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Small Business Trends

Here’s What You Need to Know to Go Global

Here's What You Need to Know to Go GlobalTechnology has not only changed the way how businesses do businesses. It has also changed where they do business. When you mention “international” or “global” business, most of us immediately think of large, multinational companies like Walmart, Google, Microsoft, or Apple. What You Need to Know to Go Global: A Guide to International Trade Transactions chooses a different track. This book chooses to focus the spotlight on small and medium-sized businesses that have already extended (or plan to extend) their business beyond the boundaries of the United States.

What is What You Need to Know to Go Global About?

The ease at which small businesses can dive into international business has never been easier. In some cases, all it takes is an Internet connection, a product or service, and the right payment provider (like PayPal or Mastercard), but there is always more than meets the eye. There are a plethora of issues involved in completing one trade transaction including:

  • How will the product get there?
  • Who will store and safeguard the product when it gets there?
  • Do I have to pay a national sales tax or other taxes for establishing a business in this country?
  • How and when do I get paid?

These questions aren’t answered so easily. In many cases, because of the work already completed by businesses that facilitate international businesses, you won’t see all of the work that goes into a transaction. You, as the business owner or customer, won’t see that the teddy bear that you want to see in Mexico or China involved a lot of collaboration between a lot of people. All you will see is a price and the product.

What You Need to Know to Go Global pulls back the curtain on the world of international trade for those who are interested or who actually plan to establish a business and need help getting started. It drills down to the transaction level, covering a wide range of issues that can affect that transaction, from security to social responsibility, and transparency. After going through this 400+ page, readers should have a confident view of:

  • Agencies that can help establish your international business,
  • Regulatory issues and policies that might affect the sale of your product or service,
  • Basic taxation, tariff, and customs laws of which you may be unaware.

Author Stephen Creskoff is an attorney, expert in international trade, and speaker with extensive experience in international trade. Currently, he is a Principal and Partner at Creskoff & Doram, LLP, providing specialized expertise in World Trade Organization law and customs. Creskoff has worked with the World Bank along with other organizations in 50 other countries.

What Was Best About What You Need to Know to Go Global?

What You Need to Go Global is a book that goes beyond the basic “how to start an international business” book. It is specifically designed to address the concerns of any business owner who doesn’t have access to an international team of experts While the book certainly can address every single question or issue, it goes a long way in giving readers a broad overview of buying and selling globally. International trade is often not an issue discussed with small and medium-sized businesses so this is definitely so this book attempts to fill that gap.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

One thing most readers (especially lay readers) will immediately see is the book’s breadth. Stephen Creskoff is a lawyer and definitely displays this in the content. In some aspects, this is good because it provides readers access to the mind of an expert. In other aspects, it can be a little overwhelming for small business owners who just want a quick answer to an issue concerning international trade. A shorter more user-friendly guide could help in that regard.

Why Read What You Need to Know to Go Global?

As mentioned above and also by the author in the book, What You Need to Go Global was written to help small and medium-sized business owners understand the implications, options, and consequences of their actions whether they are selling (or receiving) products or services. The book helps readers understand the huge amount of work that goes into establishing and maintaining international trade but also a glimmer of hope. With the right resources and a basic understanding of how international trade works (some of that understanding comes from this book), you can run a successful and profitable international business.

This article, "Here’s What You Need to Know to Go Global" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

Small Business Trends Magazine Marketing Edition Is Here — Get a Free Copy with Exclusive Content Today!

The latest edition of Small Business Trends Magazine is available for download now!

In this issue, we’re looking at all things marketing for your small business.

Exclusive Content

If you download Small Business Trends Magazine today, you’ll get access to exclusive content not yet available anywhere else on the site.

In it, Rob Starr speaks with experts Ivana Taylor and Robert Brady about the biggest marketing barriers small businesses face today — and there are plenty — and how they can break through them.

Social media draining your wallet with little or no gains for your business? We’ve got answers.

Promotional efforts around town not bringing people to your store? You’ll find help for that, too.

But that’s not it. This edition is chock full of marketing tips for all aspects of promoting your business.

Annie Pilon shares 45 social media marketing tips that you won’t hear every day.

The Marketing Edition of Small Business Trends Magazine also tackles how to make great promotional videos for your company. And we’ve also got tips for using Direct Mail — yes, old-fashioned snail mail — that will get your company’s phone ringing and customers through your doors.

