How to Setup Google+ Pages [Guide]

November 10th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

After a few days of playing with the new Google + Pages, I am cautiously optimistic that it will provide some unique opportunities over Facebook and Twitter, specifically with Hangouts. However, I am a bit disappointed at other limitations, such as Google’s policy not to allow contests and promotions.

Here are the basic steps to getting started with Google+ Pages:

Step 1: Login to Google+ and Go here. If you want to see their promo splash page, go here instead.

Step 2: Pick a category and add your info. If you have a physical location and a Google Place page you should select “local business or place” because it will integrate some of your Places information to your Page. Google allows you to set up both a local business and a brand, but don’t do this unless you want to dilute presence on Plus and manage multiple accounts.

Google+ Pages - Create a Page

Step 3: Customize your page’s public profile. Not much you can do here, but add a short tagline and a profile photo. Don’t expect to do skyscraper image here. Unlike Facebook, the image size is fixed at 200X200 pixels. One interesting feature here is a fairly sophisticated photo editing option during the upload process.

Google+ Photo Editing

Step 4: Get the word out. Google encourages you to do four things to build your business’s Google+ presence: start posting, build your circles – in other words start adding a bunch of people to your circles, link directly to your profile and connect your website to your Google+ Page. This last piece is probably the most interesting because of the use of the rel=”publisher” link, which will “confirm ownership of a site” for Google. Google requests that you put this link which points to your + page from your website in the section of your site. 

Now it’s time to start posting, interacting and building a following. Here a few important things to note:

When you go to your Google+ home page you will notice a drop down to the right of your profile image and directly below your name. This is where you can toggle between your personal profile and your pages. Be careful. Once you switch to a page your all of your posts and comments will be from that page. Moral of the story: before posting pictures from your recent trip to Burning Man, make sure you are on the right profile/page.

Unlike your personal Google+ profile, your Page cannot add individuals to Circles if your Page is not in their Circles. Pages can however add other Pages to their Circles without reciprocation.

Pages do not appear to have the capability to be managed by multiple accounts. It took Facebook a few years to add this functionality, and I am not entirely surprised that it is not in the first release of Google+ Pages.

Google+ Business Pages: the hesitation from Googleplex (a theory)

October 21st, 2011
by Tim Resnik

Google Plus has now been in public Beta for over 3 months and business pages are nowhere to be found. In the first few weeks of launch, many businesses created profile pages only to see them taken down by Google. Google then came out and publicly said that pages for businesses would be launched later in the year and that there would be a test group for brands. The only official peep that has come from the Googleplex since has been the announcement that businesses could be represented by a living, breathing person. What’s the holdup? Why is Google dragging its feet? Is it to protect the user experience, or are they protecting something else?

There has been speculation that business profiles are currently being tested privately. As evidence, you see company logos coming up when you edit your personal employment history. The small piece of evidence that I have to the contrary is that one of our clients comes up, and I know for a fact that they have nothing to do with the test group for business pages. Although they did apply so it could have something to do with that.

So, the question is: why is Google being so hesitant on allowing businesses to create pages? Is it really because they are building a business experience that far exceeds the consumer profiles in terms of usefulness as Christian Oestlien claims in the video above, or is it something more?

Something that I have talked about in the past is that one of the advantages of Facebook ads over Adwords is that if you convert clicks to Page “likes”, you have created a permanent connection between you and that target, giving the advertiser the ability to connect with the target over and over. Adwords does not share this permanency (unless you point it to your Facebook page) and makes a decent percentage of its Adwords revenue from searchers who have clicked on a brand’s ad more than once. This relationship with clicks, follows, and likes leads me to believe that Google is being protective of their Adwords revenue by not allowing businesses to participate in Google+ until they devise and fully test a model that not only protects this revenue, but increases it.

The Google Plus Killer Feature – Search (or at least it could be)

September 20th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

How do you find people, businesses or topics on social networks? The logical thing to do is use the built in search tools for the  site you’re on. If only it were so easy. Seemingly of late I find myself going to Google and doing a “site:” operator to search Twitter, Linkedin, and probably the worst sinner of all, Facebook. On the other hand, not surprisingly, Google has used its bread and butter skills of indexation and display to make the Google+ search experience far more robust than its social competitors.

