Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now available with Google Apps: Google Alerts

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: We recently launched an improvement that makes over 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. This series showcases what’s new and how your organization can benefit.

Welcome to Google Alerts
No organization is an island. If you’re in business, it’s critical to be connected to what’s happening in your market and to hear what your customers are saying. If you’re in education, you need to stay on top of the latest announcements and innovations within your field. But given the immense amount of data being created every day on the Web, how can you possibly keep track of new information as it's published?

Now Google Apps customers can tackle this problem using Google Alerts with their Apps accounts. Google Alerts is a content monitoring service that notifies you when Google’s search engine encounters new content - such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs - that you’re interested in from all across the Web. Simply enter your search terms and Google Alerts will notify you via email whenever Google finds new results that match your terms. To avoid information overload, you can configure Google Alerts to send one email per day or per week, compressing the most important results into a brief message.

Once you’re up and running with Google Alerts, try setting up an alert on the name of your organization or industry. Use quotes if your search term is longer than one word (for example, “small business financing” or “solar power”) - you’ll get more accurate results. Then wait and see what turns up in your inbox. You might be surprised to find out who’s writing about you!

Learn more and get started
Google Alerts can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at https://www.google.com/a/[your_domain.com] (replace [your_domain.com] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at http://www.google.com/apps/more.

For more information or answers to specific questions about Alerts, visit our Help Center pages.

Share your story
Have you already started using Google Alerts at your organization, or plan to now that it’s available? Please share your story and your organization could be featured in the next Gone Google ad campaign!

Note: Google Alerts may not be available in all areas.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tell Us Your Biggest Wish for 2011

Today the Google Small Business team is kicking off a conversation about the hopes and wishes you have for your business next year. We are working on a project to help small businesses succeed in 2011 and we want to hear from you.

We’ll start by asking, if you had
one wish for your small business in 2011, what would it be? This is just the beginning and we’ll be looking for common themes to share with everyone. We'll pull out the common themes from submissions all over the web or via the form below and share them, anonymously, in aggregate.

Think big and audacious, or be more practical – but narrow it down to
just one single wish. We're trying to understand what's most important to small businesses in general, so your wish doesn't have to be specific to Google. It might be something that helps your business prosper and grow. Or, it might be something that gives you personal peace of mind.

Just complete the form below. Or, tell us on
Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #Wish2011. We would like to share some of the specific wishes we hear from businesses. If you'd like us to share your wish (not anonymously) on our blog, please provide us your email and we'll be in touch.

Spread the word and tell your friends -- we want to know their wish too. Let’s get this conversation started.

Email address
Please provide your email address if you're willing to share your specific wish publicly.

Our online conversation about your wishes is intended to be viral with shared responses. Your response in this blog form will be used anonymously and will be kept anonymous. We may share your publicly posted Tweets and Facebook updates by re-tweeting or sharing your update. In those cases, the public usernames on your Twitter and Facebook posts will be included in our retweets and status updates, however, we are only looking at responses to identify common themes to share with everyone. Let’s keep the conversation focused on your 2011 wish for your business.

We would like to share some of the specific wishes that we hear from businesses. If you'd like us to share your wish (not anonymously) on our blog, please provide us your email and we'll be in touch. We will only use your data as indicated above - please see our privacy policy for more information.

Now available with Google Apps: AdWords

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: We recently launched an improvement that makes over 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. This series showcases what’s new and how your organization can benefit.

Welcome to Google AdWords
Every business wants to connect with its customers and this is often one of the goals that a business spends the most time on. Now, your business can more easily use the power of Google AdWords to connect with your customers using your Google Apps account.

AdWords gives you the ability to reach more than 80% of Internet users* as they are actively searching for information about products and services on Google and Google’s advertising network. AdWords enables you to connect with your potential customers at the right time with the right message, by letting you select Google search keywords related to your product or services so that users searching for these keywords can see your advertisements.

Setting up an account takes only minutes and controlling costs is easy - you only pay when people click on your ad and land on your site, and you can set a daily budget to limit your total spend. AdWords also offers great flexibility, allowing you to change your budget on the fly. Plus, if your business serves certain geographies, you have the ability to target your ads only to people searching in a particular state, city, or region.

Now that AdWords works with Google Apps, collaborating with other people in your organization to manage campaigns in AdWords is simple as well. You can invite colleagues to access your AdWords account with their existing Google Apps accounts and grant them differing levels of access depending on how much or little control you’d like them to have. Whether your business has one person that handles all of the online marketing or a team that works collaboratively, AdWords can accommodate your needs.

Also, in addition to collaborating in AdWords itself, tight integration with Google Apps lets you export your reports to Google Docs in a single click. This lets you share your campaign data with colleagues and collaborate in real-time in the same way that you already collaborate on other documents and spreadsheets using Google Docs with your Apps account.

