4 Business Essentials You Should Outsource

As a small or medium business owner, you’re aware of the value of outsourcing to vendors. Without your vendors, growth is nearly impossible. That’s okay if you want to stay small and keep your business manageable.

But if you want to grow, you need a lot of help from people you can trust. That allows you to focus on creating the strategies and implementing the processes that lead to rapid growth.

Today, outsourcing can work much differently than it used to. Are you aware you can find an independent contractor, with ease, who does the grunt work for you so you don’t have to?

It’s simple, if you’re willing to work remotely. Here are some of the essential processes to strongly consider outsourcing in 2017:

  1. Cybersecurity

You hear about big corporations who get nailed all the time, and the millions of customers who lose their data as a result. Those stories make headlines and grab people’s attention.

But you don’t hear about the SMBs cybercrooks love to attack. Why? Because they know SMBs aren’t nearly as sophisticated as corporations are with cybersecurity. So, it takes much less effort to take control of your PCs or entire network, demand a ransom, and make a clean getaway.

Cybersecurity changes so fast it makes sense to outsource to a company who keeps up with it.

  1. Web Design

Since your website is your new storefront, you need to pay constant attention to it. You can’t do what businesses used to do: make a new website, forget about it for 3-5 years, and then make a new one.

Web design changes constantly. Google’s algorithm rewards websites whose designs allow for the best user experience.

Today, it makes good business sense to have an experienced web design firm (or independent professional) on retainer.

  1. The Creative Aspects of Marketing

This can mean messaging, visual design, and more. Marketing is a huge trend now because of how difficult it is to stand out online. And, the discipline’s not old, so it takes time and effort to understand how to differentiate.

The analytical work, however, can be kept in-house. This allows you to focus on strategy.

  1. Marketing for Recruits

Today’s job search process has changed a lot also. Job seekers can research your company online and learn a lot about you before even applying. At sites like Glassdoor, for example, they can learn what your own employees think it’s like to work at your company.

So, marketing during the job search process works both ways. Your market has to put their best foot forward for you, and you have to do the same. Outsourcing recruiting allows you to make hires that fit your company better and last longer.

In 2017 and beyond, you can easily outsource these business essentials so you can focus on core activities and accelerate growth.

What You Need to Know about Google’s Mobile-First Update

It’s coming soon…

At least this time, Google told you.

With most updates, you have no clue they’re hitting. Then, all of a sudden, you realize your rankings have tanked.

What happened?

Usually a Google update.

But Google’s made no secret of this one. Its Mobile-First update will happen. And it’s going to be a big change.

What Will the Mobile-First Update Do?

Google’s ultimate goal is to have one search index based on how your site serves mobile users. However, these search results will be served to both mobile and desktop users.

People search more on their mobile devices than desktop or laptop. So from a logical standpoint, the update makes sense.

If You Have a Responsive Site, Are You Already Prepared?

Possibly. But maybe not.

Mobile users may like your website, but that doesn’t guarantee Google will too.

Your site may look good on mobile devices. But that’s not exactly what Google looks for.

For example, people may look at your website on a variety of screen sizes. Smartphones come with many screen sizes. Tablets have a variety of sizes. Then you have laptops and desktops too.

Smart corporations design a unique experience for their mobile users. The branding is similar so the site remains recognizable. However, it’s a different experience.

That’s what you do in an ideal world.

Make Your content Easy to Read

Paragraphs should have about 3 sentences in them at maximum.

One-sentence paragraphs are totally okay, and you should include them throughout your content.

Your content should still include images. However, they should be scaled down from their original size for two reasons:

  1. So they don’t eat up the whole screen on a mobile device
  2. They’ll load faster, which gives your users a better experience

Diversify Your Traffic Sources

Although Google’s much better at punishing and rewarding sites as they justly deserve, it’s not perfect. Sometimes, you can follow all the rules with perfect intent and still get whacked.

You don’t always know exactly what Google will want. And they can make changes faster than you can adjust.

