3 Habits of Highly Productive Offices

Are you wondering why you are not getting enough tasks done on time? Are you constantly struggling from week to week to hit your goals? These habits might help you give your productivity a boost.

  1. 1. They don’t hold long meetings

There are companies that hold meetings that last for hours and hours. Some last into the night. Some take up the whole day. This is bad practice. If you really need to discuss a lot with your employees, you should break them down into digestible bits. Try to keep your meetings to 1 hour, max. Only hold meetings once a week. You can also just email blast everyone on a Monday morning and ask them to reply to you that they got/understood your message. Use technology to keep things quick and simple.

2. They always use up-to-date equipment

Machines were designed to make our life easier, to help us do things faster. But, if you are using an obsolete or outdated machine in your office, then they are a burden to your company, not an asset. Highly productive offices are always up-to-date with the latest technology. They regularly update their software and hardware to optimize their usage.

What gadgets/equipment need to be updated? First, your computers. They need to be fast! If it takes a long time for them to startup or shutdown, it’s time to replace them. If they are very slow and make your employees frustrated, it’s time to replace them. Photocopiers and printers are also productivity culprits. If they keep jamming or they keep breaking down, replace them. There are many deals around for these two devices. Your business telephone system should also be reviewed. You may not know it but you may only be using 20% of its features. You are paying top money for your phone service but not truly taking advantage of it. If it can’t handle the bulk of incoming or outgoing calls, it’s time to replace it.

Highly productive office managers regularly hold a technology/IT/Telecoms audit in their company to assess which devices need to be replaced or upgraded. This helps with business continuity and keeps productivity levels high.

  1. 3. Incentivize

The secret to a highly productive office are highly productive employees. How do you make them productive? The answer is motivation. You don’t have to give money for every single job done. Even simple compliments such as “good job” or employee of the week are great motivations. You can also have “pizza day” or give the top salesman “movie night” with his loved one. Gift certificates are appreciated as much as cash. Just make sure that they are useful. Food is always a good motivator. Be creative with your approach and you will soon see a difference in the way your employees perform.  They will be happier, less stressed and more productive.

Now you know the secrets of highly productive offices, try one or all of them and get tasks done faster. You will surely not have any problems hitting your goals week after week, month after month.

Yes, Hosted Solutions are For You

Unified communications is one of the biggest breakthroughs in communication technology. You can conduct meetings with different people around the world without ever having to leave the comforts of your office. You also save money because you don’t need to have fancy hardware to be able to do this.

If you are thinking about getting a hosted solution, you are on the right track. Many businesses are giving up their traditional PBX for a hosted solution for the following reasons.

Low costs

This is perhaps the most appealing benefit of a hosted solution. Everyone wants to save money whenever possible. You can save on travel costs with new communications solutions in place. You can attend meetings without the need to travel to another place and installation costs are less than you might think.  

Boost productivity in your office by using collaboration tools. Teams are able to track their progress on a project and keep updated even if they work from home or are overseas.

This kind of phone system for business also reduces the total cost of ownership. Again, you don’t need expensive infrastructure and you don’t have to deal with obsolete equipment.

Scalability

You can have direct control over the size of your phone system. You can start with a small-scale solution and grow your network whenever you need to. No matter how much support you need, you can quickly and easily scale your network up (or down). You don’t need to invest in a permanent solution. You can roll with the punches.

Support

With a hosted solution, you don’t have to worry about a system failure or your phones breaking down. You don’t need to maintain an IT team. You don’t have to pay expensive IT professionals to fix your system. Aside from that, while your system is down, your data could be vulnerable. If your system is hosted, your provider can handle the problems off-site without interrupting your service. They can fix the problem on their end. They don’t even need to show up in your office.

Effective

This type of setup allows you and your staff to try different avenues to success. Unified communication is still seeing further developments. Modern companies are discovering different ways of using it. Even if you have minimal tech knowledge, you will be able to take advantage of the different high-level tools this setup offers.

You can utilize and integrate different tools into your network to boost effectiveness and enhance customer service.

