Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We Hear: A-Rod; Russell Simmons - NYPOST.com

We Hear: A-Rod; Russell Simmons - NYPOST.com

What Small Businesses Need to Know

SEO: What Small Businesses Need to Know

In today’s “Just Google it“ corporate culture, a business website can receive up to 80% of its monthly traffic from search engine results.  Search engines have become the primary initial communication tool that customers use to reach out to businesses — usually before they make their first phone call or send their first email.  Yet, many small businesses are struggling to properly leverage search engines as a highly effective communication tool.
Phone and email communications were once as issue-laden for businesses as search engines are today.  But it’s now rare to get a busy signal or bounced-back email when contacting a business.
So why are businesses today struggling with leveraging the search engines as a form of inbound communication, when the search engines clearly have the potential to deliver so many customers?  

The short answer is that most of what has been written about search engine optimization (SEO) is wrong and many of the so-called experts are incorrect.
SEO has changed drastically since I first got involved in Internet Marketing in 1996 - so much so that very little of what influenced search engine ranking back in the 90’s still holds true today.  Nonetheless, many SEO “experts” still preach and practice the old SEO tactics, which can be, at best, ineffective.  At worst, these tactics can result in a permanent ban from the search engine results and can lead to lost business.
It’s no surprise that business people are confused about SEO.  This begs a very difficult question: What should a small business be focusing on when thinking about SEO?
Effective SEO for today’s search engines can be broken down into three parts:

1. Merchandising
2. Publicity
3. Marketing
Without using any industry jargon or web lingo, I will summarize why the search engines view these as important criteria.
Merchandising makes me think about walking into a department store.  Department store employees spend time selecting and neatly organizing the racks of clothes and accessories, so that I, as an expeditious shopper, can quickly make a purchase and leave the store with what I was looking for.

Imagine, on the other hand, that I walked into the store and clothes were strewn everywhere and a mob of customers was fighting over the last sweater on clearance.  I would probably exit the store immediately.

Search engines view websites in much the same way.  If the content is disorganized, weak or not relevant to what you are selling, then it will be difficult to properly classify and rank your site.  A well-organized, highly relevant website will form a foundation for your website to be classified properly and ranked highly for the search terms that are important to your business.
If merchandising were the only factor that influenced search engine rank, then arguably the websites with the most content would be ranked the highest. In the 90’s this was mostly true. However, it was relatively simple to game this system of ranking websites, which made the older search engines very susceptible to “spammy” web pages.
When Google launched in the early 2000’s, its founders added additional ranking criteria.  Google added ranking points for trustworthy websites that receive a lot of publicity from other trustworthy websites.  Basically, Google measures the consistency of the message about your website by how other websites view your site.
Why is this important? Let’s compare this to a social situation: I have just met someone for the first time at a party.  My new acquaintance says that he has a great business opportunity for me.  If, later at the party, I run into a few people whom I already know and trust, and these individuals confirm important characteristics about my new acquaintance, I might be likely to believe what this guy told me.  If however, no one at the party knows him or if there is a conflicting message, I might not trust anything that my new acquaintance told me.

The search engines today put a similar emphasis on trust and publicity when ranking websites, and positive publicity with a consistent message from trustworthy websites will boost rankings.
The earliest business websites were online corporate brochures.  The next wave of websites were online multimedia presentations. The newest wave of websites work to build relationships with visitors by utilizing social media such as blogs, forums, surveys and online chat.

On-site social media and user generated content now has a big impact on SEO.

I’ll compare this to another real-life social situation.  If I walked into a room at a party and noticed that on one side of the room a few people were sitting and conversing quietly, while on the other side of the room people were standing in a circle and chatting raucously, I would think the people standing in the circle were having a more interesting and engaging conversation.

In May 2010, Google updated its ranking criteria to include observations like these from social media and placed an even greater emphasis on awarding high ranks to websites with engaging user generated content.  Now, blog posts with many comments and forum threads with a lot of replies usually rank very well in Google’s search results.

