Day: October 19, 2020
The House Speaker dictates new terms of Trump Covid-19 surrender.
A new study on Biden’s tax, health-care, energy and regulation proposals predicts $6,500 less in median household income by 2030.
Local SEO sounds cool and all but can it really help you scale your business in 2020?
The quick answers to these questions are Yes and Absolutely.
Now the more in-depth answer depends on what your business needs.
Do you sell offline?
Are you looking to double the customers that walk in your store, office, workplace?
Then Local SEO is what you must focus on.
And you must do it NOW before your competitors acquire all of your hot leads.
Why hot you ask?
Because Local SEO is the best way to catch people looking to BUY now and narrow their choices only to your exact products and services.
You can’t miss these easy sales and in today’s post, we’ll go over not only how you can collect them but also what you need to do to guarantee your prospects come to you and not someone else.
Ready? Then let’s begin with…
3 Ways an SEO Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business
In good times and in bad times every business wants more leads.
That’s why automating and constantly optimizing your customer acquisition process is so crucial to your business growth.
Local SEO is an easy and extremely effective way to do it.
SEO Consultants can easily help you increase your reach and bring in more sales.
So here are 3 simple examples of how an SEO Consultant can help grow your business:
#1 Website SEO Optimization for Optimal Local Reach
I’ll assume you already have a website that serves as your tool to introduce people to your business and services.
If that’s the case then you need to shove your website in people’s faces on every occasion you get.
Website SEO (search engine optimization) is an easy way to rank your website on top of Google’s relevant to your business searches.
And more importantly to rank your website for Local Searches.
That means people that are specifically looking for services in your area.
Professional SEO Consultants will optimize your website for Local Searches without any problems.
And keep in mind that 88% of local-based queries done using a mobile phone end in either a call or visit to the business within 24 hours.
You wouldn’t want to miss these hot prospects.
#2 SEO Strategy Development
Of course, no real optimization is possible without a proper strategy behind it.
Your ideal SEO Consultant will create a step-by-step strategy that will maximize your organic reach.
The strategy normally consists of what to post in your blog (if you have one), what pages need urgent optimization, and what activities will bring the biggest ROI if done right now.
Then he’ll get all of that and put it into a specialized strategy depending on your budget, time, and goals.
More on the technical stuff and what to expect when working with your SEO Consultant further down the post.
#3 Keyword Research and Implementation
Why do you need keyword research exactly?
Well, many people think that just writing blog posts about their niche is going to get them the leads they desire.
And even though it will bring in some leads… the results will be far from optimal.
After your SEO Consultant is done with your keyword research, you’ll know exactly what keywords to target in your main pages, how many times to use each one, and how to spin your content so it matches with google’s latest engine rules.
Of course for Local SEO you must rank for the typical terms plus your city added to them.
But if you try to guess the right keywords (as many businesses do), you might end up empty handed.
The best way to ensure your keyword research success is to use Proven SEO Tools like Ubersuggest.
Try it out now and see the traffic you’ve been missing out on.
If you like the numbers just continue reading this post to learn how to find the SEO Consultant that will guarantee your best ranking.
How to Get Started With Local SEO Consulting
Let’s dive into the process of getting started with your SEO Consultant Services.
First, you’ll need to prepare some materials.
No need to mention that a website is mandatory…
The next thing is the drive to grow big… I’m talking real BIG.
If you’re a local business trying to make ends meet then Local SEO is the thing that’s going to save your inevitable business death.
72% of users who did a local-based search visited a store within 5 miles.
Now that your motivation is higher than ever, you need to find the consultant that will drive the traffic your business desperately needs.
How do you do that?
You focus on finding an SEO Consultant that is known to bring results in this field.
And more importantly… someone that specializes mainly in SEO.
Because you’ll find many business consulting gurus that will promise results in everything while they haven’t done crap in the past.
That’s what you DON’T want for your business.
An easy way to guarantee results is to work with a proven agency that helps businesses close to your size.
An instant recommendation is NP Digital as it is the best SEO Marketing Agency on the planet.
