Start Your (Search) Engine (Optimization)

What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is the development of a website or webpage in a search engine, such as Bing or Google’s search results. Basically, the higher ranked pages appear more frequently in result lists. This means that more visitors will be directed to those sites. Stick with our blog for USB Payment Processing and you will be an SEO expert in no time.seo1

Paying close attention to SEO can greatly improve your business’ site or even your blog. Oddly enough, there are several small businesses that have not heard of SEO or lack the basic knowledge for success. I’m here with USB to instill you with that knowledge so you may improve your blogging abilities.

In reality, the fundamental SEO takes no time at all to complete. Many small businesses are under the belief that SEO isn’t needed, and all one needs to have a successful blog is powerful words. But, think about it. When you combine your powerful words and the basic SEO you create an unstoppable combination.

So, the question is how do you create this irresistible SEO? Some blog sites make it so simple that they offer you SEO plugins, which practically do the work for you. With other sites, bloggers aren’t so lucky.

For those of you who do not wish to pay the extra money or money at all, there are easy steps that you can do to improve your blog on your own. If you take these steps before you hit “publish” you’ll be ahead of your competition. In a recent article, Janice Cuban mentions some of the important steps a blogger should take.

1. Images, Images, Images!

As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Yes, pictures make your blog prettier and more inviting but they do more than just that. It has been proven that any content that has graphics is clicked on and gets more hits than those that don’t. Visuals have become one of the most powerful SEO tools. So, if you include just one photo, you are ahead of all the businesses that did not.

2. Keyword Research

After you have your subject and you start on your verbiage, you should think about possible keywords for you to include. For example. If you were writing about “The Explosion of Mobile Payment” you would want to include keywords like “technology”, “development”, “credit card processing” and “smart phones”. By having keywords mentioned throughout your blog the Google keyword search tool will be aware of these words and your site has a better chance of getting hits. However, your post should sound natural and should flow. You don’t want your blog to be read like a robot.seo-mistakes-bloggers-should-avoid

3. Include Categories and Tags

Including Categories and Tags in your post will only benefit you. Categories are the type of content discussed in that blog post. In a mobile payment piece, a category might be “latest technology”. On the other hand, Tags are more detailed phrases, like “payment processing”. It is important to know the difference between the two in order to be successful.

4. Back link everything

By linking to your past posts, other authors’ blogs, and external content you add awareness and significance that boosts your SEO. Like keywords, back linking can tactically enhance your blog’s credibility. Besides that, other bloggers might use your posts as a back link in the future.

5. Have your site load faster

Search engines (just like people) don’t like slow loading sites. Meaning that if your blog takes too long to load, you aren’t going to get many hits. But there’s an easy fix for that too. By decreasing the file size and retitling the file name to something more specific, your site will be moving much more quickly.

6. Be social

A good idea for bloggers as well as small businesses is to use their social networks to advertise one another. Meaning, that by using your Facebook account to share your latest blog post, you will bring more traffic to your blog because now that many more people are aware that it exists. The same thing goes for Twitter, Google+, etc. This is merely self-promotion, but it can go a long way. After you share your posts and your “friends” stumble on it, then they might share it and have their “friends” read it. With every share and like you receive, your SEO increases and extends your network.

seoOnce you get into the habit of doing these easy steps, your SEO will increase and the hits will start coming. Don’t forget, many aspects contribute to a good blog, you need enticing content, strategic SEO, and finally, to post regularly. Posting on a regular basis keeps your blog and your name in existence. By doing these simple steps, you will be well on your way to being a master blogger.

One last note, an important thing to remember is that people aren’t always the nicest. Meaning that, sometimes you might receive not so nice comments. Yes, you could look at comments like this negatively, but the good news is that you have the chance to turn them around.

Most times, someone will comment in a negative fashion due to a personal complaint. In many cases, they just want to voice their opinion on the mater. But, this gives you the opportunity to respond and help fix the problem. By doing this, you will show everyone your commitment to your business or even to your customers’ happiness. Hopefully, this change’s their opinion on the matter and you’ll have yet another satisfied customer.

