a quality topic for your blog
  2. Setting up your web hosting and domain name
  3. How to install WordPress in just a few simple clicks
  4. Customizing the look and feel of your WordPress site
  5. How to create the best content for your audience
  6. Best SEO plugins and how to rank in Google
  7. Driving massive traffic back to your blog

How to Start a Blog Infographic

start a blog image

Step 1 – Choose a Topic and Domain for Your Blog

Topic = Passion

Choose a topic that you are comfortable and passionate about. Blogging for an income may take time so it is prudent to select a topic that you will not get bored. Passion can guide you through the rough seas so take your time on this very important step up front.

  • Narrow Your Topic – Health is a category and it is too broad. A classic example of a narrowed down topic is ‘how to lose weight’ or ‘how to lose belly fat’. Think about how to drill further on a topic that interests you. Think about – ‘how to lose belly fat without exercising’.
  • Look at the Online Market for that Topic – If you are starting a blog to make money then it is prudent to see if your topic has an online market. You can do this by searching Google for other blogs in the same topic. Competition is a good thing as the topic has interest and proved to produce an income. You can also search Google to see if there are any affiliate products that you can promote. The existence of affiliate products can further strengthen the case for the chosen topic.
  • What Monetization Options Best Fit You? (Advertising, eBook, Affiliate Products or Services) – Blogging income greatly depends on what you have to offer and how much time you are willing to put in order to offer a product or service.

Domain Name = Relevant and Simple

Once you have a topic it’s time to register a domain name like YourName.com or YourTopic.com

You can use a provider like NameCheap.com as they don’t have too many upsells like GoDaddy has.

Keep your domain name relevant to your topic and keep it simple so people can remember it.

Register Your Domain

It’s time to commit to blogging by registering your domain for a minimum of one or two years.

More Details: Step 1 – Topic and Domain

 

Step 2 – Choose a Website Platform and a Web Host

Platform = WordPress

You need a platform that runs your website – where you can create and manage content. WordPress is used widely and powers more than 20% of the internet. There is more than 15 million WordPress blogs. Here are some of the most common reasons people choose WordPress.

  • Most Popular
  • Customizable
  • Responsive Themes
  • Easy to Use

Select a Host and a Hosting Plan

Once you have a domain name and have selected to use WordPress to manage your website, you now need somewhere to keep the content and all the files – this is why you need a WordPress web host.

  • Start Small – to keep costs low.
  • Consider Cost and Performance – Speed is a Google ranking factor and the web host is a major factor in page load times.
  • Compare Support and Features – when starting out you don’t need bells and whistles; you can always upgrade to a higher plan when required. If you need help with anything related to your hosting you need a provider who responds fast hence you should take support into consideration.

More Details: Step 2 – Website Platform and Host

 

Step 3 – Install WordPress

All major hosting providers have an easy WordPress installation process; some may even do this for you free of any cost.

Update Blog Post Permalink Structure

After WordPress installation, there are a handful of basic housekeeping activities you need to get sorted; the 1st one being your internal URL structure. By default, WordPress throws some numbers for each new post like: YourSite.com/Post=123 and this is not good for the website user or search engines. So you need to change it to YourSite.com/PostName under Settings -> Permalinks
Permalinks-image

Install Essential Plugins

Plugins provide additional features to a WordPress blog and here are few to start with. Try to keep an eye on website performance when selecting plugins.

  • Akismet – Quite possibly the best plugin to protect your blog against spam.
  • Yoast for SEO and Sitemap – A plugin that does more than one thing. An SEO plugin is a must to better manage your SEO affairs.
  • Google Analytics by Yoast – If you are going with Yoast remember to add the Google Analytics plugin as the Yoast does not have this feature like ‘All in One SEO plugin’.
  • WP Cache – A plugin that caches your site to speed up loading times.
  • Ewww Image Compression or Similar – Websites require images and over time they can slow your site down so it is a good idea to have a plugin that compresses images.

More Details: Step 3 – Install WordPress

 

Step 4 – Find a Theme

This is a simple and fun step. Play around with a handful of themes to see what best fits you. Remember you can always change the theme any time. Here are a few things to look out for when selecting a theme.

  • Easy to Customize
  • Responsive
  • SEO Ready

More Details: Step 4 – Selecting a Theme

 

Step 5 – Create Awesome Content

The only way to get attention is to create amazing content that is valuable to the target audience. Here are a few places you can look for content ideas and keywords to start with.

Content Ideas and Keywords

  • Topsy.com
  • Google Trends
  • Google Search
  • Forums

Format Your Post

Checkout some of the top performing posts using BuzzSumo for your topic and you will see they are mostly well formatted. Posts that are broken into paragraphs with sub headings are easier to read. It is also a good idea to include a few attention grabbing images that are relevant to keep the readers engaged.

  • Use Subheadings, H2 and H3 Tags
  • Include Images – Here is a guide to 28 awesome free image sources.
  • Make the Content Easy to Read by Formatting the Text

More Details: Step 5 – Creating Great Content

 

Step 6 – On Page SEO Components for Organic Traffic

For a new blog focus on internal SEO elements for rankings. Once your blog is a few months old you can look at building backlinks to boost your rankings and traffic.

  • Title – 60 Characters
  • Description – 150 to 155 Characters
  • Use Keywords (in title, description and body of the blog post – Yoast SEO plugin can help with this)
  • Link to Valuable Content Externally and Internally

More Details: Step 6 – SEO Plugins and Keywords

 

Step 7 – Content Promotion to Build an Audience and Traffic

This is an important step most new bloggers either ignore or underestimate. Content promotion does not stop with sharing your content with your family and friends in social media.

  • Build a Mailing List – Number one mistake most new bloggers make is not building a mailing list.
  • Create a Social Media Following – Share great content from others and follow influencers.
  • Use Hashtags – To multiply your content spread.
  • Email Bloggers – If you have an awesome piece of content then reach out to fellow bloggers so they can either link to it or socially promote it. You can also ask for a guest post so you can start building your backlinks.
  • Get on Forums

More Details: Step 7 – Drive Traffic

 

Wrapping it up

This is a visual summary of the major steps involved in starting a blog. Don’t get overwhelmed, take action one step at a time. With experience you will master some important elements like link building and content promotion. Each day is challenging and exciting. Why not show the world your creative side?

Ready to get started with a blog of your own? Click here and get a free domain name!

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