Basic SEO: Review Your Web Pages’ Titles

Welcome to our first official installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index) and then save this post for tomorrow.

Once you’ve taken care of that quick task, you’re ready to move forward!

META TITLES

The web page title is part of a collection of “meta tags” that communicate important information about the page to web browsers as well as your visitors. 

The “meta title” is the title of each of your web pages that gets displayed when your page is listed in a search engine’s results.  For example . . .

The title is one factor that determines whether your web page gets displayed in someone’s search results, so you want to give all of your pages their best chance at seeing the light of day.

BEST PRACTICES ACCORDING TO GOOGLE

You may already have a title on each of your web pages.  If so, that’s a great start.  Then, you need only review them to be sure they’re optimal.  So whether you’re drafting your titles from scratch or reviewing existing ones, you’ll want to review Google’s “Best Practices” for meta titles:

  • Accurately describe the page’s content.
  • Create a unique title for each page.
  • Be brief but descriptive.
  • Use the meta description tag (see below).
An Example of the Meta Title Tag in Action in Your HTML:
 
<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

ONLY 10 MINUTES A DAY

You might be questioning this approach at this point, thinking, I already spent 10 minutes just reading this article!  If so, you’re done with your 10-minute branding exercise for the day!  Come back tomorrow prepared to get started on executing the task.  Once you reach 10 minutes, save your work and come back the next day!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

How to Build Your Brand 10 Minutes at a Time

Photo Credit: jcomp – http://www.freepik.com

You start small.

Us humans generally hate new initiatives.  They’re intimidating and elusive, and we almost never know where or how to begin.  However, the trick — I’ve learned — does not lie in picking the perfect point of entry . . . or executing the perfect strategy.  The trick is simply to begin.  And an excellent way to convince yourself that it’s okay to begin is to plan your ending.  Set a timer if you must.  Promise to dedicate no more than 10 minutes to the task you’ve been procrastinating.  But.  Here’s the important part.  Do it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  You will be amazed at the progress that can be made . . . 10 minutes at a time.

So, engaging our audience with ideas and how-tos for 10-minute chunks of branding progress is going to be the new approach for us at Brand Building for Small Business. Frankly, I was running out of time to contribute to this blog.  I love what we’ve created thus far and am extremely thankful for our followers who take the time out of their lives to read our posts and come back week after week.  Still, I was struggling to find the hours needed to put together my thoughts and share step-by-step how tos.  Like most people, my life is pretty full.  I own a small business, I’m raising two teenagers, I’m trying to maintain a household . . . and my sanity.  I’m only somewhat successful.  😊 As a result, I considered approaching our blog with this 10-minute strategy, which I’ve already effectively used to tackle a number of other areas of my life (says the women with a freshly caulked tub).  Knowing my time deficit is not an uncommon challenge, I had a lightbulb moment.  What if my partner and I each focus on dedicating only 10 minutes a day to this blog, writing about all the ways you can build your brand in only 10 minutes a day. . . .  There’s a lovely little symmetry there that spoke to us, and I hope the approach speaks to you.  Stay tuned. . . .

How to Create a Branded Happy Birthday Card for Your Business in Microsoft Word

A hand-written note in a branded birthday card goes a long way for showing your employees and your clients that your business is professional and that you care.

Thankfully, the process is easy.  I’m going to take you through the steps of making a folded 5×7” branded birthday card in Microsoft Word.

1. Open Microsoft Word and create a New Blank Document.  Change the margins of the page by selecting the Layout tab (at the top), clicking the Margins button, selecting Custom Margins, and changing the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right margins to .25 inches.

2. Click the Insert tab (at the top), click Text Box within the Text section, and select Simple Text Box.  Click the outline of the rectangle, hover over the center handle of the bottom line, and click and drag downward to increase the size just a bit. Then, right click the rectangle, choose More Layout Options…, click the Size tab, and input a Height of 10”. Next, select Absolute within the Width section and input 7”; click the Position tab and uncheck “Move object with text” from the Options section.  Right click the rectangle and select Format Shape.  Format the Fill as No Fill and the Line as a Solid Line, Black, 1pt in Width, and Dashed. 

