Our exact hands off process for hiring developers offshore

When I started WP Curve, it was just me and my lead developer Andrew. As we signed up more clients, we had to hire more people – fast. Fast forward 12 months and we employ 16 people in total across 10 different cities.

We need one more developer for every ~30 customers we sign up. When we started growing at ~60 customers per month, we realised we needed to put a robust process together for managing it. It’s funny because I started out in HR, but left because I didn’t like it. Now I find myself writing HR policies!

In this post, I will run through our exact process. This is an almost direct copy of our internal process. I’ve kept out a few sensitive details and also added in explanatory notes for things that people outside the company may not follow.

The process is managed by Ness, our Virtual Assistant based in the Philippines who works part time (3 hours per day).

If you want to implement this process in your own company, I’ve provided a Recruitment Process bundle which contains this main process as well as 3 additional files (mentioned below) as Google Docs. You can copy them and customize them for your own business. This is 100% free and I’ll send them to you if you add your email address below. This will also add you to my weekly emails, where 10,000+ people enjoy a weekly update of our best content.

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Entire recruitment, select, onboarding and exiting process

Here is the entire process from start to finish. This flowchart was put together using Lucid Chart which is a web-based charting application I’ve used for years. You can click on a section to go to that section or use the menu on the right. Or you can just read through the whole post below. I’ve also included a high level description here so you can see where everything fits.

Step 1 – Trigger

This is where we decide whether or not to hire and we kick off the process.

step1

Step 2 – Recruitment

This is where we find potential applicants, trial them and make a hiring decision. This is where I’ll spend most of our time on for this post.

step2

Step 3 – Onboarding

This is what happens after we have decided to make a hire. The first part, the pre-start tasks is about setting up the team member in our systems.

The second part is what happens on day 1 and beyond.

I don’t cover these steps in this blog post.

step3

Step 4 – Exit procedure

In the rare case where a team member leaves, we have a process for that to. We don’t cover this in the post but it’s more or less an exact duplication of the pre-start tasks but in reverse. i.e. it’s about removing access from our systems.

step4

In this post we will focus on the first 2 parts of the overall process.

1. Trigger hiring process

In step 1, we decide if we should hire and kick off the process if we are ready to hire.

We hire based on the need we have in the business. We aim to have all tickets responded to within 6 hours. If our average first response time goes outside 6 hours, then we start the hiring process again.

I’ve documented the process below. If you don’t use the same tools as us, you can just modify the process to suit the systems you are using.

Every Monday a task is added to Ness’ Trello queue to review the response times in Help Scout. Trello is our task management tool and HelpScout is our support desk tool that we use to manage all of our client jobs.

The task is automated using Schedule Once / Trello Zap in Zapier.

zap

Here are the procedures for checking Help Scout and reporting back to the founders.

  • Log into Help Scout and visit Reports / Productivity.
  • Click the dates up the top right and change the ‘Date Range’ drop down to ‘Custom dates’.
  • In the first box pick the date for the previous Monday.
  • In the second box put the date for the previous Friday (i.e. 3 days ago) - this will give us a report for last week.
  • Under ‘Compare to’ choose ‘Do not compare’ then click ‘Update’.
  • We need to look for 3 metrics. The first is the average First response time which is shown under ‘First response time’. The second is the highest day’s response time. You can get that by mousing over the highest point on the chart on the right. The third is the lowest day’s response time. You can get that by mousing over the lowest point in the chart.
  • Notify the founders via Slack with this canned reply below and show an image of the report.

Hi guys

I have checked the response times for last week’s tasks.

The average first response time was [Put first response time here]
The busiest day was Monday with a first response time of [Put Monday first response time here]
The quietest day was Friday with a first response time of [Put Friday first response time here]

helpscout_report

 

Recommendation: [Insert recommendation from the options below]

Thanks

Ness

If the average response time is over 6 hours then make a recommendation that we kick off the hiring process.
If the average response time is under 6 hours then make a recommendation that we wait a week before looking at it again.

If the founders agree that we should hire again, we need to follow the process below.

Kicking off the hiring process

If the hiring process is triggered automatically, double check in Slack with the founders to confirm that we are hiring again.

  • Create a task in Trello called ‘Team member hiring process #x’ (replace X with the team member number we are hiring for.)
  • To find X, open this folder and add 1 to the highest number of the recruitment efforts documents there. Note this folder just contains all of the historical hiring documents.
  • Open this folder and create a new document.
  • Open the recruitment efforts template (see below).
  • Copy the contents of the recruitment efforts template
  • Change the title of the document ‘Recruitment effort team member #x’ to the number of the team member we are hiring for.
  • Fill in as many details as you can.

