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Improving Your Business’ Customer Service

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Offering excellent customer service will help your business to become more successful than ever. Consumers care about having a good customer service experience and you should try to put effort into making sure that you’re doing all that you can to provide it. Take a look at the following ways that you can improve your business’ customer service experience. These tips should allow you to make changes that will put your business in a better position. 

Always Strive to Make a Good First Impression

You should always strive to make a good first impression. When you’re interacting with customers at your storefront, it’s imperative to always greet them with a smile and to be as helpful as possible. Interacting with customers online or through social media is also an important part of the modern business world. Always work to put your best foot forward and do everything that you can to meet your customer’s expectations. 

Personal Touches

In the modern era, the customer service routine can feel very robotic and automated. These tools can be useful, but adding a personal touch to customer service will help you to stand out. If someone needs assistance, it can be a good idea to call them to help sort things out yourself. They will appreciate the effort and that human connection just might keep them coming back to your business in the future. 

Apologize for Mistakes

Mistakes will occur sometimes when you’re operating any type of business. If you made a mistake on an order or if the customer encounters another type of problem, then it’s best for you to own up to those mistakes. Your customers will appreciate how willing you are to make things right. You can turn a bad experience into a positive one if you commit to having positive customer service interactions. 

Put in Extra Effort to Help Customers

Putting in extra effort to help customers will allow your business to truly exceed customer expectations. When customers need help finding an item, you should take the time to assist them. If you don’t have something in stock, then you should offer to order the item and you should follow up on things once it comes in. It might also be beneficial to provide regular customers with special thanks for continued patronage. 

The post Improving Your Business’ Customer Service first appeared on Moss Sidell on Business.

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Must-Read Books for Real Estate Investors

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It’s a good idea to always try to stay on top of current trends when you work in the real estate industry. Real estate investors also need to understand certain things so that they can approach investments intelligently. Take a look at the following must-read books for real estate investors. These books will give you a lot to think about and they could help to fuel future investment successes for you. 

The Book on Flipping Houses by J. Scott

If you’re a real estate investor who is actively involved in flipping houses, then this is the book for you. You will be able to learn about how to streamline the process of flipping a house. This book comes from the perspective of a professional house flipper who has a successful system in place. Recognizing the methods used in this book could help you to become a more efficient house flipper yourself. 

The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner

Investing in rental properties is a great way to create a steady stream of income for yourself. This book goes into great detail and explains everything that you need to know about the process of investing in rental properties. If you use this book as a guide, then you’ll have a simpler time becoming a successful rental property owner. You can look at this book as a perfect resource for beginners to the world of rental property investment. 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

You’ll find this book to be incredibly useful if you’re trying to build up your personal wealth. This book is all about building up your wealth by investing in certain assets. It isn’t entirely about real estate investment, but a large chunk of the book covers real estate investment since those are some of the best assets to have in your investment portfolio. If you want general financial advice, then this is a book that you should put on your reading list promptly. 

Mastering the Art of Commercial Real Estate by Doug Marshall 

Understand that investing in commercial real estate is quite different from other types of real estate investment. If you invest in this type of real estate, then there are many intricacies that you will need to know. Learning about the basics of commercial real estate investment will help you make smart choices at the start. If you use this book properly, then you should be able to maximize your profits from commercial real estate investments. 

The Intelligent REIT Investor by Stephanie Krewson-Kelly and R. Brad Thomas

Of course, getting advice will also prove to be important for REIT investors. REIT investment is a path that works excellently for those who don’t have a lot of time to handle the little details. You can use this book to help you navigate your initial forays into REIT investment. It’s well-written and very easy to understand, so it makes a perfect resource for those who are just getting started. 

from Moss Sidell | Real Estate Attorney http://mosssidell.com/must-read-books-for-real-estate-investors/
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The Importance of Your Personal Brand

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Developing your personal brand is going to be a very big part of your business success. If you don’t understand how to develop your brand, then you won’t be able to connect with your customers as much as you would like to. Working on building a brand identity will help you to become a much more successful business. Keep reading to examine the importance of building your personal brand. 