Let’s look at a really simple example. A lot of people like Coca-Cola. In fact they are one of the most recognized and valuable brands in the world . Based on that fact, we are going to make the assumption that if someone is searching for the common alias “coke” in a search box, they are generally looking for the parent brand Coca-Cola (unless it happens to be someone that really enjoyed the 80s; people usually infer that if they don’t refine their search they are going to be returned the brand, not the illicit substance). If you perform a basic search for “coke” in Facebook, you get listings that are categorized by Pages, Groups, Apps and People. The top Page listing is an exact title match of a page that has nearly a million ‘likes’, but the Coca-Cola page is nowhere to be found.

Facebook Search

Should Coca-Cola, which doesn’t have an exact match in the Page title, come up before Coke Studio? Google sure thinks so, and I am willing to bet that the 98+% of the people searching for “coke” on Facebook are looking for the official company page. The conclusion is not surprising: Google’s search algorithm appears far more sophisticated than Facebook’s. After all, it is what the empire is built on.

 

Facebook Google Search

 

The adoption of Google+ has been significant, accruing over 25 million users in the last few months (in invite only mode, which was lifted today), however, the usage and sharing has appeared to drop off a cliff (I have no explicit evidence of this, but rather stating a common sentiment within folks in online marketing circles). For Google+ to be a formidable competitor to Facebook, they need to leverage what they are really good at: discovery.

The screen shot below shows the exact same search that I did in Facebook. The test is far from scientific and is not even comparing apples to apples since G+ doesn’t allow business profiles. However, two things are clear: First, the results more closely match my intent, and I assume that once G+ allows business pages that the Coca-Cola business page would be in place of the trucker hat chick. Second, the results page itself has superior organization and provides blended results by default and filters for people, posts and Sparks separately.

Gooogle Plus Search

As Google+ grows and continues to innovate, Facebook will surely be forced to “innovate” here (and vice versa, of course). See: Facebook announcing asynchronous relationships. For G+ to finally throw its full weight into the social media arena, it must leverage what its empire is built on as the killer competitive advantage.

New Google Attributes for Pagination and “View All”

September 15th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

Ever since Google released the rel=”canonical” attribute for publishers to deal with duplicate content, webmasters have been misusing it or implementing it poorly. One tactic that the attribute has been used for in the past is for content with pagination. The reason for a webmaster to do this is simple: it lets Google know which page in a series is most important and the canonical version of the page will accumulate the link equity of the sum of the parts (minus a little something). Google will only include the canonical version of the page in the index and that page will be more likely to rank higher.  It’s great in theory and we’ve seen it work well.

The only problem is that Uncle Google frowns upon this use of the attribute because it is really only intended to help Google keep duplicate content out of the index and allow publishers to consolidate indexing properties, such as link equity. The misuse of rel=“canonical” as a pagination attribute tells Google that page 2 content is the same as the page 1 content when in fact it is not.

After many requests from SEOs and webmasters, Google has finally released attributes that can be used specifically for pagination. Here is a breakdown. For the details, check out the Google Webmaster Central blog: Pagination with rel= “next” and rel=“prev”.

There are two major elements to the rules around the new attributes, and publishers need to determine which one they fall in:

First, for content or product categories that are paginated that DO NOT have a “view all” option, rel=“next” and rel=“prev” can be used to “to indicate the relationship between component URLs in a paginated series”.

For pages that have a “view all” option, Google says “We aim to detect the view-all version of your content and, if available, its associated component pages. There’s nothing more you need to do!“ However, if you are not satisfied with letting Google “figure it out”, you can use the rel=”canonical” attribute. So, the question is, why is it acceptable use of rel= “canonical” on view all pages and not pagination? Because the paginated content is a subset of the “view all” content and is therefore duplicative.

 

Google + Shares Showing up in Search Results, are mis-labeled

July 13th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

I was doing a quick search for keyword tools on Google today and noticed that +1′s from people in my Google + network were showing up under the search results. I also found that Google has mis-labeled Google + as Google +1 in the results. Branding hiccup or bug?

Google Places to Portlanders: Please Create Garbage Reviews!

June 13th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

Google continues to push Places and Offers very aggressively in the Portland area. When Google first released HotPot in Portland in December, Matt McGee  wrote about how they broke their own guidelines by offering over $13,000 in free dining to those who posted the most reviews.

Well, it appears they are at again. This time it’s a promotion centered around the Google Offers for Ground Kontrol and the only place it is being promoted is on a Facebook Events page. Interesting.   This promo incentivizes folks to go review mad. 50 reviews gets you an invite to a special event at Ground Kontrol, 100 gets you the invite plus a drink and a unfathomable 200 reviews gets you 2 free drinks, some grub, a t-shirt and a $15 gift certificate. If you have enough time to write 200 reviews for some SWAG and a couple of drinks, you either need to look for a job or move out of your parents’ house.

 

Google’s current policy:

Conflict of interest
Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. Even if well-intentioned, a conflict of interest can undermine the trust in a review. For instance, do not offer or accept money or product to write positive reviews about a business, or to write negative reviews about a competitor. Please also do not post reviews on behalf of others or misrepresent your identity or affiliation with the place you are reviewing.

At the time of Matt McGee’s article the guidelines had the following sentence: “In addition, we do not accept reviews written for money or other incentives.” That sentence is now removed.

I understand that Google is trying to prime the pump by injecting the system with some reviews, but I question whether a synthetic strategy versus an organic one is wise. Google built a search empire on the foundation of quality and relevancy and shouldn’t forget its roots as it forges ahead in social.

P.S.  add a comment to this blog and be automatically entered to win a one-of-a-kind AudienceWise trucker hat (comment bots not eligible)

Google Music Beta Unwrapping Party

June 2nd, 2011
by Tim Resnik

Ever since I first started downloading MP3s in the late 90s, I was intrigued by the concept of being able to detach myself  from the physical medium that music was delivered on (CDs) and the devices that read the medium and delivered content to my ears. Well the former became a reality for me with my first iPod and it looks like the latter is about to hit the mainstream. With Monday’s announcement of iCloud by Apple, Amazon’s fully functional Cloud Drive and Google’s beta launch of Google Music I feel that we are finally at the beginning of having our content follow us where ever we go and it’s pretty exciting. Here’s a a breakdown of my virtual unwrapping of Google Music Beta.

First, I received an email in which I probably got way to excited about. My biz partner here at AW did not receive one so I felt pretty special. He received his 10 minutes later, and I came back to reality that my email was probably just earlier in the queue.

I clicked the link in my email and was taken to the following welcome screen:

Next, I was asked to accept the obligatory terms and conditions in which I read thoroughly (not really). I was then given the option to add free songs from a failry generic list of genres.

Next I was given the option to download the free desktop manager in which I did. Nothing too special here: you tell it where your music is and it scans and uploads it to the cloud for you. You can also set it to upload any new music you add to your computer automatically. Finally, I was taken to what Google calls it’s “Music Player”. As you can see below it is pretty vanilla, but fairly intuitive and easy to use. All the music in there is the free music that Google added for me.

My one complaint is that they don’t make it too easy to discover and buy new music. The user has to click on the thumbnail and select “shop this artist”. This then takes you to a Google Shopping search result where you can comparison shop from various retailers. I assume that once Google works out a deal with the record labels they will have their own iTunes type of store, but in the mean time the shopping experience is pretty clunky.


AdWords Vs. Facebook Ads: a head-to-head comparison

May 30th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

There has been a lot of debate lately comparing the value of Facebook ads versus Google AdWords. So, with a limited budget and healthy competitive landscape, which one is best to focus your efforts on? Hmmmmm. I guess the answer is ‘it depends’. Yeah, I know, that’s not too helpful, but it’s the truth. In marketing in general, it’s best to start with a solid strategy and objectives, not with the tactics. The same holds true for an online marketing campaign and your tactics are your tools to achieve your overall objectives.

Ideally, the answer to the question of Facebook or Google is: both. If your budget is deep enough, side-by-side test campaigns can be created, measured, optimized and measured again. If you need to chose one, here is some food for thought for your decision:

Targeting: The biggest difference between AdWords and Facebook is that AdWords has far superior targeting capability and allows marketers to match the intent of searchers and increase the likelihood that a) they are reaching a qualified target and b) if they do receive a click it is more likely to turn into a conversion. If you have a very specific target and there is an associated qualified keyword market, then Adwords is a good choice. If you are building awareness and affinity and have a broad target, Facebook can perform better. A recent article on Search Engine Journal argues that AdWords is limited in the number of keywords that actually drive sales and Facebook ‘likes’ provide a better opportunity for conversion. Winner: Tie. It depends!

Reporting: Facebook Insights has improved over the last year, but it still doesn’t touch Adwords’ comprehensive reporting and conversion tracking, as well as goal tracking via Google Analytics. For marketers, conversion data is paramount for ad and funnel optimization. Winner: AdWords.

