Free marketing resources for small businesses! VistaLeads.com

Free marketing resources for small businesses! VistaLeads.com
One of the main reasons small businesses remain small is because they don’t have access to the knowledge they need to grow. This ridiculously AWESOME online content library is here to change that forever!

After you watch this video, head on over to http://VistaLeads.com/library to get your hands on our free entrepreneur education courses!

Weird promo from Full Color Resources specializing is small business printing

Weird promo from Full Color Resources specializing is small business printing

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A fun printing promo for fullcolorresources.com supplier of printing for small business, We supply high quality printing , great prices and incredible service. Business cards, postcards, brochures, flyers, direct mail, letterhead, envelopes & custom printing. We also provide banner, vehicle graphics and design services

Tech Expo for Entrepreneurs Coming to Houston in June

The technology you deploy for the day-to-day operations of your business will greatly determine how effective and productive you become. Keeping up with what is available in the marketplace for your particular industry requires a proactive approach. Attending tech expos is one way of seeing what is on the horizon.

TECHSPO Houston 2018 is a two-day tech expo which will showcase next-generation technology and innovation in Internet, Mobile, AdTech, MarTech, and SaaS Technology from June 6-8. The expo is attended by innovators, entrepreneurs, founders, business owners, digital executives and many others from around the world.

You can get more details on the TECHSPO in Houston, as well as other events, contests or award listings and post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

 



TECHSPO Houston 2018

TECHSPO Houston 2018
June 6, 2018, Houston, TX

TECHSPO Houston 2018 is a 2-day technology expo which takes place JUNE 6 – 7, 2018 at the luxurious Houston Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel in Houston, Ontario. TECHSPO Houston brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and evangelists looking to set the pace in our advanced world of technology. TECHSPO Houston 2018 promises to be better than ever and we’re excited to see all the amazing tech companies and talent that will join us. Register today!

 


Entrepreneurs Cruise 2018Entrepreneurs Cruise 2018
April 22, 2018, Orlando, FL

Are you an Entrepreneur and need to get away and take a break? Ready to recharge, rejuvenate in new surroundings and be inspired by other like minds? Then, you can’t miss the 4th annual Entrepreneurs Cruise! Entrepreneurs Cruise 2018 takes place April 22nd to 29th, 2018 onboard the Royal Caribbean ‘Oasis of the Seas’ Cruise Ship departing Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida, sailing to Philipsburg (St. Maarten), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Labadee (Haiti). Register today!


DigiMarCon East 2018 - Digital Marketing ConferenceDigiMarCon East 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
May 10, 2018, New York, New York

DigiMarCon East 2018 Digital Marketing Conference takes place May 10th to 11th, 2018 at the luxurious New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York City.
It’s the one digital marketing event you can’t afford to miss! Whether your goal is to reinforce customer loyalty, improve lead generation, increase sales, or drive stronger consumer engagement, DigiMarCon East 2018’s agenda will help attendees enhance their marketing efforts. Sessions will focus on building traffic, expanding brand awareness, improving customer service and gaining insight into today’s latest digital tools. Register today!


Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Spring 2018 Franchise Business Expo. Meet with Top Franchisors!Spring 2018 Franchise Business Expo. Meet with Top Franchisors!
March 27, 2018, Lafayette, CA

Don’t miss an exclusive opportunity meet face to face with select franchisors expanding in the SF Bay Area. The first 50 attendees will receive a free copy of E-Myth Revisited. All attendees will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win an iPad!


Growth & Success ConGrowth & Success Con
September 17, 2018, Online

This small business virtual conference is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs at all stages who are stuck in the daily grind of building their businesses and struggle to get solid advice and guidance. An amazing panel of experts in various disciplines and business coaches will share tips & tricks on topics including Growth, Marketing, Management & Business Building for Success. Register today!


