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How to Master Customer Support for your Small Business (Contribution from Keith Coppersmith)

The following post comes to us from Keith Coppersmith, an experienced business consultant who serves small businesses and startups.


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How to Master Customer Support for your Small Business

Did you know that 51% of customers stop doing business after just one negative experience? Research further shows that businesses lose over $62 billion every year on poor customer service.

Precisely because of that, wise small business owners don’t look at great customer support as a cost. For them, this is a chance to increase sales and boost brand loyalty.

Now, when it comes to providing spotless customer support, there is always room for improvement. Here are a few great tactics that will help you take your customer relationships to the next level.

Don’t Overcomplicate Customer Conversations

Providing customer support is not an opportunity for you to showcase your impressive industry knowledge. When reaching out to you, a customer expects to get a specific answer that solves their problem.

Using overly complex technical jargon may cause miscommunication issues and hurt user experience. It may even seem as if you yourself don’t know the answer to the question. To keep your customers happy, you need to speak their language. Simple and effective explanations will boost their satisfaction and motivate them to buy from you again.

Help your Customers Make Payments Faster

The flexibility of your services can get you a long way. Let’s take an example of invoicing, as this is one of the major problems businesses face. Stats say that 64% of businesses have unpaid invoices that have gone unpaid for at least 60 days.

Sure, in the short term, you need to find the right financing method to boost your bottom line. For example, you can improve cash flow with invoice finance. This financing option brings numerous benefits to small businesses and startups. First, invoice finance firms usually pay businesses about 80% of the total sum within 48 hours, meaning you’ll get your money fast. Second, unlike with bank loans, there are no high-interest rates. Finally, invoicing doesn’t hurt user experience and helps you maintain stronger client relationships.

Sure, these are all short-term solutions. To boost your cash flow in the long run, you need to manage your late payments strategically. Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your customer support:

  • Offer multiple payment options to boost their buying experience and encourage them to buy from you.
  • B2B businesses should also have a billing policy, where they would clearly state when and how you want to get paid and how you will handle late payments.
  • Send invoices on time to get customers to take them seriously.
  • Automate your rebilling process. With the help of the right software, your customers will be able to track their payments directly from an app, get informed about any failed payments, and get actionable tips to solve these problems faster.

Answer Customer Questions in Real-Time

The demands of a modern customer have changed. They now use multiple channels to communicate with brands. Unsurprisingly, they expect businesses to use these channels, too. Research says most customers expect to get an answer within 2 hours, while 84% of them don’t want to wait longer than a day.

Precisely because of that, you need to need to provide multichannel customer services. Update your contact information on your site regularly and get listed on all major business directories. You should also provide your email address, links to social media support profiles, and live chats. Multichannel communication increases user satisfaction and helps them resolve the problem faster.

Leverage the Power of Social Networks

Many brands have started seeing the value of social networks in building customer relationships. First, you can use AI-powered software like chatbots to provide customers with timely and relevant answers. Today’s chatbots are smart and they’re constantly learning from customer interactions to understand their intent and give relevant feedback.

You can also use social monitoring tools to track your brand/product mentions on social networks and participate in customers’ conversations instantly. These tools give you a great opportunity to identify customers experiencing problems with your products, help them fix these problems effectively, and turn them into brand advocates.

Collect Customer Feedback Regularly

There are numerous metrics you can track to assess your small business’ performance. And, one of the most important ones is customer satisfaction. You need to understand how your customers feel about your brand, what they like, appreciate, or hate about it.

Collecting customer feedback is one of the most significant aspects of customer support, given that 91% of unhappy customers won’t complain about poor experiences with your brand. They will simply leave you for your competitors.

There are numerous ways to do gather user feedback. I’ve already mentioned the importance of social listening and AI-powered chatbots. These tools let you see what questions your customers usually ask and what problems they experience.

You could also create a dedicated feedback form on your website and even reach out to a customer that abandoned the shopping cart. Live chat support can also be effective. Once a customer support agent helps a customer, they can send them feedback. Finally, you can always call a customer and ask them for their opinions directly.

