Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review: Top 3 Posts - 1st Place



Happy New Year! We've been looking at our top three most popular posts from 2012, and we're at number 1! And the winner is...Measurement Mondays and measuring online marketing. Previously we reshared our third place winner, 10 in 10: Google Chrome, and our second place post, 10 in 10: Google Calendar. Enjoy the end of 2012!

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A few weeks ago, I shared some basic tips on how to measure your online marketing efforts. Today we’re taking a deeper look at how to measure the effectiveness of your website. Think of your website as your “Open For Business” sign on the web - but unlike your business, your website is open 24/7. So it’s important for you to measure how well your site is achieving your business goals. By using free tools like Google Analytics, you can see how visitors are finding and interacting with your site, which can help you improve your customer experience and potentially drive more sales.


Here are five things that every business should consider:
  • Identify your goals and track them correctly: Think about the ultimate business objectives of your website and identify specific visitor actions that indicate success, like finishing a sale, signing up for a newsletter, or viewing an important page. Then set up goal tracking to see how visitors are reaching those goals. You can also assign a dollar value to each goal to see how it’s impacting your bottom line, or set up ecommerce tracking to integrate online sales data.
  • Become a conversion detective: Businesses spend a lot of effort getting people to visit their site, so if your visitors aren’t converting or achieving your goals, it’s important to figure out why. There could be a variety of factors, like too many required steps to request a quote, call-to-action icons that are too small, or poor placement of your email list sign-up button. See what conversion metrics need a boost, and experiment with your site’s content and layout to see what works best.
  • Get to the bottom of your bounce rates: Bounce rates represent the people who are visiting one page on your website and then leaving immediately afterwards. This could signal that they’re not finding what they need right away. Think about what information your customers might be seeking, like contact information or links to promotions, and make sure it’s front and center on your site. Bounce rates can also show you how effective your marketing campaigns are. For instance, if you’re running an email marketing campaign but find that they’re resulting in visits with high bounce rates, you could be wasting time and money.
  • Discover important audience locations: The Internet can introduce even a small town business to potential customers around the world, so you might be surprised at what audiences are most interested in your products or services. Take a look at the countries, regions and provinces where your website visitors are coming from - it just might inspire you to run an ad campaign targeted to reach shoppers in France, or start a special promotion for your fans in Canada.
  • Make the most of mobile traffic: More and more consumers are browsing the web on the go with their smartphones, so spend some time discovering how many of your site’s visitors are coming from a mobile phone. Are they viewing multiple pages, staying for a long time, or bouncing away quickly? A local restaurant might want to know whether mobile visitors are quickly finding information like hours of operation, menus and address - because if they’re not, they could be going elsewhere. If you need help making your website mobile, you can find a ton of resources at www.howtogomo.com to help you get started.
There are a lot of things that you can learn when diving into your website analytics, and I know that sometimes it can feel like an overwhelming amount of data. The important thing about measurement is to just get started and keep experimenting. You’ll begin to see what works for your unique site and business, and may even find unexpected areas for growth. Happy measuring!

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year to everyone. Thank you for following and commenting on my blog over the past twelve months. I hope that some of my ramblings have been of use to you.

Of course, whilst the New Year is a great opportunity to set up your goals for the coming year, don’t forget to look back and list everything that you achieved in 2012. This time last year my book, The Positively Productive Writer, had just been published and has, over the course of 2012, sold over 550 physical copies, and many more electronic copies. I hope it has helped those who have read it to start achieving their writing goals. (And if you haven’t got a copy yet, then perhaps you might want to consider buying a copy, too!)

The Positively Productive Writer essentially draws upon my own writing experience and techniques. It’s what has worked for me. You may recall a couple of postings ago, I mentioned about a project I was working on that I was having trouble with. I needed 20,000 words writing by the end of this year, and the words just weren’t flowing. So, I sat back and drew upon my own words of wisdom and created a set of goals to get that first draft written before Christmas.

And it worked. Not only that, but when I read through those 22,500 words (yes, I wrote more than was necessary - editing feels better when you throw words away, I find) they weren’t as dire as I first thought they were! So, by practising my own advice, I managed to get that project finished. By the time you read these words, that project will be sitting in the editor’s inbox: deadline achieved. There was no way I thought that was going to happen at the beginning of December!

Which brings me to a final point. Yes, set yourself some goals to achieve with your writing in 2013, but consider January too. Give yourself a mini-project to have completed by the end of January. It needn’t be big. Write an article. Or a short story. Just give yourself something to achieve in the next 31 days. You might surprise yourself.

I wish you all a prosperous and productive 2013.

Good luck!

Friday, December 28, 2012

13 business tips to countdown to 2013, Part II



With 2013 around the corner, we’ve collected the top 13 tips for you to get your business ready for the new year. We've been posting one tip each day on the Google+ Your Business page, and previously we shared our first five tips here. Check out our next five tips, and keep an eye out for our last three as we countdown to 2013!

Tip 6: Use Google Sheets
Use Google Sheets for all your business’s spreadsheet needs, such as keeping lists, tracking projects, and analyzing data and results. Collaborate with co-workers by sharing editing rights, commenting on files, and chatting with other viewers in real-time. Learn more

Tip 7: Create duplicate Google+ Events
Does your business Google+ Events to host regular events? Now you can easily turn your last sale, customer meet-up, or Hangout on Air into a monthly or quarterly affair by duplicating the event. Open up your last event and select Actions > Duplicate event. Google+ will pull in all the important details, so you don’t have to start from scratch.

