Robots.txt: The Deceptively Important Part of Your SEO Strategy

When I first heard the term robots.txt, I'll admit, I didn't know what it meant. Instinctively, I imagined R2D2 from "Star Wars" and thought, "What do robots have to do with SEO?"

If you're anything like me, technical SEO isn't always easy to understand.

However, in a study with seoClarity and BuzzStream, out of 240 SEO specialists, 59% of all respondents reported that the most effective SEO strategy used was technical onsite optimization.

So, whether we understand it or not, technical SEO will continue to play a large role in our marketing strategies.

Below, we'll review what a robots.txt file is and how to use it in your strategy. Plus, we'll cover how to create, add, and edit a robots.txt file on your site.

What is a robots.txt file?

A robots.txt file tells search engines how to crawl and index the pages on your site. It's important because it helps as search engines crawl your site and index content to serve users looking for that information. You can allow or disallow search engines from indexing a page. Search engines will look for a robots.txt file before crawling your site to see if there are any instructions.

Like any technical aspect of SEO, a robots.txt file has its own language. Here are some of the main terms you'll see and what they mean:

  • User-agent: The search engine.
  • Disallow: Tells a search engine not to crawl a certain URL.
  • Allow: Tells a search engine it can access a web page.

You might be wondering, why would I want certain pages on my site hidden or to tell a search engine not to crawl my site?

Ultimately, it's because you want to direct the search engines to crawl the most important pages on your site and not get bogged down with unimportant, private, or similar pages.

Let's review the best ways to use a robots.txt file:

1. Keep pages on your site private.

Does your site have any internal pages? For instance, perhaps users log on to your site and see gated information. Or, maybe, you have employees log in to your site to see HR information. Either way, you'll want those pages on your site to be private, meaning you don't want them to show up in search engines. That's why you can disallow search engines from crawling those pages in a robots.txt file.

Additionally, if you're creating a test site for a client, you don't necessarily want that site to be crawled or indexed by search engines. In fact, you really only want the client to see that site. To do this, you'll want to disallow search engines from indexing these pages.

2. Prevent search engines from indexing files.

Sometimes you might add PDFs or other files to your site for users to download. This could even be duplicate content on your site that you're repurposing for marketing purposes. However, you most likely don't want these files to be indexed by search engines. You can disallow these pages from being crawled by adding them to your robots.txt file.

3. Allow search engines to crawl any page on your site.

Although having a robots.txt file isn't necessary, if you want search engines to crawl every page, providing instructions can speed up the process. You can easily create a robots.txt file that instructs search engines to crawl every page on your site.

4. Disallow search engines to crawl certain pages or your whole site.

Sometimes, you might not want a search engine to crawl any page on your site. For example, during HubSpot employee training, new hires are expected to create a website using the HubSpot product. However, these sites are just for the project and employees typically don't want these to be indexed by search engines. That's why they create a robots.txt file that says to disallow crawling any page on the site.

Additionally, you can block specific search engines from specific pages on your site. For instance, you can label the user-agent as "Google," and disallow private content.

Although you'll want to disallow search engines from crawling and indexing certain pages, a robots.txt file can instruct search engines, but not enforce it. That means that even though your robots.txt file might instruct a search engine not to crawl a page, it can't actually prevent it from being indexed. To do that, you'll want to use noindex and nofollow directives.

So, you might be wondering why you need to use a robots.txt file, if it can't prevent a page from being indexed. The answer is that the robots.txt file is there to help search engines crawl your site faster and prioritize the pages it crawls. It won't technically block any page from the search engines.

How to Create & Add a Robots.txt File to Your Website

Creating a robots.txt file is actually a simple process.

All you need to do is open a plain text editor, like TextEdit or Notepad. Then, you can copy the language and syntax from Google.

For example, your robots.txt file will look something like this:

User-agent: *

Allow: /

You can define the user-agent -- an asterisk means all search engines. Then, you can write "allow" or "disallow" and specify the pages.

Before you add this file to your site, you can test it using Google's testing tool.

Once you've written your file, you'll want to upload it to your site's top-level directory. This means you'll go into the Cpanel and click "Add File."

Keep in mind that robots.txt files may not be supported by all search engines.

Robots.txt files are publicly available, meaning you can add /robots.txt to any site and see their site's file, if they have one. Additionally, most robots.txt files contain the location of any sitemaps associated with the domain.

Again, editing your robots.txt file isn't difficult. Just follow these steps:

1. Find your robots.txt file in your CMS.

This process looks slightly different depending on your content management system (CMS). For example, finding it in Wordpress and HubSpot are two different processes. Typically, if you go to the editor for your website and click "Settings," you should find an SEO tab. Here's where your robots.txt file should live.

If you aren't using a CMS that makes this process easy, you can also login to your hosting account website, go to "File Management" and look for your robots.txt file. Then, you should be able to open it for editing.