Over to You

With the rise of sophisticated customer relationship management tools, providing subpar customer services are not acceptable anymore. You need to provide timely customer support, answer customer feedback professionally, and customize your customer services. This way, you will build stronger customer relationships and increase brand loyalty.

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About the Author: Keith Coppersmith is an Adelaide based business consultant with a degree in Media Management. With experience in numerous small businesses and startups, he enjoys giving advice on all things marketing.

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How to Find the Perfect Name For Your Business (Guest Contribution from Squadhelp)

The following post comes to us from Grant Polachek, Director of Marketing at Squadhelp.com, the worlds #1 naming platform serving businesses of all sizes and industries, from small startups to some of the world’s largest corporations. Get inspired by exploring these winning brand name ideas.


Naming your business is a crucial piece of launching your brand. It is often the first thing potential customers learn about your business. It should draw people in and sum up your brand identity.

Although naming is a challenge, it does not have to feel like stepping off the edge of a cliff blindfolded. With the three stages laid out below, you can streamline your ideas and get the most out of your brand name.

Stage One: Mission and Vision

Outline your brand

When selecting a name, it helps to get all of your ideas in one place. Create a document that you can refer back to throughout your naming process. Include key aspects of your brand. What do you do? What are your values? Why is what you are selling important? If others don’t feel that you’re passionate about your own brand, they will begin to question why they should care about it at all.

Jotting down a few existing business names that you like can help you brainstorm. What do you like about these names? Are you trying to achieve a similar vibe?

Compile a list of eight to ten of your favorite names, then dissect them. Explore these winning name ideas to start. Write a couple of bullet points about what you like about the name and why it works for that company. Dissecting your favorite names can provide direction to your naming process.

Consider your audience

A clothing brand targeted at successful middle-aged professional women will sound nothing like a fashion line for hip students, and there’s a reason. Your brand name should not just be about you, it should be about who you are selling to. Most successful names target a specific audience, drawing them in with values and emotions that resonate with them.

For example, take the investing app Robinhood. Their platform focuses on making the investment process free and accessible for the average person, not just the wealthy. The name of their brand not only summarizes their values perfectly by using the story of the heroic bandit Robin Hood, it also appeals to a millennial audience. The name is youthful and fun, and it aligns with millennial values of convenience and fairness.

Look ahead

Where do you want your brand to be in five years? What about ten years? If you’re planning on starting a company that might expand into new areas down the line, be careful not to choose a name that pigeonholes you. At the start, you may be launching a brand of socks, and you feel that the name SuperSocks could be a great fit, but if you plan to grow into other territories later, taking on accessories like hats and scarves, SuperSocks is no longer a suitable name. Planning ahead can help you avoid a costly rebranding process down the line.

Try to sum up your mission and vision in a few short project statements like this:

● We need a name that captures our fun, unique approach to selling socks.

● We need a name that establishes us as a hip, young brand

● We need a name that hints at our eco-friendly business practices Get started by writing a few project statements of your own.

Stage Two: Get Creative

The essentials

Now that all of your ideas are in one place and you’ve figured out what kind of name you want, you can start coming up with ideas. S

tart with the basic principles of a good name. A strong name is easy to say, easy to spell, and easy to hear. If people have a hard time sharing your brand, they won’t share it at all, stunting your brand’s climb to success.

Gather some names

Now, it’s time for the fun part. Jot down every possible name you can think of that might fit the brand you are creating. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box, and don’t be afraid of writing down names you don’t like. The more you have to cross off the list, the better idea you will have of what you are looking for.

Start broad. Some names are descriptive, abstract, emotional, or classic. You can merge words to form a name, or use two separate words to sum up your appeal. Write down a possible example for every name type you can think of. This can help you see what you’re looking for. The more names you have to work with, the better scope you’ll have. Narrow your list Now that you have compiled a broad range of ideas, begin crossing off ones that don’t work for you until you have a list of five or six favorites. This is a great opportunity to get second opinions from friends, family, or even your target market.

