CEO’s Quick Reference Guide!

As the person running the company, you need to know a few things about IT. Things like containing costs, knowing when to pull triggers, and knowing when to hold tight for something better coming around the corner.

First off, let’s look at costs. To be in line with industry norms, your costs should be somewhere between 2% at the low end and 5% at the high end of gross sales. The lower number is used when you have more basic needs such as e-mail, phones, a small web site presence, and maybe a server or two. In short, you’re not using an e-commerce model as your lifeblood. The higher number indicates that technology is not only key to your business, but you must continue to make strategic investments to not only sustain, but grow. In short, it’s your competitive lifeblood.

On the basic end, that is closer to 2% and sometimes even less, the real concern is whether you are under spending and not leveraging technology enough. Web sites need a refresh every two to three years, and the search engine optimization (SEO) must put your top twenty phrases on the first page of a Google search. Server and other infrastructure items like firewalls and switches have a useful life of about five years. Laptops and PC as well, but don’t try to save money by not replacing monitors as it’s a small price to pay to ensure you’re folks eyes work well! In short, as long as you’re keeping your equipment fairly current and on a plan to replace 20% of the items per year, it should be a pretty steady cash flow. Keeping software and hardware maintenance contracts is nearly always worth the money with few exceptions.

On the higher end of the spectrum, the question becomes not so much as to whether you need what you are buying, but more so about what you are investing in. Are your investments providing either a) significant savings or b) higher returns in your technology dollar investment than other technology spending? For instance, VMware saves a lot of outfits a lot of money. It involves using less hardware, less electricity, less cooling, with more disaster recovery (DR) ability. It’s a win from every angle possible. The harder decisions lie in weighing the benefit of more strategic items, like upgrading or changing an ERP system or swapping a large data center to 240V to save money on electricity which always increases in cost. This is where strategic planning takes place, and it’s what we do at Roundbrix. We look at the entire picture, but what exactly is that?

The entire picture consists of all the components and needs to be the basis for any metrics and improvements. Included are hardware purchases and leases, support costs, software costs, hardware/software support costs, telephony costs, annual technology-related contracts, ERP costs and others. If you can negotiate multi-year contracts for foreseeable expenses like ERP support, as long as you have the cash and the return is greater than most other investment vehicles, it may make sense to prepay for a few years. Let’s not forget the bills for phone circuit/usage and internet circuits, both of with should be reviewed as often times there are savings to be had there as well. For good measure, if you incur downtime, that too is a cost. We’re strong believers in understanding and planning software and hardware cycles to create the largest win possible. For instance, if you are moving to a different version of ERP application software that is newer, but a large change, buying a server creates a relatively inexpensive, yet strong fallback position. Another example might be that you’re moving. Do you spend $10-$20k out-of-pocket to move that 4-year old phone system? Another option is to buy new or possibly lease it, and only have a payment of $600 or so, saving you $10k-$20k for those larger out-of-pocket items as moves get pricey fast!

At Roundbrix, we’re in our 11th year and have a “been there, done that” set of skills through simply having managed the ship well through many a stormy sea. We know how to keep things afloat and can help you safely to shore!

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Top 10 Secrets to Getting Higher on Search Engines

#1 – Use The Right Tools

Tools you can use to help you out (same ones we use):

      Google Analytics – free and very high quality traffic analytics. See what pages are popular and what methods users used to find your website to evaluate how well your site is being found. (free software)

http://www.google.com/analytics

      Google Webmaster Tools – Gives tips to guide you through how to fix problems with your website and ensure your site gets indexed by the search engines most effectively. Looks at performance, html errors and other factors affecting how the site gets indexed. (free software)

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

•      WebPosition – Allows you to continually track your progress with certain keywords to show how high you are on the different search engines for the keywords you have. Also provides tips on how to get higher for those keywords. (small monthly fee)

http://www.webposition.com/

      Keyword Tool – Tool to let you see how much traffic your keyword currently gets and offers suggestions on other keywords that may provide substantial traffic for. (free)

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

#2 – Identify Corrent Keywords and Keyword Phrases

Establish what you are going to use for your target phrase, which is what your site or page is primarily about. Use similar keywords to your target phrase.

i.e. “avaya ip office in orange county”, “infastructure moves in orange county”

Select relevant keywords that apply to your website topic. Use phrases of at least two words in your content and use them frequently to increase your chances of search engine crawlers picking up the content.

