Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Why I Still Can’t Buy Into Google+

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Google comes out with a new social network, what, every 5 minutes? Don’t get me wrong, I love Google just as much as the next person…maybe even more.

Really? Another place to go?

2 years ago, social media was still in its infancy. We’d all willingly go separately to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, Plurk (what, you never had a Plurk account?!), the list goes on and on.

Then something beautiful happened. Some smart people decided that was unnecessary. They decided we should save 30 seconds for every post and status update, post it to one platform (like or TweetDeck), and have it magically transported to multiple social networks.

Unless I’m wrong (and that happens more often than I’d like to admit), Google+ has yet to integrate their platform with anything like TweetDeck or so that you can post the same status to multiple platforms.

Strike one, Google+.

I’ve been hurt in the past.

Remember Buzz? Remember Wave?! Google’s tried this before and I always willingly jumped on the bandwagon. This time, however, I’m way more skeptical. Who knows, though, maybe the third time really is the charm for them.

For the moment, though, only my professional contacts have jumped on Google+. That’s all well and good, but I can keep in touch with them on a ton of other networks…or at least two big ones.

I believe that’s strike two.

It’s a Facebook copycat…for the most part.

I know, I know. There are elements of Twitter in there too. For the most part, though, this is a recreation of Facebook. News feed, profiles, security settings, and all. Even the circles (while way cooler looking) are reminiscent of Facebook lists for me.

Don’t get me wrong, Google+ has certainly done some things to set itself apart from the crowd. The simple fact that it’s a Google product and therefore automatically synced with all of the other Google products is very cool. But at its core, I don’t see anything different enough to be worth it…now.

And if my math is right, that’s strike three.

I will admit…

I haven’t really given Google+ a chance. I’ve played around a bit, but nothing major. I automatically saw all of these things within the first few hours of using it and have essentially dismissed it since.

However, since I work remotely, I’ve found that the hangout function is pretty cool. I can chat with several of my coworkers at the same time and – gasp! – can see them all at the same time too!

I’m more than happy to be proven wrong, but for the moment, I think I’ll stick to Twitter and Facebook. What about you? What has your G+ experience been like so far?

Nicki Hicks
Maybe you’ll convince me by adding me on G+

Instant Upload with Google + : One More Thing You Can’t Do With An iPhone!

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Google Plus Instant Upload is a little Big Brother but very cool.  Okay, so I have to admit I was a little freaked out by this at first…

Google Plus’s instant upload is really simple.  All you have to do is download the Google Plus app onto your Android phone.  The default setting for the app is has Instant Upload enabled. So, that’s all the set up that is required.  Then all you do is snap pictures on your phone as your normally would and they automatically get uploaded to your Google + account.  So, the next time you sign into the account you will have the option of whether you want to share the picture with your circles or not.  Watch my demo below…

If you are worried about privacy or you don’t want to use Instant Upload it’s really easy to disable.  Just follow the steps below.

1. Go to the Google+ App on your phone
2. Press Menu
3. Go to Settings
4. Scroll down to Instant Upload
5. Uncheck the box so that it no longer has a green check mark

You can also open up your Instant Upload settings from here to check on upload statuses, upload existing photos, decide whether you just want photos uploaded instantly or video too, turn off instant upload while roaming etc.

Joan Woodbrey Crocker
Maine SEO


Google Plus: All You Need To Know About Google +

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Whether you are celebrating it’s arrival or wishing it away because you don’t want to keep track of yet another social network, Google Plus is here.  We will soon find out whether it is here to stay or a quick fad, but my guess is that this is the real deal.  If you haven’t had the chance to join yet make sure to go check it out.  And, If you are like me and you are thinking HOLY COW there is so much to learn and read.. Here are a few resources I found helpful gathered all in one place.

What is Google Plus and How Do I Use It:

How to Get Started With Google Plus: This is a great guide to getting started on Google + it gives great info and screenshots, but it’s a little less overwhelming than the Google Plus Collaborative Doc (below).

Google Plus a Collaborative Document: This is literally a guide to using Google Plus.  The Table of Contents lays out the document so that you can jump around and learn about the areas that you need help with.  This is probably the most in depth and useful guide I have come across.

The Google Plus Cheat Sheet: Exactly what it sounds like, a cheat sheet or glossary of terms on how to use Google Plus and what things mean…So, in case you don’t have the time (or patience) to go through the doc above.

