Tag Archives: advertising

Why Google Plus is About to Change the Web

Google+From Jason Hiner at the TechRepublic – This is the way Google always wanted social networking to work, and this time the company may have pulled it off.  Google’s previous social attempts have been unmitigated train wrecks, if we’re being completely honest. Open Social failed because Google couldn’t get Facebook and other social networks to buy into the idea of a shared social identity. Google Wave missed the target by not being useful enough to attract any users. Google Buzz freaked people out by naively overstepping its bounds on privacy.

So when Google unveiled its latest social experiment last week — called Google+ — I was extremely skeptical. Still, Facebook is so malignant in terms of privacy and such a mess to use and configure, that I was more than happy to give Google+ a try. I just expected it that it would be a speed-dating relationship like most of my product reviews and destined to last no more than a few weeks at the most.

Damn, was I wrong. After almost a week, I fully expect this Google+ thing to turn into a long-term relationship. I mean we’re not buying matching workout suits or anything yet, but this is definitely more than just a crush on the hot, new thing.

To start, Google+ is what Google calls a “field trial” — a fancy way to say that it’s still in beta. For now, it is open mostly to technology industry insiders and the press. Google reasoned that since reporters were going to be writing about Plus anyway, they might as well let them to kick the tires. Wise move.

Vic Gundotra, Google’s SVP of Social and the head guy in charge of Plus, said, ”We chose the initial seed very carefully. We wanted a lot of diversity, so we have people that represent over 42 of the world’s languages… We’re trying to really test the product, make sure that we meet people’s privacy expectations, that the systems are working, [and] that we can scale. We’ll slowly grow that initial seed as we’re ready.”

The other Google executive running the Plus project, Bradley Horowitz, added, ”Field trial is the right term. That’s not a euphemism. There’s a lot of rough edges in there and a lot of learning we have to do. The feedback we got in the first 24 hours is tremendous.”

Even with its rough edges and without the masses of humanity having access to Google+, the core experience is pretty powerful and it’s easy to see where Google is going with this.

As I wrote over the weekend while diving into Google+, the most attractive part is how easy it is to find, add, and organize your friends (I cited that as the main reason you won’t hate Google+). The friend issue is the heart of all social networks, although it’s so obvious that it’s often overlooked. In fact, Twitter still isn’t very good it, Facebook is a little better, but both of them now look like neophytes compared to the way Google+ does it.

The friend feature on Google+ is called “Circles” and it turns out to be an intuitive mashup of friending (from Facebook) and following (from Twitter). Circles are basically sets of friends that you can drag and drop into groups mirroring your existing social circles — Family & Friends, Colleagues, Local Techies, etc. — rather than just the one big lump of friends you have on Facebook that can result in moments of “worlds colliding” since you have to share all of your updates with all of your friends. On Google+ you can selectively send updates to different circles, and you can also quickly click between the news streams of your different circles.

You can also make circles for people you don’t necessarily know but are interested in following their updates (e.g. Tech Journalists, Famous Engineers, Web Celebrities, etc.). This is where Google+ echoes Twitter because people don’t have to follow you back in order for you to add them to one of your Circles. At that point you’ll see all of their public updates, and most of these folks make the majority of their updates public in order to be seen by more people (it’s the whole social media narcissism meme and it has already transplanted itself on Google Plus).

The real killer feature to Circles in Google+ is how easy it is to find and add friends. Everywhere you see a user’s name or avatar you can simply mouse over it, click “Add to Circles” and then select which circle to add them to. On Twitter, it took me about three years to find about 200 really interesting people (mostly in technology and the media) worth following. It took me less than three days to find that many on Google Plus. Of course, most of them are the same people, so Google+ has the advantage of speed by letting us quickly re-coagulate our existing social graph on the new service.

Google+ Circles

I’m not predicting Google+ will replace Facebook and/or Twitter. This will definitely not be a zero sum game. Facebook has the most to lose from Google Plus, but it’s going to be years before Aunt Jenny and your plumber show up on Google+ the way they recently showed up on Facebook (and it’s possible they never will). All three of these social networks — Facebook, Google+, and Twitter — will still be going strong three years from now. People will gravitate to them for different reasons. They’ll go to Twitter for news and to cyber-stalk celebraties. They’ll got Facebook for private networking, water cooler chats, and games.

