Lending Terms Business Owners Need to Know

Many business owners haven’t had the opportunity to attend fancy college programs in business and finance. Nonetheless, there are many terms related to loans and credit that you need to understand, especially if you are about to apply for your first business loan. Here is IOU Financial’s rundown of important lending terms.

ACH Transfer:

An electronic, bank-to-bank transfer from one account to another, processed by the Automated Clearing House network. Lenders typically deposit loan proceeds and collect payments via an ACH transfer.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR):

An annual interest rate that reflects the cost of a loan, including fees. Because APRs are standardized, they allow you directly compare loans from different sources.

Application Pre-approval Rate:

The percentage of loan applications that a lender pre-approves. A good lender should have an application pre-approval rate of at least 85 percent and should provide the pre-approval within minutes.

Better Business Bureau Rating:

A rating from the BBB that assesses your business’ overall practices. The top rating is A+ .

Business Credit Report:

If you run a corporation, limited partnership or limited liability company, a business credit report functions for your business the same way as consumer credit report does for individuals. Providers include Dun & Bradstreet and FICO.

Fixed Loan Payments:

A fixed amount, paid daily, weekly, or monthly, to cover the interest charges and principle repayment of a loan. IOU Financial offers automated daily or weekly loan payments to avoid large monthly payments.

Funding Time:

The time it takes receive your loan proceeds after you submit your loan application. The funding time can vary from 24 hours (for online lenders) to weeks or months (for banks).

Interest Type:

Interest types are fixed and variable. A fixed interest loan maintains the same payments throughout the loan term. A variable interest loan uses an interest rate that can change over time, thereby changing how much you repay each month.

Loan Application:

A questionnaire you fill out to apply for a loan. Some lenders, such as banks, use very detailed and complicated applications that require large amounts of financial data. On the other hand, online commercial lenders often have short applications that you complete online.

Loan Renewal:

An optional feature offered by some lenders like IOU Financial that allows you to apply for a replacement loan when you repay a set percentage (e.g., 40 percent) of the original loan.

Loan Term:

The amount of time you have to fully repay your loan. If the loan term is for less that one year, it is a short-term loan. Loans with terms of one year or longer are long-term loans.

Maximum Loan Amount:

The maximum amount a lender will lend to you.

Prepayment Penalty:

This is a fee some lenders charge when you pay off your loan ahead of time. Always use a lender that does not charge a prepayment penalty.

Pre-qualification Requirements:

A set of standards that allow you to immediately prequalify for a loan from some lenders. The standards might include business ownership, frequency of daily deposits, time in business, average daily ending balance in your business bank account, and annual revenue.

Simple Interest Loan:

A loan that charges interest on a daily basis, meaning you only pay interest on the unpaid principle amount. Contrast this to a compound interest loan, in which you pay interest on your interest. IOU Financial is a simple interest lender.

Small Business:

Typically, a business with fewer than 250 employees. Many of the best lenders specialize in loans to small businesses.

Upfront Costs:

These are fees, such as origination and processing fees, that some lenders charge. Always choose a lender who charges no upfront costs.

Looking for more information about small business lending? Our small business loan consultants have the know how to answer any question you throw at them.  As industry experts, our staff is ready to find the answers even your toughest business questions!

Tips and Tricks to Write a Content Plan for Your Business

Introduction

According to the latest data, successful b2b marketers spend around 40 percent of their budget on content marketing. However, spending millions of dollars on content marketing won’t do you any good without a proper content marketing plan. Before you venture into promoting your business, there are a few tips we’d like to share with you in order to help you design the best content strategy which will help you achieve your goals.

Know your audience

If your business offers products or services that include different types of customers, it is important that you address each audience type separately. It’s a good practice to mingle with your leads and find out what they are looking for in a product, what problems they need to resolve, what keywords they include in their searches. This way you can create content that will hit the spot with your target audience.

Your content should be valuable to your audience and help them improve their business. Remember that there are those that already use your product or service, so you should build content that will make their user experience even better. In addition, there are those that are yet to become your customers – these people should receive such content that will show how your business can solve their problems.

