Grammarly is a multi-million-dollar bootstrapped company (no external funding) with an amazing story that has become the world’s leading online automated grammar checker and proofreader.
The most exciting thing happening at Grammarly today is its transition from a website application to a browser plugin that can be used anywhere you write online. Grammatical accuracy is so important these days for your startup’s brand as well as SEO rankings, and we at Addicted2Success have recently started using it—and love it.
One thing that Grammarly has done well is SEO, and below are the top tips for startups from Nikolas Baron, Grammarly’s head of SEO.
What is SEO / Search Engine Optimisation?
Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day. Put simply, SEO is the practice of creating, optimizing, and promoting web pages to maximize traffic from those searches. Fundamentally, SEO can help you reach a potential audience that expresses intent for what you offer at a higher ROI than most other channels.
1. Know when to employ an SEO person
The correct answer will vary greatly depending on the situation. Hiring a consultant or an agency is a great way of getting started quickly and getting a feel for the potential ROI of hiring someone full-time to manage SEO.
2. Understand the relationship between SEO and Social Media
A lot of social media platforms, including Facebook, don’t let search engines crawl their content. Also, Google has publicly stated that they don’t use social media metrics to inform rankings (including Google Plus). Check out the article on Blind Five Year Old to find out more.
“It’s not the actual social activity that matters, but what happens as a result of that activity”
However, links from around the web indubitably affect rankings, and maximizing your exposure on social media can help you capitalize on that. Social media can indirectly impact SEO by bringing in links, even though it won’t directly impact your rankings.
3. Get used to hearing the word influencer a lot more
What is an influencer? For SEO purposes, an influencer is someone who is going to be interested in writing about you, who has a very high authority web presence and can influence your end users.
Do actual research on who the influencers are in your niche and then try and promote your startup to those influencers. Knowing which platform to use the most for your startup, really depends on where the influencers for your niche are most available.
A lot of people put out social media posts or landing pages and then make the mistake of buying very dangerous black hat links or doing nothing. Create valuable content and pitch it to influencers. If that’s not working, it’s a good sign that you need to refine whatever you’re showing in the search results. If you can’t get influencers to buy into it, it’s unlikely that search engines will deem you worthy of ranking in competitive search queries.
4. Yes, you’re hearing it again. Content is very important
When you think about content, you need to think to yourself, “What is going to make people link to my page?” For some products and services, you can just have a homepage, and people will be interested enough to link to it. For the majority of products and services, it takes a little bit more hand-holding to guide someone through the fact that there is a problem, there are solutions, and this is how the solution works. Content can be a great way to get a foot in the door with people, to tell them about what you do and whatever you’re selling.
Only put something out there if you think it’s going to be valuable and catch on. Think about the influences you’re trying to reach. Does your content add anything new to them? Nikolas suggests focusing on one blog post per week that’s insightful, valuable, and unique as opposed to having five blog posts that might get some clicks, but don’t add any value.
There’s no specific number of words that is ideal. Think about what your competition is doing; that will help you determine how many words you should be using. When posting your content, also think about which platforms you post it on. For example, if you post something to Facebook that is not getting a lot of engagement, then this can affect your edge rank, which Facebook uses to compute how many followers will see your post. This means your next post may only get shown to half as many people. On Twitter, though, that’s not the case; you might just lose followers, or people might start to ignore what you’re saying.
Content and SEO is about conveying something and communicating it with that audience. You need to have authority, be trusted, and communicate clearly, and Grammarly is an excellent tool to help you out, especially if you’re startup that can’t afford to hire a proofreader.
Whoever writes the content needs to be knowledgeable and credible. If your startup is trying to stay lean, then one thing you could do is source content from your community. One big advantage that you and other startups have is that you will have really evangelical early adopters and users, despite the fact that your product might be a little buggy or unrefined. These are the right people to ask to produce content for you.
5. Good research is important, especially when it comes to keywords
One question you should ask yourself before doing any keyword research is “What are the profiles of the people I want to find my page?” Focus on search profiles because some keywords have thirty different variations, yet search engines know it’s exactly the same thing. The keyword clusters within these search profiles are also very important, and you should try to focus on around five or less of these, although these clusters could be made up of 100 keywords.
If you’re able to determine what the different profiles are, then you can create specific landing pages for those profiles, which include a lot of the keywords, and create content for the influencers of those various profiles.
6. Start looking at the future now
One trend that is really hard to ignore is the rise in mobile phone searches. People are searching for different things and people are getting a lot lazier with their search queries because when they ask a search engine a question, they expect the right answer. A great way to prepare for this is to go to your own site with your phone and try to do what you want people to do on your site. If you’re able to do it easily, that’s great; if not, you need to make changes.
You should also try to anticipate the future. As search queries get more natural and more human, try to imagine how people might express themselves when looking for your startup.
The other thing to keep in mind is knowing when Google has changed their search algorithm. The fastest way to check if this has happened is via Twitter. Some other great sites to check out these updates are Moz, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land.
SEO books might not be that valuable because the changes to SEO happen so quickly, although some courses like the Distiled.net are worth checking out. As far as SEO experts, the one you should know is Neil Patel. For tips about reaching out to him and other experts, see our article from Vincent Nguyen here.
7. Finally, don’t forget the basics
Start using Google Webmaster Tools. This will show you how many pages are being crawled, if your pages are being crawled correctly, and if you have any duplicate content issues.
From a search engine’s point of view, the question is, “What are the reliable metrics to determine authority?” For relevance, you can look at the text on the page, the meta-description, and the number of pages. For authority, it’s fairly limited. Backlinks are extremely important and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s one of the only reliable signals that search engines can use. The disavow tool in Google Webmaster Tools can be used if you are unlucky enough to have someone put toxic links to your site: a text file tells Google which links will no longer count going forward
Uptime matters for SEO results. If the Google bot is trying to crawl your site, and it can’t because your page isn’t loading, then Google will stop indexing your site, which will drastically affect your rankings.
Stay away from black hat techniques
Some quick black hat techniques can definitely still be used, but many of them are very short-term and will probably get you banned in a few weeks, so unless you want to change your domain every few weeks, stay away from them! Google is changing this regularly and two weeks could easily get down to one day in the future.
Feel free to visit Grammarly for more information about the grammar checker, and let us know in the comments section below what you think. You can also check out Nikolas Baron on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/nikolasbaron
You Are The Problem With Your Business
A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.
I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.
Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.
Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?
Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.
The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.
Your company is a reflection of you.
It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.
One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.
The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.
In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.
The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.
The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.
Take responsibility and it will change.
When you own the business, everything is your fault.
You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.
The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.
Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.
Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.
Change is a must.
Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.
“Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”
You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.
Not the business.
The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up
You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.
How to Evaluate Success
As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.
But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).
“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson
When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?
The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.
So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.
1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems
The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.
This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.
In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.
Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).
In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins
For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.
The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.
Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.
4. Time for Friends and Family
As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.
Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.
A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.
The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.
I spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.
I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.
People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.
This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.
I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.
I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.
That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.
Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.
I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.
They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.
All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.
Your clients tell you every day that you suck.
I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.
Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.
The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.
That wasn’t it.
You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.
I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.
Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.
The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.
They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.
“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.
I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.
The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.
It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.
The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.
You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.
A good business solves a problem.
That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.
This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.
Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.
Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.
Solving only your problem will make you poor.
The problem still wasn’t their website or product.
Creating more problems.
Everything this business owner sold created more problems.
They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.
They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.
They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.
Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.
If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.
The heart of the problem.
It’s the business owner.
The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.
The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.
You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.
Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.
Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.
18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups
Reading is both relaxation and training for the mind. Who reads, dives into another world. Learning, entertaining and breaking out of everyday life for a short moment. One could go even so far as to say reading is the second most beautiful thing in the world! Whether it is non-fiction or a novel of all the world’s man has created, the book is the most powerful tool. That is also, why we wanted to find out which business book you should undertake in the new year. (more…)
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