Ideas to Keep Your Small Business Going—And Even Thriving—During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Small business owners have to plan for all kinds of scenarios, including economic downturns, but the COVID-19 crisis is one situation most of us probably didn’t see coming. Now that it’s here, many non-essential businesses have had to close their doors to the public, which has left their owners asking, “Now what?” We may not have an answer for what will work best for your business, but we do have some ideas and resources for how to keep going, and maybe even come out stronger, through this time of crisis.

Know Where to Turn

  • The good news is that you aren’t alone in navigating how to do business during this unprecedented time. The U.S. Small Business Association is a great place to turn for answers to your top concerns.
  • Along with government relief, some banks and corporations also provide loans and grants to help small businesses.
  • This guide will help you determine if your business qualifies for financial assistance.

Find Creative Ways to Cut Costs and Boost Business

  • Use these tips for reducing expenditures—and knowing which expenses you can’t cut.
  • Consider negotiating a short-term rent reduction or renegotiating your lease to lower your real estate costs.
  • These tips for remote work will improve your team’s ability to collaborate successfully from a distance.
  • Can you diversify your business to make your products or services available online?
  • Get inspired by these businesses that have adapted to meet a need during the pandemic.

Use This Time to Plan for the Future

  • Email is the best way to stay in touch with loyal customers. Carefully crafted emails do more than drive sales through promos. They also help maintain loyalty by showing customers how you’re handling the coronavirus crisis.
  • Spend some time improving your physical location to wow customers when your doors reopen. Installing new carpet is a great place to start.
  • Prepare for your short- and long-term future by making a three-month financial plan and by giving staff training to develop new skills.

Entrepreneurs are known for ingenuity, and that’s a major plus for small business owners who are worried about what to do next. Start with these resources and spend some time brainstorming ways your business can make the most of this time in lockdown. Yes, you may encounter setbacks, but you may also discover a unique solution that ends up making your business even stronger in the long run.

Photo credit: Rawpixel

Blog Post by – Elena Stewart

The Importance of having an SSL Certificate

If you own a website or a blog in 2019, you need SSL. It’s as simple as that. An SSL certificate is no longer a luxury; it’s an out and out necessity nowadays.

Want to know why SSL is essential? Here are 5 key reasons.

1. SSL Protects Data

The core function of an SSL certificate is to protect server-client communication. On installing SSL, every bit of information is encrypted. In layman’s terms, the data is locked and can only be unlocked by the intended recipient (browser or server) as no one else can have the key to open it. While dealing with sensitive data such as IDs, passwords, credit card numbers, etc., SSL helps you protect against the mischievous army of hackers and skimmers. As the data is turned into the undecipherable format by SSL, hacker’s skills prove to be an edgeless sword against the unsurpassable encryption technology of SSL certificates.

2. SSL Affirms Your Identity

The second primary task of an SSL certificate is to provide authentication to a website. Identity verification is one of the most important aspects as far as web security is concerned. There is no doubt about the fact that the internet is increasingly deceptive. In 2009, a guy traveled 400 miles to meet a girl he had met on Facebook, only to discover that he was being duped by two guys who supported a rival football club. However, not all such stories are funny. There have been cases in which people have lost thousands of dollars on fake websites. This is where SSL certificate comes into play.

When you want to install an SSL certificate, you must go through a validation process set by an independent third party called a Certificate Authority (CA). Depending on the type of certificate, the CA verifies the identity of you and your organization. Once you have proved your identity, your website gets trust indicators vouching for your integrity. When users see them, they know who they’re talking to.

Think of this as verified Twitter accounts. The only difference here is that you are required to verify your identity for the website instead of Twitter account. Such verification makes sure that no imposter creates a fake website pretending to be yours. In technical terms, this is called Phishing. Thus, SSL helps users drive to your real website, saves users from frauds and enhances your reputation.

3. Better Search Engine Ranking

In 2014, Google made changes to its algorithm in order to give the upper hand to HTTPS-enabled websites. This has been evident in various studies conducted by SEO experts around the world. One such study conducted by Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko.com shows a strong correlation between HTTPS and higher search engine rankings.

Who doesn’t want to be on Google’s first page, right?

4. SSL Helps You Satisfy PCI/DSS Requirements

If you accept online payments, you must know a thing or two about PCI/DSS requirements. To receive online payments, your website must be PCI compliant. Having an SSL certificate installed is one of the 12 primary requirements set by the payment card industry (PCI).

Therefore, SSL is essential—whether you want it or not.

5. SSL Improves Customer Trust

If it were up to us, we’d have renamed SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to TTL (Trust Transmitting Layer). Fortunately, it isn’t. But that won’t stop us from singing the praises of a TTL —err, SSL certificate. Apart from encryption and authentication, SSL certificates are vital from a customer trust point of view. The easy to identify signs inform the users that the data they send will be secured. And if you’ve installed an OV or EV SSL, they can see your organization’s details. Once they know that you’re a legitimate entity, they’re far more likely to do business with you or even revisit your site.

Google Makes SSL Mandatory in 2018

To give a safer web browsing experience from 2018 onwards, Google has decided to flag the websites which do not have an SSL/TLS Certificate installed on their website. If anyone fails to comply with this rule, all the popular web browsers used around the globe like Google Chrome & Firefox Mozilla will punish them by giving a warning message of ‘Not Secure’ on the URL bar. It could be possible that in near future website may even get blocked to load on the browser. No matter which website you have, from a personal blog to any shopping portal SSL is mandatory and by not following with it may result in loss of visitors which is not something a website owner would like to face.

Wrapping Up

How safe would you feel if your browser warned you about a website being “not secure”? Because that’s what will be shown in the upcoming version of Chrome if you don’t have an SSL certificate. Do you want that? Of course, you don’t.

How Images can make or break your Website!

Images can really enhance your website visualization and overall look but they can also hinder your website performance and load time. Here are a number of key points to keep in mind when adding images to your website:

Where can I get images for my website?

You actually have a few different options when it comes to obtaining images for your website.

Option #1 – you may already have pictures of your business or work. If this is the case you can send any photos you have to your website designer and he or she will add and upload them to your website for you.

Option #2 – You can buy Royalty Free Stock Photos from websites like http://bigstockphoto.com or http://gettyimages.com. Typically they come out to about $1.00 USD per image.

Option #3 – You can hire a Photographer to come in and take High Quality pictures for your new website.

Option #4 – You can do a Google search for images. This is where you really need to be careful because some images are actually Copyrighted and using them could land you in a bit of legal trouble if you don’t remove them when requested.

What Image Types should I use for my Website?

There are a lot of different image file formats types that you may come across. Photographs should always be saved as a JPEG and Graphics should always be saved as a PNG which is transparent image which can blend into the background with ease. Every other image type you should avoid and stay away from when it comes to your website.

What size should I make my images?

This depends on where you are going to place your images on your website. For example if you have a Slideshow on your homepage you will need to make your images slightly bigger to fit the slideshow. The larger images you use the longer it will take your website to load up those images on each page which may result in a delayed page load. If your website is slow loading due to large images you will want to make sure to size down your images so your pages load up immediately.

If you are adding images to pages make sure your images are around 600 x 600 pixels or less to make sure your website is loading up at a fast speed. If you for some reason have to use very large images I would suggest using some sort of image plugin that will help load the images up faster and reduce website load time.

Image SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

When adding images the Search Engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc… send whats called spiders to index your website. These spiders search through your website domain name, page titles, description, keywords and text on every page of your website. Once the Search Engine is done indexing your website your website URL gets placed on the web.

When it comes to images the Search Engines actually can’t see your website images unless they are attached with what is called an ALT Tag. This tag allows the Search Engines to see the image and associate it with a title. So for example if your business name is Web Tech Solutions and you are uploading a Logo image my ALT Tag for that image would be “Web Tech Solutions Logo“. Once that is in place you should then be able to Google Web Tech Solutions Logo and click on images and then your image should show up in the search results. Having ALT Tags on all your images also helps with your overall website optimization and SEO.

Image Quality

When it comes to your website image quality is very important! The images you use are going to be one of the deciding factors if someone is going to use your services when they visit your website. If you are using low quality images it will make your website and business look unprofessional. Your pictures are a direct reflection on how potential customers and clients perceive your business so always invest in having good pictures for your website.

4 Effective Strategies For Reducing Your Website’s Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is considered an important piece of information when it comes to not only website traffic analytics but also SEO. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of people who visit one article or one page on a website but then don’t visit any other page before leaving. There is a belief that bounce rate does have an impact on SEO with the most important part being getting a bonus for having a lower bounce rate than the competition.


Even if you’re not worried about search engine optimization (SEO), lowering a bounce rate means you have more visitors who are seeing more of your content and more of your pages and blog posts. If your bounce rates are less than ideal, improving them can only help your business to succeed.


Here are 4 powerful strategies to help reduce your website’s bounce rate.

Add an Introductory Video

A good introduction video not only helps move up your average visit time and time spent on site, but it tends to draw visitors in and make them curious about your website and who you are. Not only are they more likely to check out that page, but if you invite them to look around or check out a special page on your website, you’ll get a lot more visitors spending some time on more than one page.

Beautiful & Eye Catching Photo Near the Top

Many people don’t think about beautiful photographs as having a major impact, but if you go a step above and beyond the basic stock photos that so many people use, then you will get attention from visitors. Truly great photographs will also make many individuals look through your posts to see more.Include some at the end of a post, and have them link to other posts. It’s an easy way to keep site visitors engaged and entice them to spend some time searching through your site.

Avoid “Instant Turn-Offs”

There are certain things that make visitors leave quickly. Pop up ads, slow loading time and small or difficult to read fonts are just a few small factors that make a huge difference in how much people love or hate a website. If your load times are slow, consult with a professional to find ways to speed them up. If your site is consumed by pop-up adds, reduce or eliminate them now. If your fonts are very small, lightly colored, sitting on too similar backgrounds or otherwise difficult to read, invest some time in redesigning your site. Eliminating these instant turn-offs can definitely improve your overall bounce rate quickly and present your site in a more professional, authoritative manner.

Take Advantage of “Recommended Content”

Why not recommend content? Whether you do it on a sidebar, at the very end of your blog post or both, deciding to take the extra step of offering recommended content is probably the easiest way to encourage visitors who already like your blog posts (or are at least interested in your content) and get them to visit some more. This is a killer strategy for reducing a website’s bounce rate.

In Conclusion

These four strategies are some of the most powerful ones out there for improving your user engagement and reducing the immediate bounce rate off of your website. Take advantage of them, and enjoy the benefit that comes with having a good looking website that pulls customers in and gets them to stick around.

About the Author

Ryan Beach is the owner of Final Stop SEO, a successful company helping businesses across the country to grow and prosper. To learn more about his effective digital marketing services, visit finalstopseo.com

Google announces mobile-ready sites will receive higher rankings!

Starting April 21st, 2015 Google is updating their Algorithm to place mobile friendly sites higher in the rankings and will also be downgrading sites that are not mobile friendly. The reason Google is doing this is simple. Google wants to make sure they are directing people to sites that will be able to be viewed across all devices. Google wants to promote the best online experience for their users across all countries, and this is one step they can implement to achieve that goal.

 

What does this mean for you?

It means that you could lose a significant amount of business and new customers that are searching for your services online. If you currently have a website that is not responsive / mobile friendly Google will be moving your site listing significantly lower in the page rankings. If you have a mobile friendly site your page listing will now be moved up!

 

What can you do to improve your website ranking?

In order to make sure your website is inline with Google’s Algorithm you can contact a web development company like Web Tech Solutions to make sure your website is mobile friendly. We will look over your site and make the correct changes needed so your website is view-able across all devices.

 

How can I determine if my website is mobile friendly?

To see if your current website is mobile friendly click this link https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/  and enter in your website url in the box. Google will do a scan on your site and will let you know if your website is mobile friendly or not. If your site is Mobile friendly congratulations! If not contact us.