How Should You Register Your Business
After you have chosen the name of your business, it is time to register it and make it official. Legally forming a business by filing an assumed name or registering a trademark can help your business name protection. Therefore, once you find that perfect name, you have to register it. There are many ways you can register your business depending on the exact needs of said business.
You can register your business as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), as a business under an assumed name (DBA) or you can register as a federal trademark.
Pros of an LLC
An LLC is more formally called a Limited Liability Company. LLC’s combines sole proprietorship and partnerships into one business entity which offers liability protection, a flexible management structure, and even tax advantages. Those starting a business should consider an LLC if they are concerned with personal legal liability and taxation. LLC’s offer easier taxation as they are taxed at the owner's personal tax rates, they offer the simplicity to form and operate, they are flexible when it comes to ownership and they give your business credibility.
Cons of an LLC
As with a lot of things in life, the cost is almost always a con. LLC’s are generally more costly to form and manage than other ways of registering. There are filing fees to be paid, as well as operating agreements, although the latter isn’t required, it is recommended. The LLC will also need to pay annual fees and taxes to be paid to the state. Also, having an LLC will make it difficult for you to find investors, especially if you want those high-end venture capitalists, as they usually only seek to invest in corporations.
Pros of a DBA
A DBA, Doing Business As, is any business that operates under a name that isn’t their legal name. DBA’s themselves can also be named in different ways, it also can be called a fictitious name, assumed name, or even a trade name. Having a DBA can help expand branding opportunities, increase your privacy and even give you access to small banking possibilities. DBA’s can be seen as more professional and trustworthy. They can be extremely useful when a company wants to add a new business to its umbrella but doesn’t want to open up a whole new legal entity.
Cons of a DBA
Unlike an LLC, DBA’s does not protect your business with legal protections by removing personal assets from business liabilities. Instead, a DBA means you are just operating under a fake name, without any additional protection. In addition, depending on where you live, a DBA may not protect your company’s name.
Pros of a Federal Trademark
Having a Federal Trademark creates a legal authority that you own the registered item and it is enforceable if someone tries to steal it. A Federal Trademark gives you the benefit of ownership, the notice of ownership allowing others to see that it is yours and yours alone, provides you with national protection so that it doesn’t limit the range of where the protection is applicable. It also helps in international situations. It also protects against trademarks similar to yours and entitles you to certain statutory claims in cases of counterfeiting, making it easier for you to receive the damages and profit you are due.
Cons of a Federal Trademark
Because Federal Trademarks are high up on the list as far as protection goes, it is only fitting that it costs more. While this isn’t necessarily a negative, it is a point to be made. The registration process itself will cost more than other forms of registration, but also your marketing and advertising costs will more than likely increase. There are also legal requirements that each state requires to trademark your name if you decide to take that route. If you are looking to register nationwide, you’d go through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which as mentioned, can be complex and costly.
After thorough research and consulting, you should be able to determine which registration is right for your business. In some ways, it’s almost like a ladder working your way up. Many smaller businesses will be perfectly fine using an LLC whereas bigger corporations will choose a DBA or Federal Trademark.
What’s in a name? How to Choose Your Company Name
Naming your company is a key component of starting a business. There are many things to consider when deciding on a name for your company, from creativity and relatability to legality and simplicity. You have to know what other companies are already out there with a similar name, picking a name that can grow as your business does, and quite a few other reasons.
Let’s dive into what those reasons are:
The name should be easy to spell.
There are a lot of companies out there that are uniquely named, but not spelled in the most common way. Flickr and Tumblr come to mind, both removing the ‘e’ from their names. While this is cute and catchy, early on customers may not easily grasp the spelling of your business and you may miss out on them visiting your site easily.
Do your research!
First and foremost, make sure that the name is not already trademarked. You can search USPTO.gov to get an idea of whether or not your name is already being used. Visiting the Secretary of State’s records will also show you if there is a business already in existence with a name similar to yours. You could also do a quick internet search to see what pops up. When doing an internet search, you can also find companies with names similar to yours, but for very different reasons. For example, you could want to call your company Mikey D’s Burgers, but that is far too close to Mickey D’s, aka McDonald's. Even further, you have to make sure that your new company’s domain name isn’t already taken.
The name should grow as your business does.
