When potential customers visit your website, can they quickly understand what you do best?
Google would be interested to know that as well. After all, it’s their business model to help online searchers find the best answers to their queries. If your website has the answer for what that user is looking for, then it should be easily accessible to both the search engine and the searcher.
If your business has…
- The best service in your industry
- Effective solutions to a problem
- Most experience
- A convenient location
- Most accessible hours
…then your website and online presence should communicate that fact.
We’re Talking About Promoting Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Every business is unique. Most businesses don’t promote their uniqueness.
If your website and online presence say you do the same thing that your competitors do then you’re not really giving potential customers a valid reason to choose you. You’re also giving Google an opportunity to choose a competitor over you in their search engine results.
By promoting your USP consistently throughout your website and online presence, you’ll reinforce to potential customers and search engines what you do best.
Your reward? Top of mind presence with prospects. Top of rankings for search engines when people search for services or products you provide.
How Do You Find Your USP?
Ask the experts who know the most about your business. Those experts are your current customers. They’ve already made the decision to use your services or product. Your job is to find out why they chose you over the competitors.
Ask them personally about why they like doing business with you.
Find common themes among different customers. Listen to their language as they describe your business.
Do they use the same lingo you use to promote your business? If not, then you need to start talking their language—those are the words customers like and will be searching for.
What you’ll discover in these conversations are the key differentiators that make up your USP. And that’s valuable information you can use on your website and online presence.
Maximize Your USP on Your Website
Every page on your website should tout your USP.
- Copy should say it
- Photos should reinforce it
- Testimonials should prove it
- Calls-to-Action should say how prospects can get it
Online presence should follow suit in your:
- Business listing copy
- Social media posts
When you hone the skill of communicating your USP to let people know you have the solutions they’re looking for—you’ll stand out from your completion.
When your website delivers real and authoritative value, customers will notice. So will the search engines.
Reach Out for Help
We understand that many businesses owners and managers are too busy to tackle marketing challenges like:
- Uncovering your USP
- Communicating your key differentiators
- Creating quality content that communicates your key differentiators
If that describes you, then consider delegating those vital tasks.
Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us take that off your plate today.
Most small business owners work at least 16 hours more per week than the national average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Now consider that 11 percent of U.S. employees work 50+ hours and that 33 percent work on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (according to a Family Living Today study on Work-Life Balance).
All those statistics combine to paint a depressing picture. Basically, most Americans don’t believe they have a work-life balance.
The impact of an imbalanced work-life situation can be profound according to that study by Family Living Today.
On the home front:
- 38% of the respondents reported a lack of focus and engagement at home
- 51% felt they missed important life events
- 40% felt their time with family and friends were ruined by work-related activities
In the workplace:
- 36% of businesses saw poor productivity
- 68% reported poor morale
- 41% experienced high turnover
- 41% of small business owners and employees reported feeling burnt out and fatigued
Health matters concerning those working over 55 hours per week:
- Increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- Higher risk of depression and anxiety
- Higher stress and cortisol levels
Apparently, all work and no play is not conducive to a healthy workforce or business.
Solutions to Implementing Work-Life Balance
Many businesses owners and employees report a fear of loss of control or high financial impact when implementing a work-life balance in their lives.
However, in this day and age, doing so is a surprisingly simple process with high rewards in employee and owner satisfaction and increased productivity.
Virtual Assistant Firms, like Business Solutions Unlimited (BSU), can provide invaluable services to small business owners looking to delegate distracting and time-consuming tasks. Our virtual world can help create that work-life balance. Cloud-based services make telecommuting a viable option for many.
Employers could consider offering employees the following:
- Flexible schedules
- Remote working
- Unlimited time off
- Email responses restricted to a schedule time period (8 to 5)
- Meeting free blocks of time during the day
Small business owners could gain valuable time in their lives if they delegate many of their tasks:
- Website maintenance and social media postings
- Developing promotional materials, direct mail pieces
- Data entry
- Digital filing
- Paying bills
- Booking flights, hotels, and rental vehicles
- Prepping for conferences
- Record keeping
- Scheduling appointments
- Even answering phones (which can be done remotely)
How BSU Improved its Work-Life Environment
Over the last couple of years, BSU has made an effort to implement a work-life balance. Life events triggered many of the changes:
- Birth of children and grandchildren
- Coaching children sport teams
- Travel to visit loved ones
BSU is fortunate to have a highly skilled staff, specialists within their own industries. Keeping this core group together was imperative to us. That led to the decision to allow flexible schedules and telecommuting as part of the work environment.
The results have been impressive. The staff never missed a beat in performing their duties, meeting deadlines and taking care of our client’s needs. They did all this while enjoying their family life on their terms.