This exact blog is ranked on the first page of google for thousands of marketing terms and it uses the same exact strategies NP Digital will use for your business.
Book a call with a professional consultant now and get a strategy built specifically for your business.
Again, before enrolling in a long-term contract, you need to make sure you’re at the right place.
Having a website is a MUST and also don’t expect instant results.
At the very least SEO needs a week to be scanned by google’s engine.
But the best practice is to wait a couple of months while monitoring the results.
Your SEO Consultant will do that for you.
Just ask for a weekly/monthly report of the analytics behind the content you put out.
And speaking about analytics and tracking, let’s get into the ROI (return on investment) of hiring a Local SEO Consultant.
Measuring the ROI of Local SEO Consulting Services
Everyone can use big words but the only thing that matters at the end of the day is RESULTS.
That’s the one thing you should care about when you’re trying to scale your business.
So no matter how friendly and easy-going your Consultant may be, you must always track his progress and whether he brings real profits to your business.
The last thing you want is to waste months of money and time on a leaking bucket that’s bound to break at some point.
Using tools that track all of your data is crucial.
Here’s a complete list of the best free SEO tools you can use or let your consultant use for you.
Also, you’ll need to be fully transparent with your Local SEO Consultant.
Any time something feels wrong, you go ahead and ask him so he can take a look and fix it if need be.
Keeping secrets to yourself is an easy way to fail in the long run even though it may feel easier at the current moment.
So be 100% truthful about what you want and build a relationship on trust and straightforward communication.
That’s the best way to work long-term and get the best results possible for your business.
4 Point Checklist For Finding the Right Local SEO Consultant
And now to get into the fun stuff…
An exact step-by-step process on how to find the right Local SEO Consultant for your exact business.
#1 Clear Your Mind About What You Need
I suggest you sit down and list everything you know about your business, niche, and goals before going into a call with a professional.
Even though you might think you can figure it out on the spot, you’ll always miss important details.
Just sit down for 5-10 minutes and write it down so you can be prepared for the call.
Especially for SEO Consultant Services, you need to clear out these questions:
What’s the main geographic area you want to target?
What are the main products or services you want to offer or present online?
Do you plan on activating other social mediums like paid advertising, social media accounts, email marketing?
Once you have these, you can move on to the next step.
#2 Finding The Right Expert For You
Your best match depends solely on your specific needs.
Do you only need Local SEO Consulting?
Do you even know what’s best for your online presence?
Most local businesses are unaware of the real power of social media…
So if that’s the case with you, the best approach would be to find a marketing agency that offers SEO Services combined with other online advertising skills.
Again, a quick suggestion is NP Digital, as it is the best marketing agency for SEO in the world.
Once you get on a call with a consultant that leads a team in such a big, result-generating agency, he’ll be able to look at your business and suggest the best and most efficient methods to grow your online presence.
And remember, you don’t need blank followers.
Having 1 million Instagram followers that don’t buy is like having 0 people at your store.
Don’t mistake followers with real customers.
A real professional consultant will give you the exact steps that will increase your sales together with your online presence.
But how to determine who’s a real expert and who’s not?
Jump on a call with the first agency/consultant you think fits your best fit.
Have a call with him and look for:
- Communication Skills
- Previous Results
- Intuitive Future Thinking
Great Communication Skills are essential if you want to have a long-term positive relationship with your consultant.
Your mission on the call is to see if he can explain and break down hard terminology into simple to follow steps.
If he’s trying to sound smart by using terms you don’t know and he doesn’t bother to explain them to you, then he’s not your perfect fit.
After all, you want to know what’s going on inside your business.
Previous Results are obviously important. You can’t trust empty claims.
A good consultant will have a proven track record of helping people in your exact situation.
And last but not least Intuitive Future Thinking.
Sometimes you might encounter some “robots” that only know their own thing.
That doesn’t mean they are bad at it but it surely means that they’ll not be able to adapt to your business scaling ideas in the future.
So the contract will be bound to fail before you even sign it.
An easy way to check if the person on the other side is intuitive would be to ask him questions outside of his specialty.
You can’t expect him to know all the answers, so don’t look for the “correct” answer but rather look for the way he handles the conversation.
