Small Business SEO Services

small business seo servicesA lot of local companies will have been receiving calls and emails from suppliers in India and from various parts of the UK offering them what they call ‘small business seo services’.

Whether this is in the form of a free video in return for a link back to a site or a free guest blog post which contains a link back to another site or help with their Facebook Ads or Google Adwords campaigns or even just saying that they will ‘get them to the top of Google’, you have to be very careful who you get into bed with.

The latest algorithm updates – how Google decides which websites should rank where on the results pages that they produce for a particular search query – have focused on links, quality of content and manipulation of the system using keywords in the domain. The latest Facebook updates have targeted Pages that have fake profiles liking them – a scam which has been rife over the last year.

Small Business SEO Services

In addition to the daily emails from India, I also received a call myself recently from a very persistent salesman who insisted that he could build me high quality links back to my site for £250 per month. His sales patter was good and, even my interrogations were answered, because he was able to pass me on to more qualified colleagues. It looked like a really good opportunity, but there was still a nagging doubt in my mind.

The trouble with allowing someone else to help build you backlinks by writing guest posts which are posted on their tame sites is that you are at the mercy of the back catalogue of all their other customers. Some of those will have been actively building backlinks for years through a variety of methods which once were grey hat and which have now been deemed bad links by the latest Google algorithms.

If your site is getting links from several other websites which are also giving links to businesses which are not as squeaky clean as you in terms of SEO, then you could be tarred with the same brush by Google… and penalised accordingly.

It doesn’t matter that they offer a money back guarantee if your Google ranking doesn’t improve. If you then have to spend months asking webmasters to remove links that are damaging you, some of whom will not answer or comply, you have done more harm than good.

Working with bigger SEO companies from other parts of the country/world, you do not have the same clout as you would if you were working with a more local, hands-on company. To them, it’s all about the money, whereas a local SEO company has to protect their own reputation as a good link builder in order to maintain their standing within the community. Get it wrong and they could lose a lot of other customers who all talk to each other, whereas the guys who call you buy phone are completely protected from that eventuality.

Exact Match Domain Penalties

The SEO world has been in a right two and eight over the last week about an update which crept in and has penalised a lot of affiliate marketers sites where they targeted their chosen keyword with a website url which is the same. There are reams of posts on various forums on the subject.

But the truth is that not all domains have been affected. The difference here is that it is ok to have an exact match domain so long as you have an established site which has regular QUALITY content and a good variety of social shares – physical human proof that the content on that site provides good, relevant information.

There are many affiliate marketers shouting the odds that they have quality content on their site – but, because many of them have English as a second language and use ‘spinning devices’ to change one article into several, the resulting post is not always readable.

Local company promotion that does not rely on SEO

Yes, Google will still make mistakes and some small businesses may suffer a penalty for having a very long exact match domain – which is why it is a good idea for anyone setting up a website to try to include their brand name with the keyword which best describes their business. Or to just go for the brand then use the meta data to tell Google what the site is all about.

More importantly, it’s a good time to start looking at promoting your business in a way that isn’t completely reliant on Google – there are other search engines. And there are also other methods of getting seen. Suddenly, a combination of online and offline marketing becomes imperative. As usual, the money is in the list – the customer information that you have on your books which can be used to remind existing customers of a new product or special offer.

Facebook Ads and Google Adwords Call Centres

Again, with people cold calling you offering to manage your Facebook page or ads, you have very little come back when it does not match up to your expectations. These salesmen are paid by the lead so they will say anything to get you to sign up. They know little about the intricate processes involved with achieving engagement with a local audience.

They will set up an ad using your logo which will not attract the attention of anyone and then they will set it so that if someone does click through, it goes to your wall – a smorgasbord of information that can be overwhelming, rather than a dedicated landing page which answers the questions raised in the main ad.

If you start to ask questions about the lack of clicks, they will point to big numbers of impressions which muddy the waters as an impression is the opportunity for someone to see the ad, not an actual fact that it has been seen and noticed. Ask about conversions and they will wriggle out of it by saying that the content on your wall is at fault – and they would be right! But, of course, they didn’t tell you that in the first place.

