Tag: Business

Should a Small Business Have a Blog in 2021?


https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

Should a small business have a blog? This is a question that we get asked all the time by both business owners and marketing agencies. Carrie Hill posed this question to the Twitterverse in November.

 

 What is the Value of a Blog for Local SEO (A Discussion)?

A lengthy and insightful discussion was started at the Local Search Forum in October 2020. There seems to be some agreement, as well as some disagreement about the value of a blog to a local SMB. Before we get into Sterling Sky’s thoughts on blogging for small businesses, here are some sample comments from the forum discussion.

“To be honest, I like to do 1 blog post per month minimum no matter the industry. The reason why is because it is fresh content thats posted to the site and has the opportunity to pop up for certain phrases, questions, or even the answer box.

____________

“For a contractor such as a plumber or locksmith, I would suggest doing a blog post on questions people ask. For example, Top 3 questions to ask your local plumber in Los Angeles or What Questions to ask your local plumber, etc.”

____________

“Anything that adds visibility to your site is helpful and blog posts are an inexpensive way of doing that. And they don’t disappear after a week like GMB posts.”

____________

“Blog posts also provide extra opportunity to create more keyword rich inlinking throughout the site. If structured properly it will help visibility overall, which should translate into higher local rankings.”

____________

“I’ll dissent and say I don’t think it’s worth it.”

____________

“We would write 2 blog posts a month for our client. Did it for 2-3 years. I was skeptical of the impact. We stopped and I removed all the blog posts to see what would happen. Nothing happened. No ranking shift up or down.”

____________

“Honestly, every time I see another marketing company writing blogs consistently for their local clients I kind of shake my head. Still waiting for someone to prove me wrong but hasn’t happened yet.”

Sterling Sky’s Approach to Content and Blogging

When it comes to deciding whether or not a small business should blog, I like to start off by thinking of this quote from Carrie Hill.

“Blog posts are timely – website pages are timeless. I do not like blog posts just to blog – it’s a waste of time. If that’s valuable content for your customers – turn it into a page.”

Lots of SEO companies offer blogging as a part of their monthly package.  I would argue that the huge majority of small businesses should not have a blog as a part of their strategy and here is why:

  1. A blog is useful when you have a large following that is continually wanting to get updated on your content.  Do the customers of a divorce attorney really want to get updated monthly or weekly on what is going on in the world of law? Probably not.  What about a pest control company? I might need to hire someone to get rid of my termites but am I really going to dedicate my time to reading articles continually on bugs? Probably not.  If your customers are not likely to want to educate themselves on everything related to your business, you probably don’t need a blog.
  2. Blog articles come with dates on them that show up in the SERPs.  As time goes on, the date on your article will become older and older, and in *most* cases this means it will also become outdated and irrelevant to users. old date in serp
  3. Blog articles don’t have the advantage of siloing, which is the strategy I recommend for all content on small business sites.

How Much Value Does a Blog Provide for a Small Business?

One of the trends we see when a business or an SEO agency blogs for the sake of blogging is typically a decent, continual increase in traffic. But that’s about it. So if traffic is the end-all-be-all metric, you’re golden. But let’s be frank, more traffic doesn’t always equal more business, especially for a smaller business website. Website actions, such as form submissions and calls equal business.

Here’s what we typically see when a website has a blogging strategy that is built around “blogging for the sake of blogging”.

Blogs driving lots of traffic but no conversions.

blogging for the sake of blogging

The blogs above drove a total of two form submissions for the entire 2020 year.

But what about assisted conversions? In the example above, the blogs assisted seven conversions for the entire year. What if the effort that was spent writing all those blogs was spent improving existing core pages and creating new core pages after identifying some content gaps? This has provided a metric ton more value in our experience.

What Type of Content Should I Be Thinking About?

Instead of asking a content writer to add 10 pieces of content about a specific topic to a website each month, it’s much better to have the strategy that has been adopted and preached about by some very smart people in the SEO industry.  The concept is that it’s better to have a few great pieces that get tons of traffic than to have tons of mediocre stuff that gets less than 10 visitors a month. That type of content also generally has a really high bounce rate and don’t forget that Google has an algorithm that fights low-quality content (Panda).  Here are the case studies that talk more about this strategy:

We have adopted this strategy on our own blog and it works extremely well. For example, almost 20% of our site’s traffic when we looked at a 30 day period came from this one guide that we wrote a couple of years ago.  We spend time and effort keeping this guide updated instead of doing something new.  The result has been more traffic, which has led to more sales.

With small businesses, the 2 types of content that continually perform well are:

  1. FAQs that have very detailed responses with multi-media. For example,
    1. Tree Service: How to prune a Japanese Maple
    2. Auto Insurance: Which insurance carriers offer accident forgiveness?
    3. Lawn Care: What Types of Weeds Does Fiesta® Kill?
  2. Guides.  A more in-depth list or checklist of things around a given topic. For example:
    1. Law Firm: Pennsylvania Child Car Seat Laws
    2. Insurance: Billing and Claims Contact Guide

I have also seen many sites for law firms where the majority of their traffic is coming from a few blogs they wrote years ago. Their efforts would be well spent in updating them so the information is current and the date on it isn’t 5 years old.

We always suggest testing some of these strategies before implementing them site-wide. If you have a piece of content on a blog that gets a lot of traffic, you can try testing a couple of different things:

  1. Updating the date published so that it is current.  Watch both impressions AND CTR in Search Console to see what happens as a result.
  2. Removing the date altogether and moving the piece over from the blog to its own page using the silo structure.  Make sure, of course, you 301 all the old URLs since they might be linked to somewhere. Also, don’t forget to update the internal links.

So What?

So should a small business have a blog? The answer is it depends. If a business has interesting news to share or things that would provide value to your customers that don’t fit into the core pages then go for it. Just stop thinking of blogging in terms of “blogging for the sake of blogging”. Focus on optimizing existing core pages, and continually analyzing the content gaps that exist between you and your competitors.

Finally, just to be clear, I am not making the case that blogs can’t drive business goals. They can and they do. But spitting out blog after blog isn’t the way to accomplish that.

 

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
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What to Do If Google Auto-Updates Your Google My Business Info and Gets It Wrong


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You probably know Google’s tendency to mess with the business info you put in your Google My Business dashboard.  Whether Google emptied fields you filled out, or “corrected” basic facts about your business, or injected info that may be 100% wrong, the telltale orange writing in the GMB dashboard is always a hassle and sometimes a big problem.

 

 

Google’s “we know better than you do” MO got worse throughout 2020.  Around the time it temporarily froze some GMB features, Google started piling on new features at an even-faster pace than it had before.  Sometimes Google would fill out those new fields or check those new boxes for you, and often not correctly.  Also, Google started more frequently overwriting or removing old info – info you may have put in your GMB dashboard years ago and thought was safe at home plate.

