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.

Weeeeeeeeeeee’re Back . . .!

Prefatory Note:

When Carole first suggested the idea of moving forward with a somewhat altered approach to our blog  (i.e., 10-Minute Branding) I was intrigued and sensed some real value that would speak to the current needs of people trying to build a successful small business and have some semblance of a work/life balance.  While I am currently at a different stage than her (having – for instance – two adult children out on their own rather than two teenagers at home), the freshness of her plan was appealing and seemed in keeping with our DIY mentality.  BUT . . . me being me, I had to build a justification for myself.  Below is where I landed.

Perform an Internet search for the statement “attention span of millennials and Generation Z’ers,” and you will find a variety of references to an 8-to-12 second time frame.

Is this finding a sad commentary on the younger crowd who are soon destined to rule the world, or is this fact a symptom of necessary adaptation to survive and ultimately thrive within an increasingly complicated and complex society?

Personally, I’ve come to believe the latter.  As the demands on our time and attention have grown, the ability to process information quickly and make meaningful use of small blocks of time becomes essential.   Furthermore, this realization has led us to consider the ways in which we can best be of service to small business owners who have among the greatest demands on their time and resources and who must achieve the highest level of efficiency to be successful in today’s fast-paced business environment.

10-Minute Branding

We think this concept of 10-minute branding can indeed be an important key to Get Sh – Done (and perhaps still create some extra time for family).  So . . .

After a two-month pause in new additions to our blog, we have decided to resume but with a shift in focus for the immediate future.

Over the past three years, we have covered many of the basic principles and tools of branding for small businesses.  Equipped with this library of resources, we decided we could be of greatest use to you – our audience – (while still preserving our chosen DIY  focus) by offering weekly tips on branding activities that can be accomplished in just 10 minutes.  (While some activities might require spilling over into multiple 10-minute sessions, our goal is to avoid intruding upon your already-busy schedule while still helping you realize your overarching goal of building a better, stronger brand identity.

Can You Really Accomplish Anything Meaningful in Just 10 Minutes?

Guess we’ll see, but . . .

Some branding activities can indeed seemingly be done in 10 minutes.  For instance, you can write a thank you note to a customer that instills in them a strong sense of service while giving you a chance to tout your business in a desired way.  Furthermore, 10 minutes a day for each day of a six-day work week yields an hour of potential productivity.  If you used those 10 minutes to collect three prospects’ contact info, you’d have a dozen and a half by the end of the week to approach the following week one by one with a branded message.  I fully suspect that converting some of those prospects into loyal customers would justify the effort and validate the process.

Furthermore, devoting one hour per week in 10-minute blocks yields more than 50 hours of annual productivity devoted specifically to building and refining your brand.  Needless to say, a lot can be accomplished in a work week+ period.

That said, you will have to be disciplined in doing your 10 minutes per day.  If you do, we believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Our Part

For our part, we will provide tips that we believe can be accomplished in one or more ten-minute blocks.   We figure one way to make this happen is to try to devote as close to 10 minutes as possible to our creation of the tip, which should help ensure that the activity does not get overly complicated.

This approach is very much an experiment on our part.   As a result, we really would appreciate your feedback by leaving a comment in the form below or by sending a private email to brandbuildingforsmallbusiness@gmail.com.

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. . . .

We’re Hitting the PAUSE Button!

We are writing to let you know that we will be putting Brand Building for Small Business on Hiatus while we spend time developing a new project.

A short pause while we explore a new project!

We published our first article (“Build vs. Buy”) on August 28, 2019 . . . and have added 131 pieces over the past three years.   We have appreciated the opportunity to interact with a growing audience, and we sincerely hope that both new and existing subscribers will continue to explore and use the content we have already made available. 

When we defined our brand, we determined that our focus would be providing a useful tool to smaller businesses – the kind of largely under-appreciated entrepreneurs who form such a large portion of the American business landscape.    Having worked many years for a company that targeted this same audience (a company that was – in fact – a small, underdog start-up at the time I was hired), Carole and I felt we brought some meaningful knowledge and expertise to the table.  Hopefully (three years later), you agree.  In establishing our brand, we also decided that we wanted to have a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) focus – believing that many small business owners would of necessity be taking on the challenges of building their own brands.  Consequently, we have tried to offer a blend of the conceptual framework needed to build a successful brand as well as practical tips and instruction. 

We promise to keep checking the site on an ongoing basis and will respond to any comments or special requests for new specific topics.  You can use the Comment boxes below each article to get a message to us, or you are welcome to send us a private e-mail at brandbuildingforsmallbusiness@gmail.com.  We promise to consider your input carefully.

