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Optimizing your website and blog is an essential element of your content marketing strategy. While SEO is changing, it stays on top of marketers’ agendas as it is a powerful way to bring visitors to your company’s outlets and to direct them towards your sales funnel.

SEO methods are constantly evolving due to search engines’ developments and users’ changing perspectives. It is not that easy to stay on top of the most successful optimization techniques, with many businesses falling into the trap of incorrectly doing SEO. Instead of seeing massive traffic and increasing conversion rates, the results can be quite the opposite.

There are some common SEO mistakes that are tough to avoid. Testing optimization approaches is also difficult because you can’t verify your methods in real-time since search engines’ rules are becoming hard to predict.

While the optimization field is ever-evolving, some practices are proving effective, while others are harmful in the long run. Let’s review the top ten common SEO mistakes you should avoid so your business’ website will bring the desired results to match your efforts.

1. Choosing the Wrong Keywords

Optimizing is all about the keywords that you want your website to rank for. But are you are choosing the right ones?

 

One of the most common mistakes in selecting keywords is neglecting the preference of search engines and users for long-tail keywords. While you might define your products and services in a certain way, it’s more important to understand what words your potential customers would use to refer to them. Sometimes the terms you consider correct might mean something completely different for other people, or could be too generic. In either case, you will be optimizing for all the wrong keywords.

It’s best to do your background research carefully before you start the optimization. Using tools like the Google AdWords KeywordPlannerGoogle TrendsSEMrush and Moz Keyword Explorer can help immensely in putting your finger on the pulse of trending and adequate keywords.

2. Using Keyword Stuffing

You might think using your target keywords in every sentence of your content would boost your ratings. That strategy couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, going overboard with using keywords is registered as spammy by search engines, which means it actually hurts your SEO performance.

That’s why keyword ‘stuffing,’ or overusing your intended keywords, is not crucial to your SEO success. Such an approach would make your content unnatural and useless for its intended audience. In fact, Google is employing a special semantic search called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). This program can recognize your content’s topic without the need for stuffing your content with repetitions of your target keywords.

3. Creating Content That’s Not About Your Keywords

Another common pitfall in SEO optimization is producing content that is not actually about your keywords. The problem is that you want to rank for a certain keyword, but you fail to focus the text on your target topic. Search engines like Google want to serve their users with the most relevant content for people’s search terms. Thus, if your content does not answer user needs, it won’t rank well.

 

This mistake is often a result of trying to fit a few different topics within a single piece of content, creating low-quality work just for the sake of including keywords, or optimizing for multiple keywords in one article. Your primary goal should be to produce content that truly corresponds to the questions and needs of your target audience, including using the right search terms. Then search engines will be able to trace your content as matching the keyword you are optimizing for.

4. Publishing Non-Original Content

This next typical mistake is related to the quality of your content. While duplicating texts was a common practice back in the day, today search engines penalize this approach. Copying and plagiarizing content is seen as a spammy practice and is highly discouraged.

Duplicate and thin content simply doesn’t work. Instead of ripping off copy from other places or using software that ‘spins’ the content into a new shape, it’s worth investing in creating original and meaningful texts. This is the only way to make sure your website doesn’t get downgraded and pushed in the back of search results.

5. Skipping Title Tags & Meta Descriptions

Optimizing your content does not finish once you include a target keyword in your articles. Title tags and meta descriptions are essential elements of SEO that should not be forgotten. Skipping them means a huge missed potential for your content. These optimizing factors are considered by search engines when crawling your website, so if properly done, they can improve the performance of your content.

 

Another technical detail that content marketers sometimes forget is including image tags. The alt tags of the visuals you include in your content are important, as they are another sign of how you are targeting articles. Search bots cannot see the pictures – but they can read the alt tags and add this information in the way they index your pages.

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6. Missing Quality Links

To get the best from SEO, content marketers today should grasp that the quality of external links included in content is more important than their quantity. That’s why it’s better to make sure you link to relevant, well-ranking websites with solid reputations – not just any site. It’s also useful to link back to sites that have linked to you, as this brings back traffic in the future.

