Friday, August 31, 2012

SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air: Using the Google Display Network to generate brand awareness

AdWords Specialists Courtney Pannell, Adam Ziegler and Bethany Powers hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the second installment of the SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air series.

During the Hangout, we focused on the Google Display Network (GDN) and how to utilize GDN targeting to expand your reach. Even if you’re a small business, the GDN can be a powerful advertising tool, but there’s a lot to learn about it. We shared tips about ad formats, bidding, campaign structure, and targeting options to get you started off on the right foot!

Here are a couple of user questions we answered during the Hangout:

The Google Display Network is vast. If I’m a local business, how can I ensure my ads only show to users in my area?
Even though the Google Display Network contains a wide variety of websites, you can definitely control who sees your ad on those sites. Let’s say you’re a restaurant owner in Charleston, SC and you only want users in that area to see your ad. On the ‘Settings’ tab in your account, you’d want to set your location targeting to the Charleston area, so that only users physically located in that area could see your ad on the GDN.

There are so many targeting methods on the GDN. How do I know which is best for me?
There are quite a few targeting options for Display campaigns (such as contextual targeting with keywords, placements, topics and interest categories). If you’re new to the GDN, you may want to start off with the contextual targeting option. How that works: you’ll specify a set of keywords and we’ll use those keywords to match your ads to websites on the GDN that might be relevant. That will give you a good starting point to see what kind of sites are out there and are relevant to your business.

To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.

And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, Thursday September 13, when we discuss how to optimize your account to generate customer purchases.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Visit Greece used Google+ to make #greekphotos more popular than #greekcrisis

The Greek financial crisis may have made headlines around the world, but it’s worth remembering that from Santorini to Rhodes to Athens, the sun continues to shine, olive groves flourish and the wine still flows – all in the context of bright blue skies and pristine seas. It’s a message that Visit Greece, the brand umbrella of the Greek National Tourism Organization, is keen to get across.

Visit Greece understood that encouraging people to discover and travel to Greece depends on reminding potential tourists of the country’s unrivalled natural, historical, cultural, and culinary riches. They needed a means to engage these prospective visitors, ideally with a huge global reach and the capability to bring the stunning country to life through captivating imagery.

Having adopted Google+ from day one of the platform’s launch, Visit Greece was the first tourism related organisation in the world to set up a Google+ page. The reasoning behind the implementation was simple: the worldwide reach of Google+ provided a significant pool of potential visitors, and this was an audience simply too good to pass up. Here are some of Visit Greece’s Google+ strategies:

Visit Greece realized that its business particularly lends itself to rich media content; imagery has proved itself to be much more important than links or text. Visit Greece regularly posts high-resolution photography, as Google+ photos makes it simple to promote every aspect of Greece. This strategy has been so successful that the team has made the hashtag #greekphotos far more popular than #greekcrisis.

Circles and ripples
Circles makes it easy for Visit Greece to tailor content for different groups of followers so that certain messages can be shared with particular segments. Followers are placed into circles depending on their interests, +1’s and shares, their personal posts and sometimes their identification details. Visit Greece then creates posts according to each circle’s characteristics. To see how posts spread across Google+, Visit Greece is also using ripples, a great Google+ feature that helps identify influencers and shows how communities are formed around different content.

Social extensions
Visit Greece uses social extensions across all of their AdWords search campaigns, helping the organization obtain more +1’s and traffic to their Google+ page and at the same time increasing the number of followers. In this way, they’ve achieved an impressive 35% CTR uplift on AdWords campaigns. On top of that, Visit Greece also installed the Google+ badge on its homepage, making it easier than ever for fans to follow the organization. On average the daily increase in followers ranges between 3,000 and 10,000. They even gained an incredible 18,000 new followers in one day!
Already Visit Greece has surpassed 750,000 followers on Google+, more than any other tourism association. And the Visit Greece Google+ page has been selected as a recommended page to follow in the travel industry because of its rich unique content, in turn raising the profile of the association and the brand awareness around Greece.

Want to learn more about how your business could replicate this kind of success? Download the full case study here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Help Desk Hangouts: GoMo

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we chatted with Nabil Haschemie, who showed off Google’s GoMo initiative at We learned how important and useful a mobile-friendly website is for businesses both large and small. Nabil walked us through an eye-opening demo during which we created a mobile friendly site from a desktop site in minutes. We answered your questions throughout, covering pricing, some details about supporting different types of phones, and reasons to Go Mo.

Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.

Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.

Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

How can I be sure my new mobile-friendly website works on Android, iPhone, and Blackberry?
Sites created on DudaMobile are optimized for most platforms including Android, iOS and BB. Once you’ve created your site in the editor you check how the sites will appear on different devices by checking the ‘Preview’ mode. You can find the ‘Preview’ link on the top right of the editor page.

How does the pricing work?
Within the scope of our Go Mobile campaign our partner DudaMobile offers its service completely free for a year. There are no obligations at all. After the free year you can either upgrade and pay $9/month or the your mobile site will show ad banner in the footer area.

How can I edit my mobile-friendly website after creating it?
Once signed up you can always login to DudaMobile and view your dashboard. From there you can easily select your mobile site and make any edits and save again. You will receive an email with your site URL and additional information on how to access the dashboard.

Help Desk Hangouts are hosted on the Google+ Your Business page every other Wednesday. Don’t miss our next Hangout at 11a.m. PDT on Wednesday, September 7. Look for the topic announcement on the Google+ Your Business page.

Posted by Jade Wang, Google+ Local Community Manager

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PrideBites learns which dog toy features matter most to owners

Google Consumer Surveys helps you make informed business decisions by asking internet users survey questions. Users complete questions in exchange for access to content around the web, and content publishers get paid per answer. Google automatically analyzes responses, providing the data through a simple online interface. Below we share the experiences of one of our customers, PrideBites, a manufacturer and distributor of high quality, durable dog toys with unique designs.

The four founders of PrideBites first knew they were onto something when their box of 50 trojan-shaped dog toys sold out in under an hour at a USC football game. “They were so different and colorful, but the stitching was still very high quality,” says co-founder Steven Blustein. “It became clear that there is demand for dog toys that hit the sweet spot between design and durability.” As new entrants into an industry with particularly established distribution relationships, PrideBites knew they needed to be smart about how they expanded their product line. “Retailers will always want a cheaper product that has tried and true features. We need to know that we have what consumers really want.”

As a small business, it can be difficult to quickly and affordably access detailed market research. “We had broad statistics about the pet goods industry, but nothing about the demand for rubber versus plush.” Using insights from Google Consumer Surveys, PrideBites could more closely hone in on messaging and feature priorities. Surveys showing that people don’t play with their dogs in the water influenced their decision to de-emphasize waterproof features on the packaging. Similarly, surveys indicating that machine-washability isn’t important to consumers the way it is to retailers helped differentiate the important selling points across audiences. They also validated their hunch that dog lovers value contributions to pet charities, and are now developing ways to support animal welfare organizations.

After completing their first set of surveys, Blustein is excited about the future questions PrideBites will be able to answer using Google Consumer Surveys. “We couldn’t take our eyes off of the results and would love to ask more targeted questions about price thresholds for various demographics, and how long men versus women expect a dog toy to last.”
Joanne Schneider, Consumer Surveys Business Development

Monday, August 20, 2012

So You Weren't An Early Adopter: How to Kick Start Social with Google+

Join social media power influencer +Lynette Young for a look at ways your business can kick start its presence on Google+ in a Learn with Google Hangout on August 23rd at 1pm EDT/10am PDT. RSVP for the Hangout on our Google+ Event page.

Companies big and small are using social media to interact with customers and build digital brands. Even if your business wasn’t an early adopter of social, Lynette will guide you through ways to kick start this channel with Google+. In this hangout, she’ll talk through examples of businesses using hangouts, pages and unique content to grow their audience. As a Learn with Google program, you’ll also hear lots of tips and strategies you can use to build a community from scratch on Google+.  

Lynette Young is a digital media specialist helping entrepreneurs and businesses put social ideas into action. She is the founder of Women of Google+ and CEO of Purple Stripe Productions. Kari Clark of the Google+ Marketing team will moderate the conversation with Lynette and other social media specialists including:

We hope you can join us to begin using Google+ for your business. If you have a question for the panel, leave your questions as a comment on our Google+ Event. 

To get yourself geared up for the hangout, check out the two newest Google+ business case studies. Toyota Global has been engaging its Google+ community with content of the latest car models and a hangout with a Toyota engineer. By incorporating Google+ badges on its website and YouTube channel, the car manufacturer has grown to over one million followers. In the education space, ES Corporation is teaching English lessons in hangouts. Using social extensions, the business also saw a 46% increase in click-through rate on search ads.

Friday, August 17, 2012

SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air: How to structure your account to optimize for website lead generation

Editor's note: This is our first post in a series on SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air, where experts on the AdWords support team are hosting short Hangouts on Air to walk SMBs through AdWords-related topics. Here on the Google and Your Business Blog, we'll be providing a wrap-up of the Hangouts. This particular post is cross-published from the AdWords Google+ page. To learn more and see the schedule for upcoming Hangouts, check out the AdWords blog.