It Sets You Apart From the Competition

One of the best reasons to work on building your personal brand is that it sets you apart from the competition. If you come across as being too similar to your competitors, then what reason do consumers have to choose your business? Your brand identity will allow you to stick out and people will be able to look at your products or services while understanding what makes you unique. Even if your brand identity is mostly about marketing, it’s still going to stand out in people’s heads. 

There are many different businesses out there doing similar things. Large companies like Apple are successful partially because of building a very strong brand identity. They are just one of many companies making phones, computers, and other technological devices. It’s the branding and the perception of the brand that makes that company so different and successful. 

Having a Brand Can Make You More Credible

When you have a strong brand, it’s going to make your business seem more credible. People are more likely to pay attention to a business that has strong branding. They will want to look at what you have to offer and more people will give you the time of day. You can improve your personal brand by going to conferences, conventions, and trying to improve your presence in the industry. 

Branding Helps You Get More Opportunities

Branding can even help you to get more opportunities. As your brand continues to grow, so will your presence in the industry. This can lead to opportunities for you personally and you can wind up becoming a strong voice in your community. You can expand your network of contacts and will eventually be able to charge more money for what you do based on how credible your brand is. 

The post The Importance of Your Personal Brand first appeared on Moss Sidell on Business.

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Why Home Inspections Are Essential for Buyers

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Home inspections are so important when you’re looking to buy a home. If you don’t take the time to get the home inspected properly, then you might encounter various issues. Take a look at why home inspections matter so much by reading the information below. It will help you to remain vigilant about getting a property inspected before you decide to move forward with purchasing it. 

Potential Problems with the House

Foregoing inspections might be seen as a way to make your offer more appealing to sellers. The problem is that this could wind up causing you to buy a house that has problems. For example, an inspection could reveal problems with the wiring of the house or you might find out that asbestos is present on the property. Having an inspection performed is the best way to protect yourself as a buyer and you should never purchase a home without one. 

If you do buy a house without having it inspected and you wind up encountering problems, then you’ll be left to take care of things yourself. At that point, you’re the new homeowner and you’re going to have to fix any underlying issues with your home. This could have been avoided by having the inspection done and you might have been able to get a better price on the home. Never rush into a real estate purchase without thinking things through. 

Consider Ordering an Inspection Before Making an Offer

It might seem like a waste to order an inspection before you even make an offer on a home. However, this can be the smartest way for you to go about doing things. It might cost some money to get the inspection performed, but you’ll be able to figure out if the house is worth your time. You’ll either affirm that the house is the right one for you or you’ll learn why you should keep on searching. 

Find an Inspector Who Works Fast

Some people avoid inspections because they don’t want to lose out on a house. If you’re trying not to lose to a competing offer, then you should work with your real estate agent. They should have relationships with inspectors who can perform inspections swiftly. This will allow you to get the necessary information while still getting your offer in before any deadlines that you’re worried about. 

from Moss Sidell | Real Estate Attorney http://mosssidell.com/why-home-inspections-are-essential-for-buyers/
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How (and Why) to Mitigate Distractions While Working From Home

Eliminating distractions while working from home — especially with kids running around belting Frozen II and housemates doing mid-day workouts — might not be entirely feasible. However, it is still possible to mitigate distractions. After all, they’re hurting you — and your business — more than you might realize. You might have heard the popular statistic that you need an average of 25 minutes to get back to your original task after a distraction.

But there’s more affecting your productivity than that. We looked through some of the research behind the psychology of distractions and found some interesting insights:

  • Distractions have a demonstrably negative effect on our ability to perform, even when the distractions had little significance.
  • People who consider themselves at multi-tasking may be worse at moving from task to task than others.
  • Even if you attempt to “move on” to another work-related task, you may find yourself distracted by the first task of your day.