Another counterproductive practice when it comes to links is using ineffective anchor text. This wastes precious SEO opportunities, as the anchor texts signify to the reader and to search bots what the link is about and how it can be beneficial to users. Thus, avoid using ‘click here’ as an anchor text and make sure you opt for a variety of anchor texts, as employing the same text over and over again can be seen as spammy.

7. Going Astray with Your Internal Links

There are also common mistakes when including internal links that you should watch out for. Naturally, it’s important to think about your top-performing pages and consider placing links to them in your content. This is a way to give them visibility and create additional traction. But make sure you don’t include internal links just for the sake of having them in an article if they don’t match the topic and focus of the piece.

 

As with keyword stuffing, it’s crucial to watch out and not overdo internal linking. If the content and links seem unnatural, the work will not be appreciated by your target customers. It would not be favorably treated by search engines either, as it can be seen as a fraudulent practice.

8. Not Investing in a Fast and Mobile-Friendly Experience

SEO optimization is not only about content and keywords. It’s also about the quality of your website, particularly its performance on mobile devices, which are users’ top choice today. Google and other search engines can recognize when your website is not mobile-friendly (think about the Mobilegeddon update).

If you haven’t considered a smooth mobile experience for your audience, your rating on search engines can be jeopardized. The same goes for load speed, as search engines put an emphasis on that as well. You shouldn’t be surprised if a slow website leads to lower SERP. You can use online tools like Pingdom and GT Metrix to analyze where the speed problems come from and how to fix them.

9. Not Using the Power of Influencers for Social Media Interactions

Optimization has a social dimension as well. When you are sharing your content on social media, one of your main goals is to get the attention of users who have a significant online influence. This means their content gets noticed by both your target audience and by search engines. That’s why it’s important to create relationships with such ‘power users’ and to use their credibility to promote your content.

Another aspect of this is submitting your blog posts or website promo to social sites such as Digg, Reddit, or Quora without having a ‘power user.’ It’s much easier to make noise about your content when the user sharing it has credibility on that network. Building relationships and doing structured outreach via influencers is an indispensable part of your optimization strategy.

 

10. Forgetting About Analytics

Last but not least, the only way to know if your SEO optimization and content efforts work is to track their progress. Many marketers would disregard the numbers, but this is a serious mistake. Setting up and regularly reviewing your analytics is essential for your optimization results.

Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are just two of the main tools you can use to measure and get an overview of your website’s performance. With their help, you can see how your optimization is working for the different kinds of content and using various strategies you are trying out.

Search engine optimization is an indispensable part of any content marketing strategy today. While you can find plenty of advice online, making a number of typical SEO mistakes is quite common. Instead, it’s better to get well acquainted with the challenges that others have experienced and avoid them in your marketing efforts. These ten errors have proven quite widespread, so they are now easier to recognize before you make them.

Author:  Alexander Kesler

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Search Engine

The road to owning your business is not an easy one; Anyone who has ever started and grown a company will tell you that it was hard. The journey begins with creating a product or service that your target market will want and buy. Then there is trying to scale your company into a business that will have a future for you and your family. Add to that the day-to-day activities and strategies that are involved in keeping the door open, and you will quickly realize that entrepreneurship takes a lot of work.

There are no absolute rules; you will not find a road map to guarantee success in business. But if you were to talk to a new or even an established entrepreneur, they will tell you one thing: you will make mistakes. The risk element associated with operating a business can lead to a lot of mishaps as you try to grow your company.

You will find that mistakes are common and often inevitable. They also play a role in producing a more attentive and better business owner. You can solve some wrong decisions quickly, but there are others that can cost you precious time and money. In fact, some mistakes can lead to the failure of your business.

Below we share suggestions that will help you prevent six common mistakes business owners make while starting and growing a business.

 

Feedback is Good, but Beware

Doing business all by yourself is hard. So, do not be afraid to consult with business mentors and good friends. Feedback is exceptionally important to a new business – especially when the advice is coming from an experienced business owner who has been successful in the market or industry. Their valuable opinion can make a difference in your entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.