Be sure to check out some success stories from businesses of all sizes, including First Crush Restaurant, which was able to increase traffic to its website by 400%, or Happy Hound dog daycare and boarding facility, which gets over 90% of its business through AdWords.

Learn more and get started
Google AdWords can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at https://www.google.com/a/[your_domain.com] (replace [your_domain.com] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at http://www.google.com/apps/more.

For more information about AdWords you can visit our information page or you can find the latest news and tips at the AdWords Blog.

Share your story
Have you already started using Google AdWords at your organization, or plan to now that it’s available? Please share your story and your organization could be featured in the next Gone Google ad campaign!

Note: Google AdWords may not be available in all areas.
*Source: comScore Media Metrix (US, May 2009)

A 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance and a 100 word competition!

Anyone who knows Kate Walker, knows that she's an expert when it comes to writing romantic fiction.Well, someone who writes over 50 romantic novels that have been published in over 50 different countries, selling over 15 million books worldwide, clearly knows their stuff! (And if ever you get a chance to hear Kate talk about writing romantic fiction - or rather, how not to write romantic fiction (a talk she did at the Caerleon Writers' Holiday one year about the various names inexperienced romantic writers gave to their character's 'bits and pieces' was absolutely hilarious) then go, because you'll learn so much ... even if it is just to learn how to avoid using terms such as a 'throbbing manhood'.)

Kate's authoritative guide, Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance, is packed full of advice and the third edition has just been published. Fourteen chapters explore the world of writing romance, from defining what romance is (which any bloke my find useful, irrespective of whether they write or not!), how to use sensuality to build up tension, finding out what makes a good hero, to creating a believable, happy ending. Each chapter has a set of 12 questions that the romance writer should ask about their work, which will help them to improve their text.

Kate also explains the tricky subject of writing the love scenes (not sex scenes - this is romance, remember?), whilst reminding you that the hero has to be an upstanding character (no, that isn't a euphemism) and consider safe sex. Modern romance needs to reflect modern society.

The book ends with a section of advice from other, prolific and expert romantic writers, including Julie Cohen, Kate Hardy, Natasha Oakley, Gill Sanderson and Trish Wylie.

Here's your opportunity to win a copy of Kate's book.
If you've ever thought of giving romantic fiction a go, then read Kate's book. And here's one way you can do that.

1. In no more than 100 words, write a love-at-first-sight scene between two characters.
2. Email your entry to simonwhaley[at]gmail.com
3. The deadline for entries is 10th December 2010.
4. The winner will be notified within a week, and the winning entry will appear on this blog.

Good luck!

Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance is published by Aber Publishing, priced £10.99.

Visit Kate Walker's site at www.kate-walker.com/

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How I’m Using Hotpot to Plan My Thanksgiving Weekend

[Cross-posted from the Hotpot Community Blog. We recently announced the availability of our new local recommendation engine powered by you and your friends, called Google Hotpot. Read on about how folks in your local area can find your business through the ratings, reviews and recommendations on Google. - Ed.]

The word “Thanksgiving” conjures up images of my family gathering around the table in Pennsylvania, passing the turkey and mashed potatoes to one another. But not this year. While my family's off on a surfing trip in Mexico, I'm staying in New York to spend time with my boyfriend Wes.

But I don't want to spend the next several days lazing about the apartment. I want to use the time to discover new local places, and maybe even visit a few forgotten ones. So here I sit, with my Google search fired up and my Hotpot recommendations — based on what I’ve rated and what my Hotpot friends have rated — ready to set my course. What new places should Wes and I check out? Here's what Hotpot suggested:

Sure, I could attempt to cook, but why make Wes suffer? In Maps, I search for "restaurants new york, ny,” and in the left navigation where I see my search results, I find friend recommendations listed with the top several results. Here’s one restaurant that catches my eye, recommended by my friend Vivi:

I’m thinking we can get an early meal at Freemans, and then treat ourselves to some delicious dessert. Preferably close to home — Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn — so we can load up on sweets and then roll ourselves back to the couch. Searching for "dessert brooklyn, ny" pulls up this local gem, one I’ve been meaning to visit:

Note to self: Remember to schedule in some gym time.

My family's big into books, so for Black Friday, I want to go somewhere a little less big bookseller, a little more worn-and-torn. I’ve rated and reviewed a bunch of independent book shops already on Hotpot, so by searching for "book shop new york, ny,” Google should know exactly what kinda bookseller I’m looking for. And voila:

I live in New York, but, sadly, I don't always take full advantage of the many wonderful cultural institutions we have. So this weekend, I'm committed to getting us to a museum. But which museum? The search "museum new york" pulls up a great recommendation from my friend Daniel:

After an eventful few days, Wes and I will most likely just want to chill out in front of a movie. To avoid the crushing Harry Potter crowds at the cineplex, I'm thinking we should see something at a local independent theater. Searching for "cinema new york, ny" shows me a few options based on theaters I’ve already told Google I like. This one stands out:

And they're showing Woody Allen's latest! Perfect.

