Hired Help: How Outsourcing Can Benefit Your Small Business Startups

Many small business startups would never spend a dime on outsourcing. They see it as an unnecessary cost. They consider it more beneficial spending their money on something else, especially if they are tight on money!

But that is really a wrong way to look at outsourcing. It is a fact that all successful businesses have, at some point, outsourced work. As a business entrepreneur, it is definite that you can’t do everything yourself – there isn’t the time in the day and of course, you can’t just have all the skills necessary to do that!

In this post I want to share with you some of the reasons why outsourcing is good for your business – no matter the size.

how outsourcing benefits small business

3 Benefits Of Outsourcing For Business Startups

1. A Better Marketing Mix

You have been knee-deep in your product for months – maybe even longer. You know exactly how it works, and you have a rough idea of the people that will benefit from it. The trouble is, you have no way of reaching them. If you’re a marketing expert, then great – you are in with a shout of spreading your message as fast and as far as is possible.

But if you aren’t, you are going to struggle. So, the simple answer is to outsource to a marketing firm that understands what they are doing. They will see things from your customers’ perspective and help you form your central message to appeal to them. And, they can do so across all the relevant channels, whether that is offline or online.

2. Higher Volumes Of Traffic

Traffic is essential for any business these days, whether you are an online-only company or not. And, there are various means and methods of improving your performance in this area. However, it can take a long time for a new business to grow their online market share and traffic levels. It’s a constant process of checking, adjusting, and implementing an overarching plan.

Ask yourself: do you have the time? If not, then there are plenty of services out there that can help. You could use an SEO company to climb the search rankings, or a content marketing agency to retain more visitors. You can use PR sites and outreach companies to earn more links to your site, too, which will help give your ranking a boost in the right direction. Nobody has time to do all this themselves – so hand over the reins to someone who can do it quicker.

3. Convert More Customers

Traffic is a great start, but successful businesses understand that conversion is the most important part of any plan. You can have all the visitors in the world arriving at your site, but if nobody is buying, you don’t have much of a business. So, speak to copywriters, conversion rate optimizers, and UX designers. They will help you improve the flow of your website, and persuade your audience to become customers.

Again, this is something you can do yourself, but it’s important to have that view that others will bring to the table. Fresh eyes on your website will give you a better indication of where things are going right, and wrong.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that you are not a small business SuperHero. Why wear yourself out trying to do everything yourself. Outsourcing will help you do more for your small business. All you need is to know what areas to focus and work on yourself and what areas to outsource. This way you will be able to do and achieve more with your business startup.

I hope this article has helped outline how good hired help can be for online startups. Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments.

The Essential Guide on How to Start an Online Business

Have you ever thought of starting an online business and just didn’t know how to go about it?

Or,

Are you already running a business online but you are not making any headway because you may have taken the plunge without carefully analyzing what it TRULY takes to start a successful business online?

Now, it’s true that starting an online business has never been easier, but that doesn’t make it a simple task. Ironically, the ease of entering into the online business arena is, for many who want to start an online business, the biggest problem.

In this article, I want to share with you what you truly need to do to get started and launch your own online business. So, whether you are just starting out and wants to know what you need to start on the right path or you already have a business online but you’re wondering what you may have left behind, this guide is something you’re going to find valuable.

So, let’s get started…

How to start an online business
1. Form Your Idea

Whatever your idea is it has to be unique. Sure, you can get a bit of money from a copycat website, but it won’t last long, and you will soon find yourself being blacklisted by customers and search engines alike. You can come up with something entirely new, or make an improvement to a current service. Whatever you choose, you have to make it clear that you are different to all of the rest.

2. Get A Domain

Now you need to find a domain name. In days gone by, you could just name your domain after your company, but things are a little different now. If you are starting an online business, then it’s best to choose your domain name first, and then use the same for your business. We recently put together a guide for choosing your domain, so make sure you check it out before moving on.

3. Build A Website

If you have an idea for a website, do you have the skills to build it? If not, then you are going to have to hire a developer. Make sure that design is at the heart of what you come up with, and build your website so that it is simple to use. Test things time and time again before you launch to iron out any kinks, such as broken links or headings.

4. Create Content

Now that you have your website up, it’s time to fill it with content. Depending on what you want from your site – sales or signups – you should treat your content differently. Sales websites should focus on high-quality product descriptions. And if you are looking for subscriptions for a blog or something similar, then look into presenting new information in a unique way.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

OK, so you have your content in place, but who is going to read it? Nobody will if they can’t find it. This is where search engine optimization and marketing comes in. A good search engine marketing company will help you get found in the search rankings and help you boost your conversions, meaning more sign ups or sales.

6. Social Media

Another good way of getting your content seen is by spreading the word on social media. Set up accounts on the social channels that work well with your business model, and get involved with other people’s conversations. If you are adding to them, then you should see your follower numbers start to increase, meaning more eyes will be directed to your website when you need them to be.