When asking questions, don’t just ask “Which of these names is your favorite?” Frame your question neutrally by asking something more along the lines of “Which brand would you want to learn more about?”

Stage Three: Check your Boxes

Secure your domain and assess your risk

A strong domain compliments a good name. Your website is where people will find out more about what you do, so it is best to have as close of a match as possible.

Run a trademark risk test to ensure that your name isn’t already taken by a similar business. If your name is closely related to another name for a business that offers similar services, you may run into trouble with trademark law. Be proactive about trademark risk to avoid messy legal issues.

Coming up with a strong name is a daunting task. So much rests upon a name. It is the sum of your brand’s identity, and it is the first point of connection for your audience. You may feel like all the best names are already taken, or that you have no good ideas, but the perfect name for your business is out there. It just takes a bit of prospecting and brainstorming to find it.

About the Author: Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the worlds #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning brand name ideas.

 

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How to Be Your Own News Source (Guest Blog by Beth Ann Matkovich)

The following post comes to us from Beth Ann Matkovich, a marketing communications and writing professional from Camp Hill, PA. Please see her complete byline at the end of the article and learn how to connect with Beth Ann!


How to Be Your Own News Source

Let’s face it, not every business or industry has a compelling story to tell.

When markets started turning south in 2008, the president of our firm called a meeting and asked us to brainstorm ways that we could generate income outside of our typical revenue stream. Social media was just coming into popularity, so I suggested that we monetize our intelligence. As the market was falling and things began to move ever slower, I proposed that we share our intelligence with clients and prospects to establish ourselves as industry leaders during the downtime, so that when the recession passed, we would be top of mind when our clients and prospects needed our services.

The Power of Content Marketing

But with no “news” or stories to share, how can companies become their own news outlet? The answer is easy: content marketing. Simply put, content marketing puts you in front of your current and potential clients.

Whether you offer a product or a service, or are a B2B or B2C organization, your knowledge is your product. According to an oral presentation given by Tyler Bouldin, Senior Web Strategy Manager at WebpageFX, the benefits of sharing your knowledge are many:

  • It establishes you and/or your company as a subject matter expert.
  • It establishes you and/or your company as an industry leader.
  • It engages readers and gains followers.
  • It improves retention.
  • It can turn leads into prospects.
  • It fills potential gaps in the sales process.

Start with These Key Questions

But before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to create your content, Bouldin notes that it’s important to identify who you want to reach. Is it existing clients? New prospects? Others? After you identify your audience, describe who they are by creating a persona. Are members of your audience men, women, or both? How old are they? Where are they located? What is their education and income level? What are the pain points that you can address or resolve for them?

The last point is critical, as it is the foundation of your content. But let’s take a step back for a moment. Yes, content marketing is intended to ultimately bring in sales. But the purpose of developing content is to inform your audience and share valuable information. By educating your readers, you become a trusted source of information. Content marketing is not a one-way pushy sales pitch.

Have a Clear Focus for your Content

So what should you write about? According to Bouldin, that question can be answered with another question: What do you know about that will interest your readers? Back to square one, right? Wrong. Consider what changes are taking place in your industry and how it impacts your audience—and most of all—how you can help. What do you do or offer that no one else does or that differentiates you from others? What are your clients’ most frequently asked questions?

Plan Ahead

After you’ve identified your topics, create a plan for sharing your content. Creating a content calendar is a helpful way to visualize what content is posted where, and to schedule topics accordingly around other or related topics or events. Having a plan also offers a checklist of sorts to ensure that the work gets done.

Success is in Promotion

So you’ve identified your audience and topics, written your content, and created a plan to share it. Now get out there and promote it! Bouldin notes that if your company or organization doesn’t already have a blog, create one. This is an ideal venue for your content.

Be sure to share and promote your blog on social media. It’s important to keep your audience in mind when considering social media platforms. You likely won’t attract many 55+ business professionals on Snapchat, so make sure your message is appropriate for the platform and its audience.

