SEO, A complicated business relationship

You need SEO to Survive in Today’s Business World

A few days ago, I was venting about how having a business today is so much more complicated than having a business before computers, and definitely before this thing called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

Let’s go back in time, wibble wobble, wibble wobble. it works better if we all wiggle our fingers too. I don’t know why it works but it does.

kroger store from back in time seo

It’s 1950. Not a digital doohickey in sight. Going along any main street in the good old US of A, there were rows and rows of storefronts mostly owned by mom and pops. From selling hardware to bookstores. So how did they get customers into their store? They advertised in the local paper or sent out flyers about upcoming sales.

And if they provided great personal customer service, there was also word of mouth. It was very simple to to be visible back in the day. These businesses weren’t competing for customer attention from outside their local area. Now it’s time to say goodbye to 1950 and head back to 2016. wibble wobble, wibble wobble.

The storefronts of retail are slowly disappearing, replaced by the growing popularity of restaurants. Forget about advertising in the paper. The list of people reading a local paper is dwindling. Send sale flyers in the mail? By the time someone gets around to checking their mail, the sale is long gone.

Today people are increasingly online, going to search engines to do their shopping or get service. And this new age of heading to the virtual marketplace, is where an exploding amount of businesses are getting in fierce competition for customers. And if you’re not using Big Data (and you should), the best tool to give an edge is SEO. Having visibility is important in search engines especially by the big ones, Bing and Google. Businesses have to spend more time and be in “real time” to grab eyeballs by using every available SEO trick in the ebook. Constantly tuning up the keywords or the meta descriptions in blogs , websites, Facebook or any social media outlet is crucial.

So when a potential customer does a search for your type of business, you have to be there, waving your virtual arms, saying pick me first. Even though having a business is easier than ever, keeping it, is not 1950.

Venting over… for now.

I Want a Presentation Rewind!

I want a presentation rewind!
Could we go back in time?

I want a presentation rewind! After our Metro Chamber talk on Business Intelligence was less than spectacular, my head was reeling . If we got a second chance it would be much more engaging, I just know it. Unfortunately there were more empty chairs than attendees.

When writing an hour-long speech that took many hours to write up, it’s disappointing that when it came down to it, few heard it. Perhaps because it was during working hours, there weren’t many people that came. Could it be there wasn’t enough publicity on our end or by the venue to promote it and get the word out? So it ended that only a handful were there.

And that was another problem, because the room was huge. It’s natural human behavior, to not to park in the front of the room and sit themselves near the back. Do they perhaps have an exit strategy? And the podium was of course up front in the corner where Robert was doing his spiel. Why didn’t I feel compelled to get everybody to move up front more or even create a more intimate round table discussion?

I’m kicking myself with that one. There was such a divide between the audience and Robert. I truly hate hindsight, I really do.

Another thing we both learned is that doing a straight talk is definitely not appropriate in a workshop. A workshop is not a lecture. Another kick. I wanted so badly to entertain and educate and I think we ended up giving them something else to dream about. Leaving. We should have been more engaging and asking if anyone had questions throughout or at least see if they were sleeping. The room would have had energy and some lively interaction instead the energy of tumbleweeds and crickets.

Luckily, at the end people started to ask questions and for a little while, with all the back and forth banter it became fun. If any venue in Northern California would like to give us a second chance, touch base with us and we promise to touch lives. Sappy, huh?

RobandDeb

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat.
Find out more at AXbean.com.

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Prep for Business Intelligence talk

Gearing up for our upcoming Business Intelligence presentation

It’s amazing the amount of preparation that goes into an Business Intelligence talk. Writing  pages upon pages on different talking points that will not bore the audience is not the easiest thing to do, especially something like a tech subject that if not too careful will go over people’s heads.

 

apple pie for Business Intelligence presentation
Apple pie for all!

