Monthly Archives: November 2012

Do Sites with Thousands of Unique Pages Get More Search Engine Traffic?

staring cat

Or you could just follow the sage advice below...

The answer to the question above is, as so often is the case, “it depends.” In theory at least, websites with thousands of unique pages do in fact get lots of love from Google and the other search engines. These kinds of websites are generally known as “authority sites” because they have become “authoritative” in their particular niche. The thing is, not every site which has thousands of unique pages would actually qualify for such an accolade.

Made for Adsense Sites

One of the most popular ways to make money online just a few years ago was the so called “made for adsense” website. In essence, these sites offered up low quality, junky articles which had specific keywords included. The idea was to get people to visit the websites and then click on the Adsense ads which were placed throughout (nobody really cared if you read the articles though).

This concept worked for a while and a whole industry sprung up around doing this kind of junk work. It’s one of the reasons that content writers still offer up their wares for just five bucks or even less (more on that in a moment). Google decided that they’d had enough with these kinds of sites though and they started to drop them in the rankings. These days, such sites, even though they have thousands of “unique” pages, are considered to be next to worthless.

Similar Efforts

There are also other kinds of websites with similar efforts to the MFA sites including autoblogs which spin content as it comes in and other sites built around junky material. These places, while they do have thousands of unique pages, tend to not to get much search engine love these days because they are considered junk.

So What Does Work?

Real authority sites still get plenty of search engine love. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to build such a website. Here’s what you need to know:

Your Content Needs to Worth Something

gorilla

Even this gorilla is bored with some so called "authority sites."

First and foremost, content is still king and probably will be for the foreseeable future. While people these days are all up in arms about web 2.0 and social media, all they are saying is that content is king though  in a different way. Ultimately, those web 2.0 and social media links are considered by Google and the other search engines to be indicators of quality sites because people find them useful. In other words, it’s all about the quality content (the theory being that people won’t like, tweet or bookmark junk).

You Need to Keep Updating

Even if you build a website with thousands of unique, quality pages on it, if you one day decide to abandon it completely and stop updating it, it will fade into obscurity and become relatively worthless in the eyes of Google and the other search engines. You need to be adding content on a regular basis otherwise you can kiss all your hard work goodbye.

So What Constitutes Quality for an Authority Site?

Now here’s what we really need to talk about and what will take up the bulk of this blog post. Just what is it that constitutes the kind of “thousands of unique pages” that will actually get you some serious Google love? There are several things that you need to keep in mind and several ways to do this:

Go for Trending

The first possibility is to go for trending stuff. This means that you are basically running a kind of a news website. You could run such a site in a specific niche and then offer up content about things that are hot right now, whatever it happens to be (it’s easy enough to find trending topics in Google, Twitter and Facebook).

The issue here is that you need to have people ready to write or build infographics or videos on relatively short notice so as to explain things that people want to know about. For example, the so called “fiscal cliff” which the United States is facing – what does that mean? What do we need to know about it? You could create an infographic and make some good traffic from it.

You could also create videos. By the way, you should keep in mind that video can take any number of forms – I recently found for example an uber cool site called Sparkol which allows you to create stop motion videos with the hand drawing them (it is a bit pricey though – around $22 a month, though if you do around 10 videos a month, that’s really very cheap considering what you get and they really are easy to make).

You could also create videos using PowerPoint. Puppets are also popular.  In other words, video doesn’t have to involve spending a fortune on live actors and then waiting for them to shoot your video for a trending topic. You could easily make cool looking videos in a few minutes using the techniques above and then get in on the trending market.

Finally, as I said above, it’s possible to use infographics. I found out that there are a number of services online which will allow you to create them easily without needing to hire a professional designer. Piktochart for example is a very popular option for doing this.

Go For Evergreen

The other option in doing this is to go for evergreen material. In essence, this means creating content which is interesting to people now or five years from now. Some good examples of this would be places to vacation, how to plan for retirement, ideas on paying for college, how to make various things at home, etc. Oh and of course, humor is often timeless

The same basic concepts apply here with the possible exception of video. My feeling is that if you are doing how to videos, you do need to use live actors who show you what to do. It’s a vastly different thing than the above, where you’re talking about things in the news because people need to see what you are doing.