While we are developing our new brainchild, you can expect us to occasionally post a new Quick Tip or two and will keep you posted about our activity.  Meanwhile, good luck with your branding efforts . . . and keep checking out our content at www.brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.

See you later . . . !!

Side-by-Side Comparisons Can Be Helpful

Branding is not a once-and-done activity.  Rather, branding is a process that is constantly enhanced, refined, monitored, and adjusted.   Previously, we provided an article entitled:  Perform an Annual 5-Step Brand Wellness Checkup.   We suggested making this activity a New Year’s Resolution . . . and we still believe such ongoing monitoring is useful.  That said, we are now suggesting a second fairly simple activity that can help keep you on-track.

Side-by-side comparisons can be very useful in identifying strengths and weaknesses.

Specifically, we have found periodic side-by-side comparisons to your nearest/greatest competitor to be very useful in identifying your strengths for future branding efforts and self-promotion while simultaneously enabling you to spot weaknesses for necessary remedial attention.

For instance, we suggest that you, several members of your staff, and perhaps even a few key influencers from your local audience complete a simple 14-point checklist.

Obviously, honesty and objectivity are essential in conducting a meaningful exercise.  Once done, count up the number of “x’s” in the Your column compared to those in the Competitor column to see how well you fared.  Frankly, a properly conducted exercise should go a long way in telling you the reason you landed in the #1 vs. the #2 position.

Then, use the categories in which you excelled to build your list of strengths and plan to feature those qualities in future promotional efforts.  Similarly, use the categories in which your competition defeated you to identify items requiring attention and develop strategies aimed at improvement.

We think you will find this Branding Self-Check exercise helpful in keeping your efforts on target.

However, we do want to add a cautionary note.  After completing such an exercise, you might be tempted to build advertising and promotional material that does a direct comparison between you and your named competition.  We strongly advise AGAINST giving into the temptation.  (As Christopher Columbus was once warned before sailing to the edge of the map – Here be dragons!!)  The potential risks of this ad strategy far outweigh the potential rewards.  In addition to encountering the possibility of being sued, numerous laws exist that govern the handling of such comparisons.   Furthermore, these ads can easily create an unfavorable impression of the party offering the advice unless handled properly.   Doing such a task well (i.e., getting your point across without appearing to complain or protesteth too much) is extremely tricky and requires expert market research as part of the process.  That said, perhaps we will dedicate a future article to this very subject.  Until then, we hope you find this current suggested activity to be useful.  If so, use the comment section below to let us know.

Free Template:  Want to access a copy of our checklist template to customize to your needs?  Click this link.

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.

May 1 – 7:  Celebrate National Small Business Week

A few weeks ago, we told you about National Small Business Week in 2022.  (See Today’s Tip: Bridge Building and National Small Business Week 2022 – Brand Building for Small Business.)  Today, we’re just reminding you that the time is NOW!

The statistics supporting the importance of small businesses are always compelling.  For instance, smallbizgenius.net (using a variety of recognized sources) notes:

  • There are 32.5 million small businesses in the US.
  • 48.9% of small businesses survive five years or more.
  • 77% of small business owners say they feel optimistic about the future of their companies.
  • 50% of all small businesses are operated from home.
  • 82% of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems.
  • Small businesses account for 44% of US economic activity.

See 40+ Small Business Statistics: The Ultimate 2022 List (smallbizgenius.net) for more.

With small businesses forming such an integral part of the economy in the United States, we should all take time to celebrate the importance of our local business community.  

What Local Business Owners Can Still Do Now

While National Small Business Week will be underway shortly, a small business owner still has a number of ways to participate.

  • Write a press release about the celebration and your business, announcing upcoming events, sales, celebrations, etc. (See our article about writing our own in 2020.)
  • Send customers and staff a thank you note, letting them know that you appreciate their importance to your success and reminding them that their support also helps keep the national economy strong.  (Check out our “How To” piece on creating your own thank you cards.)
  • Use your social media to call attention to National Small Business Week and share some of the many resources available.
  • Participate in and support other National Small Business activities in your region.  To help you identify relevant events, go to the SBA web site, which provides an easy-to-use tool.  All you need to do is provide a zip code, and you will get a list of functions in an area up to a 200 mile radius. [See National Small Business Week (sba.gov).]  You just may find a quick and easy way to support this cause. 
  • And . . . while you are at this site, check out all of the many very useful tools the Small Business Administration (SBA) makes available, including a virtual summit May 2 – 5.

With the week’s observance about to get underway for 2022, you have no time to waste.  However, you can also consider any time spent now a great long-term investment in your early planning for National Small Business Week 2023!