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper into the studies and find some better strategies for managing distractions:

1. Too Much Information Has a Detrimental Impact on Performance

In one UK study, researchers had volunteers carry out problem-solving tasks in a quiet environment—then tested them while they were “bombarded with new emails and phone calls.” Even though the volunteers didn’t have to respond to any of these messages, simply being aware that they were taking place had a significant impact on their ability to concentrate.

The result was that performance suffered. The average IQ dropped by about 10 points.

The conclusion is that not only are interruptions distracting, but if you allow distractions to weigh on your mind in even the slightest way, they can have a detrimental impact on performance. Given that volunteers didn’t have to respond to any email or phone call and still found them distracting, we can only imagine the impact distractions have on us when the emails and phone calls do need responses.

So try having an open dialogue with those you live with and creating a chart that hangs outside of your workspace where it will be seen that alerts housemates of your current work status. It may include options such as “available,” “busy,” “in a meeting” or “do not disturb unless facing a MAJOR emergency”.

2. Switching Between Tasks Takes Up More Energy Than You Think

A 2009 study at the University of Minnesota found the existence of what they dubbed “attention residue.” They defined it as the delay that occurs when someone sets aside one task and takes up another.

It turns out that the mental task of switching gears takes more energy and attention than we might have thought. And that led to some interesting conclusions, including the “surprising result that heavy media multitaskers performed worse on a test of task-switching ability.”

That’s right: even experienced multitaskers aren’t as good at switching between tasks as they might have thought. In fact, they may even be worse than the population at large.

This should lead most people to reconsider their approach to multitasking and asking the following questions:

  • Am I really a good multitasker, or do I just multitask often?
  • How long does it take me to “switch gears,” and do I often put off work because of the energy required to start a new task?
  • Where are some areas in which I might combine activities to minimize “switching gears” and improving my overall concentration?

These questions will help you identify some of the habits that may be leading you to lose concentration as you move from task to task. So whether you claim to be a good multitasker or not, try scheduling out your day in the early morning to help limit the amount of times you have to switch tasks and accommodate for the needs of those you live with.

3. The First Problem You Focus On Tends to Get Most of Your Brain Power

They call it “cognitive fixation.” If you like to multi-task, you may find that the first activity during your day is the one that retains most of your attention later on, even while you’re attempting to give 100% of your attention to something new.

This is evidence in favor of the strategy of attacking your most important tasks first. If you were to work on a big work project in the morning and only take on lighter menial tasks later in the day, part of your mind will continue to work on that “big” work project that you started off with. This can work to your benefit, so long as you’re aware of the effect and schedule your day accordingly.

4. Distractions are Disproportionately Affecting the Young

Millennials and Gen Zers—those most affected by the digital lifestyle—are also the groups that report the highest rates of distraction, with a rate of 74% identifying themselves as frequently distracted. This suggests something other studies have observed; the multi-tasking demands of the digital lifestyle have a detrimental effect on our ability to concentrate, which means that strategies for reducing social media usage may have long-term benefits for personal productivity and concentration.

One other reasons many of us may be suffering from distraction issues: using multiple devices at the same time can negatively affect self-control. So try to limit the number of devices you have within your reach while working from home. Allot yourself windows of time during the day — if needed — to check on certain devices.

5. Attention is a “Limited Resource”

Not only is our attention limited by the time we have in a day, but our energy is subject to the demands of being a living, breathing being. We simply don’t have as much energy to devote to willpower and attention as we’d like to have.

One study, as reported by Psychology Today, found that distractions eat into about 2 hours of our daily work lives. Given that our attention is a limited resource, the strategy of working on the most important task of the day as early as possible—while we still have the concentration to do it—may seem most effective.

One Reason to Use Distractions to Your Benefit

This post paints a very dire picture of the impact of distractions on our life. But if you can manage them effectively, you can sometimes use them to your benefit as well.

One study at Carnegie Mellon found that the regions of the brain that handle your decision-making process will still be in use even when you’re consciously focusing on something else. That means that sometimes, actively seeking distraction when you’re stuck on a problem can be a great way for you to relax, loosen up, and allow a solution to suddenly pop into your mind while you’re thinking about something else.

