Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Google Offers beta starts in Portland, Oregon tomorrow

(Cross-posted on the Commerce, Places, and Retail Blogs)

Portlanders know how to mix the urban (killer coffee, music and art) and the small-town (easy walking, biking and socializing). There’s no end to the city’s great restaurants, coffee shops, hot spots and places to explore. That’s why, when we started planning the Google Offers beta, we knew Portland was the ideal place to get it all kicked off.

Today, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and VP of Commerce Stephanie Tilenius announced at the D9 Conference that we’re launching Google Offers beta in Portland, Ore. tomorrow.

Our first Google Offer will be from beloved local java shop Floyd’s Coffee. Husband-and-wife team Jack Inglis and Cris Chapman opened Floyd’s seven years ago, offering up espresso, coffee, breakfast burritos and more. They now have two convenient locations—one cozy, brick-lined shop in Old Town and another Stumptown watering-hole in Buckman.

With Google Offers, we’re working with great local businesses like Floyd’s Coffee, Le Bistro Montage, Powell’s Books and Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade to help them reach more Portlanders. We hope to bring Google Offers to other cities soon, with New York City and the San Francisco Bay area as our next stops.

You can learn more about Google Offers and sign up at google.com/offers. If you’re a business interested in participating in Google Offers, you can let us know too. Finally, if you’re at the Portland Rose Festival this Saturday, visit our Google booth at CityFair to say hello to our team and learn more about Google Offers.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Notebook Jottings

You do have a notebook don't you? EVERY writer should have a notebook with them at ALL times, in order to capture that important idea, before it disappears into the black hole that also resides in our brain.

But, do you use your notebook properly?

For a writer, a notebook is an ideas album and a memory log. If you write down everything that comes to mind, you are creating a physical representation of all of your thoughts and ideas. Jot down everything:
  • Ideas
  • General thoughts
  • Things to do
  • Dreams or goals that you aspire to
  • Your experiences
Don't worry about how you might be able to use this information. Your notebook is simply the collection tool. Once you've written it down it is there to refer to at some point in the future. Possibly later on today, but then, maybe not for many years to come.

Writing regularly in a notebook helps a writer to develop their own style and voice. It's the regularity that improves a writer's communication skill. Even the action of writing something down can make it more real. Jot down your dream and it's there for you to see on paper. It's the memory-jogger, that just might spur you on to take some action to achieve it.

Of course, it's important to take time to read through your notebooks. Remind yourself of your thoughts and ideas. This action can spark off more ideas in itself. The other day I was looking through one of my old notebooks, and as I flicked through the pages, I came across three, separate, short phrases, each of which went on to become titles of books I have had published. It's exciting seeing an idea you had many years ago and then realising that because you jotted it down in your notebook, it grew to become something exciting!

So, what can a writer do to make the most of their notebooks?

  1. Date your entries. I use one page per idea / thought / comment. I put the date in the top left hand corner. In the middle of the page, at the top, in capitals, I put an encapsulating word or phrase, followed by a brief description - ARTICLE IDEA - Time Management, SHORT STORY - Fridge Thief. This helps me when I'm looking through my notebooks. Sometimes, if I am looking for something in particular, I may remember roughly when I made the comment, so the date helps narrow the search. Or, I may remember it was an article idea, so I simply flick through for my ARTICLE IDEA headings.
  2. Write in it regularly. Jot down ideas as they occur (so small notebooks you can carry around with you at all times are useful here). However, it's also useful to sit down for five or ten minutes at the end of the day and make a note of your thoughts about what has happened today, or any comments about things that have happened today.
  3. Don't give yourself any rules about what can and can't be written in your notebook. It's your notebook, you can write ANYTHING in it!
  4. Be truthful. Write down your innermost thoughts. Get down on paper what you are really thinking. You may encapsulate a feeling or emotion that you can use in a short story or novel at a later date.
  5. Remember your senses - especially when you're away from home. Write down sights, smells, tastes, sounds and things that you've touched.
A notebook is just as important a tool for a writer as a keyboard. The more you use it, the more effective it will be.

Good luck!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Connecting businesses with customers: Google hits up Chicago’s NRA Show 2011

(Cross-posted from the Google Places Blog.)