2. Delete the text.

Once you've got the file open, delete all the text that's in there. Yes, that's all you need to do in this step.

3. Add in text from your plain text editor.

Lastly, copy and paste the text that you wrote in your plain text editor. Then, click "Save." You're all done.

Technical SEO and robots.txt files sound more complicated than they actually are. By helping search engines crawl your website quickly, your rankings could vastly improve.



via Business Feeds

The Content Distribution Playbook - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by rosssimmonds

If you're one of the many marketers that shares your content on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked before calling it good and moving on, this Whiteboard Friday is for you. In a super actionable follow-up to his MozCon 2019 presentation, Ross Simmonds reveals how to go beyond the mediocre when it comes to your content distribution plan, reaching new audiences in just the right place at the right time.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

What's going on, Whiteboard Friday fans? My name is Ross Simmonds from Foundation Marketing, and today we're going to be talking about how to develop a content distribution playbook that will drive meaningful and measurable results for your business. 

What is content distribution and why does it matter?

First and foremost, content distribution is the thing that you need to be thinking about if you want to combat the fact that it is becoming harder and harder than ever before to stand out as a content marketer, as a storyteller, and as a content creator in today's landscape. It's getting more and more difficult to rank for content. It's getting more and more difficult to get organic reach through our social media channels, and that is why content distribution is so important.

You are facing a time when organic reach on social continues to drop more and more, where the ability to rank is becoming even more difficult because you're competing against more ad space. You're competing against more featured snippets. You're competing against more companies. Because content marketers have screamed at the top of their lungs that content is king and the world has listened, it is becoming more and more difficult to stand out amongst the noise.

Most marketers have embraced this idea because for years we screamed, "Content is king, create more content,"and that is what the world has done. Most marketers start by just creating content, hoping that traffic will come, hoping that reach will come, and hoping that as a result of them creating content that profits will follow. In reality, the profits never come because they miss a significant piece of the puzzle, which is content distribution.

In today's video, we're going to be talking about how you can distribute your content more effectively across a few different channels, a few different strategies, and how you can take your content to the next level. 

There are two things that you can spend when it comes to content distribution: 

  1. You can spend time, 
  2. or you can spend money. 

In today's video, we're going to talk about exactly how you can distribute your content so when you write that blog post, you write that landing page, when you create that e-book, you create that infographic, whatever resource you've developed, you can ensure that that content is reaching the right people on the right channel at the right time.

◷: Owned channels

So how can you do it? We all have heard of owned channels. Owned channels are things that you own as a business, as a brand, as an organization. These are things that you can do without question probably today. 

Email marketing

For example, email marketing, it's very likely that you have an email list of some sort. You can distribute your content to those people. 

In-app notifications

Let's say you have a website that offers people a solution or a service directly inside of the site. Say it's software as a service or something of that nature. If people are logging in on a regular basis to access your product, you can use in-app notifications to let those people know that you've launched a blog post. Or better yet, if you have a mobile app of any sort, you can do the same thing. You can use your app to let people know that you just launched a new piece of content.

Social channels

You have social media channels. Let's say you have Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Share that content to your heart's desire on those channels as well. 

On-site banner

If you have a website, you can update an on-site banner, at the top or in the bottom right, that is letting people know who visit your site that you have a new piece of content. Let them know. They want to know that you're creating new content. So why not advise them that you have done such?

Sales outreach

If you have a sales team of any sort, let's say you're in B2B and you have a sales team, one of the most effective ways is to empower your sales team, to communicate to your sales team that you have developed a new piece of content so they can follow up with leads, they can nurture those existing relationships and even existing customers to let them know that a new piece of content has gone live. That one-to-one connection can be huge. 

◷: Social media / other channels

So when you've done all of that, what else can you do? You can go into social media. You can go into other channels. Again, you can spend time distributing your content into these places where your audience is spending time as well. 

Social channels and groups

So if you have a Twitter account, you can send out tweets. If you have a Facebook page, of course you can put up status updates.

If you have a LinkedIn page, you can put up a status update as well. These three things are typically what most organizations do in that Phase 2, but that's not where it ends. You can go deeper. You can do more. You can go into Facebook groups, whether as a page or as a human, and share your content into these communities as well. You can let them know that you've published a new piece of research and you would love for them to check it out.

Or you're in these groups and you're looking and waiting and looking for somebody to ask a question that your blog post, your research has answered, and then you respond to that question with the content that you've developed. Or you do the same exact thing in a LinkedIn group. LinkedIn groups are an awesome opportunity for you to go in and start seeding your content as well.

Medium

Or you go to Medium.com. You repurpose the content that you've developed. You launch it on Medium.com as well. There's an import function on Medium where you can import your content, get a canonical link directly to your site, and you can share that on Medium as well. Medium.com is a great distribution channel, because you can seed that content to publications as well.

