Is It Time to Get Advice on Your #SEO?

If your company’s brand recognition efforts are stuck in neutral, what do you plan on doing about that?

Whether you have been in business for many years or are rather new to the business world, getting your brand recognized is one of the important (yet sometimes daunting) tasks you will have.

Stop for a moment to think about why brand promotions are so important.

For starters, millions of consumers are all about the digital age these days, so reaching them through the Internet is critical.

Sure, you should still be putting time and effort in when it comes to other modes of marketing and advertising, but what you do online can go a long way in determining whether or not your brand will ultimately be successful.

That said do you have the tools and resources in-house to accomplish your brand promotional goals? If not, will you expend the time and effort (including expenses) to find those who will help you with such needs?

Simply ask yourself, is it time to turn to the pros?

Why SEO is a Key Ingredient

If you’re not fully up to speed on search engine optimization (SEO), one of the reasons it is so important is because of all it encompasses.

For one, SEO gives your brand the opportunity to be seen and heard on countless blogs, blogs that are read by millions of consumers on a daily basis.

With that in mind, how do you get started?

As Miguel Salcido, owner of Organic Media Group SEO agency notes, “The key is letting an experienced agency SEO consultant put together a customized SEO strategy for you free of charge, thereby allowing you to match up with your competitors.”

That SEO strategy (which really is not all that complicated) should include at least the following:

  • Goals in place – First and foremost, what are your goals you want to accomplish with an SEO plan in place? Once again, this is where turning to the pros can make all the difference in the world. With a qualified agency running the show, you not only get sound advice and implementation of your search engine optimization goals, but you turn over one of the more important responsibilities for your brand to professionals. In doing so, you take the pressure off yourself to come up with all the answers as to how to best promote your brand;
  • Website loading – When was the last time you looked at your company’s website? On a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (great), how easy is it to move around on? Face it; many of today’s consumers are leading busy lives, lives wherein they don’t have time for failing websites. If your site is slow to upload, has broken links etc. it is a recipe for disaster. A qualified SEO consultant (or team) can analyze your site, seeing where the breakdowns are coming from;
  • Guest blogging – Have you been a regular participant in guest blogging? If not, you are again missing out on potential customers and an improved revenue stream. When you guest blog for others (and you should reciprocate the offer for appropriate businesses and individuals), you have the opportunity to get your brand out in front of countless eyes. This is all possible by adding a keyword link back to your site, be it in the copy itself or the bio. As such, consumers (and other businesses) can then visit your website, learning all there is to know about your products and services;
  • Social media – Finally, where’s your social media game at these days? If you say that it is in development or even non-existent, you have work to do. As Salcido points out, “A comprehensive social media plan includes content promotion, engagement, analytics, and more. It’s a way to further push your brand out in the world, and create discussion. Optimize your social media strategy, and your company will grow.” That said if you haven’t been pushing social media up to this point, you really need to reconsider that idea. With a well-planned social media itinerary in place, you can reach out to countless consumers (along with other businesses), setting your brand up for more exposure. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or other such sites, don’t be a stranger in the world of social networking.

When you go to the pros for SEO advice and implementation, you get the opportunity to give your competitors something to think about.

That thought eventually will be how can they catch up to what you are doing?

 About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

Executives Need Resumes, Too!

When you are looking for a new job as an executive, you need a resume that will stand out from the competition.

That said do you feel like you alone have the ability to craft a stellar resume? If not, where will you turn for assistance?

If you are thinking that help is needed, turning to an executive resume writing service could be the best call you ever make.

For those in this position, how do you know you’re hiring the best executive resume writers to handle the job for you? Do you go with those having the most experience? What about those coming in with the most affordable rates? Lastly, how can you separate one from the other?

With all these questions to answer, be sure to take the time in sorting through a number of executive resume writing services, ultimately deciding which one has your best interests in mind.

The days of simply dropping a resume in the mail and waiting by the phone for a call are all but gone.

In today’s digital age, the majority of resumes go via computers and mobile devices, with both substance and design at the top of the list of winning resumes.

