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4 Things Virtual Startups Need

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Tech startups are finally getting attention for thriving outside of Silicon Valley as entrepreneurs are wising up. Many businesses don’t require any type of physical office at all, and those that do don’t need to be in high cost of living areas such as San Francisco and New York. There are more and more small businesses and startups going old school with modern versions of garage businesses and offering telecommuting up to 100 percent of the time for most employees. Ready to find out what you need for a virtual startup?

First, make sure your business idea is a good match for this environment. Unless you need to physically see customers in person, such as if you’re opening a brick and mortar shop, you probably don’t. If your dream is to be a business owner and be able to work from anywhere in the world, there are plenty of industries where this is possible. Simply find a great storage unit deal and you can call “the office” anywhere from Minnesota to Mumbai.

Here’s what you need to get started:

1. The right cloud technology

Storing, sharing and editing documents in the cloud will keep your entire team on the same page. This also minimizes the odds of double work (there won’t be any “old copies” to mistakenly work from) and is also more environmentally friendly. Plus, you’ll save money on ink and paper, too.

2. A solid video conferencing option

There will come a time when you’ll need to meet with big shots such as angel investors via video, and scheduling team meetings on video chat can be a lot more effective than phone calls since much of the body language can still be read. Choose an affordable (or free) option that works with your needs.

3. Everyone having access to quality technology

It’s certainly legal to require new employees to use their own equipment to do a job, but you can’t require them to have certain equipment unless you pay for it. At the very least, ensure everyone is either Mac or PC, and if you really want to attractive better talent provide your employees with work computers and any related accessories.

4. The right crew

Not everyone is cut out for telecommuting, and some people need a boss physically breathing down their neck to accomplish things. However, everyone really wants to be a telecommuter type. Vet your applicants carefully.

Virtual environments can thrive or flounder, but you can make a huge difference starting with the setup of the landscape.

Web:

It’s 2014 … and Yep, Content is Still King

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As we head into the downhill side of 2014, technological advances are continuing to alter the arena of Internet marketing. In addition to placing more primacy on responsive web design and mobile optimization, this year marks the era in which the design and maintenance of high-quality apps has become an integral element of effective online advertising campaigns.

Despite the perpetually evolving nature of Internet marketing, however, content remains king. This means that if you want to build their brand in the online sphere into the future, you should still place your primary focus on the creation and publication of high-quality content.

If online growth is indeed your current business objective, consider implementing the following three strategies:

1. Stop spinning

As more businesses understand that content creation and publication is an integral piece of Internet marketing campaigns and they act on that knowledge, you will likely find it ever more challenging to devise or locate blog posts and web articles that have a distinct and innovative flair. Creative, original content is uniquely eye-catching, but it may be harder to recognize amid all the noise on the Web.

It’s not even a question of avoiding plagiarism; even useful content can be lost in the shuffle if it doesn’t sound lively and interesting. So if you want to catch and keep the attention of prospective clients for your business, you need to do all you can to avoid posting content that contains phrases and concepts that are generic, trite, or derivative.

2. Guest post

In discussing the reality of guest posting in its article ”A Guide to Navigating the Politics of Guest Posting and Hosting,” Supple Solutions comments: “For the most part, guest posting and hosting are both worthwhile. They are an acceptable means of generating backlinks, for instance, and for expanding the perspective of a blog.”

In other words, if you’re interested in moving forward this year, you need to invest time in creating exceptional content that’s worthy of guest posting. In addition to reaching a new pool of potential readers and customers, guest posting gives you the opportunity to develop relationships with web domain owners who might become your business partners.

3. Make it scannable

As more people go online to do business and shop, research regarding how people analyze the content they encounter has become prominent. Among other things, it’s been found that most people who read online do not examine content in its entirety.

Rather, they skim through it to find the information that’s of greatest value to them. Since this is the case, making your content “scannable” is an effective way to ensure that people gravitate toward your blog posts and/or web articles when they’re searching for information.

