click-finders.com now listed iin Alltop.comClick-finders is proud to announce that we are now listed on Alltop.com!  We are the newest addition to the SEO page and can be found listed here at www.seo.alltop.com.  We are very honored and humbled to be included in this list of distinguished and successful bloggers and SEO community members.  What is Alltop?  Great question.  Here is how they describe what they do (read the full version here at Alltop About Page):

“The purpose of Alltop is to help you answer the question, “What’s happening?” in “all the topics” that interest you. You may wonder how Alltop is different from a search engine. A search engine is good to answer a question like, “How many people live in China?” However, it has a much harder time answering the question, “What’s happening in China?” That’s the kind of question that we answer.

We do this by collecting the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover a topic. We group these collections — “aggregations” — into individual web pages. Then we display the five most recent headlines of the information sources as well as their first paragraph. Our topics run from adoption to zoology with photography, food, science, religion, celebrities, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, Macintosh, and hundreds of other subjects along the way.”

Alltop is arguably the premier news/blog aggregation site on the internet.  The stringent review and acceptance policies on their site are notorious for weeding out recreational and hobby bloggers and news sites meaning that only the most relevant, active and on-topic blogs/news sites are included in their lists.  There have been countless articles written on “How to Get Listed on Alltop”.  No matter what though, the one thing that remains true to be considered for Alltop is simply this…

“Provide relevant, informative articles on a regular basis as it applies to your chosen topic or profession.” 

That is the best way to get listed on Alltop.  The next article on this topic will be “How to get to the TOP of Alltop”.  I’ll share it with you all….once I figure it out!

click-finders.com officially accepted into the Alltop.com Directory

 Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article please share it with any of the multiple social media share widgets on this blog (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Social Bookmarking).  Also, please feel free to comment below.  We openly welcome any and all feedback, especially from other internet professionals!

 Click-finders.com is a full service internet marketing company that offers a full range of services including Affordable SEO Services, PPC Adword Campaigns, Social Media Marketing, Web Development and more!  Contact us today for a FREE no obligation SEO Analysis of your website and find out today, what it’s going to take to rank high in the search engines!

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A guest post by a good friend and colleague, Mr. Scott Kindred.

Safehouse Web - Small Business Website WorksAkin to the simple “lather, rinse, repeat” instructions on your shampoo bottle, the analogy of good hygiene works well with good website strategy: Following simple instructions can produce a website that is clean, fresh and attractive.

 

In order to practice this principle, some very basic building blocks are needed for a successful website or business blog. These 3 items are essential to the cleanliness of your website: Domain Name, Website Hosting and Website Platform – read more in the bonus tips at the bottom of this post. They allow you to build and operate a professional website that works to grow your business.

 

I say cleanliness because if you do not get the right domain name, hosting and platform, you’ll end up with a messy situation that can be costly to clean up. Suggestion: go with trusted sources who provide trusted recommendations based on their own experiences. Avoid going with the cheapest or most popular just because they are cheap or popular. Remember, this is your website. Your business. Invest in it wisely.

 

Now back to the shampooing.

Keeping your website design clean

CLEAN

Professional appearance can make or break your website’s effectiveness. Expect to get less-than-desirable results if your website was built by the neighbor who loves making webbies as a hobby, for example. If you subscribe to the theory that you can “just throw up a web page on the Internet thing,” then you will get commensurate results. So make yours clean and crisp let your customers know you’re serious about them.

Provide a clear description of who you are

Problems you solve and how you do it should be answered within the first few seconds of arrival at your website. This is your website’s job – communicate solutions to people who have come to your website purposely and also to those who are checking you out because you were seen in their search results.

 

A clear message will attract a visitor’s attention immediately – most studies say within 2-3 seconds – and will give you an opportunity to encourage them to stay longer.

 

And doesn’t that same concept hold true for any storefront business? In fact, don’t most people already know that the store they’re going to is going to help them? That’s what generates repeat business, customer loyalty and maybe even a referral because your business got described as the best place to go. Be that same thing on the web.

