Technology is a must. So we provide insights, education, tools, and information for LGBTQ startups and entrepreneurs to leverage technology solutions to manage, market, and grow their business. Additionally, we provide tips for the LGBTQ community to better control their privacy and leverage online social media platforms to grow theie personal and professional networks – like here on OutBuro.
It is highly recommended to use different passwords for each online site you access. Further, it is also recommended to change those passwords frequently. Additionally don’t use common words, personal dates, family members, or per names as all those could be guessed from, you got it, information right on your social media accounts. A tip I use is to use a combination of several words, numbers, and special characters. Then use things in your environment. An example: Pl4nt1ngRow5ofYel!ow+Fl0wers. It can be both memorable, yet long and complex making it difficult. Mix it up. Sometimes the password rules and limitations of the system make a long complex password like that not possible. It may not allow special characters or the length may be short. Ok, do a variation of one of your longer versions. With the example, you can easily change it while remaining close to other sites. Think of all the fun and unique things you can do, such as using positive affirmations.
There are tools to store the most current passwords, but occasionally you can find yourself in what I call “Password Hell”. This happens when for whatever reason, those tools don’t have the current password, and you have attempted to login cycling through your current recent past “standards”. Many sites like OutBüro will force a waiting period after so many u successful login attempts from the same device or same ID. It can be frustrating. When those forced timeouts happen, take the time to do a pause yourself and follow the below guide.
If this happens to you on OutBüro do the following: 1. Use the forgot password feature to reset your password. 2. Sit back, close your eyes and count 30 slow deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. 3. Refresh your beverage. 4. Add a reminder in your calendar to log in to www.OutBuro.com every day to share content, like someone else’s post, and comment in a group. 5. Invite 2 people to OutBüro every day. 6. Sit back in your chair again, repeat #2. This time envision the joy, wonder, and surprise your activity on OutBüro brings to others. Feel the gratitude OutBüro community and team have for you for being an awesome community member.
Repeat steps 2-6 daily.
The time-out for multiple failed login attempts is part of our safety and security. Follow the above steps and the site will likely always be ready for you to give and receive.
In recent surveys, more than 95% of Americans say they were at least somewhat concerned about how intent companies use their data, especially browsing history, and not to mention the US Government’s NSA continue to violate American’s Internet Privacy Rights or other governments around the world. Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or straight, what you do online can reveal a lot about you. Perhaps way more than you would be knowingly comfortable with sharing with others.
You’ve heard the saysing and likely have said it yourself, “Just Ask Google”. Sounds great, except when it comes to your private information.
Google tracks its user’s information for several reasons. For one thing, the company wants to make its services more efficient. Knowing your search history can help bring more relevant results to the top of future searches. This can be helpful and convenient, but it’s not all Google does with your data. They also use it to advertise more effectively. This means that advertisers can target their campaigns at people based on their demographic, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, or even personality type all from you directly providing it or from them deducing it from all your online habits, searches, site/page visits and such.
Creepy Ads That Follow You Around
I’m sure you’ve experienced looking at a product on a website or doing a search for a topic, then all a sudden those products or services are all the sudden showing up in advertisements on totally unrelated websites you visit. It is called Ad Retargeting. It can seem a bit creepy. So you may have been searching for Egyptian Cotton sheets and now seeing advertisements all over for that product. No harm right? Well, think about the other products you search for online and sites you visit. Yes, the search engine companies are tracking all that too. You may not see retargeting ads simply because merchants haven’t set up ad retargeting promotions that leveraging Cookies discussed in a bit. But rest assured, most internet search engines KNOW.
What Can You Do to Increase Your Internet Privacy, Safety, and Security?
Go ahead, it’s not vanity here. You should do it. How about jump down to the No-Tracking Browser section and try a few other browsers for this.
Do a search on your name. You may consider adding your location in the search if your name is not super unique – like John Smith. You will find that some sites have your name, home address, phone number, email account, and other information. Often these are public information aggregation sites trying to sell you or others access to the full record. For the most part, those are harmless.
If you find any site that has questionable data, use the site’s contact form to request the information to be removed.
No Longer Used Apps and Websites
When searching for yourself online you may come across profiles on apps or websites that you completely forgot about you use to use. Maybe you signed up once a long time ago and never used it since. It is a good idea to log onto those apps or sites to finally officially delete the account. You may have to use the Forgot Password feature to set a new password to access the account. If you no longer use and/or have access to the email associated with the account, use the site’s Contact Us form, or Support features to inform the app/website administrators that you once had an account under the email and that you no longer have access to that account and would like the account removed or set to your new email. They may ask you to provide some form of identification to assure you are the person associated with the account. This can take some time and effort on your part, but so worth having all that cleaned up instead of lingering out there.
Job Hunting – Clean Up
Along with this, keep in mind that potential employers will search your name like as above to try to find information about you in addition to looking at popular sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. The less info out there, likely the better. If you have your Facebook account open (public) consider setting it so that only those directly connected with you can view your profile. Also consider going through all those past postings, photos you are tagged in, and photos you uploaded and removing the tags or aking the other person to remove the photo, and clean up your past posting and photo to the bare minimum and job hunting friendly. Photos to highly consider removing are those where you are nearly naked, and looking like you are a party animal. I like to have my fun too, but consider, especially if job hunting, how those may look to a future employer – or a new romantic potential.