Using other traffic sources, besides organic traffic, is just sound business. These could include:

  • Social media
  • PPC
  • Video marketing
  • In-person marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Online review sites

You have plenty of opportunity to win traffic and keep driving it from non-organic sources.

When you follow these tips, the mobile-first update doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking experience.

Google Analytics Now Allows You to Ask a Question to Get Data

Ever stare at Google Analytics helplessly…wondering how you’re going to get the data you need? Or, do you see the data you want, but aren’t really sure how to understand it?

Google’s revamped Analytics a little to help out people who aren’t complete data nerds.

Google’s addressed this concern by allowing you to ask a simple, plain-English question in Google Analytics. And Google Analytics will return to you with the right data.

The idea is that this helps you get the information you need faster. It also frees up those in charge of your data to focus more on strategy, and use less time tracking down information.

Now, you simply type in,”How many organic users did I have in search last week?” Google returns with (hopefully) the correct answer. They use the exact same technology that’s used in search.

If you don’t have the feature available now, you should have it soon because Google’s rolling it out in a few weeks.

How Do You Use It?

It’s quite easy. Just look for the circle icon with dots in the upper right corner of the app. For now, you can ask questions that begin with “what” and “how many.” You can also ask about this data for various market segments.

And yes, when you try it, you’ll notice the speed with which it returns results. You’ll also have the ability to ask follow-up questions based on your initial question, and Google Analytics will suggest questions you may also want to ask.

Google doesn’t support “why” questions at the moment. As you might expect, those are much more complex. However, since the system is based on artificial intelligence, it will learn to answer “why” questions and will be able to answer them in the near future.

What if you ask a question Google Analytics can’t answer? Google Analytics captures your question and works on learning how to answer it.

You will also soon have the ability to save and export the results you get from the questions you ask.

Neat, isn’t it? Not only that, but extremely useful too. Who knows what artificial intelligence will enable Google to do for you next?

A Quick Intro to Google My Business

Google now makes managing your business information, and how it appears in search and on Google Maps, simple with Google My Business (GMB). It actually consolidates a number of tools in one place – for free.

Here’s what you can do, and why you should care:

  1. GMB Helps You Keep Your NAP Information Consistent

Your name, address, and phone number (NAP information) needs to be exactly the same across the web. When Google sees inconsistencies, it doesn’t like that.

Why are you saying you have different locations? This could confuse users, or it could be a sign you’re trying to rank for a location where you don’t physically have an office.

For local businesses, this is helpful in keeping your search rankings high.

  1. GMB Offers a Free Website Builder

You don’t want to use GMB’s tool for building a one-page website unless you absolutely have no budget to do so. The tool is simplistic. You don’t have a lot of control over the design. And the designs honestly aren’t all that great at highlighting your products and services.

However, if you need a free website builder that establishes your first search presence, it does the job. You can build a one-page website. This works well for local SMBs like restaurants. Google’s goal with the tool is to help the 60% of businesses not already on the web establish their web presence.

  1. Google Posts Lets You Write social media Posts

Google Posts now allows you to attach social media posts to your search listing and Google Maps listing. So when people click on your listing, you might show them posts of:

  • Your latest specials
  • Products they can buy
  • Reservations they can make
  • The newsletter they can sign up for

So as you can see, that’s quite handy too.

  1. Drive Traffic to Your Company Website

If you’ve hired a local internet marketing company to advertise your business online, you can use your GMB listing to drive traffic back to your website. Your GMB listing needs to be attractive though, too. You’ll need the afore-mentioned posts, accurate business info, and positive reviews.

All in all, Google My Business makes promoting and managing your online presence much easier and simpler before. You still have to put in hard work to climb up the search rankings, but GMB allows you to be more efficient while doing it.

Google Will Soon Notify Chrome Users of Non-HTTPS Sites

As frustrating as keeping up with Google can sometimes be, or as strange as some of their standards may seem, they’ve done a lot to clean up the web. Today, content-heavy websites with interesting, useful information make it to the top of the search engine rankings (most of the time).