Create a calendar

Publishing content on a regular base is the essence of good content marketing. Nevertheless, you can’t just plan topics at random and publish when you feel like it. Create a calendar with a dedicated time frame for each post. This will remove the pressure from your writers and give them enough time to write deeply researched quality content. Moreover, this way you will have enough time to edit all the content long before it’s time to publish it.

Have a backup plan

Furthermore, your writers could be unavailable for any reason, which could put you in a bad spot. The calendar allows you to hire a writer before the deadlines come knocking. In addition, there are so many online writing services you can hire like UK Best Essays, Essay Writing Lab, SuperiorPapers, EduGeeksClub Service and others that could deliver the content for you just when you need it.

Mix it up

Your audience is everywhere these days – they follow social media of all sorts, watch YouTube videos, scan job opportunities on LinkedIn, and surf the web for helpful textual content, or inform themselves via infographics. Therefore, it would be unwise to base your content strategy solely on a single channel rather than using all the possibilities that the internet has placed before us. Combining resources and mediums will help you achieve much higher reach.

However, if in your research you find out that certain channels don’t hold enough potential or your business it’s best not to waste your resources betting on the wrong horse. Do your research and find out which channels serve your purposes.

The same goes for various content types, sometimes a video placed on YouTube will not show the same results as it would show if it were posted on Instagram or Facebook. Don’t throw away the chance to reach your audience via video content just because it doesn’t show expected results on one platform, rather do some research and see how the content behaves with other platforms. If you get more views or shares on Facebook, focus your video posts there.

Set measurable goals

Your Key Performance Indicators depend on your campaign goal; it could be sales, pageviews, email subscribers, or anything you set as a business goal. Measure your campaign success progress against your final goal and you will be able to fine-tune your strategy on the run, depending on your current indicators. This is also a good way to check if a particular member of your team is doing a good job or you should consider getting a better solution for your team.

Conclusion

If you set a clear campaign goal, perform deep research, distribute your resources carefully, and create a strong plan of action, you will be able to craft compelling content which will engage your audience. We hope these tips will help you develop a swift content plan or your business so you could enjoy a larger pool of customers and a higher return on investments.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lilian Chifley is an IT specialist, teacher, and blogger from Sydney. She loves to talk about artificial intelligence and modern education. You can find Lilian on Facebook and Twitter.

Strayed From Your 2019 Goals? How to Get Back on Track!

Although January has only just ended, how many of us can truly say that we have stuck to the goals we set out for ourselves for 2019? The truth is that only about 10% of people actually carry out the goals they set out too, so if you have strayed from your objectives, you are not alone. Follow the tips below to get yourself back on track and committed to your 2019 goals.

Set SMART Goals

The first rule of thumb when setting goals you are committed to realizing is to set specific and time driven objectives.

SMART can be broken down into the following:

  • Specific: Specific and detailed
  • Measurable: Clear objectives with measurable results
  • Achievable: Goals that are possible within the timeframe and with available resources
  • Relevant: Vital to the success of the individual and the organization
  • Time-bound: Time-specific with a clear deadline

Whether personal or specific, most of us make general goals that make it difficult to hold ourselves accountable.  For example—you may wish to automate your work processes this year, but without planning specific actions within a specific time frame, you will likely never get around to doing so.

Break down objectives into small, detailed tasks, and create a reasonable timeframe in which to get them done. By going down the list and crossing off the tasks that are completed, you will be motivated to keep going and ultimately realizing your goal.

Be Flexible

When you start to carry out a specific goal, you may become unmotivated to keep going because you realize that it is not important, or too difficult to carry out. It’s important not to give up and empower yourself to achieve your goals; however, it is just as necessary to reevaluate your objectives monthly to make sure they are still relevant to your short and long-term plan.

It is advantageous to be flexible to fine-tune your goals, or change your strategy if you truly feel it is not in line with your objectives. Changing your goals will ultimately be more valuable than becoming disillusioned and abandoning them altogether.

