A Guide To Introducing Mindfulness Into Your Workplace

Meditation by Konstantin Stepanov via CC BY 2.0

“A number of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, AOL, Apple and Aetna, offer meditation and mindfulness classes for employees — and the top executives of many major corporations say that meditation has made them better leaders.”

— Carolyn Gregoire “The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People

In her article “The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People,” Huffington Post senior writer Carolyn Gregoire presents 10 influential business leaders who say meditation has helped them achieve (and sustain) a high level of success. The list includes Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington has brought meditation into her company, offering weekly classes for AOL and Huffington Post employees.

Let’s take a look at some mindfulness practices that are being integrated into workplaces.

Jeremy Hunter’s Article

In this terrific infographic, “Your Mind at Work,” Jeremy Hunter teaches us “new ways to approach those niggling challenges in the office.”

Your-Mind-At-Work

Jeremy Hunter serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. A PDF version of his article, “Is Mindfulness Good for Business?” may be downloaded here. The article first appeared in the premiere (April 2013) issue of Mindful

Breathing Exercises

Just-Breathe-Steve-Jurvetson

Just Breathe by Steve Jurvetson via CC BY 2.0 (https://flic.kr/p/7V8jKv)

There are a number of different simple breathing exercises that can be done virtually anywhere.

Here is one from the website of Dr. Andrew Weil:

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise

This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day; you cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little light-headed when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens — before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.

Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 Breath.

Walking Meditation

Kinhin

Members of Kanzeon Zen Center during kinhin

In Buddhism, kinhin (Chinese: 経行; pinyin: jīngxíng; Japanese pronunciation: kinhin, kyōgyō; Korean: gyeonghyaeng; Vietnamese: kinh hành) is the walking meditation that is practiced between long periods of the sitting meditation known as zazen.[1] The practice is common in Chan Buddhism and its extra-Chinese forms, Zen, Korean Seon and Vietnamese Thiền.

Wikipedia

Walking meditation is one of the simplest meditation practices, and ideal for workplace breaks.

“Walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking. It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it. Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace. You can feel truly at ease with yourself. Your steps can be those of the healthiest, most secure person on earth. All sorrows and worries can drop away while you are walking. To have peace of mind, to attain self-liberation, learn to walk in this way. It is not difficult. You can do it. Anyone can do it who has some degree of mindfulness and a true intention to be happy.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh, “A Guide to Walking Meditation

Meditation Freedom Podcast

The Meditation Freedom podcast contains “interesting interviews with long-time practitioners, teachers, authors, and other folks with longtime meditation and mindfulness practices.”

I highly recommend  “MF 26 – How to Easily Bring Meditation into Your Workplace!“. The author shows you “how you can incorporate ‘mini’-meditations and mindfulness at your place of work, without having to look weird, or needing a, ‘meditation room’.

Drew Hansen’s Guide

Forbes contributor Drew Hansen has given us a wealth of information in his article “A Guide To Mindfulness At Work“. Hansen has brought together ideas and resources from many different sources, and the content includes several useful links.

Introducing mindfulness into your workplace can be a simple, gradual process.

The benefits to the individual, the workplace, and humanity are immeasurable!

This is part two of a two-part series, Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. You can read part one here. If you’re a regular reader of the CCC blog, you’ll recognize Carol as a contributor. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

How To Improve Your Productivity With Mindfulness in the Workplace

Meditation Meditation by Moyan Brenn via CC BY 2.0

There has been rapid growth in workplace mindfulness programs, and there are some compelling reasons why this is a good thing!

“The enormous benefits of mindfulness at work are increasingly being recognized by employers as well as by employees. More mindfulness means more professional productivity and satisfaction, and less absenteeism, `presenteeism’ (where workers are physically present but unproductive), accidents, and workplace stress and the many psychological and physical problems that this causes. Mindfulness improves our work performance and enjoyment because it improves our decision-making ability, the quality of our working relationships, and our leadership.”
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness2

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn,”mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

You do not need to meditate to become mindful. Meditation is a tool to lead people to post-meditative mindfulness. However, as you’ll see, much of the research focuses on meditation.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

neuroplasticity

Mindfulness actually works by changing our brains! That’s what’s behind the impressive benefits of mindfulness!

Richard Davidson is the founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A major aspect of the center’s research is neuroplasticity—the ability of the adult brain to change its structure or function in an enduring way. Specifically, 1) You can train your brain to change, 2) that change is measurable and 3) new ways of thinking can change it for the better.

If you’d like to learn more about neuroplasticity, see “What is Neuroplasticity?.

Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

“The implications [of mindfulness in the workplace] are enormous. When you are mindful, you end up healthier, you end up happier. So, with an increase in mindfulness in the workplace, there is lower absenteeism, fewer healthcare costs and there is a reduction in accidents.”
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

Health

Meditation has some substantial health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even affecting cellular health. For a look at what it actually does to the body, see this Huffington Post infographic.

Emotional Resilience

Richard J. Davidson and Sara Begley co-authored The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them.

In her article “Rewiring Your Emotions“, Sara Begley discusses the idea of harnessing neuroplasticity to change how you respond emotionally to the ups and downs of life. She writes:

“I don’t know about you, but if I’m feeling miserable and someone tells me to just cheer up on the spot, I want to slug them.

Fortunately, the brain’s emotional circuits are actually connected to its thinking circuits, which are much more accessible to our conscious volition. That has been one of Davidson’s most important discoveries: the “cognitive brain” is also the “emotional brain.” As a result, activity in certain cognitive regions sends signals to the emotion-generating regions. So while you can’t just order yourself to have a particular feeling, you can sort of sneak up on your emotions via your thoughts.”

Begley continues with this example: “If the amygdalae is generating negative emotions, the left PFC sends inhibitory signals to the amygdalae, basically telling them to quiet down. As a result, the negative feelings generated by the amygdalae peter out, and you’re not mired in unhappiness or resentment.”

So emotional resilience depends on high activity in the PFC and a strong connection between it and the amygdalae. Begley prescribes mindfulness meditation as one way to strengthen the circuitry that supports emotional resilience.

Davidson_BodyMind

Happiness

Daniel Goleman, in his article “Want a Happier Brain? Try Mindfulness, presents solid evidence to back up that title.

Goleman’s discussion begins with some research done by neuroscientist Richard Davidson, whose work focuses on the emotional dynamics of the brain. Davidson discovered a correlation between left-to-right brain activity and emotional states:

“When we’re in a down mood — irritable, anxious and grouchy — our brain has high activity in the right prefrontal area, just behind the forehead. But when we’re in an upbeat mood — energized, enthusiastic, optimistic — there’s lots of activity on the left side of the prefrontal area.

Each of us has a typical ratio of left-to-right activity when we’re just at rest. And this ratio predicts fairly well our typical, day-to-day mood range.

There’s a bell curve for this ratio, like the one for IQ: most of us are in the middle, with some good days and some bad days. Those who are tipped to the far right are likely to have clinical levels of depression or anxiety. And those whose setpoint tips far to the left are able to bounce back quickly from upsets.”

Goleman goes on to describe a study led by Richard Davidson and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. This study concluded with good news — we can nudge our setpoint to the left!

“Jonny [Kabat-Zinn] taught mindfulness to a group of the biotech workers and had them practice about half an hour a day for eight weeks. Richie [Davidson] measured their brains before and after. The result: at first their emotional setpoint was tilted toward the right — they were, after all, on a hectic, 24/7 schedule. But after eight weeks, the mindfulness group on average showed a greater tilt toward the left.

What’s more, they spontaneously said that now they were in touch again with what they loved about their jobs, with why they had gotten into the field in the first place.”

Thus, the ability to “nudge our setpoint to the left” can make us happier with our work.

Focus

Meditation can be “an antidote for workplace ADD.” One of the biggest problems in the workplace today is what some have called “continuous partial attention.” Attention deficit can harm people’s ability to interact competently, impeding understanding and rapport. Lack of attention also negatively impacts individual job performance. A person’s ability to do his job is directly related to how well he can concentrate and focus.

Mindfulness meditation techniques can overcome workplace ADD by training our minds to focus on what matters in the moment and to resist distractions.

Decision Making

One aspect of good decision-making is the ability to avoid “sunk-cost bias”—our tendency to continue down a path because we’re already so far along. For example, you realize that your job is not right for you. But you don’t look for another job or go back to school, because your current position has consumed so much of your time and effort. In her Greater Good article, Hooria Jazaier, explains research conducted by Andrew Hafenbrack and colleagues. The research abstract states, “In the research reported here, we investigated the debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation on the sunk-cost bias. We conducted four studies (one correlational and three experimental); the results suggest that increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions.”

In fact, “Close analysis of the latest mindfulness research, with Jochen Reb, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Singapore Management University, for the upcoming book Mindfulness in Organisations, suggests that mindfulness techniques can have a positive effect on all our widely recognised stages of the decision-making process.” In her article, “How Mindfulness Improves Decision-Making“, Natalia Karelaia lists the four stages of the decision-making process as:

  1. Framing the decision
  2. Gathering information
  3. Coming to a conclusion
  4. Learning from feedback

For each of these four stages, Karelaia explains how mindfulness can have a positive effect on that stage.

