Monthly Archives: April 2013

Top SEO Tips for 2013

Top-SEO-Tips-to-Run-a-Successful-SEO-Campaign1There’s not an online business person alive who doesn’t spend at least some time considering the mystery of SEO.  The landscape has evolved tremendously since the days of massive link shares and meta data, and for most, it’s hard to keep on top of the latest trends and nuances to Google’s algorithms.  The good news is, one core thing has already remained consistent:  Great content equals great SEO.  It’s a more complex equation than that, of course, but if you start out with a solid, well-designed site brimming with intriguing content, you’ve just tackled half the battle.  For the other half, keep reading.

Tip #1: Your Website Has to Rock

No amount of SEO prowess can ever make up for a lackluster website, so your first strategy should be building a killer online presence.  Your site should look polished and professional, have scads of relevant keyword rich content, clearly articulate who you are and what you offer, and have intuitive navigation – for starters.  If you’re an ecommerce site, that shopping cart process needs to be flawless and simple, and you should be executing smart retention tactics too, like suggesting similar products, email newsletters, and related outreach.  If your site is failing, making efforts to drive more traffic will only showcase your flaws all the more.  Resist the urge to rise the Google ranks until you have content you can crow about.

Tip #2: Outreach is Key

Once you have a site that you’re truly proud of, it’s time to make friends with like-minded sites and media hubs.  You absolutely have to get people to talk about your brand and products, and one way to do this is to connect with folks already writing about your target niche.  If you run a site that sells tires, as an example, have a comprehensive list of all automotive directories, bloggers, and related sites.  And make friends!  Offer to link to them as well, or create marketing campaigns that offer discounts to their customers.  Whatever you do, ensure your citations are credible.  If you link to someone who has questionable tactics, or even if THEY link to spammers, your ranking will subsequently suffer.  It’s imperative you choose partners that are already Google-friendly.  If they aren’t, they won’t move the needle for you at all.

Tip #3: Social Media

You should create a very strong and active presence on all related social media outlets.  Don’t think you need to tackle ALL of them, however – target only those that your audience uses most.  Sites like Pinterest, as an example, have a high volume of female users.  If female shoppers aren’t the core of your demographic, don’t waste time trying to reach them.  It’s integral that you have a clear vision of who your key customer is, and where to find them online.

Good social media needs constant care, much like a garden.  Seeds are planted through the form of consistent profiles and business data, and then cultivated by staying engaged with your audience.  Resist the temptation to use products like HootSuite to send the same status updates to all your networks.  Folks on LinkedIn, as an example, respond to different updates than Twitter.  Taking a little extra time to thoughtfully consider each demographic will increase your chances of engaging.  If you’re not engaging with your customers, you business will suffer greatly.

By following a few basic SEO principles, you can build a solid foundation that search engines and customers alike adore.  Content has been and continues to be king, so make every page count.  Search engines aim to highlight the best sites for any and all searches, so it’s on you to make your site top tier.  Have fun rising the ranks!

When to Outsource, When to DIY

outsourcing_0If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you might have a bit of a control streak.  The temptation to tackle most critical tasks yourself, when it comes to your business, is sometimes too tempting to resist.  Doing things yourself is more than just the economical choice, it’s also a way for you to feel things are done right, just as you like ’em.  That said, there’s a LOT to tackle in building an online business, and doing it all is not realistic.  You’ll burn out faster than a birthday candle, and those tasks you do tackle will probably be mediocre at best.  You’re better off focusing on what you – and your company itself – does best and finding experts to fill in the rest.

So which jobs are better left to the pros?  That all depends on your business’s core competency.  If you run a design shop, you’ll obviously not need to look elsewhere for website graphics and logos. But you would be best served to outsource development, sys admin type tasks, and perhaps even your marketing needs.  Below is a list of key roles any online business needs, and advice on when to hold it, and when to hire it out.

Design – Unless you run the aforementioned graphics agency, skimping on your website’s visual image is a bad, bad idea.  You know the old adage – you only get one chance to make a first impression.  Website’s that have poor navigation and lackluster graphics can immediately turn off and otherwise enthusiastic client/customer, so make sure you’ve got your best face forward.  Depending on your business’s focus, you may not need a designer in-house, so outsourcing these needs is a good bet, especially out of the gate.

SEO and Social Marketing – They’re the buzz words on everyone’s minds these days, and for good reason; these are the keys to the marketing kingdom.  They can be deceptive in their perceived simplicity, but don’t be fooled – both are complicated, and most often done incorrectly.  You definitely want to have a freelancer on hand that can cover these for you (or two), but the good news is that if your business is just starting out, this does not have to be a full time gig, and these professionals should not be crazy-expensive either.  But resist the temptation to think you can handle a few tweets and article crafting yourself – it’s much more complex than it may seem.

Quality Assurance – Most business owners can take on the task of owning QA in-house, and even themselves.  The exception to this is if you’re building complex technologies, applications or video games that have intricacies only an expert engineer can help identify.  If it’s a matter of testing your website, navigation and ecommerce platform, you and your team can and should keep this task to yourselves.  Knowing every nook and cranny is critical to your business’s success anyway; QA is a great way to keep yourself truly connected to your audience.

Development – Top programming chops are in very high demand, because unless you are a developer yourself, learning a language is no easy task.  If you’re in launch-mode with your business, outsourcing development is not just a wise move, it’s a necessity.  Until you have stable profits and a clear technology road map, hiring engineers in-house is too expensive and complicated.  The same goes for Systems Administration.  Trust a professional firm or freelancer to guard and format your hardware, and focus on what you do best.

Marketing – Most of your marketing efforts should be a hybrid between internal and external employees.  Keep your core marketing strategies in-house, but don’t be afraid to hire a consultant that is an expert in your niche to advise you on how to best reach your audience.  Most companies go through intermittent phases of intense marketing rollouts, followed by more head-down planning.  Keep the former in the hands of the pros, and the latter close to you.  If you own the big picture vision for marketing your company, you can be well-guided by those who get what you’re after and can help you properly execute.

Deciding whether to do it yourself or find a trusted professional is a burden every business owner must bear.  Be honest about your own talents and capabilities, and known what you don’t know.  By letting your business do what it does best, you are better poised to succeed in your target market.