How does the coronavirus outbreak affect the service that Anything I.T. provides its customers? Note: When I talk about Anything I.T. I’m also talking about its collaborators in the Geek Collective: Comtec ICT and Hello Simon.
What effect? Hopefully very little!
Much of what we do at Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective is proactive work which thankfully can be carried out from the ‘comfort’ of our home offices.
Of course, some services cannot be reasonably carried out at this time without breaking the governments ‘stay at home‘ statement of the 23rd March 2020. Those services might be the installation of a new telephone system, network cabling to an office or fixing a broken computer.
Aside from a few limitations, Anything I.T. can still help your business come out the other side by helping you work proactively on the technical aspects of your business.
Article by: Jonathan Burrows Date: 23/03/2020 Length: 5 minutes
Quote: “When times are bad is when the real entrepreneurs emerge.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Here are a few technical tips and things to do while at home to support your business through coronavirus.
For most businesses, this is at best a trying time, one in which it will be hard to get through unscathed. But what would life for your business be like when you come out the other end?
That’s up to you, of course, however, there are some technical things you can do to put your business in a much better place when we say goodbye to COVID-19. At least from a technical standpoint.
No excuses, it’s time to learn!
What we will cover
SEO for your website
Learn something new
Probably most of you will have some sort of cloud storage in place. This is where you save files to a specific folder on your computer hard drive (such as OneDrive – Personal, and the file is automatically uploaded to the cloud.
If you can only work with files by using Microsoft Office, then consider OneDrive since some plans come with a subscription to Office 365.
Dropbox has a web version of Office built in so that’s handy too. Google Drive has its own version of web programs to create and edit documents and spreadsheets.
The point about this post though is to encourage you to look into cloud storage if you haven’t got it and to take a closer look if you do.
Tip: Check folders on your computer that are outside the cloud storage folders such as your Desktop as these are not synchronised by default. If you lost your computer or the hard drive died then those files will be lost!
Have a look at the way you communicate with your potential customers and existing customers. Here are several things to look into and research yourself:
Move your phone system away from antiquated and immovable hard-wired systems into your office/home (such as a BT line) to cloud-based telecommunications such as Number Club by Hello Comtec. Contact them on their website or us here at Anything I.T.
Facebook Page Messaging
You can have your Facebook Page (you do have a Facebook Page don’t you?) automatically reply with a customised message to anyone that starts a conversation. You can also setup Frequently Asked Questions so visitors can get the answers they need quickly without having to wait for you to respond.
You might want to also integrate Instagram into your Facebook since you can receive and reply to messages all in one place.
Improve your email communications with Office 365 for Business
Office 365 for Business comes with business-class email. A stable and full-featured product. More on that elsewhere.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your website
Now that you are stuck at home for a few weeks, why not focus a little on your website?
Check your SEO
Check your SEO for your site by using tools such as Ubersuggest. Once you get familiar with this tool you can then work on your site content to reflect your goals.
Blogging and article writing
Now is the time to create a few articles or blogs of useful information to help your website visitors.
By creating several blogs you can improve the way Google (etc) see your website and therefore improve the visibility of it on search results.
You can normally set each blog with a publish date sometime in the future so you could write about future events coming up and delay their publishing until later.
The important thing here is to write useful information that people will read.
You might also want to try creating video blogs too.
Update your main pages
Take a look at the content on your website pages also. Tweak and improve them. Make sure the content is relevant to what the topic is about. Google likes to see websites updated regularly.
Google My Business
Do you have a Google My Business listing?
Seeing your business in what some people call the ‘map’ section of results can be quite important. Google My Business is yet another way you can improve your online visibility.
If your business has a physical address, then that will help how you appear on the map but the address will need to be verified, usually by way of a postcard sent by Google to the address with a code that needs to be entered into your Google My Business console.
How secure are your computers and the data they have stored on them? Perhaps they should be removed from public view?
Who has access to business files and documents? Did you forget to remove sharing for someone who left the company? Check it now.
Are your anti-virus programs up-to-date? Check them.
What about GDPR? In most small businesses you can check what you have to do to be compliant at the ICO website. There is a Registration self-assessment on the ICO website which will take you through some steps to help you decide if you need to pay a fee or not.
Learn something new
Learn something new. For me, I’m self-teaching myself a new programming language called React. For you? Maybe you have always wanted to get to know more about SEO, or HTML, or how to speed up your computer or to understand your computer network.