Mobile Apps – Limit It
Just because others are on an app doesn’t mean you should be on the same apps. Choose wisely and limit the number. Studies indicate that LGBTQ persons use “dating” sites and apps significantly more than heterosexuals. So, if on mobile “dating” apps and sites, consider limiting the information you provide both in profiles and via message chats. That naughty pic you send could end up in the hands of more recipients than you intended. If you must use location sharing, set it to Only When Using the App – otherwise, it may be tracking your every move. Additionally, this also helps save the battery life of your device.
People Aren’t Always Looking to Date
Ok, we know this by the sheer number of profiles that have “married” and “in a relationship” in their status. OK – not judging. But, if on those apps/sites there are also dubious players trying to run scams and phishing for personal information. One current scam that has been around for a while yet still active is a profile that will have a fairly attractive person with a fit body tap, woof, wink, etc. your profile. On Grindr on their profile will often say “via Explorer) which is not Internet Explorer, it is Grindr Explore where you can set the location you want to browse. The profiles state they are looking for love, a life partner, a soul mate, that communication is key, and more often than not that (for the guys) they are versatile – covering their sexual bases. There are a couple of approaches, such as stating they are a military service member currently stationed overseas and returning home in a few months. All that is trying to engage your sense of nationalism, fantasy, and hope. Sick really and as a US Army Veteran, I am disgusted by them using the military in their ploy.
I have heard from several sources, and have experienced some myself up to a point, that after some time of “getting to know you” they will come up with some excuse and ask you to transfer money to them. Sometimes they will claim they want to give you money and in order to do so, they must have your bank account website login information. HELLO, with just an email address there are many ways you can send me money if you really want to – RIGHT? PayPal to name just one, heck even Facebook has a feature to send another person money. There is no legitimate reason to provide a complete stranger your bank account information let alone access your bank’s website login.
Once Posted – It is Out There
Keep in mind that once you post anything, be it a comment, a “like”, a share, an article, a photo, it is out there. Even if you delete it, it still has the potential to be out there. When you delete from a website or app, the content is usually not really deleted, it’s just turned off from your visible profile. Sites like Facebook inform that when you delete posting and photos, they may still exist on other people’s timelines. Some data even if “deleted” is retained on servers associated with your account just in case they offer and Undo feature and for legal purposes. Another way no matter the platform, others may do a screen capture, copy, and/or download it.
For each and every app and website, review its Privacy Settings. Make the choices that you are most comfortable with. We recommend setting every one as restrictive as possible. Opt out of the site using and/or sharing your information with 3rd parties. We cannot possibly list all websites and apps, but here are some top sites and links to instruction on how to set your privacy on each:
Want to recommend other sites with linked to their privacy settings documentation? Great. Please add in the comments and I will update the article periodically.
If an app or website provides instant notification of changes, turn those on. These can alert you to things such as when your account is logged in from a new device or location when you are tagged in photos when a password is reset and much more. Each app and website options may vary so you should look at this on EVERY single one.
Search the website or app for Double or Two-Step Authentication or do an internet search for the website or app name and those terms to attempt to location user documentation if it has it. Here are a few popular site links to user documentation that have two-step authentication.
Consider setting up some Google Alerts that get sent to your email when new content on the internet becomes available. We recommend setting one up for your name, and then the name of all apps and websites you have accounts on plus adding keywords like “security”, “breach”, “leak” and so forth. That way if any app or site is reported on having a Security Breach in some way, you will know as soon as possible.
Cookies, first what are they. Nope. Not yummy peanut butter chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin and walnuts. We are talking about calorie-free small bits of code sent by a website to a site visitor’s computer/device to help the website remember stuff and provide the user with a rich experience. Some cookies are long term meaning that when you leave a site and later return, they help make your return more convenient. Other cookies are called session cookies that are only active during your logged in online sessions. Some cookies in today’s world may be active even when you are not on the site such as location tracking and push notification. They may track whats is in your shopping cart – have you put things in a shopping cart, left the site, then returned and all the items are still there? Sure you have. That’s cookies at work.
Are Cookies Safe?
Under normal circumstances, cookies cannot transfer viruses or malware to your device. Because the data in a cookie doesn’t change when it travels back and forth, it has no way to affect how your computer runs. However, some viruses and malware may be disguised as cookies. To a degree, third-party tracking cookies may cause concerns about privacy and security concerns, since they make it easier for malious actors to trace what you are doing online couple with browser history data. I advise you to review the cookies your browser has stored and manage them by clearing those associated with sites or services you don’t actively use or are completely unknown to you.
If you set your browser to clear all browser history, the worst case it that it will not have the history to auto-fill website URLs as you begin typing. Yes, that is serious about it. If you don’t mind typing out the full website URL, then it will have next to no impact on your internet surfing experience. Just a few more keyboard strokes. Retaining all that browser history has the potential to expose your browsing habits to dubious or unethical internet companies and such. It also could be easily viewed by anyone with access to your device.
Cookies are why when you visit Facebook, LinkedIn and Google you don’t have to relog in day after day. They rember the on site searches, and other stuff. Would it hurt if your 100% cleared all cookies each time your browser closes? Well, only you can answer that. You may always try it for a short period. In Chrome you have options to block particular sites from adding cookies, specify a site to clear on browser exit and white list sites.
I do A LOT of internet browsing in what I do. I will be honest and say it’s been quite a while since I looked at my own cookies. Tonight I managed them and spent around 45 mintues deleting hundreds of cookies out of my browser. I took 3 passes at it and got it down to only cookies I really recognized the website AND use on a regular basis. Here are a few of the rules I used:
Lots of cookies where obvious they were for advertising tracking – GONE.
Tons where from sites I only visited due to my work and likely have little reason to return and if I do, they will just see it as a “new visitor” or I have no real reliance on so no big deal – GONE.
Any cookie that I had no idea what it was and many had odd names, lots of characters and numbers yet means nothing to me – GONE.
Even some sites I likely will visit again yet I know they track visits and then have a paywall – say after reading beyond 3 articles they close the gate so you pay – GONE start fresh at zero.
For now I’m going to schedule once a month on my calender to do this exercise. It then should only take around 10 minutes or so. Consider giving that a try.
No-Tracking Internet Browsing
Along with browsing history tracking, you might use your laptop or mobile device to connect to internet hotspot while you are out and about, say having a coffee. Those internet connection services sure are handy, yet they are also opportunities for dubious players to snoop on your activity, steal your information, or even infect your device with malware or viruses. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can not only protect you from hacks, but they also allow you to browse the web anonymously without the fear of being monitored or tracked. In testing the below I found their search results are very on par with Google and Bing. It may even be in some cases better because they aren’t taking all your past search history, browsing history, or location into account. Sure other sites, if you search for “Best Ice Cream Shop”, may first show you local ice cream shops but that is also forcing the assumption that is what I’m searching for. Sometimes to get national results on Google I’ve had to turn off local and use their incognito version instead of them just providing what I asked for. If I wanted “Best Icecream shops in Fort Lauderdale”, that would have been my search.
Top No-Tracking Internet Search Options:
Proxy server routes searches through servers – not registering your IP address
Mobile security app
Browser integration adds a layer of blocking common browsers from tracking you
Are you seeking ways to grow and make the most of either your online or face-to-face gay professional networking for your LGBTQ owned business as an entrepreneur or grow your professional career be it a dog walker, attorney, project manager or other? Making connections face to face is always the ideal since it provides an opportunity to casually and naturally discuss your business or career in the course of a natural conversation. However, in today’s times of social media and everything internet, you’d be remiss if you don’t also take advantage of the incredible resources available to grow your business or career locally, nationally and globally online.
On Facebook, take a good look at your Facebook history. Does it need a bit of a scrubbing? In any case, I highly recommend you lock your Facebook account down so that only “friends” who are connected with you can see your postings and photos – especially if you like to post photos of nights out shirtless dancing or more.
Likewise for all other social media accounts. This is especially true if job hunting. The recruiters WILL check out your social media accounts even if not listed on your resume or LinkedIn profile. They’ll hunt it down to see what kind of postings you put out there. So lock them down, and/or keep them clean.
Wow, did you just get a “friend” invite from a smoking hot guy or gal? Be careful, that could be an account for the recruiter or prospective client to check you out behind your locked down account. Yes – it happens.
2. Define your realistic goals
What are you trying to achieve with your gay professional networking? Are you trying to land a new job, or gain new clients/customers? Networking takes time and energy. You cannot wait until you really need it to start. It has to be built over time. So many job seekers and small business owners don’t get this and set their expectations unrealistically. So when it doesn’t pay off right away they give up thinking there is no value in professional networking. Marketing 101 says it takes 12-18 or so impressions of your brand to make a memory. Social networking is similar. You must put in the efforts and follow the tips below to create a repeatable impression so that you stick in the minds and get those calls for that new job or call from potential clients/customers. Define your goals and be realistic. Magic and miracles happen because you take action and follow through with both a 3-6 month range goals and a longer term 6-12 month goals.
3. Identify your ideal contact types
You don’t target a company – you target a person. Go narrow and deep (versus wide and broad), and find out who works in your ideal department and who makes the decisions for what you are after. From online profiles to press releases. The resources to discover your ideal contacts are out there.
4. Identify your “strategic contacts”
With all the online information, there is almost no reason for a cold-call or cold-email anymore.
“Strategic Contacts” are contacts who can make important introductions to your target contacts.
5. Put yourself out there
There are a few ways to give your gay professional networking strategy a push in the more active direction, but one of the best is obviously to be face-to-face.
Sign up for conferences or events, which are typically jam-packed with valuable information. Plus, most events give you plenty of time to mingle to start to build professional relationships. Get their contact information and before you leave schedule a get-together for coffee.
Consider volunteering with local or national charities. It’s a great way to both give to your community as well as make new friends and contacts with similar interests.
