Posted on July 10, 2016 by
As an entrepreneur, taking a vacation poses many challenges and questions. Will your business manage with you out of the office for a few days? Will customers and clients remain pleased? Can the business operate as normal? How will the team handle emergencies? As a small business owner, I grapple with these very questions each time I vacation. Leaving a business and trusting that nothing will go awry requires a leap of faith. However, time away provides the opportunity to refresh and renew, which benefits every business owner and – in turn – their business. Here are my five tips for success when heading out of the office for a vacation:
TRUST SOMEONE: To ensure nothing falls through the cracks while you vacation out of office, appoint a trustworthy person to temporarily fill your shoes. Direct all other employees, clients and vendors to that surrogate. Ensure he or she has access to relevant accounts and decision-making authority where required. Of course, provide pre-planned availability for that right-hand man or woman in an emergency; if only one person has access to you while you play, this person’s it.
And, don’t forget that a token of appreciation for this person’s hard work will go a long way to keeping him or her engaged and responsive while you sip your piña colada on a warm beach!
MAKE A PLAN: Consider all factors and events that may come into play while out of office. Set up plans – and contingency plans – in advance.
For social media, if properly planned and executed, managing a campaign remotely can be very successful with minimum impact to your vacation. This can also be said of other programs; front-loading work prior to a vacation goes a long way towards maintaining sanity while away. For emails, blog posts, billing, newsletters and a multitude of other items, working ahead and scheduling for future execution with appropriate software allows most anything to run seamlessly while you frolic. If pre-vacation time permits, you may even consider setting up programs a week or so past your vacation to allow for a more civilized return to reality after vacation – if that is possible.
SET BOUNDARIES: While you likely must work on vacation, plan to turn off and tune out for a good portion of each day. Identify the expected work windows each day when you will be available and have access to your email or other modes of communication. Inform your point person of those times and set the expectation that, unless in an emergency, you won’t be checking in before or after that window each day.
COMMUNICATE WITH EVERYONE: Once you have a trusted appointee, a plan for how things will work and your windows of availability identified, set out of office expectations with clients, employees and vendors. With enough prior notice and clear communication of a solid plan, any reasonable person will happily respect the boundaries of your personal life.
PLAY IT SAFE: Finally, with all other plans in place, consider how to safeguard your business from fraud while you are away.
I recently heard a story of an entrepreneur who went on vacation and left an out of office notification on her email. A hacker from overseas saw the notification and seized the opportunity for foul play while the boss was away. The hacker cloned her email, determined her company’s CFO via LinkedIn and emailed the CFO requesting an immediate wire transfer of a few thousand dollars for a supposed equipment purchase. Because the email appeared legitimate and the large purchase aligned with the business, the CFO completed the wire transfer… and the company lost a few thousand dollars to the hacker. Yikes!
While I communicate with employees, clients and vendors when preparing for vacation, I don’t advise advertising it via email notifications or social media. Hackers love a vacationing business owner; play it safe and keep your vacay plans quiet.
How do you and your team handle vacations? Do you plan to work while on vacation? I’d love to hear your tips as so many people plan to step out of the office and embark on summer vacations.
Posted on June 19, 2016 by
Marketers often create marketing personas, fictitious profiles of their target consumers, to build marketing strategies. The marketer identifies traits and characteristics of that target consumer and tailors marketing efforts specifically for that persona. Similarly, in search marketing, we create personas to more easily discern and evaluate ideal search terms for a target audience.
When we work with clients to improve search visibility, we often suggest marketing persona creation as a first step to determine optimal search terms. A search marketing persona is the profile of a website visitor the company wishes to attract. Using personas, a company can closely define the needs or “intent” of a target website visitor and then begin to understand and predict which search terms the user may use in search queries.
By way of example, we created a few marketing personas and search profiles for an imaginary clothing retailer that caters to a wide variety of consumers. The three target website visitors for this business include:
Joe Trekker – The quintessential “Millennial Eco Shopper,” Joe really cares about the planet and wants to find ways to support merchants who focus on earth-friendly and sustainable business practices.
Sally Saver – Very frugal and a careful thinker about every purchase, Sally uses an eagle eye to scout deals of every description. A member of several Facebook groups that share bargains and tips on getting the best price or value for any purchased item, Sally focuses on savings.
Laura LeanIn – A high-powered, driven businesswoman with little spare time on her hands, Laura has lots of discretionary income to spend. She appreciates, expects and will pay for luxury, service and convenience.
