SEO for small businesses

Unctuous Praise Comment Spam On The Rise

Has your publication noticed a recent rise in comments of approximately 1-4 lines in length filled with over-the-top but totally unspecific praise? Here at the SEOigloo Blog and over at Search Engine Guide, I have noted a rise in these over the past two months. Every day, I am spending time deleting comments that read like this:

Wow, I don’t know how you wrote this! It would take me weeks to write something like this. My girlfriend (brother, cousin, partner) has been looking for this information for a long time, thanks! You are brilliant!

The buttering up is as oily as melted margarine, but it’s the lack of reference to anything written in the article that is a dead giveaway.

Comment spam is as old as…well…comments, and I’ve seen different styles of spam come and go. I think this form might get past bloggers who aren’t paying enough attention because of its mention of relationship (girlfriend, brother, etc.). That almost doesn’t sound like spam, but you can bet it is.

It’s hard to believe people are out there wasting their time spamming comments like this, or worse yet, paying people to do it for them. Well-moderated blogs will simply delete these comments, so the investment of time or money will be wasted, but I guess as long as enough of it is getting by, somebody is finding it worthwhile.

Between this and all of those emails from offshore businesses who keep addressing me as ‘Dear One’, I’m sure wasting time dealing with garbage. How about you? Have you been receiving more comments like these ones lately?

A Social Media Nay-Sayer, A Vegan Lunch Wagon And Beauty From Mars

Posting has been very light here at the SEOigloo Blog, for which I’m sorry, but when you’re working with a ton of great clients at the same time as planting a whole summer’s food supply on the family farm, creative writing has to take a backseat. It’s all good work, and in my few spare moments, I’ve been keeping up with interesting discussions going on around the web. Peter Shankman’s recent article, Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert”, has made some noteworthy waves.

I started a thread at Cre8site in an effort to gauge the reactions of friends and colleagues to this piece that claims it is unnecessary to hire employees in a Social Media capacity. Some valuable opinions are there for your perusal. I personally felt that Mr. Shankman made some good points, but had to differ with his overall position because I see the need, on a weekly basis, for basic training in the use of Social Media tools for small business owners who need to start at step one and be walked through the process. Someone has to teach them, and while ‘expert’ has always been a loaded word in the Internet Marketing sphere, a good teacher is worth his weight in gold when it comes to getting off on the right start, avoiding mistakes and investing time/money where it will be most effective.

The bottom line with social media, though, (and I believe Mr. Shankman would agree with me here) is the bright ideas and excellent customer service that achieve success. Facebook, Twitter…these are tools. It’s what your business does with them that counts, and sometimes consultation with an ‘expert’ is going to be the smartest way for you understand how you can enter the SM arena in a powerful, meaningful and memorable manner.

Do the tools work? Take a look at the rave reviews of the Ste Martaen & Soul Vegetarian Vegan Food Truck that is feeding hungry herbivores all across Chicago. I stumbled across this reviewer’s explanation of how to get your hands on these much-lauded lunches:


Four Easy Steps to (Vegan) Soul Food Heaven:

1. Add Ste Martaen as your friend on Facebook.
2. Tell them where you are.
3. Walk outside (and bring cash – no plastic).
4. Ingest the delicious (vegan) delights issuing forth from their magical food truck.

Just look at all those Facebook entries announcing where the truck can be found in the wild. I’ve recently read the statistic in several sources that 1% of the population (about 3 million) of the USA is now vegan, with several times that number being vegetarian. Clearly, the chefs of Ste Martaen’s have used the tool of Facebook to connect with Chicago’s share of these veggie eaters and everyone involved seems hip to what’s going on.

Did Ste Martaen hire an ‘expert’ or just happen to have someone on staff who knew how best to proceed? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. It’s the use of the tool that counts. Going where your interest group/customer base is and serving them well…these are the ingredients those who have succeeded with Social Media consistently cite as golden. As a 20+ year vegan myself, I cheer for this little company’s smarts and story.

