RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Does Privacy Matter to You?

Posted on

Privacy ProtectionIf you are uncomfortable having your name, address, phone number and even a map to your home accessible to any and all you need to take a look at Spokeo because chances are you’ll find yourself listed.

Their claim of just being a user-friendly search that will allow users to find and keep up with friends, makes my jaw clench. It clenches even more because this is not an opt-in site. They collect data from all types of sources and put it together on a profile page. You aren’t asked if you want to participate. Nor is there any assurance of accuracy of the data they present. It could be very old or may no longer pertain to your current situation. I have two listings – I use Susan and Sue and they managed to find and list both as separate profiles.  Unfortunately one of them is ancient and other than the name, none of the information is accurate.

Laughingly I read that their site had received over 9 million visitors in January. I just bet they did – would love to know how many of those were opting out of the program!  Yes, you can opt out.  Go to their site, enter your name in the search box, scroll through the results and find your personal profile.  In the browser will be a long address (URL). Copy that and then go to their Privacy page and complete the required information. Sadly there is no guarantee that your information won’t be added again; a month or so from now you may end up back in their clutches. Clever of them, deceptively so. They can claim to advertisers they get millions of hits even though a lot of those will be people opting out and then having to check back frequently to be sure they haven’t been added again.

It remains to be seen if  there will be enough of an uproar from people about this invasion of privacy to get the FTC involved. Personally I take issue with someone else adding my personal information for all the world to see.

What is your opinion about what Spokeo is doing?

Form 1099-Misc and Website Designers

Posted on

tax timeThe controversial Health Care Reform Bill that was passed last year came loaded with all sorts of new laws hidden within its 2400+ pages. Many of you who use Homestead’s SiteBuilder program are designing sites as a business and that means these new laws apply to you.

Form 1099-Misc has been a requirement for a number of years for services rendered by an independent contractor in a business to business situation. When you design a site or do maintenance on a site for another business THEY should issue you a Form 1099-Misc if you receive $599 or more from them in a given year for your services.

The reverse is also true. If you pay another business over $599 for services that relate to your website design business you need to issue them a form W-9 to get their Tax ID number, etc. and provide them with a copy of a completed 1099-Misc form.

Beginning December 31, 2012, thanks to even more sneaky tactics when the bill was drafted, businesses will be required to obtain W-9 information and file 1099s for not only services but GOODS as well. That means you will need to issue a W-9  for the 1099 form anytime you purchase a product related to your business that is over the established limit. New computer from Best Buy? You’ll need to ask for their information. If your office supply purchases are  in excess of the $599 threshold  from any one business – 1099, if you claim a portion of your utilities phone, internet, etc. for your business and the amount exceeds the limit – 1099s will need to be issued. And on and on …… Try to get in the habit of issuing a W-9 prior to paying for goods or services.

The whole point of this is so the IRS can compare reported income against issued W-9s  in the hopes of collecting unreported income. And as is usual, the wording is ambiguous and about as clear as mud. There are of course penalties if you don’t comply.

The good news is that some lawmakers in Congress are currently making attempts to repeal and or modify the new laws attached to Form 1099-Misc.

Senate passes amendment to repeal 1099

Partial Repeal Likely

As a web site designer you need to be heads up and make sure you are in compliance with the laws that are currently in effect for tax year 2011.  Consult with an accountant or tax attorney for assistance in what information you need to be collecting, receiving and reporting.

Google shaking up search results

Posted on

Besides the school-yard spitting match going on between Google and Bing (For more on the spitting match just do a search for Google and Bing click fraud – everyone has jumped on that posting bandwagon.), the latest news concerning Google is that they are about to shake up search results in an effort to reduce the incidence of spammy sites coming up prominently in those search results.

Beware! If your Homestead – Intuit site or article or post is essentially duplicate content, either something ‘borrowed’ from another site, or an article you’ve written and submitted on multiple sites you could well wake up to find it non-existent in searches. Sites that are predominantly links with little original or useful content are also apparently on the hit list – FINALLY

I’ve longed for the day when sites that offer visitors little in the way of original content and consist of nothing but links and clickable ads that will bring the site owner in $$$ and webmasters who copy and use other’s work, would end up in the nether-world of the www. Perhaps that day is coming.

Google’s Matt Cutts quoted on his blog, “The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.”

It’s time to take a good, hard look at your Site Builder website to be sure it is going to stand up to the new search standards.

  1. Does the site have  informative content? A bunch of links and ads are not informative content.
  2. Is it original content? Have you duplicated that content elsewhere? On a blog or in articles posted to different sites? Or perhaps it is content taken from another site?
  3. Does the site employ black hat techniques?
  4. Has the content been written for the human reader or the search engines?  Sites written for search engines tend to lean toward keyword stuffing

Keep an eye on your site placement over the next several weeks. There are no absolutes and nothing to say that the new algorithm won’t make mistakes and drop a good site.  How to request reconsideration of your site.

10 Ways to Promote Your Intuit – Homestead Website Locally

Posted on

In this day and age a web site is a must-have for businesses large or small. For the business that operates within a specific locale a web site is an invaluable tool.  The Yellow Pages used to be the ‘go to’ place for people to find a business or service; expensive advertising with limited exposure. Thanks to the internet and easy-to-use web site building programs like SiteBuilder from Intuit – Homestead, business owners can now promote their business with full details, contact info, maps to the location, photos and even coupons. Perhaps best of all,  you aren’t stuck with the same content for a year as is the case with a phone directory ad.

So how do you promote your niche market website when your business serves a specific area? Simply having one doesn’t mean you will be found unless your base audience already knows the name of your business or you’ve managed to place high in search placements for your key words. But, don’t overlook the fact that new people move in regularly and there are probably visitors to the area who could possibly be interested in your business or service.  To expand the reach of your website, go outside the web. How to increase awareness of your website …