Reward Yourself

Most of us have a lot on our plate, and tend to get tired and stressed out when we take on too much. To stay focused on  your goals, it’s vital to create rewards once you have completed a certain objective.

We are psychologically wired to positively react to rewards—research has found. By utilizing positive reinforcement, we can train our brains to get excited about achieving goals because that process will be associated with the positive feelings of getting rewarded.

Whether the reward will be a shopping spree or a relaxing massage, simply doing something good for yourself after working hard is a great strategy to keep working on your goals and yourself.

Regardless of how motivated you are to achieve your goals, sometimes your dedication is not enough. If you need financial assistance to make certain objectives a reality, IOU Financial is here for you. We work with small and medium-sized companies to fund their projects within 24 to 48 hours. Contact us today to find out how you can be approved and funded for a loan up to $500,000.

6 Useless But All-Too-Common Expenses That Turn Your Business Into a Money Pit

It takes a lot of money to keep a small business going – especially if you’re trying to make that business grow. When money is so important, every single cent needs to be spent wisely.

Many small businesses wind up spending a lot more money than they actually need to spend. Those funds would be better off allocated for growth or expansion. Cut the fluff out of your budget and use your newfound cash to help you build a brighter future.

Unnecessary Office Supplies

You’re always going to need office supplies, but changing the way you do things can reduce the amount you’ll spend. Going paperless is one of the easiest ways to save money. Keeping things digital allows you to save on paper, recycling, toner, and printing supplies. Many small businesses burn through mountains of these materials, and paperless businesses barely use them. Going paperless also makes your business eco-friendly, and that’s never a bad thing.

Leasing a Huge Building

You need to give yourself some room to grow for the next year or two, but not for the next decade. While it is a wise move to opt for an office space or retail space that will give everyone some room to move, it’s not a wise idea to overspend on something that you’ll never completely use. It may be wiser to choose a shorter lease on something slightly smaller. If you have your heart set on that huge building, try to negotiate the lease. You might be able to get it for a little less.

High Health Insurance Costs

You need your employees to be healthy, and offering decent insurance is a surefire way to attract top talent. There’s something else you can do that would benefit both your business and your employees. Start a wellness program. A wellness program is much less expensive than high insurance costs, and people who prioritize their wellness are a little less likely to need to use their insurance. Offer up some healthy snacks and partner up with a local gym for a discounted membership. Encourage your employees to use their sick days to discourage them from spreading germs around the office.

Advertising to the Whole World

Small businesses want to acquire as many customers as possible. They take to the internet to spread their message far and wide in an attempt to be heard by the right people. The problem with that overzealous approach is that casting a wide net is expensive. In addition to its hefty cost, it’s more of a gamble when it comes to locating an ideal customer.

Focusing on highly targeted ads will help you obtain customers and spread your message with little effort. If you don’t sell your products online, limit your advertising to people who live within a tight radius of your physical location. If you do sell online within your country, only advertise to people who fit your demographic within that country. It’s the most efficient way to spend your ad dollars. When you expand your business, you can begin to expand your reach.

Having Too Many Employees

It takes a lot to run a small business, and this means you’ll need people to make things run smoothly. Hiring people whom you can barely afford to pay may hinder you more than help you. It might be worthwhile to spend a little more on a rock star employee who is content to wear many hats, rather than paying several people the minimum to deliver an average amount of effort. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to small business employees.

You can also reduce workload by automating as many processes as possible. The right tools can help you achieve a whole day’s work in just a few hours. Don’t do anything manually unless it absolutely requires live human involvement.

Failing to Follow Rules and Regulations

Making legal mistakes is one of the most expensive situations a small business can wind up in. Small businesses try their best, but sometimes fail to secure the right permits or licenses they need to operate or expand the way they’ve planned. Running a business is a learning experience, but you can’t afford to learn with your money.

It might be worthwhile to retain a lawyer for your small business. You need someone to look over the money, the rules, and the licenses as you grow and change. A lawyer might seem expensive now, but nothing is more expensive than finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.