If you do how to articles, it’s important to include images which actually show what you’re doing (this is something I always hated about eHow – they didn’t allow their writers to upload their own images and so the how to articles are often utterly useless because they’re so hard to follow).

Now about that Writing

It happens that I recently had the opportunity to dip my toe into purchasing content instead of writing content myself. I got a deal on Warrior Forum to buy already built blogs which have a certain amount of PR already built into them and I wanted to put content onto them to support the PR. I felt that it didn’t need to be great stuff – just legible because I was mostly going to build links back to my money sites.

I found out that I one of the most underpriced writers on the web. Those who read this blog regularly know that I write it on Yasir’s behalf. I happen to be very inexpensive considering the amount of experience I have in writing and the quality of my writing (not to toot my own horn but I’ve been writing professionally for nine years and I know I’m really good).

Most of the stuff I was buying at a cost of $5-$10 per article (i.e. 1-2 cents a word) had lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Moreover, there was no flare and no personality in the writing. The people who wrote this stuff, even when they mostly didn’t make mistakes in their spelling and grammar were just incredibly boring!

Trust me, if you want to put your customers to sleep, you can buy boring content on Fiverr for five bucks. It may not even need much editing as far as making it sound legible (I’ve found that it’s a mixed bag). However, none of it is likely to be up the kind of standards that will get people to keep coming back looking for more.

I found for example that the ideas that people offer in the articles I ordered were the same stuff that I’ve seen everywhere with nothing new. They were also written as if someone was just trying to do a job instead of offering genuine passion for what they write. Compare that kind of material with what you can find on a place like about.com.

About.com offers up content from writers who are paid pretty well though not very well (a large percentage of their income is based on traffic). However, one thing that I found is that the people who write in their niches tend to be passionate about them. They don’t do it solely because they are trying to make money. They also are genuinely interested in these things.

I realized after my little foray into buying content that I have my areas that I’m passionate about too and that’s why my writing is so good. I’m passionate about internet marketing and SEO. I’m also passionate about personal finance and about politics (I have a few other areas of interest but that’s not what this blog post is about).

Ask me to write a series of articles about beauty schools though and while I might do a competent job of it, I’m not going to be passionate and it’s going to show in my writing. I mention that often by the way because I once had to write 50 articles about beauty schools and felt like I wanted to tear my hair out by the time I was done…

So What Does This Have to Do with Authority Sites?

dog's snout

Well I'll tell you -- it's got everything to do with it. Just sniff out the facts here:

I’m glad you asked that question! Basically, as I said at the start, just because a website has thousands of unique pages doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get any Google love. Sure, it helps to have those thousands of unique pages even it’s mostly uninspiring and boring. However, the authority sites which truly get Google love are the ones written by people who are passionate about the subject.

You see, Google doesn’t just look at how many pages you have. They also look at how much time people are spending on the page and they look at how many people are tweeting it, liking it or sharing it. They want to see that those thousands of pages are designed to do more than just attract the search engines. They want to know that they’ll also be useful to real people.

What All This Means

Bottom line is this: when people tell you that they’ll sell you an “authority site” for twenty or thirty bucks, they’re offering you a pile of garbage. Even if the content they offer up is “unique,” it’s likely to be written by folks who are just pushing out as many articles as they can as the people who I found and paid $5-$10 for an article to.

If you want a real authority site, the best advice is to buy one which is already established or to do the hard work of building it slowly. You can get plenty of Google love for sites which have thousands of unique pages. However, it’s not as easy as running a few thousand articles through The Best Spinner and throwing them up on your site. You need to build a community that’s passionate.

One More Idea

Before I m, I have one more idea for building those sites with the thousands of unique pages which I want to share with you and unlike the ideas above, it doesn’t require you to write about the subject yourself or hire writers or actors who are passionate about it. The idea is forums. Forums are great in that you can get the content built by real people who are really passionate about the subject that you are promoting.

However, it’s important to start off a forum on a strong footing. Most new forums fail because they have a chicken and egg problem. You need lots of people already there in order to get new people there but you can’t get lots of people there without first having lots of people there.

