Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in HK

Posted on Posted in Business, Sales and Marketing

In our previous post, I covered some of the major online and offline marketing methods. In this particular article, I will focus on one of our favorite marketing methods which got us excellent results: SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I have mentioned over and over that no matter how good your products, services, and website are, it is meaningless without it being noticed. This is where SEO comes in.

PC & Search Engine Optimization

What exactly is SEO?

SEO is a process to get free traffic to your website through search engines. To put it in easy terms, it’s to rank your website as high as possible on the first page of the search results for specific keywords used when searching. For example, if I’m looking for a physiotherapist in Hong Kong, I might enter: “physiotherapist hong kong” into Google. Google will then return something like the picture below:

Google Hong Kong - Physiotherapy ResultsThe top spot is occupied by an Advertisement (PPC) and a map with 3 business listings are right below that. After the map listings, you will see the 10 “organic” non-advertisement results which are not paid results. Personally, these are the only results I usually look at. At the very bottom, you will also often find a few Ad results (usually 1 to 4).

By getting your SEO right, you will show up at the top of the organic results. If this is a little confusing for you, do not worry. I had no idea what all this was before starting my own business and hiring an SEO company (https://about.me/njlseohongkong) to do the hard part for me. Here is the SEO agency’s facebook page for your review. I highly recommend checking it out once in a while as they update their content regularly with interesting articles regarding marketing.

 

Do I need SEO?

Does your business need to make money? No, but the point of having a business is to make money. SEO is not a requirement but I can tell you first hand that this will help your business. In the beginning phases of my business, most of my customers came from people I knew, referrals (word of mouth), outbound sales calls, and setting up events. Since I started on my own without staff, this was a lot of work for one person to handle. I was reading online and it seemed like SEO and PPC (pay per click ads) was the way to go. From there, I started studying SEO with the hope of doing this for my own business’ website. I found out very soon that SEO is a lot more complicated and time-consuming that I initially thought; therefore, decided to hire a company to do it for me. Looking back at it, I am confident that this was the right choice. The price was by no means cheap, but we were able to get a very good return. The best part is that my website is now working around the clock to get me leads from people who are looking for products that I offer. By having my website within the top 3 results for my target keyword at all times generates a lot of traffic to my website. Of that traffic, a healthy share either gives us a call or sends us a message and we manage to close a pretty big percentage of the deals.

In a nutshell, we went from zero leads coming through our website to hundreds!

 

Here is a video that gives you an idea of just how important SEO can be:

 

Does this work for Hong Kong?

As far as I am told, SEO works everywhere, so, Yes!

From my research, most companies offer a free report or audit so if you are interested in SEO services to help you with your website’s rankings, I would recommend you request for an analysis and quote.

Thankfully, I have only had to use one agency and what I can say from this experience is that the connection you have with the staff at the company is very important. I spoke to three companies before making a choice but the agency I decided to go with wasn’t the cheapest out of the 3. It was right in the middle but I got along with the CEO very well which made me comfortable to put my website in his hands. The process was also very transparent so I highly recommend talking to a few companies and choosing who you feel you can trust and get along with. Google also has a few tips on choosing an SEO agency. Good luck!

In our next post, we plan on covering PPC in more detail.

 

Things to do after setting up your business (Marketing)

Posted on Posted in Sales and Marketing

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am a strong believer that marketing is the life blood of a business. Your company may provide the best service that there is a demand for but there is absolutely no point if nobody knows about it. You can still be successful if you have a strong sales team and referrals from existing customers but I believe that the more sources of customers you have, the better.

Marketing HK

On the other hand, one of your competitors could be providing a service at a level significantly lower than what you offer but might get incredible sales just because they know how to market the service. I know of many companies that have extremely impressive sales revenue even though their products are mediocre at best.

So, where shall we start?

 

Online Marketing

Digital Marketing

Website

First, let me ask you this: What do you usually do when you want to find details of something you are interested in? For example, when setting up bank account for your business what did you do first? I think that 9 out of 10 people would have searched for their options online. I think this is the same in any industry so getting a website built for your business would be one of the first things I would do. Unless web design is your “thing” I would get professional help here. I don’t know how many times I disregarded a product or service just because their website looked bad and untrustworthy. As long as you are not planning to do something complex within your website the cost shouldn’t be too high.