10 Awesome Video Tips for Getting More out of Google + Don’t like to read? Check out these quick video tips!

How to: Get Your Own Google+ Vanity URL: Since Google Plus doesn’t offer vanity URL’s as of now for fear of spammers figuring out millions of Google+ users email account information, has created a small app that makes it easy to create your own Vanity URL to make it easy to share your Google Plus Profile with your friends.

How to Get Google+ On My Phone:

Get Google+ On Your iPhone! And iOS App was released today making it possible for iPhone users to get Google Plus on their iPhones.  It’s been available since the beginning on Android phones and all you need to do is go to the Droid Market, to download your Google+ app for Free.

How To Use Google Plus for Business/Marketing:

10 Things CMOs Need to Know About Google+ Chris Brogan compares Google+ to the launch of Facebook and the leap people made from Myspace to Facebook.  Giving reasons such as Google is the King of Search so they will probably have their social network affect search, they are starting up business pages, it’s connections with gmail and other Google tools you already use and it’s fast growth in it’s first two weeks of it’s launch he thinks it’s the next BIG thing!

3 Ways to Use Google Plus in Your Content Marketing Efforts A lot of great tips here on Google Plus for content marketing as well as  a great list of related articles about Google Plus, such as “Can Google+ Rival Facebook and Twitter? Some Initial Thoughts” and “Top 6 Articles On Google Plus to help you Get the Most Out of Your Experience.”

Google + Now Part of Google Analytics: You can now track your social interaction as well on your Google Analytics by adding a bit of code to your sites.  Currently this tracks Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.  There isn’t a code yet to track LinkedIn interactions.

More On Google +:

5 Ways Journalists are Using Google Plus
5 Chrome Extensions that Improve Google+
What Your Business Needs To Know About Google+
How does the Google +1 Button Affect Search

The more I research, explore, play and use Google + the more I like it.  It’s incredibly connected, dynamic and the uses are endless. For example…

It recognizes when I take a picture with my Android, and then without me uploading or doing anything it is already in my photos on Google Plus asking me if I want to share it.

My new Tag line: Google Plus… It’s So Smart, It’s Spooky!

Joan Woodbrey Crocker
Maine SEO


9 Free Keyword Research Tools from Google

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

One of the first rules for keyword research is use more than one tool. Lucky for us, Google’s got a whole suite of tools – and better yet – they’re completely free!

1. Keyword Synonyms

I quite honestly don’t use the Google Synonym Tool as often as I probably should, but it will give you some great ideas when you start your keyword research.

2. Google Insights and 3. Google Trends

Google Insights will give you a good idea of what is popular right now (including similar “hot” keywords and phrases); while Google Trends gives a better indicator of how a keyword performs over time (Google has data as far back as 2004).

4. Google Analytics

You didn’t realize your Analytics could give you insight to what people are searching for?! Sure! Look no further than the keyword section. The bottom of the list will more than likely be rich with long tail searches. Maybe you could do a better job optimizing for those keywords, or maybe they’ll give you ideas for even more keyword research.

Another great place to look for keyword inspiration in Analytics is within your site search keywords. What were people looking for that they couldn’t find on their own? You might find some opportunity there.

5. Search-based Keyword Tool

Google’s Search-based Keyword Tool is based on AdWords bidding prices and competition, but you can get a great idea of search volume using it. It’s important to remember that this tool uses keywords in conjunction with existing websites. (So, if you don’t have a website yet, pop in one of your competitors’ sites!)

6. Google AdWords Keyword Tool

To date, Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool has been one of my favorite research tools. Again, based on AdWords competition, you’ll get the added benefit of global and local monthly search volume statistics.

7. (The New) AdWords Keyword Tool

I couldn’t be more excited for this new addition to the keyword research toolbox from Google: the new AdWords Keyword Tool. That much more robust, this tool adds a new column: local search trends. Even in a few short days of using it, I’ve found that, while you have to sort through the irrelevant keywords a bit more, you’ll get a ton of helpful synonyms and related search terms.

8. Google Sets

Ironically, I saw that Kasi Gajtkowski from Hall Web Services just put up a new blogpost about Google Sets – a new keyword research tool from Google. This tool will give you more loosely related (but still relevant) keywords related to the search terms you enter. That way, you’ll really be able to expand your keyword research and get some ideas you’d never thought of!