More Events

  • Digital Meetup London – Marketing Experts, Web Devs & Designers, SAAS & Others
    March 20, 2018, London, UK
  • Getting Certified and Doing Business with the Federal Government
    March 20, 2018, Hayward, CA
  • Bootstrappers: Grow Your Business Even If You Are An Introvert
    March 20, 2018, Sunnyvale, CA
  • LEAP Tech Talent Conference, San Francisco 2018
    March 20, 2018, San Francisco, CA
  • Business Networking for Professional Success
    March 21, 2018, New York, NY
  • Give Me 5: Winning Proposal Pricing
    March 21, 2018, Online
  • East Bay Pitch Fest
    March 22, 2018, Oakland, CA
  • How to Create Profitable and Impactful Event
    March 22, 2018, Atlanta, GA
  • Online Marketing Bootcamp
    March 22, 2018, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • BUSINESS LUNCHEON at Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market
    March 22, 2018, Miami, FL
  • Dig Deep: Unconventional Ways to Grow Your Brand Webinar
    March 22, 2018, Online
  • Uptima San Francisco – Creating a Business Roadmap Application Deadline
    March 23, 2018, San Francisco, CA
  • The 6th Annual Responsible Business Summit New York 2018
    March 26, 2018, New York, NY
  • 28th Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
    March 26, 2018, San Diego, CA
  • PATCA Consultants Networking Lunch-South Bay
    March 27, 2018, Sunnyvale, CA
  • Cryptoconomy Summit, Tampa 2018
    March 28, 2018, Tampa, FL
  • Uptima Oakland – Freelancer Accelerator Application Deadline
    March 30, 2018, Oakland, CA
  • AWIB Spring Open House
    April 3, 2018, New York, New York
  • XLIVE – Event Data and Analytics Summit 2018 – Eventtech Conference Las Vegas
    April 3, 2018, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Ecommerce Operations Summit 2018
    April 3, 2018, Columbus, OH

More Contests

  • Public Vote to Crown America’s Most Unique Small Business Underway
    November 8, 2018

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Tech Expo for Entrepreneurs Coming to Houston in June” was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Pro Techniques to Improve Your Business Blogging

By now, you probably know that blogging and creating other types of online content can provide a big boost to your small business marketing strategy. But it takes a lot of planning to actually make content work toward your main business goals. For some helpful insights on stepping up those efforts, check out the tactics and strategies that have worked for members of the online small business community.

Use a Content Scorecard to Publish Better Blog Posts

When it comes to creating blog content for your business, quality is just as important as quantity, if not more so. To make sure all of your posts are up to professional standards, use the content scorecard included in this Social Media Examiner post by Garrett Moon.

Choose the Right Keywords for Your Blog Niche

If you want readers to be able to organically find our blog content, you need to include some relevant keywords. Choosing those keywords can be a challenge, so check out the recent Abtech Blog post by Abasifreke Etop for some useful tips.

Get More Email Subscribers for Your Blog

To make sure readers actually see your blog content when it’s posted, it can help to offer an email subscription option so they can get new posts right in their inboxes. To get more email subscribers for your blog, here are some tips from Sandeep Mallya of 99signals. You can also see what BizSugar members are saying about the post.

Use Your Blog to Improve Your Business’s Online Reputation

Whether it’s through blogging, social media, reviews or other types of content, it’s important to monitor and work to improve what is said about your business online. The reputation you cultivate for your business can make a major impression on potential customers. Learn more in the Smallbiztechnology.com post by Marc Prosser.

Shape Your Blogging and Social Media Strategy with These Tools

Choosing the right tools is an essential part of creating an effective blogging and social media strategy built to last. There are tons of different options out there. Here are a few essentials to include in your toolkit from Avinash Nair of Right Mix Marketing.

Wow Your Readers with Personalized Content

Creating generic content for your blog or marketing channels isn’t going to get you the specific results your business is looking for. Instead, you can create personalized content that’s catered to your exact target audience. For more on the subject, check out the DIY Marketers post by Megan Totka.

