How Not to Get Repeat Business

The economy has been rough for the past few years and we’ve all had to find ways to become more efficient and to drive more customers to our business.  Kevin Andrew Lutes, a computer repairman (formerly of 2121 Cypress Road, Bethlehem, PA) may have come up with the worst idea for business development yet.

According to court documents:

This young man visited a client he’d done work for in the past by breaking into their office in the middle of the night.  He then proceeded to steal a hard drive out of one of their computers and waited for his client to call him for help.  Sure enough, they did end up calling and he assured them that he could recover the data despite the missing hard drive.  He then showed up at the client’s office a few days later having completed the miracle data recovery and charged them a hefty $2000 fee for the 40 hours of data recovery services he performed (when in reality he just gave them their own hard drive back).

Broken Computer

I don’t know for sure if this is the computer in question but it’s been in every article about Mr. Lutes I’ve found.

Luckily, his client called the computer manufacturer to verify the young man’s claims and got confirmation that there’s no way to perform data recovery on a PC when the hard drive is missing (barring an online backup service of course).  As a result, the client called the Police and shortly into the investigation the Police found video footage of Lutes’ vehicle parked outside his client’s building the night of the break-in, complete with “Computer Repair” decal.  Mr. Lutes ended up being charged with theft and receiving stolen property, and was arraigned and sent to prison under a $10,000 bail.

Lesson learned here?  There are lots of snake oil salesmen in IT.  Because IT is a fairly complex field, many business owners and decision makers can become intimidated by a salesman who throws out a lot of acronyms and technical mumbo-jumbo sprinkled with positive-sounding business jargon like “synergy” and “the cloud”.  Before you hire someone, especially for a position of trust such as an IT role, do yourself and your company a favor and at least Google the individual or company in question.  If you look for “Kevin Lutes Bethlehem PA” you’ll see an article about the alleged theft on the first page of search results*.  If you look for Kevin Lutes on Facebook you’ll find a gentleman with that name still living in Bethlehem, PA who claims to have studied “Comuter Technology” and who in the “About Me” section of his Facebook profile* says:

I am an easy going, go with the flow kinda dude, whatever happens, happens. like i say in my quote, when all else fail just say f**k it.

That was a direct quote, except for the asterisks I replaced his actual letters with.  I’m not personally a fan of requiring job applicants to hand over passwords to social media accounts as part of the employment process but if I can find negative information about a job applicant within five minutes of Googling their name then I would at least know to ask further questions. Have you come across any people with questionable morals in your time working in or with IT people? Let us know in the comments below.

 

*We’re not saying this is the guy who allegedly committed these crimes.  We’re just saying we found a computer repairman in Bethlehem PA who shares the same name as this alleged criminal and the question would bear further scrutiny.

Read More

Move over, Hubspot – Adobe Marketing Cloud is here!

Last week Adobe released Marketing Cloud, an all-in-one digital media campaign management and analysis tool that claims to include “everything digital marketers need to get ahead.”  While looking over the website I couldn’t help but think that it sounded eerily like Hubspot, which also integrates social media, paid search, SEO, performance tracking, and of course killer analytics and insights all in one powerful yet easy to use dashboard.

We haven’t requested a demo of Marketing Cloud just yet but if it’s anywhere near as good as its advertising campaign (a video from which we’ve included below), Hubspot is in trouble!  If you’d like to see a comparison of the two products let us know in the comments.

Read More

Google Devalues Promotional AdWords Coupons

Google announced today that it no longer offers completely free advertising coupons with which to try Google AdWords.  Google promotional coupons are still available, as we’ll explain, they’re just no longer completely free.

Until today you could take one of the many Google AdWords coupons floating around, open an AdWords account, enter the coupon code (and credit card info in case you exceed your promotional credit), and start an advertising campaign with no out-of-pocket cost to you.  Now a company desiring to try AdWords must spend $25 of its own money in online ads before the $100 credit from Google will be applied to the AdWords account balance.  Google says they “believe businesses that invest a small amount in their AdWords campaigns are more likely to be successful” but I’m dubious.

As if that wasn’t enough, Google also announced that as of September 30th, all existing Google AdWords promotional coupons will be retired.  That means if you have an AdWords coupon sitting on your desk right now you have until Sunday to apply it to your AdWords account or it will be worthless.   Notice that I said “apply it to your AdWords account.”  Typically with AdWords coupon expiration one only has to redeem the coupon by applying it to an AdWords account (pursuant to the AdWords T&Cs of course) before the expiration date.  In my personal experience the coupon value will remain in the account even after the expiration of the coupon but who knows – that could also change this weekend but I haven’t read anything about it.

I know this is sudden but if I had known ahead of time that this was happening I certainly would have notified you before now.  Unfortunately the announcement from Google arrived in my inbox at 3:18 PM Eastern Time so I didn’t get much notice, either.  But hey – on the bright side businesses are still netting $75 in free advertising, right?

If you have any questions about the new policies around Google promotional coupons feel free to contact us directly or just leave a comment below and we’ll answer it as soon as we can.  For more information on how we can help you start finding new customers tomorrow with Google AdWords click here.

