Friday, October 03, 2014

8 Tips for Better SEO for Startups

Startups are already bootstrapped and work on tight budgets. The co-founders work under immense pressure to get their idea to become a viable and profitable business. They focus more on product development and sales. Little or no focus is on website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more economical and time consuming. But, if perfectly done then, it will pay off in a long run.

Here are simple 8 tips which involves little or no investment but, a bit of effort for startups to promote their business online.

1. On-page Optimization: To start with the on-page optimization need to be done perfectly. Identify the right and perfect keywords. I would suggest to target more on long-tail keywords. This will help in 2-ways. One, the competition for long-tail is less and it will be easier to rank on top in search engines. Two, it will attract the right audience for you business and the conversions are easy and quick. On-page optimization the very first and important step for SEO. A mistake done here will consume lot of time to correct it. As you will be on the wrong track from the start. Note that the objective here is just not to rank on top in Google. But, the website should rank on top in Google for the right keywords and phrases.

Weston Bergmann, lead investor in BetaBlox, which is an equity-based business incubator for startup entrepreneurs in Kansas City, compares SEO to a marathon:

"The most important thing to note about SEO for early-stage ventures is it's a marathon, not a sprint. I see too many people getting frustrated by a lack of stellar results in the first couple months, when this just isn't possible. These fights are long-term ones, so buckle down and stick to the basics. Eventually you'll look back and see that you've built a monster."Search Engine Optimization Bible written by Jerri L. Ledford, is a very good book to know and learn the basics of SEO. This book offers readers about what they need to write a SEO plan and implement a successful SEO program. It also provides useful and easy tips on getting the website to the top on SERPs, The sidebars provide more information and additional resources on the topic which are very helpful to a rookie.

2. Mobilize, Localize and Socialize: If your business is focus on your local area, try to have the content more relevant to the local area. It is always better to be on all the Google properties like YouTube, Google+, Google Places... Have a mobile friendly website / webpage as well. 
 
3. Launch Blog and Keep Writing: I am sure this is the one which will be ignore by most of the startups as this is more time consuming. But, this step is the next step for effective SEO after the #1 above. Search engines want to see more of fresh and quality content. Make sure the topics, titles and the posts again include the right keywords as far as possible.

Secondly, it is not necessary that the co-founders should only write the articles and post it. You can assign and pick someone within the organization or have a freelancer to write.

Lastly, have an option to share the blog articles over the social media. As the more the articles are shared and viewed, the more help it will do for SEO. For more details refer my article 'Is Content Still King?'.
 
4. Social Media Marketing (SMM): The content / webpage which is more talked and discussed about in the social channels is of more help in SEO. Be it a blog post, video, image, website link or a post in the social channel. Having something viral in the media will boost the search engine rankings. This does not just mean that you make a few post daily and it is done. One needs to check the followers, respond to comments. Also, need to see the mentions of the name of the startup or the business and initiate the conversation. The mentions in the social media are the right signals for the business.

I understand, this eats away lot of the valuable time. But, keeping aside an hour of your daily time for this will be beneficial for a long run. I would suggest not to outsource this to any agency as I believe, you are the one who knows the business well and understand the customers. Thus, the timely interactions can be properly done by you and will be effective. An hour a day is what is required.

Do not miss to read 'The Four Important Steps to Start Social Networking for Business'.

Also, one can answer related questions to their industry and business on Quora.com. Not only answer but, can ask relevant questions as well. Never know from where we can get traffic and customers. 
 
5. Startups Directories: There are many directories were the startup can be submitted. There are tons of them. But, I would suggest just pick the top few ones and submit your startup to them with a proper description and tags. Joining sites like Angel.co and Crunchbase.com will help. There are other few directories like Betali.st, Erli Bird, CSS Mania and more. Comprehensive list and experience of a startup is nicely given by RivalFox in the article 'Startup Directories: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly'
 
6. News Media: When your product is almost ready and you are ready to spread the news about the startup do take help of the news channel. The timing needs to be right. Just do not be too early to disclose the idea and attract competition. Like directories, we have many news websites which give news related to startups and most of them do it for free. Here as well just focus on few good ones like Mashable, Venturebeat, Startupbeat, YourStory, Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Alltop....
 
