Blog at Least Twice a Month? Yeah, Right!
You've heard me say it over and over again. A blog is a small business "must-have." An active blog builds your online reputation. It's a powerful and cost-effective tool that improves search engine rankings. But a small business blog has to be active, with a new post at least twice a month, or it won't do any of those things.
Twice a month? Yikes! That's a lot of blog posts. You already know your blog post can't be a sales pitch. You understand that each blog post has to be informative, engaging and offer useful information to its reader. And, you wonder, "How in the world can I come up with a different blog post topic twice a month?"
Worry not! It's not as difficult as you think. Here's a handy-dandy list of blog post ideas you can use right now:
Tip 1: Remember to add an authoritative link or two to each post.
Tip 2: Write in a conversational tone - pretend you're talking to a friend.
Tip 3: If you need help with your blog, contact me. That's why I'm here.
Additional Resource: Entrepreneur Magazine has more great blog post topic ideas here.
Business is people. Don't ever forget.
OK, I'm going to get serious today. Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of my dad's death. I have a dear friend who is ill and not likely to recover. Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S. It's May, flowers are blooming and spring is in full swing. It's also a time of reflection.
What does this have to do with business? Quite a bit, actually.
It Can't Be 10 Years, Can It?
Dad was raised in a family with an abusive father. When Dad was a kid in gym class one day, a phys ed teacher saw welts on his back from the whip his father regularly used on Dad and his sisters.
The phys ed teacher reported the welts to authorities. Apparently a school official visited dad's father to talk to him about the way he "disciplined" his kids. Dad never knew for sure what was said but his father met him at the door when he came home from school that day, whipped him and said, "Show that to your g** d***** teacher."
Things were different then. Nothing more was ever said about the welts. Dad thought everyone grew up the way he did.
We now know that kids who are physically abused often abuse their families as well. Not my dad. He rarely laid a hand on us and when he did, it was at Mom's urging. That's a different story, though.
Dad did have one person on his side when he grew up and that was his stepmom. She'd raised him from babyhood. She was his strength and guiding light. If he hadn't had her on his side who knows what might have happened to him. He might never have been the loving father with a heart of gold that I knew.
Ten years ago I lost my biggest supporter.
Life & Death & Business
I hardly ever thought about death when I was in my 20s. Who does? But life takes its toll. My dad's been gone for 10 years. I am soon going to lose someone I love dearly. I know I am not alone. To be alive is to experience loss. It happens to all of us.
What does this have to do with your business? You're in business to make money, right? Sure, you need people to buy your services or products. Life and business are completely separate entities, right?
Nope, they're not. Business means people. Business owners are people. Customers are people. As a business owner you can't lose track of that fact.
What's It Mean?
You've read it before, folks — businesses that promote charitable causes do better financially. And often the bottom line is pointed to as the main reason to participate in community service. But, what we do in our lives and our businesses has to mean more than a dollar sign.
Let's turn it around. Let's plan charitable events and help the people in our local communities because it's the right thing to do. Let's offer superior customer service, not because it means more money, but because our customers are fellow life travelers dealing with issues we can't imagine.
Let's care about one another no matter what we're doing, whether it's business or holding a door open for someone at the grocery store. Let's treat our customers like family. Because really, that's exactly what we all are.
But you don't need the monster website of old
Websites used to be the standard bearer - the one chance you had online to make your small business stand out. A website had to do it all - from giving online users the basics as well as include the awesome descriptions of your services or products.
With social media you have an online arsenal where the basics are still important, but also where you can you can engage one-on-one with customers and prospects in ways you couldn't before. Add the meteoric rise of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and it's clear that the effective website of today is vastly different from the website of yesterday.
You & Your New Website
Did you know always-on-the-go schedules and the use of mobile devices has left most of us with a shortened attention span? It's true. A charming little goldfish in a tank has a longer attention span than most of us do.
What do social media and short attention spans mean for small websites in 2018?
Here's what today's websites need:
But, What About That Change Thing Google Likes?
It's the one website rule that hasn't changed since the beginning. Even though websites still rank high with Google, static websites, or sites that don't change or update, do not. That's why a small business website, along with a redesign for today's users, needs a blog. Active blogs meet Google's update requirement and improve search engine rankings over time.
And while we're talking about Google's likes and dislikes, let's not forget to mention that Google penalizes websites that don't work on mobile devices. We don't want to be penalized now, do we?
BONUS TIP: One trend gaining in popularity is the one-page small business site. The one-page site typically uses links at the top for users to click through to the information they need. You can't get much simpler than that.
And, in case you forgot, I offer affordable, simple and effective small business web design services, too. But, enough about me...
If you came in on the second half of the discussion, you can find Part I here.
Small business websites designed with simplicity in mind...
For those of you who don't know my story, I began my professional online career as a web designer. I loved everything about creating websites, from the graphics to the content wordplay. As time went on, however, the technologies required for many websites became too great for a freelancer like me to keep up with.
That's when I decided to focus on writing content and blog posts, which is still my main focus. However, I can't seem to let go of web design. The fact is that most small businesses don't need a huge site with lots of bells & whistles. Simplicity is key. I am great at designing simple yet attractive websites. So, I'm once again adding web design to my service list.
Today I launched my revamped web design site. TTR Design was started in 1999. The name came about because when I first began designing websites, I offered free designs to animal rescue sites.* "To The Rescue" (TTR) was my motto and TTR Design was born.
I am excited about adding something I love to my services and look forward to working with small business clients. Together we can create a website that is affordable and simple that attracts new customers, informs current customers, enhances your business's online presence and improves search engine rankings.
Your new site will look great on mobile devices, too.
* I still offer discounted services to animal rescue organizations. Please contact me for more information.
You have a Facebook business page. Do you still need a website in 2018?
Seems like a great idea, doesn't? Facebook is free to use. A Facebook business page is much easier to maintain and update than a website. You're probably thinking, "A business website — who needs one?"
Before you decide to ditch your website, let's take a look at the facts.
I Choose Social!
A 2017 survey conducted by the Local Search Association (LSA) asked small and medium business owners what their media of choice would be if they could only choose one. Social media came out on top by a wide margin.
But, is social media alone the best way to find new prospects, engage visitors and encourage return customers? Hmmm....?
What Do the Numbers Say?
The LSA Digital Consumer Study examined consumer behavior in 12 U.S. cities. The study found that 63 percent of consumers still use websites to find and contact businesses. That percentage is, in fact, higher than the 60 percent from the year before.
Another telling fact — a business website performs much better in organic searches than social media pages do. In other words, having a website increases a company's chance of showing up naturally in search engine listings and placing higher without paying for advertising boosts.
No Website, No Trust
Who are you? That's what prospects want to know. According to research done by both the LSA and the Real Yellow Pages (YP), if your business doesn't have a website, prospects go elsewhere. No website, no confidence, no trust.
Consumer perception about your reputation and credibility relies on whether or not you have a website as well how it professional it looks. Your website is your online storefront - if you don't have one it's goodbye Nelly.
Clearly, a website is still a critical tool when it comes to reaching out to new prospects, engaging current customers and keeping those customers coming back for more. But wait, there's more!
OK, I Need a Website. Now What?
If your business doesn't have a website or has one that hasn't had a revamp in some time, you have to know that today's websites are different. Websites used to be complex creatures with page after page of data. You had to put everything out there. Not anymore.
So what does a business website in these days of mobile devices and time constraints look like? Check back for Part II coming soon.