Top 10 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Hire an SEO Firm

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, and it includes all the strategies and techniques that will lead a certain website to a higher rank and a better position in the search results of a certain search engine. Nowadays, SEO and marketing are inseparable concepts. This means that you need it in order to make your business more profitable and successful.

This is the time when, no matter the field of your business, you certainly have a pretty strong competition there. In these conditions, many business owners are happy to just keep their head above the water, but this is definitely not the key to success.

The question is how can you make noticeable progress and be successful if you have a small business? We will offer you an answer that has been already tested by a multitude of small businesses: hire an SEO agency.

1. SEO is not a piece of cake

After you read a few articles on the Internet, you may think that SEO strategies are not such a big thing. In fact, who cannot deal with keyword density, put out links and things like that? The truth is that SEO strategies are a lot more complex, and a successful one requires a lot of time searching the right ways to increase your website ranking.

Moreover, it is important to understand the previous SEO techniques and know why they failed or not. This will help you understand the actual and future SEO tactics. Concepts such as keyword density are history now.

2. Save time

SEO cannot be learned overnight. If you want someone from your company to understand the technique and be good at SEO, you have to provide him with a lot of time for research and study. Taking into consideration that your employee didn’t know too much about SEO before, he will probably be overwhelmed by the multitude of old strategies that are no longer actual. If you convince all of your employees to do some research about SEO and apply some SEO strategies, this is nothing but a waste of time and money. Let your employees do their jobs, and hire an SEO firm.

3. Save money

A wrong strategy will fail and all the time and money you have invested will be wasted. Moreover, you will need some SEO software tools that may seem quite affordable at a first glance, but they are expensive if you calculate the costs. Even low-cost SEO software tools are pricey, and they cannot do the job of an SEO expert. Not to mention that you will have to learn how to use them on your own.

4. Search engines’ algorithms are always updated

If an algorithm is updated, this means that, most probably, some of the ranking factors have changed. This happens very often. An SEO agency will always be aware of these updates, and they will change the strategies and techniques according to every new update. Keeping up with all the updates and knowing how to improve your strategy every time is impossible if you are not an SEO expert, so don’t even think to try it.

5. SEO firms use professional analytics

SEO software and tools are crucial for understanding what are the suitable strategies for your website. You have to know what works and what does not work for you in order to improve your SEO tactics. Professional SEO analytics are expensive and hard to use; that’s why you should think about hiring an SEO firm.

6. SEO experience is irreplaceable

No matter how hard you try to do quality research and improve your SEO strategy, you will never have the experience of an SEO agency. This experience is vital for providing successful SEO tactics and integrating your business into the search engine systems.

Why is International Market Research So Important?

Market research gives businesses essential information on customers, competitors, and market. Most businesses claim to understand the value of this research because they are using this information to sell their product to their clients.

Market research is just as important for international business. And even more so…

Your success in foreign markets will depend on your international market research. It is especially important during your business planning phase.

Reasons For International Business Planning

There are two main reasons to be very thorough when researching your international markets. During this planning phase you need to learn:

what you can hope to accomplish
what to not to do and avoid cross cultural blunders
The Difference In International Market Research
The difference between domestic and international market research is the importance of the smallest details and the differences in the smallest details can influence your success.

Different cultures respond differently to your product, your marketing, your business. This implies more than simple interest in your product. Some markets may actually use your product differently than you expect. You need to know exactly how each of your markets respond to your product, your company, your marketing.

Cross cultural communication differences will influence everything you can think of and more. If you are not intimately familiar with the cultures you are targeting plan for surprises.

Schedule More Time For International Business Planning

This is why it is essential to have a strong international market research strategy. Here is what to do:

Schedule more time researching prior to any launch.
Continue with your international market research.
Diversify your research channels.
Use web marketing to stimulate international market feedback.
Question everything possible.
… And be methodical.
Market Research For Online Businesses
International web marketing allows you to jump into sales faster than ever before. In fact, if you have an online business you might even get non-domestic sales without doing anything in particular to sell your products abroad. But don’t make the mistake of not implementing good international business practices.

You can easily set up a new market research strategy in parallel with your current business.

Once you start getting sales inquiries internationally, start researching those new markets. This will allow you to see your potential international business opportunities.

Remember, you can’t rely on analyzing your online international sales alone. Only by researching your market can give you the whole picture.