Read More

Denton Business Solutions Joins the Constant Contact Partner Program

Constant Contact LogoCincinnati, Ohio – January 16th 2012 – Denton Business Solutions, LLC today announced it has joined the Constant Contact Partner Program (NASDAQ: CTCT) as a Solution Provider Partner.  Denton Business Solutions will now be able to provide its clients with easy-to-use email marketing, event marketing, and online survey tools to help them create and build strong, lasting customer relationships.

“When it comes to email marketing for small businesses, Constant Contact’s capabilities and reputation are second to none.  I am very excited about how this is going to help our clients grow their businesses,”  said Phil Denton, President of Denton Business Solutions.  “The Constant Contact online marketing tools give our clients a valuable addition to our core services.  Because of the tools’ ease-of-use and affordability, membership in the Constant Contact partner program provided a great solution to meet our clients’ marketing needs.”

Denton Business Solutions will now use Constant Contact’s online marketing tools, which are specifically designed to help small businesses and organizations drive participation and strengthen relationships.  These tools include:

  • Email Marketing for quickly creating professional-looking emails, managing contact lists, measuring campaign results, and reviewing new list members;
  • Social Media Marketing for turning fans, friends, and followers into customers. Harnessing digital word of mouth from Facebook, retweeting offers on Twitter, or posting a review on Yelp keeps the conversation going and generates a powerful buzz for small business;
  • Event Marketing for efficiently promoting and managing registrations and RSVPs for meetings, functions, seminars, and events; and
  • Online Survey for gathering feedback that helps meet customer needs, generate new ideas, and help grow a business or organization.
“Our tools are all proven to help small businesses connect with customers and build successful relationships with them,” said Rick Jensen, senior vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Constant Contact. “We are pleased that Denton Business Solutions chose Constant Contact to provide its customers with our online marketing tools, and we look forward to working together to be an even bigger factor in their customers’ success.”


About Denton Business Solutions, LLC

Founded in 2009, Denton Business Solutions, LLC (“DBS”) is a technology consulting firm specialized in addressing the needs of small businesses.  DBS providing a diverse range of services including Web Optimization, Productivity Enhancement, Social Media Marketing (SMM), Disaster Recovery, and IT Strategy.  DBS is focused on delivering solutions that have a direct positive impact on a small business’ bottom line.

About Constant Contact, Inc.

Constant Contact is revolutionizing the success formula for small organizations through affordable, easy-to-use Engagement Marketing™ tools that help create and grow customer relationships.  More than 450,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and associations worldwide rely on Constant Contact to drive ongoing customer dialogs through email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, and online surveys.  All Constant Contact products come with unrivaled KnowHow, education, and free coaching with a personal touch, including award-winning customer support.

Constant Contact and the Constant Contact Logo are registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All Constant Contact product names and other brand names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Constant Contact, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.


Read More

Search Engine Optimization – A Beginners’ Guide (part 2)

This article by guest blogger Greg Rodgers completes our two-part Beginners’ Guide to Search Engine Optimziation.

—-

With Google’s algorithm for ranking sites being one of the best kept secrets in the world, webmasters have to resort to speculation and leveraging what techniques are proven to create better rankings for their businesses.

All guessing aside, the only sure way to get a top-10 ranking in Google is to obtain as many high-quality backlinks as possible.  Links on other websites which point back to your site should contain the keywords that you wish to target.  Getting a link back to your site with “click here” in the link anchor text is hardly useful.  Instead, encourage people to create quality links back to your site by writing good content.

A prime example: Perform a Google search for “badger” and check out the top result.  This bizarre animation ranked #1 just because of the number of backlinks pointing back to the site with theword “badger” in the anchor text of the link.  The site (www.badgerbadgerbadger.com) contains no useful information about badgers, SEO tricks, or keywords that would merit a #1 ranking; however, they beat thousands of entries simply because they received enough links which contain the word “badger” pointing back to their website.

When Google sees one website linking another, it serves as an “endorsement” of sorts for the website being linked.  The only way to receive quality links from other people is to create useful content that they are interested in sharing with their own readers.  While some small SEO optimizations can be made in the content of your site, always write material for humans rather than search engines.  With Google earnestly on the lookout for cheaters and SPAM, stuffing too many keywords into a page is asure way to lower your ranking – or worse.

That being said, there are a few small things we can do onsite to make both search engines and human eyes happy.

