Tag Archives: Tips

Independent Contractors Are Not Employees – Make Sure You Differentiate Them

My firm has one employee and eight independent contractors. It is important for your business just like mine, that you clearly differentiate how you work with, manage, and treat each separate group of team members.

The IRS has very specific guidelines on when an Independent Contractor is really an employee. If you are hoping that a contract stating that they are an Independent Contractor is all you need, guess again. I work with all types of Independent Contractors, those that are super organized and are working with several clients and I just happen to be one of their customers, and others that seem so needy and inexperienced that I have to be really careful to not cross the line and provide support services that may be misconstrued as potentially treating them really as an employee.

The bottom-line is that an Independent Contractor is a business entity that you have hired for a project. They need to be totally self sufficient and running their own processes and services where you are just one customer in their queue.

I have to say from my experience that there are plenty of Independent Contractors out there in my industry who don’t get that, they really want to be treated like employees. As a business owner you have to “man up” and make Independent Contractors be what they are supposed to be – independent – by not slipping into providing support or training which may get YOU into trouble just by being nice.

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Dealing with Negative Reviews in a Good Way

Anyone who has been in business for a while has certainly had a bad review at some point or another. The review may have been warranted or may have been unfair. What really doesn’t matter is if the review is true, but how you handle it.

Here are two excellent articles to check out for two different ways to handle negative reviews:

The Startling Secret to Getting Positive Reviews for Your Business

Three Tips to Handle Online Negative Publicity

Both articles are easy and fast reading. Here are my tips to add to the topic:

  1. Don’t respond immediately to a review when you are upset or angry. This will do more harm than good.
  2. Think about if the review has some truth. Do you need to change what you are doing to be better?
  3. Decide if you have to respond at all. This is a hard one, sometimes to rise graciously above a bad review is the best path and in other cases to address it head-on is better. Chat with some other business owners you trust to help you decide based on your situation and the review.

Actively start working on a regular basis to get good reviews and post them on your website. You want to make sure that there is a balance of reviews about your business online. Posting good reviews on your website is a great way to start.

I never recommend creating fake reviews. This can get you in more trouble than you need. If you are having trouble getting reviews, try a third party service who will contact your customers for you and even help them write the review about your firm.

If you do get a negative review, address, deal with it, and put it behind you. It is important to realize that you will not be able to please or service every person to their own satisfaction over the years you are in business. Do the best you can, and keep a mind-set of excellence in all you do.

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Lead Conversions – Metrics Part Three

I’ve saved the best and most important metric for the last post this week. Lead conversions or requests for information coming from your website (from organic search placement) are typically the top metric that top level executives watch to determine if their website is successful. Website design is important but what really drives lead conversions is the content, communicated transparency, and culture of the business.

What you say, how you say it, and the depth of experience in your field that you show on your website works to communicate that you care about your potential customers and effectively explains how you can help them. By communicating your business culture in your content, you differentiate yourself from others in your industry and create a position of authority that search engines typically will reward with organic placement.

It’s great to have a pretty website, but if that website does not make your phone ring and you don’t get regular information requests from your contact form, it is key to take a very close look at your website content.

  • It may be that you simply do not have enough content to make an impact on your potential customers.
  • Your content may be too technical or too simplistic to resonate with your audience.
  • There may be no call to action to encourage a reader to take further action.
  • You may communicate too many specifics that really should be detailed later in a contract and not in the initial interaction.
  • Your message may not be clear as to what you offer and can do.
  • Features and benefits may not be clearly detailed setting your product or service apart from similar offerings.

Periodic review should additionally be done on your website content. What was great and resonated with your audience five years ago may need updating to reflect new services, interests, and trends. There is simply no reason why your website should not be working hard for you. If your’s is not, it may be time to check with us for a website review.

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Our Recommended Strategy for Google+

Dear Friend,

Our February 2012 newsletter issue, is an important newsletter about my thoughts on Google+ and the strategic actions that I feel you should take now. Although my firm does not offer client services yet for Google+ account updates or business page updates, what you should do about Google+ should not wait for our services to be rolled out.

I feel that Google+ and +1’s will be extremely important to your organic search placement and warrant careful and close consideration now. In fact, there are several actions you should take within the next 30 days.

If I can help you implement these early steps, just let me know.

Best Regards,

Nancy McCord

What You Should Strategically Do About Google+ Now and In the Near Term

Much has happened just in the last month on Google.com and specifically with Google+. In fact so much so, that I wanted to make sure that all of our newsletter subscribers and clients knew my feelings about how to use Google+ and its importance for organic placement for the future.

First, let’s talk about the actions you should take immediately:

  1. Tie your preferred Google account with Google+.
  2. Lock down your business name as a Google+ Business page.
  3. Lock down a business page with your most important short keyword phrase.
  4. Link your Google AdWords program to your Google+ account user name.
  5. Implement Google +1 on your blog and your website.

These important first steps can easily be done by you or by us. If you need help, please ask us for it as what will be happening with Google+ in the near future is very important to your online visibility.

Second, let’s talk about what Google+ and +1’s are:

Google+ is a social platform. It is not like Facebook but more like Facebook and Twitter combined. However, is it much more important than any of the social networks we know and use now.