Conclusion

There you have it, the essential guide to starting a business online. It is unfortunate that many want to complicate things. But you don’t have to do that. If you truly want to succeed online then follow this guide and you will not go wrong.

Good luck with your new venture. I look forward to reading of your results.

Image credit: Flickr.com

Top 2 SEO Basics: Advice from a Search Engine Marketing Expert!

The subject of search engine optimization (SEO) is one that has become a common feature in nearly every discussion of webmasters, online marketers and web entrepreneurs. In the recent past Google, the colossus of online search, has come up with different algorithm updates that have today so impacted the industry that whenever people talk about SEO the little guy, or those just beginning with SEO are most times lost and confused.

But that shouldn’t really be the case. If you are just getting into the SEO terrain, there is no point in knowing all the advanced SEO tactics when you haven’t covered the very basics. To have a strong and successful SEO campaign, you need to start by completing the necessary basic steps and creating a strong foundation.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of SEO basics that often neglected by many. In writing this article I got across to John Constantinides, who is in every right, an authority on search engine marketing and optimization, to know some of the SEO basics that people usually overlook when optimizing their online properties.

The following stood out as the 2 top most search engine optimization basics tactics you may have overlooked. Whether you are just beginning with SEO or you are veteran, you will sure learn something from this advice.

Please enjoy!

Web design tricks you should know

Content Is (STILL) Key

The first point to note according to John is, no matter what you do content is still key to succeeding with SEO. You can’t have a successful SEO campaign without strong contents filling your site. Users will come to your site for one thing and one thing only, to get valuable contents. You can promote your products and services as much as you want, but without high quality contents to support them, keeping users returning to the site will simply be too difficult to do.

There are a few characteristics of good, SEO-friendly contents:

• The content needs to be divided into subsections, complete with subheadings. This will allow you to insert important keywords to the headings while at the same time give users a chance to screen through the article and still get something valuable in return.

• Increase the value of your content by offering helpful tips and tricks. Be direct and simply provide users with tips and tricks that they can implement right away. You can, for example, show users how to use your products under different circumstances in order to get the best results.

• Don’t sell your products or services too much. Today’s users want to learn more about the things surrounding the products before making a wise purchase decision. Hard-selling the products, especially with large popup ads and other old-fashioned marketing methods, will only scare them away.

• Stop adding too many keywords to the articles you are posting. This is no longer effective and will only get your site’s search rankings dropped.

Providing Fluid User Interface

This is the second very important issue when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Building a website to be as SEO-friendly as it can be involves making it very user-friendly as well. You can’t have a successful SEO campaign when your users move to another site as soon as they landed. To keep the overall user experience fluid, you need to follow these next few basic tips:

• Lightness is everything. A page needs to load quickly for users to be able to enjoy them. You can still use visual elements to make the site look sleek and beautiful, but make sure the site is still light enough to load quickly.

• Most users now use smartphones and mobile devices to access your site. Be sure to provide them with the best mobile viewing experience possible. You can either make the entire site responsive or design a separate mobile-only interface for your users.

• Errors and coding mistakes must be cleaned. Extra lines of codes that are not actually being used – or ones that generate a lot of errors – will slow your page right down and hamper the user experience quite badly.

If you carefully analyze the above points you will discover indeed that, why these may appear to be basics, they are indeed very essential. If you therefore make effort to cover them before you start planning an SEO campaign, you can be sure of success.

So what to do?

Stop getting confused with those advanced SEO tactics. Focus rather on building a good, working site that provides valuable content to visitors and that promotes the products or services it is supposed to sell. Truth is, SEO is as easy as 1-2-3 if you know what you are doing!

Mobile SEO: How Much Impact Does Mobile Have On Search Rankings?

It is no longer news that come April 21 2015, Google will begin a major update of their organic search algorithm – an update aimed at making it easier for searchers to find mobile-friendly web pages and sites.

Since Google came out with the announcement concerning this update (something Google rarely does) a whole lot of discussion has been going around on what impact this will have on the business landscape. Of course, for marketers it is expected to be something that will help you to boost your business, if your website is mobile-friendly.

But, who really knows what impact this will have on search rankings?

To gauge marketers’ sentiment and gather opinions on this significant change, gShift conducted a survey of more than 275 digital marketers across a variety of industries including retail, travel and automotive. The survey conducted between March 25 – April 2 had mostly senior level decision makers with titles ranging from Director to CMO as participants.

From the result (shown in the infographic below), it is clear that many industry professionals understand something needs to be done in order to prepare for mobile SEO and many are already preparing for the April 21st change by re-structuring their content marketing strategies.

However, nearly half of these marketers are not measuring the results or gauging the impact to their current search rank data. They never cared to prepare a mobile SEO benchmark report to understand how their site ranks on a desktop versus mobile search now, as well as a scheduled report to see if their mobile SEO ranks change in the weeks following April 21st!

The bottom-line? They are not taking advantage of  data-driven insights which will enable them to navigate the algorithm change and work to ensure they do not lose any valuable traffic for their business.