Totally unrelated, but also winning applause from me this week is the website design of JPL’s Mars Exploration Program. Just look at that gorgeous design! I absolutely love the ring-shaped masthead and the colors are intense and shining with space-y coolness. Now, I’d be recommending some more text content on this page if it belonged to you or me, but NASA’s got sitelinks so I’ll just hush up. If you’re looking for website design inspiration, definitely check that out.

There’s much afoot on the web this spring that is worthy of your own thought and time. It’s the efforts and viewpoints of others that so help us to plan and form our own. Everything you read, everything you see can be put to work in some way for your own small business. I really believe that. When you run a small business, I know it can be easy to get so busy that you fall behind on the reading, but try to jump back in there when you can. Fine, free ideas abound. I’ve got mud on my boots and squash seeds in my hair, but I’m definitely tuned in.

Formal Rollout Of Our Hourly Internet Marketing Consultation Service!

hourly web design answers and internet marketing consultation

If You Could Spend An Hour Chatting With An Internet Marketer, What Questions Would You Ask?

Whether you’re totally new to the web and need guidance with the very first steps of getting your website up and running or you’ve been around the Internet block but are standing at a fork in the road, trying to make an important decision about some aspect of your online presentation, chances are you’ve got questions that you would love to have answered by a professional. For years, we’ve been doing hourly consultation with clients who a) need help with decision making, or, b) don’t have the budget to invest in a large contract with our firm, but have sincerely valued the chance to get a couple of hours of professional input on their ideas and queries.

Due to demand for this type of simple consultancy, we’re making this service official! As of this week, we’re formally rolling our our Hourly Consultation Service. We’re here to consult with you about:

Website Design
Website SEO
Local Search Engine Optimization
Local Search Marketing
User Reviews & Reputation Management
Copywriting
Blogs & Blogging
Human Usability
Choosing A Good Domain Name
Choosing Good, Affordable Website Hosting
Other Questions About Succeeding On The Web

For nearly a decade, Solas Web Design has been strongly committed to small business projects and small business owner education. It’s our hope that this affordable service – just $100/hr. – will enable any small business professional to ask us his/her important questions and get honest, helpful answers. Let us listen to your needs, save you money and headaches by helping you avoid making costly mistakes and provide you with actionable answers that will get your business on the road to success.

Get Complete Details About Our Hourly Consultation Service Now!

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Photo Credit: Asane

Starting An Internet Business To Make Your Comeback As An Earner

Starting an Internet Business
My gosh, you were sharp. You built the nation. Every day, you got up, put on the suit and tie and gave your all to the boss, safe in the knowledge that when the time came, far off in the future, the company would take care of you. You worked through Nixon walking out of office in disgrace, man walking on the moon in triumph, the strange days of the oil crisis and the heady excitement of a brave new computerized world, a la Silicon Valley.

Whether you entered the workforce with hopeful enthusiasm or a pain in the neck, you quickly learned that your earnings depended upon keeping the corporate machine running smoothly. Maybe you were lucky and your work had dignity, or maybe your boss was a loon and nothing but those pay checks kept your whole office from rising up and throwing him out a 10th storey window. Maybe you really enjoyed your job and the chance to put your skills to work, solving problems and getting things done. You may have been winging it the whole time, or you may have had your retirement planned out to the last nickel, but you knew that your loyalty to the company would be rewarded when it counted. Your bright, fresh mind, years of your life, and perhaps a considerable bit of your soul went into the deal.

And then it happened.

Starting your second business

Standing at attention in the office at 123 Main Street, American Town, USA, you were told that your job had left the country and would now be performed in India. Clean out your desk. Escort to the door, just in case you might do something. Or, perhaps someone made a mistake and let the janitor vacuum up your 401(k) with the office debris. Or, perhaps you survived downsizing, outsourcing and theft, only to get caught in the game of Monopoly in which the whole nation lost and the bandits disappeared over the horizon, waving their get out of jail free cards and, queerly, millions of dollars of thank-you money from the government. You came home one evening, took off your tie, sat down on the couch and asked yourself, “What the hell was all that about?”