Now that I’ve shared with you how I’m using Hotpot to plan my Thanksgiving weekend, do tell: How are you using Hotpot for the holiday? Share your stories in the comments.

Posted by Vanessa Schneider, Hotpot Team

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Now available with Google Apps: Google Finance

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: We recently launched an improvement that makes over 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. This series showcases what’s new and how your organization can benefit.

Welcome to Google Finance
Financial market data is some of the most time-sensitive and important information that many businesses track minute by minute. Portfolios, stock charts, and up-to-the-second market news are all central to understanding investment options, making business decisions, and tracking suppliers, partners, and competitors. How is the market reacting to the press release you just issued? How financially stable is the vendor you’re considering? What are your competitors in the market announcing today? Fortunately, Google Finance is now available to our Google Apps customers, so you can answer all of these questions and more for free with your Google Apps account.

Google Finance puts all of the financial data and market news that matters to you at your fingertips throughout the day and enables you to share it easily with colleagues and clients. Integration with your Apps account allows you to create and save multiple portfolios and track performance over time as well as access your saved portfolios through your mobile device when you’re away from your computer.

Google Finance also makes it easy to keep track of important portfolio company events, such as quarterly earnings announcements, by allowing you to add these events directly to your linked Google Calendar with a single click.

Other Google Finance features allow you to create custom stock charts that include related companies’ performance and custom technicals and indicators of your choosing -- and share them with colleagues easily. And you can brainstorm investment opportunities using the Google Finance Stock Screener or Domestic Trends features.

Learn more and get started
Google Finance can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps control panel at https://www.google.com/a/[your_domain.com] (replace [your_domain.com] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at http://www.google.com/apps/more.

For more information about Google Finance, you can check out our Help Center pages, or you can follow the latest product news, tips, and features on the Google Finance Blog.

Share your story
Have you already started using Google Finance at your organization, or plan to now that it’s available? Please share your story, and your organization could be featured in the next Gone Google ad campaign!

Note: Google Finance may not be available in all areas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spreading holiday cheer and regional cuisine through AdWords

[Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.]

When we here in the U.S. think of Thanksgiving, many of us think of our favorite foods: perhaps a fresh-from-the-oven pumpkin pie, a sweet glazed ham or a succulent turkey. But thanks to Charlie Hohorst III of Lafayette, La., tens of thousands of Americans dream instead of a turkey... stuffed with a duck... stuffed with a chicken.

For the past 15 years, Hohorst has run food shopping site Cajun Grocer, which specializes in more than 1,000 different authentic Louisianan foodstuffs and delicacies. The “turducken”—a Cajun dish consisting of a de-boned turkey filled with duck, chicken and stuffing—is “the bread and butter” of his business, says Hohorst. He can attest to their growing popularity as he ships an ever-increasing number of turduckens to cities all over the country, from Los Angeles to Boston.

Cajun Grocer’s business has grown hand-in-hand with the use of Google AdWords. Before starting AdWords campaigns in 2002, sales were fueled primarily by word of mouth, and reaching the right audience at an affordable price was a challenge. “With a specialty product like a turducken,” says Hohorst, “who do you target and how do you target them?” Using AdWords, Cajun Grocer can show off their products alongside relevant searches on Google and measure every penny spent on advertising.

Cajun Grocer’s ad for “turducken” searches, using AdWords Product Extensions.

The process of hand-crafting all eight types of turducken for the Thanksgiving rush starts in April and continues through packing and last-minute shipping as late as November 23.

Aside from their role in spreading the culinary influence of his native Louisiana, what Hohorst really loves about turduckens is that, much like the Thanksgiving holiday itself, they give people a reason to come together. “They’re a gathering item. Many people have heard of them, and when someone they know has one, it can bring in 10 or even 20 people.”

Posted by Jim Prosser, Communications Manager

Now available with Google Apps: Blogger

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: We recently launched an improvement that makes over 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. This series showcases what’s new and how your organization can benefit.

Welcome to Blogger
How do you let the world know what's important to your organization on a day-to-day basis? You may have a Web site, but when was the last time you added fresh content? You may have advertisements and media placements, but how interactive can you make those conversations? Many companies solve these problems by using blogs to connect in more meaningful ways, sharing up-to-date information and allowing follow-on conversations; and now Google Apps users have the perfect tool for delivering a corporate blog: Blogger.

Blogger is an easy-to-use yet extremely powerful content publishing platform that helps you broadcast stories, insights, and ideas to others in only a few clicks. Your organization can use Blogger to start conversations with customers or partners about upcoming events, product launches, or your company's vision for your industry.

