Google+ (A New Social Platform)

Google+ is a new social platform which many see as Google’s answer to Facebook. There are several components to the free product, launching now and over the next several months:

1) CLICK TO SHARE The first feature (available now to all Google users) is the ability to “+1″ Google search results. Enable this feature, and you will see a +1 button to the right of each Google search result. It’s similar to ‘liking’ on Facebook– when you click the button, other participants in your Google social network will see what you +1 in their own search results. See screenshot:

Sign up for the ability to “+1″ specific Google search results, the new form of social sharing. (Log into your Google account first.)

2) HOOK +1 UP ON YOUR WEBSITE Most likely, Google will eventually factor the amount of +1s a webpage receives as a ranking factor. Currently, the amount of tweets and Facebook shares a page receives is a ranking factor; so this is the next logical step. According to your comfort level, we recommend you add the +1 sharing button to your webpages:

Add the +1 button to your website, to enable visitors to share your webpages and blog entries with their Google networks.

3) ADDITIONAL FEATURES Google has a whole world planned with Google+. For example: ten-person video sharing, management of Facebook-style social profiles, and easy mobile sharing. Currently, only a select few Google users have access to these features. Read one user’s experience of the new features.

Sign up to be notified when additional Google+ features are rolled out to the public.

More to come on Google+ in the coming weeks and months!

Tuesday Tip: Get A FASTER Website

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Do you dream of a faster website for your business? A fast-loading website:

– Earns better rankings in Google (Announcement from Google)
– Earns better ad placement when using Google Adwords paid advertising
– Improves satisfaction in site visitors (They get the info they need faster!)
– Increases the number of pages one visitor views by 25% (They’re happy, so they stay on your site longer!)
– Increases conversion rates (Happy people email you more often and make online purchases!)

To achieve these benefits, you don’t need the world’s fastest-loading website. You just need to be in the “safe zone”. These tools let you know if your website’s speed is holding you back:

  • Page Speed, an add-on for the Internet browser Firefox that evaluates webpage performance and offers improvement suggestions.
  • YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
  • WebPagetest shows your website’s load performance page by page.
  • Pingbrigade tests your website’s speed as experienced by site users worldwide

If your website performs poorly in these tests, contact a friendly SEO pro at Upright Communications. We can help speed you up! Or, if you’re feeling really tech-savvy and want to improve your website’s speed yourself, read instructions here: Distilled’s Site Speed for Dummies Part 2 – How To Do It.

Google Tags Expires – Need a Boost?

After only one year, Google is discontinuing Google Tags.  Tags was a tool that enabled local businesses to promote specific areas of their business for $25/month.  Are you running a Tag currently?  Here are examples of how these bright yellow call-outs appear in local Google results:

Announcement

An excerpt from Google’s brief email notice to Tags users: “We are retiring Google Tags for all users on April 29, 2011. No action is required on your part, and your Places account and listing will continue to work as usual. Effective today, no new tags can be created, but all active tags will keep running to the end of April for free.

Reasoning

Many argue that the axe of Google Tags is simply a transition in lieu of Google Boost, which also supports local small businesses.  Like Tags previously, Google Boost enables business owners to create online search ads from their Google Places account.  The main difference is that Boost ads use a unique blue pinpoint marker, and ads are eligible to appear both within Google Adwords sponsored listings and beside the map in local searches:

In addition, its payment plan differentiates Google Boost from Google Tags.  Boost bills users on an automatic pay-per-click basis, versus a monthly standard cost.

Resources

  • For setup instructions and to read pros/cons of Google Boost, please click here.
  • For Google’s official Google Boost manual, please click here.

List of Banned Terms in Google Places

Are you a small business owner who’s seen this ominous message in Google Places?


Eeek, it’s scary looking right?!  The Google Places forum is full of posts from people who have received this error after using correct, official business data in their listing.  They do not understand which terms within their listing are banned.  We may never know why certain terms are banned, but we now have a pretty definitive list of banned terms.

All thanks to our friend, Local Search guru Mike Blumenthal…we present:

The Comprehensive List of Banned Terms on Google Places

Enjoy, and avoid using any of the banned terms in your Google Places listing.  If you find any others not on the list, please comment below.

Upright’s NCAA Bracket – “Winning!”

Everyone at the Upright office has complained to me about their trashed NCAA brackets.  They’re full of “coulda, shoulda, woulda”s about their picks.

I have no sympathy– I say get a grip!  That’s because I won our bracket bigtime and predicted UConn to win the whole thing. YES!

I can hear cheers for myself out in the blogosphere.  How sweet the sound.