What happened to the loyalty that was supposed to pay off? Did you really sit through all of those meetings about being a team player, a top salesman, a winner, for this? You grit your teeth through decades of office stress for what, come again? You had every reason to believe you were building the nation, but you certainly didn’t give years of your life to build this. Whether you lost your job or have sort-of retired, and decades are passing before your mind’s eye with a ponderous question mark hanging over them, you are sharing the experiences I have heard described by so many people who are now in their middle years. However you look at it, whomever you blame, this country has failed a huge number of workers who believed that diligence, strong work ethics and company loyalty would pay off in the end. Who could blame you for feeling ripped off or deciding that the whole human drama of progress was one big charade?

But there is one thing you learned in those years as an American worker that remains perfectly true. Our system still places the highest value on earners. You have only to look at your electricity bills, your car payment, and your rent or mortgage payment to see that the ability to maintain some kind of autonomy and mobility will only be possible if you earn. With the wolf at the door, some of you will fight your way back into the workforce for a second, third, forth of fifth move in your career and you will be relieved and grateful to be earning again. With half the town turning out for every job opportunity, you are lucky if you get hired. Conversely, some of you will suspect that you are failing to get every job you apply for because the decision maker thinks you are ‘old’ – that unspoken failing. Well, don’t take this judgment of your worth and potential. Just don’t take it.

All those years clocking in may have given you more than a paycheck, and this is what I’m encouraging you to think about. Whether in the office of out of it, the years you’ve got in your back pocket may represent knowledge that would be of value to others – on the web.

Perhaps what you can share is actually something you did in the work world, or perhaps it’s the hobby, area of study or specialty that you never had enough time for when you were clocking 9 to 5. More and more Americans are examining their knowledge, skills and talents and discerning whether these assets can be turned into an Internet-based business that can create a living wage or a supplemental income for them in the coming years. Don’t be taken in by the get-rich-quick articles you will find elsewhere on the web, promising something for nothing. You are certainly too smart for that. Rather, the most important thing you need to learn about starting an Internet business is this:

You’ve Got To Have A Really Great Idea.

It isn’t loyalty to a boss, not causing hassle or being a team player that earns money on the web; it is really great ideas. So, your very first task in considering how you can make a comeback as an earner on the Internet is to hit upon a viable idea. This means making lists. It means doing keyword research. It means looking to see if someone has already succeeded with your idea. It means determining how you can do something better than anyone else has.

As crowded as the Internet is these days, you will find that so many great ideas are already taken and being utilized well, so the competitive nature that was encouraged in you in the corporate America of yesteryear will serve you well today. You’ve got to be smart and you’ve got to be a competitor and you’ve got to provide something that people really value. It doesn’t matter whether you end up selling paperclips in thousands of sizes or teaching people how to yodel with virtual lessons; the bottom line will be familiar to you as supply meeting demand. Get the great idea. See if there’s a demand. Meet it. That’s the task that’s in front of you, and I won’t understate the difficulty of succeeding, but I know first-hand that success is totally possible.

our web design client
Need a little inspiration? Take a look at the terrific website of our client, George Beck of Fisher’s Laser Carvers. As George tells it on his website, he viewed his retirement from the corporate world as his chance to let something really near to his heart take center stage in life: woodworking. George’s really great idea was to use his skills to create top quality wood pieces for the public and he tells me orders are coming in so fast, he may have to hire elves to help him at Christmas this year. You can do what George Beck has, with your own area of expertise or skill. There is nothing I applaud more than that first brave step onto the web, and this is what I have made a business of helping people like you to do.

Your Comeback Checklist
Everyone’s procedure for starting an Internet business will be a little different, but here is a basic outline of questions for you to find the answers to.

1. What skills, talents, knowledge, hobbies or interests do you have?
2. Do you have something to give that people want? Start doing keyword research to find the answer.
3. Will you sell a physical or virtual product, or simply educate people?
4. Can you compete? Is there an opening you can fill, or can you best your competitors with a superior effort?
5. Will you make money by making the product, sourcing the product from elsewhere and reselling it, or by writing materials and monetizing them with something like Google AdSense, thereby making your money from advertising?
6. What is your budget? How much money can you spend on product/content development, the acquisition of hosting and a domain name and the acquisition of a professional website that will enable the public to take your venture seriously?
7. Who will be on your team? Do you plan to do it all yourself, learning the disciplines of design, search engine optimization, human usability, copywriting and marketing and putting these to work for your venture, or will you assemble experts in these fields to be a part of the team you are building?
8. Are you prepared to work at this for 1+ years before you begin seeing a profit? Like any other business, you must establish yourself and you must be capable of paying your bills while you work for the success of your new business.

