Saturday, January 7, 2012

Google Docs on iPad

Isn't living in the future awesome? Right now, I'm writing this blog post on my phone while using an elliptical machine at my local gym. When I get back to my desk, this draft will be waiting for me in Google Docs, where I can edit it, add links and get it ready to publish. If I want to grab coffee later, I could bring my iPad with me and make some last minute fixes from the cafe. Everything will be saved automatically in the cloud.

The ability edit, save and delete Google Docs was recently made available to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users. While third parties have already developed mobile apps for managing Google Docs, this marks the first time Google itself has enabled mobile editing in the Web app for its popular cloud-based office suite.

So how does it stack up? In a nutshell, the experience of editing and managing Google Docs from iOS devices is pretty good. But like many brand new features, it could go further, and hopefully we'll see improvements over time.

What It Does Well

google-docs-iphone.pngSince late November, the mobile-optimized Web version of Google Docs has enabled users to create, edit and delete documents on the go, which can really come in handy for business users, especially those who might travel or work remotely. Being able to edit documents from a variety of devices without worrying about keeping track of the latest version is priceless.
For some users, it may take some getting used to the fact that there's no "save" button. Instead, the document auto-saves every few seconds as you type. Well, technically there is a "save" button, but it only displays when the document hasn't been auto-saved but it saves so frequently that you almost never see the option to save manually.
Typing on the iPad is pretty effective in general, but it can get clumsy if you type fast. If you're a professional writer or prefer to type very quickly, your best bet would be to use an external keyboard and turning off auto-correct so as to avoid introducing any unnecessary changes that you might not notice when reviewing the document later. Apple's wireless keyboard for desktops works great with the iPad, or there are a number of iPad-specific keyboards.
iPhone users already know how tedious typing on the device can be and using Google Docs on it is no different. That said, it's no worse than typing an email or a long text message. You just have to take your time and keep an eye out for unintentionally hilarious auto-corrections.
What if you lose your data or WiFi connection? Do you lose all of your precious work? Nope. Thankfully, the Google Docs mobile Web app makes smart use of HTML5's offline storage feature. If you're without a signal, the application still works; it just can't save your work. Thus you can continue to type away and make changes, and the app will sync and save your document the next time the device is online. Just be careful about trying to load any other new pages or data in Safari in the meantime, as there's a chance doing so could cause you to lose your changes.

Some Room For Improvement

The user interface is extremely simple, and that's typically a good thing. However, in this case, it feels like there are missing features. And there are. You can't format text, add links or align paragraphs. There are no document-sharing options enabled. You can literally just type and edit text.
google-docs-ipad.pngUsers who rely on a real-time spellchecker to keep their spelling ability in check might be disappointed by the fact that there are no red, squiggly lines under the words they most ruthlessly butcher. The native iOS spellchecker and auto-correction will have to suffice, at least until one can get back to the desktop version of Google Docs, where these stripped-out features are available. Or if you just can't wait, you can access the desktop version of a document from the iPad by clicking the "Desktop" link at the bottom of the page.

There does appear to be at least one bug on the iPad version. In my testing, anytime a suggested spelling popped up, I was unable to tap it to X it out as one normally can. Instead, the Web app interprets the tap as if it's intended to select a line in the document itself.

For now, the mobile version of Google Docs only supports the creation of text documents and spreadsheets, whereas the desktop version allows for PowerPoint-style presentations, Web forms and drawings.

Despite these limitations, Google Docs for mobile is overall an effective and easy-to-use experience. We'll be excited to see it improved moving forward, especially on the iPad, which offers greater opportunities for a more robust, feature-rich interface.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Facebook Strategy For Your Small Business

Do you have it backwards when it comes to Facebook?

Here’s what no one in the social media space seems to want to say: Facebook is a difficult place to reach new eyeballs organically if you do not already have good brand awareness.
There I said it. If you are trying to use Facebook to reach a new audience, organically (i.e. without paying for Ads), from scratch – you are facing an uphill battle.

