Mar
12

Google Verified Suppliers and Google Plus

Google Shopping for Suppliers

Google Shopping for Suppliers (in beta) was introduced in late January 2013 (as yet, for the U.S. market only) and sees Google targeting the B2B market with a dedicated search facility for suppliers.

According to Google, the new service is:

designed to help buyers discover suppliers who can fulfill their business needs. Drawing from a wide-ranging set of verified global suppliers, Shopping for Suppliers presents detailed product and company attributes, including certifications. The standardized and informative format makes it easy to discover the specific product and suppliers that fit your needs.

Search Engine Land reports on the new notion at the heart of the new service, “Google Verified Suppliers“:

The revenue model at this point is tied to a new Google Verified Supplier program, which includes a one-time verification fee: $1,000 for suppliers in US and Taiwan, ¥6000 plus 6% VAT for suppliers in China and HK$7500 for suppliers in Hong Kong.

The benefits of becoming a Google Verified Supplier include getting a badge on your listings and having products show ahead of those from unverified suppliers. The company also notes that as a Google Verified Supplier “your products appear higher in the Sponsored results section on Google” as well. (Bolding is theirs.)

The "Google Verified Supplier" Badge
The “Google Verified Supplier” Badge

It is unclear at this point how or when products from Verified Suppliers will appear in the ad results on Google. A Google spokesperson said that they don’t have any AdWords integration plans to announce just yet. However, the company documentation notes that verification fees “may change in the future, including to a pay-per-action model.” Perhaps there will be a Product Listing Ad model or integration at some point, based on the success of that program.

The beta is in its infancy; however, there are some issues to watch. After performing several searches, Verified Suppliers listings appear to be heavily weighted to show above unverified suppliers, even when the products are less (or not at all) relevant to the search query. A search for “electric fans,”  for example, produced 9 results for products from Verified Suppliers that aren’t electric fans before an unverified supplier result for an actual electric fan.

Our own investigations confirmed that Google Verified Suppliers are displayed first, even when the products displayed are only peripherally linked to the search term; non-verified suppliers didn’t show up until Page 3 of the search results.

Google Verified Suppliers displayed first

 

We also noted that every Google Verified Supplier carries a +1 button (further proof that Google is implementing the Google Plus social layer through all its products) — and that the listing which took the Number One position in the search results (in our search for “laptop”) had already attracted a +1 score of 2. That may be coincidence (but we suspect otherwise).

Google +1 score for top search listing

 

Google points out (through a popup link) that attaining “Google Verified Supplier” status is all about money and not about any quality or reliability verification or guarantee:

"Verification" means "paid a fee"

In our view, the label “Google Verified Supplier” suggests much more than it actually delivers. If the service goes beyond beta, Google might need either to replace the word “Verified” with a lesser label — or actually introduce effective verification, perhaps along the lines of eBay’s Feedback system (which allows for suppliers to be rated for individual aspects of their service):

eBay Feedback System

Similarly, freelance site eLance.com enables purchasers to grade suppliers across a range of criteria:

eLance Feedback System

 

The Marketing Opportunities for Google Verified Suppliers

As we’ve already seen, becoming a Google Verified Supplier will get your products presented at or near the top of the Google Shopping for Suppliers search results.

Google Shopping for Suppliers preference

So if you’re a B2B supplier offering electrical or electronics products* to the United States, you really must check out what you need to do in order to become a Google Verified Supplier (details here). It will give you a significant advantage over unverified competitors, especially in the early stages of the Verified Supplier rollout.

*Applicable products likely to expand in due course

You should also upskill yourself on Google Plus. Google has stated elsewhere that it is using its social layer as one of the key signals to shape search results. (Ahem — we offer an online training course on how to use Google Plus for business. We recommend you check it out).

Mar
05

Introducing Google Plus Sign-Ins

Late last month, Google introduced Google Plus Sign-ins. It’s a significant enhancement, as you’ll see.