However, even well-intentioned business consultants can overwhelm and confuse entrepreneurs. A ton of advice can cause analysis paralysis. It is important to give yourself the time that is needed to make significant decisions without being rushed. However, don’t get caught in procrastination and lose out on an incredible business opportunity. So, surround yourself with individuals that will give you the support you need without pulling you in all different directions.

Get Your Customers’ Opinions

Despite your best plans, the products, and services that you create as an entrepreneur is for your clients. Accordingly, one of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a business owner is to ignore the feedback of your customers.

The opinion of your customers, especially in the beginning when you are defining your business offerings, provides an opportunity to fine-tune your product or service. Often what you think might be a big win may not resonate with your target audience. However, if your customers are telling you exactly what they want and your business is providing it, you could see your company flourish in the marketplace.

A prudent entrepreneur should test a new product or service on a small group of potential customers to get feedback on how to go forward.

 

Look for Business Opportunities to Network

As an entrepreneur, you should understand that networking is more about who knows you than it is about who you know. Your calendar might include meetings from daybreak to sunset. However, just 30 minutes at a networking event can produce significant business opportunities that can make a difference.

Do not ignore networking events. Some entrepreneurs consider them to be a waste of time, especially when they don’t immediate generate a business deal. However, the key to successful networking is to maintain visibility. Attend relevant networking events, create and sustain a list of corporate contact, and add value to the experience. Remember networking is a two-way street.

You will find this to be uncomfortable at first, particularly for entrepreneurs that don’t consider themselves to be social butterflies. However, to promote your business, you should get out of the office and mingle with others.

Be Focused at All Times

Like many other business owners, you have more ideas than you can execute. Don’t make the mistake of chasing every seemingly great idea while disregarding the core of your business. Instead keep a journal or folder and record all your thoughts and concepts. When time permits, you can go through your list and assess the ideas.

A lot of products and services with no real link can prove chaotic to the consumer. Delaying execution and going back to your plans when you are not too excited will allow you to make better decisions for your business.

 

Employ the Right People and Fire the Wrong Ones

Choices about who to hire and which positions to fill are few of the most difficult business decisions you must make as an entrepreneur. They also fall into the category of the most time-consuming considerations. Unless someone is the very best individual for the task, think twice about working with friends and members of your family. There are numerous stories of how personal relationships can create a challenging and toxic working environment.

Your staff is critical to the execution of your business plan. Hiring the wrong person, even if for the most minute role, can severely impact your company’s bottom line. Ensure that your employment process includes choosing the most qualified, capable individual with a strong work ethic. Think about hiring people whose strengths complement your weak points. If staff members are not carrying out responsibilities to your expectations, get them some training or let them go. Don’t make the mistake of making staffing decisions based on emotions.

Respond Quickly

It is important to be accessible both to your staff and your customers. Make sure you can respond to voicemails and emails within 24-48 hours. If you are not the techie type or you are prone to forget, delegate this task to someone on your team. Your initial response does not need to be an action plan but can just be an acknowledgment of the message and an indication to respond in a timeframe.

There are many benefits to owning your own business, but no one can promise that it will be easy. You can choose to be the entrepreneur who will go out and make the mistakes and hopefully learn from them, or you can save yourself some headache and incorporate some of the suggestions above.

Author:  Fabrizio Moreira

Source:  lifehack.org

Categorized in Business Research

These days, a business' online presence is as important -- if not more -- than its presence on the street. So why would you compromise your company's integrity by making avoidable mistakes? Here are a few examples of things that can prevent you from making your business successful.

1. You fail to have a vision for your brand.

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Feeling confident about your entrepreneurial skills? Think you have the product of the year? Think again. You need to have the product of the century; at least that is the attitude that you should adopt. Don't enter the market half-heartedly. Instead, be confident and bold about where you want to take your business in the years to come. 