The solution is to pay people who know what they’re talking about and are passionate on the subject to start having conversations on your new forum. Yes, it’s an expense, but ultimately, they’ll likely stick around if they find that it’s interesting to them even when you stop paying them.

Bottom Line

Just because a website has thousands of unique pages doesn’t necessarily mean that it will get Google love. However, an authority site, where real, useful information is offered and where people can drop by and see that it’s a place worth bookmarking will indeed get that Google love and will be well worth your effort to create.

The Top 31 SEO Resources Online For a Comprehensive Understanding of SEO

The very fact that you are reading this post shows that you are aware of the significance of SEO in business success. To be “present online” is a good thing, no doubt, but the smart thing is to be “found online” and this is where SEO is crucial.

SEO is complex combination of tools, techniques and strategies aimed to propel your website to the top of the search engine rankings in response to a particular search term.  And whether you do your own SEO work or through an SEO agency, being knowledgeable about different SEO parameters is good.

Besides, SEO is a constantly changing and dynamic field.  With newer ideas and tools emerging everyday and Google’s algorithm changes that can topple rankings practically overnight, it is imperative to keep abreast of the latest happenings in SEO.

How do you learn about SEO?

The internet is a good place. There are numerous high quality SEO resources available. But then searching for them may be a difficult and time consuming process. Also there is a lot of junk information out there. How do you decipher which is the most reliable? You may not know which of your search results are the best, trusted and most updated.

To make things simpler for you, I am putting together this comprehensive list of SEO resources from all over the web. I must thank several of my fellow SEO friends, who painstakingly researched and developed resource in the list that I have compiled here.

This post has been divided into two parts:

(A)  Resources about Various SEO Components Individually

Includes content, keyword identification and optimization, link building and social media factors.

(B)  Resources about SEO as a Whole

Now let us dig into the list.

(A) Resources about Various SEO Components Individually

  • Content

But of course, everyone knows that content is the most crucial part of SEO. Really good content pulls in readers and makes them eager for more. Good content can thus generate high traffic and also help you build authority in your niche. Site traffic and authority are important Google ranking parameters.

With Google’s latest Panda update, focus has shifted once again to really good content. And since Google is also looking at the bounce rate, and movement of visitors within your website, besides, good (nay great) content, you need content that is engaging and interesting to readers.

Given below are some of the best resources online on how to generate great content, which is the first step to SEO.

  1. 44 Must Read Resources on Content Marketing

This is a very comprehensive resource on content marketing put together by KISSmetrics. It covers a range of informative posts and resources on various areas related to content marketing starting from “what is content marketing” to “ideas on content marketing” to “how to spread your content” amongst other topics and finally ending with a Coca Cola video that explains why content marketing is important in today’s context.

  1. SEO Copywriting Made Simple (Free Report)

And here is a very useful and comprehensive free report on creating compelling content for search engines by Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger and an authority on anything and everything related to content.

We know that Google rewards fresh and updated content by placing it high on the SERP. But one way to ‘cheat the system’ here is by creating evergreen content. Evergreen content, which is content that never becomes irrelevant with time, always ranks fairly high in the search engine results because of quality (obviously, you only write high quality content) and relevance. This helps in the following ways:

–  Increased traffic and conversions due to high ranking, which is a positive SEO signal.

–  Anyone writing a new post on the topic links to yours because it has been there for long and ranks high. And natural links again boost your SEO.

–  You continue to generate leads from evergreen content long (sometimes years) after it was originally published.

Given below are 3 useful resources that explain the concept of evergreen content in depth, how evergreen content boosts SEO and how to leverage evergreen content for SEO. In fact, all 3 are themselves examples of evergreen content.

3.     How to Maximize your Evergreen Content to Fuel Business, Sales and Marketing

  1. Why Every Business Blog Needs Evergreen Content
  2. The True Power of Evergreen Content – A Case Study

All 3 posts unanimously state that evergreen content is part of the overall Google algorithms for search rankings. Freshness is another part. So for maximum SEO benefits, your content strategy needs to have a mix of both.

Also to leverage evergreen content (or any content on your website) to the maximum, you have to optimize it for the right keywords. Only then will you get traffic that converts.