A recent study showed that an estimated 34% of US companies already use one or more blogs to connect with their customers, and this figure has doubled in the past few years.* Google uses blogs, just like the Enterprise Blog where you’re reading now, to connect with our users and partners. In fact, Google has almost a hundred blogs running on the Blogger platform, covering topics as diverse as our renewable energy policies, product updates, developer challenges and code snippets, and information for advertisers and partners.

Blogger offers a powerful rich-editor that lets you create a great looking site with simple and intuitive tools that require no web design experience to use. And for those that want to achieve a deeper level customization, Blogger provides great flexibility and full control over the blog content you create, letting you edit the HTML and add CSS and Javascript to create your own unique look and feel.

Just like Google Apps, Blogger runs in Google’s cloud so you never have to worry about provisioning new hardware or updating software. Blogger already serves content from millions of contributors to over 300 million readers, so the platform is ready to scale to meet your needs as readership grows with your organization.

Learn more and get started
Blogger can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at https://www.google.com/a/[your_domain.com] (replace [your_domain.com] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at http://www.google.com/apps/more.

For more information you can take a product tour or learn about Blogger’s top features. Finally, you can track the latest news and updates on Blogger’s own blog.

Share your story
Have you already started using Blogger at your organization, or plan to now that it’s available? Please share your story and your organization could be featured in the next Gone Google ad campaign!

Note: Blogger may not be available in all areas.
* Source: eMarketer, August 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Driving toward better ROI: How one small business uses the Conversion Optimizer to increase sales

Elliott Antal, eMarketing Manager from the Richard Petty Driving Experience, recently won the Google AdWords Conversion Champion Challenge. His sweet, sweet reward was one-on-one time with the Conversion Optimizer team (and a free trip to Google headquarters).

While Antal was here, we gained more insight into why the Conversion Optimizer, an automated AdWords tool that manages bids to achieve conversion targets, has become an important part of his small business marketing strategy. “We don’t have a large marketing budget so we have to optimize everything we have,” says Antal. “Using the Conversion Optimizer makes perfect sense because it allowed us to track all dollars and maximize efficiencies.”

Renowned NASCAR driver Richard Petty founded the driving experience in 1994 to provide high quality motorsports entertainment with new audiences. The business is headquartered in Concord, North Carolina and it runs NASCAR driving experiences at over twenty racetracks worldwide. The Richard Petty Driving Experience is all about the in-person adventure, so marketing it online requires creativity and dedication.

Antal’s initial strategy was to target new audiences with two campaigns: one focused on race tracks where Richard Petty has a presence and another focused on Richard Petty branded terms. He quickly noticed that while he was reaching a vast audience, clicks weren’t resulting in as many purchases as he had hoped.

When he activated the Conversion Optimizer, Antal knew he’d found the solution to his problem. By automatically investing budget in clicks that are likely to lead to sales, the Conversion Optimizer reallocated funds to the most cost-effective terms. “Our main goal is to have people book a riding or driving experience and this allowed us to move money to keywords that lead to those conversions,” says Antal.

Before using the Conversion Optimizer, Antal had allocated budget equally across branded and non-branded terms. When he activated the tool, conversions on branded terms increased significantly and yielded a stunning return on investment -- even better than other non-AdWords initiatives. To capture even more conversions, Antal moved some of his overall marketing budget over to the branded terms campaign.

“As much as I would like to do so, I’m not able to comb through my AdWords account every hour,” says Antal. “The Conversion Optimizer is like my assistant, helping me change bids and keywords even when I’m not able to. For many small businesses where marketers have to wear multiple hats, I think Conversion Optimizer is a huge help.”

To learn more about the Conversion Optimizer, please visit the Conversion Optimizer site.

Posted by Lisa Coffey, Product Marketing Manager, Conversion Optimizer

Now available with Google Apps: Google Voice

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: We recently launched an improvement that makes over 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. This series showcases what’s new and how your organization can benefit.

Welcome to Google Voice
Telephones make our lives easier every day, but we’ve all met with the limitations of what the existing technology can do for us. Maybe it’s missing an important call because you were away from your office. Maybe it’s juggling multiple voicemail inboxes or struggling to listen to voicemail in a crowded conference room or on a noisy train. Maybe its wishing you could set up a conference call right from your mobile phone and connect with colleagues instantly.

Now, Google Apps users can move beyond these limitation and use their telephones in new and more flexible ways by using Google Voice with their Google Apps accounts.

Google Voice is about giving you more control over your communications, regardless of which phone or carrier you use. Here’s a little bit about how it works:
  • A Google Voice number is tied to you (not to a single device) and can ring all of your phones. This means when someone calls your Google Voice number, you can choose to have it ring your work phone, home phone, mobile phone, or all of them at once, so you’ll never miss a call again.

