Category: Communication


Start Your Website Project with a Competitor Analysis

Before you get to the fun stuff like colors and images, your website project should start with a competitor analysis. You need to understand the market and your place in it.

Researching what competitors are doing is an essential step in your business strategy. When you conduct a competitive analysis, you evaluate your competitors to understand their strengths and weaknesses and use that to inform your online strategy.

By looking at your competitors, analyzing how they sell, and monitoring what’s said about them, you’ll also be able to anticipate the market. It will help you to build a web presence that engages your audience.

Fundamental Elements of a Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis research could easily grow into a full-time job, so it’s important to set parameters while making sure the basics are covered.

Benchmarking SEO

Start by typing your company’s name or industry into Google. The results page will show you what else people search for under those terms, which could include other companies. It’s these companies that you should look into if they’re not already on your list of competitors.

When you conduct this search, you’ll also see  terms related to your business. These could be good keywords to include in your website’s content. These terms – keywords – are words that people use when searching for your products or services.

Tone and brand voice

Look at how your competitors present themselves. The way content is presented sets the tone and voice. Customers use this to judge who to buy from.

Content strategy

Building an audience involves more than just publishing a website. Understanding where competitors are sharing information online will show you what your audience expects.

Conducting a successful competitor analysis

These are just some elements of a successful competitor analysis. You should dig in, go as far as you think you need to in order to inform your business strategy.

Through competitive analysis, you’ll be able to get the measure of the market, and use that information to help your site stand out and get noticed.

How to Write Online Content with Impact

When you decide to write a blog or other online content, the first fear is probably coming up with enough topics to write about. Truth is, writing an interesting post isn’t even half the game. Every post has to appeal to your audience AND help your online visibility.

Defining your message, using keywords, structuring for online scanning, targeting the right length, and using links are all strategies that will help your content have impact.

Define the Message

What do you want to tell your readers? What is the key takeaway you want to offer?

Every post you write should have a purpose. Define that purpose before you start to write.

Keywords Come First

Every post should be written with keywords in mind. To be visible, you need to use the same words and phrases that your audience uses when searching online. Define a primary keyword or phrase. Also have a list of keywords related to the content. Use them all!

Structure Your Writing

Start with an introduction. Say what you are going to say. Tell the reader why they want to spend the time to read your post.

Write the text of the post in a series of short paragraphs. Each paragraph should consist of short sentences that use short words. This approach increases the chances your reader will understand what you are saying.

Group related paragraphs with subheads that keep the flow. The reader should be able to read the title and subheads alone and get the main point of your post.

End with a conclusion that revisits your main message. All of the elements – title, subheads, paragraph and conclusion should make use of keywords.

When you are done you have told the reader what you will say, provided the details, and then told them what you said. And, you have done all of that using the words and phrases that they use!

Write Enough to Count

Aim for 600 words minimum per post. Google likes articles of 600-1200 words. However, if your article is too long and not easy to read it won’t be read. So make every word worth reading!

Link Related Content

Be sure to use links to connect related content. Link to related website pages and other blog posts. Internal links – links within your website and/or blog – help readers get the full breadth of your expertise.

Add New Content

Search engines like active websites. A major signal is new content. So, be sure to add new content often.

Make sure every addition adds to your business goal, highlights your expertise, and speaks in the words (keywords!) that your audience uses. You will keep your audience interested and attract the attention of search engines, too!

Great Content Works

Every blog post is an opportunity to highlight your expertise and to talk to your audience in a way that makes sense to them. It is also an opportunity to get the attention of search engines. Make sure every post follows the basics of great online writing and you will advance your business goals.

Do Very Small Businesses Need an Employee Handbook?

Guest Post By Danielle M. Verderosa, President of HR Allies

As a human resources consultant for small businesses I get asked a lot about employee handbooks. Actually, I get told a lot about employee handbooks.

Small business owners tell me that they think handbooks are overkill for a company their size.