Continuous Market Research

It’s important to actively carry out your market research continuously throughout all of your online sales and marketing efforts. This is key to developing your business internationally.

Internet can be an easy solution and an essential part of your expansion plan… only if you do sufficient international market research. Don’t simply put your order page up and sit back.

Create your website to help you in your information.
Set up a good tracking tool to measure your results.
Direct your international market research based on your measurements.
Start an international market research plan.
Add a little web marketing to get more market feedback.
Continue researching all of your markets.
You will learn how to develop your markets internationally, and what to not do. That is why market research is so important and is one of the foundations for successful international business.

How to Determine Who to Hire To Be Your Next Ideal Web Developer

Critical Benefits and Drawbacks You Need to Know About Different Web Developer Types

I get asked to do website estimates a lot and sometimes it’s downright heartbreaking to hear about the struggles and challenges entrepreneurs and business owners face when trying to find the right web developer.

Too many times I hear about people who feel they were ripped off by their previous webmaster and are very reluctant to hire someone new for fear of the same thing happening again.

Some of these people decided they better do all the work themselves, struggled terribly trying to literally learn a whole new profession. They end up calling me out of sheer frustration that nothing is working and things are worse off than before.

One time I was having a conversation with someone on a completely unrelated topic and he asked me what I did, when I responded he blurted out, “I hate web developers.”

I cringed.

I’m sure this happens in every industry where there are people who are really great at what they do, some who do enough to get by, and some who only THINK they know what they’re doing!

The web development industry is no different.

If you are unhappy with your current web developer or are in the process of finding someone that you can trust and depend on to fulfill your web development needs, this article will provide some valuable tips that will help you find the perfect complement to your team.

The first thing to get clear on is exactly what kind of help you need.

When hiring a web developer, first get clear on what kind of help you need:

There are many different types of “web developers” out there and making the wrong choice can be very costly. So be sure you understand “who” you are hiring first and then your selection process will be much easier from there.

Here are four common types of web developers:

The WordPress VA (Virtual Assistant)

This person has figured out WordPress pretty well. They know how to install a WordPress theme (either free or purchased) and can make some modifications to that theme to help match your brand colours. They will have a good understanding of what plugins are available to match your needs as well.

Benefits: Usually hiring someone for this work charges less per hour than a fully qualified web developer. Putting together small-sized sites are their specialty.

Drawbacks: Often WordPress is all that they know and rarely do they know HTML or CSS to customize your website for any extra bells and whistles that you want to have.

Often purchased themes are so rigid that even moving an element from one part of the page to another is impossible to do with this type of limited knowledge.

When to hire them: You would want to hire a WordPress VA when you are not interested in a fully branded/customized website. You realize that any customization options are limited and you basically get what the theme preview shows aside from some colour, text and image changes.

You would also want to make this choice if you are already well versed in marketing strategy, copywriting, and branding and can simply tell your VA what needs to be done. Anticipate them having limited knowledge in some or all of these areas.

The Programmer

This person is what I lovingly call a “techno geek”. We have a few of these people on our team and we would not be able to be as successful as we are without them!

The Benefits: They know programming inside and out. They live, eat and sleep programming.

The Drawbacks: They can most definitely build you a fully functional website, no problem. But don’t expect it to look pretty! Branding, copywriting, design layout and marketing are rarely found in their list of skillsets.

You will probably need to hire someone else to help with those areas if you are not fully versed in them yourself.

When To Hire Them: You would want to hire a developer of this caliber if you have a complex website in mind that needs to be customized to fit your needs. Whether it’s an eCommerce engine, membership site or a database-driven tool, a fully trained and experienced programmer is your best bet.

Why Your Business Should Upgrade to a Responsive Web Design Sooner Rather Than Later

Why should my business have a responsive web design?

Responsive web design has become the go-to solution for businesses who want a user friendly interface and higher customer retention. If your company has come this far without taking advantage of all the benefits it has to offer, you may have already begun to see lower visitor numbers and a disappointing conversion rate.

As a responsible business owner, you’ll probably need convincing before paying to upgrade your web presence to one that includes responsive design. However, by opting in you’ll soon see a return on investment that will make it worthwhile. In a nutshell, responsive design is just better than what has gone before and in order to keep up with the competition, you’ll need it too.

