I started two days ago evangelizing the importance of getting all your ‘ducks in line’ so you can sell your business if you want to and so you can be sure you maximize profits while you own it and if you don’t (want to sell that is).
If you just arrived here now, it may be best for you to go back and start at the very beginning, I hear Julie Andrews (or so my mother tells me – if you’re under 30 – Google it :)) reckons that’s a very good place to start, but I digress.
There are two posts prior to this one and you’re welcome to read them in any order you want but they’ll probably make most sense in the order they were written. It’s entirely up to you of course, but just to make it easy to follow here’s the outline of the factors covered in each post and honestly be sure to catch them all because ‘every one’s a gem’ if I do say so myself!
- Profit factors – Net Profit | Vendors | Customer DB | Shipping | Hours to Run | Ease of Transfer | Training
- Presence factors – Domain | Website Design | Content Quality | SERP’s Rank | Traffic Sources | Key Words | Visitor Volume
- Persuasion factors – Marketing systems | Social Engagement | Growth Opportunities
So here we are starting the third and final act of this epic post:
These are the factors that brand your business and bring new customers coming to your business or blog. In the ‘balanced meal’ analogy – these would be the healthy veggies served up fresh to add color and pizzaz to the plate.
– how old is your URL? The older the better really as it helps with SEO for ranking purposes but that’s just one element that is considered in ranking pages so age alone is not enough to get you on the first page of Google. Having some history behind a website speaks to its sustainability over time though so it’s a good qualifier. Keep a record of when you registered it, who with and where you’ve had it hosted. If you’re using a shared server (most of us are) then find out who else is on that server, it can impact your email marketing deliverability (unlikely but possible just the same) if your server is also being serving up a gambling or porn site.
– be sure you start with a theme that functions well for both ‘bods and bots’ (meaning humans and search engine index bots alike). There are a number of very well designed, well coded options out there, find one that gives you a visual theme you like and fits well with your niche. Then set about making it easy for your human friends to find your products and services easily, knowing the search bots will find the site easily too, because it’s based on a solid ‘clean code’ framework.
Humans want to be able to quickly locate the information they’re looking for. Here’s a shocker, so do bots – they want to be able to see clearly and quickly what your site content is and index it so that it will be served up to relevant searchers. Say what you like about Google and their animal-farm of algorithm updates, Panda, Penguin & co are all in fact aimed at stopping people who are trying to ‘game’ the system so they can serve up junk sites designed to make them money without a thought or concern for providing what the searcher is looking for.
Keep your sites updated to take advantage of the latest technology and security too. One of the easiest ways to do that if you’re using WordPress is to subscribe to a premium theme membership program, one that allows you to update your theme to take advantage of new trends and essential design elements such as mobile responsive themes as they come along. IMO free themes are a false economy – but again that’s another post for another time.
– if you had your house up for sale, you’d be sure to cut the grass, clear up the junk from the yard (yes even Bubba would get rid of that old fridge sitting out in the front yard), I’ll bet you’d even slap on a fresh coat of paint inside and out if you had the time. Your business is no different, but imagine, just for a second that you’d been doing regular maintenance all along since the day you started. You’d have the nicest house on the block and everyone who’s ever driven around the neighborhood would know it. If you put a for sale sign outside that house, I guarantee it’ll sell faster and for more money than Bubba’s! So be at least a little bit ‘house-proud’, publish good quality, well written content on your site, optimize your text and your images, then measure the results of what you post to be sure you’re serving what the neighborhood likes so they keep coming by again and again to check out what’s new.
(Search Engine Results Page) – number one, on page one on Google, it’s the holy grail of SERP’s and SEO types worldwide. Why is it the Holy Grail? Because page one on the search engine results is the internet equivalent of being front and center or on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and Google is probably the internet equivalent of ‘Ivy’ – but they’re THE place to ‘see and be seen’, it’s where the surfing Paparazzi and the Public will find you, even if they don’t know they’re looking for you or your site yet. It’s where Joe and Jane Public can find that dazzling new starlet who’s amazingly talented and always has something clever, witty and entertaining to say or something helpful to show them. Don’t obsess but do monitor your SERP’s and look to create content that is interesting for humans to read but presented in a way that will also attract search engine bots like bees to honey. Optimize your content thoughtfully and relevantly and you won’t get stung!