How you use a hosted UC solution is not set in stone. You dictate the way it operates. Do you need a virtual PBX? Done. Do you want to prioritize data over voice? Done. Hosted solutions opens up many opportunities for your company. You can use features when you want them. You don’t have to worry about costs.

You can now experience real value with the money you invest in hosted solutions. With its wide-open nature, there is no limit to what you can do with it. You are empowered in every aspect of your communication solution.

Effective Communication on a Budget

It’s important for any business to have effective communication channels. Whether they need to keep track of their telecommuters or keep in touch with customers, effective communication is essential to keep businesses stay on track.

This is not a problem with big companies. They can afford expensive, complex solutions. But, how about small and upcoming companies? What options do they have? Actually, any modern company of any size can easily stay connected for a fraction of the price. Look into VoIP technology to keep connected without breaking the bank.

In the office

Previous generations of small businesses couldn’t afford the business-level features they needed. They were too expensive, too bulky to be placed in a small office. They also required a lot of resources to maintain. VoIP telephone systems solved this problem.

Users can transmit and receive calls digitally over a secure Internet connection. Small businesses can now take advantage of features such as auto attendant, call transfers/forwarding and much more which were once too expensive for a modest-size company. They can have multiple phone lines at a fraction of the cost of a traditional PBX.

Chat

Another way to communicate effectively (but affordably) within the office is to utilize an internal chat program. This can also be integrated with the company’s email system. This enables staff to bypass phone calls and emails by sending a quick direct message. It is also a casual style of messaging that enables team members to ask questions and give answers directly without the social pressure of a phone call.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a low cost alternative to hiring in house, there are no holidays, sick pay or national insurance to pay; and outsourcing gives you complete flexibility over starting and stopping contracts. There are hundreds of places to look for quality contractors, you can post the job online or find a consultant that can help you with all aspects of branding and management.

Outside the office

Teleworking is a big part of many companies today. Business owners are no longer confined to the local workers. They can hire people from all over the world. They can make an employee in another country a part of their office network. The teleworker can access office information without sacrificing security. VoIP systems have different security measures in place to protect data.

If you have a mobile team, they can use mobile apps and cloud software programs to stay connected to the office, update project status, etc.

Mobile VoIP

You can install an app in your employee’s smartphone or tablet that will allow them to make voice or video calls. This is a cost-effective solution to making long-distance calls.

Web conferencing programs can also be installed in laptops so employees can participate in meetings wherever they are as long as they have a fast broadband Internet connection.

A cloud-based sharing program allows team members to share files and collaborate on projects even while on the go. Cloud software programs have also come a long way. They perform a variety of functions not limited to file sharing. You can use these programs if your team needs frequent access to a sales software.

Running a small business with effective business processes need not be expensive. There are many modern solutions to keep your budget intact and at the same time deliver excellent results and service. Your customers will be happy and you can experience an improved bottom line

Earn from Your Office Clutter

The average US company has a lot of clutter around and those include equipment that can be sold for thousands of dollars. They are just money waiting to be collected. Are you one of those offices? Here are some of those items that you can turn into cash.
Gadgets
This is perhaps your biggest money maker. Old cell phone models, old laptops, last year’s tablet, etc. are all gadgets that can be sold or recycled. You may not realize it but your old gadgets are still worth something especially if they are still working and in good condition. Check out electronic gadget-buying websites such as SellCell.com and Gazelle.com. You can also go to the old reliable Amazon and ebay. NextWorth.com buys a wide array of gadgets such as cameras, e-readers, GPS, TV, video games consoles, calculators aside from your cell phone and laptop.
The trick is to sell something once you already have a replacement. That way, the value is still high. Don’t wait a few years before selling your iPad 2.
Books
In spite of all the digital stuff that we use in the office, books are still a good resource to go to from time to time. If you prefer going all digital, why not sell your books to Powells or SellBackBooks.com. You can go to BookScouter.com to compare prices with other vendors.
Empty Ink Cartridges
Don’t throw that empty ink cartridge away. It’s worth a few dollars. Check out TonerBuyer.com if you have an empty or partially used cartridge. If you have a new printer and you’ve just unearthed a drawer full of unused cartridges for your old model, sell it to them as well.
Did you know that by returning your empty cartridge to Staples or Office Max, you can get a $2 store credit per credit? 10 empty cartridges will buy you a lot of new office supplies.
Equipment and Furniture
There are a lot of start up and home businesses out there looking for second hand furniture and equipment. If you have an extra desk or chair that is in storage, sell it instead of paying for storage. This way, your old furniture will make you money instead of costing you. You can post on Craigslist and Kijiji.com. You can also checkout the Yardsale iPhone app.
The economy is slowly getting back on its feet but there are still no guarantees about the future. Try to make some extra money wherever and whenever you can. Your office clutter is a good way to start to add some extra meat into your bank account.

