Search Engine Optimization: Climbing the Search Rankings Ladder

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20

Jul 2015

Search Engine Optimization: Climbing the Search Rankings Ladder

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In today’s market, a website functions as a virtual storefront for almost any business, and search engine optimization is the equivalent of the old adage “location, location, location”.  To increase the chances of your business being found, you want to make sure that customers who are searching for your product or service online are finding you, not your competitor.  In general, searchers will visit the websites that appear highest on the search result page and a good SEO strategy will help you move up the list.  Here are a few guidelines to help you start climbing.   

Understanding Search Engines

First, you need to know how search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing work.   They use complex algorithms to trawl the internet searching websites for information such as keywords, the frequency at which a website is visited, and how often it is referenced by other quality sites.  The website deemed most relevant will appear at the top of the organic search results (“organic search results”, are the results that appear below the promoted ads).  You can help your website come up higher by paying attention to keywords and content. 

Keywords are Key

Search engines crawl and index websites to match the searcher’s term with what they find on both the backend and frontend of your website.   Use a variety of accurate terms and descriptions of your product to increase the chances of your site being matched to a potential customer’s term.  To ensure you are using the most popular terms do research to see how often your keywords are being searched, and how your product or service is being talked about online.  There are free keyword analysis tools online, like Google AdWords, to help you do this.  Keywords are only part of the picture though, as quickly as the potential customer clicked on to your site they can click off, it is your content that will hold their attention. 

Content is King

Your websites’ content will depend on your approach and product, and includes everything on your site (like product descriptions, company information, and blogs).   Original and quality content can help build a strong online presence.  For example, Jennifer Roberge, founder of the successful online retailer “The Eczema Company”, has a blog on her website about her personal experiences having a son with eczema.  Because she is generating high quality unique content it is likely to be shared- driving up her search ranking and building her authority.  Jennifer had help developing her business from YES (a Quebec non-profit that provides entrepreneurship support including business coaching).  Creating quality content, as Jennifer does, is a win-win strategy as it is more likely to be shared by other sites and on social media, increasing your online traffic which will also help your search ranking. 

A solid SEO strategy will incorporate quality, unique content supported by popular and relevant keywords. This can help bring more than traffic to your site, it can bring customers.  If you need help building your online marketing strategy, or with any aspect of your business YES can help; learn more about their services at www.yesmontreal.ca.

Join YES on Facebook or contact us with questions, suggestions, or comments at [email protected] or by phone 514-878-9788 or 1-888-614-9788 and visit us at www.yesmontreal.ca

In collaboration with Townshippers’ Association, a business coach from YES Montreal is in Lennoxville and Knowlton once a month to meet with clients face to face. The sessions are free; there is a one-time $20 administration fee charged by YES.

For more information or to find out the date of the next coaching session in Knowlton, contact Maggie Severs at 450-242-4421 or [email protected]. For information about the Lennoxville sessions, contact Evelina Smith at 819-566-2182 or [email protected].

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20

Jul 2015

Making it Work in the Laurentians: The Business of Doing Good

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The concept of Social Enterprise is currently surging in popularity, although it has been around for decades.  From ecotourism companies to grocery store cooperatives, this approach can embrace many different types of organizations and businesses.  There is serious debate as to what constitutes a Social Enterprise and definitions may vary based on a range of factors.  The defining characteristics of a Social Enterprise includes having a social mission at the core of the business, and using market-based strategies to generate profit to further social goals. 

Quebec is home to a variety of successful social enterprises who are innovatively applying market based strategies to address today’s problems.  They can serve as examples for new start-ups.  For instance CAMMAC (Canadian Amateur Musicians – Musiciens Amateurs du Canada) is a non-profit that promotes amateur music, and operates a lodge and music center on Lake McDonald in the Laurentians.  They run their own music programs from the center and they also rent the space to generate profit to support their programs.   Cooperative models are also becoming more and more popular, successful examples such as Vallée Bras-du-Nord (an ecotourism cooperative located in St-Raymond, in the National Capital region) show how local market needs can be met by social enterprises.

If the idea of running a business while addressing a social cause excites you, you will want to do your research up front including exploring which business structure would be most beneficial (ex. for-profit, non-profit or cooperative). The chosen business structure will impact things like, the activities, taxes, potential revenue, and funding options for your enterprise.  In addition, creating both a business plan and viable business model for revenue generation will strengthen the chance of your business succeeding.

