Monday, February 9, 2009

How Can I Get Listed on Google Maps?

Good Question - Easy Answer!

You should take advantage of any free marketing tool for your business. Google Maps is one of those outlets that are available to you at no charge.

You'll increase your business visibility and provide your customers with a snapshot of your business in an easy-to-use application.

Simply go to:

Google Local Business Center

Add your business listing and fill out the online form:

1. Required Information
2. Category
3. Hours and Payment
4. Photos and Video
5. Custom

You can also create a coupon with your listing that can draw more customers to your business.

Encourage your current customers who are happy with your services to rate and write a review of your business.

You’ll need to verify that you are the owner of your business by phone verification or having a postcard mailed to you.

In addition you can also list your business on Yahoo! by going to Yahoo! Local Listings and creating an account with them.

I encourage you to add your business listing today and start getting the word out - it's easy and it's free!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Small Business Bailout?

Yesterday I posted on Twitter that I’m tired of the big guys getting bailed out.

It got me thinking about how many of my clients are small business owners and they, like every other American are having some difficulties these days.

In fact, I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been out there selling much more than I usually do.

My conversations with potential clients in the past few months have mainly focused on how they can get new business during the economic crisis.

Some consider their advertising to be the number one vehicle and are finding their company resources too low to continue on.

Others see the effects of their website being open 24/7 and want to improve upon conversion by updating their sites.

It is true, your website is one of your most valuable resources.

People are doing research online and at home before venturing out to purchase.

With a website, your presence is open and available even when your business is closed for the day.


Yes, really.

In fact, let me go have a peek at our analytics so I can give you our numbers – BRB!

OK, I’ve got the data in front of me...

According to our analytics, over the past year 41% of our website visits are occurring after our regular business hours. We are open 8:00 – 6:00 pm PST and quite a large amount of traffic is coming when we aren’t open for business.

What does this information tell us?

People are shopping on their time – not ours.

We receive many contact inquiries from our website contact forms when we aren’t open for business. These are qualified sales leads that are waiting for us in the morning when we begin our workday. Many of these contact inquiries throughout the year have converted into sales.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Maybe if the government was cutting you a check for YOUR bailout you wouldn’t want it…but I doubt it.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More SEO Tips

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. No, I didn’t get kidnapped by a ghost at Halloween or hospitalized for over-eating during Thanksgiving (although I probably could have been ☺).

I’ve been busy working on redesigning our own site and will be launching it in the New Year.

While working on the new site we’ve been busy thinking about SEO and I thought I’d share a few reminders with you…

If you haven’t already purchased your domain name, consider purchasing one with your main keyword. If your main keyword is in your domain name, along with quality content and linking, you’ll be golden.

You may also want to consider using dashes in your domain name. Rather than, try Although it won’t be your exact brand, it will help with SEO as the search engines will consider the dash a null value.

You should also make sure that your TLD (top level domain) is a .com if you can as they are usually ranked higher.

Even if you’re already established, you should still work on your SEO to get more traffic to your site.

Do your keyword research and build your pages accordingly – keeping in mind that you’ll need to sprinkle the pages with them. Use a header tag with your keyword in it and make sure that you don’t “spam” your content with overuse of the keyword. Keyword density is important. Try to keep it to only 3 or 4 times on the page (depending upon the amount of content you have).

Your inbound links are essential! Try to set up link exchanges with relevant businesses that will be helpful to your site visitors. Are you stuck and don’t have any idea where you should go? Try putting in your main keywords during a search and investigate the top results. See who they are linking with and approach those sites to see if they are interested in exchanging with you.

Don’t forget about your analytics. They will help you to see who is coming to your site, where they are coming from, what keywords they used to find you and what pages they are exiting from. Take the information and use it to refine your SEO and keep your site moving on up!

Wishing you the best of success!


Friday, October 3, 2008

How to Get New Business during the Economic Crisis

Times are tough right now and more than ever, small businesses need money coming in.

Small business owners will be losing sales to the businesses that can afford to advertise during this down turn in our economy.

How can you grow your business if you don’t have the available capital to start an effective advertising campaign?

One way is through the Internet.

If you don’t already have a website, investing in one should be your #1 priority.

