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How Virtual Assistants can save Small Businesses Time And Money?

Friday, May 30th, 2008
by Sue

Small businesses make up a very large portion of the nations business industry. Outsourcing to virtual assistants known as a VA is gaining ground every day and becoming even more rewarding for small business owners. In order to understand why this is happening, let’s first look at what a Virtual Assistant is and what services they may offer a small business owner.

Virtual assistants provide various services to small business owners to help with the tasks that are needed. Each Virtual assistant should be able to provide some basic services for their clients. These basic services would include tasks like: email management, customer service duties, organizing files and typing documents, data entry, making appointments, and customer follow-ups.

Some well-trained and more experienced VA’s may offer specialized skills like: Website Designing/Updating, Accounting/Bookkeeping, Desktop Publishing, Power Point Presentations, or Writing & Editing. The list of services an experienced VA may offer is not limited to the above examples.

Businesses are starting to use VA’s rather than full time employees because they only pay them for the work they do. Business owners don’t pay for office space and they don’t pay for insurance or bonuses. Many small business owners want to run their own business and be successful, yet they do not have the experience or management skills to do that alone. That is where outsourcing specific workloads to a VA can save the business owner time and money so that the owner can focus on the areas of business they are experienced in thereby, allowing the owner to optimize their valuable time and resources.

The following points illustrate how precious a good VA can be to even the smallest business:

1) Better Time Management : Statistics suggest that owners of small business typically spend between seven to twenty five percent of their time handling employee-related paperwork issues which consume most of their productive time. But by outsourcing some or all of their employee-related functions - such as payroll, bookkeeping, business owners can focus on what they do best. And in the process they can improve productivity and even save some money.

2) Better Efficiency : Business owners who do everything by themselves often suffer from lack of expert services. Expertise offers work done in less time. Studies prove that increasing the efficiency of operations is the propelling factor behind 58% of the outsourcing decisions of businesses.

3) Better Cost Control : By selecting to outsource, companies can convert fixed costs into variable costs. So business owners can put money directly into revenue producing activities. This gives the business owner more control over his expenses both short-term and long-term.

So when a small business owner comes up against something he/she is unfamiliar with in our ever competitive business market, an experienced Virtual Assistant can make a big difference in how well a task is done and in how expensive it is to complete. Outsourcing could be the temporary fix to keep a small business owner in the game. Time is money and every dollar counts when a small business owner is struggling to survive.

Top 5 Booming Indian IT destinations

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

1. Bangalore

Bangalore’s (or Bengaluru’s) ten-fold growth in nippy time can be traced back to the IT boominfosys over the past few years. Bangalore’s main activity is information technology and information technology-enabled services. Being the leading contributor to India’s IT industry, it has been dubbed the Silicon Valley of India.

Home too many software majors, like Infosys and Wipro, Bangalore accounted for 33 per cent of India’s Rs 144,214 crore ($32 billion) IT exports in 2006-07.

A recent study also revealed that the rupee millionaire club in Karnataka’s capital is the largest in India.

Bangalore also boasts of having the largest number of households with an annual income of Rswipro campus bangalore,india 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) or more. Needless to say, the city owes it all to the IT boom. Little wonder then that Bangalore is the number 1 IT desitnation in India.

2. Hyderabad

Like Bangalore, Hyderabad too has witnessed an IT boom in recent times, with software exports exceeding $1 billion in 2004. Of late, the city has seen huge investments in digital infrastructure. It is the second most attractive IT destination in India.

On February 19, 2008, the Indian government cleared seven projects, estimated to fetch about $7 billion over 10 years to Fab City, a silicon chip manufacturing facility, in the city.

The capital of Andhra Pradesh has also made considerable progress in the field of bio-technology through initiatives like Genome Valley and Nanotechnology Park.

3. Chennai

Chennai is the country’s third-largest exporter of information technology and information-technology-enabled services, next only to Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Experts say that the city has the potential to beat Bangalore and Hyderabad in terms of infrastructure and thus gain the position of the most attractive IT destination. Today, it is the third most preferred IT spot in India.

The software companies having their development centres in the city, are well positioned to tap the growing healthcare market for IT products and the emerging opportunity in life sciences.

Companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions and Covansys earn the lion’s share of their income from what they offer to the US healthcare market.

The capital of Tamil Nadu is often looked upon as the most reasonable and reliable outsourcing destination for IT and healthcare solutions.

Maharashtra, with its many cities doing excellently on the IT front, has two big IT destinations, Pune and Mumbai. The state is the 4th most attractive IT spot in India.

4. Pune

Once a sleepy town, nestling in Western Ghats, Pune (or the ‘Queen of the Deccan’) may soon become the number one destination for IT investments in India, considering the pace at which it is growing and attracting companies.

According to a recent report, Pune has the highest PC penetration among households. Several IT majors like Wipro, Infosys, Satyam, Tata Consultancy Services, Kanbay, Veritas, Cognizant, PCS and Mahindra British Telecom have development arms in the city.

IT parks like Rajiv Gandhi IT Park at Hinjewadi, Magarpatta Cybercity, MIDC Software Technology Park at Talawade, Marisoft IT Park at Kalyani Nagar are seats of technology that the city can boast of.

