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SEO Advice for Start Up Entrepreneurs

There is no silver bullet when it comes to SEO and I have a feeling that, with the Facebook’s new Graph Search, the SEO world is about to be flipped upside down. My office is located at thinkspace in the coworking section which gives me the opportunity to speak with many different start up entrepreneurs. I find joy when I see their eyes light up after talking to me about SEO strategy. But, the ideas that they have are always, “I can do that! I don’t need to hire someone!” It’s true, there is no secret to SEO and there is no magic wand.

If you ask me, the secret to success is the development of the SEO strategy early in the development of your start up. Odds are that your main competitors are already funded and have processes already identified  The fact is simple, the larger the company, the harder it is to change. The online marketing world is changing rapidly. If you build a strong SEO foundation, you will prosper for years to come.

Find an SEO Adviser

seo guruI’d like to fill this spot for you. But if not me, find someone else who’s qualified. Buy this person lunch once every month and present your marketing plan, your content plan, and your website plan to them. Ask for their input and advice. Just the other day I made a recommendation to a start up game company on how to rework his web directory. The simple task of allowing some of the user-generated content to display in a directory-like architecture changed his development plan. The bad part…. his website was already developed and he was getting ready to launch. This should have been identified in the early planning stages. The recommendation took me all of one minute to identify and recommend. My advice for a start up entrepreneur? Find an SEO Adviser and buy them lunch once a month or once a quarter. We SEO guys like to eat too!

Find an SEO Adviser That Fits Your Business Model

Want to compete with Expedia? Find an SEO adviser that knows the travel business. What to compete with Microsoft? Find an SEO adviser with experience in enterprise software. Every vertical has its unique INs and OUTs. Find an adviser that fits your business model.

Know When To Hire An SEO Consultant

Not all SEO campaigns require monthly fees. In fact, most of the SEO work that a start up needs can be executed in projects. Educate yourself so you know how to identify what SEO projects you need. A respectable SEO guy will run you $50 – $75 per hour, a killer SEO guy will run you $75 – $200 per hour. The difference is in the research, planning, and type of work executed. One SEO guy might spend 5 hours doing keyword research. But another SEO guy may include a keyword trend analysis, a comparison of keyword search volume between countries, an competitor analysis per keyword, and they might deliver it in a branded PDF versus a Word document.

Here are some SEO projects and suggested hours that you may need to contract for in the early stages.

Keyword Research: Budget 5 – 15 hours for a keyword research report and documentation.  Make sure the deliverable has keywords segmented into groups. I always ask for search volume in the USA in both exact and broad match. Also, I ask to list the cost per click of each keyword so I can identify the suggested value of the keyword. Be sure to include a basic aggressiveness factor, this will show you what keywords are easy to obtain, and what keywords are hard to obtain.

Website sitemap creation: Depending on the size of your website, budget another 5 – 10 hours for this. It’s hard to rank for a keyword if you do not have the proper web page on your site to target it. Some keywords can be targeted on your service pages, your location pages, or your blog post pages. Others may need more advanced thought to create content for. Make sure you have a plan to target the keywords that you deem valuable.

In future posts, I’ll make additional recommendations for SEO projects for start-up entrepreneurs. Also, in the near future, you will be able to contact me through thinkspaces’s office hours program to seek free advice regarding SEO strategy….no lunch bribe needed for that.

 

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thinkspace: An Innovation Hub for Economic Growth in Washington

thinkspace redmond waThe 41th Annual Economic Forecast report for 2013 was released in the Puget Sound Business Journal in the January 11-17th issue. In this report Cynthia Flash authored an article, “Local tech sector key to sustaining regional economic growth.” Cynthia writes, ” It’s no secret that Washington’s information technology industry is a major part of the state’s economy. Microsoft and Amazon.com are among the world’s largest and most well-known tech companies.”

Tech Sector Supports the Washington State Economy:

– Tech-related employment since 1990 more than doubled from 94,500 to 203,000.
– Tech-related jobs accounted for 55 percent of the state’s employment compensation growth and 33 percent of the state’s personal income growth since 1990.
– The tech sector contributed $2.9 billion in state Business & Occupation tax revenues in 2011, up 318 percent since 1990.

While these numbers are dominated by our local tech powerhouses, I believe that the key to sustaining growth in the local tech sector is anchored by the start-up markets. Fostering innovation within the tech sector is a critical factor in the future of our local economy. This is where thinkspace enters the conversation.

