Google for Educators

It’s no secret that Google has transformed the search engine industry in its short sixteen years of existence. What you may not know, is that Google is involved in hundreds of side projects, including home automation projects, robots, and even a driverless car! While Google invests over $2 billion a year on research and development projects, some products are just better than others. Some need tweaking, customer surveys and feedback, while other projects are abandoned in their early stages. One project that Google continues to improve is its’ Google for Educators program, which compiles hundreds of great instructor resources all in one place, offers training and education for instructors, and competitions for students K-12. Here is a brief rundown of what Google has to offer:

Google Teacher Academy – A free professional development program for both primary and secondary educators from around the globe. The Academies are an intensive, two-day event where educators are given a hands-on experience with all of Google’s free products and applications. Participants can network with the 50 other professionals that have been hand selected based on their merits, dedication to teaching and passion for learning.

Google Apps for Education – Google’s Apps for Education are very similar to the apps they provide for companies and individuals. They offer Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Maps. Another application they have is geared towards education and is their “Google Book Search,” which is a virtual library for students to find books, magazines, and encyclopedias. Finally, the Google Drive application pulls the applications all together in a clean and easy to use dashboard.

Google+ for Universities – Google+ for Universities is a great tool for connecting students with their professors and teaching assistants. Both students and teachers can organize their demanding lives with online social and academic circles. Each campus organization can have their own circle, which integrates with the other applications, keeping everything in one place.

Google for Students – As if Google didn’t already offer students and educators enough tools to succeed, they also offer competitions and awards for students interested in higher learning. They offer competitions for web developers, called Google Code Jam, for ages 13+, Google Science Fair for Middle and High Schoolers and a Doodle 4 Google competition for K-12. For awards, Google likes to recognize students for excellence in math, computer science and programming.

For more information on Google, search engine techniques, and how your search engine optimization company should be optimizing your site, check us out at ArteWorks.com.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Why is Google Shutting Down Products?

Google has become one of the most cutting-edge companies in the entire world and they got that way through taking a lot of risks with their products. Some of these risky programs and applications have been profitable, and others not as much. Luckily, Google’s leaders know when to pull the plug on these products, and have a “spring cleaning” of sorts. Their latest round included The Google Mini, Google Talk Chatback, Google Video, iGoogle and Google Symbian Search App. While some of these products may be unfamiliar to you, there are almost always devout users that don’t take the news very well. iGoogle shutting down, for instance, has left quite a few loyal “Googlers” pretty upset, and they’re letting Google know just how they feel.

Google recently released this statement: “On November 1, 2013, iGoogle will be retired. We originally launched iGoogle in 2005 before anyone could fully imagine the ways that today’s web and mobile apps would put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips. With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for iGoogle has eroded over time, so we’ll be winding it down. Users will have 16 months to adjust or export their data.”

While it may be an inconvenience, Google is giving users a significant amount of time to find a replacement product, since they feel iGoogle is becoming antiquated anyways. While this may be true, and other apps may be more effective, Google could be potentially harming their brand by introducing and eliminating products too quickly. First of all, apps like iGoogle integrate with Chrome, which helps Google stay in front of users every time they open their browser. More importantly, Google may be discouraging users from trying their newest products, since users may be more reluctant to get attached to their products.

One the other hand, Austin SEO companies understand Google takes pride in introducing new and ever-changing products, and has built an empire with this technique. While a small amount of users will inevitably be affected in any cutback, Google is freeing up the space and capacity for the newest and most effective products, which may capture millions of users. So how many products and services has Google burned through in the past few years? Here is a list of just some of the most recent cuts:

  • Google Buzz
  • Google Wave
  • Code Search
  • Jaiku
  • Google Labs
  • Google Bookmarks Lists
  • Google Friend Connect
  • Google Gears
  • Google Search Timeline
  • Knol
  • Google Health
  • PowerMeter
  • Slide (and Super Poke Pets)
  • Aardvark
  • Google Desktop
  • Fast Flip
  • Google Notebook
  • Sidewiki

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Google Shopping

It seems that Google is at it again; the leading search engine knows exactly how to stay ahead of the competition; to be constantly improving. Google is constantly renovating and face-lifting each division before the competition has even caught up.

Google’s newest improvement is in their Google Shopping section, where they will be selling Product Listing Ads to merchants looking to promote their products in a more detailed and favorable light. Not only will this change provide an additional income stream for Google, but merchants will be motivated to keep their ads more up to date; with accurate purchasing information, any recent offers and product availability, since they will be paying for the spot. The program has been in the testing stage since last fall, already racking up about 50 online merchants and more than 10 million orders, but the full transition won’t be complete until fall 2012.

One of the features that is available immediately, however, is Google’s Trusted Store badge, which assigns report card style grades on each merchant’s shipping and service. This new section of Google Shopping can help customers feel confident in their online shopping experience. The “badge,” as Google calls it, is only awarded to the exceptional online stores that deliver a great overall experience to their customers. These merchants typically ship quickly and reliably, offer exceptional customer service and are trustworthy and reputable to work with. Another great feature is that you can also opt in to get up to $1,000 lifetime purchase protection per shopper, giving you access to Google’s diligent customer service team to help resolve any product issues you may run into.

One of the biggest questions companies have for Google is, “how will organic web results be affected by this transition?” Google assures its clients and customers that Google Shopping will not constitute a reversal on its paid inclusion policy. Google said in a statement that, “paid inclusion has historically been used to describe results that the website owner paid to place, but which were not labeled differently from organic search results.” Google guarantees that there is a difference between Google Shopping results—which must be paid for by merchants—and their organic search results, which companies have worked hard at achieving.

While this is great news for companies that have hired austin search engine optimization companies, who have implemented a successful SEO campaign, Google is showing a reversal in their views on how Google Shopping should operate. Just eight short years ago when the product categories were first introduced, Google stated that their free listing of results would provide users with relevant and unbiased search results. Allowing merchants to buy placement goes against their original concept and objectives for Google Shopping.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Small or Medium Sized Business: Is Your Website Competitive Enough?

According to a recent study on small and medium-sized business (SMB) websites, nearly 75% don’t include an email link on their homepage for consumers. Furthermore, about 6 in 10 SMB websites don’t include a toll-free or local phone number on their homepage. Furthermore, 93.3% of these sites are not mobile compatible and will not even render successfully on smartphones.

Why is this information so shocking? Small and medium sized businesses are completely missing out on a clear call of action for the user but the chance to market their company effectively. Not only are they missing out on paid opportunities like SEO, social media and blogging, but they are missing the boat on their own websites, which they already pay for. More importantly, with the rise in smart phones and mobile capabilities, these companies are could be missing customers that are literally standing outside of their doors. Small and mid-sized businesses are those with 100 or fewer employees or 100-199 employees, respectively, and these companies are unfortunately overlooking the power of online advertising in quite a few ways. Based on the survey, an additional 65.7% of websites also didn’t contain a form-fill option for consumers to request information or services. All websites should make it easy for the user to request or obtain contact information.

The study was conducted by SMB DigitalScape, who analyzed over one million small and mid-sized businesses around the world in 14 countries, including 700,000 websites in the U.S. Additional findings suggest that many of these sites are not as optimized as they should be, including a deficiency of meta descriptions and title tags, keywords and privacy policies.

One of the best ways to get your site optimized is to hire an Austin search engine optimization company. These companies stay current on the latest SEO trends and can quickly adjust their methods to stay on top of the rankings. While they can’t guarantee a “top ranking,” their techniques are by far the best to get you recognized and have a high probability of having your site ranked in the top of the SERPs. So what if your small business has a limited budget?

Another way to improve your SEO ranking is to be an active participant in multiple social media websites. Unfortunately, a similar study suggested that while 90% of marketing executives use social media, more than half invest less than 10 hours a week on their campaigns. Many SEO companies will offer a full social media campaign, including set-up, graphics and interacting with potential clients and customers. The good thing about SEO and social media is that it’s never too late
to get started, and many SEO companies are willing to create a campaign to fit your marketing budget.