Try a new organized hobby or sport. It’s a way to get out of your routine as well as also make new friends and contacts not to mention sports such as hiking or others is a great health benefit too.
6. Social media works
Social media has its limitations, but you can take advantage of what it has to offer following these tips.
There are thousands of groups all over LinkedIn that create industry-specific communities. In addition, there are some that are topically focused while still remaining professional such as the OutBüro on LinkedIn.
Making LinkedIn work for you
Follow companies and check out who works there.
You can leverage LinkedIn’s search for the job title or keyword and then filter it by a company. Nice!!
Scroll through the search results you discover potential new contacts, job titles, positions, and companies.
LinkedIn saves your recent searches for easy access again.
Be judicious – as a free LinkedIn member, there’s a limit to the number of search results monthly that LinkedIn serves up. If you find yourself repeatedly hitting that ceiling, consider a professional level account for a few months.
After your initial contact and introduction get the conversation OFF LinkedIn into a direct email, phone, or in person as soon as possible. You’ll quickly find that messages via LinkedIn get lost in all the connection notices you are making.
In addition to connecting with real and desired “friends,” you should check out LGBT focused, industry-focused and topic-focused groups. Facebook is cluttered a bit much with images of cute kittens and what someone is having for dinner. It’s possible to professionally network yet quite a bit more work to do so.
6e. Other social media sites
You have to leverage the social media sites where your target connections and audience hang out be it Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or others.
7 Don’t be shy
Don’t be afraid to reach out and make mutually beneficial connections online. You can find common ground with almost anyone, so using this can be an icebreaker. Make sure your language is not only professional but authentic when reaching out as well.
8. Customize your connection request
When connecting online, send a customized note about why you are reaching out to this person. Did you meet them somewhere? What do you have in common or why would they want to connect with you? Use their first name in the connection message. Keep it brief.
9. Provide and offer value
Focus on giving value to your new contacts, rather than only on what you want from others. Take this rule both in person and online. Like and make thoughtful pertinent comments on other people’s conversation and postings. In person, a good listener asks questions. As they see your genuine interest in them and what they do, they’ll provide the same opportunity for you to share as well.
10. Hash it out
When sharing your own content, re-posting content from a site or commenting, consider leveraging hash tags to gain more visibility. On LinkedIn, you may also follow hash tags to discover great content and people in the topics and industries you are interested in. Engaging and interacting with your non-contacts and contacts alike strengthens those connections and builds your credibility which can lead to opportunities.
11. Professional associations
Get involved in all professional associations that you can. It’s a great way to build your industry knowledge, gain certification as well as network for career opportunities. There are many LGBT focused professional associations to compliment your general ones too.
12. Chambers of Commerce
If you’re a business owner, participating in your local chamber of commerce is a great way to make connections with complimentary business and build a referral network. Many areas also have LGBT Chambers of Commerce too. They provide not only networking opportunities but also education and other resources valuable to the entrepreneur.
If job seeking, you might consider volunteering at the chamber to gain access to all those business owners. That networking could lead to a new job.
13. Nurture your relationships
According to Forbes, 23% of more than 2,200 CFOs agreed that failing to keep in touch or only reaching out when you need something is the greatest networking mistake that professionals make.
There are lots of ways to stay in contact and on their mind. After you’ve gotten to know them a little, you might provide them skill endorsements on LinkedIn. Maybe you might pass along another contact that would be mutually valuable. If you have the opportunity you might connect a great candidate for an open position they have that’s not a fit for you. You’ll comment thoughtfully on their postings. You’ll share their press releases. A little activity can go a long way and build in building a rapport.
14. Networking vs. cruising
Okay, some might think even writing this is just a step beyond. But because I’ve seen it happen to others as well as I’ve had it happen to me, it’s worth stating. When you are in the mode of professional networking, keep it focused on just that. Trying to mix your professional networking and using it as a pick up / hook up vehicle can mean you are too focused on that guy/gal and missing potential professional opportunities.
Can you meet someone via professional networking event that you are personally attracted too? ABSOLUTELY. But, in the space of networking, keep that conversation brief, exchange numbers, and schedule to meet after the event or another day. Remember why you are there.
Also if at a venue where alcohol is being served – have a drink or two, but your always safe with water. Go out and have your fun after the business event.
Gay professional networking is not a “one-off activity”. If you follow the tips above, you can start building your network and leveraging those connections to help build your business or grow your career.
Studies show that the key to long-term career success is having a great network. Making yourself known and respected in the community, be it local or online will open up a variety of doors to opportunities.
BringMeGift Vacation & Business Travel App and OutBüro have partnered for a fun contest/game.Download the BringMeGift App, Register as a Service provider, create your fun and interesting service offer listings for vacation and business travelers between Oct 31 and Nov 7, 2018. The individual with the most offers listed will win $200 from BringMeGift.
Also, for those that download the BringMeGift App, also the first 100 people to also register for free on www.OutBuro.com will receive a discount code for 50% your BringMeGift monthly service provider fees. After registering on both, send a short message to OutBüro via Support Contact form to receive one of only 100 discount codes for BringMeApp.