To ensure that your content is as scannable as possible, remember to include textual elements that divide it up and highlight, such as headers, bullets, and numbered lists.

In order to develop a substantial reputation online, you have to enact the proven strategies that will accomplish your goal. By using some or all of the content-boosting ideas outlined above, your company should be able to build brand awareness and the dynamic, expansive online presence you desire.

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last update: January 30, 2015

Business:

Why Local Content Matters

No matter what type of online presence you have, from a blog to managing a website, are you focusing on local? Search engine optimization (SEO) has a subset of localized SEO (LSEO) for a reason: Geo-targeting your audience can help improve the quality of your content, loyal followers/customers and also with where you appear in search engine rankings. It’s not for everyone (such as huge corporations like Amazon with zero local focus) but for many smaller websites, it’s crucial.

For example, let’s say you provide contracting services in a metro area and want to reach as many of your neighbors as possible. The content on your landing pages, blogs, social media and anywhere else you manage needs to be geo-specific but still organic. You don’t want to stuff “Kansas City” or “Phoenix” into awkward places, but a reputable content creator can do so seamlessly to ensure more locals find you online.

The local approach

There are some websites that shy away from local content because they might serve a certain region but want to appeal to a national or international audience. A good example is a florist in Houston that also ships domestically. They may or may not have a brick and mortar location (but if they do, going local is even more important). Focusing on national customers is a good idea, but ignoring the appeal of “supporting local” means they’re bypassing what is probably a very lucrative and loyal market.

More and more consumers are looking for local businesses to get their business. You can see it in the thriving farmer’s markets, and you can even ask a premium price when reaching out to your local customers. Retailers and service providers can maximize on this trend by highlighting their family owned, local, Main Street style of business. You should have two focuses if this suits you: A local content marketing strategy and a generic one.

Pitfalls of content creation newbies

Now that you see the benefits of local content, can’t you just freshen up existing content yourself by peppering in some local language? Not necessarily, and it won’t be done as well as a professional. By utilizing keyword search technology that’s constantly changing, a professional can pinpoint the right “keyword density” to maximize your exposure while also using the most popular and trending words. You might know a nickname for different neighborhoods that are searchable, but you don’t know which are most searched.

Local content can make a huge difference in your visibility and ultimately success. Stop ignoring it.

Social:

4 Times You Should Use Social Media for Shopping

Social media sites like Facebook are really pushing the business side of things, hoping to turn SM into a platform for shopping and not just sharing cat memes. However, some industries are doing quite well with social media positioning while others are lagging behind. As a consumer, what’s important for you is figuring out when using social media for purchases is in your favor and when it’s not. It all depends on what you’re looking for and the shopping experience you want.

For example, perusing real estate agents social media sites can give you a more in-depth glimpse of properties available. It’s often easier to navigate than many websites and it’s an avenue to ask questions without feeling pressured into a sales pitch. However, shopping for real estate isn’t the only time when using SM is in your favor. Check out these other industries where social media and shopping makes the perfect match.

1. Boutique retailers

Yes, every business owner should be able to drum up a gorgeous and user friendly website but that isn’t always the case. Using sites like Etsy has revolutionized how boutiques and artisans connect with their audience. As long as you get the one of a kind, quality product you’re after, does it really matter how it happens? Seek out boutique-minded SM platforms for the best options.

2. Restaurants

This is especially helpful if you’re planning your outings in a new city. It’s great to check out a restaurant’s menu online, but if you want to see what the specials are, if there are any events coming up or more photos of what the venue is really like, depend on social media. Plus, you’ll get impromptu reviews from genuine customers.

3. For state of the art technology

Whether it’s a drone or the latest home automation gadget from a startup, not all businesses are big enough (yet) to warrant a full website. In fact, some tech-heavy startups are focusing solely on one or two devices. Instead of building a website for just a couple of offerings, they use social media. Additionally, their audience is often younger and more dependent on social media, so this platform just makes sense.

4. Car shopping

There’s only so much you can tell about a dealer’s inventory from their website. Head to their social media site for more pictures (or to request them) and to connect online without having to deal with a pitch.

