How to get a small business loan?

As a small business owner there are times when the cash flow starts drying up or you might need some cash infusion for a new product launch or buy more inventory and you wonder how to get a small business loan. All 3 types of business credit methods discussed here do not require you to have a great credit score (720+) but having a great credit score does help you get good interest rates on these loans.

Here are three unconventional ways you can get a business loan,

Getting a business loan from from a Credit Union

Ditch your accounts at the Big Banks and open a business account at one of your local Credit Union. Credit Unions are not-for-profit organizations offering a wide array of financial services just like your Big Bank but they are owned by their members (you). If you have an account with a credit union, you are a member and an owner. They do not have to charge you exorbitant fees to make a profit. Being a member/owner guarantees that your credit union is looking out for your financial interests and not that of a small group of stockholders. Memberships are limited. Credit Unions have different eligibility criteria and you might have to find one where you will be eligible. The only disadvantage Credit Unions had was lack of ATMs and branches but many of them have tie ups and have launched some great mobile apps that allow you to deposit checks using your smart phone.

Some great Credit Unions in Georgia,

My personal favorite is Digital Federal Credit Union – DCU.

I Love my Credit Union (TRUE STORY)

They are a California based Credit Union. I have an account with them and would like to share a personal story. I own a car, pledge my car title and got a car loan for 1.99 % (in June 2013) from DCU. If you have an account with them, a good credit score and direct deposit into one of their accounts you can get a loan in less than 24 hours! No kidding, I did. Their customer service was amazing. I asked them for a personal loan at 10% but the loan representative suggested a reverse car loan at 1.99%. Now you know why I love my Credit Union.
Digital Federal Credit Union
Image: I love Digital Federal Credit Union

Getting a business loan from Peer To Peer lending

Peer to Peer/Social lending is strangers coming together to fund/loan some money to you for personal or business reasons. The loan is made to you as an individual rather than your company. The loan rates depend on your credit score, credit history, current annual income and debt/income ratio.
The loans rates can be higher and will take at least 2 weeks receive the loan in your bank account.

Some of the well known Peer To Peer lending websites are:

Getting a business loan from Crowd Funding website

Crowd Funding – If you have a great idea – product, book, art, film or any other creation you can go on these website and pitch your idea. If impressed individuals will contribute and fund your project. The Crowd Funding is applicable mostly to new ideas and can take weeks to several months to completely fund.

Some of the well known Crowd Funding websites are:

Do you know any other unconventional method that has helped you secure a business loan? Let us know in the comments below.

How to get new leads by ranking higher in Google Local Search

Gone are the days where you could create a website, throw it online, and assume it would work. Today, your website is a key part of your marketing presence. It’s not enough to be online, you need to have quality content that’s been optimized for search engines so potential customers can find you. First thing’s first: you need to know your keywords.

Step 1: Keyword Research

When you search for a local business on Google, you use two types of keywords: industry-specific terms and geo-specific terms. For example, if you searched for “electricians in Atlanta, Georgia,” the word “electrician” is the industry-specific term and “Atlanta, Georgia” is the geo-specific term.

Why does this matter?

It matters because Google will use both of those terms to determine what websites to show you. For instance, if you searched for “electricians in Atlanta,” it’d be pointless for Google to show you webpages for electricians in New York.

Your Geo-Specific Keyword

This is the easy part. To find your geo-specific keyword, you have to answer one question: what areas does your business serve? If you serve several cities, that’s okay. Your geo-specific keyword is the name of each city you do business in.

Your Industry-Specific Keyword

Finding industry-specific keywords is a bit trickier. You’ll need to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find out how often people search for keywords related to your business.
1. Goto
2. Login to your gmail/google account (Sign up for free account if you don’t already have one)
3. From top menu click “Tools and Analysis” >> “Keywords Planner” menu option.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Sign in to Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Google Local Search Keyword Research
Look for low competition keywords in Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Select “Search for new keyword and group ideas,” then type in as many words that are relevant to your business along with your geo-specific keyword. Using our above example, you’d type in the following:

Atlanta electricians

Atlanta, Georgia electricity

Atlanta, Georgia electric problems

Make sure you check options to target leads in and around your local area and also look for “Low” Competition keywords – Words that are easier to rank for in Google.

