We all know we need to pay attention to our page stats, page rankings and "optimizing" our online brands. But how many of us don't do it because we simply don't know HOW to do it?
Here are 5 quick tips you can apply yourself without feeling SEO challenged!
1. Broken Down Links
For sites on WordPress, you can install Broken Link Checker plugin. It will alert you if and when you
have broken page links. This does happen from time to time as documents, files and pages change. Worth monitoring. You can also go to BrokenLinkCheck.com and take advantage of their free link that checks if you have any issues on your website pages. It takes just a few seconds to enter your details and you receive results fairly quickly. You can choose an "occurrence" report or a more detailed report by "item" which takes a bit longer.
2. Robot Crawler Friendly
If your pages are inter linked and connected to each other logically and often, it allows for better search ability by the various search engines. Take the time to make sure that content and key words are consistent between pages and then to take you into the SEO arena; make sure content is consistent across platform such as social media, press releases, blog posts etc.
3. Search Engine Check
Many different issues can cause problems with search engines not finding your site, from broken links to improper code. To determine whether or not yours is guilty of an infraction or tow, try the free Search Engine Simulator. You simply enter your site's URL, if your text goodies show up correctly here and you can see everything, then the search engines can as well.
4. Creep Your Competition
Yes, you read that right! Take advantage of the free online tools that will allow you to see where your competitors are getting links from to THEIR website. Knowing this allows you the opportunity to see where their key traffic is coming from and gives you the information you need to apply to your site. Try Majestic SEO or the SEOMoz Open Site Explorer
5. Check Your Own Direct Links
Same as above except check your own website(s) and see where your traffic is coming from. This helps you determine what marketing initiatives are working and also gives you valuable insight into supporting blogs, posts and comments that may have driven traffic to your site that you didn't know about.
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Leah Chevallier, Business Consultant & Marketing Educator
Serial entrepreneurs have no shortage of ideas and often, they are running off with their great idea before actually getting properly prepared to run with it! Here are 5 tips for any start-up or new business owner to consider BEFORE galloping off into the successful sunset! Ready - Set - Go!
5 Business Start-Up Tips:
1. Research your business name THOROUGHLY. This means your business name at the registry office, your trade name, DBA (short for "doing business as") or your proposed operating name. Then check the trademark databases in your country to make sure the name is not already in use or possibly something too similar. But don't stop there; you will need to make sure the corresponding domain name is available as well as Twitter handle and Facebook! Yes! Your name matters, research it well and cover ALL your bases.
2. Talk to an Accountant. They can help you prepare your filing system for receipts, month end preparation as well as give you advice on tax breaks/cuts you may not have realized you could use. You will want to understand the difference between being a Sole Proprietor or being Incorporated etc. Let them help your startup launch on a clear, planned and strong base.
3. Invest in your brand from day one. Having a business name is one thing, having an identity is another. Plan on hiring a graphic designer and other professional to help you formulate your brand image, from logo concept, corporate colours to social media icons and online personality. You have only a few seconds to make a first impression, regardless if it is online, in an office or a brick and mortar store; make it count!
4. Hire professionals where and when you need them. All startups need to invest in their social media. Companies are being made and broken online every day; knowing your brand and being able to successfully take it to market and bundle it up for social media is crucial. Do not make the mistake of assuming you can do it all yourself if you are brand new to the world of social media; the learning curve will leave you in the dust of your competitors with no guarantees of ever catching up. Launch strongly, clearly and with a strategy in place.
5. Research your market and competition VERY thoroughly. Many people assume that their idea or concept is better than anything in the marketplace and blindly run to production or execution mode only to find that a competitor has already launched a bigger, better version at a much friendlier price! Knowing your competing products or businesses inside and out will always put you at a vantage point. Don't skimp on knowledge!
As business owners, we all know how easy it is to get sucked into the "busy" vortex. We all do it, day in and day out. We jostle between emails, social media posts, research, vendor/supplier relationship maintenance, sales calls, collection calls, invoicing, filing, remittances, paying bills.... *sigh*... the list is never-ending.
So if you are self employed and wearing all of these hats on a daily or weekly basis; how many of those tasks do you truthfully think you are doing well? That's right. Not many.
Hiring various levels of help in your business does not necessarily mean you need to break the bank. In fact, if you are careful and think through your wants vs. needs very carefully, hiring the right people will make you money.
5 Reasons Why Hiring Help Will Make You Money!
1. If you rely on #socialmedia, hiring somebody in that arena will not only free up time for you but allow you to strategize ON your content and posts more efficiently. They will help source content, plan posts per day in advance, drive traffic to your website or blog and EARN you money via traffic. It's up to you to get the conversion!
2. If you are spending time on collection calls and accounting, who is doing your sales and marketing? 65% of your time must be devoted to selling or marketing your offerings. Either hire the sales staff to market for you and you focus on building your business or hire the back end so YOU can do the sales!
3. Cloning your daily tasks into the job profile of a #VirtualAssistant will free up your time to focus on what your business needs - in real time. You can hire a VA either locally or even off-shore to save money. Keep in mind the off-shore deals usually involve you committing to a fulltime VA. Not always the right move for smaller business owners. What can a VA do for you? They can research competitors, track social media, contact suppliers, customers, vendors or potential clients. They can maintain and update databases, track your accounting and hunt for the perfect birthday gift for your star employee!