Leadership

Mindfulness is the essence of effective leadership.

The essence of effective leadership is mindfulness, which is also the essence of charisma. When you are mindful, you are present. When you are present, people notice it. When people experience you as mindful, they then see you as authentic and trustworthy.
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

When we are mindful, we are fully connected to ourselves and to other people, and this connection allows us to lead ourselves and others from and to shared certainty, rather than individual confusion.

“Being mindful more of the time and mindless less of the time helps us be great leaders because it helps unite [us] in common goals and ways of achieving them, and frees us of our separate ideas about what needs to be done and how. When we experience mindful connectedness with the people we work with, we will be great leaders, whether we’re leading a sporting team or a hamburger shop or a multinational corporation. We are not great leaders regardless of the people we lead, we are great leaders because of them.
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

Creativity and Caring

Mindfulness practice has been shown to draw out creativity and caring. In an interesting piece, “It’s Not McMindfulness,” Barry Boyce says, “[mindfulness practice] naturally leads to inquisitiveness about our own minds and examination of how we’re connected to other people, of the causes and effects of our actions. … Leaders touched by mindfulness may find innovations to solve real problems and help make a better life.”

The Greater Good

What matters in the workplace is what matters in our lives—using every moment to learn from experience so that we grow in insight, wisdom, and compassion.
Mirabai Bush, “Mindfulness at Work: An Interview with Mirabai Bush

I’ve saved the best for last! Expanding on the “caring” benefit, let’s talk about “the greater good.”

In a superb interview on mindful.org, Elisha Goldstein talks to Mirabai Bush about how mindfulness can make our work life more meaningful. Goldstein introduces Bush as “the author of Working with Mindfulness (MP3), a key contributor to Google’s Search Inside Yourself Program, Cofounder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and so much more.”

The interview begins with a discussion of “right livelihood.” Here’s an excerpt:

Elisha: When it comes to the workplace, you have found a fundamental flaw in our minds when we think of work, like “Love is for home and discipline is for work.” One of the foundations to bringing mindfulness into the workplace is through an approach called Right Livelihood. Can you tell us more about that and the benefits?

Mirabai: I first heard the words “right livelihood” while learning to meditate in a Buddhist monastery. Meditation teacher S.N. Goenka said, “If the intention is to play a useful role in society in order to support oneself and to help others, then the work one does is right livelihood.” Other teachers expanded on that: Do work that is ethical and helpful to your personal development. Do no harm though your work. Cause no suffering to yourself or others. Use work to nourish understanding and compassion. Remember that all life is interconnected. Be honest, be mindful of what you are doing.

Other topics discussed are:

  • Mindful Listening: “a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening in the moment without trying to control it or judge it.”
  • Walking meditation: “the practice of paying close attention to the ordinary action of walking, a helpful practice for people at work, who usually walk at least sometimes during the day.”
  • A compassion practice known as “Just like me” (“Just like me, this person has known physical pain. Just like me, this person has done things she regrets. Just like me, this person wants to be happy….” and so on)

I encourage you to read the full interview.

Are you ready to try minfdfulness at your workplace?

Watch for the companion article “Introducing Mindfulness into the Workplace” on Friday! 

This is part one of a two-part series, Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. Don’t miss part two on Friday! If you’re a regular reader of the CCC blog, you’ll recognize Carol as a contributor. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Ten Common Misconceptions about Quick SEO

CCC welcomes Eve Haugen to the blog! Anyone with a website (or blog) is always looking to improve his or her search engine optimization (SEO), and of course, you don’t want to wait to see the results. Insert quick SEO — tips and tactics to give you a quick boost in your search rankings and website traffic. Eve’s here to share her knowledge on the subject and dispel ten common misconceptions about the practice. Enjoy!

The science of SEO is constantly evolving. Although a long-term strategy, it can also yield quick results with the right tactics. While there is a range of tips on how to get around quick SEO, the misconceptions about it are galore and the people spreading such rumors are the ones who have hardly dabbled in it.

Ranking factors of Google's search algorithms

Ranking factors of Google’s search algorithms

So, here are some of the SEO myths – If you are alert enough, you will immediately package these practices in a box and throw them away.