Though LinkedIn is a valuable professional networking tool, not all of us feel comfortable being ‘out’ in that setting. Glassdoor offers quality insight around what it’s like to work at specific companies, but it doesn’t share experience specific to LGBT employees. That’s why you need the LGBT networking site, OutBüro.
Learn more about the LGBT networking site, OutBüro:
Meet LGBT networking leader, Dennis Velco of OutBüro
Dennis Velco is the Founder and CEO of OutBüro, an LGBT networking site for entrepreneurs and professionals. The site allows users to network, submit resumes to a searchable database, and rate companies anonymously from an LGBT perspective. It also provides a forum where companies of any size can connect with LGBT candidates through active recruiting.
Dennis joins us to discuss the impetus for OutBüro, describing the platform as a safe space for LGBT job-seekers. He offers insight around joining an employee resource group at work OR creating one of your own and addresses the common disconnect between a company’s inclusive policies and how LGBT employees are actually treated in the workplace. Listen in for Dennis’ advice around promoting diversity and inclusion year-round and learn how you can reap the benefits of joining the OutBüro community!
Get Focused to Improve Your LGBT Business Search Rankings
Today LGBT Entrepreneurs must focus on gaining high-quality backlinks surrounded by topically focused keywords from domain authority sites. OutBüro is laser-focused on being a niche domain authority for LGBT business owners and professionals in it’s growing community.
Marketing today is part science and part art. For the LGBT entrepreneur and businesses desiring to target the GBLT community OutBüro provides an opportunity to focus on results. Your results will improve the more you leverage the many features and benefits it currently provides and as new features roll out.
OutBüro should be a part of your business online trust authority strategy. Your profile provides the opportunity to tout your skills in a description. Additionally as described below it provides a place to link your profile from 30 high-ranking domain authority websites and an open text area to associate an unlimited number of other social media and industry-specific profiles. As OutBüro continues to grow in size and business-related content your profile and business listing on OutBüro will continue to grow in value to your overall online marketing presence, trust, and website ranking.
When building online trust Google, Bing, and Yahoo want to see more than a profile listing. To supercharge your online trust rating you must choose the platforms that are meaningful for you and your brand. Then take the time to really engage with other users of the sites. This means connecting with others via “friending”, following, getting followers, and commenting in a meaningful manner on what others post. This activity creates content-rich link juice that drips to your site. I recommend scheduling time on your work calendar at least weekly to visit each site, post, like, connect, and comment.
When backlinking from OutBüro or any other site, be sure to mix it up. Don’t only point to your main site’s URL home page. Also, link to your inner pages. Those inner pages might be your about us page, a contact us page, an FAQ page, a services page, and your cornerstone key content. Cornerstone pages are those pages and blog postings that really get to the heart of what your business is about, the ones you are most proud of, and the ones you internally link to most often from other pages or postings.
To further juice it up, consider stacking your linking. From your LinkedIn profile provide links to your Behance and OutBüro profiles in addition to your primary website. From YouTube link to your LinkedIn and OutBüro profiles and so forth. This stacking supercharges your interconnected whole internet presence taking increasing your authority. As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all boats.
High Doman Authority Sites to Consider
In addition to creating your profile on OutBüro, below a 12 high ranking domain authorities, to get you started on the right track:
1) Facebook.com (DA 100) This is kind of a “duh factor”. A must have. It is one of the most trusted and used websites in the world.
2) Twitter.com (DA 100) Recently this has come into great focus with the current US President using it as a communication platform. Like him or not, this is a highly used site that has super credibility and trust.
3) YouTube.com (DA 100) Owned by Google, a YouTube channel allows you up to 5 links in the profile along not to mention all the opportunity on each video posting you upload but also when commenting on other videos.
5) LinkedIn.com (DA 100) The most popular general business networking website. It’s a must and you Pinshould also join OutBüro on LinkedIn – it’s first and largest LGBT professional networking group.
6) Pinterest.com (DA 100) This is not for every business, but if it is for you, it’s been a powerhouse ever since it launched.
7) Reddit.com (DA 99) As the most popular social booking marking sites, Reddit is a wonderful tool to leverage.
8) Stumbleupon.com (DA 98) A great social bookmarking websites that is popular and commands a very high authority.
9) Vimeo.com (DA 98) One of the most popular video-sharing websites just behind YouTube, Vimeo is awesome because it allows you to add lots of backlinks to your profile.
10) About.me (DA 90) Here you can display your talents and link back to your many other social properties.
11) Soundcloud.com (DA 93) If you have audio to share or just want to listen to some independent tunes, this is a great website to have in your tool chest. From your profile, you can set up lots of backlinks too.
12) Scribd.com (DA 92) This super popular book reading website offers a powerful high domain authority link to point back to your main site, or another social profile site for that matter.
As a business owner, it’s important you understand that ranking highly in search engines is vital for your website. In fact, it could be your golden ticket to immense profits. But how? The answer is search engine optimisation (or SEO).
