Google +Post Ads Take the Social Network Out Onto the Web

Google Plus Post Ads

The next age of advertising is right around the corner. With Google’s announcement of +Post ads, we now have a venue through which to advertise and garner true interaction from people as they surf the web. Think of it like Facebook advertising that reaches beyond Facebook – WAY beyond Facebook. With millions of websites out there that display Google ads, this expands the business footprint of Google’s social network in ways that Facebook will likely never be able to touch.

+Post ads take Google+ posts and display them on various websites. The example they use from their pilot programs is Toyota who used these ads to promote the launch of their Corolla earlier this year. They took Google+ posts and put them as ads on automotive sites like Autotrader as well as non-automotive sites that likely had a demographic or retargeted preference towards Toyota specifically or automotive in general.

Rather than just a plain banner that took people to the Toyota website or a landing page, the ads were interactive from the websites themselves on which they were found. If someone wanted to interact with the ad or Toyota in some way, they didn’t have to leave their website. They could comment on, +1, or share the post directly from the website without having to go to Google+.

This opens up doors for businesses to be able to truly interact with people much in the same way they’re doing on Facebook right now. The difference is, of course, that it’s not a walled garden. People will see the ads on many of the websites they visit and be able to engage with companies directly rather than having to click thru or visit the social network itself.

The possibilities are limitless. The potential is high. If Google stays true to this direction (and there’s no reason to believe that they’d make a fatal pivot) then this is going to be one of the most powerful forms of advertising that businesses can use. Small, localized businesses will gain the most benefit if they handle it properly, but big brands will be able to get traction with their own launches and offerings as well.

We will keep you updated. In the meantime, it’s time to get your Google+ pages in order, active, and worth your customers’ attention. Here’s the video describing Toyota’s trial:

Personal Online Reputation Just Got Easier Thanks to Google

Reputation Management Mug Shots

You may not have even known about the scandal of “mug shot websites”; hopefully you never had to deal with the reputation management problem that they caused. Luckily for many people, Google solved the problem for them recently. Personal reputation management was becoming a big business for many different “mug shot websites” that were using public records to rank high for the names of anyone arrested for a crime on Google and other search engines.

These unscrupulous websites have been essentially blackmailing the people to have their names removed from the database to avoid online reputation issues. One of the significant problems is that there is not just one such website, so removing your name from one could have just meant it was the first in a long list people in line for your money.

 

You Were Arrested for What?

Arrest records are public record for anyone who has been arrested; we know in the United States that you are innocent until proven guilty. Even if your arrest charges were dropped, they still remain public record and many different websites were taking advantage of this and creating a reputation management issue for many people. Imagine the ensuing nightmare if a mug shot website ranked at the top of the page, or even in the paid listings, when a potential boss or future father in law searches your name on the internet.

The mug shot websites were charging people anywhere from $30 – $400 for what they describe as “cleaning up your public record”. However the questionability comes in when they are designed to rank high for the names listed on their site, and some were even paying for advertising with the arrest record names as keywords. Up until this month, they were making a hefty profit from because of their high ranking and not just because people were interested in cleaning up their name on the internet.

 

Google to the Rescue!

As part of the many algorithm changes Google has made in the past 2 or 3 years, the latest change was an algorithm that directly affected the page rank of types of mug shot websites that were pretty much just gaming Google’s ranking system and making a profit off of it in a pretty unscrupulous manner. These websites are no longer given priority ranking within Google’s search results.

In addition, Master Card  has even cut these types of websites off from using their online payment systems.

 

Do No Evil?

Most people will agree that the mug shot websites are pretty underhanded and should not be doing what they were doing, even though it is perfectly “legal”. However this specific targeting from Google does still raise questions over what type of control Google has over what searchers see and what they do not see.

At the very least, Google’s page ranking adjustment will make it easier for you to outrank those sites for your name and take control of your own reputation management online.

A SearchEngineLand.com  article further touches on these points and delves into the policies for both Google and Bing and how they are able to remove content from their sites that may go against terms of services or fall under duplicate content guidelines for removal. They also reported an update to the article that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center now says it’s gotten hundreds of reports of this problem, and is seeking complaints  from people who have been affected. 

 

Manage Your Own Online Reputation

We all make mistakes, it is human nature. A mistake from your past does not have to haunt you on Google and elsewhere online though. What can you do to fix your own problem without paying extortionist websites? Take control of your own reputation management and drown out those negative results by posting your own information about yourself. Here’s how to push the bad results down and boost your own positive results:

  • Fill Out Social Media Profiles: Make sure all of your social media public profiles look professional and show the person you want others to see. Fill in all available fields for each profile and set up something with as many social media channels as you can. Each one will create a Google listing that will push the mug shot website down further.
  • Utilize Personal Websites: There are several different websites  like About.Me and ItsMyURLs that are free. You should set up with all of them.
  • Update Your Google Profile: Your Google profile is now attached to Google Plus and that should be filled out completely with as much information as you can think of and do not leave anything blank.
  • Use LinkedIn: LinkedIn is there for professional networking and creating a professional profile in a social way. You can brand yourself and make yourself look great with a professional looking resume. Join professional groups on LinkedIn and post relevant articles about your industry or profession.