Spread the Word About Your Talents

So that you can ultimately get your foot in the door for an interview, keep these pointers in mind:

  1. Experience – First and foremost, your executive experience is what needs to come across on your resume, along with when you are granted interviews. Separate yourself from the competition by showcasing how you can be trusted in such an important position within the company. Being able to pinpoint certain times you were asked to lead at your current or former employer is certainly noteworthy, along with how you have been able to get results in whatever executive position/s you have held over the years;
  2. Drive – As great as your experience may be, having the drive to succeed in a potential new job is critical too. Prospective employers want to see candidates who come to interviews with a passion for the job. If you show up without asking any questions about the company, show little or no enthusiasm about your career, and seem like you are just there to gain some more interviewing experience, you are all but a goner when it comes to consideration. As someone who has been an executive at some point in your career (past or present), showing employers a passion for a position will oftentimes get you to a second interview or even the job itself;
  3. Personality – Given executives are oftentimes tasked with running meetings, rallying the employees together, and breaking down how each employee under their management will best assist the company, executives need to have a personality that paints them as both leaders and trustworthy. If you have a personality that is more introvert than extrovert, you could find yourself facing rather difficult hurdles in an executive role with a new employer. Employers want to see someone who can take control of a situation, giving direction to each and every worker. When it comes right down to it, employers want executives who can come up with solutions, not lead to more issues and/or problems to be solved. It is all a matter of being willing to take the bull by the horns, not stand in the background. As you interview with different employers, show them that you are able to step up and be noticed.

When the time comes for your executive resume to shine, don’t hesitate to reach out to a service that can do just that.

In a day and age when jobs can be difficult to come by, it is important that you do all you can to make your resume stand out from the crowd.

In doing so, you will position yourself for an executive job, one that may very well keep you employed for years to come.

Just remember that your resume says a lot about you in terms of your experience, personality, character and more.

Turning to professionals to help you highlight those traits is your first step.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

7 Reasons Why #SocialMedia is Serious #Business

It’s been 23 years – and counting – since the advent of the search engines Excite (1993), Yahoo (1994), and Google (1997) revolutionized the way information was sorted and found. Basing their results on keywords and optimization analytics, the intention was to give their users the best possible experience.

Enter SEO, the business of bringing customers to your door by improving the way you rank with those search engines. Unfortunately, because algorithm updates were few and far between, it left the door open for less than ethical (black hat) techniques, like excessive tagging and spammy backlinks to manipulate rankings.

Nowadays, the giants of the Internet (like Google) have it down to a science. Whenever there are elusive tactics introduced (to circumvent honest ranking results) they are swiftly smacked down, and we experience abrupt shifts in the rules and regulations. This works to reign in abusers, but unfortunately it also takes the good guys (white hat) down as well; hence the ever-changing SEO industry must adapt its capabilities to the shifting wind, all in the name of making sure your customers can find you.

Enter social media optimization (SMO) – the next generation of search strategy. Let’s take a look at several reasons why social media is more important to your business than you realized.

  1. Visibility is crucial

Social media optimization should be a part of any SEO efforts you’re making to market your business online. People may find you by typing a couple of words into search boxes, a referral link from someone else, or looking for you by your company name when they already know about you. If you don’t have a website, of course that’s going to be a challenge, and if your site has been penalized it can drop off the first page of the SERPs faster than a speeding bullet.

  1. Social shares count

When people share your name or things you’ve written it’s beautiful – the best of all worlds. Be careful that you aren’t just gathering links indiscriminately because if there’s no relevance or value when people arrive on your page it can result in unfollows, which decrease the authority of your name. Don’t go overboard, 1000 followers with a good reputation are better than 50,000 just exchanging links for the sake of SEO.

  1. Engagement is gold

Why would you spend time and money to put your service or product in front of a potential consumer – and then not respond when they connect? Whether it’s your Facebook account, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram – engage with the person who has taken the time to reach out! A mere ‘like’ or other ‘high five’ could be a customer peeking in the window. That’s the point, folks. No response is another path to being unfollowed, which can also put you on the search engine’s radar for being a link gatherer rather than an honest enterprise.