Depending on the structure you chose, you will have different options for funding your enterprise.  For instance setting up a non-profit may allow you access to grants and other programs for which a for-profit would not be eligible. However, as a non-profit there are restrictions on how much revenue you can generate from goods and services, whereas a for-profit would not face such restrictions on profit making, and could potentially have better access to classic business loans and services.

As social enterprises gain in popularity, an increasing number of institutions are recognizing their value and potential.  As with any start-up however, a solid foundation based on sound research is an essential prerequisite for success.  Meeting with a business coach can help you to determine the best choices for your enterprise. 

April will be Social Entrepreneurship Month at YES – a Quebec non-profit which provides entrepreneurship support including business coaching.  YES will host a series of workshops geared at better understanding social entrepreneurship, exploring funding options, and marketing strategies for social enterprises. Both the workshops and business coaching can be accessed online, so check out the YES website to learn more.   

Join YES on facebook or contact us with questions, suggestions, or comments at [email protected] or by phone 514-878-9788 or 1-888-614-9788 and visit us at www.yesmontreal.ca

In collaboration with Townshippers’ Association, a business coach from YES Montreal is in Lennoxville and Knowlton once a month to meet with clients face to face. The sessions are free; there is a one-time $20 administration fee charged by YES.

For more information or to find out the date of the next coaching session in Knowlton, contact Maggie Severs at 450-242-4421 or [email protected]. For information about the Lennoxville sessions, contact Evelina Smith at 819-566-2182 or [email protected].

 

 

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20

Jul 2015

Pitch Perfect: How to Pitch Your Startup to Investors.

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Raising capital to start or expand your business can be challenging.  Not all great entrepreneurs are sales people by nature, and presentations to potential investors can be nerve-wracking even if you are highly skilled.  Whether you are trying to raise millions or thousands, getting your pitch perfect will help you to hit the right note with investors.  Here are a few simple tips to help you prepare:

What Type of Investor?

Most entrepreneurs generally start with “love money” from friends and family, but the type of investment that is right for you will depend on a number of factors such as the industry you’re in, the size of your business- now and where you want to be in the future- and the stage of your business. Determine what type of investor you want to approach. Angel investors for example, are more likely to invest in a start-up whereas venture capitalists might be a better match for an existing business.  Beyond traditional approaches to raising capital, crowd funding has emerged as a major trend.  Entrepreneurs raised an estimated 10 billion dollars in investments through crowd funding last year. 

Pitch perfect.

Once you know who you will pitch to, you need to tailor your presentation for each investor.  Start with a standard presentation on key components of your company and adapt it for each potential investor.  When designing your presentation you want to be informative, concise, and engaging.

Take out the jargon.

Speak in clear and simple terms.  When you have been working in, and are passionate about, a specific industry it can be hard to remember that your “common knowledge” may not be all that common.  Try to avoid acronyms when possible or explain them clearly when they first appear in your presentation.  Unless you know an investor’s background very well, don’t assume that their interest in your sector or business type means they know all the terminology.  

Speak with passion. 

Root your pitch, or crowd funding video, in the ethos that drove you to create your business in the first place.  By the time you get on the road to pitch to investors, or in front of the camera to pitch to the crowd, you can be so caught up in the details and sales figures that it is easy to forget to connect with your audience.  Your energy and connection with your audience is as essential as the information you are sharing. 

If you don’t know, say that you don’t know. 

Remember, there is no substitution for being well prepared.  If something does come up that you can’t address on the spot, jot down the question and the name of the person who asked, and offer to provide the information at a later time via phone or email.  Going over your presentation in advance with a business coach can help you to identify any information gaps in advance and make sure that your presentation is clear, well delivered, and addresses the most common concerns of investors.

If you need help identifying an investment strategy or preparing your pitch, the Business Coaches at YES can help.  YES is a Quebec non-profit providing job search and entrepreneurship support in person at their centre in downtown Montreal, and online, across Quebec.  To learn more visit www.yesmontreal.ca.

In collaboration with Townshippers’ Association, a business coach from YES Montreal is in Lennoxville and Knowlton once a month to meet with clients face to face. The sessions are free; there is a one-time $20 administration fee charged by YES.

For more information or to find out the date of the next coaching session in Knowlton, contact Maggie Severs at 450-242-4421 or [email protected]. For information about the Lennoxville sessions, contact Evelina Smith at 819-566-2182 or [email protected].

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