Ready to market your startup? Here’s where to start

If you’re launching a startup then you’re probably convinced that there’s a place in the market for your product of service.

However, that place in the market remains open for someone else unless your marketing efforts are effective and timely – so you need to make sure that what you’re doing is based on tried and tested methods that are going to deliver results.

What those tried and tested methods are will be somewhat particular to your business – but there are universal truths that will underpin your strategies that apply to every industry out there. Let us run you through the 5 most important ones:

  1. Get your personal brand right

In days gone by, the formation of a company was enough to hide even the most dubious reputation – but now, there’s no hiding anything.

Getting your personal brand right is like digging the right foundations for your house – get it wrong and it’ll be difficult and costly down the line.

When you’re starting out in business people are going to look for you online. They might be customers, contractors, freelancers, business opponents, investors – and more, maybe even all of them. There aren’t many people on that list that you’re going to be able to operate without, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people taking a serious risk with their personal social media every day.

Air strong political opinions on LinkedIn? Enjoy a slightly bad taste joke on Facebook? Publicly linked to people who do? Well, you’re taking a risk, a risk that you’re going to put someone off you or your product. I know what you’re thinking – it shouldn’t matter, but I’m here to tell you that it does – social media profiles are losing more people jobs and business today than ever before.

Getting it right is easy though. Master your privacy settings and before you share anything and ask yourself “would I say this in a room full of potential customers and investors?” – if the answer’s no, then act accordingly!

  1. Have an effective website

When you’re trying to establish a foothold in the marketplace you might want to reframe the way you see your website.

Rather than thinking of it as a place where customers can find contact details to get in touch with you or someone else who’s got their business soundbite or sales pitch nailed, start thinking of it as a sales person itself.

It makes sense, someone’s taken action to visit your site – when they’re there you might think it’s okay to expect them to jump another hurdle to get to a salesperson – but by doing so you’re losing serious numbers of interesting people.

So, you need some exceptional copy on your site. What I’m talking about here runs deeper than your average ‘about us’ and ‘products’ content – I’m talking expertly written copy that speaks to the real psychological need inside your customer.

Don’t be fooled into thinking your customer wants to know about your mission statement and values, they don’t – at their absolute core they want to know what you or your product is going to do for them. Every word of content on your site needs to be geared toward answering that question – and when it is, your phone is going to be ringing with orders – not just enquiries.

  1. Create effective content

Now, no matter how good your site’s copy is, you’re not going to be able to fake solid industry experience – and that’s where creating brilliant and effective content comes into play.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could work your way into your potential customer’s subconscious and plant seeds there that suggest you’re exactly the right person or product for the need they’re looking to fulfil? Even better – wouldn’t it be great if you could work your way into your potential customer’s subconscious and develop that need – before presenting the solution?

Well with content marketing you can – and there’s no need for any unethical hypnosis! A great example of this is how Atlas Ceramics promote their range of Atlas Ceramics victorian style tiles

Content can be created around every tiny element that’s gone into making your product what it is today. Taken it in one direction when there were a variety of possibilities? Document it. Stumbled and made an error? Write about it. Found a brilliant tool that’s revolutionised your workplace? Tell the world.

When you present every part of your business and it’s workings you’ll find that people engage – and when they’re engaged and reading, you can start to gently steer the ship in the direction you want to take them.

  1. Treat every customer like they’re royalty

It might seem obvious but making sure your initial customers are really well looked is something that a great number of startups fail to do when they’ve got their sites on big customer numbers or the next impressive client sign-up.

It’s easy to think you should be putting your brand out into the world constantly – but actually, study after study shows that if you’re willing to invest your time and care in the people who are buying from you and engaging with you from day one then your reputation grows in exactly the right way.

Don’t underestimate people’s desire and willingness to share a product or service that’s serving them well – and also, don’t underestimate people’s willingness to share a bad experience – a combination of carrot and stick motivation that you’d be foolish to ignore!