Google Local Search Keyword Research Options - Choose low competition keywords
Options to choose in Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Click “Get Ideas” You’ll now see a list of keywords. Choose the ones you want to use on your website – you want to pick the keywords that have a high average monthly search number. Ideally, some of these words are also low competition.

Google Local Search Keyword Research Options - Choose low competition keywords
Low competition keywords that your leads are using in Google Search to find businesses like yours

Now that you have your keywords, you can move on to the next task.

Step 2: Search Engine Optimization

You’re going to use the keywords you found in step one to drive visitors to your small business’s website. How? Well, once your website is optimized with your keywords, it will appear higher on Google’s rankings. The higher it appears, the more visitors you’ll get, and in turn, the more business you’ll see. Remember, you’re goal is to appear as high as possible in local search rankings. To do that, you’re going to add your keywords along with geo-specific content to your website.

You can take a look at our How To Guide on Optimizing your Website for better Search Ranking using Free Tools.

Website Title

When someone searches for something on Google, the only thing they see in the search results are the website’s title and meta description. Ideally, you want your strongest keyword and your strongest geo-specific keyword to appear in your website’s title. Edit your website’s title so that both keywords appear.

Continuing our example, this would be a quality website title:

John Smith: Atlanta Electrician for Your Electrical Problems

Keep your website title under 70 characters.

Website Meta Description

You want to include your industry-specific and your geo-specific keywords in your website’s metadata as well. Edit your website so that the meta description includes both sets of keywords as well as your phone number. For example:

Atlanta electrician serving the Greater Atlanta area. Let us help you deal with your electrical problems. Call for a free quote. (404)-555-4321

Keep the meta data under 165 characters.

Your Address & Phone Number

You may not have known this, but both your business’s address and its phone number count as geo-specific keywords. As such, you need to make sure they appear on every page. Too many businesses make the mistake of only having their address and phone number appear on the “Contact Us” page. This is a valuable opportunity wasted.

Edit your website so that your address and phone number appear on every page, perhaps in a sidebar or a footer.
Serving More Than One Area

If you live near a major city such as New York or Los Angeles, you probably serve a bunch of the smaller cities in the area. Or, perhaps your business is a franchise and you have several shops across a few states. Instead of making a brand new website for each location, you only need to make one page. On that page, include the geo-specific term that you want to rank for.

Using our example, let’s say our electrician works in Atlanta but also serves Cumberland, which is a few miles to the north. Instead of creating an entirely different website for Cumberland, they would simply add another page to their website that references Cumberland.

Add a Map

Adding a map to your website doesn’t just help you in the search engine rankings, it also helps your customers find you. To add a map to your website, first go to Google Maps. Type in your address. Once you’re sure the map has found your actual location, click the “Link” button (it’s right beside the “Print” button). Once you do, you’ll see an HTML code that will put the map on your website. Copy this code, then paste it onto your “Contact Us” page and your “About Us” page.

Step 3: Google Places & Others

Imagine this: someone searches for your industry-specific keyword and your geo-specific keyword and your small business appears on the first page at the very top. Now think about what kind of extra traffic that will mean for your website.

In order to pull that off, you’ll need to claim your Google Places listing. You’ll need to locate your business on a Google map, then enter as much information as possible. Ideally, you should have at least ten photos of your business to upload. If you have any YouTube videos, link those to your business. Remember, generally speaking, the more links you have, the better.

If you work out of your house or would prefer that customers not come to your businesses location, Google provides an option to hide your address.

After you’ve filled out all of the necessary information, you’ll have to verify your business. You may be able to do this by phone, or you may have to wait for a postcard sent to your business’s address.

A Live Google Place

Once you’re verified, you want to get as many reviews from your customers as possible. The more reviews you have, the better. Note that if you see a bad review, you will have the opportunity to respond to it.