Connect with Customers to Beat the Competition in Sales

Blogging and content marketing can be great methods for making meaningful connections with customers. And those connections can actually help you improve your business’s sales numbers, according to Chris London of Pixel Productions. BizSugar members also shared thoughts on the post.

Consider These Budget Friendly Link Building Tactics

Another way to get traffic to your blog or other online content is by working to get more quality links to your content from outside sources. There are tons of different methods you can use to work toward this goal. Check out some budget friendly suggestions from James Brockbank of Search Engine Journal.

Create Content That Gets More Traffic and Links

In fact, one great way to increase links and improve your reach is to improve your content to make it more shareable. Anil Agarwal offers some tips for doing just that in a recent Basic Blog Tips post.

Use Customer and Competitive Research to Shape Your Blogging

If you want to create great blog posts and marketing materials, you need to first do your research. Digging into customer and competitor data can help you determine what type of materials are going to be most effective. Sam Welch elaborates in recent Marketing Land post you won’t want to miss.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Pro Techniques to Improve Your Business Blogging” was first published on Small Business Trends

Technology Resources for Small Business

Technology Resources for Small Business
Whether you are a new business or just starting our here are some great resources that might be useful in your business.

http://www.massielawpllc.com/2016/07/technology-resources/

Top 10 Freelance Gigs Available in the US Right Now

10 Top Freelance Fields in the US Right Now

FlexJobs has reported the top freelance career fields and the top 30 companies hiring this workforce so far in 2018.

While freelancers aren’t eligible for benefits, they have more flexibility and freedom than traditional employees. This may explain why a FlexJobs survey showed freelancers working remotely or from home are generally happier than more traditional employees. In the US, the total number of workers freelancing has risen to 35 percent.

Small businesses are the fastest growing segment of organizations using remote workers and freelancers. As freelancers are also technically identified as small businesses, these two groups are changing the labor market and how talent is acquired.

Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs, explained how this work model has changed the workforce in the past decade. In a press release, she explains, “The demographics of freelancers are just as varied, spanning generations, educational backgrounds and career levels, but they share an important commonality, which is that they freelance because they value work-life balance and flexible work arrangements can help them achieve it.”

Top Careers and Jobs

The top five careers were in computer and IT, accounting and finance, HR and recruiting, editing, and administrative. Freelance jobs such as data analyst, receptionist, project manager, bookkeeper, content designer, QA specialist, chemist, proposal writer, and HR specialist were posted on FlexJobs matching those careers.

The 10 Top Freelance Fields

The top 10 freelance jobs in the U.S. at present include:

  1. Computer & IT
  2. Accounting & Finance
  3. HR & Recruiting
  4. Editing, Proofreading, and Writing
  5. Administrative
  6. Project Management
  7. Data Entry
  8. Research Analysis
  9. Software Development
  10. Technical Support

The Companies

The list of companies hiring freelancers shows there is no one specific industry. Companies across all segments are using the pool of workers who identify themselves as freelancers.

The Top 30 Companies Hiring for Freelance Jobs in 2018 So Far

Freelancers seeing work may want to pursue it with one of these 30 companies already known for offering these opportunities:

  1. Kelly Services
  2. Real Staffing
  3. Kforce
  4. Accounting Principals
  5. Randstad
  6. Ajilon
  7. Dahl Consulting
  8. Computer Futures
  9. Onward Search
  10. Robert Half International
  11. Creative Group
  12. Aerotek
  13. TEKsystems
  14. Adecco
  15. VocoVision
  16. WinterWyman
  17. AFIRM
  18. EXL
  19. 24 Seven
  20. Apex Systems
  21. Judge Group
  22. excelHR
  23. ics – Infinity Consulting Solutions
  24. Facebook
  25. Paladin
  26. Horizontal Integration
  27. Procom Services
  28. i. Systems
  29. K12
  30. MATRIX Resources

Looking for a Job?

If you are a freelancer, FlexJobs makes the following five recommendations to land your next job.