Tip 8: Try a Hangout on Air
Is your business looking to reach more customers with engaging video content? With Hangouts on Air, you can record your live hangout, so the video is available to share with everyone. Does your business have a new product to unveil? Invite your circles or a few select customers to join you in your Hangout on Air, and then broadcast it! A live player of your hangout will be posted on your Google+ page and on your YouTube channel. Once the hangout is over, your video is available publicly on your +page, and you can make edits to it if you like. Learn more

Tip 9: Add fun fonts to docs
Use Google Docs to create rich documents in your business’s style. Customize your files by changing and adding fonts. The default font is Arial when you create a Google Doc. To change the font, click on the drop-down menu. You can even add fonts to your font list. At the bottom of the font list, click “Add fonts” to search for web fonts for use in your business’s documents. Learn more

Tip 10: Start a Google+ Community 
With Communities, the newest feature in Google+, you and your business can connect with customers and followers in new ways. Search for communities that represent your interests, and see what’s trending in that space. Have a cupcake shop? Join a foodie community and see what’s popular among dessert lovers on Google+. Have a particular interest that you’d like to share? Start your own community!

Here are some of the features of Google+ Communities:
  • Public or private membership to support all kinds of groups—from topics and interests to local neighborhoods to regular poker nights
  • Discussion categories to find the conversations you care about most
  • The option to start hangouts and plan events with community members
  • The ability to share with your community from any +1 button across the web

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

13 business tips to countdown to 2013, Part I



With 2013 around the corner, we’ve collected the top 13 tips for you to get your business ready for the new year. We've been posting one tip each day on the Google+ Your Business page, and we've collected the first five tips here. Start getting your business ready for 2013 now, and stay tuned for the next set of tips!

Tip 1: Create new holiday promotion ads in AdWords
It's the busy holiday season and we want your customers to find you online! Often, businesses that advertise with Google make edits to their ad text to promote a holiday sale or deal to bring customers to their website. While we recommend advertising these promotions, here's a little tip we want to highlight:

Don't jump straight into your ad that you have running and click to edit that ad. Saving changes to an existing ad causes the ad to go under review which, depending on the number of ads that you have in your account, can cause an interruption in your ad delivery. Instead, we recommend creating a new ad with the holiday promotion in addition to the generic ad that you already have. Once the new ad gets reviewed, you can pause your generic ad and let the holiday one run -- delay avoided!

Tip 2: Use referrals data in Analytics
If your business has a website, do you know how your customers are finding it? You can use referrals information in Google Analytics to see how people got to your website.

Analytics shows traffic coming from around the web, so not just other websites but from social media as well. Is a lot of your traffic coming from one social media channel? Maybe you want to spend more time posting there. You can also see how many new visits came from a certain source, if you want to target customers by using different content depending on the channel.

To find data on referrals, just sign in to Google Analytics then click Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals. Don’t have Google Analytics set up yet? Learn how to get started at http://www.google.com/analytics/

Tip 3: Track packages in Google Search

Does your business receive lots of packages? Don’t worry about wasting time going to multiple websites to track them. You can find out where FedEx, UPS and USPS packages that you've ordered are by typing the tracking number into Google. Simply enter the tracking number into the Google Search box and when you click enter, you'll see updated shipping information for your packages.

Tip 4: Get you daily agenda in your email
You may not have a personal assistant, but you can still have your agenda delivered straight to your email with Google Calendar. To receive the daily notification, go to Calendar and select “My calendars.” Click on the dropdown button next to the calendar you want to receive an agenda for, and then select “Reminders and notifications. Check the email box next to “Daily agenda” then “Save” and you’ll start to receive a overview of your day to your Gmail address every morning! Learn more

Tip 5: Import slides into Google Presentations
Just because your business has old Power Point slides that you need doesn’t mean that you can’t use Google Presentations. All you have to do is import the file and you can transfer whichever slides you want into the presentation. When you have a Google Presentation open, go to Insert > Import slides... > Upload to add files from your computer. Or, instead of Upload select Presentations to copy slides from an existing Google Presentation. Learn more

Monday, December 24, 2012

Very Inspired Blogger Award


Thanks to Tracey Fells (The Literary Pig: http://tracyfells.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/inspired-to-write.html) for passing on the Very Inspiring Blogger Award to me. I found her 7 random facts that inspired her to write, quite intriguing! Actually, it’s quite a good time of year to reflect back on what our motives were that first encouraged us to write. Here are 7 random facts that inspire me to pick up a pen.

1. At the age of 14, I wrote to three famous writers asking for their advice. Playwright Alan Bleasdale told me to become a brain surgeon instead. It would be far quicker. He was right: it took me another 18 years before my first book was published, whereas, I believe, learning to undertake brain surgery takes about seven years … plus a little practise. (I’ve always assumed that to do brain surgery, one must have a brain int he first place.)

2. I was an avid reader of books from an early age, spending most of Saturday morning in the library choosing eight books, and then the rest of the weekend reading them. It’s always good to vary your reading matter. I’m currently reading The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Not my usual reading matter, but I am enjoying it. It was reading other writers’ work that inspired me to want to write my own books.

3. After A levels, I opted to go to work, rather than University. (Creative Writing degrees weren’t as numerous back then, and if I had gone I would probably have studied my strongest subject at O and A level - economics. Eeeuurrgghh! Economics! How boring!) So, I joined Barclays Bank. (How boring, too!) I soon realised that banking wasn’t enjoyable either, which encouraged me to write in my spare time. Looking back, it also demonstrated that nothing in a writer’s life is wasted. Where do you think I drew inspiration for The Bluffer’s Guide to Banking, that was published twenty years after I’d left the bank? (Yes, I really am that old.)

