Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected] 

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  1. Are you trying too hard as an entrepreneur?

    me

     
     
    Well there is a question and a half. I mean, it’s January after all - aren’t we all trying to sort out our lives, our careers, our businesses, our bodies and more popular now our “self care” routines so that we can make 2020/this decade/this millennium - OUR TIME?
     
    There is a reason that the third Monday in January is known as blue Monday and in my opinion it’s because everyone has already tried too bloody hard and the pursuit of unsustainable and unplanned out goals comes crashing down.
     
    I ended 2019 looking forward in the same vein as everyone - 2020 was going to be my year; I was planning to have it all and my business would be the go to for all entrepreneurs looking to level up with their online visibility. I would achieve this whilst looking like Elle Macpherson, reducing my carbon footprint and spending oodles of quality parent time with my delightful pre teen and her teenage sister-cousin. I painted the most gorgeous picture of 2020 and I was going to make it so. Except; no one seemed to add another 6 hours onto the clock when the dial turned into 2020!! Finding the time to serve all my incredible clients, manage my other businesses, walk the dogs, keep my family alive and put concealer under my eye bags is more than an uphill battle, it is like guerrilla warfare at times!
     
    The problem is we have all become a bit preoccupied with perfect, and the internet has made us all believe we can be ultra rich entrepreneurs, fitness models and Mary Poppins... if we just “do this one thing” or “follow this secret”. The reality is we are being manipulated so severely by highly curated social media feeds and sophisticated content plans that we do not see the actual work involved in being a master of one task, because we become so obsessed with thinking that it is possible to be the master of all.
     
    It is possible to achieve amazing results in any area of your life that you focus on, and some are better than others at adding other tasks to this too; but don’t be fooled by the woman (or man) that is promoting that they have it all. Anxiety driven insomnia is at an all time high (I suffer from this, and it is honestly debilitating) amongst those aged 25-50 and there is a huge link to this and the social media habits of the sufferers - and the show reel rarely tells the accurate behind the scenes story.
     
    Whether your feed is full of seemingly beautiful, skinny, well coiffed “influencers” making you feel bad for wearing your go to joggers for the third day in a row, or it’s the business competitor launching yet another amazing range or offer; the desire to keep up, show up and compete is driving some people to breaking point, and as a result they are making poor decisions across the board - which then adds to the spiralling crash of self esteem and sense of worth.
     
    I’ve seen lots of business owners trying everything and anything to get their business seen in the last three weeks. New products, new services, new approaches to social media, new this, new that... and frankly it worries me. As an entrepreneur that has had a business fail I can see the warning signs where people are simply trying to boil the ocean in order to achieve goals - goals which they haven’t made structured plans to achieve. I speak from experience where I kept adding to my product ranges and “launching” or “introducing” all the time and then pushing out sh*t tonnes of content in the hope that some of it will stick. Here’s the reality - you are probably just confusing and overwhelming a whole load of other people who are also trying to navigate their way through a January that lasts 10 years in a calorie deficit, Veganuary, eco-friendly, cash poor toxic bubble. They are winging it just as much as you and would probably respond best to an approach that is less frantic and - dare I say it - needy.
     
    Soooooo Pamela what should I be doing then I hear you cry at me? If you are the expert then tell me what I should be doing to be fully booked/ making sales/ looking like Sophia Loren? If you are right then tell me what I can do before I need to declare myself bankrupt/get a real job/ eat everything in the kitchen. The truth is I don’t have the answer for everything, but I can share a few things:
     
    1. Slow down and actually make a plan. Before you jump willy-nilly into having a million products or services in your ranges, think about the investment, the marketing and the sell-through rate and then make decisions on your offer once you are clear what your proposition is (there’s a group called The Retail Hub that gives great advice on range planning if you are a product based business, and there are some amazing niche service groups on Facebook that help with service based providers).
    2. Stop thinking that winging it is going to get you results. What normally happens instead is a bunch of credit card debt and sleepless nights. You need to put together a credible business plan.
    3. Niche down. I know this sounds limiting but the reality is you can focus on one thing better than five - in a market where people have so much choice you need to be really clear about what problem you solve or desire you satisfy. Don’t think that a million offers will cover all bases - it will just be confusing or inconsistent from a branding perspective.
    4. Stop pushing content out on a wing and a prayer. Challenge yourself for a whole day to only go and seek out your ideal client on social media and like and comment on their posts. Find out what they are interested in and then you’ll better inform yourself what to post to get engagement.
    5. Stop punishing yourself. Whether it’s enforced calorie restriction, dry January, run every day January, self-care every day - blah, blah, blah. These things are all part of billion dollar marketing engines that are designed to tie you into a wellness rollercoaster of feeling sh*t and spending money not to feel sh*t. I just wrote a blog on how you can incorporate self-care when you have no time and no cash on the Chetham Farm Retreat website - so if you are looking for easy wins this is the blog to read! If you are running a business, and keeping a family alive why not just give yourself a pat on the back (and a glass of wine and packet of crisps). Thanks to Fitness at the Farm and the incredible Leah who is helping me with this mindset shift I can make this comment - I previously would be one of the worst offenders of this.
    6. The most important one. Don’t listen to people. Even me. If what I’ve said doesn’t resonate with you then all that’s happened is you’ve wasted five minutes of your life reading a slightly ranty blog. We are all too busy “listening” to people we think we should be listening too. All the people with the secret formulas, and the tonnes of value to add, and the “proven methods” to success. There is no one way to success (although there are fundamentals which often get overlooked for all the other more sexy hype) so don’t believe the bikini-clad nomadic entrepreneur that can promise you a 7 figure salary in 6 months. That photo took like a gazillion takes to get right and she was starving as f*ck when it was taken.
     