#3 – Put These Keywords in Your Web Page Properly

Place these keywords in the HTML title tags for a better chance of recognition. The Title is probably the most important place for these keywords.

Only use two or three phrases. More is not always better for keywords. Place the keywords close to the top of the page.

#4 – Create a Sitemap

Create a site map for your page — a page that includes all the links on your website in one, easy-to-find location. A search engine can easily pick this up and index all the linked pages. Use your keywords in the site map as well, ensuring that the links use the terms as much as possible. Use relevant words. Avoid using terms that have absolutelynothing to do with the content on a page simply for the link text.

#5 – Associate with Websites with Similar Content

The goal here is to get your website links on as many other relevant websites as possible. This will increase your “Google PageRank” and give you better search engine rankings. Associate yourself with individuals who have websites with similar content. Join groups or message boards that relate to your topic. Contact other site owners through e-mail or a forum message and ask them if they would be interested in a link exchange, where you place a link to their website on your page and they do the same for you.

#6 – Submit to Search Engines Manually

Submit your completed pages to each search engine manually. An automatic detection may be easier but increases the chances of mistakes happening. Only submit two or three main pages on your site or you may get targeted for search engine spamming and be penalized heavily. Most, but not all, search engines have a site where you can submit your site link to be listed with them through a simple form.

#7 – Submit to Directories & Verify Listings on Ratings Sites

Submit your site to DMOZ.org. This is an open source directory which is used by the large search engines for their directory. It takes 3-4 months to get listings on here and there are no guarantees, but it helps a lot with your search engine rankings if you can get listed on this site as several sites use this for their directory.

Also, it is a good idea to submit to directories related to your company. For example any wine directory sites you find (“can type wine directory on Google”), you should make sure you have a listing. You may want to make sure you are listed correctly on Yelp, Yahoo, Google local search, yellowpages.com, CitySearch, TripAdvisor.

A lot of you are probably already listed here, but you may want to make sure your address and information is completely filled out properly to enhance chances of people finding your company.

#8 – URLs for Specific Pages Within Your Website

Another factor is the URL. If you have a page with 1970 chevelle parts an optimal URL could be like the following one http://www.opgi.com/c/chevelle/1970/parts.html which places all of the words for this search in the URL.

#9 – Properly Coding Your Website

Avoid tables, which can push relevant content further down the page. Tell your developers you want to use CSS instead of tables.

HTML adds a lot of code within your web pages that causes the search engines to sometimes overlook valuable content. It also pushes the keywords further down on the page to them and the higher on the page that your keywords can be, the better.

Also, for images make sure you include “ALT tags“. This is a way to describe the image to the search engine and the search engine factors this into the rankings.

On a web browser page, you can right-click on the page and click “view source”. Then do a search for “img” and make sure your images have the “alt tag” included as below.

If you are familiar with HTML, it also helps to have your keywords in the header tags < h1>, < h2> and in text throughout the page.

However if you go overboard with putting your keywords too much throughout the page, search engines will see this as trying to trick them and penalize you.

#10 – Social Media

Posting links related to specific pages of your website on FaceBook and Twitter are helpful. You can post a link for example of an upcoming event you are having on both sites and this gives people the opportunity to “like” the event and also gives the search engine .

You can also optimize your FaceBook presence by focusing on search engine optimization for that. Read this:

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=86945032176&topic=7268

We suggest you post things daily to your facebook/twitter accounts to let people know what is going on with your site and keep in close contact with your audience.

If you need help with your website design or search engine optimization, contact Roundbrix at 949.273.5200.

Ed