This is important as you want your business to grow, but you don’t want it tied down to a name that is all too specific. For example, if you call your company The Logo Maker, but after a year, you expand into website design, marketing consultation, and social media management, then your name doesn’t quite fit the bill anymore. Or if you want to name your business after the location you are in, such as The West Palm Beach Sandal Shoppe, what happens when your business grows and you expand into cities across the country? The answer? It will be confusing and not as SEO-relevant.
Make your name catchy!
The name should not be boring to the point where people easily forget it. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be too scary to the point where it scares people away. Make sure your company name is something that sounds good out loud. People who use your business or work for your business, shouldn’t feel weird or embarrassed saying the name out loud. The name shouldn’t be too general, such as The Speedy Repair Store, which would be hard to decipher just want repairs they do.
Ask for feedback on the name.
And finally, ask what people think! People, for the most part, will be incredibly honest. They will tell you whether or not they’d remember the name, if they understand your business from it, and in general if they like it. Plus, asking people for feedback may help spark new ideas for a name.
All in all, it’s your company and you want to be able to name it something you are proud of and will mean something to you in the long run. Using these tips there is no reason that you can’t brainstorm a name that will be both fulfilling to you emotionally, as well as financially beneficial to you and the company. It’s not a process that should be rushed, but one that should take a dedicated effort. Look to your favorite brands for inspiration and what makes them wonderful to you and the world at large.
Types of SEO Part 2
In a previous article, we discussed the different types of SEO. We talked about technical SEO, On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Local SEO. But there are even more types of SEO to talk about. The other types of SEO we are going to touch on include mobile, e-commerce, enterprise, white hat, black hat, and gray hat SEO.
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is the optimization technique that abides by Google’s search engine guidelines. Some examples include writing useful content through keyword research and earning links from high authority sites that can give your page merit. White Hat SEO is beneficial in the fact that you cannot get bumped or banned from search engine results, even if and when the algorithm changes.
Black Hat SEO
The opposite of White Hat SEO, Black Hat SEO, takes advantage of sites with weaknesses in its Google search algorithm rank. It does not follow the guidelines and can resort to spamming, paid bots, keyword stuffing, and more to try and trick the system. This type of SEO can get your site blacklisted and is best to be avoided.
Gray Hat SEO
Gray Hat SEO is kind of a mixture between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. So, if you don’t want to be too spammy, but also need content that people may need to be tricked into reading, that comes out as something known as clickbait. Clickbait these days tends to be very popular. It pretends to have value but turns out to be a suspicious link and for that reason, it is best to steer clear of this type of SEO.
Mobile SEO is quite simply is the search engine optimization of websites on mobile devices. To have good Mobile SEO make sure that the website is not only responsive for mobile but also loads very quickly, as more than 60% of Google searches are performed on mobile devices. It’s also best when on mobile, the user is not bothered by banners or excess popups.
When it comes to E-Commerce SEO it’s important to keep things organized and optimized as there tend to be more pages than a typical website or blog. To optimize, you can organize your shopping pages by categories, use keywords on your product pages and make sure that all your videos and photos are quickly loading. Not only that, but you can also use a blog and connect your social media platforms to gain more organic traffic.
Enterprise SEO is almost a step above E-Commerce SEO as it is search engine optimization strategies targeted towards a large enterprise. Businesses large enough to call themselves enterprises need high-level SEO to drive traffic since they have thousands of pages.
Each of these types of SEO can go even further into detail and have an article all their own. SEO is a big part of marketing and should be used whenever you are putting something online. An expert website designer and/or manager will be able to find the most important keywords, monitor ranking, algorithm changes, and more.
How to Improve your SEO
Before we get into how to improve SEO, let’s explain what SEO actually is. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is the practice of increasing the quantity and the quality of traffic to your website. This is usually done through organic search engine results.
Let’s break that down even further. Quality of traffic basically means they are coming to your site for the right reasons and not for a reason that sounds similar, but is actually very different. Quantity of traffic is when having the number of people from the right audience find your site. Organic results are any clicks that you get that don’t have to pay for.
But SEO doesn’t come naturally when you have a site, it is something you have to work for and constantly work for.
