Connect with Good Link-building Strategies

Connect with Good Link-building Strategies

There is a misconception about SEO that it’s about one thing — keywords — when in fact it’s about building a healthy interconnected system utilizing keywords, content, and links to generate traffic to your website. When starting out with SEO, you may hire a professional to identify and set up keywords on your website but link building is an ongoing strategy that you can and should implement yourself. Let’s look at some ways you can create hard-working links.  

Think of links as referrals

When website visitors click on a link that takes them to another website — let’s call it the destination site — for more information, that is an outbound link. If the destination is your business website, then that is considered a backlink on your website. The more backlinks your website has, the greater the potential number of visitors. The content that linked to you provided a direct referral.  The content that linked to you provided a direct referral. And, like referrals, who gives the referral matters. A referral from a good source is stronger than a referral from a questionable source.

You can’t control what other sites on the internet publish, but there are ways you can increase your backlinks. Some of these ways will cost you nothing but your time while others may require a fee.

You may be surprised by how many links you can establish through your network of contacts. Making connections with the owners who publish online content that relates to your business products or services can lead to opportunities for greater online visibility for both you and the other party.

Resource lists and guest blog posts are two techniques website owners use to weave outbound links into their content that can become backlinks on your site. Here’s an example of this works: an animal veterinary practice has a list of resources on its website for services and businesses of interest to pet owners. Some local businesses included on that resource list are dog walkers, pet boarding facilities, pet groomers, and pet trainers. If the list includes website links, those are outbound links on the vet’s website and backlinks on the service providers’ websites.

Linking is a win-win strategy

In our example of the veterinary practice, the vet practice is offering value to their customers by helping them locate much-needed services the vet doesn’t provide. From the perspective of vendors on that resource list, the outbound links generate new traffic to their website and the opportunity to convert new customers.

When you’re networking, look for opportunities for linking to another business — you can both benefit. If the relationship is a good fit, you can take it to the next level with guest blogging. You invite each other to write a post for the other business’s blog. Typically an introduction will include the guest blogger’s name and website. Not only do you get to link to your website as a guest blogger, but you also enjoy a platform to share your expertise with a new audience.

Other opportunities for linking

Community and industry directories offer opportunities for link building. There are free and paid directories. A free directory might be a community resource published by your municipal governing body, library or other institution serving the public. Paid directories may give you more flexibility to customize a message about your products or services along with the link to your business website.

Here are some more ways to get your website link out there:

  • Speaking engagements often provide an opportunity to link to your business in either promotional materials or event programs.
  • Networking groups that have formal membership lists may provide an opportunity to link your business.
  • Marketing activities often include opportunities for including your link with your business name. When your business sponsors an organization or an event, the acknowledgment of your sponsorship may include a link to your website. Your profiles and content on your social media platforms can link to your website.

Implement internal links on your website

Internal links are used to direct visitors to your website from one page to another, with the idea of providing additional information to keep visitors on your website longer. The more time they spend on your website, the more opportunities you have to convert them.

On your home page, for example, you can use an internal linking strategy to direct viewers to other content. The navigation menu is usually made up of one or two-word page titles and thus is limited in terms of telling users what they might find, for example, on your About page. But you can put a text block on your home page that calls out a specific type of experience that makes your business stand out, and then link to the About page where the visitor can learn more.

Increase and maintain links

Building a robust network of backlinks and internal links is an ongoing process. Make it a goal to keep adding new backlinks and to maintain accurate internal links by removing links to pages that no longer exist on your website.

Small Steps Deliver Big Increases in Your Sales Conversion Rate

Small Steps Deliver Big Increases in Your Sales Conversion Rate

Sales conversion rates are vital to the success of your business. Without a good conversion rate, all your marketing and sales efforts are wasted. In this email, we will look at some simple steps you can take that will impact your conversions right away.

