Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How to Make Smart Hiring Decisions for your Small Business

Facing a competitive and crowded labor market is a common challenge for small businesses. Rather than “the talent” competing for your job openings, it’s other businesses competing for the same talent.  Add into the mix -- that as a small business owner -- a new hire essentially means adding a new family member. The employee becomes part of your presumably small inner circle. So as an entrepreneur, how do you acquire top talent -- against stiff competition -- who will also fit into your existing tribe? 9 ways to step-up your recruitment strategy:

REACH OUT. Consider looking outside your business’ immediate area to grow your team. If the locals don’t seem to fit the bill, or don’t answer your call for openings, stretch your reach to neighboring communities. The right candidate won’t mind making the move geographically and/or commuting a little further for the right workplace scenario.

SEEK OUT THE SEEKERS. Try looking on job search sites in the job ‘wanted’ section. This might include Craigslist and even the relevant newspapers. Candidates who are proactively and eagerly looking for work are likely ones you can count on to perform. Looking for new grads to fill empty shoes? Ensure your opportunities can be easily located and applied to via mobile apps and social media networking sites like LinkedIn and Indeed. Millenial job seekers are not just doing their job searching online. According to Accenture Strategy’s 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study, 64% of 2015 graduates have used a mobile app to search for a new gig.  

TRY FLEXING. Still not finding the right full-timers or the local labor pool seems particularly barren? Consider hiring a freelancer. Freelancers are often excited about helping a growing business. They can learn something new and contribute in the early stages of building your brand. Most come armed with a variety of experiences and a diverse portfolio. Plus, freelancers can contribute to your business on an as-needed basis.

START SPREADING THE NEWS. Referrals from successful employees -- who are already happy working for and with you -- or investors in your business can provide qualified leads. A passive job seeker who is connected to you via a respected colleague might just be a star candidate. Consider this, they are experienced and dedicated to their craft and are recommended by someone you trust. Oh -- and they aren’t job searching, so the only competition you’ll have is their current place of employment.

HIRE FROM INSIDE THE LINES. 72% of 2015 college graduates participated in an internship program during their collegiate career (up from 65% in the prior year). An intern will have the opportunity to learn your business from the inside out and potentially get involved with a number of departments/projects/colleagues during their tenure. It’s a plausible solution to finding talent that fits. You have the advantage of determining if they will work well with your existing employees, while at the same time learning the business.  

BE MEMORABLE. There is both risk and reward in working for a small business. Do your potential hires know the reward, if they’re expected to set the DVR and burn the midnight oil? Promote your culture -- for example, what is unique about your business? Show candidates what they can expect via a tour of your space on their interview visit. It might even be worthwhile to have them shadow someone besides the hiring manager (namely you) before a decision is made. If an applicant rejects an offer, as for feedback about your culture. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate. Ask your current crew what’s missing and you not only win brownie points for including them in the process but you’ll be poised to attract other people looking for the same benefits. Success for your growing business starts “at home” and if your employees aren’t “feeling” the culture you’re creating, they won’t be a long lasting investment.

GIVE A LITTLE. Be willing to offer more to your employees. The “more” doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of dollar signs. Many new hires are satisfied with a well-rounded package of salary and benefits. Sixty percent of the class of 2015 said they would prefer to work at a company with a positive social atmosphere and earn a lower salary than make more money someplace where it's less fun to work. Flexibility also goes a long way and can gel nicely with the vibe of a young business. Think about allowing some role players the option of working remotely as a perk.

SCHOOL THEM. Skills can be taught but personality is a plus and drive is a must. During a search, consider potential employees who are ready to embrace the adversity that often crops up with a small business. Also, ask yourself if you'd enjoy lunch with the new worker bee because if personalities don't click, how will you connect on projects? Having skilled employees who match both your vision and your enthusiasm is inevitably important. If someone is in a constant state of discomfort, it will show in team meetings and in front of a client. A willingness to train the right person will prove fruitful in the long run.

TALK IT OUT. When you hold an interview, ask what a candidate does outside of the workplace? An employee’s hobby could prove to be a hidden gem skill set for your business. And this same line of questions, could also help you determine his/her potential fit in your workplace. Do they like to play softball and your business has a team or maybe he or she is active with local charities and your business encourages philanthropy. In a similar vein, how do they envision the future? While working at your small business may not be their life-long dream (although, bonus if so!) having this conversation can unveil how motivated the individual is to grow as a professional. Ambitious leaders-to-be will see working for you as a valuable experience and this exchange could reveal ideas worthy of being implemented by your brand when the new hire hits the ground running.

Does your small business have proven recruitment strategies? Share them in the comments!

BBB’s News and Opinion Blog serves as your source for business topics and industry news like tips for customer retention and how to use social media engagement to grow your business. For more information you can trust, visit us at, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by Stephanie Benz, Senior Social Media Associate for Better Business Bureau Serving E. Massachusetts, ME, RI & VT.

Friday, April 15, 2016

4 Things that Really Matter for your Business’ SEO Strategies

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the many ways of marketing on the Internet and it is becoming synonymous with content marketing. How effective a business’ SEO is, depends on many different factors. At the end of the day, every online business, small or big, needs to have a proper SEO strategy in order to make the most of their search engine rank and overall online visibility to improve their online traffic. There are other methods for businesses to remain visible and easily searchable online but proper Search Engine Optimization is the most effective because it gives you visibility on search engines where billions of searches are performed every single day.