When your content is going to these publications, they already have existing subscribers, and those subscribers get notified that there's a new piece being submitted by you. When they see it, that's a new audience that you wouldn't have reached before using any of those owned channels, because these are people who you wouldn't have had access to before. So you want to take advantage of that as well.

Keep in mind you don't always have to upload even the full article. You can upload a snippet and then have a CTA at the bottom, a call to action driving people to the article on your website. 

LinkedIn video

You can use LinkedIn video to do the same thing. Very similar concept. Imagine you have a LinkedIn video. You look into the camera and you say to your connections, "Hey, everyone, we just launched a new research piece that is breaking down X, Y, and Z, ABC. I would love for you to check it out. Check the link below."

If you created that video and you shared it on your LinkedIn, your connections are going to see this video, and it's going to break their pattern of what they typically see on LinkedIn. So when they see it, they're going to engage, they're going to watch that video, they're going to click the link, and you're going to get more reach for the content that you developed in the past. 

Slack communities

Slack communities are another great place to distribute your content. Slack isn't just a great channel to build internal culture and communicate as an internal team.

There are actual communities, people who are passionate about photography, people who are passionate about e-commerce, people who are passionate about SEO. There are Slack communities today where these people are gathering to talk about their passions and their interests, and you can do the same thing that you would do in Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups in these various Slack communities. 

Instagram / Facebook stories

Instagram stories and Facebook stories, awesome, great channel for you to also distribute your content. You can add a link to these stories that you're uploading, and you can simply say, "Swipe up if you want to get access to our latest research." Or you can design a graphic that will say, "Swipe up to get our latest post." People who are following you on these channels will swipe up. They'll land on your article, they'll land on your research, and they'll consume that content as well. 

LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn Pulse, you have the opportunity now to upload an article directly to LinkedIn, press Publish, and again let it soar. You can use the same strategies that I talked about around Medium.com on LinkedIn, and you can drive results. 

Quora

Quora, it's like a question-and-answer site, like Yahoo Answers back in the day, except with a way better design. You can go into Quora, and you can share just a native link and tag it with relevant content, relevant topics, and things of that nature. Or you can find a few questions that are related to the topic that you've covered in your post, in your research, whatever asset you developed, and you can add value to that person who asked that question, and within that value you make a reference to the link and the article that you developed in the past as well.

SlideShare

SlideShare, one of OGs of B2B marketing. You can go to SlideShare, upload a presentation version of the content that you've already developed. Let's say you've written a long blog post. Why not take the assets within that blog post, turn them into a PDF, a SlideShare presentation, upload them there, and then distribute it through that network as well? Once you have those SlideShare presentations put together, what's great about it is you can take those graphics and you can share them on Twitter, you can share them on Facebook, LinkedIn, you can put them into Medium.com, and distribute them further there as well.

Forums

You can go into forums. Let's think about it. If your audience is spending time in a forum communicating about something, why not go into these communities and into these forums and connect with them on a one-to-one basis as well? There's a huge opportunity in forums and communities that exist online, where you can build trust and you can seed your content into these communities where your audience is spending time.

A lot of people think forums are dead. They could never be more alive. If you type in your audience, your industry forums, I promise you you'll probably come across something that will surprise you as an opportunity to seed your content. 

Reddit communities

Reddit communities, a lot of marketers get the heebie-jeebies when I talk about Reddit. They're all like, "Marketers on Reddit? That doesn't work. Reddit hates marketing." I get it.

I understand what you're thinking. But what they actually hate is the fact that marketers don't get Reddit. Marketers don't get the fact that Redditors just want value. If you can deliver value to people using Reddit, whether it's through a post or in the comments, they will meet you with happiness and joy. They will be grateful of the fact that you've added value to their communities, to their subreddits, and they will reward you with upvotes, with traffic and clicks, and maybe even a few leads or a customer or two in the process.

Do not ignore Reddit as being the site that you can't embrace. Whether you're B2B or B2C, Redditors can like your content. Redditors will like your content if you go in with value first. 

Imgur

Sites like Imgur, another great distribution channel. Take some of those slides that you developed in the past, upload them to Imgur, and let them sing there as well.

There are way more distribution channels and distribution techniques that you can use that go beyond even what I've described here. But these just a few examples that show you that the power of distribution doesn't exist just in a couple posts. It exists in actually spending the time, taking the time to distribute your stories and distribute your content across a wide variety of different channels.

$: Paid marketing

That's spending time. You can also spend money through paid marketing. Paid marketing is also an opportunity for any brand to distribute their stories. 

Remarketing

First and foremost, you can use remarketing. Let's talk about that email list that you've already developed. If you take that email list and you run remarketing ads to those people on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, you can reach those people and get them engaged with new content that you've developed.