Yes, the stats on how many Facebook users exist are mind-boggling. In reality most of those people will never actually encounter your brand on Facebook, unless you pay good money for them to. How many small business pages do you know that actually have millions of ‘fans’?

The fact is that Facebook is in the business of earning revenue – mostly through the ads they get page owners to buy. So for that reason they deliberately make it challenging to grow a page organically. So unless you have a strong personal Facebook network of friends that you are willing to leverage on behalf of your business page, you are looking at an uphill battle in actually reaching brand new eyeballs.

So Where Does Facebook Fit Into Your Strategy?

Surveys show that people generally fan pages they are already customers of, and usually for discounts. The same research shows that few people are interested in joining a page to become part of a community.
1. I suggest that you use Facebook to connect with your existing customers AFTER they’ve already bought from you – rather than trying to use Facebook to mine for leads. This is the path of least resistance. Since they already know you, they are more likely to interact with your page – crucial for organic growth on Facebook.
2. Use other methods (SEO, PPC, blogging, offline methods etc) to bring in prospects, generate leads and make sales.

3. The time you might spend slugging away on Facebook could be better spent growing your following and brand visibility elsewhere – preferably on platforms you own, such as your blog, and developing other marketing channels (even tweeting gives you better access to a new audience). Your Facebook page can be a resource to direct people to for promotions and additional interaction after they discover you elsewhere.

4. Examine your online sales process and work with your offline sales staff to integrate a way to ask the prospect or customer what social networks they are on. Build fields for this data into your online contact forms and if you have an offline sales staff you will have to work with them to collect that info when talking with prospect and clients.

5. Make someone on your staff responsible for finding these people on Facebook, connecting with them and inviting them to your Page. This will actually require the use of a personal profile since you cannot message anyone directly through a Page.

6. Find a place in the sales/follow-up process to let your customer know that your company has a Facebook page and give them reasons why they should become a fan.  As per the research above -the incentive should probably emphasize exclusive discounts and promotions.

7. Consider Facebook as a tool in your ‘referral engine’ – if your Fans are happy customers, Facebook makes it easy for them to recommend you to friends and to provide your business with ‘social proof’ i.e. people saying nice things about you. This is where you have the opportunity to organically grow your audience, powered by happy customers.

8. Make sure you feed your Page with the right content for your audience. You probably know the needs of your customers pretty well, but check in with your Facebook Insights to make sure you are catering to the correct demographic audience, and to the type of content that elicits interaction, especially as your audience grows beyond your familiar customer base.

How has your small business successfully used Facebook for marketing? 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business With LinkedIn

Although other sites have their purpose in the business world and many people utilize multiple social networking sites, LinkedIn is still the number-one place to market your business.  Here are ways to use LinkedIn and get results:

#1: Use LinkedIn Groups & Receive Tons of New Leads Daily

How would you feel if you had a sales funnel that brought in roughly 50 to 100 fresh, highly targeted leads every day? You’d feel pretty confident about putting food on the table next week, right?

Well, creating a LinkedIn group gives you the ability to generate an amazing number of leads from high-end decision makers.
Here are some great groups to closely examine:
Here’s how to maximize your LinkedIn group:
  1. Add keywords in the description of your group to increase your search rankings on LinkedIn’s search section.
  2. Add keywords in the title of the group to be found on Google.
  3. Add your company website or blog to the group to drive traffic to your site.
  4. Add your blog RSS feed to the group so every new article is automatically posted to the home page of every group member.
  5. Send a weekly message that adds value for group members and drives traffic back to your site.
  6. Connect people in the group by making introductions to those who could potentially do business with one another.
All of these points will help you generate more leads for your business.  If your sales funnel is set up correctly, you will have more than enough prospects to grow your business.
Make sure you create a group that fills a need for the audience you’re targeting in your business field. This will ensure that every person who joins the group is a qualified lead.

#2: Ask Questions & Build Your Credibility

I’ve asked a number of questions using LinkedIn Answers because it’s a great way to get the answers you need from some of the top experts in the world.

One question I’ve asked was, “How often are you answering questions for others on LinkedIn?” I received about 20 responses, but one answer stood out from the rest.