And we spoke with reality TV star and steakhouse restaurant mogul Willie Degel who shared some sizzling tips on leveraging your brand to market to different types of clientele.

You’ll find all this and more in the Small Business Trends Magazine 2017 Marketing Edition! Subscribe to future editions of the magazine for FREE today and get the latest edition right now!

Desk Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Small Business Trends Magazine Marketing Edition Is Here — Get a Free Copy with Exclusive Content Today!" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

In the News: Google Talk Shutting Down, WordPress Looking for Input

Businesses that use instant messaging to communicate with team members or collaborators may be familiar with Google Talk. But that service is shutting down this month as Google makes the transition to Hangouts.

And there’s another popular service that’s getting an update in the coming weeks. But the next WordPress release might not be ready just yet — the company is still looking for input from users.

Read on for more about these items and other small business headlines from the past week in the Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Technology Trends

Bye Bye Google Talk: What You Need to Know About Transition to Hangouts

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is axing its much-loved instant messaging service Google Talk on June 26 in favor of Hangouts. In an official update, Google said that Talk users will automatically be transitioned to Hangouts “unless contractual commitments apply.” Bye Bye Google Talk, Hello Hangouts Google Talk first started in 2005 and has over the years grown in number, registering about 7.

WordPress Releases “Candidate” for Version 4.8, Welcomes Last Minute Input

The development team has announced plans to release WordPress version 4.8 early next month. Version 4.8 is a candidate, meaning the development team thinks it is good but they are looking for people to go through it one last time and look for bugs.

FoodFaves App Connects Restaurants with Customers via Delicious Dish Pics

Chefs have been saying, “You eat with your eyes first” forever. It essentially means, if the food looks great you are more likely to try it. To prove that point, all you have to do is look at great images on a food social media site on Instagram and elsewhere before you start salivating.

88 Percent of Apps Dumped Due to Glitches, Survey Says

After spending a significant amount of time and money to build an app for your business, the last thing you’d want is for users to uninstall it. But that’s a real possibility if people experience bugs and glitches when using your app.


Feds Hit Small Business Contracting Target, But Miss Mark on Women

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) earlier in May reported that the federal government is meeting its annual targeted goals of awarding small business contracts. However, the feds missed the mark on contracts awarded to women entrepreneurs. 2016 Small Business Procurement Scorecard U.S.

Is Washington Listening? U.S. Senator Advocates for Small Business

Is Washington really listening to small businesses? U.S. Sen. James Lankford was on Capital Hill recently talking to colleagues about the challenges these small businesses face thanks to government regulation. Lankford recently introduced the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. It has since passed through the committee stage.


Small Businesses Look for Relief from Obamacare Employer Mandate, Restaurateur Says

Even though the American Health Care Act isn’t law yet, there’s hope from small business owners that the mandates imposed by the Affordable Care Act might soon be a thing of the past. Small Business Trends caught up with Willie Degel, a NYC restaurateur and former reality television star on the Food Network’s Restaurant Stakeout.

New York City Just Hit Fast Food Franchise Owners with More Regulations

If you run a quick service restaurant in New York City (NYC), you’ll soon have to deal with a series of new regulations passed into law by the nation’s largest city. NYC Fair Work Week Laws The legislation, known as the NYC Fair Work Week laws, are meant to provide a safety net to workers who often have to deal with difficult and unpredictable schedules.

5 Faces of the Gig Economy: New Study Reveals All (Infographic)

The gig economy is growing at a pace faster than some might have imagined. And driving it forward are freelancers who are redefining the modern workspace. Not all of these people are gravitating to freelancing for the same reasons. A new infographic created by LinkedIn ProFinder and Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) reveals there are five different types of freelancers in the gig economy today.


How Small Businesses Can Rise Above the Healthcare Debate – With Self-Insurance

Did you know there’s an alternative to the traditional route small businesses take when looking to get healthcare for their employees. You can pay an insurance premium to an insurance carrier and transfer the risk of covering any claims. However, there is a viable substitute. “Self-insurance is an alternative,” says Mike Ferguson, CEO of the Self-Insurance Institute of America.

Marketing Tips

Oregon Wineries Expand Business — With Marijuana?

