Google

Thoughts on Google AdSense

After starting up my own personal blog, I started thinking about ways to make it a bit of a side hustle (oh, and Side Hustle School was inspiring as well). One of the ideas that kept coming up was Google AdSense, a way to display ads on your website.

The whole moral dilemma of whether or not to place ads on my blog is something I’ve grappled with and is ultimately a personal choice. Maybe someday I’ll decide to go back to being ad-free, but for now, I’m intrigued to see how lucrative this might be (for a fairly small website, I’m not anticipating a full paycheck but some rainy day funds would be cool).

The thing about AdSense — as with a lot of things pertaining to Google — is that a) it changes every so often, and b) you don’t necessarily have a lot of control over it.

To get started, you need a website, a Google account, and to visit Google AdSense. Fill out some preliminary information (name, website, etc), and Google will give you a code to copy and paste in your website’s header (don’t worry — they have some tutorials to help). Then, Google will ask you to confirm that the code is ready so they can “review your site.” Although Google tells you the review process can take up to 3 days, I heard back within day 1.

After that, you get taken to this lovely-looking dashboard.

So Google AdSense offers a few different displaying options for the ads. The relatively easy ones to add are Text & Display ads, In-Feed, and In-Article.

In-Feed and In-Article Ads are the ones you’ll see in between a list (feeds) or paragraphs (article). Arguably these are less distracting to your readers, but I have been confused by them before.

My first ad was a Text & Display Ad. This type of ad is probably the easiest with which to get started since all you have to do is copy and paste the code and add it … wherever! I chose to put my first one in my site’s sidebar, but I can play around with it or add more ads later. Sure, you could shove an ad in your footer, but the point is for people to see/click on it, so placement is important. It’s a fine line between putting it somewhere that isn’t completely annoying but remains somewhat attention grabbing.

This is what it looked like on the front end of my site. Yay Birchbox!

Other types of ads are Page Level ads. Anchor ads appear at the very bottom of a mobile screen, while vignette ads will appear while pages are still loading on your website. Quickstart ads are for both desktop and mobile. This cluster of ads will only appear on your website or a page on your website a) once you have added the code in the right spot and b) whenever Google thinks it’s a good time to show them. Meaning, Page Level Ads appear entirely at Google’s discretion.

Some things to keep in mind if you’re considering using AdSense:

  • If you’re a control-freak, this might not be a good option. While you can limit where the ads appear, you don’t necessarily get to control what’s being advertised (you can set up some restrictions, but this is another “Google decides” thing).
  • You may have to deal with code. Getting page-level ads to display on my website was a bit of a hassle because I had no idea where I was supposed to add the code. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who have decided to share their wisdom with the internet, so I figured it out with some research.
  • Once it’s set up, it seems fairly easy. Like anything, I’m sure I could do more, crazier things to optimize my Google AdSense. If you’re just looking to set something up and “coast” for a bit, that’s totally an option as well. (Keep in mind, Google likes to change things up every now and then so you may have to revisit every so often).

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

What’s In a Name?

I was reviewing a recent post from my colleague, Kassie, about some fading trends. It got me to thinking about this ongoing trend in odd-sounding online company names.

Let’s start with the ubiquitous “Facebook.” The original name for this plucky social media startup was “The Facebook” as coined by founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 as an online directory for Harvard Students. According to Speeli (an actual website with that actual name), “A Facebook is (a) collection of names and photos of people distributed in American universities.” The name was eventually shortened.

As we know, Facebook has since faded into obscurity and never had a movie made about it, meanwhile, Zuckerberg is now working as a low-paid temp in suburban Ohio performing light clerical duties. Ha! Just kidding about the world’s most popular social network (please don’t delete my account, Mr. Zuckerberg).

So there is a rhyme and reason behind the name, even if it’s a bit obscure. Facebook, we’ll give you a pass.

Moving onto “Google.” A Googol, as you may or may not recall, is a numeral representing a 1 followed by one hundred 0s. The search engine’s founders named their company after “Googol,” but misspelled it as “Google,” according to the Stanford Daily. So there you have it. The site you go to in order to figure out the correct spellings of strange words is actually itself misspelled. Still, it’s better than the initial name for the company: Backrub (seriously).