  • Google will NOT build strategy for you: This is a well-followed mantra of website building. You build a website fattened with content and you expect traffic to flow into it. Well, it doesn’t! That is why SEO professionals are still needed. You need to pay attention to the best keywords, develop your user’s experience (UXD/UED), insert links and ensure fast page downloads so that your website stands out.
  • Stuffing your page with unnecessary keywords can instantly get you a better rank: Well, that is not a good SEO tip. Keyword density – the number of keywords found on your page that determines the relevancy of your work – should never exceed a certain maximum. Keyword density may be an important metric for ranking a page, but it isn’t the only one. Your keywords also need to be relevant to your material. Don’t add them randomly because they always stick out.
  • Adding unnecessary promo boxes and ads can give you more clicks: Times have changed, and with it, mindsets. It’s best to do away with these ads as they hardly generate extra clicks. People are no longer interested in them.
  • Guest posts do not matter: Hell yeah, they do! Moving posts from guest bloggers to your page is an excellent technique to generate quick traffic. Recently, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, drew attention to the importance of guest posting and promoted it on his blog. Well, he said it, so is there any reason to doubt it?
  • Link building can be ignored: A content marketing team greatly benefits from a link builder. Link building is an important aspect of Google’s ranking schemes that give you a greater visibility to the outside world. Especially back links – when you acquire back links in relation to your content, you make it visible to a larger audience. It’s a much needed SEO tip for good promotion.
  • Quick SEO is all that matters – after all it’s just a one-time strategy: SEO in its essence is a long-term process that requires immense planning, but in case you’re in a hurry, quick SEO tips can be of great use. However, these tips should only be used once in a while.
  • SEO is just a one-time strategy – do it quickly and get it done: SEO requires a continual investment of your time and energy. Otherwise, your website’s content just rots. Continuous SEO integration helps in keeping the competition away and allows you to keep track of the continuously evolving techniques.
  • We can miss out on the social buzz – after all we are in a hurry: Google doesn’t care about the number of Facebook shares or your Twitter followers but successful social buzz can put your content right in front of your target market. It helps in building links, search engine discovery and spreading of content to the outside world.
  • The flashier, the merrier: Excessive use of flash content can go against your desired SEO results as search engines mostly understand the language of HTML.
  • SEO is easy so anyone can do it: SEO is not child’s play; even quick SEO techniques require an able hand who knows how to implement them. It requires care and analysis and well-informed people can help you with this.

Well, these are just a few misconceptions about SEO techniques, which stem from people who are still fixated on black hat SEO. These unethical techniques are supposedly cheap and easy to work with, but they can cost you dearly.

Remember, quick SEO can work for a certain time frame. Once, twice – that’s okay. But never fall into the allure of quick SEO all of the time.

Eve Haugen, author of this post


Eve Haugen
is a freelance writer, whose passion in writing drives her to craft articles that are engaging, informative and meaningful. Her partnership with QuickSEOResults has given her an opportunity to take her writing to a new level.

Global Expansion: Thinking Outside Your Borders

Clearly Conveyed Communications is excited to welcome Sloan McKinney as the latest contributor to the CCC blog. You can learn more about the author at the end of this post.  

Small businesses make the mistake too often in assuming that just because they’re small, international expansion will never be an option. It’s this kind of mindset that causes the troubles a lot of business owners have that prevent their company from growing. The fact of the matter is that reaching an international audience is much simpler than it was years ago — and we can all thank the Internet for that.

What many companies don’t realize is that the Internet isn’t obsolete; there’s really no conceivable way it can become obsolete. While small business owners lament slow sales or the difficulties of expanding their market to their friends on Facebook, they don’t realize that they have the technology to grow as a company. In fact…they’re using it.

Think outside of the box

Expansion Concerns

The idea of expanding a business to reach a larger base is inherently desirable. But the want to make it work often outpaces the logical questions that need to be answered before going forward:

  •  Is there a demand for the product or service overseas?
  • Does your company have the staff to handle the incoming demand for your company’s services?
  • Does your company have the means to handle transitioning into a larger company?
  • And lastly, does your company have the confidence to make the move?

These are all questions that need to be seriously considered before moving forward with anything.

Think Locally, Act Globally

It’s crucial that any business considering expansion first isolates what made them successful in the first place. There’s a reason why your company is doing well: what is it? Tie this in with the question about confidence. There’s a reason why you’re thinking about supplementing your business strategy, and it’s certainly not because you are struggling.

Once you’ve identified what makes expanding to new markets viable for your company, it’s time to consider if it is, in fact, viable to do so. Can your company support the move?

Time to Act

Alright, so you’ve answered all of the questions, and now you know it’s time to take the next step…which is what exactly? Easy: apply all of your answers to the previously stated questions to the new markets. Designate places you believe your business can be successful, and move. Start with niche advertising to get the ball rolling.

For example, if your company sells specialized toolboxes, advertise with a trade publication, and set up a booth at a trade show. It’s much more likely that experienced plumbers will purchase a hyper-specialized toolbox than a group of Boy Scouts.

Setting up a local phone number in the areas you are targeting is a good way to garner local business, because it will establish a local presence. It’s understandable why a consumer would patronize a local, established business over the upstart who just moved in…or isn’t even located in the immediate vicinity. A local phone number can be forwarded to an already established number, making it easier to manage calls, while still reaching a larger audience. It’s easy to implement, inexpensive, and a gesture to the locals in your new audience that you believe you have a product that they would like, and it’s a good one.

Expanding your operation is a justifiably daunting task. But with enough time, research, and patience, it can work for your business.

Sloan McKinney

Today’s guest blogger is Sloan McKinney, who is honored to have had the opportunity to share her knowledge on international communications with CCC‘s audience.  Her writing, which can be found on SmartVirtualPhoneNumber.com, also covers business globalization and technology.

“Think Outside The Box Concept” photo via Shutterstock 

Thanks for the wonderful article, Sloan!

Using Google+ to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings

This is the final post in a 4-part series highlighting steps you can take to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). This guide was written by Ramya Raju, an experienced freelance web design writer from India. If you missed any of the first 3 posts, you can review them here.

Clearly Conveyed Communications Google+ header

Search engines like Google are influenced by social media profiles, especially Google+. As Google’s own social network, Google+ carries major weight in boosting rankings on the largest search engine in the world. Its profiles are very helpful in personalizing search results that go beyond the local search results. If you wish to personalize searches, then carry out the following steps:

  • Create a Google+ profile for personal use and a business page.
  • Give a +1 share to the websites that you wish to generate rankings for. You can also share websites on the profile page and link to them using the personal information boxes in the recommended websites section.
  • Completely fill out the personal profile, so it comes up in appropriate searches and draws interest from other people.
  • Update your status regularly, and keep the status of your profile information public (for better search results).
  • Share interesting information from other people so you’re not entirely self-promotional (and to help connect with others).
  • Network with people who you feel can benefit from seeing your website in the search results. You can use the search box on Google+ to search for people and add them to your circles.

The idea is to gain popularity on Google+ so that you can get better rankings in personalized search results.

Keeping Track of Your Results

After all the hard work and effort taken to achieve better SEO of your website, it only makes sense to keep track of the results. You can use the following two tools to monitor such results easily:

  • Authority Labs – very effective in tracking keyword rankings that are used for your website and helps to check whether they have moved up in the search results or not. The account comes with a fee but has a 30-day trial period to test it.
  • Google Analytics – an all-around solution for SEO monitoring. It helps with monitoring visitors to your website, checking organic search traffic sources and understanding which keywords are used by people to find your website on search engines. This tool also tracks the keywords that can lead to people visiting your site and joining a mailing list, purchasing a product and other actions you want them to perform.

There are many tools and resources available to improve your SEO but the above two can help start off your campaign in the right direction. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this 4-part SEO guide to help you improve your website’s search engine optimization efforts. A special thank you to Ramya Raju for writing the guide and sharing it with CCC’s readers. For more on the first 3 parts or Ramya, see below.

Ramya Raju

Ramya Raju is a freelance web design writer with 8 years of extensive blogging experience on a variety of online publishing and social media platforms. She generally writes high quality articles on travel, photography, SEO, web design, English courses and other general topics as requested. Ramya, an extrovert with a passion for photography and anthropology, enjoys travelling to different countries to discover new cultures and experience life with the locals. You can reach her at ramyaraju896@gmail.com or visit her online at http://www.colorcharacter.com/uk/.

Link Building to Success: Optimize Your Website

This is the third post in a 4-part series highlighting steps you can take to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). This guide was written by Ramya Raju, an experienced freelance web design writer from India. If you missed part one or two, we’d recommend reviewing them first.

While reading the first two parts of this series, you were probably wondering when I’d get to link building.

chain links

Link building is without a doubt one of the most discussed topics in SEO today. The idea is that your website is linked to by other websites and blogs, which helps in building higher rankings for your website for specific keywords. By using keyword anchor text, your site will get ranked for that particular keyword. For example, Adobe Reader is ranked number one for ‘click here’ anchor text because most download links for the reader shared on different websites are labeled with these keywords.

