Tag Archives: Google

Link a Gmail message to a Google Calendar Event

One of my biggest issues when moving from Outlook to Gmail was that Gmail wasn’t able to auto-magically create an event on my Google calendar that had a live link back to the original email. Often, emails are the source of an event added to your calendar and having a quick link makes life so much easier!

Used to be, (and this still does happen when the date is not spelled out in the email content) that if you wanted to create an event on your Google calendar from a Gmail message, you had to click more, then create event to ad a calendar event from an email.

gmail to google calendarAnd then the event was created, but only with the email text in the description section of the event instead of a live link back to the original email thread (also any links in the email became inactive and attachments were not included.)

create event google calendar from gmail

But today, I noticed for the first time, that if you have an actual date typed in the email (always a good practice for clarity-sake) that Gmail can recognize, the date becomes an underlined link that you can click on to create an event. This functionality has been there a while, the recent twist comes next.

gmail add to calendar link

Here’e the best part! Now, when you add the event to your calendar, instead of the email content in the description area, you now have a live link back to the email source:

gmail to google calendarWhich preserves the link to the whole email thread, live links in the email, attachments with the email, etc. etc. How wonderful! What a boon to gmail productivity. Thanks Google. Well done!

Google Conspiracy?

As you know, I’m a Google-girl. I love the relevancy of the results and the tools for advanced searching. But sometimes I get a little annoyed at what I see happening with the “above the fold” results.

The other day, while doing Internet Research for a client, I noticed that on my (fairly large) monitor, there was barely an inch of space that represented the Organic search results “above the fold.”

Google-Screenshot

In order to see other organic results, I had to scroll down. Quite obviously, the ads get most screen real estate, at an estimated cost per click of over $4.00, you can understand why ($$) Google would want to show as many ads as possible. The yellow section on the screen is part of the Google Medical results. These used to show up in the right-hand sidebar, taking the space of some of the ads, but now, as you can see, they are showing up in prime “screen real estate” and pushing the organic/natural search results off the top of the page altogether. And it’s not just medical… these sorts of Google-Consolidated results are showing up for all kinds of searches now, and beginning to dominate the organic search results.

This bothers me. I love being able to get relevant information, but I would prefer to see it in it’s natural state…. from the site that’s actually publishing the information instead of consolidated into a Google-dominated screen.

What are your thoughts?

Does Google Give Preference to AdWords Advertisers?

Google has always claimed that advertising on AdWords will NOT impact the natural search results of a website.

However, sometimes I get suspicious….

Like when I see a client of mine, who has been in business since 2003 being beaten out in the organic rankings by a newbie (business started October 2012) and that newbie is an AdWords advertiser.

Here are some of the stats I look at when doing competitive website analysis:

  • Age of Site
  • Number of Pages Indexed
  • Number of incoming links (backlinks) reported – take this stat with a large grain of salt… it’s usually very under-reported.
  • Social signals (Twitter mentions, FB likes, Google +1)

So, I did a little research using the SEOQuake Chrome Extension:

AllSmokedUp.com:

  • Age, May 2004
  • Pages Indexed: 29
  • Backlinks: 4
  • Social: Tw, 2; FB, NA, +1, 23 (note: FB stats do not appear to be correct, I  know ASU has lots of likes)

farmboyssmokinbbq.com

  • Age, May 2013
  • Pages Indexed: 5
  • Backlinks: NA
  • Social: Tw, 10; FB, NA, +1, 0

At first glance, based on these stats there is no way that farmboy should be outranking AllSmokedUp. But wait! Although farmboy’s business was started in October 2012, the website has a start date of May 2013. That’s only  2 months ago. It looks like they may be experiencing what I have seen frequently with Google results… a brief “moment in the sun” of great rankings within about 2-3 months of a new site starting up. I believe it’s part of Google’s algorithm that “rewards” recency and “newness” for a brief period before the site sinks back into the abyss for 6-8 months and then levels out to its “proper” position in the natural search results.

Well, it looks like we’re in a “wait and see” period. I’m going to watch these results and see if my theory holds… that this is the “moment in the sun” for that new site and there isn’t a conspiracy to boost the natural search results of sites that advertise on Google AdWords.

Choosing an SEO/SEM Company

There are a lot of companies offering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) services. How do you know which one is going to be the best fit for your company and budget?

It helps to have an understanding of how search engines index and rank websites. Knowing how the search engines work and how competitive your important keyphrases are can help you judge how much assistance you will need to improve your website visibility. Google didn’t used to be as transparent as they are now about how the search results work. These days, you can get guides directly from Google on how to improve your website’s visibility.

Google OptimizationConsider your budget, both the money you have available to spend on internet marketing and your time…. sometimes it’s better for you to invest some time in learning what needs to be done and doing it yourself. Google has a whole SEO guidebook filled with helpful information, that I highly recommend. However, if the whole idea of DIY SEO/SEM makes you break out in a sweat, it’s time to bring in some experts.

Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:

  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what time-frame? How do you measure your success?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

read more: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is search engine advertising vs. search engine optimization. SEM agencies set up ad campaigns that show up on search results and/or related websites based on your company’s keywords and location. The primary overlap between SEO and SEM are the keywords you would like your site to be more visible for.