Identify your ideal customer profile

The first step to increasing your conversion rate is to identify or review your ideal customer profile. If your business offerings have evolved over time, your ideal customer profile has also evolved. Answer these questions to create a customer profile:

  • What do your customers look like, age-wise and gender-wise?
  • Where do your customers live, and what kind of lifestyle do they lead?
  • What challenges do they face that you can help solve?

Gather this information from various sources, including conversations with your employees and customers, industry publications, and general news.

Understand the customer journey

The next step is to identify the touchpoints in the sales process where you have an opportunity to engage with customers, starting before they are even aware your business exists. What triggers might lead a customer toward finding your business? Are there predictable personal or business milestones when customers require your product or services? Where will they look for information about your business when they need what you offer? Is your business visible — and are you telling an engaging story that hooks them — at those touchpoints? Are you visible to future customers who don’t have a need for your business at this moment but may in the future? Is it easy for current customers to refer you to new customers — and do you acknowledge the referral?

Identify opportunities for improvement

Next, evaluate your marketing and sales messages for clarity. Consumers are frustrated when they can’t figure out what a product or service includes. Don’t make them work harder than necessary to grasp the essentials of what you offer and how it will change their lives for the better.

Have you been using the same marketing message for years? Think about how you might refresh your message while keeping a familiar identity. Don’t be afraid to try out different approaches and see what works best.

If someone wants to buy something from you, is the process as streamlined as it can be? Is every step relevant and essential or are there steps that may make it seem as though you’re wasting the customer’s time? 

Are you taking advantage of technology to automate some aspects of your sales process?

Test and measure results

Lastly, as you fine-tune your marketing and sales process, look for opportunities to measure impact. If you’re trying a different approach with email campaigns, for example, check the open rates for a series of new emails against a series of emails you sent a year ago.

Even a percentage point increase in your conversion rate can mean more customers and greater revenue for your business. The important thing is to start now and keep testing new strategies until you find something that delivers the results you want.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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5 Habits to Sharpen Your Focus at Work

5 Habits to Sharpen Your Focus at Work

We all have moments when we feel distracted. Sometimes the sources of distraction are out of our control, but more often than not our own behaviors contribute to our lack of focus.

Staying focused on a task may seem like a simple problem to solve, but people often find it difficult to ignore distractions. Feeling frustrated about wasting time usually isn’t sufficient motivation to change the behavior.

External productivity hacks like turning off your phone only go so far. Achieving high levels of concentration also depends on your mindset and physical well-being. If you’re low on energy, your ability to concentrate is diminished. Cultivating these five healthy habits will help strengthen your resolve to stay focused.

1) Hydrate

Make sure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. When you don’t drink enough water, you can become dehydrated, which can lead to sluggishness, headaches, and even dizziness.

2) Eat well

A healthy, balanced diet that includes protein, grains, fruits, and vegetables gives you sustained energy. Some foods and beverages, such as high-sugar items and caffeine-based drinks, leave you feeling more tired and prone to distraction.

3) Exercise in the morning

Exercise is a proven method of boosting your energy level. If your days are typically hectic and unpredictable, chances are you won’t have an opportunity to exercise if you wait until later in the day. However, hitting the gym before work is within your control. On the days you can’t make it, doing 20 minutes of aerobic exercises at home will give you an energy boost.

4) Take regular breaks

You’ll be less tempted to check your personal email, social media, and favorite website while you’re working on a task if you know you have a scheduled break. Tell yourself you aren’t denying yourself the opportunity to do something other than the task at hand, you’re just postponing when you can do it.

Use your break time to check in with yourself, articulate how you’re feeling, and acknowledge your progress. Taking a moment to pat yourself on the back and/or recognize the challenge you’re facing can calm your mind and allow you to return to the task with increased focus.

