Grow Smart BusinessUMDNetwork Solutions


Small Business Success Index 4

Index Score*   Grade
73 marginal
Capital Access 67
Marketing & Innovation 65
Workforce 76
Customer Service 88
Computer Technology 73
Compliance 92
*Index score is calculated on a 1-100 scale.
homepreneur

Search Articles

Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’


How Much SEO Can I Do By Myself?

June 9th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

After months of procrastinating, I really need to get my website tricked out with some SEO.  Because it’s such a technical process and can be rather expensive, I started wondering how much I could do myself. I have zero knowledge of or experience in HTML and web programming, and a budget of…well, let’s say not enough to pay an SEO expert what their service is worth. 

Robot with Magnifying Glass

liferoiblog/Flickr

Based on my research, which consisted of my limited knowledge, a Google search, and finally asking SEO guru Ken Fischer of Click for Help, there is quite a bit you can do on your own.  Needless to say, it’s not going to be nearly as effective as adding all those tags and metadata and technical gee gaws to your website, but it will certainly help. 

Here’s what you need, in no specific order:

Keywords.  Research keywords for your industry simply by plugging words and terms related to what you do into any search engine.  You probably already know what some key terms are, but get really creative.  Ask friends and family for their thoughts—you might get even more ideas. 

Once you have a list of keywords, add them to your website’s content wherever possible.  To make your content both readable and effective, you’ll want to craft your messaging and positioning statements around the keywords rather than just randomly inserting keywords into your content. 

Strong, original, well-written website content.  If your content is poorly written, no one’s going to click through your website, let alone contact you.  Remember that the reason you want your site to be optimized for search engines is not just so people can find you, but so those people become customers.  Without good content, that goal is a lost cause. 

If you’re not a good writer, find someone who is.  If you think you’re a good writer, find a good editor.  Make sure your content uses plain English rather than jargon and is thoughtful and original.  Most importantly, make sure your content speaks to your audience’s needs.  Explain to them how you are going to solve their problems and how you are going to do it better than the other guy. 

Links from other websites.  Link from websites to yours (aka, a backlink) are gold in the SEO world.  Think about it: why would someone provide a link to a website if it didn’t contain useful or interesting information?  Links drive traffic to your website and make web pages more likely to appear at the top of a search engine’s results page, which, in turn, pushes more traffic to your website.  It’s a nice little cycle once it gets going.

Publish articles to the LinkedIn groups you belong to and to an online article distribution service like EzineArticles or GoArticles.  As long as what you are writing is relevant and interesting, it will be shared over and over again.  You can also distribute press releases, sprinkled with backlinks to your website, to an online news release service like PR Web.  It will get picked up by news services, and because PR Web is recognized as an authority, backlinks from their website can drive a lot of traffic to your website.

Social media.  When you post to your favorite social media platforms, be sure you are offering advice, tips, and success stories with relevant links back to your website.  Avoid outright sales pitches at all costs.  Of course, if you’re running a special promotion, a sale, or launching a new product or service, you’re going to advertise that.  But people are more likely to pass along good advice than an announcement regarding a new product launch.  If your company sounds interesting, people will visit your website.      

Blog.  As with social media, blog posts that offer useful, relevant information and contain links back to content on your website will spur web traffic.  Publish a great blog, and people will pass it along, post it to Facebook, tweet it, and refer to it and ultimately drive traffic to your website.

Recession-Era Marketing: Learn from the Experts for FREE

December 18th, 2009 :: Erica Knoch
Online Experts

Photo by Monashee Frantz/OJO Images/Getty Images

Now that you have made that leap into being a small business owner, it’s time to let others know you exist.  So how can you pitch your product, show where your store is, or let anyone know of your services when you have a zero marketing budget? Learn from the experts!

The online space is full of experts – experienced professionals who give free advice, write articles, post on social networks, and link to tools to help you learn, promote, and retain your customers.  Assuming you have already set up your website/blog, here are a few FREE ways to learn from the experts and market your business:

1.  Basic Social Media Accounts: Facebook, LinkedIn, & Twitter.

  • On Facebook, open a personal account, then from that, create a page for your small business. (example: Aeroka Media and Network Solutions)  Start uploading photos, links to your services, and promote to get “fans”.  Post new content and links to your blog/site often.  Become a fan of experts in your field, read their posts for advice.
  • On Twitter, sign up for an account for your business. Post about your Facebook fan page, links to different parts of your blog/site, and do a search in Twitter to see what your customers say about you. Follow experts in your field of business and learn from their links and posts.
  • On LinkedIn, sign up for an account for you, which you can then add a link to your business. Start a group, answer questions, and connect with others in your field.  Ask questions as well, and connect to experts.

Note: There are a lot of applications in each of these to crosss promote (Twitter-to-Facebook, etc) so try to automate, or use sites like Ping to post once and automate to all the above  social networks and more!

