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Small business is big business for the owner

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For small business owners, marketing their businesses is a daily challenge.
Every day you have to do something to keep your business under the eyes of potential customers. And you have to do it at the stage where the client is receptive to your message, not while they are busy with other important decisions.

This is especially important if your business is located in a small town, where every possible customer is important. Or your customer, buyer or guests, may come from anywhere in the world – and you have no idea from where.

If you can’t be where your potential business is at the time the decision maker makes the buying decision, there is something you can do the ensure your business is one of the choices when the decision is made.

You can use your Internet (online) presence to be your 24-hour information provider and salesperson.
As a business owner, your challenge is how you will be found between the thousands of websites, social media profiles and blogs.

There is only one way: you have to be found when a potential customer searches for your product or service. And the only effective way is that your online footprint or web presence must be wide and visible enough to give you a fair chance of being seen.

How do you do that?
Your presence: a website, a blog, a social media profile, photos, business directories, forums, a mailing list.

Actions required:

  • have a search engine optimised website with optimised content;
  • blog at regular intervals providing potential customers with useful information. No, not advertising, although you itch to tell them how good and affordable your service or product is;
  • create and optimise your social media profiles and actively manage them;
  • post photos wherever you can, but make sure they are properly named and optimized so that the search engines can index them;
  • build a mailing list by ensuring that you get people’s email addresses whenever your business encounter them. If you have enough addresses to require bulk emailing, use a proper mailing service so people can unsubscribe to ensure you don’t market to people who have no interest in your product or service;
  • use free business listings (directories) to widen your business’ online footprint without any expense;
  • Make sure you know what the “sales funnel” is. This will give you the background to form an opinion of where your future clients may be in the buying cycle, so you know what message they may be susceptible to.

It’s not easy, nor is it cheap to promote your small business.

It is possible and affordable for a business owner who is prepared to plan his time properly, set aside 30 minutes early morning or late night, and talk to the world about a topic that is dear to him.

It requires discipline and a serious approach to business.

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What is the nr 1 problem in a small business?

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f you run out of money, you don’t have a business.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

I work mainly with small to medium businesses, and most of the more than 25 000 businesses on our business directory, MyCityInfo, are small to medium businesses. And whenever we speak to them about their headaches, cash flow is number one.

Or rather, the lack of cash flow. Because in a small business, cash flows out three times as fast as it flows in.

Search the Internet for “small business problems” or any such term, and you find as many views as there are writers. Most do not start with cash flow. Many, especially financial magazines, get their comments from consultants who come up with “solutions” such as “service will solve all your small business problems”, or “get a mentor”, or “get more visitors to your website”, or whatever the consultant sells.

I think we should start at “why did you start your business?”. Then you can expect entrepreneurs to enthusiastically address you at length about how it is their passion to sell what they make or do. That is not my experience.

Most small business owners started their businesses because they could not get a job – especially in South Africa, because of a variety of factors. Entrepreneurs also start new businesses because they want to make more money, have more freedom to plan their lives, or think because their product or service is important to them, it should also be important to potential buyers.

None of the three are considered valid reasons by people who sell advice to small business owners. But that is exactly why people start their businesses, and if consultants, advisers and academics do not accept that, their advice and support will not help the entrepreneur at all.

Add to this that advice is not free. So, whoever helps small business owners to successfully plan and manage their businesses, have businesses themselves that need to be profitable. That is why so many small business owners looking for advice, are frustrated.

If the solutions to my problems, and the advice I get, all relate to factors that are not my greatest obstacles, then there must be something wrong with me. Whether I need to practise conventional advice such as “the client is always right” (which is not true), or “networking is the way to get business”, (which is often applied the wrong way) or “sponsor local events to get exposure” (although I don’t have money), none of those helps me in any way as long as I don’t have money in my pocket to pay for whatever I need (it could be this month’s groceries – which is another way to say that I need to pay myself a salary).