So, here are a few key points to take back to your company’s board room:
·         Your website needs a merchandising strategy - Make sure the content on your website is relevant to what your business is selling and neatly organized.
·         Your website needs a publicity strategy - Make sure our website is getting the publicity it needs.
·         Your website needs a marketing strategy - Make sure your website builds relationships with your visitors.

Michael Gold is the co-founder of Midtown Web Marketing, an SEO agency and small business based in Midtown Manhattan (http://www.midtownweb.com/). He can be contacted at mgold@midtownweb.com.

A Night of Networking for Young Professionals

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals presents
"A Night of Networking for Young Professionals"
hosted by the Young Professional Finance Commitee

sponsored by

Wachovia,Wells Fargo logo

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM Open Bar
8:00 PM to 9:00 PM Networking & Cash Bar
Forum NYC
127 4th Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-0301
MCC Members : Free
Non Members: $10

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

YP Members Joins Us on October 5 from 6pm until 8pm!

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce welcomes you to join us for an evening of fun, entertainment and networking at The Lederhosen German Restaurant at 39 Grove Street in the West Village.
This event typically draws a festive group of MCC Members to sample a variety of German regional beers and food specialties all to a background of lively Oktoberfest music.
Join us (October 5th, 6-8pm) this year and don’t forget to bring an ample supply of your business cards to forge relationships to help grow your business.Save your spot today: http://www.manhattancc.org/common/events/Eventdetail.cfm?QID=19417&ClientID=11001&subnav=

Saturday, September 18, 2010

MCC Young Professionals looking for e-Newsletter Volunteer

This is a great opportunity for a Young Professional to gain experience sending out a Monthly newsletter.   The right person for this responsibility will be someone who is in the Social Media, or Email Marketing business and is a member of the Young Professionals Committee.  

Most of the information will already be compiled for you, your responsibility will be to organize the letter in a nice format and submit for email blast.  By doing this, you will be helping the MCC Young Pro’s as well as your own business, by being able to use MCC as a reference for your company.We expect there will be many people that will want this position, so please include a short description of why this is perfect for you in your reply. Please send your interest to mccyps@gmail.com.

Thank you in advance and we’re looking forward to working with you.

MCC Young Professionals

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Federal Tax Incentives Encourage Small Business Retirement Plans

Federal Tax Incentives Encourage Small Business Retirement Plans
By Harris Love & Andrew Zimmerman

Federal Tax Incentives Encourage Small Business Retirement Plans

Too often, workers in small companies area much less likely to have retirement plan coverage on the job. The reasons are varied and complex, but they boil down to one basic problem. Many small companies don’t think they can afford retirement plans.
The U.S. Congress has addressed this attitude head-on by creating federal tax incentives that directly encourage small business retirement plans, while also reducing complexities that made plans costly or difficult to operate. As a result, the gap in plan participation between workers in big companies and small companies is starting to shrink.
Whether you own a small company or work as an employee in one, you should know about three basic areas of changes: 1) federal tax credits; 2) enhancements to SIMPLE plans; and 3) other incentives that make small business retirement plans more attractive.

Federal Tax Credits

Congress has created two federal tax credits related to retirement plans. One is specifically designed for companies with 100 or fewer employees that start new plans. These companies are eligible for a tax credit to offset a portion of administrative and participant education costs during the first three years of the plan’s life. The credit is capped at 50% of the first $1,000 spend on qualifying costs.
The second tax credit is available for low-income and middle-income participants in qualified retirement plans of all types and sizes, including 401(k)s, SIMPLEs, Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Taxpayers can receive a “government matching” credit on up to 50% of the first $2,000 of their own money they contribute to a plan. To qualify for the highest credit (50%), joint filers must have Adjusted Gross Incomes below $36,000 and single filers must fall below $16,500. Lesser credits are available for Adjusted Gross Incomes up to $55,500 joint or $27,750 single.