7. Guest Blogging: Apart from the news channels, there are other bloggers who are interested to write about startups. It is just not about startups, but bloggers who write about the industry related to your business will also help.

Weston Bergmann of BetaBlox opines about guest blogging and he had this to add:

"Recently I've heard a lot of people say that guest blogging is dead. Well it's not. What's dead is spammy and manipulative link building techniques. What's more important than ever is high-quality guest blogging and thought leadership. If you're sharing high quality and exclusive content you'll be rewarded, not punished. Also, guest blogging shouldn't be a one-and-done thing; aim to write for the same publication multiple times."
 
8. Analytics and Metrics: Do not forget to analyze the traffic stats and the sources of these traffic. See which traffic is being converted and focus on generating more traffic from these sources. Google Analytics is the best free tool available and to start with the numbers which it provides is apt. If the numbers are read and interpreted well then, it will save lot of efforts and cost to the startup. This step is always ignored by most of the businesses.
 
Whether it's for a startup or a new business, these simple 8 steps will help your SEO or digital marketing efforts to be more successful. Of course, once you launch a business the keywords and content your care about may change, but the game remains the same.

Work at a startup? Ask questions or share your own experiences in the comments!



 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is Content Still KING?

You must have seen many blogs have sprang the web. Why? As the content is king. Is it really still the King? Just content can't be king. Search engines algorithms are smarter and it just does not depend on content. Writing new and quality content is passé  for search engines now. There are other major factors as well. It is better not to put all the focus on just content. Doing so your website can be content heavy, but may lose quality audience and conversions.

Currently, we are in a state of content overload – this infographic by DOMOSPHERE provides the amount of content published on the internet every day. YouTube users upload 48 hours of video, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, Instagram users share 3,600 new photos, and Tumblr sees 27,778 new posts published. These are sites many people around the world use on a regular basis, and will continue to use in the future. Not to mention all the other web 2.0 sites that have enabled individuals – as well brands – to become publishers and post content.

Very little of it is relevant and brands are failing to cut through the flood as their content marketing fails to take into account the deeply personal and always changing contexts of each individual.

infographic

I would say now, the content which influence works. The content that is being shared works. The content that is being talked about works. Nowadays, people really do not get impressed or buy what the ads say. People are much and easily convinced by what their friends and relatives say and recommend. All medias are full of ads and seldom anyone takes it seriously. Influence by friends really works for conversions. And, the search engines do look at such shared and popular content over the web.

The next question will be we can write good content that can influence. But, how to spread that content. You need to engage with like minded people over the web who have synergy is what you write and will be interested in the content. Thus, one needs to build his or her network so that the content what is produced on regular basis is influenced, engaged and is shared among the community. One needs to gain the trust, name and fame among the community and this can only be built with quality content and it consumes time to gain the loyalty of the community.

So, the bottom line is the content what you produce needs to influence and garner attention of as many people as possible. This is only possible when you have a good network and customer relationship.

E-commerce based websites can use the demographic profile (like age, gender, location...) available of their audience or their prospects to garner more attention to the content. idio Inc provides Content Analytics. Content analytics is the process of structuring previously unstructured content, by extracting new information.  It is the process of measuring content.  The output – the measurements – is in the form of metadata that describes that content. This can include the topics, people, places, companies and concepts in the content, sentiment towards aspects of the content, and the language of that content. Content analytics helps to understand the customers' interests, use social media, identify trends among the customer base, re-use effective content and market content effectively.

Thus, building network and customer relationships helps not only to rank better in search engines but also, increasing the sales.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tips to Get a Great Deal While Buying or Selling a Domain Name

Yes. I am back again after a long time. There are two reasons for this. First, one person encouraged me to write the blog as he found it interesting and did not want to leave this as it is. Second, I had the opportunity to attend the DomainX Conference 2014 and this prompted me to put down my thoughts.

DomainX was a great event and I was able to be there till the lunch and had to leave. There was an interesting session by Deepak Daftari, who conveyed his experience of selling and buying domain names and has also provided few tips.

Here are few points which I jotted down.