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Here’s the announcement from Google:

Today we’re adding a new feature to the Google Plus platform: application sign-in. Whether you’re building an app for Android, iOS or the web, users can now sign in to your app with Google, and bring along their Google Plus info for an upgraded experience. It’s simple, it’s secure, and it prohibits social spam. And we’re just getting started.

1. Simplicity and security come first
If you sign in to Gmail, YouTube or any other Google service, you can now use your existing credentials to sign in to apps outside of Google. Just review the Google Plus permissions screen (outlining the data you’re sharing with the app, and the people who can see your activity), and you’re all set. Google Plus Sign-In also comes with the protections and safeguards you’ve come to expect from your Google account (like 2-step verification), so you can always sign in with confidence.

2. Desktop and mobile are better together
Many developers offer web and mobile versions of their app, yet setting things up across a browser, phone and tablet is still a major hassle. Starting today, when you sign in to a website with Google, you can install its mobile app on your Android device with a single click.

3. Sharing is selective; spraying is just spam
Sometimes you want to share something with the world (like a high score), but other times you want to keep things to yourself (like fitness goals). With Google Plus Sign-In and circles you decide who to share with, if at all. In addition: Google Plus doesn’t let apps spray “frictionless” updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant (like when you’re actually looking for it).

4. Sharing is for doing, not just viewing
Pictures and videos are great for viewing, but sometimes you actually want to do stuff online. That’s why, when you share from an app that uses Google Plus Sign-In, your friends will see a new kind of “interactive” post in their Google Plus stream. Clicking will take them inside the app, where they can buy, listen to, or review (for instance) exactly what you shared.

 

This new Interactive Sharing feature is a significant enhancement. According to TechCrunch, Google will offer more than 100 actions that developers can add to their Google+ posts — which represents more than a hundred different ways through which users’ friends and acquaintances can interact with (and potentially purchase) products and services recommended to them by their mates or colleagues. Marketers, feel free to salivate at the revenue-inducing opportunities.

We cover all the implications and opportunities created by this new feature in the freshly-updated Lesson Seven of our How To Use Google Plus For Business online training course — details here.

 

Jan
10

Newsflash: Google Search just went Social

Hot off the press TODAY from Mashable: Google Merges Search and Google+ Into Social Media Juggernaut

As Google Fellow Amit Singhal noted on the Official Google Blog: “We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships.” This is one of those paradigm shifts that takes us into territory where no man (or search engine) has gone before.

The implications are simply mind-blowing – and transform Google Plus from what some people might consider YASNY (“Yet Another Social Network — Yawn”) into a vital component of Search Optimisation.

Here’s what we know so far:

1. Rolling out NOW, around the world: if you’re logged in to your Google account, you get to choose whether to see search results that are shaped by your PERSONAL networks or not.

2. If you opt for Personal Results:

Say you’re looking for a vacation destination. You can of course search the web, but what if you want to learn from the experiences your friends have had on their vacations? Just as in real life, your friends’ experiences are often so much more meaningful to you than impersonal content on the web. With your world in search, you can find:

  • Google+ posts. You can find relevant Google+ posts from friends talking about an amazing trip they just took, whether they’ve shared privately with you or publicly. You’ll find links shared by your friends, such as activities, restaurants and other things they enjoyed on their trip.
  • Photos. You can find beautiful vacation photos from your friends right in your search results page. You can also find your own private photos from Google+ and Picasa, based on captions, comments and album title.

Watch the video to see how this new feature works:

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3. Profiles in Search

Every day, there are hundreds of millions of searches for people. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the person you’re looking for. Once you do find him or her, there’s no quick way for you to actually interact. Starting today, you’ll have meaningful ways to connect with people instantly, right from the search results.

Now, typing just the first few letters of your friend’s name brings up a personalized profile prediction in autocomplete. Selecting a predicted profile takes you to a results page for your friend, which includes information from their Google+ profile and relevant web results that may be related to them. And you can have this personal experience instantaneously, thanks to Google Instant. So when I search for [ben smith], I now find my dear friend Ben every time, instead of the hundreds of other Ben Smiths out there (no offense to all of them!).