  • Google Voice makes voicemail as easy as email by transcribing your voicemail messages and storing them all in one place, along with your SMS messages, for as long as you like. You’ve long had the ability to quickly scan email messages as they arrive, and Google Voice now brings this same flexibility to voicemail.

  • With Google Voice you can switch phones in the middle of a call, so you can continue a conversation that you started on your desk phone from your mobile when you need to get going.

  • You can also customize call settings based on who’s calling. Google Voice lets you choose which phones ring based on the caller, which voicemail greeting is played if you don’t answer, and allows you to block certain numbers or send them straight to voicemail. For example, with this functionality you could direct most calls to your desk phone, but also ring your mobile when an important customer calls, as well as serve different voicemail greetings to that customer than you do to your coworkers or suppliers.

Just like Google Apps, Google Voice runs in Google’s cloud so it can be accessed online, even when you are away from your phone.

Learn more and get started
Google Voice can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at https://www.google.com/a/[your_domain.com] (replace [your_domain.com] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at http://www.google.com/apps/more.

For more information, you can visit the Google Voice overview page to see video explanations of the key features or take a look at our Help Center for details instructions. You can also follow the latest product news and features on the Google Voice Blog.

Share your story
Have you already started using Google Voice at your organization, or plan to now that it’s available? Please share your story and your organization could be featured in the next Gone Google ad campaign!

Note: Google Voice is only available in the U.S.

A bridge to the cloud: Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office now available to early testers

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog and the Google Docs Blog]

Tens of millions of people have moved to Google Docs because it’s 100% web: it provides real-time collaboration in the browser, with no software to install, manage or upgrade. Of course, we know that many more of you still use Microsoft Office, because until recently, there weren’t many tools to help you collaborate and share with others. Now there’s more choice.

To help smooth the transition from Office to the cloud, my teammates and I founded a company called DocVerse, which was acquired by Google earlier this year. Over the last 9 months, we’ve been hard at work moving the DocVerse product to Google’s infrastructure. We’ve also renamed it Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. Today, we’re pleased to take the next step towards a public launch and make it available to early testers.

For those of you who have not made the full move to Google Docs and are still using Microsoft Office, Google has something great to offer. With Cloud Connect, people can continue to use the familiar Office interface, while reaping many of the benefits of web-based collaboration that Google Docs users already enjoy.

Users of Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 can sync their Office documents to the Google cloud, without ever leaving Office. Once synced, documents are backed-up, given a unique URL, and can be accessed from anywhere (including mobile devices) at any time through Google Docs. And because the files are stored in the cloud, people always have access to the current version.

Once in the Google cloud, documents can be easily shared and even simultaneously edited by multiple people, from right within Office. A full revision history is kept as the files are edited, and users can revert to earlier versions in one click. These are all features that Google Docs users already enjoy today, and now we’re bringing them to Microsoft Office.

All you need is a Google account, and you’re ready to go. That’s it!

If you’re a Google Apps for Business customer interested in joining our preview program, please sign up here. If you’re not, don’t worry- at launch, Google Cloud Connect will be available free to everyone, including consumers.

An Unfortunate Incident At A Booker Party

At my writers' circle meeting on Saturday morning, we were fortunate to have as our guest speaker, Alan Maher, Publishing Director and Chief Executive of Tindal St Press.

Tindal St Press are known for publishing award-winning novels. It was originally set up in 1998 in the front room of a house in Moseley, Birmingham, in an attempt to prove that regional writing can be both literary and publishable.

Of the first 4 books that they published, 3 were shortlisted for various awards, but it was in 2003 that Clare Morrall's book, Astonishing Splashes of Colour was published, then long-listed for the Booker Prize. And when it was then short-listed for the Booker Prize, apparently, the phones didn't stop ringing!

In 2007, they published Catherine O'Flynn's, What Was Lost, which won the Costa First Book Award in 2007, won Waterstones Newcomer of the Year British Books Award in 2008, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Fiction prize.

It's not often that you get the chance to talk to directly to publishers, particularly those who publish such award-winning novels, but after a brief explanation of the history behind this Arts Council funded, not-for-profit company, Alan kindly opened up the floor to questions.

He explained that:
  • they receive 600 submissions a year (they are a small publisher) but only publish about 6 books a year, highlighting the size of the competition.
  • when a publisher likes a book, they then have to go around and encourage everybody else (Sales, Marketing, etc) to get behind the book too. If an entire publishing company doesn't love a book they are publishing, then it won't get published.
  • many of the books they reject, are brilliantly written novels, but they are just not right for them.
Tindal St Press publish regional, literary fiction. So, if they are sent a brilliant novel set in London, they will reject it. If they receive a brilliant novel set in the Black Country district of the West Midlands, but it isn't a literary novel, they will reject it. Which just demonstrates that even when sending out novels, you have to know your market.