9. Google Suggest

While it’s not traditionally a keyword research tool, Google Suggest is an out-of-the-box way to get keyword ideas.

With so many free tools to choose from, you’re bound to be a keyword pro in no time. Which is your favorite to use?

Nicki Hicks
Google Tool Savant

8 Link Building Strategies (from Matt Cutts)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

In this post, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, talks about a lot of great things going on in search right now. He also incorporated on his latest Webmaster Tools video. In the video, Matt answers the question “What are some effective techniques for building links?” The video is below, but I’m going to recap his tips as well.

How does Matt Cutts suggest building links?

  • Participate in the community: Answer a question, as in “hey I know the answer to this”.
  • Original research: Do your own original research – test out what other people are saying. (Matt talks about the research Danny Sullivan did on Email spam filters.)
  • Newsletters: If you have people already coming to the blog, why not make it even easier for them to get there?
  • Social media: Participating here is a way to get more visibility, and more incoming links.
  • Conferences: Speaking at conferences is a surefire way to get some backlinks.
  • Blog: Establish yourself as an authority. You can use something like Posterous or Tumblr and not have to worry about updating software.
  • Resources: Run a service or create a product (like a Firefox extension or WP Plugin)
  • Other types of posts
    • How to’s and Tutorials: If you have to figure out the steps to something, why not write it down and share it?
    • Controversy (just don’t do it often)
    • Lists
    • Make videos: Videos are an easy way to share information. Do the work once, and it’s helpful all the way down the line.


Create good site architecture: If it doesn’t make sense, Google can’t see your pages and people can’t find those pages to link to.

Is Google Buzz Worth All The Buzz?

Friday, February 26th, 2010

google buzzFirst things first, there have already been a ton of great posts on how to use Buzz and what it’s all about. If you want a really great overview of all Google Buzz has to offer, check out this Mashable post. The official Google Blog also has a post with some great video how-to’s for both the web-based and mobile Buzz versions.

Here are some of the more interesting features of Buzz – the good, the bad, and the ugly – that I’ve noticed in a few short weeks of buzzing.

Gmail Integration

If someone replies to a “buzz” of yours, it is emailed directly to you. Even more cool: you can reply to the thread directly in the email.

buzz in email

Be careful though, comment on an influential Buzzer’s(?) post and you’ll get all of the comments thereafter. There are a few options for this: a) create a filter to put any buzz comments under a specific label in Gmail, b) “mute” the post, so that you no longer get the updates from it.

Also a negative: for those anti-Googlers out there, you have to have a Gmail account in order to Buzz.

Social Integration

Buzz has the option to integrate a ton of your other social media profiles, and I can only assume there will be more to come. But for now, your tweets, YouTube videos, flickr photos, and more will show up in your Buzz stream.

connected sites buzz

Watch the conversation

Like Facebook’s commenting and “liking” features, Buzz is superior to Twitter in the fact that you can actually watch a conversation – and follow it if you’ve come late to the game.

buzz conversation

Alas, for every positive there is a negative. I love Mashable, but I unfollowed them because they were clogging up my Buzz feed. Lots of great info – I just don’t know if Buzz is where I want to get it. In the future, hopefully Google will help sort folks you follow so it’s more manageable. Again, currently you can mute a post, so that you don’t receive updates as people comment.

Mobile Integration

Access Buzz on your smart phone and you’ll see the same features, plus some – including Google Maps integration where you can see who’s buzzing around you.

buzz google maps

I’m sure that as Buzz evolves, the less than desirable qualities will be ironed out. And until then, we can figure out the implications of Buzzing and add yet another social network to our list to join.

Nicki Hicks
Follow me on Buzz

A Search Box Within Google’s Search Engine Results Page?

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Searching this afternoon led me to an interesting discovery: a search box, located right in the Google Search Results Page:

site search google serp

I can definitely see the power of having a function like this – especially for large, robust websites.

Performing a search for “maine” in this search box would surely return a search result page from the US SBA website, right? Wrong.

site search results

A Google search result page of the website is served up.

Having neither seen nor heard anything about this, I started looking around for an article about it. No such luck.

Has anyone else seen anything like this?

