How To Add Value for Your Customers With No Cost to You

Adding Value is Incredibly Important: But How Do I Do It For Little Or No Cost?

A blogger friend of mine (whom I have incredible respect for) wrote a new post about his tech company’s plan to take over a convention.

He outlined exactly what goes into an amazing booth at a convention (the ones that everyone crowds around) and where to get all the add-ons (free gifts, prizes, contests, etc.).

He even outlined where he ordered his booth’s decorations (Vistaprint) and where he got hats with his company logo (Lids).

This is Great Value in Itself.

This sounds like a great post, right? The kind you would bookmark and come back to if you find out your company is going to a convention.

It would’ve been easy for this blogger to stop there, and it would’ve been a really good, quality article.

But then he went above and beyond.

He posted exactly where to get promo codes for each of the services he ordered. He’s not an affiliate for anything. He just told everyone how to have an amazing convention booth, but then also told you exactly how to do it for much cheaper.

It’s a free way to add value to your customers in a way that costs you absolutely nothing. All you need is a quick google search and you can pick the top two or three websites that have the coupons your customers are looking for.

In a bit of shameless repetition of his idea, here were his top three picks for getting Lids.com coupons:

Lids Coupon Codes – Promo Codes for Lids.com!
Retailmenot.com
Groupon.com/coupons

And now you have three sweet resources to get coupons for Lids, and it cost me nothing! This is just one way to create amazing value for your customers without pulling money out of your own pocket.

Websites Referenced In this Article:

Vistaprint – for booth decorations at a convention.

Lids.com – for custom imprinted hats with your company’s logo on them.

White Hat & Black Hat SEO

White Hat & Black Hat SEO

Special Note: our website was up for renewal, and we used a renewal coupon code to save a bunch of money (this is the website we used)! You might find this site useful if you have a site coming up for renewal, or they have coupons for setting up new accounts too!

In terms of SEO, ‘White Hats‘ are good and ‘Black Hats‘ are bad. ‘Grey Hats’ fall somewhere in the middle. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of each category.

Black Hat SEO

You really want to avoid using any black hat techniques because while they might be effective in the short term, long run they are going to get you penalized by Google and possibly dropped off of the search engine listings entirely. They also tend to make for a very poor user experience for a human, and you should really focus on making the website useful to your customers first, and Google’s spider bots second.

  • Making use of Link Farms – Don’t do this, ever. Link farms are just giant collections of links that have nothing to do with each other. If anybody ever wants you to pay to be listed in their ‘directory’, don’t do it. Paid links of any kind are typically bad news.
  • Hidden text – This text is the same color as the background, or set to be hidden through CSS. Search engines don’t bother with style rules, so the text will still show up to a search bot but not any human visitors to your site. It is often used in conjunction with the next technique…
  • Keyword Stuffing – This is when you put as many keywords as you can into the content without worrying about silly things like sentence structure or readability. Some people just put lists of keywords (often in hidden text, as explained above). In WordPress any of your important keywords should go into the Tags for the post, and in your content of course but only if it makes sense in context.
  • Blog spamming – We’ve all seen or gotten those comments on a blog post ‘Great article! Thanks for sharing!’ that exist for no other reason than to create a backlink to a completely irrelevant site that’s probably selling Nike or Ray-Ban knockoffs.

White Hat SEO

  • Quality Content – No, we’re not going to stop harping on this one. Write good content, and lots of it!
  • Link Baiting – This is writing content that people will want to link back to. It could be a top 10 list, a highly informative article, or a news story. For most small businesses, I would consider writing an article or page on something that your company specializes in, and include your personal experiences and things you’ve learned.
  • Internal Linking – Make your site easy to navigate! The easier it is for the bots to find their way through the site, the better it is for you. There are lots of plugins out there to add Breadcrumbs to your WordPress site.
  • Site Optimization – Make sure you are using your header tags, site title, and meta tags effectively.

Is SSL the New SEO?

Is SSL the New SEO?

There may be a new requirement for webmasters in the world of 2014 and beyond: mandatory SSL-certified websites.

While, not exactly mandatory. But if you want to rank well in Google, then you’ll probably going to need to encrypt your website.

Let’s back up a sec: Google hosted an event called “HTTPS Everywhere“. During the event they mentioned that whether a website is SSL-encrypted is now part of Google’s ranking algorithm. It’s a “weak signal”, they said, but only because they wanted to give webmasters some time to start adding these certificates before they strengthened the “SSL ranking signal”.

I’m sure you fellow webmasters have tons of questions. We can answer as many as we can:

  • What is an SSL Certificate? – The “SSL” stands for “secure-socket layer”. The certificate essentially creates an added layer of encryption between your website and the visitor. This ensures that no one is eavesdropping on your interactions on a website (i.e. copying your credit card information or passwords). Previously only online commerce sites and websites where people entered passwords were advised to add an SSL certificate. Now it seems that every website should get one.
  • Why is Google doing this? – One theory out there is that Google wants to stamp out the NSA’s ability to spy on people. Since SSL only stops one type of cyber-crime (surveillance), Now, what’s Google’s motive here? Will the NSA be forced to pay for Google’s information once the surveillance racket dies away? It’s basically impossible to really know the real answer. And for us webmasters on the ground floor, it doesn’t matter.
  • How much of a ranking boost will I get? – Right now, it’s a weak signal among over 200 other signals that Google uses. So it’s not going to make you jump to the first page when you languishing on page 8. It can help in a tiebreaker situation, where your website is tied with another website that does not have HTTPS. But the signal is going to strengthen over time. And when that happens (which will likely be without warning), your website will unexpectedly start rising. Isn’t that a cool feeling?
    In other words you should get HTTPS because it will future-proof your website.
  • How Much Does an SSL Certificate Cost? – The cost varies widely based on the what kind and where you buy it from. Since GoDaddy’s the biggest domain registrar, we checked them and found that a standard SSL costs $49.99/year. That’s pretty steep. But a quick Google search found some coupon codes to knock 30% off that price. Namecheap has a coupon for Comodo SSL for $4.99/year, which is really good as well.
  • Are There Free SSL Certificates? Yes, but buyer beware. The OpenSSL “Heartbleed Bug” became such a problem mostly because the free, open-source software wasn’t maintained. StartSSL has a great reputation. But you’ll also need to know what type of server your website is hosted on: (i.e. Apache). Also if your website is hosted on a shared web server, then most web hosts have strict policies about adding SSL encryption to their servers. They are likely just trying to make sure you buy their products, but make sure your web allows 3rd party SSL certificates before trying to install one.

Articles Mentioned In This Post:

HTTPS Everywhere event.