My name is Gabriel Gervelis and I own a start-up marketing agency located in thinkspace’s coworking office. Lead by local entrepreneur Peter Chee, thinkspace has developed a culture that supports start-ups,  fosters innovation, and provides all of the support and services we entrepreneurs need to succeed.

thinkspace is home to both giants and start-ups

You never know who you’re going to meet at thinkspace. As a start-up entrepreneur, it’s amazing to run into the executive team of Donuts Inc. who are recipients of $100 million in venture capital funding. And having the opportunity to swap ideas back and forth on your lunch break with the development team that created Pirq is equally priceless.

Local Tech Entrepreneurs, at thinkspace, gearing up for greatness!

Brand Buddee: Lead by a thinkspace entrepreneur, Brand Buddee is a web platform that allows local businesses to promote offers and put their social following to work sharing content through their social networks. By offering incentives to the public, local crowds flock to Brand Buddee to earn rewards by sharing special offers through their social profiles.

Anomo: Watch out Facebook, here comes Anomo! Next time you’re in need of a wordpress developer for that last minute change, simply check your Anomo network to see if there are any within in a few blocks from you. This is a true game changer and a perfect way to capitalize on the mobile app boom.

EDUonGo: Fresh out of beta, EDUonGo is taking the online education market by storm. This unique technology platform allows professors (and other content providers) to upload their course content and then produce income by sharing their expertise.  What would you do if you could launch your own university in a matter of minutes, then start collecting ecommerce revenue? With over 30 universities already on board, EDUonGo is another local tech company destined for greatness.

Marketing and Advertising at Your Fingertips:

A major part of of Washington’s economic future depends on innovation within the tech sector. This isn’t possible unless you, the people, get to know about the great ideas that we’re launching. On any given day, one can visit the coworking space and find young entrepreneurs running around, inventing new ways of making their visions come to life. What better way to make this possible than to grow in a culture of marketing and adverting professionals? Surrounding your company with partners that want you to succeed is a key factor to a start-up’s growth.

Arc Media Studios: CEO Ali Mohsenian operates his video production agency out of the coworking office at thinkspace. With years of video development experience, Ali and his team (along with their brand new RED camera) provide the insight needed to ensure that your business plan has the proper budget for branding and video development.

Heinz MarketingWhen it comes to sales and marketing, it’s no secret that Matt Heinz is one of the Northwest’s local leaders. Matt and his team operating out of the thinkspace building are always open to giving helpful advice on your go-to-market strategy, sales strategy, and overall marketing plan. Matt is an extremely valuable resource for any tech start up.

Gervelis Search Marketing: This is where I enter the picture! I’m an SEO Guru, Social Media Master, & Content Marketing professional at your service. The most effective SEO strategy is one that’s identified at the beginning stages of a start-up’s development. Often times, a single recommendation we make on the subject of marketing can change the development plan of an entire company. If you’re a start-up, or thinking of realizing your business dreams,  then surrounding yourself with this type of entrepreneurial culture is critical to your success!

Development Resources at Your Fingertips

Web development, software development,  & mobile development are key factors to the success of any young technology company. thinkspace is home to several businesses that will help you safely navigate these waters.

Vina Source: You can often find CEO Benjamin Liu hanging out in the coworking space here in Redmond. Ben controls an overseas a development team that produces grade-A mobile products. With clients like Pirq & AllRecipes.com, Ben can help you create a mobile development strategy for your start up.

Blue Label Labs:  Blue Label is a young and highly innovative team of mobile developers headed up by Jordan Gurrieri. You can find Jordan in and out of the coworking space, too. Jordan, like the rest of us, suffers from ‘entrepreneurial A.D.D.’, but Jordan’s side projects result in published books and websites that generate tens of thousands of monthly online visitors. He’s definitely not a bad guy to sit next to when you’re creating your start-ups strategy for world domination!

What Else Could You Need…Besides Funding?

Yes, the ground floor of thinkspace (a large, well furnished facility with extra monitors, meeting areas, and desks) is truly an innovation hub for start-ups but let’s not forget about the 300 companies that they service. This broad mix of service professionals are here to help and advise you as well.

thinkspace services: Peter Chee has created a service center complete with everything that a start-up needs including a physical mailing address, phone answering services, registered agent services, and other offerings to help the start-up community truly succeed.

