SEO - What's all the fuss about ?

If you are a small or medium-sized business you may believe that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is for the "bigger" players in your industry. You may not be the only one to hold this opinion, but you would be mistaken. The importance of SEO in this day and age cannot be ignored.

SEO strategies assist in getting your website to the top of Google's organic search rankings, leading to more people visiting your website and ultimately the knock on effect of growth in your business. But let's face it ... it's an investment. This investment takes time, knowledge and money. It will not happen overnight ... it takes patience.

In a world where most people utilise search engines online to find relevant information, you want to be one of the first sites that pop up when someone is looking for a business in your category. SEO keywords is vital in this endeavour - your goal is to write content in which these keywords are used, making your site higher ranked when people search Google for that certain keyword. Using long-tail keywords can increase your rankings in Google.

Working 24/7 behind the scenes, Google has "crawling bots" that cruise the web discovering and inspecting websites to enable Google to rank and index your website. Make sure that Google can see your website content so that you can be ranked accordingly. You will also want to speed up your site performance. Page speed has a direct impact upon improving your ranking with Google and good formatting definately affects website performance.

Google is also looking at allocating higher ranks to websites that can be accessed effectively through mobile devices. This is because it is apparent that a very high proportion of traffic (currently estimated to be approximately 60%) access via a mobile device. It is noted that this percentage will only get higher and higher as time goes on.

Links are incredibly important. You want your content to not only grab the reader's attention, but that people will want to share it through their contacts and these contacts to further share. Focus on creating high quality content (less is more), and sharing it on a number of different platforms to get links from other websites. Video (when relevant) is an incredibly strong and shareable medium that should be utilised to have a positive impact on your SEO.

You need to be authentic in your acquisition of SEO. Don't use duplicate content or you risk the chance of being flagged as spam. Tricking serach engines can be effective in the short term by the analytics programmes are changing constantly. Regaining the trust of search engines is a very hard and long process.

At the end of the day you may say that you have a good customer base that is loyal and appreciates your goods or services supplied. This might be the case now, but will it always be the case? New customers are required at all times - not just when the current clients wane.

Remember - most of all - you cannot have a competitive website if you do not provide the information that the reader wants. Keep them engaged !!

Networking at an event to GROW your business

Have you caught on yet? ... Networking is an essential marketing tool for every business no matter what industry you are in. Good networking practices will assist you in connecting effectively with others. Connections can and will be valuable resources that are crucial to your success. Of course, visibility within your business community is always a good thing.

Think of attending an event as hands-on market research for your business. Be prepared to be out of your comfort zone. You don't need to be an extrovert ... this is a very common misconception. Knowing in advance that you might not be comfortable is half the battle.

Start with asking yourself two simple questions. "What do I want to get from networking?" and "How do I achieve this?" Your answers should be simple. The ability to grow my business and by capitalising on the network that I am building. Easy right? It can be ... Here are 3 top tips to help you on your journey towards utilising networking to grow your business.

Know the event. We all receive information prior to an event occurring. This is invaluable. Check out who is exhibiting and who you believe you might want to connect with. Touch base with them prior to the event if possible. Keep it casual but mention that you believe it could be a mutually beneficial connection and see what response you get. The trick is to connect to people that will be a good resource for you and for them to value your connection to them as well. It needs to work for both parties but not always at the same time.

Know your goals. What do you want to achieve from this event by way of networking? Is it to find potential clients, nurture existing relationships, share ideas with similar business groups or to find out the most up to date changes that are occurring in your industry. Networking is about fostering strong, mutually beneficial relationships that can last a lifetime.

Build your business to business ("B2B") network. Know that your connections should be diverse. Connections outside of your own industry and their perspective could be very benefical in implementing new ways of doing things in your business. B2B networking offers a way to reach decision makers that you might not otherwise be able to connect with. Let's face it ... visibility within your business community is paramount.

Choosing the right International Exhibition Partner

Walt Disney said it best when he stated "it's a small, small world" and with modern technology today and world seems smaller and more accessible each day. That being said, finding the best international exhibition partner is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Let's face it ... international exhibitions are a great way to expose your brand to new avenues for your business and your stand and its design represents the face of your company.

So how do you find the right exhibition company for you? It is important to understand the distinction between what could be referred to as a "broker" (who organises your design etc but outsources production) and an exhibition stand contractor who provides a full range of in house services to assist you with your goals from start to finish.

Always pick a local exhibition partner who can undertake the entire project management for you. Logistically this is a smarter plan. They should encompass everything from designing the stand, manufacturing, graphics and logo production, installation, dismantling & transportation. Being able to store your stand (if necessary) is an additional bonus. It also means that you can cut out any lag time of having intermediaries communicating on your behalf as exhibiting internationally requires far more planning & time management. Time zone disparities can certainly impact on successful planning. Choose a partner that will make themselves available to you.

A clever way to choose an exhibition stand builder is by having a look at the clients that they have previously built for. Look at their website, view their testimonials. A great company will not shy away from displaying their work and their testimonials will be current. They should display a diverse portfolio indicating their depth and range of design knowledge. Clients coming back for repeat business is a good barometer of successful dealings and reliability.

Familiarity with the local venues is imperative. Vast experience in dealing with the various local venues ensures that all of the concerns with exhibiting can be resolved prior to their even being a problem as they will know the "ins and outs" of the various venues.

Plan, plan, plan. If possible, arrive a couple of days early to view your stand fully test built on their company floor and prior to it being delivered to the venue. You may be surprised to note that not all suppliers have the capacity to do this. It is a great advantage for you as an international exhibitor. You can come early, see your stand in its entirety, make an necessary adjustments, then relax and enjoy your Australian stay secure in the knowledge that everything is on track. ALWAYS qualify that the supplier you are contemplating is capable of doing this for you.

Use these helpful hints to pick your best partner for an international show to be assured of a memorable and successful event.

About DisplayWise : DisplayWise is an established player in the exhibition stand industry with a strong presence in Australia in creating experiences through innovative displays. www.displaywise.com.au

Storytelling - it's essential for your brand

With the wonders of modern technology there are stories everywhere and these are distributed by a number of tools in a never-ending, rapidly consumable world that we live in.

So what is the best way to cut through the noise and make your product or business more prominent? A theme or a "story" is the most effective way of promoting your brand.

Storytelling is not a new concept but it is an undervalued and under-utilised commodity. It is not bragging or boasting - just a clearly stated value or belief in what is important and sounding authentic whilst doing so. Can you think of a company that, regardless of demographics, engages your senses? Nike is one that immediately pops into my head.

"Just Do It" is the trademark and one of the core components of the Nike brand. This universal tag line has been one of the most influential and immensely popular since its launch in 1988 and has, in fact, stood the test of time. Why? Because by association with this belief "Just Do It", an important story is told about Nike without sounding like a pitch. We trust it and intrinsically connect with it. These "stories" pull us in, start an emotional connection to the brand and creates resonance that starts gaining trust. Gaining trust is everything when it comes to influencing and creating brand awareness.

So how do you raise your brand awareness. Here are my 3 best steps ...

Start with your story. Think of your brand as the main character with a reason for being that is more than just financial accrual or bragging of accomplishments.

Keep your story simple - just make it sincere and honest.

Find the "human" element of your story or what your values say about your brand. Know that we are humans first and foremost and clients and consumers second. Since childhood we have gravitated towards stories, narratives, experiences and ideas and continue to do so all our lives.

Convey your message in a concise and direct manner and you will be on your way to raising brand awareness through storytelling.