Small Business SEO Hacks: Are You Missing a Trick?

Did you know that Google processes more than 40,000 searches every second? Every year, this search engine completes 1.2 trillion searches. The figures are staggering, and that’s just for one site. If you run a business, the scope to make money from advertising your company online is enormous, but how do you tap into this gold mine? If you’re not an SEO expert, you may be missing a trick. These helpful hacks should prove handy.

Running a blog

If you don’t already have a blog on your website, it’s worth considering adding this feature. You can use your blog to provide customers with useful information, as well as optimising the pages to improve your search ranking. If you’ve never written a blog before, you may assume that it’s relatively straightforward.

On the contrary, that’s not always the case, especially when you’re trying to forge a path into the world of SEO.

To make your blog successful, you need to focus on producing great quality content that’s relevant to your business. You also need to make sure that you have fresh and original ideas and that your content is easy to find.

Include anchor texts, backlinks, and keywords to make your blogs more SEO-friendly, but avoid anything that looks unnatural. If you put a paragraph of text together and stuff in some popular search terms, this doesn’t constitute a blog post. There’s even a chance you might end up getting penalised by Google.

If you’re not a talented writer or you’re new to SEO then outsource. It’ll be worth hiring a freelance blogger or working with an SEO agency.

Understanding the market

To design an effective SEO strategy, you need to understand the market.

Who are you trying to attract and how are you going to go about luring them in and beating off the competition? To ensure that your campaign is relevant, it’s wise to do some research into the habits and online activity of your audience.

Which search engines do they use? What terms and words are most popular? Which social media platforms does the demographic use? What kind of content are your customers interested in and how long do they spend reading articles or blogs online?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll find it much easier to tailor your content and streamline your digital marketing campaign.

Move with the times

If you’re a fan of fashion or technology, you’ll know all too well that trends change and evolve continuously, and the same is true of SEO trends. What was popular a year ago is not necessarily going to cut the mustard today.

Be prepared to adjust and adapt your campaign in line with new trends and patterns. Use analytics to judge how effective your strategy is and identify what other brands and companies are doing. Read blogs and books about SEO trends and listen out for nuggets of wisdom from leading entrepreneurs and marketing experts.

If you can stay one step ahead, this will help you outshine the competition.

Are you a small business owner? If you’re not familiar with SEO yet or you’re keen to boost your online profile, hopefully, you’ll find this guide useful.

Your Love/Hate Relationship With Google

When you run a website online, Google is either going to seem like your greatest ally or your worst enemy. But that all depends on the decisions you make when marketing your business. It can also be affected on how well you know the search engine giant. Google knows what you need, do you know what Google wants? The answer is probably no, but it’s never too late to find out. Let’s look at some of Google’s loves and hates so that you can understand how they impact your business website.

Google Hates Clones

You might think that you don’t have any copies of your site pages online, but you’d be surprised. Often, with each different source the name for the site page changes. So, from one source it might be abc.net.au and another could be http://www.abc.net.au/. It’s the same site, but due to being reached by a different source, there’s a separate domain. The issue here is now Google doesn’t know which one to focus on. Which one do you want to rank? That’s why you should work to tell Google which is the most important and change the copycats accordingly. Do this, and you’ll definitely see a lot more success with your ranking online.

Google Loves Fresh Content

If your site has fresh content, you’ll probably be adding posts, articles and media to your site on a daily basis. Google loves sites that are constantly changing and evolving. But it’s not looking for little changes here. It wants to see large, sweeping gestures that have a real impact on the site in question. Companies such as Local Digital can help you make this gesture with the content that they can create, produce and release for you. Don’t forget, if you are releasing new content on your site, it has to be high quality. If you don’t ensure this, you might find that your site earns a Google penalty and you definitely don’t want that.