With gas prices up, consumers are shopping from the comfort of home and comparing pricing online before venturing out to make purchases.

Whether you are providing a service or a product, you should definitely have an online presence so that they can see what you have to offer.

Several times I’ve seen small business owners who have a splash page up with their contact information and the words “Site under construction”. This is a big mistake. Google and other search engine’s will not index the website if it has “under construction” on it. If you’re one of those business owners and you can’t afford to move forward with your site design at this time, at the very least, alter your web page to remove that phrase.

How can you increase your visibility on the Internet?

  1. Place content on your page that lists relevant keywords that pertain to your product or service offering.
  2. Submit your site to online directories
  3. Make sure you include your meta tags including keywords, title and description of your business.
  4. Write articles relevant to your business and include a link to your site and then submit them to article submission sites. Many other websites create RSS feeds from those article submission sites that can lead to many sites linking to your business.
  5. Post comments on blogs, social networks and articles to market your business by providing useful information. (Beware of the hard sell, make sure your comments actually offer advice or insight.)
  6. Seek out businesses that are related (and not direct competitors) to your business and exchange links with them.
  7. Write a press release outlining a community benefit to using your product or service and distribute online.
Small businesses need to stick together during these rough times and reaching out to other businesses in your community could prove to be beneficial if you can team up together to offer special deals to your potential customers. If you own a pizza parlor near a video store, you could work together cross promoting each other by offering a special deal of showing your receipt to receive a discount.

You can also team up with other small businesses in producing a flyer or postcard to be distributed for added exposure.

Join your local chamber of commerce (it usually doesn’t cost too much) and network. Go the functions and meet business owners from your community.

Even if your marketing/advertising funds are low, you can still generate new business by working online and through your community.

Please do write in to let me know if you have success or if you would like to share any great ideas with the small business tips blog readers.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Small Business Link Building

How do you get inbound links to your small business website?

Read on for some great tips!

As we’ve mentioned before, search engine algorithms consider linking to be a significant part of the equation, such as:

  • Anchor Text - Remember that “click here” doesn’t carry as much weight as “your product or service” will as a link.
  • Number of links - (both inbound and outbound are important), link to sites that are related in nature to your website.
  • Quality of links - If you are selling pet food, your incoming and outgoing links should be relevant to the pet industry, and not flood insurance. Consider exchanging links with other businesses with a good page ranking.
How can you beef up your link strategy?

All websites should have a blog and information related to your primary service or product. Create articles to share information with your visitors. Providing your site with fresh content and helpful information will do wonders for you.


Write articles and then submit them on the Internet. Place your contact information in the Author section along with a link to your website. Other sites will soon pick up your articles and post them, creating inbound links to your site.

Press Releases
If you have something exciting going on with your small business that will be interesting and beneficial, by all means issue a press release. You’re article can be picked up and distributed throughout the Internet.

Outbound links
Place content on your pages that is useful and helpful to your visitors and be sure to include outbound links to higher authority websites. Placing a link to a page rank 5 site will help you!

Social Media sites
Use social media sites to comment on other people’s posts, articles, videos, etc.., make sure that you are commenting about the topic at hand and not spamming them regarding your business or service. A little bit of networking can go a long way!

Investigating the Competition
Do a search using your main keywords and see who’s showing up in the SERP’s. Follow up by searching for the competitor’s links ( and then contact the websites who are linking to them to see if they are interested in exchanging links with you.

Just remember to stay away from dishonest practices if you do the work, the benefits will be well worth your time.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Benefits of Having a Website

I have met a few small business owners recently who still think that they don’t need a website. If you are one of those business owners who feel like it’s a waste of money, let me ask you this…

When was the last time you actually picked up a phone book to look for something?

If you can honestly say that you don’t use the Internet to look for things, who can argue with that? However, most people today fire up their favorite search engine when looking for something. Wouldn’t you like to grab a portion of those sales?

Whether it’s a new product they are interested in, learning a new hobby, looking for travel destinations to self-help, the list goes on and on.

The benefit of being able to do research on the Internet is that you can retain your anonymity; there aren’t any sales people in your face while you are doing comparisons and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

Most people I speak with tell me that if they are considering buying anything they check it out first online. The next step is to seek out local companies that have the service/product they are looking for. They enjoy the experience of being able to research the company, see their product or offering and examples. After doing their initial research, some purchase online and others move forward by either making a call, submitting an online form request or heading down to the physical location.

Now that we’ve covered potential sales, lets talk about your service or offering…

Lets say you spent $1200 on printed materials to pass out to your potential customers and your product changes or your company moves to a larger location – you’ll have to toss them or worse yet, line out the incorrect information and write in the new. What does that say to your potential clients?

If you have a website, your online brochure can always be updated easily. If you decide that you’d like to try selling something new – add it to your site. If sales are through the roof and you’re moving to another office space, update your address on your site.

One of my favorite benefits to having a website is that your business can always be open to distribute information to your potential customers. Your website is up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. People can browse your services or products, find your location, learn your business hours and read testimonials from your previous clients while you are at home snuggling in bed. If you provide them with a web form to fill out they can also leave you a message indicating their potential interest and you can get back to them first thing in the morning!

By far, one of the greatest benefits to having a website would be marketing. In the past when businesses advertised, they often weren’t sure where their customers were coming from and what advertising efforts were working. With a website you can install analytics that tell you exactly where your customers are coming from. Not only can you view their location, what url or search engine they came from, but you can also find what keywords they used to find you. You can then adjust your advertising accordingly to gain more business.

In summary, the benefits outweigh the initial cost of getting a website up and running.

Check out the poll at the upper left hand corner and let me know what you think. As always, I welcome comments too.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Do I Create a Search Engine Friendly Site?

Good Question!

If you’re going to spend the money to have a website designed for your company’s online brochure or any other purpose, having one that will be seen should be your number one goal. Otherwise you’re just throwing money away.
5 things to avoid:

Flash intros
I love the look of a good flash intro and we still design them for our clients when they ask for them. However, I always advise not to have one if you are looking to optimize your site for search engines. A search engine friendly site has readable text that the search engine crawlers/spiders/robots can read. They cannot read the content in flash. Consider having a flash header or another flash element on your homepage in addition to readable text instead. It will give you better SEO results.

Lacking content
I always say “Content is King” and I mean it. Having plenty of keyword rich content on your site will help you get noticed by the search engines and visitors alike. I always bookmark sites that have a wealth of information useful to my business or me. If you are looking for a minimal design for aesthetic reasons, you may want to rethink it. Quality content will create visitor loyalty.

Outdated content

If you’re going to place a calendar of events on your site, you should be prepared to update it. If you leave old information on there from last year and don’t have anything current, visitors may just close the browser and look elsewhere. In addition, search engines pay attention to continually updated sites. If your website is static and never changing, you’ll be ignored. Try to continually add fresh content for optimal results.

Too many images or animated gifs
I know they look cool and are fun to play with, but honestly, when you go to a site that is flashing and moving everywhere – don’t you feel lost? A little bit of movement works well to draw attention to the areas where you want people to pay attention, but continual movement throughout the entire page can be tiresome to the visitor. Furthermore, the crawlers can’t read the images. Having your sales message in a slick image rather than just plain text might be your desire, but if you’re looking for performance in your website – you’ll want to use actual text.

Generic linking
You should always avoid using “click here” to get your visitor to the next page. The crawlers also see it and give you more weight in the results if you are using proper anchor text in the link. For example, if I want to draw attention to our design page, I might use something like this: Please review the Complete Business Systems website design portfolio to view some samples of our design work.

In addition to the items to avoid, always remember to use your meta tags for title, description and keywords as well as the other SEO tips that I regularly write about. If you need a refresher, have a look through the archives located over on the right hand side of our blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ACS Relay for Life, Santa Cruz - CA

On Friday, July 18th - I had the honor of singing our National Anthem to open the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, Santa Cruz.

The event was held at Cabrillo College and began Friday night at 6:00 pm and continued for 24 hours to honor cancer survivors, pay tribute to lives lost, and to raise money to help fight cancer.

By walking around the track for 24 hours, teams of 8-15 people work together to raise money through sponsorship and donations to help in the fight.
The official numbers aren't in on how much money was raised this year for cancer research, but one thing is for sure - our community cares.