  1. Keywords aren’t everything

Overuse of analyzed keywords on your pages is not only redundant and boring, it hurts your credibility. Just like the saying a rising tide lifts all ships, when content is informative and makes sense its share-ability factors go up – and so does the authority of your site. In 2013 Google first introduced the Hummingbird algorithm. Essentially it meant that they were now paying attention to the ‘meaning’ in a search query more than just specific words. This conversational search allows people to ask their real question to receive relevant and on-point results; i.e. are daffodils toxic for pets vs. daffodils poisonous.

  1. Online groups and forums

Nobody is going to question the importance of you having a proper LinkedIn profile, but you may not have noticed the industry-specific groups you can join there. Missed opportunities in life are many, and so when you have one smack dab in front of you – be sure to jump in and participate. It’s a great way to meet like minds (who have followers too) when you may not otherwise have the chance to connect in person.

  1. Expanding your reach

Okay, so you have a blog, and you post a few times a week. That’s awesome and great for your devotees – as long as you keep it in their lane. Why do they turn to your company, what would they like to know if they could ask, what’s new in your industry? Now that you’ve published some interesting content – make sure everyone knows! Share it with your social connections via a snippet about the post with a link so they can visit and read the entire article. Be sure your blog has an RSS Feed for those visitors who want to be kept informed as you build your blog.

  1. ‘Be’ the source

Just because you don’t use Twitter or haven’t set up a Facebook page, it doesn’t mean you don’t already have a presence on the web. Surprised? Remember, other people may have mentioned you, and former customers may have posted a review. It’s time to take control, load up your own channels and make certain people see and hear what you have to say!

 

Laura O’Donnell writes smart content on behalf of the digital marketing experts at The Marketing Zen Group. As an avid writer and learner, she loves to use her skills for engaging others in important topics in creative and effective ways. When she is not working, she loves meeting new people, traveling, and bringing her Pinterest dreams to life. Find her on LinkedIn.

 

5 Low-Pressure Strategies to Sell Smarter

Many customers are turned off by bold, high-pressure sales tactics. It’s something they don’t often trust or a process that makes them feel rushed instead of understood. If you’ve decided that low-pressure sales techniques are the way to go, what can you do to still generate enthusiasm and close the deal?
 
For starters, you can use email in what’s called a drip campaign. It’s structured around providing information, solutions, and promotions without pressure, all while conveying the value that you can provide. You can also rely on an old-school method of low-pressure sales: a free trial. It helps to mitigate skepticism, but can drag out a sales cycle.
 
Even without a hard sell, though, you must keep your company top of mind with strategies that resemble the parts of a funnel. Use this graphic to work through your low-key but effective sales strategies.

Click To Enlarge

5 Low-Pressure Strategies To Sell Smarter

Via Salesforce

Guide to Building a Top #UI #Design #Portfolio

Before We Begin

Professionals who work in the creative industry need portfolios to showcase their skills to attract clients and peers. Once upon a time this was solved by creating stunning printed pieces. However, no matter how you look at it, times have changed and designers are no longer just designers. We’ve got different specialties that cover many different fields within design. It’s important that you identify your strengths before starting to build your own portfolio.

ui1

Today we will cover all the bases that lead to the creation of an amazing User Interface Portfolio, so if this happens to be your specialization, keep reading!

Quality and Quantity

Take the creation of your portfolio as any other important project you would work on and start by picking the number of products or projects you would like to showcase. Think of a number that can cover all of what you can do from the point of view of a UI designer, that can be enough to represent you as the perfect candidate for the next big contract and not a lot to turn your portfolio into an overwhelming and never ending trip for your future clients. Edit your selection with a sharp eye, as you will be judged by your worst piece.

Picking up to 9 projects is more than enough to show a variety of pieces, however, if that would be too many for what you would like to show in your portfolio then don’t worry, as 6 is also an acceptable number of projects to offer.

We all know working on a portfolio can feel endless because it’s hard for us as designers to objectively select the best work. However, the sooner you publish your portfolio, the faster your work will be ready for potential clients to see. Set realistic deadlines for every step of the process: from the very beginning, to when you pick your projects, through to its publication.

What About the Target?

This will mainly depend on you: are you a UI designer focusing on gaming? How about a UI designer specialized in designing mobile apps? Maybe you do both plus more! Each of them has a different solution but these tips are applicable to all UI cases.