If he’s open to brainstorming with you even on something he’s not an exact expert in…
And if he’s open about it, making sure you know he’s not perfect in the field but he’s able to come up with real ideas on his own, then he’s a good fit.
On the other hand, if he ignores your questions and sticks to his “homework” then he’s that exact type of species I call “heartless robots”.
You don’t want to outsource an intuitive task like the SEO ranking of your website to a guy that can’t think outside of his box.
Once you find someone that fits these criteria and you feel can help you grow your business, it’s time to…
#3 Sign A Contract
I know that may sound scary for people that haven’t signed online contracts before but I assure you that the process is as simple as tying your shoes.
A respected marketing agency will have a contract starting process that you just have to follow to get started successfully.
The terms are made so they benefit you and what you already discussed on the indoctrination call you made.
#4 Measure and Track Results
As mentioned previously you’ve got to be open for a long-term relationship that benefits your business.
Tracking your ROI with SEO tools is crucial, you should sign up for some of them right now.
I hope that guide helped you clear your mind at least a little.
The one thing you should remember is that anything is possible.
Your business can grow bigger than you’ve ever imagined, so don’t limit your scale to what you think is possible.
Let a professional who has done this exact process before, do it for you as well.
Have you optimized your Local SEO before? Have you hired professional help to do it for you? Share your experience in the comments below:
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Merchant services exist to help businesses process credit card payments. You might know them by the name “credit card processors.”
Regardless of what you call them, choosing the best merchant service isn’t easy. The “best” one is the one that is right for your specific business, and each of the following services offers particular features that may work for one company, but not for yours.
That’s why, in this guide, I’m catering to each type of business and finding the right merchant service for your needs.
The Top 6 Merchant Services:
How to Choose The Best Merchant Services For You
Before we get into the best merchant services, we need to understand the criteria used to make these decisions. Keep all of the following factors in mind as you read through the reviews.
Processing Rates/Monthly Fees
It’s all about the money, and credit card processing is not as simple as you think. You have to weigh the pros and cons with each gateway; otherwise, you can end up paying way more than you planned.
We need to look at the processing rates first. To get a lower processing rate, you usually have to pay a higher monthly fee. If you’re processing payments at high volume, it’s worth it for you to pay the higher fee because your volume will make up for it.
On the other side, if you’re not processing a lot of payments, having a higher transaction fee won’t hurt you as much as a high monthly fee would.
Flat-rate processing is a simple solution for small businesses, but interchange pricing is generally more affordable.
You want to look at what the payment processor offers in addition to credit card processing. Do they offer free POS systems, hardware, mobile payments, integrations, etc? Some merchant services even offer consulting, customer loyalty features, and invoicing tools.
Sometimes the “extra benefits” you get from a merchant service provider can outweigh some of the negatives.
The Type of Merchant Service Account
There are two primary types of accounts, one is an aggregator (or middleman), and one is an ISO (or independent sales organization). Let’s compare the two and see why it’s important to understand the difference.
These are middlemen working in between the business and the bank, offering an easy payment processing solution for businesses. Square is an example of this, and while they make it easier, they usually have higher fees and transaction costs.
Payment Depot is an example of an ISO, and while they usually have a more strict acceptance policy, they offer lower rates and user-friendly software compared to a direct processor.
One of the most important factors to consider is, “how will this integrate with my current systems”?
Your payment processor should never get in the way or cause your conversion rates to decrease; it should complement your current process or even enhance it. Make sure you choose something that will easily integrate into your business without requiring too many changes or adjustments.
The Different Types of Merchant Services
After much research and careful consideration, these are my top six merchant services for both in-person and online sales.
#1. Square – The Best For Transparent Pricing/Fees
- No monthly fee
- Transparent processing
- Free card reader
- Great added features
- No ACH payment processing
- Higher fees than desired
Square is popular for its credit card processing and POS systems, but it offers much more. It hosts features such as the “Card on File” feature, allowing users to store customer card information that works great for repeat customers trying to accumulate loyalty points and rewards of that nature.