    Shock horror, I haven’t given you a proven method, a secret to success or even a checklist for exponential growth. I haven’t tried to sell you anything goddamn it - I need to go back to my gurus and sort my self out as I should have been ending this post with some life changing blueprint for a 7 figure lifestyle which you can buy for the bargain price of $597 (worth over $10,000 but I feel like giving back).
     
    Instead I’m ending this post with asking you to take a minute, reflect, review and before you make another decision about your business or your life, and think about it. What will it do for you? What will it serve?
     
    .......
     
    Pamela Rae-Welsh is an entrepreneur specialising in providing a big business toolkit to small business owners to help develop their online presence. She is also a Mum, an Auntie and a terrible insomniac who is also just winging it sometimes...
  2. How to understand keywords for SEO and why they may not be working for you...

     
    KATEMAXSTOCK-3358
     
     
    Whenever someone talks about SEO invariably the discussion will quickly proceed to keywords and how essential they are for getting your website seen by the search engines.
     
    The problem is though that no one can ever clearly explain the what, why, where, how and who of keywords and even when you do add them into your pages it doesn’t seem to do much to your results... So what is the secret to keywords and why are they so important (and are they so important really or is it an urban myth?)
     
    In this post we will explore:
     
    • What are keywords for SEO?
    • Are keywords important for SEO in 2020?
    • How do you find the right keywords for your website?
    • Where do you add keywords into your website?
    • How to be more successful with keywords than your competitors.
     
    The whole concept of keywords needs turning on its head somewhat and the purpose of this article is to refresh your thinking with keywords and your overall approach to SEO to put your customers at the heart of your decision making process.
     

    “Pretty websites do not sell. Words sell.” Donald Miller

     
    Now you would be surprised at me using this quote being a website designer and all that, but it is actually true.
     
    No matter how beautiful your website if you do not have content that is useful, engaging and solves a problem, then you are not going to sell your stuff. This is a concept that wedding photographers often struggle with for example because they think that their images will do the talking; when in fact it is more important for them to build a virtual relationship through their words as well as images to engage with their potential customers so that they will trust them with capturing the most important day of the couples life. Only using Pictures just won’t cut it with achieving that. You need compelling content that does one of two things:
     
    1. Solves a problem
    2. Satisfies a desire
     
    Keywords for SEO are basically the search terms which are derived from people wanting to satisfy a desire or solve a problem. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? If you are a wedding photographer then your ultimate keyword is wedding photographer surely?! The problem with this is that many small businesses will look too literally at keywords and will focus on generic terms or short tail keywords like this which are saturated and will get them little results. Why? Because everyone is using them, and unless you have the highest domain authority you will unlikely be ranked higher than your competitors for those keywords.
     

    Google has changed its approach which means you need to change your approach too.

     
    The Google core algorithm update in June 2019 and the BERT update later in the year have seen a fundamental shift in the way Google crawls for information and provides results to users. The sophisticated robots are now looking for the most thorough, descriptive, expert, accurate and trustworthy answers to search terms and they also look to understand the intent behind a search. This changes the way that businesses need to approach keywords - and it represents an opportunity too!
     

    So what are keywords for SEO in 2020?

     
    Think long tail. Think about the questions being used in the search bar rather than a couple of key words that may be used. Sticking with the wedding photographer theme, think of how a bride would search... So would she just put “wedding photographer” into a search bar? Possibly. Is she more likely to add something to that search to make it more relevant for her? Yes! So for example she may type “Best wedding photographer in Manchester” or even “2021 wedding photographer Manchester area”. So rather than trying to rank for wedding photographer, having the longer search terms as your keywords you are more likely to rank higher in the results pages.
     

    Are keywords important for SEO in 2020?

     
    If you look at my description above then asking if keywords are important for SEO in 2020 then yes thye are but not in the traditional sense! Keywords are important but only in the context of thinking long tail (long tail simply means a sentence or more than a couple of words) and also by thinking topics! Brainstorming what topics your users will be searching for and then cross referencing those with the content on your pages will let you know whether you have work to do on making your website more relevant to users searches.
     
    google keywords research 2020
     

    Why might my keywords not be working for me?

     
    The mistake business owners often make is that they put style over substance when making decisions about their website, or they don’t consider the user experience enough, and then they wonder why keywords aren’t working. SEO is a much more dynamic activity than just adding some keywords and expecting to rank. If you consider SEO as an integral part of your marketing strategy where you are engaging with your audience then you are more likely to get results, because it literally is as simple as time + effort = results equation.
     
