A Small Biz Blog Posts

One of the first marketing steps you should take, particularly if your business has a physical location, is to submit it to business directories. These directories not only help people find your business, but they provide a valuable collection of backlinks to your site that will help with search engine placement.

When submitting to these directories, make sure you fill out as much of the business profile as you can. You never know what people will be specifically searching for, so being thorough will ensure that your traffic is as robust as possible. You are also going to want to keep your information consistent directory to directory; a text file with all your business information that you can just copy/paste from is helpful here. And keep an eye on your business listing, particularly if the directory allows customers to post reviews. Engaging with past or potential customers here, and in all instances, should be a top priority.

The following list of almost five dozen directories is broken down into what I feel are the top 10 you should submit to RIGHT NOW, and the rest, arranged alphabetically, that you can submit to when you get the chance. The overwhelming majority of them are pretty general in nature (i.e. welcoming businesses from numerous categories), and free to submit your business to. I did include one notable subscription service, and only because I think it is worth the price, but that decision is up to you.

That said, I generally don’t recommend paying for these, although they will try very hard to get you to shell out money for a Premium account with added perks, features, and benefits (some of which are, admittedly, pretty nice). You’ll probably also save yourself a considerable headache by setting up a specific email address to give them, so you can automatically redirect directory email to a special folder. Because they will email you. Death, taxes, and directories trying to get you to upgrade, man.

Website Marketing

Your new dog eats your sock and throws up with a sound not unlike a constipated Wookiee. He is ever after known as Chewi. Well that was easy.

When it comes to choosing a domain name… not so easy. Your website name is your identity on the Internet. It serves a number of purposes, including giving people a clue as to what you do, and enticing them to click through and see more. It is also usually the first breath of life into your business idea, a necessary start that leads to a company email address, the building of your website, a logo, and other points along your branding journey.

But how do you make the domain name choice your first big success, and not your first glaring error? The following tips will help, and like most things, it all starts with the research…

Website Design

call to actionYou’ve put all this time into crafting the perfect article or blog post. You’ve got a great headline, your SEO is spot-on, and you’ve nailed every point of your outline with, let’s face it, a certain linguistic genius. Your reader is enthralled, breathlessly gliding through paragraphs, and then… the article just ends. Full stop. The reader scrolls, scrolls, but that’s it. Disappointed, the reader heads off to see what kind of kitten pix are trending.

You have just committed blogging malpractice.

Don’t be that writer who leaves a reader hanging at the end. Instead, keep the conversation going with what are known as calls to action. In days of old, these usually were something like sending in a card (postage paid!) for a free trial subscription. You have a number of more interesting options in the Internet age for keeping readers engaged after they finish your article. But first, a couple of brief notes on…

Blogging Social Media

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for that small business owner in your life, 2017 delivered a wealth of great business books to choose from. The following Best of the Best list is a synthesis of best book lists from a variety of sites, including Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, Inc., Financial Times, and others.

To get Amazon pricing and other information for each of these business books, click on the image or link associated with it.

1. Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao

In 2015, Ellen K. Pao sued a powerhouse Silicon Valley venture capital firm, calling out workplace discrimination and retaliation against women and other underrepresented groups. Her suit rocked the tech world—and exposed its toxic culture and its homogeneity. Her message overcame negative PR attacks that took aim at her professional conduct and her personal life, and she won widespread public support—Time hailed her as “the face of change.” Though Pao lost her suit, she revolutionized the conversation at tech offices, in the media, and around the world. In Reset, she tells her full story for the first time.

Books

If it seems like you’ve been seeing a lot more video on the social media platforms that you use, you have. Use of video is exploding across social media, with over eight billion videos (100 million hours of video) being watched every day on Facebook alone. Experts predict that number will continue to soar and that video will make up more than 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by the year 2020.

With this increase in video use comes an associated increase in the number of apps designed to help you more easily create and promote videos over your social media accounts. The following nine apps are all getting a sizeable amount of buzz in this area. If you’re looking for an easier way to make and manage videos for social media, give one or more of these a try. Many of these offer limited free versions or free trials, as well as well-stocked tutorial/example sections to help you get started.

Animato

Animoto is one of the easiest tools out there for creating and sharing videos related to business, photography, and family. For use with iPads, iOS, and Android, you can use Animoto to quickly set the tone for your video by utilizing their styles, adding one of 500+ background songs, as well as adding your own photos, video clips, and text.

Animoto offers three annual pricing tiers starting at $8/month for a personal account, or you can expect to pay double that if you want to instead pay month to month. There is also a 14-day trial available so you can check it out for free.

Blogging Social Media

vpn securityIt used to be that you could close your business at the end of the day, lock up, and go home secure in the knowledge that it was safe. The world, as they say, has changed. You’ll still lock your door, but these days much of business is data and digital driven, and with that comes a variety of security concerns. To fully protect your business, you’ll need to secure your digital door as well as your physical one, and that’s where a virtual private network, or VPN, comes in.

What is a VPN?

VPNs are an inexpensive yet powerful way to secure all aspects of your digital footprint. They can shield you from a wide variety of external threats to things such as email messages, company files, apps like Dropbox, passwords, and even the ravages of ransomware. VPNs not only protect the physical computers within the business itself, but also any external interactions with the system (such as when employees work remotely, or check email on public Wi-Fi). Virtual private networks really have become an indispensable tool which every business should be using.

How Does a VPN Work?

VPNs are all about safeguarding your data, but how do they do this? On their most basic level, VPNs assign you another IP address based on their servers, meaning that your location is masked when you are online. They encrypt data being sent through the servers, which makes it nearly impossible for people to spy on your emails, etc. With a VPN, your employees and clients can also get around geo-restrictions. For example, many countries have systems in place that block programs such as Google Mail, Skype, social media, and other apps and websites. With a VPN, you can bypass these restrictions.

Security

Wheel of Fortune organic reach meme
Improve your organic reach.

If you’ve tended a Facebook business page for any length of time, it’s a fact that you’re probably quite aware of: organic reach on Facebook, to be blunt, sucks, and has been doing so for a while now. There are a number of things you can do to try and turn this around, but first  (for the uninitiated):

What The Heck Is Organic Reach?

Organic reach is defined as the number of users who see your content when they check out their newsfeed or your page. Think of organic reach as non-paid exposure, as opposed to paid reach, such as with advertising. It used to be that when people liked your page, a significant percentage of them, via their newsfeed, would see much of what you posted. This free exposure has been getting more and more scarce for a number of reasons (*cough* Facebook makes money off ads *cough*), to the point where it may seem that the only way to get exposure for your posts these days is to throw money at the problem in the form of post boosts (we’ll take a look at Facebook advertising in a future post).

So The Only Solution Is To Buy Ads?

Not at all. There are actually a great many things you can do to increase your posts’ reach without spending a dime, such as:

Social Media

Instagram logoAt a glance:

-fast-growing social platform

-70% of users are women between the ages of 18 and 35

-photo-sharing app for use on iPhones, some Samsung and Android devices

-more of a brand-building than a marketing platform

 

Launched in 2010, Instagram was bought by Facebook and currently has 700 million active users a month (April, 2017). It is also growing fast. That 700 million is double what it was two years ago, with most of the users being female between the ages of 18 and 35. The majority of users also check their Instagram app at least once a day (59%).

Social Media