How can you pay yourself a salary when you don’t have money?

Oh, that’s easy! Haven’t you read about the successful start-up where the owner did not take a a salary for three years? Only questions I have is: what did he eat, and where did he stay? And the answer is that they all had either cash in the bank or a super-duper family, or other support structure.

It’s nonsense that you can work without an income. It is true that you can work without an income from your business, but then you have to have another source.

Now, with that little rant, let’s return to cash flow.

In the US, cash flow, or the absence of cash flow, is the main reason why small businesses fail. It is probably the same in South Africa.

Cash flow problems, if I understand the advisers and solution providers correctly, are a combination of factors such as high overhead expenses, slow paying customers, too much inventory, too much bad debt or too low gross margins.

What if you started your business because you had no other avenues to exploit?

You cannot find a job (in South Africa often because of racial legislation), you are too inexperienced, or too old (the company can get a younger – less expensive – person to do the job) or whatever the reason. So what do you do if you have only your skills?

You get involved in the family business, if there is one, or you start your own business. But the one thing you will probably not have enough of, is cash.

Try the bank or whoever finance businesses, and you will find out that money is only available to the entrepreneur who does not need it. There are, of course, loan sharks who charge maximum interest. But if you use exorbitant expensive loans to solve you problem of no security, or to keep your cash flow running, you will run into difficulties that this article cannot solve.
So what do you do?

I don’t have the solution for you, that will work just for you in your unique circumstances.

The best advice I have come across was a quote by a venture capitalist who said: if you don’t make a profit, you don’t have a business.

When I did the research for this article, I found why some people say that the Internet is the biggest collection of bull dust. Most advisers give advice in order to sell something else. Which does not mean it’s bad advice. But read and listen with a critical mindset.

It does help to do some reading to get your mind working on the solution to your “profit problem” or cash flow obstacle. A good place to start are entrepreneur websites. Just don’t believe everything you read. Especially on Youtube you may find that the exuberant excitement of the presenter is sometimes used to hide flimsy content.

So, let’s assume you have a business, but you find it difficult to keep your cash flowing in a healthy way.

A good start when dealing with a problem or obstacle is to eliminate the negative influences first. Anything that threatens or cancels out the result you strive for, is a negative influence.

In a cash flow problem in a small business, the threats would be things like inadequate sales, overspending by the owner, bad debtor management.

The main threat will be inadequate sales. If you don’t sell enough of your product or service, you cannot generate enough money to cover the expenses or the cash outflow.

If you don’t make a profit, you don’t have a business.

The first step towards healthy cash flow will then be to sell enough. And that is exactly where we often see small businesses fail.
It is a vicious cycle:
• start a business based on whatever you know or have experience in;
• try to sell the product or service without sales experience or skill, or try to sell a product or service for which there is not enough demand;
• generate inadequate sales;
• result in inadequate cash;
• business falls behind with payments;
• owner injects money into the business from other sources;
• eventually money runs out and business fails.

Which is an elaborate way of saying that cash flow problems in micro and small businesses quite often are founded in an absence of sales skills.

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What is the purpose of your website?

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Designers don’t tell you because they don’t know and, business owners don’t realise that a website can be used in any one of two ways.

You may be a locally focused small business that only needs a place on the Internet where you can direct prospective clients to see what products or services you offer.

You sell locally, so many of your clients are people who you have met or know from your community channels on social media or organisations you belong to. You will then be more interested in a website as a showcase and less about search engine optimisation.

If you sell nationally or internationally, you will be much more dependent on search because your prospective clients don’t know you exist. They need to find you on the Internet via Google so they become aware of your existence, and the products or services you provide.

Decide where your market is, so you will know what type of website you need and how you will market it.

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Your brand is not your logo

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If you scour the Internet or read business publications, you will quickly realise that the buzz-word of our times is “branding”.

