Why Do Websites Break?

If you have ever had a website, you know that they are never finished. Nor are they supposed to be. As your business changes and you get new products and services to sell, or you get new information and prices changes for current products and services, your website needs to reflect those changes. But these changes only represent a small piece of what is happening to a website on a daily basis. A website is a complex entity with lots of moving parts, not unlike an automobile.

Imagine you own a car. Obviously you must maintain the car: putting gas in the engine, changing the oil, checking the fluids, checking the tire pressure, rotating the tires, replacing brake pads when they become worn, changing the wiper blades, and servicing parts as they become worn. The good thing with a car is that you usually know what to expect. But what would happen if that car manufacturer decided to update a part, like the oil filter, and the new oil filter didn’t fit your old car? Now you would have to buy an adapter to get the new oil filter to fit the old car. Then, the gas companies decide that the fuel they’ve been selling you needs some new additives to make it more efficient or to meet current EPA guidelines for clean air, but the additives corrupt the seals and your car has to be modified to accommodate the new gas additives. And to top it all off, your car is being driven by thousands of different drivers, all with different driving habits, some of whom break things just because they don’t understand.

That’s pretty much what happens with a website. Hackers, security concerns, new laws and regulations, and advances in technology all put pressures on your website. Nothing is static. Your website is […]

Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

“Be so good they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin

I don’t like insurance companies. They are in the business of taking your money, then denying claims. This is true for all insurance types: health, home, and auto. Even life insurance expires once you reach a certain age. Basically insurance companies are in business to make money, not to protect you. Except one: USAA. USAA has created a reputation for itself where its members (including me) are fiercely loyal. How did they do that? Let me give you 2 of my personal experiences.

  1. I was driving my father-in-law’s Cadillac. I pulled into a gas station and drive around the cars that were parked at the pumps. As I was doing this, the person parked at the pump pulled out and side-swiped my car, causing a couple thousand dollars worth of damage. As this was private property, not a public road, we exchanged drivers license numbers. He admitted he was at fault, and gave me his insurance information. At first his insurance company agreed to pay, but then this guy changed his story and they denied the claim. My insurance company USAA, stepped in, paid the claim without hesitation, then negotiated with his company after the fact.
  2. Another time involved hail damage to the roof of my house. My previous insurance company denied my hail claims 3 times! I finally had enough and when USAA started handling home owners insurance, I jumped on board. the next time we had a hail storm, I submitted a claim to them. Even though much of the hail damage was old (because of the previous insurance company), USAA replaced my entire roof.

In both of the cases above, USAA did NOT raise my rates. They merely sent me a note thanking me for being a long time customer. I have to say, that they are so good, they can’t be ignored.

Now let me tell you about Vail Resorts. When it comes to being so good they can’t ignore you, Vail is […]

Being Proactive With Getting Reviews

There is a special offer that I strongly recommend you take advantage of at the end of this post – make sure you read the whole thing by clicking through and reading to the end.

While the number one concern for most small businesses remains, “How do I get listed on page 1 of Google?,” the second biggest concern is “How can I get more positive online reviews?” And interestingly, these two concerns are intrecately tied together: the more positive online reviews you get, the higher you are likely to be shown in the search engine results. And, believe it or not, you can actually control how many online reviews you get. I recently interviewed Doren Aldana of MyTestimonialEngine.com for my podcast (20MinutesofInfluence.com) about this topic.

There are lots of places on the internet where people may be leaving reviews about you: Google, Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, AngiesList, Trip Advisor, Yellow Pages, Manta, Better Business Bureau (BBB),  FourSquare, and many industry-specific sites like Houzz, Cars.com, Edmunds, OpenTable, and HealthGrades .  Yet, businesses are often afraid to manage customer reviews on business review sites as they don’t want to end up in one of these situations:

  • receiving zero business reviews
  • receiving zero recent online business reviews
  • receiving negative online business reviews

Unfortunately, these businesses are missing out and hurting their business through inaction, as reputation drives both traffic and conversion. Online reviews and ratings heavily influence consumers’ purchase decisions and can make or break a business. A number of research studies suggest that online reviews are more trustworthy and useful than branded social media content, advertising, information from salespeople, and even natural search engine results. Here are 3 factors you want to consider when getting reviews: […]

Own your platform!

Last week, I showed you how you can use YouTube to rank your pages on Google. This is a technique that I highly recommend. But there is a downside – you don’t own your content that you post to YouTube.  That’s right, many companies are discovering that their YouTube channel is not their asset, but YouTube’s. In fact, I had a friend that was recently banned from YouTube. He was posting content that YouTube deemed to be too similar, with the direct intention of “driving people away from YouTube and onto another website,” so they banned him from posting. The amazing this was, he was providing valuable content – it was not spam. He appealled his case to YouTube and was denied.