There are a few ways in which link building can be performed.

  • Organic Linking – the best way to gain rankings is through organic links. Such links are generated without you putting in any effort, and if they come from sites with higher rankings, like media websites and well recognized ones, then there is nothing better for your website’s SEO.
  • White Hat – quality link building efforts that follow search engines’ policies and still focus on your human audience. For example, only link to quality content when it fits within the context of your post. Don’t spam your audience (or someone else’s) with unnecessary, broken or unhelpful links that don’t contribute to the discussion.
  • Black Hat – the wrong way of link building that involves spamming and low quality back links, which should be completely avoided. It can lead to penalization by search engines and actually damage your SEO efforts.

Getting other websites and blogs to organically link to you is tough. It takes time and effort for your site to become popular enough to draw the required attention. That’s the reason why link building is an art and building quality links has to be planned well. The following methods will help you receive quality, organic links from outside sites:

  • Submit blog posts as a guest writer on the most notable blogs pertaining to your industry. These blogs will allow you to link back to your site in the author box.
  • Partner with related businesses that have their own websites and try to get a link back from their pages for partners, vendors, suppliers, etc.
  • To generate better incoming traffic to your website, create local search and social media profiles. The direct effect of these profiles on your search engine rankings is debatable but they will help drive more traffic to your website (which in turn will boost your SEO efforts).
  • Buy advertising space and/or submit your website links to dedicated industry directories and online trade journals. Don’t submit links or purchase ad space on low quality websites that are unrelated to your website (even if it’s free to do so).
  • Publish content which is so rich that people share it on their sites and blogs, providing you with useful back links. Infographics are an example of content that is typically shared at a high rate.

Photo: “Chain Links” by Eric Martin / CC BY 2.0

We hope you’ve enjoyed the first three parts of this 4-part series on search engine optimization. Check back next Thursday for part 4, Using Google+ to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings. As a reminder, posts are published on the CCC  blog every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks for stopping by!

Ramya RajuRamya Raju is a freelance web design writer with 8 years of extensive blogging experience on a variety of online publishing and social media platforms. She generally writes high quality articles on travel, photography, SEO, web design, English courses and other general topics as requested. Ramya, an extrovert with a passion for photography and anthropology, enjoys travelling to different countries to discover new cultures and experience life with the locals. You can reach her at ramyaraju896@gmail.com or visit her online at http://www.colorcharacter.com/uk/.

Content Is King and Other Essential Elements of SEO

This is the second post in a 4-part series highlighting steps you can take to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). This guide was written by Ramya Raju, an experienced freelance web design writer from India. If you’d like to visit part one, click here

In the first part of this step-by-step guide to search engine optimization (SEO), I covered the basics, including over-optimizing, title tags, meta descriptions and the advantages of using WordPress. Now let’s move on to other necessary elements in the quest to improve your search engine rankings and website exposure.

the word content

Content truly is king — for your readers and SEO efforts.

Other Essential Elements for SEO

Apart from adding the title tag and meta description, the following elements should also be taken care of for further search optimization.

  • Internal Links – It is important that you add and share internal links to other pages of your site within the content. This helps and supports your link-building efforts in addition to the links using external sites.
  • Header Tags – Search engines can gain more information regarding the content of each section with the help of the header tags. These tags usually deal with different sections that are divided on the basis of headers. The <H1></H1> tag is used for encompassing the title of the post and is always used once per page. The rest of the tags, like <H2></H2> and <H3></H3>, are used for different subheadings and can be used multiple times. Longer posts and articles can be broken down into sections that are easier to browse by both visitors and search engines.
  • Image Name and ALT Tags – Images used on the website also play a key role for redirecting searches to your page via the image search options. But to have that optimized, you should use good keywords and key phrases that align with your site in the image name and ALT tag.
  • Bold Text – Putting parts of text in bold ensures that the search engine and potential visitors consider it very important. But use precaution while highlighting text in this manner; overdoing it should be strictly avoided.

Related Reading: Content Creation Ideas

Content is the King

With the fast-paced world of online marketing, it is important to keep your customers on your website for as long as possible. For this reason, content plays a major role because it has the capacity to keep your visitors engaged for a longer time and also provides the search engines with rich data that helps in your website ranking.

You should explore a variety of content types that are relevant to your audience, such as blog posts, writing tutorials and guides, industry-related articles, videos, podcasts and infographics. It’s a monumental task to build a huge content database but it is doable. To begin, start with a blog post on your site and slowly move towards building content using other types of media. Feel free to share appropriate content from others (with proper attribution) to fill in the gaps while creating your own content.