  1. Figure out your freelance niche.
  2. Set up a solid freelance foundation.
  3. Consider your network.
  4. Reach out to old employers.
  5. Drum up new business, because as a freelancer, you are your own business.

FlexJobs has a good vantage point of the trends taking place with remote jobs. The company offers an online platform for job seekers and companies featuring freelance work opportunities in more than 50 categories. The 2018 top 100 list, as well as this roundup, was whittled down from the more than 49,000 organizations who posted the highest number of freelance job openings on FlexJobs for the year.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Top 10 Freelance Gigs Available in the US Right Now” was first published on Small Business Trends

In the News: Big Business Tools Now Available to Small Business

Technology is giving small businesses advantages previously only enjoyed by big companies. This week, a lot of companies serving small businesses released new tools to help companies like yours bridge the tech gap.

QuickBooks released a new platform for accountants to manage small businesses. Salesforce and Salesfloor each have new products out to help with turning browsers into customers. And Wix has a new logo tool to boost your marketing efforts.

There’s all this and plenty more happening this week. Check out all the headlines in this week’s small business news and information roundup.

Management

QuickBooks  Accountant Apps Provision Small Businesses and their Financial Advisors

The new release of QuickBooks Accountant Apps Program from Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) gives accountants a platform for making top-rated apps available for their customers. QuickBooks Accountant Apps Program Accountants can now provision, purchase and manage apps recommended by accounting professionals and fully compatible with the QuickBooks suite of products.

Marketing Tips

Wix Now Has a Logo Maker for Small Businesses

The new Wix (NASDAQ: WIX) Logo Maker gives small businesses the ability to create a free logo to boost their marketing efforts. Thousands of small businesses rely on Wix and its DIY website building platform to create their site. With the Wix Logo Maker, you will be able to create a logo designed by you to fit your brand and customizable to be displayed across different platforms.

The New PicMonkey Focuses on Selling to Small Business Brands

PicMonkey has announced a new visual communication platform looking to address the space between Adobe and Canva. The missing middle is an addressable emerging market worth $5 billion potentially serving both personal and professional customers including individuals, small to medium businesses and social media teams.

Retail Trends

Holiday Returns by Customers are at 28%, Survey Says

The 2017 holiday season saw 28 percent of the gifts people purchased returned, at a value of $90 billion. The new infographic, report and survey by RedStag Fulfillment and Optro not only looks at the return rates of gifts, but how they impact businesses.

Paysafe and Verifone Offer Mobile POS to Restaurants and Small Retailers

A new partnership between Verifone (NYSE: PAY) and Paysafe will provide quick service for restaurants and small and medium-sized businesses across the United States with innovative payment solutions. Paysafe is a global provider of payment solutions while Verifone specializes in connecting payment devices to the cloud.

Sales

New Salesforce Essentials Gives Small Businesses Enterprise Level Tools

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) just announced the release of Essentials providing small businesses for the first time with a variety of apps for what the company calls the number one global CRM platform. Sales Cloud Essentials and Service Cloud Essentials are the first Salesforce Essential apps available.

SALESmanago Offers Entrepreneurs One of Its Marketing Tools for Free

SALESmanago is giving a single marketing automation tool free to young entrepreneurs and startups in all industries. The offer from SALESmanago is invaluable for individuals and companies just starting their entrepreneurial journey. And with digital presence now a key component for business success, using digital channels for your marketing is critical.

Economy

Small Businesses Add 68,000 Jobs in February

With 10,000 more jobs than January, the ADP Small Business Report shows private sector small business employment increased by 68,000 jobs in February. February 2018 ADP Small Business Report The ADP (NASDAQ:ADP) report is stressing the importance of small businesses in contributing to the overall economy of the country.

Employment

March Madness Will Draw Your Employees’ Focus from Work, Surveys Says

The madness has begun. And if you have millennial employees, there’s a good chance the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will distract them. Employee Productivity During March Madness You’re likely to see the famed basketball tournament brackets floating around your office.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: How One Company Aims to Go from Selling Socks to Changing the World

Some businesses start with a major change or innovation. Others start with something small — like a sock. The Cause International is an example of the latter. But though the idea started small, the team still hopes it can make a big impact. The clothing company puts a major focus on giving back to communities around the world, from Chicago to Guatemala.