We have had the same experience with those offering to run Google Adwords campaigns. Generic ads that do not address the areas of pain your potential customers need identified and answers. Landing pages that go straight to the Home page rather than dealing specificially with the subject of the ad. And no possibility of any guilt on their part. Caveat emptor.

Social Media Optimisation for SMEs

Although many local businesses struggle to run social media profiles effectively, it is always a good idea to have a presence on the main platforms. Completed correctly, these Bios and About sections can provide a valuable SEO link to your website, helping Google to target your business for product and location and even ranking those pages for less competitive keywords.

But, more importantly, if people do search for ‘product in location’ within those platforms themselves, you have a chance to get your business to be prominent on the results page that is produced. This is called social media optimisation.

It is beginning to be understood that SMO is the new SEO.

Social Media for local business

If you run a business that has a dedicated following and it is possible to provide rewards for their enthusiasm in the form of discounts and offers or competitions, you can run some very successful social media campaigns. We recently ran a competition for a local cake maker supplies company and were able to increase their following by over 2k fans.

Better still, some of those new likers went on to buy from the company. That’s the whole purpose of running a social media profile – getting your brand in front of people who might not have known about you before and then converting those new fans into customers.

Call us today on 01702 476517 or 0121 249 1306 to find out how Small Business SEO Services can help your company to become THE place to go for your product locally

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Female Entrepreneurs In the 1920s

Who Do You Think You Are? came up with the goods on successful business women of the past yet again last week with the story of the ancestors of William Roache. Yes, he of Ken Barlow off Coronation Street.

Bill Roache is now 80 years old and holds the title of the longest serving soap opera actor in the world. As he said, he never planned it, he just wanted to work well and continuously.

A trait which he seems to have inherited from his grandmother, Zillah Woddacor.

zillah was married to a violent drunk but that does not seem to have stopped her from being an extremely successful businesswoman – with the help of her father in law.

We don’t know exactly how Zillah came to marry Albert Waddicor, an ices and temperance beer seller with premises on the front at Blackpool. But the rest of her life started there.

How an ice cream stall holder became a leisure industry entrepreneur

The shop was little more than a large hut but it was in a prime position and they made enough money for her to be able to rent several rooms in the big house at Alton Towers, when the Earls of Shrewsbury finally had to sell up and downsize.

In those days, Alton Towers was famous for the house and gardens, which local investors had spruced up to provide a venue for daytrips for factory workers in the area who suddenly found themselves in possession of half day Saturdays – thanks to the intervention of the Trades Unions.

The possibility of weekend breaks had arrived and special trip trains were run by some employers because they felt that visits to local historical buildings was self improving for their workforce.

Alton Towers saw around 250,000 visitors each summer and Zillah’s cafe could accommodate 1000 diners in various sittings each day.

The times had changed since my previous post about widows in the Victorian era who became successful business women did not remarry so that they would not have to lose their property and wealth to a husband.

The suffragettes and the First World War saw women given the vote in 1918 but the return of the soldiers from the fighting meant that many women were forced to return to housewifery. There were rules called marriage bars which said that married women were excluded from employment in certain occupations. The number of married women actually working gradually fell to an all time low of just 14%.

However, the Married Women’s Property Laws meant that wives were now able to hold property and money in their own right. Family businesses were the one way that married women could actually earn and keep their own money. Zillah made the most of this.

Eight years after she first rented out the rooms at Alton Towers, she was also renting the Old Mill, a cafe immediately opposite the station at the village in Alton – the platform of which had recently been extended to accommodate the increased numbers of passengers visiting the attraction.

Zillah was one of the leading leisure entrepreneurs of her generation at a time when there were very few women in business.

There were photographs of Zillah, her daughters and various female companions on luxury holidays in Europe – never with Albert – so she clearly enjoyed the benefits of her hard work.

She had obviously impressed her father in law at an early age because, when he died, he left her and his wife as his executors. The Will itself left all this property in trust for Albert and Zillah’s daughter, May, whilst Albert was allowed only the income from those properties.