2. You fail to choose a unique brand name.

You need a truly unique brand to match your ambitious projections. Be sure to research the market so that you are certain no one else already has your brand name, and check that a suitable .com domain is available. As you can see from this infographic about famous domains -- even the biggest companies can make the mistake of not having enough market research for unique brand name.

One of the reasons I picked the brand name Taco for my marketing agency was because it was trendy and unique. I knew that most businesses, especially marketing agencies, had weird acronyms or bland names. Having something unique would get people interested.

3. You fail to get help with your website.

You may be good when it comes to technology, but do you really have time to learn the ins and outs of website building, SEO, etc.? Remember that your main priority is getting the business off the ground, and spending your time sitting in front of a screen is not the best way to drive your vision forward. Leave the technicalities to the experts, and focus on managing the business.

4. You fail to have a backup plan.

It is very common for people, even business owners, to undervalue their data. "It won't happen to me," you may think. Though you may be able to avoid a fire or a flood, what about a Trojan that remotely infects your files one by one until you can no longer access your data? You are more vulnerable than you think -- even huge international companies have their own mishaps -- so always have a backup solution in place for these inevitable situations.

 

5. You fail to send out a clear message.

Though you may be active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, one of the worst things you can do to your brand is to send mixed messages about the business' ethos and affiliations. You should not "like" comments or pages because you think it will make your brand name more visible. You should think about and plan your every move. A designated marketing manager is also a great way to keep your online presence on track.

6. You fail to Google yourself.

Have you tried Googling yourself recently? Well, you should! It is common knowledge that the majority of people will use Google as their primary search engine and will type in your brand name in order to find out more about your company. By keeping on top of the highest search result hits, you can be one step ahead, and ensure that there is no embarrassing or incorrect content connected to your brand name.

7. You fail to proofread your copy.

Don't underestimate the importance of proofreading everything before you publish it. And don't think that is up to the web developer to pick up on errors. It is vital that you eliminate all typos and grammatical errors so that your text is readable and free-flowing. Not only does is it look sloppy if your website and social media posts are littered with errors, it reflects badly on the integrity of your brand too. You can improve your grammar by using a range of easily-accessible online tools and grammar guides.

8. You fail to mention others.

You now have all of your social media accounts set up and have been tweeting all week about your business -- what you do, where you operate and what special deals you have. Rein it in there. The purpose of social media is to network with others and should not be used to introduce your product or services. Try communicating with suppliers or other business in your field to build a friendly and supportive community.

9. You fail to mention what you do.

On the flipside, you should not assume that everyone knows what your company does, especially if you have a unique name that doesn't explicitly describe the trade or nature of the business. It is important that you let your followers know what it is that you can do for them. Instead of being blunt, why not engage with your audience by saying, "Did you know that we specialize in..." Be sure to tell them what makes you stand out from other similar businesses.

 

10. You fail to delete dead domains.

While you were finalizing your brand name and debating between a .com, .eu and .biz, you inadvertently set up two or three domain names that you now need to maintain. Don't make the mistake of selecting one primary address and leaving the others as dead links, as this will leave prospective clients confused and potentially infuriated. Ensure you delete traces of irrelevant links or make them forward automatically to the correct domain address. Did you know that you can sell a domain back to some providers? It's worth looking into if you're certain you won't need the address in future.

11. You fail to join in the conversation.

Finally, don't shy away from online conversations. Feel free to display how you feel about certain subjects, and let people see your personality shine through. Clients love the personal touch and like to see who is behind a company. How else did Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, become so well-known throughout the world? Interacting with others and engaging in discussions is also a brilliant way to promote your business without seeming pushy.

Source : foxnews

Categorized in Online Research

Let’s start with the difference between a business partner and a co-founder.

There are no real strict rules here but this is generally how I look at it. A co-founder implies that they started from the very beginning with you. Maybe you collectively came up with the idea. A business partner may be someone that joined at any time, even after the business has already been going.

Usually business partners are people involved with the business on a level that they help make major decisions, and get an equal share depending on how many partners are involved. Co-founder could be the same or could be someone that get less than an equal share depending on their exact role.