Diversifying your small business’s offerings can be a great way to bring in extra income and protect your business from prolonged slumps. But when adding new products or services, you have to find something that makes sense based on the resources and customer base you already have.

Pinterest Upgrades Promoted Video With Autoplay

After introducing Promoted Video ad units last August, Pinterest is adding autoplay on those ads . This new format of video plays as soon as you scroll across your feeds. They also autoplay in the platform’s search results.

Retail Trends

House Won’t Undo Debit Card Swipe Fee Reform, Retailers Rejoice

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have abandoned a plan to repeal debit card swipe fee reform passed during the Obama administration. Retailers say the swipe fee reform has saved them and their customers more than $40 billion, and brought badly needed competition to the payments market.

83 Percent of eCommerce Customers Never Buy the Stuff in Their Cart

It’s staggering but true statistic. Eighty-three percent of eCommerce customers never buy the stuff in their cart. The statistic came from a study conducted by Yahoo’s Aabaco Small Business. The study involved analyzing the habits of five million online consumers. It found that 250,000 shoppers added products to carts but 83 percent didn’t complete checking out.

Campbell’s Sales Slump Shows Healthy Food Trend Entrepreneurs Should Watch

Campbell’s Soup released their quarterly earnings decline and sinking sales figures Friday, and warned that the company’s 2017 sales figures could take a dive as a result. The company recently boosted its advertising campaigns, but Reuters reports that a decline in consumer demand for condensed soups, broths and juices hurt sales.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: AliDropship Makes Life Easier for eCommerce Businesses

Starting an eCommerce business can be a lot easier with the help of a drop shipping company like AliDropship. You can read more about this small business and the services it provides to eCommerce businesses in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Offers services for drop shipping businesses.

Small Business Operations

Work from Home Doesn’t Mean Work Alone (INFOGRAPHIC)

More people are working remotely, and the 2017 Gallup “State of the American Workplace” report and survey revealed as much. According to the survey, 43 percent of employed Americans spent some time working remotely. In a world where collaboration and teamwork is now the modus operandi of many organizations, this might present some challenges.

Kangol Tries to Find Niche Reversing Offshoring Trend

Since 1990, U.S. businesses have sent 85 percent of their manufacturing and other operations overseas as a way of cutting costs. But Kangol is doing just the opposite. The popular hat brand actually recently brought its manufacturing operations back to the U.S. from China. This move hasn’t come without challenges — namely, the cost of labor.


Kauffman Index: Percentage of Older and Immigrant Entrepreneurs On The Rise

A growing number of older and immigrant people are discovering a passion for entrepreneurship. That’s according to a new study (PDF) by the Missouri-based non-profit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Findings from the 2017 Kauffman Index Older Adults Form a Growing Segment of the U.S. Entrepreneurial Population According to the report, entrepreneurs aged 55 to 64 made up for 25.

Image: Google Meet

This article, "In the News: Google Talk Shutting Down, WordPress Looking for Input" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

Cynthia Hester of Salesforce: Sharing Your Trailblazing Story Could Earn You a Free Trip to Dreamforce 2017

I attended my first Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual user conference, in 2004 where the attendance was right around 2,500 people. Last year’s Dreamforce over 150,000 registered to attend. It’s gone past a traditional user conference to one of the biggest business events of the year.

Salesforce 2017 Customer Trailblazer Awards

And this year the company is launching its first annual Customer Trailblazer Awards, where winners not only get to attend Dreamforce for free, but they also will have the power of Salesforce’s marketing might to share their winning story of why they are business trailblazers.

Cynthia Hester, Director of Customer Advocacy for Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), shares why Salesforce is starting this award, what the criteria is, who can participate, and how you can enter a submission. She also discusses how the contest will be judged and the other prizes the winners will receive.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full conversation watch the embedded video or audio clip below. And make sure you get your Salesforce 2017  Customer Trailblazer Awards entry in by June 16!

* * * * *

Salesforce 2017 Customer Trailblazer AwardsSmall Business Trends: So tell us about this really interesting award, the Trailblazer Award and how it came about and why Salesforce is doing it.