Even though the comment they made was negative, this can give you important feedback for the future that you can use to improve whatever the problem that has surfaced.

For more information feel free to contact USB Payment Processing at 410 828 4286.

58.1.gif.art Read more of this post

The Reality of Surcharging Fees in the US

Beginning in January 2012, merchants could charge up to a 4% premium for anyone who uses a credit card to make a purchase. A settlement between credit card companies and merchants caused this fee.  The settlement is the result of a lawsuit from 2005 filed by large retailers against credit card companies. These credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa charge retailers an “interchange” or “swipe fee” for the privilege of allowing credit card purchases in their stores. Merchants now must face the decision whether to take the risk of collecting the fee or potentially driving customers to opponents who do not collect the fee. Retailers claimed that these companies created swipe fees in an anti-competitive way. Many processing companies, such as USB Payment Processing encourage small business owners not to add the charge for the fear that it may actually be harmful in the long run.

Marc Reibman, president of USB Payment Processing had this to say about surcharge fees: “As a small to mid-sized B2B company specializing in credit card processing, we have recommended our merchants not to add surcharge fees. It is not worth the risk of losing loyal customers. However, if small businesses do choose to add the surcharge fee, make sure to present the fee in a positive manner. For example, ‘building the fee into the cost of the product so that when customers use cash or debit, they are receiving a discount.'”

These swipe fees on credit cards generally charge from a range of 1.5-3%. Banks lowered these fees in order to have retailers claim checkout fees by passing the charge to the customers. However, there is a way around these fees, consumers can avoid it by using their debit card or cash to make purchases. Any retailer willing to use this surcharge must inform customers of it. Retailers must let consumers know with a sign on the door if any surcharge is added although how much it is does not have to be told until point of sale, when customers are at the register. The fee will have its own line item on the receipt so that it is easy to spot. In reality, customers have the choice of cash, debit or credit; the only difference is that credit now comes with a fee. It is beneficial to remind consumers that this is a credit card issue – not a retailer issue.

In a recent article by Michelle Latham, she thoroughly discusses the negative aspects of the surcharge companies want to implement. She claims that the charges will be the downfall of many small businesses due to the rising cost retailers face.

Should your customers receive check out fees? No, and here’s why: large retailers, like Target, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot have publicized that they have no intention of charging extra fees. Companies such as these are not in favor of the settlement and will continue to charge the way they have in the past.

It has also been discovered that checkout fees of any kind are illegal or frowned upon in several states. Ten states protesting the fees have already passed laws making them illegal. An additional 13 states have similar bills up for deliberation; more states are anticipated to follow these gestures.

Another reason this charge is frowned upon by large retailers is because it is difficult for these retailers to differentiate premium cards from others. In order to distinguish them several expensive and time-consuming measures must be implemented. On top of that, the charge alone will have its own swipe fees, raising the fees collected by credit card companies.

 This could be detrimental for small or independent businesses because       swipe fees can be a lot to take on for them. Besides this, another problem could be the consumers who aren’t pleased with the extra charges. Loyal consumers are the foundation of small businesses, meaning that retailers would rather not anger them. Most consumers don’t take kindly being charged for stuff that once was free.

 The original plan to lower swipe fees merely grew into a settlement that does not reduce fees earned by retailers. Now, businesses must decide to bear the costs of swipe fees, add the surcharge or raise prices to cover them. Since 2000, credit card swipe fees have increased immensely. Retailers are starting to find it much more difficult to cover these rising costs on their own.

The best resolution for these retailers is for them to locate payment processing companies like USB that ensures little to no fees. USB offers several Member Benefits to its merchants that off set processing costs, including free advertising on our website. At the rate things are going, it appears the checkout fee is dead before it even had a chance to take effect.

USB Payment Processing can offer a savings on more than just your processing rates with My Business Network. It’s a program exclusive to USB where you can advertise your business, print coupons, offer deals and bring new customers to your business for free.