Many small businesses work with tight budgets, but sometimes those budgets are tighter than they need to be. Keep a close eye on the books to be sure you’re not tossing away the funding for your success.

Guest Post: About the Author

Alana Downer is an avid finance blogger from Sydney, Australia, currently writing on behalf of Learn to Trade– money and finance experts. Interested in all things connected to growing a stable income, Alana might often be found online, sharing her financial tips and participating in discussions. Feel free to reach out to her on @alanadownerLTT.

Tax Season Prep: Five Steps to Get You Ready Now

According to Benjamin Franklin, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Although tax season is still a few months away, it’s advantageous that business owners start preparing for it now. There are certain steps that need to be taken to be able to report the right amount to the IRS and make sure no mistakes are made on your taxes.

Collect Business Records

We’ve all seen movies where frustrated business owner bring a box of receipts to their accountant come tax time. Don’t let this be you—a good rule of thumb for any business owner is to have a systematic way of collecting business records for tax time. If you get in the practice of careful filing of your documents, you will not need to scramble in the spring and spend your time looking for records or frantically calling vendors to ask for receipts or invoices.

An electronic system where you can keep track of all business-related earnings and expenses will make it simple to determine your overall income and deductions you may be eligible for. Plus, this will foolproof your filing system and allow you to access information from anywhere, anytime. Certain programs, such as Quicken and QuickBooks allow you to download your financial information straight unto your tax return.

H&R Block provides a useful checklist of all expenses that will determine your taxable income.

Separate Business and Personal

One of the most common mistakes that small business owners make is failing to separate their business and personal expenses. It’s vital to utilize business checking accounts and credit cards to clearly understand what your business expenses and earnings are to report the correct taxable income amount and determine what deductions you may be eligible for.

If you fail to do this throughout the year, you will spend days trying to determine what amounts were used for your company and what was made for yourself.

Save Receipts

Although it’s not something anyone likes to think about, any business has the chance of being audited. To protect your company, make sure to keep all business-related receipts. The good news is that there are several receipt apps, such as Shoeboxed, which allow you to scan receipts and keep their digital copies. Plus, the apps can be integrated with certain accounting software, making the tax preparation process quick and seamless.

Review Payroll

Before submitting your tax records, review your payroll information with a specialist to verify that everything was calculated correctly and legally. Payroll mistakes can be costly; 40% of businesses pay over $800 to the IRS simply for payroll errors.

Know Your Deadlines

Federal taxes are not the only taxes businesses are responsible for. There are also local city taxes, self-employment taxes, property taxes and payroll taxes, all with their own stipulations, forms and deadlines.

Research these deadlines and note them in your calendar so that you are not penalized for late filings.

If you are anticipating a large payment to the IRS this year, or need funds to invest in getting your business ready for tax time, consider a small business loan from IOU Financial. You may be eligible to borrow up to $500,000 in a quick turnaround of just two business days. Click here to learn more.

Why Companies Need Corporate Wellness Program Apps

Taking care of the wellbeing of your employees shows more than just your corporate culture, it’s also a signal that your company cares for its own future and prosperity. More and more companies include different wellness programs in order to enhance the health status of their workforce. These programs rely on various tools and activities that track and maintain the health status of the working people. Let’s take a more detailed look at all the benefits that wellness apps bring to companies.

Easier implementation of the wellness program

First and foremost, wellness apps facilitate the implementation of your wellness program. Conducting these types of programs is never easy, especially within companies that include a large number of workers or remote employees. Automation, provided by mobile and desktop apps, makes the implementation of the program much easier and brings in a few extra features that would otherwise be difficult to carry out.

Reduced Absenteeism

Absenteeism is a large issue for any company in the world. The productivity drops every time you have a person on sick leave, no matter how capable your team might be when it comes to covering for the absent co-worker. The best way to reduce the number of workers that turn in sick, is for a company todo whatever it takes to improve the well-being of its employees. Using wellness program apps within your company allows your employees to keep track of their health status, which further increases their chances of preventing any future health issues.