Cynthia Hester: We wanted an opportunity elevate and celebrate our customers that are doing transformative, innovative things with the technology and the platform. And this was a perfect way to do it. Any customer around the world that’s a Salesforce customer, six months or longer, can tell us their story. And we are going to be able to celebrate those teams and those leaders that are really making a difference and doing things within digital transformation, looking at newer technologies like AI, and mobile. So we’re really excited about this.

Small Business Trends: Maybe you can talk us through the award categories.

Cynthia Hester: We developed these categories and they’re aligned with our company values.

Innovation, growth, trust, equality, and then we added an award around inspiration.

By innovation we mean have you, as a customer, taken the technology and used that to create a new experience? Have you figured out a new way for your company to move forward around digital transformation? Have you destructed an industry or a category?

In terms of growth, has the project enabled you, or your customers or your communities to really grow and expand with the work that they’re doing. So I think here companies should be creative in terms of how they look at growth because it could be financial growth, but it could also be growth around developing culture. It could be growth around establishing a learning platform for their employees. It could be helping their communities actually move into a new direction.

The next category is about trust and this is one of our key tenets at Salesforce. So we’re looking for companies that tell us how you instill security and make sure that what you’re doing has a very strong element of trust, and if you’ve used that in a way to make a difference. To transform; to break out and do something differently in that space. We want to hear from you. We want to hear about that.

And then in terms of equality, we call this the Year of Equality, Mark Benioff gave out some awards earlier this year to notable people in this space, and again we really want people to be creative about it; but talk about how you’re using the platform to instill that in your culture, to instill that as you reach out to your customers and the people that they do business with every day.

And then finally inspirational. And again, this could be an executive leader, it could be a team leader, it could be one of your team members. And this person makes people feel differently and makes them rise to the occasion and maybe do things that they didn’t think they could do. So they really are motivational and inspiring, all in the way that they work and the way that they collaborate and work with the team.

Small Business Trends: Who all is eligible to win this thing?

Cynthia Hester: So any Salesforce customer that’s been deployed for six months or longer is eligible. There are some geographical restrictions and people should just go up to the website to make sure that their country is on the list, that they can actually enter, but we’re really looking at a global view of getting customer entries in, so if you’ve got a great story and you feel like you’ve innovated and destructed and transformed either your company or your business, those are the stories we’re looking for.

Small Business Trends: How do people get a chance to go through the submission and judging process?

Cynthia Hester: We’ve made this really easy. Go to and do the submission, and then what will happen once everybody has submitted (the call for entries will close on the 16th of June), the judges will be looking for things that will extend out in each of the five areas that I talked about. And if you look at the descriptions, we try to give people a little guidance. And they’ll see when they actually go in to write their submissions what things we’re looking for in each one of those areas. But again I really encourage people to just think really deeply about what was the motivation for your project? Why do you find it meaningful? And if you can communicate that to us and the judges, it will definitely come out in your submission, and those are the people we’re looking to showcase and elevate with this program.

Small Business Trends: Give us some of the time frames and deadlines.

Cynthia Hester: Sure, we’ve got until the 16th of June for people to send in their submissions, and then about the early part of July we’ll start the judging process. Once we go through that process and we have our winners and our finalists, we’ll start the notification process into early August and then at Dreamforce we will be announcing all of our winners and all of our finalists, and we’ll have our Dreamforce experience in a really big celebration to recognize those companies that have stood out with this awards program.

Small Business Trends: What are the awards?

Cynthia Hester: You get a Dreamforce experience for you and up to five of your colleagues; that includes your pass to Dreamforce and your hotel stay. You’ll get a workshop session with our world class UX group for your company, and we will then provide the opportunity to share your story across a multitude of channels with our customer marketing organization, and also with our customer insights team.

So we’re really looking forward to being able to share then, and then I feel like everyone is going to win at the end, because we will have some amazing stories to share with our entire Salesforce community and I think that is going to be the real winner here. People will get to see some great examples of companies doing some amazing things. But we will have 10 winners, 2 per category.

Small Business Trends: And where can people go to learn more and to get submitted and all those things?

Cynthia Hester: Go to and that is where you’ll see the Enter Now button. Push that and it’ll open up your submission form.

Small Business Trends: And what’s the deadline again?

Cynthia Hester: And the deadline is June 16th. So people have about two weeks to get their submissions in.