I primarily use Google AdWords for SEM and they have recently instituted an audit procedure for advertising agencies to be sure that the agency is being transparent about the keywords being advertised, the average costs per click and other statistical information about the campaigns. The questions to ask an SEM company are similar to those you would ask SEO firm. Make sure that they are willing to be transparent with you and share any analysis data that you ask for on a regular basis. Checking the analytics is the best way to know if your campaigns are working or not. If you’re interested in giving AdWords a try, let me know (I have coupons for new advertisers.)

As with most things, it helps to get a referral from someone you know and trust, ask around to get recommendations.

References:

Why Google AdWords?

Let me start by saying if you’re interested in giving Google AdWords a try, I have a whole bunch of coupon codes that I can give out. Some are $100 coupons, others $300. Google recently changed their program so that you do actually have to spend some of your own cash before the coupons kick in, but it’s still a great deal and a great way to try AdWords.

Google AdWords

AdWords can be a great tool for many businesses to gain visibility and boost website traffic. The companies I most often recommend AdWords to are those that have brand new websites or those who want a quick boost as they begin to implement SEO for their websites to improve traffic in the short term.

AdWords allows you to target specific keyword phrases worldwide or within a very narrow geographic area. You can target your ads to search or to the display network (other content sites (like the ads you see on the side of this blog post). There are text ads (advertising Haiku), image ads and video ads.

Depending on the business, AdWords may or may not be a great long term strategy. For some companies, the return on investment in AdWords is excellent and that alone warrants continued advertising. For other companies, the ROI is not as good and AdWords is a better short term strategy.

I am a Google AdWords Certified Partner and my specialties are helping new advertisers get started (remember the coupons!) and helping existing advertisers improve their campaign performance. I am not an expert on image or video ads, but I have been able to help clients more than double their click-through and conversion rates, with no increase in costs.

If you’re interesting in learning how Google AdWords can help your business, please get in touch.

 

How to Get a Free Website

I didn’t expect to be inspired to write today’s post by seeing an advertisement, but when I saw this ad for a free business website, I was pretty intrigued, so I decided to investigate.

Google Ad

The ads leads to a page where you get options to get your business on the Map (time estimate 10 minutes) or get your business website up and running (time estimate 60 minutes).

Getting on the map looks like a walk-through of how to get your business listed on Google+Local, which I definitely recommend for all businesses, particularly  brick & mortar local businesses. You can get a lot of free visibility for your business that way since the local results generally show up just below the Google Ads and above the other natural search results.

The getting your business website appears to be a joint venture between Google and Intuit. They are offering a 3 page website, with a custom domain name and free hosting for the first year.

According to the FAQ after the first year the hosting and domain registration fees are:

After your first year of free service, you’ll automatically be billed $6.99 per month if you registered a domain with Intuit, or $4.99 per month if you did not sign up for a domain. You can cancel these services at any time by logging into your account, navigating to your Account Summary and then clicking the link, “Cancel all services.”

If you don’t yet have a business website, this really does look like a quick and painless way to get online. The only thing I would caution about is taking the time to think about what your future website needs will be. Will you need to add more pages or eCommerce to your site? Will you want a blog? Can this package grow with you?

According to Intuit (again from the FAQ):

This free offer includes a free domain name and hosting for your Intuit website for one year. The free site includes 3 free pages, 25MG of disk space and 5GB of bandwidth (monthly transfer). Email and ecommerce are not included. However, you can purchase additional pages, disk space, email addresses, ecommerce solutions and many other add-ons from Intuit. If you wish to learn more about pricing, please call 1-800-710-1998, dial 5 when prompted and you’ll be connected with a web sales consultant.

If you know you’ll want to expand beyond the 3 page freebie website, ask some questions now about the cost of potential site expansions. Also consider that the template that you use to create the site is probably owned by Intuit, so if you decide you want to change your domain registrar (where your domain name is registered) or change your hosting account will you be able to keep the same look & feel of your site or will you be starting from scratch?

As I said, overall, it looks like a quick and painless way for a small business to get a website up and running in about an hour. Just keep an eye toward the future and make sure to keep your expansion options open.

How to get setup with Google Authorship

I’m sure you’ve seen the results… smiling faces next to search results. Have you wondered how to get your smiling face next to your content in the search results? It’s called Google Authorship Markup and it’s pretty easy to do.

Google Authorship

Not only is there a little smiling face next to the article about Yext, but there’s also the “by Joanne Marcinek” link that, when clicked, leads to a listing of all my verified content. And there are the stats on how many people have the me in their Google+ circles.

The first step is to get a profile setup on Google+. That is your author profile. You can join Google+ Authorship by going to https://plus.google.com/authorship.

Once you have a profile (with a recognizable headshot), the next step is make sure the content you’ve written has a byline with the same name as your Google+ Profile (eg. by Joanne Marcinek).

Next, verify that you have an email address with the same domain as your content (eg. ____@askjoanne.com). If you use a different email address (like ___@gmail.com) there’s another method for verification.