4. Mumbai

The Maharashtra government has done a fantastic job in building the IT Corridor connecting International Infotech Park, Millenium Business Park and the Santacruz Electronic Export Processing Zone. A number of IT companies have set up offices here.

The most important advantage that brings software enterprises to SEEPZ is the hi-tech 64 KB line, that enables these companies to communicate and video conference over satellite to any of the offshore sites, or branches around the world.

Mumbai, apart from being the financial capital of the country, is also a booming IT centre.

5. Kolkata

West Bengal is targeting to become one of the top three IT states by 2010, contributing 15-20 per cent of the country’s total IT revenue. A number of IT majors are today doing significant business in the state’s capital, Kolkata.

Announcing the results of a survey report on the state’s IT and ITeS sector in Kolkata recently, Indian Chamber of Commerce president Harsh K Jha said, “Between 2002-05, West Bengal has been recognised as the fastest growing IT destination in the country with more than double the national average growth rate.”

“The ICC carried out the survey by gathering feedback from prominent IT companies operating in the state, including TCS, Cognizant, IBM, Wipro, on issues like infrastructure, investment scenario and future business prospects,” he said.

According to the survey, 80.6 per cent of the respondents affirmed that the state was a competitive destination for IT and ITeS companies to set shop.

However, he warned that majority of the companies felt that IT and ITeS remained a ‘public utility service’ only on paper, with a resounding 74.19 per cent opining that the sector in the state could not operate on 24×7x365 model, as it was being frequently disrupted by strikes and bandhs.


Health problems caused by computer keyboard

Thursday, May 8th, 2008
by Sue

Operating from your innocent-looking computer keyboard could be as bad for your health as eating lunch sitting on the loo. An interesting research has suggested that keyboards may harbor more bacteria than the average loo seat.

The study examined samples from 33 keyboards and found a variety of bugs including E coli and S aureus, which were capable of making people ill and causing variety of skin infections.

“[It] was increasing the risk of its user becoming ill,” said James Francis, the microbiologist who carried out the study published today for Which Computing magazine.

“Most people don’t give much thought to the grime that builds up on their PC, but if you don’t clean your computer, you might as well eat your lunch off the toilet,” Sarah Kidner, the editor of the magazine, was quoted as saying by the British daily The Guardian.

The study, in which more than 4,000 people were questioned, found that 22 per cent cleaned their keyboard and 27 per cent their monitor on a monthly basis. Just over one in 10 said they never cleaned their keyboard, while 20 per cent said they never cleaned their mouse, the report said.

Among the chief causes for such unhygienic surrounding were people eating at their desks, with crumbs lodged between keys leading to the growth of millions of bacteria, poor personal hygiene, particularly people failing to wash their hands after using the toilet.

It was also found that dust with moisture provides ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria.

Steps to keep in mind while submiting a website

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
by Sck

Ensuring that site technology won’t confuse the search engines

Often the latest technology being built into a site can confuse the search engine spiders. Frames, CGI scripts, image maps and dynamically generated pages are all recently created technology that many spiders don’t know how to read. With frames for instance, the syntax of the FRAMESET tag fundamentally changes the structure of an HTML document. This can cause problems for search engines and browsers that don’t understand the tag. Some browsers can’t find the body of the page and viewing a page through these browsers can create a blank page. Today only 2% of browsers don’t support frames, but many search engine spiders still don’t support them. A search engine spider is really just an automated Web browser and like browsers they sometimes lag behind in their support for new HTML tags. This means that many search engines can’t spider a site with frames. The spider will index the page, but won’t follow the links to the particular frames.

Create gateway pages that are specific to the focus of each site

Key word selection must be done carefully with great prudence and understanding of the search engine’s selection criteria for key words. The larger the number of key words that are used, the more the relevance of any one key word is diluted. One way to get around this is to create gateway pages. Gateway pages are designed specifically for submission to a search engine. They should be tuned with a specific set of key words, boosting the chance that these key words will be given a heavy weight. To do this, several copies of a page should be made, one for each set of key words. These pages will be used as entry points only, to help people find the site, therefore, they don’t need to fit within the normal structure of the site. This provides the page developer with greater flexibility in establishing key words and tags that will encourage a stronger ranking with the search engines. Each gateway page then can be submitted separately to the search engines.

Fine tune the TITLE tag to increase traffic to the site Improving the TITLE tag is one technique that applies to just about all the search engines. The appearance of key words within the page title is one of the biggest factors determining a Web site’s score in many engines. It’s surprising how many Web sites have simple, unimaginative titles like “Bob’s Home Page” that don’t utilize keywords at all. In fact, it’s not unusual to see entire Web sites that use the same title on every page in the site. Changing page titles to include some of the site’s key words can greatly increase the chance that a page will appear with a strong ranking in a query for those key words.

Setting up a NOFRAMES section on the page

Every page that uses frames should include a NOFRAMES section on the page. This tag will not affect the way a page looks but it will help a page get listed with the major search engines. The NOFRAMES tag was invented by Netscape for backward compatibility with browsers that didn’t support the FRAME and FRAMESET tags.