Google is cracking down on paid links

Google is serious with its paid links policy. If you don’t have any idea with regards to this policy, you can review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The policy states a site can be penalized once it sells or buys links that pass PageRank—which is the common thing happening today. Quality and quantity of links are the most significant factors that affect the result of a particular search engine query. Authority and reputation of a site are governed by these two factors also. In short, if you have tons of links from high ranking sites, you can totally dominate your niche. But wait. That holds true a few months ago before the latest Google Panda updates.
If most of your “high-quality” links come from sites selling links, I have a bad news for you. Google is on a world-wide-web hunt for sites like yours—sites that have ruled the first pages of major search engines by buying links. This is a breach of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and Big-G won’t hesitate to penalize your site. Seeing how Matt Cutts has passed the verdict over the landing page of Google Chrome—which now has been lifted after 60 days, you should have the idea that they are not fooling around. You may be surprised tomorrow that your site is not on the first page of the major search engines anymore or even on the second one.
SEO’s cannot deny the fact that this old practice (and a habit) has already become a part of optimizing sites. You can’t just go to a high-ranking site and ask for a free backlink, right? You may do so but I doubt if you could acquire one. So the last option is to cash out just to get that significant links. SEO’s and site owners are facing a dilemma right now: to buy links to rank high and get penalized one day or to leave out the helpful link-buying in their SEO plan. It has already been proven and tested that site links are astoundingly helpful in achieving better rankings. Without them, it is one tough of a life to do SEO.
Google clarified that you can still buy links provided that a “rel=nofollow” attribute is included inside the tag, but that condition defeats the main purpose of the bought links: SEO. You may be asking for a fast fix for this SEO issue. Is there really? By going back to the guidelines, exactly on Google’s statement, “we work hard to make sure that Google fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such as excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank,” you would see that Google is looking for a couple of indications to categorize a site has breached the guidelines.
By knowing these indications you can totally save your site from the Google’s unthinkable wrath.

Panda 3.3 Update Now Rolling

Google has done it again. Panda 3.3 update has started running sometime in 26th or 27th of February carrying 20 search quality changes. Google pointed out that the said update is more on refreshing the Panda system to make it more responsive and more precise to the changes online—an update very similar to Panda 3.2. Although no significant changes in the Google algorithm from the recent search quality updates, some sites have been tending their Panda-afflicted wounds until now.

One of the minute changes that are rolling out right now is the shutting off of one link evaluation factor. Google didn’t mention the specific factor, but it sure sounds scary. Is Google gearing toward removing the ability of links to contribute in your site’s ranking? Or is it simply going to clean up mess spammers have left behind? Granting the fact that link quality has been one of the neglected factors in search engine optimization by many, Google’s Panda 3.3 update is surely beating a handful of sites right now.

Aside from this single issue of link factor removal, most SEO specialists are looking for ways on how to make a site invincible to panda updates in the next coming months. But as what Matt Cutts— Google Head of Web Spam —clarified in the mistaken comment on Hacker News, the quality of site contents is a timeless arsenal that anyone can count on to boost up site positions. He further pointed out that the site with quality contents serving internet users are the preferred ones that Google wants to put in the first page for particular keywords.