So where will that leave Google+?

I’m glad you asked, because that’s the real point here (sorry to bury the lede). To start, Google+ is mostly going to be made up of digital influencers — technology executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals, as well as social media mavens and technophiles in the press. Don’t underestimate the power of this broad group. It’s the same group that has catapulted Twitter and Foursquare into mainstream consciousness in recent years. A large percentage of this group is already in the “initial seed” of Google+ users and they are the ones who have been raving about it for the past week. Look for a lot of them to decrease (but not eliminate) their Facebook usage and spend more time on Google Plus.

However, once you get past the technorati, then the story is going to get really interesting, because in the long run, Google+ is going to be less of a destination and more like the connective social tissue of the Web. I’m talking about social networking moving beyond a walled garden like Facebook or even a controlled ecosystem like Twitter.

Pieces of Google+ are likely to be decentralized with tentacles extending across the Web, the mobile Web, and various computer, smartphone and tablet platforms. In some ways, Facebook and Twitter have started doing this already. They’ve put share buttons and boxes on external sites. They’ve launched client apps for multiple platforms. Facebook has even allowed sites to use the Facebook platform as their engine for user comments. However, the ultimate goal for Facebook and Twitter is to drive users back to their sites where they can be monetized.

Google has a different goal. It needs all of this social data about what people like, how they are socially related, what content they share the most, what context they share it in, and more in order to power its search engine and better organize the world’s information. That means Google’s social motivations have little to do with driving people back to plus.google.com. It’s ultimately about enhancing search and not allowing Facebook to hoard so much of the world’s social data.

That’s why Google has already submitted it’s iOS app to the Apple App Store. That’s why it is already talking about opening up Google+ Hangouts (group video chat) to other video services and clients. It’s why Google is putting little +1s all across the Web and in its search results (even though they aren’t very well connected to Google+ yet). In order to satisfy its appetite for social data, Google ultimately needs Google+ to be ubiquitous across virtually all platforms — both in terms of accessing the service from devices but even more so in terms of micro-connections to the service from third party apps and sites.

Think of +1 integrated into mobile content apps, Q&A sites, blog comments, product reviews, music services like Pandora, etc. Now, imagine reading a product review and giving it +1 and then instantly seeing what all of the people in your “Tech Pros” circle have posted about that product — all without leaving the site you’re on. That’s where I see Google going with this and that’s where this could permanently change social networking on the Web into a much more integrated experience. And, if Google+ succeeds, it would likely force Facebook and Twitter to move in a similar direction.

Nevertheless, one big question here is how far will Google go with the open strategy? Can it avoid the temptation of giving Google+ pre-eminence to its internal platforms, such as Android, Chrome browser, Chrome OS, Gmail, and others? Will it build great apps and functionality for other platforms as well? For example, will it build a client for Windows Phone 7, even though Microsoft is its biggest rival in search? Will it work with Apple to make FaceTime (which has also promised open standards) compatible with Google+ Hangouts? Those are the kinds of litmus tests I’m going to be watching for.

Still, “Google+” is the perfect name for this because it’s ultimately an add-on and a force-multiplier to the existing Google experience, especially its search engine but also to the broader Web in general. Google+ will be a social layer on top the existing Web. At least that’s the vision. This time, Google might just pull it off.

So why is this important to you at all?  We at Hansen Web Design track emerging social networking technologies carefully because down the road, it may be important to your business, just as Facebook and Twitter are now.  Smart businesses know how to take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media to extend their reach and marketability.

Keep an eye on Google+.  It will likely be a player.  The exact role it plays in your business has yet to be determined, but watching it and understanding it will make it much easier later.

New Client – DW’s Custom Jewelry

DW's Custom JewelryWe’re proud to announce our latest client, Dwayne of DW’s Custom Jewelry here in Madison.  Dwayne came to us with a request for some search engine optimization services (SEO) and we were able to help him out even though his shopping cart software proved to be the limiting factor with respect to a number of items.  Nonetheless, we were able to install Google Analytics, set up automated Google Site Map submittals, revise and enhance the meta tags based on actual searches that his customers had been performing and finally set up some automated marketing reporting for him along with some recommendations for further enhancements.

