What You Need to Know About the New Google My Business

Building an online presence is crucial to the success of any contemporary business. From a website to social media, the modern business must create a solid web presence to keep up with today’s most common method of new business acquisition: the Internet.

Search engines are certainly the most popular method for potential new customers to find local businesses, and Google is chief among them. Millions of business owners now look to Google My Business, the analytics and social media software developed to influence Google search results, to attract and retain customers.

Google My Business aims to frequently improve the properties it offers to users, and has continued its usefulness with several recent developments, including new insights, accelerated mobile pages (AMPs), and an “explore interests” feature, among others.

Key features of the new insights tool tell a business owner whether his or her listing is being viewed through Google Search or Google Maps and whether customers view the listing by searching for the business name (specific search) or by a category or related keyword (general search). An additional update removes Google Plus statistics from the insights panels.

Accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) optimize web content for mobile devices. They remove unnecessary resources, which in turn allows a mobile browser to provide a more fluid user experience. Google has announced that AMPs will be immigrating to Google’s main search results, thus increasing a company’s chances of acquiring organic traffic (versus traffic acquired from paid advertising).

Google’s projected “Explore Interests” feature would allow Google users to browse categories which appeal to them, such as music, shopping, food and drink, or sports. This feature can help drive more traffic to your company’s website by offering readers the relevant content in which they show interest.

A screenshot posted by the Android Police in its blog shows the test stage of the new feature:google my business adds explore interests feature

Search engines are an essential tool for businesses in today’s modern marketplace, and utilizing Google as a means to increase traffic, and therefore sales, is a good business practice. Although a well-rounded web presence is critical for the success of today’s business, but it can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to navigate. The Public Relations and Marketing Group offers expert web development, marketing, advertising, public relations and social media management solutions to help your company compete in a 21st-century marketplace.  To learn more or for a free consultation, please contact us at 631-207-1057, or visit our website at www.theprmg.com.

An Overview of Google Business Solutions – The First in a Series of Three Articles

google

With its wide variety of cost-effective business tools, it’s no wonder why Google has secured its position as a global superpower on the Web. Google Business Solutions are a collection of services that are specifically directed at businesses and webmasters. Google offers tools to meet the needs of organizations and businesses of all sizes and boasts over 30,000 search and 3,000,000 Google Apps customers worldwide. This article, the first in a three-part series, will provide you with an overview of Gmail, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google AdSense, Google Chrome, Google Places and Google+. It will be followed by “An In-depth Look at Google AdWords” and then an article on “5 Additional Innovative Business Tools from Google,” which will focus on Google Offers, Google Engage and more.

Productivity

Gmail — With dozens of email providers to choose from, deciding on Gmail should be a no-brainer. This user-friendly email provider allows you to communicate and collaborate with reliable and secure Web-based tools. Gmail provides you with more than enough free storage space, significantly less spam, built-in text, voice or video chat and much more. You can also access Gmail from any phone, regardless of which device you use, to access your email on the go. For businesses, another comforting feature is that Gmail is entirely safe to use. Gmail uses HTTPS encryption to keep your mail and information secure.

Although most Gmail features are free, businesses can purchase a flexible plan of $5 per month to access a variety of premium features that include Google Docs and Google Calendar. Google Docs allows you to securely store all Web-based documents, spreadsheets, drawings and presentations online. This feature also provides real-time collaboration, which allows users to edit these files at any time, so you will always have the latest version. Google Calendar is a Web-based calendar application that allows businesses to manage meetings online and minimize costs. You can send event invitations, share your calendars company-wide or between specific co-workers, invite guests on mobile devices and much more.

Google Chrome — Google Chrome is a Web browser that combines a minimal, user-friendly design with sophisticated technology to make browsing the Web faster, safer and easier. Most people use their Web browser more than any other feature on their computer for searching for information, shopping, reading the news, watching videos and more. Therefore, it is essential to have a high level of security, speed and stability, which Google Chrome has mastered. Google Chrome is designed to be as fast as possible, up-to-date with the latest security updates and simple to use. Best of all, this Web browser is completely free to download on any computer.

Web Marketing

Google Analytics — This powerful Web monitoring tool provides users with rich insights into their website traffic and Web marketing effectiveness. Using Google Analytics, you can analyze data and determine which ads, keywords and other factors are most effective in driving traffic to your website and optimizing your Web presence. By consistently monitoring the information provided by Google Analytics, businesses can adapt based on what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, this tool will help you create higher converting websites and strengthen your online marketing efforts.

Google AdWords — Google AdWords lets you create and run ads for your business with a custom budget. Ads are displayed under “Sponsored Links” alongside the search results when someone searches on Google using one of your chosen keywords. This tool is so effective for businesses because you are advertising to an audience who is already interested in what you have to offer. In addition to text ads, you can run display and click-to-play video ads on Google AdWords. For more information on how to use Google AdWords, please read our article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Google AdWords.” Look out for our next article, which will include a more in-depth look at the features and options available for businesses on Google AdWords.