Creating personas for search marketing allows us to better identify keywords and phrases that map or align to the needs of the target user.
Given the general profiles we created, we next filled in our marketing persona template with additional information about our personas and added the search terms we expect each persona to use:
Name: Joe Trekker
Description: The quintessential “Millennial Eco Shopper,” Joe is fashion-conscious but really cares about the planet and wants to find ways to support merchants who focus on earth-friendly and sustainable business practices.
Education: 4-6 years of college
Annual Income: $45K – $150K
Personal Style: Joe sports some facial hair or a full beard, wears quality fabrics, considers himself more casual than formal.
Ideal Search Terms and Keywords: recycled, upcycled, used, reused, sourced, sustainable, reusable, eco-friendly, green, local
Name: Sally Saver
Description: Very frugal and a careful thinker about every purchase, Sally uses an eagle eye to scout deals of every description. A member of several Facebook groups that share bargains and tips on getting the best price or value for any purchased item, Sally focuses on savings.
Education: 2-4 years of college
Annual Income: $60K – $120K
Personal Style: Sally is conservative and traditional, not a trend setter.
Ideal Search Terms and Keywords: deal, bargain, clearance, sale, BOGO, discount
Name: Laura LeanIn
Description: A high-powered, driven businesswoman with little spare time on her hands, Laura does have lots of discretionary income to spend. She appreciates, expects and will pay for luxury, service and convenience.
Education: 4-6 years of college, and an advanced degree
Annual Income: $250K – $400K
Personal Style: Always professional, Laura is very fashionable, label-conscious and style-savvy – but always tasteful.
Ideal Search Terms and Keywords: luxury, high-end, convenient, service, concierge, delivery, designer, quality, hand-selected, genuine
Armed with the best search terms for each of our three marketing personas, we would then enhance the clothing company’s website such as text, photos and marketing programs to optimize the ideal search terms and keywords “mapped” to each target website visitor. As with any marketing program, marketing personas and search marketing are iterative and ongoing practices; we recommend revisiting and enhancing them on a regular basis.
Posted on June 5, 2016 by
In my recent post on How Blogging Helps Your Site Rank, I referenced the importance of inbound links, also known as backlinks, for a site’s rank on a search engine results page (SERP). A key factor in the strategy for optimizing websites and driving relevant traffic to a site, the topic of building quality links deserves deeper investigation. As such, I asked Ivan Barragan, our team’s resident expert on such matters, to further explain the significance of backlinks.
What is a backlink?
A backlink, or inbound link, is an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another website. Both high quality and a high quantity of backlinks help improve the value of a website to a search engine.
Explain “quality backlink” and why it’s important?
Simply put, a quality backlink addresses two goals:
How does one build a quality link?
The best way to acquire quality links is to create relevant and unique content that serves the purpose of helping your prospects. For example, engaging in a forum – such as Reddit, Quora, Yahoo Answers, or other boards – and helping to answer questions about your product or service, then providing a link to your website, contributes to a quality link.
The key is to add value first by answering questions before adding a link, rather than just dropping in a link in and moving on without contributing positively to a conversation.
What are the pitfalls of bad links and is there any recourse?
Previously, a site could rank well as a result of inbound links from multiple directories. However, Google realized that such directory links and some other SEO link schemes didn’t actually add value. As a result, Google introduced the Penguin algorithm and new Webmaster Guidelines to decrease search engine rankings of websites with no-value add links and links in violation of new policies. Google also started imposing penalties – manual webspam actions – for sites with poor quality backlinks. The penalties severely impact site rankings; in some cases, sites with spammy links either appear many pages down in the SERP or, worse, end up totally removed from the search index.
Our team works hard to always stay abreast of current guidelines and only create quality links. Before starting new link building programs with clients, we conduct due diligence on a site by running a link detox report to check backlinks and identify all the websites that link to the client’s site. Then, we determine which websites are spam and approach those sites to remove the unfavorable link. Unfortunately, oftentimes spammy websites employ unresponsive or totally absent webmasters. In that case, we can ask that Google disavow certain links, which means ignore them for the purposes of determining site ranking.
What’s the bottom line on building quality links?
The best practice is to add value to a conversation when creating links and choose high-quality, content-driven websites where you can contribute and bring something to the table. Always participate in active communities to gain trust and authority on a subject before adding links, rather than dropping a link onto a website and moving on. Also, check out Eric Ward for solid and up-to-date information on building quality backlinks; he wrote the book on this topic and we trust his guidance.← Older posts Newer posts →