Benchmark

A little research has never truly hurt anyone and it’s useful to see what kinds of portfolios are out there, what trends you should avoid for your portfolio to not look the same as everyone else’s, and what details are definitely worth exploring to apply to your own presentation. Inspiration is your best friend when you’re starting to build something from scratch.

Awwwards is a good place to look for web-based portfolios and some users at Dribbble offer more on their profiles to a web portfolio than you might think.

Of course, learning from your fellow colleagues on Toptal is always a good idea, there are stunning portfolios out there for you to check out!

The Three Pillars

There are three things that should be kept in mind throughout the process of building a UI portfolio: remember the importance of the visuals, have a solid process and show the result of each project by telling a story. Be as specific as you want yet keep an equilibrium between all three of them.

While it’s important to pay attention to details and UI designers focus mainly on those, it’s vital for your pieces to be “more than just a pretty face.” UI designers mostly work with UX designers to achieve incredible products, or sometimes hybrid designers do both UX and UI at the same time. Therefore it’s key to keep the essence of your designs by having some storytelling on every single page and by dodging the commonly known “Dribbblisation of Design” which will differentiate you from regular designers.

Layouts & Styles

The recommended size for portfolios nowadays are:

  • A4 Horizontal, the width will benefit the amount of content you can show
  • Sizes that are always larger in width and no smaller than 1280x800px

Note: Most devices nowadays allow retina images which will make your images look sharper and better. Remember to upload them twice their original size with @2x.

When thinking of the kind of layout you should design for each product, keep in mind that most of your projects will be different and will have a particular style that makes them unique: this will help you with the previously mentioned storytelling. Start from beginning to end, or backward; the possibilities are endless as long as you keep coherence on every single page.

Think of the most eye-catching cover page for each project. Whether it’s the logo of the product with a color background, a mobile product displayed in a beautiful mockup, or the interface of a video game close up, all of them can work as long as you keep the visual noise to a minimum. Clients have only a few minutes per page to spare on your portfolio so it’s important to show and tell as much as possible in a clean and organized way.

Don’t be afraid to put two or three dispositive together for a cover page as it will show how adaptable and dynamic your product is and will also tell the client beforehand how much content they can expect from a project.

Be Meticulous

We live and breathe visuals so we can’t afford to have pixelated rounded corners on a mockup, different screen sizes or slightly different alignments for the same product.

Keep in mind:

  • The alignment of your mockups or screens should be the same as not to generate a slight jump between one page and another. Make sure to check alignments on Y and X.
  • Work with vector images. If you’re using Sketch, it’s quite handy to have mockups that can be scalable and will never look pixilated; use the “scale” option instead of manually scaling your mockup, as it will lose its shape. If you happen to be using Photoshop, on the other hand, scale your mockup and use Command + Z (or Control + Z on a PC) to go back and scale again, as every time you scale your image it will get more and more pixelated.
  • Check for details once you’re done with the general alignment of your objects by working with zoom. This will help you discard any lines or shapes that are slightly out of place.
  • If you’re using mockups for mobile or tablets, there are two ways to go regarding the top bar: if you wish to keep it, make sure the battery is on a 100% charge and that the carrier shows a real company, for example, AT&T, T-Mobile, Virgin, among others, because it will give a realistic touch to your product. If you wish to take the top bar away, mobile products usually look better in a rounded container with 2px of radius, without a mockup.
  • The background should always highlight the product you’re trying to show and not turn the client’s view away from it. There are two ways to go about this: either use a plain color background that can make a friendly contrast with your product (keep in mind the mock up’s color and the color scheme of your design altogether) or 2. use a pattern or picture as background but get creative with its opacity and/or add a color layer on top with some transparency. Once again, the options are endless as long as the background is always secondary.
  • For web pages or landing pages, you can go ahead and divide them into three pages to allow for a smooth tour through each portion. Making it small and placing them into a single page would make the client miss key points and details that will differentiate your product from others.

The Process

It doesn’t matter whether you do UX, UI or a complete different specialization within design: it’s always important to show that your work had a process and that it didn’t just magically appear. Don’t be shy to include rough sketches, the good old technique of paper and pencil, collage or even photography that could have helped you in the thought process of building outstanding UI for your product.