You can also create an e-newsletter to get your content directly to your audience. Online tools such as MailChimp or Constant Contact are popular platforms that can help you track engagement so that you can see who is opening your newsletter and when, and allow you to adjust send times and content as appropriate. For extra mileage, share your expertise with industry trade publications and blogs.

Measure, Adjust and Refine Your Efforts

If incoming calls and foot traffic don’t show the success of your content marketing efforts, get out your measuring tools. Google analytics can give a good overview of your content’s performance and allow you to drill down into pages, users, engagement, and bounce rates.

Just like any other marketing tactic, content marketing is not a once-and-done deal. After creating and sharing your content, measure your message’s effectiveness and start again. Keeping your message in front of your audience will keep you and your organization ahead of your competition and establish you as a valued news source for your readers.

Have you used content marketing to position your business as an industry leader on a particular topic? What strategies did you find to be most successful? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment!


P Beth Ann McCoy (2)About the Author: Beth Ann McCoy is a marketing communications and writing professional from Camp Hill, PA. She has broad experience with small, non-profit organizations, large international corporations and everything in between. She has written short and long-form content for local and global publications including Harrisburg Magazine, the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal, World Pipelines, and Water and Wastewater International, among others. Beth Ann welcomes new opportunities and can be reached at bmatkovich@hotmail.com.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in Business & Success, Guest Blogger

 

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How to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic to Your Website (Guest Blog by Ryan Stewart)

The following guest post comes to us from Ryan Stewart, a digital marketing expert and the owner of Webris, a Boston based digital marketing agency. Be sure to visit his author’s bio below to learn more and connect.

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How to Use Keywords to Drive Traffic to Your Website

As much as I hate marketing buzzwords, one rings true: “content is king.”

When crafting content for marketing purposes, you need to first begin with keyword research – otherwise, you’re creating content for the sake of creating content.

Understanding what makes strong and effective keywords and knowing what resources you have at your disposal to craft such keywords can make this process much simpler than you ever thought possible. It starts with having a basic understanding of what a good keyword actually is.

Too often we presume tons of traffic indicates solid keywords in their marketing approach – and too often do marketers find themselves confused when faced with tons of traffic but low conversion rates.

That’s why it’s important to dig out the intent behind the keyword as opposed to just pure search volume.

Brainstorming Keywords

Numerous tools are available that can help you come up with potential keywords for your content.

However, often the best starting point for keyword brainstorming is your own knowledge of your business and industry, as well as the metrics you already have at your disposal. Identifying the search terms that are already driving users to your content is a great starting point for optimization.

Use your own actions as a resource – if you were searching for this piece of content, what keywords would you use?

Some of the simplest and most effective ways of brainstorming keywords is by utilizing the autocorrect features on sites such as Google and YouTube to see what people are actually searching for.

using autocorrect to identify keywords

While this shouldn’t be the end all and be all of any marketer’s keyword brainstorming efforts, this can be a good way of coming up with ideas to get started.

Once you’ve got a basic idea, use Google Keyword Tool to find search volume. Combining your own intuition with Google’s data is a great way to build out your initial list of keywords.

google adwords keyword planner

Crafting Relevant Keywords

As you brainstorm and research, it may be tempting to fill your content with high-traffic keywords. Stop! Now consider – are those keywords really relevant to the content that you’re producing?

And above all else, are these keywords going to draw in the type of traffic that you want?

As you brainstorm potential keywords for your content, remember that those keywords must be relevant to what is actually on the page once visitors click those links.

Getting people to visit your content is only the first step in your keyword strategy – keeping them on your page and enticing them to view the rest of your content or to respond to your call to action are equally important goals.

Utilizing Long Tail Keywords

One of the simplest ways for marketers to boost the relevancy of their keywords is to incorporate more long tail keywords into their content. When people conduct searches, they are typically looking for specific information.

longtail keyword seo

A search for “cosmetic dentists” will drive in better quality traffic than a simple search for “dentists” – not only because the content will be more specific to what the user is searching, but also because these types of keywords typically catch site visitors later on in the buying cycle.