“Tinder.” First of all, kudos to the folks at Tinder for not dropping the “e” in their name. Many an online company try to be clever by sacrificing vowels in the search to be “edgy” and to “register a domain name that hasn’t been taken.” (I’m looking at you, Tumblr.) Anyway, “tinder” is defined as “material that is easily combustible and can be used for lighting a fire, e.g. dry sticks.” So with Tinder, once you have a spark, you can make fire or a flame. Makes sense for a match making site.

“Wikipedia.” I kind of hate word mashups. Snapchat, LinkedIn, Buzzfeed, YouTube. Bunch of cutting-edge innovative jerks, all of them! But I’ll make an exception for Wikipedia.

As one can imagine, Wikipedia does a pretty good job of defining itself: “The name ‘Wikipedia’ is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning ‘quick’) and encyclopedia.” So “Wikipedia” means “Quick Encylopedia,” something I learned by Googling “Wikipedia,” which led me to Wikipedia’s page on … Wikipedia.

“Reddit.” Much like The B Sharps from “The Simpsons,” Reddit is a name that seems funny and clever the first time you say it, but gets less so the more you repeat it. The company’s FAQ says says, “It’s (sort of) a play on words — i.e., ‘I read it on reddit.'”

There also a lengthy Reddit thread on a supposed Latin definition of the word that we can only assume devolves into comments regarding “OP’s mom.”

Fun with Keywords

If you’ve ever done a Google or any type of online search before, you may have encountered something similar to the above post. How does Google generate these suggestions? According to Search Engine Land, there are a few components. These include overall searches (things people around the world have typed in), your own search history, and regional suggestions.

So, Google and other search engines have methods for anticipating what people are looking for and delivering relevant results.

How do you get your website to show up in searches? That’s where SEO and keyword research comes in. According to Techopedia, a keyword “is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page.” Having the right keywords on your website helps get your material to the right people when they search for certain words/phrases. How do you know if your words/phrases are “right”? There are a few pieces to that puzzle.

One part, which may seem like common sense, is that you want keywords that match the content on your website. For instance, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use “Barnum & Bailey Circus” on our Breaking Even Contact page. It’s not accurate and probably won’t get us any traffic. (Spammers tend to use popular words to get traffic to their spammy sites so search engines will penalize you for what they consider a mismatch between what you say is on your website and what is actually there.)

Once you determine what’s relevant, another piece of a “right” keyword is what your target audience/people who are interested in what you’re offering. Just because you think people are using certain search words doesn’t necessarily mean they are actually using those words. A lot of times, business owners have more industry knowledge and might assume others are using more jargon-y terms to reach their website. To reconcile these potential discrepancies, keyword research comes in, and that’s where things can get a bit…silly.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of doing keyword research using a website called SEO Profiler. This is a paid service that has several tools, including keyword research. The keyword suggestion tool lets you type in a word or phrase, and then suggests other search terms based on number of local searches (based on an area you pick out, ‘local’ for us is United States) and  competition (how many other websites are using the keyword). One of the more interesting words that I discovered was ‘whales.’

The results for ‘whales’ was very similar to some of the aforementioned Google autofill fails. Since SEO Profiler (and other keyword research tools) are basing their information on what people are searching for, this yields some pretty interesting results. My top 10 (there were HUNDREDS of hilarious results):

  1. Prince of Whales
  2. Whales the country
  3. Why do whales beach themselves
  4. Whales with legs
  5. Blackfish
  6. Why is a humpback whale called a humpback whale
  7. Do whales fart
  8. Do killer whales kill
  9. Can whales drown
  10. whales tale (<–apparently this is a water park in New England)

So, when you’re thinking about keywords, remember: relevance (is it on your website and a phrase people are actually searching), accuracy (is it what your people are searching for), and value (are people looking to ‘buy’ what you are selling when looking up that word).

The fun factor was one of the pleasant surprises to be found in keyword research, but entirely optional.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Facebook Live: What We’ve Learned So Far

I’ve been on the whole video marketing bandwagon for at least six years. Even in its infancy, I had an introductory (terrible) video on the Breaking Even site so people could get to know me. Circa 2010 ya’ll:

(Wow, that was painful… but how awesome was my lime green kitchen? I mean really.)