Advise the founders that you have completed this step before you move to the next step.

The recruitment effort template is the file we use each time we recruit someone.

I have included the information from this document below. You can also download the actual file by opting in below. I’ve added in dummy text so you can see an example of what would go in each field.

Here are a few notes about what I’ve put in the doc:

  • I’ve excluded the pay rates. I’ll respond to pay rate questions in the comments if people have them.
  • This process is for a web developer. We would do a similar process for a different position by changing the trial task and some of the details.
  • Depending on where we are hiring in the world and what type of gig, we will source applicants from different places. We have hired on Odesk, Elance, bestjobs.ph (Philippino job board) in the past, as well as using word of mouth through existing team members and from other entrepreneurs who have let their team members go. Our team have connections to local universities and are regularly referring people to us. Half of our team have come through word of mouth either via existing team members or from other entrepreneurial friends. This is one of the many benefits of building up a community around your business.

Here is the recruitment effort template. I’ve embedded it here. To get the actual Google doc, opt in to the emails right at the end of this post.

2. Recruitment process

step2_recruitment

Contact 10 potential applicants (employee search)

The first part of the recruitment process is finding 10 potential applicants. If we are using a job site, we will search through the resumes on the site and pro-actively email ones that look suitable.

This usually involves looking at 30 or 40 applicants and looking out for people who mention the right words.

I have these tables set up for Ness to get an idea of which people to invite and which ones not to invite.

The exact process is going to differ depending on what sites you are using and what type of role you are recruiting for. The process is skipped if we get a direct referral, in which case we would give them a trial straight away.

Also with the process below, we don’t wait till all people have responded and pick a ‘closing’ date. We trial anyone who looks suitable and we hire anyone who passes the trial (more or less), as soon as we do the trial. If we get more than 1 who are suitable, we may hire more than 1 at once.

PHP
Developer
HTML / CSSProgrammer
CoderFront end
Back endCustomization

The email in the recruitment effort document above is sent as an individual email from Ness to each person who we have shortlisted.

Pre-screening process

As replies to the emails come in, we have to go through a process of pre-screening the applicants to determine if they are a good fit. Usually I will try to arrange a time to text chat with them on Skype to go through this process.

When they reply, ask if they can make a time on skype to chat about the role. We have to find out a few things about the potential recruit before we go ahead with the trial.

If they can’t make a time when you are online, then you can do this via email.

Question
What to look for
Things to consider
What hourly rate are you prepared to work for given you will get guaranteed hours each week?Our standard rates are $x / hour on weekdays and $x / hour on weekends. We can go as high as $x / hour during the week for a senior dev, however if the dev won’t work for $x then they need to be rejected. If they try to bargain with you or ask for more than what we are offering, reject them. Please note, we pay staff in USD.Often when we ask developers this question they will think about their contract hourly rate for small jobs. But since most of our jobs are full time hours, and we are guaranteeing work each week, they should accept a lower rate. Sometimes I have to go back and forth with them to make sure they are ok with the rate.
Part of the job involves writing development notes for clients. Are you comfortable with written communication?Do they seem friendly, responsive and have good english communication skills via email. Don’t worry too much about their answer to this question but just pay attention to their language skills in the communication.
The job often involves fixing WordPress plugin clashes, changing CSS and HTML and sometimes PHP. Are you comfortable with that type of work?They need to show some knowledge of HTML / CSS and WordPress. If it becomes clear that they are more of a designer or a virtual assistant then reject them. If they say they can do HTML / CSS stuff but not PHP that should be ok. But if they seem more like a designer or an assistant then they won’t be suitable for a development role. If they say I haven’t used WordPress before, then reject them.

Reject anyone who doesn’t look right. For the rest we can invite them to a trial.

Here is a transcript of a typical Skype chat I will have with a developer to ascertain the details above:

“****** started a chat
Jun 4, 3:08 am
Visitor
hello there..

WP
hi there

Visitor
I am invited about a developer job.

WP
sweet

this is ***

where are you based?

Visitor
Philippines..

so tz is not a problem for us if you are from aus

WP
oh right

where in the Philippines are you?

Visitor
Olongapo, Zambales sir :)

do you hired someone already?

WP
oh yeah

we are always hiring :)

what sort of work are you looking for?

part time / full time?

Visitor
part time.. so I can be flexible

yeah I can see that you outsource.. that’s the service of your site..