  1. Choose one or two primary keyword phrases that you wish to target with your content; be specific. Take advantage of Google’s keyword tool to see what terms get more searches than others.  Put yourself into the shoes of someone searching for your business among thousands of websites: What would you type as a search?
  2. Once you have chosen your primary keywords, put them once at the top of the page as a large header.  Blogging platforms such as WordPress typically do this for you automatically.  The keywords should be in <h1> or <h2> HTML tags and bold.
  3. Find a natural way to insert your primary keywords early in the article – preferably in the first or second sentence.  Not only does this keep Google happy, it helps to hook your reader and ensures them that they are in the right place for what they are searching for.
  4. Throughout the content on the page, mention your exact keyword phrase a couple of times more – always naturally!  Most word-processing software will allow you to check the keyworddensity of words in an article.  A good, natural keyword density to aim for should be only between two and three percent.
  5. If the page contains a picture or image, use your keywords in the ALT description for the image.  Search engines cannot “see” images, so adding an ALT tag to images that you use is important.
  6. Mention your keyword(s) in bold somewhere in the course of the article. Once will do, too much bold text can be flagged as SPAM for Google.
  7. Mention your keyword(s) once in the closing paragraph of the page.
  8. Some SEO experts contend that linking out from your page to one of the current top-10 results for your keyword helps ensure Google that your site is relative and friendly.  Consider linking Wikipedia or another site that gives more information about the target of your article.
  9. In the HTML <TITLE> tag for your article, mention your keywords early – preferably at thestart of the title.  A title written to target dog collars would look something like: “Dog Collars –Find the Best Prices on Collars for Dogs”.
  10. Mention your keywords in the META description for the page. The META description serves as the excerpt shown in search engine result pages. Put a call-to-action inside so that humans will choose and click on your site above the others.  If your keywords happen to be “dogcollars,” use verbiage such as “Read more about dog collars” or “Everything you need to know about dog collars” in the META description.

While search engines do not put as much weight on onsite SEO optimizations as they once did, these small changes will ensure them that your site is relevant enough to be included in the search results. The main goal of onsite optimization is to keep your readers on the site longer and to hopefully encourage them to share your site with others by creating a backlink!

—-

Greg Rodgers left his job at IBM to travel and write full-time.  He now develops and manages a family of more than twenty websites.

Read More

Search Engine Optimization – A Beginners’ Guide (part 1)

Most Google searches yield two sets of results:  organic and paid.  Organic search results are the websites Google presents because it believes they are the most relevant compared to the search query.  Paid search results are sponsored ads shown by companies who have bought advertising through Google AdWords.

We briefly discussed Google AdWords in a previous article so now we will focus on “Search Engine Optimization”.  Called “SEO” for short, Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing a website to improve visibility in Google search results for relevant keywords.  SEO includes both technical best practices as well as guidelines for optimized content creation so our Guide to SEO is broken into two parts.  This article covers technical SEO and the next covers guidelines for SEO-optimized content creation.

Please keep in mind that this blog is created for a non technical audience so we’ll avoid any techniques that involve more than minimal coding.  We’ve included as many links as possible to provide further explanation of each tip but if you’re unclear about something feel free to contact us or just leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for Search Engine Optimization – A Beginner’s Guide (Part 2), where we discuss how to optimize your site’s content for SEO!

SEO Technical Tips

  1. When considering an online identity for your business, strive for uniformity.  For example, avoid registering “Denton Solutions” on one service and “Denton Business Solutions” on another.  Before you begin registering accounts do some due diligence and make sure your desired profile name is available on all the major social media platforms (see below).
  2. Offer as many ways for your customers to reach you as possible.  Maintain as many online profiles and services as you can, including Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn,YouTube, blog directories such as Technorati, industry and local directories, etc.
  3. Create an XML Sitemap of your site and submit it to the major search engines through the Bing WebMaster Center and Google WebMaster Tools.  This ensures the search engines “know about” each and every component of your site.  For help with this, read this Google article about how to create a Sitemap.
  4. Create an RSS feed to syndicate your content.  If your site uses a Content Management System (“CMS”) like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla there are plugins to do this for you; otherwise check out the wonderful guide from MarketScoop.
  5. Link said RSS feed to FeedBurner.  This provides your readership lots more ways to get timely content updates from you.  Additionally, it allows you to automatically notify other social media outlets when you publish new content.
  6. Register your business for Google Places to ensure potential customers can find you when performing searches for a particular geography.  With Google’s integrated search results (web pages, images, videos and locations appear in one search) this could jump you way ahead of more well-established competition.  Paid Tags on Google Places can quickly identify your business to potential customers.
  7. Create unique HTML page Title and Description meta tags for each page of your website.  This is an opportunity to tell Google and potential readers what the page is about.  Google may use these fields as the title and description that are actually displayed in search results.  Don’t worry too much about the “keywords” meta tag as Google doesn’t use it for page ranking.
  8. Use meaningful webpage URLs (filenames).  For example, rather than naming the files in your webpage “page1.html” and “page2.html” try “About-My-Company.html” or “Products-and-Services.html”.  Google is smart enough to “read” page names so make them something descriptive!
  9. Build “back links” to your site.  In other words, find websites that will place a link to your site somewhere on their site.  Often times you may need to offer a “link exchange”, where you both link your sites to each other.  Good places to start looking for link exchanges are professional societies, chambers of commerce, or local/community-based websites.  Other large business directories you can list your business in include Yelp, CitySearch, YellowPages, or MerchantCircle.
  10. Lastly, sign up for Google Analytics.  It will provide you with amazing insight into the people visiting your site, where they live, how they found your site, and more.
Read More