  1. Measure, measure, measure!

Our last tip is short and sweet! Measure everything you do – and if you can’t measure it, find a tool that makes measuring it possible.

It’s only by understanding where your marketing results come from that you’ll be able to reinvest your time in the right activities. If you can follow every single enquiry you get all the way through your conversion journey then you can go back and double down on the stuff that’s producing results.

The Perato Rule says 80% of your business comes from 20% of your effort – and 80% of your effort shows a poor return, offering only 20% of your business. When you work out what’s involved in that golden 20% of your effort, you can scale in an incredibly efficient manner…

Top Tips To Rank a Local Website in 2018

Basic SEO practices are pretty much essential for ranking a local website anywhere in search engines, never mind the front page, and this is especially true for content that is not user generated (forums or review sites for example). With search engine algorithms changing all the time, and the rise of machine learning into 2018, knowing a little more than the ‘basics’ is going to be more important than ever. With that in mind, we sat down with RFK Solutions, who offer a range of leading SEO services in Scotland. This is what they had to say with regads to ranking a website locally in 2018!

Claim Your Google My Business Page

This is the first thing that you should be thinking of, so if you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page yet then you need to make it a priority. For full details of setting up your page, you can take a look here but you need to make sure that you include the following:

  • Make the listing description a long one, make it unique and make sure it includes links. Write this description very carefully, as well as properly formatted, because this is going to take full advantage of Google Search’s RankBrain update. Machine Learning in search is going to go full throttle in 2018, so try and answer possible searcher queries in your description.
  • Be sure that you have selected the correct categories for your business to further help Google match up your business with the search query.
  • Upload as many high quality, relevant photographs as you can. Visuals are everything and help users determine whether or not your business is right for them or not.
  • Add your local telephone number (not a mobile if you can avoid it) and also your business address. Both of these things need to be consistent with what you have on your website – Google can, and does, place higher priority on listings where these details corroborate each other.
  • Make your profile and cover photographs high resolution. What looks great on your mobile may not look so hot on a larger screen – and blurred imagery will get you nowhere
  • If your business has opening times and days where these change (not all business types have or need details like this) then add those too.
  • Get your customer to leave you reviews on Google.

Get Local Reviews

Reviews are an enormous ranking factor, especially if you run a local business. Getting reviews is actually easier than you might think but don’t focus on just Google reviews try TrustPilot too, and Yelp. Google should be your first port of call though, once you are set up on Google search with GMB.

The first thing to do is contact your existing customers and ask if they would mind leaving a review for you. It’s quick and simple and they will rarely decline. A benefit of this is that you can effectively cherry pick great reviews – you know who is most likely to leave a glowing comment with 5 stars, so hit them up first.

Generate local links and citations

Link building is a great way to boost your website’s visibility and authority, so long as the linking website is relevant to your business. The same is true with local businesses except it is more about linking with local businesses, regardless of their actual ‘standing’, that are posting about similar things to you.

Citations are another excellent way to improve visibility on search engines. Citations are, basically, mentions of you in local directories. The trick here though is making sure the directories display your NAP (Name Address Phone number) as you do on your website and GMB listing

You can use Bright Local to check on existing citations and make sure your NAP is being displayed properly. Need to actually get citations? There are a few ways to get it done, but you could this handy tool to get you started.

Social Signals

Potential customers won’t always be searching Google Maps, they may also look to social platforms to find local businesses. Facebook is used in this way quite a lot so it’s worth setting up and maintaining a page there just for that reason alone. Twitter can come in handy also, for the same reason.

One thing that both of these platforms have in common, and is incredibly useful, is the hashtag. Sadly, most people don’t even realise that Facebook has this functionality – don’t worry though, Facebook knows and its search tool takes them into account when people use it to look for something. The only problem is, you need to be using hashtags on your pages in the first place.

Adding hashtags to your posts on Facebook may sound like amateur hour, but you are missing out if you don’t do it. Besides, nobody thinks twice about using them on Twitter so don’t be bashful on big blue either!