WP
ah ok so you have a full time job?

we do small development jobs for clients

most of our team are full time

but we are flexible

Visitor
oh great.. by full time..how many hrs per week

WP
9-5 monday to friday

but some devs work other times

it just depends on what they want

what would be your ideal situation?

Visitor
maybe a 2-4 hrs per day will do.. do I need to keep a daily contact with a manager of the project I will be in?

WP
yep

we have a tool that we use to communicate

it’s sort of live chat / email

Visitor
great..

WP
We can have team members that only work part time but they have to work the same hours each day

so we have some that do 7pm till 10pm at night for example monday to friday

Visitor
what if I start 10pm to 1am..that would be consistent hours for me

WP
ok and can you briefly explain your skills?

Visitor
My skills are: html, css, jquery, php.. wordpress is a cms platform made via php so I know of it also.. but I also use laravel(a php framework) for development.. I know a little of system administration because it is a great plus for dev guy like me.

please tell me your current time..thanks sir.

WP
sweet

it’s 12:20pm here

2 hours ahead of you

And what kind of wage would you be looking for?

Visitor
so I can work 12-3am your time.. or I can work 6am – 9am your time sir..

about wage.. can we meet halfway..

WP
what is your hourly rate?

assuming you have 15 hours a week guaranteed each week

Visitor
$** per hour sir

WP
we generally pay $** / hour assuming that it’s guaranteed each week

an we pay a bit more on weekends

$**

Visitor
weekends for me will be good for whole day since I am not busy. 6 will be good sir

WP
so you would prefer to just work weekends or during the week as well?

Visitor
still work at weekdays as well sir. but just saying I can dedicate 6-8hrs for weekend..

6 to be sure..

WP
ok and are you happy with $** on week days and $** on weekend?

Monday to Friday 10pm till 1am and Saturday 9-3pm?

Visitor
m to f – 12am to 3am and sat 9-3pm your time sir will be good. the 10pm to 1am I based it on my time sir.sorry.

WP
yeah that’s your time

Monday to Friday 10pm till 1am and Saturday 7-1pm? your time?

Visitor
yes..

WP
Ness usually organises 2 hours for you to go through some set tasks and then makes sure we are online to be on call to help

Visitor
ok sir..

so how we do the hiring process for me..
WP
we pay through paypal

Visitor
it will be fine with me..

WP
ok cool

Visitor
so how me stay in touch sir?

how can I contact you.

WP
yep email

my email is **@**.com 

but if you can provide yours, I will get her to email you and arrange a trial for tomorrow or the next day. Is that ok?

Visitor
will you need my email.

ok sir.

WP
would you mind pasting your email here in case I don’t get it?

Visitor
**@gmail.com

WP
great thank you

Visitor
talk to you later sir.

WP
thanks mate yep

looking forward to the trial

Visitor
ok sir..”

Arrange a trial

To test applicants, we complete a paid 2 hour trial. Here is the copy you can use to arrange the trial:

“Our process is to arrange a paid 2 hour trial so we can give you some sample jobs. Are you happy to do a 2 hour trial? If so can you please let me know your PayPal email to send payment and also let me know a time that suits you to do the trial.”

When they reply with a yes, here are the steps you need to follow to sort out the trial. Note this process won’t make sense for you to use for your own business. However I’ve left it here as is so you can get a feel for how we do things.

The first step is to check whether our test site ***** is restored to original form. The easiest way to check is to look at the bottom right hand corner of the homepage. If there is a category widget there then it’s the correct version. If there’s a contact form then we need to restore to the original version.

test_environment

test_environment_ready

If you go have to restore the site, here is the process:

  • Visit **** and login with LastPass
  • Click on File Manager
  • Click on public_html on the left.
  • Click on the ‘teamtrial’ folder (not the zip file) and hit the ‘X – Delete’ button up the top and confirm.
  • Click on the teamtrial.zip and click ‘Extract’ up the top and confirm. This will replace the ‘teamtrial’ folder with the template files.
  • Close the tab and return to cPanel and click on ‘phpMyAdmin’
  • In phpMyAdmin on the left click the + button next to ‘dbprefix’ and then click ‘dbprefix_dbname’. This is the team trial site database.
  • On the right hand side it will list all of the tables, click ‘Check All’ down the bottom and from the ‘With selected’ drop down click ‘Drop’. Then click ‘Yes’ to confirm. This clears the database.
  • Click ‘Import’ up the top to import a new database.
  • Click ‘Choose file’, and navigate to the test install directory here in Google Drive. The path is “****”. Choose the file called “****.sql”. This is the template database file. Click ‘Open’ then click ‘Go’ down the bottom. This will restore the template database.
  • Once all of that is done, hit Control Shift N to open an incognito tab and visit the trial site ****. Make sure it displays the template site (see screenshots above to confirm). If it does then the site has been re-set and it’s ready for a team member to complete a trial

Note I also provide a screencast of me completing all of the steps but I’ve left that out for security reasons. The test install site is just a basic WordPress install with a few typical problems. Those are the problems that the developers work through on the trial.