Depending how you want to go to your portfolio, there are different ways and techniques to show these sketches:

  • The simplest method is to scan your sketches and make good use of Photoshop to handle levels, contrast, and brightness before using them in the correct size (not too big nor too small). Depending what you want to show with these sketches, they can all be on the same page spread everywhere or more organized, selecting just a few of the most polished ones.
  • If you got inspired by particular objects, taking photographs from above at a 90° angle would show the object in a real size and it’s a trend that’s been quite useful as of lately (be careful of any shadows over your object!). If your object isn’t as flattering at that angle, however, using non-conventional angles like diagonals could help give the photograph more movement.
  • Other tips regarding photography: 1. make sure the photograph is not blurry and that there aren’t other items creating noise or disturbing the general picture, and 2. consider properly cutting those objects and placing them over solid color backgrounds or alternatively create a scenario that serves as context. For both cases, do check contrasts, brightness, and levels as we don’t want it to be too bright or too dark.
  • Collages, paintings or experimentation over a paper with different items like brushes, pens or watercolor pencils can also be scanned or photographed. It mostly depends on what is important to show for each project, and what experiences are important for our client to have when they’re taking a look at those pages.

Storytelling

This is your work process and the way you show it will depend on what kind of projects you’ve worked on. If your main focus is iconography, showing rough sketches and a step-by-step process through to the final form are recommended. If you’re focusing on mobile products instead, screens that are connected to one another to show a feature can also tell a story, and initial sketches of the interface itself are always helpful as well.

Consistency and coherence are important to tell a story no matter how you want to show it. And even though each product will have its own unique style there is a rhythm that will guide your client’s eyes through each page.

Recap

To summarize everything, remember to:

  1. Keep in mind your target which will probably depend on your specialization as a UI Designer.
  2. Pick reasonable numbers of pages for your portfolio that can showcase the kind of professional you are.
  3. Do some benchmark; research has never hurt anyone.
  4. Set realistic deadlines, and treat your portfolio building as another project.
  5. Whatever you do, don’t forget about visuals, including written details and your work process. If there’s something a UI Designer can stand out in, it is by being quite meticulous with details.
  6. You live and breathe visuals but storytelling is just as important to differentiate you from regular designers who fall into the “Dribbblisation of Design” category.
  7. Be coherent and consistent with your style through every part of your portfolio.

Last but not least: have fun! Your portfolio, whether UI, UX or any other kind, should show not only how capable you are as a professional but also part of your personality and that you have a unique voice and style to offer.

This article is originally posted here.

 

 

Customer Experience: Go Above and Beyond

Going above and beyond for your customers should always be a main staple of your business.

For some business owners, they do in fact go out of their way to meet their customers’ needs. Others, however, do not make that extra effort, sometimes ultimately losing those customers in the process.

While there are myriad of ways you can make customers feel especially wanted, you have to do it without the suggestion of you simply wanting a sale and their money when all is said and done.

Being kind to customers, helping them when they least expect it, and doing all you can to make their experience with you one of their best, those are things you simply need to do.

So, how do you go above and beyond for customers?

Making the Extra Efforts Oftentimes Leads to Rewards

So that you can do everything possible for your customers, here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  1. Customer service – Above all else, be sure that your customer service initiatives are second to none. As an example, a customer contacts your office after having trouble making an online purchase through your eCommerce store. Instead of leaving them on hold for many minutes, giving them the run-around, or not responding to their initial request for help at all, make sure you address the matter immediately. If a customer goes to make a purchase with you, be it in-person or via your online store, he or she wants a simple credit card processing What customers do not want is feeling like you’re putting them on the backburner, doing things in the meantime that seem more important to you. Remember, customers should always be the top priority when running a business;
  2. Rewards for the best customers – Many companies have come up with rewards programs for some of their top customers. Whether this means discounts on certain products or services, perhaps a pre-sale to these individuals before items go on sale to the general public, or rewards for those customers who end up renewing with you for another year of service etc. make those who invest rather regularly in your business feel special. If customers feel like they are truly being taken care of, they are more apt to let their family and friends know about it, thereby leading to you possibly picking up some new business along the way;
  3. Reviewing your website regularly – Yes, you’re a busy individual running a business, but you can’t use that as an excuse to have a limp website. Always keep in mind that your website is essentially your online business card to the world. As a result of this, it needs to be functioning properly on a regular basis. Pages that take forever to upload, broken links, making it difficult to find contact information on your site, these are all glitches that can ultimately lead customers elsewhere. Be sure to regularly review your website, looking to see if there are any notable hiccups on there. Put yourself in the customer’s seat for a moment. If you go on a site prepared to make a purchase, isn’t it frustrating to get all the way to the checkout stage, only to have it not work? Make sure your site is not the one that has this scenario occurring on a regular basis. Also check your site to make sure it is providing worthwhile information to your customers, including blog articles. Your articles should focus specifically on your industry, along with how you are making things better for customers and improving their buying experiences.