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Now that you have a website, the next thing (which is the most important) is to get your website found. If you have experience with building new websites in the past, you will understand that it is no easy task to get people to visit your website. SEO is the process where your website is optimized in a way that gains visibility in the search engines’ organic search results (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Since this is what enabled us to scale our own business, I will try to write a separate post in the future that goes into more details.

 

Pay-per-click

Whenever you search for something in Google, Yahoo, or Bing, have you noticed that the top 3~4 spots of the results are ads? This can be a quite quick and efficient way of getting your business found. The downside of this in my opinion is that (1) the percentage of people that clicks the Ad are quite low (I never click them…) and (2) the moment you stop paying for this service you lose all the visibility.

 

Social Media Marketing

This is quite straight forward, it is the use of social media platforms to promote your business and engage with your customers. An example would be to use Facebook, Twitter, etc.

 

Facebook Advertisement

I have not tried this yet; however, I am doing some research on this right now since we have decided to invest in FB advertising. If you think about it, Facebook has so many users and they have access to all the users’ daily lives (age, gender, where they live, where they work, what they like to do, etc.) meaning that they’ll be able to target highly relevant potential customers.

 

Offline Marketing

These are the more “traditional” or “orthodox” types of marketing. Personally, we didn’t use much offline marketing in our business since it was harder to track and the pricing didn’t make sense to us. However, I will list down some of the common offline marketing types below:

 

Printed Media

This is putting articles or advertisements in your local Newspapers, magazines, etc. This can get your business seen by a large population; however, it is highly untargeted compared to the options I mentioned in the online marketing section.

 

TV and Radio

Again, this has the potential of reaching a large amount of people in your target area. So, if your target is branding it could be a way to go; however, do not expect highly targeted customers calling you in volume. Note: These methods tend to be relatively pricey.

 

Direct Mail

This can reach specific geographic locations well in volume; however, the same problem (from our point of view) remains: They are highly untargeted. For example, we get dozens of DMs about nurseries in our area. Bad news is, our kid in middle school, we have no intentions of getting another child, and I don’t read or speak Cantonese (the flier was in Cantonese).

 

Billboards

When you look at Hong Kong island from Tsim Sha Tsui you will notice a lot of colorful billboards on top of the buildings. These definitely catch your eye but you will also notice that the advertisers are all big global companies like Toshiba, Canon, MGM, etc. More “normal sized” billboards exist but these are also dominated by companies like Apple, Samsung, Mercedes Benz, etc. The bottom line is they are costly and targeted at the mass market usually related with branding. Bus, minibus, and taxis also offer advertisement opportunities if there is any interest there.

 

Events

I personally like this method a lot. It gives businesses the opportunity to meet like-minded, potential customers in person. These can be large scale conventions or simply an invent you make through online services like meetup.com. You will reach fewer people but the people who attend the event will be highly targeted.

 

I will go into details of selected individual methods that I believe is most efficient in future posts.

What to do after setting up your business (Legal & Obligatory)

Posted on Posted in Business

Obligations Hong Kong

So, now that we have managed to successfully set up a legal entity in Hong Kong, what do we do next? I would like to go over some basics by dividing up this section into two main categories: (1) The legal/obligatory things you are required to take care of, and (2) The marketing aspect of things (mainly online marketing).

 

Legal and Obligatory Items

Finance

Now that you have your business in “official” standing, you should set up a corporate bank account. All major banks like HSBC, Standard Chartered, and DBS will have this so either give them a call or visit their branch and speak to a representative. Setting up an account is free but there will usually be a minimum deposit you need to maintain if you do not want to pay for maintenance charges (charges differ from company to company). Quick tip: Getting a credit card attached to your bank account will simplify your paper work as you won’t have to claim your expenses and reimbursing yourself.

 

 

Business Registration

You will be responsible for maintaining/renewing your business registration. The IRD (Inland Revenue Department) will send you a letter including the updated business registration every year so do not forget to pay for the fees. Failing to do this can lead to penalties.

 

Licensing

Depending on the type of business you are running, you may be required to apply and maintain a license before operating. For example, Finance and Food & Beverage businesses will need separate licenses to operate in Hong Kong. Make sure you are on top of this to avoid problems. I will include a link at the bottom of this post that will go into more details of this. Please note that the amount of time it takes to get a license will vary greatly.

