Marketing

Watch out for companies who say they can get you on the first page of Google

Recently some of my clients have been contacted on the telephone from people who claim to be representatives from Google. They are claiming that they can get your website on the first page of Google for a monthly fee. I was concern so i contact our friends at Catalyst Design Solutions to find out if these companies were legit.

After speaking with them it was apparent that If you get one of these calls, I would be very wary, as after questioning one of the “representatives” it was apparent that they were not from Google and what they were actually offering was different from what they first said.

Some of my clients thought this was a good offer as their website was new and not on the first page of Google. The person on the phone claimed they could instantly get their website on the first page and offered them a choice of 5 keywords, i.e. The client picks 5 keywords such as, dog walking in Manchester, pet sitting in Manchester etc…The Company then promises to get the website on the first page when a visitor types in these search terms into Google.

The only problem with this offer was that the person on the end of the phone did not mention that the listing would appear on the right hand side of google and not the left.

When you do a search on google, say for, martial arts classes in Liverpool, Google will display websites it deems most relevant to that search term. It then displays the results down the left hand side of the page and the sponsored results (ones which people have paid for) down the right hand side, and it’s these results the company is trying to sell you.

These listings in the right hand side of google are known as Pay Per Click or PPC advertising. The way it works is that a person who owns a website bids for a keyword, say, “café in Birmingham”. For this example we will say that you bid 10p for the keyword “café in Birmingham”. Google will look at the other bids and if you have bid the most, you will have the top position on the left hand side of Google.

If you have the second highest bid, then you will be second from the top on the right hand side and so on.

If a visitor goes on the internet and types “café in Birmingham” into google, your listing should appear at the top of the right hand side. If the visitor decides to click on the listing, you will be charged 10p, if nobody clicks it you will not be charged.

This is how the company makes their money. You give them 5 keyword terms, pay them x per month, they set up the PPC account and bid for the keywords and you will appear on the right hand side of google.

In reality, for a small business to get on the first page of Google (on the right hand side) the company will only have to bid between 2p – 10p per click. Even if you get 100 clicks per month (which is very unlikely) you will only be charged £2-£10 by google. If the company does this for you then they will charge you betwwen £50 – £100 per month, then it might be worth setting up an account yourself and save your self £40 – £90 per month. Plus if it’s not working for you then you won’t be tied into a contract the company will get you to sign.

Some of these companies are very good at convincing you that they will get you to the top of google and you will get loads of business from there services. I say, if you want to embark on a PPC advertising campaign, type “Google adwords” into Google or go to adwords.google.co.uk . Funnily enough, Google makes it very easy to set up an Adword account. If you feel PPC advertising is for you, I would have a go at setting up an account, you could save yourself a packet.

Thanks to Paul Watson Solicitor in Middlesbrough for supporting us

Choosing a web designer – What a disabled entrepreneur should look for

Many people starting their business for the first time require a website to promote their business or sell their products, but with so many web designers out there which one should you choose?

It can be very difficult choosing a web designer when you know little about web design, so in this article I will give you tips on how to find one which is suitable to your business.

Web designers don’t have magic wands to get you to the top of google, anyone who claims this I would be very wary of. If you want your website to be at the top of google then you will need to advertise and add to it on a regular basis.

The first thing I would do is think about what you want your website for. Do you want to, sell online, use it to display your products, give information to your clients. I would then do a bit of research on your competition, to see who is currently at the top of the search engines.

You can do this by typing in search terms, on how you feel your clients will look for you on google. Example, if I was a plumber in Liverpool, I would type, ‘plumbers in Liverpool in to google and see what comes up. Have a look at the sites which are top and see if the contact details of the people who designed them are on the site.

Once I had a list of web designers I would look on their website, there should be examples of their work. Contact the businesses they have done work for, preferably, companies who are similar to yours. So, in this example if I was a plumber I would look for, electricians, roofers and other building related professions.

Type, ‘electricians in Liverpool’ into Google and see how near the top they come. If they appear fairly high or even top, I would give them a ring and ask them about their website and the company who designed it for them.

This is the part most people don’t like, but I assure you, in my experience most businesses are please to help, if you are not competition. Think about it, if you were a plumber with a website and an electrician, rang you about your website and the company who designed it, I’m sure you would be helpful. Clients who I advise to do this often make valuable contacts. If the person is helpful, offer to send them work, ask for there card, they might off to do the same for you.

