Posts tagged with ‘Google’

The Age of the Do-It-Yourselfer

How the Internet is ruining the business of specialized skills.

“Google it.” We’ve all said and done it. In fact, in May 2011, Google had over 1 billion unique visitors. Google is such a major part of our culture that it has recently been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a transitive verb. (Note: I had to use the Merriam-Webster dictionary shortly after this to look up transitive verb)

Because we have the ability to Google any information at anytime on our PCs, laptops, smart phones, and tablets we can virtually obtain any knowledge we desire. Savvy Internet users have been taking advantage of this for years in order to learn anything from the ingredients in hollandaise sauce to step-by-step instructions on how to knit. This is an incredibly powerful tool that creates a sense of cohesion throughout the world as well as allows us to broaden our sense of understanding on a variety of topics, no matter how mundane. But this powerful tool is not without its concerns…

Google creates a “jack of all trades,” out of every person, and this can throw a wrench into the plans of many small business owners. Just the other day my husband Googled instructions on how to replace a tail light in our foreign car to avoid going to the auto mechanic. Across the globe, Google users are finding out how to bypass specialty service businesses in order to save money. From fixing a computer at home to avoid a repair fee to booking a vacation online to negate the need for a travel agent, specialty shops everywhere are taking a hit.

Having the power to Google allows us a virtual world that should be milked for every drop of information. Specialty shops and small businesses may have taken a hit, but the advent of the Internet causes so many facets of business to evolve. It will be interesting (and telling) to discover how specialty service shops and businesses deal with ongoing trend of the do-it-yourselfer.

Catching Up With Taylor Hill, Part 1

I was speaking with a friend the other day, and an interesting question came up: how does someone get started in SEO/SEM (Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing)? I figured the best person to ask would be our very own SEO guru, Taylor Hill. If you are familiar with Taylor, you will know that he is a man of many interests and talents. Taylor recently sat down with me to answer some questions about SEO.

Jonathan Sanders: How did you get started? Was it necessity or interest?

Taylor Hill: I created a website for a business I was in and paid a lot of money for the template to build the site.  There was some SEO associated with the site and when I got started doing the things that were recommended, I saw a little movement but not much.  It was after that experience I thought there has to be something else because I see where other’s are getting on the front page of Google.  It was after that thought that I jumped down the rabbit hole.

JS: What are common misunderstandings about SEO work?

TH: I think the most common misunderstanding still today is that if you build a pretty, expensive website, people will eventually find you.  It’s not that you shouldn’t build a website, but you will need to either learn or find a good SEO person or company to help build it (or modify it, if already built) to make sure it has the elements to get picked up by the search engine spiders on the site itself.  This is called on-page SEO.  There is a lot of off-page work that will need to be done, but if the on-page work is not correct, it doesn’t matter what you do off page.  The other thing I would say people should know, if they are paying attention, is your site will need good original content.  If you don’t want to create it or pay someone to create it… well, it will sit there looking pretty.

JS: Why do companies need SEO?

TH: That’s easy – traffic.  The Internet is no different than a brick and mortar store, location is key.  The location is the front page of a search engine after someone does an organic search.  The goal is the front page of Google since it’s the dominant search engine today.

I have more with Taylor in my next post. Stay tuned!

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Google+ Allows Safe Sharing

I’m so puzzled by Google+. I understand the value of having a social media community that’s automatically plugged into the largest search engine in the world. Users’ content will be completely searchable/findable between Google and Google+, and that’s a major asset for online marketers, web developers, and businesses. It’s also incredible that when using the mobile application for Google+ any images you take with your smart phone will automatically be uploaded to Google+ so you can share them easily.

One of the most revered assets of Google+ is the application of circles. Now, instead of posting pictures, status updates, and articles to ALL your followers, you can organize followers into categories and share information only with specific circles (friends, family, etc). If you have a work related article to promote, share it exclusively with your clients. Similarly, if you’ve uploaded a picture of your wild bachelor weekend, you can share it with the circle holding your friends’ profiles so your co-workers and family members won’t see it.

This new feature does make social sharing more private for those who are worried about sharing too much with the wrong people. On the other hand, if you’re worried about what certain people will think about what you share, do you have any business sharing it in the first place? In other words, if you’re worried about who is reading what you’re sharing, you’re not practicing safe sharing.

Google+ makes safe sharing possible, but it negates a powerful piece of social etiquette. If you’re not comfortable with everyone reading what you’re sharing, then you probably shouldn’t share it. I foresee millions of Google+ mishaps where the wrong information is shared with the wrong circles. Is this the worst thing in the world? No. But by separating social circles, Google is allowing irresponsible sharing to happen all across it’s social community.

Google+ is taking the social world by storm, and it will be interesting to see where the road leads. Despite the ability to share with certain people, I hope the networking world continues to leave its social doors open.

Google No Longer Posting 3rd Party Reviews On Place Pages

News flash! If you were relying on Yelp, Angie’s List and InsiderPages to get extra reviews on your Google Place pages, you won’t be anymore. Google, under a torrent of criticism, has stopped scrapping those sites’ reviews. 3rd party sites have long complained that Google was using their content, or content generated on their sites, to boost it’s own review service, Google Places. Yelp has been particularly vocal with their displeasure.

