Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nofollow Questions?

Nofollow, an HTML attribute, was designed by in early 2005 Google’s Matt Cutts and Blogger’s Jason Shellen and originally intended to stop comment spam on blogs.*  Nofollow was NOT meant to block access to content or block search engines spiders from indexing sites and content. 

Search engine optimization professionals started using the NoFollow attribute to control the flow of PageRank within a website, but google since corrected this error, and any link with NoFollow attribute decreases the PR that the page can pass on. This practice is known as PageRank sculpting. This is an entirely different use than it was intended originally. NoFollow was designed to control the flow of PageRank from one website to another.*

However, while search engines supporting the attribute exclude links that use the attribute from their ranking calculation, search engines treat the NoFollow attribute a little differently.

  • Google states that their engine takes "nofollow" literally and does not "follow" the link at all. However, experiments conducted by SEOs show conflicting results. These studies reveal that Google does follow the link, but does not index the linked-to page, unless it was in Google's index already for other reasons (such as other, non-nofollow links that point to the page).
  • Yahoo! "follows it", but excludes it from their ranking calculation.
  • Bing respects "nofollow" as regards not counting the link in their ranking, but it is not proven whether or not Bing follows the link.
  • ignores the attribute altogether.*
While NoFollow has supporters and detractors, no solid evidence exists on its potential harm or usefulness.  In general, the consensus tends to favor the use of NoFollow on internal links pointing to user-controlled pages.  Our opinion is to implement NoFollow; if negative results ensue, the process can easily be reversed.

A simple tutorial we found for implementing NoFollow is found here:

- AJ

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How do I start this business thing?

You've been laid off. Downsized. Replaced. Terminated. Your job moved to Pago Pago.

Or you're just sick and tired of the rat race and for your health and sanity, need to do something different.


Here are some simple steps to get started on the path.

- Start a personal budget immediately
- Eliminate those extras - the daily $5 lattes, the newspaper, weekly mani's and pedi's, eating out
- Defer payments on what you can - student loans, some insurance policies
- Determine your minimal living expenses and build in a 10% cushion
- Live within the budget you created

Now that you have an idea of what is needed to survive, start the process.

- Take a mental inventory of your skills and experience
- Connect with your network of friends, family, acquaintances, and industry contacts
- Ask yourself: What gets me up in the morning? What drives me?
- Do some research on your passion on the Internet, at the library or local community colleges
- Find your market niche

Ask if a market exists for your skills and passion. Do they fit together? If not, determine where the gaps are. Lack of skills? Take a class at a community college. Too few contacts? These are easily made through networking groups, churches, and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Start to write a simple business plan - nothing complicated - just enough to maintain focus. Business plans are living, breathing documents and will change as conditions do.

Obtain a taxpayer ID number from the IRS web site, if required. Sometimes a social security number is adequate.  For more information, here is the direct link to the IRS site:,,id=96696,00.html.

Begin your marketing campaign by determining an apt name for the business, a logo, and a catchy and relevant tag line. Nothing more is needed initially.

Register an Internet domain name using the business name if possible. If not, variations such as .net or .biz instead of .com or using '-' in the name are good substitutes. You may not need a web site immediately, but plan for the future and secure the name. Domain names can be purchased at a number of web sites including, or At the same time, create a Twitter and Facebook account too. LinkedIn is another popular consideration. Be consistent using the same name on all accounts.  Email accounts are a must as well.  Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail all provide free email accounts.

Register your business - is a good place to start - set up the accounting system - has a free basic package - and get whatever (if any) business insurance is needed.  We addressed insurance coverage in an earlier article.  If the business needs registration, bonding or licensing, ensure that is completed prior to launch.

Get business cards with your name, company name, tag line, logo, etc. Cards can be customized at Staples, OfficeMax or any office supply store.  A good source for free office products including pens, business cards, checks and more is VistaPrint. Always have cards on hand to pass out. Always! Remember, you are marketing a product or service and need to take advantage of every networking opportunity.

Determine your pricing structure, the cost of your product or service, and how the idea can turn a reasonable profit.  Test market the idea.  Use your friends and family as guinea pigs.  Take this time to work out kinks in the process and make perfect your vision.  When gaining feedback, use a written form for each tester and compare results to discover what may be a common (and major) issue or concern.  Make the needed corrections and prepare for launch.

Write and distribute a press release.  Depending on the nature of the market and product, this may involve signage, postings, adds or press in the local paper or an Internet release.  Prweb is a well-known and respected Internet press agency.  Ensure that your phone, fax, and email are working and the response process is timely and consistent.  Customer service really counts here, especially so in the early stages.

The business is now off and running.  Prepare for the unexpected, good or bad.  If the research and preparatory work was done correctly, you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.  You may even need to hire additional help to keep up with the overflow.  We provide some ideas for inexpensive labor in an earlier article posted on this blog.