Pic credit: “Content – Spraypaint Logo” by Ulysses D S is licensed under CC BY 3.0

We hope you’ve enjoyed the first two parts of this 4-part series on search engine optimization. Check back next Thursday for part 3, Link-Building to Success: Optimize Your Website. As a reminder, posts are published on the CCC  blog every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks for stopping by!

Ramya RajuRamya Raju is a freelance web design writer with 8 years of extensive blogging experience on a variety of online publishing and social media platforms. She generally writes high quality articles on travel, photography, SEO, web design, English courses and other general topics as requested. Ramya, an extrovert with a passion for photography and anthropology, enjoys travelling to different countries to discover new cultures and experience life with the locals. You can reach her at ramyaraju896@gmail.com or visit her online at http://www.colorcharacter.com/uk/.

A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Clearly Conveyed Communications is excited to welcome Ramya Raju, an experienced freelance web design writer from India. Ramya has written a step-by-step search engine optimization (SEO) guide for CCC’s readers, so you can improve your search engine rankings and website exposure. This is the first post in a 4-part series that will be published on Thursdays for the next month. You can learn more about Ramya at the end of the post. Enjoy!

SEO

The Internet is largely becoming the primary home for most businesses, and to be competitive, websites need to have better SEO to be noticed. But all businesses do not have in-house SEO expertise or consultants to lend a hand due to budget constraints, and the amount of available information on SEO is so overwhelming that many companies shy away from doing the right things.

This guide shares SEO best practices, so businesses and individuals alike can benefit without the need to pay a professional.

SEO basics for the website

You may have heard that link-building is a popular SEO practice, but nothing works if your own website is not optimized. It is imperative that your own site carry the most important elements that will help and support other steps that you need to take for successful SEO. Ensure that the following elements are present and clearly carried on all the pages of your site, especially on the homepage.

Important rule you shouldn’t ignore while performing SEO

SEO for websites has to follow a strict code and conduct according to the guidelines set by Google. The most important rule is do not ‘overdo’ the further steps which will be discussed. There is even a penalty on websites who have over-optimized keywords and are stuffed with more key phrases than necessary. Instead, add four or five keywords that are optimized to suit your website on each page. You can even use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to learn the best suited keyword phrases for your site.

Title Tag

The title tag is comprised of the information that tells the search engines what your website is about. It should be kept under 70 characters and should carry essential info like your business/brand name and keywords that are specific to the page. In HTML code, the title tag is placed between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags on the top of the page.

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are written for specific websites to add additional information that search engines can use. Though it’s debatable whether meta is really useful for getting a search engine ranking, it nevertheless is still important since anyone searching for the website will get to see the meta under the search result. Using the right keywords in both the title tag and meta description are essential to having your site highlighted when a user searches for it. This makes the search result stand out for anyone who is searching for the specific keywords you use.

Advantage of using WordPress

If you use WordPress to host your domain, then you can take advantage of free plugins like All in One SEO, Platinum SEO and SEO by Yoast. These plugins are optimized to help you easily add title tags and meta descriptions to your site, and you can even find further SEO tips if you use premium plugins like Scribe SEO.

We hope you enjoyed this introduction to SEO basics for your website. Tune in next week for part 2 of this 4-part series, Content Is King and Other Essential Elements of SEO. Same bat time, same bat channel!

Pic credit: “SEO” by Singapore SEO Company is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ramya RajuRamya Raju is a freelance web design writer with 8 years of extensive blogging experience on a variety of online publishing and social media platforms. She generally writes high quality articles on travel, photography, SEO, web design, English courses and other general topics as requested. Ramya, an extrovert with a passion for photography and anthropology, enjoys travelling to different countries to discover new cultures and experience life with the locals. You can reach her at ramyaraju896@gmail.com or visit her online at http://www.colorcharacter.com/uk/.

What You’re DOING is the Story

Clearly Conveyed Communications is pleased to welcome its second guest blogger, Roger Burnett, CAS. Read on for Roger’s expertise in the marketing arena, specifically content marketing, which is a hot topic today. You can learn more about Roger at the end of his insightful post.

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What's your bulls-eye?We’re a new business within an existing company: a start-up within an established, proven organization. While it’s thrilling to get the chance to conduct experiments on how to successfully market oneself with a disruptive, never-been-done-before concept that meets a hugely underserved market need, I’m acutely aware of the fact that I am essentially a charity of my employer until our business unit routinely pays for itself.