4. I won a writing competition in 1998. Despite being drawn towards writing non-fiction, I had a go at writing a short story, and in April 1998, came first in the David Thomas Charitable Trust Writing Awards run by Writers’ News magazine, in their foggy morning competition. There’s nothing like winning a competition to spur you on! You can read it here: http://www.simonwhaley.co.uk/short-stories/blindingly-foggy/ 

5. You never know where this writing world will take you. After my first book was published Hodder & Stoughton invited me to London for the classic ‘author lunch’, which was truly amazing. (It was where they commissioned the second book, too.) Regular readers will remember that earlier this year I was a magazine model for Country Walking magazine. It was only by sitting down and writing something in the first place that these experiences were possible. This encourages me to write more.

6. The writer David Croft (Dad’s Army, Allo Allo, Hi De Hi) once said in a letter to me that an episode of Allo Allo took a couple of days to write and then months to get write. It’s a vital lesson we all have to learn an accept: just write any old rubbish - you can turn rubbish into a thing of beauty later. That’s why writing is a craft. So if you have an idea, write it down. Only then can you create something beautiful from it. 

7. The most unusual place I’ve been commissioned to do some work is in the street. (I really shouldn’t offer my services on street corners!) I was walking along the High Street and a passerby stopped me and said, “You’re that writer, aren’t you?” which is awkward because you never know which writer they’re referring to. But, she commissioned me to write a short story for some one’s birthday. And that’s what I love about this writing lark. You never know where the next job is coming from! 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you’re looking for a book to get your writing off to a good start in 2013, then may I be so bold as to suggest my very own The Positively Productive Writer. (http://www.simonwhaley.co.uk/non-fiction-books/the-positively-productive-writer/) If you want to know even more, then check out Radio Warrington on Thursday 27th December between 6pm and 8pm, when the book will be reviewed. (For those not in the area, listen live via the Internet at http://radiowarrington.co.uk)

I’m passing this onto the following bloggers: Alex Gazzola (http://mistakeswritersmake.blogspot.co.uk), Lynne Hackles (http://lynnehackles.blogspot.co.uk) and Julie Phillips (http://jlpwritersquest.blogspot.co.uk).

Good luck. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Year in Review: Top 3 Posts - 2nd Place


Our year in review continues, where we're looking at our top three most popular posts from 2012. Last week we reshared our third place winner, 10 in 10: Google Chrome. Coming in second is another piece from our 10 in 10 series, this time our tips for using Google Calendar.

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The daylight hours are getting shorter, but the work day is as busy as ever. If you use Google Calendar to schedule your business’s days, weeks, and months, check out our tips for organizing and using your calendar more efficiently.
  1. The Google Calendar Android app lets you manage all your calendars in one place--including those from your Google accounts and other synced calendars--right from your mobile device.
  2. Use keyboard shortcuts to make and manage your events quickly. For example, when you’re on your calendar, try typing c to create a new event, d to display your calendar in day view, or n to see the next date range.
  3. Collaborating on events with co-workers using Google Calendar? Pass on the torch and transfer ownership of the event to the new coordinator. When you're editing event details, visit the "More Actions" dropdown then click “Change owner.” You'll have the option to send them a note letting them know this change is effective now.
  4. Unclutter your calendar by auto-hiding events once you've declined them, letting you to focus on the more important parts of your day/week/month. Just click the gear icon at the top of any Google Calendar page, go to Calendar settings, and then the General tab. Select "No" in the “Show events you have declined” section and then save.
  5. Tired of the white grid look on your calendar? Add a photo to personalize your background.
  6. Planning on meeting with people in another time zone? Enable the world clock in Calendar Labs to find a convenient time. Out of town and not by your computer? You can automatically decline events during times when you’re busy. Check out other Labs features you can try.
  7. Create a to-do list that will appear right next to your calendar. You can even assign calendar dates to tasks, and then sort by the due date.
  8. Want to share special events happening at your business with your customers? Create a separate calendar and then embed it on your website.
  9. Customize your notification settings for events. You can choose to get reminders between 5 minutes and 4 weeks before your event, and pick whether you want the reminder delivered as a pop-up notification, email, or text message. You can also add multiple reminders for an event.
  10. Organize your calendar by color-coding different events or calendars and make it easier to get an overview of your schedule with a quick glance.
Find even more tips on ways to use Google Calendar by checking out the help center!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Perfect Gift for that Business Owner on Your List

Here in the US, 58% of small businesses do not have a website. These business owners could be your uncle, your cousin or your best friend. This holiday season, a website may just be the perfect gift for that small business owner on your list.



As part of our Get Your Business Online program, small businesses in the US can get an easy-to-build Intuit website, a custom domain name and web hosting. All free for a year. Why not invite that business you know to get online? To get started and send the gift of a free website, go to www.gybo.com/gift where you can find that business and send them a personalized invitation. It’s fast, easy and free.

With 97% of internet users looking online for local products and services, it is not a surprise that businesses with an online presence are expected to grow 40% faster. (BCG Report, “The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity,” March 2012) We all want to see our favorite small businesses succeed and getting them online may just be one of the easiest ways to help them grow.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Leekes attracts new customers into its home department store with Google Business Photos

Leekes is an independent, family-owned business that has been around for 115 years. They operate 5 home department stores throughout the UK, offering quality home furnishings. They recently expanded into Coventry, UK, and wanted to build brand and location awareness. Leekes decided to use Google Business Photos to attract new customers by allowing them to virtually tour their new location.



Google Business Photos stitches together HDR panoramic images into a Google Maps Street View-style virtual tour. The 360°-degree panoramic tour offered by Google Business Photos has allowed customers to visit Leekes from the comfort of their own home, tablet or smartphone.

A high-quality, smooth interactive tour of Leekes’ interior can easily be found on Google Search, Google Maps and Leekes’ Google+ Local page. Once inside the virtual tour, users can “walk around” and explore the store and its many departments.

Geraint Martin, head of e-commerce at Leekes states, “We need to quickly give people an understanding of what the Leekes brand is about...and there is no better way to do that than through imagery.”



