Check whether your website has been indexed by Google. Use the following command – “site:yourwebsite.com.au” – on Google. If it shows results, it means your site has been indexed by Google. The results it lists are the pages of your website included in Google’s index. Getting your site indexed is the first step to top rankings.

If your site has not been indexed by Google, you can submit your site to Google as well as reputed free directories like hotfrog.com.au.

Check the permission to the search engine spiders to different folders on your site by typing “yourwebsite.com.au/robots.txt.” If you are among the 76% of the small business websites that don’t have robot definitions then visit Google Webmaster Forum and insert the code into your website

When your site has been indexed by Google, start to review the on page elements on your website. These include title tags meta-descriptions. Make sure that the words which people most frequently use to find your products or services are used in these tags in a meaningful way

If you are not sure, which keywords work best for you, check what keywords your competition are using. Also ask your prospects/customers what they would type in Google to find your products/services. To verify the actual search volumes for these keywords, use the following Keyword research tool. Make sure you select the target country to get the correct search volume

Customise your website content to naturally include these keywords in the top few lines and the last few lines of your text. Keep keyword density to 3-5%. Keyword density is number of keywords divided by number of words.

Keep your page names in line with the keywords you are targeting e.g, a page targeting the word ‘luxury resorts’ should have the word in the subdomain (e.g yourwebsite.com/luxury-resorts). Another page targeting Bali Luxury Villas should have the name yourwebsite.com/Bali-luxury-villas.

When changing page names, use a 301 redirect to give the information to the search engine.

Create inner links from pages within your site with the relevant keywords as anchor text. Anchor text is the visible, clickable part of a hyperlink

Put alt tags in images (alt tags are text describing what the image is about). Here you can include keywords where applicable and remember not to be spammy.

Provide useful content and resources on your website so that webmasters link to your site. It could be a compilation of resources which people look for, a blog providing industry insights or white papers. Tools, Calculators etc can be useful.

Install Google Analytics to monitor how much traffic your website is getting, what sources this traffic comes from, how much time do visitors spend on each page of your website and what action they perform. This information can help you make ongoing improvements to your site and improve the usage metrics

This is Part 1 of a three part guide to help small business understand the value and power of using postcards to market their business. We’ve divided it up into three parts in order to give you some interesting background information on the history postcards (that’s this part), then Part 2 which will cover some of the important reasons why you’d want to get into postcard marketing, and lastly Part 3 which will give you an overview of the ‘how-to’ of postcard marketing.

So….here we go!

Part 1. A Brief History of Postcards

First of all, let’s define what a post card is. A postcard, or post card, is a piece of paper, slightly thicker that regular writing paper, either rectangular or square in shape and intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. The study and collecting of postcards is termed deltiology.

Looking at the history of postcards, you’ll find that cards inscribed with messages have been sporadically created and posted by individuals almost since the creation of the first postal services.

As the postcard evolved, the earliest known picture postcard was a hand-painted design on a card and posted in London to the writer Theodore Hook in 1840. This early picture postcard bore a penny black stamp. It might have been meant as a joke because the picture on it just happened to be a caricature of workers in the post office.

Let’s fast forward to the US where up until 1861 there was legally no such thing as a postcard. People of that time didn’t have envelopes like we do today but rather the paper they wrote on itself became the envelope.

According to the early US postal regulations of the time, there was officially no such thing as a ‘postcard’ as we know it today. And anybody who created such a device and attempted to ‘post’ it would have a 50/50 chance at best of it being delivered.

Things took a change for the better on February 27, 1861 when the 36th US Congress passed “An Act establishing certain Post Routes.” Section 13 of that Act allowed the mailing of post cards. The section reads:

“And be it further enacted, That cards, blank or printed, blanks in packages weighing at least eight ounces, and seeds or cuttings, in packages not exceeding eight ounces in weight, shall also be deemed mailable matter, and charged with postage at the rate of one cent an ounce, or fraction of an ounce, to any place in the United States under fifteen hundred miles, and at the rate of two cents an ounce or fraction of an ounce, over fifteen hundred miles, to be prepaid by postage stamps.”

And that’s how postcards got started in America.

There were mixed feelings about this new form of correspondence. Many people questioned whether the government could make any money on them and didn’t think the contents could be kept private. However, with the Confederate attacked on April 12 of that year and the start of the American Civil War, the subject of postcards became a forgotten issue.

Historic Lipman’s Postal Card

The first commercially produced card was actually created in 1861 by John P. Charlton of Philadelphia, who patented and produced the first ‘postal card’. Later that year he sold the rights to H. L. Lipman, whose postcards, complete with a decorated border, were labeled “Lipman’s postal card.” These cards had no images.

1861 was an important year in the evolution of postcards because it opened up a whole new industry to private enterprise. The government up to that time the government officially had a monopoly on producing postcards.