Keeping a high level of productivity

According to research, productivity depends, in a large measure, on the physical and mental status of your workforce. Wellness apps provide food recommendations, fitness instructions, track vital signs, all of which can reduce the chance of sickness. Workers that maintain their physical health status, feel better and more eager for work, which is essential for company productivity. Furthermore, as we already stated, even if the rest of your team is able to cover for their colleague, heavier workload and the need to perform faster leaves room for mistakes, which have to be fixed so more time gets wasted.

Apps allow wellness program improvement

Without comprehensive feedback, it’s difficult to improve a wellness program that your company implements. Apps, allow you to conduct surveys and get all sorts of analytics that could show which parts of your wellness program need improvement. It’s important for the success of your program to know which aspects don’t show desired results, which ones take too much time, and where you need to put in an extra effort to make the program work seamlessly.

Ability to create healthy dining options

There’s an old saying “we are what we eat”. Rather than suggesting that I’m a bowl of pasta, this piece of wisdom means that our mental and physical state depends on the food we place on our tables. Wellness apps allow you to create healthy dining menus and suggestions for various types of food. For instance, you can have your employees check in to see what gluten-free options they have, which vegan courses are available, or simply learn how to make a new tasty dish.

This way, your employees avoid the risk of heart diseases, cancer, digestive problems, and other health issues that both you and your workers want to avoid.

Conclusion

A company is doing well as long as the people that contribute to its success are doing well. Therefore, business owners should invest in the wellbeing of their workforce if they wish to maintain a high level of productivity. Moreover, the companies that show care for their employees build a positive image, which is important for business expansion and recruitment of talents. Wellness apps automate and simplify the implementation of your corporate wellness program, making it more efficient and reliable.

Guest Post: About the Author

Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at ProEssayWriting. She is interested in education technologies and is always ready to support informative speaking. Follow her on Twitter.

Looking to implement a wellness program in your corporate structure? IOU Financial can help with up to $300,000 in as little as 24 hours.

How to Make Business Financing Part of Your 2019 Growth Plan

You might occasionally encounter a business owner who has a dim view of debt. That’s unfortunate, because debt, if you manage it properly, can help you grow your business. Here are several ways your business will benefit from the prudent use of debt:

Accelerate growth:

You can use loan proceeds to buy new equipment/facilities, hire more skilled labor and/or purchase additional inventory. This gives you growing room without drawing down your retained earnings. Naturally, you should have a detailed plan that lays out how you’ll deploy the loan proceeds to achieve the desired results. Failing to plan your finances can leave you in a hole when it comes time to service your debt.

Retain full ownership:

You might want to expand your business and are deciding whether to use debt, equity or a mix of both. Remember that bringing on equity investors gives you new “partners” who’s ideas might be different from yours. By borrowing rather than issuing stock, you remain fully in charge and do not have to share profits.

Tax benefits:

You can deduct you loan interest from your business taxes. As you know, every dollar in business is important, so the tax benefits you receive from borrowing are a significant success factor.

Build your credit:

When you pay your loan back on time (or faster), you likely will increase your credit score and boost your credit limit. This comes in handy as you expand your business, because future loans will be easier to access, and you’ll probably get a lower interest rate and/or higher spending limit. Be sure to check your credit reports and scores so that you can correct mistakes.

Avoid asset sales:

If you find you don’t have sufficient funds to complete your growth plan, you might be tempted to sell off your receivables or inventory. However, asset sales have several problems that reduce their desirability. For instance, your customers might not like being billed by a new entity, and this may cause them to question your viability. Furthermore, the haircut you take on asset sales often exceeds the interest you’ll pay on a loan. Why risk doing permanent damage to your business through asset sales when you can take out a short-term loan instead?

Smooth out seasonality:

Seasonal sales variability shouldn’t stop you from expanding your business. Using debt allows you to smooth out the effects of seasonality and keep your growth plans on track. To that end, make sure you borrow from a lender that doesn’t charge prepayment penalties. This allows you to pay off your loan sooner than anticipated without incurring extra charges.