AdWords Specialists Will Lindemann, Sarah Green, and Divya Vishwanath hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the first installment of the SMB Newbie Hangouts on Air series.

We shared some awesome optimization tips for lead generation sites — how to format your website, how to use features like conversion tracking and remarketing, and how to write effective ads. If you missed it — don’t worry! — you can watch the full 30-minute Hangout on the Google Business YouTube channel.

Earlier in the week and during the Hangout, we collected your questions. Here are a few things we addressed:

Can you match conversion data to a specific customer?
In accordance with our privacy policies, you can’t exactly match conversion data to a specific customer, but you can drill down to figure out exactly which keyword, ad, ad group, and campaign yielded the conversion. That information is really powerful to use in modifying your ads/keywords and adjusting your bidding strategy.

What’s a good conversion rate?
Conversion rate is relative based on industry and business; there’s not a hard-and-fast benchmark for the metric. In determining a good conversion rate, consider whether or not you’re getting good ROI from your advertising endeavors. In addition to conversion rate, cost-per-conversion is also a useful column to enable on your reports in order to compare to profit on an average sale and determine whether or not your advertising is advancing your bottom line.

How do you import Google Analytics goals into AdWords? What if I only have the option to import a few goals and not all of them?
If you don’t have the option to import all your Analytics goals into AdWords, it’s usually because an AdWords click hasn’t resulted in that specific goal completion. Here are other requirements for importation that you’ll want to make sure you’ve completed.

In thinking about account structure, would you set negative keywords on the campaign or ad group level?
It depends. If there are keywords like “free” or “jobs” that you don’t want triggering ads in the whole campaign, then set the negative keyword at the campaign level. If there are keywords that you want triggering ads in one ad group but not another, set the negative keyword at the ad group level. You can also set up negative keyword lists and apply them to multiple campaigns (more info here).

Do you have any ideas for increasing the volume of impressions received?
Depending on your larger advertising aims, expanding your targeting to the Google Display Network or increasing the bids on your search keywords could increase the volume of impressions you receive. We’ll be talking about optimizing for brand awareness in our next Hangout on Air, so you should tune in for more ideas!

To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.

And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout at 11 a.m. PDT, Thursday August 30, when we discuss how to optimize your account for brand awareness. Other Newbie topics in the pipeline include driving e-commerce sales, driving phone traffic, driving local traffic, and gaining video exposure. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Five Tips to Become a DataViz Wiz

Editor's note: We're starting a series where we share general tips for business owners. This post is written by Cole Nussbaumer from Google's People Analytics team, who has a passion for storytelling with data.

Communicating effectively with data is a challenge many businesses face. There are opportunities to tell compelling stories with data, yet the strategic advantage that can be gained through good communication is often missed. In some cases, data isn’t used at all when it could help make a stronger point, while in other cases the data that is included confuses more than it informs.

Why does this happen? No one really teaches us how to tell a story with data, so we end up relying on our tools to understand best practices. And our tools often lead us in the wrong direction. The next time you find yourself needing to communicate with data--whether as part of a business plan, to communicate to your customers or stakeholders, or for some other purpose, consider follow these five tips for success:

1. Keep your audience top of mind. Everything you’re doing is for your audience, so keep who they are and their needs in mind throughout the process, from figuring out what you want to communicate, to determining what data to show, to deciding how to show it, where to draw attention, and what story to form with it. Make it extra clear to your audience what’s in it for them, what you want them to know, and why they should care.

2. Choose a visual format that makes sense. Line graphs are great for showing trends over time and bar charts are good for comparing categorical data. Pie charts (and area charts in general) are hard for people to read because our eyes don’t naturally do a good job measuring angles and areas, so be cautious when using them. When choosing between a common chart type like a bar chart and something less common, my recommendation is generally for the common chart. It means less of a learning curve for your audience so they can more easily grasp the information you’re providing.

3. Resist the temptation to dress up your data. 3D, meaningless color, background shading: these distract from your data by adding clutter without adding informative value. When you’ve found the right angle -- the right way to make your data compelling for your audience -- there’s no need to dress it up because the data itself becomes inherently interesting.