For more information feel free to contact us at 410 828 4286.

Are you PCI Compliant?

USB is PCI compliant. Are you? PCI, the Payment Card Industry has a list of standards for companies that process, conduct or keep any credit card data to guarantee that the information they possess is secure in an environment that is not easily hacked. USB Payment Processing always confirms the safety of its consumers first before any transaction is made. 

According to http://www.pcicomplianceguide.org, the Security Standards Council (PCI SCC) first came about in September of 2006; this council was to focus on improving account security. The committee was created by major card brands, such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express in order to manage the PCI DSS (www.pcisecuritystandards.org).  The payment brands are those who enforce the compliance, not the council.

In order to be PCI compliant, a company must follow these particular standards that were created to protect all card information, both before and after a transaction. All card brands require this compliance.

These PCI standards apply to any merchants, whether big or small, that transmits any card data.

A company can be SSL certified, but that does not mean they are compliant. This type of certificate provides customer security to a certain degree, but it does not secure the server from malicious attacks.  To be PCI compliant there are several other steps that must be taken.

Noncompliance leads to a handful of repercussions. It is up to the discretion of the payment brands when fines are given. The brand may fine an acquiring bank up to $100,000 per month for compliance violations. The bank will then pass this fine onto the merchant. After that, it is likely that the bank will also cease doing business with that merchant, or at the least increase fees. Penalties such as this can be disastrous to small businesses. In order to avoid this, it is advised to be familiar with the merchant account agreement, this will summarize exposure.

The information that needs to be protected is any personal data connected to the cardholder. This data includes account numbers, expiration dates, address, social security card, etc. Any information that is stored, processed, or transmitted can also be thought of as cardholder data and must be secured.

USB Payment Processing’s PCI program offers services that help merchants not only become but also stay compliant, even when PCI DSS standards modify. USB is a certified PCI compliant company and adheres to the PCI DSS. Visit http://www.usbne.com/services/pcicompliance/ to learn more about USB’s PCI compliance process.

To learn more about USB or see how we are involved, visit our blog page to see our latest updates.

Statistics from http://www.statisticbrain.com show that over 10% of Americans have fallen victim to credit card fraud. Roughly 40% of this fraud is due to lack of PCI compliance among merchants. For example, up to 1.5 million MasterCard and Visa cards were compromised in a current data breach of payment processor Global Payments Inc. The result of this was cancelling and reissuing cards for customers. MasterCard and Visa are attempting to comfort cardholders to ensure them that the counterfeit charges are not their responsibility to handle. Instances such as this prove that noncompliance is extremely problematic for companies both big and small.

Save big with USB, visit our website to download printable coupons for the places you love. Find out how USB Payment Processing can help you.

For more information feel free to contact us at 410 828 4286.

The Explosion of Mobile Payment

Who wouldn’t want the latest technology? From LA to Beijing, people all over the world are trying to get their hands on the newest thing. Recently, that thing is mobile payment. Mobile payment is the payment service that you can perform right from your phone. This means that you no longer have to struggle with cash, checks, credit cards, debit cards, etc. Instead, you can do everything directly from your mobile device. According to USB Payment Processing, mobile payment has an easy setup and implementation. Imagine a world where you can leave your house without carrying cash or even a card. Crazy right?

equipmentall3 So what’s the cause of this current boom? According to Michael Della Penna, senior vice president of emerging channels at Responsys, Inc., certain indicators that made this processing capable have become crucial aspects of business’ ability to continue to act competitively.

In previous years, analysts have claimed a revolution in the mobile payment industry. However, that was not the case. Experts have begun to explain why this time is different and how this market will surpass all other types of payment.

It is believed that mobile payment has not even begun to show its full capabilities yet. Many experts along with Della believe that the year for mobile payment is 2013. The developments seen this far are smaller figures then analysts hoped to see. But, by mobile payment usage exploding it creates a different experience between consumers and brands. This type of payment makes things more comprehensive for you as a customer. USB offers application downloads to get you started using mobile payments as early as today. USB also shows you the online solution to using POS Systems.

This technology is not an idea of the future, it is happening now. However, as of now the process has not run as smoothly as it is laid out. The industry still must work much harder to create such a simple experience for consumers. The basic skills are being used today and further perfection is being developed. The industry sees big rewards waiting for them within the next year.

Several businesses have listed improving their mobile payment opportunities as a priority by the close of 2013. With more and more businesses moving their operations online, the need for fast, reliable and secure credit card processing options continues to grow. USB Payment Processing has the in-depth knowledge and specialized expertise to meet those transaction processing needs. the market that already exists continues to grow, Penna believes in order for the mobile credit card processing revolution to become a reality, the infrastructure to support this market must grow with it.

Obviously, the technology will only be compatible with smart phones. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project proved that 91% of Americans own cell phones as of 2013. According to ABC News, 61% of those Americans own a smart phone. This information is great for mobile payments researchers; they hope the number grows by the beginning of 2014 to keep the market expanding. Penna mentioned that by the end of this year over 80 phones would be qualified for this programming.

USB Payment Processing discusses a handful of mobile payments benefits. For example, the fact that Internet Processing Services are available around the clock is a huge benefit to people who use mobile payments. Also, by using mobile payment you can make unlimited transactions from nearly anywhere in the world.

For more information feel free to contact us at 410 828 4286.

Maximize eCommerce Business Credit Card Sales

Every company wants the maximum number of eCommerce sales to boost their business. J.J. Belle recently wrote an article describing the best ways to do just that. He narrowed it down to the top five ways to increase eCommerce sales.

1. “One Click Check Out” – Many would say the latest phase to take over the nation is online shopping. People love to shop and now that they can do it from the convenience and comfort of their own home, which makes it that much easier. Consumers no longer have to deal with the bustle and stress of stores and their grumpy employees. Instead, they can merely log into their online account and with a few quick clicks your new wardrobe or lawn tool is purchased.

Your company can benefit from this knowledge, customers that like to shop online love the quickness of it and they love the fact that products sold online are more unique than those sold in stores. However, maybe your product is not unique? You can still maximize your sales by making this “one click check out” concept come true. In today’s world, simple is better. Lead the consumer from the product to their shopping cart to the billing info then the submit button. Purchase complete.

2.  “Recommend Products” – Belle claims that by recommending similar products the average order size will increase. Customers might not have seen the “extra” options previously and now they are more likely to add these products to their cart, as well. Have your merchant services provider setup your website to suggest different products once a consumer adds something to their shopping cart.

3. “Transactional Emails with Upsell Products” – The products recommended should also be displayed in a “follow up email.” Those of you who have done any online shopping in your lifetime are well aware of the confirmation email and receipt sent after a purchase has been made. This is where those recommended products should be flaunted. Belle states that “70% of the message content is a receipt and the subject line is a receipt,” that way the consumer is able to identify the content and is more likely to open the email.

4. “Loyalty Program” – Who loves winning free prizes? Most consumers do. If your company offers a particular program in which your most loyal customers receive rewards for visiting, they will have an incentive to return again in hopes of more prizes. A successful program might even lead to your customers mentioning your site to their friends and family, leading to more purchases from your site.

5. “Promo Codes” – Everyone wants a good deal. Having promo codes and discounts will draw more consumers in to your site. Someone could see a product for $50 and believe it to be too much. However, if they see that same product on sale for $50 but it was originally $100 they think of it as a great choice. People love thinking that they received a great deal for a product and that they saved a ton of money. There is no better feeling. After they have seen and used your company’s promos they could end up as one of your loyal subscribers. Your loyal subscribers will boast about the great deals they received to their friends leading to the greatest tool in marketing, word of mouth.

If you have ever visited big sites such as Amazon or eBay you would notice that they take similar approaches to maximize their sales. Considering how successful they are, it would be foolish not to go about sales the same way. By making simple changes such as these your company will be lead to greater success.

For more information feel free to contact us at 410 828 4286.