Update: Shines and Jecker was kind enough to point me in the right direction.

Nicki Hicks

Is Google Too Suggestive?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

In May, Google announced they’d be adding more to the “Suggest” function. Up until now, I hadn’t noticed; but perhaps that’s because I rarely search from

Yesterday, I found it helpful:

google suggest links

However, if, as Search Engine Land suggests, there will be AdWords included Suggest, I can only imagine this space will be overcrowded in no time.

That begs the question…

Isn’t less more?

Time and time again, seemingly simplistic interfaces seem to become complicated. Look at Facebook and Twitter…

Facebook added a news feed, which has more recently become a real time news feed. Certainly, there are reasons for such changes; but at a certain point is evolving for just evolution’s sake?

Twitter recently added a retweet function from its website. Seemingly helpful, it’s done nothing other than muddle up the simplistic interface they had going. This function, in particular, received nothing but bad reviews.

Certainly Google couldn’t be the next monopoly to be pressured to overcrowd in an effort to be cutting edge. Dearest Google, simple is good. Simple is why you are king.

Fortunately, more often than not, Google will test ideas relentlessly before they leave Labs. But it’s something to think about.

Nicki Hicks
Website minimalist

Is it Time to Spice up your Titles and Copy?

Friday, October 16th, 2009

spicesWhen’s the last time you revamped the copy on your website?

The leaves are in the midst of falling, and now might be the perfect time to rework your website a little.

It’s about the title

It’ll be the first place any SEO suggests adding your best keywords, the title is the easiest way to increase your search engine visibility. If you don’t want to (or need to) do a lot of copyediting, this might be the perfect place to start. For some ideas, you might want to head over to Google Insights or Trends for what’s hot right now.


When it comes to the copy on your pages, you know your business far better than anyone else could imagine to. However, the point is to see your company through the eyes of your customers. Optimize for the keywords they’re searching for. Do you come up in a Google search for the right queries? Move through the site like they do. Is it easy to navigate? Think like your customer.

‘Tis the season

You might need a change simply due to the nature of your business. Do you notice your customer flow changes seasonally? If you run a lodging or hotel business, the answer is obvious; but for other companies it might be more subtle. Update your copy accordingly.

Blogging makes it easy

This is where a blog comes in handy. Even if you do have a blog, you should still spice up your copy and titles every so often. But with a hot topic or news, you won’t have to as often. Just blog about it! That post has the ability to rank (just make sure you funnel people from your blog to your website).

Give it a facelift

There’s no need to update every page on your website, but maybe a facelift here and there – starting with the homepage – could really do some good! Search engines love fresh, unique content. Then again, maybe your copy is perfect the way it is. Either way, pay it a visit every once and again and just read it through. Make sure everything is still accurate and up-to-date.

Nicki Hicks
Content is the Spice of Life

Photo Credit

Meta-Descriptions: What they are, where they come from, and why you should use them

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

First of all, what the heck is a meta-description, anyway?

Unlike titles and headers, you’ll never see the meta-description when you’re on a website. It’s only in the code:

<meta name="description" content="A blog by flyte new media about Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, and Web 2.0 snippets everyone is entitled to know." />

Your description should do just that: describe what is on that particular page. Ideally, no two meta-descriptions on your website should be the same.

So why should you have a meta-description?

There’s another place you can see meta-descriptions: search engines.

google maine seo meta description

That’s right. More often than not, you decide what goes there.

From an SEO perspective, the meta-description is where you should include keywords you’re targeting, your geographic location, as well as your contact information (just in case someone is searching on their smart phone and can click on either your phone number or email right then and there.)

From a usability standpoint, the meta-description is where you have the opportunity to entice visitors. What can you say in order to get people to click on your website rather than the competition?

What happens if I don’t have a meta-description?

This is why I said more often than not you choose what goes there. Other times…

  • You might have a meta-description, but the searcher’s query didn’t apply to your meta-description. In this case, Google might take a snippet of your copy to display.
  • If you don’t have a meta-description at all, again, Google will usually choose applicable bits of your copy.
  • I recently noticed Google will pull descriptions from its own Google Directory. So if you have a listing there, make sure the information is accurate and reads like you want it to.

So what are you waiting for? Get going and write those meta-descriptions!

Nicki Hicks
Descriptive is as descriptive does

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