Sometimes those two roles can blend and the difference between the two is not really the point of this article, so I will be referring to both as business partner from here out.

1. Don’t become partners with a mirror image, instead find someone that compliments you

A business partner should usually be someone that can do things that you can’t. That way as a team you can tackle more things before you need to go and hire someone.

People often make the mistake of finding mirror images of themselves. I prefer to hire mirror images of myself rather than partner with them. And my business partners are people that have strengths that make up for my weaknesses, and vise versa.

There could be some exceptions in certain businesses where a mirror image of yourself might work, but in my experience that’s usually not the formula for success.

2. Weed out the lazy people that don’t want to work

When you are initially looking for a business partner, understand that a lot of people are all talk. They will talk and talk but never actually roll up their sleeves and do anything. This isn’t always a bad thing, but make sure you know what you are signing up for.

In fact, make sure you spell it out too. Generally people draft up “operating agreements” that explain the roles of each person, whether they get mutual shares or not, and what happens if things go wrong. It’s important to have this for handling disputes. You can hire a lawyer to handle this or go to a site like LawDepot.com and find one mostly pre-drafted.

I’ve encountered a lot of businesses where they didn’t realize until after they started that one of the partners was not the “hands on” type, and in a bootstrapped startup scenario that can be extremely detrimental.

Often times you need to partner with people that will do whatever it takes to succeed, and ready to roll up their sleeves. And if they don’t do anything or live up to their end of the bargain, they are out.

3. Avoid money disagreements by spelling it out ahead of time

Disputes revolving around money are usually the most common. Figure it out ahead of time exactly what the plan is there and who gets what. Make sure that everyone has to work to get paid.

Also decide on how the company plans to use it’s money to grow. Avoid partnering with people that want to pay all of their friends, unless their friends happen to be the best people for the job, and then still be weary.

Make sure to put everything in writing.

4. Be cautious when mixing business with pleasure

I would admit that most people I partner with in business are or become personal friends as well. That’s not necessarily a good thing, it can be both good and bad.

The good is that it can deepen your bond with that person and when things go well, it’s a lot more fun to be working with that person who may now be your friend.

As a friend, you may feel the urge to tell them a little bit more than you would strictly a business partner.

If there’s a dispute of any kind, it can make things messy. If you have opened up to that person about personal things going on in your life outside of business, they can often times throw them in your face later.

I’ve made that mistake many times and opened up to business partners about other things that I was involved with outside of that business, and they came back to throw them in my face.

If you are an entrepreneur that is involved in many business projects, it may not be appropriate to share everything you do with your business partner. It could create resentment or look like you aren’t focusing enough, when in reality it may not be the case at all, just their perception or fear.

5. Handle disagreements before they become major problems

Inevitability you will come to a point where you disagree on something. Having a reasonable way to handle those disagreement is vitally important.

Compromise is the name of the game here. When something is not that big of a deal for you but your partner feels adamant about going a particular direction that you may not 100% agree with but can live with, that’s when you can compromise.

The trick is ensuring that you have a business partner that mutually respects you, so that when you feel strongly about something and they don’t, then they agree to handle it your way.

6. Roles may change in time, have an understanding of what happens if a partner drops out

People lose focus and it’s not uncommon for someone to drop out and do something else instead. Sometimes entrepreneurship is not for everyone and they want to do something else or can’t take the heat of being an entrepreneur. It’s ok, not everyone is cut out for this. I don’t know anyone personally, but some people love 9-5s, having 8 bosses, daily TPS reports, and printers that don’t work to complain about to get them through the day.

The last thing you want to do is pay someone a salary or percentage if they drop out and stop working, if that wasn’t the original intended deal.

7. Having a business partner is not always the right move

Sometimes you don’t need a business partner, plain and simple. A business partner can be a great thing, but as you can see form this post, there are also a lot of things that could go wrong.

If you have enough funding, it may make more sense to start the business yourself and hire people instead. That gives you ultimate control and less potential for disputes or disagreements, since in a 1 man show you are the ultimate authority.