And this nicely brings me to the next point in the discussion.

  • Keyword Analysis

As SEOMoz mentions in its “Beginner’s Guide to SEO”- Chapter 5, “It all begins with the words typed into the search box”. Those words are your keywords. And unless you find the right keywords for your business, you will attract the wrong audience. And wrong audience will not convert.

Finding the right keyword is not tough with numerous tools available, the most popular being Google AdWords. But you also have to make sure that the keyword has search volume, that is, a reasonable amount of searches are being carried out with that keyword per day or month. Otherwise, though you may get conversions (because you are attracting the right audience), because traffic is poor (due to low search volume), your conversion volumes will remain low.

If you are looking online for help on any aspect related to keywords, these are some of the resources you should consider.

  1. Are You Using the Right Keywords on your Site?

This post reveals a simple 3-rule test to determine if you are using the right keywords for your site.

  1. SEOMoz Beginners Guide to SEO- Chapter 5 Keyword Research

This resource tells you all about how to arrive at the right keyword(s) with extensive research.

  1. How to Select Good SEO Keywords

In this resource, you will find information on how to use Google Trends for determining relevant keywords for your website. (It was Google Insights for Search at the time).

And then there is the debate of short vs. long tail keywords. Single (short tail) keywords are highly competitive and may not fit into every SEO budget. Long tail keywords, being more specific, are less competitive, and can bring in more targeted traffic, though the search volume may be low.

For a better understanding of short and long tail keywords, given below are some resources.

  1. Short Tail Vs Long Tail: Which Search Queries Perform Best?

Here is an article that looks at how short and long tail keywords perform in search queries and the winner is the latter. And if you feel that your industry/niche is not like others (yes, we all feel that every once in a while) and only high competition keywords are available, learn from this article.

  1. Using Keyword Research to find Lon-Tail Keyword Phrases

Now that you have your keywords in place, the question is ‘how to place your keywords on your site for maximum SEO benefit’. Rule 1 is not to over optimize, or Google will consider your content as spam and push your rankings down. And this brings us to some of the best online resources on this topic.

  1. Keywords – The Most Important Item in SEO

This post reveals to you the most optimized keyword placements. (Enjoy the images).

  1. Perfecting Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization

Read this to know how Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz optimizes pages by targeting perfect keywords.

And if you want to ambitiously optimize a page for over 10,000 keywords, look at this Wordtracker Academy tutorial

  1. How to Successfully Optimize a Page for Over 10,000 keywords
  • Link Building

Links are important factors for ranking websites because when someone links to you/ your content, it means they like your content and find it relevant. Hence Google considers links important. But more than the quantity of links, it is the quality of links that matters.

5 back links from authority websites in your niche are more valuable than 50 back links from random irrelevant sources. For example if you are selling dog food, a back link from a well reputed veterinary specialist is worth its weight in gold for SEO. But if you ask your friend who has a fashion website to link to you (as a favor), it will not help much. And may in fact pull down your rankings.

Here, I have compiled a list of the best link building resources online starting from one that provides a complete understanding of link building, how it impacts SEO and some sample strategies –none other than the (familiar and ever helpful) SEOMoz SEO Beginners Guide.

  1. SEOMoz Beginners Guide to SEO Chapter 7:Growing Popularity and Links

Another resource that explains link building in plain English, while providing some useful tools to help is:

  1. Backlinks: Another Important SEO Item (once again, the images are awesome).

Yes building links is important. And you need to initiate a link building campaign. If you are finding it tough to come up with ideas as to where to get started, this resource is a good starting place.

  1. SEO Link Building Fundamentals

An important part of link building is the anchor text. Anchor text is the “blue, underlined, highlighted” portion in the text, which on being clicked leads to a relevant web page/link. (Hint: there are many anchor texts in this content).

There are two important types of anchor texts – money keyword anchor text and junk anchor text.

Money keyword anchor text is when you use your primary or secondary keywords as anchor texts. Say, you sell dog food and you link to your website with the term ‘healthy dog food.’

Junk anchor texts are words one would use in the normal course of conversation. Something like “click here to read the amazing benefits of dog food”.