Being realistic about what it will take to succeed on the Internet is essential. Every month, I hear from hopeful folks who want to take their business idea online in a professional manner but have no budget set aside for this. Doing this right will not be free, and while it will certainly cost less than opening a brick-and-mortar store or renting an office building, you must be able to make a reasonable investment. The wonderful thing about 2nd careers on the Internet is that they often offer golden opportunities to earn a living while doing something you’re actually really interested in – a scenario frequently totally absent in the corporate world – but this doesn’t mean you should treat your business like a hobby. If you’re serious about your success (if you really want to earn money), you’ve got to treat your plan seriously, and that dictates a genuine investment of your mental powers, time and money. Put on a tie if it will help. Hold a board meeting – even if the only attendees are you and your dogs. Find the great idea, get fired up and go out there and win. But this time, do it your way.

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Ready to do business on the web your way? Give us a call: (707) 981-7943. We root for independent thinkers and have helped tons of small businesses on the road to success.

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Photo Credits:
huffstutterrobertl
yourdon
cttc

Seeds Of Compassion

free tomato seed offer

Here’s some hopeful news we have to share and which may do a bit to restore your faith in humanity. Our highly valued clients of longstanding, Dan and Linda Busch of 2BSeeds.com, are doing something very real to help American families get through lean times. 2Bseeds is offering a packet of free tomato seeds to anyone who is unemployed or who is trying to plant a vegetable garden to help feed his or her family this year.

Everyone talks about the need to help others, but it’s beautiful to see a company come up with a small yet utterly meaningful way to actually do this! The Busch family’s great-grandparents did a similar act of kindness back in the years of Great Depression, giving away free tomatoes to hungry folks at the farmers’ market. The wonderful thing about this present day offer 2BSeeds is making is that these tomato seeds are an heirloom red tomato, meaning gardening families can save some of the seed for next year from this summer’s tomato crop, further increasing their future food security. It’s a little bit like the adage of giving a man a fish, or teaching a man to fish: the effects of this simple gift from this caring family could be very far reaching for their customers. We are really proud to know such good people.

Praise and thanks are already rolling into this Colorado-based seed company’s inboxes. Here’s a quote from one happy fellow:

2BSeeds,
I just wanted to stop for a minute and thank you for all that you have done for me.

I have always loved having a garden but the demands of work and other responsibilities consume so much time that there are limits to the time someone can spend in their garden. In August last year the company I worked for closed its doors for ever. So the foods that we got from our garden were more important than ever before. I normally have a limited fall garden – but with my time freed up – I decided to put in a large fall garden. That is when I first ordered from 2BSeeds. My order came promptly and I got to work…

Here in Eastern Tennessee March is when you start working the soil for your spring garden. I am still out of work so money is tight. I had to wait to order my seeds until we had a few extra dollars. When I went to 2BSeeds to place my order I saw that 2BSeeds had an offer to help out those out of work with some free tomatoes seeds and a 40% discount coupon. This was very exciting because of my limited budget. If I could get a 40% discount on my seed purchase I could get all of the seeds I needed – not just the few I could afford.

I emailed 2BSeeds at custserv@2bseeds.com to see if I qualified for the program. Linda wrote me back right away to let me know that I could use the discount program. I felt truly blessed. The discount allowed me to receive $90 worth of the best quality seeds for only $50!

There are a lot of people talking about helping their fellow man in today’s hard times. But 2BSeeds is ACTUALLY doing something about it. THANK YOU SO MUCH 2BSEEDS!!!

You have earned a loyal customer for life!

Jerry Henricks, Russellville, TN

You just don’t get emails like that every day unless you’re doing something very right. Solas Web Design congratulates 2BSeeds for this fine humanitarian effort and we want to share this here in case any of our clients are tearing up their lawns to put in veggies to feed their families this year. Stop by 2Bseeds.com and check out their free tomato seed offer today. Something to really smile about!

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