We Want to Help Businesses Enjoy a Work-Life Balance
The move toward a BSU work-life balance inspired our journey toward being a Virtual Assistant Firm. It’s our goal to help small business owners, managers and entrepreneurs gain a work-life balance.
Small business owners struggling for a work-life balance should consider delegating to a Virtual Assistance Firm like Business Solutions Unlimited. We can help you gain that balance and start living the life you deserve.
Feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see how we can help your business.
On August 1, 2018, many websites took a tumble in their Google rankings.
On that date, the most popular search engine in the world announced a “broad core algorithm update.”
Who benefited from this update? According to Google, “pages that were previously under-rewarded” saw a benefit in their rankings.
For sites that dropped in rankings, Google offered some advice back in March when the search engine giant released a similar update:
“There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well, other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
“Great content” is a huge clue to what Google is searching for. Search engine optimization (SEO) experts suggested that Google is rewarding websites that follow their E.A.T guidelines: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.
In An E.A.T. Online World, Reputation and Credibility Might Matter More Than Ever
Google recently updated their Search Quality Rater Guidelines to include the phrase “reputation of the creator of the content” as a guiding metric for its human “Quality Raters” who comb the internet rating websites.
It follows that Google would start including those signals into its algorithm updates.
That brings us to Google’s preference for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E.A.T.) when assessing a site.
During this latest update, SEO experts noted that websites from health and finance were particularly impacted (both positively and negatively).
For example, medical organization sites with diet articles are now outranking general diet sites. It appears Google is rewarding content created by—what it deems—more credible sources.
Another Factor in Search Quality: Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)
Health and finance websites fall into what Google calls “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) category. Google considers these sites to have the potential to significantly affect someone’s life and wants to ensure that search engine result reflects that importance.
According to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, YMYL Categories include:
Shopping or financial transaction pages: web pages that allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
Financial information pages: web pages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
Medical information pages: web pages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
Legal information pages: web pages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: web pages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc.
Other: such as “hobby” topics, child adoption, car safety information, etc.
As you can see, many sites—and businesses—would fall under YMYL categories.
Even if you don’t fall under the above categories, it’s important to realize that Google is strategically looking to rank high-quality pages higher than low-quality ones.
What’s a Small Business To Do To Improve Their Website Ranking?
The Search Quality Rater Guidelines provide ways a small business website can master E.A.T. and give Google (and their quality raters) signals.
Below are suggestions for your Website and your reputation:
Provide Quality Content
Webpages on your site should present enough main content on a topic to satisfy a visitor’s needs and purpose.
Google says to create great content and pay attention to the reputation of the content creator.
If your website features authoritative content, be sure it comes from a credible source.
If you’re creating your own content, get known for providing expert advice in your field by working on your E.A.T. factors.
Be Thorough and Accessible
Your website should feature an About Us, Contact or Customer Service page.
Establish Your Credibility
Here are ways you can build your authority and reputation:
- Post a bio on your website and link to it from every article you write
- Be active—and responsible—on social media
- Work on putting out authoritative PR
- Be available to be interviewed and quoted by media outlets
- Continue to create quality content that makes a positive difference in your target market’s life
Reach Out for Help
We understand that many businesses owners and managers are too busy to create quality content. If that describes you, then consider delegating.
Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us get to work on your E.A.T. content today.
States now have the ability to apply sales tax to online purchases even if the online retailer doesn’t have a physical presence in the state.
The U.S. Supreme Court case of South Dakota v. Wayfair changes a previous court decision which established a physical retail presence was necessary to collect sales tax.
With this 5 to 4 decision in June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court allows states to level the playing field between online purchases and local retailers. The burden of collecting sales tax may now be shared across all retailers if a state decides to take advantage of the decision.
How Online Sales Tax Works Today
If an online retailer has a physical presence in the state, they must collect sales tax from purchases made by residents of that state.
Amazon has distribution centers in Florida and collects sales taxes from state resident purchases. Other online retailers, like Wayfair, do not have a physical state presence and are not obligated to collect sales tax.
Floridians, like residents in most states, were technically supposed to voluntarily pay sales tax for their online purchases. However, in many cases, consumers don’t.
Research from the Federal Government Accountability Office estimated that states lost between $8.5 billion and $13.4 billion in sales taxes in 2017.
Sales tax funds government functions ranging from infrastructure maintenance to public education.
Basically, state residents who made local retail purchases were carrying more of a tax burden to fund government services than residents who made online purchases even though those government services are shared by all residents.
What Changes with this Court Decision?
States now have the ability to collect sales tax from online purchases. However, it’s up to the states’ Legislature and Department of Revenue to implement the sales tax.
For local retailers with only a brick & mortar presence, they will continue to collect sales tax as before. Retailers with an online presence are currently under no obligation to collect sale tax from out of state purchases.