Small Business Loans

Government Says Most Poultry Farms Are NOT Small Businesses, Can’t Get SBA Loans

An evaluation made by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General regarding loans made to poultry farmers and growers concluded most do not meet regulatory and SBA requirements for eligibility.

US Chamber of Commerce Backs New Bill to Help Main Street Businesses

The US Chamber of Commerce sent a “key vote” letter to the Senate in support of S.2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The bill looks to provide community banks with regulatory relief after the blanket implementation of financial regulations following the 2008 financial crisis.

Small Business Operations

BlueJeans Updates Meetings Platform, Can Your Small Business Team Benefit?

BlueJeans has redesigned and updated its meeting platform with a new user experience to better serve the collaborative workforce of today — including your small business team. The latest BlueJeans desktop app was developed and then tested with thousands of users to make sure it delivered with the new features.

Social Media

The New YouTube Studio Offers More Insight for Your Small Business Channel

The new YouTube Studio is finally here. YouTube Studio is Out of Beta YouTube Studio features a new dashboard and three new metrics to help you gauge the popularity of your videos uploaded to the site. The tools help you manage your videos and all the other activity on your channels. These updates were launched in beta a little while ago.

Taxes

Cracking the Code on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: How It Will Impact Your Business

Normally at this time of year, individuals and small business owners are solely focused on their 2017 taxes. But with the passage of the sweeping tax overhaul, this is no ordinary year. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act takes affect starting with your 2018 return and beyond, but the changes are so significant, it’s important to understand the bill and how it will impact your small business.

Lawyers and Law Firms Not Seeing the Benefits of Federal Tax Cuts

Law firms aren’t jumping for joy in the same way many other small businesses are because of the recent passage of a new tax bill. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes plenty of deductions and changes that could benefit small businesses in various industries. But it also imposes some new limits on deductions that may be especially relevant for law firms.

Technology Trends

Kradle Launches Small Business Management Software

Kradle announces a new software package designed to help small and medium-sized businesses in any industry manage their operations. The company touts its product as a self-managed software allowing businesses to achieve their competitive potential.

Microsoft iOS Camera App Turns Business Cards into Contacts

The Microsoft Pix camera app for your iPhone now has a business-friendly feature. The app lets you scan the business card of a contact you’ve just met. It takes the information on that business card and then updates your Contact data for that person. The app also scours LinkedIn to find the new business contact’s profile so the two of you can connect.

Only 20% of Tech Jobs are Held by Women, How About at Your Business? (INFOGRAPHIC)

After a long slump, the tech industry appears to be finally back in business. Surprisingly, however, that has not brought cheer for women techies. Women in Technology Statistics According to data compiled by virtual event solutions company, Evia, women make up less than 20 percent of U.S. tech jobs, even though they make up more than half of the U.S. workforce.
Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “In the News: Big Business Tools Now Available to Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

Canva how-to video: Recommended small business resources

Canva how-to video: Recommended small business resources
See more recommended small business resources at https://awakenbusinessconsulting.com/recommended-resources/

In this quick Canva how-to video I’m going to show you examples of ways I’ve used the free Canva graphic creation tool for many, many purposes (Facebook posts, Facebook ads, Pinterest posts, even the thumbnail for this video!). I’m also going to show you exactly how to use the tool for all your graphic needs.

You really can create your own graphics without being skilled in graphic design! I used to hire designers for so much and have to wait days or even weeks for every knew thing I needed. Now with Canva I not only save all that money, but I also save all that time waiting! When I need something, I make it, and get on with what my primary objective was. Wouldn’t that be nice? Well enter the Canva world and it will be. This how-to video is a really easy way to get start absolutely painlessly. Enjoy! And cheers to your success.

