Small business owners/resilience

  • Organic SEO & the Small Business Owner – Day 1

    For most small businesses available budget for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is usually close to the bottom of the list.  It is typically expensive to pay someone to help you and you still end up working with them to ensure that their messages are in line with your corporate message and mission statement.

    Investing in your website is a good thing and needs to be done if you generate most of your business from it.  Websites and blogs are both living and breathing entities.  You must feed them regularly to ensure that traffic is continually driven to them both.

    If you get into pattern of posting to your site or blog at least once a week, you will soon see the results.  Below are some points that you need to consider that will help you increase your organic SEO rank and therefore increase the number of times your URL appears at the top of search engine results.

    What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

    Search engine optimization is the process webmasters use to get their content to rank highly on search engines like Google and Microsoft Edge.

    Search engines have a variety of algorithms that they use to generate ranks for websites and blogs.  Although they change their different algorithms regularly, the basic concepts you need to complete to achieve results do not change.  If you cover the basics you will be sure to increase your organic traffic and results.

    1. Do your Keyword Research

    Keywords are everything.  You must remember that Google is a machine.  It matches the words you write to determine if it’s a fit compared to the queries people are searching for.  Your website must be optimized for keywords to increase the chances of your content ranking for a keyword.

    I highly recommend using KWFinder to do keyword research: It will help you to determine if a keyword has people searching for it and give you insights about how competitive a keyword will be.  There are a lot of websites that offer keyword research, both free and paid for.  Choose the one that works best for you and your budget.

    The idea is that you want to optimize your posts for keywords that have more monthly searches but are not very competitive.  The less competitive the keyword, the more chance your post or webpage will come up in the results.

    1. Optimize for Search Engine Optimization

    Add your chosen keyword(s) in the fields listed below to optimize your pages for Google.  Depending on the software you have used to build your website will depend on what you need to do to find these fields.  For example, if your site is built in WordPress, download a free plugin called Yoast.  Yoast allows you to edit all these fields for all the pages and posts that you have published.

    • Title
    • Meta description
    • Alt text of images
    • Subheadings
    • Your internal links
    • Within the body text of your article
    • There are more, but these are the key areas you need to focus on.
    1. Write Content that Calls to the Person Reading your Website or Blog.

    Take into consideration that all changes that Google makes to its algorithm has its end user experience in mind.  For example, Google knows that users do not like popups, so they negatively score websites that use them, and they also know that posts and blogs that are longer give the user more value for money, so they rank those higher.

    It goes without saying, that you need to write about what people what to hear about.  So, when you write your website content or blog, ensure that the topics are current, interesting and well written.  Double…Triple…. quadropoly check for grammar errors and typos.

    1. Understand your Competitors

    Online Marketing - Unique ResultsWhy? You can check out the best-ranking SEO keywords that your competitors have, and then copy them.  This can be achieved manually; however, I advise SEMRush – you must pay for it, but it is worth the money.  There are other options like SEMRush that are free, but you get what you pay for!  SEMRush are all about Search Engine Optimization and when used will definitely increase your results.

    1. Self-host your Website or Blog

    This does not mean that you need to buy a web server and set it up yourself.  It means that you should NOT use Wix, Weebly or other DIY website design tools.  Without a self-hosted website, trying to rank for content is an uphill battle. Wix, Weebly etc., do not rank well on Google search engine.

    1. Good Web Design & Theme

    You may not see it now, but the website theme you use will affect your do-it-yourself SEO efforts in many ways.

    For example:

    • A good website theme will ensure that your website is mobile responsive.
    • A good website theme will not slow down your site unnecessarily.
    • A good website theme has built-in SEO functions.
    • A good website theme looks good and keeps visitors around.

    These functions should not stop you for looking for places for you to work on your Search Engine Optimization rules!  There are thousands of themes out there built for a variety of different applications.  Choose the theme that appeals to you the most, then research for the above features.

    1. Create a Brand that Stands Out

    User retention is incredibly important. If people land on your site from Google and then leave immediately, Google takes note and adjusts your rankings accordingly.

    You want to have a solid brand that stands out so that people don’t just read your post, they end up on your website for a long, long, time.  Your brand must be memorable so that people can refer others to your website and blog.

    1. Create an Audience of Loyal Readers with your Email List

    This applies more to a blog page than a website page but a blog post with people visiting definitely has a higher chance of being ranked.