4. People and Pages

Starting today, if you search for a topic like [music] or [baseball], you might see prominent people who frequently discuss this topic on Google+ appearing on the right-hand side of the results page. You can connect with them on Google+, strike up meaningful conversations and discover entire communities in a way that simply wasn’t possible before.

Google is also introducing a prominent new toggle on the upper right of the results page where you can see what your search results look like without personal content. With a single click, you can see an unpersonalized view of search results.

We really can’t overstate the importance of this latest development. What do YOU think? Share your comments below.

PS Given this latest news, we really do urge you to take a close look at our online training course, “How to use Google Plus for business”

 

Jan
08

Seven Tools To Help You Track Social Media Trends

So you want to know what’s hot and what’s happening in the social space — what people are talking about, reading or watching today on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google Plus (and what that implies for their behaviour tomorrow)?

Here are seven useful trend-tracking tools to help you in your quest:

1. LikeButton.com
Like Button is a website featuring a collection of links from a wide range of popular web sites, as shared by your Facebook friends. LikeButton also displays for each site the most-liked articles from the Facebook community in general.

 

2. whatthetrend.com
What the Trend helps you find out what’s trending on Twitter and why. For each trend, participants attempt to give you a quick explanation of WHY it’s trending (these blurbs are edited by users) The site is currently tracking over 300,000 trends. It’s also available as a gadget to plugin to iGoogle pages.

 

3. Google Hot Trends
This service reports hourly on the latest hot searches on Google USA. It features the Top 20 most popular searches for the day, with the ability to look back at previous days as well. Also available as an iGoogle gadget.

 

4. BuzzFeed.com
Describes itself as “the hottest, most social content on the web”. BuzzFeed is a website that is part automated, part curated. The site combines a technology platform for detecting viral content with an editorial selection process to provide a snapshot of “the viral web in realtime.”

 

5. youtube.com/trendsdashboard
The YouTube Trends Dashboard provides a Top Ten snapshot of either the Most Shared or the Most viewed videos currently on YouTube. Results can be segmented by location (by city for the US, otherwise by country), by gender and by age range. There’s also a blog at youtube-trends.blogspot.com which reports on noteworthy weekly and monthly YouTube trends.

 

6. plus.google.com/hot
A curated selection of content on Google Plus that’s considered (by the Google Plus team) to be exemplary, interesting and appropriate: the aim is to display both serendipitous and diverse information.

 

 

7. Facebook Memology
Memology is an annual summary that takes the pulse of the global Facebook community. It compares this year’s status updates to last year’s, unearthing the most popular topics and cultural trends – or memes – emerging on Facebook. Click here for a link to the 2011 report, which covers the top global topics, the Fastest growing Pages and most popular media in 2011 and a variety of other pop culture indicators.

Happy tracking!

 

Jan
04

Smart Video Chat Marketing with Google Plus Hangouts

Hangouts are one of the smartest new Google+ features. What are Hangouts? Think (free) video chat or video conferencing for up to ten people. Participants can join in from mobile devices as well as PCs or laptops. You can also include YouTube videos (which all participants can watch) within a Hangout.

How do Hangouts work? Here’s a useful demo:

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So how could you use Hangouts to market your organisation? Some thought-starters:

  • Set up a regular Hangout schedule (say, once a month) to showcase your operation to prospective customers (pre-promoted through your usual channels). Start by playing a short YouTube clip (one you’ve prepared earlier) that gives a video tour of your operation. Then invite questions, comments and dialogue from your Hangout guests.
  • Do a virtual tour for bloggers, resellers and other influencers
  • Use Hangouts in combination with webcam software such as WebCamMax, which allows you to add special features such as on-screen doodling, picture in picture and other special effects.
  • Record* your Hangouts and post them to your website as free information. Really great for tutorials and providing online classes but are also ideal for product promotional purposes.

* How can you record Hangouts? Google began rolling out that functionality in mid-December, but if you have any problems, there are other ways of recording your Hangouts: see here and here.

