Friday, December 30, 2011

All Hail the SEO

When it comes to effective marketing and advertising, the web is King.  In 2008 the Direct Marketing Association performed a study on the use of different marketing tactics.  Radio ads had fallen about 3%, telephone marketing down about 2%, and newspaper ads way down to almost 8%.  These campaigns dwindled with the ability to have search results at your fingertips within a flash.  If someone wants to find, compare, and research a product, they’re going to the internet.  The study in 2008 showed that search engine marketing had grown almost 20%.  Can you imagine what it is now? 
            Now there are two types of search engine marketing; paid and organic.  Paid ads are referred to as Pay-per-click (PPC).  There are dozens of online marketing firms who will set you up with paid per click advertising.  You can also do an AdWords campaign through Google.  Be careful though, this type of web advertising can quickly become expensive without ever generating good leads. In my opinion, it’s better to grow and enhance your organic search results also known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  Organic search results are created by how you manage your website manually.  There are plenty of easy things to set in place to help your website appear on that first page of search results. 
            One of the key factors is to think about what someone would type in their search engine to find a particular product or service.  You want to take those words and phrases and incorporate them into certain areas of your website.  If I want my website to show up on the first page of results when somebody types in “Peachtree accounting triad NC,” I’m going to do the following.  “Peachtree accounting” is going to be part of my web page title.  It will also be part of my page description, as well as incorporated into multiple bodies of text on my website.  The content provided on your page plays a huge helping hand in SEO.  If you talk about Peachtree accounting in multiple places as well as words like “traid NC,” search engines will find it and match it up.  Another factor that helps is fresh content.  Your page needs to be updated frequently.  You can still use the same key words and phrases in your text, just switch them around and find different ways of using them. 
            The content and foundation of the web page design can play a huge role in getting found on that Google search.  Keep posting fresh and unique content relative to what people are searching for and avoid spending money on short term clicks.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Impact of Social Media on your Business

We all know social media is a big part of today’s society.  Like us on facebook.  Follow us on twitter.  We see and hear this almost every day either on a printed ad or on the radio.  Whether it’s something you participate in or not, you’ve still become familiar with it.  Facebook now has more than 800 million users.  More than 50% are active users on a given day.  Twitter has over 300 million users.  You might think that social media is nothing but trending news topics and drama.  I’ve heard people say,” Well most of the people that I do business with are a part of an older generation and don’t use social media.”  Out of an average of 550 million social media users, you don’t think there’s room for new business?

Social media sites are virtually free advertising!  These sites are FREE to use.  Social media can have a huge impact on your public relations.  Having a page for your business on facebook helps get your image out there.  If your business is doing new and exciting things, you should let people know!  Get the buzz started and show people you actually exist!  Having a twitter account allows you to follow almost anything that interests you.  If your business is directly related with technology, then you know how important it is to stay up to date with product life cycles and rapidly changing developments.  The neat thing about facebook and twitter is its rapidly growing web of connections.  So many people become intertwined with one another.  When you post something new and exciting about your business you might have 30 to 50 people see it.  Out of those 30-50 people, 2-3 might really take interest in your post and repost it.  Now you have 30-50 new people viewing what’s going on with your business.  2-3 more people take interest in this and you can see where I’m going.
It’s easy to stay connected.  Once you’ve become established with social media stay active!  They call it “social” for a reason.  Stay engaged and actively use it at least once a week.  If you’re not posting comments, pictures or links, you won’t be involved with people might take interest in you.  Don’t create a page just for the sake of saying you’re a part of social media. 
 If you don’t take advantage of what social media can do for you then you’ll be left behind.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A professional touch is crucial: Email etiquette

So far we’ve given you tips and reminders on how to create good first impressions.  Now that you have the right tools to leave your initial mark, it’s time to follow up with appropriate actions.  When you’re communicating through email, you want to uphold the image you’ve created for yourself. 

Use a professional, easy to recognize email address with simply your name in it.  It might have been fun when you were 16 to have the email address  However, people probably won’t give your message the time of day and delete it right away thinking its junk mail. 

When beginning your email, proper salutation can sometimes be tricky.  If it’s an initial email, it is always best to play it safe and keep it formal.  Dear Mr., Mrs., Dr., Prof, etc.  One way get a feel for the formality is by paying attention to how they address themselves in any previous or response emails.  If they sign their name only by first name, then you’re safe to keep titles out of the message. 

