There are many companies that advertise they will increase the visits to your website. Chances are you have received emails from "individuals' that have found issues with your website and they promise to increase the number visits to your website if you hire them. From our experience, the Pro's are they will increase visits to your website, the Con's are many of the visits are not real people, or not people interested in your business. In other words, increased website visits do not translate to sales.
It is important to understand some basic, key methods that web search engines employ for their users.
Geography - Probably the most important is relevancy of any web search you conduct as related to your specific location. Maybe you search for car repair. Chances are the search results will be for car mechanics near you at the time you conduct your search. Of course this is of great benefit for the user as they don't have to search through car mechanics that in California when they are in Georgia on the side of the road.
User information - Search engines also utilize information that is known about the user. This information includes geography, previous searches, and the type of sites you have visited in the past - which pages you opened the most based on a search. For example; yesterday you searched for "flower pots". Today you enter a search term, "10" pot". Chances are the results you receive from a search engine will be focused on flower pots instead of cooking pots, or crock pots.
Algorithms - Using various algorithms, based on the user, search engines scour the Internet for websites with the most relevant content to what they project will be what the user is looking for. This is a great advantage for the user as search results are focused on the user.
Getting additional traffic to your website is specific to the user conducting the search and the search engines interpretation of what the user is looking for. So if you sell flower pots, and you include keywords, site content specific to flower pots, you won't get web site visits for individuals looking for cooking pots. Employing a company to assist you in developing your website content so that users can find content specific to them is a great idea, but beware of companies that offer to increase your web site visits only.
Focus on your content, the text you use, and include location information if serving a specific area to help increase your web site visits by people that will be interested in what you have to offer rather than multiple website visits by individuals, or programs, that have no interest in your products. The goal is to have your website displayed in search results for users that have an interest in your products and services. A task that search engine providers are already working on.
These are our observations and musings only presented as food for thought, not necessarily fact other than they are factual in our immediate environment.
Over the past several years, many large retailers that have long been the mainstay of the retail industry seem to be fading. Most recently Sears appears to be heading in that direction. Malls, once a focal point of shopping and social life are closing as they lose their "anchor" stores such as JCPenney, and Sears. Anchor stores created foot traffic for smaller retailers that would compete to have locations next the bigger stores.
What is happening? From our observation most recent changes are founded on convenience for the consumer. Product delivery, technology, and the ability to shop wisely using the Internet to research purchases appear to be driving consumer behavior.
Consider, depending on where you live, you can buy groceries, make other product purchases, even visit your doctor for minor ailments, all without leaving your home. This is convenience in saving you time, and often money.
Over the next few years consumers will continue to turn to convenience in purchasing products they need or want. Most researchers still predict that brick and mortar stores are still here to stay, but retailers will need to turn to convenience to meet consumer demands. You may have seen a few of these early trends to make shopping more convenient whether it is making your purchases online and having them ready for pickup when you arrive at the store, to retailers offering free delivery in addition to allowing you to complete your purchase in the store.
Improvements in product delivery are shaping the consumer experience. At the beginning of a work week a consumer can make online purchases and have them delivered within a few days. Grocery stores are joining this trend as well allowing you to make online purchases and having them delivered to your home. For the busy worker this is a great way to save time by avoiding driving to the store and standing in long checkout lines.
Technology is one of the main drivers in consumer trends, impacting consumers from online shopping, researching products before they buy, and the providing the ability to use voice search, our own digital assistants to help us identify and make our purchases - e.g. Google Home, Amazons Alexis, etc. Consumers are now entering a phase where interacting with technology using their voice is adding additional conveniences. In time, as these services expand, consumers are likely to turn to technology more and more as a digital assistant.
Consider the last major purchase you made. Chances are you researched your purchasing options using the Internet whether researching product options, availability, and reading reviews of the products you chose to purchase. Search engines are making it easier for us to find products that are not only close to us in terms of geography, but offering online purchase options as well. Consumers are turning more and more to the Internet for information before they buy and what they find is influencing their purchasing decisions.
So what does this mean for small business owners? Many small businesses are already utilizing the Internet and other technologies to provide convenience for their customers whether making online purchases for delivery to their homes, or allowing them to book appointments online for services from hair appointments, to making purchases prior to arriving at the store.
Looking ahead, small business owners need to further incorporate technology, delivery, and pre-purchase for store pickup options to meet the needs of their customers. Consider how to make shopping more convenient for your customers utilizing the tools and resources they have available to them whether it is store delivery, product information available online for research, and purchasing products for delivery to their homes and offices.
If you are considering starting a small business the type of web page you should consider for your business can be a simple decision. Consider that your small business must have a web page. Why? Can you find your phone book right now? If you are going to try and find a business, more than likely, (over 85%), you are going to your smartphone, tablet or computer to find a business.
Here are some basic web page styles you should consider creating for your business:
All websites MUST!!!!!! No matter which website style you choose, you should include the following in your website creation:
Create a website for your small business that suits your business type. Change it up as your business needs change. Give thought and then care-and-feeding once your website is started to increase your chances to increase sales.
Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for a year or two it is important to look to the future, imagine what your business will look like in a few years. Will it have grown, have added products and services?
There are a lot of opportunities for you to prepare your business today to meet future growth.
1. Educate yourself - Whether you are a service or product based business, now is the time to begin learning more about how to operate your business, and new innovations in your product or service line. Adding skills to your personal business inventory will prepare you to grow your business. Consider other areas of your business such as accounting practices, supervision/management, marketing, or learning new skills to make you more productive and efficient.
2. Look for opportunities to upgrade - Do you have a production machine that is nearing it's productive life cycle, or have business technologies that are nearing the time for replacement? Consider an upgrade that will help you improve your business rather than replacing with the same equipment/technology. Having the infrastructure already in place will help you meet business growth with little effort.
3. Build capital - When you start seeing profits, put some away for a rainy day and for when you are ready to expand your business. We call these funds our "Fall Back, Fall Forward" money. Having the necessary capital without having to borrow is a safer, not to mention a less stressful way to invest in your business. Building capital, business savings, will help you in so many ways. Also, investing in your business before you grow can provide some interesting economics for your business. Consider taking on new product lines without having a large upfront investment because you already prepared for it.
4. Be mindful of "pop-up" opportunities - Depending on your business, there may be opportunities that just materialize. Maybe a competing consulting service is going out of business, or a local retail competitor. This may the opportunity your business needs to grow. Some call it environmental scanning. Take a few hours to scan your business environment to identify opportunities, and of course risks so you can plan accordingly. You might be able to take on clients from failed or closing businesses, or buy up supplies from a competitor to help you grow your product line.
Overall, practice, "Think Now for Tomorrow" - As you navigate the business world, thinking about what you are doing today, as compared to what you will need to do tomorrow, will allow you to make strategic planning decisions.
For example: One of our clients who had been in business for about a year ask us to review their existing technology and business infrastructure to determine what it would look like when their business expanded. We provided a picture of what it would look like. As service contracts expired, they upgraded, they invested more in their marketing, and technology. We assisted in developing company policies, mapping key processes, employee training programs, and procedures that would accommodate growth. Eighteen months later their business did grow exponentially and they were prepared. One employee that had been with the company since the beginning commented, "It's really hard to remember what it was like the first year we started because we always new it would be like it is today."
We think the key to their growth was their vision that they would in fact grow their business even when they were small. They never considered they would not. Keeping your vision on the future while keeping an eye on what you can do today to prepare is a great way to grow.
It doesn’t matter what type of small business you have, there are office tasks you have to complete to operate successfully. In this article we are going to discuss some key operations that you need to have in place to make your business run effectively, efficiently, and, most importantly, economically. We call this the three “E’s” to successful small businesses.
Method for tracking your business expenses and income. Maybe you are starting with only a few customers and keeping handwritten or developing your own spreadsheet seems sufficient. In time, as business grows, and your memory fades, you need to have a method to easily track your finances. Plan for business growth at the start with a method, or program that will meet future growth needs. Accurate financial records are needed for the dreaded tax season and to ensure you are being profitable. Several programs are available that are free and those you pay for, that will help you track your expenses.
Again, no matter the business you need the appropriate technology to operate your business. Technology includes devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, or technology specific to your business offerings. The list goes on and on and greatly expands depending on the business you have. It is critical that you budget for a technology refresh throughout the life of your business. As technology advances occur rapidly, you need to refresh your technology on a regular recurring basis, often every 3-4 years. Refreshing your technology improves efficiency. Reduced time waiting on slow computers, or having to develop work-around's where technology outpaces your existing devices.
Internet Presence & Management
In this category we include email, web pages, and even social media if you are so inclined. Having a business web page and social media presence increases your reach to customers. Those that do business with you on a regular basis, and potential new customers often look online for contact information, to learn more about your business. Forget the idea that having a web page will increase your business overnight. From our experience, word-of-mouth advertising, then being easily found on the web is what builds your business. Chances are you will need business email to send invoices, communicate with customers, and to receive information about your business.
In any small business you will have suppliers that provide services and products to keep your business going. Develop relationships, shop around for suppliers that can provide you with discounts. If you are a consultant that travels, consider using the same motels to get preferred status as well as business travel discounts, and ease of tracking travel expenses. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts in the beginning or if you have been a long time customer. Reducing your supply costs increases your profit margin.
Hard copy and electronic files need to be handled in a consistent manner to increase your efficiency, reducing time to locate what you need when you need it. Take time to develop a logical filing system, one that is not overly complicated. Include email filing as well. (See article on Email Organization) Include working methods that improve your effectiveness in accomplishing office tasks. Schedule time each day or a few times a week to focus on the filing and work systems to keep your business operating smoothly.
All of these ideas, or considerations, will help you operate your business effectively, and efficiently, which equals working more economically, saving you time and money. Set a reminder on your calendar every six months, maybe with a link to this article, to review each area presented and see where you can improve.
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950 Eagles Landing Pkwy, Suite 422
Stockbridge, GA 30281