Local Search Practices

Businesses with physical locations or who do a large amount of business in specific areas are quickly discovering the importance of incorporating local search into their keyword strategy. Businesses that offer services locally should emphasize the importance of including local search terms into their keyword strategy.

This is a simple and effective way to drive in relevant traffic. Driving in users from Des Moines, Cheyenne, and Los Angeles is hardly going to do a business any good if their services are only offered in Atlanta.

A good starting point for many businesses that do offer local goods and services is to identify the local terms that are already driving in traffic and to expand upon them.

Calculating the Value of Keywords

Once you develop a good list of potential keywords, you can begin to perform the necessary research with resources such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool, Google Trends, Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence and Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand to determine the value of those keywords and their potential to drive in traffic.

Wordtracker's Free Basic Keyword Demand

One thing that is important to remember is that keyword optimization is something that should continue to evolve over time. Search engine algorithms – as well as the attitudes of online traffic – are always in flux.

Paying attention to metrics such as traffic and conversion rates allows marketers to continue to optimize their keywords and change their keywords as needed to ensure that they never miss out on new opportunities as they arise.

Additionally, focusing on the quality of traffic first and the quantity second, you can overcome some of the biggest hurdles and pitfalls associated with crafting relevant keywords for your content.

What other tips do you have for successfully researching and incorporating effective keywords into your content marketing strategy? Share your ideas by commenting below!

ryan stewartAbout the Author: Ryan Stewart is a digital marketing expert with over 10 years of experience working with clients like Best Buy, Accenture and the Department of Defense. Ryan holds a number of web certifications as well as a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). Ryan currently owns Webris, a Boston based digital marketing agency. Follow Ryan on social media: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Guest Blogger, Technology

 

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect!

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment

5 Ways to Create a Culture of EmpowermentIf you’re tired of obscure strategies about more meetings and holding monthly birthday parties, try out some of our ideas to help your team feel empowered (and maybe even a little inspired). While communication and making sure employees feel heard are important, they are hard to quantify. The five tips listed below can help you take empowerment out of theory and put it into practice.

Give Snaps

This idea is a twist on the usual public acknowledgement idea – and it was inspired (without any shame) from the movie “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.” Everyone on the team writes down something positive about another member of the team and puts it into the “snap cup.” In my former office, it was a pineapple bowl.

Then the facilitator of the activity reads each compliment out loud, and everyone gives snaps (literally snapping their fingers) for the person being acknowledged. I sometimes ran entire snap meetings centering on just one team member. It may seem like a silly idea, but I saw my team start looking for positive things in one another – and then expecting great things. It was a simple, non-threatening way to create an environment of positivity and to form a stronger team.

Pass the Mic

As the leader or manager, it’s easy to monopolize meetings with all the important things you have to say. But when your team only hears one voice, they become stagnant and can start to feel disengaged. There’s no better way to get them engaged than to give them the floor. You can either ask for volunteers or make assignments, but every team meeting should include some kind of training from at least one team member.

You can outline parameters for the kinds of training you’re looking for, but if you really want employees to take ownership, leave it as open-ended as possible. I’ve seen employees read “The Giving Tree” or turn the culminating battle scene in “Braveheart” into an inspiring message about taking risks and going for it. And the best part of this practice is that you, who are usually the one filling everyone else’s cup, get a chance to be inspired as well.

Give Feedback on the Spot

Employee surveys are just fine, but if you want to see immediate results and truly empower employees you need to speak up when you see something happening. If a team member just went out of their way to make a customer happy, go out of your way to make sure they get acknowledged for their efforts. If someone found a creative way to resolve a recurring problem, give them props and ask them to put together a training to share at a team meeting so everyone can benefit from their resourcefulness.