Here are six ways to improve your SEO:
Post relevant content often: It’s important to publish important and relevant content to your business on your website, on each and every page. Use every page to target specific keywords that relate to your business. It’s an even better idea to start a blog as well. But just because you post once, it doesn’t mean you are good to go forever. You are going to have to update on a regular basis to make sure your content is still relevant. Search engines change up what they are looking for content-wise, and you need to be ready for that.
Metadata: Usually metadata is taken care of by the website designer, but it’s still important to know what it is and what it does. Metadata controls the things like your page titles displayed in your browser, it gives your website a textual description on your search results page and it can even give you your keyword phrases so that people can find you more easily.
Use alt tags: Alternative tags, alt tags for short, allows you to give pictures descriptions as you hover over them. They are different then captions, as they help search engines locate your page through the images. Plus, it helps those using screen readers to understand the image.
Use internal links: When used the right way, internal links that link one page on your site to another page on your site, can be used to boost how you are seen in search engines. It’s best used when you put some links to the pages that need some help, to the pages that are doing well.
Improve your loading speed: No one wants to be on a slow website. So, if your website is slow, people will drop off your page and fast, thus those drop-offs will cause a negative effect and hurt your ranking.
Create a blog: There’s no easier way to improving your SEO than by having a blog. A blog will allow you to have the constant need and desire to write about topics related to your business, this will not only provide valuable information to your existing customers, but it will also bring new customers to your site if you use the right keywords.
There are obviously a lot more ways that you can improve your SEO. You can have social media accounts, use easy-to-read URLs, use indexing, and more. These six steps will get you in the right direction to get customers to you without using any paid advertising.
Why You Need a Digital Presence
Having a digital presence is a key factor for any business trying to grow or even remain established in the 21st century. A website can make your company accessible 24/7 to a wide audience and can easily show you what your customers like and don’t like.
But why do I need a digital presence:
Having a digital presence can honestly make or break your business. If you were to ask your friend, your kid, or your grandkid how they find the address for their favorite store, find the hours for a local restaurant, or where to find a blue dress, chances are, they are all going to have the same answer: online. These days we don’t have phone books, and as much as we don’t want to admit it, we are kind of, well… lazy. We don’t want to drive around town looking for something when we could easily just look online.
Also, ask yourself how people find this information. Look at how you are reading this right now. You are either reading it on your phone, tablet, or computer. All these are electronic devices that almost everyone has and uses almost every hour of the day.
It allows you to be visible:
One of the most important aspects of your digital presence is that it will be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In this regard, your business will never actually close, people can always find it and have access to information and the ability to shop or request your service.
Reach a wider scope of people:
If you have a physical location, then you are only really destined to reach the people near that location. With this situation, your customers typically tend to be the same groupings of people and the same people over and over again. With a digital presence, you can reach a much more diverse group of people because anyone, anywhere can reach you. This number grows even larger if you have social media on top of a website. Plus, with having an online presence you can communicate one-on-one with your customers in an easy way, bringing your customer service prowess to the next level.
You can see what is working and what isn’t working:
With a digital presence, you can use the power of analytics to see what is working and what is not working. If you only had a business in the traditional sense, then it would be very hard and take a large amount of research, focus groups, and other studies to see why your business isn’t booming the way you thought it would. But when you go online, you can use analytics to see what pages are the most clicked, which products seem to be most popular, how they are finding your site, and even hearing straight from your customers what they’d like to see more of. You can also find your audience statistics, like their gender, age group, location, income, and more. On the same token, you can see what is not working. You can see which audience groups you should try harder to reach, what pages you can knock out, and whether or not your photos, copy and design are working.
Having a digital presence is key to a successful business, it’s not an option in this day and age. By having a website, a blog, social media, and being active in all, you will be able to grow a larger audience.
Why Fonts Are important
Fonts, or more professionally known as typography, play a huge role in our daily lives whether we realize it or not. It’s everywhere from physical signs to websites to the lettering in our phones and more. When you look at the typography, do you realize you are making a connection between the typography and the business and/or message itself? There’s a reason why there is a whole science behind typography and why designers spend so much time picking out the perfect one for any and all projects.
But what exactly is typography? To put it simply, it’s the arrangement of letters in certain styles and structures to convey messages and emotions. Typography builds brand recognition in the most difficult, yet easiest way possible. Just think of all those big brands out there, like Coca-Cola, Doritos, or Ford. You see those fonts, and right off the bat, you know whose brand that is without even seeing the full product.