While ensuring customers review your business may be out of your hands, you can offer some incentives. Give your customers the chance to win a prize if they review your business, or simply remind them before they leave.
Other Options

Setup your business on Google Places
Setup your business on Google Places

After setting up your Google Places account, you’ll want to add your business to a few other directories. Remember, the more directories you can be found in, the higher your search engine ranking is likely to be.

Yahoo Local

Your first stop is Yahoo Local. Claim your basic listing, which allows you to add your contact information and business hours. If you want, you can spend the extra $9.95 per month to add photos and coupons.
Setup your business on Yahoo Local
Setup your business on Yahoo Local

Yahoo also has paid options to list your business in more than 40 local directories.

Bing Places

Claim your listing on Bing Local and add the usual ingredients — your business’s description and some photos. As with other sites, you’ll need to verify yourself.
Setup your business on Bing Places
Setup your business on Bing Places


Arguably the most famous of the search directories, Yelp allows users to post reviews — but also lets you respond to them to demonstrate your customer service ability.
Setup your business on Yelp
Setup your business on Yelp

Other Options

Setup your business on Merchant Circle
Setup your business on Merchant Circle

You should also check out Merchant Circle, Superpages, and Yellow Pages. The process is similar for each.

Step 4: Building Links

Your goal here is to get a bunch of quality local websites to link to yours. While some might consider the shortcut of building several low quality websites, note that Google will penalize you if you over-optimize.

Your first move should be to contact business that are related to yours, but not competing. For example, a store that specializes in lighting might be interested in linking to our Atlanta electrician. Typically, this will happen in two steps. First, you’ll find the related business and check to see if they have a resources page that links out to various other business. Second, you’ll need to contact the business owner and explain why they should be interested in linking to your website.

Next, be on the lookout for local events that might involve you. You may want to sponsor a few smaller events. This is good for the community and it’s good for you search engine ranking. If your business can provide a service for a charity, you should find a way to do so. Most charities will link to your business as a small thank-you.

Step 5: Facebook and Google+ for Business

By now you should have a website with quality content that’s optimized for your selected keywords, a variety of websites linking to you, and your own local business directory listing. Next, you’re going to create Facebook and Google+ profiles for your business. Google incorporates Google+ listings into its search results, giving you another chance to rank highly and draw customers to you.

Start by creating a Google+ page for your business. If you’ve already set up your Google Places listing, you’ll be able to transfer some of the information over.

Setup your business on Google+
Setup your business on Google+

Once you’ve created your Google+ profile, you’ll need to make a few minor changes to optimize it for local searches. Start by including your current location in the “Places Lived” section. Remember the keywords you found in step one? You’ll want to pepper those throughout your Google+ profile as well.

Add local connections. When you add someone as a connection, typically they’ll check your Google+ profile, and if it looks promising, they’ll add you back. Once you have a handful of local connections, you’ll be able to target your status updates just for them.

Remember to double-check that your profile is visible to the general public.

Setup your business on Facebook
Setup your business on Facebook

Facebook has more than a billion users and counting – some of your local leads are in Facebook. Creating a Facebook page for your business lets you reach those audience for your business and turn them into your customers.

Step 6: Monitor Your Results

Any good business knows where it’s getting its best results. Before you optimize your website, you should check to see where it ranks. If it isn’t within the top two pages, you have a problem – most people won’t bother going through three pages of search results.

You’ll notice that as you add your business on multiple directories, get more fans/likes on Facebook, get more connections on Google+, receive more reviews on Google, Yelp and/or other directories, and have more links, your search engine ranking will start to rise. Keep doing what works.


There’s a lot of information to take in when it comes to optimizing your website for Google’s local search results. If you’re curious to know more, or want to take your small business to the next level, you can sign up for a free one hour consultation –
Email or Call Us – (404) 939-5748.

How to optimize your website for better Search Engine Ranking for Free using SEO Doctor add-on

While many business/website owners spend lots of time and money in trying to do so many things offsite they can make a few simple changes to their website that can have huge impact on your Search Engine rankings, driving new leads for their business.

In this “How To” guide you will learn how to find out and optimize elements of your website to increase your search ranking.

There are several safe, free tools that you can use to find out the element that need optimization.

