Top ten signs you might be addicted to Google+:
10. You had spaghetti with a sauce concocted from Wyler’s Light for breakfast today
9. You called in to work “sick” all last week
8. You have more links on your Google+ profile than you do friends
7. Your friends had a memorial service for you on Saturday
6. Your pets have been leaving little “presents” for you around your home
5. You are in far more circles than people you have in circles;  unfortunately, the circles you are in are usually labeled “Block”
4. You have started thinking instant coffee tastes good
3. You have suddenly decided to conserve water by not showering or shaving
2. Your Internet service provider suspended your service for exceeding maximum      bandwith
1. Your mother’s birthday was last Sunday and you missed it

Copyrighted by Joe Kohli   Not to be used without written permission

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During my time search engine optimizing my own site and providing professional SEO services, I have seen a lot of good ways to stay undiscovered on the Internet.  Here is my top 10 list:

10. Don’t use social media; its too much trouble (don’t blog either).

9. Don’t tell anybody about your blog posts or website.

8. Don’t use the page description tag.

7. Only put the name of your site in the page title tag.

6. Have lots of pictures without any written content or alt tags.

5. Build your site with Flash.

4. Optimize your site for the name of your business.

3. Optimize your site for words or phrases you think people are using in their searches without doing any research to determine the actual words of phrases people use to find your product or service.

2. Optimize your site for words or phrases for which people are barely searching.   For example, optimize your site for Chicagoland, rather than Chicago;  or deejay, rather than DJ.

1. Spend thousands of dollars on professional web developers who craft an attractive, appealing website, and no dollars on professional search engine optimization.

QuickBooks 2010 is an excellent product and a great value at $199.95.   With the 2010 edition, Intuit presents a host of new features, tweaks to old features, and the typical ease of use that QuickBooks users have come to expect.

New features include an online document storage functionality, electronic check submission for bank deposits, a smart email marketing tool, and an add-on application store link.   Most of these new features are fee based services.  Intuit tweaked the functionality of lists to allow the import of items directly from excel spreadsheets and  the customization of company snapshots.

Last but not least, the 2010 edition provides an option for users to add unmatched transactions from online banking downloads through the check register, as users could easily accomplish prior to the initial introduction of the QuickBooks 2009 version.

The user interface for online banking, introduced with QuickBooks 2009, initially met with a storm of criticism from existing users who greatly preferred adding unmatched transactions through the check register.  Intuit, to its credit, responded with later releases of QuickBooks 2009 (rev7 and later) that permitted users to add transactions through the check register.

To me, none of the new features would make me run out to the store and buy QuickBooks 2010, if I was already using QuickBooks 2009 or 2008.   I can, however, wholeheartedly endorse QuickBooks Pro 2010 for new businesses and businesses other than manufacturers who are using some other small business accounting software.

I have not yet recommended an upgrade to any of my clients (mostly mom and pop small businesses) who use QuickBooks 2008 or 2009.  Still, I can foresee a number of instances where upgrading to QuickBooks 2010 could be worthwhile.  I will discuss these instances below in the context of individual features.

The new feature with which I am most impressed is the ability to make bank deposits electronically—with scanned copies of checks.  This feature is fee based with a setup fee, a monthly service fee, and a per item fee.  This service, despite the fees, could be worth the money to businesses in time saved at bank teller windows.    An important drawback with this feature’s release is that the bank’s receipt of the deposit is not instantaneous; it make take more than 24 hours for the bank to credit the respective bank account.

The online document storage functionality provides for 100 MB of free storage, which Intuit considers sufficient for most small businesses.   After that it is a fee based service.   Non-QuickBooks documents such as contracts can be attached to QuickBooks documents such as related invoices.

The new email marketing tool is an online “smart” tool because it can alert a company that certain clients have made significantly lower purchases over the last six months.   Then, it can email customers to solicit new purchases while calculating the response it terms of new purchases made.  This feature seems to integrate exceptionally well with QuickBooks company data files.  The first 500 emails are free, after that it, too, is a fee based service.

In the long haul, the new online application store could be a boon to Intuit.    All of applications offer a free trial period, after which fees occur.  Intuit, gets a share of the revenue while the application developers bear the brunt of designing and servicing the applications.

QuickBooks continues to be the easiest to use of the top three small business accounting programs.   The initial interview to set up a client takes 20 minutes to half an hour.    Invoicing, check writing, and bill paying are relatively straight forward.   “Items” is a concept that virtually all inexperienced bookkeepers do not use properly.  Inventory processing for most businesses is clean and easy to understand, but may not be the best choice for many manufacturing companies.  Payroll is best handled by outside services (including QuickBooks payroll services).