  1. Always be sure which domain name you are buying. It is always better to buy domain names from expired domain names and there are websites which list and auction such expired and deleted domain names. Few are Snapnames.com and ExpiredDomains.net.
  2. There are various tools available over the net which can be used. These tools help to know the approximate value of the domain name and can help in the decision making. Few factors which you can consider to decide on the value are search volume of the domain name, length of the domain name, usage of figures or hyphen/s, the TLDs...etc. One can refer DomainIndex.com.
  3. It always to better to buy and keep .com and .net extension domain names. The appraise and are in demand.
  4. Be honest and loyal. Never do domain name squatting. Do not try to make more money quickly. If you are not loyal then you are not only spoiling your own reputation but, spoiling the business and reputation of others as well.
There were other talks and panel discussion on legal and cyber laws. Over the event was good and well organized. Cheers to the organizers and the team.

Apart from just buying and selling of domain names - you can get loan against your registered domain name. You can refer to intelend.com. In 2013 they have kept aside USD 20M to lend against domain names - Read here.

Now, not only loans you can rent out a domain name or pay monthly to a domain name of your choice if you cannot buy. Use any domain name you want of your choice – even that domain name that is worth USD 20,000 or USD 250,000 – for as little as 3 percent down and $69 per month. Check Zenscrow.com.

I would also like to inform that we own about 1500 premium domain names and would like to sell them if anyone is interested. Few of them are herband.com, truthticker.com, a2zhealth.net, ewines.net, loanmba.com, wealthcard.com, wealthrx.com, superlxury.com and many more...

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Comparison of eCommerce Platforms

Below is a matrix which compares the various eCommerce platforms including the hosted ones. It will provide you the comparison of all the features at a glance - Big Commerce, Shopify, Magento, Volusion, CoreCommerce, FastSpring, ECWID and Foxy Cart. The matrix may not be complete. request you to suggest any changes or errors. Thanks.

Click the thumbnail to view the bigger image.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Alternate Online Payment Options to Boost Online Sales



Most of the ecommerce sites provide their customers numerous payment options including PayPal and cash-on-delivery. Most of the payment gateways accept all types of credit cards and debit cards. They also provide secure payment options but...
  • Are we really sure these will help in increasing sales?
  • How will your payment options attract the untapped customers?
  • How can these increase the online sales?
Here, I have done a research for a while and have tried to provide the alternate online payment options which can be provided on the ecommerce website that can help you increase the online sales. As these payment options can attract the untapped customers who do not want to use their credit cards or debit cards over the internet. Many people don't have credit or debit cards, or even bank accounts, and some are simply reluctant to give their financial details online. U.S. consumers used cash to make about $1.2 trillion in purchases last year, according to research firm Aite Group. Still, Americans without bank cards face hassles trying to pay bills, shop online, or make travel reservations.


These alternate payment options thus, open up new markets and customers to which you can sell the products and/or services.

Vouchers

There are a lot of companies which offer vouchers. But, the best and popular ones are UKash and paysafesard.

Ukash is an established international company that provides an alternative way for people to pay for goods and services online. Users enjoy using Ukash because it is easy and there are no age restrictions. No credit or debit cards are needed and you don't even have to share any personal or financial details.

UKash is accepted in almost 33 countries.

paysafecard also works on the same method as UKash. Your customers can get the paysafecard worth $10, $25, $50 or $100 from a local store. paysafecard is available from 300.000 sales outlets worldwide. When one buys a paysafecard they get a 16-digit PIN printout that the customer can enter at the online store which accepts it. No personal data or bank account details are required. To pay for larger amounts, up to $500, you can easily combine up to ten paysafecards.
Please note that Ukash charges 6.5% of sales while paysafecard charges 9.5%. Since people buy them at convenience stores, the cost is high. But, they provide you instant access to people who do not want to use cards as well as people who do not have cards.

Ukash is popular in Britain and they started to expand to South America also recently. paysafecard is very popular in Germany, Austria and the german speaking belt.

Since this is prepaid format, there are no issues of any chargebacks or fraud transactions.
 
eWallets
 
The popular in eWallets are moneybookers.com and Neteller.
 