Tips

1. If you can operate I.T. software like “Microsoft Word” or “Facebook” then you should be able to update your website yourself. Ask the web designer if the website they are building has the option for you to edit it, otherwise if you need the web designer to change your prices in the future, it may be costly.
2. The best way to get up the search engines is by having a large relevant website with lots of quality links. Have a look at this guide about getting links, but to get a big site you will need to blog. If you have the I.T. skills mentioned above then request the web designer to incorporate a blog on the site.
3. Ask how much it cost to hosts the website each year, should not be more than £60
4. Ask how much per hour it costs for new work to be carried out on the site
5. My advice would be to get a web designer who works with either of the following website design software, WordPress, Joomla, Mambo. I say these because if you want a shop or other facilities in the future, it will be easier and cheaper to add them. This site is designed in WordPress

Website not working? Blogging could be the answer.

You should think about your website like a plant, which needs regular attention to grow. If you leave it alone it will not grow, but others (websites!) around it will and you will get left in the dark.

Forget about your meta keywords and descriptions for now; these are still important, but what will make your website stand out is content and links. But, they must be the right content and links. In fact, great content and links!

Content and links are regarded as the best methods to get a website higher up the search engines. I have been recently working with a dancewear retail outlet with a website so I will use this as an example.

The first thing the dancewear shop needs to do is determine the keywords they wish to target. In this case they have done some research and found that the majority of their clients use the keywords “dancewear” and a geographical area. In other words, their customers type “dancewear Preston”, “dancewear in Preston”, “dancewear Lancaster”, “Northwest dance shops”, “dance shops in the Northwest”.

The next thing the dancewear outlet needs is a person in the company who can write dancewear related articles on topics such as, “dance classes in Preston”, “reviews on dancewear”, “what to look for in a dance teacher in Lancaster”, “local dance events in Preston”, “What would you like to see in our Preston shop?” etc. They would only need to write a little, but would need to do at least one per week.

This is the best way to get the right sort of content; can you see why? Each of these articles are searchable on the internet, due to their keyworded content. So, potential customers typing "dance classes Preston" might come across their article "A guide to dance classes Preston". They will then know about the shop and will hopefully buy something from them.

This is called “business blogging” and it's one of the best ways to get up the search engines. Quick fixes are not the answer and in the long run, if done correctly, should pay off. A business blog will also help the shop get links (another important factor in climbing the search engines). e.g. if you write about dance classes in Preston, some one might read your article and put a link to it on a forum, facebook account or their own website. As your blogs grow so will your links; see how it works? Their readers will be able to comment on their blog articles, which will produce even more content (remember you have control on what comments you allow).

The other advantage of the blog is that it makes you look like an expert to clients reading the blog. They may think "these guys know what they are talking about, I'll buy my dancewear from them"

What I recommend is you use a free program called “Wordpress.org” (this is the best blogging software), and have a link in your navigation bar called "blog". You can try WordPress for free at www.wordpress.com to see if it is suitable for you. If you feel that you are able to use it, then you can either install wordpress.org (the better version) yourself or instruct your web designer to do it for you. It will probably cost no more than £100.

Once installed, you will then design the blog to look like your website (it will not look exactly the same). ] Have a play with wordpress.com to see if this is suitable for you, there’s lots of help on the internet.

Once you feel competent with wordpress.org, you will be able to do all sort of cool stuff like a video walkthrough of the shop, events calendar, newsletters, advertising space for other companies such as dance classes, and all these programs are free.

My advice is, have a go at www.wordpress.com first and see if it’s something for you. If you enjoy blogging you can easily upgrade to www.wordpress.org and still retain all the articles you have written. Thanks to Catalyst Design Centre for support when writting this article

Business blogging – get it right from the start

Blogging has become big business and for some it has led to quitting their day job and blogging full time. For some disabled entrepreneurs, blogging could provide the flexibility to work from home, to put in the hours that suit their disability, and has very low start up costs. Sound appealing? There is a catch. Blogs are hard work and it could take years before you can make enough money to take a wage.

So, what is a blog? A blog is similar to a website, it can be on any subject but unlike a regular website, it is updated regularly with articles or posts. These posts appear on the top of the homepage and as new posts are added, the older ones move down the page. Once the page has 10 or so posts they are archived and are found using a search facility, categories bar or archive page. The front page of a long standing blog is usually the tip of the iceberg, showing only the 10 most recent entries. The rest of the blog may have hundreds or even thousands of posts, all about one subject.

Anyone can start a blog; the software used to power them can be as simplistic or as complex as you need it to be. Blogging software such as “Wordpress.com” and Google’s “Blogger” are free to use and have lots of online support.

The three main things you will need to make money from a blog are;

1. A topic that you are passionate enough to write about on a regular basis
2. A topic which is financially lucrative (I will explain this later in the post)
3. A topic which is popular (lots of people searching for it)

If you don’t have all of these factors then you will find it much more difficult to make money online.