Here’s the Results of Current State of Mobile SEO Survey:

Mobile SEO and its Impact on Search Rankings

So, do you know what impact mobile SEO will have on search results after the Google mobile update? Share your thoughts with us.

How to Avoid Google’s Wrath When Building Back-links Using Blog Commenting!

blog commenting for backlinksJust this Monday in our community time out discussion, I related a story of how a site owner contacted me asking to remove all links pointing to his site from my blog!

At first I was surprised why he wanted those links removed since we all do love backlinks – at least they are good for our search rankings or are they no more important!

However, I knew somehow that something must be wrong on his end, possibly Google’s wrath must have fallen on the site. And true to my presumption, when he later replied it was just as I thought.

RECOMMENDED: 5 Blog Commenting Mistakes to Avoid!

But then, his reply raised some questions in my heart but since I was more concerned with helping this person, I went on to remove the links and left it at that.

The Question of Building Backlinks with Blog Comments Revisited

But then, I saw a Comment by Harleena, who said,

“When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting? Personally, I doubt this could be the case, as then people will avoid commenting on each other’s blogs or sites, and the web would lose its meaning.

I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?”

This is in response to what the site owner said in his email (Harleena that was not said by me!). Here again is the graphic:

blog commenting problems graphic

Harleena’s question moved me to again consider this issue of building back-links with blog commenting as a strategy. Please note the issues in that question,

>>> When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting?

>>> I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?

I’m sure this is also a concern to you, right?

To me it was, at first, but a second look at the site concerned and Google’s demands, I discovered that this is not a problem for blogs and sites with good and valuable content!

This is made clear from Google’s Panda and Penguin Updates, which this site had, ran afoul of. (I wrote a detailed article comparing Google’s Panda and Penguin Update sometime ago. You are advised to read for better understanding of this issue.)

In this post I will simply highlight the possible areas our dear friend has violated Google’s terms which warranted the sledge hammer from Google!

1.    Low-Value Add For Users:

When Google announced the Panda Update in early 2011, Google stated:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

This is one area which the site in question violated. The site in question is an e-commerce site, featuring only product information without enough user-centric content. From all indication there were no in-depth reports and content containing thoughtful analysis!

These were clear signals to Google that the site is of low-value to users and so, the hammer fell!

2.    Aggressive Use Of Exact-Match Anchor Text In Backlinks

This is the biggest culprit!

While removing those offensive backlinks I discovered that all the anchor text were the same! Not only that, all were the site’s primary keyword phrase which are also in the domain name!

Hey, big red flag 🙂

Yes, that was a big signal for Google.

Here again is what Google said about this in the Pengiun Update:

“Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.”

And this is what I said while writing on the Google Panda and Penguin Updates ,

“Backlinks is one big factor used by search engines to rank sites. It is quite clear that many SEO service providers now use automated link building software to generate backlinks using specific anchor texts. The simple way for the Google Penguin to pick these out is to look for a high volume of exact-match anchor text in your backlinks and your site will be flagged as engaging in webspam.”

Can you see why that site was blacklisted?

One, it lacked in-depth reports and thoughtful analysis and now it has hundreds of backlinks from my site (I’m sure the SEO provider who was using this tactic for the client must have also used hundreds of the same exact anchor text on other blogs) using the same exact anchor text in those links!

Phew, another red flag, and so…

Sorry, but here’s your RED CARD! 🙂

Now to Harleena’s questions, again:

1. When you say that Google doesn’t like more than 3-4 links being exchanged between sites, do they include the links earned through commenting?

Ans. As we have seen above, it depends on the site involved. If it’s a site with low value-add for users, simply building links with blog commenting can be dangerous.

2. I’ve been commenting at my friend’s blogs who are not in my niche, so would that be detrimental to both of us?

Ans. No! Your site is a blog with good valuable content. You have content that are insightful and in-depth in analyzing the subjects treated. Google actually love this and so rather than punish you for those backlinks, Google will love you for that!

Another Good Point For Blogs Using Blog Commenting For Backlinks

Apart from the points above, I have also discovered that this problem will not easily affect blogs for the fact that most blogs use the CommentLuv plugin which allows blogs to deep link to individual pages.  E-commerce sites using blog commenting on the other hand can only link to their home pages in the “Name” section of the comments.

With different anchor text linked using CommentLuv, blogs can actually benefit with blog commenting for building back-links. Good points to CommentLuv!

Marketing Takeaway:

E-commerce sites should find ways of adding more quality and high-value content for a better user experience. They can do this by adding a blog to the site. Besides, they should also use different anchor texts based on their target keyword phrases for backlinks. Where possible, using synonyms would be a wise step in the right direction.

Remember, Google’s Panda and Penguin are still watching!

[Before I draw the curtain let me say, thank you to Harleena for inspiring this post!]

Over to You:  What lessons did you pick up from this post? Do you have any other possible reasons why that site was penalized for building back links with blog commenting? Please share your views in your comments.