Final Upright standings are below.  (I’m collecting enemies for next year’s payback, I know!)

Hope all of you fared just as well or better (possible?) than me.  And that you are big UConn fans.  Go Huskies.

Multiple Domains? No Problem – We Can Help

One of our most popular blog entries ever discusses concerns while optimizing multiple domains.

Well the truth is, a lot of companies have multiple domains (URLs) to serve different portions of their business.  And this is great!

Upright has 15 years experience in helping clients with multiple business sites.  Yes there are concerns, such as with duplicate content and the handling of redirects.  Integration of multiple domains must be handled delicately.

If you’re looking for an online marketing team that knows how to technically support and creatively integrate multiple business websites…turn to Upright Communications.

We simplify the world wide web.

Block Yourself from Time-Wasting Websites!

Time-wasting websites suck the life out of your work day. I speak from experience! There are two websites that I visit almost compulsively– both are news sources that make me feel wayyyy out of the loop if I don’t check them several times a day.

Nonsense. Visiting non-work websites wastes productivity. Also, reading too much bad news OR feeling unproductive are both crummy positions to put yourself in!

So, I downloaded the LeechBlock plug-in for Firefox. If you use Firefox as your Internet browser (43% of Internet users do), download LeechBlock hereLeechBlock allows you to block yourself from visiting any website of your choosing. You can specify days of the week, and times of day, to be blocked from each site individually.

This is my first day news-free, and I’m loving it so far. You could exercise self-control…but if you’re like me, a little jolt of “THIS SITE IS BLOCKED” can re-train the brain more effectively.

For those who use browsers other than Firefox – such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and others – enjoy these other ideas for blocking time-wasting websites from yourself.

Googlers Happier with Bing-Yahoo Results?

Various reports released in March 2011 state that the search engine Bing has surpassed partner Yahoo in percentage share of US searches. (As previously reported by this blog, Yahoo now displays Bing’s results for searches, hence the term “partner”.)

Never one to believe rumors, we turned to the official comScore report to give us the hard facts. Truth is, Bing continues its slow rise towards Yahoo’s 2nd place position behind Google.  Bing is still in 3rd place.  The official February 2011 search shares are:

Google 65.4% (-.02% change)
Yahoo 16.1% (0.0% change)
Bing 13.6% (0.5% change)

But there are hints of a major game-change:

Experian Hitwise said in a statement, “Yahoo! Search and Bing achieved the highest success rates in February 2011. This means that for both search engines, more than 81 percent of searches executed resulted in a visit to a Website. Google achieved a success rate of 66 percent.”

In other words, search users are finding what they want at Bing and Yahoo 81% of the time. When they use Google, they are “clicking through to” results at a much lower rate. Are Googlers simply finding the info they need directly on the results page itself, sidestepping the need to click into a website? Or are Googlers truly becoming dissatisfied? Any real dissatisfaction with Google results over time suggest continued growth for the Bing-Yahoo partnership. We’ll keep you posted!

Tell us your thoughts: Have you begun using Bing or Yahoo more frequently, because you are dissatisfied with Google results?

Facebook: Create a Fanpage for your Biz WITHOUT a Personal Account

Many businesses find Facebook a useful tool for earning new business and promoting company activity in real time.  But Facebook has this nasty rule: You MUST have a personal account to create a business profile (fan page or place page)!  What?!

The reasoning behind this rule probably lies in the fact that Facebook prides itself as a personal network – for the people and by the people.  This is why Facebook disables users from creating accounts with email addresses such as info@, sales@ or webmaster@.  If you’re trying to set up a Facebook page and see the error “email address is invalid,” chances are Facebook believes your email address appears not to belong to a person. Use a name@ email address instead.

Once you get past this hurdle, you’re still in the unenviable position of having a personal Facebook account when all you want is to promote your business. Our suggestion? Edit personal settings to be essentially invisible on Facebook.  It’s actually pretty easy to remain invisible – don’t accept friend requests and set settings to only be visible to friends.  Perfect!

Online Marketers Say the Darndest Things

For this Friday Funk, the joke’s on us!  As online marketers we sometimes take ourselves too seriously– brand positioning, scalable solutions, social currency– it all loses meaning when the humor sets in.

This hilarious submit-your-own-caption website, “Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising” is cracking us up today.  Check it out!

Some of Upright employees’ favorite lines from this site:

  • “That viral made me LOL so hard I think I’ll buy the car that was in it.”
  • “It looks like a link but it doesn’t say click here, what do I do?”
  • “I can only refer 5 friends? But the rest will be so upset…”
  • “This website’s music is great– turn it up!”