 Make sure you keep your messages concise and to the point.  You can write a brief message that gets across what you want to say without losing the interest of your reader.  This can also be done while maintaining correct spelling and punctuation.  Leave confusing abbreviations such as “g2g aka got to go” out of it.       
            Another suggestion when writing your emails is to write your message first, and then go back to put in the recipient address last.  You don’t want to accidently send an email you wrote while you were blowing off steam, and then decided differently afterwards.  Or what if your email contains private information?  You don’t want to accidently send it to the wrong person.  The point is once you’ve sent it, accident or not, it’s sent and there’s no taking it back. 

            Last word of advice.  If you’re sending emails from a mobile device, make sure your message is sending from the right account.  Having multiple email accounts set up on your smart phone can make it easy to send your message from the wrong one.  It would be a shame if you accidently sent your business proposal from hollywoodhottie instead of Bridget Doe and never heard anything back.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A professional touch is crucial: Proper Interaction

          Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important your interaction with others can affect outcomes.  How you engage yourself can play a deciding factor whether or not you close a deal with a new client, or completing a partnership agreement necessary to carry your business forward.  Displaying your level of interest will help provide trust and respect for whom you’re interacting with.  Here are a few helpful tips and reminders to boost your competitive advantage.

        Dress the part:
It doesn’t hurt to show that you care what the other person thinks of you.  Dress appropriately and create a good appearance.  A good rule of thumb; less is more.  Keep your look simple and classic.  Remove facial and body piercings, cover visible tattoos, and keep fragrances, makeup and jewelry to a minimum.  You don’t want to attract negative attention to yourself.

       Greeting and acknowledging others:
When extending a simple greeting, make sure you pay attention when getting their name.  Use their name when possible throughout the conversation while making good eye contact.  This lets your acquaintance know you’re engaged, and your time at the moment is dedicated to them.  If you’re meeting someone for the first time, make sure you give a firm handshake.  You may have heard this a hundred times but people still seem to give the “power grip” or the “floppy fish handshake.”  Don’t let something so simple kill your first impression. 
       Cell phones during meetings and conversations:
Put the cell phone away!  Technology is a great and powerful thing that keeps us moving and can be difficult to put down.  However it’s very important you show proper respect of someone’s time and effort to be involved with your interactions.  Have you ever had someone checking their blackberry, or sending a text message while you tried to talk to them about something important?  You get the impression that they’re just not that interested and it can be very frustrating.  If it’s a situation that can’t be avoided, kindly excuse yourself for the moment or let whoever know you’re expecting a critical call or message. 
Keep these suggestions in the back of your mind next time you meet with someone. Small details can be the final ingredient to huge success!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A professional touch is crucial: First Impressions

In today’s world you have to keep a competitive edge.  Knowing the how to’s and importance of being professional can really give you that advantage.  One important way to show that your business is highly respectable is to have a great looking and functional website.  Yes, most everyone by now knows the importance of having a website; however they don’t realize how big of a factor the appearance of that site is. In the world we live in, people often check out your website before they come to you in person.  We all know how important first impressions are right?  So if they don’t like what they see from their web visit, they’re likely to keep looking elsewhere for the same service.  I’m not saying you have to spend a ton of money for super showy flash features.  You want a clean, fresh, and modern look that functions well, while getting your information across. However, there is certainly nothing wrong with making it socially interactive.  People like to stay connected, and have everything they do be connected.  You can visit help links such as, from various social media sites to learn how to integrate social media plugins to your webpage.  No matter how you want to make your site engaging and unique, remember to keep a neat professional look to it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Identity Theft