Typography has to be powerful enough to hold and influence choices and hold someone’s attention. It has to be easy to read and understand, but also make you want to find out more about the product and/or business.
Although fonts are generally used to describe text, it is actually just a part of typography. Under the typography umbrella, so to speak, there is typeface and font. A typeface is an entire family of fonts in different ‘styles/texture’ and then there are fonts, which is part of the typeface family. For example, a typeface would be ‘Arial’ and then a font would be ‘Arial Bold’, ‘Arial Narrow’, ‘Arial Rounded’, etc.
To break it down even further, there are three types of basic fonts; serif, sans-serif, and decorative. Serif tends to be easier to read, with each letter having a ‘kickstand’ on the ends of the letters. Decorative speaks for itself and is typical used for one word or in fun headlines and sans-serif is your typical font. When designing, designers keep their overall design down to three fonts, otherwise, it gets too messy and inconsistent.
When thinking about typography, there are other design elements that you have to think about. These elements are contrast, consistency, white space, alignment, and color. Each plays a different role in how they convey a message. A professional designer will know how to use these elements properly. To get an idea of what you like, think about the ads, logos, websites, or magazine spreads that attract you and try and discover what you like most about them. What makes you feel and what makes you want to know more.
When it comes to picking out typography for your website, you have to think of what you want your website to do. What action do you want your site’s visitors to take? What do you want them to feel? What is the feeling of your site, it has to reflect your business. Not only that, but it has to be functional and make sense. You don’t want to confuse your visitors. And of course, just because you like something, doesn’t mean your visitors will or that it will work. So, testing is key! Website designers are usually graphic designers themselves or have graphic designers on staff, but either way, they can easily perfect the perfect website typography for you.
Social Media Platforms & Their Target Audiences Part 2
As we talked about in part one, four of the major platforms for social media are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked In. But believe it or not, there are even more social media platforms to promote your business on!
Pinterest is predominately female, more so than any other platform. The largest age range on the platform is 30-49 years old, however, recently there has been a big boom in millennials and gen z’s on the platform. There are about 400 million active users on Pinterest. Pinterest may be the hardest to promote unless you are selling products, but if you are selling products, they have massive ad opportunities, more than any other network.
The newest platform on the block, Tik Tok is already at 100 million active users. And those users? They are the youngsters coming in at 18-24 as the largest active group. Users also tend to spend more time on this platform than any other. As far as the genders, Tik Tok tends to be more female, but not by much. Tik Tok is based on ad targeting and relies heavily on influencers.
Once one of the most popular platforms out there, Snapchat is now at about 265 million active users, coming in a wide age range of ages, 13-34. Once again, females tend to be more popular on this platform. Snapchat is one of the most opened apps, with teenagers still using it as their preferred platform.
YouTube is one of the older platforms with a high active following of two million, with males and females evenly split on usage. Not only that, but people tend to spend almost 42 minutes a day on the platform. This is easier to do on this platform rather than others since it is all videos. YouTube has become a new platform to discover brands and products, using video ads in a more convenient way.
These social media platforms are a great way to post about your business organically or with paid advertising. It is important to keep in mind who your audience is on each platform and designate the right copy, photos, graphics, and even colors for each audience.
What are the Types of SEO?
SEO may seem like a scary word, or in this case, a combination of letters. Acronyms tend to be a little off-putting at first, but SEO shouldn’t be one that you are afraid of. However, there are different types of SEO… but don’t run away just yet! Let’s break some of them down!
Here are four types of SEO:
This is as it would seem, it’s the SEO that works with optimizing the backend of your website. This type of SEO will help to keep your page running smoothly, such as keeping up the speed, allowing items to load quickly, and can even monitor your speed through Google. Technical SEO will also help to make your site mobile-friendly with a responsive design. SEO in this section can also relate to indexing, crawlability, security, and structured data.
On-Page SEO is the most common form of SEO. This is through the use of keyword optimization. Keywords are the words people are searching for in relation to your product or service. You can incorporate keywords on different parts of your site, such as page titles, headlines, general copy, and even photo captions and alternative text. You can also use keywords in your meta descriptions and even your URL.