This article, "Cynthia Hester of Salesforce: Sharing Your Trailblazing Story Could Earn You a Free Trip to Dreamforce 2017" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

Nominations Are Now Open for the 2017 Rule Breaker Awards

Nominations Are Now Open for the 2017 Rule Breaker Awards

The deadline for the Rule Breaker Awards 2017 is quickly approaching. So businesses that pride themselves on doing things their own way instead of following conventional wisdom should make note of a couple important dates.

Rule Breaker Awards Deadline and Ceremony Dates

The deadline for nominations is June 30, 2017. From there, a group of judges will deliberate and select winners, which will be announced September 6, 2017. And the actual awards ceremony will take place on October 24, 2017 at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Rule Breaker Awards Judges

The judges for this year’s awards include Yaniv Masjedi of Nextiva, JJ Ramberg of, Brian Scudmore of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Ken Yancey of SCORE, Shama Kabani of Marketing Zen Group and Small Business Trends’ own Anita Campbell. And the event is sponsored by Nextiva.

Rule Breaker Awards Categories

Anyone can nominate a business owner or entrepreneur using the form provided on Rule Breaker’s website any time between now until June 30. There are several different categories you can nominate people for, including RuleMaker of the Year, Retail RuleBreaker of the Year, Tech Services RuleBreaker of the Year, Manufacturing RuleBreaker of the Year, and the grand prize: RuleBreaker of the Year, among others.

This is the fourth year for the awards, which seek to recognize the business owners who take risks even when that might mean going against conventional business practices. The awards’ founders, judges and sponsors all recognize the importance of businesses that make their own rules instead of following in the steps of others.

Co-founder Barry Moltz told Small Business Trends in an email, “As we have seen recently by Uber, the evolution of any industry many times comes from a revolution sparked by someone who challenges the industry — it comes from the rule breakers. This national event recognizes the people who never shirk from obstacles, don’t fear the unknown and persist — despite the odds.”

Image: Nextiva

This article, "Nominations Are Now Open for the 2017 Rule Breaker Awards" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

Vimeo Adds Video Cards to Compete with YouTube

New Vimeo Interactive Video Cards to Compete with YouTube

Vimeo has launched a new set of tools, including new interactive video cards, updated email capture and end screens. And like YouTube Cards, Vimeo hopes that the video cards will help Vimeo Business account holders to drive engagement by encouraging viewers to click beyond the video they are watching.

Vimeo Interactive Video Cards

Vimeo video cards, which are available on Vimeo’s embeddable video player, work with both desktop and mobile devices, allowing users to add customizable videos anywhere in a video. Cards work with both Android and iOS devices and for Vimeo, it looks like getting the right look on mobile was critical.

In a press release announcing the updates, Vimeo’s general manager and senior vice president Anjali Sud said:

“Quality continues to be our top priority at Vimeo and our video interaction tools are designed to feel as native, unobtrusive and engaging as possible. We also accounted for the fact that the majority of video views occur on mobile and are excited to introduce a complete, mobile-optimized solution with our new cards.”

Vimeo also announced end screens, which allow users to customize the screen that appears after a video completes playing. End screens can now show a call-to-action, a customized thumbnail or a clickable background image.

Also, as part of the updates, Business members will now be able to set email capture fields to appear before, during or after a video. They can even make it mandatory for viewers to enter email addresses before they view a video. Vimeo says that the saved addresses can then be seamlessly imported to email marketing services such as Constant Contact, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor.

And to wrap it up, Vimeo also said that Business Members will now be able to “track impressions, click rates, and engagement data for cards, email capture and end screens.”

On Vimeo’s website, Business Membership costs $50 per month, which is billed annually.

Image: Vimeo

This article, "Vimeo Adds Video Cards to Compete with YouTube" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

Shhhh! Use These 5 WordPress SEO Secrets to Drive Insane Traffic

WordPress SEO Tips

There are more websites than there are people in the United States, by a good margin. The population in the U.S. is around 321 million while the latest web server survey in May 2017 stated that there are about 1.8 billion websites online. That’s a lot of websites out there that you have to compete against — more than there are consumers in the U.S.

The increasing number of websites online has made the website competition “to be found online” even more challenging. In other words, getting visibility online keeps getting tougher as search engines become saturated with websites. Creating a website and hoping for the best is not enough. Smart businesses owners must be on top of the latest SEO and paid advertising trends to beat the competition.