The second method involves a bit more coding and requires that you add a link to your code like this:

 <a href="https://plus.google.com/109412257237874861202?
   rel=author">Google</a>

Once you’ve verified your email , or added the authorship markup code, check if you’ve got things setup properly with Google’s structured data testing tool: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

By putting in your website address in the testing tool, you will get a “report” back of whether Google is recognizing the authorship markup on your site:

Google Authorship

That’s it. Pretty simple, but very powerful. Having Authorship Markup on your content can help you establish authority in your field, it helps people to recognize who you are and gives them the opportunity to easily follow you on Google+ or connect with you in other ways.

 

References/Resources:

Why and How to Properly Tag your Links

The other week I watched a very good SEOMoz White Board Friday presentation on Why Google Analytics Tagging Matters.

I won’t get into the details, but the basic premise is that if links are not tagged properly, Google doesn’t know where traffic is coming from and will dump it all into Direct Traffic.

This can be a problem because you are then unable to see if certain links via Social Media or other campaigns are generating traffic and ROI.

Tagging links before you post them on Social Media or send out via email is an extra step, but it’s easy to do and the results are definitely worth it in the long run.

Google has a URL Builder tool to help you build links. I’ve written a blog post that I want to send out via my social media channels. Let’s walk through the process of tagging the URL to get the best data in Google analytics.

Ok, the un-tagged URL for the post is: http://www.joannemarcinek.com/2013/04/bluebirds-of-hope-sandy-hooks-guardian-angels/

Next step, go to Google’s URL Builder:

Google URL Builder

http://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en

Paste in the Website URL and then follow the steps to tag it.Google URL Builder

You can label the required fields any way you like. For this post, I am labeling the Campaign Source as facebook (because that’s where I’ll be putting the post), the Campaign Medium is personal because I will be posting it on my personal Facebook profile. If I were posting it on a Facebook business page, I would put the name of the page here. And last, the Campaign Name is musings to identify that it is a post in that category on my blog.

As I said, you can label the required fields any way you like, but it does make sense to be consistent in how you name your Campaign Source/Medium and Name so that when you later view your analytics, you can properly track your data.

When the required fields are filled in, just click Submit and you will have a tagged URL that you can copy and share:

http://www.joannemarcinek.com/2013/04/bluebirds-of-hope-sandy-hooks-guardian-angels/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=personal&utm_campaign=musings

While this is an extra step in the sharing process, the information you are able to track later will make it worth it. It would be especially important for email campaigns or advertising that you are doing in other online publications to track that you are getting a return on your investment.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

PS. The Whiteboard Friday video above was embedded using Wistia, a fantastic and easy to use video hosting platform that I just signed up for. More on Wistia later.

Image Sizes for Google+, Facebook and WordPress Header Images

I find myself looking for this information all the time, so here’s a quick cheat sheet.

On the current date, 5 April 2013 here are the pixel dimensions for the header images on Facebook profiles, Google+ pages, and the header image for WordPress (Weaver theme).

This image is a snippet from a full and super-helpful infographic by Jon Loomer:

fb-header-dimensions

 

The new image size for Google+ is 480 x 270

ScreenShot871

And for WordPress Weaver header images, the dimensions are: 940 x 198

Collages

Ooops, almost forgot Twitter profile banners. They are ideally 1252 x 626 pixels and cannot be larger than 5MB.

twitter profile

I find that an easy way to be able to change out my header images myself (without a graphic designer’s help) is to setup custom cropping sizes in Picasa and label them accordingly (eg. put in the dimensions for the Facebook cover image and name the custom size “facebook cover”)

That way you have an easy way to crop any photos you’ve imported from your phone or camera. You can also use Picasa to create a collage of images and then have it create the collage to match the dimensions of the image you are trying to create. You can even add text, or a watermark to your finished image easily.

Here’s a quick Tutorial on creating profile images in Picasa:

Questions? please ask below in the comments section.

YouTube and Google Account Merge – What it means for your Videos.

Well, I learned a lesson this week…. a few months ago, when I logged into my YouTube account, I was told that I could no longer use my Username (AskJoanne) for my videos but instead my account would be linked to my Google+ profile and use Joanne Marcinek instead.

I didn’t much like this idea, since I was quite happy having AskJoanne as my Channel name. So I quickly clicked through the available options and promptly forgot about it.

There’s a video I did on how to use Google Webmaster tools:

That for a while, came up ABOVE Google’s Webmaster Tools help in the search results. In fact it was so popular that someone stole it and re-published it under their own YouTube account. I was pretty proud of the great search results I was getting and the number of views this video has had.

Just the other day, I did a search for Google Webmaster Tools and discovered that my video was nowhere to be found, Nowhere! What happened?!

Turns out that my speedy clicking through the options last fall was the culprit. Apparently, by refusing to let Google use my Google+Profile name on my videos, all my videos were changed from public to private. Apparently there’s no way around this. Google owns YouTube and they hold all the cards.

I’ve accepted the inevitable and changed the settings on all my videos back to public. Will my videos ever regain their search position and audience? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.