Small Business Guide To DIY SEO

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How to boost your business up the search engine rankings

SEO may seem like a ‘dark art’ but there are some simple steps you can take to make your business more visible to prospective customers.

Small business owners are often told that they need SEO to grow their business, but many don’t know why they need it, how to go about it, or even, in many cases, what SEO actually is.

If this sounds familiar, then read on. SEO might seem like somewhat of a ‘dark art’, but it is something that you can easily learn and put into practice. We’ve put together some advice and guidance to introduce you to the SEO basics and help you make SEO work for your business.

So, what is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In a nutshell, this basically means optimising a website so that it ranks as highly as possible on search engine results pages.

Think about how you use the Internet. These days, most online experiences begin with a search engine and, generally speaking, the first five results that appear get the majority of clicks. So, if your website is languishing on the second page of a google search, it’s very difficult for prospective customers to find you. And if your customers can’t find you, they may find your competitor instead.

There are a number of elements to SEO, some more complex than others. Here are some of the more basic steps to get you started on your SEO journey

Choose your keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases that people might use when searching for a business such as yours, and when it comes to SEO success, selecting the right keywords is crucial.

For the best results, you should select words and phrases that your customers already use to talk about your business, so consider carrying out some simple market research with your customers such as a short survey or some face-to-face questions.

Ideally, you’re also looking for keywords that have a high search volume combined with a low-medium level of competition. Test your preferred keywords by entering them into the free Google Keyword Tool.

Don’t forget to also include key phrases which include your local area and variations of that area. For example, Essex digital marketing company, SEO Essex Co, explain that you should target a range of keywords, which include your county, local town, and a variety of services in combination with location searches. Danny Hall says: “Always think about where your customers are and what they will search for. You might be based in the main town, but many people will first search for services more local to them, so develop a campaign that covers your entire geographic region”.


Once you have decided on your keywords the next step is to start optimising your website content. Search engines favour certain page fields, so by putting the right words in the right places you can help to improve your search engine rankings.

This is pretty easy to do and simply entails ensuring that a page’s keywords and phrases are included in the page title, body copy and URL. It’s also important to complete a keyword-rich meta-description for each page.

Free tools such as Boostsuite can help to flag up pages which need further optimisation.

Create regular content

Google has a preference for websites that are updated regularly, and writing relevant and engaging blog posts is a great way to keep your site updated.

Create a content schedule to keep you on track and don’t be afraid to ask other people to contribute content, whether it’s a post from a staff member or a guest blog from someone in a related field. Don’t forget to include links to relevant sections of your website where you can.

This is also a good opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your field, so make sure that the content you post is well-written and useful to potential customers. Good content also garners more views and shares on social networks, which leads us on to…

Go social

Google likes websites and business owners who are active on social media, and it tracks your social interactions such as likes comments and shares. With this in mind, it’s important to dedicate some time to social media if you’re serious about boosting your SEO.

Aside from improving your search engine rankings, having a good social media presence also offers you another way to connect with potential customers and make useful contacts.

Look past your own website

Successful SEO doesn’t just entail focusing on your own website. Looking further afield can also pay dividends.

Obtaining backlinks from trusted, quality websites can really help to improve your SEO and there are a number of ways in which you can do this. Get in touch with suppliers or people you’ve done business with and offer them a testimonial for their website if they can provide a link back to your site. Another option is write guest blogs, which has the added benefit of getting your name known in your industry.

And don’t forget your competitors. You can pick up some useful tips for your own business by reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ digital marketing activities

Taking it to the next level

Basic SEO can be pretty simple and straightforward, but it does require a fair amount of ongoing time and effort. And, as a small business owner, you may not have the resources available to dedicate to SEO activities in the longer term.

With this in mind, if you want your business to really compete in the search engine rankings you should think about calling in the experts.

SEO and digital marketing specialists come in all shapes and sizes, and can offer a number of different services. Perhaps you want to commission an agency to help you develop a SEO strategy that you can then run with, or maybe you would prefer to hire a company to devise and create regular content for your online channels.

Whatever, you’re looking for, you can be sure that a professional digital marketing company will have the expertise and resources needed to help you take your SEO to the next level.

How To Send Christmas Presents To Friends In Europe

Christmas presentsAll You Need To Know About Sending A Christmas Parcel To Europe

Friends and Family abroad love nothing more than personalised gifts at Christmas. But what items can you send and which is the best international delivery method?

Summer has just ended, so surely it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas? Not if you’ve got friends or family who live abroad. Christmas is a time when many expats particularly miss home, so a carefully packed parcel full of hand selected gifts is especially welcome. Give yourself plenty of time to choose the right items and prepare your package with care. If you have friends or family who live in Europe, then here’s a guide to sending them the perfect Christmas parcel.

Hand-Selected Gifts

Although online shopping sites such as Amazon and Marks and Spencer are quick and convenient, they lack the personal touch. Also if you want to send a variety of items and you’re using Amazon, you may find yourself dealing with different sellers who have different delivery times and costs. Your loved ones may end up receiving their gifts at different stages and it could end up costing you far more.

A collection of beautifully wrapped, thoughtful gifts, packaged in one parcel is far more meaningful and ultimately, cost-effective.


Choose a double or even triple corrugated cardboard box. New is preferable but if you’re using a used box, ensure that any labels are removed. Individually wrap each item in Christmas wrapping or gift bags but leave the outside of the delivery box plain.

Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap and place them in the centre of the box.  Fill any spaces left with styrofoam packaging chips.

Use high strength packing tape. It’s stronger than regular masking tape or sellotape.

To address an item to Europe you’ll need the recipient’s name, street address and postcode. Ensure the sender’s address is also marked clearly on the outside of the box. For European (EU) countries there’s no need for customs documentation.

Food Parcels 

Seasonal foods are always popular at Christmas time. A hand-picked hamper with favourite treats from home make a thoughtful gift, especially if packed with items that your loved ones can’t get in Europe.

It may be tempting to send homemade delights, but be aware that there are strict regulations regarding what you can send:

  • Choose shop bought items that are packaged and sealed in the original manufacturer’s packaging.
  • Foods should have a ‘use by’ date longer than 6 months.
  • Don’t send chilled items such as meat, cheeses and dairy products.
  • You can send wine beer and champagne, but items with an alcohol volume over 24% are prohibited.

Other Restrictions

Perfume and after shaves are popular Christmas gifts, however they are flammable liquids and therefore prohibited.

Electronic items and toys are also popular but ensure batteries are housed inside the device. All electronic items and toys must bear the CE approved mark.

Delivery Services

Most people automatically choose the Royal Mail to send parcels. However, price increases and a limit of 2 kg, means it’s not necessarily the best option. A quicker and cheaper option would be to send large parcels via an independent courier service; we recently discussed the growth of intra-European imports, many service providers do smaller parcels too. If you are sending a range of gifts to an entire family, grouping them together and using a courier service will save you time and money. You’ll only pay for one delivery service and your parcel can be tracked for extra peace of mind.

2.4% of All Romanian Imports are from the UK

The rock sculpture of DecebalusDespite being miles apart, trading links with Romania are getting ever stronger.

Exports to Romania increased by 17.5% from 2014 to 2015. However, the distance between these two trading partners brings its own challenges. 

Romania is one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and is looking to consolidate its economic growth as a market economy since joining the EU in 2007. Trade with the UK is a key part of that process, but parcel delivery to Romania from the UK can be expensive and challenging.

Trading partners

In many respects, the UK and Romania could be described as polar opposite. The two countries are separated by about 2,000KM, or 1,250 miles, the vast majority of which is land across more than ten other countries.

One has a stable political history of hundreds of years while the other is a newly established democracy; one is an island nation built with a reliance on international trade and the other is looking to build and develop its overseas partners.

Yet it is these differences that complement each other so well and create a growing interdependency between the two nations.

About Romania

Situated in the south eastern part of Central Europe, Romania shares borders with Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldovia.  It has just 225 KM of coastline, on the Black Sea. See to learn more about the country.

For many centuries Romania’s economy was based on agriculture. In the early 20th century, the country was one of the main European producers of wheat, corn and meat, leading to the epithet “the bread basket of Europe.”

Romania’s post-war history as a communist-bloc nation, particularly under the leadership of Nicolae Ceausescu, is widely known. He was overthrown in 1989 following a national uprising and the 1991 Constitution re-established Romania as a republic with a multiparty system and individual human rights of free speech, religion and private ownership.

From the 1970s there had been a shift towards heavy industries, but since the 90s, governments have focused on developing Romania into a market economy. This led to Romania joining NATO is 2004 and the European Union in 2007.


The country’s largest port is at Constanta on the Black Sea, with other river ports on the Danube. Sea freight between the UK and Romania might seem an unlikely and roundabout option, but can be the most cost-effective for larger shipments that are non-urgent.

The rail system appears outwardly chaotic, with a number of operators running different services in different regions. However, anybody encountering the UK system for the first time would undoubtedly take a similar view. Most regions operate an open freight system and the Romanian General Transport Master Plan unveiled in 2015 will seek to rationalise the rail networks.

A high volume of freight is transported by road, and this remains the method of choice for cost-effective transportation of small and medium sized cargoes.

Finally, Bucharest Henri Coandă airport serves as the main hub for air freight cargoes, with around a dozen regional airports scattered elsewhere around the country.

Exporting to Romania

Romania is and will continue to be a crucial trading partner for a growing number of UK exporters. Choosing the right freight service for your business is vital in order to save money and deliver to your customer on time.

How To Set Up A Cake Making Business

box of cupcakesSetting up your own business means that you can do what you love and earn money from it – a tasty prospect!

With The Great British Bake Off just around the corner, we’re all going to be trying our hand at baking some showstoppers of our own. Baking is a really rewarding hobby, and with enough practice you can become incredibly good at it. What if you want to turn your passion into a business though? Well, it can be done – here’s everything you need to know about building your own cake making empire.

Keep it legal

Red tape isn’t the most exciting part of building a business, but it’s probably the most important. So make sure that you’re operating within the law from the start, and keep in regular contact with the relevant authorities. That includes the tax office, your bank, insurance company and local council.

Spread the word

Once you’re up and running, it’s time to get the word out there. Most businesses’ first orders come from people they know, so tell your family and friends and give them your business card. To reach people you don’t know, set up some social media accounts and a website and start to make your presence felt online.

Find your niche

Don’t bite off more than you can chew – find a niche. By focusing on one particular kind of cake, you’ll be able to do that well. Maybe extravagant celebration cakes are your favourite thing to bake? Or perhaps you’re confident cooking up cupcakes? Whatever it is you’re more comfortable baking, build your business around that.

The future is bright

It may seem like a long way off, but you can turn your baking hobby into a great way of making money. The Gourmet Cake Company are just one of the businesses that have sprung up in the wake of the nation’s baking awakening, and cupcakes are flying off of the shelves! So why not take a leap of faith and try to take your cake making to the next level too?

What Brexit Means For The Property Market

London housesThe British people finally voted on whether or not to remain in the EU, and by a very small margin, the Leave campaign won. Britain woke up to see the pound at an all-time low and the stock markets in free-fall, as investors all over the world started to turn their backs on the UK economy. There is no doubt that there will be hard times ahead for the British economy, but is it really all doom and gloom?

Supply and Demand Driven Economy

Property is very much a supply and demand driven economy, and for a long time Britain has failed to supply enough new homes for its growing population. Of course, it is not only immigration that has fuelled demand, but also changing social attitudes and demographics of the UK – children want to flee the family nest sooner and people are living longer than ever before. Demand just keeps growing. The low cost of borrowing and Right To Buy schemes have also increased private home ownership in the UK.

Although demand is high there are many obstacles to building, such as local planning restrictions, lack of public investment, skills shortages and increasing cost of raw materials, which puts a brake on house building.

Safe As Houses

However, during times of economic uncertainty, housing has always provided a safer investment, and this is why property tends to buck the trend and outperform the stock markets and money markets. Residential property also provides a healthy income stream with some excellent returns on investment, far higher than can be achieved with blue chip shares. In addition to this, people do not trade homes on a whim – the stock markets may be in turmoil, with record numbers of trades being agreed today, but selling a property is a longer process, and this helps to protect the property market from panic trading.

Infrastructure Investments Will Drive Growth

The government’s major transport infrastructure upgrades, such as Crossrail, will continue to drive demand in new property hotspots around London, especially in Essex – a quick look at estate agents in Brentwood reveals that prices are already increasing in anticipation of the arrival of Crossrail. The northern powerhouse continues to promise growth, which will see increased demand in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Property Is A Long-Term Investment

Property is almost always a long-term investment. Although some people do enter the buy-to-let market with interest only mortgages in the hope to make a quick profit after a few years, most investors are thinking about returns on investment over decades, not years. Combine this with the fact that the average net income on a property investment is six times the BoE base rate, and the property market looks more secure than ever.

Low To Zero Interest Rates

In fact, there is already talk of interest rates being cut to zero percent this year. Many UK householders are straddled with debt, with large mortgages, credit card debts and personal loans. The government cannot afford to raise interest rates for fear of a surge in repossessions leading to another economic collapse on par with the 2008 credit crunch crisis. Mark Carney has already confirmed that interest rates will remain low.

Britain may be poised to leave Europe – the process may take two years and still needs to be approved by Parliament – but as far as the property market is concerned, investors look set to remain, and the property market actually looks stronger than ever before.

Private Limited Company or Self Employed The Pros and Cons of Each Business Setup

It sounds like a dilemma brought from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Should you choose a Private Limited Company over being self-employed? Today we are going to review the pros and cons for each option, so you can decide which one fits your interests and needs better. Our article has been written to be as complete as possible, yet it’s short and concise. The information shared here will allow you to know which option to choose, because our end goal is to help you to choose the right options, for a successful entrepreneurship life.

Private Limited Company:

The advantage of this option is that you are likely to pay less tax. But it also depends on where you are located. Because you are subject to Corporation Tax, which will save you quite a lot of money in the long run.

It also makes you look a lot more professional. It can also help you to close more deals, because people in certain industries prefer to work with a private limited company than a self-employed individual. If you want to look more professional, then you should choose this route.

It will also make funding a lot easier, because banks will trust you more. So far now you can see that choosing this option has great advantages, and one of them is the funding.

And also there’s no excuse not to set up your private limited company, because it’s fairly easy. In the UK you can start it with merely 15 pounds, and let’s be honest: it’s dirt cheap.

In short: if you want to have an easier time with tax, look more professional and have no problems with funding, then you need to establish your own Private Limited Company. As we have said it’s cheap and fairly, so evaluate it and give it a try.

Self Employed:

Now it’s time to investigate about the benefits of being self-employed. It can also be an attractive option for many, and right here we will explain its benefits for you.

When you are self-employed you have less expenses, as you don’t have to time for pensions nor other corporate expenses presented by our previous option.

Another excellent advantage of being self-employed is that you don’t have be in a specific location, you can work remotely without problems.

And what about the professional image? It can be solved with a very solid portfolio. You can also set up your own website and have a blog where to share your knowledge, because this will portrait you as an expert, and people will want to work with you.

Another benefit brought by this lifestyle is that you don’t have to mess around with documents. With our previous option the hassle is not so big, but yet you will experience problems. So if you want to work stress-free and just care about your own stuff, it’s a lot better to choose to be self-employed, that may be your best pick.


5 Questions to Ask Your New Company Accountant

The accountant is a very important part of every company out there. If you want to hire the best one for yours, then you need to ask some questions which will show you if he’s worthy or not. These questions will bring you a clear image on who you are about to work with. And if you want to make your company successful, then you need to be very careful with this matter, and today on this article we are going to solve this for you, and bring you 5 powerful questions which will allow you to hire the best accountant for your company.

How Can I Contact You?

As we have said before, your account is a very important part of your company. So you need to have an easy way to contact him at any given time. You need to ask him what the best time to contact him is. Ask him to give you his or her email, along with a phone, cellphone and even a whatsapp number. You need to have many ways to communicate with your accountant, because there are many problems that can appear in the middle of the road, and you will need to contact him as soon as possible.

Can You Help Me With Tax Season?

Tax season can be quite a headache, so you need to ask him if he can help you to go through it, after all he’s the professional in the financial world. You need to talk about this with him seriously, because you can save a lot of money with proper assistance, and you must make sure that your accountant will be able to do it. Ask him how he can help you, so you can see if he’s saying the truth or lying.

How Can You Help My Business Grow?

Every person you hire for your company must add some value. And that includes your accountant. Cut off the fluff and ask him directly this question. If he responds very well, then he may be a good pick, because he knows what his worth is, and what his abilities are and how they can help your business grow. And this is excellent, because it means you are working with someone who really knows what he’s doing.

Can You Determine The Value of my Company?

Your accountant should be able to do this, because it’s part of his skills set. It’s also a nice question to set the pretenders out of the real deals. If he responds that he can, and explains you how he will do it, then he may be the accountant you are looking for.

Can You Give Me a Hand With Business Contracts?

Your account is your business partner, so more than once you will need his help with business contracts, you need to have him near and know that you can count on him. Ask him this and let yourself know if he’s someone you can rely on.

How Much Does It Really Cost to Develop an App for Your Business

Do you want to develop an app for your business? It’s a very good idea in fact, because in a world that moves towards the digital scene, it’s a good thing to have your business present in most scenarios, and that includes the digital world. Because thanks to this, you will be able to target your customers online.

But how much does it really cost? We will examine the costs, so you can start budgeting and see if it’s a viable project for you. Because it can be kind of expensive, but maybe this is what your business needs to move onto the next level.

We will talk about 2 types of apps:

  1. Table-based app
  2. Database app

These are the two more popular options. We won’t go in detail to explain how much it will cost in regards of a specific OS (Android, Windows, iOS, etc). We will just provide you with the bigger picture. Let’s start with table-based apps.

Table-based App:

This app allows you to show your business info in a professional, engaging and elegant way. This is perfect for businesses with many services. The developer will create many lists, so that once a client clicks on them, all the information that’s relevant will pop up and be brought to the client.

This is useful for a wide myriad of businesses, especially because it’s straight to the point, and as such the development costs range between $1k-2.5K dollars. We know that it’s not exceptionally cheap, but for a solid app, this is what you are expected to pay.

The dev can also add a list exclusively for offers that can be updated whenever you see is needed. An effective way to bring your potential customers a way to know more about your business in an app.

Database Apps:

This is for businesses that want to have a highly didactic and responsive app to represent their business. The price here is a bit more expensive, a developer will bill you around $8K-10K dollars depending on how complex it is.

This is recommended for businesses with such a big budget, for small businesses it’s honestly an overkill, because your customers are likely not to need this.

These apps, as its own name suggests, are powered and administrated by a database. The extra cost comes because the developer will have to set up different logical functions, and this comes attached to an extra big cost.

So, if you think your company needs to a very interactive app, then this is the way to go. As we have seen, it’s going to be a lot more expensive, but it can help you to get an edge over your competition, because this professional app will speak very well about your company.


This is what you should expect to pay, of course, the price can differ from developer to developer, and the OS you want it to work for. These are facts you need to consider.