Your brand is what people think of youMany clever people motivates the business owner to brand him or her self, in order to distinguish them and their businesses from the competition. If a business has a brand, it follows logically (according to the advisers) that you have something which people will remember and which enables people to distinguish you from your competitors.

I have no argument with those theories.

What I want to draw your attention to, is that most business owners act as if their logo is their brand. Advertising, design, printing and signage companies all tell you that you need a distinctive logo to brand yourself and distinguish your business from others. And they often use large brands such as Coca Cola and a variety of beer companies as examples.

Branding is more than a logo

A brand is much more than a logo.

A logo is part of the branding toolbox, but it is not a brand in itself.

A brand is everything you do that distinguishes you from competitors and it includes logos, colours and other advertising.

But most important and most neglected, is the fact that your brand is what people think of you. Coca Cola is probably one of the strongest and most enduring brands of all times, but when Coke changed their recipe, the business suffered, despite it being such a strong brand.

Much has been written about this episode, but it clearly indicates that a brand in the mind of the consumer should not be tampered with, despite what market research may indicate. The Coke event also illustrates that a brand lives in the mind of the consumer, not in a logo.

A logo, colours, advertising material and all other marketing aids, should work together to create a distinctive image in the mind of the consumer. That image is your brand, and because it lives in the minds of people, it is emotion-based, not reason-based.

The emotion your brand raises in people when they are exposed to your brand, is your brand, regardless of your logo or what you think or wish people should think of you.

In my introductory course to social media, The Time-saving Social Media Course there is a fairly detailed discussion of what your brand is, and what distinguishes brands like Coca-Cola and Red Bull.

What the small business owner should concern herself with, is to create a brand that will survive the requirement that your brand is what people say about you when you are not there.

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How would Socrates sell my business?

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https://medium.com/@joshuashawnmichaelhehe/the-father-of-philosophy-50ad28cc586e

The Greek philosopher Socrates is known (via the writings of his student, Plato), for teaching by asking questions.

If I asked you about your business, you would explain to me everything that you consider important about your business. You would actually try to sell me on your product or service by giving me the information you think I wanted, or needed, to know to make a decision.

That is probably also how you think about your business. We think about our businesses in “characteristic terms”, meaning that we verbalise our business in terms of what it sells. We don’t think of our businesses in terms of what it does for a potential client.

The small business owner should think in terms of asking questions to find the answers to sell. As business owners, we should think about our business in “answer terms”:

  • What question does my product or service answers?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • What difficulty does it make easier for the potential client?
  • Why would people use my product or service?
  • Why wouldn’t they use my product or service?
  • How can you use my product or service to solve your difficulty?
  • When is my product or service most valuable to the customer?
  • Who may have a need for my product or service?
  • Where is my product/service most valuable/effective?
  • What “problem” does my product/service solve?
  • What will convince my potential customer to buy my product/service?
  • Who influences the decision maker who must decide to buy my product/service?
  • What conversations go on in the mind of my potential customer before she makes a decision about my product/service?
  • How can I increase the number of buyers of my product/service?
  • How can I increase the amount spent by existing customers?
  • How can I increase the frequency potential customers use my product/service?
  • How can I get old customers to use my product/service again/repeatedly?
  • What is the difference to my customer before and after she has used my product/service?
  • How can I make my product/service useful to a larger group of people?
  • Who can help me sell my product/service? (Testimonials)
  • Once you know the questions, you can formulate the answers.

It is interesting that we talk about our businesses in terms what are important to us.

That may be because we accept that what is important to us, is also important to a potential customer. That could obviously not be true because the seller and the buyer are on different sides of the event. The business of our business is not to serve us but to serve a potential customer. That is the reason why our product or service exists. The WHY of my business.

When we think or talk about our business, we tend to think about what we sell. The client thinks about what need it fulfils. We think in terms of the price. The customer thinks in terms of the value.

Client: I am looking for an office Agent: I am an agent (I “sell” office space) Alternative: Tell me what you need in an office? (What value are you looking for?)