3. Under the Format Shape heading, click Text Options, and select the icon to the furthest right that says Layout & Properties on mouseover. Change the Vertical Alignment to Bottom and input 0” for the Top, Bottom, Right, and Left margins. Click the content within the rectangle, which will select everything, and press delete.  Then repeat step 2 except select Draw Text Box instead of Simple Text Box and make the size of this text box 6.9” in height by 4.9” in width.  Within the Position tab, select Alignment within the Horizontal section and Centered from the drop down to its immediate right; change the Absolute position within the Vertical section to 5.5”.  Format the Fill as No Fill and the Line as No Line.

4. Set the alignment to centered by pressing Ctrl + E; then, type “Happy Birthday”.  Press the enter key to advance a couple lines spaces and insert your logo (Insert tab >  Pictures > This Device > browse to the image file for your logo > Insert).

Now you’re obviously going to want to do some formatting.  I added some line spaces, decreased the size of our logo to 1” in height, and changed the font of “Thank You” to Candellion in 80 pt.

5. Then, save your file, print on card stock, and cut!

Good luck! 

If you have any questions or comments on this topic, we’d love to hear from you.  Scroll down to the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Personal Branding and the “Newspaper Test”

Photo Credit: Wikipiedia

At this point, most everyone has heard or seen the unfortunate occurrence between Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars, so I’m not going to bother summarizing.  (If you’re interested, here’s a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Smith–Chris_Rock_slapping_incident)

You’ve most likely already heard more opinions than desired, too, so I’m going to try to keep my personal two cents out of the conversation (though I apologize in advance if I’m not wholly successful on that front).  I’d like to take a quick look at the situation from a personal branding perspective.

When your name and face are a brand, everything is harder.  There’s no time for meetings or extended deliberation, because every public word you say and action you take contributes to the ever-changing mold shaping your brand.

Prior to the Oscars, Will Smith had done a pretty remarkable job.  He started his career chanting, “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” as the Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff.  I smile feeling a little silly even typing these collections of words, though as a child of the 80s and a teenager of the 90s, all these phrases rolled right off my tongue. 

Will Smith managed to use this start in his career as a springboard to eventually become a distinguished musician and actor with a slew of awards and accolades.  For people of my age, we grew up with the Fresh Prince and had the pleasure of watching as he evolved into something extraordinary.  Talented.  Accomplished.  Respected.  Honorable.  Now my children (12 and 14) are also fans . . . thirty-ish years since I was their age and getting jiggy with it.  Now, I’m feeling old as I type.

Anyway, I was at an extended family dinner when someone had caught the scene live.  He recounted the events for everyone, and the general consensus among our group was “good for him” (meaning Will Smith).  Having only a quick summation of the events and my faith in a strong personal brand spanning most of my life, I was inclined to believe Will Smith was in the right, too.  However, my 12-year-old son, who sometimes struggles with his own big emotions, was in the room, and the support just felt wrong.  I said (thinking mostly of him but in response to all the vocal supporters): you just never know in those situations . . . when your emotions are pounding inside of you and urging you to act . . . whether those actions will ultimately be the “right” reaction.  My son wasn’t actively involved in the discussion, so I question what (if any) of the conversation sunk in, but I do know I heard Will Smith cursing at Chris Rock echo from his phone numerous times in the days that would follow.

I digress. 

Thinking before acting means inaction in the moment, and I understand that’s dangerous territory with possible repercussions as serious as reacting incorrectly or inappropriately.  With my son, I’m going to stick with inaction being the better bet.  For an adult whose every action (or lack thereof) is reflecting a brand, my suggestion would be this:  take 30 seconds and evaluate the situation using the “newspaper test.”