Some of my favorite auto-updates are when Google tells you your business is closed on a certain holiday, and when it insists the entrance to your business is wheelchair-accessible.  Not sure the AI is that good yet.

 

COVID and the lockdowns and related events may or may not have helped Google’s long-term effort to make your GMB page a substitute for your website, but Google has succeeded in making one’s GMB page a bigger chore than one’s website.

Besides rejecting shaky auto-edits, what should you do when Google keeps overwriting your Google My Business dashboard info?  Google doesn’t tell you much, but I suggest you update the GMB landing page on your website – most likely your homepage – with the info you want to stay put in your GMB dashboard. 

In other words, make at least your landing page (and possibly more of your site) contain all of the info you want on your GMB page.

If Google’s editing your business name, make sure the name you want on your GMB page is in the main body content your landing page (again, probably your homepage), in the footer, on your contact page, and so on.  Make it verbatim.

If Google’s editing or rejecting your categories or “services” fields or both, add to your landing page a blurb on each of those services or offerings, with a link to a dedicated page where you describe that offering in more detail.  (That’s something I suggest you do anyway, no matter what.)

If Google’s rejecting certain towns or regions in your “service area,” mention those places on your landing page and in your footer.

If Google has gotten your “COVID-19 info” link or “Appointments” link wrong, make sure your landing page includes at least one easy-to-find link to that page.

You get the idea.  I’ve found that updating the landing page of your site is the best way to override Google’s auto-updates of these fields:

  • Business name
  • Categories
  • Service areas
  • COVID link
  • “Appointments” link
  • Services

As you might guess, updating your landing page is not a surefire way to get your info to stick and for Google to lay off the auto-updates.  If your important listings are a mess, or if customers or competitors persistently submit Google Maps edits on your GMB page, you may still have difficulty getting your preferred GMB dashboard info to stick.

 

What if Google is messing with the address, phone number, or business hours you put in GMB?  You should still update your landing page to reflect the info you want on GMB, but I haven’t seen that work as consistently.  That may be a citation/data-hygiene issue: You’ll probably need to update your other, non-Google listings before Google will stop with the auto-updates.  Similarly if GMB gets your website / landing page URL wrong.  That’s more likely the result of having the wrong URL on your other listings, or it may even be a canonicalization problem.

If Google’s aim truly is to make it unnecessary for searchers to visit businesses’ websites, then it only makes sense that Google’s first priority is to vacuum up the business info on your site.  But some businesses’ sites have a ton of pages or are hard to crawl or both, and most business owners are pretty bad at keeping all pages up-to-date.  So it only makes sense that Google also narrows its focus to what’s on the landing page URL of your site.

We tend to work on local SEO in stages or in a slapdash way, so it’s easy to forget about what’s on your site when you’re looking at what’s in GMB, and vice versa.  So Google’s auto-updates and overwrites may be a simple problem, and may have a simple solution

 

One upside of possibly needing to work on your homepage / landing page to get the auto-updates off your back is that you may pop into the local pack for more search terms, and are even more likely to expand the range of terms you rank for in the organic results.

TL;DR: make sure whatever info you want on your Google My Business page is also on the landing page URL of your site, in crawlable text (not an image or video or animation), and worded plainly.

To what extent are stubborn GMB auto-updates a problem for you now?

What have you tried, and how well has it worked (or not worked)?

Leave a comment!

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How To Start a Website For Your Small Business in 5 Steps


Every business needs a website. If you’re not tech-savvy, you may not know how to start one. This guide will help you get started. Every step is explained so you know what to do and how to start a website for your business.

You can go on different routes when starting a website. There are many choices you can make and there are lots of options, which is why these kinds of guides are always different. We tried to make it as easy as it can be for any level of expertise.

Step 1: Get a Domain Name

The first step of starting a website for your business is getting a domain name. Your domain name should, in most cases, be the name of your business/brand. However, the choice is still up to you and if you can come up with something more creative than your brand name, go for it.

Use a domain name provider like Namecheap. They have other domain extensions aside from the classics like .com, .net, etc. You can use something like yourbrand.rocks. You can learn more about Namecheap and their domain extensions in our review.

Step 2: Get Web Hosting

Once you’ve chosen your domain name, the next step is to buy web hosting in order to host your own website. You can read our guide on how to choose a web hosting provider to help you narrow down your options.

For this guide, we’ll be using WordPress, since it’s one of the most documented and easiest CMSes to use.

Some notable hosting providers are:

  • iWebFusion for cheap, shared web hosting. If you don’t plan on creating a complex website with lots of visitors, you can safely use shared hosting.
  • Kinsta for fully managed WordPress cloud hosting. Go with this option if you want the speed and dedicated resources that a cloud server provides.
  • Vultr if you want to manage a server yourself and install WordPress yourself. This is not recommended if you’re a beginner.

You can explore other WordPress hosting options here.

Step 3: Choose a Theme for Your WordPress Website

WordPress has lots of free (and premium) pre-made themes you can use that would fit your business. Whatever your business is, be it a restaurant or a small consulting company, there’s a great WordPress theme you can use that would fit that category.

Some resources that would help:

Or you can just use google and find a theme.

Installing the theme can be done with a couple of clicks. Most themes use a visual editor, so you don’t even need coding skills to set it up.

Step 4: Design and Customize Your Website

Choosing and installing a theme is not enough. You need to customize your website (specifically the design) so your website stands out and better fits your branding. This includes using a custom logo and custom images and icons for your website’s sections or blog posts.

Penji is a great service you can use to get professional designers to design your logos and all graphics you need for your website. You can even use Penji for custom graphics for your marketing needs, including social media marketing.

Pay great attention to the design as it’s the first thing most people notice when visiting your website.

Step 5: Promote Your Website

Now that you officially started and customized your website, the next step is to promote it. This is arguably the most difficult step that takes a lot of time and skills to succeed at.

There are multiple ways you can promote your website. You can use SEO to gain relevant search traffic. You can use Social Media Marketing. This is where Penji would come in handy with their social media content design. You can even use offline advertising if the niche you are in is right and attract visitors to your website using offline marketing. Again, the options are unlimited.

This is the step you need to focus on. There’s no point in starting a website if nobody visits it. You should use your website to attract new customers or get new clients for your small business. There are upsides to owning a website even if it doesn’t help you convert, like branding and brand awareness. It can even be used for something as simple as contacting you or getting more information about the services you offer. Whatever the needs may be, there’s always a need for a website for your small business.

G Suite: Top 5 Benefits for Your Online Business


If you’re starting a business, chances are you’re looking for email and office software to power it. There are many business productivity suites out there, and choosing the right one for your company can seem like a challenge.

If you need an affordable and powerful productivity suite for your business, G Suite might be just what you’re looking for. This set of tools from Google offers email, cloud storage, document creation, and more, all with fantastic collaboration tools built in.

In this article, we’ll introduce G Suite and its key benefits. Let’s get started!

G Suite Offered by DreamHost

Work together from anywhere for just $6/user per month. Current DreamHost customers can try it free for 30 days.

An Introduction to G Suite

The G Suite home page.

Simply put, G Suite is Google’s package of business-focused apps and services. It’s Google’s answer to Microsoft Office, with a heavy focus on collaboration and the cloud.

The service was originally launched in 2006 as Google Apps and was rebranded as G Suite in 2016. It quickly gained a following for its ease-of-use, powerful collaboration features, and the ability to use it from any web browser.

Most of the apps included in G Suite are available for free to anyone with a Google account. However, by subscribing to one of the paid G Suite plans, you’ll get an ad-free experience, improved customer support, and some additional perks.

A quick note: Google is currently in the process of rebranding G Suite as “Google Workspace.” We’ll still refer to the service as G Suite in this article but wanted to point out that you may see it referenced under both names.

Top 5 Benefits of G Suite for Your Online Business

G Suite has a lot to offer for businesses of any size and niche. Let’s take a look at five of the ways this solution can help your company do more.

1. You’ll Get Access to a Wide Range of Tools

G Suite offers all the basics you’d expect from an office suite, and much more. Here are the main features:

  • Gmail, Google’s email platform, offers lots of features and plenty of flexibility.
  • Meet is G Suite’s secure video conferencing solution, designed to be simple and helpful.
  • Chat lets you easily keep in contact with your coworkers and colleagues.
  • Calendar is a powerful, cross-platform tool that integrates with other G Suite apps.
  • Drive provides secure cloud storage for all of your files.
  • Docs is Google’s word processing software and is built for collaboration.
  • Sheets is G Suite’s collaborative and easy-to-use spreadsheet app.
  • Keep is Google’s note-taking application, which supports photos, checklists, and more.

Whatever your business needs, G Suite probably offers a solution that can help. You can check out the full list of included features and apps on Google’s website.

2. Your Email Needs Will Be Covered

Gmail has been the industry standard for years, thanks to its advanced features and best-in-class spam protection and security. A G Suite account provides you with all the best features of Gmail, such as smart replies, while also enabling you to use your own custom email domain.

After that, labels are easily one of the most useful Gmail features for businesses. Instead of folders, as you’ll find in most traditional email clients, Gmail lets you assign multiple labels to each message. This offers you a lot of flexibility when it comes to organizing your communications.

3. Collaboration Is Made Easy

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides (a presentation solution) are easy-to-use productivity apps that offer many of the essential functions you need to run a business. Better yet, they provide easy avenues for collaboration.

In fact, all the apps in G Suite are designed from the ground up to make working as a team simpler. You can have multiple people working on a Google Doc simultaneously, and see where everyone is in the document. Comments are a simple click away, and you can receive an immediate notification when someone tags you.

Additionally, Google Meet and Google Chat offer simple video conferencing and messaging that you can hop into with a click. On competing services like Microsoft Office, these features can feel like an afterthought or require more effort to use.

4. G Suite Apps Are Available Everywhere

All of the G Suite apps are web-based, which means they’re available on any device with a web browser. You don’t need to worry about installing any programs, and your work won’t be interrupted by software updates. Google also offers excellent iOS and Android apps for all of its major services, so you can work on the go if needed.

To complement these apps, Google provides the Drive cloud storage service. The basic G Suite plan comes with 30 GB of cloud storage, but upgrading to a higher tier bumps that number up to several terabytes. So there’s plenty of room for your critical documents and creative content.

If you’re worried about not having internet access and being locked out of your files, don’t be. G Suite enables you to sync the major apps for offline use, so you can still edit documents or view emails when you don’t have a connection.

5. The Price Is Affordable

Finally, G Suite is highly affordable. The basic plan starts at just $6 per month per user, which is an excellent price for budget-conscious small business owners.

Higher-tier packages increase the price to $12 or $18 per month but also drastically increase the Google Drive storage amount. All G Suite plans also remove the ads normally present in the free versions of the apps, so you can work distraction-free.

The Cons of Using G Suite

Of course, like any product, G Suite isn’t perfect. While we love it, there are some downsides to consider when comparing Google’s offering with its competitors:

  • Power features. Google apps like Docs and Sheets tend to offer fewer features than their main competitors (such as Microsoft Word and Excel). G Suite does generally make up for this with superior collaboration tools, but it’s worth noting.
  • Desktop applications. If you require (or just prefer) desktop software, you won’t find it with G Suite. Everything is browser-based.
  • Storage. The base tier of G Suite only offers 30 GB of cloud storage space (although the higher tiers do bump this up significantly).
  • Support. Google offers “standard support” on all of its G Suite packages, with the option to upgrade to “enhanced support” for an additional fee. Unfortunately, Google support can be a little tough to deal with. With that being said, DreamHost offers expert support for our G Suite customers.

Despite these potential downsides, G Suite stands out as one of the most popular productivity and email solutions for businesses. However, no one tool is right for every organization, so it’s best to do your research carefully and compare it with other options.

G Suite and DreamHost: The Perfect Pair

Here at DreamHost, we offer G Suite Basic and G Suite Business plans to all of our customers, and sign-up is easy. We also provide an extended 30-day trial period for up to 10 users, so you can make sure G Suite is the right platform for your business.

To sign up for G Suite, log in to your DreamHost admin panel. In the sidebar, scroll down to Add Product and select G Suite.

Signing up for G Suite in the DreamHost admin panel.

On the next screen, click Get Started.

Getting started with G Suite at DreamHost.

You’ll be asked to select the domain you want to associate with your G Suite account, as well as the number of users and the plan you want to sign up for.

Choosing between the Basic plan and Business plan.

The primary difference between the plans is storage. The Basic plan offers 30 GB, while the Business plan offers 1 TB for under five users and unlimited storage if you have more than five users.

Next, scroll down and enter your details in the Admin User Creation section. When you’re finished, click on Complete Setup to finalize your choices.

Entering the admin information you want to use with G Suite.

You’ll receive a few confirmation emails, so be sure to look out for those and take any actions requested in them. After that, you can manage your G Suite subscription at any time from the Manage Account section of your DreamHost panel.

Managing your G Suite account from the DreamHost panel.

That’s all there is to it! We also recommend setting up a recovery email and phone number for your new G Suite account in case you lose your password. If you need further help at any point during the sign-up process, you can also consult our step-by-step guide to setting up G Suite with DreamHost.

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Get The Ultimate Productivity Tool

If you’re looking for a robust and feature-packed email and office suite for your business, G Suite might be the solution for you. It’s a versatile and powerful set of apps with outstanding collaboration features.

If you’re ready to get down to business, DreamHost makes it easy. Our G Suite packages are affordably priced and come with an extended 30-day free trial, so you can make sure it’s the right fit for your company!