Once the site is ready, it’s time to arrange the trial with the potential developer. Here are the steps for doing that.

1. Explain to the developer what is happening. Here is the copy you can use in the email.

“Thanks for agreeing to do a trial. Our process is to share the instructions via a Google doc which I will do shortly. It contains everything you need to know in order to complete the 2 hour trial.

We will pay $** USD for the 2 hour trial. Please confirm that this email address is the correct email address to use for PayPal.

Choose a 2 hour time period to complete the trial and then work through the steps in the document. Please do not work on the site for more than 2 hours. Part of the trial is testing how you go at following instructions so it’s very important that you only spend 2 hours on the trial.

When your 2 hours is up, please email back and let us know you have completed the trial.

There are more details inside the Google doc which I will share with you shortly.”

2. Share the WP Curve Trial Instructions document with the developer.

I’ve embedded a copy of the trial instructions document below. You can also get the full Google doc to use in your own business by opting in at the end of this post.

Note I keep some of the steps a little bit vague. This simulates what the job will be like and also forces the developer to use a bit of initiative which can reveal if they are suitable for the job. There are generally too many jobs here to get through in 2 hours. The very last one is an extremely difficult task that I wouldn’t expect any new hires to be able to complete. I used Skitch to pull these screenshots together.

3. Make a note to follow up with the developer in a few days or diarize the day when the trial is happening.

4. When the developer is finished, log into paypal.com and do a send money to their email address for $** USD.

5. In the recruitment effort document, copy and paste the ‘Trial Results’ section and update the name and email with the details of the developer. Check the developer’s notes and on any tasks that they didn’t complete, say ‘Not done’ in the comments field of the shortlisting table and mark it as read. Go through each section for tasks that were completed and make a comment and mark the section as green, orange, or red. Use my comments to make a decision on how the developer went. Remove my comments as you go and replace them with your own comment about how they did on that task.

6. Confirm your scores with the founders to finalize a score.

7. If the score is less than 70% reject the applicant with the email below. If the score is more than 70% make a hiring recommendation to the founders via Slack. If they agree to the hire, send the email below confirming and work out a start date.

Rejection email

“Hi [first name]

Thanks so much for doing our trial. At this stage we’ve decided to not go ahead with you in the role. Please stay in touch for the future as we are growing quickly and always looking to grow the team.

Thanks again.”

Hire email

“Hi [first name]

Thanks so much for doing our trial. You did a great job and we would love to have you on board as employee number #x. Here is what we would like to offer. Please confirm that you are still happy to proceed.

We can’t wait to work with you :)

Position: WordPress support developer
Pay rate: [Add agreed pay rate]
Work hours: [Add work hours]
Starting on [Work out a date, if in doubt pick the following Monday]“

8. Repeat the steps above to clear the trial site for the next trial.

9. Once the start date is agreed, send a calendar invite to the team member and to whoever is the team leader online at the time, saying that the team member is starting. In the calendar reminder list the ‘Day 1 tasks’ below so the team leader and team member know what to expect on the first day. Here is the copy to include in the request:

“Hey [first name], this is the appointment for your first shift at WP Curve. Before the shift please follow these instructions to set up our live chat tool Slack, so you can chat with our team leader [team leader name].

1. In your email you will have an invitation from Slack.com. Click on the invite and set up your account.

2. Download the Chrome shortcut so you can chat live with our team.

3. Just before your shift, log into Slack and look for the team member [Team leader name]. Click on his name and say hello at the start of your shift. You will get more instructions via there once you start.

Looking forward to working with you!”

The day 1 task document contains a standard list of tasks that we have people do on day 1. It’s mainly setting up the systems and reading through our processes.

Grab the recruitment process bundle

Everything in this document is included in Google Doc form for you to take and modify for your own business. This includes:

  • The recruitment process
  • The recruitment effort template
  • The trial instructions

If you enter your email below you’ll be added to my weekly email list and we’ll immediately send you the whole bundle for free.