5) Adjust your workspace to fit your style

Eliminate distractions in your work environment. Some of the sensory qualities that can affect your concentration are lighting, temperature, noise, and the comfort level of your seating and workstation. Invest in a quality office chair, a large computer monitor — more than one is ideal — and a task lamp.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Put a Little Lagniappe in Your Marketing Strategy

Put a Little Lagniappe in Your Marketing Strategy

In honor of Mardi Gras taking place next Tuesday, let’s borrow a marketing lesson based on an old New Orleans tradition. Lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) is a Cajun-French word meaning gift. In New Orleans, when businesses give their customers a little something extra, they call it a lagniappe.

The concept of lagniappe can be applied to a broad range of business types. A restaurant can surprise diners with an extra side dish or dessert. A hair salon can give away product samples. Car dealers can provide service customers with complimentary beverages and snacks in the waiting area as a lagniappe. The hotel or rental car agency that gives you a free upgrade is giving you a lagniappe. I myself give a lagniappe when I offer new clients a free consulting session.

Lagniappes make customers feel special, valued, and appreciated. The act of giving a gift also helps build relationships and drives repeat business. That’s because a gift creates a powerful sense of connection between the business owner and customer that stands apart from the dollar and cents of a transaction.

Think about lagniappes more as a business strategy than a specific object. A lagniappe isn’t a promotional item with your logo stamped on it that you hand out to all customers. Rather, it’s an opportunity to create a customized interaction with a customer by giving something extra. A lagniappe also can help you smooth out a rough spot in a customer relationship. If you were forced to keep a customer waiting longer than expected — consider making it up to them with a lagniappe.

A lagniappe doesn’t have to be a physical object — it can be an experience. It also doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it does have to be desirable. Lagniappes won’t exert their magical powers to connect you with customers if the gift lacks appeal.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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A Primer on Effective Communication Skills

A Primer on Effective Communication Skills

It’s no secret that good spoken communication skills support and enhance all relationships. But sometimes we forget that improving these skills is an ongoing, lifelong process. It’s especially important these days — because we are so used to communicating via text — to remind ourselves to use a different set of communication skills when engaging in conversations.

Here are some basic speaking and listening practices to keep in mind.

Be concrete and precise

If you have a specific message to deliver, plan ahead so that your points are in sequence and don’t confuse the listener.

Don’t inject jargon words your audience may not understand.

Use specific, real-life examples to support your points.

Speak clearly

A clear and confident manner will command attention.

Don’t rush through your words to get to the “important” part of your message; make everything you say worth your audience’s attention.

Don’t interrupt yourself – unless it is truly an emergency, avoid taking calls or responding to messages on your phone in the middle of your remarks.

Demonstrate empathy

Show your awareness of your audience. Acknowledge their context for the conversation or the situation as it relates to the conversation.

Watch tone, volume and body language

Notice if you are speaking respectfully and with consideration towards your audience.  Be aware of your facial expressions and your posture. Maintain eye contact whether you are speaking or listening.

Avoid interruptions

If you’re the speaker in a formal meeting, let your audience know when they will have a turn to speak. Inform them upfront if you want them to hold their questions until you’ve completed your remarks. 

If you’re the speaker in an informal conversation, remember to pause after making each main point to allow the listener to comment or ask questions.

If you’re the listener, don’t interrupt the speaker. If the speaker doesn’t pause for questions or comments, raise your hand.

Wrap up with a summary

End the conversation with a clear statement of the next steps and a review of follow-up items.

Be grateful

Whether you’re the speaker or the listener, close your conversation with a thank you.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Hiring for Experience vs Hiring for Talent

Hiring for Experience vs Hiring for Talent

Many factors go into hiring, but one of the most important considerations is cost. Hiring for experience costs more than hiring for talent. That said, there are benefits to both experience-based and talent-based hiring strategies, including cost efficiency and more effective team dynamics. Here’s what you need to know about each approach.

Start with the job description

Small companies have little room for error in terms of poor hires. The more precisely you’ve defined the job position, the better your odds of hiring the right person. A well-defined job description will provide clues as to whether you should hire based on talent or experience.

Highly skilled positions and leadership positions benefit from having an experienced candidate fill the role. An inexperienced candidate is better suited for jobs that require non-specialized skills or creative thinking. 