Business and Life Lessons From Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos – CharlesNgo.com

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I had a “holy shit” moment when I ordered from Zappos for the first time.

This happened over a decade ago. I chose the slowest shipping option to save money.

I expected the shoes to arrive in 7 to 10 business days.
My shoes arrived the next morning.

Keep in mind that this was years before Amazon made 2-day shipping the standard.

There were other little things I noticed about Zappos as a customer.

  • Other companies hid their customer service phone number to save on costs. Their phone number was boldly on the top of every page.
  • I called their customer service and expected the agent to be overseas. Nope. She was located in Las Vegas.
  • Most companies had a 30-day money-back guarantee. They had a 365-day money-back guarantee.

Zappos set the standard for customer service on the internet. Because of their initiatives, the rest of the eCommerce world had to step their game up.

Their former CEO, Tony Hsieh, was the heart and soul of the company.

For those of you that don’t know, Tony Hsieh passed away last week at the age of 46.

I usually don’t pay too much attention when a celebrity passes away. But Tony’s death felt different. I lost a big brother that I never had a chance to meet.

I read Delivering Happiness in 2010. It was the first biography I’ve ever read. While I researched and went over my notes, I didn’t realize how many of my personal philosophies were based on his.

I didn’t want to just share a picture of him on social media. Tony spent so much of his life sharing his wisdom. The best way to honor him would be to keep his teachings alive.

The following are some of the best lessons that I learned from Tony Hsieh.

The Value of Customer Service

“To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means do something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver. We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO @ Zappos

Every company wants to have great customer service, but none of them are willing to do what it takes.

Zappo’s is known for their customer service. That wasn’t a deliberate strategy at first. They were broke and couldn’t afford marketing.

The levers to business growth are simple:

  • Increase new customers
  • Increase average order value
  • Increase repeat purchases

They couldn’t afford to market to get new customers. Their inventory was limited, so it was difficult to increase the average order value.

They realized that improving their customer service would encourage existing customers to come back.

Now “good” customer service isn’t simply answering emails faster.

Tony’s goal was something called the “wow effect.

download

It’s when there’s a huge difference between what the customer expects and what actually happens. This difference causes a flood of positive emotions. The positive emotions lead to word of mouth advertising and repeat purchases.

Here are several ways that they “wow’ed” their customers:

  • They’d upgrade people to free overnight shipping.
  • They staffed warehouses 24/7. This isn’t cost-efficient from a logistics perspective. But this meant they could fulfill orders a few hours earlier.
  • They put their customer’s happiness over their own profits. If the customer wanted a shoe where their size was out of stock, the agent would stop and research. If they found it available on a competitor’s website, they’d tell the customer to buy it there.
  • One woman had ailing feet. She ordered 6 different pairs of shoes and returned them all. Zappos sent “get well” flowers to her.

Yes, these things cost money. But it worked so well that they didn’t need to spend as much money on marketing as their competitors did.

75% of their orders came from repeat purchases. Great experience means people are more likely to refer their friends.

A few years ago, I went to a workshop for some business training. The material was good, but I couldn’t help but think about how little effort they put into it. I spent several thousand dollars for the workshop, and they didn’t hook us up with lunch.

Later on, I launched my Super Affiliate Intensive workshop. I was motivated by Zappo’s philosophy of the “wow” effect. I sat down and brainstormed all the little things we could do to give people a “wow” experience.

This lead to:

  • I figure everyone’s nervous when they’re flying in the first night. We had a welcome party at the hotel bar. We also had a goodbye party on the final night.
  • The events were held at a nice hotel. Every lunch and dinner was catered.
  • We had goody bags that included copies of Cashvertising, USB sticks, etc.
  • A binder full of slides, notes, etc.

We calculated that giving the “wow effect” cost me an extra five figures for each event. I didn’t care. I did it because I wanted to elevate from a workshop to an unforgettable weekend experience for people.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to deliver the wow effect. Here’s a story from this weekend.

I ordered a succulent from Etsy the other day and had a wow experience.

The plant was carefully wrapped. She included a handwritten note thanking me for supporting her business. She threw in a few stickers of succulents.

I’m going to buy all my succulents from her from now on.

My fiance is into Korean skincare. One of her favorite websites, Sokoglam, offered her a Zoom consultation with a skincare expert. She learned so much about her skin, and is now a loyal fan of their website.

The online shopping experience is becoming more commoditized. We go online and 1 click whatever we want from Amazon.

Going the extra mile for your customer is one way to stand out in a crowded world.

The Similarities Between Poker and Business.

After selling LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million, Tony started getting heavy into poker. He spent an entire summer diving deep into poker strategy and analysis. What he found fascinating was the similarities between good poker strategy and good business strategy.

Here are some of the highlights he shared:

1. Don’t confuse the right decision with the individual outcome.

It’s possible to make the wrong decision and have a good outcome.
It’s possible to make the right decision and lose.

Imagine if you were dealt AA pre-flop. This is the strongest pre-flop hand in poker. The guy has 10 10. The outcome? He got lucky with a 10 on the river giving him Triple 10’s.

You would win 81% of the time.

You made the right decision, but it was the wrong outcome. The worst thing you can do is to change your future behavior based on that.

This happens all the time in the real world. It reminds me of survivorship bias or anecdotal evidence.

I used to work in a gas station. Every day people would come in to buy scratch off tickets. One of my regular customers paid $1 and won $100.

That’s an example of a wrong decision with a good outcome. You think he walked away with his winnings? Nope. That’s how they get you. That encouraged him to play the lottery even more. He thought he was lucky.

He eventually spent several thousand dollars over the summer before he stopped. He didn’t make his money back.

2. Table Selection

Table selection is choosing which table you’re going to sit down and play it. This is the most important decision you can make in poker.

Would you rather play at a table with 9 mediocre tourists who are drunk or play at a table with 9 fresh aspiring poker pros?

This applies to choosing which markets you want to be in.

Think about Goldilocks…it has to be just right.

You want to make a pet training program focused on raising tigers. The market is too small.

You want to compete with Amazon and Walmart by offering the lowest prices. That might be too competitive. That’s like voluntarily sitting at a table with Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu when you don’t have to. And on top of that, you don’t have the right bankroll for that table.

Tony realized that business had several advantages when it came to table selection. He could create his own table aka create his own market. It reminds me of what Cameo did.

A poker table has ten seats. In business, you can increase the size of the table. He entered the existing shoe market and made the table even bigger. Poker is a zero-sum game.

3. Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.

Tony dabbled for a bit in day trading and stocks. He hated it because he didn’t understand it. He didn’t have an edge. And he realized that with trading, he wasn’t building anything.

An example from my own life is real estate. I’ve been getting pressured to buy real estate from my parents and other people for the past few years.

Are people making money from real estate? Yep. It’s a great investment for the right person.