You can read the Leekes Google Business Photos case study in its entirety here.

If you are a business owner and would like to create and publish a virtual tour of your business, learn more at http://maps.google.com/help/maps/businessphotos

Monday, December 17, 2012

AdWords Express holiday offer extended for a limited time

(Cross posted from the Inside AdWords blog)

Still scrambling to stay ahead of the holidays? We want to help you make the most of the last 2 weeks of the year, so we’re extending our offer to double your AdWords Express investment. Just start using AdWords Express to attract new customers to your U.S. business, and you'll get a free advertising credit in January worth what you spend on AdWords Express ads between now and December 31, 2012.*


Reaching potential customers online is a snap with AdWords Express. Just select your business category, write an ad, and set your budget. Where and when your ad appears is managed automatically, and you only pay when potential customers click on your ad for more information. And in mid-January, you’ll receive a free advertising credit for that amount you spent on AdWords Express ads in December.*

Get started today at http://www.google.com/adwords/express/.


*Terms and conditions

Happy Anniversary!

If you haven’t considered them already, 2013 marks some big anniversaries, which might make useful article or short story idea generators:

Pride and Prejudice: It's the 200th anniversary of this novel’s publication. 

The Queen: It’s 60 years since her coronation (she became Queen in 1952, but the coronation was in 1953).

Stock Exchange: It’s 40 years since women were allowed into the London Stock Exchange.

Football: The world’s oldest professional association football league is founded, 125 years ago.

James Bond: 60 years ago in April 1953, Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, is published.

Bouncing Bombs: It’s the 70th anniversary of the Dam Buster raids over Germany with the bouncing bomb.

Flowers: It’s 100 years since the first Chelsea Flower Show.

Sex: A very British Scandal - it’s 50 years since the John Profumo Affair.

Victoria: 175 years ago  - the coronation of Queen Victoria.

Trains: It’s the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery.

Concorde: Concorde made her last commercial flight ten years ago.

Dr?: The BBC broadcast the first episode of Dr Who, fifty years ago.

Ripper: 125 years ago, Jack The Ripper was on his killing spree.

Big Ben: It’s 90 years since the chimes of Big Ben were first broadcast on radio by the BBC.

That should keep you busy during 2013 researching those!

Good luck!

Friday, December 14, 2012

HOAliday Series: How to Create Stand-Out Ads During the Competitive Holiday Season



AdWords Specialists Divya Vishwanath, Alec Fox, and Lauren Maten hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the second installment of the three-part HOAliday series.

To help you in this busy and crucial time of year, we shared tips on...
  • Ad copy optimization (don’t forget to share your holiday promotion!)
  • Various ad extensions to make your ads stand out
  • How to set up an experiment to see exactly what changes are making the account successful
You can watch the full 25-minute Hangout on Air below, or the Google Business YouTube channel.


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, December 20th, when we discuss how to keep the holiday momentum going in the new year.

HOA HOA HOA and to all a good day/night!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Google+ Events Tips for 12/12/12

Today, on 12/12/12--the last time this century that the day, month, and year are all the same--we’re bringing you and your business 12 tips on using Google+ Events. From the employee holiday party to your business’s New Year’s sale, check out ways that you can use Events not just to be a party pro, but also to engage your guests before, during, and after your event!
  1. Use Google+ to create an event that takes place either offline (such as an event in your store) or online (like a virtual meet and greet with your ownership team).
  2. Invite anyone you like. Guests who don’t use Google+ will be able to view and respond to the invitation. Guests who do use Google+ will be able to comment, invite others, and add photos, unless you disable these features.
  3. Choose a theme to add flare to your event and represent your business’s personality. Hosting your yearly company party? Having a holiday sale? Choose the theme that best fits your event.
  4. Manage your guest list by adding or removing invitees at any time. You can change guests’ rights, such as whether they can comment, add photos, or invite more people to your event by using the Actions menu.
  5. Add photos and videos to your event to share a collection of media with your guests before and after an event. By default, all guests can contribute to an event’s photo collection. For public events, anyone can contribute photos.
  6. Enable Party Mode so that Android mobile users can automatically upload their photos to the event page while the event is in progress.
  7. Add a hangout to your event so you can video chat with customers or co-workers before or during the event.
  8. Use Events on mobile for your Android phone to create and moderate your events, share photos and comments, and get directions to events, all while you’re on the go.
  9. Make your event public to increase visibility and allow more potential customers to find it and interact with the event’s page. For public events, anyone can say they’re going, add comments and photos, and invite others, unless these settings are disabled.
  10. Host an Event on air so that anyone can find and view your event, but the event page itself is more . Events on air have a limited guest list, and only invited guests can add photos and comments (unless this setting is disabled).
  11. From the Events homepage, click Find more events to browse public events and get ideas for yours. If you make your event public, others will be able to find your event this way as well.
  12. You can add additional information fields to your event, like a link to buy tickets, your business’s website, or a YouTube channel. When you’re creating your event, just click Event Options > Advanced > Show additional fields.
To learn more about Google+ events, visit the Help Center!

Highlight Your Events on Google

(summarized from the Webmaster Central blog)

At Google we’re making more and more use of structured data to provide enhanced search results, such as rich snippets and event calendars, that help users find your content. Until now, marking up your site’s HTML code has been the only way to indicate structured data to Google. However, we recognize that markup may be hard for some websites to deploy.

Today, we’re offering webmasters a simpler alternative: Data Highlighter. At initial launch, it’s available in English only and for structured data about events, such as concerts, sporting events, exhibitions, shows, and festivals. We’ll make Data Highlighter available for more languages and data types in the months ahead.