If your business has been lagging a bit in going out of the way for customers, you still have time to change that.

From making their credit card purchases with you fast and secure to rewarding them for being devoted customers, there is so much you can do on a daily basis to treat your customers the right way.

In turn, many of them will continue doing business with you moving forward.

If that sounds like a prescription for success, it surely is. 

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

 

Guideline on trading stocks online

Stock trading has come a long way since its intense popularity in Wall Street. Before the various developments in technology, people intending to engage in stock trading had to rely on the services of a stock broker. The stock broker would buy or sell shares on the client’s behalf depending on the nature of the market and would then charge a fee for services rendered. However, changes brought about by advancement in computer technology have made it possible for people to engage in stock trading online. It is now possible for an individual to buy or sell stocks online which is faster and a stock broker is not necessarily required.

stocks

Stock trading involves either selling or buying stock which shares belonging to a particular company for the purpose of making a profit. Even though stock trading is a means of getting rich, acting on wrong information may lead to an individual making great losses. It is, therefore, important to understand how online stock trading works so as to have all the information necessary to make the decision of whether t buy or sell stock. Like in most businesses, the decision to buy or sell a stock is determined by the supply and demand that exists in the market. People Buying stock in a particular company belief that they will be willing to own shares of the company with time. If the popularity of the company continues to increase, traders will start competing for owning its shares and thus boost its sale price. Changes in the value of the business or other shifts in the stock market may influence its popularity and improvement.

Even though the decision of which stocks to buy may be challenging, two methods have proved helpful in guiding traders on what decision to make. One method is the Fundamental analysis process which involves analysing the public statements and financial reports of a company to determine the stability of the business. The method analyses documents like balance sheets, news releases and income statements, to mention a few, which are available online with tutorials on how to evaluate them. Technical analysis is also a method founded on the notion that changes in the stock market prices follow certain patterns that can be detected and the stock traded so as to make profits. Even though they do not accept this method as the Fundamental analysis method, traders in the stock market combine the two approaches in deciding whether to buy or sell their stock.

Online stock trading requires a good command of the scholarship and adequate information on the company’s stock a trader wants to buy or sell. Research is, therefore, important as it enables one to evaluate the nature of the company before investing in it. Companies such as CMC Markets provide ratings for specific companies obtained from an analysis conducted by professionals. Such ratings are important because they act as indicators of whether to buy or sell the stock of the companies mentioned. Verifying the authenticity of the information given can be done through examining the analyst’s records which provide an idea of the value held by their opinions.

Such online trading services are very helpful and greatly influence the decision of whether to hold, sell or buy the stock at a particular company. Although one can engage in online stock trading directly, online brokers are quite helpful especially with their vast experience in stock trading. When deciding to rely on the services of an online broker, it is important to consider the level of services they will offer and the amount they charge for every service they provide. Companies that offer personal advice on investments are particularly useful to people who are new to online stock trading. It is, however, important to seek out brokers that provide the means of trading in more advanced fields such as margin trading as skills in dealing in stock trade develops.

For individuals who insist on trading on themselves, discount online broker services can be quite helpful in making decisions. The individual will be not only able to buy and sell stock but also exchange-traded funds, certificates of deposits, bonds and mutual funds to mention a few. The individual will, however, make the final decision on whether to buy or sell on each investment made. Reading financial websites and trading in the penny stock markets can also be quite helpful in enhancing the skills that one will require to trade in the online stock market successfully.