Let's say somebody is already visiting your page. People are visiting your website. They're visiting your content. Why not run remarketing ads to those people who already demonstrate some type of interest to get them back on your site, back engaged with your content, and tell your story to them as well? Another great opportunity is if you've leveraged video in any way, you can do remarketing ads on Facebook to people who have watched 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 20 seconds, whatever it may be to your content as well.

Quora ads

Then one of the opportunities that is definitely underrated is the fact that Quora now offers advertising as well. You can run ads on Quora to people who are asking or looking at questions related to your industry, related to the content that you've developed, and get your content in front of them as well. 

Influencer marketing

Then influencers, you can do sponsored content. You can reach out to these influencers and have them talk about your stories, talk about your content, and have them share it as well on behalf of the fact that you've developed something new and something that is interesting.

Think differently & rise above mediocrity

When I talk about influencer marketing, I talk about Reddit, I talk about SlideShare, I talk about LinkedIn video, I talk about Slack communities, a lot of marketers will quickly say, "I don't think this is for me. I think this is too much. I think that this is too much manual work. I think this is too many niche communities. I think this is a little bit too much for my brand."

I get that. I understand your mindset, but this is what you need to recognize. Most marketers are going through this process. If you think that by distributing your content into the communities that your audience is spending time is just a little bit off brand or it doesn't really suit you, that's what most marketers already think. Most marketers already think that Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn is all they need to do to share their stories, get their content out there, and call it a day.

If you want to be like most marketers, you're going to get what most marketers receive as a result, which is mediocre results. So I push you to think differently. I push you to push yourself to not be like most marketers, not to go down the path of mediocrity, and instead start looking for ways that you can either invest time or money into channels, into opportunities, and into communities where you can spread your content with value first and ultimately generate results for your business at the end of all of it.

So I hope that you can use this to uncover for yourself a content distribution playbook that works for your brand. Whether you're in B2C or you're in B2B, it doesn't matter. You have to understand where your audience is spending time, understand how you can seed your content into these different spaces and unlock the power of content distribution. My name is Ross Simmonds.

I really hope you enjoyed this video. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out on Twitter, at TheCoolestCool, or hit me up any other way. I'm on every other channel. Of course I am. I love social. I love digital. I'm everywhere that you could find me, so feel free to reach out.

I hope you enjoyed this video and you can use it to give your content more reach and ultimately drive meaningful and measurable results for your business. Thank you so much.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


If Ross's Whiteboard Friday left you feeling energized and inspired to try new things with your content marketing, you'll love his full MozCon 2019 talk — Keywords Aren't Enough: How to Uncover Content Ideas Worth Chasing — available in our recently released video bundle. Learn how to use many of these same distribution channels as idea factories for your content, plus access 26 additional future-focused SEO topics from our top-notch speakers:

Grab the sessions now!

And don't be shy — share the learnings with your whole team, preferably with snacks. It's what video was made for!


Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!



via Business Feeds

Some Chinese firms turn out to have lied about their state pedigree

IT CERTAINLY SOUNDS pretty powerful: China Nuclear Engineering Construction Group. Once controlled by the People’s Liberation Army, it is now, it says, part of a “central state-owned enterprise (SOE)”, an elite class of firms belonging to the Chinese government. Its website is full of pictures of its executives signing deals around the country. Like any good state-run giant, it is politically correct, its statements echoing Communist Party slogans. There is just one snag: China Nuclear Engineering Construction Group is not a central SOE.

As China’s economy slows, defaults have risen sharply. Such failures, though painful, separate strong companies from also-rans, a process other countries know well. In China there is an extra wrinkle: the downturn is also exposing fake SOEs. These are companies that misled creditors about their state connections to suggest they would be supported if they ran into trouble. But when trouble arises, the government is nowhere to be found.

Last month Huarong, a firm that handles non-performing loans, put 610m yuan ($87m) of China Nuclear Engineering Construction’s assets up for sale, consisting of property in the province of Anhui. Despite its name, China Nuclear focused on property, like several other fake SOEs. It also benefited from confusion with a real SOE, China Nuclear Engineering and...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

How Jim Simons became the most successful investor of all time

The Man Who Solved The Market.  Gregory Zuckerman. Penguin Random House; 359 pages; $30

THE BEST investors’ strategies often sound simple. “Whether it’s socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it’s marked down,” says Warren Buffett. Betting big on the fallout from epoch-making events, like the fall of the Berlin Wall, is George Soros’s preferred tactic. Jim Simons, the founder of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund, spots patterns.

Mr Simons is less famous than Mr Soros or Mr Buffett, but no less successful. He founded Renaissance in 1982, aged 44, after a successful career in mathematics and code-breaking. Its flagship Medallion fund has earned $100bn in trading profits since 1988, mostly for its employees. The average annual return of 66% before fees makes Mr Simons one of the most successful investors of all time. He is now worth $21bn.