Otherwise, if you want to be productive while working from home, try to keep the distractions at a minimum (as much as possible), schedule out your day, and focus on your most important task of the day as soon as possible. Your calendar will thank you.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Eliminating Distractions While Working From Home/
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Hiring the Right People for Your Business

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Hiring the right people for your business is very important and you should put a lot of effort into finding good candidates. However, many people have noted that business owners and managers seem to often hire the wrong people for the job. This leads to significant issues and it makes people wonder how they can do a better job of finding the ideal person to fill a particular role. Hiring the right people might involve approaching the interviewing process in a different way. 

Hiring Based on How Much You Like Someone Might Not Be Best

It probably isn’t a good idea to hire someone just based on whether you like them or not. Sadly, many interviewers wind up hiring people based purely on how much they like their personality during an interview. This can be problematic because someone being charming doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to do a good job. Having an agreeable and appealing personality is good, but it isn’t everything. 

Hiring Based Solely on the Resume Is Also Problematic

It’s going to be a bad idea to hire someone based solely on how good their resume is. You might wind up with someone who only wants to be at your company for a short period of time. It’s also possible that you could hire someone who doesn’t mesh properly with your business philosophy or ideals. You have to consider things beyond what someone has to offer on their resume even if having experience and skills will still be important. 

Some Are Turning to Video Interviews

Interestingly, some businesses are turning to offering video interviews where candidates will send in an interview video where they answer questions that they received via email. This allows candidates to answer the interview questions in creative ways and it also takes some pressure off since they won’t be facing an interviewer. Certain people see this as a way for job candidates to show why they want a job in a much more unique way. This still isn’t common practice for job interviews, but interview ideas like this could be helpful in the future. 

Put Effort Into Finding a Candidate That Fits Your Needs

As long as you put effort into finding a candidate that fits your needs you’re going to be fine. Try to hire someone who has a mix of experience, good personality traits, and an interest in growing with the company. If you can do this, then you should find someone who is right for the job. You’ll have a good employee who will become an important part of the business for many years to come. 

from Moss Sidell on Business http://mosssidell.org/hiring-the-right-people-for-your-business/
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Building Equity in Your Home

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Building equity in your home can come in handy in several situations. The problem is that many homeowners don’t have a clear understanding of how to build equity in their homes. Read on to learn about building equity and you’ll see that there are easy steps that you can take. You’ll be able to build equity reliably and it’ll put you in a better position overall. 

Larger Down Payments

Putting a larger down payment on your house can help you to build up equity. Depending on your financial strategy, it might be best to put a bit more money down on your house than you have to. You can ask for advice from your lender or from a financial adviser. They will be able to help you determine the optimal amount of money that you should put down on a house. 

Appreciation

Your home will appreciate over time and this can cause it to become more valuable. Depending on the situation with the market, this will either take a long time or it will happen pretty fast. Some properties in specific areas might appreciate exponentially within five years while others will barely see any increase at all. It’s also possible for property values to go down for factors that could be out of your control. 

Pay Down Your Mortgage with Extra Cash

Paying down your mortgage with extra cash can be helpful for building equity in your home, too. If you get a large tax return, then you could make a few extra mortgage payments with that money. Likewise, if you receive an inheritance from a relative, you could pay off a chunk of your mortgage. It will always be beneficial to pay on your mortgage so that you can build more equity in your home. 

Improving Your Home 

You can also choose to improve your home so that it will be worth more money. Some homeowners might choose to put new siding on the house. Others might decide to update the floors and purchase new carpeting. Whatever you decide will be fine as long as it improves your home and adds to its overall value. 

from Moss Sidell | Real Estate Attorney http://mosssidell.com/building-equity-in-your-home/
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How Failure Can Make You More Successful

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The fear of failure often keeps business owners from making certain decisions. It’s normal to want to avoid failure, but sometimes you need to understand that failure is a part of the process. In fact, failure has the potential to make you more successful. Keep reading to learn why failure isn’t something that you should fear. 