So how does it all work? Well one of the main theories behind making money with a blog is to get a lot of useful articles about a chosen subject. Then through SEO (search engine optimisation), you get lots of traffic or visitors. Once you have all this traffic there are 4 main ways you can make money from them;-

1. Selling advertising banner space to other companies
2. Affiliate advertising – Advertising individual products; when a visitor clicks the ad, it will take them to another company’s website. If they buy the item then you would get a percentage of the total cost.
3. Having a blog with loads of articles will show off your expertise and will encourage people to use your own services.
4. Having Google ads on the blog will get you a percentage every time a visitor clicks one.

Making money with Google Ads;-

Having a blog with hundreds of articles still won’t guarantee financial success if you’re blogging about the wrong subject. To be really successful you need to be blogging about a subject which is profitable and to find this out you can use a tool called “Google keyword selector”.

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

This is the best place to start to see if you have a profitable blogging topic. You can type your keyword into the tool and it will list the amount of traffic that particular keyword generates on a monthly basis. Not only that, there is a drop down box “Choose columns to be displayed” which gives you the option to see how much the average CPC (Cost Per Click) would be. This figure is the average cost that a business is prepared to pay to get on Google’s “Sponsored Links”. The higher the amount the company is prepared to pay, the higher they will appear on the right hand side of Google when the relevant keyword is searched.

When you create your blog you can display these ads within each articles. If someone clicks the ad, Google will charge that company and you will get a percentage, regardless of whether the visitor buys something or not.

This is commercial blogging. Yes, you might be an expert in model areoplanes, but if there is no money in the keyword then there is no point trying to make money from it. Yes, do it as a hobby, but if the average CPC is 4p, you will only be getting a percentage of that amount. It will not matter if you get 100,000 visitors as only a small percentage of these will click an advert.

If you can pick a subject which is profitable e.g. “plumbing”, you might be able to get a percentage of £3. You can see that a percentage of this amount would mean far less visitors to achieve the same revenue. You also might be able to see a conflict of interest. If you are a plumber do you write about lucrative subjects such as “emergency plumbing” CPC £4.33 or “leaking plumbing” 4p? The answer is if the subjects are both relevant then do both and don’t compromise the integrity of the blog.

In summary this is how it all works;-

1. Create a blog
2. Write lots of articles on your chosen subject.
3. Read about SEO for blogs and apply to your own blog
4. Through a combination of lots of articles and SEO, you will eventually climb up Google
5. Visitors will come to your blog
6. A visitor clicks on a Google ad
7. You get a percentage of the CPC for that Advert

For a video/audio tutorial on commercial blogging have a look at Courtney Tuttle’s blog;-

http://CourtneyTuttle.com/2008/06/26/why-almost-everyone-should-be-starting-a-blog/

A list of disabled business awards to apply for

disabled business awards There are lots of awards celebrating the achievements of people who have taken the plunge. They are many and varied, and cover everything from starting up to lifetime achievements.

The awards season is upon us and there are lots of ceremonies taking place. disabled entrepreneurs are promoting their businesses by achieving award success.

The Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs

This highly prestigious business award is being sponsored by Sir Stelios Haji Ioannou of Easy Jet fame who is known globally for being a serial entrepreneur.

The purpose of this award is a genuine desire on the part of Stelios to help support disabled people in business and with £50,000 it is well worth applying for.

RADAR People of the Year Awards 2008

For over 40 years RADAR’s People of the Year awards have recognised the tremendous work of both individuals and organisations striving for equality for disabled people.
The People of the Year Awards celebrate these contributions, and included is a Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year award.

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Get Networking Working – The benefits to a disabled entrepreneur

disabled people networkingWhen I set up my first business I knew the importance of networking but knew very little else! My inexperience and lack of knowledge, coupled with my disability made my attempts hit and miss, heavy on the miss!

I found networking events really difficult initially and my sight loss did not help. I would now go as far as to say that I am better at it than many of my sighted counterparts these days. I have learned ways to make it work for me and I would like to share them.

Obviously, I don’t have all the answers and different disabilities pose different challenges but a disability need not always be a barrier and can sometimes be turned into an advantage.

Firstly, if you don’t like networking you are probably in good company. It is worth remembering that few people are natural networkers, like anything it requires some preparation and experience .

Before you begin any kind of networking it is important to understand that networking is more about giving than receiving and it is all about building relationships. Once you realise that networking is not all about direct selling it seems instantly a lot less painful.

I used to think that if I didn’t leave a networking event with someone prepared to book my services then my time had been wasted and I had failed. Once I understood the principle of using networking events, and generally meeting people, as an opportunity to begin to build a relationship with a potential client then the pressure immediately disappeared and I began to create real opportunities for my business.