This has created a bit of a quandary for small business owners that benefited from having reviews of their businesses aggregated in one place. Now, if you go to a company’s Place Page, it might look a little bare. Only reviews from registered Google users will appear there.

The winners in this scenario are clearly the 3rd party sites. Google will no longer be able to piggyback off of their hard work to bolster it’s own review site. Plus, I think Google will really have to improve their user review process. The losers are users of Google’s search. It will be a bit more time consuming to do research on the companies they are looking into. I don’t think Google is affected in any particularly large way. Their place page results are still going to appear at the top of the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages).

What does this mean for business owners? It means that they are going to have to send their satisfied customers to multiple places to post their reviews. I don’t think this is a bad thing, though. For the time being, more people are engaging sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. However, do not ignore Google Places. Not only does it appear at the top of the SERP’s, but it is also gaining traction in the mobile app world. In other words, if you diversify your online presence, you won’t have anything to worry about.

iPhone Tracks User Locations. So What?

Last week it was revealed that iPhone users might have had their locations tracked by Apple. People are up in arms over what is obviously a major violation in privacy.

Wake up, people. Google reads your mail. Apple tracks your locations. Facebook tracks your user habits. It’s all to sell you stuff.

While I agree it’s a bit unnerving to have a major corporation documenting your every move, let’s get realistic. Apple, Google, and Facebook are relatively uninterested in what you are ACTUALLY doing. In fact, most user information is tracked for the sole purpose of selling you products you will likely be interested in. Emailing about Spiderman posters? Google will target advertisements selling you superhero paraphernalia. Suddenly “liking” parenting websites on Facebook? You may notice Facebook ads for diapers and other baby gear.

Yes, it’s creepy and it borders on unethical. But can you blame them? It’s becoming easier and easier to ignore advertisements on television, radio, and other mainstream forms of media where we were once bombarded with products and services. I’m not condoning Apple’s transparency failure in tracking user’s locations, but I’m not surprised and you shouldn’t be either.

How to Get Reviews Using Google Hotpot

This video outlines a free way to get your local business to appear higher in Google’s search results by having a Google places page, and asking your customers and clients to review your company there.  By the way, we are practicing what we preach here, too. If you are a satisfied client, would you please review us?

2 Main Reasons You Don’t Get the Right Traffic

I’m sure you get emails just like I do everyday telling you how to obtain all the online traffic you could ever imagine; and it requires little time or money. If you get these, run away and do not click on it for any reason because there are 2 main reasons you are not getting the type of traffic you want; Google can’t find you and/or Google has no idea what you are about. Let’s take each one of these and drill down a little further.

Google Can’t Find You

The first thing to realize is that unless you are in a very specialized niche market, you are not the only one in town, in the state or in the nation doing whatever it is you do. That means you should get an idea of who your competition is and what they are doing online. You must also realize that you may be in a category that is highly competitive and that means you will have to do even more to be found.

It is still amazing to me how many people believe that once their website is built they’re done! If this is what you’re thinking then you really are done; online. The idea of “build it and they will come” has been disproved so many times I’m not going to go into it again here. Just know that after a website is built, the real work begins. That’s because being indexed in Google and other search engines is not enough. You have to work to get the right links, citations, reviews, mentions, articles, videos, podcasts, etc., etc, etc. to get ahead and stay ahead of the crowd. This means you will either be doing it yourself, which take a lot of your time or paying someone else to do it for you, which means it costs money.

In the town I live in I typed into Google “my town bank” (with the quotation marks so I would get an exact match) and got back “about 10,700,000 results” This simply means that out of all the banks in my town there are about 10,700,000 pages competing for the top 10 positions on Google. So you have a chance of 1 in 1,070,000 of achieving that ranking in the organic search. If I put “my town my state bank” the results are “about 68,700 results” or 1 in 6,870. Now think about how you are listed on your website and the terms you are associated with.

As you can see, it will be easier to be found if you are competing against 68,700 pages instead of 10,700,000 pages. This brings me to the next item on our list.

Google has No Idea What You are About

The first thing you need to understand is that Google ranks pages, not websites. The rank you have on your home page is for that page only; not the entire website. Every page on your site needs to be about something particular so your pages are not competing with each other. While this seems impossible, it’s not. Let’s take the bank example and look at how a bank can divide and conquer in the online space.

One tactic is to divide your pages by location. While this is very doable, it can be tricky because of local and map search technologies. Make sure you consult someone who understands local search, and not everyone in search does, who can help you through the local search maze if you have multiple locations.

Another approach is to divide your pages by services; your home page would be toward your overall bank and you would have your other pages highlight your services. For example you might talk about the history of the bank and why your customers can trust the bank with their money on the home page. You may then put up category pages that are topical as in mortgages, savings, CD’s, etc.

The biggest mistake companies and people make are talking about the same things on multiple pages and using the same wording and keywords for descriptions of those things. Remembering that the search engines see each individual page as a place where information is stored and they will pull up the best information that can be found that is indexed. If you talk about the same things on each page you are in essence competing with yourself; thus Google, Bing and the other search engines see a bunch of pages talking about the same things so they dismiss your website as confusing.

So how do you compete? Be very targeted and concise and choose your market well.

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