Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordpress SEO is Definitely the King of SEO Plugins!

If you have been using an SEO plugin for your Wordpress site, or you are looking for a new option, you should consider Wordpress SEO from Yoast.

I just stumbled on this gem of a plugin after using the popular All in One SEO Pack for years. Wordpress SEO blows this plugin out of the park. It's literally packed to the gills with up-to-date SEO features and customization capabilities. To get a sense of what this plugin can accomplish for you, check out the The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites. Even if you don't make the switch, the article is worth a read as it goes over the current SEO best practices.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How to Write a Good Press Release

Sending out a press release is an excellent way to generate free publicity for your small business. Small businesses can send information to reporters and media people, who then write or report about the business.
How can you ensure that your press release is eye-catching enough for a reporter to open it, read it, and report about it?

1. Do your research. Before sending a press release, invest some time in
reviewing various writers' or producers' work. Find those who cover topics relevant to your business. That way, you can narrow down your audience to people who are interested in your line of business, thus increasing the likelihood of free P.R.

2. Choose the right style. Your research can also help you choose a writing style. Try to mirror the writer's typical style of presenting content (e.g., top ten lists, question and answers, or research-oriented). The writer will find your article more pertinent to his/her own work if it feels familiar.

3. Spice up your writing. Use action verbs, particularly in the headline, to attract more attention. The words you use should conjure up images of excitement and motion. Some examples: trigger, navigate, urge. Use your computer's thesaurus setting to inspire your writing.

4. Find an angle. Think of an interesting way to present your story. Instead of simply stating your business's focus, highlight something new. You can write about how people use your business, or how you've changed the way certain business is done.

5. Incorporate the five W's. Be clear about why your business is newsworthy. Answer the five basic questions: who, what, when, where, and why. This will tie in with your angle (see item #4).

6. Include important details. Write the date, and the city in which your business is located. Briefly describe your business, and add in your contact information.

7. Exclude blather. Keep your press release short. Don't use industry-specific jargon. Use short words and concise sentences. Above all, make it readable.

The media is always looking for new stories. Sending a good release can alert them to your business's story and give you the exposure you want.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Influence of Social Media on Business

According to a new book, "The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion," the old methods of doing business are no longer effective.

The book's authors emphasize how the "power of pull" is improved by social networking. They define that power as, "The ability to draw out people and resources as needed to address opportunities and challenges." With the improved access to people and resources afforded by social media, it's easier for workers to succeed.

How do social media affect business dealings?

- Change occurs quickly, so top-down planning is not as efficient. Managers have to be aware of information coming from all different sources, including competitors who work in the same field. They have to adjust strategy in accordance with the newly-acquired information.

- The internet allows people to create connections that were never before possible. People living on different continents can now collaborate on ventures even if they have never met in person.

- Meeting new people can provide workers with new information about their lines of business. Knowledge that used to come from stable sources, such as newspapers, now streams in via Twitter and other social sites. Business people can use social networking to acquire information that helps them to achieve.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

5 Amazing Free Small Biz Resources on The Web

Any experienced business owner will tell you that successfully running a business takes not only a lot of time, skill, and effort, but a lot of resources as well.

Do a quick search online, and you'll typically find a ton of resources specifically for smaller businesses, and many of them are for free. But, as you go about growing and developing your business, you may not have the time to sift out the good resources for the bad ones. This site will help you get there.

To start you off, here is a collection of great, free resources for small and home-based business owners:

  1. The IRS Small Business Tax Center- an assortment of guides and tutorials to teach you all you need to know about business taxes
  2. Free Forms for Micro Business Owners- a collection of free business templates for self-employed professionals
  3. SCORE- Get a free business consultant
  4. My Own Business- a 16-part free online course on starting and growing a new business.
  5. SBA Learning Center- A collection of free online courses and training for small business owners

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Top Business Laws to Know About

Opening a small business requires all sorts of preparations such as raising capital, writing a business plan, finding a suitable premises, hiring staff and myriad other tasks. No less important is an awareness of the top business laws connected to the opening of a new business. Approach the legal aspect of opening a business systematically. What are the laws pertaining to launching a business? Are you required to get a business license? If you are you planning to hire employees, what laws apply? What kind of taxes will you have to pay? Look into each area and do not hesitate to consult with experts when you are unsure.

Company Law. Your new company constitutes a separate legal entity. In the event that you are a director of a company, the Companies Act 2006 states your legal responsibilities, including your obligation to act in good faith in the best interest of the company.

Tax Laws. Familiarize yourself with the various tax laws including regulations pertaining to the filing of tax returns. If you are selling merchandise, look into the issue of sales tax. There are additional taxes such as withholding taxes, corporate taxes, pass through taxes and both state and local taxes. Consulting with a CPA will help you to understand the complex issue of taxes and your own obligations.

Employment Laws. If you are planning on hiring employees, there is a wide range of laws with which you must become acquainted. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (enforced by the Health and Safety Executive) defines your duty as an employer to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees. It is illegal to discriminate against people because of their gender, race, belief, sexuality, disability or age when hiring, employing or firing them. Relevant laws in this area are: Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Equal Pay Act 1970; Race Relations Act 1976; Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003; Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003; Disability Discrimination Act 1995; Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. You may be obligated to pay your employees Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they become ill for a period of between four and 28 days. If the duration of their illness exceeds this period, they may become eligible for an Incapacity Benefit.

Environmental Laws. Businesses are obligated to protect the environment according to the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The law stipulates the sensitive management of waste products and enacts controls regarding emissions into the environment (including noise). This act applies only to direct pollution. The current law does not obligate businesses to behave in an environmentally friendly way.

Zoning Laws. Zoning laws are usually local ordinances that regulate the type of business that is allowed to be conducted in a specific area, how the land surrounding the business is used, parking, advertising and other details. When in doubt, turn to the local Chamber of Commerce for assistance.

These are only a few of the many federal and local laws that may apply to your new business. As ignorance does not exempt you from adhering to the various laws, seek the advice of tax and legal professionals who can inform you of the particular laws affecting your specific business.