 

Depending on your market, you should know that 70 to 85 percent of shoppers make their local buying decisions online. Regardless of what end of that percentage your business falls, it’s pretty important that you reach out effectively to 70% of your customers, yes?

 

But remember, providing a clear description of who you are must not include a bunch of self-describing information; it needs to be formatted to include very concise information about how your customers’ problems are solved by you.

 

It must address the people you have defined as your target audience.

Choose a website design and look that is straight-forward and easy for the customer to use

Easy, obvious navigation and an attractive color scheme and layout are the basics here.

 

Creation of a sitemap (it can look much like an organizational chart) is a vital part of the first phase of any website project. A sitemap is what defines your website’s navigation structure; many people have a sitemap that includes pages called Home, About Us, Contact Us, Our Team, Services, etc. And then there may be sub-navigation choices below those main pages. Don’t get too crazy with a complicated navigation structure and dozens of pages. It is critically important that the main navigation structure remain simple and intuitive.

 

For those firms who are selling research services or products – or some other commodity that does require a lot of documentation and reference – not to worry, a savvy website layout can still accommodate an easy way for people to get to that voluminous content, if they want it, without having to burden you main navigation. For example, you might have a page in your main navigation titled, “Research,” and then have that page be its own directory of links to the reference material pages that you want to present. This is a good, simple way to keep your navigation bar uncluttered and easy for everyone to use.

 

Collaborate with your web guy – talk about your thoughts, ideas and goals and then listen to the web guy’s perspective; he’ll usually have some good experience with what works and doesn’t work and should eagerly share that with you.

Color scheme and layout

Now, this is another fun part. This is where you get to build the look of your website, its tone and overall presentation to the public. Make it fun, odd, serious, homey, institutional, colorful or minimalistic. The choices abound! I strongly favor, and specialize in, websites built on the WordPress platform. Its awesome flexibility and huge variety of themes, plugins, styles and colors make it customizable enough to fit most any need.

 

When working with your web guy, be prepared to provide him with at least 5 links to websites that you like. You can like them, or just pieces of them, for various reasons but be sure to make note of your likes and dislikes for each. This is a huge help in getting your website project headed in the right direction.

FRESH

Provide fresh, quality content with SEO in mind

Content is what attracts your customers and prospects, and it is what attracts the search engine bots. Bingo…the bots! I’ll just make the simple point that the bots must find (and like) your content in order for your website to do well in search engine results. And once you are doing well in the search engine results, you will start to see more customers. Building and maintaining your website with SEO as a priority is not only very smart, it’s a necessity. That is the long-story-short.

 

Organic SEO steps can begin as an investment of your time or a combination of your time and that of a hired professional guide. Keywords and other meta tags, proper use of HTML code, social media integration and developing quality backlinks are among the basic actions you can take to begin improving your SEO, organically. Check my post for Tips And A Tool For SEO to get free help with meta tags.

 

The experience of SEO professionals, like Mike Glover here at Click Finders, is an invaluable asset to have on your side. When the time is right, plan to invest in your website’s SEO by hiring Mike and, at the same time, plan to handle the influx of website traffic and customers that you are going to see. I always advocate including SEO planning at the very beginning of every website project.

 

A business blog is the best way to deliver the fresh content and to achieve your SEO goals. Committing to regular blogging is a must. The two best ways to accomplish regular blogging is to do it yourself or to hire a knowledgeable person to do the writing for you.

 

“No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.” -Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs.

Use a fresh look for your website

Avoiding anything with misaligned photos, graphics and/or text content. I know, it sounds odd that I would even bring it up in this day and age… but when you start to take note of how many websites smell like 1995 (or older), or that have the footer’s copyright date showing something pretty stale – and old functionality to match – you will see the beauty of having your website stand out as professional, modern and user friendly.