Google Hates Sloppy SEO

If there’s one thing you must be aware of about Google it’s the opinion it has of SEO techniques. Google is aware and understands that sites need SEO to rank in a competitive market. But it also wants any SEO tactic that is used to be subtle, and it should not impact the quality of the site in any way. An example of this would be stuffing a piece of content with links. If it becomes unreadable or no longer makes sense, Google is certainly going to have a problem with it and so will you.

Google Loves Great Designs

Ultimately, Google is most interested in the experience of users online (UX). Their aim is to ensure that high ranking sites are designed to a high-quality level and offer great content. One of the ways Google does this is by looking at the duration that customers spend on a site. Generally speaking, if users are clicking on and back off your site in minutes, you are going to have a low ranking online.

All The Google Services Your Business Should Be Using

There are some people out there who think that Google is nothing more than a search engine. Of course, there’s much more to this juggernaut than a simple search tool. Google offers all sorts of services that can be very beneficial to your business. We’ve got a definitive list of them for you today, along with some information about what they can do. So, let’s take a look.

Google Business

Google very much understands that businesses need a helping hand to navigate its vast array of possibilities. That’s where Google Business comes in. It helps you to gain access to its network of opportunities, legitimizing your company as an online business. Some of the things you can do with Google Business is register your opening hours, phone number and get yourself on the map. Local businesses engaging in retail or restaurant marketing strategies might particularly benefit from this.

internet-search-engine
Image Credit: Pixabay
Google Search

Yes, this is the tool you’ve been using for years. Every business is probably going to be using Google’s search engine tool in some form or another. You should certainly be using it, but think about how you use it as an SEO tool, too. Search Engine Optimization helps your online presence to become more prominent. As a result, your website should rise up the search rankings along the way. This can be bolstered with a variety of methods that are quite complicated in nature.

Google Plus

Social media has taken over the world, and you just knew that Google had to get in on the action. They did that in the form of Google Plus, and you’ll need to get involved with it. If nothing else, signing up for Google Plus allows you to take advantage of the rest of Google’s services. It’s also yet another important social media marketing option to entice new customers. It has a few quirks that separate it from other social media platforms, making it a worthwhile look-in.

google-plus
Image Credit: Pixabay
Google AdWords

Google AdWords is an advertising tool to help boost sales and increase brand recognition. You know all those Google advertisements you see when you search for something? They might have come through an AdWords campaign. You’re free to set a budget and go as elaborate with your campaign as you like, too. If you’re struggling to get interest in your business, this might just be a good option.

Google Analytics

This is yet another tool that is used extensively by those who operate a website for business purposes. Google Analytics gives you access to masses of information about your site and its metrics. For example, you might be able to find out about social media traffic, mobile engagement and much more. It can help to streamline your entire business, showcasing trends and areas of improvement. It’s no surprise that Google Analytics is one of the most popular analytical tools available for website management.

adwords
Image Credit: Pixabay

These are just the Google services that you should be using. You’ve also got options in the form of Gmail, Hangouts and more. There’s a lot of potential at your fingertips!

 

All Images From Pixabay.com – Link 1Link 2Link 3Link 4

 

7 Valuable Tips to Perfectly Name Your New Startup

You just had the perfect business idea and now you’re scrambling around to put together a business plan that’s going to take it to fruition. You’ve pulled together the capital you need to kick-start it; assembled a really good team or you’ve opted to go the journey alone. You have a great location in mind, if a brick and mortar business is your thing or maybe you’ll be working from home. Fantastic! 

There’s just ONE tiny little detail that’s holding you back. You can’t quite come up with the perfect business name! Or maybe you have, but you’re not sure what to do next. And how well the new name will be received by your target market or audience?

Here are seven tips to help you name your new startup.