Earlier this week at the National Restaurant Association’s convention at McCormick Place in Chicago, the Google Places team met with hundreds of business owners to share with them all the benefits of Google Places. Our goal was simple: show business owners how Google Places can help them get found online and engage with their customers.

After setting up free Google Places accounts for many business owners, we demo-ed some of the many useful features they receive when they sign up for Places:

  • stand out with a business listing on Google.com and Google Maps when customers search for you
  • see what search terms people are using to find your Place page
  • upload photos and videos to your page, and encourage your customers to submit their own
  • reply publicly to customer reviews to show you’re listening
  • and lots more!

After claiming their business listings, business owners received our “Recommended on Google” window stickers. These interactive stickers have Near Field Communications (NFC) technology built right in, enabling people with cutting-edge phones like the Nexus S to simply touch their phones to the sticker to pull up that business’s Place page — containing relevant info about that location from across the web — on the map.

But perhaps the biggest hit at the conference? Our Google-colored bean bags! Many attendees stopped by just to take a load off in one of these comfy chairs:

A big thank you to the National Restaurant Association for having us, and to all the business owners we connected with at the convention. Keep in touch with us here on the blog, and on Twitter and Facebook.

Posted by Esther Brown and Margarita Vaisman, Google Places Community Team

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Google Places Heads to Chicago for the NRA Show 2011

(Cross-posted from the Google Places Blog.)

Starting today, Google Places will be at McCormick Place in Chicago for the National Restaurant Association’s four-day annual conference of restaurant owners and managers.

Here’s what we have in store:
  • We’ll have a booth on the convention floor, so swing by to meet the team and learn about all the great ways Google can help you better manage your presence online using Google Places. Haven’t claimed your Place page yet? No problem, we’ll get you started right then and there so you can start getting more customers in your door.
  • On Sunday, we’ll give a keynote address about our suite of local products, including Google Places for business, our ratings and reviews tool, check-in offers and AdWords online advertising. Don’t miss it!
We’re excited to team up with the NRA Show this year, and look forward to meeting all you business owners out there to hear your feedback and questions. See you in Chicago!

Posted by Sameer Mahmood, Local Marketing Team

Friday, May 20, 2011

Google Apps highlights – 5/20/2011

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Over the last few weeks, we made improvements to instant messaging, increased capacity for saved contacts, added powerful data analysis with pivot tables in spreadsheets and introduced more flexible management tools for Google Apps customers.

Better AIM interoperability in Gmail and beyond
Google Talk is built on open protocols for instant messaging, making it possible for other IM networks to connect seamlessly with Google Talk. Yesterday we rolled out improvements to make
chatting with your AIM buddies even easier in Gmail, iGoogle, Orkut and Google Talk on Android devices. Now you can invite your AIM buddies to chat from any of these places just by entering their AOL screennames, even if you don’t have or use an AIM account.

Room for 15,000 more contacts in Gmail
We’ve heard from a surprising number of super-connected people who wanted to save more contacts in Gmail than its 10,000-contact limit allowed, so a couple weeks ago we made Gmail better by
supporting up to 25,000 contacts. You can also save even more information with each contact, so if you were previously bumping up against the limits, you should have a whole lot more extra space for your contacts now.

Pivot tables in Google spreadsheets
Google spreadsheets now has another tool to help serious dataheads make sense from large data sets:
pivot tables. With pivot tables, you can easily summarize rows and columns of information, helping you quickly spot patterns in the information that you might not have noticed otherwise. If you’re new to pivot tables, we made a short video to show what you can do.

Customizable administration options for Google Apps customers
IT staff members in large organizations don’t all need the same level of control in their Google Apps environment. For example, a university IT help desk should be able to reset lost passwords for students, but probably doesn’t need to modify school-wide email settings. On Monday, we made Google Apps much more flexible by introducing
delegated administration, which lets full administrators assign partial administration privileges to other individuals.

Who’s gone Google?
In the last three weeks, we’ve seen more than 60,000 organizations choose our cloud products for their communication and collaboration needs, and this week a couple international customers stood out from the crowd.
Oxygen Design Agency based in Toronto, Canada chose Google Apps and avoided a big investment in traditional email servers when their previous email solution started to break down. With Google Apps, their downtime woes have disappeared, designers can stay in contact when they’re meeting clients and the system is much simpler and more affordable to manage.