The processor also doesn’t have a monthly fee, and while Square’s features might not be as advanced as some of the other payment processors we’re talking about, for a POS without a monthly fee, you can’t beat the value.
The one thing that stands out most to me is the transaction costs and how they vary whether you’re doing business in person or online.
For in-person sales, expect to pay 2.6% and $0.10 per transaction. For online transactions, it’ll cost you 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction. There are other instances, such as:
- Virtual terminal transactions
- Card-on-file transactions
- And card-not-present transactions
These will cost 3.5% and $0.15 per transaction.
Based on these numbers, Square is not the most affordable flat-rate processor, but the transparency makes it easier for you to understand what the rates are and how they’ll impact your processing based on volume and price.
#2. Flagship Merchant Services – The Best For Great Customer Service
- Dedicated account manager
- Free account setup
- Free card terminal (with fees)
- Confusing ownership
- Little information regarding price
Flagship Merchant Services cut the tape in 2001 and was acquired by iPayment in 2012. Now, they primarily resell iPayment, so keep that in mind.
This company was one of the first to offer free account setup without any application or fees and real month-to-month contracts. They operate tens of thousands of merchants, and they have a strong reputation.
Since they’re not a direct processor, most of their merchant accounts are set up through iPayment. iPayment uses First Data as their processor, and it can get confusing trying to figure out who is processing what through what service.
For retailers, Flagship does offer a free credit card terminal, but you’re responsible for paying account fees and insurance on that terminal to keep it up and running.
For ecommerce, they offer either Authorize.net for processing and integration of an online cart onto your site.
One thing that was a little frustrating about Flagship is trying to find information on their rates. If you go to their website, you’ll see that you need to fill out a form to get any info about what they charge.
I’d like to see more transparency, but you may end up with a more catered package deal with this strategy.
My favorite feature is that you get a single line of contact with the company when you purchase a gateway; they act as account managers. If you ever have a problem, you contact that specific person, and this isn’t a feature I’ve ever seen with any other merchant service.
#3. Helcim – The Best For Small Business
- Limited fees
- Fees based on volume
- Free online store software
- Limited integrations
- $199 for the card reader
If you’re a small business owner, Helcim might appeal to you. With this service, you’re able to process credit and debit cards online and in person. You can also do some of the following:
- Set up recurring payments
- Send invoices
- Collect payments
With a Helcim card reader, you can accept all major cards, including Amex plus Google Pay, Apple Pay, and JCB.
Helcim charges $20 per month with transaction fees based on volume. They don’t have any contracts or cancellation fees, and they’ll wave your monthly fee if you don’t process any payments.
Overall, Helcim is affordable but much more for in-person payments than they are online. Here’s a quick breakdown of their pricing structure:
- Monthly Volume: $0 – $25,000
- In-Person: 0.3% + 8 cents (+ interchange)
- Online: 0.5% + 25 cents (+ interchange)
- Monthly Volume: $25,001 – $50,000
- In-Person: 0.25% + 7 cents (+ interchange)
- Online: 0.45% + 20 cents (+ interchange)
- Monthly Volume: $50,001 – $100,000
- In-Person: 0.2% + 7 cents (+ interchange)
- Online: 0.4% + 20 cents (+ interchange)
- Monthly Volume: $100,001 – $250,000
- In-Person: 0.18% + 6 cents (+ interchange)
- Online: 0.35% + 15 cents (+ interchange)
Helcim offers nice features for those of you looking to integrate this payment gateway into your online store. You can add a checkout to your site for invoicing and customer registration while also accepting recurring subscriptions.
#4. Payment Depot – The Best For Established Businesses
- No contract processing
- Competitive rates
- Easy to integrate online
- Best for high-volume business
- Application process
Payment Depot uses a membership pricing model, making it simpler to understand but can sometimes result in you paying higher fees. Thankfully, Payment Depot’s rates are pretty competitive, and they include interchange-plus pricing for both online, in-person, and mobile payments.
This strategy actually makes Payment Depot one of the most affordable payment processors for established businesses that are doing a certain amount of volume.