Use this:

Instead of this:

4. Draw attention to the important parts of your visual. Color, size and position on the page are some of the easiest and most powerful ways to draw your audience’s attention to different parts of your visual. Don’t use color just to make things colorful; use it sparingly and strategically to draw your audience’s attention to where you want them to focus. If something is more important, make it big and place it in a higher priority place on the page (since in Western cultures most people read left to right and top to bottom, the top left of the page is precious real estate--make it count!). Also think of using color and size to create a visual hierarchy on the page. This is a way to let your audience into your head via visual cues so they know what is most important and where they should focus first, second, and so on.

5. Tell a story. Stories have a way of focusing your audience’s attention and helping them understand why the data you are showing is relevant and important. I think of stories in terms of plot, twists, and ending: the plot is the context that is essential for your audience to know, the twists are the findings and what make your story compelling, and the ending is the call to action--what you need your audience to know and do. If you have a recommendation, state it clearly in words in your communication.

When used well, data can add credibility where we lack it, impart new knowledge, persuade people to support your vision, demonstrate impact, or help convince someone to take action. But it is not enough simply to show data; rather, I challenge you to use the tips outlined above to tell a story with data.

Ready to try it out? Learn more about creating charts and graphs using Google Spreadsheets and how you can customize them based on our tips. For related info, check out

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Help Desk Hangouts: Google Consumer Surveys

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we talked about Google Consumer Surveys with Product Manager Paul McDonald. We learned about how businesses of all size can have access to market research using Consumer Surveys. Paul answered questions throughout, and we went through a sample survey to demonstrate the data acrobatics available.

Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.

Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.

Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

How long until I start seeing responses, and how much do Consumer Surveys cost?
You can expect to begin seeing responses immediately, with full completion within 24-48 hours. It costs $0.10 per response for a representative sample of the U.S. population and $0.50 per response for demographic targeting.

How does the demographic targeting work?
Like many ads on the web, Google Consumer Surveys reports on the inferred age and gender of anonymous respondents based on the websites users visit and location based on IP addresses. Income, and urban density are then approximated using census data for particular geographic regions. To see what inferences are associated with your browser, visit

All responses are anonymous and collected in aggregate. Read more information about Google’s privacy policy here.

Help Desk Hangouts are hosted on the Google+ Your Business page every other Wednesday. Don’t miss our next Hangout at 11a.m. PDT on Wednesday, August 22. Look for the topic announcement on the Google+ Your Business page.

Friday, August 10, 2012

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

App Review: Square

Okay, getting back into the swing of writing this blog (how do you like the new theme?). Sorry I didn't post much for a while, between moving, getting used to living with another person again, selling events and life in general made this blog not a high priority. However now it's holiday preparation time so I'm going to be writing more. This includes this new App Review feature.

As I use new apps in my business I'll write reviews here about my experience. First up is one you may have already heard of: Square.

Square is a payment processing app that can be used on iphone, ipads, and most android devices as well. A little card reader plugs into the headphone jack that you can then swipe a credit or debit card with. The Square app lets you enter the amount of the payment (including sales tax if you have it set up for that) and processes the cardin seconds.

I've had the Square reader for a few months but I didn't have a chance to really give it a good run until late June when I had a booth at PortCon. It was a very busy event with a lot of people, many of them using cellphones and other devices that could affect reception (and did for phone calls). I was able to process payments for customers very quickly and I think the app must not use much bandwidth because I never had a problem with the reduced reception due to the number of people on the local cell network. At one point at the event the ATM in the hotel ran out of money so being able to take credit and debit cards made me sales when otherwise customers didn't have access to cash.

  • Card reader is mailed to you free after signing up.
  • Fees are low, just 2.75%
  • The app is compatible with most smart phones
  • The app is pretty simple and straightforward to use
  • Works in areas of low cellular reception (though obviously you need some reception or wifi available)
  • Deposits are made very quickly
  • Good stats available
  • Business directory you can add your business to, though this is most useful if you have a B&M location that customers can visit.

  • You have to own a compatible smart phone or tablet which can be pricey.
  • The card reader takes some practice. You'll want to use your own credit or debit card to practice swiping at home until you have it down (don't worry, you can swipe without charging the card). Don't go to your first selling event without practicing first.
  • Some customers are wary of doing payment processing via your phone but as it becomes more common that seems to be fewer and fewer.
  • The app can drain your battery so it's best to be in a place that has electricity available to recharge or invest in a portable power source for your phone and make sure it's fully charged.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5. I honestly wouldn't consider doing a craft fair or other event now without one. If you prefer to keep all your payments with one service Paypal now has a similar service called Paypal Here which I have not used.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Learn with Google Webinars Help Make the Web Work for You

(Cross-posted from the AdWords blog.)