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The post Our exact hands off process for hiring developers offshore appeared first on WP Curve.

5 Tips You Need to Know to Improve Your Twitter Strategy

If you haven’t already heard, Twitter is becoming the new 1-800 number. Across the world, customers are using Twitter to publicly voice their pleasure or frustrations with a brand. It provides a make or break opportunity for brands. Responding to tweets, whether good or bad, will almost never do any harm (assuming the company tweets responsibly) and ideally restore or build the customer relationship. Failing to respond is like not answering the phone. It only leaves the customer more frustrated and the customer relationship more tarnished.

Today’s infographic shows 5 things you may not know about consumers on Twitter. For one, they don’t care when your customer support team in manning the Twitter lines.

british-airways-twitter-mistake

They’ll tweet you at 3AM, with many expecting a quick response. And in some cases, they won’t even tweet to your account. They’ll mention your name, but stop short of @ mentioning you.

Investing in a good social media monitoring tool is integral to your Twitter and social strategy. You’ll have all your mentions and activity in one place to keep you organized and on top of all your mentions.

Thanks to Mention for providing us with the infographic. You can also download the PDF and share it with your colleagues.

10 Ways to Convert More Customers Infographic

Five Data Driven Alarm Signals for SEO and How to Respond

There are some things about your website you simply can’t ignore — manual penalties, negative SEO, stuff like that. There are other problems that can come up, too. They aren’t quite as obvious, but they are just as damaging.

In this article, I share with you four of these data-driven alarm signals. I want to you to know exactly what metrics to watch, how to find out if you’re in danger, and what you should do about it.

1. Loss of Indexed Pages

What It Is

Google’s algorithm crawls your site and puts these pages into their vast index to be returned in search results for relevant queries. As a courtesy to you, they tell you in Google Webmaster Tools exactly how many pages of your site are in their index.

If you are consistently adding new content and maintaining a valid sitemap.xml, this number should rise. Of course, if you intentionally remove certain pages, then the number will go down. However, if the number of indexed pages drops suddenly or declines gradually over time, then you have a problem on your hands.

Why would this happen? Google removes pages from its index for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, pages just drop off the index because of age or lack of visitors. This is normal. Other times, however, Google penalizes pages, i.e., deindexes them because of spam or unnatural backlinks.

When a page is removed from Google’s index, it will no longer be returned in search results. The fewer pages you have indexed, the less likely it is that your site will rank for certain keywords.

Where to Get the Data

Go to GWT → Google Index → Index Status. This will show you a graph of the total indexed pages over the past twelve months. Make sure that you’ve left the “removed” box unchecked.

The image below shows a site that experienced a severe loss of indexed pages. In this case, the indexation loss coincided with a manual penalty.

index status

What to Do

If possible, find out what pages might be deindexed. If you have a site with just a few pages, indexation loss could be a major blow to traffic. If the deindexed pages are landing pages, this is even worse. You can find out if a page has been deindexed by searching Google for “site:[your page URL]”

google neil testimonial

In this case, I checked to see if my page http://neilpatel.com/testimonials/ was still indexed by Google. (Thankfully, it is.)

On large sites with tens of thousands of pages, it’s unrealistic to search every page for deindexing in this way. However, you can still fix the problem by conducting a backlink audit.

It’s a good time to audit your entire link profile for spammy links, and to remove them. I’ve often seen Google start to deindex pages, and a month or two later hit the site with a manual penalty. You can thwart such total deindexation by conducting a thorough audit, link removal, and disavowal.

2. Duplicate Content

What It Is

Duplicate content — when your content is displayed on multiple on- or off-site locations — can erode your rankings and put you at risk for algorithmic penalization. Often, the fault of duplicate content is oversight in the development stage of a website (i.e. misuse of session IDs or URL parameters). Other times, duplicate content is a result of scrapers or content syndication without a rel=canonical tag.

Where to Get the Data

There are plenty of tools that can help you target and fix duplicate content. Screaming Frog is one of my favorites. However, you can access duplicate content information easily and accurately within GWT.

Go to Google Webmaster Tools → Search Appearance → HTML Improvements

The site below has just a few duplicate content issues. These probably aren’t enough to warrant any serious traffic loss or penalization.

3-half-shark-alligator-man

What to Do

The fix for duplicate content listed in GWT is very easy. Simply go to the pages that are listed as containing duplicate content, and change them.

3. Lost Links

What It Is

A great link profile is at the core of a great site. You simply can’t have a strong web presence unless you’ve got plenty of healthy links pointing back to your site.

But what if those links start disappearing? It can happen, and when it does, you will have a problem on your hands. Lost linkbacks mean lost ranking, lost traffic, and lost revenue.

Though spammy linkbuilding is a relic of a bygone SEO era, it is still important to work hard at creating high-quality backlinks. You do so through content marketing and careful guest blogging.

But links don’t last forever. Moz’s research shows that that 75% of the web disappears within less than a year. As Nick Garner pointed out, “Most of the web is short lived.” The reality of the disappearing web — also known as “churn rate” — means that you will experience lost links.

Where to Get the Data

There are plenty of tools for analyzing your link data. I’ve probably used every one on the market — Majestic, Moz, LinkResearchTools, SEMrush, etc. I’ve also developed tools — KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg — that help you understand your metrics and visitor behavior.

You can get backlink counts for free from the Quicksprout.com analysis tool, or by using Google Webmaster Tools.

I recommend that you keep a close eye on this number, and on this page in Google Webmaster Tools. Go to Search Traffic → Links to Your Site.

links to your site

  • Total links: If this number declines gradually or sharply, it indicates a loss of linkbacks and the potential for site decline. Remedial action: Content marketing improvements.
  • Who links the most: Most of your links should be coming from other niche sites, blogs, industry websites, etc. If you see an alarming amount of off-niche, porn, gambling, or spam sites, you have a problem. Remedial action: Conduct a link profile audit.
  • Your most linked content: Links should be pointing at your landing pages, content pages, or other significant pages. If you discover old, irrelevant, or undesirable pages being linked to, it’s a sign that you need to make some improvements in your content marketing. Remedial action: Content audit. Target the most linked to pages for improvement. Continue content marketing.
  • How your data is linked: This is the anchor text used to create the links. If the anchors contain irrelevant, spammy, or over-optimized anchors, you could have a problem. Remedial action: Link profile audit.

4. Organic Traffic Decline

What It Is

When your organic traffic goes down, you need to deal with the issue as soon as possible. Every site faces fluctuation, but if a fluctuation turns into a trend, it’s an alarm signal.

Where to Get the Data

In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition → Keywords → Organic. It doesn’t matter that the specific results are (not provided). What does matter is whether your organic keyword traffic is up or down. The graph below indicates a problem:

google warning and penalty

For this site, the “warning” point was the first symptom that the site was experiencing a problem. Their organic keyword traffic customarily experiences peaks and troughs, but there was a sudden dip that was lower than usual. This was a warning sign. The next peak did not rebound to previous traffic average levels. Then, one month later, they received a manual penalty.

Manual penalties do not always come with warning signs like this one. Regardless, the change in keyword traffic usually indicates some level of problem — be it a spammy link profile, deindexed pages, etc.

What to Do

Just as the causes for organic traffic loss are legion, the treatments are many. First, you need to find out exactly why traffic declined. Ask questions, and get data answers:

  • What changes happened in the backlink profile?
  • What other traffic sources changed?
  • Was there an algorithmic change?

Ask as many questions as you can until you’re able to form a hypothesis — a possible reason for the traffic decline.

Some of the best big-picture solutions are also some of the most basic — reevaluating keywords, improving content marketing, removing toxic backlinks, etc. There aren’t any stock answers to solve this problem. It must be solved on a case-by-case basis.

Conclusion

The SEO’s job is not merely to optimize title tags and create keyword-rich content. The SEO’s job is to study the numbers, to identify problems, and to develop strategic solutions. If you take a look at each of the data points I’ve described in this article, you may be able to prevent some major disasters or simply improve your SEO.

What other data-driven alarm signals should the SEO watch?

About the Author: is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Buy Yourself Time by Systematizing Your SaaS With Trello

trello-icon

This is a guest post by Kyle Brown, author of the upcoming book Systematize.

Are you spending a lot of time explaining how to perform tasks to your employee(s)?

Do you have documents scattered all over the cloud, various emails, and computers?

Do you struggle to find documentation when you need it?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then hope is not lost and there is something that you can do.

You’re running a SaaS business and likely don’t have the resources or the desire to hire an individual or management company to run the operations of your business and you cannot be everywhere all of the time. Spending your time repeating endless cycles of q and a are not the answer to growing your business.

Image if you had more time to market your business or work on a new feature for your SaaS to increase the profits? What if you could consolidate all of your methods for performing tasks into a clean organized manner so that you could easily find and share information required to run your company?

In this post I outline how you can take your mind share and knowledge required to perform tasks in your business and document them so that your team can execute in your place. The method is also known as systematizing. Also referred to as standard operating procedures and business process management.