Businesses have to be extra careful with their Search Engine Optimization these days because Google has made SEO a serious business. It was quite easy for SEO professionals to work for a website’s ranking in the past but with the passage of time, things have been made more strict. Though there is a lot that can be talked about when SEO is in question, here are a few things that must be given proper attention in order to guarantee the success of any SEO strategy:

Content is Still King. Search Engine Optimization should not be discussed without talking about the importance of content. When Google’s Panda update was rolled out, it was thought in the beginning that content would lose its worth and value. Little did people know that Google was running that update to improve the quality of content on websites. When the Panda update from Google rolled out, it had a great effect on the websites that were ranking high on Google at that time. It was soon realized that Panda was supposed to make SEO experts improve their website’s content.

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For example, if your website contained duplicate content you could be sure you were going to get punished by Google. If the content of your website did not add value to the corresponding web pages, you were going to get punished for that as well. Slowly, websites moved away from stuffing keywords in their content only to get indexed and ranked higher in Google’s search results. In the same way, Google came up with the Hummingbird update that also focused a lot on the quality of content on the websites. In a nutshell, it’s crucial to offer quality content on your website and be sure that your pages are not light on content. Of course, don’t just add content to game the search engine system, add content that makes each page more valuable for your visitors. Remember it’s all about creating a nice online experience for your customers.

Speed of the Website. It has been proven over and over, that the speed at which your website loads has great effect on search engine ranking. The reason why Google pays so much attention to website’s loading speed is that it matters for the visitors. If visitors did not pay much attention to website loading speeds, we would expect Google to ditch this element from ranking algorithms. Most recent statistics have shown that website visitors will not stay on a website, if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The percentage of visitors that will leave the website for a loading time more than this is 40%.

In simple words, if you want your website to rank high amongst Google’s top search result pages, you will have to improve your website’s loading time. If your website takes longer than 3 seconds, you can say goodbye to the 40% visitors who could be potential customers, too. You will have to work on the website’s coding and design in order to know all the things that are causing your website to load slowly. The web host you have chosen for your website, might also need consideration from you because the performance of their servers and bandwidth could affect your website’s loading time directly. Be sure to check your site with Google Speed Test tool.

Quality of Backlinks. The latest search engine optimization is all about quality links. When Google’s Penguin waddled into the world of SEO, it punished all the websites that had too many links that were of poor or spammy quality. Websites that had a huge number of backlinks were happy to welcome Google’s Penguin update initially, because they thought they had everything in place to stay in the top results. That was not the case when the Penguin update drew closer and was implemented.

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Soon the websites with poor, spammy links were penalized and saw their rank start to fall. Google then allowed the websites to ward off some of the beatings from the Penguin update through their link disavow tool. All of this was only done to improve the quality of backlinks. If you wish to see your website in the top results you will have to work diligently on quality backlinks. It’s best to get links from websites that have a good reputation on the Internet (high Domain Authority) and that are not involved in anything shady. You can visit the Better Business Bureau to look up a business and reference customer reviews, complaints and other resources regarding their practices before engaging with them in an online relationship. Websites infested with viruses and malware -- and those promoting bad content -- are going to pull you down in search results with them. It’s best to focus your link building efforts on the top 5 companies in your industry that are considered very trustworthy by your industry peers. Then have another list of sites that are perhaps not quite the A players in your industry but the B Team. You will probably have better luck with these B players initially because the A’s typically receives a lot of requests for guest blog opportunities and use of external links. You might even want to target a third tier of sites too, the C Team. You can use the Moz bar tool which is free to assess each of these sites to determine their Domain Authority (DA) score.

Important On Page Factors. There are many on-page factors that decide how high your website will rank on Google search results. For example, it is important that you make your title tag with the keyword in it. When your website’s web page appears on the Google search result pages, it’s the title that appears most prominently. Furthermore, the description tag of your website should also contain your main keyword along with other secondary keywords. Another thing that most experts suggest is that the content on your web pages should be long enough to look informative to people. As a good rule of thumb, each page should have at least 500 words.

Canonical tag is another important item needing attention, if you have a huge website with many web pages. This tag plays a hefty role for ecommerce websites because duplicate content for ecommerce websites is inevitable. With the use of canonical tag, signals can be sent to Google that even if there is identical content on two pages of the website. Google must not consider the content duplicate but treats both the pages as one. Don’t forget about the images on the pages since they are unavoidable too. Always put a description with the image and a clear caption.

If you follow these core SEO tactics, your site should be in good shape and over time -- with consistent effort -- your rank should rise. Please note, the tactics and factors mentioned in this post are just some of the top strategies and not all inclusive. Want more on the topic of SEO? Get tips on effective keyword strategy for strong SEO results.

BBB’s News and Opinion Blog serves as your source for business topics and industry news like how to use social media engagement to grow your business  and tips for customer retention. For more information you can trust, visit us at, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Written by Guest Blogger, Christian Habermann of BBB Accredited Business, Auctus Marketing

Christian HabermannChristian Habermann is the founder of Auctus Marketing and is a leader and innovator in the online marketing world. He is very involved in the local startup scene in Boston, MA. He co-founded, now, which is one of the fastest growing online insurance companies and has made the Inc. 500 List the past 3 years.  He loves to help companies of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500s, embrace the online marketing world to grow their business. He is the author of "SEO for 2014” and holds an MBA in marketing from Vanderbilt.

Are you an Accredited Business and have interest in guest blogging for BBB? Connect with Senior Social Media Associate, Stephanie Benz for details.