Now is the time and there is plenty of information and tutorial websites to help you. Here are just a few:
Lynda.com (Business, Higher Education, Programming, Photography, Business and much more)
Do you find yourself asking the question: “How can I improve the SEO of my website?”. Does Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) seem like a black art? Does it seem like whatever you do, nothing improves?
Perhaps you feel you don’t have time to contribute to the growth of your website?
Naturally, there are hundreds of areas that Google (and other search engines) look at when ranking your website. Many are beyond your control such as the location of the user carrying out the search or the popularity of competitor websites. There are some things you can do that are in your power though.
Read on for three tips to improve the SEO of your website.
1. Provide better content
Search engines know how long a visitor stays on your site. When a visitor stays on your site for more than just a few seconds, it can suggest that the content is interesting enough to potentially provide the information the visitor was looking for.
You are the expert
You are the expert in your field, not me. So I will leave the examples up to you to consider. BUT, what if you wrote content for your site that satisfied the visitor? Perhaps you are answering a question that they need to know the answer too? Maybe it’s a special vegetarian recipe? Perhaps your content explains to the visitor how to make a better golf swing?
Whatever it is, it is down to you to provide the information in a legible way so that your site visitor does not depart quickly going back to Google for alternative answers.
Think about the websites you visit that answer your questions or you simply enjoy reading. What is it about them that makes the site tick?
Content that answers specific questions
When answering specific questions such as pricing details, or the location of your premises, make it clear and obvious. Provide a table of pricing for your pricing structure or a map of your location with the address clearly visible.
There’s nothing worse than a searcher landing on your website to find the address of your premises, not finding it so going back to Google and clicking on another website (say Yell for instance) that does show your address. What do you think Google is thinking about that simple question? It’s not good.
Some sites sell stuff online. So, okay writing stories or articles for these sites might not be the best way forward, but you should ensure that each product text is well written and clear. This will help people stay on the site and encourage people to stay longer and even purchase!
Be the giver
Providing good content in Google’s eyes has a lot to do with what you give the visitor. If you write stuff that is useful then you are one step closer to SEO heaven. Google will also look at links you provide in your copy. you need to create internal links (links to other pages on your site) in your copy, and also links to external sources that might enhance what you have written.
For instance, in SEO circles I often refer to Neil Patel since he is undoubtedly an expert in this field. Some of the videos he produces are spot on so it’s worth checking him out.
2. Consider the structure of your content
Don’t write content that is hard to read. Here’s hoping that this post can be read easily otherwise I’m in trouble!
What I mean by structure is that you should write content that is broken up nicely into paragraphs and sectioned off with appropriately titled headings.
Don’t write a 1000 word article with no paragraphs!
Maybe it needs images or a video to help get your point across. Images can break up the content making it easier on the eyes. Try it!
3. Write more often, and regularly
You think it’s okay to write a new article every six months, do you? Sorry, but if you want to have a non-technical impact on your website, then you need to produce new content or update old content at regular intervals.
Not all websites benefit from writing content such as news stories, articles or tips and tricks. But, if you are not an SEO expert then writing could be the way forward for you. See below about how it has affect our website for a real-life example
How often should I create new content?
The old adage of ‘How long is a piece of string’ comes to mind. It’s whatever suits you and your business. if your content is long and complex to write, then once or twice a month might be enough. If you writer shorter snippets of copy, then several times a week might be the way to go.
What we have done
For us, at Anything I.T. we had several aims one year ago to raise our standing on the search engines. I’m happy to say that we are making excellent progress towards these goals.
The number of visitors has risen by twofold and our rankings for chosen keyword phrases have increased to the point where two are consistently on page 1 of Google results and the others are slowly rising as well.
Below is a search result for “IT Support Plymouth”. It’s lovely to see our site second only to the University of Plymouth (after the adverts and location results of course). One year ago we were on page 10!
How have we done this?
You might notice from the Blog section of our site that we have written around 17 blogs in the last year and a bit. Most of which are fairly in-depth technical articles and tips. FREE stuff we want to share with other small business owners out there.
Not only do we write these blogs but we share them on social media and encourage discussion by asking questions that don’t prompt yes or no answers. Getting into discussion with people and providing free stuff for others has been one of the aims of the blog writing.
Like I said earlier, blogging is not for everyone but I would strongly suggest looking at it.
Quote: “The Geek Collective is an established and credible body of industry professionals who are expert in their specific arena. We are distinct in how we deliver our services and we have come together as professional individuals, to provide our highly trusted services as one collective.” Source: https://geekcollective.co.uk/
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