Famous billionaire Warren Buffett, whose personal brand is near irreproachable, encourages his hundreds of thousands of employees to think of two measures before acting:  first — legality; then – transparency.  If illegal, stop there.  If legal but still questionable, think about the situation being described by an intelligent though unfriendly reporter in the newspaper the next day and being read by family, friends, and neighbors.  If you’re comfortable and confident with that visualization, you’re probably ok.

Right off the bat, Will’s intended actions would fail the newspaper test since assault is illegal.  His was a no-brainer when using that measure.  If you personally encounter a situation and are still unsure after using this practice, Buffett says, “it’s out.” 

Chris Rock is obviously also a very public figure with a personal brand of his own.  Watching the incident playback, he says very little after being slapped and appears almost contemplative after Smith screams at him for the second time.  He mutters quietly while laughing, seemingly having thought of a funny comeback, but he makes the decision to not engage and moves forward.  DAYS after the occurrence, he tells his stand-up audience: “I’m still processing” and promises to react publicly at some point in the future.  Chris Rock has tread very carefully.  While his original comment was extremely insensitive, his reaction (a conscientious, temporary inaction) seems to have benefitted his brand.

In closing, I would suggest we all deserve the luxury of a moment. When confronting a challenging situation, feel your feelings and then picture yourself reading the newspaper the next day. Happy branding.  😊

Always Have an F-You Business

My family and I took a little vacation to Florida last week, and we had the pleasure of free wifi (at least for Apple TV) on our flight.  I sampled The Morning Show at 35,000 feet and fell in love with it.  In case you’re unfamiliar, the show stars Jennifer Anniston and Steve Carrell as lead anchors of a national morning show.  Carrell’s character is fired in the first minutes of the show as a result of workplace sexual misconduct accusations, and the plot focuses on the aftermath of the scandal.  Needless to say, we now have an Apple TV subscription at home; I just finished the show’s first season.

One thing that struck me while watching was everyone’s desperation to keep their jobs.  Morals are heavily compromised, families are ruined, and stress over the looming changes are all consuming.  I thought, ‘Well, I guess if your job is that good, the idea of losing it could be unthinkable.’  Then I started to think back to the days when I had a traditional job.  At numerous points, the future of the company was unclear.  I watched a number of co-workers be asked to pack their bags.  Hell, I even needed to be a part of one or two such meetings in which the news was delivered.  The idea of getting “let go” is extremely stressful.  Sure, you can find a new job, but how quickly can you do so?  Which will come first . . . a new job or the depletion of your savings?  What happens when there’s not enough money to pay the mortgage?  You don’t have to be a nationally televised anchor woman to get a little desperate at the prospect of being forced into that situation.  I think most people in their careers have done things that go against their principles in some way and have felt forced to shrug it off because “it’s my job.”

JL Collins is the author of a very famous book in financial circles called The Simple Path to Wealth.  In it, he continually stresses the importance of “F-You Money,” a concept he first heard described in James Clavell’s Noble House.  In the original reference, the heroine of the story wants enough money ($10 million to be exact) to be able to live the entirety of her life however she chooses.  Collins has a somewhat different take.  Specifically, he says: 

For me, the pursuit of financial independence has never been about retirement.  I love working and I’ve enjoyed my career.  It’s been about having options.  It’s about being able to say “no.” It’s about having F-You Money and the freedom it provides.

I love this concept, and I’m not a saver by nature.  When my husband and I were first starting out in our early twenties, we decided we would each begin saving $50 per paycheck (which amounted to $200 total per month).  We fought so much that period was one of the lowest points of our marriage.  But we got the hang of it eventually.  And now, I think taking Collins’ concept a step further is even better.  Have an F-You Business.  If you work a traditional job, start a business on the side.  If you have a successful business, start another one on the side.  While investments can provide an income stream, a successful business provides a better one. 

I know our articles here are typically about Building Your Brand, which means most of our readers are already entrepreneurs by nature and probably fully embrace this concept.  Still, maybe this post is just a reminder that it’s time to start thinking about your next venture. . . .