Costs associated with talent and experience

Inexperienced talent may start at a lower compensation level, but they can be more expensive in the short term because they require more training and development. If an employee leaves before you’ve recouped the training costs, you’ll have to start all over with nothing gained from your investment. On the other hand, experienced people command a higher level of compensation, but they can be productive immediately. 

Finding the right mix for your business

Creating a balance of experienced and inexperienced workers allows you to maximize your staffing investment. A strong experienced leader can manage several inexperienced employees who possess the potential for learning new things. Those less experienced employees will grow into your future leaders and provide long-term stability for your business.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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How to Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

How to Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

When it comes to managing your employees, one of the most important things you can do is define roles and responsibilities. That way, everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and can get the training and support they need to succeed at their jobs.

Defining roles and responsibilities helps ensure that everyone isn’t responsible for doing everything. When there’s a crisis, you want your team members to pivot to an “all hands on deck” mindset. But every day should not be a crisis — it’s not efficient and it burns people out.

Defining roles also ensures everyone has an understanding of how their work contributes to the overall success of your organization. If each team member does their job well, the business runs smoothly.

To support team members, you also need to plan in advance to temporarily shift responsibilities when someone is out of the office. If your team members know there is a plan in place, they will feel confident they can meet the challenges that come with an absent team member. In addition, clearly defining roles and responsibilities can help you avoid confusion about responsibilities that can trigger conflicts among team members.

Identify Tasks

One of the first things I do when working with a new consulting client is to ask them to create a business task list. This is a comprehensive list of all activities required to run their business. Everything from top to bottom goes on this list, whether the task is performed in-house or outsourced: marketing, financial, recruiting, client services, scheduling, reception, and customer service.

Assign Roles and Responsibilities

When you’re assigning responsibilities to team members, avoid the temptation to list two people as primary for one task. If everyone owns a task, then no one owns it. 

It’s important that you honor the assigned roles and responsibilities for each of your team members. If you don’t set an example, your team members won’t follow the plan and the result is increased confusion over responsibilities.

If necessary, create new roles or modify existing ones to accommodate new responsibilities.

Create a Cross-Training Plan

In a small office, a cross-training plan is essential to ensure everyone on your team is well-versed in more than one role. Anyone listed with secondary responsibility for an activity should be trained for the role. The person who has primary responsibility is most often the most qualified person to train the secondary person.

Review and Revise Your Plan as Needed

You don’t need to get your roles and responsibilities defined perfectly the first time. As your business grows and changes, so too will the need for a new plan.

Setting up your team for success depends on each individual understanding what they are responsible for and knowing what other team members are responsible for. You’ll avoid overlaps and duplication and even more importantly prevent important tasks from falling through the cracks.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Overcome These 3 Common Obstacles When Starting a New Business

Overcome These 3 Common Obstacles When Starting a New Business

Are you starting a new business? Or have you been in business for a while and are thinking about expanding your offerings or services?

Either way, be prepared to overcome three common threats to the success of new ventures: lack of knowledge, self-doubt, and unrealistic expectations about how long it will take to become profitable.

1) Don’t let a lack of knowledge derail you

You don’t have to know everything to start or grow your business, but you do have to know when to seek advice and guidance. Before you launch your new venture, build a network of trusted advisors who either have direct experience doing what you’re trying to do, and/or have experience advising entrepreneurs and small business owners. Family and friends can be an enthusiastic and supportive audience for your dream, but they may not be able to fill the knowledge gaps necessary to make your dream a reality.

2) Believe in yourself

If you find yourself doubting you can do this, tackle those fears on two fronts. First, the more time you spend doing the work, the less time you’ll have to brood. Your daily accomplishments are proof of your capability. Second, if your lack of confidence stems from the realization you lack certain skills, work to acquire those skills. Get involved with a network of entrepreneurs and business owners who likely face issues similar to the ones you do. They can help you find the resources you need to fill your knowledge gaps.