Responsive web design is crucial for the majority of businesses because it allows your users to achieve their goals quickly and smoothly. The important elements of your website can be pulled up on a smart phone and appear as a fully functional version of the original, complete with all the utility you’d offer to customers on a laptop or desktop computer. If you fail to provide a mobile-friendly experience like this for your visitors they won’t hang around, they’ll simply click away and complete the action or purchase on a rival site.

Unhappy customers are not good for business and neither is going up against a major search engine. Google have recently confirmed what many insiders have suspected for some time – sites that are not optimised for multiple users will slip down their search rankings. Google bases their rankings on how useful a page is for the query a user has entered, plus the utility of the site – for example, can a user complete the action they would like to?

Your page may be completely relevant to their search, but if visitors cannot access the content easily across a number of devices, your site may receive a less than positive review and be placed lower in the search results. If your company is reduced to a second or third page entry you’ll lose a considerable amount of traffic, as people naturally select links from the first page.

Google have also pointed out that companies which have a single responsive website – rather than one standard and one mobile version – are far easier for their bots to discover, because there is just one URL.

If your site is responsive and ready to service mobile customers, you can take advantage of many tools and helpful apps like the click-to-call button, this enables a web user to make a voice call to your company immediately. Potential customers can also read reviews about your business or even find you in a busy place using Google Maps, both keenly relevant to the needs of mobile users.

Branding is one of the ways in which we build a relationship of trust with a customer and keep them coming back for more of the same. This is pertinent to responsive design for two reasons, firstly, people do not feel confident in a site they cannot easily navigate and second, in order to create a uniform brand you’ll need responsive design to produce a consistent web appearance; however your clients reach you.

In today’s market there are only a handful of reasons why a company may choose to stick with static design on their web page. Those who do not rely in any significant way on web traffic to drive sales, or those who have few competitors, or those who have already looked into responsive design and found it was not right for them. For everyone else, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, responsive design is the only way forward for your website.

Responsive web design features

Until recently web designers created different pages depending on where they would be viewed, a tablet for example has a different screen resolution to a laptop, and so the content would be optimised for viewing on that particular device.

However, responsive web design has revolutionised the way in which users look at the internet, it has created an across the board experience allowing us to view pages on a PC, smart phone or notebook in exactly the same way. When they build a site, designers use the same coding on any number of resolutions, giving every device the same degree of functionality.

Responsive web designers believe that their clients’ web pages should be accessible to every visitor, giving them an optimal experience, regardless of the device they using. This kind of intelligent response to a web user’s actions keeps your company relevant in an ever changing online market place; it boosts your e-commerce figures and makes visiting your site an enjoyable experience.

In technical terms there are three key features of responsive web design, the secret ingredient is generally considered to be media queries. These are filters added on to the CSS or Cascading Style Sheets, affecting the look and feel of any individual page. CSS is a highly useful tool for web designers, but by tagging on a media queries adaption, the process of resizing, rendering and orienting a page becomes far easier.

Another linchpin of responsive design is the flexible layout, this is based on a grid formation, ideal for formatting margins, positioning the key elements of a page and getting the spacing just right. This means a designer is not limited to a certain number of columns, they can choose as many or as few as is appropriate for the page. A flexible layout also removes the need to work out the layouts and text size based on pixels.

Instead, designers use percentages which enable them to adopt a far more fluid approach to producing each page. Pixels work well in photographic images, but are a clumsy tool to use over a number of devices. One pixel may be expressed as three dots on a phone, but ten dots on a desktop, changing the quality of an image considerably between devices.

The third component of responsive design involves the use of CSS or a dynamic resizing function to create flexible images, videos and other content. Text can flow relatively easily as the containing area resizes, but in order to spread this across more complex segments, web designers need to use different techniques. Dynamic resizing gives a web designer greater control over how a page behaves and enables them to add or remove components as needed.

Taken a whole, these multiple technologies mean visitors can enjoy the feeling of familiarity, regardless of what device they happen to be using, or will be using in the future.

When a mobile user changes from landscape to portrait mode, the intuitive design will ensure the page gets bigger or smaller. Furthermore, each element, be it an image, textbox or video will also resize itself to correspond with the different dimensions.