  1. Using Firefox Browser, go download this free addon,

    SEO Doctor
    Image: Click on the green “+ Add to Firefox” buttonThis will install the add on and Firefox will ask you restart the browser. Go ahead and restart it.

  2. On your website go to the webpage you want to optimize, you will now see a red, yellow or green flag next to your web address (URL). Click on the flag.
    SEO Doctor
    Image: Click on the flag next to your web address/URL The color coded flags have various meaning,

Red Flag -Page has lots of issue and needs lots of optimization

Yellow Flag – Page partially optimized

Green Flag – Page completely optimized. All good

  1. This will open a pane at the bottom of you browser screen. This pane will show you whats wrong and how to correct those issue.
    SEO Doctor Ranking Score
    Image: The SEO Doctor ranking score pane
  2. Follow those instructions and fix each issue or as many as you can until the flag turns green.

You have now learned how to optimize your website for better search engine ranking.

  1. If this guide was too “technical/geeky” for you, you can download the results from the SEO Doctor pane using the “Export to CSV” button and send it to your web developer or web marketing person/company and ask them to fix it.
    SEO Doctor Results
    Image: The SEO Doctor export results to excel file

SEO Doctor Results
Image: The SEO Doctor results in Excel spreadsheet

If you have any issues, email us.


Service First Roofing

Service First Roofing is a family owned business created at the peak of the recent recession,
It is a full service commercial roofing contractor that specializes in preventative maintenance, repair, and new roof installation for:

  • Commercial Properties
  • Hospitals / Healthcare
  • Industrial / Manufacturing Facilities
  • Restaurants
  • Schools

They are a family oriented company that believes: “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” They view each situation as: “What would we do if this was our building?”
In following these beliefs they have grown the company primarily from referrals by customers and repeat business. Scott Satory the business owner, also won 2012 Gwinnett Chamber’s Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year Award.

clean call to action button
Service First Roofing – Website Feedback

Home Page

The home page took 30+ seconds to completely load, and the same is the case with the secondary pages of the website.One of the minor factors in Google search ranking is site speed and this has to be improved upon.

How to improve page load time?

  • This page has 30 external Javascript scripts. Try to combine as many as possible into one script and minify them. You can also put the javascripts at the bottom so load the most important features/images/content first then the scripts.
  • This page has 17 external stylesheets (CSS). Try to combine as many as possible into one style sheet and minify them.
  • This page has 7 external background images. Try to reduce the use of images or optimize (reduce file size). You can also try to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like CloudFlare.

There are no big design issues with their home page. They have a simple and clean design and great call to action button right in the middle of the page. One small suggestion is to move “The call to actions” a little higher up the page by reducing the size of header images since it is “cutting off” on some monitor screens.

clean call to action button
Image: Clean “Call to Action” buttons on Service First website

Missing H1 tag, irrelevant title tag and missing Meta Description tags

These are 3 critical factors for a page ranking for a search keyword, so your webpage should show up when people search for “About Service First Roofing Services” or just “Service First Roofing”.

How to improve on H1 and Title Tags

  • Title tag has 10 words and 90 characters. This should be only 70 characters and exactly have the search keywords you want to rank for like “Commercial Roofing Service”
  • There are duplicate H1 tags. There should be only one H1 tag on a page
  • Meta Description is missing. When someone googles your service this is what shows up in the description.
    clean call to action button
    Image: Meta Description

This text should be some thing you what you want your customers to see for each page and not a generic text. This helps get more clicks from Google searches.

There is also no mention of the 2012 Gwinnett Chamber’s Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year Award on the home page. This should be mentioned with a picture. This improves a prospective customers trust on Service First Roofing.

Services Page

How to improve Services Page

Even though the page looks simple and concise, it will be better if you could add second tier web pages for each sub-service you offer. This will add more content to your website, bringing in more traffic and also explain to your customer the services you do more clearly.