SEO isn’t bad. SEO isn’t spam. That’s how Google views White Hat SEO. Search engine optimization—as Google believes—is a “valid way of helping people find what they’re looking for via search engines.” Reading between the lines, one can conclude that Google has a handful of Panda updates coming for all sites. And the core basis will be the quality of contents. One can start building or revising sites, making it the most related and informative site for specific keywords. Quality contents should be what SEO is all about on site and around back links. Get a good SEO and don’t be stressed out with Panda updates anymore.

Ten Recent Google Algorithm Changes

Ten Recent Google Algorithm Changes As Google continues to improve the quality and relevancy of their search results, changes in the search ranking, evaluation and algorithms are expected to come about as another year ends and the next one comes. But while most of the SEO’s are busy right now with their Googlebot-binding linkbuilding techniques, here you are reading this discrete attempt of exposing the ten recent algorithm changes of Google. These changes should fill up the missing beans why your site’s position sank to 10+ positions downwards and should now serve as your new building blocks for your SEO campaign. Google’s Ten Recent Algorithm Changes: Cross-Language Information Retrieval Improvements: the big G-team is now starting to translate all relevant English pages into various languages. Translated titles will be now displayed in the search results immediately under the English titles. Visitors will be taken to the translated page by clicking the corresponding translated title. Snippets with More Page Content and Less Header/Menu Content: Google believes that their snippets will have more relevant text by picking from the actual content of the page. But the team also suggests that this change will make the header/menu content a fraction less useful. De-Duplication of Boilerplate Anchors to Derive Better Page Titles: the anchor text of links pointing to a page is one of the main bases of Google in producing a page’s title. But the team just found out that boilerplate links with identical anchor text derive not so relevant titles at all. Now the G-team puts less importance on these links. Omission of Length-Based Autocomplete Predictions in Russian: Similar with the English practice, Google Team just made up their minds to omit predictions in Russian that are very long when compared to the partial query keyed in the search box. Extending Application Rich Snippets: The rich snippets for applications unveiled by the team recently allows users who are looking for software applications to view specific info—features, user reviews and pricing—in the search result itself. Application rich snippets will have an extended coverage secondary to this change, making them accessible most of the time. Omitting an Image Search’s Signal: Google does get some of its signals from the previous ones that were launched in the past. However, most of these offer insignificant impacts and relevancy to the search results. So the Team decided to take this signal out from the equation. Fresh Contents, More Results: Google’s push on fresh contents has been amplified as fresh contents now serve as a heavy basis for the search results. Of course, these fresh contents must be relevant to the queries. This change has stirred and created an impact to 35% of total search results. Refining Official Page Detection: In the chase of providing more relevant search results, Google will try to determine official sites and try to place them in good ranking positions. Enhancement to Date-Restricted Queries: Google further improved the way they handle result freshness for queries specifying a certain range of date. This permits users to find more relevant results to their specified queries. Prediction Fix for IME Queries: The previous ugly handling for IME queries—the ones containing non-Latin characters—is now improved by Google. No more nonsense autocomplete predictions for languages such as Russian, Hebrew and Arabic. So above are just some of the changes Google have managed to spill—and we have managed to pick. Perhaps now you can take your SEO game to a prudent step up by checking every pass and throw of your game plan. It’s a tough world out there, but with some help you know you can do it.

The Dramatic Impact of Google Panda

Last October 5, Matt Cutts of Google posted on his twitter that some Panda update will be happening for the next couple of weeks.  But this will have a less significant impact compared to the previous updates. Also referred as 2.5, the major Panda update that occurred recently—October 8, 2011—has made a number of sites to bounce back. SearchMetrics shared numbers of how many of these sites have managed to propel their positions upward.  While some shared happy testimony on their sites getting back on a competitive stance, others whined on how the Panda updates continuously hurt their sites.