Failure Is Always a Possibility

Failure is always a possibility in this world. When you’re running a business, there will always be a risk that the market could shift and your business could take a turn for the worse. Sometimes you can make solid business decisions and you will still fail. If you go through life fearing the possibility of failure, then you’re not likely ever going to succeed. 

Fear of Failure Can Cause You to Play Things Too Safe

It’s also true that the fear of failure can sometimes cause people to play things too safe. For example, someone might be so conservative with their business choices that they will fall far behind their competitors. This could lead to failure due to not being aggressive enough in business to survive a changing market. You can’t let fear guide your decisions and should try to make the best moves that you can make based on the data that you have available to you. 

Learning From Failure

Learning from failure helps business owners to succeed. You can learn a lot from failure and it will help you to figure out how to do better next time. Sometimes having the courage to fail can make you a better entrepreneur and you should always try to see things as a learning experience. Those who fail to learn from failures will be doomed to repeat them, but entrepreneurs who learn will be able to put themselves in a better situation. 

Becoming Stronger

Getting through failures and hard times will make you a stronger individual. It can make your business stronger as well. Some of the most successful businesses and ideas have come about because of failures. Consider using your failures as a launching pad rather than fearing them or failing to acknowledge them. 

from Moss Sidell on Business http://mosssidell.org/how-failure-can-make-you-more-successful/
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Planning for Hidden Costs When Buying a Home

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There are so many factors that need to be considered when you’re buying a home. Some people forget to think about certain costs that can pop up in the home buying process. If you don’t plan for hidden costs ahead of time, then you could be put in a bad financial situation. Keep reading to learn more about planning for these hidden costs when buying a home. 

Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is a crucial aspect of moving into a new home. You need to get a homeowner’s insurance policy and you’re going to want to get it right away. Try to find the best deal that you can while also getting a good policy. This shouldn’t be a huge hurdle for you to overcome, but it’s still a hidden cost that many new homeowners forget about when getting ready to close on a house. 

Closing Costs

The closing costs will sometimes catch people off guard when they’re buying a home for the first time. Do a bit of research about the closing costs and ensure that you have the money factored into the budget. You can communicate with your real estate agent about the closing costs to help you get ready. They should be able to tell you what to expect and you’ll have an easier time budgeting things out. 

Necessary Appliances

There are also many necessary appliances that you will need to purchase for your new home. If this is your first house, then you likely don’t own a refrigerator or stove yet. You also might want to buy a washing machine and dryer for your convenience. These appliances cost money and you need to include them in your budget since you’re not going to want to go without them. 

Comfort Costs

Comfort costs should also be considered when you’re budgeting for your move into your new home. For example, you might want to get cable and Internet hooked up right away. Depending on the going rate in your area, it could wind up costing you some money to make this happen. You should try to fit this into your budget if it is important to you. 

from Moss Sidell | Real Estate Attorney http://mosssidell.com/planning-for-hidden-costs-when-buying-a-home/
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SEM vs SEO vs PPC: What’s the Right Balance for Your Business?

SEM. SEO. PPC. What’s the best mix for your business?

The question is more complicated than it might first appear. After all, who wouldn’t want to optimize their SEM, SEO, and PPC efforts? But limited budgets, limited capabilities, and limited expertise can be obstacles—particularly if you’re stronger in one area than another. Let’s discuss what these phrases mean and how you can find the right mix for your own small business:

SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve had enough acronyms thrown at you in your time in business to fill a bowl of alphabet soup, you can be forgiven if you sometimes miss the distinctions in these digital marketing terms. But let’s separate SEM, SEO, and PPC from each other and get really clear about what they are—and what you should expect from them.