Whichever platform you use, remember that they act as citation sources so make certain your NAP is consistent with every other appearance of it elsewhere.

You should have enough to go on now to really make an impression and get your local business ready for the rest of 2018 and get it ranked. Now, start contacting your customers and get those reviews coming in!

The pros and cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Are you patient?

You probably think you are, at least more patient than expecting information at your fingertips within seconds – but even if you think you have the patience of a saint – you’re probably wrong.

Dozens of studies into webpage load times show we’re actually extremely impatient – and in reality, most of us will abandon a site if the page we’re heading for takes more than 4 seconds to load.

So what’s the answer?

Well, Google and Twitter think it’s AMP – or, to give it’s full name, Accelerated Mobile Pages. An open source plug-in project that’s designed to create mobile pages that load ultra-quickly.

What could possibly be the downside of that? Well, a cruise ship doesn’t move as quickly as a speedboat – and if you ever wanted it to, you’d need to strip a lot of stuff out. The same is true of AMP. Along with a few members of the Think Zap team, who are some of Scotland’s leading web design talents. We’ll have a look at what it is – and the pros and cons of implementing accelerated mobile pages across your site.

What exactly is AMP?

In the most-simple terms, AMP is like ‘HTML lite’ – that’s to say, a stripped-down version of ordinary HTML – creating pages that load virtually instantly. It’s underpinned by three main components:

  • AMP HTML

A standard HTML that works by encompassing a variety of web components.

  • AMP JavaScript

Designed to manage all resource loading

  • AMP Caching

Designed to serve and validate AMP page

Mobile traffic now represents the majority of traffic that will hit your site – and AMP seemingly caters for these users perfectly, delivering just the most important content. Interestingly, it appears the AMP project was a direct response to the Facebook Instant and Apple News – although AMP is open source, removing the ties to any one platform.

So now let’s have a look at what industry experts are picking out as the pros and cons of AMP.

Pro – Search visibility

Over the last year or so, AMP results are popping up more and more in mobile search carousels – the Google specific content display in mobile browsers.

This is a double ‘pro’ when you look at the increasing evidence that Google seems keen to rank AMP content in ordinary search listings too. Page speed has grown in importance since mid-2016 – so AMP looks like it can only ever be an SEO benefit moving forward.

Con – AMP advertising is a bit of an unknown

AMP’s lightweight HTML framework pulls the plug on various advertising methods – popups in particular.

For people creating a revenue with any of these advertising methods – AMP might not look like the best option – although clearly this has to be weighed up against the positives; promising a question that’s going to be difficult to anticipate an answer to.

Some companies say they’re generating the same revenue from their AMP content as they were prior to implementation – so the question is, are you ready to take a leap of faith?

Pro – Improved CTRs

The click through rates that are being attributed to AMP stories seem extremely impressive – and going strong with 1 year+ results under their statistical belt.

Major sites are reporting 25%-30% increase in click-throughs from mobile search results – and adverts within AMP content are seeing a 65%+ increase in click throughs – something that’s not going to harm anyone’s conversion rates!

Con – Implementation

There seems to be some fairly universal groans from developers relating to the implementation of AMP – owing largely to it’s fairly restrictive framework.

The feeling is this – AMP isn’t the tool for you unless your site is already close to the top of the performance game anyway, especially true since there are a decent number of standard HTML gains that can be bagged more quickly and simply.

Get fast, then get AMP.

Pro – Greater traffic and revisits

We’ve already covered the fact that Google is placing AMP results higher in search listings and more prominently in carousel – but what’s more difficult to quantify is the impression that AMP content is having on users.

The stripped back feel of AMP stories makes it slightly more difficult to stand out from the crowd – although when a site does, you can expect traffic to keep coming back, no doubt impressed by the layout and speedy delivery time.

Depending on the case-studies you read, you can witness companies seeing increases of somewhere between 23% and 44% in new monthly visitors – with around 73% increase in monthly visitors returning shortly thereafter.