EAT. has more than 100 restaurant locations and 1,700 employees in the U.K. They serve fresh, healthy food—as well as kilobytes to customers through technology programs like an iPhone ordering app, free in-store Wi-Fi, a Twitter feed and a tap-to-pay system. EAT. selected Google Apps to replace their old system to get away from complex, costly upgrades, achieve hassle-free scalability as their business expands and securely support a wider array of mobile devices.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the
Google Apps Blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hundreds of ways to work smarter with Google Apps

Posted by Michelle Lisowski, Google Apps Team

Talking to our small businesses customers, we see they have a passion for what they do and a drive to succeed. On the Google Apps team, we have a passion for helping small businesses succeed by providing them with access to the same technology that large enterprises often have at their disposal. Google Apps offers small businesses hundreds of ways to leverage the power of the web to work more efficiently and focus scarce time and resources on getting ahead of the competition.

To celebrate National Small Business Week, we’d like to share a few of the ways that Google Apps is being used every day (we’ll spare you the time of wading through hundreds). And to make it even easier to get started on tasks such as invoicing and project planning, all examples provided are based on templates from the Google Docs and Google Sites template galleries.

Google Docs template gallery:

#1: Letterhead - Create a professional looking template for your outgoing letters and share it with others in the company. Print letters directly from your browser with Chrome.
#2: Budget planner - Easily build a 12-month budget spreadsheet that you can edit from anywhere throughout the year – no matter where your spending takes you.
#3: Invoice - Save time by creating invoices in a spreadsheet – totals are automatically calculated, and you can share them with co-workers to ensure accuracy and speedy payments.

#4: Customer satisfaction survey - Get feedback from customers and visitors about your product or service with a form. Easily analyze and graph the data.
#5: Business plan - Put your vision down in a doc. Share it with family, investors, banks, and others to get input and spread your ideas.
#6: Project timeline - Give others in your company insight into key milestones, completion dates, and other project details.

Google Sites template gallery:

#7: Intranet - Build an internal website where employees can access company news, employee training information, company policies, holiday schedules, and more.

#8: Project site - Centralize project information in one place. Display a team profile and key dates, and embed project docs and spreadsheets directly in the site.
#9: Team site - Create team rosters, schedule team meetings, and track progress of action items all in one place.
#10: Employee profiles - Build a community by creating profile pages where your employees can post their goals, internal resume, and internal blog.

The list continues but we hope this gives some idea of the range of use cases where Google Apps can help improve productivity for any small business. To learn more, check out some of our new resources including product videos and additional templates at www.google.com/apps/smb.

What Can Google Answer to Help You Grow Your Business?

Happy National Small Business Week!

On Monday, we gave you
five tips to empower your business with online tools and resources. Because it’s National Small Business Week, we’re also taking the time to reflect and find additional ways we can help businesses like yours. Online marketing and technology products may not central to why you started your business, but they can be central to growing your business.

In honor of National Small Business Week,
we want to answer your questions about online marketing and technology products designed for small businesses. We want to hear what’s on your mind about how you can use technology to start and run your business. Your question could be about using technology and online resources in general or about Google products and services specifically.

If you have something to share, head over to our
Google Moderator session where you can add a new idea or you can vote on ideas that have already been submitted.

We’re excited to hear from you and we hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your day to let us know what you’d most like to hear about from us. Just by sharing what’s on your mind, we get a better sense of what we can improve and where we can help make things easier and more efficient.

And if you haven’t already checked out some of our existing resources, take a few minutes to visit:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Click. The AdWords newsletter: May 2011

Your website is your face to online customers - are you greeting them at the door with a smile? Your site should engage with new customers, make it easy for them to find your product or service, and maybe earn you a little extra revenue. This month we share some quick strategies to help you get the full value from your website.