The last thing  I want to see are glassy eyes staring back at me. It’s not pretty when that happens when there some lost souls. It would be much less complicated to speak about something people are more familiar with. Celebrity and sports news anyone? But the subject of Business Intelligence, you might be looking at a whole bunch of yawns.

So we’re working hard to make it entertaining but at the same time a learning experience for business owners so they don’t feel that sitting for an hour was a waste of time.  So we took it upon ourselves  to do this and the best way we discovered is to go to other presentations.

We came across some really good speakers that educate and more importantly, interact with the audience, especially answering their questions. Then there were the fake presentations that pretended be about one thing, but the realization comes soon that it was a sales pitch for themselves or their company.

We are going to do our best to be in the first group with slides of food (who doesn’t like food?), and silly sayings that hopefully will keep everybody engaged.  I really would love, at the end of the talk, feel that we able to impart some golden nuggets of BI knowledge. So if any of you who has a business or want to know what’s the big deal about with this here Business Intelligence and of course are in Sacramento, come for a free  “blow your mind” event this Thursday March 3, 2016 @ 4.  For more information tap here.  You will learn, fellow humans.

RobandDeb

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat.
Find out more at AXbean.com.

On Periscope: Business Intelligence

See what big data can do for small businesses

We are in the process of preparing for our upcoming talk on Business Intelligence (BI) on March 3, 2016 in downtown Sacramento. (Click here for more information on the event.) To warm up the RVB (Robert’s Voice Box) for the hour long gabfest, he went on Periscope for an impromptu chat. There are two great things about that, one, it give everyone a preview on what we will be speaking  about in the presentation. And two, which you will really love, you will get to see why having me behind the camera and being the cue card holder is not for the serious viewer. Tap here to view it.

Remember, On Periscope, it will magically disappear in twenty four hours.

RobandDeb
Debbie and Robert Wallis

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat.
Find out more at AXbean.com.

AXbean gives free workshop

MetroChamber, SBDC & AXbean offers free workshop

metrochamber05_logo
Sponsors of a free AXbean workshop

So here’s a free workshop thing, the Sacramento Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Sacramento Metro Chamber provides once a month classes on different business-related topics. The best part that it’s free. Getting valuable and useful information from experts in different fields and are willing to give their time to help businesses improve and grow successfully? Well, that’s priceless.

Now we will provide valuable and useful information on Business Intelligence (BI) to anyone who wants to join us on March 3, 2016 from 4-6PM @ One Capitol Mall for a informational and also Q&A talk on the hot topic of big data and more importantly how your data can make your business play like it’s a Fortune 500. And who doesn’t want that? For free? For more detailed information on what we will be talking about, Click here.

As a related note, PBS will have a show airing tonight, February 24, 2016 called The Human Face of Big Data. From the clips, it looks like a fascinating turn on how human behavior is being collected and analyzed with digital information. Check it out. . there might be a test later. Click here for the PBS link.

Click here for our promotional video: AXbean Training Page

 

Free AXbean Presentation

A upcoming presentation on using Big Data in small business

metrochamber05_logo
Sponsors of a free presentation

So we have been given an opportunity by the Sacramento Small Business Development Center and the Sacramento Metro Chamber to give a free presentation on one of our favorite subjects. I will post tomorrow more details about time and registration for the free event . Here’s the description below about it to whet your appetite.

Business Intelligence and the Future of Your Small Business

More and more small and medium sized business owners are turning to data mining and analysis, also known as Business Intelligence, or BI, to help them make better decisions about the future of their companies, whether it’s in sales forecasting, inventory control, marketing plans, or even staffing trends. BI is using technology to transform raw data into actionable, useful information.

We will discuss how BI is becoming easier for non-technical owners to utilize, which is driving the trend toward data-related business decisions. BI can help small business owners better understand the needs of their customers, so they can anticipate customer behavior to ultimately increase sales, grow their businesses and become more profitable.

Also covered will be some of the most common myths about Business Intelligence, and the three step process that any business owner can use to improve their sales, marketing, and profitability, no matter what tools are used, be it Microsoft Office, Google Analytics, Quickbooks, or any other business software.

