Come Hangout with Us on Google+!

Have any questions about starting your own business? Not sure where to even start? Not to worry! We are proud to announce that, in conjunction with the Google Small Business Community, our CEO Deborah Sweeney is going to be fielding any and all questions about the legalities of starting your own business this Thursday. The Hangout starts tomorrow at 12:30 PM, and if you want your questions answered, you’ll need to RSVP and submit them to the moderator here.

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So don’t forget to tune in! We’re really excited about this opportunity, and look forward to a great discussion.

 

5 Easy and Free Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Small Business Website

Anthony Karibian

Anthony Karibian, CEO of bOnline

Most small businesses today have realized a website is a vital part of their marketing plan. Many have spent weeks, maybe even months, creating a professional website to convert prospects into paying customers. So why are many small business websites failing to bring in sales? In order to attract traffic to your website, it’s important to understand that the work isn’t over once your website has gone live. Thankfully, you don’t need to be an expert or a millionaire to drive traffic to your site -  here are five free and easy ways:

Master SEO

Much of your site’s traffic will come from search engines such as Google, where your success depends on how highly your site ranks for keywords related to your business. There’s no guaranteed way to the top, but you can apply search engine optimization (SEO) best practices on your site to be in with a better chance. Think about the search terms you want to rank for and ensure these keywords are included in your website, including the header and page titles (but don’t force them in or repeat them excessively). Getting links back to your site from respected sources should also give you a boost. There are a lot of rules to good SEO, but the best place to start is with Google’s very own SEO Starter Guide, available here for free.

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Daycare, Parking & More: How Unique Incentives Can Elevate Employee Loyalty to Your Business

Many businesses are still struggling to find their way after the recent economic downturn. Some want to offer better perks to their employees since they cannot yet justify big bonuses and long-term salary bumps. It leaves small businesses thinking outside of the proverbial box to look for ways to show appreciation for their hardworking employees without breaking the bank in the process and turning to additional perks in the workplace is usually the answer. These are just a few great incentives businesses of any size can adopt and make their own.

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Why Your Small Business Needs SEO

How often do you turn to search engines like Google or Bing to find a product or service that you need? Have you ever clicked on anything on the 15th page of search results? Or the 50th? We didn’t think so. That’s why you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your small business. Ninety percent of all users click on the Top 10 search results on Google, which means that you are missing out on selling your product or service to 90% of your prospective customers. Sold yet?
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5 Google+ Marketing Tips for Your Small Business

Your small business only needs to maintain a presence on Facebook and Twitter, right? Wrong. Even though Google+ can seem like an afterthought in social media, ignore it and you’ll miss out on an enormous audience. There are five things you can do on Google+ to promote yourself in a new and exciting way and boost your brand’s awareness:

1. Use the “About Page” to link your website
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7 Tips to Creating the Best Online Shopping Experience for Customers

Catering to customers online is a huge benefit to retail store owners.  However, e-tailing is different from in-store retailing, and store owners need to stay aware of the differences in order to maximize the benefit of selling online.  To ensure the best online shopping experience possible for your customers, take into consideration these seven tried and true techniques.

1. Make it easy for customers to find your website. Improve your marketing both online and off. Make sure you understand how to use your site analytics to find out more about how users are finding your site – is it through Google or other search engines? Referrals from other websites? Analyze how customers are finding you and compare your search engine ranking for various terms to that of your competition. Consider using AdWords or other advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing to ensure you get your target audience to your website. Continue reading

How Small Businesses Can Successfully Reach Their Customer Base

The traditional sales funnel is dead, at least according to McKinsey & Company – a global management consulting firm. Replacing it is a circular sales cycle. It used to be that marketers could rely solely on direct mail and other marketing initiatives to “push” information to consumers. Since consumers’ information channels were limited, and research avenues were often hidden from the public, consumers relied on various marketing initiatives to make decisions about future purchases. Today, consumers can easily “pull” information to them online through social media websites and review-based sites like Yelp. This diminishes the power of focused marketing initiatives by companies. Consumers now rely on strong word-of-mouth over a corporation’s advertising campaign so if you want your small business to succeed, you’re going to have to change the way you reach your customer base. Continue reading

K is for Keyword

We’re midway through our ABCs for small business and this week decided that the word that best defines the letter “K” is one that we use on a fairly regular basis – or if you work in SEO, a word that holds a lot of meaning to the success of getting your business found in an online search. The word this week is “keyword” which is defined differently in database and internet marketing terms. Continue reading

Guest Post: Can Your Small Biz Use Crowdsourcing With the JOBS Act?

Recently, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) passed amid much hoopla about how this legislation would be the stimulus that jumpstarts the economy and enables people like you and me to invest in all of these startups without becoming accredited investors, as was previously required by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Now if you’re a small business owner, the floodgates will open, and you’ll be able to raise tons of money to accelerate your business, right? Probably not. While the SEC is still in its evaluation stage and the actual regulations have not been written, some things are already clear from the text of the JOBS Act bill itself. First, you will only be able to raise a total of $1 million in the course of 12 months, and individual investors will only be able to contribute the greater of $2,000 or 5% of net income if they make less than $100,000 per year or have a net worth of less than $100,000, and they will only be able to contribute the greater of 10% of the net income or net worth of the investor if the investor makes or is worth more than $100,000 and not to exceed $100,000 (see Section 302(a) of the text of the bill for details). So, raising $1,000,000 will require either at least 10 high income/net worth investors or at least 500 lower net worth investors, and probably many more than that.

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Guest Post: The Value of Social Media Buzz

Today we’re featuring a special guest post from guest blogger Rachel Walker at FastUpFront which provides business cash advances for small businesses. Social media buzz is pivotal to the success of businesses both big and small but how does the marketing work for it and once you have an engaged customer, how do you get them to stay engaged with your brand?

I remember when social media was still in its infancy, with Facebook and Twitter leaping to become overnight social network sensations. Today there are a whole slew of social media sites which allow people to share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on anything and everything- and businesses are working hard to keep up with the tweeting Joneses.

Savvy consumers use these platforms to share their opinions of businesses with one another, while said businesses scurry to leverage their social media reputations to attract more customers.  In the blink of an eye, social media has now become one of the most important marketing platforms worldwide. Now that we’re there, how does social media marketing work and how exactly does one keep a customer engaged with their fan page to keep that buzz going? Continue reading