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How You May Be Sabotaging Your Small Business

Written by Brandi Bennett

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

need-for-control
You’re running your small business. You’re doing things your way, and you think you have it all under control. The fact of the matter is, the potential for things to spiral out of your control always exists. There are several different things that you may be doing that might actually be hurting your business instead of helping it. We are going to review some of these things. Take a look at whether or not you are actually committing a small business faux pas, and if so, you’ll be able to correct course before they start to negatively affect your business.

 

Excessive Focus on Profits

While profit is certainly a goal of business, there is such a thing as being too focused on the bottom line. If your only concern is money, you will slowly start to drive employees away, and ultimately drive your customers away as well. Money is important, but losing sight of the human aspect, the fact that your employees have lives, that stuff happens, and that your customers, and even you have a life outside of making money or having someone make money for you is important. If you become lost in the idea of money, you will lose sight of the reason you are making money, and thus will inevitably start to lose control.

 

Overconfidence

It is vital to be confident in your business and your business ideas. It is this confidence that serves to grow your business and is surely what prompted you to start your business in the first place. Don’t be overconfident, however. Keep both feet on the ground. Be realistic in your expectations. Remember that there is always room for improvement, and a good idea can always be improved upon to become a great idea. Constantly look for new ways to improve your business. Don’t just assume that your business is awesome and it rocks and you need to change absolutely nothing. This overconfidence is what can cause your business to fail.

 

Need for Control

The last faux pas we are going to address is the relentless need for control. Small business owners have often started their business by themselves. They are generally the only employee until their business takes off. They get used to doing everything themselves. When the business grows, the problem comes when they continue to try to do everything themselves. Learn to delegate. Understand that things may not get done the way that you used to do them, but they will still get done and done to the standards you have set. Accept that change is necessary and release a modicum of control; if you don’t, it can become a literal death grip that chokes the life out of your company.

 

It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Mine

In working to address each of these concerns and working to ensure that there is the appropriate balance within the company, it will become possible for your business to grow and flourish in ways that you may not have dreamed possible. Your small business is like a child you are raising, and just like when raising a child, you have to learn when to let go and to allow it to grow. The first step, the first bicycle ride without training wheels, the first car… businesses grow similarly to people, and when your business grows, you have to remember to keep sight of what is important, just like with a child.

 

Image Source: Borselaer. (2014). Need for Control. Retrieved from http://www.borselaer.org/wp-content/uploads/need-for-control.jpg

How To Use Customer Psychology To Engineer A Better Website

Written by Kevin Wood

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

How To Use Customer Psychology To Engineer A Better Website
Have you ever wondered why some websites draw you in and make you want to buy what they’re offering, while other sites leave you with a feeling of wanting more? Much of this has to do with the psychology behind the website.

A lot of designers and business owners build websites according to their specifications, instead of taking the time to strategically build a website that’s engineered for their ideal customer. In an increasingly crowded web space it’s more crucial than ever that your website be clear and on point.

By implementing some basic human psychology principles you’ll be on your way towards creating a website that not only looks good, but converts as well.

 

Why Implement Psychology Based Design?

By taking the psychology into account you’ll be creating a better experience for your visitors, which will make them more likely to take whatever action you’re nudging them towards: buying what you’re offering, sharing your work, signing up for your newsletter, etc.

Trust is the backbone of any interaction on the web. Without trust you’ll have a very hard time making any sales, or having any kind of success with your website. Trust is a hard thing to build, especially in the online space.

By using design psychology you’ll be able to make your website seem more trustworthy, which will help to bring your visitor into a state of ease. Face it, people at ease are more likely to be receptive to what you’re offering.

 

Understanding User Website Behavior

The moment a person lands on any website there are certain elements they expect to be there, regardless of the style of site you’re using. If your visitors are confused the moment they land on your website there’s a good chance they’re going to leave.

When a person is exploring your website they expect to see your purpose clearly stated, and some form of navigation to get around your website. Beyond these two elements you’ll need to have certain reinforcements that will act as a support system for your site’s purpose.

