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Why Buying ‘Social Indicators’ is a Bad Idea

Some of those who are reading this may have seen a recent documentary from Channel 4’s Dispatches team. The programme investigated the purchase of social media influence from companies in the UK and abroad. Businesses and celebrities who want to build up a following, whether for reasons of appearance or in an effort to boost their search rankings, are able to source hundreds of new fans and followers from overseas with just a few pounds.

In order to show you why it’s a bad idea to purchase so-called social indicators in an effort to bolster your SEO, I’m going to show you what happened to a site of mine. This was actually a deliberate attempt to sabotage it by a competitor. That’s right – buying social indicators is so bad for your SEO that rivals will attack you by doing it!

About the Site

The target was a small, simple local business site. There were a few pages about the services, some photos, and contact information. It was ranking on the first page for its target keyword, between positions 7 and 9. I had set up a Google Plus page for the business (as we all know, Plus is great for your SEO) and things were moving forward.

Then, this happened:

google plus marketing

88 new +1s for the tiny local business page, all on the same day. There is no way that these were natural – in their niche, the business would not have that many customers in an entire year. No other SEO work had been done recently, so the following results were purely due to the new influx of +1s.

The business lost its first page ranking for the target keyword, disappearing completely from the results. It has also lost its good positions for secondary keywords. Luckily, it still appears in the local listings and is receiving some traffic that way, so the situation is not as bad as it could be – but can you rely on this?

The Bottom Line

Don’t buy ‘Social SEO’ packages which offer to deliver a set number of ‘real, natural’ fans and followers to your business in a short time period. It will only ever be harmful. Instead, concentrate on creating great content and networking to build a real social base. I Say! Digital can support you in this. Why not give us a call and ask what we could do for your business?

Guest Post – Keeping a Healthy Balance Between Capital and Cashflow

Capital. Every business needs it, especially small businesses. However it’s cash that keeps a business alive on an everyday basis. As the saying goes ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king’. If money is not available to keep the business ticking over from day-to-day it will collapse. An organisation that keeps a close eye on a healthy cash flow and restricts spending in terms of monthly turnover and profits will also have greater control over investment.

This article will help explain some of the simple techniques which will enable you, as a small business owner, to maintain a healthy balance between capital and cashflow.

The business manager – the juggler

Having too much cash available at any one time can starve the business of investment and growth. This is where you need to start juggling. If you keep too much money tied up in capital your cashflow will suffer and if you have too much cash for everyday business needs your enterprise is not benefiting potential investment.

Forecast into the future – not just next week

So let’s start from the beginning.  Future capital can be distilled from monitoring weekly and monthly cashflow. So, in order to remain safe you need to have a clear idea of where cash is going to be used. Only then can it be placed in long-term assets, business savings and investment schemes. You also need to be able to forecast into the future. OK, this month’s costs seem to be pretty easy to judge but how about next month or six months’ time? With the ever tightening recession and reduced business growth, is it likely costs will increase or decrease?

Controlling the unpredictable

Some factors at first seem hard to judge. For instance late payments can turn forecasted cashflow upside down in an instant and cause great problems. By tracking back over how previous payments were paid you can get a better idea of ‘patterns of payment’. Do certain clients have a habit of always paying late? Is it the same suppliers you have to chase month-on-month? Having this knowledge can give you a much better insight into how much ‘liquid cash’ you are going to need – it also acts as a ‘financial cushion’.

For more information on the trials and tribulations of late payments read this article.

Controlling cash is essential and management accountants deal with a range of cash issues:

  • ensuring that sufficient cash is available for investment by not tying up cash in stock unnecessarily
  • putting procedures in place for chasing up outstanding debts
  • controlling different levels of cash outflows in relation to the size of the business.

A finance system that takes your cash flow into account

Of course filtering money from cash flow is only one form of gaining future investment in your business. However the obvious example of is business loans but these continue to be difficult to access as the recession continues. While the Government have put various schemes in place to encourage banks and finance houses to lend, the business market are yet to see any real benefits. It’s always worth considering a business cash advance.

This post was contributed by Business Cash Advance, who offer a finance scheme that takes your cash flow into your account.

Cloud Computing for Small Business

Many business owners will definitely agree that cloud computing has greatly revolutionised the manner in which data is stored in today’s business environment. With the latest launch of Australia’s Ninefold SMB Cloud Drive, cloud computing for small businesses is set to propel to another greater level. This development presents numerous opportunities in technology solutions for small businesses. Rather than having hardware and software on site, cloud computing enables the business to have both hardware and software in cyberspace. There are numerous benefits of cloud computing for small businesses, and entrepreneurs can now be relieved of the burden and cost of installing servers and downloading software in the office. All these and even more can be handled by a cloud computing provider.

The first benefit that a small business can realise by integrating cloud computing services in their business model is economy. Cloud computing enables the business to save money by minimising start-up costs as there is no need to acquire and install expensive hardware or software. Cloud computing solutions or services are basically provided on a subscription basis. This enables the business owner to be in a better position to predict the upfront, as well as the ongoing, costs. In addition, the subscription is inclusive of automatic system upgrade and maintenance costs, including system support.

Another benefit of cloud computing for small businesses is increased productivity. Because the entire firm’s data is stored in the cloud, it is possible to access it from anywhere provided there is a browser and an internet connection. This saves the business owner valuable time so that he/she can concentrate on production as he/she can access the performance indicators and review customer details while on the move.

Cloud computing also makes it easier for the small business owner to manage the business’ financials. The cloud enables a business owner to track the financial data of his/her firm more effectively which is a leading best practice for a firm’s success. With cloud financials, the business owner is able to digitise paper-based procedures such as paying bills, and submitting and tracking invoices. This can save a lot of time because the owner can pay vendors by a single click. In addition, the business owner is able to undertake a quick review of the account’s history, as well as synchronise the financial data with accounting software such as QuickBooks. Invoicing through the cloud also makes it easier for the business owner to develop personalized invoices that can be sent electronically.

Cloud based operations offer more safety or security for the business’ information systems than operating applications on desktops or internal networks. Cloud computing service providers invest heavily on physical and network security, and they conduct regular updates of the system to ensure all applications are running on the latest updates. They also offer better data back up and replication services on numerous data centers to ensure that the business operates with minimal interruptions.
Natasha is a writer for Ninefold (http://ninefold.com/) who provides cloud computing for small businesses that have between 1 and 100 users with the best opportunity to store, access, as well as share data in a locally secure and easily accessible fashion.

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