Here are two useful resources that explain the concept of anchor text in detail.

  1. Anchor Text: Make a Major SEO Impact
  2. SEOMoz : SEO Anchor Text

And to know exactly how the web uses anchor texts in links, you will find this resource helpful.

  1. How the Web Uses Anchor Text in Links (Study)

And Now Comes a Twist in the Tale

Just when you thought, you had everything about link building perfectly mastered, along comes Google with its Penguin Update that changes everything. Well, at least most things. One of the best resources providing comprehensive information on the Penguin algorithm and its various updates is

  1. Google Penguin Update 3 Released

The purpose of Google Penguin is to counter link spam. As links became an important ranking factor, people started ‘gaming the system’, creating irrelevant, spam links, buying links, exchanging links, all to gain high ranks. This started impacting the results. And Google rolled up its sleeves. The result…Penguin updates.

In the wake of the Penguin update, following changes in link strategies have come about.

–  The focus is more on natural links and relevant links.

–  Link velocity is important. Even if you naturally build huge number of links in a short period, (say you have written amazing content that people are linking to by the thousands), you may actually be penalized because of high link velocity.

–  Anchor text diversity is important. So don’t use the same set of words to link back to your website.

–  The use of ‘junk anchor texts’ is rewarded with better rankings as compared to website that uses more than 60% ‘money keyword anchor text’.

–  It is crucial to have link diversity. So don’t put all your eggs (links) in one basket (from one source).

Here are some online resources that do a good job of explaining exactly how the Penguin update affects link parameters and thus SEO.

I will begin this list with a resource that examines the link parameters of websites penalized by Google Penguin for a better understanding of its impact

  1. Penguin Analysis : SEO Isn’t Dead – A Study By Microsite Masters

And two more resources that examine important issues emerging out of the Penguin update – Diversifying anchor text and the definitive junk anchor text list, which is very effective post Penguin.

  1. How to Diversify the Anchor Text Links
  2. Junk Anchor Text  Link For SEO

And now as the icing on the link cake, I give you this resource that lets you in on not one or two or even 10, but 101 ways to build link popularity and attract valuable links for SEO

  1. 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity

 

  • Social Media Related

In recent times, social media has become an important SEO factor with Google confirming that social signals are being considered to rank search results. This is a relatively new area, and the exact correlation between the two is not known, though it is quite clear the greater social love you get (be it Facebook likes and shares, Twitter tweets, Google +1s), greater the chances you have of a higher ranking on the SERP.

You remember we discussed link diversity (in the earlier section), so some percentage of links coming from social media is good for you. And before that, we talked of content relevance. Social media is linked to content relevance because people like/recommend your content and share it on their own social networks only if the content is really good and relevant.

These are two very comprehensive posts that discuss the impact of social media on SEO.

  1. How Social Media Affects SEO
  2. Ways Social Media Impacts SEO

A very useful resource that looks into all aspects of social media is

  1. Social Media Examiner

Here you will find several articles that look at the impact of social media on SEO. For instance these 2 posts

  1. 5 Ways to Use Google + to Improve SEO
  2. 3 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve your Search Rankings

Resources about SEO as a Whole

In the sections above, we have covered some important SEO components and the best resources available online for those areas.

Now we look at SEO comprehensively. Resources that cover anything and everything about SEO, including latest updates and future forecasts for the industry. These resources are blogs by some of the most influential and authority figures in SEO.

This super-resource is a list of top SEO blogs (endorsed by Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz) that keep you up to date.

  1. Best SEO Blogs to Stay Up-to-Date

And this is the list of the most subscribed SEO blogs.

  1. Ten Most Subscribed Search Marketing Blogs by TopRank

Not surprisingly, there are many common names in both lists. Perhaps, you are already following these blogs. If not, signing up for them is the first action to take after reading this post.

Did you find this list useful? Are there other resources that you found awesome, but didn’t feature in this compilation? Please let me know in the comments.

 

 

5 Ways to Differentiate Your Company from Your Competitors

trying to stand out from the crowdIn a world where competition is fierce and everyone seems to be offering a “me too” service or product, it’s important to find ways to differentiate your company from your competitors. But just how does one go about doing that without ending upright back in the “me too” department? While you could always try to compete on price, the fact is that price is a terrible way to compete because someone else will always undercut you. Here are five better ideas:

Go Way Over the Top

One way to make yourself different from your competition is to simply go way “over the top” as the old saying goes. In essence, this means that you offer so much and keep on offering so much that your customers would be completely insane to want to go to someone else. This doesn’t by the way mean that you offer super low prices.

Consider for example the new business I’m working on launching. I’m hoping in the next few weeks to launch a brand new business selling personalized websites in a box (this has nothing whatsoever to do with Quantum SEO Labs by the way and I’m not trying to sell anyone my sites yet. I’m merely using this as a good example).

Now I know that there are thousands of websites out there already offering so called “website in a box” deals. In essence the concept is that you offer a package deal where you get a ready made website (usually based around WordPress – I’m using WordPress too by the way). You can even buy a “website in a box” on Fiverr and I’ve even occasionally seem them offered cheaper than that.

I personally plan to charge a reasonable sum for my websites. I’m not going to disclose what it is, but the price will be high enough that you’ll not be buying it just for the heck of it but low enough that anyone who wants to a professional quality website which is ready made will easily be able to afford it even if they have an extremely tight budget.

So how am I going to “go way over the top” if not by offering dirt cheap prices? Simple – I’ve been researching and investing in dozens of plugins and themes for WordPress which will give my customers everything they could ever want in a website.

And I do mean everything. I have built my sites to the point where I simply cannot think of anything anyone would want to add which I haven’t already put in. Forums, membership sections, fancy buy buttons, the ability to build custom squeeze pages, it’s all there. My package will literally be a complete website in a box where you simply buy the SEO services (Yasir can help you there) and watch the money come in.

I’m also offering a large number of bonuses which few others are offering and which will mean that even if you already have a website you like, you’d be crazy not to buy a site from me just for all the free bonuses I’m offering.

Again, not trying to sell anyone my sites yet and there’s no link here because of that (this also isn’t my own site and as such, I try not to sell my own services or products here out of respect for Yasir, who is a great guy and an expert at SEO). I’m merely trying to illustrate what I mean by “going way over the top.”

This method means that you simply offer such an incredible value that while you may not be offering the cheapest deal around (let’s face it – I can’t compete with the Fiverr crowd on price, but the ready made sites they offer are a bad joke compared to what I’ll be offering) your customers would be crazy to buy the cheap junk your competition offers.

Aim for an Exclusive Clientele

Ferarri

Sure we all want a Ferarri. But not all of us can afford one and that's a big part of what makes it so appealing.

This is not my personal philosophy. I’m much more egalitarian about things and believe firmly in offering things to the “masses,” but there is a lot to be said for this concept. In this scenario, I’d probably be offering the same stuff I’m offering above in my new website business. However, I’d be marketing it in a completely different way. The idea would be to aim at the crème de la crème of society.

The best example I can think of comes from one of my favorite TV shows, Frasier. Fans of the show may remember the episode where Frasier and his brother buy themselves a venerable old Seattle restaurant. There’s a line in that episode which I love. Frasier and Niles are talking about their plans for the new restaurant when their dad interrupts:

Frasier: We’ll make the place very, very exclusive. No sign on the outside, no advertisements and an unlisted phone number.

Marty (Their dad): Hey well don’t stop there; maybe you could post some guards on the roof who can shoot people as they try to get in.

The point is that they intended to make their restaurant a place that appeals only to the most exclusive people in society. In this method of separating yourself from your competition, you in essence position your company as being the province of the elite and you don’t go for every single customer. You have a waiting list and you offer your services only to the “beautiful people.”

There are some problems with this method of course. First and foremost, you need to generate buzz amongst the “right” people if you want to make your business seem super exclusive. It has to be the sort of place that the general public may have heard of but couldn’t imagine actually getting to ever use your services (think Rolls Royce for example).

Getting that buzz going amongst the right circles generally means that you offer it for free to certain specific people who will tell their friends about it but who will also agree to keep their mouths shut about having gotten the service or product for free. You then need to make your website appear as if it’s one which is very exclusive and which only the “right” people would even deign to visit.