If you have ever tried to access a website and discovered that it was almost impossible to navigate around without shrinking and enlarging the text or buttons, you’ll understand why responsive design is considered good practice for the majority of website owners.

Local SEO Industry: Current Status and Future Projections

What Is SEO?
This is a common question that most people especially those who are either new or not familiar with online marketing might be asking. SEO stands for search engine optimization. In layman’s language, it the process of capturing traffic from the search engines such as Google listings. Through this read, I am going to give you facts about the SEO business, current market status of SEO as well as the future projections in this field.

The Major SEO Players
Like any other industry in the world, the online SEO business has its players. This includes SEO local tools providers such as small digital agencies, SEO free lancers and web-designers among others.

Returns for SEO Players
The major reason as to why people get into business is to profit and expand their economic status. In the field of SEO business, the rates of returns are promising. This is because a recent research on SEO returns for a period of 12 months shows that at least all the players had something to take home. However, the returns are varying depending on a players’ hardwork and skills in the field. For example, according to this research, 34% of the interviewed SEOs said they received an amount less than $ 30,000 while another group of respondents, 17% said they received returns that were above $ 500,000.

From the above statistics, it is evident that the size of an organization played a role in the determination of the amount of returns received. It beats logic for one to expect a large organization to receive low amounts of returns and vice versa. In addition, the presence of part time SEOs as well as the entry of newbies into the market could have let to the low rates of turnover due to low operation capacity. However, it is hard to predict the course the SEO market is likely to take due to lack of clear shift in SEO earnings since the year 2011. However, the demand for local SEO services seems to be growing day in day out and this is attracting more players thereby tightening the competition among SEO service providers.

The Emerging Issues with the Current SEO Returns
With the above distribution of returns, several questions emerge. This includes the following:

• From the statistics, a large percentage of SEOs receive a low income something that suggests low pricing of SEO services.
• It is also possible that small and medium businesses do not understand the value of SEO services provided to them.
• The low SEO income earners, those who received less than $ 30,000 annual returns are also being doubted if they can provide quality services while earning that low.
• It is also unknown if most SEOs will still be in operation if their income remains static.

The Current SEOs Income Per Customer
Just like the annual SEO returns, SEO income per customer also varies. This is because there are those clients who would pay less than $100 a month while others will pay more than $5000 a month. This variation in income per client can be attributed to the type of services provided as well as the depth of services. The size of business a client is seeking SEO services for also play a role in determining the amount to be charged. For example, small businesses are charged less simply because their requirements are much smaller as compared to large multi-location franchise businesses.

Research also shows that some SEO service providers operate on high volume basis. Such SEOs provide simple SEO services at very low monthly rates. As a result, such SEO service providers end up having a high customer churn with a large dedicated network of sales team.

Similarly, some SEO service providers provide services that are more comprehensive in a much more professional manner customized according to the client thereby leading to a low number of clients.

Due to the above statistics, it therefore becomes essential for any SEO service provider in the current market to operate in a manner that matches his/her setup.

Handling Capacity of the Modern SEOs
Currently, SEOs are handling more clients as compared to the previous years. Statistics show that about 40% of the SEOs in the market handle at least 11 clients while 23% SEOs handle at least 21 clients. Such large numbers of clients to handle lead to more audits to be done, lots of tasks, research, reports and even more calls from the clients to be attended to. The high numbers of clients also demand a high level of efficiency so that the clients can be assured of quality services.

Market Structure for Most SEOs
SEOs have been using several marketing techniques to promote their businesses. Offline marketing channels such as word of mouth has been cited by most SEOs as the most effective marketing technique. This can be attributed to the trust level, business reputation as well as relationships build during the offline campaigns.

Alongside offline marketing, SEOs also practice online marketing such as the use of LinkedIn and social media. However, most SEOs have cited LinkedIn as the best option as compared to the social networks because it is better placed for lead generation and networking.

Services Offered by SEOs
Majority of the SEO players offer onsite optimization with 91% of the SEOs practicing this. Google+ optimization has also a good number of SEOs practicing it as 86% claimed to be offering this service to their clients. For affiliate marketing, only a small percentage (11%) of SEOs are offering this service to their clients.

Other services offered by SEOs:

• Content creation/optimization
• Link building
• Citation building
• Social media marketing
• Website development
• PPC
• Mobile site development
• Video marketing and mobile marketing.