1. The name should be easily pronounced, especially if it’s a made-up word.
Brands like Häagen-Dazs come to mind. Naming your company is a lot like finding the perfect name for a baby. While it’s great that you want to be extremely creative and original, sometimes reining that enthusiasm in is not such a bad approach. Every day people mispronounce global brands like Nike, Volkswagen, Louis Vuitton, Hublot, and IKEA. Keep it simple and ensure the winning name is one everyone else (not just you) will be able to sound out properly. Be sure it can be pronounced properly in foreign countries (with foreign languages) as well.

Hublot_example
The Swiss luxury watchmaker is pronounced “oo-blow”, not “hub-lot”

2. Don’t get a generic name that lacks meaning to your startup.
Try to focus on being authentic, original, and personalise your startup. Your goal should be to stand out from the crowd. If you’re thinking of starting a flower shop, the words “flower shop” don’t need to always be included. Examine your company’s products and services to draw some inspiration for good name options. The activewear brand, Under Armour makes for a good example in those instances. You can also stop and think about what is it you want your customers to do like action camera manufacturer GoPro (Go professional). Get it?

Read: Found a Great Business Name? Save Yourself Some Money and Make Sure It’s Available! ‏

3. Avoid using acronyms or shortened names.
While dropping vowels from words to create the perfect name for a tech startup seems to be all the rage these days, using acronyms or initials for your catering business might not work. You first priority will be to build your brand and identity. Trying to be “cool” or “trendy” is not where you need to be putting your efforts, especially as it relates to marketing (and advertising). Let your target market get used to hearing your company name in full (as is). A company like 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) rebranded because its customers came up with the name. In those instances it works to go with a shortened version of your company name.

3M products.jpg
3M has evolved into a company best known for its Post-it products

4. Make sure it’s a name you can have trademarked.
Here’s one of the most common mistakes those new to entrepreneurship typically make. They create the perfect business, find the best location and space (if it’s a brick and mortar model), and the ideal name for their startup. Everything looks great on paper too. Do you only want to sell within your own country or do you eventually want to become an international merchant? Please ensure you declare your business ambitions. When they go in to register their business name and logo that’s when they find out the name or something like it already exists, whether locally or internationally. That takes me to my next tip.

5. Check your local registrar of companies and do your own search for the name availability.
Do your research from the very start. There’s nothing more disappointing than failing to look into name availability for a startup. In most countries, all it takes is phone call or an online search on your local registrar of companies’ website. In Ontario, Canada for example, you can contact Service Canada to search for, register and renew a business name online. It’s usually offered as a government service and search is usually free. Registration on the other hand is done at a nominal fee. If you haven’t decided on a name, bring your list with you and take the time to find out if any or all are already taken. Invest the time in research so you don’t wind up wasting a lot of that precious resource.

Service Canada
A Service Canada location | Source: The Canadian Press Images | Lars Hagberg

6. Google is also perfect to do business name search.
Most people might not be aware, but there’s no platform better for a name search than Google. It’s one of the easiest ways and points to start from. It’s also FREE! Simply type in the name (or names) you have in mind and see what the results return. For the record that was NOT a lesson on “How to Google For Dummies”. However, try to combine this with checking with your local registrar of companies. Some businesses may or may not have a digital or online footprint depending on where in the world they are.

7. Test it out on your family and friends to gain their feedback.
This one is perhaps one of the most important tips I can leave with you. Always, always, always test out your potential startup names on your family members and close friends. Their feedback will be invaluable. Before you try out your names on them, be sure to give them context about your business, services, products, target market, and ambitions. Sometimes what we think is a winner, is actually not. What sounds good to us might not sound good to the masses. So get out your list, put it on a wall for all to see, get a marker (Sharpie works fine), and start eliminating the names they dislike and checking the ones they do like.

Remember, your business name is the foundation on which your brand and identity will be built. Get it right.

What Is the Future of Design In Business?

