A Guide to Hiring an SEO Provider

If your business has any online components (such as a website), then SEO is crucial to the ongoing success of your business. You may have the most expensive website in your industry, but without web traffic (visitors) to that website, it is essentially useless. It is not just traffic that you need, but targeted traffic. A good quality SEO service can provide relevant, consistent web traffic to your website(s). This guide will allow you, as a non-expert, to distinguish between good and bad SEO providers. There are many of both kinds, this guide should help you to find the good ones.

SEO needs to be implemented in a way that is effective in achieving your SEO goals and providing that all important meaningful presence on the World Wide Web.

Quality SEO is a crucial investment when it comes to developing successful expansion and growth strategies.

Ineffective SEO implementation, renders your SEO efforts wholly ineffective and a waste of your money.

6 things you need to know and understand before hiring an SEO provider:

1) Hiring an SEO provider should be seen as an investment in your business. You should not view it as a business expense, but rather a business strategy and an effective way of enhancing your business presence within your business sector. Try not to begin your search with the intention of “buying some SEO”. Hiring an SEO provider should be viewed rather as hiring an employee that understands and cares about your business and its online objectives.

2) The first page of Google (or any search engine) is everything. Few people ever go to the second page of the search results anymore. Google is so good at being a search engine that people blindly trust Google’s ability to deliver the most relevant results on the first page. Think about how often you click through to the second page. This means that if your business is not on the first page, it’s almost as good as nowhere. The top positions on page one get the most clicks, which decrease as you progress downwards on the page.

3) The ‘big’ keywords are not everything. It is better to be on the first page for a few smaller keywords, than try to rank for bigger keywords and not be on the first page at all. For example, an accountancy business in Preston may not rank for the highly competitive keyword ‘accountant’ (unless they have a lot of SEO budget and time to wait for rankings); but the same business could conceivably rank highly for the keyword ‘chartered accountant Preston’. A good SEO provider should research the keywords that your business could realistically rank on page one for and also keywords that have enough search volume to be worthwhile for your business to try ranking for.

4) SEO is all about beating your competition. There is no guarantee from the search engines to say you will be on the first page of Google if you do certain things. Put simply, SEO works like this:

The search engines have their conventions; websites that conform by giving the search engines what they want, will find themselves achieving better search engine rankings. The only thing standing between you and the top spots in the search rankings is your competition. Not your actual business competitors, but your online competitors. The websites that currently have the top spots in the search engines for your desired keywords are your online competition, and you need to beat them out of those top spots. Some keywords will be easy to rank for, others will be more difficult. It is only your online competition that dictates which will be the case for each individual keyword. A good SEO provider will research the competition for each of your keywords. Then, after the most effective keywords for your business sector have been identified they should be implemented in accordance with point number three above.

5) On-page and Off-page SEO.

Search engine optimisation is a complex and ever-evolving science, but in order to intelligently interview a prospective SEO provider you need to understand that there are two main types of SEO.

On-page SEO relates to the factors on your website that affect your SEO (keywords, usability, page headings, outbound links, internal links, etc.).

Off-page SEO are the factors that relate directly to matters outside of your website that affect the SEO of the website, such as back links, citations, social sharing, etc.

SEO providers can work on your off-page SEO fairly easily, but if you are not willing to change on-page SEO, according to their recommendations, you cannot blame them for lack of results. A good SEO provider will review your website and report back about your on-page SEO, and how it can be improved. You should have your web designer make the adjustments.(Remember he is the expert in this field)

6) An increase in search engine ranking is not necessarily an increase in leads and sales. All your SEO provider can do is get your website, videos, Google Places, articles, blog posts, etc. further up the search engine results. They cannot guarantee an increase in sales or leads, because that factor is determined by your own sales funnel. It is not the SEO provider’s job to make sure that the extra web traffic you receive will convert to more leads or sales. Your website needs to convert those visitors with good marketing, which is an issue for your marketing consultant to deal with.

The key differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ SEO providers:

Good SEO Providers

Good SEO providers know and understand the points mentioned above. You can judge this by their answers to the questions provided later in my next article.

Good SEO providers want to build a solid foundation and a proper SEO plan for your business, with extensive initial keyword and market (competitor) research. They will often insist upon it, even if the prospective client does not see the need. Sometimes a good SEO provider will refuse to work with a client that does not want the important groundwork to be done, because they know that without it they will not be likely to provide the client with the results that they want. A good SEO provider will want to provide their client with results as their first priority. Often a client will say “but I’ve already done the keyword research myself”. Many potential clients sit down for 5 or 10 minutes to write out all the keywords that they think are relevant to their business, and then think that they have now done all the keyword research that is needed. Real keyword research is a lengthy, investigative process.

Good SEO providers use responsible SEO methods, such as paying more attention to on-page SEO, securing quality back links, improving citations, aiding social sharing, ensuring a good user experience, etc.

Bad SEO Providers

Bad SEO providers will want to take their clients’ money as their first priority. They will not conduct proper keyword and market research, but will say, for example, “what are your three keywords and your URL that you want to rank for”. If this happens (as it often does) you can be sure they are simply plugging your website into software to get irrelevant back links all over the internet, using spam blog comments, link farms and other means. In many cases this approach is ineffective because the URL, or domain, may not match the client’s desired keywords. This can also damage the reputation and, ironically, the long-term SEO and credibility of the website.

Bad SEO providers use bad quality SEO methods (Sometimes referred to as Black-hat methods), Utilising these methods can have an extremely detrimental effect on how your website is perceived by search engines. This in turn may result in your website being (Sand boxed). Needless to say this is extremely undesirable, as damage such as this is extremely difficult to reverse.

Ensure you get the specialist SEO who knows how best to highlight the attributes of your company and can draw attention to your products and your services in a way that really makes your business stand-out on the worldwide web.

Guide To Buying Boots

We can all agree that boots give you a sexy look. For you to enjoy wearing them you need to buy the right ones.

Factors to consider when buying boots

You need to consider a number of factors when buying the shoes. Some of these factors include:

Insoles width: When making the purchase you should go for shoe styles that have wide insoles. This is because the wide insoles will effectively cushion your feet.

The length of the shaft: Your choice should be informed by your preferences. Of course, boots with a short shaft make it easy for you to walk around as you can move your legs easily. On the other hand, a short shaft won’t provide you with much protection against snow.

The surface of the soles: The surface of the soles comes in different categories. There are some surfaces that are smooth thus making it hard for you to walk as they don’t provide you with much friction. There are also some surfaces that are hard and others soft. If you like attention, you should go with shoes with a hard sole but if you don’t want a lot of unwanted attention, go for boots with a soft sole.

The curve of the vamps: The vamps greatly determine your comfort when walking or sitting on your desk. To be comfortable you should go for boots with loose vamps. These will allow you to easily flex and bend your feet.

Mistakes to avoid when buying boots

Studies done by experts show that most people make plenty of mistakes when buying their shoes. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Guessing the size: I am sure you have made this mistake. When you choose a shoe based on the previous number you end up buying one that is either too big or too small. When making the purchase you should know that different companies and countries have different shoe measurements. To avoid buying the wrong size always take your measurements to the shoe store. If buying from an offline store, always try the shoe.

Buying a cheap boot: If you have bought shoes before you know that a good quality boot doesn’t come cheap. While the cheap boot might look good now, after some time it will lose its looks and you will have to buy a new one. The best way of going about it is buying a good quality shoe. While it will be expensive to buy, it will be worth it in the long run.

Stops in Photography – A Beginners Guide

No doubt that if you have started toying around with photography you will have come across the term ‘Stops’.

What is a stop?

In photography, a stop is a measurement of Exposure.

For example:

If you were to increase the exposure by one stop – you would in effect be doubling the exposure.

So if your settings are

Aperture: f/4,

Shutter Speed: 1/100

ISO: 100

And you upped the ISO value to 200 you will have effectively increased your exposure by 1 stop.

This function of photography can be a bit daunting but understanding this is instrumental in helping you achieve the results that you are after and knowing what needs to be done.

Let’s see a little simple sample of this.

Say you are shooting at f/2.8, 1/100 Shutter Speed with an ISO of 200 but the effect you are after is a shallower depth of field. Widening the aperture to f/2 will produce the required effect but knowing that this will double the amount of light that is entering your lens will allow you address this problem.

You’ve made a full stop with your aperture to get the correct DOF.

The consequence is that the exposure is too bright now.

To combat this you could halve the ISO to 100 or double the shutter speed to 1/200 of a second.

Each of the 3 elements will have different stops. Let’s see the difference between them.

ISO

ISO doubles between stops. So in effect:

ISO 100 -> ISO 200 is one stop.

ISO 200-> ISO 400 is one stop.

So far so good. Let’s move onto Shutter Speed stops

Shutter Speed Stops

The simple one here is when you are using shutter speeds of 1 second or longer. The same principle as above applies. You simply double the time 1->2, 2 -> 4 etc…

When shooting at fractions of a second (which will probably be most of the time at least during your early journey in photography) you will need to halve the number on the bottom (the denominator)

So 1/100 is twice the length of 1/200. 1 Stop, double the exposure.

1/50 is twice the length of 1/100. 1 Stop, double the exposure.

Phew… that wasn’t so bad. Now let’s move on to

Aperture

This is where I’ll need you to bear with me.

This little puppy is the most complicated and mathematical of all.

The aperture scale doesn’t follow the same path as the shutter speed or ISO.

Aperture is measured in what is known as the f-stop scale. This f-number tells you how wide the aperture is which affects the exposure and the DOF. The lower the number, the wider the aperture (or bigger the hole).

The scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 and f/22.

The most important thing to know about the numbers above when dealing with stops is that each number decreases the aperture to half its size (1 stop).

Keep in mind that the scale above does not show every number that will show in your camera. There will be other numbers in there (i.e.: 3.5 and 3.2) these are known as third stops and won’t be doubling of halving your exposure but lie somewhere in between.

Take out your camera, compose your shot and play around with the settings to see what the outcome is.

Compose? The next big factor in your photographic journey. Stay Tuned.

How to Penetrate the GateKeeper and Make the Sale

Getting past the gatekeeper or a prospects voice mail can be the biggest roadblock that is keeping you from meeting your sales goals.

We have always been taught hundreds of techniques on how to close a sale, but the books and sales trainers forgot the most important step and that is getting your butt in the account.

How can you close a sale, if you are unable to speak to the prospect?

You can learn and master every closing technique and not make one sale because you are unable to stimulate the interest of the buyer because you are unable to speak to them.

If you want to increase you sales then you must learn how to get in the door. No more than ever it is harder to speak to a prospect because they have put a guard at their door keeping you out.

That guard may be a nice lady sitting at the front door answering the phones. We have all been through the initial call when a gatekeeper answers the phone and wants to know who we want to speak to and why.

The Gatekeeper is now the person we must learn how to sell before we can even think about speaking to the buyer. You mess up with the gatekeeper and away your chances go.

If you want to penetrate the “Gate” you must learn how to seduce and gain the approval of the gatekeeper.

When I am trying to speak to a buyer and offer them my new product, I will speak to the gatekeeper and entertain her with a great conversation. I will ask them how their day is going and let them know that I am not familiar with the buyer and tell her what I am trying to do.

If I am not sure who I need to speak with, I will tell the buyer what I am trying to accomplish and whom can best help me.

Instead of sending the buyer a sample of my product, I will ask the gatekeeper if should would evaluate my product for me. I will send her samples for her to keep as a gift.

What this allows me to do is befriend the gatekeeper and when I call back she can give me input as to what she thinks about my product. If she likes it, she is know my personal inside salesperson. She will feel important that I asked for her opinion.

I have used this technique so much that it is like giving candy to a baby. The gatekeeper will thank me for the samples and then they will go sell my product to the buyer.

When I call back the buyer will have already received my product with a special endorsement from their number #1 Guard.

Enlist the Guard and they will give you a key to the door.

Babybjorn Baby Carrier: Comfort for You and Your Baby

Go hands-free with Babybjorn Organic Comfort Carrier when traveling or simply strolling around with your baby. This comfortable and classic carrier is a sure win that enables you the perfect usefulness and durability of the product. Made with a breathable mesh fabric, the Babybjorn carrier gives a support system that allows air to pass through avoiding a sweaty feeling or discomfort. It is also made in a two-piece design making it effective without having to hold your baby. It also ensures comfort for the baby because of its well cushioned lining.

Not only does the Babybjorn Baby Carrier emphasize comfort, it is also made with a back support system making it easier for carrying for long periods of time. Its special form enables it to rest properly on your back. It also allows lower back support managing the weight being carried to avoid back pain and strain. The form of the carrier is perfect for supporting and enhancing the posture.

Even if you find the price too expensive, it is nothing to worry about because the Babybjorn Baby Carrier ensures the product’s long time use. It has adjustable straps suitable for your growing baby. The buckles on the side straps are made in an easy slide design. The shoulder straps may also be adjusted to suit your built and comfort. The Babybjorn carrier can carry up to 26 pounds maximum weight.

Apart from its benefits and comfortable design, the Babybjorn Baby Carrier also accentuates the materials used for the product. Its hypo allergenic material makes it safe for the adult and the baby at the same time. The cloth and fabric is made with non-toxic materials making it safe for your baby’s skin. There are no harmful elements that can be unsafe for the user’s health. The material is also machine- washable. It can be easily cleaned with fabric soap and warm water. Also it allows for fast drying time so that it may immediately be used as soon as possible.

Carrying your baby is truly made easy. If you worry about moving your baby from one position to the other, the adjustable straps can do wonders with manipulating your baby’s comfortable space. It is easy to detach allowing you to change your baby’s position from facing inward or outward. Also, the Babybjorn Baby Carrier introduces the comfort it ensures for your baby. It has a soft neck support allowing your baby to move his head without having to worry about neck and back pains for your baby. It also enables good posture for your baby and safety because the straps are surely secured.

Get the quality, innovation comfort, and style from Babybjorn carrier. You will never go wrong with this quality product because of its promising features. There are way too many benefits making it a top product for you and your baby. Even if you have few doubts with the product, the Babybjorn Carrier reviews say much about its reliable benefits and assurance. Grab your baby carrier and enjoy being outdoors without the hassle of carrying your baby.

Tarot Meditation

In the following we will provide instructions about how to perform one easy but powerful tarot cards meditation technique. At first glance, meditation and tarot are two disciplines far apart from one another. This, however, need not be true. Our meditation can benefit from using the tarot cards since they are strong and potent visualization objects. On the other hand, tarot card practitioners can use meditation as a tool for discovering new, previously unknown, relationships between the cards and their symbols.

Here is a step by step guide into a relatively simple but efficient tarot meditation method. The goal we are trying to achieve is to project our consciousness into one selected Tarot card at a time.

  1. The duration of your tarot meditation is up to you, but it should not exceed 10 minutes in the beginning phase.
  2. You should use only the Major Arcana Tarot Deck. More precisely, you should start with The Fool, Card number 0 and successively go through all the Major Arcana up to The World, Card nr. 21. After a month, if you feel like doing it, you can extend the meditation time to a maximum of 30 minutes.
  3. It is not unimportant what tarot deck you use in this type of meditation. Take a look at our suggestions for online purchase of tarot decks.
  4. Position your card in front of your eyes. Adjust the distance, so that you can observe all the details without any effort.
  5. Gaze at the Tarot Card for a couple of seconds. Then close your eyes and mentally try to reproduce what you have just observed. Open your eyes again and notice the differences between your mental image and the card itself.
  6. Repeat step 4 several times, while gradually increasing the gazing period, and equally, the period where you visualize the card with your inner eye. Remember that your complete meditation should not exceed 10 minutes.

While doing this exercise, it is very important to teach yourself to be a neutral observer. No involvement, no projections, no tensions of any kind. Just be there and look at the image on the selected Tarot card with ease and in total relaxation.

After some time, you will see how (provided that you managed to be sufficiently relaxed) it takes virtually no effort from your side to see the exact copy of the Tarot card you have just gazed at projected on your inner screen. When you have mastered this step, you will have completed the first phase of this tarot meditation.

After this beginner’s level, you are ready to take on another step. Now, we will try to make the inner image more vivid and alive. We will try to transform it from being a 2D image into a 3D real live object. If done properly, the frame of your selected tarot card will become a window (or a portal) into another world. This world will be filled with light, color, objects and figures. In meditation, you should do the same thing: be there and observe this vivid image in peace and calm.

Yet another, more advanced stage would be stepping through that portal, and entering (projecting yourself into) that created live image. It can be an astral or mental projection, but it need not be. You will be there, and you will be observing the environment. You are passive, but you are conscious and observing.

What will happen afterward, depends on the individual features of the person doing this form of tarot meditation. Maybe, you will realize some new relations between a given pair of symbols, or new activity among the figures of the Tarot Card. Use all your senses to discover the hidden meaning of the symbols. When this inner image becomes more real than the external image depicted on the card, you have established the most important prerequisites for symbolic communication.

At the end, it is important to terminate your meditation properly. You should reverse the steps in the following way.

1. Extract yourself from the inner image.

2. Reduce it from a 3D to a 2D image.

3. When this image has become similar to the one depicted on the card, focus on recording your inner meditative experiences. Best way is to write them down, or verbalize them in some way. By doing this last step after each meditation session, you will establish a bridge between your normal superficial consciousness and the deeper levels of your psychic. Thus, the benefits of this tarot card meditation exercise will be expressed through your ability to access and understand your sub-conscious content more easily. And, the fact is there is hardly any self-growth and self-realization without getting to know and dealing with the deeper levels of your own being.

Coal Mining and Mountain Top Removal – What Say You?

It is without doubt that mountain top coal mining is safer for humans than sending people into tunnels to dig it out with machines, however environmentalists warn us about shaving off mountain tops to get the coal out. When shaving off a mountain top the excess dirt is scraped into canyons and ravines and theoretically everything is level, once all the coal is gone some of that excess dirt can be pushed back into the hole and a mound is built where a mountain once was.

Environmentalists understand this, but claim it looks like a war zone within a few years, as one mountain little coal is found so they go and shave off another, then another. This is true it can get out of hand. Yes, but with proper technology, they can know in advance which mountains are viable, and with a proper plan we can mitigate the environmental risks of water flow, storm flooding and erosion.

Next, if the plan is done like the forest harvesting, where they cut down one area of trees, remove underbrush for timber, and allow it to re-grow, it’s actually workable. In this case, the company’s job in an area would not be complete until the watershed was re-grown, and they’d have to have a bond with their permits for doing so, in case they went out of business. However, environmentalists still have a problem with this right? Yes, how so you ask?

You see, that 50-100 year flood will come, they always do and unless everything is perfect huge landslides, flash flooding and an eco-disaster will occur later on they claim. This is why, “if” mountain top mining is done, it must be done responsibly and honorably with regards to environmental concerns and mitigation, but that should be done with “real” data and facts, not political power, or monied interests. Please consider all this.

History of the Cheerleader Uniform

Though you might not believe it by the outfits today, cheerleading uniforms started out very conservatively. At the turn of the twentieth century the majority of cheerleaders were male, and they did not wear uniforms but just participated wearing street clothes. Women did join the ranks of cheerleaders, and as they did the cheerleading uniforms they wore were appropriate for the day. There is a postcard from Cornell University, printed in 1906, that shows a female cheerleader carrying a school banner, wearing a very conservative outfit in school colors – a long sleeved dress with a high neckline and long, flowing skirt.

In the beginning stages of cheerleading, uniforms often consisted of a sweater (usually a cardigan) and the school letters on the front. Sometimes a turtleneck shirt would be layered under the cardigan sweater for additional warmth for cheerleaders outdoors. A megaphone (a device used to amplify the voices of the cheerleaders) would often accompany the cheerleading uniforms and they would have the school letters on them as well. Pom poms, another popular cheerleading accessory, started to appear as a part of the cheerleading uniform in the 1930’s. The original pom poms were made of paper – Fred Gastoff invented vinyl pom poms in 1965.

In the beginning stages of cheerleading, the male cheerleaders would wear trousers while the women would wear ankle length wool skirts. In the 1950’s the lengths of the skirts began to get shorter but were still on the conservative side. Saddle shoes were the footwear of choice for female cheerleaders. Male cheerleaders would often wear flat, canvas sneakers.

During the 1960’s the length of skirts changed – the below the knee length skirts worn as the uniform for female cheerleaders gave way to shorter, pleated skirts. Cotton began being used as the fabric of choice for cheerleading uniform skirts, and the use of cotton made the skirts lighter and made for easier movement. Cardigan sweaters were replaced by crew neck sweaters that were often short sleeved. You would usually find the school letters on the sweaters but some squads would incorporate the name of the cheerleader on the cheerleading uniform sweaters as well.

As time progressed, cheerleading became more organized and the routines became more complicated. Cheerleaders needed to have uniforms that allowed for more freedom of movement. During the 1970’s most cheerleading squads began to wear athletic sneakers instead of the old fashioned saddle shoes. Instead of sweaters with the school letters, some cheerleading uniforms were sweaters with stripes in the school colors, while some squads moved to wearing vests instead of sweaters. The 1970’s also was the time when the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders became a part of popular culture, with their skimpy, form fitting cheerleading uniforms consisting of boots, white hot pants (short-shorts) and long sleeved blue button up shirts that revealed their waists.

During the 1980’s the necklines of cheerleading uniform sweaters were more often than not v-neck lines instead of the traditional crew necklines. During the 1990’s the length of the skirts became even shorter to provide better freedom of movement for the jumps, lifts and tumbling skills that are a part of cheerleading routines. To determine how short is too short when it comes to the length of skirts in cheerleading uniforms, most squads followed a rule that the cheerleading skirt would end no shorter than the fingertips when the arms were held at the cheerleader’s side. Turtlenecks were often left out as a part of the cheerleading uniform.

The materials used in today’s cheerleading uniforms are polyester, or a combination of polyester and spandex. The cheerleading uniform top is form fitting, but depending on the squad it could be short sleeved, long sleeved or even sleeveless. The National Federation of High Schools have a rule that the tops worn by cheerleaders must cover their midriffs when their arms are resting at their sides, a change from the tops of the 1970’s and 1980’s that would show off the abdomen of the cheerleader. Cutouts on the chest, shoulders, back or arms are allowed in today’s cheerleading uniforms. Skirts are about 12 to 14 inches in length, but most women wear briefs in a school color under the skirt for modesty. Some cheerleaders refer to these briefs as lollies or spankies.

Even though the styles of cheerleading uniforms have changed through the years, there is one thing that has remained constant – a cheerleader will be decked out in his or her school colors to show spirit and loyalty while leading a crowd in cheers.

NY Wholesalers – How To Find The Best Wholesalers In New York

NY wholesalers have been known to carry the best selection and lowest prices by the retail industry.

Many retailers travel come from all over the country, and even from as far away as Australia and Africa, to visit wholesalers in New York.

The New York wholesale district has long been known as the wholesale center of the country.

You can find wholesale deals on brand name clothing, electronics, perfumes, handbags, and almost any other type of product that you can imagine.

Visiting the NY wholesale district can be an exciting experience. You will be surprised at the extensive selection and competitive prices that you will find.

But before you arrive in NY, you need to know how to find the wholesalers you are looking for.

For starters, you should first call the NY Chamber of Commerce. They can supply you with a list of wholesalers that are members of the Chamber.

Second, get hold of a New York city Yellow Book. The phone directory has a section devoted to wholesalers.

Next, visit the wholesale district. It’s located between Broadway and sixth avenue, from 20th to 29th st. Be ready to spend an entire day visiting showrooms.

Be ready to make a deal when you find a wholesaler that has the products you want. The wholesalers in NY are serious and will work with you, provided that you are just as serious and are ready to commit to making a deal.

There are also mini wholesale districts in outlying areas. For instance you can find a wholesale district in Greenpoint, which is a neighborhood in Brooklyn.

For instance, you will find a complex at 276 Greenpoint Avenue that houses over 30 different wholesalers.

You will usually find the best wholesale prices in areas immediately outside of Manhattan. Since the rents are lower, the wholesalers can afford to offer lower prices on their wholesale products.

Cell Phone Plans – Things To Know Before Signing

Cell phones can be very convenient, but before you sign a contract for wireless phone service, be sure to ask a number of questions:

Where can you make and receive calls? Most providers now promote their plans as local, regional or national. A local plan offers a low-cost option if most of your calls are near home. Regional plans generally offer a much larger geographic area, sometimes several states. If you call outside the area covered by these plans, you will pay long distance and roaming charges in addition to the airtime used. National plans are the most expensive, but they let you use your phone anywhere in the country for a single per-minute price. Roaming and long distance charges are replaced by a single, predictable flat rate.

How frequently will you use the phone? If you just want a phone for emergencies, an economy plan with a few minutes a month might be all that you need. On the other hand, if you are going to be a heavy user, a plan with several free hours and the lowest airtime charge is a wiser choice.

Is a family plan option available? Instead of individual cell phone plans for each member of the family, you can share one cellular service plan among several phones. Everyone shares the same pool of monthly minutes, and the monthly cost of additional minutes is usually less than if you purchased individual accounts.

Is the technology digital or analog? Digital service is clearer and more secure than analog, but coverage can be spotty. Analog networks have greater coverage, especially in rural areas. If you want digital service, make sure your cellular company has a “roaming” agreement that lets your phone work on an analog system when you are outside digital range. But beware: roaming can be expensive, and it requires a “dual mode” phone.

Is there a trial period during which you can test the service? Everyone has experienced dead spots where their cell phone doesn’t work. A trial period lets you test your service in places where you will be using it–the office, your house, your car, and the roads you travel-so you don’t get surprised by these dead spots.

Are there any fees or limits on changing your plan? Some providers charge a fee if you want to downsize or upgrade your plan. Others limit how often you can make changes. Moreover, what happens if you want to cancel your service? Most providers have a penalty, which can be a concern if you have to move out of the area covered by your plan.

Finally, there are ‘Pay-As-You-Go Plans.’ If you want cell phone service only for emergencies or aren’t sure how much you will actually use a cell phone once you get it, you may want to consider a prepaid cell phone before you commit to a long-term wireless contract. With a prepaid cell phone, there is no contract to sign and no monthly bill to worry about. You will know exactly how much you spend. The down side of prepaid plans is that you pay more per minute, and if you don’t use the phone for an extended period of time, you could lose the money in your account.