You could consider Google+ like a voting and popularity network but one that has the ear of Google. Anything you do on Google+ will most certainly impact your website’s organic placement and Web Visibility in the future. Google has said as much in their releases. Google has additionally stated just this past month that it will be showing social results from your Google+ network in their personalized search results.

What this means is that for people and businesses that embrace Google+ early and start building their network now, there will be strong benefits for their updates and links. This activity will be shown in your own personal and expanded network’s search/social results.

+1’s are Google’s versions of votes. If you like a page, like an ad, like a blog post, like a Google+ comment, you vote it up using a +1. What is crucial to understand is that a +1 is tied to your Google+ activity. These +1 votes will impact your visibility and placement on Google in the new Google Search Plus Your World results.

Third, let’s talk about Google Search Plus Your World:

In mid January, Google rolled out an important change to their search index. They named it Google Search Plus Your World. In my industry we call it Search Plus. Google stated that they will be using activity, updates, Google+ activity, and +1 activity in the search results that they deliver to your personally and to those in your Google+ network.

What is interesting is that even if you are logged out of your Google account, Google is still tracking your activity. Of additional importance is the announcement that the social related results that will be shown in the Google.com index are personally selected for you and WILL contain Google+ activity across your Google+ social network.

That means if you start building your network now, your information and website could be appearing in search results for a very broad network of readers and potential prospects. As this activity comes from your personal network, just like a word of mouth referral, links to you and your profile will most likely carry more authority and legitimacy in the eyes of potential clients. Everyone weights a reference by a friend about a business more than a written review found randomly on the Web. This will be the real impact of Google+ and +1’s in the very near future.

Fourth, why should you take the actions mentioned on this page now:

Based on this new focus for Google, you need to start flowing through search and social activity into your Google+ and +1 bank. If you don’t have accounts, Google can’t tie the activity to you specifically.

If you wait to tie up your business page and top keyword phrase named Google+ Business page, you may find that someone else has tagged it; locking you out of words and phrasing that will be very important to your Google presence in the very near future. Even if you do nothing yet with these new accounts, they will be tied to you so that when you do want to use them you can.

Fifth, why is this so important?

All of these actions to take and the information in this newsletter are important is because the business that is driving this action is Google. As Google owns 65% of the online search market, to be positioned well on Google means taking full advantage of what Google considers important. It is very important to understand that Google+ is not Facebook. Google considers Google+ and +1’s integral to the new face of search and how search results are shaped and delivered. Do not be fooled into thinking that this is just a social network. These new Google offerings are very important and should be embraced quickly and completely for your future organic placement benefit.

Don’t wait beyond 30 days to take the actions we recommend. When Twitter first came out many clients did not move into the platform as they considered it just a time drain. For the clients we work with that embraced Twitter early, many have networks of followers well over 2,500 active users; allowing for some serious marketing action and site promotion. Our recommendation is that Google+ is by far the most important new technology to have come out in the last three years. Don’t miss your opportunity to start now so that you can take full advantage of the future possibilities.

About Our Future Services

My firm does not offer Google+ updating services yet, but will when Google allows for the scheduling of status updates. For now keeping your Google+ page updated is done manually without any automation tools – by Google’s design.

We do however offer Google+ account set up and Google+ Business page set up as well as +1 implementation on your blog and website at our hourly rates of $80 per hour. If you have done set up yourself and we manage your Google AdWords advertising account, make sure to send us your Google+ information so we can tie your accounts together.

To get into our work schedule for set up, implementation or our Google+ services waiting list please contact me today.

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iPad Emulator Tool

With the popularity of iPads and tablets, it is important to take a moment and view your website the way an iPad would see it. I’ve found this free online tool that allows you to do just that; see your site like an iPad sees it.

http://ipadpeek.com/

If you watch your Google Analytics statistics you will see that Google is now reporting iPad and tablets users in the statistics.

Of interest to me recently was that screen sizes were growing and now with the advent of iPads and tablets, they are shrinking again. A good size for a design is about 1100 pixels wide or so as this looks good on tablets and on most computer screens.

Now I can’t wait for a small tablet tool for the popular Amazon Kindle Fire!

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Handling Bad Online Reviews

Getting a bad review online can be maddening, but don’t make it worse by responding without putting in a lot of thought to how your own response will be perceived by future customers.

I have a client who had a very poor review. When you are in business, you can’t please everyone, but in this case the owner shot off a rebuttal that when I read it, I just cringed. It made a bad situation much worse. It portrayed the business owner and staff as angry, resentful, argumentative, and vindictive. OUCH!

Sometimes a bad review can be a wakeup call. When you get a bad review, step back and look at it, could it be truthful, or have a grain of truth to it? It is very important to take a careful look to make sure that there is not a change needed on your part such as a change in office policy, customer service, or staff retraining.

If you feel that a rebuttal must be made. Focus on the positive, express concern for a problem, offer special attention from top management to repair the situation. Encourage the reviewer to recontact the office for a refund, redo, or credit on future service. Don’t write a hot rebuttal that trashes the reviewer or accuses them of being unfair or dishonest. This will only work to hurt you and make you look like the review was really true based on your hot angry response.

You can’t fight unfair reviews, but you can work to soften the blow and maybe even become better by taking the review as constructive criticism. Just be careful in your response and work to repair a poor situation not to make it worse with your own comments.

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