I had an individual share that he spent about an hour a week answering questions and he was getting three to five new clients a month bringing in roughly $3,000 to $5,000 extra in monthly revenue.  Not bad for answering a few questions, huh?

Here are some tips for answering questions:
First, set up the “Answers Application” on the bottom right-hand side of your home page for the subjects you know best.
linkedin answers application
This image shows a sampling of the categories you can monitor.
Then, when you see a question pop up that you know the answer to, follow these steps:
  1. Research the person who asked the question, and find a way to tie in a personal response with something from their LinkedIn profile.
  2. Be as helpful and resourceful as possible when answering the question.  Give tips, website links with additional information, or even recommend someone who is the best expert on that topic.
  3. Leave the answer with an open invitation for more communication by asking them to contact you privately if they need any extra help.
All of these tips will help you gain the most out of answering questions, and will help you build powerful relationships that will grow your business.

#3: Create Powerful Events

Hosting an event is a great way to build your business (see events under the ‘More…’ news in the LinkedIn navigation bar).  LinkedIn has an events platform that allows you to target thousands of professionals for free.
I threw close to 20 events around the country last year and I used LinkedIn to promote them, getting approximately 500 paying attendees per event.

Due to the viral nature of LinkedIn, once someone RSVPs to your event, it shows up on the home profile of everyone that person is connected to, spreading the message for you.
Creating an event on LinkedIn is simple.  Answer a few questions and start promoting your event.  Send an invitation to the people who would be interested in the event based on region or niche. You will notice a wealth of opportunities from hosting your own event.
cleveland linkedin event
This image shows what the events page looks like in LinkedIn.

#4: Run an Advanced Search in Your Target Market

It’s so easy to generate leads from LinkedIn.  The advanced search function helps you get in touch with the exact people you’re going after.
Simply click on “advanced” on the top right side of your home page next to the search box.  This will take you to a clean page where you can input anything you need to find the exact lead you are seeking.  You can search by industry, keywords, company and title, to mention a few.
linkedin advanced search
LinkedIn Advanced Search

#5:  Send Personal Messages

Once you find leads, you want to send them personalized messages.  The best way to drop any walls—and give yourself the best chance of making a sale—is to connect with someone on as many personal levels as possible. Look at their profile, find out which companies they’ve worked for in the past, which school they attended, what groups they’re in, listed hobbies and who your mutual connections are.  Then, write a personal message like this one:
Hi Tom,
I noticed that we’re both connected to Mary, Jeff and Bob; we both played basketball back in college; and we’re both in Toastmasters International speaking club.
I would love to connect with you to learn more about your experiences at Xyz Company. I believe there are a number of ways we could help one another.  Would you be free for a brief chat in the near future?
Looking forward to connecting soon and I’ll be sure to tell Mary I contacted you. I’m sure she would love to know I reached out to say ‘hi.’
Personal messages seal the deal and give you a greater chance of future opportunities.

Now Go Grow Your Business With LinkedIn!

If you follow these tips, you’ll begin to understand why LinkedIn is the best social networking site for building your business. There are number of ways to attract leads, connect with powerful decision makers and market your business. LinkedIn’s niche-specific filters and search features can help you reach the right people in your field.

Make a point of staying active on LinkedIn. Continue to update your profile and add new contacts. The more you put into it, the more the entire network will work for you.

Are you using LinkedIn? How is it working for you? I look forward to hearing what success stories your LinkedIn network brings you. Share your comments below.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Cash Free Way to Increase Your Cash Flow -- e-book! Amazon Rankings

Thanks for making our e-book a success!

YouTube Secrets

When you think of search engine marketing, we live in a much bigger world than just Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

At the Search Engine Strategies Conference in Chicago, I sat in on sessions for YouTube and Facebook search optimization.

