07Aug
0

Millions of websites and blogs are being launched every day. This makes it difficult for small business owners to promote themselves and gain exposure online. Many of them don’t know what to do to reach their target audience on the Internet. Since over 93 percent of online experiences begin with Google or Yahoo, it’s essential to optimize your website for the search engines. Local SEO can save your small business and bring you thousands of new customers.

Do You Really Need Local SEO?

Statistics show that more than 59 percent of customers use Google to find information on local businesses. About 75 percent never scroll past the first page of search results. The top listings on Google receive over 33 percent of the traffic. Approximately 70 percent of the links people click on are organic. Local SEO is vital to your success. If your website isn’t optimized for local searches, you’ll lose potential clients.

Local search engine optimization can be just as difficult as regular SEO. This form of marketing requires commitment and hard work. You can’t expect to get results overnight. Whether you run an online store, a physical therapy clinic, or a PR agency, it’s essential to set up a website and optimize it for local searches. From customer reviews to web directory submission and content marketing, there are various local SEO strategies that you can try.

Start with Keyword Research

Try to identify the words and phrases used by potential customers who are searching for your products online. For example, if you sell dresses in New York, optimize your website for the following keywords: New York wedding dresses, cocktail dresses in New York, party dresses New York, or bridal dresses in New York. You can also include the street or the neighborhood’s name.

When it comes to local SEO, it’s recommended to target industry-specific and geo-specific terms. Optimize your website for these keywords. Include them in blog posts, headings, titles, and pages. Keyword research is a vital part of search engine optimization.

Submit Your Website to Local Directories

Local directories are similar to the Yellow Pages. As a business owner, you need to submit your company’s name, contact information, and website details to the most relevant directories. Provide a brief description of your business and encourage people to visit your blog. If possible, include photos and keywords.

Add Your Business to Google Places

Google Places is a free service for local business owners. By submitting your contact information, you’ll rank higher on the search engines and enjoy greater visibility online. The key is to provide accurate data so that Google can link your business to a physical location. Don’t forget to list your website along with relevant keywords.

Ask for Customer Reviews

Ask your customers to leave reviews and write about your products and services. This will boost your rankings and make your business stand out. Many websites, including Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo! Local, and Citysearch, allow users to post reviews and exchange information about local brands.

06Aug
0

Have you been clinging to your chipped, broken and barely working smartphone for a little too long? Maybe you’re due for an upgrade from your provider — in another year — or maybe you’re holding off until you can afford exactly what you want.

After all, with the new phones coming out in the autumn, you can surely wait a few more weeks, right? The reality is that for most Americans a mobile phone is no longer a luxury but a necessity, in order to keep their professional and personal life on track.

The good news is: With options for actually affordable, brand-spanking new phones, you can stop waiting. It’s no longer going to break the bank to get an upgrade, so treat yourself. You deserve it.

If you’re still on the fence, consider the following four prime excuses for an upgrade. Surely you fall into one of these categories.

1. You’re going back to school

If you’re taking classes, summer break is almost over, and you’re going to need an upgraded phone to check in with classmates, download those lecture notes, and find out where the heck that lab is being held on campus.

Plus, no matter what your age is, there’s something special about that first day of school; you don’t want to be the only student without a sweet phone.

2. You need to act like a boss to be a boss

Just like you need to dress for the job you want (not the one you have), the same goes for your electronic accessories. What does it say about you if you’re using an old-fashioned flip phone?

Your boss isn’t going to take you seriously, because it seems like you’re not up to date on technology. It might even suggest you can’t manage your finances.

3. There’s someone you need to impress (romantically)

If you’re on the dating scene, you’re no longer judged by your car alone; you’re also judged by your phone. This might not seem fair, but if you ask someone for their number and put it into an embarrassment of a phone, don’t expect a return phone call.

4. Your work/life/everything is suffering

Do you frequently mess up plans because the calendar on your phone is wonky? Do you avoid texting because you can’t stand the keyboard or touch screen on your phone?

Smartphones are supposed to make your life easier, not become an added hindrance.

If any of these apply to you, you’re ready for an upgrade. Why wait?

 

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04Aug
0

A professional business card can add value to your brand and attract new clients. This tiny piece of paper reflects your company’s image and values. It’s often the first product customers receive from you, so it’s important to make it look great. Your business card makes as much of an impression as the clothes you wear or the way you talk. A poorly designed card can hurt your credibility. This is particularly true for those who’ve just started a business.

The necessity and relevance of a business card should not be underestimated. Here are the most important things to look for when choosing one:

Type of Paper

The highest quality business cards are made are made from thick, glossy paper card stock that resists damage. This material comes in a wide range of textures, weights and colors. Depending on your budget, you can opt for water resistant or UV-protective coating. Many stores are now offering business cards printed on wood, plastic, and even metal. These models are slightly more expensive than those made of paper, but it’s worth the investment.

Size and Shape

Business cards have a standard size. Most models boast a rectangular shape, but you can opt for custom sizes and shapes. Rounded corners, die cut cards, over-sized and under-sized cards, folded business cards, and wild-format cards are quite popular. Some feature a minimalist design, awkward shapes, and unique graphic elements.

Purpose

Before ordering your new business cards, decide how they will be used. Who will be receiving them? Where will they be distributed? What is your goal? Once you establish your purpose, create your logo, graphics, and photos. Determine how you want the client to react. Contact a designer or marketing agency to tell them about your ideas.

Choose Quality over Quantity

Many entrepreneurs choose to make their own business cards at home. This is a good way to save money, but it can affect your image. A poorly designed card implies a business that offers low quality services. If you’re on a tight budget, use a pre-made template or create your own design, but pay for professional printing services. It’s better to have 50 quality business cards than 500 cards that look cheap.

Pick the Right Colors

Select a business card that reflects your personal style and industry. If you sell food or flowers, it doesn’t make sense to use black business cards with a classic design. Choose a colorful model with vivid pictures and unique accents. You may also add your website colors on the business card, use the color wheel, or look at other people’s cards and create something similar. Familiarize yourself with the color psychology and then decide on the overall image you want to convey.

Choosing the right business card is not easy. With millions of models out there, it can be hard to decide which one works best for you. Use the Internet to learn more about business card styles and colors, take a sneak peek at your competitors, and test different models.

03Aug
0

woman-neck-pain

Neck pain can be, let’s face it, a pain in the neck! There are many causes to a person having sudden or chronic neck pain, but one thing that is certain is that it can be debilitating. When trying to get rid of neck pain, it is important to figure out what is causing it. If you find the cause, you can generally find the solution just as easily.

Technology can Byte

While many people do not associate pain with cellphone, tablet or even computer usage, neck pain has been associated with technology more and more in recent years. If you would like to read more information on the subject, this article can be a great place to start. Basically, the position that your head and neck is in while using modern technology can make you strain and stress muscles and nerves. This can lead to sudden onset or chronic neck pain. While a crick in the neck is painful, strained muscles are even more so. It is important to take proper care while using technology, if you don’t want to face the pain that can be caused by such usage.

Alleviating the Pain

More often than not, neck pain can be controlled or cured from the comfort of your own home. While some people recommend heat, others may recommend ice compresses. The truth is that a rotation of cold/hot compresses is going to function better than a single application of either one. Both cold and heat has ways of helping your body alleviate pain. According to the article, “10 Tips and Tricks that Reduce or Eliminate Neck Pain,” there are several home remedies for helping that neck pain go away.

Decide when it is Serious

Many people try to push neck pain to the back of their minds, but it’s not something that should sit on the back-burner. Due to the fact that neck pain can actually indicate a serious medical condition, it should be taken seriously. If after a few days, the pain persists or worsens, it is imperative that you contact your physician. Underlying health problems may not be easily detected by someone who isn’t trained in different types of spinal and nervous system pains. Even if the pain has only just started, if it feels like it might be serious, it just may be. The spinal cord plays an important role in your body’s ability to do many things. If there is a chance that you have somehow damaged your spinal cord, it could cause permanent disabilities or worse. In this article, you can find more information on causes of neck pain and different ways to alleviate it.

Neck pain is not a joking matter. Due to the extremely intricate make-up of the spine and nervous system, it is important to know when to see a doctor and when self-medicating is okay. If you are unsure, make an appointment with your primary healthcare provider. It’s always better safe than sorry.

01Aug
0

Earth-Security-icon

It is a well-known fact that private information on the internet is not necessarily secure. Data continually travels from one location to another via computers and a series of network links. This vulnerability allows hackers and scammers to intercept, collect, change and reuse information daily. Whether operating a blogging website or an online business, users must keep up with potential hazards and implement safety precautions.

Viral Invasions

Viruses cause a number of disruptions in computers, programs and networks, and hackers can easily create them. Some malicious attacks rewrite codes that make programs unusable. Others are designed to damage or destroy existing data. The attacks are meant to alter or steal information or damage a system to the point that it can no longer function. While most internet users install anti-virus software, experts also recommend backing up and updating websites regularly to prevent damage from possible intrusions.

Database Attacks

Hackers gain access to websites in a variety of ways. One of these is known in computer tech circles as the SQL injection. This type of intrusion occurs when a hacker finds a code vulnerability on a server. Whether you are blogging for fun or running a professional online business, a server intrusion provides access to your site. Once inside, the attacker collects log-in information and other valuable data stored in the server. In this case, you might enter your site and find unfamiliar postings, altered data or missing information. The chances of a website falling to a malicious invasion largely depend on the services used to maintain it.

Website Mistakes

Before choosing a hosting company, ensure that the organization makes continual updates and offers client services in the event that hacking should occur. If you are running your website on a budget, security may not be at the top of your priority list. In addition to host providers, consider using hosted web services. Web service providers have the means to protect the interests of all who make use of their sites. If determined to construct an independent site, avoid cheap hosting providers. These companies notoriously host numerous sites on one server. In the event of an invasion or a server crash, the small businesses using it greatly suffer.

Bot Invasions

Bots and web crawlers may provide site owners and web servers with an abundance of helpful analyses. However, when in the wrong hands, these tools serve no one but the hacker. Once a computer or server becomes infested with a bot code, the attacker has access to information using keylogging or screen-capture programs. Passwords and other private information become available for the taking. Hackers might send spam, initiate denial-of-service attacks or inject other types of malware. Online business owners using pay-per-click advertisement campaigns may become the hapless victims of outlandish expenses as malicious software causes click fraud. Regardless of the type of website you are running, it is important to ensure that it remains safe for you and everyone else. It is a good idea to use proper coding, anti-malware/virus software and other precautionary measures.

31Jul
0

Moving can be a hectic time in your life with all of the details to keep track of and loose ends to tie up before you depart to your new place. No matter whether you’re moving across Cook County or across the country, you’ll have plenty of work or do to ensure that everything goes smoothly. As you prepare for your move, staying organized will help save you time, money and frustration as you travel to your new home.

Deciding What to Pack, Toss and Sell

Before you pack anything or tell your Chicago movers what’s coming along, you’ll want to take some time to sort through your belongings and decide what to pack, toss, sell or donate. Getting rid of things you no longer use, need or love will help free up space in your new dwelling and reduce the amount of time that it takes to pack and unpack. According to this article on MSN Real Estate news, carving out blocks of two to three hours weekly for about two months before your move will give you plenty of time to sort through your belongings. This way, you won’t have to cut out all the clutter in a single weekend. However, if you have to move on short notice, a marathon session will still help reduce the amount of belongings you’ll be paying to move or put into storage.

Labeling Your Boxes

Once you’ve determined what’s coming along with you to your new place, you’ll want to keep track of what’s in each box. Otherwise, you have a pile of mysteries arrive at your destination. Label each box in a way that makes sense to you, that’s easy to read and that is simple for the moving crew to place into the right spot in your new home. An organized scheme such as “MBR #1.” “Kitchen #2″ and “LR #3″ could signify the first box to open in the master bedroom, the second box to open in the kitchen and the third box to open in the living room. This blog suggests maintaining a master planner that lists in more detail what’s in each box. Your MBR #1 box might contain the alarm clock, sheets, blankets and pillows you’ll need for your first night while LR #3 might have decorations that can wait a few days before being opened.

Unpacking and Organizing

Once the movers have transported and unloaded all of your boxes at your new home, you’ll begin the process of unpacking and organizing each room. According to this blog on Unclutterer, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up each room with the essentials for everyday living. Toilet paper and a shower curtain for the bathroom, dishes and utensils for the kitchen and a comfortable place to sleep your first night will help you ease into the process of unpacking your things.

30Jul
0

Affluent individuals who have been schooled in investment techniques are already knowledgeable of the various investment opportunities available in the public market, but the trend toward online commodity trading services has made investment a common individual method of building wealth. Most workers have a 401(K) retirement plan of some type, but many still invest in the market in other ways.

Commodity futures is one of the basic alternatives for even small investors because of the opportunity for quick high-yielding returns in certain sectors of the economy. It is no coincidence that the New York Stock Exchange is on its way to record highs. The future investment planning of the basic wage earner is helping fuel the growth, and much of that growth is in commodity futures trading. So, how does a beginner find their way through the myriad of commodity traders?

Why Choose a Commodity Trading Adviser?

Trading in commodities is not like trading stocks. When buying and selling stocks, the investor is focused on the stability and future growth of a unit of corporate stock. Investing in commodities is done on the price of specific products. Oil and corn are prime examples that also exhibit the wide range of investment possibilities. In addition, beginning investors will find that investment is essentially like operating a small business. Consistent growth is crucial during the first five years of any business, and the same is true of commodity investment. Having an experienced professional commodity trader adviser means that trends in the market will not go unnoticed by the novice investor, which in turn maximizes investment return.

Full Service vs. Self Service

Many commodity trader investment houses use both platforms on some level, usually offering a suite of significant tools for the self-manager. Beginners will usually opt for some form of manager or training before investing fully. The best method is always starting slowly and making prudent investments before moving upwards in terms of investment levels and high-risk options. Good balance is always recommended within the portfolio, and even having a part-time investment coach from a trading house can be a real advantage. This can also help control investment fees, which is also a serious consideration when choosing the right investment service. The company track record on volume and return is always a good indicator of overall sound investment judgment. Having a full-service trading adviser controlling your portfolio is clearly the simplest and easiest strategy when you have the right broker.

Investing Education

Regardless of the strategy chosen by the investor, any beginning stock market entrepreneur should educate themselves on the terminology and underlying theories associated with using money to make money. It is clearly a unique industry that includes high risk in many situations along with high reward when investing in the right product or company. There is a seemingly endless number of online investment courses and information available for anyone who is beginning the process of developing an investment strategy for the future.

Whether choosing to hire a full-service manager or taking a chance on investing alone, any money spent in training or for investment fees should be viewed as an investment in your future as well. There are always some types of service fees included, but they are just necessary costs of doing business that may create much more income than the amount of fee expense.

30Jul
0

pregnant

Remember that experiment where they told kids they could either eat the cookie in front of them right now, or wait different periods of time and then they were promised two cookies? It turns out, those who waited ended up being more successful and more intelligent than the ones who opted for instant gratification. Waiting to find out your baby’s gender until the birth may not mean you’ll be a more successful parent, but it can certainly lead to a more rewarding experience during the birth.

More and more people are choosing to wait in order to enjoy the biggest and best surprise of their life. While shopping for unisex clothes and getting creative at baby showers can be a challenge, for many it’s well worth it. If you’re expecting or TTC, consider the upsides to waiting.

1. Get the joy of choosing two names

Nothing is as fun as thinking about baby names while you’re expecting, but if you wait you can roll two names over your tongue or even think of unisex names. This lends to the element of surprise on the day of the birth.

2. Save money

It’s natural for parents to be (and grandparents to be) to overspend on clothes and accessories that will only be used once if at all. You see a frilly pink dress or adorable overalls and just have to buy it. However, shopping in gender neutral zones only or waiting to find out your baby’s gender can save a lot of waste. You’ll need it once you find out just how costly babies really are.

3. Opt into the greatest surprise of your life

It’s no secret that labor and delivery is tough, painful and arguably the worst part of being pregnant. However, when you have the best surprise of your life waiting at the other end, it can make it a little more bearable.

4. Prevent yourself from pink or blue overload

Parents to be can get a little nutty when it comes to decorating the baby’s room. An explosion of pink or blue can just happen, and you may regret it during the millionth diaper change when your eyes are being blasted with the same hue. Neutral tones for baby’s room is much more soothing and classic.

Whether you choose to wait or not is up to you, but there’s something special about that surprise element. Are you up for holding out for another metaphorical cookie?

29Jul
0

overtime

Many employees are unaware what the laws regulating overtime payment in Illinois say. Many employees believe that they are entitled to payment of one-and-one-half times their salary if they work any hours over their regular schedule. In addition, many believe their employer is required to pay them time and one half, or even double, their salary if they work a holiday or Sunday. However, in the state of Illinois, these two beliefs are not necessarily true.

Overtime Pay

In Illinois, an employer must pay time and one half an employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee works more than 40 hours in one work week. A work week consists of seven consecutive 24-hour periods, but an employer may choose any day to determine when the work week starts for their employees. In addition, an employer may have different work weeks for different departments, employees or divisions. However, once the work week is established, it must remain fixed. An employer may not change the work week to avoid paying overtime. Hours worked in a work week determine whether an employee is eligible for overtime. If an employee’s regular hours are less than 40 hours per week, the employer is only required to pay overtime on hours worked over 40. In other words, if the regular work hours for an employee total 35 hours per week, the employee would receive no overtime until they have accumulated over five hours more than their regular working hours.

Exemptions to Overtime

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lists some employee categories that may be exempt from overtime. Each exemption has its own requirements that must be met in in order for an employer not to pay the employee overtime. These include:

• Salesmen and mechanics who sell or service vehicles or farm equipment at dealerships

• Agricultural employees

• Some executive, administrative or professional employees

• Select radio or television employees in cities with a population less than 100,000

• Commissioned employees

• Certain educational and childcare employees

Holidays and Sundays

There is no regulation in Illinois or in the FLSA that requires an employer to pay overtime to an employee who works on Sunday or a holiday unless working those days causes the employee to work more than 40 hours in the work week. Employers may include a policy that offers employees time-and-a-half or double time pay on Sundays and holidays. If such a policy exists, the employer is required to pay overtime to an employee working those days.

Presidential Memorandum

In March 2014, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to update regulations regarding employees who are eligible for overtime. This could mean changes to employee categories who are exempt from overtime as well as to the hours an employee is required to work before overtime must be paid. In addition, the Secretary has been ordered to simplify overtime rules to make them easier for both employees and employers to understand.

Because many employees misunderstand the regulations related to overtime, a company may face a complaint from an employee who believes they were eligible for overtime that was not paid. When these situations arise, a business litigation attorney can provide advice and guidance on how best to proceed with an employee’s complaint regarding overtime.

28Jul
0

prescriptiondrugs

If you’ve ever thought that you’re paying too much for your prescription medications, you’re probably right according to this Consumer Reports article. Even those who have a standard medical insurance program that covers prescription drugs are paying higher prices than ever. Fortunately, there are many ways you can cut down your prescription drug costs without sacrificing your health and well-being.

Asking Your Doctor for Samples

Communicating with your doctor can help get the point across that you’re having trouble paying for your medications. Your doctor may offer you a month or two of free samples of medication or coupons to cut down on your out of pocket expenses. According to this article from the FDA, you can also ask your doctor about alternatives to pricey products. Show your physician your Medicare Part D prescription savings drug plan information to see if the medications you need are part of the plan.

Using Mail Order Services

Shopping through mail order pharmacy services can save big bucks on your prescription drugs, explains this Huffington Post article. Ask your doctor to write a 90-day supply with refills for your medication. You can send in your prescription by fax, mail or electronically to an online or mail-order service that participates in your Medicare Part D plan. Mail-order pharmacies don’t have as much overhead, so they can charge less money for the same medications. You can also enjoy the convenience of having your medication show up at your doorstep instead of having to head out to wait in line at a retail pharmacy.

Requesting Generic or Formulary Drugs

One way to cut down your out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs is to request generic medications instead of name brand. According to this feature from WebMD, choosing generic over name brand medications could save as much as 80 percent when it comes time to pay. Another way to save on your medication costs is to check with your insurance benefit program about its prescription drug formulary. A formulary is a listing of medicines that the insurer has contracted to provide at a discount. Choosing these medications over non-formulary drugs may also result in a significant savings. Combine generics or formulary drugs with a Medicare Part D prescription savings plan for the best level of savings.

Participating in a Prescription Drugs Saving Plan

If you enjoy the interaction with your pharmacist as well as the personalized services that you’ve come to expect at your favorite pharmacy, Medicare Part D plans are a good option to help cut down on your medication costs. Many independent and national chain pharmacies participate in these savings plans. You’ll likely find that most or all of the medications you need are discounted by these benefit programs. In addition to the savings you enjoy from your Medicare Part D program, you may get additional benefits or discounts from the pharmacy by using a customer loyalty card when you pay for your prescriptions.

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