The minor Panda update that happened on October 14, 2011—verified by Matt Cutts—was felt by a score of webmasters. Some of them happened to see improvements in their positions, while some watched their sites spiral downwards. But there are also some who hadn’t felt the changes at all.  Google seems to be determined in cleaning the net from domains overly stuffed with keywords and crappy contents.  Although quality and relevancy have been one of the deciding factors of a site’s placement in the Google search results, the update just proved that in the end much of the bases of Google will rest on the contents itself.

These recent changes from Google have required most of the SEO’s to improve the quality of their contents and to validate their practices. Most of the SEO tricks before that enable one to propel sites to the first pages of Google overnight appear to be no longer working. Even the latest SEO techniques which was proved to be efficiently working 5 months ago appears not as potent as they were before. This calls for everyone to go back to the drawing board and get something that would not just skyrocket sites to the first pages of the major search engines—like Google—but also stick it there for the longest time possible.

Organic SEO remains the most powerful yet timeless weapon for every internet marketer as most of the major search engine keeps on updating—or should we say changing—their algorithms. But this definitely necessitates one to have a longer span of time spend and trust to build, let alone money to shell out. For a start-up business, one year of waiting before reaping the benefits of SEO can be so long. Although there are proven techniques that can give the shortest time span of generating traffic—like paid advertisements and PPC, the cost of running one or both may present too overwhelming.

5 tips to recover from the Panda Update.

5 tips to recover from the Panda Update.

Google is constantly updating its algorithm to improve is search results. Search results change daily and Google is constantly testing to see which order of search results are better for users than others. Sometimes Google will roll out a big update, and noticeably there is a big shift in results. Forums are flooded with members who have sites that have lost their rankings as a result of the reshuffle.

You may not have even heard of it, but it is big news amongst the SEO community – The Panda update. Yes, as menacing as it sounds,  this update was first tried and tested in the US and then recently bought to the UK. It’s aim was to push out low quality sites from the rankings in an aim to improve the over all search results. Sites with low quality content or spun content were targeted as well as sites with too much advertising.

If your rankings have been hit over the last few months, you would know you have been hit, some have dropped many pages for their most important keywords, others just a few positions. If this is the case we recommend to take the following steps to try and recover from the loss in the rankings:

1)      Check the content of your site. We recommend using copyscape for everything published on your website to ensure the content is unique.

2)      Try to reduce the amount of advertising on the page and only use adds that would directly benefit the user.

3)      Go through the pages of your website and try to rewrite/redesign any page with a high bounce rate and lowest time on site – this will bring up the over all quality of your website.

4)      It might be the value of your incoming links that have made the difference. Try to focus on high quality link building, making sure the sites you get a link from are not deindexed or using spun content

5)      Be sure to use a wide variety of link types to not only make your link building look more natural, but if any site types linking to you are suddenly deemed less important by Google, your site will remain standing strong.

Try not to panic and don’t give up hope, Google can be a funny creature – bringing sites on top leaving you in a state of Euphoria, but overnight you can be dropped like a sack of potatoes. Just try to do things by the rules and you should be OK.

Google Page Rank Is Dead

Well, momentarily that is what 1000’s of web master thought throughout the world when many page rank toolbars suddenly showed 0 for all sites. It nearly had us all thinking we had been hit by the big G until we realized that Google itself was showing a PR of 0. Actually Google has just updated the URl that is used to query the page rank. This means most tool bars that automatically check the PR will also need updating.

PR has been a matter of discussion for many years now, is it important is it not? Well we believe PR has it’s place and should be respected. One can quickly loose any page rank if the website is full of content scraped from other sites, similarly new sites or new pages also have a PR of 0. You can only build up PR though a mixture of age and unique content, throw in some backlinks and you have a recipe for a site with PR higher than 0.

Perhaps it is better to look at PR as a measure of trust in a site, sites with higher trust get a higher P, look to the page rank of Google or Facebook (If you can!)R. This is not directly related to ranking, it is not uncommon to see a site with PR0 with a clever back link profile outrank a site of PR4 – Ranking is all about the keywords.

So what were your experiences today with the PR bar showing 0??


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