For the small business owner, a website can be a great way to increase business and recruit new customers, but without proper management, websites can also become lost in the hordes of other businesses that are competing for the top spots on the Google search engine.
Last month, Google AdWords reported that the word “business” was Googled approximately 101,000,000 times. If your business is at the bottom of the Google search results page, well…you have some work to do. Think about it, when was the last time that you scrolled to the bottom of the page to find a link?
Thankfully, there are some basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies that can help you raise your visibility when a potential customer is trying to find a product that you offer.
What is Search Engine Optimization? SEO is a type of digital marketing used to describe how accessible or visible a website is to the general populace. Think of SEO as the online version of television commercials or billboards. Simply by being seen and drawing attention to a product, they drive foot traffic into the store.
Your overall goal as a business owner when it comes to your website should be to drive traffic to your website by getting it to the top of the results list in local search engines. According to Paul Hagan, Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Dwyer Group®, there are two major Google algorithm updates that recently impacted where websites rank on the search engine listings: Panda and Penguin.
What is Panda?
Panda is a series of search algorithm updates used by Google to reward high-quality websites. The more you do right, the closer to the top a site moves on a Google results page. To be on good terms with the Panda updates, you should:
Create Lots of Content and Include Keywords: Using the most relevant keywords or phrases in your content is one of the fastest ways to increase your rankings. Try using Google AdWords to help determine what words would be the best to use in your SEO. Don’t forget your website description or title tags. Using the proper keywords in these areas can be just as if not more important to your site’s SEO.
Getting Your Link Out There: Search rankings are influenced by how many times a site is listed and linked to other sites on the web as well as how often your site links to the websites of other relevant material. Inter-site links are based on a point system, and the more reputable the other site is the more points that your site gets for being linked. So, don’t be selfish when it comes to sharing links and web content. Helping out other sites is equally as helpful to promoting your website, but there’s a catch…beware of the Penguin.
What is the Penguin? The Penguin is another Google search algorithm that punishes sites for cheating the system by using cheap SEO tricks. This can include sites with irrelevant links, unoriginal content, or content cloaking. For instance, link farms are sites which act as portals to an endless series of different sites. They serve no purpose other than to drive up SEO standings. If a site is reported on a link farm it will be demoted in the search engine rankings.
Protect yourself with the Google Disavow. If you discover that your website is listed on a link farm, and you don’t want it to decrease your rankings report the link farm by using the Google Disavow tool. Reporting an unwanted link ensures that the link will not count against you if it is discovered by the penguin.
So, be proactive about your online marketing by taking advantage of the Panda updates to optimize your visibility, but don’t forget to protect your website from Penguin updates.
One of the benefits of owning a franchise is the variety of web development and SEO consulting services that can help you get started increasing exposure for your website. For more information regarding franchise opportunities in your area, contact The Dwyer Group by visiting our website at www.leadingtheserviceindustry.com or by phone at 1(866)-656-1504 for more information.
Londa and her oldest daughter Carie didn’t plan on working together in the family business. In fact, Carie had a 17-year career working outside the HVAC industry, but when the heating and air conditioning company needed a manager for its second location, Carie saw it as an opportunity to be closer to her parents.
Working together in the business has given Carie and Londa a new perspective on their relationship. They learn from each other and have forged a deep feeling of mutual respect for the role each of them plays.
“When she goes out she can represent herself, she can represent the business and she can represent the family. She communicates very well. I didn’t realize that growing up or working elsewhere. I have to work on that. I don’t know if it comes naturally for her, but it appears that it does!” Carie said.
Londa has also learned from her daughter and recognizes what Carie has brought to their family business.
“Carie has a real knack in dealing with people and a real heart for people. Almost too much so! She cares about whether they are uncomfortable. For example, if she hears of an elderly person that is without heat, she will make sure that portable heaters are taken over there,” said Londa. “I think being older, I am a little more impatient. But what she does really pays off. We hear it back from the customer—how much they appreciate the service. They’ll sing her praises.”
Communication Is Key
As mother and daughter team, Londa and Carie look out for each other. They know each other so well that they can easily tell when the other is having a bad day, is overloaded or isn’t feeling well. They work together to share responsibilities.
“We’ve been around each other enough to know when to say, ‘You don’t feel good today, do you?’ and we are able to say that. We can be considerate of each other in that way,” said Carie.
Both Londa and Carie agree that their family bond has positively impacted their business as a whole.
“There are moments of tension, but there is also an understanding that is very deep, and that carries over to the people who work here. The communication is good,” Londa said. “It works very well. We have two other people in the office and it’s the same with them.”