However, if you can pull this off (again, it’s very tricky to do this correctly), you could easily turn your business into a cash cow because those who have the money to spend will spend it to get in on something exclusive which the general public doesn’t have access to. After all, nobody actually needs a $6,000 shower curtain or a jewel encrusted cell phone.

However, people do make these things and people do buy these things because there are people who want that kind of extreme exclusivity. If you can cater to that market, you’re unlikely to ever have to worry about being labeled as a “me too” kind of a company.

Get to Know Your Customers

This is something that I know Yasir does which is wildly different from what I’ve seen from most other SEO experts. In essence, he doesn’t just sell you a package of services and communicate through e-mail. Yasir’s philosophy is that he actually wants to get to know his customers personally. He’d rather have fewer customers whom he knows well than thousands of customers whom he can’t keep track of.

The idea here is that you basically take the personal approach with your customers. People still do value this, especially in a day and age when it’s become increasingly common for the professionals in our lives to spend 60 seconds with us (if we’re lucky) and then usher us out the door.

Doing this does require that you take the time to get to know your customers and it does require that you actually spend time learning something about them. One way to keep track by the way is to maintain a Farley File on your customers (I’m terrible at remembering names and details which is why I love the concept).

You also need a certain kind of personality to pull this off. Just as above where you need a certain amount of gumption to market yourself to the elite, here, you need a great deal of empathy. You need to be the kind of person who really does care about people and who genuinely wants to help them. Your customers will spot you being a phony otherwise.

However, if you are the sort of person who can genuinely get to know your customers and spend a lot of time with them then you will find that people will beat a path to your door even if you are a little more expensive. This is especially true if you work in a profession where such personal service and empathy is often lacking though it can work in any kind of business.

By the way, one way to do this is to publish an actual phone number and to answer the phone when people call. You could also offer an e-mail address which doesn’t get an automated response sent out to your customers but where you actually take the time to write back personally.

Be a Constant Innovator

One of the things I always admired about Steve Jobs was that he never actually invented anything completely new. He simply took existing ideas and made them much better than they already were. This happened even before the so called “second coming” of Steve Jobs and it’s also a great way to make your company stand out from the pack.

In essence, if you take a look at every Apple product that was created while Jobs was at the company, from the very first Apple Personal Computer to the Macintosh to the iPod, iPhone and iPad, they have one thing in common: Someone else beat Apple to the market.

Who actually created the first personal computer is a matter of some debate however one thing is very clear: it was NOT the Apple II. Dozens of other models, including computers with keyboards and microprocessors were created before it. In fact, the world’s first graphical computer (along with the world’s first mouse) was created several years before at Xerox though it too arguably was not the first PC.

However, the reason that the Apple II and later the Macintosh were successful was because they were better than their predecessors. Of course, probably the best example of this concept is the iPod. There were MP3 players before it. I even owned one of the first ones. However, the iPod was the first to go mainstream because it was simply better than the rest.

Even now that Steve Jobs is no longer with us, Apple continues to work hard to be a constant innovator and that’s what makes them stand out from the crowd.

Of course, you don’t have to run an Apple Inc. to do this. Simply coming up with your own twist on a common problem in your own niche is often enough to be an innovator. The key however is to keep innovating so that people know you as the standard bearer when compared with the competition.

Get a Patent

wind farm joke

And no, you can't get a patent on this idea.

Finally, if all else fails, consider getting yourself a patent on whatever idea you have which makes you stand out from your competitors. In essence, by doing this, you can stand out because you’ll be the only one who can legally sell the product you have on offer.

A good example of this is the Airmax pillow. I picked up one of these things a while back and I do find that it’s a lot more comfortable than most other pillows I’ve owned (although I still like the memory foam pillow at times). They’ve got a patent on their concept and as such, while there are some pillows which are similar to it on the market, none have quite the same design and that allows them to stand out from the competition.

Bottom Line

Look, the bottom line of all these things is to find the thing that you think will make your company unique and then to push hard for that to become a kind of a “brand” for you so that people identify you as being unique and worth buying from. Otherwise, you could always try to compete on price to make your company seem different from your competitors (and lose your shirt while doing so).

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post