Small Business SEO | “5 Pillars of SEO Success in 2014”

Source      : Bostinno. Streetwise
By               : Caroline Lyle
Category : Small Business SEO , Orlando Search Engine Optimization

The state of search is anything but static. As Google continues to innovate and evolve, SEO best practices are constantly changing. Frequent algorithm updates have kept search marketers on their toes as they shift and revise their strategy to fit Google’s misty criterion for a quality site. Tactics once widely utilized to score a high page rank are now entirely extinct, and after Google’s most recent update, Hummingbird, more traditional SEO practices might fall by the wayside. Despite  the constant changes, managing your website’s SEO and ranking on search isn’t actually that difficult. In fact, it might be more simple in 2014 than ever before. Check out these five pillars of SEO Success in 2014.

1. Link building is out and content is in. This isn’t exactly a revelation for most search marketers, but it’s a trend that will only grow more important in 2014. Google Hummingbird put the proverbial nail-in-the-coffin for link farms and link networks who once earned high page ranks. After a series of updates designed to penalize black hat SEO, Hummingbird is the most sophisticated yet at detecting bad link patterns and reward authentic value. In 2014, the most effective way to impress Google is creating original, relevant, quality content. That’s not to say links are entirely useless. Links from related sites, especially authoritative sites, will certainly boost rank. But your compelling, shareable content should be what inspires links. “A good SEO is a non-SEO,”

2. Focus on page, not keywords. Search today is about so much more than ranking keywords. Especially since Google has officially made all of it’s keyword data “(not provided),” a  keyword-centric SEO strategy won’t cut it. New school SEO is page-centric. “Make pages the center of your SEO world,” said Jim Yu of Search Engine Watch. Focus on designing pages for optimum user experience, including quality content; measure traffic, conversions, and revenue at a page level.

3. Get on Google+. For all of you who dismiss Google Plus as a ghost town, think again. There are more than a few reasons to embrace Google’s social network, but let’s start with authorship. Google’s authorship system enables authors to build trust based on their content. This trust is quantified by Author Rank, a metric comparable to Page Rank and correlated to social shares, +1’s and other signals. Experts forecast in 2014 Author Rank will start to significantly impact Google’s evaluation of sites. This year, get your content team on Google+. Focus on Author Rank and the Page Rank will follow. Bottom line: Google Plus is integrated with all Google products and services; it is just as important, if not more so, than Facebook or Twitter for SEO.

4. Location, Location, Location. 20% of searches on Google are related to location and 56% of mobile users use their device for local searches, reported Forbes. It is more important than ever to optimize for local search, and new Google features like Google Plus Local and Google Carousel make it clear local is everything. If you are local business, create a clean citation on Google Plus Local, advises Social Media Today, and be sure to localize content, social and rich snippets.

5. Search is now semantic. Another product of the Hummingbird update is that search is now semantic. Google’s algorithm is now equipped to respond conversational queries and understand meaning of search in context. No longer should keywords rule SEO and content creation, but the actual everyday language people use to find something on the web. Cater content and site description for semantic search.

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Orlando Search Engine Optimization | “Choose Your Weapon: SEO or Social Media?”

Source   : The Guardian
By       : Tim Anderson
Category : Small Business SEO , Orlando Search Engine Optimization

For today’s connected consumer or business, a Google search or an Amazon user review is just a tap or a click away, and digital channels like these play an ever-increasing role in purchasing decisions. What is the best way for brands to drive web traffic and, ultimately, sales in this new digital landscape?

The traditional answer was SEO (search engine optimisation), which is the art and science of getting your website ranking high enough to be noticed in web searches. In the past couple of years, though, social media marketing, which means engaging with customers on sites like Facebook and Twitter, has grown in importance. Social media interaction done right has the power not only to drive traffic to a website, but also to change the public perception of a brand and to win fans who will recommend a product to their friends.

SEO is changing though, as the algorithms used by Google to determine which sites are shown in response to a search evolve. What is SEO like today? How does the rapid ascendance of smartphones and tablets affect marketers? Where does Google+, the search giant’s answer to Facebook, fit in? How do you go about winning trust on social media? These were among the questions debated at a recent seminar, hosted by the Guardian and held in association with Salesforce. The seminar began with a discussion from an expert panel, followed by questions from the audience.

Those present were keen to emphasise that both SEO and social media have key roles in digital marketing strategy. “SEO, social, content development, PPC [Pay Per Click advertising], they all need to work together,” said panelliest Craig Lister, head of marketing agency Reprise Media.That said, the benefits of social media are more often missed, according to Paul Smith, EMEA vice-president of’s ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. “Most organisations have a pretty good handle on their SEO strategy, but are comparatively under-resourced on their social strategies.” Although an average of just 1% of marketing spend goes towards social, analysts say that one third of new content discovery involves some form of social engagement. “There is a discrepancy there that people need to start addressing,” he said.

Enagagement is vital

For those companies who do embrace social media, it is vital to interact, by replying to users rather than just posting marketing messages. “If you are a brand and you are just listening, you are not dealing with any issues or any problems that may arise. You don’t really have a voice – you are not engaging with the customer,” said Ian Duncan, from digital marketing agency MediaCo.

When Google was founded, a site’s rank in search results was greatly influenced by the number and quality of other sites that linked to it. The result was an SEO industry focused on link building, with less reputable agencies getting those links by any means possible, including fake sites and purchased links.

“Google’s technology has got smarter,” said Duncan. “Previously, SEO was about building links and about putting pages up with keywords so you can rank. Now it is about content that is engaging, great site design, pages that load fast. The old-fashioned and dishonest methods are starting to die away. It is becoming much more difficult for people to get any sort of results doing that, which is good for the industry.” It remains critical for businesses to think about what potential customers are searching for. “One of our clients is ExxonMobil,” said Lister. ExxonMobil’s site used to talk a lot about ‘commercial vehicle lubricants’ whereas people were searching for ‘best oil for a BMW’. “It was really as simple as saying, you have to stop talking in this corporate-speak,” said Lister. “We did some very simple keyword matching and said that you need to develop content around those search terms. They went from position 100 for BMW car oil to the top five.” How is SEO changing in a mobile world? The starting point is to have a true mobile site, said Neil Walker, marketing consultant at Quaero. “If you don’t have a mobile site it converts at half the rate of your standard desktop site. That’s a problem for any business.”

The more profound change, though, is the impact of mobile devices that know your location. “We are now able to map the client journey from beginning to end,” said Hugo Pinto, a communications manager working on big data at Telefónica. “If you are walking in front of a John Lewis and you go in and buy, do you search before you go into John Lewis? Maybe you search while you’re inside to compare prices with other retailers? This capacity of measuring reality through digital measures is bringing us more insight and more data.” By analysing that data, he added, “you can understand if it is better to spend on search or create an app or go on Facebook because that’s where people are”.

The importance of apps on mobile devices means that people may use web searches less frequently. “There is actually more time spent inside the Facebook mobile app than on Google or the browser,” said Smith. “If you want to reach people in a mobile environment you should be thinking first: ‘How do I reach people in Facebook?'” Google’s social network, Google+, is something of an enigma. Few think that it will catch up with Facebook. “Google can’t really do social in the same way as Facebook,” said Lister. “That market is almost closed to it now because the chances of people moving their friendship circles to Google is pretty impossible.”

Trading on reputation

Despite that, marketers must pay attention to Google+, the seminar heard. One reason for this is that Google is piloting authorship, which takes into account the reputation of the author of web content as part of its search ranking. The way authorship is determined is through links to Google+ profiles, so you need to build a strong presence and following there to take advantage. Is Google putting undue pressure on the industry to sign up to Google+? “Possibly. I’m astounded at the awe that clients have for Google. Politicians are also in awe of Google and that may continue for many years,” said Lister. The only hope of a change in the balance of power is Microsoft’s Bing, he said. In the US, Bing has put Twitter and Facebook data into its search results, he said, which is one reason why it has grown its market share. “As that comes over to the UK I’m happy that will create a good search struggle.”

Getting the right blend of SEO and social can be challenging. One company that’s getting it right is luxury fashion brand Burberry, according to Lister. “Type Burberry into Google and you’ll see a fantastic example of how SEO and social media work together in harmony,” he said. “You will find authorised retailers in their paid search profile, their UK website, and then Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, every one of their social channels.” “How does the company achieve that?” asked an audience member. “There are three things Google is looking for when it looks at the website and evaluates it. The first one is: can it navigate your site? The second one is content and is it relevant? The third is social. What Burberry recognises is the need for really good content across all the significant digital and social channels – content that people want to share and distribute,” said Lister. Another attendee asked how to get non-marketers within a company, such as those in sales and finance, to embrace social media. “It is a cultural paradigm shift,” said Pinto. “People that are in their 20s have used social media all their lives. People that are 40 or 50 and have been doing business in a very non-digital way have a clear separation of personal and professional profiles.” For the latter group, the only way forward is to demonstrate the business value of engagement. “They have to get value they can’t get elsewhere,” he said. Search can drive traffic to social media, and social media can enhance search; they are not alternatives. The challenge and opportunity for today’s marketers is to reach people where they are, which is as likely to mean working on your Facebook presence as topping the Google rankings.

Key discussion points

  • • The best digital marketing strategy includes both SEO and social media. They are not alternatives
  • • SEO has changed. It is no longer just about links and keywords, but strong content and web design
  • • Social media has a key role in winning customer trust and recommendations, which plays a strong part in purchase decisions
  • • Effective marketing to mobile users is critical, and means a mobile site as well as exploring the potential of apps and location-based marketing
  • • Although the Google+ social media site cannot compete with Facebook, it is important because of its influence in search ranking

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Small Business SEO | “Hackers Claim To Expose Phone Information Of 4.6 million Snapchat Users”

Source      : PC World
By               : John Ribeiro
Category  : Small Business SEO , Orlando Search Engine Optimization

Snapchat Login

Snapchat Login

Phone numbers paired with user names of over 4.6 million alleged Snapchat users were posted online by hackers, a few days after a security research group claimed a vulnerability in the social sharing service that could allow attackers to match phone numbers to Snapchat accounts. “This database contains username and phone number pairs of a vast majority of the Snapchat users,” said a post on website The account has since been suspended, apparently by the hosting service. A cached version of the site can be viewed here. The information was acquired through the recently patched Snapchat exploit and is being shared with the public to raise awareness on the issue, according to the post. “The company was too reluctant at patching the exploit until they knew it was too late and companies that we trust with our information should be more careful when dealing with it,” it added.

The hackers said they had “censored” for now the last two digits of the phone numbers in order to minimize spam and abuse, but asked people to contact them for the uncensored database, which they may agree to release under certain circumstances. Gibson Security had published proof-of-concept code last week that takes advantage of the “find_friends” feature in the Snapchat application programming interface (API) to iterate and match the phone numbers of users to their Snapchat accounts in a short period of time. Gibson first revealed the vulnerability and other issues in August.

“Theoretically, if someone were able to upload a huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code, or every possible number in the U.S., they could create a database of the results and match usernames to phone numbers that way,” Snapchat wrote in response last week. “Over the past year we’ve implemented various safeguards to make it more difficult to do,” it added. “We recently added additional counter-measures and continue to make improvements to combat spam and abuse.” After the release of the SnapchatDB database, Gibson said in a Twitter message that it knew nothing about SnapchatDB, but it was a matter of time until something like it happened. “Also the exploit works still with minor fixes,” it added. Snapchat could not be immediately reached for comment.

”People tend to use the same username around the web so you can use this information to find phone number information associated with Facebook and Twitter accounts, or simply to figure out the phone numbers of people you wish to get in touch with,” according to the post on

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Small Business SEO | “Top 10 SEO New Year’s Resolutions for a Successful 2014”

Source     : Search Engine Watch
By              : Grant Simmons
Category :  Small Business SEO , Orlando Search Engine Optimization

It’s been quite a year for SEO folk everywhere. As 2013 shutters its doors and 2014 beckons, it’s an opportune time to reevaluate, reassess, and revisit SEO tactics. In the spirit of a New Year’s Eve edition, I’m presenting some of the most popular (according to the US Government) New Years Resolutions through an SEO lens, in the hope of spreading some good cheer and great strategy along with a very happy new year to you and yours! Without further ado… below are the top 10 SEO resolutions for your 2014 success!

1. Drink Less SEO Kool-Aid

In the SEO world, there’s a fire hose of information. It’s easy to drink the Kool-Aid of popular industry experts. Although there are some folks who are worthy of quoting and following, I’d lay off the hard-liquor-high until you’ve actually tested “expert” recommendations and seen the results for yourself.It’s easy to get intoxicated with the SEO practice du jour, but it’s sobering when you’re trying to justify a bad outcome to a client by saying, “but [enter SEO expert name here] said it worked for [enter big brand website name here].”

2. Eat Healthy SEO Fare

The Internet is fueled by great content, and the healthiest of content is unique, valuable, authoritative, and share-worthy.Google’s Matt Cutts said recently that 25-30 percent of the content on the web is duplicate. Although that might make you feel a little peckish for some long form articles, you need to focus on the best in healthy snacks; link-inspiring user-generated content, educating prose, expert opinion, multimedia munches and share-demanding content desserts.

3. Get a Better SEO Education

With great resources like Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Moz, and Google themselves, there’s no reason not to better educate yourself as to the trends and updates in the SEO industry.Set up an RSS feed of your favorite resources and spend the first 15 minutes of the day reviewing, interacting, asking questions, and learning a little more about the constantly evolving landscape of search, social, display and paid search. The future is cross-channel attribution, and learning more about more is a sure way to stay on the cutting edge and in demand.

4. Get Your Site Fit, Lose Excess Code Weight

2014 is sure to (finally) be the year of mobile, right after the year of mobile that was 2013. And if your business relies on localized, mobilized, and focalized customers, then a mobile optimized site is a necessity! To get your site fit, focused, slimmed down, and ready for a mobile push, get implementing responsive web design, a specialized mobile site, or app based experience. Whichever you chose (and Google recommends in most cases a well-engineered responsive site), make certain to trim excess code, optimize images, squeeze scripts, and lighten server loads to deliver the best (and fastest) mobile experience you can.

5. Manage SEO Stress

As SEO professionals, I’m not sure we’re ever not stressed with Google updates, client requests, deadlines, and migrations where redirects were “overlooked” by tech teams, but that leads to the best stress management recommendations: stress testing every recommendation and implementation! Twice. At least.SEO isn’t an exact science, but it is something that requires technical savvy, sophistication, and strategy to ensure alignment with search visibility goals. The best way to manage technology stress is to test, test, and keep testing, everything from user site engagement, to site usability, to server stress tests, to guarantee an optimal onsite experience. Managing stress is easy… you just have to plan to do everything perfect.

6. Give Up Bad Habits

Everyone has vices, easy “go-tos” when the going gets tough; the link schemes, overseas outsourced content, or short cuts for short-term gains. Now’s the time to resolve to “never puff again” by implementing long-term strategies via sustainable tactics to ensure online success. Go cold turkey and you’ll find the world of fresh thinking (and fresh air) opens up, and you can return to the fundamentals of:

  •     Understanding the customer’s journey.
  •     Creating content that connects with individual intent.
  •     Leveraging engagement to drive loyalty, visibility and discoverability.

Give up the bad habits, and adopt a fresher, longer-term outlook!

7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The popular resolution to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” might very well be made for eco-friendly reasons, but applies equally well to your website content strategy. Panda bought us thin content awareness, and recent messages in Google Webmaster Tools underscore the need to reduce or remove content that isn’t user-focused, user-useful or share-worthy. As for reusing and recycling, for content that connects with core intent (and context), your focus should be on intelligent repurposing of content copy, content elements, content themes and content ideas, to create unique and aligned articles, rejiggered for different platforms, mediums, formats and audiences.

8. Save SEO Money

Many folks look to the New Year as a time to be frugal, put some cash away for a rainy day, and generally be more careful where they spend.The goal for SEO professionals isn’t to save money. Rather, it’s to leverage data, metrics that matter, and broad analytics to spend smarter and/or justify budgets and efforts. Although the initial outcome may be more less money in the bank, investing in data-informed areas of opportunity will almost definitely pay off in the long term, through additional revenue, valuable insights and happier customers.

9. Take a Trip to an Industry Conference

I can’t put a value on the information, networking or camaraderie I’ve experienced through some of the great industry events I’ve attended (including SES conferences!) It’s one of the easiest ROIs in SEO to return from 2 or 3 days of intensive learning and impart the knowledge gained to work colleagues and your boss. Taking a little trip doesn’t have to be expensive either. With conferences that offer East and West Coast venues (and everything in between), inexpensive airfares when you book in advance, and advanced conference ticket deals, you’ll find the value of taking a learning trip gives you the tips, knowledge, and tools to help both your site or your clients sites succeed.

10. Help Other SEO Folks

It’s simple. Give back! For those starting out in search, you have a unique perspective and valuable insights in the questions you ask. For those seasoned folks, it’s important to realize that your experience has value to the industry as a whole.Some of the best information I’ve learned has been from both these groups, beginners asking hard questions, and SEO pros sharing a trick I hadn’t thought of. In a season of giving, write a blog post, conduct a webinar, share some survey results, or take an SEO newbie under your wing to share the wealth of knowledge!

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Orlando Search Engine Optimization | “New “Content Grouping” In Google Analytics Lets Your Group & Compare Content And Product Type Performance”

Source      : Marketing Land
By               : Ginny Marvin
Category : Small Business SEO , Orlando Search Engine Optimization

Google Analytics

Google Analytic’s

Google announced the launch of a new feature called Content Grouping to help users analyze performance of product and content categories. If you’ve been using Advanced Segments to aggregate products or types of content, Google says Content Grouping will be an easier and more helpful way to look at aggregated aggregated data.

A couple of things to note:

Content Grouping supports page grouping in three ways: through tracking code, a UI-based rules editor, and/or UI-based extraction rules. Once implemented, Content Groupings become a dimension of the content reports.  Users can see their data based on each group in addition to other primary dimensions. You can create up to five Content Groupings. Under each of those, however, you can define an unlimited number of Content Groups. For example, if you wanted to compare aggregated sales by Department, then you might create a Content Grouping called Department, and within that Content Grouping create Content Groups for Men, Women, Children. That would allow you to compare performance of the men’s, women’s and children’s clothing departments.

You can view aggregated numbers for all the pages in a product category and then drill down to see performance data for individual URLs. To get started, you create Content Groupings at the view level, under Admin > <view> > Content Grouping.

Data takes 24 hours to populate into reports. Content Grouping statistics can show up in Content reports that offer “Content Grouping” as a primary dimension. “Content Group” can also be used as a dimension in custom reports.

Here is Google’s introductory video for Content Grouping:

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Orlando Search Engine Optimization | “Best Apps For Your New Tablet Or Smartphone”

Source      :  Technology News
By               :  The Age Technology
Category  :  Small Business SEO , Orlando Search Engine Optimization

So you’ve got a brand-new smartphone or tablet. Its gleaming screen is hypnotic. It feels like the future as it nestles, or perhaps just perches, in your hand. But until you download some apps, all its amazing 21st-century potential is unrealised. Yet there are millions of apps to choose from. Where to start?

Don’t panic. Here’s a selection of great, basic apps to get you going.

Let’s start with some games. Sky Gamblers: Cold War from Atypical Games has 3D graphics so impressive that it is almost as if you had a game console in a device you can put in your pocket. This $5 iPhone or iPad game puts you in the cockpit of aircraft from the Cold War era. You steer by turning your device in the air, and control various systems and weapons by tapping on icons or swiping on the screen. The game has dramatic missions and is great fun. It’s also an ideal app to show off the power of your new device to a friend.

On Android a similar game is Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, from the makers Namco-Bandai. It also has good graphics and the same sort of complex gameplay. It’s free, although it costs up to $3 to unlock missions and aircraft. There is also Air Supremacy on iOS for $1, but I feel the Cold War version is better.

For an alternative to a war-themed game, try Infinity Blade 3 on iOS and Dragonslayer on Android. These are fantasy games with amazing 3D graphics that place you on an adventure in a mystical land with just your wits and sword skills to save you. Infinity Blade 3, which is also perhaps the most graphically wonderful game you’ll see on an iOS device, costs $3. Dragonslayer is free on Android.

You probably have heard of Angry Birds, a wonderfully odd puzzle game where you catapult moody avians to destroy buildings made by evil pigs. The latest, Angry Birds Star Wars 2, is free on iOS and Android and is hilarious to play. Its puzzles and hidden levels have kept me amused for too many hours to count. There is a Windows 8 version too that will cost you a dollar.

For a different puzzler, check out Candy Crush Saga, which has been downloaded half a billion times. It’s a bit like the classic Tetris, with cute graphics and simple but addictive gameplay. It’s free for iOS and Android.

With social networking apps you can experience the thrill of sharing news or photos or even video about what you’re up to with the world in real time. Twitter (free on iOS, Android, Windows Phone), Facebook (free on iOS, Android and Windows) and Instagram (free on iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8) are all worth checking out. Again, these apps come with a warning – you may use them much more than you expected.

But don’t forget that smartphones and tablets have more uses than merely to gossip or play games. How about using them to get you from A to B? Waze is a powerful GPS app to try. It replaces that old device that you used to suction onto your car’s windshield with a modern mapping system that is constantly improved by its community of users.

As well as the usual tricks of showing a map and speaking turn-by-turn directions, Waze offers real-time traffic data and alerts for incidents such as traffic jams or accidents. The app has some quirks, like requiring a network connection for live data, thus eating up your mobile data allowance, and its cutesy graphics may not tickle your fancy. But it is free, and available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

For more real-time data for the world around you, download Layar or Junaio to tap into some of the same “augmented reality” vibe that Google’s Glass headset is championing. These apps turn your device into a digital window.

You hold your device up and the screen will show a view through the camera’s lens. Superimposed on top of this view is all sorts of additional data you select from a library of different “layers,” including information like the identity of boats you can see on the ocean, or photos that Twitter users nearby have shared.

Layar (iOS, Android) and Junaio (iOS, Android) are free and may amaze you with the amount of information you can find within moments. But this technology is quite new, so be prepared for a bit of a learning curve with the apps and occasionally unreliable performance.

Finally, check out the amazing power of Shazam. This app listens to music you hear in public, as you sit in a coffee shop, for example, and automatically identifies the tune for you. It’s magical to see in action, and it even offers links to buy the music if you really like it. Shazam is free on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

These, of course, are just the beginning. There are many thousands more out there – many free. Do some of your own exploring, and you’ll find apps for everything. Just be careful about spending surprising amounts of money on in-app purchases, particularly in games.

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Orlando Search Engine Optimization | “7 Must-Know Keywords In Services Marketing”

Source   : Business 2 Community
By       : John Steele
Category : Small Business SEO , Orlando Search Engine Optimization

Services marketing covers the marketing of both goods and services and typically refers to the marketing of both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) services. This article will give you an overview of services marketing with seven simple keywords: quality, organization, knowledge, planning, pricing, communication and relationship.

In services marketing, quality is not only about the product, but also related to the service delivered. In a highly competitive industry such as professional services, good product is just an entrance ticket. What’s more important is the customer satisfaction level of your daily services. In fact, the products customers like most are those which don’t even need any support or service. If this cannot be met, customers then want professional services which can get issues solved to their satisfaction really fast. Customers will review the whole service process. So it’s imperative for professional service providers to look at the service delivery process and result from customers’ eyes. When defining service quality, we should take the following two aspects into consideration. Firstly, the service quality of a professional service provider should go beyond customers’ expectations. Secondly, service quality is determined by how customers feel. Therefore, service providers should pay close attention to the elements that affect customer expectations, which include commitment to customers, customers’ past experience, public reputation of the company, etc.

Here’s an example on how customers’ expectations are neglected. A friend of mine brought a new air conditioner. Three days later, my friend found that the cooling system of the air conditioner stopped working. So he called the service center and was told that they had recorded the case and would send someone in the maintenance  team to his home at 2 o’clock that afternoon to get the issue fixed. My friend waited for several hours that afternoon, but neither anyone showed up nor anyone from the company called in to offer an explanation. My friend called the service center again. The answer was that the maintenance team was too busy that day. So they rescheduled the home service time to next morning. Still, no one showed up that morning. Helplessly, my friend called the service center again, and again, they said, they were too busy and finally, they moved the home service time to next afternoon. Someone did show up that afternoon. However, after confirming the issue was a quality issue instead of an installation one, he said that it was out of his responsibilities so he couldn’t help. What followed was even crazier. The service center called in later saying that a key component of the air conditioner was broken and need to be replaced. My friend didn’t agree and requested a change or refund. The service center said they need to submit the request for approval, but then there was no response at all… What a nightmare! With such a terrible experience, who dare to buy from the company anymore? Delivering quality services sounds obvious. But there are still many companies making simple mistakes.

Delivering quality services is an organization-level activity. Everyone in the organization is involved. Once I went to a bank, which was doing quite well in both physical image and banking services. One thing not so perfect was that the security guard, who ran into your eyes immediately after you stepped into the bank, stood there casually leaning on the door in not so tidy dressing. As a suggestion, I told the bank that the code of conduct of their security guards can be improved. The bank responded that the security guards were assigned to the bank by another company. They weren’t direct employees of the bank. Sounds reasonable. But customers won’t

know that and even if they know, they won’t care. They want a perfect service experience and we are responsible for delivering it to them, no matter how. We should commit ourselves to deeply understanding customers’ needs and wants, so as to provide services that can not only satisfy customers but also exceed their expectations. This requires us to build a customer oriented organization with the employment of services marketing principles.

A rigorous marketing plan is usually based on information or data, where industry knowledge is essential. We can make comprehensive and systematic market researches to define the customer base to be served as well as the marketing questions generated around them and then use the data to guide marketing activities. For instance, who are our clients? What really matters to our clients? How do our clients review and choose their service providers? In which ways should we reach out to them? Or what
is the motivation or goal of our service?

No one is willing to make a random choice at the cost of possible waste of time and money or even risking the company’s future. Strategic planning functions like a gear which can be used to match our goal and capability with the ever-changing environment. And to make a good plan, we need to take a lot of elements into consideration, such as internal environment, market environment, public environment, competitive environment and so on.

When offering paid services, we need not only develop services that attract customers, but also price them appropriately. Pricing of services is slightly different from that of physical goods. Customers may also have non-financial costs so they tend to be more cautious when purchasing a service. There is an interesting story. When a coat is priced at $30, for a month, no one buys it. However, when the price of the same coat is increased to $100, it’s sold out in a week. Sometimes, higher price may become an advantage. This is especially true in service-based businesses, where customers can not see or touch the final delivery. For many customers, pricing indicates the quality of the service in a large degree. Low price may cause customers to doubt about the professionalism.

Professional service is often about delivering information to customers. The challenge, therefore, is to make sure the information delivered is correct, accurate and effective. Multiple tools can be utilized for customer communication, such as advertising, field sales, promotion, publication, direct marketing and so forth. We must ensure that every member in our team has the same answer to questions regarding the communication, such as what to be communicated, to whom, how, the expected results, etc. In-person sales may be the most important sales tool for most professional services agencies, as personal communication is very helpful both in converting potential customers and in retaining existing customers.

Most people enjoy working with others and yearn to build solid relationships, which is especially obvious in the professional services area. Having a strong connection benefits both parties in the relationship and simplifies the job, as it saves clients from continue seeking, evaluating, selecting and developing new providers.

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