ArteWorks SEO is a full service Austin SEO company who has been active in the search engine optimization business since 1995. For more information or to contact us regarding our services, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

Google Play

Google has become synonymous with innovation. They have been estimated to run over a million servers and process over a billion search requests daily. Anyone who knows technology knows that Google is no longer simply the leading search engine. The company offers email service, document trading, a social networking service and even its own web browser. Google took the lead in the development of the Android mobile operating system, one of the only phones that competes with Apple’s constantly upgrading iPhone.

In true Google form, they’re now paving the way on an entirely new project—Google has taken lead on a new digital entertainment destination where you can keep and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps all in one place. Google Play uses cloud computing to store all your entertainment, so you can access it from anywhere at any time. Cloud computing is also a great way of storing your information because you never have to worry about moving your files or losing them, if anything should happen to your computer.

While developers are thrilled to release Google Play, some wanted to go with the name “Google Market” to stay with the Android Market theme and to more accurately describe some of the features it offers. Their position is that “Play” doesn’t convey the fact that Android has created some very innovative enterprise communication tools, which can all be used in a work setting. Google wanted no confusion between their newest offering and Windows Phone Marketplace, which is why they went with “Play” instead.

Google Play will be featured in Google’s black bar, which will attract many more potential customers than Android could alone. In fact, according to StatCounter’s February data, 27.24 of the Web’s pageviews are viewed in Chrome, compared to the 1.93 percent in Android.

So what exactly can you do with Google Play? You can buy close to any kind of music you’d like, with millions of options, as well as store up to 20,000 songs for free. You’re free to browse one of the world’s largest selections of eBooks, download over 450,000 Android apps and games and even rent some of your favorite movies, all in one place. Google has shown an interest in offering movies for sale, but that portion is still in the works.

For those with Android Market, Google eBookstore or Google Music, these will all become Google Play, and the Android Market app will be upgraded on your phones or tablets in the upcoming weeks. Will this have any affect on page rankings and SEO? As a search engine optimization company, we believe every Google creation will have some kind of affect on our business. While the jury is still out on Google Play, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm, who has been active in the SEO industry since 1995. Mr. Foster can be found on Twitter @ArteWorks_SEO. ArteWorks SEO can be found at www.arteworks.biz.

How Does Social Media Help Build Brands?

Social Media is without a doubt, one of the easiest and most effective ways to reach your target audience and communicate with thousands of potential customers. One of the greatest features of social media is that your message can easily turn “viral,” when others share with their own personal networks. In this day and age, it’s almost imperative that your company take advantage of the social media market if you want the competitive advantage.

Not only does Social Media help your company maintain brand awareness, but it’s one of the most cost effective ways to advertise. Traditional advertising campaigns can cost thousands of dollars—imagine the costs of a commercial, magazine ad, or multiple billboard placements. Smaller businesses just can’t compete with traditional advertising and are realizing the true power of Social Media.

Social Media allows you to create a brand for your company, since you are no longer just talking at your customers, you are talking to them. Your company may like to offer weekly specials and discounts, or you can become the company that runs an annual sweepstakes. Another great way to boost report with your customers is to become the expert in your industry. Let your customers ask you questions and leave comments. When your company is willing to share its knowledge, it can show how helpful and informed its employees are.

Social Media offers your company the opportunity to build brand awareness and loyalty. For small businesses, customer loyalty is extremely important, which places emphasis on customer satisfaction. Allowing your customers to “Opt-in” to your Social Media pages helps you keep track of their satisfaction, feedback and suggestions. You can offer prizes for customers who respond the most, or those that offer their feedback. Social Media has become a truly interactive form of marketing, so the sky is really the limit with how you’d like to interact with your customers.

Beyond just creating and promoting your brand, you are helping to drive more traffic to your website and blog. Writing a relevant and exciting blog is one great way to drive your customers from your Social Media site to your blog and home page. Social Media can also help improve your search engine rankings, and help you to generate sales. Many Social Media sites will allow you to search out words or phrases, so if you offer tutoring services, you can search phrases like “need help with school” or “I need a tutor” then you can easily connect with potential customers.

It seems pretty obvious that Social Media isn’t going anywhere, and the sky really is the limit with this amazing advertising medium. It’s not too late to get started, and choosing a great Austin SEO company can be a huge help, since they understand just the way to give your company to boost it visibility.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.