A new book, “The Man Who Solved the Market” by Gregory Zuckerman of the Wall Street Journal, asks how he did it. It is a compelling read. Mr Simons started investing in 1978 by looking for patterns in currencies. He had early successes with simple “reversion to the mean” strategies, buying when a currency fell far enough below its recent average. A decade later René Carmona, another mathematician,...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Your Business

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Office secret Santa gift exchanges involve each person choosing a secret coworker to purchase a gift for. As a result, you need to personalize your gift. And make sure it’s useful for the recipient.

Secret Santa gift exchanges are popular in offices around the country. Here are 25 Secret Santa gift ideas that will make your recipient happy.

Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Candle

Candle

A scented candle is always a safe bet for office secret Santa gifts. They’re fairly crowd pleasing options, but you can still personalize them by picking out your co-worker’s favorite scent.

Hand Cream

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Winter weather often leads to dry skin. So if you’re looking for secret Santa gifts for coworkers that are especially useful, consider a set of hand cream like this one.

Sports Team Knit Hat

Sports Team Knit Hat

If the coworker you’re buying a gift for has a favorite sports team, you can purchase a winter hat that has their team’s name and logo on it.

The Travel Book

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Have a coworker that loves to travel? This book could give them the inspiration they need to plan their next trip.

Hometown Personalized Jigsaw Puzzle

Hometown Personalized Jigsaw Puzzle

If you’re looking for office secret Santa gift ideas that are really personalized, consider a custom puzzle like this one that can be made for your coworker’s hometown.

Scrapbook

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If your coworker loves to scrapbook, or if they recently got married, had a child or went on a big vacation, a new scrapbook could be the perfect gift to help them preserve those special memories.

Photo Ornament

Photo Ornament

Ornaments are always a great place to start when thinking about office secret Santa gift ideas. With this product, you can have the ornament customized with a photo of your coworker’s family, a team picture or even an image of their pet.

Journal

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If you want to get a serious gift for your coworker, consider a quality journal that they can use to jot down thoughts or ideas throughout the year. This hardcover product is made with linen.

Crossword Book

Crossword Book

If you draw that coworker who is always doing puzzles or playing brain games, get them a full book of crosswords that they can use throughout the year.

Carpool Karaoke Game

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If you’re looking for funny secret santa gifts, you can’t go wrong with a silly board game. This Carpool Karaoke version is perfect for fans of the show or anyone who enjoys belting out a tune.

Tie

Tie

If you need to buy for that coworker who always has an interesting new tie, this silk one that includes planets, stars and asteroids could be the perfect addition to their collection.

Cocktail Mixer Caddy

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

For those coworkers who love to entertain or enjoy a nice after-work cocktail, this set of mixers could be the perfect addition to their bar cart.

Wine Mug

Wine Mug

This wine mug is insulated to keep drinks cold for up to nine hours, so it’s perfect for coworkers who tailgate or attend outdoor events.

Infuser Pitcher

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

For that coworker who loves to enjoy fruit infused water or tea, this pitcher could be the perfect practical gift. They can use it at home or even keep it at their desk.

Coffee Sampler

Coffee Sampler

If you get the office coffee fanatic for secret santa, consider a sampler full of unique flavors to help them find some new favorites.

Funny Pens

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Another funny secret Santa gift idea, these pens are made to imitate those logo pens that everyone always seems to have on them. But they include funny and ironic names of fake businesses instead.

Initial Necklace

Initial Necklace

If you think your coworker would appreciate a nice piece of jewelry, consider a simple necklace like this one with their initial.

Dog Sign

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

For the animal lover in your office, this sign could be the perfect gift for them to put up around the door of their home or office.

Record

Record

A vinyl record can be the perfect office secret Santa gift idea for the music lover in your office.

Desk Organizer

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If you want to stick with a secret Santa gift that is useful at work, a simple desk organizer and set of office supplies.

Fuzzy Slippers

Fuzzy Slippers

There’s nothing more cozy than fuzzy slippers. These could be the perfect gift for someone who could use a bit of relaxation in their life.

Hot Sauce Set

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Does your coworker love spicy food? This gift box of hot sauce and spices could be the perfect secret Santa gift idea.

To-Go Mug

To-Go Mug

A travel mug is always useful. This one is perfect for your coffee or tea loving coworker.

City Tea Towels

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If your coworker has a lot of hometown pride or even a favorite vacation destination, get them a tea towel with art on it from their favorite city.

Golf Ball Markers

Golf Ball Markers

If your coworker loves to golf, these personalized golf ball markers could be useful and also provide them with a good laugh.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Your Business

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Office secret Santa gift exchanges involve each person choosing a secret coworker to purchase a gift for. As a result, you need to personalize your gift. And make sure it’s useful for the recipient.