And finally, check back at thesmallbizpro blog for updates, tips, money saving ideas, and general information.  Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.  We'll do our best to provide answers.

May your future be bright and successful!

- AJ

Twitter Stats

Shame on me for this - I inadvertently left out our Twitter statistics in the web site update post.

We can also report a fairly successful foray into Twitterdom.  Considering none of the group's four partners had any experience with Twitter prior to its launch in late October or early November, we are very pleased that we've gained 850 followers or so as of November 30.  Talk about the blind leading the deaf and mute, that's us for sure.  Much time has been spent learning the ins and outs of Twit-speak and forming relationships.  For those of you that spent time on our site, we thank you and look forward to a strong future together.  And for the newbies, we welcome you with open arms and ears.  We want to provide what information and services we can to make your lives easier.  Just ask and we'll do the homework for you.

Thanks again and warmest wishes for this Holiday season!!!

- AJ

Update on site progress

Last week, thesmallbizpro team held its monthly meeting and recapped progress to date.  With satisfaction, we can report the following for the period Oct 1 to Nov 30, 2009, even though this blog and our Twitter accounts weren't activated until sometime during the aforementioned period. (And we are novices at social networking as well!)

For the web site - 192 visits with 714 page views and an average time on site of about 3 minutes.

For this blog - 211 visits with 596 page views and an average time of more than 6 minutes on the site.

We made a whopping $.37 from Google Adsense and about $2.40 from the Amazon affiliate program. 

These statistics aren't bad, considering we used no press release, started the Amazon program sometime mid-November, and were slow to adopt keywords and meta tags, etc.  And no Facebook account either!

Can we say our project has been successful to-date?  Yes, I believe we can say that.  We've proven that we can grow a successful web site and blog simply by providing good content and effective social networking.   

Friends take note, if we can do this, so can you!!!  And that's what we're here for: to provide you with a real view of options, available resources, and our experiences with them.

- AJ

Monday, December 7, 2009

Manager vs. Leader

"Managers lead with authority.  Leaders manage with respect."  - D Shaw

This concept remains unchanged for eons.  Managers often use authority and often use punitive or reward power to lead teams.  This military style of managing can be effective and even necessary under certain circumstances, but too often is used inappropriately in corporate settings. 

During difficult economic periods, employees are often stressed and concerned about maintaining their positions, income, and lifestyle.  The additional stress added by authoritative managers often leads to health problems, reduced productivity, and a negative attitude toward the workplace.  This is usually not a formula for a successful operation.

In contrast, the business manager that leads by virtue of respect from subordinates - not of position, but of personality - tends to be a positive influence and gains greater cooperation and productivity from a team.

As a small business manager or owner, one must decide which of these styles is appropriate and desirable for the situation and environment.  For instance, a retail store facing heavy volume periods (e.g. Christmas season), may require a more authoritative style to accomplish results.  Ideally, the manager has developed repoire and respect during slower times, thus limiting the need for managing by authority.

Happy Holidays!

- AJ

Friday, December 4, 2009

What is your link number?

Link building  - building up the number of links coming to your web site from other sites - is a lifeline for any online business or any entity with a web presence.  Links are one of the key factors in SEO (search engine optimization) and by extension, page rank, as indicated by Google.  Building these links can be as important an activity as preparing the content for your site.  Great to have good content, but if no one sees or finds it, what is the purpose?

I read an excellent article on web marketing by John Eberhard at  He lays out in very basic terms how to determine the number of links to a site, what the numbers should be, and how to achieve those results.

The process for calculating the number is simple: Bring up Google in a browser and type in your URL like this:
“” – in the search box and click the Google Search button.  Make sure you include the quotes, a space, a dash, the word 'site' a colon and the site address again. 
For example, this blog's entry as below:


What results is a listing of the sites currently linked to the your (or any) web site or blog.  The number can be depressingly small or wonderfully large.  Eberhard suggests a minimum of 1000 links - less means link building needs major attention.  The optimum number in Eberhard's opinion is 3000-5000 or more.  What you can also derive from this data is the quality of the links coming to your site.  Low-ranked or seldom seen sites at the top of your list are an issue and will not help your cause to gain more site or blog traffic.

In the next article, I'll reveal some tricks for building those links.

- AJ

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Zoho Productivity & Collaboration Applications

"Zoho is a suite of online applications (services) that you sign up for and access from our Website. The applications are free for individuals and some have a subscription fee for organizations." (

Aside from the free versions offered to individual users, Zoho offers a wide variety of online applications for individuals and business users.  The online nature of Zoho allows users to access their Zoho data from any computer in any location (provided an Internet connection exists) at any time.  No more carrying laptops around, worry about airport security, theft, or when the company tech will fix your computer.

Zoho offers a full range of standard office software, productivity, and collaboration tools: e-mail, word processor, spreadsheets, database, conferencing, project software, invoicing, and much more.  Zoho even offers shared calendaring, a BI (business intelligence) service, and online HRIS system!