Conversely, if you don’t have enough funding and you need someone else to put in sweat equity with you, then a business partner might be a great idea.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Avoid partnering with a mirror image of yourself unless you have a very good reason for it.
  • Avoid lazy partners.
  • Agree on matters relating to money beforehand and make an agreement.
  • Be cautious when mixing business with pleasure.
  • Be willing to compromise and let your partner be right or do it their way sometimes. Demand mutual respect.
  • Know what happens if someone drops out or doesn’t do their end of the bargain, spell it out in writing.
  • It’s not always the right decision to take on a business partner.

Source: http://www.influencive.com/7-tips-will-help-find-perfect-business-partner-startup/

1. Don’t become partners with a mirror image, instead find someone that compliments you

Categorized in Business Research

While in college, psychologist Eleanor Longden sought help from a psychiatrist as she tried to deal with symptoms of schizophrenia. When one appointment ran very late, she excused herself, telling the doctor, “I’m reading the news at six.” The psychiatrist duly recorded that Ms. Longden had “delusions of being a television news broadcaster.”

In fact, Longden really did have to read the news on a student-run TV station, as she describes in Scientific American Mind. This story is both amusing and appalling, all the more so because one wouldn’t expect a trained psychiatrist to make assumptions or jump to unwarranted conclusions.

The gross misinterpretation by the psychiatrist is an example of confirmation bias. She was expecting to find evidence of mental illness in her patient, and as a result viewed the slightly improbable news-reading comment as a delusion. The psychiatrist made no effort to clarify the statement. One quick question to explore the topic, or even a shrink-talk, “Oh?” would have revealed the simple, factual explanation.

If a skilled psychiatrist, trained to look for small nuances in patient statements, can make this kind of egregious mistake, do you think marketers, could, too?

Indeed, we can and do make errors at least as bad as the one by Longden’s doctor. When we interpret customer feedback, or data from surveys and focus groups, it’s our natural tendency to interpret the data in a way that is consistent with what we believe ourselves. As the data rolls in, we want to blurt out, “I knew it!” or, “I told you so!” Rarely do we look for other ways of viewing the data, particularly explanations that might prove us wrong.

 

There are lots of ways that market research can go wrong, but this one is particularly insidious because it exploits a flaw in the way most of us think.

In Why So Much Market Research Sucks, I describe a brush with this phenomenon early in my marketing career. The CEO had achieved past success in selling commodity products at higher prices by differentiating with service and quality. He was convinced that the same strategy would work in our market, too. When a customer survey showed that “price” ranked behind multiple other factors in importance, nobody asked, “Why?” Nobody suggested that the question be asked in a different way, or that this surprising result be explored in more detail.

Instead, confirmation bias kicked in. The survey was viewed as proof that price wasn’t all that important, and that a differentiation strategy would allow at least a modest price premium over less skilled competitors.

 

The new strategy lasted just a few short weeks. Sales fell, and recovered only when prices were rolled back to competitive levels. In retrospect, price was critically important to our customers but was never an issue because everyone charged the same price. The survey results were accurate, but were taken to imply something that wasn’t true.

If you are doing market research or analyzing customer feedback, be very careful to look for alternate ways of interpreting the information. Look for dissenting voices within your team or company when you analyze customer data, and don’t be afraid to follow up on important data points. In my pricing example, there were a few experienced people who questioned the findings and strategy, but their objections were summarily dismissed as mere resistance to change.

In both of the examples above, just a little more exploration would have revealed that the initial assumptions were incorrect. But, since the statements seemed to confirm what was already thought to be true, nobody took that extra step.

In the coming years, Big Data, behavior metrics, and other quantitative measurements will give us more data than we’ve ever had before. This wealth of information won’t help the bottom line, though, if we use it to support our current beliefs instead of viewing it thoughtfully and seeking alternative ways to interpret it.

Source : http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerdooley/2013/08/21/market-research-mistake/

 

 

Categorized in Market Research

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