Crafting growth with savvy makers & marketers: Growth & Marketing @MadMimi (acquired by GoDaddy). Director of B2B Sales @InfluAds (acquired). Head of Growth @LawKick-the team behind Lexicata, the 1st Cloud CRM for lawyers.
Director of Marketing Strategy @Horton Group Agency (w/a 100% client retention rate). Founder @National Media Alliance-the most diverse, invite-only business collective in the US with experts from UX to Marketing to match client needs
It's isn't just you.
Adobe reported that "over $21.8 billion in global ad revenues have been blocked/lost so far in 2015." largely thanks to mass adoption with the AdBlocking software :) 21 million users in 2009, to 198 million active global users as of June 2014-likely overtaking the other comps entirely.
Yes, zoning laws generally frown on improperly zoned home businesses (although they rarely ever actually enforce it unless a neighbor or homeowner's association complains).
However, there is a ridiculously simple workaround for 100% online businesses like yours (and mine) - get a private mailbox or virtual office & register your business to that address!
I've gone through the same process multiple times, both for myself & a for a few web design & marketing consulting clients. (note: I'm a startup & entrepreneur consultant, not attorney, so my legal knowledge is limited to what I've learned from both my own clients & working at legal startups Lexicata and LawKick - an in-state attorney will have more specific advice)
While you're right about state variations, generally speaking it doesn't matter where you're actually working from - what matters is where your business is registered. If you don't have any inventory, customers actually coming to your house, etc. (in other words there's no actual business taking place at your house), then you're technically on "Online Business," regardless of the address on your business license.
It's not uncommon for online businesses to register themselves using the address of a private mailbox (e.g. from a local UPS store) or sometimes a virtual office. If there really is absolutely no physical front to your business, many startups get a mailbox & incorporate in Delaware or Nevada for their business-friendly state laws.
Think about it this way: if your business isn't actually registered to your home address, zoning isn't an issue, because at that point you've essentially made yourself a "remote employee" of the company (even if it's registered in Nevada).
Feel free to reach out if you'd like some resources on the topic or to hear how the process worked in the long-term for myself & my clients.
When you registered your business in early 2014, did you also apply for a patent? (LegalZoom's information on patenting recipes: http://info.legalzoom.com/apply-patent-recipe-20489.html )
If you were able to apply for a patent that would definitely work in your favor, but for the sake of your question I'll assume there's no patent...after a few IP disputes of my own (and working with legal startups Lexicata & LawKick), I've learned that when these disputes arise, your first steps (**before saying anything**) should be to:
1) Gather together any & all proof that the intellectual property (recipe) was entirely created by you *prior* to your employment with the former boss in question; and
2) Carefully review every detail of your historical conversations & agreements with said employer.
Once that's done, if court is looking like your future then you should definitely go beyond Clarity and get an in-state attorney's option, for advice specific to your location & scenario (try asking this same question on Avvo.com), but here a few things I've found helpful consider:
- When your former boss paid for ingredients, was it with the company's funds or his own?
- Are there any IP clauses in any documents associated with your former employer? (think beyond contracts - check email signature disclaimers, anything that could be construed in way that would seem you made it the company's product)
- Did you at any point use company property and/or resources to further your product? (e.g. a company-issue laptop)
- Did you mix your business & personal email at all? (for instance did you ever handle any of the company's business from your personal email address, or forward company emails/documents/etc. to your personal email - doing so can sometimes put you at risk of having your personal email inbox subpoenaed if a court believes it's relevant).
Well firstly, "the newest Google standards" actually discourage basing your SEO campaign on pure link-building. To avoid the eventual "Google hammer", you should start by focusing on generating natural traffic over generating a bunch of links - if you do that right, you can then activate your own users to share your links themselves and start gaining press traction as well.
Plus, Google's search results are moving more & more away from the basic notion of "whoever has the most links with the right keyword ranks highest", and more towards "the website that provides the best data & content will be ranked highest". That doesn't mean link building is dead, it just changes the strategy from what most people think of when they say link-building. There are still plenty of viable techniques though:
- Press: Signing up for a service like HARO is time-consuming, but if you keep it up you can generate several organic press mentions & likely even interviews. I don't know your travel company's SEO/marketing budget, but press releases with a good angle can be a great source of these as well.
- Social backlinking: I'm not talking about just basic Facebook/Twitter marketing here...there are a lot of other options to create social authority figures that people come to/subscribe to. Group Pinterest boards, services like Paper.li, Scoop.it, etc.
- Q&A - Ever considered a Reddit AMA (Ask me Anything)? I haven't researched travel-related subreddits before, but I've done these for other companies I've worked with and it always generates at *least* a boost in traffic and usually a number of signups.
- Guest blogs: Careful with these, Google's been cracking down on guest blog networks & spammy blogging techniques lately - but they can still generate traffic when used properly.
Also, if you haven't already, make sure you've got your deals marked up with proper schema. It's easier (and in my opinion soon to be the primary method) to get links & traffic from Google when your website is providing data to the Knowledge Graph. Let me know if you've got any questions.