For those that need or want to continue to use Microsoft Office products, Zoho offers a "plug-in" (small application by download) for any of the programs in the Office suite.  Further, Zoho supports all the standard office formats including .doc, .xls, and .ppt as part of its offering.  Zoho is also available for many mobile devices and up to 30 languages, depending on the application.

Regarding security, Zoho boasts of multi-level protection from disaster-rated data centers to biometric access for its employees, multiple firewalls and anti-malware scanners running 24x7.  Product support is available via blog, user forum or 24x7 monitored email.

Zoho's pricing structure is built on per application, volume, and complexity model.  The individual packages - all of the offerings - are always free, and the business packages cost $5 a month per user starting with the 11th user.  The first 10 users are free.  Package discounts may be available for larger groups and for non-profit organizations.

With a professional and user-friendly interface, Zoho's WYSIWYG products are convenient, affordable, and everything a small business needs to get up and running quickly.  This product is recommended and worth a look or test trial.

Create & Collaborate with Zoho

-  AJ

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home Office Tax Deductions

If your home doubles as your office, many options exist for taking legal advantage of the tax code.  Recent changes in the law benefit workers that use the home as an administrative base even if actual 'work' is done outside of the home.

- Document, document, document.  Record all deductible items including: computers, office equipment, furnishings, pro-rated utility bills, rent, telephone costs, and even homeowners insurance and association fees.

- Discus with you tax adviser the option of whether taking a depreciation option for office space is a viable option (or not).

- Meet with your adviser on a scheduled basis.  Meetings may take place quarterly, annually or more frequently, depending on your circumstances.  These analysis and review meetings will help ensure that you are taking the options allowed.

The following web sites provide useful information and may help answer common questions:

-, the web site of CCH Inc.,an Illinois business information service.

-, the IRS web site and download IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home.

- AJ

Tax Tips

As 2009 draws to a close, taxes take on greater importance.  Remember all those expenses and costs incurred during the year?  Do you have a record of those?  Have you accounted for all revenue generated?  Are you taking all the deductions you are entitled to as a small business?  Do you have employees or contract workers and are their year-end forms in the works?  These questions and many others are vitally important and in some cases, a legal obligation.

Here are some tips to help you along the 'taxing' path:

- If you haven't already, consultant an accountant or tax adviser.  This is especially important for start up companies and will save time, grief, legal problems, and quite possibly save you money.

- KEEP GOOD RECORDS.  This is the single most important issue that is overlooked and disregarded.  Nothing is worse than trying to find receipts (if you kept them) in some random paper pile on your desk.

- Pay estimated taxes (federal and state) during the year, probably on a quarterly basis.  The tax adviser you consulted in the first step will recommend an appropriate strategy for each situation.  Nothing is worse than a huge tax bill at the end of the year.

- Discuss any special deductions you are entitled to.  These many include home office deductions, charitable contributions or work, self-employment taxes, and health insurance deductions, among others.

Taxes do not have to be a major headache, provided the planning and records are in place and appropriate people are part of your business team.  Remember, Big Brother is watching you!

- AJ

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New blog layout

You've probably noticed the change in the format of this blog.  Basically, I thought the pages were too cluttered with ads and the content was lost in the mix.  This page is intended for you - not for making money via Google or Yahoo.  Those are only tests to see if money can really be made via affiliate referral and Adsense (more on this in another post).

We've been quite pleased with the number of visitors to our blog - several hundred unique over the past 30 days - without a press release of any kind.  Simply using Twitter and providing solid content has generated a good following; for that, we thank you very much.

Of course, this site is a community oriented site and we want to hear your opinions and get your feedback on our blog, web site - - content, layout or anything you wish to comment on.

We will continue to provide you the best information we can find (or links to) so you can go about the business of running your business!  We'll provide the background stuff for you to use - we want to make you successful.

To your success!

- AJ

Web sites with free stuff and coupons!

Whenever I run across a web site that has good deals or coupons or free stuff - not junk, but consumer staples - I will try to post it.  Sometimes I find these completely by accident, other times by searching, and sometimes via social networks like Twitter.

Without further explanation or wordiness, here are some links for you:

- - many coupons for food, beverages, household products, toys, etc.

- - features a printable and extensive coupon database (with everything imaginable), freebie, a "Krazy this week" feature and much, much more.

- - this site has free samples, grocery coupons, restaurant coupons, and features sorting by state.  Even specials for members of the military.

- - featured on NBC as per their tagline, and supposedly "the Nations Leading Coupon Website"

- - "Black Friday" deals, Craftsman tools, daily deals, grocery coupons, healthy choices and more.

In these difficult economic times, we can all use savings here and there, even if only a couple dollars.  Feel free to add more sites that may be useful.


- AJ