QuickBooks ease of use paradoxically leads many people to make troublesome mistakes in setting up their QuickBooks files.  I recommend consulting a QuickBooks Pro Advisor or experienced QuickBooks bookkeeper for the initial set up, unless one is well versed in accounting procedures or reading one of the popular QuickBooks manuals.

During the 30 years I have been living in Chicago, I have come up with two informal and unofficial indexes of the city’s economic activity. The one I am writing about today I call the Lakeview Panhandler Economic Index. In the 1990’s I banked on Chicago’s north side at a bank at Ashland, Belmont, and Lincoln. Almost invariably when I left the bank, a panhandler asking for bus fare would greet me. Back then, these guys did not look or smell very good.

The base line for this index then was 1, reflecting a steady economic environment. If I was greeted by two or more solicitations for money, the index would increase, reflective of declining economic activity. Not surprising to people who know me, the best the economic index could be was 0; while there was no limit to how bad the local economy could get. The bank put an end to the Lakeview Panhandler Economic Index when it remodeled the bank and moved the entrance a half block north away from the bus stop.

I have been somewhat mystified that during the current economic downturn, the unemployment rate has remained below ten percent even as I think this is the worst economic environment of my lifetime. I think back to the early 1980s when interest rates approached twenty percent and the unemployment rate was over ten percent. Either the current unemployment rate below eight percent does not reflect the realities of the current economic environment or, alternatively, it really is not that bad.

I am opting for the former – it is bad, really bad. If the bus stop had not been moved, the Lakeview Panhandler Economic Index would be at a 4 today. It would probably be a higher class of panhandler, however, than when I created the index. It would be a guy like me in a suit and tie, briefcase under the left arm with the right hand extended as he said, “Hey, I left my wallet at home. Could you spare a buck for the bus?”

When I first started Kohli Consulting, I decided I was not going to pay anybody to create my web site.  Nor was I going to pay anybody to optimize it.   I was a proud, self sufficient Do-It-Yourself(er).    And, I got exactly what I paid for.    

The results of my first efforts to search engine optimize my own Kohli Consulting web site were awful.   I did not find my business listed anywhere in the first 500 listings for the terms I thought people would use to find my business services.  But that was not even the worst part.   I had decided to go with a service that provided web site templates and hosting services – which I now refer to as a “web site out-of-a-box.”   The good thing about the this service provider’s web site templates was that they included specific fields in the set up process for “meta tags.”   These meta tags are critical for the search engine optimization process.

So without doing any research at all I optimized the Kohli Consulting web site for key word phrases that I thought people would use in looking for QuickBooks and Bookkeeping services.   I put words in what I later came to know as the Page Title, the Page Description, and Keywords  fields.   These three behind the scene fields or “meta tags” are critical for high search engine results listing.

As I tried to figure out why my site did so poorly, I became completely demoralized.   Not only did my site perform poorly for the keyword phrases I had optimized it for, but nobody – nobody at all – used the keyword phrases I thought they would use to find the services I was selling.    It was at that point that I began to have a glimmer of an idea as to just how important it was to do keyword phrase research and to analyze the various keyword phrases.  The use of appropriate keyword phrases in “on page” content, meta tags, and linking strategies is paramount for achieving top SEO results.

This is the order in which I focused my efforts in re-optimizing my web site

A)  Revised the Tags for Each Page of the Web Site

  1. Revising Page Titles for  Each Page of the Web Site
  2. Created Individual Page Descriptions for Each Page of the Web Site
  3. Unique Keyword List for the Meta Tags for Each Page of the Web site

B) Revised on Page Content to be Consistent with Tags for Web Site

C) Created Off Page Links to the Web Site

Going through steps A and B perhaps half a dozen times,  I was eventually successful at different times in obtaining top ten page listing results for a number of phrases including Bookkeeping Evanston, QuickBooks Evanston, Bookkeeping Chicago, Chicago QuickBooks, and Chicago QuickBooks Consultants.   Later, I decided to offer my Search Engine Optimization services professionally.

If Rip Van Winkle woke from his 100 year nap today, one of the many, many things at which he would marvel,  I  am sure,  would be the Internet.   What possible frame of reference, could he conceivably have for understanding this modern miracle of science and technology?   I cannot imagine.   How could anyone ever explain it to him?

And, if eventually someday he came to some basic, primitive understanding of electricity, and TV, and then the Internet  – then possibly someday he might ask,  “Please, would you please tell me what this search engine thingamajig is?”  And, I would.

A search engine is simply an electronic tool for finding something on the Internet.