As a Paid Service, Google Helpouts Better Deliver

Google Helpouts

Real help from real people in real time… often for a price.

The concept of Google Helpouts is this – you need help and you may be willing to pay for it. You might need some assistance with a dish you’re cooking. You might want to learn how to play the guitar. You may want assistance on your business school application, but are you willing to pay $300 to get that assistance? Considering that particular Helpout is with a Harvard Business School graduate, you might, but it certainly better deliver.

Most of them aren’t that pricey and some of them are free. The idea is an absolutely solid one, but it just seems a bit ambitious at this point. Google hasn’t perfected their Hangouts feature, something that hasn’t quite made it into mainstream usage. There are three major drawbacks to taking on a project like this:

  • Infrastructure: mobile internet simply isn’t there yet. It will probably work just fine on WiFi but if you’re in your backyard and need help with Landscape Design, you might be on 4G or (gulp) 3G. Will a $50 service work well on a mobile connection?
  • Focus: They have a lot going on right now. Between their attempts to dominate mobile, trying to put balloons in the air to connect the world through the internet, building a driverless car, and trying to find the fountain of youth, Google is pretty stretched… even for Google. That’s not to mention the ambitions they have with Google+, something that they might have wanted to master before taking on a project like this.
  • Trustworthiness: Google needs to be trusted by the populations of America and the world if they want to achieve their goals. It doesn’t matter how well they have vetted the people on these Helpouts – if something goes wrong, it will reflect on Google. They need a ton of these people in order for this to work which means a ton of “employees” that are representing Google in the eyes of the people paying for the service.

Bottom line is that I’m skeptical. Even though this is Google that we’re talking about here, they have not had a major ambition that has worked in a long, long time. They’ve had plenty of successes – that much is certain – but it just seems like these big dreams of doing things that haven’t been done very well in the past by others is simply fueled by Google’s abundance of cash and willingness to fail if necessary.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Google should stop thinking big. It’s companies that have the cash and are willing to take risks that will mold our future. It just seems like they really need to focus hardcore on making at least one of them work before trying to make all of them work simultaneously. If Google+ was rocking and rolling, this might be the next logical step. Google+ is showing definite signs of a future but there is still so much that needs to be done.

Most importantly, people have to get used to paying Google. Right now, they’re simply not. Google has never mastered the art of getting people to pay for their products the way that Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have. Sure, people buy Android phones and apps all the time and some of that money is going to Google, but the people buying these things are not really buying a Google product, at least in their minds. They’re buying a Samsung Product, a Verizon service, and an app built by some smart people, none of which work for Google.

This is Google Helpouts. The money is going to Google. The people represent Google. If Amazon had rolled this out, it would have made more sense, not because they’re more qualified but because people are used to paying Amazon directly. Unless you’re a business buying ads, you’ve probably never knowingly paid Google any money directly.

This is not the project through which to start that habit. I hope that Helpouts is a success but I believe it will be another in a long line of Google failures.

Google+ Killed iGoogle

iGoogle

There’s a story in the Washington Post that blames the death of iGoogle, the personalized homepage that Google created but didn’t really tell anyone about, on social media in general. It mentions Google+ as part of the problem but didn’t get the story exactly right.

Google+ was the only problem. iGoogle did not fall victim to Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social sites because it didn’t compete with them. It wasn’t a matter of mentality switching from personalized selection to crowdsourcing our decisions based upon our feeds. That’s ludicrous. iGoogle failed for two reasons and they both circled around Google+.

The first reason is obvious. Google+ is everything that Google wants to be on the web. They’ve given two years of developing and testing plus two years of hardcore focus after launch before leaving it where it is today – a focus but not the whole ballgame. They have other things they’re pursuing now in mobile and other areas, but they are not taking their eyes completely off the social game. They never will. They’ve put too much into it to allow it to fail like every other social endeavor they’ve tried outside of YouTube.

The second reason goes back to the earlier focus. They could have very easily promoted the heck out of iGoogle but decided to keep it a secret menu item like ordering Animal Style burgers from In ‘N Out. They did this because they knew Google+ was on the way and that it would eventually replace iGoogle. There was an outside chance that iGoogle could be integrated in as part of the evolving Google+ environment, but when that became unlikely a year ago, they decided to let it die.

Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about it:

Customized portals like iGoogle really represented a sort of first step toward the highly personalized experience most us have online now due to the influence of social media. It seems almost quaint to rely on self-selection when you can use the hive-mind of your network to help deliver content to your stream. And with Google’s push toward an all-encompassing social-driven Web experience, it’s no surprise they decided to ax the service.