I’ve been in business a loooong time, and I’ve gotten my tools down to just those that deliver the best value for what they do. See the full resource guide on my site at https://awakenenterprises.com/recommended-resources/ for additional “best of class” tools to help you achieve your business goals.

And of course, if you have any questions about the video content, just comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Lawrence Cole of Google: Machine Learning Taking SEO Out of Black Box, Giving SMBs More Access to Insights

Last year at Nextiva’s NextCon event, one of the featured presentations was from Lawrence Cole, the Head of Mid-Market, U.S. West for Google. It was such a good session that I’ve been wanting to have him join me for a conversation for this series ever since.

2018 Search Marketing Trends

And this week I was able to talk with him and get his take on a number of themes around search, SEO, conversion rate optimization and how machine learning is democratizing the availability of insights in all these areas.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.  To hear the full interview,  watch the video below, or click on the embedded SoundCloud player.

* * * * *

Lawrence Cole of Google Discusses 2018 Search Marketing TrendsSmall Business Trends:  Maybe you can give us a little of your personal background.

Lawrence Cole: I actually got my start working as an engineer quite some time ago. I was a software engineer for EarthLink at the start of my career, back when they were, I guess you could say cresting in their trajectory some years ago.

I spent a lot of time in the logistics industry. I work in the crosses of several different departments, and functions.

I also spent a great deal of my time in the small business space. Starting small companies, working from small companies, so I spent a great deal of time developing an understanding what small companies go through. Even some of the initial digital marketing skills that I’m now able to apply, and lead new teams.

In a large tech company, they really began with me being a person who, either from my own, or someone else’s small businesses, figuring out things such as search engine optimization, email marketing, digital marketing. Even before we had social media, and Google Adwords, and these sorts of platforms. I’ve had kind of a mix of large company engagement, and small company engagement. Even now, a lot of the teams that I lead deal primarily with small companies, and start-ups. Sometimes maybe starting to begin to startup a small companies. Now they scale into half a billion, or a couple of billion dollars in revenue.

Small Business Trends:  How has search engine optimization changed over the last couple of years or so, and is it as important, or is it more important today than it was a couple years ago?

Lawrence Cole: I think it’s always important, because it is just one of many ways to get in front of people. I think that search engine optimization has become a little more commoditized than it used to be, which also, I think makes it a little more equitable of an opportunity. I can remember doing well in search engines had a lot to do with you being in a certain loop of people who had figured out some things, and they were way ahead of everyone else. Now, with all the information, with it is much less of a black box. It’s available for everyone, but it also makes it a lot more competitive as well, because the tools for success are more common in knowledge than they used to be. But, like I said, it’s always a worthy investment.

I think that you should look at a marketing and customer acquisition strategy very wholistically, as opposed to hanging your hat on any one thing by search engine optimization, or social media, or ads spend, to look at it in its totality, and to figure out, more important than anything else, where your perfect customer lives. One of the best platforms, and method is to reach out to them.

Small Business Trends:  There’s a lot of emphasis on CRO, conversion rate optimization. It seems like there’s so much coming at people. They’re looking for information. They’re making quick decisions. They’re also making quick decisions as to where do they spend that little piece of time that they have to try to figure out the challenge that you’re trying to solve. Maybe you could talk a little about the urgency of trying to get that person’s attentions that’s doing a search, and converting that attention into an actual interaction opportunity.

Lawrence Cole: I think one of the distinctions about customer acquisition as things have changed over the years is that focusing on urgency is not necessarily the way you want to go. For one, it is very difficult to influence consumers to do anything they don’t want to do in this economy. There are so many choices… There are so much that are educated on what their choices are, and their habits have changed. They spend a lot more time researching, because they can on their phone at their fingertips. Typically, when someone’s seriously considering what we have to offer, they probably already determined that they want what you have. They’re just trying to decide who to get it from.