           Identity theft can be extremely costly and have a detrimental impact on your life.  There are nearly ten million victims each year, and out of these, 85% discover the problem too late.  The average victim could lose up to $6,383.  This isn’t an easy fix either.  The impact of falling victim to identity theft could last up to ten years!     
            This crime can be committed by stealing any of the following: Name and address, social security number, credit card number, bank account numbers and PINs, driver’s license number, and mother’s maiden name.  These items are most commonly stolen by someone stealing purses, wallets, and mail, as well as simply dumpster diving. 
Things you can do to protect yourself from this crime include:
  • Guard your personal information
    •   Limit what you carry in your wallet.  You should also shred disposable items containing personal information such as credit card offers and bank statement.
  • Control incoming and outgoing mail
    •    Use official U.S Postal Service offices and collection boxes, pick up your mail promptly, pay attention to billing cycles, and place mail on hold when you’re away.
  • Protect passwords
    •  Avoid easily accessed information and memorize your PINs and passwords.  Make sure you do not use common information for your passwords or PINs.  Ex: birthday, address, initials, etc.
  •  Be aware of online threats
    • Review your emails carefully, make sure your using a secured website when shopping, and password protect your computer.
  • Do not provide secure information over the phone
  • Order credit reports
    •   There are three major agencies that will give you a free report once every year.
  • Consider an ID theft protection service
    • These can be provided for a low monthly fee, give you peace of mind, and help prevent the issue before it happens.

If you become a victim you need to immediately file a report with the police, contact your local bank, and the three major credit bureaus.

Friday, November 4, 2011

New IRS Worker Reclassification Program

At the end of September, the IRS announced a new voluntary disclosure for companies with misclassified workers. Workers are frequently misclassified for a variety of reasons, either intentionally to save costs, or simply because there was a lack of knowledge. 
The IRS’ Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) provides an opportunity for employers to reclassify their workers as employees for future tax periods with partial relief from federal employment taxes.  The VCSP is available to employers who are currently classifying their workers as independent contractors or other nonemployees and want to correct the classification voluntarily.
To be eligible for the program, the employer must have consistently treated the workers as nonemployees, and must have filed all required 1099 forms on the workers that need to be reclassified.  Additionally, the company cannot be involved in any current audit by the IRS, Department of Labor, or by a state government agency. If the IRS or the Department of Labor has previously audited the business concerning the classification of the workers, they will be eligible only if the employer has complied with the results of that audit. Exempt organizations and Government entities may participate in VCSP if they meet all of the eligibility requirements.
If you are questioning whether or not your employees are classified correctly, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

IRS Shows Continued Progress on International Tax Evasion

The Internal Revenue Service has made progress with its ongoing battle against international tax evasion.  The IRS recently completed the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) program, giving U.S. taxpayers holding undisclosed assets or income offshore, a second chance to get compliant with the U.S. tax system to avoid potential criminal charges.
            The IRS conducted the same program in 2009 and collected a total of $2.2 billion.  It led to about 15,000 voluntary disclosures and another 3,000 applicants who came in after the deadline, but were allowed to participate in the 2011 initiative.  Between the two programs there has been a total of $2.7 billion collected.
            IRS commissioner Doug Shulman explained that his goal all along was to get people back to the U.S. tax system; not only that but to bring revenue into the U.S. Treasury.
            There are large amounts of fines and imprisonment if found guilty of tax evasion.  Americans need to understand that if they try to hide assets overseas, the chances of being caught continue to increase.  Do you have any financial investments abroad?  If so, please contact us to discuss any necessary filing requirements.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Noncash Fringe Benefits


          Get ready to calculate those noncash fringe benefits that need to be added to your 2011 payroll, prior to year end.  Various benefits to employees and owners can be taxable as compensation, and are subject to payroll taxes.  Noncash compensations must be reflected on  W-2s, payroll reports, and payroll tax payments.  It is critical that all calculations on this matter be made prior to your last payroll run of the year so that they may be included in a 2011 paycheck.  Avoid penalties and extra costs of amending your payroll reports by taking action at the appropriate time.   

           To make life a little easier, the IRS allows you to cut off your calculation as early as October 31. This allows you to gather your information and get it into a payroll two months early!  By acting now, you can gather your information, get it to us, and have your calculations back in time to decide which of the remaining payrolls of the year you want to include the noncash fringe benefits.

The following items are selected noncash fringe benefits
  • Employer-provided automobiles
  • Discriminatory benefits
  • Benefits provided to S corporation owners, partners, LLC members
  • Group term life insurance in excess of $50,000

Other items you may need to consider for correct payroll reporting include: Moving expenses, employee’s payroll taxes paid by the employer, medical savings accounts, cafeteria plans, adoption benefits, sick pay paid by a third party, coverage under an employer pension plan, and reimbursement of employee business expenses.

McDaniel & Company is now available to help you with your calculations.  Let us assist you in getting the right information into your payroll system.  We can also help you correctly report it to your third party payroll service if using one.