Showing posts with label Google+. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google+. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Google+ Pages for Authors

[caption id="attachment_1817" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Google+ Pages Logo"]Google+ Pages Logo[/caption]

Yesterday, Google announced that the business-side of Google+ was open for business. Often called "the Facebook killer", Google+ was off-limits to anything but people. And real people. No funny anonymous names like "FuzzyBunny142". Real names, or at least the names you were commonly known by in the real world.

Now with the launch of Google+ Pages, entities other than people are free to make profiles. I've had about 3 hours to play around, creating G+ Pages for and ePublish Unum, and think that there might be a play for authors here. My thoughts are only about half-baked, so I don't want to write much more here this morning other than some immediate observations and steps you, the indie author or publisher, might want to take.

  1. There's value getting in early. Yes, there's also the chance that a new thing will fail to take off. Google has plenty of failed social projects. This one doesn't smell that way. As more people get involved, those who have built a good presence will naturally garner more attention.

  2. Go slow and complete. Like all-too-many social properties, Google+ Pages encourages you to "share your page with friends!" way too early in the process. Resist that temptation. Fill out your About section (smartly), load some pics (get creative), and make a few solid posts before shouting to the masses.

  3. This isn't Facebook. Facebook is fun. It's friends and family. It's a place to be social and goofy. Google+ just feels different. More serious, perhaps? More research- or discover-focused? Hard to put my finger on it. Google+ Pages lack a lot of the support structure (currently) that you'll find on Facebook Pages. I assume those are coming soon.

  4. Don't cross the streams. I'm not sure there's a lot of value in reposting everything you do on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and your own blog on your Google+ Page. Or even your Google+ profile. That seems like wall-papering, and I fail to see the value. Each of the channels is different. Your content should be, too.

  5. Consider making a Google+ Page for each of your books. Wow. I can't believe I just wrote that. But there is an option to set up a Google+ Page for a book. Select Arts, Entertainment or Sports > Book to do this. Right now, it doesn't look like there are any custom fields you get when you make that choice, but you can bet there will be. Perhaps with links back to Google Books, I'd wager. And probably places for reviews and such. Yeah, this is starting to make more sense.

  6. Consider making a Google+ Page for your protagonist. Here I go with the crazy talk again. But sure enough, Fictional Character is an option. I'd hold off on creating one for every character you have. That way lies madness.

  7. Link in your other primary social properties. And your website. That's on the About page.

  8. Start circling people. Which Google+ Pages makes rather difficult, since a G+ Page can't circle someone unless the person first circles the G+ Page. Leverage your existing Google+ Profile (your personal one) to start getting the word out about your new one. Encourage folks to pass it along to the people in their circles, too. But you better make sure you have solid content for that. The novelty of "hey, I have a G+ Page" will wear off in about 3 more days.

  9. Delete the dumb default Circles. Create your own. You're using this as a marketing tool. I'd go with Fans, Support Staff, and maybe Superfans. You can create and direct messages to these very specific groups.

  10. When people circle you, circle them back! All of them! They are opting in to your communication stream. Why wouldn't you add them to a circle? And if Google+ Page circle you, circle them back, too. A person is behind that Page, so why not? Stick them in the generic "fans" circle. Or if you want to keep up with what they are doing from an approach POV, create a new circle called Other Pages.

That's it for now. Much more to learn in the coming days. When I've got it all figured out, I'll probably post about it on ePubish Unum.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Google Webmaster Tools and Your Site. Do It Now!

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Infection by KayVee.INC, on Flickr"]Infection by KayVee.INC, on Flickr[/caption]A few days ago, the fine folks at Google sent me a note. It seems that they -- Google -- had detected malware on one of the websites I manage. Anyone visiting that site ran a risk of having their computer infected with malicious code. That's bad. Muy mal.

Luckily the fix was easy. Google even pointed me to the exact place where the problem was happening. Google. The giant company. They could have removed my site from their index. But they didn't. Instead, they contacted me. I fixed it. The warning went away. And all is right with the world.

I'm not special. I'm smart. I added my site -- as I do all of my sites -- to Google Webmaster Tools. Yeah, it's a crappy name that brings up memories of 1998 when there was as single person who "mastered" the website. Those days are long gone, but the name has stuck.

Google Webmaster tools gives you a ton of insight to how users are interacting with your site. And also how Google sees your site. It's specifically because I had added the site to Webmaster Tools that this notice was sent to me. If I had not, Google would not known who to notify about the problem. And eventually, my site would have been removed from Google's index. And once that happens, it's a royal pain in the ass to get it back in. Without being in Google's index, your site might as well not exist at all.

Have you signed up for Google Webmaster and added all of your sites? No? It's free and just takes a minute to get going. What are you waiting on?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Effective SEO: The ONLY 5 Things That Matter

Buring Money
Image by purpleslog via Flickr
Don't run away just yet. I promise not to turn this blog into one more place where some SEO1 expert moron spews out stuff they know nothing about. In fact, this will probably be one of the few times I talk about SEO. I promise.

But it's an important topic: The SEO "industry" has convinced everyone that this stuff is hard. Sorry, but it's not. I'm a firm believer that the most effective approach is to teach your designers and developers the basic and fundamental concepts behind good website design, architecture and implementation. Done properly, your web pages will get the rank they deserve. And you can worry about running your business instead of wasting money trying to find ways to subvert Google. Because you're never going to win that game.

