Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Monday, November 16th, 2009
Exciting news! Small Business Mavericks is growing, and we are looking to hire a Social Media / Website Administrator. The details are below, so if you or anyone you know fits the description, please send an e-mail to Steve Melberg with resume and contact information included. (Note: This position is available in our Plymouth, Minnesota virtual office location – apologies to readers outside of the Twin Cities area).
Small Business Mavericks is in need of someone to work with internal team members as well as working directly with clients in many cases to perform the following:
Website Administration Tasks
- Purchasing Hosting Packages (enabling SSL and SSH as appropriate)
- Assisting client with email back-up/set-up/configuring; working with client’s IT person as needed
- Desktop assistance when required
- Releasing domains and transferring DNS/A and MX Record settings
- Redirecting / forwarding URLs
- Website back-ups
- Creating and maintaining a domain and website purchase/renewal schedule
- Website changes using a Content Management System and basic HTML
Social Media Tasks
- Online research and reporting projects
- Blog postings using WordPress
- Updating Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites following a pre-determined strategy
- Posting articles and press releases online
General & Administrative Tasks
- Answer phones
- Greet clients
- Answer basic customer service questions related to web admin and social media
- Attending weekly staff meetings
- Proofread documents and correct for spelling, punctuation, grammar
- Source graphics as needed from stock photography sites
- Basic and general administrative tasks as needed
- Organized & detail oriented
- Personable / Great with People / Excellent telephone skills
- Proficient in Microsoft Office and Basic HTML
- Proficient with Macintosh OS X
- Demonstrated Social Media Proficiency
- Previous professional office experience required
- This position is available in our Plymouth, Minnesota virtual location
Interested applicants, please send your resume and contact information to: Steve Melberg
Saturday, May 9th, 2009
One of the things that we’ve been reading about quite a bit in search news is the share of the market that each of the search engines have. Google has jumped up over 70% of the market share while Yahoo!, the No. 2 search engine, is in decline. But even more striking news is that the increase in the number of people who search for long keyword phrases is getting bigger.
This article in WebProNews says it increased 7% over the same period last year for keyword phrases five to eight words. For keyword phrases of eight words or longer, the increase was 18%. And two-word searches are going down.
What this means for small business owners who hope to be found in the search engines is that you’ll have greater opportunities and fewer competition the longer your search phrase. SEO is getting a lot more competitive as more and more businesses go online to compete for business. Isn’t it time to figure out where you fall into the search engine rankings based on the long key phrases you want to target?
Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Product pages index just like any other page on your website, but you’d probably like them to do more. After all, selling your products or services is a major reason you have an online presence. Small businesses need every tool to promote themselves and there is another way to get your products noticed: a product feed.
A product feed will show up on a blended search–which means it will be featured on all the major search engines and will be mixed in with other items–everything from similar products and services, to news releases, blogs, and other online sites that fit your keyword parameters. Why product feeds work is if someone types in “red ice skates,” they’ll most likely see your product before an article on merits of red skates.
It’s easy to create a product feed, simply put all your product information in a spreadsheet and submit it to the various search engines. It will index separately from your website, so it won’t be buried under your title and numerous pages which may make it harder to identify.
There are three major search engines to submit your products feeds to:
It’s important that you do submit it as a spreadsheet that contains your product and price, as well as a short description or other product details. There’s even a custom field where you can mention special or unusal details, such as an endorsement. Make sure it creates a relevant search so you don’t get lost in the proverbial haystack.
How? Details. Be sure to list product specifics such as sizes, upgrades, or accessories.
The more specific you are, the higher you’ll rank in your product field.
What better way to sell a product that with a picture! That’s right, you can upload images of your products–and you should. This is well worth the effort. Take a lesson from Amazon and EBay and notice that you tend to buy products you can “see.” And be sure to update your product feed page.
Is your product seasonal? Do you have a peak selling time period? Is there a holiday you can link to, use to promote your product? Be sure to update during this time. Not many people get excited about buying ice skates in July.
Product feeds are like the old store-front windows. You want to catch someone’s eye as they stroll by. If someone types in “red ice skates,” you want to be the first product that pops up on their search. Location. Location. Location.
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
So many small businesses pay a service to create their website, and they think they can place a big check list beside that to-do item and never think about it again. So wrong. Everything online is a process, and thank goodness it is. You can always update your site, add content, tweak your profile and improve your Google rank.
