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The 10 Most Important SEO Tips You Need to Know

The 10 Most Important SEO Tips You Need to Know

A lot has changed in the world of search engine optimization – and there’s a lot of SEO tips out there.

However, certain fundamental principles remain unchanged.

For example, targeting keywords with the sole intent of improving organic rankings no longer works with search engines but choosing the right keywords is still an important piece to the puzzle.

Beyond getting SEO juice, keywords reveal a lot more about users and what they’re struggling with.

With so many SEO techniques, it’s become almost impossible to determine which ones to stick to and which you can safely ignore.

Is link building a thing of the past? Should you devote your time and energy to on-page SEO? How can you write a title tag to drive your rankings with search engines? Where do SEO and social media intersect?

And, seriously, what are the truly best SEO tips that’ll lead to results?

Both B2B and B2C marketers want more search leads, because they result in 8.5X more clicks than paid search results.

Brian Dean did a fabulous job when he created a post showcasing 200 Google ranking factors. The post went on to become extremely popular and generated thousands of new leads from organic search for Brian.

This article may not be as in-depth as Brian’s, nor will I be answering all of the questions raised above. Instead, I want to show you the 10 most important SEO tips you need to know to help your site rank right now.

If you focus on these techniques alone, you’ll definitely drive more organic traffic to your blog and improve your search rankings without risking a Google penalty.

Let’s get started:

1. Remove Anything that Slows Down Your Site

Page speed is a critical factor in SEO.

In the past, you could get away with a slow-loading site. I recall when I had to wait for about five minutes before a popular news site fully loaded.

I’m sure you can relate to that.

That’s never a good experience but it’s the kiss of death in today’s marketplace.

A slow page frustrates users and ultimately discourage people from buying your product.

Data from Strange Loop shows that a mere one-second delay in page load time can yield a whopping 7% loss in conversions.

seo tips impact of site speed

In the mind of potential buyers, a slow site is an untrustworthy site. Period.

Page speed is vital to search engines, too. According to eConsultancy, “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.”

seo tips site speed impact on

As businesses become more aware of the opportunities to generate targeted leads and increase revenue through search engine optimization, there is a huge demand for speed.

10 years ago on April 9, 2010, Google included site speed as one of the all-important ranking factors.

This means that if your pages are slow, you’re fighting a losing battle for top organic listings, regardless of the quality of your content or your professional website design.

Get rid of non-essential elements that slow down your site. If you’re a WordPress user, consider deactivating plugins you don’t actually need.

Also, declutter your sidebar and put only essential widgets there.

To learn how to get more out of search engines by improving your page speed, visit Ubersuggest.

Step #1: Enter Your Domain and Click Search

seo tips use ubersuggest to check site speed.

Step #2: Click Site Audit in the Left Sidebar

SEO tips site speed check

Step #3: Scroll Down to Site Speed

SEO tips site speed check

This shows how quickly your site loads and how quickly key elements become available to users.

My desktop loading time is one second and my mobile loading time is two seconds. Both of these fall within the “excellent” range. As a general rule of thumb, if your site speed doesn’t score as “excellent”, you should make changes to improve it.

Review the advanced breakdown for additional guidance. For example, “speed index” shows how quickly the content of a page is visibly populated. If your website is lagging behind here, there’s a good chance visitors are leaving because they don’t want to wait for your content to load.

Every additional 0.5s it takes to load your site drastically increases the number of visitors that will leave your site. So, even an improvement of 0.5 seconds will increase traffic to your website.

2. Link to Other Websites with Relevant Content

Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger Media says:

Some people think, linking out to relevant and authoritative content pages is bad because it takes people off your page.

But, I don’t think so. Link building remains a fundamental part of smart search engine optimization strategy. I link out to tons of high-quality sites and sources, including my direct competition.

Why? Because it helps you, my reader.

According to Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz,

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll notice that I regularly link out to different sites. Whenever I write a new post, I reference other trustworthy sites, where appropriate.

SEO tips linking out to sites

You can’t expect to get from others if you’re unwilling to give first. For example, if you’re looking to get inbound links from authoritative blogs, one of the easiest ways to do that is to show your willingness to link out to those blogs from your own content.

Of course, you should only link out to content pages that offer tremendous value. It’s a good SEO practice.

More important, you can notify an influencer when you link out to them, and, if your post is valuable, they can link back to you, share the post, or even email it to their huge email subscriber list.

Link building is also all about quality, not quantity. You’ll build more trust in your niche if you have a few authoritative links rather than a dozen poor quality links.

3. Write for Humans First, Search Engines Second

Lately, I’ve noticed that more and more bloggers and content creators are going back to the old method of SEO, where keywords meant to drive search results surpassed the real qualities of engaging, valuable content. If that’s you, it’s absolutely time to change your mindset.

SEO tips old seo versus new SEO

Many people still aren’t capitalizing on long-tail keywords, preferring instead to attempt to manipulate search engines.

That’s the wrong approach.

Search spiders are just scripts — they don’t buy products, they don’t engage with you on social media, and they won’t become a loyal customer.

Copyblogger is my #1 go-to site when it comes to putting readers first. No wonder Brian Clark is so successful at content marketing. He’s even turned Copyblogger into a multi-million dollar digital marketing company.

SEO tips example copyblogger

It all happened because a marketer like you was passionate about helping people. That’s what drives me, too — and maybe you, as well.

So, what does it mean to write for users first, before search engines?

Well, it’s simple.

Forget that Google and other search engines exist when you’re writing. Instead, create content that will help someone. This is known as SEO copywriting.

Funny enough, when you put users first, you’ll actually write helpful content that search engines reward because search engines follow users. It’s not the other way round. At the same time, you’ll be enhancing the user experience and building trust with your audience.

4. Encourage Other Trustworthy Sites to Link to You

To a large extent, inbound links are still the lifeblood of search engine rankings.

When you combine dofollow and nofollow links, you get a natural link profile that even Google will reward.

Content marketing is all about creating high-quality, engaging content that drives people to link to you and share your content on social media.

Do you know why so many bloggers link to my posts?

The major factor in my success is that I invest a lot of time, money, and resources into creating a single post or other piece of content.

How much effort do you suppose when in to creating, “The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand”?

SEO tips create engaging content example

This wasn’t a post we threw together in an hour — it took several hours over several days to create this content.

When you’re at the forefront of your industry, creating useful content and linking to authoritative blogs, you’ll find that more people will link to you naturally. This is the essence of effective link building.

5. Have Web Analytics in Place at the Start

After defining your search engine optimization goals clearly, you need software to track what’s working and what’s not.

Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other private web analytics software solutions can help you track your success.

Tools like Crazy Egg also show you where your site visitors are clicking and how they navigate away from your site.

SEO tips crazy egg for website analytics

You should have these web analytics in place, even before you send the first visitor to your site or landing page.

6. Write Unique and Relevant Meta Descriptions for Every Page

One of the most important SEO tips that most people neglect is the well-crafted meta description.

The meta description is the first section that people see when Google serves up your page to search users.

Generally, the search engine giant doesn’t like duplicate content. Yes, there are times when there is a need to cite a paragraph or sentence from another site (and link back to the source), but if publishing duplicate content becomes your way of life, you will find it nearly impossible to become a long-term success.

In the same vein, duplicate meta descriptions could get you into trouble. But, even if you don’t get penalized straight away, you’re still not providing a great user experience.

You can’t have the same meta description for a page that talks about email marketing and a page on making sales. There’s a big difference in those topics and your meta descriptions should communicate that fact.

If you’re a WordPress user, you can fix duplicate meta descriptions by installing the All-In-One-SEO Pack or Yoast plugins.

Then, in your WordPress editor, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and add a unique title tag and meta description.

7. Use a Simple, Readable URL Structure

If users can’t read or understand your URL, then search engines may be confused as well.

Just check out the URL of this article: https://neilpatel.com/blog/10-most-important-seo-tips-you-need-to-know/.

Granted, the URL above is long, but it’s easy to understand, for both users and search engines. There are no numbers or characters, other than the words and dashes.

Stay away from page URLs like this:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/272531

Those numbers don’t tell users anything about what to expect from the content.

Remember, search engines follow search users.

Brian Clark once said that Google bots are like infants who need to be spoon-fed regularly. And, he’s right.

Even in this age of search evolution, including RankBrain, search spiders are still programs, not humans. You need to guide them accordingly.

Brian Dean’s structure is what people should be doing and what I do, as well. He ensures that only two to four words are included in any URL.

This makes the URL memorable to the user, search engine-friendly, and easy to type. Copyblogger does the same thing:

SEO tips url structure

Also, avoid stop words like a, an, the, but, or in.

You can learn more about optimizing your page URLs from this infographic:

seo tips how to optimize URLS

8. Build Momentum with Social Signals

Social media is an integral part of SEO strategy and social signals are important. You’ve got to focus on increasing yours.

It’s true that Google hasn’t added social signals into their ranking algorithm factors, but I’ve personally seen that social signals do impact search engine rankings.

Don’t believe me?

Well, several case studies have proven the impact of social shares, likes, tweets, and pins on search engine rankings.

As an example, Moz started to rank on Google for “Beginner’s Guide” after Smashing Magazine tweeted out the guide. Shrushti’s search rankings improved from page 400 to page one of Google due to social media.

If you want to get more social signals, the rules haven’t changed. Here’s the summary:

  • Create useful content that’s share-worthy across your social media platforms.
  • Add share buttons to your post and make them visible.
  • Encourage people to share, by asking them to.
  • Host a social media contest to get more shares.
  • Mention and link to social media influencers/power users in your post and notify them.

Social media is at your disposal. Use it, and use it well.

9. Use the Right Keywords in Images

Images are important in search engine optimization.

Google dedicated an entire section of its search results to images. This should tell you how concerned the search engine giant is with pictures.

When users are looking for a particular image, what do they search with?

Keywords.

For this reason, you should use the right keywords in your image names and accompanying text (like the caption). Of course, this is not permission to engage in keyword stuffing.

seo tips for images

However, if your image is of a “blue women’s hat,” don’t name your image “click here to buy hat.”

Always remember that in image search engine optimization, relevance is more important than creativity or cleverness.

10. Publish Unique Content Consistently to Improve SEO

According to the Content Marketing Institute, producing unique and engaging content is a challenge for most marketers.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, you need to be disciplined, when it comes to content creation.

seo tips challenges B2B marketers face

It’s even more important than you might think, due to something called the “fresh factor.”

Unique content is one of the factors that affect this freshness score, and, consequently, the search engine rankings for that specific page.

SEO tips the fresh factor

If you’re not Brian Dean, who’s mastered the art of content promotion and can regularly get tens of thousands of users to read a new post and share it with others on social media, the easiest way to optimize your freshness score is by creating content consistently.

If you’ve chosen to market your business online, then creating unique and helpful blog posts isn’t an option — it’s a must.

Bonus SEO Tip: Don’t Change Your Domain Name Regularly

The age of a domain or web page is also one of the top SEO tips you should keep in mind. Indeed, it’s crucial for your success.

For this reason, don’t constantly change your domain name. Pick one and stick with it, unless there’s a very good reason to change.

That does happen — just don’t make it a regular practice.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found these SEO tips helpful. If you follow the tips above, you’ll be on your way to higher rankings and more traffic.

Here’s a few final tips to help you reach your target audience:

If you’ve published a post in the past that’s no longer relevant to users, especially due to the recent Google changes, work to update that page. Or worst-case scenario, 301 redirect it to a newer, fresher piece of content on your site.

That way, you can retain the backlinks, social media shares, and other on-site engagement metrics it’s already earned.

Finally, learn to focus on and create content around long-tail search phrases (e.g., social media marketing techniques), and not head keywords (e.g., social media).

When link building, think quality, not quantity. And, don’t forget to make your web pages mobile-friendly.

If you’d like help with your SEO, reach out to my team.

Which other search engine optimization tips or techniques do you think are most crucial for improving search rankings? Are there any SEO tips that have worked against you? 

The Secret Software Mike Dillard Used To Build His Online Empire… (It’s Free!)

The Secret Software Mike Dillard Used To Build His Online Empire… (It’s Free!)

Ok, as promised, I am going to reveal Mike Dillard’s secret weapon that he has used on a daily basis to achieve amazing results in his business.

It’s a software found on every computer that has helped him build his entire online empire brick-by-brick, day-by-day…

Mike Dillard’s Secret Weapon to Help Achieve Success

No, it’s not Dreamweaver or an email auto-responder.

To begin… Mike makes it clear that there are two kinds of people in the marketing industry – those that DO and those that Don’t.

What do you mean John?

I am referring to those people that make things happen – and those that sit around waiting for results.

People that know Mike have noticed over the years that he has one particular trait that has enabled him to achieve great results.

He says that he’s no smarter than the next guy, has NOT had greater opportunities, or had more money to begin with (he was NOT born with a Silver Spoon in his mouth).

What makes Mike different from others? We can borrow the slogan from Nike, ‘Just Do It‘!

Every time Mike has an idea, he doesn’t sit around and think about it, he steps outside the box and just Goes for It!

He says, “I just took it for granted that, if you have a great idea, you go for it, right?”

The big difference is that most people, including myself, may have a little procrastination flowing through our veins.

We often come up with an amazing idea and think about putting it into action, but either talk ourselves out of it, or procrastinate to the point that it becomes a distant memory.

Days, weeks, months go by before we realize that we are still sitting in the same position we were a year ago.

How to Breed Positivity Among Customers and Clients

How to Breed Positivity Among Customers and Clients

For some young entrepreneurs just starting out, interacting with customers can be difficult and a little intimidating.

Yet, throughout my entrepreneurial and college journey, I’ve learned great communication is what makes both a company and an individual desirable to do business with.

For example, I find it enlightening to analyze a professor’s interpersonal communication skills –body language, vocal tone and facial expressions — while they’re giving a lecture. Many of the traits I have observed, I’ve used to conduct my own business.

While I have used learning to better my skills, communicating with customers and clients still isn’t always easy, especially when they are difficult. From my experience, it’s often best to put your friendliest foot forward — even when they seem more interested in getting under your skin.

If you are having trouble figuring out how to approach customers and make them feel comfortable, here are a few tips.

First impressions matter. How a client is spoken to on the phone, greeted by the receptionist, treated during their visit, the quality of the service and how they are told good-bye, all take part in the overall first impression of a business. These interactions will most likely determine whether the customer will be returning.

That said, try not to over complicate things. Simplicity, moderation and being consistent are key.

Don’t get too personal. Depending on your industry and work environment, how personal the conversation gets will vary.

Consider only talking about yourself if the client directly asks about your life. Customers are not purchasing from your business to hear about how crazy your weekend was or that your girlfriend just broke up with you. Keep things simple, brief and polished when it comes to talking about yourself. For more on the finer points of banter, check out Elizabeth Bernstein’s piece “Thank You for Not Sharing.”

Also, touchy topics such as politics and religion should only come up if a client introduces them. Even then, try to steer clear of these sensitive subjects and keep the discussion to a bare minimum.

Remember at the end of the day, it is about selling your product or service.

Keep in touch. Building a solid and professional relationship with a customer takes time.

To help you manage these important contacts, use online marketing and communication platforms like Constant Contact or Salesforce, which allows for a company to easily stay in touch with their customers and inform them on what’s going on in the business.

Fake Twitter Followers: How Many Do You Have?

Fake Twitter Followers: How Many Do You Have?

Despite Twitter’s efforts to crack down on the buying and selling of fake accounts, it’s still a booming business.

While Twitter estimates that fake accounts represent fewer than 5 percent of its active user base, independent researchers say the number is higher: “Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli say they found 20 million fake accounts for sale on Twitter this summer,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported. “That would amount to nearly 9 percent of Twitter’s monthly active users.”

Robot programming software makes it easy for spammers to create and sell fake accounts at scale. And while Twitter has worked with researchers to develop a more sophisticated filter, as with steroids, when the filter changes the market quickly adapts.

Are your followers fakes?

At least a few of them probably are. If you’re curious, there are multiple websites that will root out the robots for you, breaking down your following into three categories: fake, inactive, and “good” (i.e. active and not a robot). Relatively new to Twitter, I broke down my own (measly) 229 followers: 6 percent fake, 27 percent inactive, and 67 percent good.

For media organizations, the number increases. I checked out @Mashable, which the WSJ singled out as having a particularly heavy bot following. The verdict? Twenty-seven percent fake, 42 percent inactive, 35 percent good.

For celebrities, the breakdown is even more surprising. Katy Perry, the most followed person on Twitter as of November, is extremely popular with the robots. She has a larger percentage of fake accounts than Mashable does – a shocking 46 percent of her followers, according to Status People, are fake, and another 40 percent are inactive, which means her actual audience is a literal fraction of her official following.

How you can shortcut the system

In June, Barracuda Labs released an extensive report on Twitter’s underground economy. It found that the average cost for 1,000 followers is $11, and most sellers can be found on eBay or Fiverr.

If you’re willing to shell out more money, however, it’s possible to buy higher quality fake accounts.

According to the report, “Some are extremely sophisticated such as fastfollowerz.com , which provides extensive features, including 100% active followers, 5-year retention protection (no followers drop in 5 years), guarantee to pass StatusPeople detection, geo-target by country or city, target by keywords or profile information, monthly subscription, daily delivery, etc.”

The site also offers a “daily followers option.” For $19 a month, you’ll gain five a day – for $99 a month, you’ll gain 100.

“The more you pay, the better the accounts are, and the longer they last,” Italian security researcher Carlo De Micheli told NBC News. “There is a huge gap between the quality of fake Twitter followers.”

For high quality accounts – which include profile pictures, bios and the ability to tweet and re-tweet — prices can reach $40 for 1,000, said De Micheli.

4 Easy Tools for Cleaning Up Your Email Inbox

4 Easy Tools for Cleaning Up Your Email Inbox

Email can be a wonderful thing — until it becomes unruly. It’s on your home computer, work computer, mobile phone and tablet, and most likely across multiple email services. You have business messages, personal messages, reminders, invites, newsletters and so much spam. Where is that email invoice for your most important client? Can’t remember if you emailed your vendor about a change in schedule? It’s not a good situation.

The good news is your email inbox doesn’t have to be a source of stress and frustration. These tools can help you clean up your out-of-control inbox while making sure you don’t miss any important messages.

1. Mailstrom
This free online tool categorizes all of the email in your account so that you can quickly review, archive and delete messages in bulk. Sort your incoming messages by sender, subject, social or shopping. Choose every item in the list with a single click then choose an action. Mailstrom relays that information to your actual inbox and moments later the posts are either deleted or archived. You can also assign Gmail labels and set up rules to handle recurring messages.

It works with Gmail, Microsoft Outlook.com and other email services that are enabled for IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), a standard method of accessing and storing mail on a mail server. Since you can add multiple email accounts, you can see all of your incoming messages on one page. Even better, Mailstrom has a one-click unsubscribe button so you can rid yourself of future list emails without having to go through them one by one.

2. Triage
With Triage, your messages show up on your smartphone as index cards. Flick the card up and it goes into your archive. Flick in down and it stays in your inbox. If you need more detail, you can open the message and even reply to it if you have time.

With Triage on your phone, you can clear two dozen messages while waiting in line at the bank. The app works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, iCloud Mail accounts and most email services that support IMAP. The only downside is that it can’t handle more than one email account at a time.

Triage is available for all devices using iOS 6 or later and costs $1.99.

3. Boomerang for Gmail
For people who use their Gmail inbox as a to do list, there’s Boomerang. This app archives your messages then sends them to you or another recipient on the scheduled date. Need to follow up on an email after a conference? Send the email to Boomerang and the app will send it back when it’s time to respond. Client gone on vacation? Write the email now when you’re thinking of it and schedule it to be delivered a few days after their return. Boomerang can even send a message back to you if the recipient doesn’t reply within the time frame.

Boomerang is available online as well as an app for Android.

The service connects with Gmail or Google apps and it’s free for up to 10 messages a month. For $4.99 a month you can get unlimited messages on Gmail or pay $14.99 for unlimited messages with a Google apps email address.

4. AwayFind
If you want email downtime but are afraid of missing an important message, consider signing up for AwayFind. This app can send you a text message, voice call or push notification when you receive a specified email. You can set it to watch for a specific subject or an incoming email address such as an investor or a major client.

The service connects with Gmail, Google Apps and most providers that use IMAP. Accounts start at $4.99 a month for up to 100 alerts and one email account. For $14.99 you can monitor up to five accounts and receive 1,000 alerts including voice alerts. If you need more, there’s a $49.99 Max account with unlimited email address and alerts.

You can access the app online or download it free for iOS or Android.

5 Ways ‘Big Data’ Is Changing the World

5 Ways ‘Big Data’ Is Changing the World

Computers are leaner, meaner and cheaper than ever before. With computing power no longer at a premium, we’re swimming in numbers that describe everything from how a small town in Minnesota behaves during rush hour to the probability of a successful drone strike in Yemen.

The advent of so-called “big data” means that companies, governments and organizations can collect, interpret and wield huge stores of data to an amazing breadth of ends. From shoe shopping to privacy concerns, here’s a look at five ways “big data” is changing the world:

1. Data as a deadly weapon: The traditional battlefield has dissolved into thin air. In the big data era, information is the deadliest weapon and leveraging massive amounts of it is this era’s arms race. But current military tech is buckling under the sheer weight of data collected from satellites, unmanned aircraft, and more traditional means.

As part of the Obama administration’s “Big Data Initiative,” the Department of Defense launched XDATA, a program that intends to invest $25 million toward systems that analyze massive data sets in record time. With more efficient number crunching, the U.S. military can funnel petabytes of data toward cutting edge advances, like making unmanned drones smarter and more deadly than ever.

2. Saving the Earth: Beyond powering predator drones and increasing retail revenue, big data can do a literal world of good. Take Google Earth Engine, an open source big data platform that allowed researchers to map the first high-resolution map of Mexico’s forests. The map would have taken a traditional computer over three years to construct, but using Google Earth Engine’s massive data cloud it was completed in the course of a day.

Massive sets of data like this can help us understand environmental threats on a systemic level. The more data we have about the changing face of the earth’s ecosystems and weather patterns, the better we can model future environmental shifts — and how to stop them while we still can.

Customer Privacy: What You Need to Know About Social Media, Passwords and Transparency

Customer Privacy: What You Need to Know About Social Media, Passwords and Transparency

Credit card information. Bank account numbers. Personal information, including ages, phone numbers and shopping habits. These are all pieces of data that businesses collect from customers every day. How they handle this information, and how they protect customer privacy, are serious issues for entrepreneurs.

The debate surrounding privacy resurfaced most recently with CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), a proposed law that calls for the sharing of certain online information between tech companies and the U.S. government. Fearing that CISPA ignores a consumer’s right to privacy, privacy advocates and technology leaders including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, launched campaigns against the bill. While it passed a House of Representatives vote, it has been effectively shut down in the Senate, where policy makers cited insufficient privacy protections.

We spoke recently with Jules Polonetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington D.C.-based think tank that aims to advance responsible data-use practices, on what business owners need to know about customer privacy and managing sensitive information.

What follows is an edited version of our exchange:

Entrepreneur: What’s the most important issue to consider when it comes to customer privacy?
Polonetsky: Transparency. Most consumers will be OK with how their data is used if they feel that it is being used for their benefit. When consumers think that their information is being used against them, they push back.

4 Tools to Help Protect Your Online Privacy

4 Tools to Help Protect Your Online Privacy

Every time we get on the internet or pick up a mobile device, we expand our digital footprint by another few bytes. Websites mark your interests with cookies, e-commerce sites store your credit card number, newsletters need your email address and social-media sites track your birthday, job history and the names of your friends.

We used to accept this as the cost of convenience but identity theft and government requests for information are making us think twice about our online privacy the tracks we’re creating.

If you’d rather play it safe then end up sorry, these four tools can help you mask your trail and clean up the footprints you’ve already left behind:

1. DuckDuckGo
Whether you’re searching online for legal advice or a like-minded political pal, your search history has the potential to cause trouble if it falls into the wrong hands. DuckDuckGo is an anonymous search engine that says it doesn’t track you or save your search history. It also doesn’t filter your results, so you’ll see the same top returns everyone else sees when they search the same phrase.

2. Disconnect
If you want to see who is tracking you while you browse the internet, try adding the Disconnect extension to Firefox or Chrome. Then, as you navigate around the web, Disconnect tallies up the tracking requests and presents them to you by category such as advertising and social media. Then you can make an informed decision about which requests to block in the future.

Disconnect is offered under a “pay-what-you-want” model. Suggested donations start at $10 and can go as high as you’d like to pay.

3. Hotspot Shield
For more protection while you’re on the go, download AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield. This VPN (virtual private network) protects your privacy when you’re using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It masks your IP and they say their enhanced level of security makes it safe to transmit sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Hotspot Shield, which is available on iOS and Android devices, also allows for anonymous browsing and it hides your location so you can access sites with geo-blocking. The only downside to using any VPN is that it slows your connection but that’s part of the price you pay for security. The other part is a subscription fee of .99 a month or 11.99 a year.

4. SafeShepherd.com
Since you’ve already spent several years leaving an identity trail all over the internet, you might need a tool such as SafeShepherd.com to help you clean it up. The site runs a scan of data harvesting websites and “people search” engines then returns a list of spots where it found your address, email or phone.

If you buy a membership for $13.95 a month, SafeShepard can act on your behalf to get the data removed. It can also notify you when your information turns up on a new site and monitor Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t overshare.

 

3 Apps to Make Mobile Conference Calling Easy

3 Apps to Make Mobile Conference Calling Easy

Busy entrepreneurs know this better than anyone else: when you’re on the road, communicating with your employees isn’t always easy.

Say, for instance, you leave a client’s office with four pages of notes on a big project. Ideally, you’d want to meet with everyone involved while it’s fresh in your mind. But your developer is in New York, your copywriter is in Atlanta and the marketing manager is sitting at the airport in Los Angeles waiting for a plane.

Good thing the wonders of technology have made it so distance is no longer an issue. With one of these three conference call apps on your mobile phone, rounding up your employees for a quick meeting is easier than assembling a group in the office.

1. Voxeet
If you’ve ever been confused by who said what during a conference call, you’ll most likely appreciate Voxeet’s 3-D sound, speaker recognition feature. Photos of everyone on the call appear around a virtual conference table. When a person on the right side of the screen speaks you’ll see a visual cue and hear his or her voice in your right ear.

The Lie Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves and Others

The Lie Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves and Others

Most entrepreneurs don’t start with a plan. They may have a rough idea of where they want to go, but few have a full roadmap for how to get there. Still, entrepreneurs tell themselves and everyone around them they know exactly what they’re doing. “We are right on track,” “Everything is going as planned,” and “We couldn’t be better,” are common phrases heard in the startup world.  But it’s a lie. And you know what? It’s okay not to have a plan and for many, they may still find success.  Recent research published in the book Hearts, Smarts, Guts and Luck found that 70 percent of successful founders did not start with a business plan.

When I started my company AWeber, an email-software marketng company, more than 15 years ago, it just sort of happened. I was in sales at the time and realized that following up with prospects through automated emails increased sales and reduced labor costs. I developed software to do this for my colleagues and myself. I soon found out others were willing to pay for it. That’s how and why I launched. An extensive plan for my business didn’t come until much later.

So for those who have no roadmap (but keep telling people they are on track), here is a few tips to help get you started.

Think about the ‘who’ not the ‘how.’ Business plans force us to think about “how” we’ll get to our end goal. But it’s more effective early on to think about who you’re selling to. You may have a general idea of what a potential customer should look like but take it a step further. Literally come up with a picture of what your ideal customer looks like. If you’re artistic you can sketch something out but a stock photo can also do the trick. Take the time to write down as much about your ideal customer as you can including their name, interests, wants and needs. Put the picture in as many places as possible so that you can consider them every time you make a business decision.

Be ready to change faster than Superman in a phone booth. Inevitably when building a business, you’ll have to respond to unexpected crises at any given moment. It would be a lot easier to do if you had a red cape and super powers. But without that advantage, you’ll just have to adapt quickly. The truth is, even if you have a “plan,” it may not be worth much in six months or six minutes.  Instead of a business plan, think about developing a series of micro-plans. These should not be as forward looking or detailed as typical business plan, a page or two covering a few months will do. It will at least give you a starting point and make it much easier to adjust and iterate on.

See the future, write it down. Guess what? Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t have formal business plans when they started Microsoft and Apple. What they did have was a vision for where the products would go.  Your vision doesn’t have to be as world-changing as “putting a computer on every desk in every home” or “a computer for the rest of us.”  What matters more than the content of these visions is that they are very specific and simple to understand. Create a vision that meets these two requirements then make sure you write it down and keep it somewhere visible.

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