Socratic questions could be divided into six types.

It is for the small business owner to find the questions that will give her the answers that she can sell to potential customers:

  • Understanding or clarifying questions e.g. what is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Assumption challenging questions e.g. how could to prove or disprove that?
  • Evidence examining questions e.g. how do you know that?
  • Alternative perspective questions e.g. who could be affected and what would they say?
  • Consequence questions e.g. what if you are wrong?
  • Questions about the question e.g. what else might I ask?

Image source

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If you lose your reputation, your business is dead

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Your online reputation is probably only second in importance to prominence on the Internet.

People don’t buy from you unless they trust you.

There are many advisers, coaches and self-proclaimed gurus on the Internet, and some of them have such a prominence that their online footprint drowns out the competition. They usually have two things the small business owner does not have – deep pockets and teams who promote them around the clock.

If your reputation becomes just as prominent as your name, your business will only survive if you have a good reputation. If you have a bad online reputation, high prominence could kill your business. Many gurus have prominence but their reputation is difficult to evaluate because they use aggressive promotion to dictate what is visible on the Internet about them.

The small business owner does not have that luxury which means your reputation becomes more important than prominence.

You have little control over your reputation, but there is a way in which to control it. It is easy to define but difficult to attain, mainly because your reputation is largely dictated by the lowest common denominator. That dominator is the most negative testimonial available.

People use the worst testimonial to define what is the worst they can expect from your product or service. Then they use the other testimonials and information to balance the negative. If the balance between negative and positive views of your business is acceptable, they will do business with you.

Reputation is what the world thinks of you.

It is said that reputation is what people say of you when you are not present.

When you deal with clients or customers, reputation needs to be earned, but is eventually conferred by those who use your products or services. It means reputation must be earned every day.

Business owners try to manage their reputations by managing what information becomes public. That is an old attitude that were only effective where even small businesses could manipulate the flow of information by using advertising budgets and personal connections to influence what the local newspaper wrote about them.

On the Internet, you need to be very large and have very deep pockets to exercise that kind of control. Even then, success is not guaranteed.

The small business owner benefits more from avoiding the use of tricks, and aiming for delivering a product or service that makes a good story which clients want to spread. It is in fact the preferred method because small business owners cannot divest themselves from their business as easily as the owner of a multi national business. A small business is such an integral part of who the small business owner is, that the two becomes one. That is why small business owners often experience criticism of their business as personal criticism.

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Social media marketing tools

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There are a range of social media marketing platforms. There are very little, if any, social media selling platforms.

The fact that you sold your second hand fridge by posting it on your local Facebook group, does not make Facebook a social selling platform. A test for a successful platform is whether you can repeatedly act successfully. In other words, whether you can build a business on it. Some social platforms may be a contributor to a company’s sales, but rarely is it the sole selling platform.

If your small business post a sales message on social media and people go to your website to buy or book, it makes the social platform a marketing platform, and your website the selling platform.

Social media is a conversation tool. Most people and businesses use it as a broadcast tool. But their reach as broadcasters are very limited.

If you understand the difference between marketing and sales, and you use social media for what is is, you can have business success. Social media grew to what it is because people have a need to communicate, which, for average individuals, mean to be heard. Dale Carnegie proved long ago that people who listen, are considered good conversationalists, while people who talk are considered boring.

Social media does not consist of audiences. Audiences are passive receivers. Social media consists of conversations. People who converse are active users. Most businesses fail at social media because they treat it as a sales tool, not a marketing tool.

Sales is about the exchange of money for your product or service. Marketing is about developing a market for your product within which a sale can take place. Sales is based on the perceived value a product or service has for a buyer. Marketing is about the trustworthiness a brand enjoys in the mind of a customer.

If you want to sell, don’t use social media platforms, or rather, use them if you want to fool yourself that you are doing marketing. If you try to sell where people search for solutions, you will mostly be considered a push marketer or a spammer.