I’ve been in Human Resources for more than 25 years, and I can tell you without a doubt that employee handbooks serve the small business owner’s interests much more than the employee’s.

“It is a misnomer to call these ‘employee handbooks’” says Stuart M. Silverman, a leading management-side employment attorney in Boca Raton, FL. “If companies would realize these are ‘how to get out of lawsuits’ books, they would be running to create them.”

Employee handbooks not only help businesses of all sizes avoid financial penalties by showing employment law compliance, but they’re also a significant tool to promote employee engagement, retention, and positive performance – all good outcomes that small companies deserve.

No company with more than one employee should be without some kind of employee handbook, and here’s why.

Align your staff to your mission and values

SCORE, a nonprofit organization that helps small businesses launch and grow, preaches the importance of formalizing and communicating your company’s mission and values.

“Whether your business is well established or just starting up, if you don’t have mission and vision statements or a set of values to help guide decision-making, it’ll be difficult for your company to thrive over the long-term” says Bridget Weston, CEO of the SCORE Association.

Employee handbooks let you take the company mission and values that are in your mind and heart and memorialize them in writing for your employees to read, understand, and refer back to.   Think of it as a North Star to guide employees in their day-to-day decisions, priorities, and behavior.

Even better, by formally communicating something personal and unique about your company, you give your staff something to embrace and get excited about – helping them to be fully engaged, supportive, and proud to be a part of your team.

Employee handbooks establish the workplace culture you want

So much has been written about the impact that a company’s culture has on attracting, retaining, and motivating great employees.  There’s no doubt that happy employees perform better for you and your clients – and more than ever, employees will quit a job and find another in a perpetual search for work happiness.

But how do small businesses “create” culture?

Busy owners can either leave it to chance and hope that the employee finds everything to his/her satisfaction, or they can use an employee handbook to set the right tone on Day 1 for the employee.

Years ago, employee handbooks were thick and intimidating manuals, chock full of overly-prescriptive rules and instructions.  Now, employee handbooks are written to reflect the tone and culture that an organization wants to promote.

I’ve helped clients create employee handbooks that were casual, comical, micro-managing, rigid, short, long – all different types of styles.

An employee handbook allows a small business owner to decide what expectations he has, then communicate them to all employees consistently – which helps prevent unintentional favoritism or discrimination.

Workplace culture is ultimately created in the actions – not the words – of the company leaders, but by deliberately selecting the workplace standards that are important to you and the tone in which you communicate with your employees, your employee handbook sets your cultural foundation intentionally.

Comply with employment laws that you don’t even know exist

Would you be surprised to know that there are hundreds of local and state employment laws that pertain to companies with just one employee?

And the larger a company grows from there, the more laws there are that cover employees’ rights and require certain actions by business owners.

Federal laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act are complicated but relevant to very small businesses.  And non-compliance – even unintentionally – is expensive!  The Department of Labor regularly sues even small businesses who violate their laws, and settlements often cost small businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“(Employee handbooks) create defenses in Title VII cases and reduce the risk of lawsuits, all while managing your employee’s expectations,” advises Silverman.

No business owner should be responsible for knowing human resource compliance – that’s what you hire an HR expert to be on-call – but by setting out the laws’ requirements in a Handbook, you go on record with your good faith intentions.  And believe me, if and when your company falls under government scrutiny, they’ll be asking to see your employee handbook first.

About the Author:

Danielle M. Verderosa, the Founder and President of HR Allies, has 25+ years of human resources experience in the hospitality, senior living, warehouse/manufacturing, and defense security industries. Most recently a Vice President of Human Resources for a 4,100-employee contract management services company with 150 locations across the country, Danielle has the HR industry’s top professional credentials and has been the recipient of several top awards honoring her integrity, leadership, and business excellence.

HR Allies specializes in human resources compliance and creating effective and affordable HR infrastructures for small businesses nationwide.

You can reach Danielle directly at danielle@hrallies.com.