It was a great opportunity to chat to someone like Alan and it's one of the reasons why I encourage all writers to go to a writers' group, or a literary festival, because you never know what opportunities may arise from the meeting.

You'll be able to gain some inside knowledge and a few laughs too! Alan told us of a time when he was at one of the Booker Prize parties and was talking to John Carey, one of the judges, when his tooth fell out!

So, next time you get an opportunity to mix with the publishing world, give it a go. You never know what you might learn, or what opportunities may open up for you!

Good luck.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now available with Google Apps: Google Reader

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: Yesterday we launched an improvement that makes over 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. This series showcases what’s new and how your organization can benefit.

Welcome to Google Reader
We all have favorite websites. The ones that we keep returning to day after day – or even several times a day – to check for new content. Whether you follow company press coverage on a set of news websites, track industry-related developments through trade journals, or follow what people are saying about your organization in the blogosphere, you can now do all of this in one place using Google Reader.

Now available with Google Apps accounts, Google Reader is a web-based content aggregator that allows you to pull updates from your favorite websites together in one place. By subscribing to a site's RSS or Atom feed in Reader, you’re automatically notified when that website posts new content. Instead of checking many sites repeatedly for updates, Google Reader brings your favorite web content to you!

Google Reader also makes it easy to share relevant articles with colleagues at your organization using Google Apps. Reader is integrated with your existing contacts list so address auto-complete works seamlessly. For example, if you see an article in your Reader feed about new tax incentives for your industry, you can easily share this with a coworker responsible for financial planning or with an entire distribution list you have created, right from the Google Reader.

For those of you always on the move, Google Reader also makes it easy and convenient to follow the stream of updates from your favorite websites on your mobile device, automatically synced through your Google Apps account.

Learn more and get started
Google Reader can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at https://www.google.com/a/[your_domain.com] (replace [your_domain.com] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at http://www.google.com/apps/more.

For more information about Google Reader you can take a look at our Help Center pages or follow the latest news and get tips and tricks from the Google Reader Blog.

Share your story
Have you already started using Google Reader at your organization, or plan to now that it’s available? Please share your story and your organization could be featured in the next Gone Google ad campaign!

Note: Google Reader may not be available in all areas.

Great tech support and good karma found with Google AdWords online

When Uday Challu noticed a growing dissatisfaction with avenues for technical support, he was inspired to create a better way for people to get help with their tech troubles. So in 2007 he founded iYogi.com, India’s first direct-to-consumer remote technical support company. Founded on a belief in good karma, iYogi aims to mitigate frustrations with technical products and services by delivering a high-quality customer service experience.

iYogi Founder Uday Challu

iYogi provides round-the-clock, 24-hours service on a wide variety of technical products and issues, in Australia, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Uday uses Google AdWords to reach these international customers.

Uday says he saw search and, in particular, AdWords as a way to reach customers in need of technical support. He says, “iYogi services are currently available in multiple geographies and advertising with AdWords seemed like the most obvious way to reach customers who were turning to the Internet to find and fix their problems.”

With the intent of starting small and building to scale, Uday targeted his first campaigns to the U.S. only. Using location and language targeting, iYogi launched a U.S.-only campaign with general keywords related to customer support, and honed his campaign over time. “We gathered lots of intelligence from the Search Query Report, which helped us identify other keywords people in the U.S. were searching for,” says iYogi Vice President of Online Marketing K.R. Sreejith. “We also tested new ad texts and customized these ad texts to highlight popular keywords.”

Then, using lessons from his experiences in targeting the U.S., Uday expanded into the Canadian market. He found his experience in the U.S. helpful for the Canadian campaign, but didn’t see similarly high volume. After examining the global competitive landscape, he decided to expand to Australia and the U.K.

“We quickly learned that ads in the U.K., for example, had to be different than ads in the U.S.,” says Sreejith. “Using the Search Query Report, we noticed that the popularity of certain keywords was different in the U.K. and that there are differences in the spelling of these terms. We also learned from our sales teams that U.K. customers spend more time on the phone than do U.S. customers. So, we edited our ad texts and landing pages to reflect these different keywords and values.”

Today, iYogi is one of the fastest growing remote tech support provider in the world. As Uday continues to expand his business internationally, he’ll continue to use insights gained from his ad campaigns and to provide the rest of the world with similarly karmic technical support experiences!

Posted by Anand Devsharma, Team Manager, India

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Biztree's Google AdWords Success Story

Ten times more applications for Google Apps customers

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog and the Google Enterprise Blog)

As customers begin to recognize large productivity gains with Gmail, Google Docs and the rest of Google Apps, they frequently ask when they’ll be able to use services like Google Voice, Reader, Blogger and AdWords with their Google Apps accounts. We’ve steadily added new functionality to Google Apps and recently added support for third-party apps, but we’re thrilled to swing the floodgates of new functionality wide open now. Starting today, customers worldwide can access a full spectrum of services from Google—including more than 60 productivity-boosting applications that extend far beyond any traditional software suite.

