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4 Things Most People Don’t Understand About SEO (Search Engine Optimization) #SEO #optimization

Original post from Search Engine Land.

In an online business environment that’s heavily dependent on organic search, the lack of an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is detrimental to your growth and profitability.

In this column, we will look at three SEO facts that business leaders should know to achieve excellent results.

Fact #1: SEO Is Not An Add-On, But A Build-In

Search engines have become an indispensable part of the consumer’s decision-making and buying process, which means that organic search is important for every business. Being visible in Google and other search engines matters because that’s where most searchers go to look for things — and where most traffic to your website will come from. Organic search connects you with buyers.

Factors that affect your ranking on search engines are not limited to your own site, either. Some of the most important ranking factors are external, such as getting links from other authoritative websites in your niche. Google counts them as “votes” in your favor.

For best results, search engine optimization should be integrated with all of your other marketing initiatives from the start. Breaking down silos and working with other departments is mutually beneficial for all parties! Here’s how:

Content Marketing

If content marketing is an important element of your traffic generating strategy, then you must first research your ideal prospect’s search behavior to gather insights for planning your content.

Doing this before creating your content will help tailor whatever you create to the existing needs and current behavior of your clients.

Paid Search

Some business leaders consider paid traffic to be completely distinct from search engine optimization, not realizing that an SEO specialist can help you amplify the reach and impact of your paid search campaigns.

It is true that SEO and paid search are different beasts, requiring specialized knowledge. But both address search users, and having SEO and PPC teams work together can be powerful.

SEO specialists tap into multiple data sources and use research and analysis techniques that can make PPC experts more effective at generating sales and boosting profits. And conversely, PPC is a great way to try out new ideas and experiment with conversion-boosting techniques before investing a larger budget into long-term strategies like SEO and content marketing.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Just getting more visitors isn’t enough. You must convert them into paying customers, or get them to do what you want. And SEO can bring you better results once you understand your typical website visitor on a deeper level.

  • Why did they come to your website?
  • What do they want from you?
  • How do they intend to act on your information?

Armed with this data and insight from an SEO expert, you’ll better understand the psychology of website visitors and can use it in your online communication to improve conversions.

Business Development

Insights gathered from Google can help future-proof your business. By digging into archived, historical data and comparing it against future trends, you can

  • analyze markets
  • study competitors
  • make sales forecasts
  • allocate resources

All of this will help you find out what you need to become a market leader, how long it will take to beat your competition, and which activities will get you there in a cost-effective manner.

A good SEO analyst can help you uncover information that will warn you against venturing into markets which are too competitive, or safeguard you from wasteful investments in areas with low profit potential.

Branding & Communication

Once you understand what goes on in your ideal customers’ minds, your brand message and marketing communication will be more consistent and more effective. It costs nothing to access Google’s search data and study it for insights.

Are you speaking in your customer’s language? Have you identified the most frequent questions your customers ask? Do you solve the major problems that they are facing?

Your story becomes more interesting when you talk about what they are already interested in.

Knowing what your prospects care about, you can:

  • reach out with a helping hand
  • offer valuable resources
  • plan effective brand campaigns
  • conduct interesting and entertaining interviews
  • use data intelligently
  • combine it with your other data and information to amplify the impact

Integrating SEO into all that you do, both offline and on, can enhance your results and speed up your growth.

On the other hand, trying to “slap on some SEO” like putting icing on a cake doesn’t work. This mindset is why many businesses don’t experience success with search engine optimization.

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7 Critical Questions Before You Become an Entrepreneur

Original post from Startup Professionals Musing.

As a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, the most common question I get is, “I want to be an entrepreneur — how do I start?” The obvious answer is that you need an idea first, but I’ve come to realize that the process is really much more complex than that. Many people with great ideas never make it as entrepreneurs, and true entrepreneurs can make a business out of anything.

The first myth you have to get past is that having an idea will make you an entrepreneur. In fact, even implementing the idea into a solution doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. According to my definition and Wikipedia, an entrepreneur is someone who builds a new business. Based on my experience, creating the solution is usually the easy part of starting a successful business.

