It’s that time of year again—the time to pause for reflection and to establish resolutions that, if accomplished, promise to make the following year the most successful and gratifying yet. For many folks, New Year’s resolutions are a way to light the fuse on dreams that have perhaps laid dormant due to impediments in time, funding, expertise—or all three. (more…)
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As a business owner or entrepreneur, you likely spend most of your time thinking about how to grow your company, including how to market efficiently and effectively, attract more leads, and convert prospects into customers. As the year comes to an end, it’s worth taking some time to think about whether and how efficiently and effectively you’ve been doing these things. A good place to start this self-reflection is where you rank in Google searches, your SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing term that describes all the methods, tactics and strategies that help your website pop up on the first page of organic (i.e., non-paid) Google rankings. Showing up when someone goes searching for the services you offer — preferably near the top of the results list — is a determining factor in the growth and success of almost any business. Adopting an SEO mindset and developing your web presence will provide the greatest return on your investment in your own business.
Here are five key ways to get started.
SEO Tip #1: Optimize Your Website
Your website is your company’s most valuable digital asset. It’s often the first place people turn for more information about you and your services and the last place potential clients check before making the decision to hire you. But the vast majority of website owners squander this opportunity because they’re so wrapped up in the aesthetics of their website. They forget, or neglect, to apply even the most elementary SEO principles.
You can “uncork” hidden search engine value on your website just by making some basic changes. Start with an SEO audit of your website, which will give you a better picture of its current SEO value as well as some indication of how and where to fix your site’s SEO issues. You can use a free SEO website reporting tool that covers many of the basics. Or, if you’re ready to really start crushing it online, work with a proven professional.
SEO Tip #2: Do Your Keyword Research
Search engines are nothing short of a data mining miracle. For the first time in the history of capitalism, we know exactly what prospective buyers are thinking at the precise moment they are ready to buy.
And the best part? There are many resources for keyword research. One not-so-secret weapons is Google AdWords’ keyword planner tool. AdWords is Google’s advertising system, and you can use it for free just to help you generate a strong list of keywords. If you plug in 5-10 root keywords, this tool will provide you with a whole list of keywords Google deems relevant based on your parameters.
SEO Tip #3: Implement Keywords
Once you’ve identified and gathered those precious keywords, reverse-engineer your website and marketing strategy around them. Naturally weave your keywords into your website. Start with your website page titles and meta tags, the text of your home page, your core inner pages (those describing your services), supplemental pages (your FAQ, About US, and FAQ pages), and all of your blog pages.
“Naturally” is key. Always write for human engagement first and search engines second. Google agrees; keyword stuffing (i.e., overloading a page with as many keywords as possible without regard for the substance) is a violation of search engine guidelines that can get you penalized.
SEO Tip #4: Start Blogging
Blogging is the heart and soul of modern content marketing. Because Google rewards sites with fresh, original and relevant content, blogging is also one of the most important SEO ranking factors. If you’re not blogging, start as soon as possible. Make sure you are doing it strategically and getting the most leverage out of it you can for your SEO.
To ensure you’re producing and sharing content consistently, develop a content calendar that looks like a table of contents. Start by planning content based on your keywords so you can be sure you’re creating exactly the kind of material your ideal clients are searching for and will find useful. Consider hiring a high-quality blog writing service to keep you on schedule and reduce your content burden.
SEO Tip #5: Guest Blog
Guest blogging is one of the most powerful forms of content-driven SEO. It’s a win-win proposition. When you post your high-quality, educational content on a third-party website, you get an opportunity to build your web presence and further establish yourself as a subject matter expert, while expanding your audience. The host also gets the benefit of fresh content from a niche authority for their site and exposure to your audience. It’s a great way for both parties to engage in SEO and gain more social signals.
You work hard to get new business for your company, and your website should work as you do. Now is the perfect time to leverage your web presence to get your business to the next level. Putting an SEO strategy in place and adopting the practices listed here will ensure you start the New Year on track to having your highest-growth year yet.
