Do you know the core of your small business?

Clackity NoiseI read a blog post today, it was a few years old and I just happened to stumble across it, but it hit me as quite profound. Something that could be applied to all aspects of life and particularly to small business.

The blog post was by Merlin Mann, over at Kung fu Grippe. If you haven’t heard of Merlin then I highly recommend you google or youTube him and watch just a bit of what he has to say. He is, for lack of a better term, a ‘productivity guru’. He goes to companies and helps them come up with solutions to make them work in a more efficient way. He is also witty and highly irreverent. Something I also enjoy.

This particular post was entitled “Making the Clackity Noise” and it is about his writing technique. Here is just a bit for you:

I’ve learned that my job is to just sit down and start making the clackity noise. If I make the clackity noise long enough every day, the “writing” seems to take care of itself. On the other hand, if there’s no clackity noise, no writing. No little stories. The stories may be in there, alongside God knows what else, but there’s no way to know. You must make the noise.

Merlin’s whole concept is to break everything down to its most basic sense. How do you write at a computer? You sit at it and make the keyboard make that clackity noise. You don’t need to read a book about writing, you don’t need a better computer or a new lamp, you just sit and make the noise and you are writing. It might not be good, but that will come with practice. For now just make the noise.

Imagine if you could break down the core concepts of your business like that. I make websites. That sounds complicated, there are all sorts of things to learn about and people to email and books I should read. NO Today I am just going to make websites. I am going to sit down and code away. I will probably learn a few things in the process and I will probably ignore an email from someone who wants me to subscribe to their newsletter but at the end of the day I will have worked at my core business.

Running a small business can be hard, trying to take care of everything yourself. The accounting, marketing and purchasing,  sometimes you can end a day and not actually have DONE what it is you DO.

Do you know what your clackity noise is? Will you do it today?

Please do yourself a favor and go and read the rest of Merlin’s Article.

Photo by: Striatic

Lynx brings angels to London (Video)

On the 5th of March an amazing advertising campaign took place in Victoria Station, London.

Unilever the company that owns the Lynx brand of personal deodorants set up signs inviting people to “Look Up”. Suspended at one end of the building was a giant screen projecting their image, looking up caused a virtual reality angel to drop right next to where they were standing, and interact with them.

An AMAZING marketing campaign, that drew crowds quickly. I am sure with those crowds also came some great word of mouth for Lynx.

Simple seo tips for starting small business websites

A website, no matter how well designed, no matter how beautiful, in the long run is really only as good as its content. You can have the most technologically advanced website on the internet, but a $500 blog will always out perform it if it is providing more relevant and better quality information.

This is a short introduction to writing  the very first page for your website. What should you write, and how should you approach this and what does this have to do with search engine optimisation?

The text on the front page of any website is one of the most important ways to improve your ranking on Google and other search engines. That doesn’t mean you have to limit it to a boring page with a brief introduction, but it does mean that you need to think about what you will include on your front page. The idea is to create a well-written introduction that explains who you are, what you do, and why people would be interested in coming to your website.

Years ago you may have been advised to write with as many keywords as possible, stuff them in there, but the technology behind Google and other search engines has improved to the point where it can recognise real content and ranks it higher than keyword heavy but irrelevant writings. Your front page should give readers real a peek at who you are and what you are about that you will then expand upon in other pages or sections of your site.

The reason behind creating a smart, well-written opening page for your website is twofold:

First, you want to give visitors to your site the information they need as quickly as possible. Chances are, if they were able to got to your site with no search involved they already know something about you, but you need to grab their attention long enough to make them want to keep reading.

The second purpose is to give Google an opportunity to correctly determine the relevance and content of your site so that it can correctly assign your site to appropriate searches. The text on the front page of your site, along with other factors, is what Google uses to determine your ranking and who will see your link.

If you want to make sure you give the right first impression, there are a few things you will need to know:

  1. Think about what search terms you want to rank for:
    Do you want searchers to find you when they look up the term “Melbourne Bookshop”, “Painting Books”, or something else altogether? Think about the three or four of the most important words you want to be found for. These ideas should help you come up with your opening text. They will also help with other important elements such as menu titles, headlines and other key pieces information you will want on your site. These are referred to as keywords, and will be one of the ways that Google can figure out what you are about.
  2. Use keyword tools.
    Some of the tools that are available online that can tell you what words and phrases people are searching for. I would suggest starting with the Google keyword tool Often, big companies will spend large amounts of money trying to purchase what they consider to be the best keywords. For example, some of the larger airlines got into a bidding war over the best listing for “discount airfares.” However, one company got wise and instead changed their keyword to “cheap flights”, and found that their traffic increased dramatically. The reason? Customers don’t search for “discount airfares”; they search for “cheap flights”. Understanding how your customers phrase what they are looking for can save you a lot of time and money when developing your site.
  3. Aim for 2% – 4% keyword density.
    You may be surprised to find out that it should be only about 200-250 words, with they keywords repeated no more than 4 to  6 times.
    While terms like “keyword density” and “search engine optimisation” may sound a little intimidating, the truth is that it only takes a little bit of careful editing to help as many people as possible find your page. We already know that the more people see your page, the more opportunities you’ll find!

One final tip – if you don’t already have one, you may want to consider including a blog on your site. As with your front page, you will want to make sure that your keywords occur frequently in blog postings, another way to keep your search ranking high. Blog postings don’t need to be super detailed- as little as three to five hundred words posted weekly can make a big difference in your rankings. Just be sure that the topic you have in mind is related to your core business, or at the very least of interest to your prospective customers. Not only does this keep visitors coming back, it also tells Google that your site provides helpful and relevant information.

The more time you spend developing and refining the text on your site, the better your rankings will be. Don’t forget that your site should be dynamic, a living breathing online presence, so change the information on your page regularly as you come up with new ideas and information on your site. With the right information, your Google ranking is sure to show results!

Photo by: Maria Reyes-McDavis

Facebook Sponsored Stories, should your business be in on this?

As Facebook grows in popularity (understatement) and you acquire more friends, it is quite possible that you will miss many of their status updates. Each time you check in you only see 20 or 30 of the most popular or recent posts.

If someone checked into Starbucks and enjoyed buying a latte 3 hours ago you may very well miss it. This is where Facebook Sponsored Stories come in. It allows a company to pay to have an area that will repost any content in which your friends have mentioned their brand to make sure you don’t miss out on this information. Taking advantage of the theory that internet marketing really is just word of mouth on steroids.

I know people are going to be up in arms about their content being used for advertising with out their permission but it is only visible to people who were able to see it in the first place. Just a little more visible. So is it wrong or not?

Is it something your company should be taking advantage of??

Will Googles algorithm change ruin your sites ranking?

Google latest algorithm change has been rolled out in the last few days and this time it is focusing on, what it calls, internet spam.

It is going after news aggregators and sites that scrape content and post it on their own site.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, released a post on his blog earlier this week stating:

“we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content.”

Although it is stated that this should only affect 2% of searches it has already been felt across the internet. The guys at e-webstyle are claiming that their blog has dropped from a SERP ranking of 6 down to about 27. Although in my opinion they are producing decent content.

So now is the time, more than ever before, to be producing great and unique web content, and making sure that your site is not just copying and pasting articles from across the internet.

Good Luck