    Social Media will allow you to send a ton of traffic to your blog posts, so that these people can then share, link and generally create interest in your post.  We have all heard the phrase “viral”.  You want your post to go viral for good reasons.  A highly shared page is more likely to be classified by Google as having “high-quality content” and that is worth being in the top 10.

    Prompt users to subscribe to your blog and page.  This will help you to build an email list that you can then send information to about your latest posts every time you publish.

    1. Long Tail Keywords

    If I had to start over in a new niche and newly launched website, I would invest heavily in writing articles optimized for long-tail keywords.  Long-tail keywords often have hyper-relevance and it will get you a tribe of people squarely in your target audience.

    For instance, by ranking for “newsletter content ideas” instead of “newsletter”, you can create a community of people with a specific need that you can solve and monetize easily.  It is also a lot easier to rank for the less competitive long-tail keywords.

    1. Write Regular Content

    Regular PostsYou must write regularly if you want organic traffic.  Once a year is not going to get the results you are hoping for.  No articles = no ranking = no search traffic = no subscribers = no business.  Everyone has things that annoy them the most…for me it is bloggers and news outlets that do not date stamp their articles.  For good or bad, the internet is forever.  News and information fast become out of date.  By date stamping your articles and blogs, users can appreciate your article with a difference view.

    1. Get Social Shares

    A blog post with traction is a lot more likely to get ranked than a blog post with no visitors.  Post away on all social media platforms.  Ask friends and colleagues to share your posts to help you increase your traffic.  Depending on your topic you might also try using Pinterest.  It is very effective alternative to drive traffic to any blog post or website, aside from Google.

    There are a variety of social sharing plugins.  You can review Hootsuite and Social Warfare.

    1. Market your website

    We have been discussing both blog posts and websites interchangeably throughout this article.  Promoting both simultaneously will generate great results.  I am avid reader of the Entrepreneur magazine and website.  They had a great article that gives you some great ideas for marketing your website – Here is the link  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283832

    1. Use Yoast SEO Plugin

    The Yoast SEO plugin is a great plugin to use to help you to optimize your WordPress website and blog posts.  It is worth the extra 5 minutes before you hit the Publish button to give Yoast some attention.  Make sure all of your Yoast comments have a GREEN DOT!  At that point you get a pat on the back!

    If you don’t have Yoast SEO plugin installed yet, you must. It’s one of the best WordPress plugins available on the internet.

    1. HTTPS your website

    You may have heard of Google’s not-so-recent move to prioritize websites with an SSL certificate.  Basically, your website URL will start with “https” instead of “http”.  There are a variety of places now, that you get a free SSL and using WordPress plugins you can easily add your SSL certificate to your website and blog.  Having an SSL cert is especially important if you are selling and accepting payments on your website.  It indicates to the user that you take their online security and identity seriously.  It also adds a little “lock” icon in the address bar beside your website address.  Once installed, if you are still not seeing the lock icon, contact your hosting company.  They will be able to help you ensure that you entire site is secure.

    1. Install a Sitemap

    Having a sitemap for your website is important.  Yoast has a setting that allows the plugin to automatically create a sitemap.  By having a sitemap, your page will be indexed quickly and more efficiently for Google and other search engines.

    Thank you for your time reading my article.  I hope that I was able to answer questions about SEO and take away some of the mystery that surrounds it.  If you need help with your website or marketing material please email me at alyson@webdesignshop.us or call me on 601-667-0009.  You can also use the form below to contact us.

    Alyson Stasek

    Owner at The Little Web Design Shop


    Package Options from The Little Web Design Shop

    #webdesign #webdevelopment #SEO #SearchEngineOptimization #smallbusiness #mississippi #tlwds #bloggin #onlinepromotion

  • Online Networking

    Online Networking and How to be Successful

    This is a great article and thought I would share that looks at Networking Online | Websites | SEO.  Enjoy, Learn, Generate Business!

    As small business owners, we should all take the time to learn more about how we can promote our business.  Traditional advertising and postcards work 75% of the time, but by sticking to those methods will mean you are missing a big chuck of your potential customers.


    Email Alyson@webdesignshop.us  or call 601-667-0009 if you need help with your website, marketing materials, SEO or social media

    #onlinenetworking #smallbusiness #mississippi #website #promotion #marketing #SEO #searchengineoptimization #focusonresults

    The Little Web Design Shop

    If you need any help with your website, marketing materials or just need to ask questions please call me at 601 667 0009 or use the forms below to contact us and subscribe to our newsletter.

