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Updates to Google Places Dashboard: Integrating Google+ Local

Published on April 15, 2013
Tags: Internet Communication

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have come to rely on Google Places in order to manage the information that appears in search results concerning their company. Generally, it’s a great way of allowing local customers to find out more about your business before they visit you.

There were mixed reactions when Google started to replace their Google Places tool with Google+ Local; businesses – especially small ones – could now be easily found by potential clients, and they could promote their business while interacting with their existing clients. On the other hand, Google+ Local was found by some to be unreliable and just plain confusing. The whole process of updating the way listings are managed from Places to Google+ Local has been slow and frustrating, but there’s now a new step in the process that should help business owners to manage their existing listings.

So what updates have Google introduced in order to make Google+ Places a more viable application? Basically, a staged upgrade has begun in the Google Places Dashboard which offers some new functions and also keeps within the themes of the Google+ design in general. Here is a quick run-through:

Better Integration

The new dashboard shares several features with Google+, including the possibilities of using the social aspects such as sharing images and posts. This, of course, will only work if the business owner has already signed up for a Google+ account, but it is well worth getting an account for. This integration means that users will be able to smoothly navigate around the dashboard without getting stuck when they try to incorporate content from Google+.

New Layout

The new update means that the dashboard now resembles other Google layouts; for example, the navigation links are in the left-hand column, and the rest of the page is more consistent with the Google+ design. Separate tabs for AdWords, your Google+ Local page, and listing information management should also make the dashboard much easier to use.

Faster Data Updates

Speed was a big issue before – it could take far too long for simple edits to appear on a business’s Google+ Local page. The updates should help make this process quicker in general, but Google has also said that updates will be much faster, too; in fact, all updates should be completed in less than 48 hours. This could be the most important update to businesses who rely on getting customers through Google; before, even just a week of having the wrong phone number on their listings could damage their business and push away potential clients. Now, any changes should appear within just two days.

There are also other services that the new Places for Business dashboard will be incorporating: for the first time, businesses who don’t have their own location but who travel to their customers will be able to list their services, opening the door for many more small businesses and sole traders to start using Google+ Places.

Whether the dashboard will be a total success remains to be seen, but these updates could prove to be extremely useful for business owners of all types.

By Chelsey Evans

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How to use Twitter for Marketing Purposes

Published on April 15, 2013
Tags: Internet Communication

It may seem that social media sites may not bring a great deal of customers to your business – compared to search engine results or pay per click campaigns, for example – but Facebook and Twitter are your word-of-mouth publicity for the digital age, and you shouldn’t underestimate them. Creating a Facebook profile and sharing photos and videos is usually the first port-of-call for businesses trying to build a social media presence online, but Twitter can be just as useful a tool for engaging with your existing clients as well as any potential customers. Here are just a few tips on how to use Twitter when marketing your company.

Build Your Brand

At its most basic level, Twitter allows you to expand your brand to another area of the internet. Twitter is hugely popular, and although it can be a challenge getting your message across in 140 characters or less, it gives you a chance to communicate with people on both a mass and individual level. Making use of hashtags and trending topics will also help you to locate users that could be interested in your business but who don’t yet know who you are. It’s also an opportunity to be a bit more creative and show your company’s fun side; post unique images, ask your customers questions, or start a Twitter contest in order to gain new followers. The characters you can type may be limited, but that doesn’t mean your ideas have to be.

Improve Your Customer Service

Twitter is great for communicating with customers. Don’t just follow your clients back, though; engage with them. If they ask you a question, reply (as soon as possible) – they’ll remember this and think of you (rather than your competitors) the next time they want something that your business sells or provides. You can make use of private messaging for more individual requests, but replying via a Tweet will show others that you care about your customers, and that you take the time out to respond to them on an individual basis.

Create Useful Online Relationships

This can be both in terms of customers and other businesses; Twitter can help you to build relationships with others that will benefit your company. It can be as easy as following users back, Retweeting their messages, and encouraging others to follow them as well. If you help to promote one of your suppliers, for instance, they’ll more than likely return the favour, and it may help your communications in the future if you need to discuss business matters with them.

None of this is rocket science, but it can end up taking up a lot of your time, so be selective in what you use Twitter for; some businesses Tweet about all kinds of irrelevant things that go on in their office, for example, but if you don’t have the time, don’t do it – it can make a company seem ‘cool’ and ‘real’, but it can also annoy your followers.