No matter what the industry, it’s worth visiting their social media page to see if there’s more (different) information.

Social:

How Twitter Ruined Communication

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There’s a time and place for nearly every social media platform, but as one of the Top 5 most popular SM sites, Twitter’s influence has spread far beyond what anyone imagined. What can you do in just a few characters? It became a challenge that social media users were committed to mastering. Unfortunately, practice really does make perfect and that kind of brevity has become common in everyday speech and other written communication platforms.

Then there’s the hashtag, which has spread not just to written communication but speech as well. Hashtag annoying. What started as a way to promote trends has become a noun in itself, and some younger generations don’t see the pound sign as anything beyond a Twitter-related device. Even though Twitter’s earnings are holding stable (and it’s in no danger of being overthrown right now), maybe there’s a reason why it’s not as solid as it used to be.

Lazy communicators

People, particularly in younger generations, have seemed to develop a fear of talking in person and talking on the phone. It’s why when a crush actually calls you it’s a huge deal or why it’s so common to see people hunched over their phones at restaurants. The recent experiment of one restaurant revealed that while service has remained the same in recent years, people are taking longer at restaurants because they’re wrapped up in their phones and apps.

Everyone needs to check in on numerous SM platforms, food photos need to be snapped, and hashtags need to be used so they can show their on trend. While Twitter certainly isn’t the only SM platform making communication in general subpar, the requirement to shorten words and keep them brief is destroying the quality of written communication. Using “u” instead of “you” might be necessary on Twitter, but it’s not being used just about everywhere.

The demise of the English language

While there are still many people who understand brevities like “u” aren’t actually proper English words, there are some people who consider it valid. If you grew up in the era of Twitter and have been using “u” and hashtags ever since you can remember, why wouldn’t it seem appropriate? English teachers everywhere are #smh, but it’s a very real and sad phenomenon.

If there’s an avenue to doing things easier and with less time, humans will take it. Twitter, of course, can’t be blamed for the general falling apart of communication and the English language. It’s a symptom, not the cause.

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Why Certifications Matter

A piece of paper really is just a piece of paper…until it’s more. Such is the case with degrees, certifications and licensing. No matter what industry you’re in, there are probably a smattering of certifications you can collect, but this doesn’t work like Pokemon. There are options that can truly advance your career, and there are ones that do nothing but waste your hard-earned cash. As a consumer, knowing which certifications are a “must” before choosing a service or product is important, but you also need to know which ones are just fluff.

Unfortunately, this is going to take some research on your part. Just because a company ticks off a seemingly endless list of certifications doesn’t mean anything. The good news is that they do the triaging for you, so start by considering which certification they list first. Is it renowned in the industry, is it required, and/or is it exclusive? If so, then that’s the sign of a company that care.

Vetting out the white noise

Whether you’re thinking about getting a certification yourself, stocking a product that may or may not be certified, or you’re shopping around for the most reliable product/service, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all that white noise. A reputable company won’t just list the certifications, but also provide background information on them including why they’re important. Otherwise, it’s just tacking on a bunch of useless letters after a moniker (what use is “John Smith, MD” is no one knew what MD stood for?).

However, just like when you hire a new worker, you shouldn’t trust any company blindly. Go to the certification official site for yourself, check it out and see just what kind of things are required in order to get certified. In some instances, it’s as meaningless as attending a webinar. In others (like with Microsoft) it can be nearly as daunting as getting a new degree.

From a products standpoint

If it’s products you’re considering, certification is even more important. Whether you’re shopping for a product that’s been certified as green by a certain organization or you’re looking for UL certification for compliancy, this added information is just as crucial as the safety ratings and product reviews. It’s a cheat sheet to ensure you’re getting the best product for the best price.

A certification can tell you a lot about a person or product, or virtually nothing at all. Cross-check, and you won’t just educate yourself but pinpoint the prime choice for you.