Enhancements to SIMPLEs
The SIMPLE, a type of retirement plan created specifically for small companies, was introduced by Congress in 1997.
The major advantage of SIMPLEs for companies is simplicity. By agreeing to make minimum contributions on behalf of all eligible workers, the company is relieved of responsibility for performing complex non-discrimination testing or complying with cumbersome “top-heavy” rules. When the SIMPLE plan is set up with personal IRAs as funding vehicles, the company also has no ongoing investment responsibility. After the first two years of participation, employees are free to transfer from the SIMPLE’s IRA into another IRA of their choice, if they wish, with no tax consequence or penalty. (A 25% premature distribution penalty applies on transfers in the first two years.)

Other Enhancements

Several other incentives in U.S. tax law have encouraged small companies to set up plans. A variety of funding limits have been gradually raised, ranging from 401(k) deferral limits to the formula for calculating defined benefit plan contributions. In general, small business owners will have more freedom to sock money away for their own retirements, with tax advantages. The top-heavy rules that have added red-tape for thousands of small companies in the past have been relaxed, too. Now, any matching contributions made by the company will count toward the minimum contributions required in top-heavy plans. In the future, it will be easier for workers to take their plan money with them from job-to-job, or else transfer it into a personal IRA.

Now is a good time to review the many good reasons to create or participate in a retirement plan with the help of a qualified financial professional. The barriers that have prevented so many small companies from offering plans are falling. The opportunities of all workers to set money aside for the future, with tax advantages, have never been greater.

Neither Guardian, PAS nor its representatives provide tax advice or services. Consult your advisors regarding your personal situation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Should AG Candidates Tell The Truth? - Based on the MCC YP Forum Events

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee helped to promote an event where three of the New York Democratic Attorney General Candidates participated in an open forum, and journalist Greg David moderated the event.

Today, David released a piece on Crain's New York Business, based on the events of the forum held on August 24th.  Namely, he questioned Richard Brodsky, who sat on the panel on that evening.

Please take a look at the article.  The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee is pleased to have been part of this event.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MCC YPs Profile: Sean Coffey, New York Democratic Attorney General Candidate

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee is hosting a Night with the New York Democratic Attorney General Candidates on Tuesday, August 24.   The event is free for all committee members, and $15 for non-members.  Please tell a friend!

The evening will be moderated by Greg David of the CUNY School of Journalism, and will feature three candidates: Richard Brodsky, Sean Coffey and Eric Dinallo.

Sean Coffey was born in the Bronx in 1956 to Irish immigrant parents. His father, John, was a union carpenter, and his mother, Mary, was a homemaker. To help pay for his education in parochial school, Sean followed in his father’s footsteps and worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, including working on the construction of the World Trade Center.

Sean graduated with merit from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1978. As a Navy officer, he was selected to serve as the personal military assistant to the vice president. After completing his active service, Sean continued to serve for an additional 18 years in the Navy Reserve. Sean retired as a Navy Captain in 2004 with several military decorations.

While working at the Pentagon and in the White House, Sean attended Georgetown University Law Center at night from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1987. In 1991, Sean was sworn in as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Sean eventually returned to private legal practice, and in 2005, was dubbed “Wall Street’s New Nemesis,” as the lead attorney in the WorldCom securities case. He helped to recover over $6 billion for thousands of investors, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund, and in a historic first, required the key wrongdoers to contribute from their personal funds.

Sean and his wife of more than twenty years, Anne Churchill, live in Westchester County with their children Kate, Cameron, and Conor.

MCC YPs Profile: Eric Dinallo, New York Democratic Attorney General Candidate

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee is hosting a Night with the New York Democratic Attorney General Candidates on Tuesday, August 24.   The event is free for all committee members, and $15 for non-members.  Please tell a friend!

The evening will be moderated by Greg David of the CUNY School of Journalism, and will feature three candidates: Richard Brodsky, Sean Coffey and Eric Dinallo. 