Off-Page SEO relates to promoting your site. This can be done through the use of link building, more specifically using backlinks from other websites. You also help build your brand and gain your brand more authority by using/posting on social media and writing good content using blogs written by other bloggers, journalists, influencers, or other media personalists.
Local SEO is pretty much, exactly as it sounds, Local SEO is suited for local businesses. This means that you have to have your business name, address, phone number, and any other relevant contact information on your homepage. Not only that but you can help increase this by registering your business with Yelp, Foursquare, and other similar platforms.
Other types of SEO can include mobile, e-commerce, voice search, enterprise SEO. But we won’t throw all of that at you at once! So, stay tuned to continuously learn about the advantages and complexities of SEO.
Social Media Platforms & Their Target Audiences Part 1
Social media is a key form of marketing that many businesses are (and should be) taking advantage of. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Twitter allow your business to reach a wider audience. Let’s start with the original four social media platforms and their key audiences.
Facebook these days tends to have a slighter older audience, thanks to the influx of baby boomers to the platform. While it is said that the younger generation, aka gen z, isn’t really on Facebook anymore, is only slightly true. They are still on it, but they don’t use it as much as they use the other platforms. However, the largest audience on Facebook is that millennial and gen x range of 25-34. Facebook skews slightly male and there are about 2.7 billion active users. Facebook tends to be the home base of social media, with everyone having one, even if they don’t use it all that often.
Instagram is similar to Facebook in the fact that its largest audience group is the 25-34 range of millennials and gen x, but Instagram skews towards females. Instagram is now the second-largest network but is slowly and surely gaining even more of a following with a billion active users. Now that Facebook and Instagram share the same ad platform, running ads is even easier. Instagram is continuously adding new features to keep up with other platforms and trying to keep a tight hold on the even younger audiences in gen z. Instagram has also basically created the world of influencers.
Thanks to memes, and well, certain celebrity tweets, Twitter has been brought back to reality from a slight hiatus. Twitter greatly skews towards males and has a higher age group with the majority being 30-49. Twitter is best used for quick updates, breaking news, and straight forwards facts. Twitter tends to yo-yo in popularity, at the moment there are 187 million active users.
LinkedIn is the platform for networking professionals and because of this, takes the top spot as catering to the highest age group 46-55. Linked In is also evenly split between males and females and caters to higher educated individuals.
Those are the four of the social media marketing platforms, but they are certainly not the last. New social media platforms sprout and trend each year, some lasting and some not lasting, but all making an impression. Check out part two for four of the newer social media platforms and the way to reach those audiences.
How Can Increase Organic Traffic to my Site?
When you have a business, it doesn’t always mean you have the capital to be putting out paid advertisements on a variety of difficult platforms. But don’t think it’s all doom and gloom if you can’t afford a banner ad, a Facebook campaign, or even a print ad. There are different ways to get organic traffic to your website, aka you can get free traffic to your site. How do you ask? Three little letters… SEO.
Here are a few tips to increase your organic website traffic:
There a lot of different tools out there to help you discover which keywords work best for your company by discovering what words people are searching for.
A blog is a perfect way to get information to your customers and enhance your website’s SEO. Blogs drive traffic to your site by using SEO tools such as keywords and backlinks. Plus, it allows your audiences to look forward to your next posing. You can even ask influential people in your field to guest blog on your site.
Remember your analytics
Use different analytical platforms, such as Google Analytics, to track your traffic. You will be able to see what customers do and don’t like and can adjust your website and content accordingly. Basically, you can increase your traffic by giving the people (your customers), what they want.
Creative quality content
Just because your keywords are on point, that doesn’t always mean automatic traffic. Your page has to look high-quality so that people stay on your site once they get there. If a viewer gets to your page and doesn’t like what they see, whether it’s because it is lacking well-produced content, photos, copy, or if it looks old, then they will drop off. When people drop off that can negatively affect your ranking.
Get on social media
Not only do you need to share your content on different social media platforms, but you also need to be active on social media in general. Make sure you are active in different ways in your designated community, whether if it’s by joining discussions, using hashtags, and/or by interacting with others in your field.
Now, this the basis of these topics. We can delve so much deeper into each and every one of these topics and then some. Increasing organic traffic to your website isn’t magic, it just takes some hard work and consistency.