So before you quit your day job, tax all your friends and investors for money, or max out your credit cards to design and build a product, I recommend that you seriously contemplate the following more basic questions:

  1. Are you prepared to adopt the entrepreneur lifestyle? Starting a new business is not a job, but an adventure into the unknown, similar to Columbus setting out to find the New World. It’s a big step into a new lifestyle, like getting married after being single for many years. Yet startup founders are often lonely, since no one else can make their decisions.
  2. How strong is your passion for this opportunity? You have to enjoy working with people — partners, customers, investors and more — as well as products to start a business. You have to embrace making decisions and the responsibility of setting milestones, measuring progress and celebrating the victories and defeats.
  3. Are you confident and disciplined in facing tough challenges? Starting a business at home or on the Internet is hard work — not a get-rich-quick scheme. You will be operating outside of any proven realm, no mentor can give you the answer, and it won’t help to blame anyone else for missteps and environmental changes you can’t predict.
  4. How familiar are you with the contemplated business domain? Remember that the grass always look greener on the other side of the fence. It may make more sense to work for a similar startup before charging ahead on your own. The ultimate best teacher is failure, but a less painful one is getting related work experience and training.
  5. Which business model best suits your mentality? Some people love to deliver services, where personal acumen is tested every day. Others love technology and products, to be replicated and sold while you sleep. If something totally new is not your forte, you can always buy a franchise, acquire an existing business or be a consultant.
  6. Have you mapped out a complete plan? Few entrepreneurs can assimilate and hone a complete plan in their head. That’s why I believe the process of writing down your plan is more valuable than the result. Also, a written plan multiplies your ability to communicate to constituents, and facilitates parallel feedback. Money is not a substitute.
  7. What is your funding situation and alternatives? Fundraising is stressful and difficult, which is why 90 percent of successful entrepreneurs choose bootstrapping (self-funding). Too much money too early kills many startups, according to investors. There are always non-cash alternatives, such as recruiting partners with equity and bartering services.

After asking yourself these questions, and finding yourself still determined to be an entrepreneur, you will have already started. From there, it’s a simple matter of forging a trail to success, and conquering all the problems and challenges that are sure to surface. Starting a business is a marathon, so you have to make an overt decision to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

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Career Advancement & Direct Selling

Post originally seen at DSA.

Gen Y is, without question, uniquely positioned to make a major impact on the marketplace within the decade. According to a recent report by global research association Conference Board, 64 million baby boomers will be eligible for retirement by the end of the current decade while, at the same time, the number of workers ages 18 to 34 will increase by 10 percent. In fact, within 10 years, Gen Y will represent more than half of the U.S. workforce. And still, the U.S. boasts one of the worst rates of youth employment among large-economy countries, according to a recent New York Times report.

But, while companies across all industries continue to revamp their approach to this highly competitive, tech-savvy generation, many in the direct sales channel have recognized that tailoring the business opportunity to meet the needs of this demographic group requires more than openness to new technologies and creative marketing techniques. Gen Y also needs assurance that their efforts will result in career advancement—a “resume boost,” if you will.

According to the Human Capital Institute, Gen Y prefers career development three times more than a cash bonus as a form of benefit. Even more, only 27 percent of young people think high pay is important, compared to 48 percent of older workers.

As Dave Webb, Vice President of Communications for XANGO said recently,” The people of Generation Y have all the energy in the world and we hear all the time that they didn’t grow up aspiring to work in a cubicle job.”

The question is, how might direct selling fulfill Gen Y’s needs for career advancement?

For starters, direct selling provides invaluable business ownership experience, without any barriers for entry. As direct selling companies continue to offer cutting-edge business resources and training to distributors via online and mobile platforms, today’s direct sellers gain access to top-notch business education as they grow their businesses.

Even more, from the moment a prospective direct seller chooses to start a business, he or she gains access to a network of direct sellers eager to offer their support. This is key because, according to the Human Capital Institute, Gen Y craves coaching and mentorship more than any previous generation.

Keeping Gen Y’s need for mentorship in mind, it is important to also recognize that a number of recent studies—including one conducted by Rasmussen College—have indicated that Gen-Yers are increasingly leaving traditional employment opportunities to pursue self-employment.

In fact, 71 percent of those polled who currently hold traditional jobs said they would prefer to quit their current positions and work for themselves. And, what are the top reasons for this?

Freedom, the ability to choose projects and the opportunity to maintain control over their workload were among the top five reasons Gen-Yers have increasingly turned to self-employment. How perfect it is that these are also frequently cited as the top reasons men and women choose to launch direct selling careers!

But of course, as anyone in direct selling knows, these reasons hardly scratch the surface of the many factors that drive today’s budding entrepreneurs to get started in direct selling. As evidenced by our Faces of Direct Selling page, men and women of all ages, educational backgrounds and interests find empowerment through direct selling.

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