Compare that to the early 2000s, before Google went public, when pretty much anything went on the web. Heck, that even was still the case just 5 years ago.

We’ve talked about Google docking (or boosting) your rankings based on whether you have HTTP secure (HTTPS) before. That’s in place.

What Google’s Got Up Its Sleeve That It’s Now Revealing

Beginning in October, Google will show the words “not secure” in their Chrome browser’s address bar whenever you type data into website that doesn’t use HTTP secure. And they’re right. Not having HTTPS in place means the data you enter is more exposed to cyber criminals. Practically, that means any website which starts with http:// without the “https://.”

And when you browse in “Incognito” mode, the HTTPS warnings will appear on all pages you visit. Google also plans to expand this to all Chrome users eventually.

Why Can Google Force The Issue on This?

Google’s got the power because they have what the market wants. Chrome dominates the browser market. Chrome has more than 50% market share, with the next closest being Apple’s Safari at 15% or so:

As long as the market desires what Google has in Chrome, they’re going to be able to continue to shape the internet. Don’t count on that changing anytime soon, by the way.

Microsoft Edge is trying to compete directly with Chrome by being faster. But as you can (just barely) see, it’s the lowest blue line on the chart there, with around 1.0% of overall market share. And even though you can’t see this well either, that’s gone down slightly from the same time last year.

Fortunately, HTTPS Isn’t A Big Time Or Financial Cost

HTTPS securely encrypts any information going to or from your server (or host). So, the bad guys only get encrypted data if they happen to nab it.

Installing HTTPS takes just a few simple steps:

  1. A hosting service with a dedicated IP address
  2. Buying a HTTPS certificate (usually $50 – $150 per year)
  3. Activating the certificate
  4. Installing the certificate (usually just a few simple steps)
  5. Updating your site to HTTPS

Whew! That’s it. Not really a big deal, is it? Be thankful for that.

HTTPS makes the web a more secure place. So it’s a good thing.

We’ll see what Google comes up with next.

Google Introduces “Verified Customer Reviews”

Have an online store?

You’ll want to include Google’s “Verified Customer Reviews.” They’re a new kind of review exclusively reserved for customers who have actually purchased from you.

With the “Google Reviews,” which you’re probably thinking of, technically anyone can leave one. So, the credibility of those isn’t quite what it could be. Although in most cases, Google Reviews are 100% legit.

How Does It Work?

Pretty simple. You sign up for a free Merchant Center account. After you sign up, your customers get the option to receive an email after they purchase that asks for their feedback.

Then, you can get a badge for your website that displays your rating. In addition, your seller rating appears on Google Shopping and Adwords ads.

It can be quite the credibility booster that leads to more sales.

How Can You Get More Google Reviews?

This feature is cool and easy to implement. What if you have a physical store subject to the standard Google Reviews?

How do you get more of those?

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you fear. Here’s a few strategies for getting more of those:

  • Have a Method for Following Up with Every Customer

    Collect customer information. Whether you’re a savvy law firm, or if you sell antiques, you can easily get your customer’s email.Once you have it, set a reminder to send your customer a brief (1-2 sentences) email asking them to leave you a review. That email should include a link they can click to leave you a review.

    Doing this makes it easy for your customers. The one thing they have least of is time.

  • Publicly Respond to Any Complaints or Negative Feedback

    You won’t get 5-star reviews every time. When you get anything short of that, respond to what the customer didn’t like publicly.Try to understand what went wrong in their mind. And see what you can do to fix it. When you do, make sure you publicly post what you did. And ask your customer to update their review with how you handled the situation, and how they feel about your company now.

    Not only does this show you errors in your business, but it also builds a lot of trust with potential customers who do read your reviews. And this could earn you many more customers in the future.

  • Offer a Giveaway in Exchange for Reviews

    To keep this honest and ethical, you’re not paying one customer for a good review. Instead, you’re giving away something of value in exchange for any review.Make the item or service given away related to your business so you don’t attract people who could care less about your company.

Reviews are invaluable to your online success. Make sure you get as many as you can. And take each one to heart.