If you want to do marketing:
  • identify your market,
  • identify your probable buyer in that market,
  • choose your social media tool or platform where your buyers are,
  • observe for what difficulties they seek solutions,
  • engage with them,
  • entice them to visit your website or other selling platform for solutions to their difficulties, do business with them.
Social media tools by utility value:
  • Facebook – conversation, information
  • Twitter – alerts (breaking news), influence, awareness
  • Linkedin – the business facebook, blogging, job and employee search
  • Youtube – influencing, information, illustration
  • Instagram – visual, conversation, influence
  • Pinterest – visual, information sharing, search
  • Quora – footprint, information
  • Blogging – influencing, information, communication, brand awareness
  • Email – communication, information
  • Google MyBusiness – information, footprint, brand building
  • Google Maps – information, footprint
  • WhatsApp – communication
  • Periscope – information, brand building
  • Digg – information, footprint
  • Website – product information, contact, brand building
  • Hootsuite – organisation

Social media marketing tools is one of the sections in my “Time-saving social media course” as well as my advanced social media course for small business owners, “How to learn social media in 15 sprints”. If you want to order these downloadable courses, register here.

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“Professional” – the most misunderstood, misused and abused word

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You may be professional, but what do you actually DO that makes you professional? How can people see you are professional?

If you Google the definition of professional, you find an eclectic mix of definitions, most not contributing to your understanding of what the term means.

In the accommodation and tourism industry people often define themselves as professional because of how they greet guests, or how they dress, or whether they show respect to their patrons.

Service businesses tend to view themselves as professional if they deliver on time or on the agreed standard.

Product providers call themselves professionals if their products have a low return rate, or a high satisfaction percentage among users.

If all these were true, most businesses and people would be professional, or professionals.

Surely the general standard of service delivery in any industry cannot be the requirement for being considered professional? Average can never be professional.

If we could remove the general “watering down” of terms by giving it content based on the minimum standard we are comfortable with, many words, including “professional”, would not just enrich our language, but also give us a proper structure within which we could evaluate people’s contribution to promoting excellence in our society.

If your product or service is not outstanding, there is little benefit in misusing language that describes the outstanding for describing the average. Your product or service is below average, average or above average. They cannot all be professional.

A definition of professional I heard long ago but don’t see any more, is “professionalism is when you continuously, without fail, do something above the prevailing standard”. That definition requires you to be on top of your game without fail. The moment you act in a way that is the same as what is already available, or below the available standard, you lose your professionalism. Then you need to start working towards becoming professional again.

In general, professionalism would mean that you do something to a standard that is not prevalent in your industry, business or area. And you can only be the most professional if you alone act on a certain standard. Other people can be professional if their actions are above the standard that is generally available. But everyone who acts to a standard already reached by others, is not above, but on standard. If you act on standard, it may be acceptable, but it cannot claim professionalism.

A service can be professional but I still look for an example of a professional product. It may be professionally manufactured (on an unequalled standard) but in itself, a product does not seem to me to have the ability to be professional.

It seems to me professionalism can only exist if it can be measured to enable comparison with something that exists. If it can be measured and compared, it can be classified.

Example of professionalism: we deliver faster than our competition

Example of claimed professionalism (but isn’t): we deliver on time

Professionalism seems more something we strive for, than something we possess.

What has professionalism become?

If you Google “examples of professionalism”, you will find something completely different from what I discussed.

It seems “professionalism” has become a description for “expected” as in expected dress code, expected reliability, expected competence, ethics, etiquette, honesty, specialised knowledge and a host of other descriptions. Professionalism, it seems, has become the new word for “up to standard”.

Then the question is: what am I if I constantly act in a way that is above the industry standard?

So, what is the one thing you are going to do to make your service professional?

My course “How to learn social media marketing in 15 sprints walks you through a process which leaves you with a well prepared social and off-line marketing plan.