It allowed him to live the life of a gentleman, rather than having to work but prevented him from being able to squander away his father’s fortune on alcohol – rather odd when he had begun his career selling temperance beer, the old fashioned word for soft drinks.

But it also gave him his own income and kept him out of Zillah’s hair when she was building and maintaining her own successful business.

It was an extraordinarily uplifting programme for any woman who has her feet firmly set on achieving the same and Bill’s pride in his grandmother was immense.

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Women In The Boardroom Quotas

I’ve been enjoying Hilary Devey’s programme on BBC2 about Women At The Top.

Whilst providing half of Britain’s workforce, business is still dominated by the men in grey suits and women make up only one in five of senior management in a boardroom position.

The facts have shown that mixed gender teams can achieve 5% better business results and Hilary herself discovered that the department in her company which performed the best was a 50:50 mixed gender split.

Across Europe, things are little different with figures from the beginning of the year showing that only 3.2% of the presidents and chairmen of large companies in the EU were women and only 13.7% of boardroom seats were taken by women.

It is this which has led to the European Commissioner, Viviane Reding announcing an initiative to make Boardroom Quotas that women occupy up to 60% of the seats on corporate boards part of legislation for all members of the European Union.

She herself does not like quotas but they open the way to equality and countries that had implemented them had seen results. And this statement was echoed by Hilary.

Where did these Boardroom Quotas start?

The legislation itself came into being in the Norwegian Parliament in 2002. The Trade Minister, Ansgar Gabrielsen, insists that he has never been a feminist but he was influenced by a debate in the mid 1990s which had focused on the vast amounts of money spent on educating the daughters of Norway over the previous three decades which had resulted in only 6% of them getting onto the boards of the most respected companies.

He did not speak to his prime minister or to his government colleagues, he announced the legislation in a newspaper interview. ‘It was a revolutionary idea and it had to be done in a revolutionary way’

A decade on, 44% of the seats in the boardrooms of public companies are now occupied by women, aided by almost a year of full maternity pay and state subsidised nurseries. They bring something different to the boardroom because they ask the difficult questions – and sometimes the stupid ones which need to be addressed too.

However, the position of CEO is still dominated by men with only 2% of females having that title. Quota legislation has not helped them get to the top yet but it’s necessary in order to allow them to reach the pool from which to be selected.

The quota system in Parliament

Back in Britain, Barbara Follet talked about the old boys network in our own Parliament. These days one in five of our MPs are women but in the 1990s it was one in ten.

Few women bothered to stand for Parliament because there was a system where the men were given the safe seats and the women had to fight for the unsafe seats. Labour introduced a quota system which meant that local parties were forced to choose from an all female shortlist. In the 1997 General Election, over 100 women entered Parliament as Blair’s Babes.

The main argument against the quota system is will it allow the best person to get the job? So can it work in business? Well, there is just as much of an old boys’ network there as there was in Parliament.

The quota system allows for a greater examination of the people being considered for a job – they have not just been shoed in thanks to their connections.

Progress needs to see some positive action and this is a short term measure to correct a long term imbalance.

Is there another way?

With 83% of FTSE 100, 89% of FTSE 250 and 92% of FTSE 350 company board members being men, Lord Mervyn Davies was asked to break up this monopoly.

He said that they needed to smash what is an all male solution and his solution was to set targets for women on boards.

25% of the board had to be women by 2015 and companies were encouraged to publish how many women employees they had and how many were getting to the executive committee and the board.

In France and Norway this figure was set at 40% but the feeling was that this figure became a quota rather than a voluntary attempt at self regulation and business women themselves do not necessarily want the quota unless this initiative does not work.

Businesses have to be allowed to adjust and believe in the culture behind it because it will be better for both society and business in the future.

But it was also about allowing chief executives to become aware of those business women who were ready for board positions and there are various networking groups and clubs which help those aspiring women to get noticed.