I have written other detailed posts on how you can systematize at my blog and on the BidSketch blog that you can read for more background. The purpose of this post is to give you an overview of how you can use a tool named Trello to document your processes after you have created them. It also includes some of what you’ll find in my upcoming book, Systematize.

Introducing Trello
Trello, a Fog Creek Software product, is an interesting tool that I’d heard about some time ago while listening to the Startups for the Rest of Us podcast. It has evolved since that time and so have the things that it can be used for. One of those things is documenting business processes.

System requirements
To document processes effectively your system of choice should have at a minimum the following three elements present.

  1. Decentralized hosting.
  2. The ability to control profile based permissions.
  3. The ability for you and your team to collaborate.

Trello meets all of these requirements and more.

To document a business process using Trello, follow these steps:

Create an Account
This is relatively straightforward. Free accounts are available and will serve your purposes. So visit trello.com/signup to create your account. At the time of this article, you can use your Google account to sign up.

Setup your First Process
The first thing you need to do is identify a task that you want to document into a process. I recommend starting with something small. You can always add larger processes later once you get a feel for it.

Note: During your first sign in you may recognize that some content already exist. This content has been place there for you by Trello to help get you started. So to avoid disturbing that, you will create your own content from scratch.

Create an organization
In the upper right hand corner of the screen, you want to click the ‘+’ icon, then select “New Organization.” Complete the “Name” field (You can use your company name) and click the “Create” button. We will use a fictional company named “SaaSco”

1

Create a Process Category
Trello uses containers called boards to store information. We will use these boards to house individual process categories. So click the ‘+’ symbol again but this time you should select “New Board….” For this example, let’s name this one “Marketing.”

Create a sub category
By default Trello may provide you with three new boxes named “To Do”, “Doing”, “Done”. These boxes are called “Lists” and we will use these to store our process sub categories. For this example, we will name it “Blog Post Processes” in the next few steps.

2

We are only going to use the “To Do” list so we can remove the other two. Click in the upper right hand corner of the “Doing” list and select “Archive this list” and the list should disappear. Repeat this for the “Done” list.

3

The only list that you should have left is the “To Do” list which you should rename “Blog Post Processes” which is as simple as clicking on the words, typing and clicking the “Save” button.

4

Create your First Process
1. Now we want to create the individual process. Trello uses “Cards” to store detailed information. We will use these cards to store your individual process. In this example we will create a process for posting to your company blog named, “How to write a post for the blog” by clicking the “Add a card” link, then click the “Add” button.

2. Now it is finally time to add the actual process. Click on the card that you just created and you should be presented with a box in the center of the screen which allows for a variety of functions. I will outline four of them.

5

  1. Edit the description: In this section of the card, you should include information such as the process goal or objective, the effective date if different from the posting date, the specific team members, and any other special instructions.
  2. Members: Allows you to determine who can access this process.
  3. Activity: Logs all of the activity around this process and serves as a revision tracker so that you can determine which changes were made, when, and by whom. This is useful information when process are changed and you need to determine why.
  4. Checklist: These are specifically handy when you start documenting step-by-step instructions for your process.

6

And there you have it. You have successfully taken a time consuming task and systematized it using Trello. I really feel like this is the tip of the iceberg when using Trello for this purpose.

There are many features which add additional functionality that were not addressed. This post was meant to serve as one example of how Trello can be used to serve as the infrastructure to create, store, edit, share and collaborate your business processes to systematize your business and save time.

Bootstrapped, Episode 45, “Adventures in Hacker News”

Download this episode, in which Ian and Andrey discuss taking a vacation while bootstrapping,  the craziness of Hacker News, LaraJobs, Scribbleton, installing desktop software, mods, git, pity purchases, Linux desktop apps, Walmart, the new square BlackBerry, Commodore 64,  consulting work, how much it costs to build an app,  shutting down a SaaS that isn’t performing, who handles support, bad web hosting, Martha’s Vineyard, American Presidents, Ian posting Scribbleton on Hacker News and causing trouble.

 

This episode is sponsored by FusionInvoice — 20% 0ff  for our listeners.

This episode is also sponsored by Linode .

 

Discuss this episode with other bootstrappers

 

 

What’s New in the KISSmetrics iOS Blog Reader

kissmetrics-blog-reader

Our KISSmetrics Blog Reader iOS app has received a complete redesign in today’s update. In the app, you’ll see a lot of new features including a slick iOS7 UI, interaction design, a new icon, and a favoriting feature.