Just 9 years later the copyright was transferred to H. L. Lipman of Philadelphia and the earliest postmark found on a “Lipman’s Postal Card” is from October 25, 1870.

At that time the United States government didn’t allow private companies to call their cards “postcards”. They had to be called “souvenir cards” and labeled “Private Mailing Cards”. This regulation was rescinded on December 24, 1901 and after that time it was OK for private companies to use the word “postcard”.

Early postcards were not allowed to have a divided back and correspondents could only write on the front of the postcard. This was known as the “undivided back” era of postcards. On March 1, 1907 the Post Office allowed private citizens to write on the address side of a postcard. It was on this date that postcards were allowed to have a “divided back”.

On these cards the back is divided into two sections, the left section being used for the message and the right for the address. With this type of card began the Golden Age of American postcards, which lasted until 1915, when World War I blocked the import of the fine German-printed cards which had the largest share of the market.

The “white border” era, named thus because they had ‘white borders’ to make printing easier, lasted from about 1916 to 1930. The “linen card” era lasted from about 1931 to the early 1950s, when cards were primarily printed on papers with a textured surface similar to linen cloth.

In America the final major change in postcard design came with the new postcard regulations of March 1, 1907, which allowed the back of postcards to be divided down the center. The right side of the back was now for the address and postage and the left side was for the personal message that used to be written on the front of the card.

Because this is essentially the same basic design that is still in use today for postcards, March 1, 1907 is considered the birthday of the modern postcard. However, printers wanting to save money continued using their old designs for a time. So it is common to see postcards that were made after 1907 that still have some white space on the front for writing or to see the undivided backs with a line simply drawn down the middle.

Needless to say, there’s a lot more information available about the history of postcards. It’s readily available on the internet on a variety of sites. But this concludes Part 1… A Brief History Of Postcards. Please follow on to Part 2, “Why Market With Postcards”.

An accountant is a necessity for any business. Huge corporations may have lesser problems finding one but small businesses might need more effort to hire this professional. How do you choose and hire the suitable accountant for the accounting needs of your small business? Here are some guidelines that you might find helpful for this task.

• Ask for references from your lawyer, banker, or business colleagues. It’s either you will be hiring a person or an agency. Check how much work will your company do and the accountant will do.

• Interview the referrals. Here are the things you need to know during the interview:

-Services to render. What will be the scope of the accounting service? The common inclusions are tax and auditing services. Know if bookkeeping, management consulting, business planning, and other specialized financial and accounting services are also part of the offer. Ensure also that they have experience in working with small businesses and if they are suited to your company’s needs.

-Personality. Being compatible with the accountant can enhance the working relationship and make the output a lot better. Ensure that the people you meet at the accounting firm would be the same people doing the services for you. Clarify this matter from the start when you contract the agency’s services. To assess the competency and compatibility of the accountant, you may ask how he or she will handle a situation relevant to what is happening or might happen in your business.

-Fees. This aspect should be accomplished upfront. Make this as clear as possible. Some accountants charge by the hour while others work on a monthly basis. Costs, however, should not be your sole reason in choosing. Some charges more because they are more experienced and skilled while others charge littler because they are not as experienced. Make sure that you base your judgments by considering all relevant things.

• After choosing, draft the agreement. All details should be clearly seen at the agreement letter. State properly the statements included returns, fees to be charged, and others. A well-written agreement will prevent any misunderstandings in the future. This also ensures that expectations of both parties are met.

• Make your own assignment. Ensure that you’d not just hand the accountant records and loose receipts. Have a record of your income and expenses and the details that goes with the transactions. This helps your accountant work faster which means lower fees on your part.

• Regularly meet with your accountant. Review the financial statements and assess problems if there are any. You should know where your money is going. A good accountant should not only be concerned with preparing financial statements but should also be able to suggest ways to cut expenses and provide ideas and answers to questions you may have.

A good accountant may save you more than you can think of when done effectively and systematically. Working for a Nashville accounting firm, I believe an accountant is a lifetime partner for any entrepreneur to keep a great business going.

For the small business, the internet is one of the greatest advantages you have. It creates a more level playing field with the larger companies who have a big fat advertising and marketing budget. For a much smaller cost in time and money, an entrepreneur can practically get the same results online as a much larger business.

In this article, we’ll discuss a simple four-step process that anyone can use to create a money-making system on the web. This will work for big business, small business, or even a single entrepreneur looking to sell his or her skills or products.

This is not one of those get rich quick schemes. When we say system, we’re not talking about something you have to buy. This is a system or a tactic with four associated strategies to create a website that makes you money. This will give you the foundation to succeed online. After reading this, you will either want to do more research to get more detailed information and / or you will want to consult with an internet marketing professional to plan your specific campaign.

Step 1 – Prepare your Website

Before you can begin turning your company website into a money maker, you have to have one. If you have one, you have to prepare it for your campaign. Keep in mind that when we speak here about your website making you money, this does not necessarily mean an online store. Your website may not, in and of itself, be a point of sale. But it can be the key that unlocks a sale, or anything in between.

There are several main things you will want your website to do or to have in order to be prepared. The first of these is that your site must actually be well-planned and well-constructed. It should be fast-loading, easy to navigate and clear in its intentions and what it has to say. When people arrive, they should be able to figure out almost instantly who you are, what you’re about and what value they’ll get out of being there.

The second thing you need to do is optimize your site for the search engines. You’ve probably heard the term SEO, well this is what it means. The site’s key elements must be set up for maximum search ability. Your content must also be keyword rich while at the same time being reader friendly. This is very important. After all, there is no point in driving traffic to your website if when they get there it’s filled with gibberish. SEO is a critical component in your online marketing efforts and should not be overlooked. We’re fond of saying that it’s not the whole picture, but SEO is certainly an important piece of the puzzle.

The third part of this step is to make sure that your website offers something of value. This goes beyond the obvious offering of your product or service. The site should also contain relevant information, video or articles on the product or service. You can also add interactive features that allow the visitor to connect with you whether they are ready to buy or not. You might have a newsletter, free opt-in offer, links to resources and so on. Give them multiple ways to connect with you and for you to get them into an email list.

Step 2 – Set up Off-site Accounts

This is where you will branch out into the cyber jungle. In today’s market, it’s not enough to just put up a website. The days of thinking that if you build it, they will come are long gone. You must spread yourself out a little.

There is a dizzying array of options here, so let’s keep it simple. For beginners, pick four main off-site locations to set yourself up. This can vary depending on what you do, but a good start might be a Facebook page, A LinkedIn account, a YouTube channel and a blog. Just these four will give you a pretty good start, and certainly give you or your internet marketer plenty to manage.

There are a few things to keep in mind when setting these accounts up. First, make sure that they contain both personal as well as business information. People connect more with individuals than faceless companies. Set yourself up as the face of ABC industries. Ensure that each of these accounts has a working link back to your website, and to each other. This is critical. Make sure that all information is up to date and accurate as well.

You will use these accounts to promote yourself, post updates, new information, third-party information and communicate with your networks. Also make sure that once set up, your website has clear links back to these accounts as well.

Step 3 – Content marketing

Here is where you or your marketer will begin to publish content on the web that will be linked back to you. This is a huge benefit because it provides quality back links, which helps your search rankings and drives traffic. Publishing content is also another area where SEO must be used. Remember, if something can be searched, it can be optimized.

Here is a brief list of some effective content marketing strategies:

Articles: write and publish informative articles that are related to what you do. Create at least three or four variations of each so that you can publish them on different article directories. This increases the amount of content out there to be searched while keeping it unique.

Blog: write frequent posts in your blog. Remember to promptly respond to comments and other posts.

Videos: use your YouTube channel. Create a series of how to or educational videos about you and your business that give real value to the viewer and that drive traffic back to you.

Post free ads: There are dozens of free advertising sites. Make use of them and put up ads to your website, blogs, articles and more.

Guest blog: Go out there and write posts or comments on others’ blogs. This is a great way to increase your exposure and create more relevant links.

PPC’s: Don’t’ be afraid to do a little pay per click advertising. Even for a small amount of money, you can drive some good quality traffic to your sites, your blogs or wherever you want.

Step 4 – interact and Cross-promote

There is something important to keep in mind here. When you are promoting yourself, be careful to keep a balance between direct self-promotion and independent information that is relevant. You’re not just going for a hard sell. You want to build a reputation of authority.

It is in this step where you will actively participate online to promote yourself and your information. This is where you will post on your Facebook, interact with the community on YouTube, create connections on LinkedIn and write for your blog. But as stated, go about this carefully. Use the 80/20 rule. This means that the majority of the time, your posts and information is not directly related to pushing your products and services. Save that for the twenty percent.

One good way to interact is to join one or two discussion forums that relate to what you do. After a short time, they will allow you to post links and even create a profile with a link back to your websites. This is a great opportunity to network and build a community because you can easily become a source of answers to others’ questions.

Use everything you’ve created including your website, your social media, your YouTube, your blogs, your forums and link each of these to each other as well as your website. This is how you build a huge spider web of relevant sites around yours, and vastly improve your search rankings, website traffic and conversion rates.

Yes, we did blow through this pretty fast. In each of these steps, there is certainly a lot of detail that needs to be understood. But with this simple step by step framework, you can create a system of success for yourself, your website and your company. It’s going to be some work and certainly will require an investment of time and possibly money. In the long run, however, the amount of success you will generate will be worth it. Remember that most of the things mentioned here build upon themselves and increase all on their own. After a time, your systems will pump a steady stream of visitors and income into your business.

Good luck!