As a result the number of women entering the boardroom has risen sharply in the last year, with 1 in 4 businesses now reaching that target of 25% and another figure was quoted that in the last two months 48% of appointments to the boards of FTSE 100 companies were women.

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Survival of the Fittest – Historical Widows In Business

Who Do You Think You Are? is a programme on BBC1 which helps celebrities to trace their roots and this week’s episode was particularly fascinating for those of us who enjoy tales of women doing well in business against the odds.

It followed the story of actress, Alex Kingston, famous for her portrayal of strong, feisty women on the small screen and herself now a single mother trying to support herself and her child.

Looking back through her ancestors, she came upon Nan, her great grandmother, who was widowed when her husband was killed whilst helping to map the positions of enemy guns during the Third Battle of Ypres (Paschendale) in the First World War. Finding herself the sole provider for her four young children, Nan began taking in lodgers to help to make ends meet.

Successfully as it turned out because her children all grew up to have children of their own.

But there was a continuation of this thread a century before in Alex’s family tree.

Women doing well in business in unusual circumstances

Elizabeth Braham also found herself widowed at an early age with four small children to support. And her listing on the census following her bereavement showed her as a boarding house owner too. We all marvelled at how these two strong women had fought not to slip into poverty by taking their future into their own hands.

However, Elizabeth’s story was slightly different – as was revealed in two newspaper cuttings several decades apart. In the latter, a man was reported to have committed suicide by poisoning himself at her establishment whilst in the company of the rather gaudily named Polka Pol. It became apparent that her boarding house was something a little more raunchy but she herself was not mentioned in the proceedings at the Inquest.

This was due to the fact that she was clearly trying to keep out of the limelight, having had an encounter with the legal system some years earlier when she was found guilty of owning a house of ill repute. We do not know whether she was put into a House of Corrections as a result of this conviction.

But we do know that, when she died, she was the owner of several such houses, as evidenced by her address in census records – and each one she purchased was in an increasingly more salubrious area. In her Will she was stated as living in St John’s Wood and she left property worth over £1500 to her granddaughter. Now, this might not seem particularly unusual unless you understand that the famous explorer, Dr Livingstone, who died the same year left a similar sum to his beneficiaries.

Why many successful Victorian business women remained widows

Elizabeth had done very well for herself – but she had never remarried.

This was because a married woman in Victorian times was not allowed to own property. Any houses she might possess would revert to her husband’s ownership on their marriage. So, Elizabeth remained resolutely single whilst slowly making her way up in the world. supporting her daughters to make good marriages and taking care of her granddaughter, the only offspring of an errant son.

In her Will, she made a determined effort to ensure that Rosa, her granddaughter, would become a wealthy woman in her own right. The property that she left her was in the form of a Trust. This was the only way that Elizabeth could ensure that Rosa would remain the owner but still be able to get married. And no future husband would be able to filch this fortune. A factor of which she was acutely aware since her own son had been something of a chancer.

It was a fascinating programme, full of revelations. As Alex said: “At times, it was a bit like opening the News Of The World!” But, despite the improprietary of some of her four times great grandmother’s doings, both she and I could not help but be extremely impressed and proud of her financial achievement in such male dominated times.

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Someone Wants To Be My Friend on Facebook But I Don’t Want Them To See All My Status Updates

We’ve all had it happen.

The dreaded friend request from someone that you know… but don’t want them to know you quite that well.

And yet it would be rude not to accept. Bad feeling might be caused.

This is when knowing how to use Facebook’s privacy settings comes into its own.

So, accept the friend request.

Then go in to your friends list by clicking on the Friends tab underneath your cover image.

Type the friend’s name in the search bar.

When the name comes up, hover over it and a box will appear. Click on the Friends button and you will see your lists. If Restricted doesn’t show, you can click on See More.

Select Restricted and that person will only see status updates that you make Public.

If you have your privacy set as default to Friends only, then nothing will show in that person’s newsfeed.

I should point out that if you do set a status update individually to go public, you will need to go back and reset your default privacy settings as friends because it overrides the default permanently.

With thanks to Shawn Abel for sorting this out.

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