Secret Santa gift exchanges are popular in offices around the country. Here are 25 Secret Santa gift ideas that will make your recipient happy.

Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Candle

Candle

A scented candle is always a safe bet for office secret Santa gifts. They’re fairly crowd pleasing options, but you can still personalize them by picking out your co-worker’s favorite scent.

Hand Cream

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Winter weather often leads to dry skin. So if you’re looking for secret Santa gifts for coworkers that are especially useful, consider a set of hand cream like this one.

Sports Team Knit Hat

Sports Team Knit Hat

If the coworker you’re buying a gift for has a favorite sports team, you can purchase a winter hat that has their team’s name and logo on it.

The Travel Book

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Have a coworker that loves to travel? This book could give them the inspiration they need to plan their next trip.

Hometown Personalized Jigsaw Puzzle

Hometown Personalized Jigsaw Puzzle

If you’re looking for office secret Santa gift ideas that are really personalized, consider a custom puzzle like this one that can be made for your coworker’s hometown.

Scrapbook

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If your coworker loves to scrapbook, or if they recently got married, had a child or went on a big vacation, a new scrapbook could be the perfect gift to help them preserve those special memories.

Photo Ornament

Photo Ornament

Ornaments are always a great place to start when thinking about office secret Santa gift ideas. With this product, you can have the ornament customized with a photo of your coworker’s family, a team picture or even an image of their pet.

Journal

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If you want to get a serious gift for your coworker, consider a quality journal that they can use to jot down thoughts or ideas throughout the year. This hardcover product is made with linen.

Crossword Book

Crossword Book

If you draw that coworker who is always doing puzzles or playing brain games, get them a full book of crosswords that they can use throughout the year.

Carpool Karaoke Game

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If you’re looking for funny secret santa gifts, you can’t go wrong with a silly board game. This Carpool Karaoke version is perfect for fans of the show or anyone who enjoys belting out a tune.

Tie

Tie

If you need to buy for that coworker who always has an interesting new tie, this silk one that includes planets, stars and asteroids could be the perfect addition to their collection.

Cocktail Mixer Caddy

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

For those coworkers who love to entertain or enjoy a nice after-work cocktail, this set of mixers could be the perfect addition to their bar cart.

Wine Mug

Wine Mug

This wine mug is insulated to keep drinks cold for up to nine hours, so it’s perfect for coworkers who tailgate or attend outdoor events.

Infuser Pitcher

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

For that coworker who loves to enjoy fruit infused water or tea, this pitcher could be the perfect practical gift. They can use it at home or even keep it at their desk.

Coffee Sampler

Coffee Sampler

If you get the office coffee fanatic for secret santa, consider a sampler full of unique flavors to help them find some new favorites.

Funny Pens

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Another funny secret Santa gift idea, these pens are made to imitate those logo pens that everyone always seems to have on them. But they include funny and ironic names of fake businesses instead.

Initial Necklace

Initial Necklace

If you think your coworker would appreciate a nice piece of jewelry, consider a simple necklace like this one with their initial.

Dog Sign

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

For the animal lover in your office, this sign could be the perfect gift for them to put up around the door of their home or office.

Record

Record

A vinyl record can be the perfect office secret Santa gift idea for the music lover in your office.

Desk Organizer

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If you want to stick with a secret Santa gift that is useful at work, a simple desk organizer and set of office supplies.

Fuzzy Slippers

Fuzzy Slippers

There’s nothing more cozy than fuzzy slippers. These could be the perfect gift for someone who could use a bit of relaxation in their life.

Hot Sauce Set

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

Does your coworker love spicy food? This gift box of hot sauce and spices could be the perfect secret Santa gift idea.

To-Go Mug

To-Go Mug

A travel mug is always useful. This one is perfect for your coffee or tea loving coworker.

City Tea Towels

25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Work

If your coworker has a lot of hometown pride or even a favorite vacation destination, get them a tea towel with art on it from their favorite city.

Golf Ball Markers

Golf Ball Markers

If your coworker loves to golf, these personalized golf ball markers could be useful and also provide them with a good laugh.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "25 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Alibaba sold $38.4bn of merchandise this Singles’ Day

IN 1993 A group of male students at Nanjing University in China decided to celebrate their singledom. The annual date would be November 11th, comprised of four lonely 1s. The story may be apocryphal. But since 2009 Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant, has turned Singles’ Day into a very real shopping frenzy. It has long since eclipsed America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales combined. This year Taylor Swift performed at the countdown. In the next 24 hours Alibaba sold $38.4bn-worth of merchandise. Competitors like jd.com and Pinduoduo have piled in. Some people worry that what began as a lighthearted excuse to treat oneself has turned into a high-pressure version of Valentine’s Day. Others decry the harsh conditions workers face in order to meet demand and the holiday’s environmental impact. But shoppers certainly seem to like it.