I did videos sporadically but talking at a camera by yourself, well, it’s not very interesting (no matter how informative the material).

When Kassie started working here threeish years ago and she was also not opposed to doing video, we had a weekly Google Hangout for about a year. Since it was live, we stuck to a schedule- Thursdays at 10 a.m.- to take out any guesswork for our fans.

Here’s an example of how many people watched us:

googlehangoutlifetimestats

99 times. Ever. Like in the video’s entire life.

At first, I took it that people didn’t want to watch us. (Leave it to Self Deprecating Nicole to take it personally right away initially.)… Until I thought about it and realized 1) Not many people are generally using Google+ and 2) Our target customers tend to be not on this network anyway, and if they are, they most likely aren’t “on” it frequently enough to watch videos.

When Periscope (live video tied to Twitter) came out, we got a bit more popular:

periscopestat

(I get that this is only 50 viewers compared to the 99 on Youtube but this was 1) way less promoted and 2) only available on mobile- while the other one is available everywhere so despite the number being smaller, I think it’s more impressive.)

But still, while we do have more of a Twitter following, our active people tend to be on Facebook and Pinterest the most.

So when Facebook Live came out, I was excited to be able to do the live video thing in front of our intended audience… though I am happy we got other practice first.

facebookliveinsights

Top two posts are video posts, bottom two are popular photos. As you see, people LOVE the video.

While the videos did get a lot of love, you may ask yourself, “OK Nicole but did anyone watch them?” An excellent question:

facebooklivedeepstats

Ok so 7% of people (Alison King and maybe two other people) watched all the way through. And 62 our of the 124 video views only watched it for ten seconds.

Now this begs the question: does it MATTER if people watch the video? Or do you just want them to like, comment on, or share your post so more people see stuff from your business in a general way?

The answer in, my case, is both. Kassie and I thought about what we wanted to talk about but we didn’t work hard on scripting it (you see the stats of people watching it and probably get why). We come up with a few ideas that we think are interesting and will have value for viewers, but there’s nothing rehearsed about these recent videos.

What we can find the most compelling about Facebook Live (besides the fact that people actually seem interested in it), is that according to my sources, it is less expensive to ‘boost’ (re: paid advertise) a Facebook Live video then other kinds of Facebook posts.

So whether you are looking at this from a building relationships perspective, from a ‘viral content’ perspective, or cheaper advertising vehicle perspective, Facebook Live is something to watch and something we plan on continuing to experiment with. You can check out our live videos on our Facebook page, or check out this collection of 7 early Facebook Live experimenters (all brands) to get inspired for your own debut, should you choose!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Google+ Communities

gettingingoodwithgoogle-buttonIn an effort to make Google+ a more “social” network, Communities were formed in 2013.

Communities are similar to Facebook or LinkedIn Groups: they are organized by topics or general interests. From a marketing perspective, Google+ Communities are an underutilized tool for starting and participating in conversations that matter.

What are the benefits of being an active community member on Google?

One thing I’ve noticed about Communities is the global exposure. When you look at any given page, it’s unusual not to see at least one post in a foreign language that isn’t spam). It’s an interesting reminder that social media is far-reaching and that we really do have a unique opportunity in front of us.

Wait a second, my business doesn’t need to market globally. True, but the point of a community isn’t to sell- it’s to exchange information.  This article from Social Media Examiner suggests “As you discover communities where your target market is located, join them and listen in on what they are saying.” In doing so, you discover what your target market has to say about your industry. There may be trends in questions or concerns, which makes great blog post or newsletter material. In other words, it’s a chance for you to research potential customers, and even help them out from time to time.

By contributing to conversations that are related to your industry, you show others that you’re knowledgeable and ideally trustworthy/helpful. Occasionally this does translate into sharing your own material if it’s relevant and can help solve a problem. For instance, if someone posts a question asking about finding the right hashtag for a Twitter post, I could respond with a link to this blog post on that very subject.

googlecommunitiesexample

A screenshot of Communities that Google thinks I would enjoy. This is just a small slice of the topics available- you can even join one of several communities about Grumpy Cat.

What if the community you want/need doesn’t exist?