By Chelsey Evans

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Google+ Sign-In Introduced

Published on April 8, 2013
Tags: Web Design London

Google+ has received mixed reviews from the online community – both from individuals and businesses – and it seems that Google has taken the negative comments on board in order to offer brands a reason to use the social media/business marketing platform. They recently introduced their Google+ Sign-In feature, an authentication method which works in a similar way to other social networking authentication tools such as Facebook Connect. It allows users to sign into a website via Google, taking along all of their personal information and preferences. So why should businesses be interested in Google+ Sign-In? Here are a few ways it differs from its rivals.

 
It has the backing of several top brand names
 
Google has enlisted several popular launch partners in a bid to engage with customers and get them to use the Sign-In Feature. These include USA Today, The Guardian, Flixster, Shazam, and more.
 
It takes mobile platforms into account
 
The Google+ Sign-In feature works well with mobiles – especially Android devices – giving mobile users several advantages. For example, an Android user will be identified by websites when they use Sign-In, and will be asked to download the corresponding Android app which will update itself without being instructed to by the user. As many mobile users are turning towards apps and away from mobile sites, a business who uses apps will undoubtedly get ahead of their competitors when it comes to mobile marketing. Sign-In also makes use of interactive posts, enabling shares via any Google+ authenticated site or app.
 
User Control
 
Other social networking sites – such as Facebook – publishes the activities of users without giving them any say. This can include statuses, games they’ve played, articles they’ve read, invites and so on. There are no different privacy settings and the user is left with no control over what gets sent out to their online friends. Google+ Sign-In actually allows users to have more control over the information that is shared on their behalf – their content will be able to be shared ‘publicly’ or ‘privately’ (just within their Google+ Circles). This level of control will no doubt attract new users to Sign-In.
 
Data, Data, Data
 
Google+ Sign-In will prove to be invaluable to brands, in terms of how much data they will be able to gather on users. This exchange of data already occurs with other social authentications (such as Facebook Connect), but businesses will be able to access a whole range of data in the Google API: the full name of the user, their online ID, information about their contacts and their Circles, their profile pictures, and other demographics such as their language and age range. The sheer amount of information that can be gathered (additional services on Google such as Gmail and the Calendar can also be accessed – through a consent dialogue box) gives brands valuable data about their customers that could drastically improve their online marketing strategies.
 
There are some downsides to Google+ Sign-In (such as the limited amount of data regarding keywords that can be gathered on users through search), but generally it looks like it could be a game changer for Google, using the ideas of existing social networking authentications and taking them to the next level.
 

By Chelsey Evans

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Mobile Advertising: Paid Search on Smartphones & Tablets

Published on April 8, 2013
Tags: Web Design London

The popularity of smartphones and tablets has rapidly increased over the past few years, and this huge change in how people are using – and searching – the internet has forced businesses to improve and adapt their marketing strategies. Those companies who ignore the potential of mobile platforms for their business could end up losing a lot of their customers as they flock to other firms who can offer them what they want, when they want it – which, with mobiles and tablets, is all the time. Customers even use their mobiles to search online while they’re actually in a physical shop, making sure they’re getting the best possible deal or just to compare the physical products in front of them with what they could be buying online. 

 
With Google Adwords, businesses can set their online advertising budget depending on keywords that their target customers use when searching for specific products, but how much budget should you be setting aside for searches from mobile devices? Smartphones, in particular, have completely revolutionised the way in which customers interact with brands and decide on what they’re going to buy, and so you need to make sure that your marketing strategy fully incorporates mobile platforms – especially with regards to paid searches.
 
So how do you make sure you stay ahead of the game?

With smartphones and tablets soon expected to make up a third of the paid search clicks generated by Google, advertisers need to ensure that they are constantly developing their search campaigns in order to accommodate these mobile users.

 

  • Make sure you are optimised for mobile platforms. So many business websites are still not embracing the need to have a mobile optimised website – unreadable text, difficult navigation and slow loading times will put users off. This can be easily remedied by making use of responsive web layouts, and minimising the steps needed for a user to make a purchase. User experience must be considered at every step of the development process.
  • Track your sales conversions. Of course, you will already be doing this, but separating sales made through your main website and those made through mobile devices will allow you to change your budget accordingly. Are customers using your click-to-call function in order to complete a transaction or to find out more information? Do they look at the map for your physical store with a view to visiting the shop when they’re in the local area? Just how much revenue are you generating through your mobile-optimised site?
  • Constantly review your marketing strategy. With more and more people using their smartphones and tablets to browse – and purchase from – the web, you need to make sure you’re aware of all the latest developments that could help your company. Keep on top of the best mobile-optimised website designs, and be creative with offers and rewards targeted specifically at your mobile users.

 

Some reports estimate that by 2016, Google could be generating over $20 billion just from mobile devices, so make sure you get in on the action now and re-evaluate your mobile advertising budget. 

 

 

By Chelsey Evans

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