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We all struggle with attracting and keeping the right people for our businesses. It is a challenge that encompasses all industries and business sizes.
There is good news. If you understand today’s workforce and focus on maximizing the right things, you’ll never have a shortage of great people.
Understanding the Workforce
The workforce is a multi-generational, diverse group of people. As you look for candidates, consider why they’re looking for a job in the first place. Are they unemployed? Are they uninspired, or bored, in their current job? Are they underappreciated? The first key to understanding each candidate is to understand why they’re applying with your business.
Develop Your Strategy
The first key to a successful strategy for attracting and retaining great people is to have a clear idea of who is right for you. What kind of person fits your company culture? Do you know exactly what you’re looking for?
Some people hire based on an applicant’s technical skills. Yet all the experience in the world cannot cancel out a toxic attitude or poor work ethic. Training can’t fix that.
In addition, sometimes experience at another company can work against you. For example, as a Kansas City landscaper, at my company, we often discover that it’s difficult to hire people who have worked at other landscape companies because we hold ourselves to a higher standard. When someone is used to lower standards, they may have a difficult time raising them, although it isn’t impossible. But it’s usually easier to work with a person on their technical skills.
So, identify what kind of person is right for you. Then, consider whether your company culture attracts that type of person.
Remember to hire for attitude and work ethic, and train on the technical skills.
Ignite a Purpose and Passion
We all want to be significant. More and more employees are motivated by the idea of being significant. They want to be part of a bigger mission or purpose. Younger generations, in particular, tend to desire having a purpose. Older generations tend to value stability. The truth is, no matter which generation you’re focusing on, most people value stability and purpose.
So, have an inspiring vision and coach team members to understand how their roles are significant.
Consistently remind your team they’re not average; they’re important.
When critical feedback is needed, use it as an opportunity to remind employees of two things:
- Failure is an event, not a person.
- They have talent, and challenge them to develop and use it fully.
Believe in your team. Believe in your vision. Communicate that you believe.
Live the Culture
Your company culture is a combination of what your company believes and how you act behind the scenes and in public. You must intentionally create a culture. If you don’t, a “default” culture will be in place. Cultures can be either positive or negative. By creating a culture and living it, you’ll create the “secret sauce” that helps set your company apart for your staff.
Five core values shape the culture at High Prairie Landscape Group:
- Do the right thing. ALWAYS.
- Over-achieving is a way of life. Why be average when you can be amazing?
- People matter. We’re a team. We succeed together and we fail together. We build each other.
- Innovation and growth are our core differentiators. We believe in always growing and educating ourselves.
- We serve others first. Our unique culture works because we’re all servants at heart. We’re here to help. Help each other and help our clients.
On first contact with a potential employee, talk about your culture and tell potential staff your core values. Their reaction to your values will tell you if they’re a good fit. Watch their body language. Are they excited by your values?
Post your values on your website. Tell people what you believe and how you operate.
Remind existing staff of your values. Create core value posters and place them where your team can be reminded.
Act according to your values. Don’t claim to do the right thing and then cut corners. Always “walk the talk.”
Reward and Appreciate
Reward the staff who make your company special by living your values.
Determine what is most important to track and reward staff for succeeding. Rewards should match what is important to your team. Remember, it isn’t just monetary gain. Hiring someone who is chasing more money or expecting to keep someone just by paying them more is not a sustainable business practice. Somewhere, some desperate business can offer more money at any time and steal your staff. If your staff doesn’t have other reasons for being at your company, they’ll be gone as soon as the offer comes in. Show them appreciation and make them feel significant. Pay them well, but don’t use money as your sole tactic.
Intentionally show appreciation. Acknowledge specifically what they’re doing well. Don’t give a blanket “thanks” statement.
Grow Your People
If you invest in your team and help grow them, they’re less likely to feel stagnant or like they’re hitting a glass ceiling. Growing your people helps provide purpose. The only argument for not investing in your people is being afraid of losing them and having them become competition. One anonymous quote that summarizes this message is:
CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”
CEO: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”
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