Furthermore, keep mind that your efforts have to be constant. Doing one SEO tweak every blue moon won’t yield results. Fortunately, website CRMs like WordPress make SEO easier to manage with user-friendly platforms and SEO plugins. Here you’ll learn the SEO fundamentals to use for WordPress to jumpstart your efforts. Let’s get started!

What Is SEO and How Does It Work?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the process and methods to get visibility online from “free” or “organic” search results in search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. As you can see below in my search for “jumpsuits” on Google, I found paid listings — specifically, Google Shopping or PLA ads—and organic listings enclosed in green.

If I were searching for a service, I would have found a similar mix of paid and organic listings, but with a different look. In this case, there are no Google Shopping ads, but Google paid search ads.

The middle listings are locations found in Google Maps; they are also not paid. Getting listed on Google Maps or other local directories would be considered local SEO — still important, but not the primary focus of this article. We’ll mainly focus on SEO strategies for eCommerce retailers.

Factors Affecting SEO

There are on-site and off-site factors that affect SEO. Examples of on-site factors are a website’s content, structure, and speed. Some off-site factors that affect SEO are outside links pointing to the site and its social media following and engagement.

Search engines like Google want to provide the best user experience for the searcher; therefore, it uses these and other factors to rank websites. For example, websites that have an organized structure will have higher rankings than websites that don’t. This is because more organized structures help users find what they are looking for faster, which leads to better user experience — a priority for search engines.

Is It Really Free Traffic?

Another thing to keep in mind is that although organic rankings don’t require payment to Google, they will still end up costing you money. Whether you decide to hire a search marketing agency or do it yourself, advanced SEO efforts such as link building or writing will require additional paid help. Luckily, all the WordPress SEO tips we’ll cover in the next section can be done fairly easily.

WordPress SEO Tips

1. Permalink Structure

A permalink is a URL to a specific post. Instead of having a URL with numbers or dates at the end, such as, the recommended permalink structure is to use more user-friendly URLs, like These types of URLs are easier to share and are preferred by search engines.

Using dates, for example, can make posts look outdated (if the date is old), which, in turn, can lead to lower click-through rates. Which URL would you click on: a post with the URL or You’d probably skip the post from 2012 and opt for the one that says SEO guide.

To get the ideal permalink structure on WordPress, simply go to Settings> Permalink and select “Post Name,” as you can see in the image below.

If you haven’t used this structure so far, make sure to redirect old URLs to the new ones to prevent 404 errors. There are online tools and plugins that can make this process easier.

Additionally, you can add the category name before the post’s name. This may be a good idea if your categories and post names are short and descriptive. Otherwise, if your URL is too long, it may get cut off, which is not ideal.

2. Title Tags

Title tags are one of the most important steps in optimizing website pages for WordPress or any other platform. It’s the first snippet of content searchers will read about your page, and it will help differentiate your listing from the rest.

Keep in mind that title tags are meant to encourage the user to click on your listing—they can’t look like a bundle of nonsense keywords. They should contain certain keywords in a manner that is easy to read. It should contain your focus keyword, your brand’s name, and some supporting text to provide the user more information about the page.

Also, note that title tag length varies, according to screen display, so make sure your most important keywords are positioned toward the front.  Title tags can help you increase your click through rate or CTR and, in turn, increase your organic ranking; so, the more enticing your title can be, the better.

3. Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are located below the listing’s URL. These are the snippets of information that allow the user to get more insight into the page’s content. They can help with click through rates; however, they don’t affect Google’s ranking anymore. In 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions and meta keywords don’t factor in Google’s ranking. Although this news has been out for quite some time now, there are still many people who use meta keywords. Don’t bother wasting your time.

Note that if you don’t use a meta description, it will be automatically generated by the search engine by finding the keyword searched for in your document and automatically choosing information around that. This shows a bolded word or two in the results page. See, below, an example of an automatically generated meta description in red and a manually created description in green:

As you can see, meta descriptions that are created manually look better and are more enticing than automatically created ones.

4. XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap shows all the pages in a website and shows relationships of content within the site such as organization, navigation, and labeling. It allows search engines to crawl your site and properly index pages. Having a sitemap won’t help you automatically jump in ranking; however, it will help search engines easily crawl your site and find pages faster. Also, it will allow you to keep track of all your pages to make sure there are no broken links and all redirects are properly in place.