Research: Google has a tremendous amount of data and a stable of tools for keyword market research: Google Trends (for recent topics), Google Hot Trends (for up to the minute trending topics), Google Insights (for historical keyword comparisons and News/Image numbers), Google AdWords Tool (good for keyword suggestions, volumes, and estimating costs). Facebook is limited (thus far) to the targeting tools in their ad system that key off user demographics, geographics and users’ self-defined  interests. If Facebook were to provide data around likes, shares, and keyword targeting in status updates and comments, they could provide research tools and targeting that could surpass that of AdWords. With privacy concerns abuzz and congress ready to attack, this is unlikely to happen anytime in the near future. Winner: AdWords.

Cost: At face value the cost-per-click on Facebook is less expensive than AdWords, but of course this is not exactly an apples to apples comparison. The determination of value is dependent on campaign strategy first and conversion goals second. Some argue (and I don’t necessarily disagree) that the value of a Facebook ad that turns into a ‘like’ is undervalued because of the influence that it may have on a later purchase decision. This blog discusses the value of the first click versus the last click.  The debate of the overall value of a ‘page like’ continues because it is so hard to measure and track what happens after the initial click. Last year Syncapse did an in depth analysis of the “Value of a Facebook Fan” (note that Facebook fan and Page like are synonymous) and found that on average a fan spends an additional $71.84 on products for which they are fans of compared to not being a fan. Fans are 28% more likely than non-fans to continuing using the brand and 41% more likely to recommend the product to their friends. If these numbers do indeed represent the true value of a Facebook like, ads on Facebook are still a bargain. Winner: Jury is still out. Facebook is a dark horse here.Value of a Facebook fan

Added Value: With Google AdWords you pretty much know what you are going to get: a click. What you do with that click is up to you. The debate on the value of a Facebook fan has heated up and many pundits argue that the value of a fan decreases as the overall noise on Facebook increases. As the Facebook Open Graph grows users are liking more Facebook pages, friending more people, and sharing and commenting on more objects in the graph. Facebook uses an algorithm that they call EdgeRank to try to decrease the amount of noise in users’ feed and over 95% of all posts never make it above the fold. According to a recent analysis, fan page wall posts only receive about .1% engagement from a brand’s fan base. That being said, there still needs to be a value attributed to the potentially permanent and viral connection that a ‘like’ can bring. Winner: Facebook. 

So, there’s a rundown of a few of the major differences between the two advertising platforms. They each have their obvious advantages and disadvantages depending on the strategy and overall objectives of your marketing campaign. If possible, both should be used, tested and optimized accordingly.

Crowded House: Google Offers and Facebook Deals Launch, eBay coming soon?

April 27th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

Amidst the feeding frenzy of hungry start-ups trying snag market share from Groupon and LivingSocial, Google and Facebook near-simultaneously threw their daily deals hats into the ring. The speculation and rumors that Google was building their own platform after failing to purchase Groupon for $6 (capital B) Billion in December 2010 came to fruition on April 21st when they announced Google Offers. Just 5 days later, Facebook announced Deals and launched in 4 cities. While the blog and news sites ate-up, and sometimes regurgitated, this information, another internet beast was quietly making its own move.

On April 20th eBay announced that it acquired a company called Where that provides local search, discovery and “deals” mobile applications. eBay plans to integrate Where into PayPal’s services for local businesses and it seems highly likely they will offer a group buying service. More info about Where below:

 

 

According to BIA/Kelsey, a Chantilly, Va., consulting firm the daily deals market is expected to grow to $3.93 billion in 2015 from $873 million last year. Driving the market is an insane adoption rate of smart phones, a stagnant economy that has people bargain hunting, and extremely competitive retail markets, like restaurants, looking to lay claim to dollars from tight wallets. This created an ideal environment for Groupon and LivingSocial to explode on the scene. Heck, Groupon went from 0 to 60 so quickly that they even had the opportunity to launch a tasteless ad campaign during the super bowl (sorry, had to get that one in there). Several underwhelming copy cats emerged and have been appropriately scoffed at by Groupon, but now the big boys have shown up and are posed to snag the first-movers’ milk money.

As first-movers, Groupon and LivingSocial have the benefit of a few textbook advantages, but are not entirely defensible. Most notably, they have an established operational and sales network designed to bring retailers and customers together. For several reasons, small-business owners are not an easy bunch to sell to and require “feet-on-the-ground” in order to close the deal. Groupon and LivingSocial have a proven track record of selling and delivering. Traditionally, first-mover advantage includes that of switching costs. However, in this case there are none, and in fact, the social/viral nature of group buying encourages customers to sign up for as many coupons sites as possible for FREE.