As an LGBT entrepreneur SEO improves website’s visibility
SEO is the process of making your website visible in search engine results pages (or ‘SERPs’ as they’re often called). And what a process it is. The Google algorithm considers over 200 factors when determining what websites to show for a certain search term.
It all starts with your website. Google sends out automated ‘robots’ (also called ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’) to visit every accessible page on every website across the internet. These robots gather information on each webpage and store it all on the many Google servers located around the world. This way when someone searches for a term related to your site, the Google algorithm goes to work, processing all the information that has been collected from your site and similar sites. It then determines which sites are most authoritative and relevant to query. The results are presented in the form of an ordered list, with the best options at the top.
To simplify things, think of the web like your local library. Your site is a new book that has just arrived and the librarian is the Google robot. She gets familiar with your book and determines the most logical section to display it in. A visitor comes to the library and they aren’t aware your book exists but they’re interested in the genre or topic. So they head to the relevant section, explore the different titles and eventually decide to check out your book because it’s just what they’re looking for. Success!
SEO is constantly evolving as an LGBT Entrepreneur – Keep Up!
Website owners have been thinking about how to make their sites rank in search engines since the rise of the internet in the 1990s. Along the way, some SEO practitioners figured out ways to trick the algorithm into thinking their site was more relevant and authoritative than it actually was. This type of optimization was coined ‘black hat SEO’. It quickly became frowned upon due to the negative experience it created for web users. Some SEO techniques were originally acceptable (known as ‘white hat’) but moved into the black hat category as they became overused or as the web matured.
Search engine algorithms are consistently updated to make black hat techniques less effective. SEO is always in a state of evolution – so it’s important to remember that what mattered a few years ago could now be less effective or completely discouraged. If the Google crawlers identify black hat SEO on your website, your site could be penalized and drastically drop in search engine rankings. The best way to avoid black hat SEO is to always ask yourself if you are improving the experience on your site or providing valuable and original information. If the answer is ‘yes’, you can feel confident that your website is search-engine friendly.
Seven ways to optimize your LGBT Business website for search engines
If you ever tried to learn about SEO, you’ve likely heard dozens of different things you should do. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start.
The best place to begin is with the list below:
Keywords These are the queries that your prospects would likely search for when looking at your type of business. Start by coming up with the obvious ones and then use a keyword research tool to identify other terms that could direct people to your site. You can get an idea of how competitive terms are and how often they’re searched for and go from there. Once you have your keyword list determined, you need to make sure these terms exist throughout your site. It’s important not to overuse keywords – search engines will penalize any content that looks spammy. Aim for roughly 2 percent keyword density.
Page copy It should contain your keywords but be sure not to overdo it. The Google crawlers read text just like us humans do, so it’s more important that copy is readable and well-written. Many people use their keywords too much in their website copy, thinking they are really letting Google know what terms they want to rank for. In reality, they are writing poor copy which makes for a bad experience on their website and can actually hurt their site’s ranking. Before you publish a new page, double-check your copy. If your grammar school English teacher wouldn’t like it, neither will search engine crawlers. See our article on Content Marketing.
Title tags This is the copy the appears as the clickable link in SERPs and in the tab of most web browsers. It acts as the title for each individual page so it carries a lot of weight with search engines. You’ll need to make sure each title tag is unique, contains relevant keywords, and follows a consistent format across your site. It’s best practice to include a keyword specific to the page. If you have space you should also include your brand name. It’s best to use a hyphen (-) or a vertical bar (|) to separate keywords from your brand name. Keep copy to under 55 characters to make sure it’s not too long to display.
Heading tags There are six different heading tags you can use (from H1 to H6). H1 is the most important heading tag to search engines and should be applied to the page headline. It’s important not to use the H1 tag more than once per page, as it could result in an over-optimization penalty with Google. The other title tags can be used multiple times on a single page. On a page that contains a lot of copy, the H1 tag can act as the headline and H2s can be applied to each sub-headline. This format sends signals to the search engine crawlers, while also making for strong user experience by breaking text into separate sections.
URL structure URLs present another opportunity to showcase your keywords to search engines. Be sure they’re included in the resource path – or the part of the URL that comes after the domain name or /. It’s best practice to use all lowercases and hyphens to separate words when optimizing URLs. Here’s a good example: rockyardshoes.com/running-shoes.
Images Search engine crawlers can’t see images like humans so they rely on the code behind the image to understand what it is being displayed. They gather information from the alt tag, image title and filename.
Alt tag text is the copy shown in place of an image when it can’t be displayed – perhaps it failed to load, or the user is visually impaired and uses a screen reader. You should provide a brief explanation of the image for alt tag text. For example, ‘Woman wearing running shoes’.
The image title is the copy that appears when you hover the mouse over an image. The copy should build on the description the alt tag text provides. Think of it like an image caption. For example, ‘Orange running shoes for women’.
The filename is the name applied to an image when it’s saved. For example, image337.png isn’t great. But running-shoes-women.png is. Take a moment to make sure it is descriptive and only use lowercase text and separate words using hyphens.