4. Bringing in an industry specific Business Consultant, even for a day, offers fresh perspective and insight to items you may be completely oblivious to. They can pick up on visual cues for things that are working (or not) within your business and they bring years of tangible, hard earned experience. Why not cut a few years off your learning curve and pick their brain for a day or two? In the end 20 years of experience will ultimately save you thousands in potential mistakes, oversights or under performance!
5. Last but not least, let's face it. As business owners, there is no possible way that we can know everything we need to about our industry or niche. Every entrepreneur has skills they excel at and others.... not so much! Mine is accounting, hate it. So it makes sense that rather than me bang my head against a wall and stumble along begrudgingly, my time is much better spent on my production projects, product design, sourcing and working with my clients. If I am out making money on my projects while the book-keeper and accountant take care of details; then we are all excelling in our correct domains. I am making money and they are greasing the wheels that keep me moving forward!
So figure out what your skill sets are; determine just as importantly what they are NOT and hire appropriately. Your time will better spent on areas that earn income, move you forward and grow your business!
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Sales Trend Changes:
This seems obvious, if your sales are declining, there is a good chance you are in trouble already. However, do not just watch your sales reports, make sure you are watching by category and vendor as well. If all of a sudden you are seeing an entire category drop, find out why. Is there a new competitor in your area? Are you falling behind on trends? Is your product selection dated or just plain stale? Be sure to watch vendor reports as well, as often a brand shift in the marketplace can be seen quicker on a vendor report than a standard sales report. A great example was the massive shift in the baby carrier market in past few years. A brand of Baby slings had taken the market by storm and baby retailers literally could not keep up. In a dynamic shift that seemed to happen overnight, the company bottomed out leaving retailers either with mountains of unsellable stock or a category that could no longer produce any profits. For retailers that were not watching their Open-To-Buy, monthly sales reports and inventory controls, they lost thousands of dollars in unsellable merchandise. Watch your reports!
Items Per Ticket:
Most modern software programs for retail stores will track this number for you. This term refers to the average number of items each customer purchases on a single bill of sale. If your IPT has been 3.5 for the past 3 years and all of a sudden it drops to 2. You need to figure out why. It comes back to using your software and reporting features to get the details you need to make better buying decisions.
It is also very important to be on point for your niche market. Are you attending the buying shows, trade shows and visiting your competitors. If you aren't... why not? Your customer is shopping somewhere, figure out where and why.
Gross Profit Margins:
Are you cutting prices to keep up? Do you think your customers are only buying on price? If you do, then you have a problem. You cannot play the price game forever, especially if you are trying to keep up with multi-chain stores or nationals. Do not get tricked into believing that dropping your prices will save your business. If you take the time to know your customer, their buying habits, desires and expectations, you can meet them on the sales field with better selection, better service and a better shopping experience. This will then translate into repeat customers, repeat sales and brand loyalty. Don't drop your margins!
Customers buy on trust, emotions and impulse as well.
Cash Flow Maintenance:
If your business is already suffering, take 5 to chat with your accountant about your cash flow and work together on how you can tighten it up. Many business owners are literally functioning month to month with no breathing space not to mention probably not sleeping much either! If you do not have a handle on your cash flow today, you will not have a handle on your business tomorrow!
Take the time to either invest in software that will help you better manage your inventory, products and service purchases or find a consultant who can help you put your plan in place. There are AMAZING programs out there that will take the guess work out of your monthly buying and help you plot your cash flow, open to buy and purchasing well in advance. Wouldn't you like to be able to forecast your sell-offs, plan for trade show and Christmas buying today and SEE how it will affect your cash flow for the entire year? How would you like to use a tool that allows you to "find" money in your ordering and open to buy AND see at which times of the year you will have that surplus? Who wouldn't! (Email me for more information on Open-To-Buy options!
The biggest and most common mistake business owners make when sales drop off is to lay off staff and go to a skeleton crew. This has a two-fold effect of reducing your quality of service and staff to customer ratio as well as reduces the efficiency of your behind the scene operations as well. You cannot possibly do it all yourself or with 1-2 staff! Guaranteed you will end up with staff receiving inventory, frantically trying to get through the pile of boxes and ultimately IGNORING your customers in the process. If you have to reduce, take the time to do it slowly and wisely and do not expect one Manager to do the work of 3 employees!
~Serial entrepreneur that took $2000 micro loan and turned it into a 7 store retail chain and $30 million in revenues! Now a passionate advocate for responsible business around the globe and Retail/Business Consultant. www.leahchevallier.com
This Little Piggy Went To Market: 5 Steps
"How do I know if my product is ready for market?"
Preparing to launch your business, product or service is a monumental and exciting task! Congratulations for being one of the tenacious, determined and crazy few who actually act and execute the concept!
I believe in a strong launch strategy, no matter what you are selling. This post is geared towards somebody who has designed, created and produced a product and want to start selling to retailers in the wholesale arena. What are the key steps to take?
Need help getting to market? I have successfully created and launched over 60 products for my own retail chain as well as another 50+ for my clients. Email me for and let's see how I can help you prepare your successful launch or book a FREE 30 minute consult right now!
Leah Chevallier, serial entrepreneur in the Juvenile Industry sharing insight, success and 18 years of award winning retail experience! Took $2000 Micro-credit loan and turned it into $30 million!