 

Accounting and Auditing

No matter how small your business is (even if it is not profitable), you are required to keep records of your accounting. You are also required to be audited annually. Therefore, start shopping around for individuals/companies that can do this for you. Prices will vary drastically depending on your company’s size, the amount of transactions, etc. This can be anywhere between a few thousand HKD to millions. You will then need to complete and submit a profits tax return regardless of whether you were profitable or not.

 

Employment

This includes setting up and maintaining MPFs (Mandatory Provident Fund) as an employer, labor legislations, and equal opportunities for employment.

 

If you are interested in further details regarding your legal obligations when setting up a business, I suggest you checking out the government website.

If you are like me, you will find that the “paper-work” aspect of setting up a business tedious and quite frankly, boring. So, in our next post I will want to go into something more interesting: Marketing! (Link to next post about marketing)

We believe that marketing is one of the most important aspects of a business. One can have the greatest product in the world but without the proper visibility no one will know about this product. Assuming that you have an excellent product or service, let’s take a look at the common marketing options in our next post.

How to Set Up Your Company in Hong Kong

Posted on Posted in Business

Today I would like to write about how to set up a new limited company in Hong Kong. In this post every time I refer to a limit company, I am referring to a company limited by shares and not by guarantee.

There are basically two routes you can take to establishing your business.

A. Hiring a company to do it for you

meeting-room

If you do not have the time to research and prepare all the documents that are required to set up a business in Hong Kong, the best route is to hire a company to do it for you. There are many reputable companies that can take care of this for you for a fee. The price greatly varies depending on the company but you can find service providers that charge a fee starting at somewhere around 1,000 HKD with a lead-time of 12 business days. At this price-point it is definitely inexpensive and something you should consider if you don’t have time or would rather not get into the details. Please take note that the 1,000 HKD here is only for their service fee. This does not include the other administrative and registration costs for setting up a business which I will cover later. Make sure you ask your agent what is included in the price and if there are extra costs that you must bear.

B. Doing it yourself

I decided to go with this route because I was curious to know how to do it on my own, how hard it is, and how long it actually takes.

forms

Here are the steps I went through.

 

Step 1:

Choose a name for your business and make sure that it hasn’t been taken already. You can go to the Cyber Search Centre’s website to check the status on the business name. There are also special guidelines on what is or is not permitted as a business name. Instead of me listing all the rules, here is a link to the source which will always be up to date.

 

Step 2:

Hand in the following documents either electronically through the e-registry or as a hard copy in person at the 14th floor of the Queensway Government Offices.

  • Form NNC1 (Incorporation Form)
  • The company’s Articles of Association (Samples available online)
  • Form IRBR1 (Notice to Business Registration Office)

 

Step 3:

Pay the application fee when delivering the documents mentioned in Step 2.

 

Step 4:

Pick up or download the Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration Certificate.

 

Fees: Here are the fees you should expect to pay for incorporation.

Registration of Company having a share capital:

1,720 HKD

 

Business Registration Certificate

1-year certificate:

On or after 1 April 2016: 0 HKD (Fee) + 250 HKD (Levy) = 250 HD (total)

3-year certificate:

On or after 1 April 2016: 3,200 HKD (Fee) + 750 HKD (Levy) = 3,950 HKD (total)

 

Guidelines and prices may change so I advise you to visit the below website for the latest and most accurate information:

http://www.cr.gov.hk/en/public/services.htm

You can find all forms, samples, fee schedules, and supplementary information at the above.

 

So… This is basically it. Pretty straight forward and my certificate was done in about 5 business days. Significantly faster than the service I mentioned at the first part of this post. Is it worth paying 1,000+ HKD for someone else to do it for you? Maybe, but personally I would just do it on my own.

 

In our next post I plan to go into what to do after you set up your business.

 

The Four Key Industries in Hong Kong

Posted on Posted in Business

This post will be a relatively short one but we will be covering what the thriving industries and businesses here in Hong Kong are.