Once a state implements an online sales tax policy, all retailers will be obligated to collect sales tax.
Staying Current with Business Changes
The sales tax decision demonstrates that the environment that small businesses operate in can change quickly and dramatically. How do busy business owners and managers keep up? Delegate.
A virtual assistance firm like Business Solutions Unlimited could help you stay one step ahead of changes that could impact your business. Feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see how we can help your business.
In 2017, the grocery store chain, Winn-Dixie, lost a lawsuit alleging that their website violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Specifically, the grocer’s website was found not accessible to a blind plaintiff according to Title III of the ADA mandates.
Winn-Dixie was ordered to pony up $250,000 to conform their website to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0AA. Plus, the Plaintiff’s Attorneys were going to pursue legal fees from the grocer.
Website accessibility lawsuits against businesses surged in 2017. While these ADA Title III federal lawsuits occurred nationwide, New York and Florida businesses took the brunt of the legal action:
- New York with 335 lawsuits
- Florida with 325 lawsuits
Below, we’ll explore what ADA compliance means to a business’ website and suggested steps to remediate the site. However, keep in mind this article is not legal advice. It’s an effort to make you aware of a potential legal (and financial) issue that’s impacting businesses across the county.
What is ADA Compliance and How Does it Impact Your Website?
Title III of the ADA legally directs all businesses open to the public to remove access barriers that would hinder a disabled person from enjoying the business’ goods and services.
You’ll find the result of ADA compliance in the disabled parking spots, service counter heights, and ramps for wheelchair-bound individuals.
In recent years, ADA compliance attention has migrated from a business’ physical presence to their digital presence.
Courts have ruled that any website offering goods and services be considered a place of public accommodation. Regardless if the business has a physical presence or not.
How do courts determine if a website is accessible? They’ve used a set of guidelines that determine if a website is ADA compliant: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
What is WCAG?
It’s globally recognized guidelines compiled by the World Wide Web Consortium that have set the technical standards for website accessibility.
Accessibility guidelines are divided into four main principals:
Criteria for accessibility is provided based on:
Level A: Criteria affecting the largest number of potential users—basically the minimum level of conformance.
Level AA: Satisfying Level A criteria plus deals with the largest and most common barriers for disabled users.
Level AAA: The highest and most complex challenges of website accessibility.
Courts have focused on Level AA for their rulings.
Accessibility guidelines for websites concern at a minimum:
Page structure: Making sure content uses a semantic structure to help user’s and devices understand page hierarchy
Navigation: Provide means to easily navigate the site and web pages using a keyboard and skip navigation.
- Allowing assistive technologies to read the page, for example, ability to scale text 200%.
- Make sure text clearly communicates instructions in a way that the disabled can understand
- Text instructions in forms should be easily understood
Links: Make sure links to make sense when read out of context. For example, instead of “read more” or “click here” be specific like “read more about ADA compliance here” or “Click here to download this guide.”
Images: Make sure that each image on your page uses alternative (alt) text to accurately describe it. If you use images with text, be sure the alt text communicates the text.
Videos and Audio: Provide captioning and transcripts for videos appearing on your site.
More About the Lawsuits
As mentioned above, 2017 saw a surge of lawsuits regarding website accessibility. While Winn-Dixie had a large financial impact, small businesses were impacted as well.
In California, Whisper Lounge Restaurant was ordered to make its website comply with WCAG 2.0 AA. Also, the court ordered the restaurant to pay $4,000 in statutory damages.
For most small businesses, the legal fees defending a lawsuit and paying damages could be costly.
In 2018, the ADA Education and Reform Act was passed in the US House of Representatives that could offer some relief from frivolous lawsuits—but businesses should still be wary.
Demand letters from law firms can still be sent to businesses found in violation of ADA compliance. If the business does not respond within 60 days that they are correcting the problem, a lawsuit can be filed.
It might be prudent for businesses to be proactive and start the process of making their website ADA compliant. That way, if they do receive a letter, they can show their progress to remediate the issue and, hopefully, negate any potential legal action down the road.
Do You Need a New Site or Can You Modify Your Current One to make it ADA Compliant?
The majority of sites developed with current technologies shouldn’t have many challenges in updating their site. However, in some cases, it will take a team of web developers and designers plus content creators to ensure your site meets the Level AA guidelines.
If you have an older site, a new site might be easier to make compliant.
An accessibility audit might be necessary to determine your specific website’s needs.
Reach Out for Help with a Free Consultation
We understand that businesses are busy and researching the details of ADA website compliance and coming up with a strategy can be daunting.
Give us a call at Business Solutions Unlimited, (904) 429-4588, to discuss options and see how we can help you today.