Friday, April 24, 2015

Use The Search Engines To Advertise Your Business

Advertising budgets are often non-existent in the world of home-based businesses—at least in the beginning years. And yet, without advertising, businesses fail. When the money isn’t there, what’s a home-based business to do?


According to a post on Search Engine Watch there are 213 million searches performed every day and growing. That’s a lot of potential customers! The key to reaching those potential customers, however, is getting your website, your online catalog, and your content ranked at the top of the search engines.

Search engines leverage the playing field and help small businesses compete with larger corporations. On the web, a good website, well-written content, and a user-friendly shopping cart make it difficult for Internet searchers to distinguish between the unknown corporation and the home-based business. And thankfully, search engine directories don’t care about which company makes more money, has more employees, or has the largest catalog list. Search engines directories only care about content and who is linking to that content.

To get your website ranked higher than your competition, it’s not enough to write content for the search engines because they’re constantly changing and growing; you must write content for your potential customers. You need to write original content that makes your visitors browse the website, talk about the website, and link to the website—and in doing so, you’ll attract the search engines.

Below are five ways you can outsmart the search engines and your competition:

1. Find your unique identifier.

Identify the one thing that makes you better than your competition and capitalize on it—in your web copy, in your press releases, in your advertisements, and in the product (or service) itself.

2. Avoid using private label or free content articles on your website.

While both private label and free content articles work great for e-zines and print newsletters, they can hurt your website’s rankings with the search engines. If several websites carry the same exact article, only the most popular ones will show up within the first ten pages of the search engine results pages.

3. Write something unique on every web page.

If your website contains 50 products and the only difference is the color, having 50 different web pages won’t help your search engine rankings—unless you write original content for each of those 50 pages.

Let’s assume you own a make-up company with 10 different colors of eye shadow. You could have one web page showing an image of each of the colors with a 250 word description of the eye shadow and a list of ingredients, but it wouldn’t help your search engine rankings. And it wouldn’t help answer potential customer questions, clarify confusion, or give your customers a reason to try your eye shadow.

However, making the same web page then linking each color of eye shadow to a web page that discusses the color in more detail will help your search engine rankings and help your customers make informed decisions—decisions that ultimately result in more sales. (Side note: Details like how to apply a particular color to set a certain mood, what complexions work better with that color of eye shadow, and what clothing colors are accented by the color of the eye shadow.)

4. Choose one word or phrase to focus on per web page.

While your home page may include an assortment of information that draws visitors into your website, individual web pages should remain tightly focused on one subject. Whenever possible, discuss both benefits and features, include a call to action (such as a buy button or newsletter sign up button), and make sure all images used reinforce what’s been written.

5. Include a blog on your website.

Blogs are an informal way of communicating with past and present customers and since reading blogs are a fun way to pass the time, they offer a great way to attract potential customers and keep one-time visitors coming back. In other words, blogs are viral marketing tools that should not be passed up!

Blogs are also indexed faster by the search engines, get linked to by other bloggers (again viral marketing in action), allow you to get straight to the point—without having to spend hours setting up a campaign (great for informing customers of last minute sales and new additions to your product line), and help you interact with your customers on a more personal level (via the comments section).

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* This article first appeared on The Dabbling Mum eMagazine.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happiness Is A State Of Mind, part 3

‎"Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself, and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things."
-- Leo Buscaglia

On my last Confessions' post, I got down and dirty with you about what was going on and the actual steps I took to rid myself of the depression. But I forgot to tell you about one IMPORTANT detail in changing my mindset.

During the deepest part of my depression, my husband said to me, "I just don't think you like me anymore." Talk about a wake up call! He was my rock, my fortress, my safety net… and he didn't think I liked him.

Looking back, I realize that he heard every negative thing that ever came out of my mouth… and whether it was directed at him or not, he took it personal. And he hurt. He hurt because I was hurting. He hurt because he couldn't fix the problem. He hurt because I was on his last nerve and he just didn't have the patience to deal with me or the compassion to help me to the other side.

Realizing I couldn't allow my venomous voice to hurt him anymore, I took to journaling. The problem, however, was that writing down all those negatives my mind spewed out only caused me to delve deeper and deeper into depression. And it wasn't pretty!

After ripping up my so-called "Healing Journal" and shredding every single page, I decided to try something different. I started a "Gratitude Blog". Every time a negative thought entered my mind, and I couldn't dispel it, I took the time to look for the positive in that situation.

Sometimes looking for the positive took a day. Other times, finding that nugget of positivity took weeks… but once I was on the "other side" of that negative thought, I shared my reflections in the form of a positive—"hope this helps you, too"—post.

I wrote on that blog for an entire year… and by the end of the year, I can honestly say that my train of thought had shifted. Though I still battled with depression and anxiety, it was easier and easier to find the good in my life and to truly appreciate it… for what it was!

Now, that doesn't mean that I don't ever get upset or angry or spew ugly words from my mouth… I am human, after all. But, it has helped me think twice before I open my mouth and it has given me a refreshingly, positive outlook on life!

To help you visualize the types of posts I shared, here's one from April 2009.

My husband and I have been married for nineteen years and been together for twenty. During our courtship and our marriage, we’ve had moments of pure joy and moments of pure hell. But during all that time, my husband has not once considered divorce. I, however, cannot say the same. I come from a family full of divorces, and not one long-lasting relationship. Every time our marriage hit a major catastrophe, I braced myself for the inevitable—even going so far as to asking my sweet husband if he wanted a divorce or if he felt a divorce would be better for both of us.

Realizing I just needed his reassurance, he’d respond with “Love means never having to let go. Love means knowing that no matter how bad things get, we’re always going to be here for each other. Love means being able to get mad and ugly and annoyed and disgusted and know that the other person isn’t going to leave. Love means knowing that no matter what life throws at us, we will be able to put the pieces back together… together."

After that, he'd lovingly look into my eyes, as his hand gently brushed across my face, and say, "Besides, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. We’d just have to break someone new in and deal with all their baggage”… and then he'd laugh.

I never thought I’d get to a point in our marriage where I could feel safe enough to know that he wasn’t going to leave me for being less than perfect, for being too emotional, for being too controlling at times, for simply being me. But in April of 2009, I finally got it.

Once I stopped writing the gratitude posts, I didn't stop with my positivity exercises. In fact, for a short stint in 2011, I wrote positive affirmations. I chose a single word and journaled some quick thoughts about what that word meant to me. Here's a sample from July 2011.

BREATHE: When I think of the word "breathe", I think of clarity of mind, of rest, of living.

I think breathing is so much more than a rite of passage… so much more than the ability to oxygenate our lungs in order to live. When I think of the word, "breathe", I think of taking slow, deep breaths that allow us to truly experience the world around us. I think of calming breathes that heal the soul, the mind, and the body. But mostly, I think of hope… hope that by taking the time to slow down long enough to just breathe, we can give ourselves a better life and give our loved ones a better part of us.

My hope is that this pendant will remind those wearing it, and those seeing it, that breathing isn't just about sustainability. It's about slowing down long enough to pause and appreciate life. It's about taking the time to literally smell the roses, to listen to the birds chirp, to feel the warmth of the sun on our faces, to bask in all the glory life has to offer…

If I could encourage you to do one thing for yourself, it would be this: Start a gratitude journal. In it, look for the positives in your life—no matter how insignificant they may seem to others—and write about them. If you don't like writing, draw imagery that expresses your overall feeling of appreciation for what this thing is, or whomever the person is. If you can't draw, create a picture journal or make a collage out of old magazine pages.

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