If you want to start your own community, the steps are pretty straightforward. You get to set up the rules and facilitate conversations among community members, but aside from that, it’s relatively hands-off.

Below is an example from The Marketing+ Community Page is full of people sharing articles and other helpful information about social media marketing (new features, tips they have found to be helpful, etc).

When you set up a community, you have a few decisions to make. Will it be public or private? If it’s private, will it still appear in searches? What are the rules for participating in this community? The description and rules will be displayed on the left sidebar of the community page.

exampleabout

You can post in your own community from time to time to start a conversation (if you have some questions for followers, this is a great way to get them answered), but the ultimate goal is to create a community built around user-generated content. Below is an example post from the Marketing+ Community from KeyMedia Solutions. You may notice that this is an article from their own website, but a) it’s relevant to other community members and b) isn’t overtly selling anything.

examplepost

Communities are another one of those online resources that may inspire new ideas or ways to connect with your businesses. You may also forge some new connections with people you would never have met without this tool. Whether you decide to use communities for business or for fun, they’re unique educational and networking opportunities.

grumpycatcommunity

And, just for fun…here’s Grumpy Cat.

If reading this has made you realize you need help with Google+, click below to learn about a service we think may be a great way for you and your business to start on Google+:

giwg_more

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

How to Get Theyuh from Heyuh: Making Sure Customers Can Find You

My friends and family already know this about me, but I’m a bit of a disaster when it comes to navigation. Getting lost is part of my routine at this point, but there are a few occasions where the process turns from “Aw shucks, I’ve done it again” to “I’m late, cold, hungry, and utterly lost. This is no longer funny.” As a business, when you’re trying to direct traffic to your store (online or offline), the last thing you want to do is lose customers. I mean really lose them. As an authority on getting lost, here’s a guide on how to not lose customers (and people like me).

For online businesses/anyone with a website

Check Website Links: Have you ever clicked on a link in a website, expecting to go to a particular page, only to be taken somewhere totally different? No, I don’t want to see men’s watches, I wanted to find that pair of boots…Usually this is an honest linking mistake (other times it’s intentional and shady), but it’s still frustrating from a potential customer standpoint. They might feel a bit misled and betrayed (ok, that’s a little strong, but you get my point). When linking content on your website, check and double check that things are taking you where you’re supposed to go.

Check Website Navigation: Linked to that idea (…heh), does your website’s internal navigation make sense? Meaning, if a person were to start on your homepage, will it be easy for them to get from A to B, or even C and D? Menus and sidebars are your friends here. Speaking of friends, if you need an outside opinion or second set of eyes on your work, ask a friend to go through the ordering process (or whatever it is you need help with). Everyone’s brain works differently, so just because something is laid out in a way that makes sense to you, it may still be confusing for visitors.

For businesses with a website & physical location

Embed a Map: Most business websites have a map embedded somewhere on their site- if not on the homepage, then it’s usually on a Contact/Directions page. Google maps makes it easy to create and embed a map on your website. It’s free, and all you need is a Google account.

embedmap

Directions and Pictures: A map is a fantastic starting point, but you can also take things a step further and offer written directions somewhere on your website (we have them on ours). If you’re part of a larger group of buildings, have a weird entrance, or a tricky parking situation, adding these directions will help people make it through the home stretch. Displaying pictures of your storefront/office (exterior, interior, whatever you think will be most helpful) means that when people actually get to your business, they’ll have a vague sense of familiarity. It may seem a bit hand-holdy

writtendirections

Directions in writing…

...and a picture of the building!

…and a picture of the building!

 

Make sure the address is correct in other places: Remember Apple maps? They were useless as a resource because they said they were taking you somewhere, but you always ended up somewhere else. Well, if your business is listed incorrectly on Google (or another online service), you’re setting customers up for a similar ride. If your business has moved, or you’re opening a new business in an old business’s location, take a few minutes to look at the Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or other places the address may be listed online and make sure the information is up to date. Our friend Jim Leclair helps businesses do this, so if you have any questions about data maps, he’s the man to talk to!

 

Don’t lose a potential customer on the way from A to B, leading them down a rabbit hole into an Alice in Wonderland type adventure when they just wanted to buy shoes (…it happens to the best of us). Make sure the path is clear for people to reach you on and off line!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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