Read More: Washington Post

Four Quick Growth Stats About Google+

Google Plus Growth Infographic

Yes, I know I’ve been on a Google+ kick lately, but it has been it’s like Michael Corleone in Godfather 3. “Every time I think I’m out they pull me back in.”

Hopefully, I won’t have a heart attack immediately after saying the line the way that Al Pacino’s iconic character did. Also, I’m not in the mafia, in case you were wondering. I am, however, fully entrenched into Google+, which is why these stats mean something to me. Hopefully, they’ll mean something to you as well.

I would love to connect if you want to circle me there: https://plus.google.com/+JDRucker/posts

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Infographic courtesy of Mihi Digital.

Google+ Has Big Bump in Monthly Active Users

Google Plus

Google has been less forthcoming about their numbers ever since they were scrutinized and ridiculed the last time they made bold statements about users. This time, they are cautiously optimistic. They’re not going to have another “mission accomplished” moment.

The numbers, for what they’re worth, are very encouraging. They moved beyond the 300 million monthly active user mark. While it’s not even close to the daily active user numbers for Facebook, it’s encouraging to see just how far they’ve come in half a year. It means that they’re starting to pick up the kind of traction that many hoped they would get after their strong first couple of months in mid- to late-2011.

This, along with some improvements to Google+ Hangouts and a move to open up custom Google+ URLs gives them some good momentum heading into 2014. All of this comes when the company is not as laser focused on social as they were the first couple of years under Larry Page’s second run as CEO.

Here’s what USA Today had to say about the numbers:

Google said Tuesday its social network Google+ has seen a 58% jump in users in recent months.

Vic Gundotra, head of social at Google, said Google+ has 300 million monthly active users, up from 190 million in May.

Read More: USA Today

Check Your Google+ Pages for the Custom URL Option

Google Plus Custom URL

If you’re like many who use Google+, you may not check your pages very often. With posting and monitoring tools out there, you might not log into your actual account very often. You should. Custom URLs are now available.

For individual users, you should be getting an email if you meet the minimum requirements. These “requirements” are very minimal. Have a profile longer than a month, have at least 10 followers, and have a profile picture. If you can’t meet these requirements, you’re not really trying.

For pages, you have to log into your page accounts themselves. An option will pop up at the top that looks like this:

Google Plus Custom URL Claiming

It’s very easy with pages. With profiles, you have to verify with a text message.

I actually like the way that Google is doing this. I was on a plane when Facebook made the custom URL option available. By the time I landed, my name had already been taken. This method makes it much easier as long as the name isn’t too common.

Businesses that don’t see the option but that meet the minimum requirements should be fine. Just wait and keep checking until it pops up. If your name is common, it appears as if Google is adding location indicators to the URLs to help differentiate.

Keep checking. More importantly, don’t give up on Google+ any time soon. They’re still pushing forward and they aren’t going to be denied just because so many naysayers call it a ghost town.

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The Most Comprehensive Blog Marketing Infographic You’ll See, Ever

Blog

The word “ever” is a bold word. It means that you’ll never see an infographic that’s this long, this comprehensive, ever the rest of your life. Normally, I would never make such a claim about anything. Babe Ruth’s 60-homer season was never supposed to be broken, either.

However, I can say with confidence that this one will not be beaten. It’s huge. It’s so huge that I had to split it up into four parts to have the images hosted on the site, then decided to just keep it hosted on the source site because it really does need to be seen in all of its glory. Hattip to Venchito Tampon Jr from Digital Philippines for bringing this to us.

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Infographic by Digital Philippines

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LinkedIn Tops a Quarter Billion Users

LinkedIn

The king of professional social networking reached a major milestone recently when they broke the 250 million user mark.

Since going public in March, 2011, LinkedIn has had an up and down road. This can be expected from any social media site that goes public (just ask Facebook) but LinkedIn has been relatively stable. They’ve had some missteps. They’ve faced challenges. They seem to come out on top the majority of the time.

Here’s what Mashable had to say about the milestone:

LinkedIn now has 259 million monthly active users, up from 238 million in the previous quarter and 187 million a year earlier.

The latest number, which came as part of LinkedIn’s third quarter earnings results, puts the professional social network firmly ahead of Twitter, which had 230 million active users last quarter according to its updated S-1. However, LinkedIn is still well behind Google+ (currently at 300 million) and Facebook (1.15 billion as of the June quarter).

Read More: Mashable

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22 Content Types to Keep You Blogging

Content

One of the hardest parts about blogging is staying consistent and pumping out enough content to keep your readers coming back for more. It’s a challenge, not just because of the time necessary to stay consistent and abundant, but also because it’s possible to run out of ideas. Don’t get me wrong – there’s not really such a thing as running out of ideas completely – but we can hit a road block and sometimes we need to get some inspiration.

Other times, all you need to do is take a look at the infographic below that will give you some examples of types of posts to help keep your juices flowing, your fingers typing, and your content bursting. This graphic comes to us through Copyblogger.

Compelling Content Infographic

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