Answering what it means to be a search engine optimizer is more complicated than it used to be.
According to Alexa, the top three sites are:
  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. YouTube
If you are looking to get the most exposure to the biggest audiences, you probably want to seriously consider some sort of campaigns with these sites.
In this column, I wanted to give you five secrets that you might not know about YouTube search engine optimization. Understanding these secrets could have a big impact on your ranking.
I got most of these from Greg Jarboe at his session on video optimization. I wanted to give credit where credit is due.
Secret #1
Get key phrase ideas from autocomplete suggestions.
These are currently searched key phrases at YouTube. If you are looking to make a video about something people are interested in, you definitely want to check out the autocomplete function at YouTube.
This is incredibly easy key phrase research to do. And you'll likely find some interesting topics to get your video making juices flowing.
Secret #2
Use the YouTube Keyword Suggestion Tool.
This is another great place to find ideas for key phrases for your video. You can also put a YouTube video ID in the tool and it will give you suggestions for key phrases to add to your video.
Secret #3
Use all the allowed space for titles, descriptions, and tags.
Titles should be about 100 characters.
Descriptions can include up to 5,000 characters, tags can be 120 characters. Make a goal to use every one of these limits for each of your videos.
From this YouTube blog post, "The more words you include in your description, the higher your chances of being discovered by searchers, which means the larger your audience can grow, and the more potential revenue you can earn."
Secret #4
Use annotations from this blog:
  • Encourage viewers to subscribe with an annotated subscribe button.
  • Use annotations to link to videos, playlists, channels, and more.
  • Use annotations to encourage feedback.
OK. Annotations aren't specifically for search optimization. But they are a great way to get people to either subscribe to your channel or watch another one of your videos.
Secret #5
Try YouTube Promoted videos.
This is paid search for your videos. These are the steps:
  • Choose one of your videos, write some promotional text, and tell us which keywords should trigger your promotion.
  • Using your keywords, your video promotion will now appear next to contextually relevant search results.
  • When a YouTube viewer clicks on your promotion, they see your video. You only pay when people click to see your video - not when people see your promotion.
YouTube is a huge opportunity for new traffic. Hopefully these tips will help you navigate that space in a more effective way.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Things You Probably Don’t Know About Google AdSense

Things You Probably Don’t Know About Google AdSense

  • “AdSense Earning = Impression-count x Click-though-rate x Cost-per-click x smart-pricing-factor. Viewing your on website will not get you banned. Just make sure you don’t click on the ads.
  • However, repeatedly reload your page to jack up page impressions can get you banned. Click-through-rate (CTR) is ratio of clicks per impressions. It can range from 0.1% to 30%, but most commonly around 1% to 10%.”
    [100 Google Adsense Tips]
  • First impressions count: make sure the ad unit with the highest CTR is the first ad unit in the HTML code of your page. Keep in mind that the first ad unit in the source code is not always the first ad unit that your users will see when the page finishes loading in their browser.”
    [Inside AdSense: First impressions count]
  • Ads placed near rich content and navigational aids usually do well because users are focused on those areas of a page. on pages where users are typically focused on reading an article, ads placed directly below the end of the editorial content tend to perform very well.”
    [Where should I place Google ads on my pages?]
  • Format is important for multiple ad units, display your ad units where repeat users will notice them, place a leaderboard immediately after the last post.”
    [Six AdSense optimization tips for forums]
  • The middle, above the fold location performs the best. Best performing ad format is the large rectangle, 336×280. So the wider ad formats are doing better than the other ones and the reason is that they actually take up fewer lines. And so with every additional line, you have a chance of losing that interested user.
  • So the wider formats do best so specifically, the top three formats are the 336×280 that you see on the page; the 300×250 medium rectangle; and then the 160×600 wide skyscraper.
  • We have a feature in the AdSense account where you are able to multi-select different color palettes that blend with your site to add some variety and freshness to the ads. And that also will help decrease ad blindness.”
    [Google AdSense Optimization Webinar]
  • “The second most active placement in terms of click-throughs tends to be the right-hand rail or margin”. “Skyscrapers” and vertical banners do well when placed next to the content in the main body. Square and rectangle ads placed within the center column also do well, provided they are placed in context to the content. Ads placed below the fold tend to perform least well, although that isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.”
    [Yahoo! Publisher Network: Location, location, location...]
  • “I found the most success in placing the Google Adsense medium rectangle either right in the middle of the page or in a middle right column as long as it has content above and below the ad unit. Its is fine to use Adsense Ads on a forum however expect a very low CTR.”
    [Google Adsense Tips for Webmasters]
  • “Post Adsense ads on text rich pages, avoid titles like the approved ‘Sponsored Links’ and ‘Advertisements’, place Ads above the fold, Match the colors of your ads with the colour scheme of your site, Blend ads with your page – remove the borders by having a similar color as your background.”
    [How to Increase Google Adsense CTR]
  • “To remove Public Service Ads (PSA) in Google Adsense develop sufficient good content with keywords, Ensure that META tags like ‘title’ & ‘description’ and the headings tags like h1, h2 etc. have content which matches the rest of your site.”
    [How to Remove Public Service Ads (PSA) in Google Adsense]
  • “You can now run AdSense on the same page as other contextual ad programs.” (January 2007)
    [It's official! You can now run AdSense on the same page as other contextual ad programs]
  • “Google AdSense Policy: We ask that publishers not line up images and ads in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads.”
    [Inside AdSense: Ad and image placement: a policy clarification]
  • “Section targeting uses certain html tweaks to force the google adsense bot to focus on specific content. Section targeting is the latest and most effective addition to AdSense”.
    [Display Relevant Adsense Ads Using Section Targeting]
  • “Over the weekend, I decided to change the number of ads units on my blog based upon where the traffic is coming from. I have a small PHP function that checks to see if the referrer is a search engine, and if it is, I display and additional 2 ad units. My Adsense revenue increasing by 284% on Saturday, Sunday and Monday!”
    [Positive Adsense Experiment]
  • Never click your own adsense ads or get them clicked for whatever reason. Never change the Adsense code. Do not run competitive contextual text ad (2006) or search services on the same site. Do not mask ad elements. Avoid excessive advertising and keyword stuffing.”
    [ 15 Common Mistakes that Violate Google Adsense TOS ]
  • “Putting ads on your site won’t hurt your traffic. There are 6 sorts of bloggers’ income: Google Adsense, Donations (e.g. PayPal), Text Link Ads (sold for a fixed amount per month), Chitika eMiniMalls ads (pay per click), affiliate programs like Amazon, Advertising sold to individual advertisers (three-month campaigns or longer)
    [How to Make Money From Your Blog - a VERY extensive article]
  • “A number of factors come into play when AdSense tries to determine what the page is about: The URL of the page, the page title, the anchor text of links, the keywords that appear most frequently within the page, search engine queries that lead to the page or to another page that links to the page”.
    [How to Get Relevant AdSense Ads (Especially For Bloggers)]
  • “Ask yourself if you are willing to compromise your blog’s layout and over-all feel by adding ads in them. Look at your traffic and see if it’s enough to draw the crowd. Make good use of the Ad Channels. Give it time.”
    [Tips on Blog Adsensification]
  • You can put upto 3 AdSense units on a page. For short articles, CTR is best when ads are placed just above the content. For long articles, CTR improves if ads are placed somewhere in middle of the content. Go Wide – the large rectangle 336×280 is the best paying adsense format.”
    [Adsense Tips, Layout Optimization Tricks for HigherCTR]
  • “Google AdSense folks have unveiled another useful feature for Adsense publishers – Section Targeting. The concept is simple but the advantages and possibilities are endless.”
    [Display relevant Ads in Blogs: Just suggest Google]

13 Facebook Applications to Promote Your Blog

Do you own a Facebook and a blog? If so, think you’re going to enjoy this week’s discussion. Thanks to S.Pradeep Kumar for bringing up the question during his visit at 16 Social Bookmarking Plugins to Promote Your Post. I’ve started a little journey digging through Facebook in past weeks, hoping to find some relevant ideas on how to promote your blog using Facebook applications. Before we’re getting into any of those, make sure you fill up as much information on your Facebook Profile as possible — digital name card for first timers:
facebook profile

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