Suggested Sub Pages for Second Tier

  • Roof Inspections
  • Construction
  • Consulting
  • Custom Design
  • Estimation
  • Roof Repairs
  • Replacement
  • Installation
  • Maintenance
  • Preventative Roof Maintenance
  • Waterproofing
  • Energy Savings
  • Environmental Solutions

Ensuring the quality of your site and other SEO factors, will give your business a boost in terms of new referrals.

Learn how to find out the issues on your website and improve them for better Search Engine Ranking using free tools.

Case Study – Dr Richard R Maxa

Dr Richard R Maxa

Dr Richard R Maxa is a Board Certified Internal Medicine physician who has been providing medical care to the citizens of Duluth and north Gwinnett County for over seven years. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee in 1993 and completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center in 1996. Dr. Maxa has his adult medicine practice in his new office location in Duluth.

Dr. Richard R. Maxa – Website Feedback

Improve web design

Internal Medicine physicians are the physicians who are the first point of contact for a patient. They also bring to patients an understanding of wellness and treatment of common ailments. The web design is 90′s and should be redesigned to reflect Dr. Richard R. Maxa’s family practice.

Some samples are shown below:

Dr Richard R Maxa
Suggested Design: Simple yet modern designs

Dr Richard R Maxa
Suggested Design: Simple yet modern designs that gives a warmer, welcoming feeling

How to improve on Off Page Optimization to enhance Search ranking

This will make sure you show up here (see below),

Dr Richard R Maxa on Google Places
Image: Where Dr Richard R Maxa listing will show up after listing on Google Search

  • Register you business with services like Merchant CircleYelpYellow PagesYahoo LocalGoogle Plus for Business with a description of all the services your provide.
  • If you have very happy customers ask them to leave a review on yelp, kudzu, google places, etc. Send them a thank you card or email them if they give you a good review. One local Gwinnett business sends $15 gift cards if you give them a 5 star rating. This has given them incredible ratings and this in turn drives more customers to this business after a Google search.

These are just a few tips to take Dr Richard R Maxa’s practice to the next level and serve more satisfied customers.

Learn how to find out the issues on your website and improve them for better Search Engine Ranking using free tools.

What does obamacare mean for small businesses in 2014 and what small businesses must do to get compatible

Small business owners across the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was announced over the Independence Day holiday that key provisions of the 2010 Healthcare reform legislation, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), won’t go into effect until January of 2014. That means that there are still a few months to prepare for the new healthcare environment and regulations. The ACA legislation contains more than 2000 pages of dense information that few people will actually read, so businesses are relying on accountants and business analysts to sum up the requirements. All business owners really want to know is, “What are the effects of healthcare reform on my business in actual hard dollars?” Here is a basic overview of the most salient features of this healthcare reform:

What does the healthcare reform legislation require?

First of all, the most important point to understand is that “small ventures” – with 50 or less full-time employees, representing 96 percent of American businesses – are exempt from the most controversial mandate of the ACA that requires large enterprises to offer health benefits or pay a fine of $2,000 per employee. This means small businesses will not have to be concerned with this until they have 49 full-time employees (working 30 hours or more) and in a position to hire.

How much will it cost?

Although small ventures are not required of offer insurance, an incentive has been set up to encourage them to do so. A “small business tax credit” will be available defray some of the costs of coverage. For companies of 25 or less, tax credits are available to reimburse up to 35 percent of premiums covering tax years 2010-2013. Next year, the tax credits will go up to 50 percent of premiums. The picture is a bit better for small businesses with less than 11 employees who earn less than $25,000. Those businesses are eligible for full reimbursement of health care premiums.

What should businesses do by 2014 to get compatible?

Starting in 2014, small businesses of up to 100 employees (including sole proprietors) can shop for coverage in state-run health exchanges. The federal government projects that more than 25 million people will be able to access these health exchanges. It will be up to each individual state to decide if they will allow companies of more than 100 employees to find coverage on these health exchanges as well.

Learn more about the ACA and what it means in terms of tax impacts at the IRS page which attempts to cover a wide range of topics. The Small Business Association also has some detailed articles on the ACA prepared based on how many employees you have. Undoubtedly, there will be a great deal more changes happening as the proposals runs into real-world snags, so keep these links handy for updates.