Meta descriptions A meta description may seem daunting – but it’s just a name for the two lines of text that appear in search engine result pages under the clickable link and URL. If you don’t provide Google with a meta description, then it will display random text from your page that may mean nothing to a user. Meta descriptions no longer factor into search engine rankings, but they can help encourage searchers to visit your site by providing a preview of what’s in store. It’s best to keep the copy under 150-155 characters and to include a call to action. For example, ‘Start your free trial today’.
Updating your website usually requires editing HTML code. However, many modern content management systems, like Squarespace or WordPress, enable you to build and edit a website with no coding knowledge.
Commit to SEO for the long haul
Once your website is optimized for search engines, you’ll need to form an on-going SEO strategy. This is the hard part of SEO but it’s what will separate you from your competitors. Think of it like going to the gym. You need to devote time and energy, stick to a plan, and patiently wait for results.
Three ways to provide visitors with great content
For the people at Google, the internet is all about the exchange of information. This means that the Google algorithm places a lot of weight on the quality of the content on your site how often you publish it. See our article on Content Marketing
Content is a blanket term that refers to the descriptive copy on your webpages, in addition to blog posts, articles, case studies, videos, infographics, slideshows and so on. Anything that provides valuable information and is accessible to search engine crawlers is considered content.
The key to producing great content for SEO purposes is to make it fresh, relevant, and unique.
Publish fresh new content frequently This shows Google that your website is still active. Old content quickly goes stale if it’s in a prominent area of your site.
Keep content relevant Your content should be related to your website and what your business offers. Don’t stray off-topic. It could confuse search engine crawlers, as well as visitors to your site.
Always be unique You should present information that is not available on other websites or at least in a different form than it exists on other websites. Never copy and paste content from other sites onto yours. It will do more harm than good.
The importance of inbound links
Links on other websites that point back to yours are known as ‘inbound links’ and play a huge role in obtaining favorable search engine rankings. If the web is all about exchanging information, then inbound links are essentially other sites endorsing what your site has to say.
Not all inbound links are created equal in the eyes of Google though. A single link from a major website like nytimes.com or bbc.co.uk can provide value equivalent to a dozen links from average websites.
Creating great content and obtaining inbound links go hand and hand. When you write a great blog post or guide, it’s going to influence Google crawlers. It’s also going to impress visitors to your site, who will want to share it on social media and link to it on their own websites.
Be visible to local searchers
If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you want your website to convince people in your community to visit in person. Optimizing your site to appeal to people close to you is known as local SEO.
Be sure to include your location in your main keywords. If you run a seafood restaurant in Boston, you’ll want to be sure that your website is visible to local searchers seeking a seafood restaurant. You’ll want to optimize around the term ‘seafood restaurant Boston’ in order to let Google know where your restaurant is located.
It’s also important to sign up for a Google My Business account. This ensures that your business contact information is consistent across Google search, Maps and Google +. It also gives your business a greater presence in search results. Your customers can leave reviews, which naturally attracts new customers.
SEO will help your website succeed
As you can see, putting in place a strategy is essential if you want your business to succeed online. If you constantly improve your website and publish great content then you will have a better search engine ranking than your competitors. It’s that simple.
Busy offices can generate a lot of paperwork. But too much paper can reduce the efficiency of your business – and cost you money. So what steps can you take to cut the amount of paper your business uses?
Do better business with less paper
Paper is everywhere. We hardly think about it, but businesses spend a lot of time and money moving paperwork around. Analysts have been predicting the arrival of the paperless office for more than two decades, yet more paper is produced every year.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In almost all areas of business, it’s now possible to get rid of paper entirely. Digital documents are simpler, easier to store and send, more searchable and more versatile than paper.
But many businesses have a long way to go before they become paperless. In this guide, we’ll look at the benefits of digital documents, and how you can reduce your paperwork to help you run your business more efficiently.
Why do we still use paper?
Before we look at the benefits of going paperless, it’s worth understanding why paper is still so common. Here are some of the reasons why businesses still use paper:
Government requirements If the government tells you that you must keep paper records, you don’t have much choice. But it doesn’t happen often these days. Most government departments understand that digital documents are just as good.
Legal necessity If you’re applying for a loan or selling your business, signed paperwork is often a necessity. But lawyers are increasingly going paperless, so this practice is dying out.
Permanence and convenience Some paper documents have been around for centuries and can still be read today. By contrast, some computer records from 20 years ago can’t be accessed at all. So for long life, paper can still seem like a good choice. But digital storage methods are stabilizing and improving. Formats like PDF and JPEG will outlast many of the businesses that use them.
The way it feels People like the way paper feels (psychologists call this ‘haptic perception’) and the fact that it’s a real, physical item. Sometimes information inside a computer or the cloud doesn’t seem so real. But this is changing as people grow up with computers being part of their lives.
Cost Paper is cheap and easy to distribute. However, that’s only part of the story. Once you start paying for printers, toner, servicing, maintenance, connectivity, cabling, user support, and all the other associated costs, the paper starts to look more expensive. And that’s before you consider the cost of document storage.
So at least some of the reasons why we still use paper are historical and personal – not logical.
The benefits of a paperless office
Going paperless is more beneficial than it might first appear. Here’s what can happen when a business starts to cut back on paper.
