• Better Search Engine Rankings: Page Titles and Descriptions

    A couple of weeks ago, a small business contacted me because they weren’t being found on Google when they (or their customers) searched for themselves. This company recently had another design firm build their website but the designer failed to do any basic SEO (search engine optimization) -- the stuff they DID do was outdated and no longer relevant.

    Simply put, they did very little to help this company get found when customers came looking for them via on the internet.

    Honestly, it’s a shame that design companies don’t do more when creating websites for their clients, but often, they consider this an “add on” or “extra” that isn’t covered in the contract. Bah Humbug, i say!

    First off, the advice i’m dispensing is very simple and considered elementary in level of SEO importance. There is so much more that goes into getting a higher rank in Google -- good content, inbound links, responsive design and load times, social media, etc.

    Titles:

    Webpage titles show up in the browser's tab, search results, and when shared (w/ social media sites).

    Keywords (i.e. words that people use to search for you) need to be in your page title. Example: If you’re famous for donuts but your business is called “Drew’s Bakery”, you’d want to be sure you have “donuts” as a keyword in your title.

    Best practices for titles (as of January 1, 2015):

    1. Approximately 50-60 characters (<55 is ideal). Example: Ruryl Studios - Websites, SEO, Social Media and Consulting
    2. Main keywords need to be in title
    3. Name at the front of of title if you have a strong brand, name at the back if you have a new/weak brand
    4. Don’t look spammy! It should read naturally -- don’t overload the title with every keyword imaginable

    Use the Moz.com Title Emulator Tool to see how your page title will appear in Google’s search results. http://moz.com/blog/new-title-tag-guidelines-preview-tool

    Examples of Bad Page Titles: http://www.dmoz.org/erz/sites/title.html

    Descriptions:

    Should be <160 characters. Think about writing an ad for your webpage with your major keywords included in this section. This should sound natural and easy to read.

    Meta Keywords:

    Google says they’ve stopped using this feature for search engine rankings -- other search engines might still use this but it comes across as spammy. Stick with 20 or less keywords if you feel like you need this section filled in. Make sure the keywords are comma separated.

    That’s it. You’ve taken your first steps toward higher rankings in Google. (Let’s party!)

  • 5 websites every small business / organization needs to be listed on


    [Pic credit: "Waterlogged phonebook." by Rich Anderson is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Cropped.]

    You need to be listed online.

    Period.

    It doesn’t matter the size or scope of your business/organization, if you can’t be found (easily) online, you might as well be invisible to majority of people searching for what you offer.

    I’ve listed the top five websites (plus some extras) to help you reach the masses and are all pretty simple to set up and free (or have a free option).

    1. Search engines sites: listed below are the big three, but Google is a must.

    Google Places for Business
    Bing Places for Business
    Yahoo Local Listing

    2. Facebook Business: one billion users, half of those people use it everyday. Not to mention, Facebook is on 75% of all smart phones.

    3. Yelp: this site is the go to for millions people looking for reviews and recommendations. If you don’t list your business/organization, someone else might.

    4. Foursquare: like Yelp, it lists comments and feedback, but also encourages connections by having customers check in.

    5. Directories: even though the phone book has gone the way of the dinosaurs, online listings are still a good place for people to find you. Choose one or two (or all) of the directories below to improve your chances of being found. (Be advised, these companies have a reputation of contacting you to upsell you advertising.)

    Manta
    Yellowbook
    Yellow Pages
    White Pages
    Superpages

    One other thing you might take into consideration: create a simple website. You don’t need anything too fancy, but it should look nice and include your basic (up-to-date) info. Send me an email if you need help setting any of this up.

  • Details matter: restroom locks


    [Pic credit: "Vacant: Stevenage Bath House" by Peter aka anemoneprojectors is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

    My barista friends all have a common horror story: restroom door locks that don’t work (i.e. they’ve walked in on people). The uncomfortable and embarrassing feelings associated with accidentally disturbing a person during a private moment are some of the worst a human can experience. This is especially true if you will be interacting with the person later.

    This made me think about the little things businesses can do to make customers feel valued by valuing their safety and comfort. Something as simple as a $40 occupied/vacant lock and a half-hour installation can go a long way in creating subconscious value.

    Off the top of my head, here are a couple more examples:

    Diaper changing stations

    Heating lamps on patio areas

    Seperate meeting rooms

    Scooter-carts

    Hand sanitizing stations

    If you have a brick and mortar store that has regional competition, the thing that will often set you apart is those small details that are easily considered as a given.

  • Turn your store into a roadside attraction


    [Pic credit: "Maddy and the Twistee Treat - Somewhere in Kansas" by Greg Younger is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

    A picture is worth a thousand words and with every social website having a way to share those pics, your business’ story could be the size of a Tolkien novel. So, it only makes sense, to take advantage of the current digital, sharing culture by giving customers’ something to snap a pic of to spread your establishment’s fame.

    I’ve assembled a short list of ideas for you to use as a starting point to find a unique appeal for your business or organization to use. It’s about giving people a reason to be the center of attention and to use their “selfie” as a way to promote you.
    - - -

    Ben & Jerry’s face cutouts: a simple idea that invites people to be a part of the product.

    Wall Drug’s free ice water: finding an almost free item to give away to people who are looking for a reason to get out of the car.

    Cow Parade & public art projects: using an icon from your region encourages people to capture a memory with that object.

    Roadside attractions in America: everything from grave markers to alien jerky can be used to draw attention to your business/organization.

    - - -
    How about you: what was the last roadside attraction you stopped at and why?

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