RobandDeb

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat.
Find out more at AXbean.com.

If data analytics had emotions

Into the soul of data analytics

blue-growth-chart

“May I say that I have not thoroughly enjoyed serving with humans? I find their illogical and foolish emotions a constant irritant.”
Mr. Spock from Star Trek

We want so much for data analytics that are collected to tell us what we want to know . We’re humans, we want easy answers from complex questions. We just don’t know that the questions are complex. Through our eyes we want to see a accounts receivable graph that shows the arrow heading for the sky so we can all start dancing and go “yippee.” But through the mouth of the graph (Well, if it had mouth and boy, that would be really freaky), it would say “Stop the party.  You are reading too much into a simple graph. You humans need to be more inquisitive. Ugh, I need a bath.”

In a simple scenario, data is the all-knowing, overworked, had a very long day parent and we should be the annoying child that keeps asking why, why, why endlessly. Never accepting the first response to be the final truth. Why is the graph showing an uptick during the year? Is it really because our business is awesome, we’re awesome, everybody gets a car! Alright, Awesome! Or is there another reason? Nope, it’s because we’re awesome. End of story. Yup.

Sooo not going there. Gotta start being that pesky kid. Why, Why, Why. Why is the graph being so pretty to me? Is it really that sales are working or is it something that it’s not telling me? Could it be that customers are taking their time to pay their invoices and the sales from months ago are finally getting paid? Or was there a one time event that caused a short burst of new customers?

Being too emotional about business decisions can put the brakes on success. Probing and being logical about what is the true nature behind that graph (or any data for that matter) will help avoid costly mistakes or worse, a data chart that secretly badmouths humans.

RobandDeb

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat.
Find out more at AXbean.com.

 

 

Government contest wants you for free!

Startups can enter government contest. But the winners might end up being the losers in this game.

(c) Jacquelyn Guderley for government contest
(c) Jacquelyn Guderley

Putting a foot in the door of civil contracts, it’s best to have a steel toe boot or enter a government contest.

It’s a laborious  process,  a lot of killing of virtual trees to submit bids to finally get the all-endearing approval after weeks or months of waiting.  But in the end, all the hard work is pay dirt.

Actually they don’t pay in dirt,  but you get the point.  So yesterday, I had to pay my utilities bill, so I head over to the West Sacramento city’s website.  And before I could blink, up comes “Wanted:  Startups to work with West Sacramento” Well, that got my ears to perk up and my finger clicking. The press release started with “The City of West Sacramento is recruiting startups to help develop technology-based solutions that address challenges facing the city. West Sacramento joins San Francisco, Oakland, and San Leandro, to form a regional Startup in Residence (STIR) collaboration led and managed by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation.  And the application only takes no more than sixty minutes of my time to complete?

I was in government procurement heaven.  The press release stated, “Startups can apply now to work on one of 25 civic challenges in Northern California. The winning team for each challenge will be selected to participate in a 16-week “residence period” from April to August 2016 to work with a city department on a prototype for their proposed solution. “Residence period?”  What are those quotes suppose to mean? I hate when my gut starts talking. So I go into investigation mode and my ears droop. It’s pro bono work.  And what is the businesses’ advantage? After sixteen weeks of development work, a required year of providing free maintenance, and allow them dibs on licensing. a possibility, but no guarantee of a future paid contract?

Obviously government agencies are looking for ways to save taxpayers money. We get it. But pay zero, nothing?  Do these same entities understand the need to put food on the table let alone the amount of work that goes into producing an application with an extensive custom interface to their specifications for free?  I know there are those who live only for the innovation challenges. And more power to them. But for me, I’ll be going back to killing virtual trees.

RobandDeb

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat.
Find out more at AXbean.com.