Eric Dinallo began as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan D.A.’s office under Robert Morgenthau. He went after repeat felony offenders and put violent criminals behind bars. He took on enterprise corruption and aggressively prosecuted some of the state’s first insider trading cases. As an Assistant Attorney General, Eric led the Investor Protection Bureau and prosecuted fraud and abuse on Wall Street. He resurrected the decades-old Martin Act to investigate conflicts of interest that took advantage of average investors. The groundbreaking casework resulted in the $1.4 billion settlement from the nation’s largest financial firms, including Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Bear Sterns. The case also secured important reforms to protect consumers and prevent the abuses from happening again and helped to transform the Attorney General’s office into the powerhouse it is today.

As Managing Director of Global Regulatory Affairs at Morgan Stanley, and the General Counsel at Willis Group Holdings, Eric led internal reviews and audits to certify that the firms complied with regulations to protect customers, acting as an internal watchdog and ensuring that companies played by the rules and treated their customers fairly.

Most recently, as the New York State Superintendent of Insurance, Eric developed a reputation for being what the New York Times called a “regulator not stymied by red tape.” He was responsible for regulating and investigating insurance companies – from auto to life to health – and took his watchdog approach to examine how they treated policyholders. He co-chaired New York’s Universal Health Insurance Task Force, provided access to health insurance for 400,000 uninsured New Yorkers and extended insurance benefits to same-sex couples. And when the nation faced its biggest economic challenge in a generation, Eric played a key role in addressing the global financial crisis by making sure that AIG’s policyholders were protected.

MCC YPs Profile: Richard Brodsky, New York Democratic Attorney General Candidate

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee is hosting a Night with the New York Democratic Attorney General Candidates on Tuesday, August 24.   The event is free for all committee members, and $15 for non-members.  Please tell a friend!

The evening will be moderated by Greg David of the CUNY School of Journalism, and will feature three candidates: Richard Brodsky, Sean Coffey and Eric Dinallo. 

In 2002, Richard Brodsky was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. It is as Chairman of this Committee that Richard brought the full weight of his talents and vision to bear on reform of state government. In 2009 this culminated with the passage of the Public Authorities Reform Act. It is a sweeping reform of all of New York’s 700 authorities, including the MTA, New York Power Authority, Long Island Power Authority and the Thruway Authority. It has been lauded as the most significant reform of State government in decades.

Not only has Richard created laws to protect the people of New York, he has also served as a chief investigator, rooting out corruption at all levels of government. His investigation into the use of public funds to build the new Yankee Stadium revealed secret and illegal deals between the Yankees and NYC. Richard has consistently fought to level the playing field and to make sure that all public officials are held responsible for their actions.

Richard has taken on investigations of the private sector wrongdoers to protect consumers as well. In the 2006 power outage in Astoria Queens, Richard recovered $40 million for Queens residents after proving that it was Con Edison’s negligence which caused a major blackout.

Richard has been a champion for the environment. In 1993, Richard was named Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conservation, beginning a tenure that left a lasting impact on our environment and public health. He authored the most dramatic advances in environmental law in decades, including the Environmental Protection Fund (the first dedicated fund for environmental protection in the State’s history which has disbursed billions in land acquisition, park preservation, and clean air and water projects).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Join Us for a Night With The New York Democratic Attorney General Candidates

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee is pleased to host a Night with the New York Democratic Attorney General Candidates on August 25, 2010, from 7-8:30 pm at 1095 Avenue of the Americas. 

Moderated by Greg David from the CUNY School of Journalism, see candidates Richard Brodsky, Sean Coffey and Eric Dinallo speak in an open forum setting.

If you are a MCC Young Professionals Committee member, the event is FREE; $15 if you are not.  Please register on the site if you have not already. 

Welcome to the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Blog!

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee's (YPC) goals are to provide useful resources for young professionals (21-35 years old) while creating a sustainable and viable environment in Manhattan where young professionals can excel and grow.

If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner or simply looking to make business connections while climbing the corporate ladder, our group may be of value to you.  Please visit our website for more information.