The technique I described in last week’s article of course is meant to do exactly that: create similar videos all with the intent of driving traffic to your website. What this means is that it coudlget you banned from YouTube.  So should you still do this? The answer of course is yes, but you may need to do it slowly so as to not raise any red flags with YouTube’s AI (artificial intelligence) bots. But remember, you don’t own your YouTube channel and therefore, you cannot rely on it for hosting important content.

This goes for all social media, podcasts, websites and any place you put content on. When you don’t own the asset, you can’t call the shots, and any income stream derived from those places that you have content on could at anytime pull the plug without warning and kill your livelihood. If you want to control your own content you need your own platform. That is why…

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The problem with SEO (and what to do about it)

One of the first things Google looks at in a search is if the search term matches the URL you are looking for. If you are searching for “Gregs Gourmet Goodies”, Google looks to see if there is a domain name names “GregsGourmetGoodies.com”. But, unless you are a recognized brand, most people are not searching for your business name. They are looking for what you have to offer, such as “gourmet cheese dip.” Of course, you might be able to buy the domain name, “gourmetcheesedip.cooking” or gourmetcheesedip.party”, and you could do this for every one of your products, and then re-direct that new domain name to the page on your website where you sell gourmet cheese dip. this helps, especially because Google actually indexes every single page, not just your home page.

The next thing most small businesses worry about is whether or not their page is optimized for search engines, in part because there are SEO companies out there scaring them into buying their services. What these companies typically do is look at what is called on-site factors, and they make sure that your page titles, contain the search term you are trying to rank for and that you use that search term in the content of the page. For example, if we are trying to rank for the search term, “gourmet cheese dip” we would title our page “Gourmet Cheese Dip”, we would include “Gourmet Cheese Dip” in the heading tags, and we would write our copy to include that keyword phrase multiple times in the description, such as “Greg’s Gourmet Goodies offers the best packaged gourmet cheese dip available anywhere. using our gourmet cheese dip, you can mix this with your favourite cream cheese and create the most delicious gourmet cheese dip anywhere. Your guests will still be talking about the great gourmet cheese dip you served them for days. so if you are looking for the finest gourmet cheese dip, look no further than Greg’s Gourmet Goodies.”

But here’s the thing: there are 19,000,000 results returned by Google for “gourmet cheese dip”. The likelihood of you being listed on page 1 of Google is  1 in 1.9 billion, even if you do the on-site optimization I just talked about. Plus, your cheese dip mix is only one of about a hundred products you offer. There has to be a better way. And there is… […]

Top Podcasts

Earlier this year I started a pocast called “20 Minutes of Influence.” The idea was simple: engage with other industry experts, online influencers, and social media rockstars to bring you actionable information. The results have been incredible. I’ve already produced over 20 episodes and have had some amazing guests. You can check them all out at 20minutesofinfluence.com, but I wanted to highlight a few of these and really recommend that you listen to these great ideas on how you can get others to market and sell on your behalf.

And this week, I’m featuring Anthony Prichard as we discuss the importance of videos.

If these are the only episodes you listen to, it will take less than 2 hours combined and be well worth your time. […]

What impresses you most in a thought leader and why?

A colleague of mine recent posed this question, “What impresses you most in a thought leader and why?” with the following multiple choice answers:

A. # of social media followers

B. # of times they’ve been interviewed

C. Degree of succes they’ve ACTUALLY attained.

D. Amount of adversity they’ve had to overcome.

or…

E. If they are somone you could see yourself hanging out with.

This was an informal poll, but the answer might surprise you. The overwhelming majority of people said… […]

Teaching Alexa New Tricks

Amazon’s Echo Dot was the online retailer’s most popular gift this past holiday season. It has been estimated that over 16 million of these devices have been sold. With that kind of traction, this little voice activated robot could totally disrupt how we not only perform tasks like turning on lights, playing music or asking for help with a recipe, but the way that customers find us online. Alexa may well become a search engine.

Alexa continues to get smarter every day. One of the reasons that Alexa keeps getting smarter is that Amazon has provded developers with a way to add new “skills” to Alexa. Thus, if you are the producer a new gadget automates, say washing windows, you can create a skill for Alexa that would be triggered when someone would say, “Alexa, wash my windows.”

If you are selling something of course, that capability is already built into Alexa, as long as you are selling on Amazon. But what if you want to add a new skill to Alexa like playing your podcast? The simplest way to do this is to build what Amazon calls a “Flash Briefing Skill.” Start by heading over to: […]