In terms of optimizing for conversions, my advice is to focus on being as frictionless as possible. Making it simple, and as easy, and seamless as possible. Reducing the number of steps that it takes to be able to get to whatever it is you have to offer. I can’t tell you how many time that I, as a consumer, have been on the way to buying something from a company, and they ended up losing my money, because it just took me too many steps, or I had to wait too long, or something would not load. I just went elsewhere, and bought the exact same thing from someone else.

So, I think making your process as friction free as possible. Looking at things like the speed of your site, the number of steps that it takes to get to your shopping cart, the number of different types of payment that you take, do you even take PayPal, and not look just on your regular desktop site. You need to think about mobile, because more and more people are competing to go from, not just researching on mobile, but being very comfortable at purchasing on mobile, as well. Especially for things that are not huge, and major purchases. I think that all of those things should be considerations, but the bottom line focus really should be on how frictionless as possible can you make your customer acquisition process.

Small Business Trends:  It’s been months, but I remember in your presentation you talked about how Google has about seven properties that have over a billion active users. An incredible amount of interactions that Google has an opportunity to look at. How could a small business, how could any kind of business who’s looking to build relationships, look at any of the ways that Google, and the data that Google has to help them, leverage that data and be more strategic with the way that they interact, or try to get the attention of somebody they’re trying to do business with?

Lawrence Cole:  One of perennial challenges with small businesses, Brent, is a lack of access to leverage; Not having the financial resources, not having the headcount resources to compete with larger concerns in the same space. One of the things that is going to, and is already begun to democratize that, is machine learning; and how Google, in particular is using and leveraging machine learning in our products to look at a innumerable number of signals across those several properties. To be able to collect really smart data that can help small businesses to optimize the return they’re getting from what they’re investing.

When I began managing paid advertising, everything was manageable, and your results had a lot to do with the skill of the person who was managing your account. What machine learning is doing, is it’s taking the focus of optimization away from human knowledge, and it’s shifting it over to machine knowledge, and machine learning, so that even a small business can compete very well if they can be smart about how they’re leveraging automation. Then things like remarketing, and some of the audience based targeting options, customer matching – matching for similar audiences- that Google has available to everyone on its platform.

Small Business Trends:  Talk a little about video. It captures people’s attention in a way that text just doesn’t. When you look at the opportunity that video presents for engagement from a customer-vendor perspective, what do you think small businesses need to know, and maybe they just don’t seem to be embracing well enough?

Lawrence Cole:  I believe that one of the misnomers is that a small business can’t compete in video, because they don’t have access to large scale production, equipment, or talent, to write, et cetera. The reality is that there are many ways to scan that casts. For instance, I think that the most important thing is to understand how ubiquitous video is becoming. By 2020, something like 90% of the time people spend online will be watching videos. A lot of it is who is understanding what the folks that you are looking to target see is important. What are they watching? You can leverage that without a video. You can place an ad next to a video, or on a video, and be able to leverage that without any production at all. Or, you can produce things very cheaply, or pay to get them produced very cheaply.

Let’s say you don’t have a big budget to spend on marketing that video. Producing something as simple as a how-to, can be very powerful, because people forget that YouTube, which is a part of the Google family, is the number two search engine in the world, next to Google search. I tell people that people go to Google search to look up what … they usually go to YouTube to look up how. So, if I had a haven’t tie a bow tie, like two years, I can relearn how to do it, I go to YouTube to do that. If I forget how to,  YouTube tells me how to do that.

You have this type of powerful service that lands to needing to tell a story about it, or show someone how to do it, how to use it. You can actually do it very well for free, by just simply putting a YouTube video up that helps to drive traffic to your site, or your app based on the quality of your content, and also how good of a job you do at second targeting. Those are two options. One is there is cost, but it doesn’t require video, the other one requires video, but it has little to no costs. That will allow small business to be able to answer in that space with the goal, of course, of scaling.

Small Business Trends:  One last question, before we search, what do small business need to know about voice search, and how quickly do they need to start thinking about it being a need to be prepared, versus nice to be prepared for it?