As a group, the very large, established internet-firms have two primary advantages as compared to the first-movers. First, is access to large amounts of capital; all three firms have cash in the coffers. Google has the largest advantage in this category, and because Facebook is still burning investment dollars they are in a somewhat weaker capital resource position (IPO anyone?). Second, each company has unfathomable reach and customer data. Groupon’s 10 – 20 million registered users seems quaint compared to the aforementioned.

Google Advantages:

  • Operates the largest internet ad platform and can use it in many ways to spring board Offers
  • Is the provider of the most widely adopted mobile platform, Android
  • Disadvantage: seems to have a hard time convincing users to think of them as a social site. As with my concern with +1, people perceive Google as a place to look for information, not to connect and/or share with friends. However, people like free and cheap stuff, so this could be the social platform that changes that perception for Google

Facebook Advantages :

  • 600 million socially connected people
  • Specific data on what brands users “like” and are connected with
  • Is inherently a social platform and is perfectly primed for group buying
  • Disadvantage: fewer resources (relatively)

Now that everyone wants a piece of this market, what does it mean for the two most important stakeholders: customers and retail businesses? Basic economics tells us that the higher the supply or competition the lower the prices. The group buying sites can’t directly control price, but have a few variables that they can control: the value of the offer to the consumer, the percentage of revenue they take from the retailer and the type of coupons that they offer. Ultimately, increase competition will flood the market with better and better deals for the consumer and lower margins for the providers and retailers. As group buying hits the mainstream and everyone is conditioned to be a bargain hunter, the question is: at what point do the costs outweigh the benefits for the retailers and the market is turned on its head?

 

By Tim Resnik

Will +1 be Google’s Social Watershed Moment?

April 4th, 2011
by Tim Resnik

Last week Google officially announced it’s new +1 button and explains it is short-hand for “this is pretty cool” and to “publicly give something your stamp of approval.” I gave it a test drive myself and provide a few thoughts about the current implementation. In addition, there is plenty of conjecture across the search industry and I have provided some links to the ones I found useful.

The first step in having a look at Google’s new +1 service is enabling it. For those having a problem finding it, you can enable +1 here.

Since I just finished a Sports Guy article that mentioned one of the NBA’s most exhilarating players, Derrick Rose, I felt inspired to +1 a link of a monster dunk. I popped “Derrick Rose Dunk” into search. Below is what I found (Side note – for basketball lovers, or those who just like to see incredible athletic feats, I have embedded the top 5 Derrick Rose Dunks at the bottom of this blog).

I want instant gratification! I fiend to see a glorious dunk and I want to see it now.

As a searcher my first goal is to find the content that I want. When I am returned results for a search I am only part of the way there. My intent is only fulfilled once I actually digest the content that I am looking for. Google +1 asks you if you want to recommend content before you even have a chance to digest it. This makes little sense and I believe they will have a hard time changing the behavior of their users. I could see using it as a quick way to bookmark links when I am doing research, but it would be nice if Google added tagging or Google Bookmarks tag integration.

The current SERP implementation of +1 seems to be an after thought

For this particular search Google did a good job of matching my intent and presenting the most relevant information at the top of the page: YouTube (of course) videos of Rose dunks. However, as you can see there is currently no way to +1 video or image boxes, only standard web search results. Also, the actual +1 button itself is pretty hard to see, however there is an animated effect upon mouse-over that makes it stands out a little more. But again, if I am looking for something that I have not yet found, my first action will be clicking on a blue link and not +1.

Google is not very social

I know they would like to be as social as Facebook, but that’s not necessarily what their users would like them to be. Sure, they have incredibly powerful data to leverage, but if your customers see you as one thing it is difficult to change their perception as well as their habits. Historically most people have used Google services unilaterally, and their wide scale attempts to wedge into the social rush has produced under-performing services such as Wave and shady forced attempts at growing Buzz.

+1 Round Up

There are a pile of articles and blogs that have been written about +1 over the last few days, here are a few highlights and summaries:

Bill Slawski from SEO By The Sea hunted down a Google patent “Dynamic Action Links for Web Content Sharing” and provides some information and thoughts.

Raven discusses future implications of +1 on SEO. The post theorizes that “the average user” doesn’t really care and will not hit the back button to +1 something. Agreed. Also talks about how it may be gamed.

SEOMoz believes +1 will have a major impact on organic results.

Here’s a good run down of +1 and some speculation on how it will affect Google Buzz and the rumored Google Me/Emerald Sea.

Greg Sterling breaks down how +1 is integrated into paid search. He gives an interesting example of how an organic +1 can automatically display a +1 on a paid result.

And, as promised, Derrick Rose throw downs:

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