Not me though. I’m not “handy.” I don’t have an edge in it.

Could I learn it? Sure. At what cost, though? I rather spend that time and energy getting stronger at the things that I’m already good at.

I could invest $150,000 in a house with the goal of renting it out. A better option? I could invest that money into online businesses where my skills can contribute to growing it.

This reminds me of bright shiny object syndrome. When you’re jumping around from one business to another, you’re not going deep.

Going deep is how you build unique knowledge. 

Don’t Outsource Your Core Competency

Zappos started off by drop shipping from brands in America.

A customer would make an order.
Zappos would send a message to the shoe company.
The shoe company would send the shoes directly to the customer.

The problem? This was the late 1990’s. Not many retailers had the ability or the desire to dropship.

This meant Zappos didn’t have a complete selection of shoes. They certainly didn’t have many shoes that customers actually wanted.

It would take years to build some of these relationships with the shoe companies. They figured out a “hack.” They could buy a local shoe store that wasn’t doing too well. Doing that would mean they “grandfathered” into many of the relationships with larger brands.

Their office lobby pretty much became a shoe store to make it official.

Next, they pivoted from a dropshipping model to holding inventory. They partnered up with a company called eLogistics to handle their warehousing.

It was a disaster.

They were losing 5-figures a day because the salesmen oversold what their company could actually do. Tony and several employees moved to Kentucky for several months to build their own warehouse.

“We learned that we should never outsource our core competency. As an e-commerce company, we should have considered warehousing to be our core competency from the beginning. Outsourcing that to a third party and trusting that they would care about our customers as much as we would was one of our biggest mistakes.”

So many companies want to outsource different parts of their business. You can work with a 3PL to handle your fulfillment. You can work with different agencies to handle your marketing. You can hire headhunters to recruit your employees for you.

Figure out what your core competency is and keep it in house.

Getting the Culture Right

Culture’s such a buzzword in the tech world.

It’s not a set of values that the top executives brainstorm on a company retreat. Culture isn’t catered lunches, and bring your dog to work day.

It’s a set of shared values, goals, and attitudes of an organization. It’s how you treat each other on a daily basis.

Tony realized the importance of culture when he was building LinkExchange. They hired the smartest people they could find. Not all of them were a great culture fit. It was obvious that some people were only there for the money.

It created a toxic environment for him, where he dreaded coming to work. He knew there was a problem when he hit the snooze button seven times one morning.

At Zappos, he wanted to develop and protect the culture at all costs.

One thing that Zappos is amazing at is filtering out people who aren’t a great culture fit.

You have to pass both a technical test and a culture test. They don’t want assholes working at the company. Zappos is based in Las Vegas. They have a lot of people flying in to interview, and they’ll get picked up at the airport.

Everyone thinks that the hiring test starts once you sit down in the office. What actually happens is the chauffeur is taking notes on how you’re treating them. Someone that treats a driver like shit isn’t someone that they want to hire.

Everyone that gets hired at Zappos goes through the same 4-week training program. This involves two weeks of customer service at the phones. This means helping pack the boxes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Vice president!

And finally, there’s the famous $2,000 test.

Every potential employee goes through 4 weeks of intense training. After that, they get the offer.

The offer is $2,000. They’ll pay you $2,000 to quit.

Tony believed this is the best way to filter people out. If someone is overwhelmed by the experience, then this gives them an easy way out.

It reminds me of dating. Some people have “tests” to see if the person is a suitable mate. Tony had this because he wanted to find a suitable employee.

Resumes and interviews can only go so far. You can see how competent they are during the training.

But an offer like this? It’s the final test to see if you’re a good culture fit.

So my question is, what kind of culture do you want to build at your company?

How are you going to filter for it?

Are You Willing to Do What it Takes?

You can’t be good at everything. Strategy is about making deliberate decisions on what you’ll be great at, and what you’re willing to sacrifice.

Zappos has some of the best customer service in the world. Can you name a single memorable ad from them? I can’t. Not investing in marketing allows them to put more resources into customer service.

Costco’s strategy is low prices. That means their warehouses are ugly. Their website is horrible. Those decisions contribute to low prices.

Noma was awarded the best restaurant in the world 4 times. They had 2 Michelin stars. They had a waitlist for months. Then he shut the restaurant down.

Why would the owner do such a crazy thing?

“Routine can be comforting, but it’s also a killer for your creativity,” Redzepi says over lunch at Restaurant Barr, which now occupies the original Noma site. “It was time to change, not just the physical address but shedding off the old routine, moving into something new, building a small urban farm.”

In Remembrance of Tony Hsieh

I did a lot of research for this article. I skimmed through Delivering Happiness again, read a dozen articles, and watched every speech of his that I could find on YouTube.

It didn’t occur to me how much of an impact he had on my thinking. I read Delivering Happiness when it first released back in 2010.

I looked up to Tony because I didn’t have a lot of Asian-American role models. Yes, there are Asians in technology, but most of them tend to be behind the scenes as developers.

Here was Tony as the face of a billion-dollar company. To me, he was the Bruce Lee of entrepreneurship.

For the longest time, I believed becoming wealthy was the key to happiness. That’s how society trained me to think. It’s that mentality that pushed me so hard to succeed in affiliate marketing.

And then I became a millionaire at 24. I was slightly happier because I didn’t have to worry about debt anymore. But it wasn’t this life-changing thing I expected it to be. Then I read up Delivering Happiness.

Whoa, here’s something who went through the same thing. Obviously with way more money though.

That led me to a journey to studying happiness itself. Reading the book gave me the courage to pursue my dream of living in Asia for a few years.

Thank you Tony. Thanks for being unapologetically weird. Thanks for showing me you can build a brand while remaining humble. Thanks for showing everyone the need to find a higher purpose in life than just making money.

Photo by Web Donut from Pexels.

Please rate this article – it helps me know what to write!

eCommerce Shopping Carts For Home Business – Which Is The Best?


Nowadays, with the availability of eCommerce shopping carts for home business, you can easily build a professional website with all the necessary features suitable for businesses in all fields. Website design is an indispensable part of all businesses and individuals doing business. 

Therefore, it is necessary to expand the scope of activities, increase sales and profits for businesses by investing in website construction. By building a professional image on the website, customers will keep in touch with the business. 

To help you make a decision, today we will review some of the best eCommerce shopping carts for home businesses: Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, WooCommerce, and PrestaShop. These may provide you with an easy start.

Let’s begin!

What to Look For When Choosing a Platform to Build Your Marketplace?

Each eCommerce business is unique, and thus requires particular treatment. However, keeping in mind crucial characteristics which align with the capabilities of the various available shopping carts. There exist criteria that you should take into consideration for shopping cart software selection.