  • Why is it that most small business owners do not research the difference between 100% custom, and template based websites?

    Just saw a question on Alignable about web design and small businesses, and thought I would post the question here and my response. Let me know what you think:


    Why is it that most small business owners do not research the difference between 100% custom, and template based websites?

    1. Small businesses run on a tight budget…a fully newly written website coded just for them is not usually an option, and yes they are way more expensive than using a WordPress theme for example.

    2. WordPress has some great templates and themes that are fully functional for small businesses and allows them to incorporate all the features that they need, the site looks custom, and they also able to optimize for SEO using relevant keywords.

    A good WordPress developer will take the tools and make them work effectively. I would not suggest to small businesses that they use Wix or other similar template options as yes, they are restrictive and yes they typically do not look professional and on a long term basis they end up expensive and ineffective.

    3. I do not believe that anything is better than nothing…a dated, badly designed website will turn clients off and stop them from calling your company. It makes your company look inefficient and out of touch with todays world.

    4. It is not because business owners are apathetic (read some of the comments below before I responded) and to be honest, I think that is an insult to most small business owners. A small business owner cannot know everything! Like any business professional they need to delegate when they do not have the relevant knowledge. In fact, the sign of a great manager and owner is the ability to delegate and to accept that they do not have all the answers. It has nothing to do with being unwilling to learn or to expand their repertoire.

    5. Being a small business owner is challenging at the best of times and the owner needs to focus on what they do best…serving and supporting their clients. Web design is not a skill that most small business owners have in their arsenal. Doing due diligence on picking a web designer is based on a variety of things…location, price, value for money and customer service are used just to begin with. These are the things that most small business owners understand irrelevant of the product and service that they are selling themselves.

    6. Referrals are the best way to find a contractor/web designer and small business owners recognize this. That is why Alignable is such an awesome tool and networking site for all small business owners.

    Let me know what you think…either via comments below or email me at alyson@webdesignshop.us!

  • My First Job!

    From the Desk of Marold Studesville, Avid Entrepreneur & Owner/CEO of Transport Financial Services, LLC

    Do you remember your very first job other than just chores around the house? I do!

    I was five years old when I got my first real job, and I remember it like it was yesterday. We lived In Arkansas where my dad stayed busy working in his pawn shop, and as a shoe cobbler, making, and repairing shoes for the town. We were the only family in town with a yard full of pomegranate trees, seventeen to be exact.

    When I entered the first (1st) grade my Dad, Albert Studesville gave me my own pomegranate tree. After working with him I learned a lot during his first five years of my life. He taught me about working him with the public, and great customer service. As my mentor he helped me with a spill, and let me take two pomegranates to school each day to sell. I sold them for two to three cents a piece which was a lot of money for a five-year-old, 65 years ago. Since, I made money each day at school my Dad let me use some of my change for snacks, and invest the rest in U.S. Series E Saving Bonds.

    “The Boss does not sleep, he rests. The Boss is never late, he is delayed. The Boss never leaves work, his presence is required elsewhere.” Malcolm Forbes

    I talked to some of the kids that would steal the pomegranate if they got a chance, and shared the delicious Persian fruit filled with bright red seeds to market my product. My dad helped me to know, and understand the product to promote its sale. When he saw that I had learned, he helped me to prepare a presentation packet of ten bright red pomegranates to go up-town to Mr. Simpson’s market to sell on a larger scale. With his guidance, I made my first order at five cent a piece. I was rolling in money, because there was no competition.

    To this day, my business practice is based on honesty, and candor. This is reflective in the forty-five year tenure of my transportation firm, Transport Financial Services, LLC (TFS), and my consistently maintaining an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Pensacola, Florida.

    This “Thought of the Day”, and long remembrance of my Mentor, and Dad is a constant reminder of what I’ve learned about business, support, and services.

    Thanks, Dad!

    You can contact Marold at Marold@TFSMall.com or on his cell (662) 542-2908

    www.TFSMall.com www.eTruckBook.com  www.empowermentlogistics.com


  • Be tough skinned, appreciate your clients, solve challenges


    Imagine this:  If you had $86,400 and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset and throw away all of the remaining $86,390 away in hopes of getting back at the person who took your $10.  Or move on and live?  Right, move on and live!  See, we all have 86,400 seconds each day.  Don’t let someone‘s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 86,390.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, life is bigger than yet!

    ……The Minds Consciousness (FaceBook)

    This quote that I spotted on FaceBook a few days ago, made a huge impact on me as a small business owner, an independent contractor and as a person.  It truly made me think and prompted me to write this blog entry to perhaps help other small business owners and contractors,  I am pretty confident that I am not the only one that has lacked the resilience and strength to move past those 10 seconds.

    I also knew that those 10 second moments have been affecting me badly and that to ensure that my day ended productively I needed to get over those 10 seconds, solve the issue if there was one and to not harbor any negative feelings towards myself or the challenge that I had faced.

    So, have you ever felt that sinking feeling in your stomach that no matter what you do, there is no chance of resolving an issue with a customer?  Typically it lasts more than 10 seconds for me.  Guilt is part of my makeup.  I must not show my feelings as guilt though because when it comes to family and friends in my life they look at me as the forever optimist.  The glass is always half full!

    “Don’t sweat the small stuff”…I have fully accepted that I do sweat the small stuff and to some degree this has conflicted with my constant need to have everything right and to ensure that what I deliver at the end of day is a good product and service.  On a daily basis, you are pressured to make quick decisions, turn around a project in way less time that you really want to spend on it, to create based on partial information and to juggle more things each and every day.

    If you are starting to sweat the small things, and are getting more and more frustrated, it is a good time to go and have a cigarette break…I use this phrase as if I am always taking a smoking break.  Fact is I have never smoked in my entire life but my work life started in the late 80’s, smoking breaks were the hip thing to do.  For me personally, I grab a cup of tea, and go sit on my porch, or I go visit with my horses for a few minutes.  This time away from my desk solves a lot of the problems that were mounting up a few ways.  I have found that I have put my trust in people that are able to resolve things and are as proactive as I am.   If I am getting frustrated I am only inhibiting their abilities.  Taking a 10 minute break allows you come back with positive thoughts and a fresh mind to come up with the ideas needed to creatively solve the problem.

    It is late afternoon and a client emails/skypes you with a problem that you may have caused.  Those 10 seconds used to kick in straight away for me.  I would physically start to sweat, get upset and to question my memory.  I admit that I do have a bad memory and for as long as I “remember” I have used mnemonics to help me to categorize tasks.  Because of my memory issues I like to organize everything, follow the rule of one touch on all emails and if possible, not have to do a series of things that are not standard each time I send out a file or update.  So when I read the message, I stop, think, and then I consider what actions I need to take.  Usually, if it is a problem I have caused, I should be able solve it pretty quickly.  Client created problems are usually a little tougher but they are typically more receptive to your solution and ultimately grateful for your help.  The difficulty is making sure your client is happy with the solution irrelevant of how the issue was created.

    The old adage, that software companies used to sell their software with problems, so that they can “fix” it for you quickly and then make you feel beholden to them is not a good option.  If your client has contacted you then they are typically already frustrated.  First rule; accept ownership to solve the challenge.  Second rule; offer a solution that is quick and effective.  Third rule; give them a good idea of how much time that solution is going to take.  If they need it quicker, indicate that you want to make sure that the solution is the best possible answer and will generate the best possible outcome in the timeline available.  Rushing something usually generates other errors and that is most definitely not the answer and it is another opening to losing more than 10 seconds of your life and probably your client!

    By being calm, not sweating the small stuff and solving the challenges as they hit your desk methodically your day will end on a much higher and positive position and even if you still have things to tackle the next day you will know that you have done everything that you possibly can.  Never think that not sweating the small stuff means you can forget it or not solve it!  It just means that you need to solve it and be able to put it on your “DONE” list.

    It has been painful but I have learnt over the years that the customer is not “always right”, but it is just as important that you deal with that situation in the same calm, methodical way.  Alienating customers is not the best idea, but being honest with them is.  Letting them off by not telling them what they may have done wrong, just means that they may do it again.  So pick your words wisely and suggest that there may be a way for this not to happen in the future and offer a variety of different steps that will allow you both to take everything into consideration.

    Overall, live for the moment; do not live to work, but rather work to live!  Never get that sinking feeling again, but rather take the opportunity to learn something new, and to create a good memory for you, your team and your client!