    When working on the SEO plan for a luxury gin brand, the approach was taken to understand the trends of the market to know what users will be starting to search for more and then create a content plan that would use those search terms. Incorporating those topics and search terms into the content of the website has meant that the pages now rank in the top 10 for a number of topics around luxury gin, Manchester gin brands and other similar topics. This has resulted in the brand being seen by a new, potentially significant stockist because they used one of the search terms and the brand ranked in the top 5 for the results! This is a brilliant example of how keywords are important for SEO in 2020, but only when considered in the context of longer tail search terms.
     
    So the possible reasons that your keywords may not be working in terms of improving your ranking or getting you clicks (which is what you should be focussing on really) are:
     
    1. They are saturated keywords that have big competition (a big corporate will have copy writers, link builders and UX experience staff on their payroll so it is unlikely you can take them on and win in the short term)
    2. No-one searches for those keywords! This is a big bug bear for me - SEO agencies tend to say they can get you ranking number one, but if noone searches for that term then it is simply pointless.
    3. You haven't used the keyword enough in your content. I do not mean stuffing your content with keywords, but there is a knack to it.
    4. You have a low domain authority which means Google will prioritise other content over yours.
    5. You have duplicate content which means you are basically competing against yourself!
     
     

    How do you find the right keywords for your website?

     
    I get asked this question A LOT. I find it funny however because the answer is really simple. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER and you will know what they are searching for.
     
    A lot of coaches and consultants will often talk about “Ideal Client Profiling” and corporate businesses spend a fortune on big data that will give them sophisticated information on what their customers exact demographics and behaviours are. As a small business you need to go deep on understanding your ideal customers and this will then provide you with the problems they solve and the desires you need to satisfy.
     
    The other big tip with understanding keywords and topics is to look at trends - look at what is coming as well as what is currently being looked for as this will give you an advantage over your competitors.
     
    In my SEO membership group we often discuss ideal clients and understanding what they are searching for and it is surprising how much people forget to think about the customer when they think of SEO. There needs to be a mindset shift away from optimising your website for search engines to optimising your website for your customers. When last did you profile your ideal client and think about what their pain points are and how you can help them? Think about this and bam - you have found the right keywords for your website.
     

    How do you get my keywords ranking above your competitors?

     
    Another question I get asked a lot is how do I get my website ranking ranking above others? What makes them rank higher? I wrote an article which talks about the very basics of what makes a website rank in the context of whether or not you need an SEO agency to get your website ranking which basically describes the World Wide Web as a gargantuan set of links which google has to both distinguish and prioritise. It does this by using an algorithm which has over 200 ranking factors, and which they update thousands of times a year. But before you think - well if that’s the case what’s the point? Or think it’s too complicated then think again.
     
    Google’s core purpose is to give the right answers to someone’s search queries. You have an opportunity as much as anyone to get ranking for your keywords if you invest the time and the effort into it (I know I sound like a broken record with this old adage!). What you need to do to get your website ranking above your competitors is understand why they are ranking above you and then make a plan to overtake them. I’m pretty sure that when Lewis Hamilton finds himself in the situation that he’s second or third in a Grand Prix that he doesn’t just sit there and tell himself that he can’t beat the others. He will assess the track, look at what his competitors are doing and then formulate a strategy for overtaking them. This is what you need to do with your website. Here are three things you can assess your competitor for:
     
    1. Does the competitor have a higher domain authority than you?
    2. Does the competitor have more backlinks than you?
    3. Does the competitor have better content than you (by this it could be longer, more thorough, more descriptive).
     
    The first two questions can be answered by using a myriad of free tools available - ubersuggest is a popular one (not always accurate but it’s free and indicative). The third one is more subjective but you need to put a constructive cap on when assessing the content or ask someone to assess it for you. Content length is a sneaky one but easy for you to fix (I often see small business websites that are seriously lacking in content and they are the ones screaming about their website not being on the first page of google).
     
    Once you know what you are up against then you can form a plan of attack to overtake them. This can be by adding in more content to your pages, it can be by building backlinks (this is where another website links in to yours) and investing in improving your domain authority (this is the measurement of your website from 0-100 based on the 200 ranking factors). It will not happen overnight - and it is not a given that once you rank number one you will stay there - if a competitor sees they have been outranked then they may makes changes to get their position back. As I state time and time again - SEO is a dynamic activity not a one off task. You are only optimised for that point in time, and depending on how quickly your market moves and how saturated it is, and how big the players are in that market you can find you need to invest a lot of time to get ahead and stay there.
     
    The purpose of this article was to provide a fresh insight into the world of keywords and understanding how to use keywords for SEO to get your website ranking. Have you thought about taking a fresh look at your website as a result of this?
     
     
    ........
     
     
    Pamela Rae-Welsh is a leading online visibility specialist with a boutique SEO management business in Manchester. Working with small businesses to create stylish brand identities and websites which convert, Pamela is passionate about providing ambitious entrepreneurs with a big business toolkit that allows them to operate at the top of their field.