  • Ease of use: Platform with a moderate level of complexity allows to spend less time and effort to manage common business operations. Instead, you’ll be able to dedicate yourself and gain a broader opportunity to grow your business.
  • Customization options: At any point of development, you may need new requirements. Therefore, when selecting a shopping cart, it is recommendable to choose a cart with the ability for customization.
  • Clear navigation: Make sure that the shopping cart you employ for your eCommerce business can provide clean and clear navigation across all stages of the buyer’s journey.
  • Optimization for mobile devices: Experts predict that by 2021, mobile eCommerce will account for 53.9% of eCommerce sales. Thus, prioritize the shopping carts that are adapted for mobile device usage.
  • Scalability: Make sure that the shopping cart you choose at the very beginning will be able to support growth in the future.
  • Customer support model: Shopping cart with reliable and dedicated customer support. This choice will allow you to get fast and qualified feedback about any issue occurring.
  • Pricing policy: Choose your perfect solution based on your business requirements but not the price tag on the software.

The Best eCommerce Shopping Carts for Home Businesses

1. Shopify

Shopify eCommerce shopping carts for home businesses

Shopify’s shopping cart is a good choice for those who sell digital and tangible products. You can select from a variety of customizable templates, which can be configured to suit branding requirements. The platform is easy to use for users with little tech skills. 

Furthermore, if you can cope with HTML and CSS, you can edit the whole structure and configuration. The company offers a free 14-day trial, so you can set up a store to experience before purchasing.

The cost of Shopify store:

With price considered as the lowest on the market, Shopify becomes an attractive option for businesses that run on a tight budget. The cost of Shopify’s pricing plans per month are:

  • Basic Shopify: $29/month
  • Shopify: $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify: $299/month

Shopify Basic can satisfy your needs unless you run a large shop. You will receive regular discount codes, unrestricted storage products and multi-channel integration. Upgrading to Shopify or Advanced Shopify offers you better analysis and reporting.

Shopify offers the following features:

  • Automatic carrier shipping rates, sleek mobile optimization, customer profiles, accounts and groups, more than 70 professional themes, built-in marketing tools and more.
  • Shopify is very easy to set up . It is one of the most user-friendly structures irrespective of your technical background.
  • This shopping cart solution is a favorable combination of flexibility and robustness though its advanced features are quite pricey.

If you want to learn more. here’s a detailed review of Shopify.

2. Wix

Wix eCommerce

By opting for this website shopping cart as an eCommerce extension of your shop, you can get your hands on it’s all-in-one management features. With its affordable pricing plans, Wix is a perfect choice for creating your very first shopping cart from scratch

Wix is also attractive thanks to a plethora of customizable templates to create a unique look for non-coders. Wix helps you to quickly construct a professional website with beautifully pre-designed templates, integrated security and in-house technology.

The three Wix plans which let you sell online are:

  • Business Basic: $20/month. Get the Full Suite.
  • Business Unlimited: $25/month. Grow your business.
  • Business VIP: $35/month. Accept Online Payment.

Wix offers the following features to eCommerce entrepreneurs:

  • Shipping, tax, and inventory management, a custom & branded checkout page builder, drag-and-drop editing, and point-of-sale (POS) support.
  • This free eCommerce shopping cart charges no fees for transactions and payment processing.
  • Real-time shipping calculators are available, making the shopping experience more convenient and joyful.
  • You can use over 500 professional templates, but without redesigning your site you can’t switch templates.
  • You may build a shop free of charge, but users must upgrade them for three economic eCommerce plans to sell.

Read our Wix review to find out more.

3. Weebly

Weebly eCommerce

Weebly is the pioneer platform which allows users to build business websites using a drag-and-drop builder. Weebly provides web hosting, SSL security, and allows you to manage your website from their mobile app. 

You can also add photos, videos, and integrate with third-party tools. As well as this, you can operate your Weebly website with one of their completely free accounts.

This platform is similar to competitor website builders, particularly Wix and Squarespace. However, Weebly offers the cheapest eCommerce plan out of the three therefore it is probably the most appealing for smaller businesses, especially for those just starting out in eCommerce.

The cost of Weebly’s pricing plans per month are:

  • Connect a Domain: $5/month
  • Pro for Groups and Organizations: $12/month
  • Business for Small Businesses and Stores: $25/month
  • Business Plus for Growing Businesses: $38/month

Weebly’s features:

  • Weebly prides itself as a straightforward, easy to use system. From setup to management, it maintains a user-friendly interface.
  • Pre-made Weebly templates ensure your website is functional and fast without messing up the build.
  • Easily update your site into an eCommerce CMS. If you want to make online sales, then Weebly will let you turn your regular site into an online store.
  • Weebly can transfer a domain name you already own onto its service. If you are building something fully new, you can search and buy within Weebly itself.
  • Weebly makes building a website from scratch straightforward with its drag-and-drop abilities. You can select an element and drag it to where you want it on your Weebly website.
  • Fast page loading times. Your pages don’t compete against others and are optimized for the server they live on. This gives you an SEO boost when it comes to brand positioning.

Read the Weebly review to find out more.

4. Squarespace

Squarespace eCommerce

Squarespace is an awesome option for small businesses because of its simplicity. This website builder offers many stunning store themes to build a website. When building a site using Squarespace, you’ll get access to their inventory management system. 

You can integrate this into your site to keep track of your inventory. Squarespace allows you to easily control various aspects of your website. You can set coupon offers, shipping configurations, and manage your email lists.

Price Policy of Squarespace:

  • Personal SquareSpace: $12/month
  • Business SquareSpace: $18/month
  • Basic Commerce SquareSpace: $26/month
  • Advanced Commerce SquareSpace: $40/month

Some features that Squarespace delivers to store owners:

  • Simple to use: No programming or coding skills needed to establish your store after migration or restart it.
  • High-quality photographic themes and models that do not need additional modification and adaptations. All changes are made to the new web standards automatically.
  • Tech support is available through a wide range of channels, including email, live chat, online forums and training videos.
  • SquareSpace has no telephone support in contrast to Shopify, therefore immediate help will be out-of-the-question.
  • Limited SEO optimization software.
  • In general, advanced marketing tools and innovative customer loyalty programs are lacking.

Check out the Squarespace review for more.

5. WooCommerce

WooCommerce shopping cart

WooCommerce attracts entrepreneurs with great chances for customization, a multiplicity of themes and integrations, and an optimal user-experience. To run the WooCommerce shopping cart efficiently and grab maximum benefits from that, it would be useful to learn some of the basics of WordPress and to make sense of the platform’s main features. 

This may sound like a lot of ground to cover, but if you have the patience for some upfront work, you’ll reap the rewards over the long term.

Price policy of WooCommerce

WordPress and WooCommerce are totally free to use, both of them can be downloaded freely from the website and can be set up easily following this instruction. Thus, small and low-budget businesses can consider using this platform to build their online stores.