3) Plan for long-term profitability, not overnight success

Many items go into making a new business successful, and they take time to establish. You can identify basic business needs in advance and anticipate the costs of some items, such as your marketing and staffing, but can’t accurately predict how fast your business will grow. Strong business planning skills and sound management practices are your best defense against the unpredictability of launching a new business.

These three obstacles to success in launching new businesses have a solution in common: build yourself a community of trusted advisors and fellow business owners who can share their knowledge and experience to help you grow your business.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Challenge Yourself to Elevate Your Marketing in 2023

Challenge Yourself to Elevate Your Marketing in 2023

Many of us start the new year with plans to make improvements in our personal lives and at work. Take advantage of the momentum this fresh start offers to commit to elevating your marketing efforts in 2023. I’m challenging you to try at least one new strategy or upgrade an existing one this year. Here are seven ways to help you get started.

1. Reach out and meet in person

All our digital tools provide fantastic support and they helped us through the pandemic, but don’t get in the habit of scheduling virtual meetings when you have an opportunity to talk to your customers, especially new customers, in person. When it’s possible, avoid this question: “Would you like to talk by phone or in person?” Instead, ask: “When would it be convenient for us to meet in person? It would be a great opportunity for us to catch up and dive deeper into your current needs.”

2. Ask for testimonials

One survey reports 72% of consumers say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business. When you thank customers for their business, ask them to consider writing a testimonial and let them know how much reviews help your business. Create a dedicated page for testimonials on your website, and link to it from your home page. Another option is to direct customers to Google Reviews.

3. Improve your SEO

Hire a professional to audit your website and provide you with updated keywords. Having the right content on your website makes it easier for new customers to find you.

4. Take your business on an outing

Look for opportunities to put your business in front of people who might not notice you in other ways. This might be a booth at a community event or festival, a pop-up location, and speaking at live events.

5. Create a cross-over promotion

Work with another business to find fun, fresh ways to engage your respective customers together. Host events, share ad space, and offer discounts when customers buy at the partner.

6. Get reacquainted with your audience

Knowing your audience is fundamental to delivering the right sales message. We may think we know the demographics of our target audiences, but often we’re too busy to notice changes happening around us. Review the qualities of your ideal customers: Are their needs changing? Are their buying habits changing? Is their use of social media changing?

7. Up your community sponsorships

Renew your existing commitments and explore opportunities to add a new sponsorship to the mix and give people a reason to discover your business.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Looking Ahead to 2023 Business Trends

Looking Ahead to 2023 Business Trends

Although we’re still facing economic uncertainty, I’m excited about new opportunities in the year ahead. Here are five business trends I’ll be monitoring in 2023.

1. Hybrid work models aren’t going away

New trends in this area will be around incentives to get people to come back to the workplace.

2. AI-produced content goes mainstream

ChatGPT is good at creating content — so good some people can’t tell the results from human-produced content. Expect to see new platforms and apps that leverage AI to make content tasks easier for you.

3. Tik Tok is taking over social media

Tik Tok is fun, easy to use, and has a reported one billion-plus users.

Small businesses can no longer ignore the popularity of how-to videos on the platform. This is the year to consider how your product or service might lend itself to this medium. 

4. Operating in crisis mode is becoming more of a regular occurrence

Nearly every business experiences some kind of crisis at some point, but for many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath was the first landscape-altering crisis to impact them. What was different about Covid than, say, a weather-related crisis, was the duration of the impact and the scope of the impact across many, if not all, industries — it wasn’t one thing, but many things simultaneously, that affected small businesses. COVID-19 will continue into 2023 and we’ll likely continue to experience new impacts.

5. Personal data and payment security innovations

New digital wallet technology will be introduced to keep user data and payment information more secure. Existing mobile payment platforms are already launching new steps to keep users and their money safer.

If you would like to learn how to leverage these trends for your business, let’s talk:

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