Data Highlighter is a point-and-click tool that can be used by anyone authorized for your site in Google Webmaster Tools. No changes to HTML code are required. Instead, you just use your mouse to highlight and “tag” each key piece of data on a few typical event pages on your site. Data Highlighter learns to recognize the formatting pattern of your site’s data, so when Google crawls your site, all your latest event listings become eligible for enhanced search results. This short video explains how the process works:


To get started with Data Highlighter, visit Webmaster Tools, select your site, click the “Optimization” link in the left sidebar, and click “Data Highlighter.”

If you have any questions, please read our Help Center article or ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum. Happy Highlighting!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steel + silicon = business success in Detroit

Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.

From time to time we invite guests to post about items of interest and are pleased to have Linzie Venegas join us today. Linzie is head of sales and marketing for Ideal Shield, a manufacturing company in Detroit, Mich. that specializes in bumper post sleeves. Based in a city forged in tradition and steel, Ideal Shield has seen great success on the web—a story Linzie tells us in this post. -Ed.

When my great-grandparents moved from Mexico to Detroit in 1917, they were looking for a better life. They had no idea that one day their grandson, my father Frank Venegas, would invent a product and start a business that would help transform their adopted hometown. Thanks to my dad’s hard work and a little help from the web, that’s exactly what Ideal Shield has done.

Ideal Shield specializes in manufacturing bumper post sleeves. You may have seen these around—they’re colorful covers that slide over the steel pipes that keep cars from running into buildings. As a young child, my first job at Ideal was to assemble mailers for potential customers. Our mailers were unique—I would place a pack of jelly beans into each envelope. Talk about a great way to get a high “clickthrough rate!” Today, I head sales and marketing for the company, and we’ve taken our family business online with phenomenal results.


Ideal Shield’s father-daughter team Frank and Linzie Venegas in the factory surrounded by bumper post sleeves and guard rails.
We began using Google AdWords in 2004 to help potential customers find our product because many people didn’t know what it was. We were drawn to AdWords because everyone could see our ads—but we only had to pay for the customers who clicked through to our website. We also found that the leads were very qualified and had a higher close rate than leads from other sources. So far this year, for every $1 we've spent on AdWords we’ve gotten back $22. We’ve been able to have great success—without jelly beans!—using Google AdWords.

The energy we’ve put into our online presence has produced tremendous growth for our business; we’ve been able to grow our workforce by 20 percent. We’ve also focused on building our local community of Southwest Detroit. Each year we hire many interns from the local high school, Detroit Cristo Rey, and teach them skills that will last a lifetime. We’ve outfitted the junior and senior classes at Detroit Cristo Rey with Chromebooks so that they’ll have access to the power of the web anywhere, and many teachers there use the free Google Apps for Education suite with their students. This year, we were proud to hear that Detroit Cristo Rey achieved a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. We also work with the Michigan Minority Business Development Council to teach other small businesses in the community the importance of an online strategy and how the web can help small businesses thrive.

My dad started Ideal with himself, my mother and a couple of laborers; today this family business has more than 35 employees and annual sales of $14 million. With help from the web, his hard work, determination and “out of the box” thinking have made Ideal a symbol of strength and renewal in Southwest Detroit. My father has always told me that if you take care of the community, the community will take care of you. Detroit is our community—it’s our heart, it’s our home. We’ve been surprised and delighted at how much the web has contributed to Ideal Shield, and we’re happy to share that success with Detroit. We can’t wait to do more!



Monday, December 10, 2012

Year in Review: Top 3 Posts - 3rd Place



It's well into December, New Year's Eve is just a few weeks away, and like many others, we're thinking about the year in review. Through the end of the month, we'll re-share your top 3 favorite posts from the Google and Your Business blog in 2012. Coming in at number 3 is a piece from our 10 in 10 series--our top 10 tips for using Google Chrome.

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Want to get even faster at work? Use Google Chrome shortcuts to start working as fast as you browse the web:

  1. While reading online, have you ever seen a word or phrase that you wanted to learn more about? Next time, just highlight the term(s) and then drag it to your tabstrip to the right or left of your current tab--a new tab will open with search results for the highlighted text. You can also try the Dictionary extension so when you highlight a word the definition will hover over it. 
  2. Have a site (or a few) you always keep open, like Gmail or Rdio? You can pin those tabs so that they open the next time you launch Chrome. To pin a tab, right-click on it then select “Pin Tab”.  
  3. Sign in to Chrome to access your bookmarks and quickly sync your tabs on any of your other gadgets where you’re signed into Chrome. Just go to the “Other devices” menu when you open a new tab to find them. The back and forward buttons will even work, so you can pick up browsing right where you left off. 
  4. Try using incognito windows to browse in stealth mode. With Incognito Mode, pages you view won't appear in your browser history or search history, and they won't leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window 
  5. Want to hide your bookmarks bar? You can also use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Shift+B (Windows and Chrome OS) and ⌘-Shift-B (Mac) to toggle the bar on and off. 
  6. To save a webpage as a PDF, press Ctrl + p (Mac: Cmd + p) to bring up the print dialogue, then Destination > Change. 
  7. Need even more space to browse? You can toggle full-screen mode with these handy keyboard shortcuts: Fullscreen Key on a Chromebook, F11 on Windows & Linux, and Cmd+Shift+F on a Mac. 
  8. Accidentally close a window? Just use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+t to open the last tab you closed. Keep using this shortcut to open your previous tabs. 
  9. Bookmarks are just a click away. Like a page? Click on the Star next to the omnibox, and the page is automatically bookmarked. 
  10. Use apps from the Chrome Web Store to do things like get notifications, take notes, edit screenshots, and more. 
You can learn even more tips for using Google Chrome by checking out the help center or Chrome’s Google+ page.

