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Joe Bartolone, President

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Strategic Planning Essentials

Having a strategic plan in place to guide your organization is key to ensuring its long-term success. At its most basic level, a strategic plan determines where an organization is going, how it’s going to get there, and mechanism to evaluate its progress. Strategic plans set priorities, focus energy and resources effectively, strengthen operations, unite staff towards a common goal, and asses and adjust the organization’s direction in response to an ever-changing environment.

Strategic plans typically focus on an entire organization, rather than a particular product, service, or division. The way a strategic plan is developed depends on many factors - things like the size of the business, the nature of its leadership, and its culture. There are a variety of strategic planning models, including goals-based, issues-based, and organic ones, but they all work towards the same goal: keeping your business on track, growing, and focused on the future.

The first step when creating a strategic plan is to assess and analyze where your organization currently stands. A great way to do this is with a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis. This sets the tone for the plan and ensures that you understand the environment your organization operates in. Next, you must identify what is important to your organization. Here, you set the long-term goals for the company and the direction you want to go in the future based off mission and vision statements. Once you have this in mind, it’s time to create a more detailed plan on how you are going to achieve those goals using operational planning and actionable items. You can incorporate budgets, strategies, plans for human capital, money, and action plans in this step.

Once you have your strategic plan in place, your work is not yet done. Strategic plans are dynamic - they offer opportunities for constant review and evaluation. You should continually go over strategic plans to assess company performance and identify what is and isn’t working, and make changes when needed.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is always shifting and changing as search engines update their algorithms, so there are very few rules and specifics that can be stated as fact at all times. Put simply, however, SEO is the process and result of crafting changes to your website so that the site becomes one of the highest results for specific keywords identified as relating directly to the products or services your business is able to offer.

It is also important to note that Google states explicitly that no representative or company can guarantee a number 1 ranking for a search term. The constantly shifting algorithms Google and other search engines use means that results vary for each user, dependent on things that you cannot control, such as the type of device they are using, where they are geographically located, and what your competition is doing. Certain things, however, can help ensure that your site appears on the first page, and ideally in the top 3 results. This SEO is focused on two broad areas: what happens on your site, and what happens off your site.

On-site SEO is mostly behind the scenes work on your site. The code used to write your website has to follow certain rules set by search engines to be ranking highly. Search Engines want to return the best results for users, and having straightforward coding means Google or Bing can be confident that your website is understandable and they know which users would benefit from seeing your website.

The SEO that happens off your site is mostly the result of the internet’s form of word of mouth, called backlinking. Search Engines notice when people are talking about your site in forums, websites, and blogs. These backlinks to your site help search engines evaluate how popular your website is and how reliable or trustworthy your page is for a given search term. The more links you have from other reliable sources, the better you site will rank.

How to Make Your Homepage Work

The first encounter a visitor, potential client, or customer has with your brand is your homepage. Clicking a link from Google or Bing brings them into your world and your website. However, many people forget how important first impressions are, and rely upon information hidden away on other pages to seal the deal.

No, it wasn't.

With so many websites out there, we know the true value of a website homepage is more than just getting visitors from the search engine to your pages. Here’s a quick guide of what to put on your homepage, and what to leave off.

What to Include:

Who You Are - The words and graphics on your homepage have to spell out what your company is and stands for. Let visitors see the high standard of your work and the major services you offer.

The Benefits of Your Company - Visitors want to know why they should choose you over other companies. Don’t waste any time and let them know why you are the service or product for them.

A Clear Call to Action - We’re all guilty of skim reading. Call visitors to action, like requesting a free evaluation, for example, or click here to find out more. Keep your visitors engaged.

Why Visitors Can Trust You - Include items such as money back guarantees, positive reviews, and recent and old reviews, so visitors can see your results and your established portfolio.

What to Leave Off:

Anything that Autoplays - Including autoplay features will slow down your site for any number of visitors. Also, many find music and videos very annoying . Save videos for other clearly marked pages, where guests can choose to watch or not.

The Kitchen Sink - We have short attention spans. Don’t overload visitors or they will be turned off immediately and go elsewhere to uncluttered and easy to navigate sites.

The Endless Scrolling - Visitors don’t want to have to spend time scrolling through reams of information to evaluate whether a website offers what they want. Keep it simple and in one or two screens’ worth, because that is all they are going to see anyway.

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