Reduced clutter Paperwork on desks and shelves is not only untidy, it’s inefficient too. The organization of digital files is simpler, and your office will look much neater. That will help you clear your mind and focus on your business.
Fast access to information Your digital documents can be stored, retrieved, indexed, and searched much faster than paper ones.
Simpler disaster recovery An entire company’s documents could be stored on a single laptop instead of rooms of shelving. If there’s a fire or flood, recovery from a backup is much easier with digital storage than with paper.
Cost reduction You will save money on printing, postage, and associated costs. You could even pay less rent – because you won’t need all that space for your files.
Easier growth Moving from an old office to a new one is much easier if you don’t have to carry several filing cabinets with you.
It’s environmentally friendly Less printing means fewer trees cut down for pulp, and less energy used to make and transport paper.
Faster communication Paper mail takes a day to arrive – if you’re lucky. Emailed documents arrive within seconds. At a time when businesses need to move swiftly, getting rid of paper can give you a helpful burst of speed.
10 steps to a paperless office
Going paperless doesn’t happen overnight, so you should plan your strategy for reducing paper use. Here are some steps to consider.
Find out what you print now Even in a business, it can be difficult to keep track of who’s printing what, and when. Consider using print audit software so you can track where all the print jobs are coming from.
Calculate potential cost savings Use quality accounting software to track all your print-related expenses. Include printers, ink or toner, paper, service contracts, storage, and technical support. Deduct any revenues you receive from using paper, unless they would be matched by using digital documents instead. For example, printed newsletters might be replaced by emails, with no loss of sales revenue.
Move to online applications Cloud-based applications let you share data easily with clients and suppliers. There’s no need to worry about different file formats. So discuss some key applications with the companies you work with – see if they’re willing to use the cloud too. Some useful cloud-based applications include:
Google Docs to collaborate on documents
Dropbox or Box to share files
Basecamp for simple project management
Evernote to take digital notes
PayPal to transfer funds
The more areas of business you can move to the cloud, including accounts and payroll, the less you’ll have to worry about technical support and file format issues.
Don’t forget training Work with your staff to ensure they can handle and process electronic documents, such as invoices.
incentivize your employees Give your staff a printing budget and reward them for printing fewer documents.
Scan any paperwork you receive from other people Document scanners are reasonably cheap and can store paperwork in PDF format. If there’s too much to handle, get a secure scanning company to do the work.
Sign documents digitally Most countries now have laws that make electronically-signed contracts as legally valid as those signed with pen on paper.
Use online banking Request paperless statements from banks and other financial institutions. If you’re worried about missing anything, set up alerts in your accounting software to warn you in advance of when a bill is due. Pay your bills and your suppliers online.
Update your office With less space being taken up with document storage, you can make your office a better place to work. Consider buying larger monitors, or a dual-monitor setup, so your staff can view more than one document at a time.
Phase-out old technology Some companies still send and receive faxes. But even here you can reduce paper use. Fax software lets you send and receive faxes as electronic documents – meaning less paperwork and lower costs.
Making the transition – fast or slow?
Once you’ve made the decision to reduce paper use, how long will it take? The choice is really up to you.
You could try going ‘cold turkey’ – dramatically cutting down on all paperwork immediately. That would mean shifting to the cloud for all your business operations, clamping down on office printing, and storing all documents electronically.
But that could put a lot of stress on you and your staff, especially if you’re already busy. It makes more sense to focus on one area or department at a time. You will learn a lot from the first attempt, which will make it easier the next time.
Lighten the load
Depending on how comfortable you are with technology, it may be difficult to change to a paperless office. Here are a few tips to make the journey easier:
Keep your documents secure Use encryption to keep your documents safe from prying eyes.
Backup everything, regularly Electronic documents are easier to store than paper – and easier to delete. Make sure you have backups online, using services such as backblaze.com or carbonite.com, and also offline. USB memory sticks, external hard drives, CDs, and DVDs can all be used for offline storage.
Index everything Electronic documents are more useful if they are fully indexed, so you can easily search and find what you’re looking for. When scanning documents, make sure they are searchable by using OCR (optical character recognition) software. Scanning service companies can do this for you.
Be realistic Going paperless is a goal, but it might be difficult or even impossible to eliminate all paper. If you’re involved in real estate transactions, for example, there will still be a lot of paperwork involved.
Take small steps Do whatever you can to reduce paper use. For example, if you have to print a document, use both sides of the sheet of paper. And if you print out a PowerPoint presentation, include two or four slides to a page. Even these small steps can make a big difference.
Paper belongs in the past
People have been talking about the paperless office for years. With new technology, especially easy-to-use cloud-based applications, we are closer to reaching this goal.
Going paperless can have many advantages for you, your employees, and your business partners. Aside from the cost savings, it gives you more flexibility to run your business from anywhere, and get what you need whenever you need it.
It also removes the hassle of having to physically store paperwork – and that can save you money at times when office space isn’t cheap. Now you can store all your business documents safely and securely in the cloud, taking up no physical space at all.
Piles of office paperwork belong in the past. The future is definitely digital.