Coupled with the ability for administrators to provide different sets of applications to different groups of users, the possibilities for empowering workers in new ways are remarkable. For example, you could equip your marketing team with Picasa Web Albums so they can collect and share photos from customer appreciation events, and let that team publish your company’s blog with Blogger. Services like iGoogle and Alerts, on the other hand, may be broadly useful, and could be enabled for your whole organization.

Existing customers can transition at their own pace over the next couple months to the new infrastructure supporting these applications from the administrative control panel. New customers will automatically have the new infrastructure. The additional services are not covered by the Google Apps SLA or telephone support, but we’ll be watching for feedback how we can make these new applications even more useful.

In tandem with this big improvement, we’re also simplifying the names of the versions of Google Apps. Here’s how we now refer to our line-up:
  • Google Apps is our free service geared towards families, entrepreneurs and other groups up to 50 users.
  • Google Apps for Business offers 25GB of email storage per user, a 99.9% uptime guarantee, data migration capabilities, advanced management tools, telephone support, added security features and more, all for $50 per user per year.
  • Google Apps for Government is FISMA certified and designed with local, state and federal agencies in mind.
  • Google Apps for Education offers many benefits of Google Apps for Business, but at no cost to schools, universities and qualifying non-profits.
The team has worked hard to unlock all of this new functionality for our customers, and we think many of these new applications will become indispensable within your organization. To help get you started, each day the Google Enterprise Blog will profile how your organization could put a different application to use. The first post tomorrow will focus on Google Reader, so drop by again soon to follow the series.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Connected Kingdom

At Google we’ve always believed that the Internet is an engine of economic growth, but until now no one has ever quantified who, how, why, where and what was behind this growth. So we asked The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a well-respected adviser on business strategy, to conduct an analysis of the impact of the Internet on the UK economy.

And we were surprised by the results:
  • In 2009, the Internet contributed £100 billion to the UK economy. That represents 7.2% of GDP.
  • The UK is the number one country in the world for e-commerce and is a net exporter of e-commerce goods and services, exporting £2.80 for every £1 imported.
  • The Internet economy is expected to grow by 10% per year.

The Connected Kingdom video

BCG researched the impact that being online has had on overall businesses sales, and the results were again startling. In recent years, businesses that embraced the Internet have seen four times the growth in sales than businesses that haven’t.

UK Tights small business success story

Understanding the importance of the Internet on the UK economy was useful, but BCG wanted to dig deeper and compare how the UK ranks against other countries. So they devised what they’ve called an “e-intensity index” which looks at three main factors: the ease of access to the Internet, the amount spent on the Internet, and the level of engagement people have with the Internet. Whilst the UK led on the amount of money spent online, the overall leader was Denmark, with the UK in 6th, and Germany, USA, and France in 9th, 11th and14th place, respectively.

To view a full version of the report, get involved in the debate and have your say in what the UK government should do to help grow the UK Internet economy, we encourage you to visit www.connectedkingdom.co.uk.

Posted by Richard Keelty, Product Marketing Manager, Google UK

Google Boost: Now available in additional U.S. cities

[Cross-posted from the LatLong Blog]

We recently announced that our new search advertising program, Google Boost, is available to local businesses in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago. Based on the great feedback and results from early participants, the beta is expanding to additional U.S. cities. Starting today, select local business owners can sign in to their Google Places account and try Boost if they’re located in San Jose, Seattle, Wichita, Charlottesville (VA), Atlanta, Chapel Hill, Orlando, Washington D.C., Boston, Cross Plains (TX) and Portland (ME). We’ve also made Boost available for all local businesses in Illinois.

A Boost ad for Houston-based Click Photography, and it’s corresponding blue map pin

For those of you who are not yet familiar with Boost, it’s a quick and easy way for local businesses to market themselves and connect with potential customers in their area. Based on the information you’ve already provided on the Place page for your business, we provide a suggested ad description, a web or Place page, your business categories and a monthly budget. Once you’ve confirmed these four simple elements, our system automatically creates an ad campaign. Your ad may start appearing almost immediately when people in your area search online for products and services related to your offering. And what’s more, you’ll only pay when a potential customer actually clicks on your ad. To be clear, the ranking of Boost ads in the “Ads” section of the Google.com and Google Maps search results pages are based on relevance and quality factors; and Boost ads do not impact the ranking of your free, organic business listings.

Over the next week, eligible businesses in the cities mentioned above will see an invitation to try Boost when they sign in to their Google Places account dashboard. Business owners located outside of these areas can fill out this form to be notified when Boost expands further to their regions.