Financing your ideas:

It takes cash, and often lots of it, to pay for the R&D costs associated with a new product or service. You can obtain cash via debt and plow it into your latest research, both from the operational and marketing viewpoints. Using debt instead of equity helps you maintain your trade secrets when they are most vulnerable – in the development stage. Equity investors might require you to reveal valuable information that can fuel the work of competitors.

Cost of capital:

Debt often has a lower cost of capital than does equity. Equity investors not only require a chunk of the profits, but also might require managerial control, a required rate of return and dividends. Debt is simply priced and avoids some of the costs associated with equity financing.

In summary, financing your business’ growth through the prudent use of debt is a winning formula for long-term success. IOU Financial can arrange a business loan of up to $300,000 quickly and with minimum hassle. If you are interested in growing your business, contact us today.

Local SEO Tips For Small Businesses

SEO (search engine optimization) has dominated digital marketing in 2018 and will no doubt continue to do so in 2019. SEO is equally important for small businesses as it is for the world’s biggest brands.

For small businesses with a local presence such as a physical storefront, or simply a customer base in a specific geographical area, local SEO is particularly important. Figures show that 97% of customers search for a local business online. This means that having a strong online presence and ranking highly on search results can make a huge difference in capturing customers and revenue.

In this article we will cover top tips for improving your local SEO to help you to grow your business in 2019.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of improving your online presence to rank in searches on Google, Google Maps, and other search engines and directories around a specific geographic location. This could be a city, suburb, district or general geographical area. Refining local SEO can help businesses to generate sales leads and attract customers in their local area, and when done well is extremely effective in standing out from the competition.

Keywords

Whether for local, national or global SEO, using the right keywords is extremely important (though not the whole picture, as we’ll cover later in this article). With 40,000 Google searches conducted every second, the purpose of SEO is demonstrating to Google that your site is the most relevant to the search query.

The number one factor that Google looks for in determining relevance is keywords. Therefore finding the strongest keywords which will mean your business reaches the most number of customers. This means reaching not only any users, but those most relevant to your business, who are most likely to purchase your goods and services. For local SEO this means a combination of location-based keywords and other keywords relevant to your target audience. You should determine  these through keyword research using tools like Moz, SEMrush, Answer the Public or  Ahrefs.

Online Listings

Online listings are an extremely important part of local SEO, and Google My Business is arguably the most important platform. It is essential for all small businesses to ensure they have a current, complete and accurate listing on Google My Business to improve their ranking on Google Maps and other apps, as well as Google search results more broadly. Having lots of reviews on Google also increases your ranking, so be sure to encourage your customers and contacts to give you a positive review.

Other online listings are also important for local SEO. Having a presence on these directories can not only drive more organic traffic to your business, but it also strengthens your online presence and therefore improves local SEO. It is a good idea for local businesses to register for as many online directories as possible: the most popular directories such as Yelp.com, Better Business Bureau and Yell.com in the UK should be a priority, as well as any influential directories specific to your area or your sector. Make sure that you have complete and up-to-date listings in each. It is also important for Google ranking purposes that the information in each listing is exactly the same, and exactly matches the name, address and phone number shown on your website.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization is an important process, and involves making sure all pages and posts on your site are doing everything possible to encourage Google to rank your site highly in results. When Google is deciding which results to rank first, it will check (“crawl”) pages to determine which are the most relevant to the search. The search engine looks at certain parts on the page in particular when deciding how relevant it is to the user’s search.

One of these key aspects is the SEO title: that is, the title of your page or post which appears on the Google search results, which is also the title shown at the top of the page’s tab on a web browser.

The second important element is the page or post’s title as it appears at the top of the page (also known as the H1 heading), and the page’s permalink or URL. Be sure to include as many primary keywords as possible in all three of these elements, and long tail keywords if possible. Other important elements to prime with keywords are subheadings and alt-tags (alternative text descriptions) on images.

