Data Highlighter Feature – Google Webmaster Tools

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If you’ve searched a site recently on Google, you may have noticed information about events or services appear to the right of your primary search results, or in expanded search results.  These are Google snippets, and they are created by setting structured data in Google Webmaster tools.  Google has simplified the process of creating snippets with their point-and-click tool, Data Highlighter. This service is free to use and is a great way to optimize your organic search results with Google. Continue reading

Be a Favorite Place on Google

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Big Big Design is a Favorite Place on Google
Big Big Design is a Favorite Place on Google

We received Big Big Design’s “Favorite Place on Google” sticker today, and I’m geekily excited.

The sticker is a window decal with a barcode that points to our business listing on Google and Google Maps. A person with a camera phone can scan the barcode to see our listing, including information we post there — hours, coupons and specials, reviews from customers or clients, photos and videos.

This is all free from Google, and it’s a nice tool set for any business or organization that has a local client or customer base. It’s part of a Google Local Business Center listing, which can act as a small and simple webpage for your business or as a landing page that points to your full website.

To get started, log in with a Google account (or sign up for a free Google account) and visit google.com/localbusinesscenter. Start out with just basic information, and add to it over time. You’ll also be able to see how many people are looking at your listing, searching for your business, and more.

Need help? Give us a call.

Google’s interest-based advertising: what it means for advertisers

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I wrote yesterday about what Google’s Interest-Based Advertising will mean for web users, particularly as regards the ads people will see, the information that will be collected, and the privacy implications. But what does it mean for advertisers?

AdWords Help includes a few help questions and answers about interest-based advertising, to help advertisers get up to speed. Here’s the key info (with sources linked).

Interest-Based Advertising hasn’t launched yet; it’s in limited beta (source).

It won’t cost any more than regular AdWords (source). Presumably it will be available to everyone.

SPECULATION: Even though there’s no specific fee, I would guess that these more targeted ads would cost more, simply because advertisers should be willing to pay more to communicate with a more targeted audience. Or perhaps they’ll cost the same, but you can choose to advertise only using interest-based advertising and not using the scattershot content-targeting. I would think that interest-based ad placements would be set in a separate section (just as content ad placements are currently selected separately from search ad placements).

Back to the published facts:

Users will be identified with “anonymous user cookies” that will associate each user with “interest categories” — like “sports” or “baseball.” Ads will be shown based on these cookies (source). Personal information won’t be tracked, nor will it be made available to advertisers (source). Users can set their own interest categories through the Ads Preferences Manager, which is already available (source).

Google plans to generate interest categories much as it currently generates keywords from content, but it’s still working out the categories (source).

Advertisers can ask to join the beta (source), or they can wait until the system is finalized. You’ll be automatically enrolled if you use AdWords.

Four steps for turning website visitors into customers

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Have a lot of visitors to your website? Great!

Do you know how many of those site visitors go on to buy your products or services? No? That’s not great.

Of course the number of people visiting your site is important, but the number of people taking action based on what they find on your site probably is more closely tied to your success.

How can you improve your site’s conversion rate? I suggest a four-step process:

  1. Set goals. Clarify what you want to accomplish with your site. Are you selling online, generating leads for sales people, responding to customer issues, or something else? Your goals determine what you should measure.
  2. Measure and analyze. Track visitors, pages visited, links clicked, referring sites, and other information that tell the who/when/what/why of your site visitors. We use and recommend Google Analytics, which is free and chock-full of useful statistics and analysis tools. It’s also tied in with other Google services like AdWords, so you can see the effects of ad campaigns you run.
  3. Make changes and test alternatives. If you discover that the site is doing what you want it to and meeting your goals, you can leave it as it is. But if your bounce rate is high (meaning people arrive on the site and immediately leave without looking at additional pages) or if visitors are responding to your calls to action, you’ll want to revise the site. You may want also to try a few different versions of your content — various product photos, for example, or different headlines and text — to see which combination people respond to. Google Optimizer lets you see which content creates the most response, so you can maximize your website’s effectiveness.
  4. Repeat. Once you’ve gone through the process of improving your site, you’re not done. As your business or organization changes, your goals for the website must also change. And the world in which you operate changes constantly. Continually evaluating your goals, measuring results, and improving your site ensures that you stay on track.

You can start measuring and improving your site right away, and continue to fine-tune and improve over time. All the Google tools I’ve mentioned are free and are supplemented with tutorials to show you how to use them.

Or, if you’re not sure how to start, or if you would rather someone work with you on this so you can focus on running your business, we’d love to work with you and set you on the right path. Give us a call.

Get on the map

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Flower shop on Google Maps

Flower shop on Google Maps originally uploaded by Larsz


If your business or organization focuses on local clients and customers, the most effective way to make sure they find you on the Web is to get listed on online map services, like Google Maps, MapQuest, and MSN Live Search.

These free business listings are an easy way to get your website to show up in searches — and they’re far cheaper than any search engine optimization available.

Listings take just a few minutes to create (although they take a bit longer to activate). Read on to find out what you’ll need, where to go, and what to do.

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Becoming excellent = becoming “Googley”

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Google User Experience – Ten Principles to Make Things “Googley”:

  1. Focus on people: their lives, their work, their dreams.
  2. Every millisecond counts.
  3. Simplicity is powerful.
  4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
  5. Dare to innovate.
  6. Design for the world.
  7. Plan for today’s and tomorrow’s business.
  8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
  9. Be worthy of people’s trust.
  10. Add a human touch.

This list come from the “Our Philsophy” section of the Google corporate website. For each point, there’s a paragraph or two explaining the principle and how the Google User Experience team applies it.

What if you applied these principles in your own business?

(Link thanks to Designing Innovations.)