Posted by Kiley McEvoy, Product Manager

Monday, November 15, 2010

Google Tags Feature Paints Rosy Picture for Art Gallery

New York City’s Spanierman Gallery encounters challenges typical of businesses that rely on foot traffic and long-term relationships with clients.

For more than half a century, Spanierman Gallery has dealt in some of the finest works of American art, including works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Winslow Homer and James A.M. Whistler. But because of the abundance of nearby galleries, connecting with a small, discriminating clientele requires continual effort. A strong online presence that helps drive foot traffic to the gallery is essential in today’s art market.


Spanierman embraced the Internet early, launching a website in the mid-1990s. For several years, this helped give the gallery an edge, enabling potential clients to easily find it when they searched for artists who had works on display there. That changed as more competitors ventured online.

“As more people embrace the web, we’ve had to step up our game,” says Marketing Director David Spanierman.

For a business that relies on patrons with discretionary income, the sluggish economy has only heightened the need for more visibility. Spanierman knew he needed to do more.


After using Google Places to manage his free business listing on Google.com and Google Maps for two years, Spanierman decided to try Google Tags in July 2010. Adding a distinct yellow marker to his business listing, which calls attention to his gallery amongst a list of similar businesses, made immediate sense. He uses the photo tag to emphasize to potential customers that they can view artwork from the current exhibitions.

Spanierman Gallery’s business listings with a photo tag on Google Maps

“Our goal has always been to help users find what they want,” he says. “The Google Tag helps get our information out to potential customers.”


Since the gallery began using Google Tags, interactions with its business listing have increased nearly 10 percent.

“When you compare the $25 per month for a tag with the amount of money you could spend on other forms of marketing, I think it’s very reasonable,” Spanierman says. “Having that additional avenue enhances the chances that Internet searchers will come and visit you.”

Spanierman sees Google Tags as a wise addition to his marketing mix not only because of its affordability, but also because it enables him to quickly and easily edit his tag to match the gallery’s changing exhibitions.

“When it comes to performance, price and flexibility, Google Tags is the winner,” he says.

Make your listing stand out with Google Tags, try it out now www.google.com/help/tags.

Posted by Bernadette Cay, Associate Product Marketing Manager

It All Started When ...

Have you noticed? We are awash with biographies. I'm not moaning about the plethora of celebrity memoirs piled up on the 3 for 2 tables in bookshops this Christmas (although publishers were saying last year that the celebrity memoir had had its day), but instead, the short biographies in magazines.

Appearing either at the foot of an article or under a 'Contributor List' on the contents page, more editors want to share some of their writers' lives with their readers.

If you spot your target publication giving the lowdown on its writers, then you should consider including one with your submission. As always, copy the style and format of the biographies used in your target publication.

"But I'm only a beginner!" I hear you cry. "I've nothing to say in my biography!"

Rubbish! Take a closer look at the biogs in your target magazine and you'll see that they sell the writer's experience in the topic they're writing about, not their writing credentials. Take the latest issue of Lakeland Walker magazine and one of its contributors, Andy Stothert:

Andy has been wandering about on the Lakeland fells for over forty years and his passion for the high places of the Lake District is stronger than ever. His passion is his work, as he earns his crust mainly from taking photos of this astounding landscape.

See? This tells the reader why Andy knows what he's talking about in his article - he's been wandering the Lake District for over forty years. He's an expert on this subject, which is why you should read the article. And that's what you need to do remember when writing your biographies.

  • Mention the key facts that sell yourself as an expert.
  • Keep it short.
  • Make it appropriate for your readership.
Here's my biography that appears at the end of my article in this month's Ezee Writer feature, entitled 'Success With Series' - an article about writing non-fiction books.

Simon Whaley is a tutor for the Writers Bureau and the author of over 400 articles. He has also written several short stories and nine non-fiction books, including the bestselling “100 Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human.” You can follow more of Simon’s advice at his ‘Simon Says!’ blog: http://simonwhaleytutor.blogspot.com and onTwitter.com.

You can read the article at http://www.writersbureau.com/e-zee-writer/november-2010/page3.htm

For an article about organising self-catering breaks in the UK for Holiday Cottages magazine, my biography read as follows:

Simon Whaley has been organising self-catering holidays in the UK for nearly twenty years. These breaks have ranged from a week's solo self-catering in Scotland, to organising short breaks for groups of up to 12 in Wales. He's been stuck up one-in-three gradients, bullied by ghosts and marvelled at the view of the local cement works in a national park. In his opinion, you can always tell the quality of a self-catering cottage by the state of its frying pan.

Two different biographies aimed at two different markets, but both about the same person!

So, next time you send off an article, consider revealing a little bit more about yourself ... but not too much!

Good luck.