 

Imagery is a very important consideration. It can include photographs, fonts, art, icons, etc. Opt to pay for quality imagery rather than using clipart, overused stock images or personal snapshots that just don’t make the grade. Know that your customer will form first impressions based on the imagery they see in that first 2-3 seconds, and beyond.

ATTRACTIVE

Invite them to come in! Show them others whose problems have been solved. Provide a call to action or easy way for customers to contact you.

 

Many websites follow the concept of having the business’ contact information on each page. I subscribe to this concept and implement it whenever the website’s layout allows for it and whenever it does not negatively impact the website’s appearance.

 

A call to action, such as signing up for your newsletter, entering your contest or give-away drawing, downloading your free report or coupon, or anything else that your imagination births, can be highly effective ways to reach and retain your customers.

 

Your call to action may see more action if it’s an invitation rather than a pitch; this is a mix of advice and personal opinion on my part. I simply despise the “Sell! Sell! Sell!” approach and will not patronize it. Are you like that, too? Think about which one you respond to more favorably and what you think your customers will prefer.

 

Do these 3 things repeatedly and consistently and you will see results! None of it happens overnight.

 

Think of this: if you don’t do the work to shampoo your hair every day, you end up with bedhead and your hair looks unattractive, right? The solution to that problem is, “lather, rinse, repeat.”

Giving your business website the same attention, regularly, will yield results.

Here are 3 quick bonus tips on how to avoid trouble with your website’s building blocks:

1. Domain name

Expect to pay $10-$15 per year. The free and cheap domain names are rarely free, nor are they cheap when renewal time comes around. Critical consideration: make sure YOU own the domain name – not the company you buy it through, don’t buy through a reseller and make sure you have full control of the administration of the domain name. This is usually accomplished through a control panel at the domain name Registrar.

2. Website Hosting

Expect to pay $100-$120 per year for quality, standard hosting. This should give you a hosting plan that includes unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, email addresses, and the latest releases of MySQL, PHP, as highlights. Be on the lookout for plans with outdated software and for off-shore customer support. I recommend using Dreamhost to make sure ALL your bases are covered. I use them religiously – all of my personal and business needs are hosted at Dreamhost and 90% of my clients use them, too.

3. Website Platform

Expect to pay $0 (yes, zero) for the platform and expect to save hundreds or thousands in website development costs. Advocating WordPress for small businesses not only solves problems for owners and website administrators, but it also allows me to just plain help people. WordPress is free. It’s support community is huge and its themes, plugins, framework options and ever-evolving improvements explain why it is the most widely-used CMS platform in the world. Get it, use it and like it – I did!

 

This year marks a total of more than 14 million installations of self-hosted WordPress, worldwide.

 

Wrapping all three of these together as a single component to be handled by your web guy is the best way to proceed, whenever possible. It allows him to have direct access to what he needs during the build process, it gives you peace of mind that everything is properly coordinated rather than fragmented between entities, and at the end of the project – you own it all!

 

Find more information about the building blocks in this post on my blog: Avoid Feeling Like An Arse: Website Building Blocks


 


 Safehouse Web - Small Business Website WorksAuthor: Scott Kindred is owner of SafeHouse Web in Hollister, California. A trusted friend to small businesses and nonprofit organizations who want help building a professional website and productive online presence. Specializing in WordPress; a generalist in social media and organic SEO, with a sweet tooth for marketing all of it together. Contact Scott today at Safehouse Web.

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How to Build Your Brand Using Social Media

What is your Social Media Platform saying about your brand?

Social Media is more than just an SEO booster or enhancer…it’s a branding opportunity!  In a previous article (Social Media and SEO: How does it Affect Your Rankings?) I wrote about social media and how the interactions that you and your followers / friends have with your social platforms affect your Search Engine Results Page rankings.  It’s great to have social media platforms, but if you are using them JUST for SEO then you better stop and you better stop yesterday!  Social media has grown to a whole new level and negative reviews, comments and negative buzz can kill your social media platform and all of your branding efforts in a matter of days, if not hours in some cases.  Here is an example of how it can work for the good.   