Payment Depot accepts all major cards and contactless Apple Pay and Google Pay as well. You get next-day funding and integration with POS systems as well as ecommerce platforms such as:
I don’t think this is one of the best merchant services for small businesses because of how they structure their pricing. The transaction fees go down as you pay a higher monthly fee, and they seemingly force you to increase your plan because of strict processing limits.
Here’s a breakdown of their pricing:
- Fee: $49
- Transaction Fee: $0.15
- Monthly Limit: $25,000
- Fee: $79
- Transaction Fee: $0.10
- Monthly Limit: $75,000
- Fee: $99
- Transaction Fee: $0.07
- Monthly Limit: $150,000
- Fee: $199
- Transaction Fee: $0.05
- Monthly Limit: Unlimited
So, as you can see – if you’re doing high volume, it would make the most sense to upgrade to the most expensive plan for the lowest transaction fees.
#5. Fattmerchant – Best For Subscription-Based Businesses
- Simple pricing
- Omni software
- A solid choice for subscription businesses
- Higher monthly fees
- Transaction fees are relatively standard
Fattmerchant is set up a lot like many of the payment processors. As you increase your monthly fee, your transaction fees go down. They offer Omni, which is where you’ll do your invoicing, payments, and reporting. The service is incredibly user-friendly, great for beginners, and it comes included with your monthly fee.
While Fattmerchant is a great choice for budget-conscious business owners, it’s also a great option for subscription-based businesses. If you’re selling monthly coaching packages, agency services, or counseling, you’ll benefit from Fattmerchant’s structure.
The processor accepts all major cards, including ACH, invoicing, Text2Pay, and more. Same day funding is available, and you get a free iOS and Android POS app and Bluetooth card readers that you can use on the go.
They have two pricing plans:
- Fee: $99
- Annual Limit: $500,000
- Card-Present Fee: $0.08 + Interchange
- Card-Not-Present: $0.15 + Interchange
- ACH Transaction Fee: $0.25
- Fee: $199
- Annual Limit: $5,000,000
- Card-Present Fee: $0.06 + Interchange
- Card-Not-Present: $0.12 + Interchange
- ACH Transaction Fee: $0.25
Fattmerchant has a higher monthly fee than some others, but the company says that is how they keep their transaction fees down.
#6. Stripe – Best For Online Payment Processing
- Allows you to grow
- Reasonable pricing
- Great solution for online businesses
- Complicated setup
- May require developers
If your business runs entirely online, Stripe is your best choice. It’s made specifically for ecommerce and internet business, and tons of startups and Fortune 500 companies trust Stripe.
The company offers sophisticated software and APIs that allow online store owners to customize their checkout experience. You can use the pre-built integrations to connect a Stripe checkout right away and then customize it as you go along.
That’s one of the main reasons why I love Stripe; it’s a payment processor that grows with you and allows you to change it as your business needs change.
With all of these features and moving parts comes complications. It’s not the easiest to set up, and if you plan on utilizing the many benefits of Stripe, you’ll likely need a developer to handle it for you.
Stripe offers a “pay as you go” strategy without monthly fees and transparent transaction fees across the board.
- Online: 2.9% and $0.30
- In-Person: 2.7% and $0.05
- International: Add 1% per transaction
- ACH Direct: 0.8% maxed at $5.00 per transaction
- ACH Credit: $1.00 per transaction
You can use all major credit and debit cards plus ACH, WeChat Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and much more. Expect to wait two business days for deposits or pay a one percent fee to get instant deposits.
Stripe integrates with WordPress, Magento, Squarespace, 3DCart, Zoho, Big Cartel, and more.
So, by this point, you should know which of these merchant services is right for you. They all have their pros and cons, and you should choose according to the type of business you own.
Square is an overall solid solution for all businesses, but the transaction fees are a bit high, and scalability is lacking.
I’m also a big fan of Helcim because they allow you to grow with your processor by increasing the monthly payment as your volume needs increase.
Regardless of which choice you make, keep the important factors in mind and choose carefully, so you don’t regret your decision down the road.
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Here’s the rest of my “for hire” post on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/forhire/comments/j6y9qi/for_hire_we…
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