Web:

Build Your Business with a Strong Web Presence

Do you want more customers and sales? Are you trying to gain exposure online? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of companies are competing against each other on the Internet. The World Wide Web offers great opportunities for those who want to make money and reach new clients. The key to success is to build a strong online presence. This involves creating a website and blog, staying active on social networks, and sharing quality content.

If you want to expand your business, go online and make a name for yourself. Promote your brand to the target market, interact with your prospects, and post unique content on your company’s blog. Here are some tips to build a solid online presence for your business:

Set Up a Website

It is estimated that more than 47 percent of small businesses don’t have a site or blog. A professional website can enhance your reputation and give you a competitive edge. About 97 percent of U.S. customers use the Internet to find products and services. Over 61 percent have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.

Invest in a quality website and promote it on social networks. Business owners who blog generate up to 88 percent more leads than those who don’t. Your website is a valuable marketing tool that can increase sales and put your brand in a positive light.

Optimize Your Site or Blog

Simply building a website is not enough. You also have to choose an eye-catching design and optimize your content for search engines. If you can’t afford to hire a Web designer, use WordPress. This blogging platform includes thousands of free and paid themes that will make your website look amazing. The best part is that it can be installed with one click and then customized according to your needs.

Once you choose a theme and a domain name, search for relevant keywords. Ask an SEO expert to help you pick the most relevant terms. Many freelancers offer keyword research services at competitive rates. When this step is complete, start posting content on your blog. Add your targeted keywords, upload pictures and videos, post infographics, and share your work online. A well-optimized website with quality content will rank high on Google and attract traffic.

Stay Active on Social Networks

Social networking is an important tool for every business seeking to build a strong online presence. Start by adding social sharing buttons on your blog. Create a Facebook page for your company, post pictures and text, and encourage your prospects to become fans. Reward them with free eBooks, bonuses, and special discounts.

Share all types of media, including photos, slide shows, infographics, statistics, and blog posts. The content should be relevant to your fans and help them solve a problem. Be consistent and interact with them as often as you can. Social media gives businesses a chance to show their human face and learn about their target audience. Take advantage of this opportunity and connect with your clients on a deeper level!

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SEO+Product Descriptions. Mission Impossible?

If you’re charged with search engine optimization (SEO) for a company, you know it’s crucial to organically place key words and phrases on every landing page. However, that can be tricky when you’re dealing with product descriptions for a mega e-tailer, especially when many of the descriptions are inherently nearly identical. This can also pose a problem for keyword stuffing and duplicate content even when that isn’t really the case.

How can you get around such a conundrum? It’s going to take serious skills that only an SEO writer has. This is why it’s important to hire the write SEO agency that tackles SEO from all angles, including the requirement for high quality content at all times. Not all writers are SEO professionals, which is why who you hire can make all the difference. Luckily, there are some SEO gurus who can handle this problem.

Variant skills

Every key phrase has variants, but you need to look beyond the variant tools and suggestions from Google AdWords. A good SEO writer will know how to pinpoint these variables and use them in correct balance. Plus, “duplicate content” is somewhat subjective and Google algorithms are smart enough to differential genuine duplicate content from “duplicate content” that isn’t black hat trickery but rather a common phrase (such as, for example “garden hose”).

If you’re staring down a site that offers a variety of different tapes, writing unique product descriptions that abide by SEO best practices can seem maddening and it is. That’s why the best SEO pros get paid well for what they do. Trying to do this yourself solely to save money is going to drive you crazy and lead to poor results. SEO writing requires a type of patience that most people don’t have.

Digging out the unique

The good news is that even very similar products have big differences (otherwise they wouldn’t be a separate product). Your mission is to find out what that is, highlight it and still work in those keywords like a boss. While it might not seem like it, a job like thousands of product descriptions is actually more challenging for an SEO writer than drumming up creative content from scratch.

Most SEO writers are also naturally talented writers to begin with, so the creative side of things come easily. It’s the daunting and repetitive tasks that can be a struggle (just like with non-writers). However, practice makes perfect, and that’s what product pages need.

 

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