2. “Marketing 101″ for FREE:
Educate yourself, all at no cost.  Some examples are:

  • Attend conferences and events of your choice via Twitter! No need to pay for travel, tickets or registration!   Just sign in to your Twitter account, use this symbol # (hashtag) in front of the name of a conference in the search box.  There are Tweets about who might be there, cool factoids on speakers, sponsors, and inside information from attendees and speakers AT the event.   Example:  I wanted to attend the 140 Character Conference in New York last Spring.  I typed in #140Conf in the search box, and received a lot of facts about the panel speakers and links to their advice.  When the live streaming from the event website went down, I found an attendee there on Twitter who was streaming from his personal webcam, and he shared a link to his video feed with me!
  • Visit and Subscribe: To be on top of  the latest news in marketing your business, trends and updates on the competition, find the right sites and  subscribe to feeds/newsletters!  I like to keep on top of marketing, media, tech and small business news, so I visit and subscribe to Mediapost, Variety, Mashable, PaidContent and Grow Smart Business.  I also like to use Alltop to customize and aggregate all of my favorite news feeds from marketing experts such as Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki and many others.
  • View Marketing Presentations: Check out Slideshare, do a search on any subject, and I’m sure there is a presentation for it.  I just searched on “Small Business Marketing” and came up with this list of presentations.  Here is a presentation on Social Media Marketing for Small Business.  Sign up and try doing specific searches to your needs.  They just might help you with a presentation to a new client!
  • Take a course: There are a ton of webinars you can take from your couch!  I like to expand my knowledge of  website optimization, so I Googled “free webinars for SEO” and found free Hubspot webinars taught by SEO experts.  Do a search on free webinars in your area of business, you’d be amazed at what courses you can take at no cost!

3.  Join Niche Communities of Experts:

  • Join Meetup: Meetup is a great place to join and target your exact niche to the actual area you live, so that you can connect, not only online, but with folks in your group in real life!  Also, type in “small business” and your zip code, and you can find other small business owners you can meet  in person!
  • PartnerUp!:  Seriously if you have a job that is just too big for your business, and you need help with a part of it, PartnerUp is a community is the place to get the help you need!
  • Associations:  If you haven’t already joined an association related to your field, do.  There will be a fee, so if you can’t pay, there are FREE resources too.  In my case, the American Marketing Association site has a blog, list of events, and other items that I have utilized for free.  Try your association!

These are just a few ways to get you started in marketing your business, for free, but without having to go it alone.  A marketing expert is just a few keystrokes away.  Please tell me if you have any success with these ideas, or share with me where you are finding expert advice for FREE by commenting below.

Wishing you much success. :-)

Social Networking Etiquette 101: 5 Ways to Mind Your Manners While Online

December 2nd, 2009 :: Monika Jansen
When I first joined Facebook, I got a friend request from a total stranger.  Turns out she was a “2nd”, aka, the friend of a friend.  That’s really ballsy, I thought, but I wasn’t totally surprised.  It’s happened to all of us.  While having a total stranger follow you on Twitter is flattering, LinkedIn and Facebook are a bit more intimate.  Being approached by a stranger on those sites is kind of stalker-ish.  Needless to say, I blocked the person who tried to “friend” me.

I do wonder, though, why social networking causes so much mindless behavior.  Perhaps it’s because we’re in a rush, or perhaps we’re just trying to stay active on all those social networking sites, or perhaps it’s because some of us were raised by wolves in the outback.  Most of just really want more connections on LinkedIn and more followers on Twitter.  Whatever the reason, though, gazillions of people out there don’t think before they type…or click…or send friend requests.

So, here you go: 5 ways to mind your manners while online.

  1. Don’t automatically subscribe someone to your e-marketing or e-newsletter program.  Engage with that person first, then ask if they’d like to be added to your distribution list.  And be sure that instructions for unsubscribing are clearly stated somewhere in your email.
  2. Do not attempt to “friend” someone on Facebook or connect with someone on LinkedIn unless you personally know them.  If you’d like to meet them, figure out someone you have in common and ask for an introduction.  If that fails, email them through Facebook and introduce yourself.
  3. Don’t ignore attempts to connect.  Respond to someone’s note with a note of your own and suggest an alternative way to connect.  However, if you don’t even know the person (see above), go ahead and block them.
  4. If you are attempting to connect with someone you only met briefly, remind that person how you know each other.
  5. Don’t attempt to connect two business acquaintances, colleagues, or friends without a heads up to both people.  Fair warnings are always appreciated.

If you have any other etiquette tips, email me at [email protected]. If I receive enough suggestions, I’ll write them up in a future blog post.

Seven Key Reasons Your Business Should Have a LinkedIn Company Page

October 30th, 2009 :: Steven Fisher

Your small business has lots of competition out there and you have very little time to stay on top of all the ways to promote and gain awareness. For a small business there is the struggle with the promotion of the personal brand vs the company brand and determining how they come together. You have probably heard of LinkedIn and might have a personal profile there but did you know you could create one for your business?

Seven Key Reasons Your Business Should Have a LinkedIn Company Page

Creating a company page on LinkedIn supports the company brand and we have come up with Seven Key Reasons Your Business Should Have a LinkedIn Company Page:

  1. Branding and Awareness – At its most basic level, the company page is way to promote your brand and create awareness of your business. When you set the page up, don’t forget a good version of your logo.
  2. Search Engines Love and TRUST LinkedIn – Google has some trusted places it gets information and places it at the top of the rankings. Places like Wikipedia, IMDB and LinkedIn are sources for a search engine to index and put that reference on page 1 of the results.
  3. Your Employees Can Connect to It – On your company page it lets you list all the people who work for your business so it becomes a sort of company directory. If you are doing sales research this can be a powerful way to find out who to contact at a particular organization.
  4. Advertise without advertising – When someone searches for companies they might be searching on keywords so if your description is written well people could find your company and become a client of yours
  5. Promotion of Your Knowledge – If you have created any groups, your company page also displays that so if someone finds you they can particpate in the communities you have built.
  6. Up-to-Date Company Information – While the company page is about the company and not about the you or employees it does let you put the key information about your business up there so people can locate you via the web, phone or physical address
  7. Promote Your Other Social Media Channels – Have a blog? Put the RSS feed up there. Have a twitter page? Post the link.

What Are You Waiting For?

With these seven great reasons your business should have a company page on LinkedIn, you should be opening up a new browser tab or window and going to LinkedIn after you finish reading this. If there are any other reasons we missed, please leave a comment. Other than that, get started.