I recently had a bad customer service experience and it caused me stop and think about branding and social media for quite a while the other night.  Well, to be perfectly honest I have had several bad customer service experiences lately.  Let’s face it…customers come to us for value and nothing else.  If you build a strong customer relationship (Brand) it means you have proven that you bring value to them in a way that makes them not want to even think about considering someone else to perform the work / products / services that you perform for them.  But when someone has a bad customer service experience that causes them to consider the relationship and the value they are getting from it…you have lost some major branding ground.

 “Are you kidding me? In this economy?  You value my patronage so little you are willing to allow employees to interact with me and provide a substandard customer service experience that forces me to consider seriously the value of our relationship?”

My experience was simply this…I walked into a well known book store the other day.  It’s a fairly large chain store and very well known.  I shop there often (even have a rewards card) so I knew the layout of the store and went right to area I needed to for the book I was looking for.  I could not find it so I looked around for someone in a green shirt and gold nametag to see if they could help…no one in sight.  I wandered over to a desk where a young lady in a green polo shirt and gold name tag was texting and politely said “excuse me?”.  She did not stop and look up, she finished her text, hit the send button and then closed her phone.  She then looked up and said “can I help you?”.  I explained what I was looking for and asked if the store had a copy.  A quick check of the book name and author revealed that is was in fact…not available in this store.  Surprising since it’s a new release and a NY times best seller, but okay whatever.  The answer I got from the young lady was “nope, not here” looked away and sat back down and opened her phone.  At this point, I walked away…thinking to myself “no worries, I’ll check my fav online book store when I get home!”. And then I left.

“Every single person that interacts with your customers is branding you whether you know it or not.  Every employee, every manager that deals with customer service issues or vendors and even the janitor.  No one is exempt from branding your company to the world.”

As I drove home from this bad customer service experience a few things begin to click with me as I ran through the events in my mind;

  • I had not asked her to check the computer to see if another local store had the book.  Of course she should have offered to do it, but I did not ask either.
  • She did not offer to order the book for me.  Same as number 1…I did not ask her if she could either.

So I decided when I got home to go find these guys on Twitter and let’s see if they can do any better before I just willy nilly order from someone else.  I am after all a loyal customer and have the card to prove it.  So I find the twitter account and notice a couple of things right off the bat.  First, they are active (about 20 posts that day).  Second, they are not just spamming content and links to other content out, they are having actual conversations with customers!  I was encouraged to say the least. 

So I took a chance and sent them this message:

“@companyX just dropped by your XYZ store. U did not have this book (XXX) in stock and employees were not very helpful”

Reply from company:

“@click_finders Sorry to hear that. The book is available on our online store and two others stores close to you. Would u like a link to the store site?”

My reply:

“@companyX no thanks I have it. Just wanted you to know about my experience”

Reply from company

“@click_finders thanks so much for taking the time to let us know! If you decide to order your book from us, please check your DM for a coupon code”

As you can see…this interaction was very positive (for me at least).  It was positive though only because I am a social media NUT and believe in second chances.  How many customers have these guys lost because others who are not as willing to reach out as I was just left and never came back?

“When it comes right down to it…every interaction with a customer or potential customer or even someone who might know a potential customer is a branding opportunity.  Actually, it’s a branding event one way or the other.  You either increase your brand likeability or decrease your brand likeability.  There really is no middle ground here. “

Social media is a powerful tool if you use it properly.  It’s more than just an SEO enhancer, a means to blast your content all over the internet, it’s also an extremely effective branding tool that can make or break a customer’s loyalty.  Imagine what this post would have been about if I had had a bad experience with their twitter account ;o) !  I am sure it would have been quite different then it is right now.

What about you guys?  Ever had a really good or really bad Customer Service experience that changed the way you thought about a particular company or brand?  If so please share in the comments section.


 

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