The easiest way to create a sitemap on WordPress is using a plugin such as Yoast or Google XML sitemap generator. Using Yoast, you’ll simply have to enable the XML sitemap functionality. Every time a new page is created, your sitemap will automatically be updated.

5. Image Optimization

Image optimization is often overlooked, but it’s an important component in your SEO efforts for many reasons. To start, your images need to be the right size and dimensions. If the image is too big, the page will take too long to load and cause a bad user experience, which, in turn, results in lower rankings. The file size is measured in KB or MB, and you can think of it as the “weight” of the image. The file’s dimensions are measured in width, height, and pixels.

Regarding image size, full page images should be around 80Kb-100Kb at most. If the image is part of a page, 20Kb-30Kb is fine. Images in full-screen mode can be around 1280px, 1290px, or even wider. Fortunately, when uploading images, WordPress automatically creates three resized images in addition to the original one: large, medium, and thumbnail. Thus, you can select a different size if you need it.

Other useful optimizations are the addition of image alt tags and title tags. Alt tags show when an image is unable to display, and it helps the user know what the image is about. The title tags help search engines know what your images are about to index them properly.

Wrapping It Up

SEO is a must to increase a website’s visibility and stay competitive. Smart business owners must follow best practices to optimize all the various offsite and onsite factors that contribute to a healthy SEO.

Although it is meant to increase “free traffic,” there are advanced SEO techniques that will require some paid help. Allocate a budget for SEO tasks to ensure you’re prepared for any future workload. Putting these SEO fundamentals into practice will help you take your WordPress site to the next level.

SEO Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Shhhh! Use These 5 WordPress SEO Secrets to Drive Insane Traffic" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

Small Businesses Look for Relief from Obamacare Employer Mandate, Restaurateur Says

Small Businesses Look for Relief from Obamacare Employer Mandate, Restaurateur Says

Even though the American Health Care Act isn’t law yet, there’s hope from small business owners that the mandates imposed by the Affordable Care Act might soon be a thing of the past.

Small Business Trends caught up with Willie Degel, a NYC restaurateur and former reality television star on the Food Network’s Restaurant Stakeout. He was upset by the fact Obamacare mandated things that affected small business generally and restaurants specifically.

One big gripe with Obamacare — forcing employers with 50 employees to provide healthcare coverage or face stiff penalties.

Degel, who is the owner of New York’s Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, had to hire an administrative employee to cover the implementation of Obamacare.

“Every action has a reaction,” he said recently. “That regulation (Obamacare) is stifling. We needed to open up the gates a bit.”

Obamacare Employer Mandate – Should Small Businesses Be Responsible for Employees’ Health?

“Under Obamacare, it was like we had to look after our employee’s healthcare. It was like I was responsible for it,” he said, adding the process involved taking the time out from their  work routines to make choices about the kind of healthcare employees wanted and then implementing them through payroll. Degel noted there was a large financial outlay.

“Administratively, it’s a huge burden,” he said. There’s ample evidence to support his claims that goes all the way back to a Washington Times report from December of last year speaking to how the administrative and monetary weight of Obamacare even bankrupted one downtown hotspot in Fort Worth.

Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill placed the blame for its closure on the penalty that would have been levied on them of between $200,000 and $300,000 for not supplying healthcare to their employees. The establishment had been a long time and popular eatery for watching Texas Christian University and Dallas Cowboys football games. Instead of over 50 people getting healthcare as Obamacare mandated, the same amount lost their jobs.

Next Step for AHCA

The American Health Care Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a slim margin of 217-213 on May 4.

If it gets through the Senate, it goes to the President’s desk and should be signed into law. The bill will allow small businesses generally and restaurants specifically to provide healthcare coverage as a benefit. In theory, the act doesn’t take away the mandate to provide coverage for any small business with 50 or more employees, but there will be no penalties levied for not providing policies.

In other words, the mandate won’t be enforced even though it will remain on the books.


However, having Obama-era healthcare prerequisites that aren’t enforced  under the AHCA should still lower costs for small businesses who want to cover their employees.

Under the new act, employers will not need to provide limitless Essential Health Benefits like emergency room visits.

But until the current healthcare legislation is officially repealed, some restaurants are still under threat, critics say.

