Bio – Written by James Crowe of Summit Online Marketing
His SEO Liverpool blog provides advice for SEO’s, small business owners and those who wish to get higher rankings in the search engines.
Content Is King
Let me be clear, I’m not talking about the content you’ve already written for your website. The ‘about us’ or ‘our aims’ pages. I’m not even talking about the descriptive text about your services on every page. I’m talking about regular, weekly, new content.
The fresh content aspect of the Google Algorithm (mathematics behind the code that decides where a website is places among billions of pages) is the biggest win as far as small businesses are concerned.
I’m almost positive your web-designer/developer has encouraged you to set up a blog section on your website. They want you to have little snippets (about a paragraph long) from those posts and placed at the bottom of your webpages.
As far as you’re are concerned, they’re trying to add to your workload and you don’t like it.
Even worse, if you wanted to blog, you feel you’ve not enough to talk about. You feel you’re part of an industry that any outsider would find pretty dull.
Classic examples of this are accountancy, insurance and most B2B sales. You don’t feel the man/women on the street would really care to read about such things.
Well Google really, really, really cares
Let me briefly explain why…
Google was initially created as an academic tool. Its purpose is to deliver the best result to the searcher, because the best delivered results will mean lots of people use it! Remember it’s only a website, but more importantly it’s a business. The more people using it, the more traffic, the more traffic, the more they can sell sponsored links to advertisers. The more people who pay, the more money they make. They’re growing and protecting a 4 billion dollar a quarter business, with more than 80% of that revenue generated from search.
To give it some perspective. This company owns YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps and WordPress… and it doesn’t charge 99% of users for any of them. That’s how important it’s search engine business is!
The reasons why I should Write A Blog?
Firstly, the search engine isn’t as complex as you believe! It has no possible way of knowing if your business is still trading without you spelling it out.
e.g. You buy a domain name – www.Imstillhere.com – you’ve bought it for 1 year from January 1st. Unfortunately after 3 months you cease trading. Nobody ever contacts the hosting provider and says lets take this down, i’m not trading anymore.
Google knows this. So the best indicator to Google that you’re still alive and kicking is to add new content.
The worst possible result for a searcher would be to click a Top Google listing to a business that is no longer trading, or take advice that’s no longer relevant.
What Should You Do
If you add a blog post every year, you’re simply telling the system you’re alive. You’re not great, but you’re still trading. The search engine spies or spiders as they’re called, will visit your website around every 3 months, and report back to Google.
If you write a post every month, it will learn to pop back every month, and this can be scaled to every day or even every hour.
Think about it like this…
If you’re a HR company, that only posts every year, regardless of how professional you are as a bricks and mortar business, all Google can possibly know is how current your information is.
If you’re competing with another company for that all important number one listing. It will on some level favour the site, with the most new content.
Secondly Blogs lead to the next biggest thing is SEO… Links.
I’ll cover this in my next post.
A SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICY: MORE RED TAPE OR A TOOL TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS REPUTATION?
Every week there seems to be a new story about employees misusing social media – regardless of industry or role… whether they’re a Premiership footballer, CEO of a software agency or a flight attendant.
The role of social media has blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives and behind each of these stories is a business who’s sadly been damaged by the online conduct of an employee.
With the flight attendant story, Simonetti reportedly wrote a blog where she posted photos of herself in unbuttoned uniform and leaning over aircraft seats showing parts of her underwear which ultimately resulted in her dismissal.
However this throws up a real problem for employers… would you feel comfortable handling such a situation? Would your managers? How would their colleagues treat them before the investigation was resolved?
You should be aware that Employment Tribunal rulings show employees’ misuse of social media doesn’t always constitute gross misconduct and summary dismissal (not a fair dismissal anyway).
Quote: KOO1410 you will get your policy for £49!
However don’t worry – there are some steps you can take to make sure you’re not at risk of having to deal with these difficult decisions.
- Most importantly you should have a social networking policy
- Avoid jargon in your policy – remember managers do not have the time to read endless pages of complicated policies and procedures
- Be specific yet draft your policy to cover new technology and forms of social media not yet created
- Regularly review your policy
- Treat any allegation of breach of policy in a fair and reasonable manner
- Good communication is essential to prevent situations that can damage your business reputation so help staff understand the impact their actions can have.