– this means exactly what it says and shows you where your traffic comes from, organic search (term/s entered into a search box on Google, Yahoo, Bing and delivered up as a quality, relevant source of whatever the ‘searchee’ was looking for), referrals (from links on other sites, directories, posts, Tweets, Pins or whatever) this is where the Traffic duck is in a nice neat line with the Social Media duck, direct entry (website address is directly typed into the search box). You can always dig deeper with this using campaign ID’s and coupon codes etc., but these are the basics you really need to pay attention to without driving yourself crazy.
– sounds like exactly what it is the keywords (or phrases) that your website ranks for. This usually means the keywords you target in all that Quality Content you’re pumping out at a minimum weekly for most sites, and which your site ranks on page one or maybe page two of the search engine results for. The more keywords and phrases you have content ranking on page one for, the more likely those coveted visitors will be to find you even if they don’t know yet yours is the exact site they’ve been searching for.
– this one is really easy to keep in line as it pretty much voluntarily follows the other ducks – Website Design, Content Quality, Date-A-Base 🙂 and Engagement. This one really shows how ‘keeping all your ducks in a line’ can benefit you as you build and grow your business and also when you come to sell. By managing your business carefully from the start, you can measure results by understanding and paying attention to the analytics of where your visitors come from and how often they return. Find out what they like to drink or eat and have it in the house, invite them to stop by anytime and make them welcome when they do come back and this little duck will always toe the line and will often bring others along with it.
These are the factors that paid proper attention will put your business or blog on the profit map and a step above your competition. In the ‘balanced meal’ analogy they’re the sinfully rich dessert or the icing on the cake that makes a successful business so sweet and absolutely irresistible to buyers.
– there are so many tools available now to help us systemize and automate our marketing, take advantage of them they’re some of the best money you can invest in your business. How many times have you heard someone say (or even said it yourself) ‘I ought to be doing XYZ but I just don’t have the time’. There’s no viable excuse for that today, you can automate almost any process but especially repetitive ones, marketing types will confirm, it takes between seven and eleven ‘touches or exposures’ to your product/site/business before a customer will buy or engage (I say it takes until they do, but again that’s another post). Automate what you ‘ought’ to be doing – the process of reaching out and they’ll connect Auto-Magically.
Social Media Engagement
– this is one that get’s people all kinds of stressed out and it’s probably one of the most important and essential things that needs to be addressed by any business to ensure success. Every G+, Tweet, Re-Tweet, Like, Share, Stumble and Pin is a social ‘vote of confidence’ for your website, business or blog. You should be out there glad-handing like some really slick politician. One of the things I consistently hear and read about BOTH Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan is that, no matter how many people were around, they had this uncanny ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the room and you know the odds on that being the case were pretty unlikely. Engage with your followers, visitors, likers and yes even the haters (politicians are the best at engaging with haters and still making it work for them) with the intent to convey that you’re genuinely concerned and interested in their comments, concerns and issues. If they’re not happy, you shouldn’t be either and if they are happy, you should still always be looking for ways to keep them that way.
– “if you’re not growing – you’re dying”, I have no idea who said that first but it’s so true especially with an online business. If you’re not looking for better, faster more interesting and more exciting ways to serve your customers or audience I guarantee someone else is and that spot at the top of the first page will be snagged by someone else who is, quicker than you can say SEO!
Phew! So there you have a gaggle of 17 ducks ( yeah I know that’d be geese but just go with me here, we’re so close to the end I promise) that you absolutely need to keep in line, whether you plan to hold onto your business indefinitely, or sell it sometime soon.
If you already own and have been in business a while, you may look at this list and think it’s too overwhelming to try to bring them all line now or at once. My suggestion then is to tackle them systematically, one at a time and before you know it you’ll have them all in line and under control. I’ll even bet you see improvements to your P&L bottom line when you do.
I’m curious though, do you think there are still some ‘ducks’ missing from this list? Let me know what you track or follow and how in the comments below…