Lawrence Cole:  One of the things about a small business is that it’s so much nimble than larger competitors, and that market allowed the companies that I’ve worked with to become large, who have become companies that drive hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in revenue. It’s because they entered a market as a small competitor, and they got ahead of the curve on a trend. In terms of any trend that we know is going to become fairly ubiquitous, whether it’s mobile, video, voice. Those are all things that a small business person should be looking at, and relentlessly thinking about ways that they can cut some of the larger competitors off at the pass by being a fast mover in new trends, and being able to use that to siphon some of the market share.

The thing about larger companies is that they typically take a longer time, and to be able to catch on to trend, they have a lot more loops, and they often wait, and look at the market, and see how things shift first, before they invest.  Small companies, they absolutely need to be at the forefront of any trend that comes out. At the very least being educated on it, and maybe doing some light, and extensive testing to see if it works for you.

Small Business Trends:  Lawrence, this has been great. I really appreciate the time. Where can people learn a little bit more about some of the things that we just talked about?

Lawrence Cole:  One of the places that I would send people to is actually  Google Adwords Academy that’s free. It’s a wealth of information. It’s kind of a gateway to a lot of the tools, and resources that we have to offer. To begin to develop a general acumen around some of the best practices.

Again, when I started doing digital marketing, all of this stuff was a black box. You had to find someone, or pay someone who was willing to give you the secret sauce, if you will, of how to be successful online. Now, it’s all free information that’s just out there for everyone. I would definitely start there.

This article, “Lawrence Cole of Google: Machine Learning Taking SEO Out of Black Box, Giving SMBs More Access to Insights” was first published on Small Business Trends

Alexa.com Revamps Competitor Keyword Matrix to Analyze Your Competition

Revamped SEO Tools From Alexa Enable You to Analyze Your Competition

If you want to find out the successful search strategies of your competition, Alexa.com, a subsidiary of Amazon, has added gap analyses to its suite of competitive analytics tools to make it happen.

Marketers and site owners will be able to use the new features to close the gap with their competition and discover existing but not previously seen opportunities. Alexa.com will now have Competitor Backlink Checker and new updates to Competitor Keyword Matrix for identifying the keyword and backlink strategies your competition is using effectively.

As part of the different moving parts in search engine optimization, keyword and backlink strategies may not be familiar to most small business owners. In fact, many small businesses lack SEO knowledge, with 54 percent indicating they don’t even have an SEO budget, according to a recent survey.

The Alexa.com platform simplifies SEO so you can focus more on your business, whether its marketing or another industry with an online presence. Andrew Ramm, President of Alexa.com, explains what the new enhancement will offer marketers.

On the company blog, he explains, “By taking advantage of these competitor gap analysis tools – and combining them with our robust SEO research and site audit capabilities — marketers will be able to find, reach and convert their target audience more effectively.”

The Revamped SEO Tools from Alexa

The Competitor Keyword Matrix tool lets you compare up to 10 sites at the same time so you can see keywords different from yours being used by the competition.

Revamped SEO Tools From Alexa Enable You to Analyze Your Competition

The matrix list can include popular or similar sites competing with yours and expose the top keywords responsible for driving traffic to them. When you identify the keywords, you can add those keywords in your own content marketing efforts.

The Competitor Backlink Checker allows you to visually compare backlinks for up to 10 sites at a time. You will be able to evaluate which of your competitor’s sites are linking the most and highlight those that haven’t earned links. Jennifer Yesbeck, Marketing Manager at Alexa, adds, “Armed with this knowledge, marketers can plan their backlink strategy and build an outreach list.”

Give Alexa.com a Try

You can try Alexa.com, including the new features, with a free seven-day trial. If you choose to move forward, there is an Essentials plan for $99 per month and an Advanced version for $149 per month. The features include different levels of site audits, keyword search, backlink checker, competitive analysis tools, pageviews and more.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Alexa.com Revamps Competitor Keyword Matrix to Analyze Your Competition” was first published on Small Business Trends