I have participated in the event for several years by singing the anthem and my family has had teams in the past. This year KION's Hunter Finnell was the host of the opening ceremonies and I had the pleasure of being introduced to him - he was very charming and put me right at ease. He is also a cancer survivor, having suffered from bone cancer at the age of 18.

It takes almost a year of planning to bring the event together and countless people donate their time and money to make a difference.

This year, as the survivors came around the track for the first lap - I couldn't hold back my tears as I stood alongside other strangers as we clapped for them. It's a very powerful, emotional event where laughter and tears are shared amongst people who care and share one common bond - all of their lives have been touched by cancer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New iPhone 3G...should I get one?

I know what you're thinking...this isn't a small business tip...

Oh yes it is!

Well not really a tip, but more of a call for advice - which will lead to tips from the blog viewers...or at least that's what I'd like to think.

Many of us small business owners have taken to "smartphones" so that we can run about doing our business on the go. I have the Treo, many of my colleagues are using the Blackberry and I have friends and several family members (my nephew works at Apple) who are sporting the iPhone.

I remember when the first one came out - my business partner and I were salivating. We are both in love with our Macs and iPods. The thought of a phone incorporating it all was nirvana. (I'm not even kidding here.) The cost of the phone as you remember was a bit pricey but we didn't care, we wanted that bad boy. We almost paid the penalty on our Verizon plans and went for it. Common sense got a hold of us and we decided we should wait. Apple always comes out with something better.

Sure enough, it's here - the 3g.

I'm on the fence. Should I dump Verizon and go with the iPhone and AT&T? Or should I stay with my current Verizon plan ($165/month) and upgrade to the new Blackberry? What to do???

One thing is for sure, my Treo is done! This is my second one and I have to say, my Treo is a disappointment - I continually miss important messages, sometimes my phone goes straight to VM without even ringing (and no it's not Verizon, because I'll be sitting right next to someone else with the same plan and no problems). It's always been a little glitchy, automatically restarting on its own - not letting me know I have text messages unless I pull out the battery and put it back, (and then they come flooding in). Email downloads stopping and freezing.

Last month we were in Palm Springs and we were heading to a wedding and we got lost. My nephew whipped out his iPhone and GPS and wham we were on track within minutes. My phone...sadly...just a mere disappointment.

I won't bore you with the new features, but instead I'll share this funny sarcastic video with you:

Video tutorial: unlock iphone

I definitely need a smartphone to operate my small business effectively. My clients count on being able to get a hold of me and I take pride in being available for them. What about you? Are you using an iPhone, Blackberry, Treo or another brand for business or personal that you'd like to recommend?

Please post your comments and opinions, and in fact...I'll put up a poll over on the right hand side of the blog. Weigh in, let me know what you think!



Thursday, July 10, 2008

Copywriting for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

So you have your new website design up and running...

You purchased a nice web CMS (Content Management System) to go with it so you can get an upper hand with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by providing the search engine crawlers with fresh content.


You’re on your way to having a successful website that people will visit without you having to shell out an arm and a leg for PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising.

How can you ensure that your website copy helps with your SEO?

Follow these five tips:

Title Meta Tag: Always place a title tag on the page that describes what the page is about. If you are selling rare tropical fish, your title tag can be:

Your Company | Rare Tropical Fish

Description Meta Tag: Always make sure that you include the description of what your page is about. Your description will be what is shown when someone performs a search using the keywords that your page includes.

Keyword Meta Tag: Many of the search engines still do put weight on the keyword meta tags even though it has been rumored that they no longer place importance on them. Be wise and include them, but don’t overdue it, only include the relevant keywords to the particular page.

Header Tags: Using a header tag, you are telling the search engine crawlers what your page is about. They place weight on these words and you should use them to present your important keywords.

Internal Links: Use your keywords and keyword phrases in the links on your site to other pages on your site. Don’t use “click here” to link to other pages, use “Rare tropical fish” to link to another page on the site.

There are so many things you can do to get noticed and all it takes is a little time and effort. Look through my previous posts for more SEO tips. You can read them by clicking on the archives on the right hand side of the page.

Wishing you the best with you new site –