How much does the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of a website or mobile application (app) influence whether or not you revisit or continue to use that platform no matter how popular it is? I’m guessing they’re probably THE biggest influences and who could blame you!

design disruptors

A documentary titled “Design Disruptors: How Design Became the New Language of Business” from InVision and directed by Catalyst, hopes to explore the future of design in business. It features interviews with some of the world’s biggest tech platforms and most disruptive companies. These include some of the following:

  • Google
  • Dropbox
  • Netflix
  • Airbnb
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MailChimp

UX

Design Disruptors is scheduled to be released later this year, but for now, you can sign up for updates via http://www.designdisruptors.com/

The newly released trailer introduces us to top designers from some of the world’s smartest companies. Watch below:

Google announces its play to become a wireless service provider

They already make smartphones (Nexus) and one of the leading smartphone Operating System (Android). It makes the perfect market entry and pivot don’t you think? Not quite.

According to Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President at Google, the plan is to do some experimentation and possibly get established mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) to implement some of Google’s best practices.

Although initial plans are to be small scale, the approach will be to purchase wholesale access from it’s carrier partners Sprint and T-Mobile and sell back to its own customers. I guess the long and short of it is don’t expect Google to become a giant MVNO anytime soon. Still, it’s exciting to think of Google as added competition and a possible industry disruptor.

Google serves up $300 million worth of solar panels for US homes

Tech giant, Google has just invested a staggering $300 million in solar panels to help home owners across 15 US states make the move into cleaner energy.

Google will be partnering with SolarCity, made famous by tech magnate Elon Musk. Once the solar panels are installed, SolarCity will be charging the residents a lower bill than the traditional utility that used fossil fuels.

It’s a very strategic move by Google who are “currently using renewable energy to power 35% of our operations, and we continue to look for ways to increase our use of clean energy.” They’ve made agreements to fund $1.5 billion in renewable energy projects. More ‘power’ to Google!

This is Google’s second investment in SolarCity, joining their mission in providing a better way to power homes and businesses while contributing to a cleaner Earth. To date, SolarCity has raised funds sufficient to finance more than $4 billion in solar systems. They boast that “a new customer signs up with us every 3 minutes”. That’s a staggering 175,200 people annually.

Over the next decade, I anticipate even in the developing world, the solution to the energy crisis will be renewable. It’s far more accessible and versatile when it comes to harvesting and installation in comparison to traditional fuels and infrastructure.

12 Tips to Successfully Design a Restaurant Menu

Image

So my first restaurant menu design project just happened to be with one of my favourite restaurants in Jamaica called Jack Sprat Restaurant. It’s an ultra cool space to hangout with great food and a great atmosphere sitting right next to the ocean; very picturesque. It also just happens to be world famous too.

When I was asked to take on this design assignment, I was extremely ecstatic because it was an opportunity for work, but more importantly it was for a place I’ve spent many hours making memories and having experiences.

Here was my approach to the project and perhaps there are a few tips in here that might be useful to you in case you too ever land a similar design job:

  1. Always remember, its a collaborative effort with your client even if they’ve given you free rein.
  2. Research as much as possible. Google is your best friend.
  3. Try to understand your client’s needs. Ask pointed questions.
  4. Find inspiration from existing menus.
  5. If the restaurant has an existing menu, look at how you can improve the entire thing.
  6. Layout is important, but (food) categorisation is integral to a well-designed menu!
  7. If a brand and identity exists for your client’s restaurant, try to preserve it in your updated design.
  8. Simplicity continues to be “…the ultimate sophistication.” (Leonardo da Vinci).
  9. Never include the dollar sign ($) or currency equivalent in front of prices; psychologically it affects the customer’s purchasing decisions.
  10. Include all the important details about the restaurant: opening hours, accepted payment methods and a back-story (optional).
  11. Imagery is a plus. Try to get some good photographs of the restaurant, food, drinks, etc.
  12. Proof read! Better yet, get a fresh pair of eyes to help you.

Good luck!

Fun Fact: Jack Sprat Restaurant was named after the famous English language nursery rhyme.

What are your best tips? Leave a comment below and keep the knowledge exchange going.