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Highlighting searches in Excel

Excel’s Conditional Formatting is the new BFF

Easier cut and paste
Relieve those tired fingers

I’m staring at a long spreadsheet with a whole lots and lots of numbers in a column and my fingers are getting cramped. The up and down keys are getting a workout. All I want to see are numbers less than zero. Using Excel’s “find” feature I’m constantly pressing those black keys over and over again for quite somet ime. “There’s got to be a better way!” I say out loud. Then Robert said ” Oh, but there is!” So after I threw at him a pillow with my one good hand, he told me about the wonders of Conditional Formatting. BTW, is also a feature for all you folks using Microsoft Access.

There are a number of things about this feature that are quite handy. First, it’s better than “find one at a time clicking” because with Conditional Formatting, it highlights the specific numbers all at once. For instance, if you wanted to see all the numbers less than zero. Second, since it has the word “format”, it means that once you do the highlights, it stays that way and becomes part of the spreadsheet. You then can send it to someone else and they can see the highlights too. And lastly, the highlights aren’t permanent, meaning if a number is changed, the spreadsheet changes too.

Okay, enough already, here are the steps.

  1. To find Conditional Formatting, click on the “Home” tab.
  2. Select and click on the header above a column. This will select that column.  For example, I want the column under header E to be selected.
  3. Head your mouse to the Conditional Formatting tab in the ribbon.
  4. Click on Highlight Cells Rules.
  5. Since I want to see amounts less than zero, click on Less Than.
  6. In the Pop up window, there is an average number in there already but delete that and type 0, for zero. This will automatically give a preview.
  7. There is a drop down menu in the Pop Up Window for the decorating part. Don’t care for Light Red Fill with Dark Red Text? Be your own person and click the down arrow and you will get more options.
  8. When you’re happy, Click OK.

Now, your fingers are wiggly with excitement. Yay!

AXbean Owners

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat. Find out more at AXbean.com.

Big Data and Equal Pay?

Using data analysis for everything, even paychecks

Equal pay
Bear in a Prius

Everyone who has bought a car, has probably experienced the Car Doppelganger Effect. You know, after purchasing a car and driving it around for the first time, you start to notice how many other cars are exactly like yours, down to the make and model and maybe even the color. And you’re probably thinking, “Huh, looks like I just bought other Ordinary.”

I’m having the same growing awareness as I have increasingly come across the unique usage of data analysis wherever I turn. Whether I’m reading a Douglas Adams book that happens to go into a storyline about Excel spreadsheets, or how the movie Revenant was the first to use wrist wearing devices to gauge audiences’ emotional responses, convert it into a data algorithm and find out how long people were captivated.In case you’re curious, 76 bear terrifying minutes of the film’s 156 minute duration.

But what caught my attention recently was how Big Data is being used to resolve the issue of equal pay. There has been so much political talk (really, political?) about whether women and minorities were getting a fair shake in their paycheck. There wasn’t any hard concrete data implemented to actually see if there was any fact-based pay discrepancy among employees, and if there was, how wide. Is the seventy-nine cents to the dollar gap, real or a myth?

Until recently there have been talks about using big data for this hot button issue.  In the news was the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proposing that large companies submit data reports based on employees’ W-2 forms to see if there are any inconsistencies in salaries and if there are, execute programs to rectify the salary discrepancies.

One of the companies that did come out on their own volition to address this contention was Intel. And what they found out in their company after analyzing employee experience, responsibilities, education, and job evaluations that there were no gaps to speak of. Which of course, rendered Danielle Brown, the Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, speechless. Well, it was more like, almost fell off her chair. It will be interesting to see if cold hard data analyses can be used to end other volatile issues. How about not buying the same car as pretty much everyone else?

Gets me worked up every time.

RobandDeb

Debbie Wallis and her husband Robert, are owners of AXbean, a guiding light to all things Microsoft Access and Excel. They reside in the central valley area of Sacramento, California between agriculture and government central. When not working, you can see them running about outside, exploring shops, chowing down at all kinds of eateries and whenever possible, being more curious than a cat.
Find out more at AXbean.com.