Social media is a great tool for helping businesses grow and through this approach our clients have found they can concentrate on using it to engage with customers and not worry by reducing the risk of damaging incidents happening in the first place.
 Simonetti v Delta Air Lines – http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/16/business/16pose.html?_r=2
Find out more about Danielle Platten and HR Angels Consultancy on their website: http://www.hrangelsconsultancy.com/
For a Social Networking Policy Package from Danielle, email her now on firstname.lastname@example.org to put yours into place.
Quote: KOO1410 you will get your policy for £49!
Have you ever been on the outside of a situation and thought – “how cool is that!” without knowing the full background? I have, but I’d never considered people thinking that way about my career until I became a radio journalist and someone presumed I only worked five minutes an hour because that was when I presented the news!
“Must be such a cushy job that.” they said to my total astonishment.
So I have become very defensive of my craft, particularly when I moved into the world of Public Relations. I guess it sounded oh so very glamorous, a world filled with absolutely fabulous champagne, designer shoes and air kisses “Mwah Mwah daaahling! Must dash, lunch soon yah!”
Hmmm, can’t remember the last time I did that… I’ve done lots of standing in the cold, asking total strangers what their opinions are on strikes, public services and movie stars; and I’ve sat writing press releases at midnight because it’s been important to a client but the champagne? Well OK, maybe once or twice over the years…. if I’m honest.
When people ask me to describe what PR is – which they inevitably do because it’s not like saying you’re a hairdresser or a solicitor – I say it’s basically it’s about the ability to tell a person’s story. It’s not dissimilar to journalism in that way when you get down to the fundamentals, you are giving someone a voice. You can bet that this is the same principle for anyone, whether they’re a big business or just a resident involved in their own community.
Now here’s the crux of it… not everyone is good at telling stories. Picking out the important bits and putting them first, getting another person’s point of view across in such a way that people can relate to it, promoting people or businesses in a positive way… I’m just getting started but being a good communicator is harder than you think.
The way I see it is that you wouldn’t expect the butcher to cut your hair or the baker to do your tax return so why would you expect someone with no experience or training in that area to communicate your key messages about your business?
So think of it this way, not as Public Relations and the mythical Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley world, but as communication, whether about your business, your latest endeavour or project and what it and you can do.
At the end of the day it’s your voice, and only you can make sure that it’s being heard.
Find out more about Clare Delve and PR on her website: http://claredelve.com
Okay. You’ve submitted your business plan, bought your domain name, hired the services of a web designer, purchased the latest flashy IT kit and maybe found some office premises to rent. Life is good; business will be great!
But wait, have you thought about everything? Can I suggest that the flashy IT kit might actually need some protection, your web site might not be secure and your web server may not be protected? Did they mention to you in your free business start up classes that computers are attacked on a very regular basis?
Attorney General Baroness Scotland said; “It is widely recognised that e-Crime is the most rapidly expanding form of criminality and knows no borders.”
What exactly are we talking about here? Well a study carried out last year placed a number of “ordinary” computers on business networks that had access to the Internet. In a period of five days there were approximately 25,000 attacks on these computers.
Hey that’s okay; my computer only has details of people I trade with, customer accounts and the latest design of my ground breaking invention. Oh thanks said the “hacker.” I’ll start with the latest design because I can sell your Intellectual Property and as we all know first past the post gets the money. Have you registered it?
Now let’s take the customer accounts, personal information, bank details etc. Should be enough there to take out some loans, maybe a mortgage, oh and buy the latest Flashy IT kit. Great this person has actually made a document of CSV (Three Digit) numbers they write down when use certain online payment facilities. (It does happen)
What about the people you trade with. Well they are trusted. I have their bank and email details. They have mine and are part of the company’s electronic supply chain.
They are two or three tiers down and may not have the security you have or expect of your suppliers. So they now become the weakest link and I can either disrupt your business or work my way up to attack your IT Infrastructure. If I disrupt your business in any manner then your competitors may gain, as they fill the orders you could not meet.
I’ll discuss the various threats to your business systems in the future but let’s get a few basics in place.
Is your software updated? Everyone shouts “yes” which is why Microsoft released a patch for the Conficker Virus in October 2008 before the first reports of attack in November 2008. By January 2009 at least 30% of computers were still vulnerable. So does everyone really patch their computers?
Of course you have the latest anti-virus products, which get updated on a frequent basis. Did I hear somebody say I got mine off a car boot or downloaded it from a file sharing network? Bless – shall I mention the manufacturers IP or even code put into the AV software by the file sharers to open up ports on your computer, to be used as methods of attack.
I know that everyone has a secure password such as “Bill” “Bill1” etc. My password is mangled which means I’ve changed the E for a 3 and I for a 1. They will never guess “Legolas” will they? Actually brute force attacks on Bill will find it very quickly as will the dictionary attack on E for 3, or the Lord of the Rings dictionary. Don’t become part of the estimated £500 million plus a year loss to UK businesses. Create secure passwords.
Don’t let anyone steal your dreams of a successful business. Update your operating system software and your anti-virus software on a daily basis and make sure your passwords are strong. Remember over 1700 attacks a day, in a five day period, happen to people like you.
I will go on to discuss the different types of attack that may impact on your business and suggest strategies to deal with them including getting your business back online as soon as is practicable.
Chris has certainly given us a lot to think about! I, as I’m sure many of you, was not aware of just how many attacks can take place DAILY on a computer and am therefore really looking forward to Chris’ next blog where he’ll talk us through some strategies to combat this from happening.
Please feel free to comment on the blog or if you would like to discuss anything with Chris.
As promised to you last week here is Koogar’s first guest blog on our new Business Development Forum. Kindly written by Julie Webb, Director of Azzure Marketing and titled “The need to position your business” the blog is sure to get you thinking about how you are currently marketing your business. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Please feel free to comment on the blog.
The Need to Position Your Business…
Positioning your business correctly in today’s markets is critical. If you do, then you understand where your business is, what your objectives are, what your marketing strategies are, who your competitors are, where your target market is and how you will reach them, along with understanding the changing factors in the macro environment, which could impact your business.
It means you will be a proactive business in your market sector, building awareness and making you a confident voice, an expert in your field, which people will grow to recognise and trust. Trust and recognition helps decision-making. It is what you want to achieve to gain long-standing customer loyalty with your customers and prospects and which aides for a sustainable and profitably business for the long-term.
So do you know these things about your business, market, competitors and customers to position your business?
Today’s markets are full and so very competitive, there are not that many markets out there where competition is low. The need to differentiate and stand out from the crowd is essential. Evaluate what you offer and what you are good at so you can create you USP’s (Unique Selling Points). This will help define you in your market place and differentiate you from your competitors.
Positioning defines your business and your image. Image is your Brand. Positioning will build a perception; perception will build your Brand.
Perception is not only how your customers view your business, but your competitors, suppliers, partners, employees and how you do as a business. You need to know what your objectives are for your business and where you want to be, to evaluate what your business ethos and values are. Understanding this will enable you to portray your business in the way you want it to be perceived and therefore how you will do business to grow the right perception from others.
When you as a person make a purchase, think about how and why you buy a particular product or service. What makes you choose a particular product, when you usually have several options available to you? Is it the quality of the product, is it the fact that you need back up after purchase and so customer service is paramount, is it location of supplier or is it price. Note however generally price alone is not one of the top priorities when making most purchases, so positioning on price alone is often an unnecessary strategy and a very risky one long-term.
Understanding your business position will assist and lead you into making better decisions and plans with regard to your marketing communications and therefore utilise promotional elements which best suits your business now and in the future.
Knowing your business position in the marketplace with have an effect on how you promote and create awareness of your business and the messages you wish to put to your market, which aligns with the brand you want to build for your business.
Today I drew MissKoogar in new positions some new hands positions pointing in various directions for use on the web site. I finished the final frame of the comic strip project on the Friday all I will have to do is assemble the frames together
Today I have finished the comic strip. It feels good to see all six frames together on the same page. I utilized unusual shapes to form the borders to give the strip more momentum. The original square/ rectangular shape of the frames did not the fit I had to trim them down and add a little more to the images here and there. Where the borders interfered with key objects I placed copies of these objects above the border.
This is my final blog post. Thanks to those of you who has been following!