Jacky Hayward, Google Chrome Team 

Rubbish is Okay

There's an excellent article in the January 2013 issue of Writing magazine, where Michael Madden admits to writing rubbish.  He demonstrates that it is okay to write rubbish.

I'm writing rubbish at the moment. (Hopefully not this blog posting!) I've been commissioned to write a project and my deadline is looming. At this moment in time, I still have 3,000 words to go, and they're doing my head in. They just don't seem to be coming out in the right style, or voice.

Despite this, I am still writing something. In amongst the other writing projects on this week, I know I will get those last 3,000 words written. In my opinion, along with the other 17,000 words, they'll be 3,000 words of rubbish. But, at least I'll have written some words. Then the real work will begin: turning the rubbish into gold.

There are many phrases and quotes in the writing world that echo this:

"Get it writ, then get it right."

"Books aren't written, they're re-written."

"Writing is 20% writing and 80% re-writing."

As the novelist Jodi Picoult once said, "You can't edit a blank page." But once you've got something down on paper (or on the screen), then you can begin to craft and hone it. A craftsman takes a raw material and chips away, making little tweaks and changes, eventually revealing the masterpiece that they've created.

So next time you find yourself stuck, and the words won't flow, or they don't seem to want to come out in the way you'd like them to, don't panic. Give yourself permission to write rubbish. Writing rubbish is okay, because you're still writing something. Something is better than nothing. It's possible to perfect something. With nothing, you have ... nothing.

So, go on. Write some rubbish this week. Who knows what you might be able to do with it.

Good luck.

Friday, December 7, 2012

HOAliday Series: Keeping Ads from Going Dark over the Holidays

AdWords Specialists Courtney Pannell, Ben Oberg,  and Brette Henderson hosted a Hangout on Air last week as the first installment of the HOAliday three-part series.

During the Hangout, we talked about some tips to keep your ads running during this crucial time for your business. We first explained how to avoid in ad delivery when you’d like to change your ad text to show a holiday promotion or deal. We then shared a few of our best tips with automated rules and billing best practices to make advertising for your business easy during a season that you should get to enjoy, too!

To watch the full 20-minute Hangout on Air, visit the Google Business YouTube channel.



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, December 13th, when we discuss how to create standout ads during the busy holiday season.

Stay tuned! HOA HOA HOA and to all a good day/night!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Announcing a new Google Ads Hangout on Air series - “Happy HOAlidays”

(This post has been cross-published from the AdWords blog)



The holidays are crunch time for many advertisers out there, so we’re introducing a new holly, jolly Hangout on Air series on the Google Ads +Page. In this three-part series, AdWords specialists from the 866-2-GOOGLE support team will cover three important topics surrounding your AdWords performance during the holiday season.

December 6 at 11 AM PDT: How to keep your ads from going dark during the holidays
We’ll discuss tips and tricks for how to manage your account effectively when you might be out of the office on holiday break.

December 13 at 11 AM PDT: How to create stand-out ads during the competitive holiday season
We’ll share the best strategies for setting yourself apart from your competition.

December 20 at 11 AM PDT: How to maintain the holiday momentum
We’ll tell you how to assess your holiday performance and engage your new customer base into the new year.

To join the Hangouts, just sign into Google+ and add the Google Ads +Page to your circles. Each week we’ll put up a post soliciting your questions. Then, on Thursday, navigate to your Stream where you’ll be able to view our Hangout live with just one click. See you there!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Build Your Digital Brand with Google+ Webinar



The Google+ platform provides a fresh canvas for building and strengthening your digital brand, tying into all the marketing you already do with Google. From launching a new product using Google+ pages to engaging with your community of enthusiasts over Hangouts, join our Learn with Google webinar this Thursday for a look at ways your company can build its brand using social. Sign up on our webinar page to attend: Building a Digital Brand with Google+ (Thurs, Dec 6, 10am PT / 1pm ET)

After the Hangout, we’ll host a live Q&A with members of the Google+ team to answer questions about building a brand with Google+. RSVP on the Google+ Event page and add your questions as comments on that page.

With more than 100 monthly million active Google+ users, the time is right to focus on building your digital brand presence via the platform. Google+ has seen a wealth of brands engaging with users in creative, interactive ways. In fact, brands created more than 1 million Google+ pages in just a few months. For instance:
  • H&M -- The retail clothing company, with more than 2 million Google+ followers, uses tailored content, images and video to bring its fashions and lifestyle to life on the platform. They’ve also utilized Ripples to identify their trendsetters and saw a 22% clickthrough rate boost after implementing social extensions in AdWords.
  • Cadbury -- The chocolate maker has reached a following of nearly 3 million users with a combination of creative posts, Hangouts on Air and even the launch of their Dairy Milk Bubbly bar. They’ve also installed the Google+ badge on the company’s web homepage, making it easy as chocolate to follow the brand.
Like the ideas here? Log on Thursday to learn more about how to create, capture and sustain demand for your brand using Google+. And if you’re going to miss this while you’re at SMX Social in Las Vegas next week, check back at the webinars page later for a recording of the webinar.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Little Speculation ...


On the afternoon of 9th February 2012, I sat down at my desk and spent a couple of hours doing a bit of speculative work. As the saying goes, it’s necessary to speculate in order to accumulate. Speculation can help you broaden your markets.

When we sow these seeds, we don’t always know where they may land, or even if they will germinate. But if you don’t sow a seed in the first place there is nothing to grow.

My speculation on this occasion was not for a writing market, but a photography one. A company was interested in seeing photographs that might be suitable for calendars. I spent the afternoon going through my photographic library identifying some images I thought might be suitable.

In October, I had a letter from the calendar company. They wanted to use one of my photos in their Devon calendar for 2014. Then a week later they sent me another. They wanted to use another one in their 2014 Heart of England calendar. Last week, I had another letter: they’re interested in three more photos for the 2014 Shropshire calendar. 