Here are some additional members of the thinkspace community you may want to know:

Certified Public Accountant:  Jon Jenkins has a team of five professionals ready to help you answer your toughest accounting questions.

Attorney: Nathan Neiman of the Neiman Law team is a seasoned lawyer helping entrepreneurs establish themselves.

What About Funding & VC’s?

You will find several VC’s Lurking the hallways of thinkspace who are willing to listen to your plan and offer helpful advice.

Angel Investors: Charlie Kindle is a private investor and a member of the ‘Alliance of Angels’ funding organization who keeps office hours here at thinkspace.

Washington’s Economic Future is at thinkspace

There can be no argument, technology will continue to a play a major part in the  local, national, & global economic environments. Communities like thinkspace are playing an important part that will decide what role Washington will play in this space. We are a community of like-minded people going above and beyond to help each other navigate the new and uncharted waters of the technology front.

$2.9 billion in state Business & Occupation tax revenues in 2011, up 318 percent since 1990. Looking ahead into 2015, let’s work together to add a few billion to these numbers!

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The 10 Benefits To Launching Before You’re Ready

A guest-post from Anne Samoilov

Today’s post comes to Thinkspace courtesy of Anne Samoilov and is republished by permission.  Anne has been helping solopreneurs become more productive, create and launch their life’s work. She teaches about topics including online launching, product launch, small business growth, productivity, self-management, motivation, business planning + goal setting. Anne’s background also includes 10 years experience as producer for animation, visual effects, and game development. We’re excited to have Anne here on the Thinkspace blog – kicking off a series of brown bag workshops.

website-slider-anne-samoilov

So – last week I started this unofficial launch smackdown series by talking about some of the mistakes to lead to launch failure or failure to launch! If you haven’t read that post – go there now!

Today I’m answering the key question I get from people who don’t believe they are “ready” to launch.

What are the benefits to launching before you are ready, established or a guru/leader in your industry? (Don’t get me started on that word Guru…) Basically – should I wait if I don’t have x (subscribers, traffic, etc)?

Before I dive in – let’s first talk about who you are and give you a little perspective on why knowing these benefits are so important to understand.

People who ask me questions about being ready to launch usually fit into one of three categories – it’s useful to figure out roughly your category for one good reason — you’ll realize you aren’t the only one in your category! No one wants to feel like the odd person out – embrace your category or mix of categories, but don’t let it hold you back.

1. Surveyer:

You’re curious to know how you can possibly launch this thing you’ve created – You’re just not sure how to start, but you’re resourceful and ready to figure it out. You might not have a ton of experience in your topic, but you sit on the sidelines, watch others launching, and know there’s something there …you just need a little “more” proof before doing anything.

Main defining characteristic: Always asking questions, getting feedback, difficulty settling on a direction without outside help.

2. Creator:

You’ve been creating a ton of content and people like it. You don’t need convincing that you need to launch – you need proof that it can work even if you are just starting out. Plus – you want a full proof plan to take your ideas to market. Making the leap from all free all the time to paid offerings is a big jump for you.

Main defining characteristic: Creator with a conscious…you know it’s not getting you anywhere.

3. Jaded Tester:

You’ve been through a launch before – and you need major convincing to do it again. You set goals, are convinced you did everything right, but nothing worked at all like you thought it would.

You have tons of resistance to launching because you didn’t get the results you wanted when you did it the first time.

But – you are smart–can figure almost everything out. That’s why this hurts even more – this is the one thing you haven’t deciphered yet.

You want to find the lessons, but you’re a little miffed from the last time you stuck your neck out to the world.

Main defining characteristic: Lost confidence, stubborn, and you need to renew your belief that you CAN launch successfully.

No matter where you are within these categories…you can launch. You should launch. And here’s why.

Here are the 10 benefits to launching a new product, program or service before you say you’re ready:

1. You grow your list.

Whether you plan to do a video series, blog posts, interviews, guest posts, maybe a free webinar, all of it will be focused on one thing – getting more eyes on you and your business. A lovely “side effect” and your primary focus for that first launch should be building your list.

Don’t believe it?

Catherine Just grew her list to the first 1,000 with her first launch. She’s done a few other launches since then too!
Alicia Cowan also grew her list from several hundred to well over 1000 during her first launch and continues to build her audience with free webinars, workshops and relaunching her initial program.
LKR grows it’s list by several thousand every single time a new free webinar or launch is announced.