One of the biggest changes on this design is the new icon. Our previous app icon showed the bars of our logo on a green background. It was representative of our brand, but it needed an update since it was too familiar to Feedly’s logo. The new icon is representative of our new brand direction. Simplicity is a key virtue at KISSmetrics, so our icon is a simple heart shaped leaflet.

blog reader icon redesign

We’ve made it easier for you to be able to reference articles by introducing a new prominent “Favoriting” feature. You can favorite an article while you’re reading it which will then later be stored in the favorites list. Or, swipe the title block to the left while in the list view to favorite or unfavorite.

Similarly, swipe the title block to the right in the list view and easily share posts to your favorite apps. We’ve introduced Pocket and Buffer as social sharing sites. Pocket is an easy way to consolidate all of the articles you want to read later when you have more time, and Buffer is a powerful social publishing management tool.

KISSmetrics promotes building fast and pushing out MVPs to then iterate and improve upon. The previous reader app before this update was built by Will Rust, our mobile developer, in two days. The app worked well for a hackathon-esque project, but we wanted our loyal blog fans to have an overall better experience with their content.

This time around, the reader received a lot of TLC throughout the process. There are more UX solutions to navigate through the app whether you are in the list or reader view. It is more feature rich and modern with flat design. Design plans are currently in motion to release a new iPad app. We’ll be updating the Android app as well, but we are also looking to hire a new Android engineer to help out with the workload.

One key action that stuck around is the prompt to send us feedback. Former feedback submissions have been a huge help in forming what our app has evolved into over the course of this last update. We’re always grateful for your advice and technical support, so keep it coming!

Download the App Here

blog-app-cta

About the Author: Patty Castaneda is an in house designer at KISSmetrics. Previously, she has designed for Appcelerator, Singly and MUNI. She can be found on the web with @PattyCreates.

Hiring: Marketing & Customer Success

We’re hiring a marketing and customer success person for our team. This position will be split between working on ConvertKit.com and NathanBarry.com. As the first full-time hire you will be wearing a lot of different hats.

Much more than customer support

First, you’ll be in charge of customer success for ConvertKit. This isn’t the typical “Here’s how to reset your password” customer support. We take things much further than that. You’ll be advising customers on how best to grow their lists and pointing out flaws in their launch plans.

You need to understand online marketing and be constantly ready to learn new tricks and ideas.

Project management

Between ConvertKit and NathanBarry.com we are always developing and launching new features and products. You’ll be responsible for coordinating all the contractors involved and products get released on time.

This also means having a key role in planning the new products or courses.

Marketing

Next you’ll play a critical role in launching new products as well as continuing to drive sales to our older products. You should be comfortable negotiating affiliate deals, setting up advertising, and finding new marketing channels.

Other projects

You must be the type of person who learns new skills to get a project launched. So that means that any experience you have with design, coding, audio & video editing, and writing will be very helpful.

Employment details:

  • Work from home. We are a distributed company which means you can work from anywhere you like. No more boring commute. We use Trello, Slack, and Google Hangouts to work together as a team from wherever in the world we happen to be.
  • 3 weeks paid vacation. I like to take vacations, my employees should as well. We work hard and move quickly, but also really value time off.
  • Laptop and software provided. We’ll get you exactly what you need to be successful.
  • $40,000/year. This is a full-time position that pays $40,000 per year.
  • Based in North America. Because this job will require close collaboration with the team you need to be based in North America.

 

How to apply

To apply for this job fill out the form below. Then I’ll be in touch.

Episode 61: Stress Less

stress-caseWhen you’re taking on the world it’s stressful and it can feel like we’re taking on the world every single day when we’re running our own business, maybe raising a family and generally “making it happen”.

Stress can feel like it comes from the outside but it doesn’t it comes from how we react to outside circumstances and the circumstances and eventualities we fabricate in our own minds.

This show is about how we deal with it.

Stuff

Flow
Art of Possibility
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The post Episode 61: Stress Less appeared first on Bootstrapped with Kids Podcast.

Episode 61: Stress Less

stress-caseWhen you’re taking on the world it’s stressful and it can feel like we’re taking on the world every single day when we’re running our own business, maybe raising a family and generally “making it happen”.

Stress can feel like it comes from the outside but it doesn’t it comes from how we react to outside circumstances and the circumstances and eventualities we fabricate in our own minds.

This show is about how we deal with it.

Stuff

Flow
Art of Possibility
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The post Episode 61: Stress Less appeared first on Bootstrapped with Kids Podcast.