It’s almost back-to-school time, but students aren’t the only ones who are getting geared up to learn. Today, we’re announcing our next series of Learn with Google webinars, which will arm you with the tools you need to get the most out of Google’s advertising products and solutions. Over the next couple of months, 13 webinars will teach you tips and how-to’s to help make the web work for your business.

Join us as we kick things off this Thursday, August 9th with a webinar on multi-channel attribution and check out the full schedule below:
  • Aug 9 at 9am PDT Multi-Channel Funnels: Attribution Across Channels
  • Aug 23 at 10am PDT How to Kick Start Social with Google+ (Hangout on Air)
  • Aug 28 at 10am PDT Optimizing your Video Ad Campaigns
  • Aug 29 at 10am PDT Google+: Enhancing Marketing and Making Social Accountable
  • Sept 5 at 10am PDT Go Bigger, Faster with AdWords Editor
  • Sept 6 at 10am PDT Making the Most of Recent AdWords Updates
  • Sept 12 at 10am PDT Driving Cost-Effective App Downloads with AdWords
  • Sept 13 at 10am PDT Go Bigger, Faster with AdWords Scripts
  • Sept 18 at 10am PDT Better Together: Combining Targeting Strategies in Display
  • Sept 19 at 10am PDT The Importance of Search Advertising
  • Sept 20 at 10am PDT Measuring the Impact of Online Advertising on Offline Sales
  • Sept 26 at 10am PDT GoMo: Mobilize your Site and Maximize your Advertising
  • Sept 27 at 10am PDT Optimizing Display Campaigns: Tips, Tricks, & Tools
Visit our webinar page to register for any of the sessions and to access past webinars on-demand. We’ll be adding new webinars as they’re scheduled, so check back regularly for updates. You can also stay up-to-date on the schedule by adding our Learn with Google Webinar calendar to your own Google calendar to automatically see upcoming webinars.

Whether your goal is to engage the right customers in the moments that matter, make better decisions, or go bigger, faster, we hope that you’ll use these best practices and how-to’s to maximize the impact of digital and grow your business. We’re looking forward to having you in class at an upcoming Learn with Google webinar!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Easy DIY Jewelry Displays

I just updated my page on making jewelry displays for craft shows with instructions on making a plain cork bulletin board into a nice display board using fabric. The page also has instructions for display trays made with old picture frames, using fishbowls for a display, and ideas for re-purposing and recycling objects as displays.

Weekly Inspiration

Tropical Visions Bangle, originally uploaded by RenGalSA.

Submit your photos for consideration as a Weekly Inspiration by adding them to the Flickr Group.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wrapping up your intern’s summer experience

August means that the summer is almost over, and if your business had interns, they are likely about to head back to school. Unlike a general student employee, an internship may not continue into the fall and your intern may end up somewhere else next summer. In short, as the summer wraps up you’ll want to make sure that your interns got the most out of their experience at your business.

Let your interns share their work
A great culmination of an internship is letting interns showcase everything they’ve been working on and what they’ve learned. Set up time where interns can present their projects not only to their manager, but also to other employees at the business. This lets interns receive valuable feedback on their work and communication skills from people with varied career experience, and creates a final product to help capstone what they learned.

Help craft an intern’s portfolio
Sometimes internships involve working with confidential projects or data, and it can be difficult to know how to describe the amount and impact of the work an intern accomplished without revealing anything. Tell interns what numbers and information they can share externally.

Suggest that interns record all of the projects they completed over the summer so they remember them in the future. If an intern already started updating their resume, review what they wrote to help make sure they’ve pitched their work well. If they haven’t, share what you think some of their most impressive accomplishments were and what they might want to highlight.

Provide a formal evaluation
If your business has an evaluation tool for your employees, use the same one for interns. Being evaluated lets interns know what their strengths and weaknesses are so they can improve moving forward, and also provides a taste of what they’ll encounter with a real job. Plus, it will be helpful to have performance documented so you can easily remember someone’s work if you’re asked to be a reference later on.

Be a resource for the future 
If your intern did a really great job, make sure to let them know! If you’re willing to write a letter of recommendation, tell them--knowing they already have a supporter is a lot less stressful for them than asking for a recommendation cold.

Even though your intern may not be returning to your business next summer, you’ve already invested time into teaching them. Offer to answer questions they may have in the future about your industry, interviewing, job searching, etc. You’ve spent time working with your intern and are familiar with their interests and strengths, so by drawing on all your personal experience you can offer a lot of beneficial insight into a student’s career even after the summer ends.