Since becoming the first emoney issuer to obtain an electronic money licence from the FSA it’s taken Moneybookers less than a decade to change the world of online payments. With their mix of consumer and business focused solutions they have become one of Europe's leading digital money companies operating one of the world's largest independent eWallet platforms on the internet.
 
Moneybookers helps online business web sites accept credit and debit cards. For the most part, when you use Moneybookers, you are only able to accept credit and debit. It's a very basic payment gateway – a simple solution for many small businesses. Moneybookers processes payments in such a way as to help your customers feel secure, since they are not giving personal payment information to the seller.


Moneybookes help online businesses to get access over 100 payment options with one simple integration, all backed with fraud and chargeback protection. One of the main advantages to using a Moneybookers payment gateway is the lack of fees. There are no set up fees, nor are there monthly fees. Social Security Number and address verification checks are available at no cost. Many of these benefits are also available when you sign up for what is known as the "eBay accepted payment option." You can even accept international payments. The only fees charged are transaction fees, and those are based on your monthly sales.

Most of the online gaming and casino websites offers NETeller as alternative payment options. NETeller is an online secure funds transfer service operator. With any action, there has to be a counteraction. That’s why, with the explosion in e-commerce, online purchases and gaming over the last few years, there has also been a major surge in the demand for secure online funds transfer services. NETeller has stayed ahead of its competitors through incredible service offerings, competitive rates and all-round good customer relations. This has led to NETeller becoming the top-of-mind online funds transfer service in a short time since it began operations in 1999. Online consumers can instantly move funds to and from any merchant site that is affiliated with NETeller.

Pay Cash at local store

You can conviniently as your customers to buy online and pay cash near a local store.
PayNearMe follows a simple 3-step process. After selecting an item online to purchase or a payment to make, customers:

PayNearMe intends to make it both cheaper and easier for consumers to pay for everything with cash by visiting a 7-Eleven.

Direct Bank Transfers

There are lot of options for direct bank transfer like www.envoyservices.com. They have already integrated lot of bank transfer gateways so it makes an ecommerce life easy.

Providing additional and alternative payment options can help in increasing the online sales by 15-20%. The important think is you are increasing the market and thus, the customer base.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this alternative payment options.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Customer Management Check List




I have put down few points for customer management in one page. It really needs to have more points and need to refine it. Your feedback and comments will help to improvize it. If it is difficult to read, just click on the image and it will open-up to actual size.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Thinking and Meeting Beyond Facebook




Last week I met a person personally who got in touch with me through the social networking site. We exchanged few emails and he got in touch with me when he visited Bangalore on a business trip. It was great meeting him and it not only helped us knowing each other more but, it helped us in expanding our network and also exchange of new ideas.

This made me think that Facebook though called by that name, hardly leads to face-to-face communication. It is of no use of exchanging links, photos and messages. What can’t be communicated in 140 characters will give a more tremendous experience when one meets the other personally. I am not exaggerating anything here, but I feel it would be really great if such networking sites add more features to have regular offline meet-ups and schedule meetings of like-minded people. Networking sites have really helped getting lot of people together. I was able to get in touch with 35 of my school classmates whom I did not talk at all – leave alone meeting. I was unaware of where they were and their contact details. Facebook has really helped us in getting together. I met few of them and talked to most of them. And I am really enjoying meeting each of them personally.

I see, a regional or geographical based Facebook or networking sites to come up which will help people meet offline and share knowledge and ideas. The online meeting needs to extend to offline and vice-versa. Sites like Places, FourSquare and Google Latitudes are there, but it really allows or motivates a person to meet his / her friend. I am seeing a system which motivates and prompts one to such meets. The friends I am talking here are not your present colleagues or the ones who meet personally often, but those you were introduced to you online through these sites and helped you know each other better.

And the irony is, these networking sites may just remain a messaging site and will not make each other meet. People may find fun in updating their status messages and chatting online thus, avoiding the need to meet each other. People may get hooked to these sites to avoid loneliness and may this may lead to more loneliness. So, I guess it is high time to get these meets or provide a system to motivate and move these connections to meet face-to-face.

I would love to know your thoughts as well. Please do put in your thoughts as comments. Happy Facebooking…