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That didn't take long

Allen Jezouit, @BerkshireCountyBusiness

Well, it sure didn't take Google long to respond - with actions, not words - to the New York Times story that came out last week about JC Penney's alleged "black hat" SEO techniques. According to today's Wall Street Journal, Google has modified its search engine algorithms to prevent websites from using JC Penney's techniques to game the system. (See Google Revamps to Fight Cheaters, Wall Street Journal, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011).

It will be interesting to see just how effective Google's changes are, and how much they impact the page ranks of sites that heretofore had relied upon "white hat" SEO techniques. If you rely on your site for new leads, new business, etc. (and who doesn't these days), you need to pay careful attention to your site's rankings over the next few weeks to see if there are any changes resulting from Google's algorithm mods. Our guess is that the more extensive your link building efforts, the more likely this will effect you.

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Easier and easier

Allen Jezouit, @BerkshireCountyBusiness

Technology marches on. I am regulary blown away by how simple things can be when super smart software engineers figure out ways to take advantage of big picture opportunities.

We have built several ecommerce stores for clients on the BigCommerce platform. We just love it. BigCommerce has recently created functionality that allows a store owner to have a "Shop" tab on their Facebook page. We setup a few of these in the past week. One is for local maple syrup producers and alpaca farmers Sweet Brook Farm. You can check out the shop tab on their Facebook page here:


The other one is for a former local non-profit now located in Boston, the National Patient Safety Foundation.  You can check out the shop on their Facebook page here:


Creating the Shop pages in Facebook was a simple 3 step process.

1) Install the BigCommerce app on the Facebook page.

2) Tell the BigCommerce app the URL of the store's home page.

3) Click save.

That's it. BOOM! You're live with a fully featured shopping page embedding into your Facebook page. Unbelievable how slick and simple this is to work with.

Love that technology stuff ...

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Chamber Seminar on eCommerce

Allen Jezouit, @BerkshireCountyBusiness

Chamber Business Seminar: eCommerce and Your Business by Berkshire Direct

Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Time: 8am-930am
Place: The Orchards, Adams Road, Williamstown
Speakers: Kevin Ellingwood, Jeff Stripp, and Allen Jezouit
Cost: FREE for Chamber Members

The team from Berkshire Direct will conduct another Chamber Business Seminar on Tuesday, February 22nd at the beautiful Orchards Hotel to talk about making the web work for your business. This presentation will focus on conducting sales transactions online, walking through the strategies and tactics required to be successful. Reservations are requested. Please call (413) 458-9077 or email info@williamstownchamber.com.

Berkshire Direct's newest partner, Kevin Ellingwood, ran Victoria Secret's website business for 5 years and followed that up with a stretch running the website and marketing for a successful online medical durable goods marketer. When combined with the Berkshire Direct team's other experiences in the online world, this seminar will bring you valuable perspectives on the strategies and tactics required for successful eCommerce in 2011 and beyond. The seminar will be relevant for folks considering the move to online sales as well as folks already selling online who are looking to grow their business.

Please contact Judy Giamborino at the Williamstown Chamber at (413) 458-9077 or via email at info@williamstownchamber.com to confirm your seat.

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Allen Jezouit, @BerkshireCountyBusiness

Massachusetts Ranked #5 in CNBC's Top States for Business 2010!

Can you imagine? Massachusetts was ranked #5 in CNBC's recent survey of the top states for business in 2010. While it should come as no surprise that the top four are:

1) Texas (1508 points)
2) Virginia (1477)
3) Colorado (1456)
4) North Carolina (1381)

I have to admit that as a small business owner who consults with a lot of other small businesses I am stunned about Massachusetts earning a #5 ranking, up from #8 in 2009 and #12 in 2007. To hear most people talk, Massachusetts is one tough place to do business. How did it happen?

Let's dig into the numbers a bit. According to CNBC.com, the states are ranked on 40 different metrics in 10 key categories. The maximum score possible is 2,500. #1 Texas scored 1,508 while Massachusetts scored 1,375. Although Massachusetts ranked relatively low in such areas as Cost of Doing Business (#39 out of 50), Transportation & Infrastructure (#39), and Cost of Living (#40), we ranked very well in such areas as Education (#1), Access to Capital (#2), Technology & Innovation (#3), and Quality of Life (#6).

Berkshire County's neighboring states certainly do not fair was well. New York is ranked #24, Connecticut is #35, and Vermont is #37. However, New York was second only to Pennsylvania in terms of year over year improvement in overall rank. Pennsylvania moved up from #33 in 2009 to #20 in 2010, while New York improved 12 spots from #36 to #24. PA's Economy improving from #37 to #15 fueled their big move. Likewise New York's economy improving from #20 to #2 drove their big gain in overall rank. At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont was the biggest decliner in 2010 versus 2009, falling seven spots from #30 to #37.

Looking at the specifics of how NY, CT, and VT faired ... New York is ranked #50 in Cost of Doing Business, #49 in Workforce, #45 in Business Friendliness, and #43 in Cost of Living. Those 4 low scores really hamper New York's ability to compete. Connecticut is #47 in Cost of Doing Business and #45 in Cost Living. Vermont went from #35 in 2009 to #42 in 2010 for the Cost of Doing Business factor and from #36 to #40 on Access to Capital which contributed to the decline in their overall ranking.

The rest of the Northeast/New England struggles, too. New Hampshire is overall #19, Maine is #39, and Rhode Island is #49 (ouch!), making Massachusetts truly the jewel of the Northeast. So, while it is expensive to do business here, you get what you pay for:

- an educated workforce who enjoy the quality of life they get here

-a tradition of incubating innovative, high-tech companies in and around our world-leading education institutions

- banks willing to finance the innovation.

Let's hear it for Massachusetts!

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