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By Jennifer Knight, Show-N-Tell

If you are a small business owner in today's digital world, SEO is most likely being sold to you as the solution for all marketing and lead generation problems.  Be aware.  If your website is not properly developed, Search Engine Optimization can be hazardous to the health of your business and will stunt the company's growth.

Before investing in a campaign for higher search engine ranking, please consider putting the following ideas into motion:

1.  Use Google's analytic capabilities to track what is currently happening with the website.  Know what is already working and where the traffic comes from now.  Expand in those areas before you start spending money in additional areas.  Before you can know where to go, you must know where you are.

2.  Make sure a clear and present message is resonating with those that are already showing up.  If your offering is not resonating to the point of purchase with at least one out of ten customers there is no good reason to open it up to a thousand.  In fact, if you open yourself up to the masses with a poor message, you will be doing more harm than good.  Those that do stumble upon your site will not return, nor will they refer you to others.  This is branding in reverse and it is fatal.

3.  Put yourself in the computer chair of a total stranger who has never heard of you or your company and ask yourself this question: Is this website (not the company, but the website) friendly, responsive, intelligent and helpful enough to compete for my business?

And if all else fails, try this:

Visualize a young married couple walking into your physical showroom.  They look right past you and quickly glance around the store.  They turn to leave without asking a single question.  You have no idea who they were or what they were looking for.  They didn't give you a chance and you're not sure why.  They're just gone... forever.  Now multiply that experience and imagine it happening to you all day long.

Most customers don't behave this way in person.  But this is precisely how they behave online... all day long.  Pay attention to digital rejection.  There is good reason for it.

Search Engine Optimization is a wonderful thing.  I don't mean to downplay its importance, but engaging in SEO before you are ready can be a painful experience.  Not having much web traffic is bad.  But increasing web traffic before the time is right and reverse-branding your company is worse.

A great website will actively market a business for you, not just advertise it.  Your website should be quite literally working for you.  Once the website has grown to become a vital and productive member of your staff, you are then ready to revisit the endless possibilities of Search Engine Optimization.

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After the financial system meltdown of 2008, Congress and the executive branch decided to "clamp down" on risky trading by large financial institutions and enact reforms aimed at making them more transparent and solvent. More consumer protections were put in place, including the elimination of certain fees and stricter reporting requirements. They also decided to go after tax cheats by requiring foreign banks to keep more detailed records of transactions in American accounts overseas. These and other measures are supposed to protect consumers from the evil greedy capitalists, but like Joan Robinson said "The only thing worse than being exploited by a capitalist is not being exploited by a capitalist." Consumer protection measures have actually hurt the very people is was supposed to help.

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By Linda Duffy from her LindaOutLoud blog

With the election looming, you will be hearing more and more about job creation. For the record, politicians do NOT create jobs. Hard working individuals do. People who take the risks, have the ideas, and have to drive to start a corporation or small business create jobs. When you hear about government jobs, what you are really seeing are drains on the economy. In order for that government job to be created, the government has to first confiscate money from tax payers. Government jobs are jobs like Vampires are blood donors. They are not a plus...they are a big minus.

Government is so bad at job creation, that even having your resume handled specifically by the President of the United States doesn't mean employment.
"More than two months after President Barack Obama asked for Darin Wedel's résumé, the phone is quiet, e-mails are no longer flooding in and the long-sought-after job interviews -- which had begun to be scheduled -- have petered out.
"Not even recruiting companies are calling anymore," said Jennifer Wedel, the Fort Worth mother of two who chatted online this year with Obama about her out-of-work husband." (more)
If the most powerful man in the free world can't hook up one job, do you really think he will be able to create enough jobs to save the failing economy?
Since government can't really create jobs, what can government do? Get the hell out of the way. Reduce unnecessary regulation, restrictions, reduce taxes, and simplify work rules. The people can handle the rest. Without the burden of excessive government - without political vampires sucking them dry - the business community will thrive.

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From the Thinkin' Out Loud series By Greg Allan

Who might you say is responsible for high gas prices? It's a safe bet to say most fingers are pointing toward Washington, DC.

About a week back I came across an Associated Press story titled “Four Dollars A Gallon Gas Is Damn Cheap.” I didn’t bother reading the piece because I was much too busy laughing and being angry at the same time. For I just spent $118.50 to fill my vehicle, the highest I've ever paid!

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Your business doesn’t really care how you make money. Your email and Twitter and Facebook and some of your employees don’t care either.

The thing is you have to care or you’ll never move beyond the daily grind of answering to the loudest call.

Here’s a very big secret – if you get this it will change your life – there’s a very, very small amount of everything you do each day that matters. Figure that out, focus on that and you’ll never go to work the same way again.

Only a handful of your clients matter when it comes to making money. Figure out who they are and how to amplify what they mean. Make your products, services, processes and value propositions all about them.

Only a handful of your subscribers can help you get to the next level. Segment them and talk to them every chance you get. Ask them to share the single most important thing you can do to help them.

Only a handful of available actions presented to you each day can make you the kind of money that makes all of this worth doing. Think about what they are and guard your day, your week, your month, from every other distraction.

Start looking at your business as a vehicle for solving the greatest challenges of your most profitable customers and then figure out how to do that better. That’s not cynical, that’s not greedy, that’s where you help the world, that’s where you provide the most value – and that’s what will make you the most money.

Today, pick out your three best customers and identify three ways you can do more for them.

Reprinted with permission from the Duct Tape Marketing Blog