The good news is that there are some great online tracking tools that can help you improve your site, draw viewers, and know which of your webpages draws them in–and which ones are tanking. Knowing your bounce rate can make all the difference.
What’s a bounce rate?
It’s not how fast you can jump on a trampoline–it’s when someone visits your site and literally bounces in–and bounces out. They don’t go any further. They’re a one page wonder. Usually that means they either thought your site was about something else, or you didn’t hold their interest.
When measuring your bounce rate on Google Analytics, be sure to check several things:
Your Page Visits
Time on Site
Each tells you something different. For example, if a new visitor comes to your site, stays less than 30 seconds to a minute and leaves, you’ve got a bit of a problem. It may be in your title, your keywords, or with the graphics of your site, lack of content…in other words, you failed to hook your viewer. Consider making some changes.
If a new visitor comes to your site and stays more than a minute, you can consider this somewhat of a success. Even if they didn’t click to other pages, you held their interest. Perhaps they’ll revisit later. I call this “circling the camp.” Oftentimes, a visitor is itchy–they’re not ready to commit, they want to know what else is out there, but they did circle the perimiter–they know who you are and where you are. Success.
How to improve your bounce rate?
Make sure you page is navigable. Can they find where to click through easily? Are you links underlined and a contrasting color? Is your site too jumbled? Has it been a while since you added new content?
Try improving just one of these areas and watch your bounce rate for improvement.
Be sure to check out your content report and analyze every page of your website. Chances are, you’ve got a wink link. Find out where you’re losing your viewers, and you just figured out where to start implementing a few changes.
Sunday, April 5th, 2009
Have you ever visited a website that was confusing? Sure you have. You might not remember because chances are, you didn’t stay long. That’s the beauty of the web–you can move quickly to find what you want. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your small business website is as easy to navigate as possible.
Ways to Make Your Website Easy to Navigate:
Make your landing page impressive. You want to know how people find you? They type words or phrases in their web browser. Most of the time, they have a question or a problem they’re needing an answer to. So make sure that your landing page answers those questions. Make it clear who you are, and what you sell, or what your service is.
Your landing page can also serve another purpose–to be helpful. Before you go into a hard sell, strive to inform, educate, and answer common questions. Fill your landing page with good content people want–and make sure you have clear links or an order form for easy purchase.
List a site map. Viewers want to know what all you have. Consider an “About Us” page, a “Order Here” page, and a “Common Questions our Customers Ask” page. Site maps help your visitors tremendously, but they help search engines, too. Your site map is essentially a link, and search engines love plain old links. They index well, so that gives people even more ways to find your websie.
List your contact information on every webpage. Some people aren’t comfortable placing a large order without talking to someone–or doing a little more research–so make it easy for them. Help them find you. List your address, phone number, and any other relevant information where they can see it–again and agian.
Keep your text links blue and underlined. Make it easy for people to view all your pages–and blue, underlined text signals us to click–and you want them to click!
Consider using a form at the end of your content for orders instead of just a link. Every time you ask your viewer to do click, you risk that they’ll click away from your site. so keep them there, and let them see an order form.
By initiating these simple tips, people can find you and your small business easier. You’ll also make it clear and easy for those same viewers to order your products or services, which will mean that your website is serving you very well.
Friday, April 3rd, 2009
Two great perks of LinkedIn is that you can publicize your website(s) and check out references. Both of these tools are great for small businesses because they reduce your search and give you valuable feedback.
LinkedIn allows you to list your website(s), and since they rank high, so do you. Go to a pre-selected category such as “my website,” or “my company,” and list your websites and blogs. You can also click on â€œotherâ€ and modify the name of the link. Be sure to include your name and description so that search engines can find you easily because it’s search engine optimized. And don’t forget to set your profile as “public,” or “full view.”
Another way to use LinkedIn is for a reference check. This goes both ways. You can input a company name and the years someone worked for that company and search for references. You’ll then be privy to other people who worked at that company at the same time the person you’re considering. Most people only list references who are informed they’ll be contacted, and only the ones who will give good references. By contacting various other workers on LinkedIn, you’ll get a more accurate portrayal.