If you are not within the first three pages when performing a Google search, contact us and let us see how we can help you improve your ranking!

SEO – Quality Links to Your Site

Following is an article on how to improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your website by developing reciprocal links, or as Google refers to them in their post – “Quality Links”…

If your site is rather new and still unknown, a good marketing technique is to get involved in the community around your topic. Interact and contribute on forums and blogs. Just keep in mind to contribute in a positive way, rather than spamming or soliciting for your site. Just building a reputation can drive people to your site. And they will keep on visiting it and linking to it. If you offer long-lasting, unique and compelling content — something that lets your expertise shine — people will want to recommend it to others. Great content can serve this purpose as much as providing useful tools.

A promising way to create value for your target group and earn great links is to think of issues or problems your users might encounter. Visitors are likely to appreciate your site and link to it if you publish a short tutorial or a video providing a solution, or a practical tool. Survey or original research results can serve the same purpose, if they turn out to be useful for the target audience. Both methods grow your credibility in the community and increase visibility. This can help you gain lasting, merit-based links and loyal followers who generate direct traffic and “spread the word.” Offering a number of solutions for different problems could evolve into a blog which can continuously affect the site’s reputation in a positive way.

Humor can be another way to gain both great links and get people to talk about your site. With Google Buzz and other social media services constantly growing, entertaining content is being shared now more than ever. We’ve seen all kinds of amusing content, from ASCII art embedded in a site’s source code to funny downtime messages used as a viral marketing technique to increase the visibility of a site. However, we do not recommend counting only on short-lived link-bait tactics. Their appeal wears off quickly and as powerful as marketing stunts can be, you shouldn’t rely on them as a long-term strategy or as your only marketing effort.

It’s important to clarify that any legitimate link building strategy is a long-term effort. There are those who advocate for short-lived, often spammy methods, but these are not advisable if you care for your site’s reputation. Buying PageRank-passing links or randomly exchanging links are the worst ways of attempting to gather links and they’re likely to have no positive impact on your site’s performance over time. If your site’s visibility in the Google index is important to you it’s best to avoid them.

Directory entries are often mentioned as another way to promote young sites in the Google index. There are great, topical directories that add value to the Internet. But there are not many of them in proportion to those of lower quality. If you decide to submit your site to a directory, make sure it’s on topic, moderated, and well structured. Mass submissions, which are sometimes offered as a quick work-around SEO method, are mostly useless and not likely to serve your purposes.

It can be a good idea to take a look at similar sites in other markets and identify the elements of those sites that might work well for yours, too. However, it’s important not to just copy success stories but to adapt them, so that they provide unique value for your visitors.


Social bookmarks on YouTube enable users to share content easily

Finally, consider making linking to your site easier for less tech savvy users. Similar to the way we do it on YouTube, offering bookmarking services for social sites like Twitter or Facebook can help spread the word about the great content on your site and draw users’ attention.

Source:  Google Webmaster Central Blog – Posted 6/21/10

More on Google AdWords – Training

Received this in our mail and thought we’d pass it along – this is excellent advertising information for business site owners!

Learn how to improve your AdWords performance with Google’s free tutorials in their AdWords Online Classroom. Over 96% of advertisers who watched them agreed… that the courses “will help them manage their AdWords accounts better,” so don’t miss out. Some of the tutorials you may be particularly interested in are:

Improve your ad performance with key tips

Get tips on how to structure your campaigns, manage your keywords, and write effective ad text with specific goals in mind

Use AdWords data to strategically improve your account

Learn how to identify top- and lower-performing keywords and ads, terms your customers are searching on, and suggestions to make your account perform better.

Why can’t I see my ad?

Find out quickly if your ad is showing, and the reasons why it may not be. We’ll provide information on how to get your ad back up and running.

For all tutorials please visit our AdWords Online Classroom site. All you’ll need to watch is your AdWords email address and 10-digit account number.

Google AdWords

Want additional visibility for your business? Try Google AdWords. You can set up your own budget and have your business appear in the “Sponsored Links” column in searches, where it will get a lot more visibility. With Google AdWords, you can create and run ads for your business, quickly and simply. Run your ads on Google and their advertising network — no matter what your budget, you’ll only pay when people click your ads. You can track your success by linking your AdWords campaigns to your Google Analytics account.