Below is a talk I gave at Social Media Club Phoenix last week. I typically lead a "social media 101" discussion prior to the meeting. My class was about double the size from months prior. I have to assume that at least some of it was the topic: Dispelling SEO Myths -- something you wouldn't typically hear spoken about at Social Media Club. And because of that swell in attendance, I decided to post it here. Seems like lots of businesses are struggling with this. As usual, I have a simpler way to handle it.

Yes, just those five things. No, I'm not kidding. You could go deeper, but you're wasting your time if you haven't done those five things. You're also wasting your time if you can't do those things so are considering hiring an outside firm to do something else for you. That's wasting your money, because "something else" won't work. Do the things I tell you. If you can't, spend your money trying to get that changed so that you can do those things. Or if you want, give half of that money to me. I'll at least be upfront with you and tell you nothing will happen. Your expectations will be properly set and you'll know you're wasting money, rather than finding out what a waste it was six months from now. I'm kidding, obviously. Save your money until you can spend it on something that will work.

Preemptive strike for you SEO-types -- Don't bother. You may have examples upon examples of how your trick or technique works. I don't care. You and I both know the tricks you try have limited chances of working and only work for a limited time. You and I also know that every time it doesn't work, you blame it on the client's inability to implement your plan. I get that. See above. I'm trying to fix that. But no, I don't think you should be able to charge stupid amounts of money each and every month to unsuspecting clients who haven't the foggiest how your efforts actually help them sell more stuff. Because they probably don't. You can't argue me out of my position. I can't argue you out of yours. Let's just agree to disagree on this, OK?

Preemptive strike for those who want to hire me for SEO work -- If you want me to help you come up with a strategy to dump your outsourced SEO firm and bring it in-house, I can help. But if you're looking for someone to "just do the work", that's not me. I know plenty of very nice, very smart and very fair people who do SEO work and am happy to make a referral. That is, if any of them are still talking to me after reading this post.

1 - Search Engine Optimization. I hate the term and much prefer "SEF", or making your pages Search Engine Friendly.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Find out how much Google knows about you...

... and then prepared to be disappointed, for it's not all that Earth-shattering.

Yes, Google tracks your behavior as you navigate the web. And so do thousands (maybe only hundreds) of other online entities. And if you're shocked by that, you're either not paying attention or new. If the latter, welcome to my site. If the former, welcome to paying attention.

Google, and lots of other sites, track you by something known as a cookie. It's not tasty, and diabetics shouldn't worry. A cookie is a nothing more than an identifying tag that gets associate with your browser. When you browse to different websites, websites read and set cookies all the time. Cookies do not pass personally identifiable information. Anyone who tells you differently is incorrect1.

Yet this still weirds people out. They worry that some straw man, let's call him Big Brother, is collating all these cookie entries, web history and other data to actually figure out who you really are, for some unnamed yet nefarious gain. And to that I say: balderdash.

Some time ago, Google got sick of everyone freaking out what they did and didn't know about you. So now instead of sweating that Google is telling a host of advertisers about your predilection of visiting some er... well, unsavory sites you may have stumbled across but quickly left when you realized what it was honestly it was only that one time I'm a good boy I swear... now you can just check to see what sorts of interests Google thinks you're into.

My list is shown in this post. If that's all they have about me, you probably have nothing to worry about. I'm online all the time. I visit lots of sites I probably wouldn't want my grandmother surfing to anytime real soon. Yet those don't show up. And the categories that do seem a pretty close approximation to my interests.

Personally and professionally, I think that highly targeted ads do make for a better online experience. Notice I didn't say that ads make for a better online experience. They are a fact of life and won't go away. So if I have to look at the damned things2, they might as well be as targeted to me as they can get.

So the bottom line: don't be scared. And don't jump to conclusions. At least that's my $0.02. If you have a differing opinion, that's what the comments are for. But please, no crazy conspiracy theorists. If that's your thing, go bug my friend Phil. He digs that sort of stuff. :)

1 - Yes, it is possible. I'm also willing to concede that it may have happened in the past. But there are enough privacy watchdogs fighting the good fight that I sleep soundly at night.

2 - Yes, I realize there are plenty of ad blocking programs or tweaks available to me. They aren't worth my time. They may be worth yours.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Participate or die

"If you don't participate and take an interest, you'll always be outcompeted by those who do."

I stole that line from Cory Doctorow's Makers. Great book. You should get it.

It may not seem that there is much insight in that phrase. After all... it seems pretty obvious. But if you'll reflect on it a moment, I think you'll find many areas that you have consciously chosen to ignore. The older we get -- OK, the older I get -- the more likely we are to fall into the trap.

When is the last time you paid attention to your Facebook account? You probably missed that the "News Feed" on your home page doesn't include all of your friends. Nope. It only includes the most active ones. The same goes for everyone else's profiles. Are you active enough to show up to them?

Google's been dropping relevant and real-time results from the social sphere in their search results pages. I've said before that social will become one of those things that business simply can't afford to ignore. Google made it a reality faster than even I thought.

It's a wake-up call to you experts, too. Sure, you've got plenty of business supporting your outdated language or platform. But for how long? Switching costs are dropping. Data will only get more portable. Are you going the way of the cobbler?

And being outcompeted isn't necessarily about real competition. It's about being informed, having experiences and not worrying that you'll wake up one day and find the world around you has changed. I'm OK with getting old. I just don't want to be outdated.