Just because you’re looking for a job and you know they will be performing a background check, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do a little investigating on your own. Employment is a two-way street. So go ahead and check out the company, and your prospective managerâ€™s references. Most people have the most trouble with their immediate boss–so check out your potential employers on LinkedIn and see if this company–and this manager–is going to be a good fit for you. Do an advanced search on the company name. Uncheck the â€œcurrent companies onlyâ€ box so you can look at the turnover rate, which will give you an indication of the overall health and atmosphere of the company.
Many recruiters are checking out LinkedIn as they look for job candidates. One IT (information technology) recruiter mentioned that along with Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, LinkedIn is included in her search. She uses keyword searches such as C++, Java, Basic, HTML, Dot.net, or ASP to locate possible candidates. This recruiter said, “If they’re not listed on those three sites, they’re probably not serious about looking for a job.”
Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Ever leave your house and forget your phone? You either turn around and go get it–or feel off kilter all day. Cell phones with SMS (short message services or texting) capabilities are the new necessity. It’s no wonder that mobile marketing can be a great way for small businesses to connect with clients–and potential clients.
While mobile marketing isn’t for everybody, it just might be for you. Let’s explore the various ways small businesses can use mobile marketing. As you probably know, SMS (short message services) otherwise known as texting is something many people prefer. It’s silent, it’s handy, and it’s short. Texting is 160 characters or less, and most phones now have internet connectivity and can also send videos, pics, adn mp3 files.
You can use mobile marketing to update customers/clients on contests, event updates, promotional updates, bids, product/service information, such as real estate and other sales info.
Is mobile marketing right for you?
Of course, you have to consider costs. Costs include code leasing, aggregator costs, and cost-message (.10-.20cents). Mobile marketing offers quick updates and less spam than email.
Not everyone has activated or uses SMS/texting features on their phone–currently. But this technology is exploding and phones are just going to smarter and more sophisticated.
Mobile marketing will soon become the norm–just like email. So why not be ahead of the curve?
Be sure to check out TextMoreInfo.com, SumoText.com, or ProMotion1.com to look into mobile marketing options.
Monday, March 30th, 2009
Going green isn’t just a fancy media word. It’s something we all need to consider. Small businesses will benefiit quickly from green efforts. It’s also a great point to feature on your website, blogs, and at your brick-and mortor locations. People “get” that it’s time to go green–and whether that means conserving your lights, carpooling, offering tele-commuting to your employees, or conserving on energy and office products–it all hellps.
Consider creating a paperless office. I recently visited someone who works from home and runs a paperless office. He has made a concerted effort to avoid excess printing, and does 99% of his work online. It was honestly the cleanest office I’d ever been in. And he seemed less stressed. He shared that it took some time getting used to, but he even encouraged others to invoice him via computer, and to make sure he backed his files, and although there are times he can’t avoid printing, he does so with care and uses recylcled office paper products. I was impressed.
Another area you can focus on is energy conservation. Advances in “power managementâ€ allows your computer to hibernate or power downs all the peripherals except what power it needs to maintain RAM (random access memory). Printers now have a feature that allows them to go into â€restâ€ or hibernation so that it conserves power when inactive. Power management can do a lot for your business. It can prolong battery life, reduce cooling requirements (which in an office with many computers/electronic equipment, your a/c costs can drop), reduce operating costs, and lower your overall power consumption.
The best way to help your company go green is to brainstorm. People don’t like changes mandated to them. So ask your co-workers or employers what ways they suggest to help conserve energy and “go green.” Start with 2-3 changes at a time. It’s easy to go gung-ho and then lose your momentum, so start with ways you can manage. Let someone champion the area they suggested.
Here are a few office green tips:
Announce a brown bag lunch day and encourage all employees to pack.
If your company uses plastic bags, consider investing in recyclable bags. Most customers will be glad to pay a one-time fee to convert.
Switch to safer/organic office cleaning products.
Encourage less printing. Have a monthly contest and see if this month’s total can be less than less month.
Consider tele-commuting one day a week. Working from home can actually be more productive for many jobs.
Rally your colleagues into action. None of us like being out on the end of the diving board alone, so encourage others to go green as well.
Go online and investigate how others have saved money in similar fields. Leave a comment on their blog or website and ask them about what worked best.
Once you’ve established a few “green” initiatives, go ahead and promote it. People care about this. Put it on your website, write a blog about your efforts–your journey–what worked, what didn’t.
Mention it on Twitter, and even chat about a great tip others could use. Going green is something others respect, and in our economy, the savings will often come right back to you.