SEM, or search engine marketing, is an umbrella term. It’s there for marketing efforts (both paid and organic) that are directed at boosting traffic from search engines. However, keep in mind that SEM, as an umbrella term, may sometimes be used to refer to PPC marketing in some contexts, which helps explain some of the confusion.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a marketing strategy aimed at organic search. The concern here is how to improve your natural position in popular search engines without paying anything additional to said search engines. Yes, you can buy a position with PPC, but with SEO, you’re concerned about the quality of the links pointing to you, the quality of your content, and the relevance of your topics to the search queries that users are typing into Google. The goal is to create high-quality content that will continue to drive your SEO strategy in the future.

PPC, or pay per click advertising, is aimed exclusively at paid ads in search engines. In PPC advertising, you can bid on certain keywords to buy your traffic. But it’s not always as simple as that. PPC often requires that you build high-converting advertisements to ensure that the search engines aren’t just putting anyone with money at the top of the listings; they still want to serve their users.

What is SEO?

Let’s dive into greater detail on SEO. Search engine optimization is the art of designing your page and your content for targeted placement in organic search results—no paid advertising required. Although the search engine algorithms are highly sophisticated, SEO remains a top priority for many business owners; 61% of marketers list improving SEO and rankings as their top goal.

Today’s top search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo, with many of the content marketing and internet marketing campaigns aiming at Google and Bing. You’ll find that the majority of your SEO efforts will tend to focus on Google, thanks to its dominant place in the market.

The beauty of SEO is that any business can compete for organic listings; you just have to have the most relevant, valuable information available for any search query. Sound difficult? You don’t have to start creating the world’s greatest blog posts just yet. Search Engine Land has a guide for small businesses so you can begin optimizing your site as soon as possible. From on-page SEO to technical SEO, there are always small improvements you can make to give your site a leg up on the competition.

Here are some of the other terms you’ll want to be familiar with in SEO:

  • SERPs: Search engine results page.
  • Backlinks: The links pointing to your site, used by search engines to determine your page’s popularity and relevance.
  • Crawlers: Automated bots that search engines use to scan your site and log the latest information, which they can then use in their search results. Crawlers might dig through your meta descriptions, title tags, and on-site SEO to get a gauge of what your site is and what your business has to offer.
  • Technical SEO: search engine optimization focused on the technical aspects of your website, not necessarily popularity and relevance.
  • Link building: The practice of promoting your site to as many potential linking avenues as possible in an effort to drive up your relevance. These days, legitimate link building practices tend to be those that are mostly organic, such as guest posting on popular blogs.

What is PPC?

PPC has potential benefits for small businesses in that it offers an opportunity to buy your way to traffic if you have the budget. Small businesses that need growth now will find that PPC generates the quickest results when it comes to getting on the first page, while content and SEO tend to require focus on the long-term future.

To optimize your PPC, you’ll want to make keyword research a hallmark of the way you market. Tools like the SEM Rush PPC tool will help you identify those keywords that are most relevant to your business, all while driving a substantial amount of traffic. Google Adwords, the most popular PPC platform, also has plenty of tools for you to use as you research. But don’t forget that Bing also has keyword tools you can use to gauge interest in keywords.

With PPC, your goal is simple: combine relevance and traffic. Relevance is how well you can answer the “question behind the query.” In other words, relevance is how well your website answers what customers are really thinking. Someone typing in “vacations,” for example, may be looking to book a travel agency. But your travel agency business won’t do well by serving those who were only curious about vacation statistics.

With search ads, your goal should be to get as much relevance as possible, because you’re going to need to optimize your click-through rates.

When comparing SEO vs SEM and the strategies listed above, you’ll find PPC can produce the most immediate returns. After the proper keyword research, a PPC campaign can quickly give you access to a large amount of traffic that is highly targeted to your keyword and your business—that is, if you’ve put in the time to ensure that your business lines up with the search queries you’re looking for.

How to Strike a Balance Between PPC and SEO

There’s no single answer for whether search marketing, SEO or PPC is best for you right now. But if you start with competition research, you should notice opportunities for advancement—whether that comes in specific keywords, sponsored ads, brand awareness, or even simply building a better landing page. Look at your budget and understand where PPC and SEO most help businesses—and make your investments accordingly.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Striking the Right Balance between SEM SEO and PPC/
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