If your list isn’t growing during a launch – then you aren’t doing enough to reach other people’s audiences – which is one of the mistakes I mentioned in the last post!

2. Launches help build and rebuild confidence

Committing to a project from beginning to end, seeing it through, doing all you can – knowing that you learned, built your list, made some sales – this does a lot to instill confidence in yourself and your business. Even when things don’t go as screamingly well as you’d like them to, once you understand the process of launching, you feel more confident to do it again.

If you aren’t feeling so confident after a launch – you aren’t alone. It’s easy to set lofty launch wishes and then be completely shattered when they don’t come true.

There are so many elements of a launch that play into you achieving or not achieving those goals, so instead of feeling bad or wallowing.

Be proactive. Look back over the “mistakes” you made, record what you learned, and use it as an opportunity to plan for the next time out.

3. Your business will come into extreme focus + clarity.

Time and time again I’ve watch entrepreneurs work to launch a product, program or new service only to emerge on the other side with:

-> a slightly shifted business model
-> a new target market
-> a deeper understanding of what they want their business to be

Keep your eyes open for clues to seeing your business in a new, objective light.

Clues come in lots of different forms:

  • – a different kind of person than you expected enrolling in your program
  • – having the exact person you wanted in the program asking you for something “else”
  • – a sinking feeling that you don’t want to do 1-off coaching
  • – an immediate idea of what to launch next

Pay attention.

4. You get to test your product out before a massive audience buys it.

So you only have a small group of people going through your program.

Guess what? This is your chance to see what works and what doesn’t work in your program.

Treat those people like gold – because they’re the first, their feedback is gold!

Here are a few things I did during the first round of Fearless Launching:

  • – Gave 1-on-1 support calls throughout the program
  • – Asked for feedback along the way
  • – Took the feedback and improved the program

Sometimes it’s the simple extra bits that you can give that will make the life of your product, program or service that much better.

Don’t be afraid to shower your first round with extra special loving.

5. Launches help you build and strengthen relationships with your readers, prospects and customers.

I’m very close with the members of Fearless Launching – but I don’t just make room for customers. I make it my mission to connect on a personal level with everyone who reaches out to me, joins my mailing list, or leaves a comment.

I know it seems obvious, but caring and listening is all people want sometimes. So – open your ears and let people know you’re there. I actually feel the relationships strengthening over time with each and every one of you. I even feel a little protective too!

Encourage your readers to leave a comment – to email you. Then – respond. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but taking the extra time to respond makes a huge difference in those relationships. Someone might not be a customer today, but tomorrow things can change.

6. You suddenly understand and can easily identify your ideal customer.

One of the toughest parts of starting an online or offline business is understanding your ideal customer.

Before Fearless Launching – I had a vague idea of who I was serving. After two rounds of the program – I now completely understand who this program serves best and who will get the best results.

Honestly though, I sometimes feel like I got lucky and the exact right people enrolled.

How do you really get lucky like I did? Make sure your content is focused, in YOUR voice, and aims to provide a clear outcome. That’s all I did – and it attracted the exact right people.

In my case, I wanted to make sure that people who didn’t think they were ready to launch were prepared, understood the process, got support along the way, and launched.

Most people either achieve this or get very close. And the ones who don’t get close – they do get there eventually.

7. You make some cash.

I’m all for making money when you launch. All that blood, sweat and tears – all the time that you focus on this one project. You deserve some moola, right?

Revenue is only 1 of my goals during a launch. I want to see growth in revenue, list, traffic, but also in my delivery of value.

How do you deal if you don’t make money on your online launch? It all comes down to traffic, eyes, and if your offer was right for that traffic.

If the offer didn’t match the eyes, you probably didn’t make any money. That doesn’t mean your offer sucked, it just means you need to reach some new eyes or that you have to adjust your offer for the people who did show up!

8. Making mistakes in front of fewer people is a lot less painful than a large crowd.

The main benefit of launching before you are ready is that your audience is smaller. Would you rather fall in front of a stadium of people or a televised event or at a wedding where you know most of the people.

Sure all scenarios kind of suck, but the point is – make the mistakes while you’re surrounded by a smaller group of people.

Use your first launch to practice of the process of launching.

9. You find out who supports you + who might not be so dependable.

Start now and you’ll see right away who’s going to support you and who’s NOT going to support you.

People are fickle. They talk a big talk – and will tell you, “Oh yeah what you’re doing is amazing”, but then don’t stand up and help you during a launch or even click on a tweetable.

Don’t hold it against them. People who say one thing might be genuinely wanting you to succeed, but then when the time comes to support, they just miss it completely or realize they have other obligations. We all have priorities in life and you need to respect that.

In fact, I know when it comes down to it – I support who I support too!

It feels personal when someone doesn’t tweet or share for you or leave a comment, but it’s not. Remember that.

Next time – you’ll know who WILL tweet/share/spread the word for you – and who might not!

10. When you demonstrate your knowledge, you turn lurkers into prospects!

Launching means you demonstrating your expertise with people.

Even if they aren’t convinced to buy – you have shown them you mean business, you are knowledgeable, and if they liked what you taught them – they will be back.

Often – someone can follow you quietly for years and then suddenly buy something or decide they want “in” on what you’re doing.

There are people who’ve been with me since I was writing about fitness, pilates and productivity… imagine how nervous I was to reveal that I wanted to stop all that and teach launching??

I was shocked when the hands raised one by one by one… and that audience I was so afraid of sharing my expertise with…they wanted it all along!

4 Reasons To Love Launching

Now – beyond benefits – the 4 words that express why I love launching, love watching people launch, and love getting people excited about their own launches:

Clarity + Growth + Money + Process

So – If you think you’re not ready for launching… consider being ready for a little or a lot of all of these words to describe what’s happening in your business?

What you can do right now

#1 – If you haven’t read the 9 launch mistakes post – go now, read it and post your homework in the comments.

#2 – Which “mistake” have you made that you can learn from, turn it around, reframe it and use it as a starting point to planning your next launch? It’s all about the rebound – share the lesson and what will shift next time out for you.

Talk to you in the comments below!

-Anne

Anne will be presenting at an upcoming thinkspace event: February 14, Fearless Launching: The Beginner Launch, Workshop #1.  For more information and to register for this event, click here.

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K is for Karaoke

karaoke

The other day I came across this saved list in my iPhone.

 

And it probably deserves an explanation.

 

During my three-year graduate program, my classmates and I frequented fine karaoke establishments.

And during that time, I started to track the songs I sang.

*The “x’s” mark repeat offenders.

 

While my graduate degree required a lot of studying and research, my karaoke-filled evenings provided me with an alternative form of research:

Finding the best karaoke bars in the Seattle area.

 

So in regards to the information that follows…

…you can thank me later.

 

Here’s what three years of research boils down to:

 

Don’t waste your time with…

the Dubliner,

Hula Hula,

Ozzie’s,

the Yen Wor Garden Restaurant,

or the Boxcar.

 

 

The Baranof in Greenwood and Palmers in Redmond provide the most entertaining karaoke around.

 

 

So what are you singing this weekend?

 

 

And

please

don’t

judge

me

for

my

very

long

list.

 

 

 

Thanks.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thinkspace in Fremont, Seattle we need your support!

fremont-map-thinkspace-seattleIt’s been a while since we discussed having a location in Seattle, but, we’re at that point where our Redmond location is packed to the gills and we soon will be supporting nearly 300 companies! We have targeted a few locations in the Fremont area and are getting closer and closer to making this happen.

Over the last four+ years we have been blessed to meet so many wonderful people and have had thousands of people come use our space and services. It’s been incredible to be able to serve so many entrepreneurs and support them in launching their companies. We are now at that point where we are going to take a step forward again and launch another location in Seattle. As an entrepreneur you know that when starting up a business or expanding a business there are growth risks. Rather than take the approach of “build it and they will come”, I would love to think that I’m a little bit smarter than the first time around and that I really have learned something! That being said, we (my entire team) would sincerely appreciate it if you would reach out and send us email. Also, if you know of someone that you know what would be interested we would love to get introduced.

The pricing for the offices would be in the range of $500 – $900 per month depending upon size. In additional to holding office hours with mentors, we will also be providing our virtual office, business address, virtual receptionist, recruiting services, registered agent, and constantly connecting people that can help support you in your startup. We’d love for you to be one of the thinkspace Seattle Charter Members. Thank you for your support!

Best,
Peter & Team!
Email me at: peter / at / thinkspace / dot / com
Call me at: 425-629-6200