The self-imposed bulls-eye I’ve created keeps me focused on the task at hand. While the fact that ours is a needed service makes it easy for me to generate leads, I have to be mindful of ways to amplify my reach beyond my own efforts and the goodwill of our brand in the market we serve in order to get to the next self-imposed bulls-eye.

We won’t be successful for the long term without some marketing Sonic Booms: the kind of campaigns that send our inside sales team in motion with a flood of activity. Knowing full well that a significant part of what’s necessary to create a pipeline of Sonic Boom moments is my responsibility, it keeps me looking for ways to create them.

“We won’t be successful for the long term without some marketing Sonic Booms: the kind of campaigns that send our inside sales team in motion with a flood of activity.”

I’ve studied content marketing as a principle for a while now. For the majority of the last two years with my former employer, I challenged our marketing team to create things that solved specific problems for our clients and package them in a way that allowed our salespeople to immediately understand:

1)      To whom to deliver the message, and

2)     How to execute on the client-facing call to action.

Once proficient at doing so, the transformation we saw with both our account teams and clients was nothing short of remarkable. Suddenly, our clients became more collaborative with us as we set them on a defined road map toward their stated objectives. Because of the attitude change in their clients, our account teams quickly picked up on what was working and started expanding the reach into more accounts. Good salespeople are smart enough to know how to repeat success; if they see a client nodding their heads yes to a solution, good salespeople immediately identify similar buyers that will ALSO nod their head.

“If they see a client nodding their heads yes to a solution, good salespeople immediately identify similar buyers that will ALSO nod their head.”

That early success fuels my content marketing philosophy in my current role. I’ve been steadily building a library of information that serves a similar purpose for this new client base of mine.  I’m fortunate as my prospects and clients are mainly former competitors and co-workers, so I have an intimate understanding of how what we’re doing solves problems for them and can speak to them as if I am one of them, as I was for a significant part of my career. Our solutions are built with them and their specific challenges in mind.

Expertise is wasted, however, if people looking for the kind of information you have don’t know how to find you, or that you even exist.

Sonic Booms fuel your marketing campaigns.Hence the need for those previously mentioned Sonic Booms. Nothing fuels your Sonic Boom pipeline better than content, and we’ve settled on a rotation of 12 potential touches with our suspect and prospect base, one per month. The rotation consists of a number of things, some of which are of our own creation and some of which have been curated from the sources that we most closely watch for information, in a variety of formats and delivery mechanisms. Remember, just because it’s not new to you doesn’t mean it won’t be of value to someone else. We are always on the lookout for new and relevant information, and seek new sources for the kind of information we believe would be valuable to our client and prospect base.

Our content is meant to help people looking for answers better understand how to be successful; if they choose to work with us as a result of our sharing the things we find that can make people better at what they do, then that’s a great way to start a new working relationship.  If not, no harm, no foul.

“Remember, just because it’s not new to you doesn’t mean it won’t be of value to someone else.”

When the content we publish resonates with the right audience, the results can be remarkable. Consider the following statistics that followed some of our content marketing efforts this year:

1) Our monthly webinar was filled to capacity in less than 24 hours after it was announced for the first time in company history. We had more requests for recorded versions of that introductory webinar than for every other webinar we’ve done – COMBINED. Clearly our business concept was of interest to the community we offered it to.

2) Our e-mail marketing campaigns are sent from the personal e-mail addresses of our team members so as not to appear to come from a robot. On TWO occasions this year, the response to our e-mail call to action was SO overwhelming it literally shut down my e-mail account. We have an internal goal of replying to all e-mail we receive the same day…. I was up until two in the morning to be sure that I responded to everyone personally.

It’s my belief that we’ve reached Sonic Boom four times so far this year, and our ability to grow our prospect and business pipeline has been exponential. We’ve got a ways to go, but what we’re doing so far appears to be working as the statistics show.

As you consider what I’ve said, know that our touches are nothing more than ways for us to share with people the interesting things we’re doing as part of our day-to-day activities. We’re just taking the trouble to document them in new and interesting ways and finding ways to share it with the people that might want to know about what we’re doing. It’s not complicated, as long as you know what it is you’re good at.

What you’re DOING is the story.

burnett_headshot

Roger Burnett, CAS
Vice President, iClick

While Roger Burnett is Vice President at award-winning promotional products supplier iClick, he also proclaims himself Maintenance Supervisor of the Worldwide Negativity Defense System. A gardener by marriage that laughs too loud but never too often, Roger stays busy as a father of 3 boys and an active outdoorsman. He’s an occasional writer, and you can check out his work at promokitchen.com