These elements can be things like color schemes, font style and use or non-use of images. Your website needs to be communicating on a cohesive level in order to provide your visitors with the best experience possible.

In order to build an effective website you’ll need to understand the way a user scans your website, as well as the intent behind each page. Most readers tend to read in a ‘Z’ pattern across your website, so you’ll want to place the most important elements of your website across those lines.
Make sure you have purposeful pages. There shouldn’t be a single page on your site that doesn’t serve a purpose. When a user lands on any page of your website the reason for that page being there should jump out at them.

Lastly, you need to realize the web is a crowded space and most people will land on your website with a frazzled state of mind. By using intentional white space throughout your website you’ll be allowing your viewer to breathe more deeply and relax a bit.

All of these pieces together will help you craft a better user experience.

 

Incorporating Psychology Based Design

Now that you have a basic understanding of the power of using psychology to build a better website, it’s time to dive into a few techniques to get you started:

 

1. Step Into Your User’s Head

Knowing who your actual users or visitors are going to be is the crucial first step in the process. By taking time to map out and understand who your unique visitor is, you’ll be able to build a website based on how they use the web, as well as incorporate some useful emotional triggers into your site.

2. Plan Your Entire Site

Creating a sitemap for your site will help you to determine the purpose for each page. The best way to do this is to create a list of every element you want to have on your site, then break it down page by page. This will also help to ensure you don’t miss anything.

3. Decipher Your Brand

There are certain brand elements you’ll want to include in your design. It can be helpful to make a list of these elements as well, because you don’t want to diminish the overall impact of your brand.
The most common elements include: your site’s logo, your overall color scheme, and sitewide typography. These elements will essentially knit together the rest of your site.

4. Continually Test

Once you have all your elements picked out, your website copy written, and your site built out, it’s important you continually test different elements. This will help to show you what your users like, and what elements are turning them off.

 

After consistent testing you’ll be left with a stronger site than you could ever have built in the first place.

By implementing some of the basics of customer psychology you’ll have a site that’s literally built to serve your customers. After all wouldn’t you rather have a site that works for you, instead of against you?

 

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51735839@N00/15433742780/

What You Need To Know About Spanish SEO

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Spanish SEO
The good news within this article is that you won’t need to learn anything new about SEO. The techniques we use to perform basic search engine optimization do not change across languages. However, translating an entire website into another language does require a lot more than just an English to Spanish dictionary.

With more than 37 million people speaking Spanish in the United States alone, it’s hard to ignore the potential within such a rapidly growing market. If your business has not considered opening its reach across cultural demographics, perhaps it’s time.

 

Reasons Why You Should Consider It

Adding content in Spanish is no trivial task, but the returns may be entirely worth the extra investment. As Latin America rapidly expands, experts estimate there will be 329.1 million internet users in Central and South America by the end of 2014. A user base that exceeds the entire population of the United States by 12 million people (U.S. Population 317 Million, 2014 consensus).

What’s more, Latin America has also been shown to have the most loyal and engaged users on Social Networks with 94.1% of all internet users being on one or more networks. The major problem most marketers are missing in their SEO campaigns is that they’re not providing engaging content for viewers residing in the Latin demographic.

The two primary reasons for having your content available in Spanish, are:

  1. You’re opening property/location in a Spanish speaking country/region
  2. You’re service/product could benefit from potentially reaching over 350 million Spanish speaking Internet users worldwide.

For most competitive entrepreneurs, reason number two speaks volumes. The problem is that many have attempted to optimize in Spanish without understanding the regions and key wording necessary to rank for terms searched in the Native language.

 

How To Avoid Common Mistakes

The basis for running any SEO campaign is determining how your business will appear in the search engines. What many companies have failed to realize is that using a conversion software to duplicate content will not suffice.

 
Translations and Dialects

Many English speakers have taken Spanish classes in school, where we learned the proper context and rarely spoke in the way natives communicate on a daily basis. Just like English, slang and informal variances in the Spanish language will not be easy to make parallel translations for the keywords you want to rank in.

As an example, think of the common differences in simple English nouns; many people who want to drink a Pepsi on the West Coast would refer to it as ‘soda’, while citizens of Nebraska would probably call it ‘pop’. It’s these little variations that will make all the difference when selecting keywords you want to rank for.

What’s especially challenging is trying to throw a net over a continent (Latin America) with so many individual countries and cultures.

 
Regional Planning

While extensive research as an individual is always a possibility, many SEO companies have begun to include Spanish specialists into their branches in order to effectively reach the most viewers with one keyword search.

For instance, if you’re running a custom wedding cake shop and you had two different users (Argentinian, Peruvian) search for wedding cake in Spanish: one would read ‘torta de bodas’, while the other might say ‘pastel de bodas’. Which one would you choose and why?

Often times we don’t know, while a specialist on the other hand could construct a marketing plan based on your location, demographic statistics, and what keywords are being seen most often that aren’t overly competitive. If you’re cake shop is right in the middle of a well known Argentinian immigrant community, ‘pastel de boda’ may be right for you. Catch the drift?

 
Bilingual Considerations

Spanglish is a beautiful term, and something very accurate when it comes to the depiction of searches performed in two languages. Let’s say your primary consideration for consolidating your marketing strategy is to only target the Hispanic population of the West coast. Would it surprise you to know that Google receives high volumes of searches performed with keywords in two languages? 80% of all Spanish language searches performed on Google in the US are done in the English interface, suggesting a strong bilingual presence.

Things like: ‘Scholarships locales en San Diego’ (Local scholarships in San Diego), ‘restaurants circa de la playa’ (restaurants close to the beach); even simple things like ‘Hispanic Radio online’

A great resource for testing your content is to use www.2lingual.com, which can simultaneously pair keywords in two different languages and find relevant web pages, powered by Google of course.

 

How To Get Started

While we strive to provide the best information on how to be a self-sufficient marketing guru, sometimes it can be even more beneficial knowing when to consult a Professional. Step one, determine how your business could infiltrate the Spanish market of consumers. Step two, get in touch with an agency specializing in Spanish SEO. Get quotes and ask to see case studies of proven success, you want results not promises.

 

Image Source: http://www.iloveseo.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/use-of-spanish-in-the-world.jpg

Entrepreneurs, the Internet, and Speed: Why Page Loads Matter

Written by Brandi Bennett

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

brain_wheelie

Entrepreneurs utilize the Internet in a variety of ways: a means of promoting themselves or their products, completing market research, setting up a marketing plan, and so forth. It’s no surprise that, as a result, businesses are able to rise and fall in days or even weeks.

If an idea takes hold of the public’s subconscious, it’s liable to explode. If the idea, regardless of promotion, never takes hold in the mind of the public, the company is liable to languish, forever lurking in the darkest corners of the Internet. Not all ideas are gems, but at the same time, something as simple as presentation could be preventing the organization from taking off.

 

Speed

Everything happens quickly online. Pages load in a fraction of a second, transactions are able to be completed in minutes, if not sooner, and manuscripts from hundreds of years in the past are able to be read and reviewed in less than a few hours, all without ever leaving the relative comfort of your computer chair.

People have come to expect expediency when dealing with all things online. If you don’t believe it, go from a cable modem back to dial up and see how quickly you become frustrated with the inability to work at your normal pace. (If you can’t bear to complete that experiment, switch from your cable modem to a satellite connection in the middle of a rainstorm; the experiment will show you how much you have come to rely on speed without being quite as painful as the dial up experiment.)

 

Turning it Around to Your Benefit

Take a second to clear your browser cache and attempt to visit your website like a new visitor would. How fast does your site load? Do experience any frustration as a result of the load time?

If you get frustrated with the speed at which the pages load, or the amount of time it takes you to find a certain piece of information, there’s a good chance your users will be frustrated with it as well. Remember, you’re creating your site to get their attention, not to frustrate them. Speed is now of the essence; make sure your website gets the attention it deserves.

 

Image Source: Catchpoint. (2012). Brain wheelie. Retrieved from http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/iStock_000018917656Small.jpg