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Small Business: Understanding the Competition

competition_small_business1. Pricing and why. Finding pricing is as easy as calling or checking out your competitor’s website, but also look for any hidden fees for services if applicable. Many industries are notorious for this. That information can be helpful in marketing materials for example. It can also give you an idea of where your business is at by comparison. That’s the easy part. Next, try to find out why competitors charge what they do. Maybe they have to charge X due to overhead and other costs, maybe they are able to charge more because they are better known or more trusted, maybe they charge less than you are able to. Whatever the case, understanding why they set their prices where they do will let you know what your options are. Maybe you can start charging more. Maybe you need to figure out ways to lower your prices or to better justify prices. Maybe you’ll discover methods that will allow you to lower your prices. This information will change regularly, so try to keep up to date. (more…)

Want More Testimonials? Here’s How

testimonials, from your clients, seo1. Provide a good service or product.
2. Ask.
3. Tell them how to leave a testimonial and make sure it’s easy.
4. Bribe them with offers.
5. Have someone physically attractive and with a pleasant demeanor ask.
6. Yes, we’re serious about number five.
7. Make sure you have options to leave testimonials on all of your social sites and your main site, control what does and does not show up, and try to have an offer in place for anyone who participates. (more…)

10 Tips for Writing Great Online Content

content-tips-411locals1. One of the first things designers and writers learn is this; you can show them something, or you can tell them something, but you can’t do both. Images and content need to complement one another, but they should not overlap. If you have a picture of an apple, don’t write the word apple under it.

2. The way people read a web page and the way they read print is different, so do not simply turn your current brochures and other marketing materials into a website. Web copy should be more interactive, with links in the content. It should also be shorter and get to the point faster. If web pages get too long and you feel everything you have is necessary, then reorganize that content and split it into different sections or pages. (more…)

SEO in Design

how-to-design-for-seo1. Make sure your navigation is search-engine friendly. The simpler the navigation the better – if your users are confused, web crawlers will be as well. Sometimes making something simpler is harder work. Take the time to organize the website into only a few main pages, and then from there you can have as many subcategories as are needed. Link placement should make sense – do not try to shove links for every single corner of your site onto every single page. Go from broad to the more specific categories.
2. Some popular design features can be SEO disasters. JavaScript is confusing to search engines so try to avoid it, at least make sure those elements are worth any potential lost SEO opportunity. Do not replace word links with picture links. Web crawlers can’t read a picture. You can have a picture next to the embedded link of course, or make both a link.
3. Flash is bad. It’s super cool, yes, but search engines ignore it and users don’t like it that much either. Flash slows down connections and causes all kinds of problems for the end users. If search engines ignore Flash, many end-users despise it. Seriously weigh the benefits of Flash.
4. Optimize images. Make the file size as small as possible and title the image files “image” and then the relevant SEO keyword or phrase. Do not give images unrelated tags however, the tags must relate to the image. Google is onto that trick.
5. Clean code is placed higher in Google searches. For those who do their own coding, who are not using some type of program or template, the simpler the code the better. It also makes it easier to make changes later of course.
6. Make sure you have a site map. Google loves site maps.

7 SEO Myths

seo myths and hidden secretsThere are a lot of myths, some were never true, some used to be true until Google and other search engines changed the rules. Here are some common myths many marketers still believe:

  1. Keywords in your domain name are important – It’s not important. Google doesn’t look at the domain name in determining rank anymore. They used to, but not anymore.
  2. Social media doesn’t help rank – Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google + have a huge influence on where you are ranked both through backlinks and through what people are saying about you.
  3. You should submit your site to Google and other search engines – The crawlers do this automatically now, usually in a matter of a couple days. There is no advantage to submitting a site unless something about your site causes it to not be indexed, which is a problem with the site, not a submission issue.
  4. H1 is the most important thing ever – Google doesn’t rank headings that way. H1, H2, etc, it’s all the same to Google.
  5. Linking to high ranking sites is helpful – It’s not at all helpful. If it were, any site could rank high just by adding a bunch of links to Facebook, Craig’s List, Wikipedia, and YouTube. What matters is whether these sites link to you.
  6. Usability only matters for human users – While that is the main reason your site needs to be very easy to navigate, if humans have trouble so will web crawlers, and this can hurt your ranking.
  7. Internal links don’t matter – Internal linking falls under usability. If you are mentioning an area of your site, linking from within that text makes navigation easier for crawlers (as well as people). By the same token, sporadic or irrelevant internal links for the sake of linking may do more harm than good.

SEO No-No’s People Will Just Keep Doing Anyway

SEO is the wild west of marketing. The only rules are those set by search engines and they only tell you some of the rules some of the time and change them all of the time. There is no SEO Bachelor’s or Master’s or Doctorate Degree yet, and how could there be? By the time they wrote the book it would be obsolete.

Maybe that’s why every day a million sites at least make one of these common mistakes even though professionals in the field have been warning against them for nearly a decade. Here are some of the common mistakes that seem like good ideas, but can be disastrous in the long term.

1. Irrelevancy – So the obvious rule that most people know is not to have ‘cute puppies” as part of your SEO strategy if you do not sell cute puppies—no matter how popular cute puppies may be. A couple things happen; you tick off the people you tricked into visiting, and even if they want your stuff in the future they aren’t going to buy it from you now, and Google will penalize your site once they catch on. This goes for your online ads as well, though Google does not penalize for irrelevant ads, you customers will.

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