For some, working with family members can be tough. If a slightly stressful moments between the two, they communicate by asking clarifying questions, and Londa treats her daughter as she would any other staff member.
“Sure in our business there can be a lot of tension, something didn’t get done right, someone hasn’t paid us; we would like to have everything running smoothly. But I think we make a great team for working through things,” Londa said.
Each Aire Serv location has a unique story, as all Aire Serv franchises are independently owned and operated. To learn more about turning your HVAC business into an Aire Serv, check out www.leadingtheserviceindustry.com or leave us a comment using the form in the right column of this page.
Every franchisee has a story. Each new franchise owner brings a host of skills and leadership abilities to his business that is different from the last.
Future Aire Serv® franchise owner Larry Colley is no exception. Colley joined the Army at the age of 17 and began a 21-year career in the 82nd Airborne Division and the U.S. Army Special Forces. With deployments spanning from Somalia to Iraq, Colley received many accolades over his military tenure, including the prestigious Bronze Star. However, Colley had always dreamed with his father of starting his own business.
A TIME article recently highlighted why veterans make excellent entrepreneurs—both are “hard working, dedicated, disciplined, multi-skilled, and self-sufficient… they are strong-willed individuals who put the mission before the man.”
Colley had the leadership skills it takes to own and manage a business: “I’ve spent my entire career leading, teaching, and mentoring,” he says. He also has experience in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry, but didn’t have the tools it took to strike out entirely on his own. After hearing about The Dwyer Group and Aire Serv®, he saw franchising as his solution.
After being approved to open an Aire Serv franchise, the greatest barrier to entry remaining for Colley was the initial franchise fee. Even with his 25% VetFran discount, a daunting figure of over $50,000 still remained. Colley pledged to pay down 20% of the fee, but stumbled across an innovative solution to raise the remaining $42,000.
Boost a Hero is a brand new program powered by startup company Sprigster that allows veterans to raise funds for franchising through crowdfunding, a means of soliciting micro-donations from large groups of people through social media. Through Boost a Hero, Colley will be able to tell his story to a mass audience and will connect with potential donors online.
Boost a Hero’s official fundraising website launched on Saturday, Feb. 11, and is gaining traction online and in the franchising and military communities. Donations start at $1, and result in increasing “perks” as a thank you from The Dwyer Group and Colley personally. For donors, the program allows them to support transitioning veterans in a tangible way. For franchisors, the program helps decrease barriers to entry and in turn, grows their franchise network.
Colley’s wife, Tracy, is also a veteran, and his son, Justin, is currently serving in Afghanistan with plans to return to Florida and join his parents’ new business. Larry Colley’s story as a business owner is just beginning, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him officially to The Dwyer Group family.
To find out more or to make a donation, please visit http://boostahero.com.
With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, many of us are desperately trying to balance work and home and trips to the grocery store. There is family to host, turkeys to roast, and a mile long to-do list to try and knock out. With that, it’s tempting to let the holidays pass in a blur. It’s easier to simply let the days fly, and do all of your thinking after the routine has finished.
It’s easier that way, but that’s not always the road to take. During the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s a challenge to actually take some time to remember what it is we are thankful for. It’s been a hard year for many people, and the temptation to simply let the day slide by might be overwhelming. But this Thanksgiving, try to remember exactly why you get up every day. Who are you fighting for? What is your mission? Who do you love and who loves you?
Because we’re all fighting for something, no matter who you are. You’re fighting for your happiness, you’re fighting for your family. Many of us might actually be fighting ourselves. There are obstacles, sure, but that’s what makes the ending so sweet. This Thanksgiving, take a good look around and stand firm against the tide. In the coming months you’re going to be pulled in a thousand directions, it’s inevitable. But don’t lose sight of what matters, and don’t forget all of the moments that have led you here. Take a good look around at what you have, instead of focusing on the things you don’t. Take a look around at the people whose lives you affect daily, just by living and breathing. That means something, something precious.
Here at the Dwyer Group, we have a Code of Values that’s engrained in our business and employees. The Code of Values emphasizes that we live our lives by showing respect, integrity, and customer focus, while still having fun in the process. The Code of Values is easily adaptable for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to reevaluate where we’re standing. When we walk down the street, do we glance up and smile at casual passerbys? Or is our head down, braced against the world? That matters. Living our lives with integrity? That matters even more. And remembering that life is supposed to be fun?
That might be the hardest lesson of all.
So this Thanksgiving, don’t let your days run you. Take a few minutes and remember what it is that you’re doing and the people who make everything worthwhile. Be thankful, and try to slow down.