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How to choose social media platforms to promote your business

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There is no advantage in indiscriminately using social media platforms if you don’t even know who use the platform. Choose an appropriate platform for a given social media goal by looking at user demographics.

Your users
Who use your product or service?

Internal records

  • in what way did they first reach out to (communicate with) you? Email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, website contact form?
  • what information did they provide? Age, method of payment, where they live?
  • what does the info you have, tell you about them? Middle aged or young, internet savvy with eft payment, or not internet savvy with cheque payment, lives in a retirement complex or a yuppie suburb?
  • did they use personal or business email? A business email enables you to research the business – is client the owner, sales person, bookkeeper, technical staff? (each role indicates the likely type of person).
  • what info does your website’s Google Analytics give you?
External records

Google the client’s name – all results, images and news

Social media profiles

Social media is where your customer is.

Social media users

Who are the users of each social media platform?

At the time of writing, 30% of South Africans use Facebook – that is 16 million South Africans – with 5 000 000 in Johannesburg.. Fourteen million use Facebook from mobile devices.

There are more than 8 000 000 Twitter users in South Africa. Tweeting activity spikes on Thursdays and all days between 08:00 and 09:00, with a spike around 18:00.

There are more than 6 000 000 Linkedin users in the country while Instagram has around 4 million users.

Statistics by Worldwideworx

If your potential clients use something else than social media platforms, you may need to reach them via email or WhatsApp.

Where you meet your potential customer is dictated by them, not you.

Once you have a good idea who your potential clients are, you will be able to use the best social media platforms to reach them.

Then it is important to use social media correctly so you will attract potential business and not deter them from communicating with you.To use social media most effectively, you need to understand the difference between marketing and sales as well as the needs which social media fills.

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SEO that excites Google

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(Based upon Google webmaster best practices)

When you need to find information on the Internet, you search.

People ask questions in search which your brand can answerThe information you receive is provided by search engines which index all the information they can find on the Internet, and provide it as search results based on the search query you provided.

Google is the main search engine and “to google information” is a description of the search activity. We talk about Google when referring to search in general.

Keywords related to search engines include:
  • index(n) – all the web pages collected by the search engine is stored in an index. The index entry for a page describes the content and URL (Uniform Resource Locator or web address) of that page. To “index” (v) means the search engine finds the page, reads it and adds the page to the index.
  • crawl – the search engine process of finding new or updated web pages. Google finds URLs by crawling the Internet, by following links from already indexed websites, by a webmaster submitting a Sitemap of a website and a variety of other methods.
  • crawler – automated software that crawls the Internet, finds web pages and indexes them.
  • Googlebot – the name of Google’s crawler which constantly crawls the Internet.
  • SEO (search engine optimization) – the process of preparing (optimizing) a website to make it discoverable to search engine crawlers. SEO (n), or SEO Specialist, is a person who optimizes web pages for a living.
  • Search query – the question, or information, you enter in a search engine to find answers that satisfy your information need.
  • SERPS (search engine result pages) – the pages a search engine offers in response to your search query.
  • Sitemap – a file on your website that explains the page structure of your site to search engines.
Help search engines find your content

Google offers webmaster guidelines which web designers can use to create search-friendly websites.

The first step is to ensure that your website can be found by Googlebot. You make your website “findable” by

  • submitting a Sitemap to Google
  • having related websites link to your site
  • having the most pages you can with the widest range of topics related to what you offer
  • having information on your website that answers the questions people have about your product or service
  • having properly optimised content on all your website pages

When you evaluate the potential of your web content, keep in mind that your information should fill a need that someone may have. It is best to offer your information in a format that serves as an answer to a question people ask about your product or service.

Which pages should search engines not index (crawl)

It is wise to include a robots.txt file on your website if there are pages you don’t want search engines to index such as internal search pages. Most small business websites are small enough so that there are no pages to exclude from the SERPS.