However, you have to pay for domain name, web hosting or SSL certificate in order to start your WooCommerce store. Normally, the cost of a domain name is $14.99/year, hosting solution $8/month and SSL certificate $70/year. 

However, you can always find the cheap hostings that still live up to your expectations. Besides, theme and website design usually range from $50 to $100 and plugins & extensions are from $25.

The main features of WooCommerce are:

  • Modular structure, pre-installed popular payment gateways, an advanced reports builder and convenient product import options.
  • The plugin is free so that you don’t need to pay for anything to run a full version.
  • An advanced level of security is available by utilizing premium themes.
  • Integration with over 33 payment gateways.
  • Built-in renewal notifications and automatic emails. This feature lets you and your subscribers know when subscription payments have been processed and when the next payment occurs.
  • Detailed reports: This allows you to keep track of your upcoming revenue, cancellations, retention rate, and especially the number of active subscribers.

In case you pay much attention to platforms providing subscription service, you can also find the best subscription eCommerce shopping carts that match your store well.

6. PrestaShop

Prestashop eCommerce

One more decent solution when selecting the best eCommerce CMS platform is PrestaShop. However, PrestaShop shopping cart solution is not for beginners, and for the best results, you should consider engaging with professional developers. 

You can find the detailed process here. If you go this route, you’ll be able to take advantage of numerous features provided by this out-of-the-box platform. You can also enrich your store functionality with third-party integrations represented on the official addons store.

Price policy of PrestaShop:

  • Prestashop edition: As an open-source platform, Prestashop is free to set up.
  • Prestashop hosting: Customers can use hosting plans such as SiteGround, Bluehost, or HostPapa. Also, Customers can get even cheaper deals from Prestashop official hosting partners 1 and1 Hosting and A2 hosting.
  • Prestashop themes: Prestashop provides users with numerous professional themes costing from €59,99 (about $70) to €349,99 (about $348).
  • Prestashop add-ons: There are many free available Prestashop add-ons of which price starts from 30€ (about $35) to 5000€ (about $5806).

Highlights of PrestaShop:

  • One-page checkout, quick product creation, shipping method configuration, and the ability to set a minimum quantity for particular items to purchase.
  • In addition, over 3,000 mobile-responsive templates at your service to create a unique look and feel of your PrestaShop store
  • Addons for expanding functionality may seem a bit too pricey.
  • User-friendly: Store owners with hardly any technical knowledge can easily handle and maintain their websites on Prestashop platform
  • Budget-friendly: Users can use shared-hosting web services and cloud hosting, which are fairly low-budget hosting solutions in comparison with self-hosting.
  • Limited scalability: Prestashop is suitable for small to medium stores. Once a store on Prestashop grows into massive scale, it might experience lags in various aspects.

Conclusion

eCommerce shopping carts for home business

In conclusion, It may be a tough and time-consuming process to define the best shopping cart platform for your business. However, clarifying the pivotal standards to support the growth of your ecommerce business surely can help you choose the most appropriate one. 

Finally, thank you for keeping up with this article this length. We hope that this comparison among 6 top choices of eCommerce shopping carts for home business will somehow give you a broader picture of these shopping carts recommendations of suitable platforms.

If you intend to move your business to another platform that fits current needs or set up a completely new website, then LitExtension is the most reputable data migration service provider in the current market. You can always contact their support team for any further detailed requests.

Good luck with your business!


About the Author: Thomas Nguyen

Thomas Nguyen is the SEO Manager at LitExtension. He sees himself as a thought leader, strategist, and the go-to person for any digital marketing related question. He believes that his ideas are the ones that shape the marketing industry. You can find him on Likendin.

2020 Holiday Guide to Google My Business


This year, the holidays will look very different for most of us. The pandemic has affected us all in different ways and its effects are far reaching across economies and consumer habits. Here at Whitespark, we love local businesses and strive to create useful free resources for small businesses owners and marketers on this blog. We know this has been a challenging year for you, your families, and your business. We wish you and yours a happy holiday season!

Adapting Your Holiday Sales Strategy for COVID-19

According to Google’s latest consumer trend report, half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this year. Shopping locally is more important than ever – but everyone’s looking for a deal. What’s a small business to do? We’ve created a new Holiday Guide with this in mind.

1. Have your sales early

This year, 70% of shoppers said they intend to plan their shopping earlier to avoid crowds, and 80% plan to make fewer trips than they have in previous years. More than a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in stores for Black Friday say they won’t this year. It’s also important to keep in mind that postal and delivery services are usually operating above capacity for the holidays and delays are expected due to additional precautions for COVID-19.

As shoppers look to avoid crowds, plan your sales earlier this year to assure your customers that they’re really getting the best deal today from your business. If you anticipate maxed out in-store capacities, line ups or shipping delays, communicate these with shoppers to avoid negative Google reviews this holiday season.

Share your early holiday sales events with searchers with a Google My Business Event or Offer Post.

2. Keep shoppers informed of special hours, services and health & safety measures

Your business is likely operating with additional precautions due to COVID-19 and maybe even new services such as curbside pickup or service-specific hours.

This season, 53% of shoppers said they’ll choose to shop at stores that offer contactless shopping and 47% said they’ll use options like curbside pickup, in-store pickup or buy online.

To ensure a happy customer experience, let searchers know how you’re offering a safe shopping experience and any new services or services during specific hours.

In your Google My Business dashboard, open the Info section and add any relevant attributes, including amenities, health & safety and service options.

 

In the Info section, also add any special hours (Special hours) or service-specific hours (More hours).

3. Engage with your customers online

Already get a lot of questions about inventory during the holidays? Expect even more inquiries this year; 67% of shoppers said they plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going shopping.

No one wants to make an unnecessary trip. If your store’s inventory is visible on your website, make sure it’s up to date and also posted in the Products feature of GMB. If you don’t have inventory to add online, here are 3 things you can do instead:

  • Add your services in the Products feature,
  • Turn on Messaging to allow customers to send their inquiries (just remember to respond quickly so you don’t miss a sale),
  • Use the Questions & Answers feature, as the business ask “Looking for a specific product?” and answer with your preferred contact information (h/t Liz Linder at KickPoint)

Post your inventory or services on Google My Business with the Products feature. You can include a photo, description and price for every item you add. 

Don’t forget to keep your Q&A refreshed seasonally

Make Your Business Discoverable Online

You can expect more shoppers to go online this season than in years past. To get ready for the holiday shopping season, make sure your online presence including your Google My Business listing, website, social media profiles, and ads are updated with the latest information.

Almost 75% of U.S. shoppers who plan to shop this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons, and a similar number said they would browse for gift ideas online and not in store, according to Google/Ipsos Study (2020).

For more tips on updating your Google My Business listing for the holidays, check out our recommendations from last year (including how to swap your top Q&A, promote events, and update your cover photo) too.

Happy Holidays from Whitespark!