Happy reading!
The Google AdWords team

P.S. Have some feedback about this newsletter? Please let us know what you think.
In this Issue
MAY 2011, VOL 3

Make the most of your website

You make the rules

Maximize income

Anatomy 101

Your AdWords Account
Make the most of your website

You already know that an online presence is an important tool for building your business. Indeed, advertisers often ask us what they can do to improve their websites. We talked to some of the experts here at Google and they offered these suggestions:

Learn the basic rules of an effective site
Whether you're a tech expert or a novice, here are some simple design tips to help you create a compelling site:

  • Pass the 8 second test.
    A visitor should understand the purpose of your website within a few seconds.
  • Tell them what's in it for them.
    Highlight tangible benefits that potential customers can gain from your product or service. Will they be able to save money? Time? Buy a one-of-a-kind gift?
  • Use compelling images.
    Help visitors to your site take the steps towards making a purchase. Make those steps clear and easy to reach.

Don't guess... test!
Which image or call to action will lead to more sales on your website? Free tools like Google's Website Optimizer make it easy to test different versions of your site and view the results. Can you tell which webpage version below performed better?

Website Optimizer Original Website Optimizer Redesign
Version A
Version B

Universal Technical Institute redesigned their website using Website Optimizer, and saw a 300% increase in conversion rates (read more).

Make extra money from your site
Your site's most important job is to promote your business and make it easy for potential customers get the info or product they want. But you can also make extra revenue by using Google AdSense to show relevant ads on your wesbite. It's free and quick to set up (you can even use your AdWords account to sign in).

You make the rules

We know you're busy, so we've created a new AdWords feature to save you valuable time—Automated Rules. With Automated Rules, you can tell your account what to do in advance.

For example: you can set your budget to be higher on peak shopping days and lower during the rest of the week. You can also automatically change your bids for keywords based on their click-through or conversion rates.

Ready to try it? Visit our Help Center to watch a quick video about Automated Rules or to get detailed instructions with screenshots.

Set a Rule Now

Maximize income

TeAch-nology.com, a web portal for teachers, found a hidden source of revenue on their website. A longtime AdWords advertiser, founder Paul McKee noticed his ads showing on other education sites, and was impressed with how well the ads matched the content. He wanted to try showing ads on TeAch-nology.com as well, to explore how much revenue he could earn.

Google AdSenseHe tried Google AdSense, a free, easy way to earn revenue by showing relevant ads alongside online content.  McKee found that AdSense ads drove 8 times more revenue than other forms of contextual advertising did. AdSense now accounts for 50 percent of company income.

"We don't have a full-time ad sales team," McKee noted. "AdSense takes care of itself, allowing us to focus on running our business."

Read more about using AdSense to complement your AdWords account, and see if you can maximize revenue from your online content. Google AdSense

Anatomy 101

Google body browserYou may be used to zooming in and out on Google Maps to discover the world around you, from a neighborhood park to a hotel across the country. With Google body browser, an educational tool from Google labs, you can explore the human body in the same way.

Start off with a clickable, rotatable, 3-d image of a person. Drag down the slider to see layers of the human anatomy revealed: muscle tissue, bones, organs and nerves. Wondering what that femur you broke while ice skating looks like? Use the search box, which lets you find and highlight specific parts of the body.


Posted by Jenn Karakkal, AdWords Small Business Team

Monday, May 16, 2011

Google's 2010 U.S. Economic Impact

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

This week is National Small Business Week, an opportunity to celebrate the spirit and ingenuity of small businesses like Everblue, a start-up in North Carolina.

Everblue was founded in 2008 by veterans Chris and Jon Boggiano along with fellow entrepreneur Grant McGregor. The brothers’ goal was to make the U.S. more energy independent by helping people get certified in sustainable building practices. With old-fashioned hard work and some help from Google AdWords, their business has quadrupled in size. They now have 80 full time employees and instructors, and this year alone they’ll train tens of thousands of people—architects, engineers, electricians and others—to build smarter and greener.

Chris and Jon Boggiano, veterans and co-founders of Everblue, a training institute for sustainable building.

Today we’re announcing that Google provided $64 billion of economic activity to businesses, website publishers and non-profits in 2010. This is an 18% increase from the economic impact total in 2009. Here’s how it works: for every $1 a business spends on Google AdWords, they receive an average of $8 in profit through Google Search and AdWords.

We’re proud that Everblue and over one million American businesses use our advertising services to tell consumers about their products and services. Learn more at google.com/economicimpact.

Posted by Claire Hughes Johnson, Vice President, Global Online Sales