Google AdSense — Google AdSense is a free platform that places AdWords ads on non-Google websites. AdSense allows Web publishers to earn revenue online by displaying ads on site search results, websites, mobile Web pages and mobile apps. By simply allowing others to place targeted Google ads on your website, your business can earn money. While displaying these Google ads, AdSense also lets you provide a Google search bar to your site users. By placing this search box on your site, visitors can search the Web directly from your website. Also, you will receive a “Top Queries” report that shows you what your visitors are searching for on your site. By reviewing the 25 most common searches conducted through this Google search box, you can identify additional topics, keywords or information to add to your site, based on what your customers or clients are searching for.

Google Places — Google Places is an excellent tool for allowing businesses to get found on Google for free. Since 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, it is essential for your business to be found in search results. Over 90% of the local business Web pages on Google have not been claimed. Claiming your business page will put you at an advantage since local business results appear at the top of search results on Google when someone searches, using a certain location. By simply registering your business with Google Business Center, you can help potential customers find you on Google Places. On your Google Places page, you can include your location, contact information, photos, videos and any other information that you would like to communicate to your audience. Customers or clients can also leave reviews on your Google Places page.

Social Media

Google+ — Now open to all users, Google+ is a relatively new social media giant that has taken the Internet by storm by reaching 10 million users in its first 16 days, from June 28 to July 14. Google+ improves upon the features of existing social media outlets. Like Facebook, you can create a profile, complete with personal information and photo albums, comment on other users’ content and share posts. Google+’s “+1” button also works the same as Facebook’s “Like” icon. Like Twitter, anyone can follow you and you may follow any user by adding them to your “circles,” no matter who they may be. The “Circles” feature allows users to organize contacts in specific groups. For example, you may have a circle specifically for friends and then one only for business contacts. Google+ also has many other unique features such as Hangouts, Sparks and Huddles. The Hangouts feature allows users to engage in live, face-to-face chats involving multiple people at a time. Sparks delivers popular content from across the Internet on any topic you choose. Huddles, available on Google+ Mobile, is a unique group messaging feature that allows multiple people to chat in one place.

Businesses can also benefit from including the “+1” button on their website and blog. For more information on Google+, read our article “Google+’s Advanced Technology Addresses Facebook’s Shortcomings.”

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com.

Navigating Google Analytics

by Steve Gerbino, Web Developer, PRMG

How the System Works

Google Analytics is a powerful Knowledge Management System and Geographic Information System. It gives everyone with access to the Internet the capability of understanding how the world views, manipulates, and navigates their website using the latest data mining technologies. Its ideal availability makes it one of the top analytical information systems used by small businesses.

Getting started is extremely simple, and tracking starts immediately. A Google account and access to one’s Web server is needed. The user then navigates to the https://www.google.com/accounts/Login page, enters their account details and follows the steps necessary to create an analytics account. Google will then provide the user with a JavaScript code to apply to each page they would like to track. They may then view the status to make sure everything has been installed correctly.

Once it has been verified that the JavaScript code has been implemented correctly, Google Analytics will begin collecting data on the visitors to the user’s site. Reports are made on a 24-hour basis, so they can be viewed the next day. Once the 24-hour period has passed, the user can now click “View Report” to enter their dashboard, summarizing all of the data collected.

From here, the user can get a complete overview of the information collected on their site — how many visits, how many are unique, how long did the visitors stay on each page, where are they located geographically, what browser and operating system did they use, what version of Flash do they run, do they have JavaScript capabilities, what percentage each page was landed on, and where the traffic originated, among other useful data. You have the option to customize your dashboard, to show you the ratios that you want to see. You can customize your own ratios, graph types, and location of the information on your dashboard.

A menu is located to the left of the user’s dashboard. This is where they can get more specific in each data collection category.

Each menu item provides a more detailed report on each category, including Intelligence, Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, Goals, and Custom Reports.

The first menu item, Intelligence, is a new feature for Google Analytics. It is an alert system to identify irregular patterns recognizable by Google Analytics. Users can set their own custom alerts and allow Google Analytics to alert them when their system sees an issue. This can be handy when users analyze many websites that they don’t visit daily. They can see a drop in visitors for a day and find out that there is some problem with their site, such as coding, DNS, worms, or other forms of computer crime.

The next menu item, Visitors, is a highly powerful view of individual visitors to the site. Here, users can view how many visits, how many absolute unique visitors, how many page views, average page view per visitor, the time spent on their site, their site’s bounce rate, and percentage of new visits. It also shows the users the connection speed for their visitors. You may ask, what is a bounce rate? A bounce rate is a ratio of people who land on someone’s site and immediately leave. The goal of the user is to lower their bounce rate, which is increasing the time on their site. Up at the top, there will be a linear graph of visitors over time. One can see if the changes they made had a negative or positive effect on the amount of visitors they have had with just a glance.

Visitor also contains several sub-menu items including:

  • Benchmarking – compares the user’s site to sites of similar size
  • Map Overlay – shows the user geographical locations of visitors
  • New vs. Returning – new visitors vs. visitors that return to the user’s site
  • Languages – languages spoken
  • Visitor Trending
  • Visitor Loyalty
  • Browser Capabilities – Flash version, JavaScript support
  • Network Properties
  • User defined

Traffic Sources

Traffic Sources is very useful in determining how someone’s site is doing. This will show the user where their visitors are coming from. Direct Traffic means that the visitors actually type in the user’s address in the browser. This usually indicates a returning and loyal visitor. Referral sites are people who’ve clicked a link for another website and landed on their page. Having many referral sites increases the user’s traffic and ranking dramatically. Here, they can see exactly what websites are bringing them the most traffic. Thirdly, Search Engines will show the users what traffic that search engines are bringing them. Not only do they show users what visitors Google has referred to their site, but they show them what they actually searched for in Google to get to their site. Now the user know what keywords are hot and what’s going to get them more traffic. This page is extremely handy.

Traffic Sources also contains the following sub-menu items:

  • Overview
  • Direct Traffic
  • Referring Sites
  • Search Engines
  • All Traffic Sources
  • AdWords
  • AdWord Campaigns
  • Keyword Positions
  • TV Campaigns
  • Keywords
  • Campaigns
  • Ad Versions

Content

Content can be viewed over time, of course, at the top. Users can get a more detailed understanding on the most viewed content on their site, and a variety of other really useful information regarding what content is visible on their site.

Content sub-menu items include:

  • Overview
  • Top Content
  • Content by Title
  • Content Drilldown
  • Top Landing Pages
  • Top Exit Pages
  • Site Overlay

Site Overlay is an interesting item. It will bring up their website with a Google Analytics toolbar at the top and then put an overlay over their site so that it is shown in sectors. Each little slice of the user’s website will have a click-through percentage. This gives them a very powerful visualization of where people are actually clicking on their site. Users can find every link with a white tab showing them the percentage that it was clicked. Where are the hot spots? Where do people never click? This all can be shown with Site Overlay!

Goals

Goals are set by the user. They are pages the user wants their visitors to end up. If the user’s company is selling goods, they may set your goals to the Order Completion page. If the company is looking to get more members on their site, you may set a goal to the Registration Activation page. Another capability of Goals is funneling. A funnel is a path the user specifies from start to finish to achieve a goal. They may specify several funnels to a goal, and once a funnel is specified, they can then analyze where users stop the path or how long each step takes. On their overview, users will have a goal conversion rate — that is, the percentage of the visitors to the user’s site who have completed the goal you have set. This is a very powerful tool and can be used to improve the user’s intentions for their website.

The following are sub-menu items of Goals:

  • Overview
  • Total Conversions
  • Goal Verification
  • Reverse Goal Path
  • Goal Value
  • Goal Abandoned Funnels
  • Funnel Visualization

Positive and Negative Points

Cons

There aren’t many cons to begin with. Google Analytics is JavaScript code, and if users are looking for information about how Bots are hitting and viewing their site, Google Analytics cannot do this for them. JavaScript is not enabled in a text-based session of a bot. Also, viewers that do not have JavaScript enabled will not be tracked. This number is extremely low and will probably affect less than 1% of the user site’s population.

  • Does not track bots
  • Does not track users without JavaScript

Pros

The Pros outweigh the Cons significantly. This software is absolutely free. It costs the Web developer nothing to have this information system working for them within minutes. Why would Google offer such a great service for free? Well, the answer to that is easy. Google realizes the value of data, and with Google Analytics, users have the option to submit anonymous data about their traffic and help Google keep their practices top-notch. Google uses an opt-in approach to this, meaning the user, by default, is going to submit anonymous data to Google. They can easily uncheck the box to stop this.

  • Cost-free
  • Very powerful
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to understand
  • Totally customizable
  • Integration with other systems
  • Integration with Google AdSense & AdWords

Recommendations for Implementation

There is nothing else needed to prepare the integration of Google Analytics to a site. A basic knowledge of Web development and access to one’s Web server through their Web hosting service are all that is needed. The user simply places the JavaScript onto their site’s pages and begin analyzing data. Google could not have made it easier. Extensive training is unnecessary. Once the user logs in to their dashboard, everything is right there at their fingertips. For those who have an advanced system and wish to stream data into it, Google provides information on how to do this, as well as a number of companies who have already designed software to take this information and display it in many different ways.

Customer Service

Google provides a huge knowledgebase of FAQs, as well as a help forum. There are many best practice methods available and ways to improve one’s visibility all in Google’s documentation. One can reach customer service by logging in to their Google Analytics account and submitting a post on their forum, or searching their knowledgebase. Seeing as though their software is top-quality, anyone knowledgeable in Information Technology should see installation of this software as trivial. Any detailed questions have been addressed in their FAQ section, and the forum is reserved for more specific issues.

References

http://web-analytics-review.toptenreviews.com/free-web-analytics.html describes Google Analytics as both “comprehensive” and “easy-to-use”.

http://www.blippr.com/apps/337954-Google-Analytics users describe Google Analytics as “amazing,” “All of the tools you need to report from tracking page views to ecommerce,” “The most powerful analytics!!!” and “Google Analytics continues to make progressively better enhancements while the former leader WebTrends remains relatively unchanged.”

http://www.mediacollege.com/internet/statistics/software/google-analytics/ claims that Google Analytics is “The best stats application I have used.”