AUTHOR

Allie Margeson

Allie been helping small business owners get the most bang for their marketing bucks since 2014. She loves the opportunities and challenges of local search marketing and Google Ads. She has a knack for helping busy entrepreneurs, owners and marketing managers understand the value of local search efforts, without all the jargon.



Does changing your business phone number affect SEO?


30-second summary:

  • Although a business phone number isn’t as tough on your SEO as a complete rebrand, changing it can have an impact on your SEO.
  • Preserving NAP consistency should be your primary goal when changing your phone number.
  • Your marketing strategy can help make the transition easier for your customers, too, as you can notify them of the change ahead of time.
  • The key goal in addition to retaining your ranking should be to not lose the trust of your customers by changing your information – hence the need to approach the process carefully.

Much like all other aspects of digital marketing and brand positioning, SEO is a constantly changing game. With so many moving pieces and evolving trends, it’s no wonder that brands aren’t quite certain which decisions will negatively impact their SEO, and which ones are safe enough to make. 

One day, it seems that one kind of behavior is perfectly fine, while the next Google will penalize it because they’ve implemented algorithm changes. Add customer expectations into the mix, and it gets even more difficult to figure out just what’s worth the effort, and what should be left alone. 

When it comes to your business details, including your name, address, and phone number (neatly packed into the notion of NAP information), change can be good. After all, entire companies have successfully rebranded without a hitch. However, changing a single piece of information such as your phone number can change the entire customer journey if not done right.

Here, we’ll tackle a few essential steps in the process to keep in mind, so that your phone number shift doesn’t impact your ranking or your brand perception negatively. 

NAP it in the bud

Local search is a vital component of your overall SEO strategy, all the more so when you’re running a strictly local business with a physical presence, such as a pastry shop, a car repair facility, or a beauty salon. Your foot traffic heavily depends on your customers’ ability to find correct information online when they search for your services.

If they stumble upon an outdated number, they’ll call the next business in their search results with solid reviews and forget that you exist. Simply put, consistency matters. Google doesn’t want to disappoint its users, so it penalizes businesses with inconsistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information across the internet. As soon as your directories, your website and other online listings don’t show your actual phone number, your ranking will suffer.

The remedy is fairly simple. If you have decided to change your phone number or your entire communications system, for that matter, you should take the time to revise all your local business listings and directories where your company pops up. 

NAP consistency is a vital ranking factor that can either plummet your business in the eyes of search engines, or it can help you reach those topmost desirable spots in the SERPs. So, while changing your business phone number might not be a cause for worry on its own, how you distribute it will greatly matter in local rankings. 

Take care of your call tracking

Some businesses steer clear of call tracking simply because they aren’t sure how to go about it, afraid to damage their SEO in the process. Even more importantly with regards to call tracking, every business needs to adhere to those key legal requirements, such as the EU’s GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, to make sure their customers’ sensitive information is safe. But when the time comes to move from outdated landlines and change your numbers or merge them, you can also reap the benefits of this potentially SEO-beneficial process.

Wanting to unify and improve their communication systems, companies are switching to digital phone solutions such as voice over internet protocol (or VoIP for short). There are many perks of such a transition for call tracking, smarter customer support, and better customer engagement, all of which can support your SEO efforts in the long run. As you learn about VoIP and its many applications, you’ll be able to make the most of your phone-based interactions with your customers to serve your brand reputation, but also your ranking.

In addition to having more business phone numbers at your disposal if you need them, you should know that VoIP platforms come with other useful features such as call analytics, recording, emailing, and texting. Collecting all of that data and implementing SEO-safe call tracking with the help of Dynamic Number Insertion both work in favor of your SEO.

Building and preserving customer trust

When done right, changing your business phone number can be a seamless process that doesn’t do any damage to your ranking. However, it’s important to remember the reason for the ranking in the first place: search engines want to give users the best, most trustworthy results first and above all other available options online. In doing so, they reward businesses that accurately portray themselves online, and contact information is a vital component of that representation.

The basic premise goes as follows: if a customer calls you and gets a notification that the number no longer exists, they lose trust in your brand. Google and other search engines recognize that lack of trust and thus push other businesses above yours, with accurate and verified contact details available. In a sense, it’s customer trust that drives search engine ranking. 

Research has confirmed this, as 80% of surveyed respondents in BrightLocal research have stated that they would lose trust in a business with incorrect and inconsistent contact details. If you’ve decided to change your phone number, making sure it’s consistently represented across all of your digital outlets is the key piece of your SEO puzzle: to preserve customer trust and thus to preserve your ranking. 

Notifying the customer in time

Thankfully, you can make sure that your customers have the correct information in a few simple ways. If you’ve taken care of all of your business directory listings, your social media pages, messaging app presence, and your website, you can use your marketing strategy to get the word out. 

Your subscribers and return customers will want to know that your business has changed a vital piece of information. Just like you don’t want them to spend an hour going to an old address of your café only to discover a weird-looking shop for plumbing supplies, you want to have your new number added to their contacts list.

You can use your weekly/monthly newsletter to notify them of the switch, post a social media update letting customers know the new number they can reach you on, and post a little announcement on your website, too, especially if you gain plenty of call traffic from all of these outlets.

Changing a business phone number can be a simple process in itself, but its impact on your business will not be unless you prepare properly. Taking care of all the business registers where your company is listed paired with implementing search engine-approved tracking tactics as well as customer engagement will be more than enough to help you through the process. 

Emma Worden is a digital marketer and blogger from Sydney. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. You can find Emma on @EmmaRWorden.



[NEW] Google My Business Call History


It looks as though Google is playing around with the idea of adding a call tracking ability within the construct of a Google My Business listing (GMB). When I logged into a client’s GMB this morning, I noticed a new card on the ‘Home’ tab called “Preview call history (beta)”. The subtext reads “see recent calls from Google and return missed calls easily”.

Continue reading “[NEW] Google My Business Call History”

Host my own website for business


Hello ppl of the internet,

I want to start my own business and ofc i need a website.

I´am a IT Engineer but I´ve never hosted my own website.

On my Website I only need a startpage and maybe 2 to 4 pages with pictures and a contact form.

My information:

  • rn I have no monthly budget but ofc I dont want to pay a fortune and I need hosting on german servers

  • I wanted to use a template from wordpress.org but I am open for any suggestions

  • Traffic on my website would be about 10 to 100users/day max.

  • I could host my website on a raspberry w/8gb ram (rasp. would be in a DMZ before my Firewall)

  • I would also consider providers like AWS etc.

  • I have basic knowledge of linux (happy to learn)

I need help with the following steps:

  • Selfhost or AWS etc.

  • Should I use wordpress.org or anything else?

  • What resources would I need for amy website (10 to 100 visitors a day)

  • Where can I register my domain and get my SSL cert (can i register it directly at root domains?)

Any help is appreciated.