I’m now beginning to harvest the benefits from that initial sowing. I’m approaching other calendar companies and putting together an article for photographers about what I’ve learned so far, such as what makes a potential calendar photo. So, even though I’ve targeted a new market, I’m using the experience to give me ideas for my traditional writing markets.

As 2012 enters its final few weeks, think about new markets you might want to consider approaching next year. You never know how these may help you with your existing markets.

Good luck.   

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A free month of advertising from AdWords Express

(Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords blog)

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and small businesses are certainly no exception. To help businesses reach new customers this season and keep the holiday spirit rolling into 2013, we have a special offer for new AdWords Express users in the U.S. If you sign up for AdWords Express before December 16, 2012, you’ll receive a free advertising credit in January worth what you spend between now and the end of this year.*

Since AdWords Express launched in July 2011 in the United States, we’ve seen businesses from toy stores to tree farms use AdWords Express to get their businesses discovered online. After 16 busy months, AdWords Express has expanded its borders to 12 additional countries and 9 languages, so that gift shops in Germany, heating contractors in the U.K., and surf shops in Australia can get on the map in front of potential customers in time for the holiday season.

Watch these businesses talk about how they use AdWords Express to maximize sales in the busy season:


Remember, the sooner you start advertising online, the more holiday customers you can reach and the more free advertising credit you can earn, so visit google.com/adwords/express today.

Happy holidays from the AdWords Express team!


*Terms and Conditions

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gmail and Drive - a new way to send files

(Cross-posted from the Gmail blog)

Since Google Drive launched in April, millions of people have started using Drive to keep, create and share files. Starting today, it’s even easier to share with others: you can insert files from Drive directly into an email without leaving your Gmail.
Have you ever tried to attach a file to an email only to find out it's too large to send? Now with Drive, you can insert files up to 10GB -- 400 times larger than what you can send as a traditional attachment. Also, because you’re sending a file stored in the cloud, all your recipients will have access to the same, most-up-to-date version. Like a smart assistant, Gmail will also double-check that your recipients all have access to any files you’re sending. This works like Gmail’s forgotten attachment detector: whenever you send a file from Drive that isn’t shared with everyone, you’ll be prompted with the option to change the file’s sharing settings without leaving your email. It’ll even work with Drive links pasted directly into emails.
So whether it’s photos from your recent camping trip, video footage from your brother’s wedding, or a presentation to your boss, all your stuff is easy to find and easy to share with Drive and Gmail. To get started, just click on the Drive icon while you're composing a message. Note that this feature is rolling out over the next few days and is only available with Gmail's new compose experience, so you'll need to opt-in if you haven't already.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Note The Detail


At our writers’ circle meeting this month, our chairman ran a workshop called Showing the Detail. It was a look at how we can use detail to convey more information in our descriptions to the reader, whilst also trying to avoid using cliches. 

It doesn’t matter whether your write fiction or non-fiction - giving your reader a useful amount of detail is important. The reader needs sufficient information to understand and re-create the scene you are describing in their own imagination, however, they don’t need to be overwhelmed with detail that it stops the message behind your writing getting through.

In our workshop, we were given a series of bland sentences to rewrite in a more interesting and detailed way. Here are three that I had a go at:

The man had a bad smell. I rewrote this as: He needed air traffic control to co-ordinate the bluebottles in their stacking formation above his putrid, matted hair. 

Miranda was rich I rewrote as: Miranda stepped out of her Tuesday morning Porsche and realised it needed changing, for the tyres on this one were now dirty and it had lost that new-car freshness since driving it off the forecourt ten minutes ago.

And finally, instead of She cried I came up with: Once the first tear found her chin, others quickly followed to the lowest point of her face, gathering confidence as their numbers swelled, ready for the next leap.

Now, I’m not saying any of those are brilliant, but the extra information the reader has there gives them more to draw upon when recreating the scene in their own imagination.

Detail is useful for travel writing too. I recently marked a student assignment where they had written: We found an Italian parlour on the promenade, which sold the best ice-cream I’ve ever tasted

That’s interesting information, but with a bit more detail, it could prove so much more useful to a reader who might be going to the same destination. Think how much more practical the following is:

Look out for Fuscardi’s on the promenade near the pier, for the best Rum and Raisin ice cream you’ve ever tasted!

Not only does the reader now know the name of the ice cream vendor, but they also have a better clue as to where to find it and  that the Rum and Raisin flavour tasted good!

Next time you sit in a cafe, or somewhere busy, and people watch, make a better note of the detail. It could make your writing more interesting.

Good luck.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Five for Drive: Tips for Sharing and Collaborating with Google Drive

Editor’s note: In November, we’re sharing tips on how your business can get the most out of Google Drive. Our final post features 5 ways you can share your files. Previously we’ve featured Google Drive basics and tips for creating and editing the documents your business needs.

Is your business looking to increase internal collaboration and share files on the web? Below, you’ll find 5 tips on how you can use Google Drive to collaborate on your documents and share them with the right audience.
  1. Click on the Share button in the upper right corner of any document to make sure the right people have the right access. By setting the visibility options, you can share your documents with a specific group, anyone with the link, or anyone on the web. To give access to a specific group of people, you can add collaborators and decide if each person should be able to edit, comment on, or just view your files.
  2. Transfer ownership of a file or folder to let someone else manage it for you. The new owner can then add or remove collaborators, share the file with others, and change visibility options and access privileges.
  3. Download the Google Docs App in Hangouts to open, discuss, and add comments to a document, all while you’re in a Hangout. This way, you can review a file face-to-face in video chat with a co-worker, even if you’re away from the office.
  4. Publish your documents and get a URL that you can share with the whole world. Use the publish feature to email your customer base a link to your most recent newsletter or to send a presentation of your business’s most popular products to a potential client.
  5. Share files to your Google+ stream publicly or with a specific circle of clients, and let your followers flip through one of your business’s presentations or fill out a feedback form all without ever leaving the stream. For each document you share on Google+, you can set access rights so your audience can edit or simply view it.
Looking for even more tips about Google Drive? Check out the Help Center, the Google Apps Learning Center, or Drive’s Google+ page.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How Do You Keep Yours? - Update

Just a quick post to let you know that the article I mentioned in my blog posting of 12th November, has now been published on the Ezee Writer ezine.