The message? Readers are voting with their feet – and they like AMP.

Pro – You get a Google content delivery network

A big factor in the delivery speed of AMP content relates to the fact that Google caches the content – and as a result, you can modify your URL so that the content is dished up directly from the cache.

This is a bonus if you’re paying for a content delivery network elsewhere and you can be certain that’s Google’s is always going to be up there with the best.

Con – Somewhat limited functionality

In its first incarnation there were serious HTML gaps in what was possible on an accelerated mobile page – with a notable exception being around forms. Now, that’s developing slightly and there are tools that can be integrated to enable some basic patches over the holes – but we’re a long way from complex product pages.

It’s not just visitor page interaction that’s lacking either – if you’re keen on in depth metrics from your page, you’re going to want to make sure AMP fits the bill before you invest too much time or effort making it happen.

Pro – An increasing number of implementation tools

Now, it’s clear the implementation niggles that developers have been having with the AMP plug in is something that’s occurring across the board – evident because new tools are being developed to make the process somewhat easier.

From testing tools to WordPress plugins – there are new resources being developed all the time to support your move to AMP.

What it all boils down to…

Ultimately, AMP is a choice – is the increased page delivery speed going to bolster your conversions by an amount that warrants venturing into new territory? And importantly, are you doing enough to bolster page speed already – without the big chunk of work that’s going to come when you try to take advantage of AMP?

At this stage, AMP isn’t a foregone conclusion for your site – instead, it’s a big bunch of questions that you need to ask to find your way forward…

10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant

When it comes to hiring an SEO consultant for your business, you need to ensure you find the right one for your needs.

Making the right choice when you are bringing one of these professionals onboard can make all the difference. However, how can you determine whether you are considering the right SEO consultant if you have never used them before?

Well, the key is to make sure you ask the right questions, as this will provide you with valuable information that can help you to make an informed decision.

Poor SEO can have a serious negative impact on your business, which is why you have to make sure you find the right consultant. With the right professional working with you, you’ll be able to look forward to great results when it comes to your SEO strategy and implementation.

The ten key questions you need to ask

In order to find the right SEO consultant for your needs and your business, you need to make sure you are asking the right questions. So we recently had a sit down with Tobias Gilbert who offers SEO services in Miami and asked him what are the top questions you should always ask when looking to hire an SEO consultant!

Some of the key ones that you need to ask are:

  1. How much do you charge? You need to find out how much the SEO consultant charges so that you can ensure the pricing fits in with your budget. Some consultants will charge an hourly rate while others may charge per project. Finding out about the cost and fee structure will make it easier for you to determine the suitability of the consultant based on budget. However, you need to make sure that you do not sacrifice on quality in order to get the cheapest prices, as this will end up costing you more in the long run.
  1. What services will be delivered as part of the strategy? Ask the SEO consultant what types of services will be provided as part of the service, as this will enable you to determine whether all of your needs will be addressed. You also need to find out about the quantities of each of the services that the SEO consultant will be providing to help you with your SEO strategy.
  1. How do you plan to improve my rankings? You need a detailed description of exactly how the SEO consultant plans to improve your search engine rankings. The consultant should provide a thorough explanation of the strategies that will be used in order to boost your rankings. You should also ask for a realistic idea with regards to how long it is likely to take to achieve the SEO goals that are put into place.
  1. Are you familiar with the most up to date webmaster guidelines for search engines? The last thing you want to do is end up on the wrong side of the major search engines. With this in mind, you need to make sure that the SEO consultant you are considering is well versed with the most up to date webmaster guidelines and adheres to them strictly. If these guidelines are not followed, the impact on your rankings and business could be very damaging. You can also check out there blog or website to see what information they are sharing within the community. This is a great example of how a blog can be used successfully for SEO.
  1. Are you able to guarantee that my website will rank number one on major search engines? This is something of a red herring when it comes to questions you need to ask an SEO consultant before you hire. If the answer to this is yes, then you should simply walk away. No consultant worth his or her salt will ever make a guarantee such as this because it is not possible to guarantee a number one position. You should, therefore, see this as a red flag if the consultant claims to be able to guarantee this outcome.
  1. How do you track how successful your SEO campaigns are? You need to find out more about how the SEO consultant measures the success of the SEO campaigns. It is important for you to be able to monitor the level of traffic that is being sent to your site and determine where the traffic is coming from. Your consultant should be able to use analytical tools in order to track website traffic, ranking improvements, keywords being used by internet users, and other important details. You also need to ensure that the consultant will regularly share this information with you.
  1. What sorts of communication methods will you use and how often will we be in contact? It is essential that you find an SEO consultant with excellent communication skills, as you need to be kept in the loop with everything that is going on with your website. Ask the consultant what types of communication methods are commonly used and how often the two of you will communicate. Of course, you can’t expect to be in communication 24/7 but holding regular catch-up meetings via Skype or on the phone could prove invaluable.
  1. Do you have the details of past or current clients? Another thing to ask is whether the SEO consultant has a list of past and current clients that can be shared with you. A reputable consultant should be able to share a brief list of clients with you so that you can then get in touch to see whether they saw any improvement as a result of using the SEO consultant. While testimonials are all well and good, the ones that are put up on the site are the glowing ones so they don’t really give you a true picture.
  1. What happens if I need to terminate the contract early? If the SEO consultant needs you to sign up for a certain minimum period of time, you need to determine what happens in the event that you have to terminate early. While you may not be planning to do this, there are numerous issues that could arise and force you into having to end the contract prematurely. Knowing where you stand beforehand will ensure that you are prepared.
  1. How long have you been working in the SEO consultancy field? If you want greater peace of mind when it comes to hiring an SEO consultant, it is best to find one with plenty of experience. This means that they will have a solid background in the industry and expertise that can be used when dealing with your SEO campaign.

Enjoy greater success with the right consultant

Asking these questions will boost the chances of you finding the right SEO consultant for your campaign and your business. This, in turn, means that you will be able to look forward to far greater success levels when it comes to your website and your business.

A Summary of the Block Chain Technology and Its Advantages

In current times, block chain technology redefined the Internet and resulted in the development of a brand-new kind of web where digital details are dispersed without copying. The technology was developed and created mainly for crypto currencies, digital currencies like the Bitcoin. In modern times, bit-coin is described as the digital gold and the overall value of this currency is close to about 9 billion United States dollars. Block chain technology can make other kind of digital values. The performance of the technology is encapsulated and for that reason the user can use it without needing to know it in information. Nevertheless, it is always suggested to have a standard concept about the technology in context before using it as this sufficiently streamlines the use.

 

The performance of the technology is practically encapsulated indicating that there is no need to understand about the working of the block chain technology in information, an essential idea about the working of the technology is more than enough for people using it. In easier terms, this technology can be specified as a digital journal of commercial deals which is incorruptible and can be configured to tape not simply the financial deals but anything which has actually value related to it.

Info kept as part of the technology in context is rather much like the very same in a spread out sheet or any dispersed database. Simply as a spread out sheet including values can be frequently upgraded, the block chain too can be upgraded from time to time. The records kept using the block chain technology are not kept in a personal area, rather, such information source are kept in public domain so that they can be validated on a prompt basis. Using such a technology, the info is not held by any central servers rather they are saved in a number of database servers throughout countless workstations, computer systems that are linked to the web. It is because of this that the block chain information cannot be hacked or damaged.

Since in this technology the blocks of details can be evaluated throughout more than one point in the network for that reason it cannot be managed by a single entity. Since there are numerous copies of block chain details offered throughout networks for that reason such innovations do not have a single point of failure. Other elements of this technology are that it is transparent, incorruptible, quite decentralized because the details associated to the technology in context is kept in a number of host devices throughout the network and all these aspects add to making the block chain network extremely protected.