And encourage everyone in the office to do the same. You shouldn’t be the only one giving feedback. This is a discipline, though – it doesn’t simply happen. Set alerts on your calendar to remind yourself to look for on-the-spot opportunities. Once you start looking every day, it will become a habit. And this habit puts that open communication you’ve been striving for into practice.

Use an App

When it comes to employee empowerment, there’s an app for that. Motivosity is a program designed to automate, track, and facilitate employee engagement and acknowledgment. To have a truly collaborative workplace, you need to have a culture of empowerment and creating or transforming a culture takes discipline. Motivosity helps you get there.

From birthday and work anniversary acknowledgments to peer-to-peer rewards, this website/app combo streamlines your empowerment program and reminds everyone to give props to their coworkers. Motivosity also provides a fun, engaging way to capitalize on the competitiveness of your team by turning company and team goals into a game. And the program tracks everything that happens, which helps you identify which strategies are working and which ones are a waste of time.

Give Them Some Control

One of the best ways to help an employee feel empowered is to give them control over some aspects of their professional life. Whether it’s letting them decide how to transform the office break room or giving them the option to work from home part of the time, a sense of control can be more powerful than a raise.

Letting employees have input – especially in regard to their work schedule – shows you trust them and value their contribution. Remote work is becoming more common, especially for PR-related roles like social media managers and bloggers who rely solely on the Internet. And the benefits in regard to employee satisfaction and productivity definitely outweigh any perceived risks.

Whatever you decide to do to create a more inclusive, empowered workplace, make sure to be consistent and keep it going. Stopping and starting random initiatives only erodes trust and enthusiasm. While there isn’t one magic answer for helping your employees feel appreciated, you can start making a positive difference by implementing simple, concrete strategies that get everyone involved.

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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The Top 5 Free SEO Tools (Guest Blog by Marcela De Vivo)

The Bennis Inc Blog is excited to host another guest author this week! Marcela De Vivo shares her insight on Search Engine Optimization and something we’re most interested in–the top FREE resources for SEO! Be sure to share your thoughts and comments on this post to keep this important conversation going. To learn more about Marcela, please visit her brief bio below.

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SEOAs Google works to change the way websites are ranked, it’s important for you to keep up with the tools that will make sure you can achieve, or continue to have high search engine rankings.

If you want results, you need to start using the right SEO tools as soon as possible. Listed below are the best free tools available today. They’re all fairly easy to use, and they can be a tremendous help with your SEO efforts.

ScreamingFrog

SceamingFrog is an SEO spider tool that you can run in order to help you get an idea into the status of your site. Using ScreamingFrog, you can also check for competitors backlinks and resource links on major sites with considerable web value.

With ScreamingFrog, you can run the spider on another page to help you find broken resource links. For example, if you find a great resource page on a popular site, you can run the program to identify what links are dead or inactive.

Then you can email them and propose a replacement resource that links back to you. The site will appreciate you finding the dead links and likely take you up on the offer to replace the dead ones with something of value to them.

SEO Quake

SEO Quake is an extension for your browser that gives you information about the sites that you’re looking in real time as you’re browsing them. SEO Quake is particularly helpful for competitive research to figure out different SERPs and find new opportunities for your site to rank higher.

For example, if you are working on promoting a Giveaway and find a great site, you can check while you’re on the site if it has good statistics and is worth contacting or not.

Free Google Keyword Tool

Google’s Keyword Tool is a common starting point when it comes to regularly used keyword tools. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly tools used in SEO.

The free Google Keyword tool will give you a variety of suggestions for choosing, finding and picking your keywords, so it’s a great tool for beginners or people that aren’t too sure which keywords might work for a particular topic or site.

SEO by Yoast

SEO by Yoast is a WordPress plugin, and since many people are using WordPress, it makes sense that it’s so popular. What SEO by Yoast does is help you optimize every single article you publish to your blog.

SEO by Yoast can also help you identify the best keywords to focus on and give you ways to incorporate them into your WordPress pages.

Pingdom

Speed is becoming more and more important, and that’s why you need to be using Pingdom. Pingdom works to look at and evaluate your site’s speed as users see and experience it.