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A huge lift business is up for sale

MODERN CITIES owe their shape to two 19th-century revolutions in personal transportation. For urban sprawl, blame the car. The skyscrapers that shape many of the world’s most recognisable cityscapes would not exist without fast and safe lifts. Whereas the four biggest carmakers sell two-fifths of road vehicles, liftmakers have the market sewn up far more tightly. The top four firms provide over two-thirds of all lifts (see chart). More concentration may be arriving shortly.

The potential for consolidation comes courtesy of Thyssenkrupp. The struggling German industrial conglomerate needs to raise money as it restructures radically after years of dwindling profits and strategic missteps. Elevator Technology (ET), its lift business, could be worth €15bn-18bn ($17bn-20bn), roughly equivalent to Thyssenkrupp’s market value (including net debt). It plans to sell either a stake in the business or the whole thing.

There are, it appears, plenty of...



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Ocado wages a grocery war against Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba

PANIC IS SWEEPING through supermarket aisles. Profits are meagre, convenience is king, discounters are rife. Even Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba, the world’s three biggest retailers, are trembling. No one has fully mastered the art of selling groceries online. The business represents just 2.3%, or $160bn, of a worldwide grocery market of $7trn. As that share rises, as it will surely continue to, it could be life or death for some in the industry.

In the midst of this mêlée is a fast-talking Brit, Tim Steiner. The firm he co-founded, Ocado, has shaken up the British online retail market, and it is trying to do the same internationally. By selling expertise from almost 20 years as a pioneering online grocer to supermarkets in America and elsewhere, he wants to help them become a fourth force in the industry—able to resist the big three.

His patter is honed by a career battling doubters (an analyst once put him down with the quip: “Ocado begins with an ‘o’, ends with an ‘o’, and is worth zero”). Sceptics still harbour deep reservations. Though Ocado has more than tripled in value in the past two years to £7.5bn ($9.6bn), its share price has plunged recently. But his insurgency shows how the battle to dominate online groceries remains wide open. Ocado has as good a chance as anyone.

Grocery is a sadomasochistic business...



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Proxy advisers come under fire

PROXY ADVISORY services used to be an obscure feature of corporate America. No longer. These geeky outfits, which review mountains of proposals put forward by shareholders on topics ranging from mergers and executive pay to climate change and diversity, then issue recommendations, can sway how their clients vote. Given that most are big institutional investors with clout, this advice matters. Earlier this year analysts at Credit Suisse, an investment bank, predicted that proxy advisers’ counsel would decide the fate of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s mammoth $74bn bid for Celgene, a rival drugmaker.

Big institutional investors like Capital Group and Fidelity have in-house teams to deal with such matters. But most funds rely on outside advisers. Two of them dominate the business. Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), owned by Genstar, an American private-equity firm, provides proxy recommendations on over 40,000 shareholder meetings in more than 100 countries each year. Glass Lewis informs some 20,000 votes in 100 countries. It is owned by two Canadian asset managers. Between them, ISS and Glass Lewis control 97% of America’s proxy-advice market.

Their client base has boomed. In 1950 institutions held only 10% of American shares. By 2018 it was close to 80%. As shareholder activism has grown in America, so have proxy battles—...



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Octogenarians are shaking up Italian business

CARLO DE BENEDETTI is fond of high drama. When he resigned after only three months as chief executive of Fiat in 1976, rumours swirled that he was cobbling together a bid for the then-ailing carmaker with the help of Swiss financiers. Mr De Benedetti denied ever having such designs. But he seemed to relish all the attention.

Mr De Benedetti, who turned 85 on November 14th, is back centre-stage of Italian business with another unorthodox bid. Last month he offered €38m ($42m) to buy a 29.9% stake of GEDI Gruppo Editoriale, publisher of newspapers including La Stampa and La Repubblica, as part of a plan to relaunch the business, which is currently run by his sons, Marco and Rodolfo. His offspring have “neither the skills nor the passion required to be publishers”, he lamented in an interview with Corriere della Sera, a rival daily. GEDI was a ship without a captain, at the mercy of high waves, according to the patriarch. On October 28th he resigned as honorary chairman of GEDI. (Exor, a holding company whose chairman sits on the board of The Economist’s parent company, has a 6% stake in GEDI.)

Mr De Benedetti’s return may be particularly operatic, but other Italian Methuselahs are also in the spotlight. Stefano Pessina, the 78-...



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Don’t show, tell

IT WAS ONE of the viral videos of 2017. Robert Kelly, an American academic, was discussing South Korean politics live on BBC World News when his two small children, eager for daddy’s attention, toddled into the room to interrupt him. It was a natural, joyful moment.

What did not look natural was Mr Kelly’s pose before the interruption. He was being interviewed by video link, staring at his screen, his gaze fixed and glassy. Like most people who use the same technology, he looked as if he was appearing in a hostage video.

