Free tips from an SEO expert. Tech entrepreneur Neil Patel has spent a large portion of his career helping big corporations like Viacom and HP make more money off the web through SEO techniques. Now you can gain the value of his expertise without having to pay the big-corporation price-tag. On his blog Quick Sprout, Patel has some tips to help your business rank on Page 1 of Google without buying a single paid link. As Patel explains, Google frowns on paid links and is constantly on the lookout for link spam. "The problem with buying paid links is, you'll rank really well in the short run, but sooner or later you will get caught," he says. The trick to great results is to build legitimate links. To that end, Patel has a handful of relatively simple techniques to help you boost your business's Google search results. According to Patel, his tips "aren't fun and sexy, but they work."
The right way to deal with employee ideas. Our Leigh Buchanan spoke with the nation's most employee-centric companies and this is what she found.
The "Hello, Ladies" effect. It might not exist. Despite 94 million views on YouTube of Old Spice spokesman Isaiah Mustafa's ads, sales of Red Zone body wash have declined 7 percent, according to a study by SymphonyIRI. Fast Company ponders why the immense online popularity seems to have failed to translate into influence, citing another - successful - spokesman. Remember Dos Equis The Most Interesting Man in the World? Since he signed on in 2007, sales have jumped every year. Why? According to Jonathan Goldsmith, the man who plays the Most Interesting Man, it's all about "life experience" that gives his character intrigue. He tells Fast Company: "If you don't experience life, you won't be a participant - you'll just be a voyeur. You'll watch it go by like a parade you're not involved in." We'll buy that.
Forgetting sunk costs is harder than it sounds. When you've invested valuable time and money into a new project at your company, say a product line or a marketing campaign, it's natural to want to keep wrestling with the endeavor until it at least breaks even (if not turns a profit). But Fred Wilson says that even if you've dug hundreds of thousands of dollars into a project, you shouldn't let that impact future investments. "Even though I was taught about sunk costs in business school twenty-five years ago, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Most of the time that we make a follow-on investment defensively, to protect the capital we have already invested, that follow-on investment is marginal or outright bad," he writes.
Go ahead, take that vacation. Any entrepreneur can tell you how difficult it is to set their business aside to take a vacation, and Paul Downs is no exception. In a blog post for The New York Times, the founder of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers explains that he hasn't been away from an entire workweek since 2003. Downs just returned from a vacation, however, and it turned out that "the sky did not fall," he writes. "The bookkeeper paid the bills, and we didn't run out of money." While that's not altogether unexpected, he leaves us with a few insights on the underlying conflict many business owners feel when considering vacation time: "There are many times I fantasize about a life without daily obligations. That's supposed to be one of the prime motivators for entrepreneurs--the day you cash out and retire to a life of complete freedom. On the other hand, it's nice to be needed...I think it would be hard for me to start an existence separate from the shop." Perhaps the record-setting heat on the East Coast this summer convinced him a few days away wouldn't hurt.
The Facebook prejudice? First Facebook prohibited a rep from the Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet from creating a fan page with the word "Palestinian" in it. Now that the "error" is fixed, Valleywag reports that the last name Arab also gets automatically rejected during sign-up. The tipster who discovered the problem says Facebook allowed her husband to sign up using his last name, Arab, back in 2007, but now, neither she nor other members of her family are able to do so. Facebook responded to the initial glitch with page registration saying, "We have an automated system that checks for obviously inaccurate profile registration names. For a short time, this was inadvertently applied to Page creation names." According to Valleywag, this is likely the result of the same issue, but they write, "this shouldn't have been a problem in the first place—especially if CEO Mark Zuckerberg really believes that his site can be a tool for building bridges across cultural divides."
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey