Monday, 24 August 2009

I have a beautiful website, why am I not getting any traffic? (SEO and its uses)

Imagine a person who is standing in the middle of the room. His eyes are closed. The room is full of people. His job is to identify who each of those people are. Because his eyes are closed, he can only identify them by what they say and how loud they are say it. It also helps if they speak the language that he understands and if they are not being rude to him. Once he identifies the people, he starts helping them.

This person is Google. The people around “him” are the websites. If they make the right noises, speak clearly, use the right language and do not offend – Google brings up their ranking and puts them at the top. Because Google is the only one making the rules – you need to play by them in order to be helped.

Google “listens” to each website (old or new) and ranks them, depending on how many of its rules they follow. The highest rank is 10. The lowest – 0. Achieving the highest rank means that you follow exactly what Google tells you to do and in turn it recognises and respects your website. For example Twitter has a rank of 9. If your rank is 0, that means that Google cannot hear you at all. You can check your ranking here: (just put the URL in and click “check PR”). This website is very safe.

SEO is used to give the websites and blogs a “voice” that Google would like to hear and will understand. SEO experts know most of the rules (Google changes them quite often – so we monitor them carefully) and therefore know what to do.

Using the correct keywords is one of the rules. There is a ratio that you need to use in order for Google to start moving you up to the top pages. Those words are not necessarily the product that you are trying to sell (if your product is unique, people looking for it are very likely to be among your customers already). Identifying the keywords relevant for your business can be a challenge. Virtual Blue Bird can help you out by putting together a comprehensive list of the right keywords for your website.

Similarly, Google will also check out your pictures … are they labelled correctly? Another problem faced by many of our clients is that putting a hyperlink into an article does not necessarily mean that you will get traffic. Why? Simply because the hyperlink needs to be entered correctly.

There is also a large number of rules that relate to the blog posts, ratios, competitions, use of diagrams/pictures, videos, social media etc. that our experts are able to help you with.

If your traffic is low, give us a call and we will be happy to have a look at your website and see if there are any issues that can easily be solved by Search Engine Optimisation.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Can a VA run your wedding?

Planning a dream wedding can prove to be a logistical nightmare, however, there are only 3 things you need to have to run an outstanding wedding:

1. Common sense,

2. Hard work and

3. A little bit of imagination

Personally, I have made a big mistake by delegating the organisation of my wedding to 2 wedding planners. Considering that I’ve ran over 500 events myself, the only reason why I’ve delegated my wedding was because I was running 16 large projects at the time and simply did not have the possibility of taking on another “project”. The planners were given 9 months to plan the event… 3 months before the wedding I have asked them for a project plan that would list all of the updates (outstanding tasks and those already accomplished). What a shock it was to actually find out that nothing has been done apart from booking the venue, which I did myself. As it turned out, they did not even have a project plan – apparently, you don’t need one for a wedding!

Armed with 1 of VBB VAs, we’ve pulled a project plan together in the space of 2 days. By the end of the first week, all the flower arrangements were booked, the cake was chosen, the decorations were bought, invitations were sent out (we designed a hard and a soft copy in-house); the website was put together (guests do want to know what is going on) and entertainment was selected and arranged for (I was flying in 7 musicians from different parts of the world). By the end of the second week, drinks and food were selected; makeup and nail specialists (for guests and myself) were booked; local quartet was provided with the music (my wedding was to be held in Switzerland – so everything had to be done virtually); visas for all of my guests were provided; flights were booked; accommodation allocated; transportation booked; menus designed and printed; photo/videotographers booked; wedding outfits bought; presents selected and guests were communicated regarding the events to take place over the weekend. Having finalised all my wedding preparations within this short time, all that I had left to do for the rest of the 2.5 months leading up to my wedding, was to spend 1 hour a week just keeping an eye on the developments and sorting out any of the arising little issues.