So, for more information about the sort of data you might want to consider collecting when you submit your manuscripts, click on: http://www.writersbureau.com/e-zee-writer/november-2012/page3.htm

Feast your way through Google business tips

Want a feast this Thanksgiving without crashing into a tryptophan-induced slumber? Work your way through three courses of business tips that we’ve rounded up from our 10 in 10 series.

If you want more detail or links to learn even more, check out our full posts on ways your business can use Chrome, Gmail, Google+, and Google Calendar.


Posted by Jacinth Sohi, Google and Your Business Blog Team

Reader Churn

A readership isn’t always static. Yes, there are some magazines whose readers stay with them for years (I am one of the original subscribers to Writers News magazine, gulp!), but there are also some magazines whose readerships change quite frequently.

When a magazine targets a particular niche readership the end result can lead to it loosing those readers! For example, the core readership of Photography for Beginners are … er … beginner photographers. These readers are buying the magazine for knowledge and to learn a new skill.

There will come a time when the magazine is not teaching them anything new and, as a result, they will look for another magazine to move on to for further knowledge and skills. So those readers will stop buying Photography for Beginners and move onto Amateur Photographer, or Digital SLR Skills, or one of the many other photography magazines. And then, after a couple of years, they may stop with that publication and move onto Advanced Photographer or one of the other professional magazines.

What does this mean for the writer? It’s important to identify these types of magazines, because the editor will be looking for ideas and articles on topics they’ve already covered before, possibly as recently as 12 months ago, although they will be looking for a slightly different angle. For example, a photography magazine might want a winter article offering advice to beginners on how to take photos of snow. The following year, the editor will be looking for another article about taking snow photos, because there will be a bunch of new readers who weren’t around when the last article was run, but it needs to be slightly different for those readers who did read last year’s article.

In some magazines, once editors have covered an idea, they don’t want to return to it for several years (the frequency of the publication also influences this, too). A quarterly publication rejected an article I’d submitted because the editor had recently accepted another article on exactly the same topic. I did mange to sell that article to that same editor at the same publication, ten years later, because enough time had passed for the reader (which had a low churn rate).

Of course, one magazine’s loss is another magazine’s gain, although it’s not quite so cut and dried if you look at the bigger picture. Magazine companies often produce a magazine for beginners, intermediates and more experienced readers, so whilst the readership might churn from one magazine to another, the company tries to keep the readers amongst its own stable of publications.

Good luck.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Get Your Business Black Friday Ready with Google Offers

Is your business Black Friday ready? After a hearty helping of turkey and lots of sides, folks often have a hankering for some serious shopping. It’s a great time to showcase value and offer some irresistible deals. This year, Google Offers is here to help small businesses run deals and get discovered. Best of all, it’s a deal for you, too. Getting started is free.



Get Started 
It’s easy to make a Google Offer right from the Google Places for Business dashboard. Verified business owners already using Google Places for Business, skip on ahead to Create an Offer. Get started on Google Places for Business by entering your business’ phone number here.

Create an Offer 
Ready to create your offer? You can customize whether you want to offer customers a percentage off their sale, a flat amount of money off, or a free item. You’ll also need to know how many offers you want to make available, for how long they’ll run, and a few other details. We’ve got a gallery of photographs, too, to make sure your offer looks great.

Meet New Customers
Your new customers will be able to discover nearby offers on Google Maps for Android. We’ve got some offer management tools, too, so you can see and control the duration of your offer. Offer going well? You can extend the offer, or, limit its availability if needed. You’ll also be able to see how many people have redeemed or are planning on redeeming the offer. Happy savings!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Five for Drive: Tips for Creating and Editing in Google Drive

Editor’s note: In November, we’re sharing tips on how your business can get the most out of Google Drive. Our second post features 5 ways you can create, edit, and enhance your files. Previously we’ve featured Google Drive basics. Check back next week for tips on the many ways you can share and collaborate on the documents in your Drive.

Businesses looking for pointers on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, keep reading! This week, we’re sharing 5 tips on how you can use Google Drive to create and edit the documents you need to keep your business running smoothly.
  1. To create a new document in Google Drive, simply hit the ‘Create’ button to choose which type of file you’d like. To collaborate on your business’s existing documents like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, you can upload them to Google Drive for easy editing and sharing.
  2. Use a template to create the specific types of documents your business may need, such as letterheads, sales presentations, inventory trackers, or customer feedback forms. Browse the template gallery to find examples best suited for your business.
  3. Make your presentations more compelling by embedding YouTube videos into your slides. You can play the video from directly within the file as long as you have an internet connection.
  4. View the revision history of your document, spreadsheet, or presentation to see the changes made by you and any other collaborators. You can also revert to earlier versions of a file and see edits made to any of these versions.
  5. Use other apps in Drive, such as Forms, Drawings, and Fusion Tables. You can also download third-party apps from the Chrome Web Store that allow you edit images and videos, fax and sign documents, manage products, create flow charts, and more.
Looking for even more tips about Google Drive? Check out the Help Center, the Google Apps Learning Center, or Drive’s Google+ page.

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