Performing a maintenance check

All Web sites should be thoroughly checked using a site maintenance tool in order to catch errors in operation before customers are brought to the site. HTML errors can hinder a search engine spider’s ability to index a site, it can also keep a search engine from reading a page or cause it to be viewed in a manner different from how it was intended. In fact, a recent report by Jupiter Communications suggested 46% of users have left a preferred Web site because of a site-related problem. With NetMechanic’s HTML Toolbox or another site maintenance tool, all Webmasters, from the novice to the expert can avoid potential visitor disasters due to site errors.

Finding the best submission service

Choosing a search engine submission service requires careful thought and important decisions. Using an auto submission service is a good place to begin. Most search engines like Alta Vista, HotBot and InfoSeek automatically spider a site, index it and hopefully add it to their search database without any human involvement. Some engines, like Yahoo, are done completely with human review and for many reasons are best submitted individually. Chances are good also, that in the first submission a site will be rejected by several of the engines and will need to be individually resubmitted. There are several online resources for auto submissions.

Understanding the waiting periods A variety of waiting periods must be endured with each search engine before there is even a hope of being listed. Knowing and understanding these waiting periods before beginning the process can eliminate or at least minimize frustration and confusion. Typical waiting periods for some of the more popular engines are six months with Yahoo; one to two months with Lycos and 4-6 weeks with Excite or is that 4-6months? What they say and what happens in reality can be very different.Crunching and examining log files Data contained in log files is an outstanding resource for recognising which engines are sending the majority of traffic to a site. It can also show which key words or gateway pages are generating the strongest traffic and what are those visitors doing when they enter the site. Searching the Search Engines Conduct a search of the search engines to analyze where the highest rankings of the site have materialized and what keywords are generating the best rankings. Different search engines use different rules to rank pages. Individual gateway pages should be created based on the knowledge and interpretation of what each search engine is using to determine top rankings. Several pages can be tested out on one or more engines and the pages that have the most success can be kept, while the unsuccessful pages can be dumped or revised to achieve a higher ranking.

Resubmitting the site

For engines that refuse a site or don’t list it high enough, it is strongly recommended that more information is learned about the engine’s criteria before resubmitting. This information should then be incorporated into gateway pages or key word revisions in order to have greater success with subsequent submissions. Fine tune the page (or pages) make adjustments to TITLE tags and META tags, then after resubmitting the site, track the results to further learn about the engine’s criteria and which adjustments made an impact on the rankings.

Learning more about how the search engines work

Each search engine uses different rules to determine how well a Web page matches a particular query. As a result, building a single page that gets a good score in all the major engines is just about impossible. Learning how each engine ranks pages is also hard, since the engines often keep this information as a closely guarded secret. However, with a little patience, some experimentation and reverse engineering, the way that many of the search engines work can be discovered. Getting Noticed For small to medium-sized Web sites, search engines are the most important source of traffic. Unfortunately, getting noticed in the search engines isn’t an easy job. A Web site manager can spend months getting a site listed in an engine, only to find it ranks 50th in their search results. It’s hard to give universal tips for improving search engine ranking because each engine has its own set of rules. In general, though, a page will rank well for a particular query if the search terms appear in the TITLE tag, the META tags, and in the body of the page. Posted in Blog, Business, Google, Internet, Ranking, SEO, Tips, Website, Yahoo, search engines, search-engine-marketing, web marketing | Tagged article-marketing, Business, content, internet marketing, marketing, pay per click, ppc, promotion, search-engine-optimization, sem, SEO, social-media, social-networking.

Is web hosting really free?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
by Sue

A free hosting service for your e-commerce’s web site can sound be a dream come true. You get abundant space to set up a web site and customer service to boot. However, there are some potential pitfalls to opting for free hosting.

Many free hosting servers don’t have vast data backup. This means that if something happens to your host’s server, you can lose a trove of customer data. Sure, you can backup this data on your own, but babysitting your free hosting service will waste a lot of your time and energy — resources which you could bill to clients and/or use to nurture your company.

Moreover, free hosting companies may have design and expansion limitations. You may develop good initial responses with auto responders and data cachets only to discover a few months down the line that your site is bursting at the britches, slowing down due to volume traffic, and running aground of design and engineering flaws.

Sure, you can spruce up your site or even add data caches to it to make it functional for larger projects, but if your start with a shoddy product, you can almost certainly expect maintenance glitches and trouble spots to emerge.

Remember, a free hosting operation often requires that you put in a lot of the elbow grease to get your site up and running. Sure, a turnkey hosting approach may cost more, but, by putting your site into the hands of professionals, you free up your time, and you gain a certain peace of mind. Thus, when choosing between free hosting and turnkey services, look not just at the cost benefit calculus associated with your company’s short-term projections but also at your five-year schedule.

This isn’t to say that free hosting services are necessarily bad — they are just typically more feeble and vulnerable. When you are making an edifice to serve customers, your client relationships are at stake. So, if you lose data, founder on orders, or otherwise hamper your business development as a result of some kind of free hosting gaff, you pay not just the costs of lost business but also the costs of permanently dented relationships.



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