Link Building

As previously mentioned, Google looks not only for post relevance but also signs that your site is authoritative and reputable in determining rankings on its SERPs. Backlinks, or links back to your site from other well-known and reputable sites, are a key way to demonstrate that your site is authoritative, and along with keywords one of the two top ranking factors on Google.

You can build backlinks by creating valuable, useful and informative content which is relevant to your audience. By producing valuable content, you will encourage other sites to link to your site, although this is rather a long-term strategy. You can actively build backlinks through a PR strategy involving approaching online publications and sites and pitching guest articles or other content. These types of link building techniques are highly effective in both boosting local SEO and driving organic traffic via other sites and blogs.

Citations and within your site can also demonstrate to Google that your site is reputable, improving your rankings. Include citations (links from your site to sources) for any information, quotes or figures you give, as well as products and companies you mention in your content. Building internal links within your site (links to other pages and posts within the same domain) will also improve SEO. This is because internal links make it easier for Google to navigate or “crawl” your site.

Implementing these local SEO tips and techniques can make a world of difference. By building a great local SEO strategy you can bring more traffic to your site, attract potential customers, boost revenue and grow your business in 2019.

Guest Post: About the Author

Tom Buckland is a digital marketing and Amazon seller consultant specializing in technical SEO. He’s the founder of Cardiff-based digital marketing agency HQ SEO in the UK and loves helping businesses profit through smart digital marketing strategies.

Three Strategic Ways to Help Your Online Content Perform Better

One of the most effective and affordable ways to get your business to show up in Google search results is by including content in your marketing strategy. When potential customers search for restaurants, hair salons or body shops, you want your company to come up on the first page of Google, otherwise you will have a very difficult generating new traffic to your website.

Content is not only advantageous for new business acquisition, but for customer retention, as well. Offering your existing customers value through informative, educational and engaging articles and blogs will help them stay connected with and loyal to your brand.

Some business owners get disappointed when they don’t see any results from their content, but that is likely because they are not optimizing it to help it perform. Follow the three strategies below to help your content perform better and increase traffic to your site.

Keywords

Keywords are specific words or terms that search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, utilize to help online visitors connect with your site. Examples of keywords include:

  • Los Angeles hair salon
  • Restaurant family deals
  • Affordable wedding photographer

If you are not utilizing keywords in your content, you should change that starting today. In order to discover what keywords your potential customers are searching for, you need to utilize tools, such as Google’s Keyword Planner. This is a completely free website that will help you find keywords related to your offerings, and inform you about how many people search for the terms and what the competition is for them.

Your goal is to find keywords with the highest search volumes and the lowest competition, which will help new customers find you more efficiently online.

Social Media Promotion

Your social media business accounts are the perfect place to promote your blogs and articles. Many content management systems, such as WordPress, allow you to automatically connect your social media accounts to the system, publishing content that you post across social media.

This easy strategy will go a long way in helping you get more eyes on your content without much effort on your part. Your content will also help set you up as an authority figure on social media, giving you the opportunity to educate your followers about your latest products, as well as sharing product reviews, how-to videos and industry-related advice.

Promoting your content on social media will allow your followers to share it with their circle of friends, thus giving you free marketing. Plus, your followers will be able to comment on your content, asking questions or stating their opinions, which will improve your communication with your customers and show them that you are committed to bringing them utmost value.

Cross Linking

Search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary to help your content rank better. Cross linking is an imperative strategy that you must learn to implement if you want to generate traffic to your site.

Cross linking means creating different links that point back to your website, which helps Google see your page as having more authority, thus directing more traffic to it.

There are several ways to generate links to your side, including searching for content that is similar to yours online, and leaving a comment with a link to your article.  For example, if you wrote an article about easy ways to french braid your hair, you can Google other articles about hairdos, and leave a comment for the readers saying that you wrote an article about french braiding that may be interesting to them, then adding that link.

Another way to attain this goal is to search for other websites in your niche, and contact the administrator asking them to link to your article in their content. This usually works if your article can add value to theirs.

Alternatively, you can offer to swap links, adding another site’s link to your content and asking the administrator to do the same.

The three ways mentioned in this article are essential to get your content to perform better. You may also consider hiring a professional SEO strategist to advise you on efficient ways of generating new traffic to your site.  If you need financial assistance with this goal, IOU Financial can help you secure an easy and fast small business loan of up to $300,000. Contact us today and get funded within 24 to 48 hours.

Small Business Guide to Big Technology

Over the past decade, technology has become a major part of the business world. Although advanced technology previously only belonged to large-scale businesses, that’s no longer the case. No matter what size the company, technology is an integral part of the day-to-day processes at any scale. In fact, a large percentage of small enterprises reported the use of at least one digital platform for sharing information with customers, advertising, communications and sales. 

The use of big technology may seem daunting to smaller businesses; however, the implementation of tech like mobile applications, cloud computing, automation and AI-based chatbots can be a game changer. The use of these types of programs helps businesses to make better use of their precious time and operate in a more cost-effective, efficient manner. 

Cloud computing

One of the most important innovations to hit the small business scene is the transition of data storage, processing, and analysis to the cloud. Cloud computing decentralizes data and eliminates the need for an on-site data hub. 

According to industry front-runner, Mark Hurd,  “The cloud has changed the dynamic significantly … You don’t need an IT department anymore — that’s changed. With the cloud, the work is done for you.” This means that companies can instead focus those resources on tasks which will more directly benefit the organization, which is an important perk, especially for small businesses.

Using the cloud is a much safer alternative to an on-site storage system. Because artificial intelligence technologies are included in many cloud-based computing applications, the level of security is much higher, allowing for more secure data and higher customer satisfaction.

Business automation

The amount of time, energy and resources it takes to complete tedious, everyday tasks can get a bit frustrating. However, through the use of business process automation (BPA), those tasks can be handled without the need for actual human labor. Automation instead employs AI and machine learning to complete the more mundane, data-driven responsibilities of a corporation. 

Basic processes like forwarding and transferring data, sending notifications and reminders, extracting info, organizing data and processing multitudes of information can all be put into the hands of BPA. Doing this reduces the number of errors and allows the tasks to be completed at a much quicker pace than they could ever be done by humans. Not only does it help the business operate more smoothly and efficiently, but it also frees up those employees for more valuable work. 

AI-based chatbots

The need for a human at the other end of a chat tunnel has become obsolete. Businesses are now turning to computer programs that mimic real human interaction and do so to converse with customers. This means that businesses large and small can cut down on customer service representatives and instead employ this technology to do the work of multiple people. 

Chatbots offer large-scale, 24/7 availability to customers and reach a much larger audience without increasing costs. They can be customized to the business, learn as they go and provide round-the-clock customer assistance, offering quick solutions and real-time support for nearly any question a customer may have.

Not only does this create a much more customer-friendly funnel for service, but chatbots can also become interactive platforms for marketing. Customers can chat via Facebook messenger and receive information about a company or even discounts and coupon codes at the click of a button.

Mobile applications

In this day and age, nearly everyone owns a cell phone and uses mobile apps multiple times a day. No matter the size of the business, creating an app for customers to use can be a vital ingredient for success. For businesses like salons, exercise studios and restaurants, apps can be used to handle day-to-day tasks like scheduling and setting reminders. 

Moreover, a mobile app creates more engagement at a faster rate by reducing the number of touchpoints and human interaction while creating a more personalized experience. These apps can remember favorite orders, settings and other user preferences. In this way, the apps can send and share information regarding sales and other offers to the audiences most likely to enjoy and use them. 

By having a mobile app, organizations can create a high level of brand awareness. A consistent, recognizable design that lives on a customer’s cell phone allows companies to have constant exposure and subtle advertisement. Even when a consumer is not actively engaging with the app, the logo is still present and making an impression, however small. 

Guest Post: About the Author

Maddie Davis is co-founder of Enlightened Digital and a tech-obsessed female from the Big Apple. She lives by building and redesigning websites, running marathons, and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list.