Using Pingdom, you can check to see if your site is downloading quickly, exactly how much time pages take to load for most users, and if any of the files are hanging. This is important because the average user is becoming more and more impatient when it comes to slow sites since there’s so much information out there on the web.

If your site isn’t fast, consumers aren’t going to want to deal with it, and they will quickly move on to a better resource. Fast sites also tend to rank higher in Google.

These five tools can help you with your link building, keyword research, competitive research, and for optimizing your sites for search engines and users. While you might still need some other tools in your SEO arsenal, these make a great starting point, all at the low price of free!

Have questions, comments or other free SEO resources you want to share? Be sure and leave a comment below to get the conversation started!

marcelaMarcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles. She covers a variety of topics, including technology, music, real estate and health & wellness, but she specializes in online marketing and currently writes for HostPapa, specializing in social networking and web analytics.

 

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The Power of Habit–And Making Your Bed (Guest Blog by Todd Shirley)

This week’s post comes from returning guest blogger, Todd Shirley. Todd is a talented writer with a wealth of knowledge to share. I hope you are inspired to leave a comment or engage in conversation after reading this post. To learn more about Todd, please visit his biography at the end and check out his blog here.

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The Power of Habit–And Making Your Bed

habitI have a habit of talking to myself. It has lead to some embarrassing situations. One time at a job I worked in high school, co workers, customers, and my bosses stopped business briefly to share a communal laugh at this habit.  As I cleaned the large windows of the shop, the sun was at my back and reflected onto my eyes. I couldn’t see into the store while everyone could clearly see me wiping the windows and pantomiming an argument I was having inside my head.

As an adult, nothing gets me talking to myself more than when I read a good non-fiction book. In a weird way, I live the facts that I pick up from it.  The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg is such a book to trigger this habit several times over.  I highly recommend it.

The following three points from the book are my favorite. I have also shared  how they relate to me.

1: Habits are inevitable because our brains RELY on habits:

Nothing makes the brain take up more energy than novel experiences. To move an experience into the realm of a habit offers the brain a tremendous cost savings for its resources.

Consider this point in terms of dialing a new ten digit phone number. I estimate there are over thirty steps involved. Each number has to be recognized, located on the dial pad, and double-checked for accuracy. To dial a familiar number, your brain doesn’t approach it in several steps; it approaches it as one movement of your finger.

In my day to day work I encounter middle schoolers from foreign countries. I’ve heard time and again that their day is eight times more tiring than students who are familiar with the school district, speak English and understand our customs.

2: We operate under the influence of keystone habits:

Keystone habits are habits that dictate other habits.

I struggle all the time to eat breakfast before work.  While reading the book, I decided to begin focusing on making my bed before work instead of preparing breakfast. In doing so, I found out I had more time before work than I realized. This led to frying up some eggs and eating them.  After about the fifth time doing this, I thought I was on to something.  Regularly now I eat breakfast about four times a week but no longer make my bed.

3: Habits don’t go extinct, they get written over:

I haven’t touched a mountain bike in years but feel pretty confident I could hop on one and make my way down the street.  The habits necessary to ride my bike are still there but were written over by habits relevant to driving my car.

The book, The Power of Habit, has many implications for an individual’s life as well as how organizations work.  I found it rewarding and encouraging as it seems to lift the veil of mystery that often covers up human behavior. I hope I’ve piqued your interest by writing about my personal experiences as they relate to this book.

Anyone care to venture a guess about what I do now instead of talking to myself?  Leave a comment with your best idea and I’ll reveal the answer…

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Todd Shirley works full time as a school counselor and carries a caseload of clients who are in the foster care system. When he is not working, he is reading, working out, cooking Paleo and discussing all that is arbitrary about life. Oh-and his favorite animal is the manatee. Todd is an incredible guest blogger with a wealth of knowledge to share. I hope you are inspired to leave a comment, engage in conversation or visit his blog having now read this post. You are always welcome to share your thoughts below!

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Guest Blogger, Life

 

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