These awkward interactions are a regular feature of 24-hour news channels, with their insatiable appetite for experts, many of whom live far from the studio. Increasingly, they are a regular part of people’s working lives, too. Many meetings now require a video screen so that others can participate from afar—their faces looming large like the villains appearing on the screen of the bridge of the starship Enterprise in an episode of “Star Trek”.

The future is likely to involve even more screen-based meetings. One survey, published earlier this year, predicted 12% annual growth in global sales of videoconferencing equipment between now and 2023.

On the plus side, videoconferencing could contribute to combating climate change. A video link is...



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Reaching the C-suite: no shortcuts, yet many paths

For many, reaching the C-suite for senior executive officers may seem like the pinnacle of success. Power, prestige, the opportunity to make a lasting impact — not to mention that spacious corner office. But how do executives arrive at those top spots? What does it take to stay and thrive in the role? And what can we learn from the experience of others that can be applied to our own career paths?

Just as there are many incentives that drive an executive’s desire to land in the C-suite, so are there many potential paths to get there. That is especially true in today’s dynamic business environment, which demands that leaders be comfortable managing a state of nearly constant change.  

Veteran executive advisor and coach Cassandra Frangos spent her career helping Fortune 500 companies assess and select C-suite executives. She shares her experiences and expertise with those seeking leadership positions in her recent book, “Crack the C-Suite Code: How Successful Leaders Make It to the Top.” The book includes interviews with dozens of CEOs and other C-suite executives from a broad range of companies and industries, as well as hundreds of executives who are likely to be C-suite candidates in the future. Frangos also interviewed the topmost experts in executive recruiting, leadership development, and management academia.

“I talked to as many C-suite executives as I could, across industries over a multi-year period — at conferences, networking events, and over the course of my everyday job. I got in the habit of asking them to tell me their stories,” Frangos shared in a recent webinar for MIT Sloan Executive Education. “Suddenly, I was the one asking the question: 'So, what did you do to reach C-suite?'”

With this research and inquiry as the backdrop — along with her keen interest in the intersection of psychology and business — Frangos offers a practical framework for how leaders can prepare for and achieve the corner office. This work has also informed a new program at MIT Sloan Executive Education, Strategies for Career Development: Charting Your Path to the C-Suite. The inaugural session of the program was held in September and received great reviews from participants who appreciated the insights, interactivity, and 360-degree assessments the program provides. Frangos teaches the program alongside MIT Sloan Professor Roberto Fernandez.

Trends to watch

“It’s an exciting time be in in the C-suite — and with it comes a lot of pressure,” says Frangos. “The digital economy changes everything; most CEOs have never before seen this much transformation.”  

To manage this kind of change, today’s CEO needs to be both strategic and operational. They need to have a keen understanding of the current and future impact of technology on their business. And they need to be willing to recognize the areas of expertise they need to shore up. Frangos illustrates her points by sharing examples of specific strategies that real executives — including some household names — have used to ascend to the top of their organizations. Her experience offers a glimpse into the real work of succession and offers both inspiration and practical advice.  

Another key trend for aspiring executives to watch is the move toward flatter organizational structures. This removes layers of management that can act as a barrier to change, and in turn puts the CEO in charge of more direct reports, making it easier for him or her to get a pulse on the business and act quickly and decisively based on this information.

Within this type of organizational structure, communication is key. The successful CEO needs to be able to clearly communicate their vision clearly to their colleagues, customers, investors, and, perhaps most importantly, to themselves. It is this last audience — understanding one’s own motivations for reaching the C-suite — that is at the core of Frangos’ research and recommendations. 

Charting your path

Leaders who have their eye on the C-suite have likely already proven themselves as capable within their organization and in their field. Frangos offers ways to leverage this momentum to help these executives accelerate to the top. From the tenure track to the “leapfrog” path and options in-between, she offers a framework for advancement that is suited to an individual’s goals and strengths.

“When I assess executives who are getting ready to be promoted, I’m often surprised at how many don’t understand what their brand is within the organization,” she says. “For example, they may be very good operationally but need to be seen as more strategic to get to the next level.”

Frangos’ work explores ways leaders can evolve to better align with their leadership goals, as well as zeroing in on other factors that enhance or detract from a chance of success in the C-suite. She also offers proven career development strategies, regardless of where a person is in their organization. Importantly, her approach stresses the need for leaders to cultivate both professional and personal support networks. 

Embarking on a path to the C-suite isn’t for the faint of heart, which is why it’s just as important for leaders to assess whether they truly have the appetite and determination to do the work and stay the course.

“Only you can control your destiny,” says Frangos. “No one is doing this for you. You have to chart your own path.”

Strategies for Career Development: Charting Your Path to the C-Suite will be held again in July and October 2020.



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