Do not use a robots.txt file for sensitive information because a robot created with bad intent will not honour the instruction. Rather use sign-in with user names and passwords for information you don’t want in the public domain.

Help users and search engines understand your website content

When Googlebot crawls a page in your website, it is important that it sees exactly what a human visitor would see. If not, you may lose out in a number of ways. Modern websites use JavaScript and CSS to enhance the user experience. Search engines are becoming ever more effective in interpreting JS and CSS in order to understand better what humans see when they visit a web page. It contributes to better indexing and better search results, which makes it easier for Google to return the best answer for your potential client’s search query.

Create unique and accurate page titles. Every page on your website should have a unique “title” tag of the page’s html code. It is best if the title tag reflects the question the page content addresses. Google could use the content of the “title” tag in the search results, which will give your page a better chance of being noticed by searchers.

Use a description meta tag in the “head” element of your HTML code to give search engines a summary of what the page is about. Google often uses that as a snippet in the search results. Every page on your website should have its own meta tag which concisely describes the content of that page.

Structured data

You can add structured data to the pages of your website to describe to search engines what the page contains.

Structured data is usually used on product pages, marking up opening hours, business location, videos, events listings, recipes, a company logo and many more. Due to cost, time and small numbers of pages, small business websites often do not use structured markup.

How you appear in search results

Use separate URLs (names) to enable search engines to show your pages or products as separate results, thereby increasing your online footprint.

Site hierarchy

Search engines use URLs is a certain way and your website designer should keep that in mind when naming pages, images or products in a shop.

Navigation, usually reflected in your site’s menu is not a big problem for smaller sites, but gets more important as the number of sections and pages increase. Navigation is based on your home or root page. and extends into sub-sections e.g. home page >> related topic >> specific topic. It should create a natural flow through your website.

“Breadcrumbs” is a row of internal links that shows previous sections. It is usually omitted in small websites.

Show 404 pages when content does not exist – a user followed a broken link or typed in the wrong URL. A 404 page usually directs visitors back to the home page.

All content on your website (pages, images and documents) should have proper names to ensure user-friendly URLs.

Optimize website content

Quality content that serve users’ needs, will benefit your website because it entices visitors to return and share your content. Good content assists in word-of-mouth spreading of your information. Answering questions that people may have about your product or service makes for good content if well-written.

Use Google Keyword planner to assist in discovering keyword variations and keyword search volumes.

Google says content should be easy to read, topically organised, fresh and unique and optimized for users (which means it is automatically optimized for search engines).

Use descriptive link text to link to information on other pages or outside sources. It should tell users what they can expect on the page linked to. Use “nofollow” attributes in your link code if you do not want pages linked to, to gain from the reputation of your site (discuss the concept of inbound linking with your web designer or learn more by researching it)

Optimize website images

Images are optimized by using the “alt” attribute in the HTML of your website page. Alt text is shown when an image cannot be shown for any reason. It is also used by search bots to know what the image is about.

Make your website mobile

Most Google searches are done on mobile devices and Google gives preference to mobile enabled sites in the SERPS. There are a number of ways to make a website responsive but the most popular is responsive web design, which is automatically enabled in most web software.

Promote your website

Promote your website by including social share buttons on all content. Promote it off-line by including it on all your business printing. Add your business to Google MyBusiness which ensures that your business appears on Google Maps and in search.

Analyze web statistics (analytics)

Search engines provide tools to analyse your website. Google offers Google Search Console. It evaluates your site and provides feedback on issues that may burden your site’s performance and appearance.

Google Analytics provides insights into the use of your site by analysing user behaviour, popular content, the impact of optimization and how visitors interact with your content.

My course How to learn social media marketing in 15 sprints walks you through a process which leaves you with a well prepared social and off-line marketing plan.

Blog posts go to my newsletter subscribers about two weeks before it appears on my blog.