Here are my top ten tips on getting networking working:

1. You Are Your Business

Remember, people do business with people they know, like and trust. Because networking is all about building relationships, people are often buying into you rather than into your business. You are likely to be the person they deal with so you need to think carefully how you present yourself and you should consider what potential clients expectations are.

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Free directory listing for all disabled entrepreneurs

business directory for disabled entrepreneursToday I have launched the Disability Means Business, business directory, open to any disabled entrepreneur. The purpose of the directory is to promote the businesses disabled people operate and if you have a website it will give you a free link.

You can list your business contact details, website and services you offer by clicking this link or clicking the directory tab at the top of the page. Feel free to put your disability in the keywords section. This way other entrepreneurs with a similar disability will be able to find you in the directory e.g. blind, visually impaired, cataracts, deaf, hearing impaired etc.

If you find the information helpful on my blog then please feel free to give me a link on your website in return.

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Buying advertising, Buyers beware! Guide for disabled entrepreneurs

Business contractWorking with entrepreneurs, it never ceases to amaze me how many of them get taken for a ride when it comes to advertising. Like all businesses, when it comes to advertising companies there are the good, bad and downright ugly! The problem is that there are no regulative bodies governing advertisers. Nowadays anyone can set up as an advertising company, ranging from a local magazine to an internet marketing agency, but what do you really know about them?

Most entrepreneurs’ first point of contact with an advertiser comes via the telephone. Here you will be given all sorts of promises, from the number of readers their publication gets, or how high they can get you up on Google search results or the number of leads your advert will generate. But, can you really believe their businesses claims? How do you know if they are telling the truth? The answer is you can’t and you don’t! There is only one way to be sure that you’re not handing your money over to a crook and that is to do your own research!

The first thing you need to do is request a copy of the thing they want you to advertise in, whether it be a brochure, magazine, calendar, menu or whatever crazy thing they have come up with. If they don’t have one or it’s, “brand new” then be very wary. Personally if they were a new company, I would not use them.

The next thing to do is have a look for an advert which is similar to your business, but not in direct competition e.g. if I was a plumber I would look for an electrician’s advert. I would then contact the electrician and say to him that I was thinking about advertising in the magazine and does he get much business from it? I have used this method time and time again and have had numerous responses from “We get loads of business from it, our customers always mention the magazine” to “Oh my God, don’t use them, we are taking them to court!”. See why this method can be useful?

One thing is constant; I always get a friendly response and have even got business from the conversation. As long as you are not in direct competition with them I find people are willing to help and have even recommended other advertising companies they use.

What to do with all those fliers

fliers on wallWhen you decide to use flyers in an advertising campaign, you have two potential major problems;-

1. The flyers not being seen by your target audience.

2. The time it takes to distribute them yourself.

If you hand out your flyers to members of the general public, on average 99.5% of them will not be acted upon. This means for every 200 you hand out, you might get one response. It’s far better to target members of the general public who are likely to use your services.

For this example, I will use a gardener. The first thing he must do is think about his target audience. They are people who for whatever reason, do not want or are not able to do the garden themselves and who can afford to pay someone to do this task for them. There should be a list of these potential client types in the gardener’s business plan. It might be a good exercise for the gardener to make a list of these people and where they are likely to see his flyers.

Who?
Affluent and elderly

Why?
Not able to do the garden themselves.

Where?
Private bungalows in affluent area/flyer in letterbox, local shops in affluent area/flyer in shops, garden centres, old peoples clubs/centres.

I would do this for the rest of the target audience and think about where they are likely to see your flyer. This way you will increase your chances of people acting on the flyer, instead of just throwing it away. The other problem the gardener may have is the time it takes to distribute them. Maybe he could have some sort of referral scheme. On the flyer you could have a blank box where you could place a code on a sticker. The flyer would say “For this limited offer, quote this code for a 10% discount”.

Each code would relate to a particular friend or family member. The idea is that you get a quantity of flyers and some small sticky labels with a code printed on them, which is unique to that friend/family member. They will stick their sticker bearing the code in the blank box next to “For this limited offer, quote xxx for a 10% discount”. They will distribute the flyers for you and when you get a phone call quoting the code, you give the friend/family member an agreed fixed fee or a percentage of the sale.

To do this there has to be some form of trust involved, but it will encourage people to distribute the flyers for you. Perhaps you could keep a record of the number of flyers given to the person, the date given, the number of enquiries generated as a result and when the person asks for their next batch. This would give you a rough idea of how many have been delivered by the person.

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