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Getting Around Dublin

Though I never admitted it to my friends, learning to drive on the "wrong" side of the road was a little scary for this native Californian. Before I arrived I thought it would be easy. After all, I've been driving for almost 25 years. The lush green, scenic roads winding gently beside the Irish Sea are a piece of cake compared to the noisy intensity of LA freeways. But the first time I had to jerk the wheel to miss a cyclist at a crazy intersection of five suburban streets, I realized it was going to take some time to retrain my brain to swerve to the left instead of to the right into oncoming traffic! (In fact, the US Embassy in Dublin cautions that tourists driving on the wrong side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year, so please be careful with yourself!)

Luas Trams in Dublin, IrelandFortunately Dublin has pleasant and affordable options for getting around by bus, train and taxi. The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) trains are clean, quick and used daily by shoppers, business folks, polite school kids, retirees and vacationers. Buses and light rail trams (LUAS) are everywhere and can get you almost anywhere, sooner if not later.

And Dublin taxis are plentiful. Taxi SignThe sprawling city of Los Angeles has 2,300 authorized taxi drivers, while Dublin has more than 12,000 licensed taxis working a compact 44 square miles! Dublin taxi drivers are generally friendly, honest and proud to act as city tour guides along the way.

Oh yeah, better beware! Irish drinking and driving laws are so tough that a normal-sized person is generally unable to pass a breathalyzer test after just one drink, making taxis an even more attractive option for getting around from one great Irish pub to another!

Walking is also a great way to get around Dublin. Streets are clean and sidewalks are often lined with trees and colorful mom and pop businesses. Street names are sometimes hard to find (look hopefully to the corner building walls at intersections). Dubliners are really helpful when asked for directions, though you may have to ask more than one before you get all the way to your destination. For an insider guide to Dublin by Foot, try the website http://www.hidden-dublin.com/foot/foot01.html

Meanwhile, back in my car, I have finally graduated from driving only at dawn and after dusk on Sundays. I have learned to circle confidently on and off the roundabouts in heavy traffic.

Now, if I can only find a coveted parking spot in the middle of Dublin City Centre!


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Tips on Increasing Your Business through the Internet

Small businesses don't have the resources to pay professionals to keep them in the top ten business listings of searches. Here are some tips on how to increase your internet exposure.

1. List your business in good online directories. Look at the directory and browse around it to see:

  • If you were a customer, would you come back to this site for information?
  • As a customer, is it easy to find the information you would want?
  • Is information current, or are there ads or articles that are out of date?
  • Is it professional? Would you be proud to be listed on this site?
  • Are there any annoying ads that are irrelevant to what you searched for?
  • Are there any objectionable or inappropriate pictures or text?
  • Is it appropriate for your business? Would your customers come to this site?
  • Do listed businesses show up in searches? Does the site do any promotion or search optimisation?
  • Are the charges appropriate and affordable for your business?
  • If your business serves only local clientele, list it in at least one local directory. If you aim to attract business from outside the area, make sure that the directory has outside exposure. Local domain extensions (like .fr .de .in) are shown only in those countries. When you are satisfied that a directory is good for your business,
  • Always make sure your contact information, including email and links (website, facebook, etc.), are correct.
  • If you can, post a good picture that expresses in a glance what your have that your customers want. Pictures communicate volumes, in an instant.
  • Visit the site every month, browse around, and make sure your listing shows up.

2. On your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and directory pages:

  • Pictures One picture says a thousand words. Make sure your pictures say the things about your business that you want customers to know. Photos taken in good lighting with a phone, cropped appropriately with free software (like GIMP), can be just as effective as professional ones. It is worth it to spend some time to get a few good pictures.
  • Be brief The descriptions of your business/products/services should be brief and to the point. Customers are accustomed to getting information at the speed of light. Most of them won't read lengthy paragraphs, no matter how well written. Remember that the purpose is to get your point across--quickly. Ask yourself if each sentence or phrase is really necessary.
  • Space Make sure that your eye is attracted to the most important points. For example, leave empty space around what you want your potential customers to notice.
  • Benefits Write your description by asking yourself what benefits your customer gets--not what features you offer! This is the most common mistake of business owners. We are so knowledgeable about our product or service that it is difficult to change shoes and describe to a customer how he or she will benefit. We know the answers--we just need to step back and change hats.
  • SEO keywords Your pages should contain many words that your customers would search for when they look for what you offer. If you sell auto parts, write them out like this: "Wiper blades, fuses, fan belts, floor mats, car batteries, hoses, ..." and the same for restaurants, hair salons, carpenters, and all other businesses. If you were a customer searching for a product or service you offer, what would you type into a search bar? Put those words on your page, as text. Keep your tone professional and natural; don't over-use your keywords.
  • Customer reasons Ask yourself the 3-4 main reasons a customer would buy from you rather than someone else. Make sure to include these points prominently on your page. Even if you have fifty unique features a customer will benefit from, in the decision-making process most of them will be seen as add-ons. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and list what is most important to them.
  • Emotion Remember that buying decisions are primarily emotional, rather than logical. Present the reasons for buying your product in an attractive, appealing way. Use positive wording, like "feels good" rather than "prevents pain."

3. Use social media. It can be more effective than spending millions on advertising campaigns. People trust words of their peers more readily than company commercials (even if they've never met their "peer"). Social media allows you to easily reach many customers in the demographic group that buys your product or service--quickly. Here are points to remember:

  • It takes time! 2-10 hours/week, depending on the size and type of your business. Since most business owners don't have time, it's important to have an employee who does, every day. It's still cheaper and more effective than professional advertising.
  • Do it daily Inquiries must be responded to immediately, not after a week.
  • Track results Some people have a knack and love for doing social media, and others don't. Track your results--how many followers, how many tweets, how many friends, how many inquiries.
  • Articles If you can, have a blog with informative articles on your industry. If every article promotes your own business you'll lose credibility, but if your articles are generally informative you gain exposure. Include links to other reputable sources of information.

Websites that use unethical SEO techniques are eventually downgraded. Make sure you don't try to fool Google or other search engines by buying links to your website or other tricks. The best strategy is to have high-quality content that is up-to-date and of genuine interest to customers.

 

For more information on increasing your internet business, check out search optimisation professional advice. First, though, think through your market strategy. SEO professionals can work from anywhere in the world, but you need to consider who you're trying to reach, where they are, and what they search for.

Google advice on choosing SEO.
AdRank in U.K., free ad until your business gets to the first page on Google.
Sites Rising in Ireland and U.S.A., Google ad campaign, free consultation.
Premium SEO in Australia, free website evaulation.


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