According to the Census and Statistical Department of Hong Kong, the below are the four key industries (or pillars) in this country in order from largest to smallest:

  • Trading and Logistics
  • Financial Services
  • Professional and producer services
  • Tourism

 

You have probably noticed that manufacturing is missing from this list. Hong Kong once had a thriving manufacturing industry; however, most manufacturing has been replaced by the service industry due to a few reasons. With the limited amount of land in Hong Kong, land prices have shot up as the economy grew, forcing manufacturers to move their operations to areas where land/rent is cheaper (China, etc.).

Trading and logistics has grown drastically thanks to the country’s almost free port trade.

Hong Kong has turned into an international finance center, earning its place as a well-established finance market partly due to its low taxation, which attracts a lot of foreign capital and investment.

The third largest industry mentioned above is the “Professional and Producer Services”; which may lead you to the question. What in the world does this include? To give you an example, some of the following are included:

  • Architecture and engineering activities
  • Information technology and advertising (marketing and digital marketing)
  • Legal, accounting, and auditing services

Lastly, the fourth largest industry/market in Hong Kong is Tourism. In 2015, Hong Kong has attracted over 59 million visitors. Here are just some of the reasons Hong Kong is a tourist magnet:

  • It has a diverse culture
  • You can get around with English
  • Wide array of cuisine from all over the world
  • No sales tax + low import duty on many things = Great for shopping
  • Convenient transportation
  • It’s very safe

If you are thinking to start your business in any of these four industries, you can be sure that there is a demand for it; however, be prepared for some competition.

In some of our future posts we will make some advices on how you can make your business stand out from the crowd.

 

What is Hong Kong Like (Business Culture)?

Posted on Posted in Business, Sales and Marketing

In our last post, we wrote about a general overview of Hong Kong. Next, we want to go a little bit deeper into the business culture of HK.

 

Dress Code

Hong Kong can get extraordinarily hot and humid but that doesn’t mean you can dress down at all occasions. Even with the warm climate, formal business attire is expected unless your company or your business partner says otherwise. Generally, IT and fashion industries are more lenient but you should think of them as the exceptions. It is always safe to go with a dark suit, shirt, and tie.

 

Business Etiquette

Like in the west, you can start with a handshake complemented with maybe a bow (not a full one…). Just like in many cultures, approach the most senior person first and then work your way down. Take corporate hierarchy seriously. Also make sure to address the counterpart with their title and surname. You will notice that many Hong Kongers will have a “western” name in addition to their given name to make it easier to remember. Remember to keep your business cards stocked as these are exchanged almost all the time and the lack of one may be misinterpreted as you not wanting to do business with the other party.

 

“Face”

The concept of “face” is exceptionally important in Hong Kong and Chinese culture (as well as other Asian countries like Japan and Korea). An individual’s respect and reputation is dependent on this “face” so confronting or embarrassing someone in public will result in the person “losing face” which will most likely end your business relationship. This must be respected and handled with care.

 

Business Dinners and Lunches

Eating and drinking is a big part of the Hong Kong business culture. It is an important way to communicate with both your colleagues and business partners/clients. The use of chopsticks may be daunting but people will understand if you are unable to use them and the restaurants will most likely stock other utensils as well. It is common to have alcoholic beverages but don’t go overboard. Just use your common sense J

 

Lai see

Lai see is a red packet/envelope containing 20-100 HKD that is given to people you deal with on a regular basis during Chinese New Year. You should use new bills with even numbers.

In our next post, we are thinking to write a little about thriving industries here in Hong Kong. Will keep you posted!

What is Hong Kong Like (Overview)?

Posted on Posted in Business

A Brief Modern History

After its occupation during the first opium war (1839 – 1842), Hong Kong became a UK colony. First the Hong Kong Island was ceased in 1841, then the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860, and finally the New Territories, which was leased to the UK for 99 years in 1960. Later, Hong Kong was occupied by Japan during the second world war and it wasn’t until 1945 that the UK gained back its control over HK. Under an agreement signed between China and UK in 1984, HK became Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) of the People’s Republic of China and was handed back to China in 1 July 1997. With regards to the handover, China promised a “one country, two systems” scheme and HK is able to enjoy high level of autonomy in all things except foreign and defense matters for the following 50 years… This is somewhat of a sensitive topic at the moment as the local Hong Kongers are slowly but surely feeling the pressures from mainland China in many aspects of their daily lives. That being said, due to the independent executive, legislative, and judiciary powers; Hong Kong was able to build relations with foreign states and international organizations in a wide range of fields on their own without much governance.

Thanks to this, it is people like you and I are able to strive and succeed in the markets here.

hong_kong_map

 

Culture

Hong Kong is a cultural melting pot which is heavily influenced by its Chinese roots and its time under British occupation. This combination makes for a unique culture with its very own identity. This will be a very import part of starting and growing your business. The people of Hong Kong will usually refer and identify themselves as Hong Kongers or Hong Kong Chinese in order to distinguish themselves from the mainland Chinese. In general try not to refer to Hong Kongers as Chinese. You also must understand that things like Feng Shui is nothing to laugh at over here. This can literally make or break a deal depending on who you are dealing with. As for sports, much like my home town, it is also a big part of the culture here. This is also due to the British occupation. Hong Kong has a high level of religious freedom (guaranteed by law); however, the majority (64%) is said to not believe in any type of religion.

 

Food

One cannot talk about Hong Kong without mentioning the food. Whether it’s fast food or some of the world most sought after delicacies; Hong Kong has it all. From local food to fancy western cuisines, anything can be found (both expensive and inexpensive).

 

Weather

I must warn you: It gets very hot and extremely humid here in Hong Kong. The temperature stays relatively hot ~ warm throughout the whole year in European standards; however, the winter months can actually be quite chilly. Just to give you an idea, the highs hover between 20 and 33 degrees Celsius and lows between 14 and 27 degrees throughout the year. A low of 14 degrees seems warm enough but the buildings here usually do not come with heating; and the buildings seems to have been made with a design to let out heat. This means that you could be in an environment that is constantly at 14 degrees for some time. Yes, that can get cold…

 

People and Language

As of July 2016, Hong Kong has a population of 7,167,403 and is made up of more than 200 islands. Ethnicity wise, it is by far comprised of Chinese (93.1%) and the others include Indonesians (1.9%), Filipinos (1.9%), and others (3%) according to a study in 2011. Hong Kong has two official languages: Cantonese and English. It is said that the English language is used by 3.1% of the population as an “every-day” language and 34.9% of the population uses it as their second language. After the handover in 1997, Hong Kong has seen a rise in mainland Chinese immigrants flowing in, bringing in more and more Mandarin speakers.

 

Business

Hong Kong has grown into one of the largest leading Financial Centres and International Trading entities and I will get into this further in my next post. Today, I just wanted to focus on the brief overview of Hong Kong.

hong-kong-buildingsWhether you are looking at pictures of Hong Kong or just walking around town, one thing that is extremely hard to miss is the sheer amount and density of skyscrapers. Since, land is very scarce in Hong Kong, the only way to accommodate more people is by building up. Needless to say, this means that rent and purchase prices of flats are some one the highest in the world. This means we need to work extra hard to be able to afford it here!

In our next post we will start talking about businesses here in Hong Kong!

Yes, We’re Back!

Posted on Posted in Business

hong-kong-were-back

After a bit of a hiatus we are back up and running again!

Our agenda remains the same. We will be delivering our readers with information on the city of Hong Kong, it’s culture, Businesses, trends, opportunities, etc. Since, most of our articles from the past has been lost, we will begin by covering some of the basics like an ‘intro’ to Hong Kong. Then we’ll move onto the meatier stuff like how to set up and grow your business over here.

During our hiatus, I received quite a few emails asking me why I was taking a break from hongkongbusinessnetwork.com. Well, to put it simply, it was to focus on my new business venture. Now that my business is somewhat stable, I decided to restart this website in hopes of helping anyone that is trying to start their own business.

This website is not a means to promote my personal business in any way, so, I won’t be mentioning or putting links to my business here. I’m hoping I’m doing my job well enough that the people interested in my business will come across it on their own and me not having to shove it in your faces 🙂

Instead, I want this website’s focus to be on what matters to business owners and people desiring to set up their own business here in Hong Kong.

If there is anything you would like for us to review or cover in particular; please don’t be shy and let us know!

Looking forward to our new journey!

 

Update: We’ve added many posts since our re-launch including some interesting insights on how to register your business, what to do after you set up your business, and how to advertise your business, etc.