Therefore, my honest opinion is: a virtual assistant can run your wedding. In fairness, event management is not a very difficult task – it’s just hard work. I also do not believe that it takes more than 1 month to organise every single detail of the event even if you are dealing with something as complex as running a wedding in a foreign country. As long as the venue is booked and the entertainment is selected – everything else is a “piece of cake”. On the plus side, VAs do not charge you as much as the wedding planners would, as we are used to getting things done very quickly and efficiently. It is our job to make sure that you are happy and we make every effort so that every single penny you spend on the planning is made worthwhile by working as hard as possible to protect you from the organisational hassle. To ensure that everything runs smoothly on your wedding day we will fly out to the wedding itself to run the operational side of the event for you.

Armed with experience in organising large scale business events VAs are well equipped to arrange a wedding with the precision and attention to detail second to none. In organizing my own wedding, reliable and effective, one VA proved to be more efficient than two wedding planners, and I honestly cannot think of anything in the wedding planner’s responsibilities that a VA could not accomplish. Can you?

Friday, 14 August 2009

Should Facebook be used for business?

At Virtual Blue Bird, we love Facebook. Please don’t get us wrong, we know that Facebook is a temperamental beast. It’s protected by a large number of unwritten rules, with extremely lengthy response times and a power to block any account for a long period of time without an explanation. Yes, we are fully aware of those risks. However, the benefits that you get from exploiting this social networking tool are enormous.

Facebook is a lot like a mobile phone. Some people use it more actively, some check it every once in a while, but the benchmark fact is – everyone has an account. With Facebook providing free access to such a large audience, establishing a presence there is inevitable for most businesses.

In order to maximise your returns from Facebook usage, the most important thing to remember is that your account needs to be continuously nurtured over time. With the strict rules in place, your enthusiastic decision to build a presence quickly will lead to your account being blocked. And should you suddenly decide to message everyone about your new product – you will also find your account to be blocked. What’s more, and probably even more importantly, your customers will see you as much of a spammer just as Facebook will. Hence, the weighted solution is building your Facebook presence continually over time.

At Virtual Blue Bird we spend an hour a day updating our client’s accounts, adding friends, building up groups and creating interesting content gradually. Once a new product launches, we run a physical or a virtual party, to which all new (and happy) customers are invited. That’s usually the point, at which the conversion rates shoot up to around 2 out of 3.

Facebook requires constant attention and a good deal of patience, but use it wisely and you will see real benefits to your business that it has to offer!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

How to choose a right PA for a CEO?

Every CEO knows that a personal assistant (or executive assistant - EA) is essential for the smooth running of their business. Your PA is someone who knows everything about you, knows how to handle your direct reports, understands how to make sure that you are not in a bad mood, knows exactly which contacts should be given a priority and protects you from a lot of unnecessary details that you do not have the time for. A good PA is your protective shield from the world of small issues.

Not surprisingly then, finding the right person for this role is essential. Most of the CEOs will usually take their PAs with them, whenever they move from company to company. Starting a new job and hiring a new personal assistant all at the same time might be very challenging. If your PA does not move to the new company with you, best to keep the one that the new company provides, as that person will at least know the business well. However, what happens if the chemistry is not right?

When hiring a PA, it is very important to remember that you are dealing with extremely well organised people. Therefore, most of the candidates will pass the interview stage with ease for two reasons mainly, with the first one being that they have the answers to everything prepared beforehand and the second - being professionally trained to be liked. Therefore, there are only 2 things that you will be looking for:

a) The right chemistry (a 20 minute chat should be enough to figure that out) and

b) The ability to handle your business affairs and cope with the amount of work you will be providing.

The second point is more difficult though, because there are no known tests to check that. You will therefore have to take the risk and hope for the best. If at first you do not succeed, the search will need to start again, leaving you without a competent PA for a period of time.

Realising how important the role of the PA is, we start looking after CEOs when they first leave their previous position. We get to know them in the interim period, before they start the new job. We also help them find the right full-time professional PA, because by then, we know everything about your professional and personal likes and dislikes, and therefore become equipped to identify the kind of person to be able to assist you. We will manage you up until the moment you get the right person on board. If you are concerned about how this can be done virtually, talk to us and we will be happy to answer your questions.