Even in the days immediately before the election, in a November 2, 2016, interview on Fox News, CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder pointed to the fact Obamacare was hurting the restaurant industry. An those damages are over and above the administrative costs.

Disposable Income

He pointed to the Obamacare employer mandate as responsible for eight restaurant chains going bankrupt and said one of the direct causes was the increasing individual premiums that left less disposable income in people’s pockets.

The last word goes to Degel who currently operates three different restaurant types with plans to expand into airports and shopping malls.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he says. “I believe people should have a better quality of life, but it’s not up to me as a businessman to be burdened with the costs and control of their healthcare.”

Affordable Health Care Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Small Businesses Look for Relief from Obamacare Employer Mandate, Restaurateur Says" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

Entrepreneurship, Like Life, is About Thinking Positive

Family Business Planning Business Cartoon

When I create custom cartoons for clients, I always give them three or four jokes from which to choose.

I used to play this little game with myself, predicting which joke they’d pick. But I’ve been proven wrong so many times that now I just wait and see what happens.

That doesn’t mean I still don’t have favorites. And sometimes I’m hoping certain ideas don’t get picked because I’d like to keep them for myself.

This cartoon is one of those.

I had a client who needed a cartoon on passing a family business on to a relative and this was one of the jokes I floated, but secretly I hoped they’d reject.

Thankfully, it didn’t click with them and it’s one of my recent favorites.

This article, "Entrepreneurship, Like Life, is About Thinking Positive" was first published on Small Business Trends Source:

One Freelancer’s Experience with the 52 Week Money Challenge

A 52 Week Savings Challenge Success Story

As a fashion blogger, travel enthusiast and freelance writer, Alysse Dalessandro has a variety of interests. When it comes to saving money, the 29-year-old is just as open-minded.

In late 2015, Dalessandro read a blog post about the 52-week money challenge, a popular savings strategy that gained momentum on social media platforms like Facebook. The premise is simple: Every seven days, save an amount that corresponds to that week. (In the first week, that comes out to $1. In the second: $2. And so on.) After one year, a person will have saved $1,378.

Dalessandro exceeded that mark in 2016 when she set aside $1,522, which will fund a trip to Italy this year. Here’s how she made the most of the 52-week money challenge — and how you could, too.

A 52 Week Savings Challenge Success Story

Customize the Challenge

The beauty of the 52-week challenge lies in its simplicity. An added bonus is that people can tweak the process as they see fit.

Dalessandro stashed her cash in a jar, a low-tech but highly effective way to separate her savings and spending money. Although this method worked well for her, she’s quick to acknowledge that people could also transfer money from their checking to savings account each week.

That way, their deposits would earn interest and likely be federally insured. Folks would also be able to take advantage of their bank’s online budgeting and savings tools. But this strategy could make it too easy for some to dip into savings, given the ease of online banking.

You could also flip the challenge, setting aside $52 in the first week and saving a gradually decreasing amount from there. If you decide to start the challenge with the new year, an added benefit is that you’d have to put away less than $40 during the holiday season.

Keep Cash Safe

The blog post that Dalessandro came across in 2015 recommended leaving cash-filled jars in plain sight. That way, people wouldn’t forget about the challenge.

“I was like, ‘Um, I’m not gonna do that,’” says Dalessandro, of Akron, Ohio.

Even though Dalessandro lived in what she considers a safe neighborhood, she kept the jar tucked away in her room. Dalessandro also had a lockbox on hand in case she wanted an extra layer of security.

If the thought of leaving cash hidden in your room makes you uneasy, consider depositing it into a savings account every few weeks.

Accessorize the challenge with traditional tools
Along with the 52-week money challenge — Dalessandro is doing it again this year — she uses a traditional savings account to store her emergency fund.

Although Dalessandro tries to leave that money untouched, she likes having it accessible in case unexpected expenses arise. Certificates of deposit, a type of savings tool Dalessandro used briefly in college, make that more difficult.

“CDs are a lot like the jar, except they have real rules,” she says.

Withdrawing money from a CD before its maturity date typically triggers penalties. When looking for a traditional savings tool, be sure to pick the one that most aligns with your needs.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: NerdWallet

This article, "One Freelancer’s Experience with the 52 Week Money Challenge" was first published on Small Business Trends Source: