Monthly Archives: October 2011

Don’t Burn Bridges Too Quickly If You Want to Succeed in Business

Don't burn bridges if you want to succeed in businessI don’t care what kind of business you happen to be in though I’ll assume that it’s an online business since you’re reading a blog about SEO. The fact is though, that regardless of the kind of business you run, burning bridges with customers and or contacts is almost always going to be bad for business. Here’s what you need to know:

It’s All about Who You Know

The odds are good that you’ve heard the old saying, “it’s not so much what you know as who you know.” Well this is very true and is still true today. The fact is that contacts are the lifeblood of virtually any business you can think of – be they your customers, who will tell other customers about or potential suppliers who can get you things that you need for cheap.

Angry Customers Talk

I mentioned the other day that I was burned by ING Direct for having overdrafted my account by 29 cents (they closed my checking account over it). Now I’m just one blogger who happens to write for a number of fairly popular blogs and who will tell anyone who will listen why I think ING Direct sucks.

But imagine if I were a truly vindictive person and not simply trying to make a point to my readers. I could easily set up a website to talk about it, gather reports from others, use social media to spread the word and seriously damage their credibility.

For a big place like ING, they probably don’t care that much (though they should). However, if you run a smaller business, you really want to try to make sure you don’t end up with angry customers who take things too far.

You May Need Something Later

It’s also possible that you’ll need something later from someone you burned. I had a client once who ordered a lot of work from me and then disappeared when the time came to pay. He showed up about six months later and paid me for the work I did and asked me to do more. I told him I was busy (in reality, I wanted nothing to do with this crook).

This can happen to anyone who burns bridges in a business relationship and, unlike my situation, where I assume this thief found some other poor soul to rip off; you can’t easily replace the person in question.

It’s Bad Karma

Okay – I’m no Buddhist so maybe I shouldn’t be quoting this, however I do believe that the Buddhist philosophy of karma does apply. Whether it’s the universe sticking it to you for screwing someone else over or God, Allah, Jesus, Hashem or just plain dumb luck doing it, things really do come back to bite you when you burn bridges with others. So bottom line, if you want your online business to succeed, don’t be too quick to burn bridges with others. Ultimately, that will just cause more problems than it’s worth.

The Right Way to Get Testimonials

Getting testimonialsAny time you visit a squeeze page, you will inevitably see lots of testimonials, including lots of video testimonials. Ever wonder how many of those were real though and whether or not they really are effective? Here’s what you need to know:

Most Testimonials Aren’t Spontaneous

The fact is that while we all try to make it seem as if our customers have left a glowing testimonial of their own accord, most testimonials are anything but. They may be testimonials which were offered in exchange for a free product, or even worse, they may be testimonials which were outright paid for.

Go to Fiverr.com for example and you can find dozens of people who will do a testimonial for pretty much any product or site, often without ever having seen the site in question. Now, where these are obvious advertisements (the preacher guy whom I’ve used and recommended in the past for example), there is no harm done. However, when they appear to be a genuine testimonial, you run the risk of losing credibility.

Why Paid Testimonials Are No Good

Look, aside from it being unethical to use paid testimonials on Fiverr which look like real testimonials, you also run the risk of being exposed. These folks on Fiverr need to do a lot of work to make it worth their while to run those testimonials. That means that they may well be doing testimonials for the competition as well as for you and if your customer see the same guy endorsing both products, they’re going to know something is up.

An Ethical Gray Area: Testimonial for Free Product

A better choice, though still an ethical gray area is the testimonial for free product idea. If the testimonial comes from someone who regularly does reviews anyway (i.e. a blogger who reviews products in your industry), it’s perfectly fine because the guy is known for that and likely even trusted. It gets a lot murkier when you use a testimonial from random people you offer free product to.

While you are less likely to get caught than with the paid testimonials, I’d say you still run that risk and that such a thing could damage your credibility.

So What Is Acceptable Then?

By now, you’re probably shaking your head in exasperation and wondering what is acceptable and useful. Obviously, as I stated at the beginning of his piece, most testimonials are not spontaneous. While it would be great to get them from people who simply love your product enough to write about it or do a video, the reality is that these things don’t usually happen.

Offer an Incentive to Paid Customers

However, it is possible to get good quality testimonials from real people. The way you do this is to offer an extra freebie or a discount coupon to paid customers. In other words, if you sell them a word processing program, you might offer a font pack or graphic pack in exchange for their testimonial. Or you could even offer a small rebate for them.

The reason these kinds of testimonials are legit is because these are people who spent money to actually buy your product and are presumably using it. They aren’t just taking a freebie or worse, getting paid to review a product they likely don’t care about at all.

Brand New Products

A final word on testimonials – I know many of you are wondering what you can do about getting testimonials for brand new products, which obviously don’t have paid users yet. In this case, the best advice is to look for top bloggers in your niche and offer them free product in exchange for a review. Just be aware that these people may not always give a flattering review because they are trusted to be honest about products they review (which is why it’s useful to get such testimonials for your products).

The Right Way to Choose a URL

Picking a URLDid you know that there’s actually a whole cottage industry surrounding choosing a URL (i.e. a web address)? There are actually two ways this is done. One is through advertising firms which charge thousands of dollars to find just the right URL and help brand it. Another however is through a company which charges $50 and which keeps the money in escrow. They’ll start sending you info on available URLs which you may like and if you use one, your money is paid. If not, it’s refunded.

I mention this because I find it both amusing and not surprising that people seem to need help with finding a URL for their business website. Anyway, for those who don’t want to spend the money but who have some time on their hands, here is the right way to choose a URL:

Start with a Keyword

It sounds obvious, but people tend to skip this important step. Think about what it is that your company is going to be about. Now visit the Google Adwords page and enter a descriptive word for the business. You’ll get lots of suggestions of alternatives. Look for one where the competition isn’t too high but the number of monthly searches is plentiful (around 50,000 or better is usually a good bet for a URL keyword).

Make sure that your keyword is used somewhere in your new URL. For example, if we wanted to set up a website for a professional writer (like me), we’d want the word write or writer in the URL.

Keep it Short

Whenever possible, keep your new URL as short as possible. Ideally, no more than three words and four words in a pinch. This may be difficult with some very popular niches. For example, every euphemism that you can think of for a writer is pretty much taken – writeway.com, writenow.com, writeitright.com, etc. And while longer versions are available (theverybestwriteronline.com is available as of this writing), these are generally not a good choice.

Dash Dot Dash – What Is This? Morse Code?

One way you may get around this problem of needing a good keyword is to use dashes in your URL. For example, as of this writing, your-best-writer.com is available to register. However, I’m not a really big fan of the whole dash thing. These are great for Google because an exact match of your keyword is always useful. However, these can confuse the heck out of your potential customers if they enter your keyword into their browsers.

Stay Away from Cutesy Names if Possible

Finally, unless you have the money to do a branding job on them, I advise staying away from “cutesy” names when trying to choose a URL for your website. For every flickr.com, there are also lots of cutesy names that no one has ever heard of. On the other hand, if that’s all you can find, then by all means go for it. A non word URL won’t destroy your SEO efforts, but it will make things harder because Google can’t match it to the content of your site.

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post