By the way, if this whole notion of video chat is relatively new to you, blogger Sheryl Loch offers up some useful words of advice on a few things to check BEFORE indulging in a Google+ Hangout….

  1. Do you have a web cam that works? My (elderly by tech standards) webcam worked but, I found that I had to have it plugged in when I booted my machine. If I tried to plug it in after booting, I got nothing.
  2. Does the mic on your webcam and the external mic you may use for Skype or other things cause issues? This is an issue I had and it was simply that the 2 mics had a problem battling each other. You can adjust which cam and mic you use in Google Plus Hangout’s settings. Depending on what type of webcam you have you may also be able to adjust the settings there.
  3. Do you have any quick lighting? I am not talking about big fancy umbrella lights. I am talking about a room light or lamp that can be turned on so you are not just showing a black screen on your cam. I sit in what you may consider a dungeon and the people in the hangout with me would not see my face at all without a light being turned on. Your cam setting may also allow you to lighten or darken the picture so check those out in different situations.
  4. Is your cam’s position and focus adjusted to where it shows your face from where you have it sitting or attached? If you grabbed me in a fast hangout and I didn’t think about it, you would see the back of a monitor from my webcam view. It doesn’t sit in a convenient place so; it spends its “off time” tossed behind a monitor and out of the way. Sure it only takes a second to pull it out and place it but I am sure the focus would be a bit wack.
  5. What is also in your cam’s view? While many people will know and understand that you might be working at home, that doesn’t mean that others will be as accepting. What type of business you have may be a big part as to how people view and accept your surroundings. Either way, you will want to take a look at the wall behind you and decide if there are pictures of things you may not want everyone to see in camera shots.
  6. Do you have an easy to grab shirt? If you are in a business where people expect to see you in a nice button up shirt…just keep one at the front of your closet handy.
  7. Is your hair and makeup ready? Yeah ok, I know nothing about this stuff. My hair is always pulled back (or under a hat) and I don’t know where my makeup is…

And a few other helpful video tips, most of these from the Advanced Public Speaking Institute:

  • Sit much stiller than usual and avoid too many body movements — these are magnified on screen.
  • Similarly, any gestures should be smaller
  • Make sure clothing is “broken in” and comfortable when you are sitting and standing.
  • Do not wear any clothing with tight patterns or pin stripes. This causes an optical illusion called a moiré pattern which makes you look bad.
  • Avoid clothing with large patterns or geometric shapes. The audience will watch your clothes instead of you.
  • Avoid wearing black, white, or red. Even the best of cameras have trouble with these colours.
  • Avoid flashy jewellery. It reflects light.
  • Avoid jangly jewellery. It also reflects light, and makes noise that will be picked up by your microphone (this applies whether you are on TV or not).
  • Bring a handkerchief or tissues to dab perspiration during breaks.
  • Make sure your makeup, wardrobe, and hair are consistent with your message.
  • Make sure your hair will stay where you want it. You don’t want to be fooling with it while on the air.

To learn more about Google Plus and how you can use it to market your business, take a look at our four-week online course.

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Dec
31

Do we really need Google Plus?

If you’ve been looking for a compelling argument as to why you should use Google Plus to market your business, here are our thoughts on the topic:



Dec
28

Awesome Social Stats

Here’s a little post-Christmas present we just unwrapped from HubSpot: a curated collection of (in their words) “100 AWESOME Marketing Stats, Charts, & Graphs.”

Head to Hubspot and download the complete collection for yourself (free, no registration required). Before you go however, check out our favorite social media charts from the Hubspot collection:

 

1. Budget allocated to Social Media and company blogs in 2011

 

 

2. Time spent on blogs and social networks

 

3. Social Network usage by age

4. Social Media influence on purchases

 

5. The biggest benefit of Social Media for businesses: increased marketing effectiveness

 

6. Why U.S. marketers use Social Media

 

Quickly, run to HubSpot and download your copy before they run out.

Dec
22

The Most Popular Google Plus Pages

Not that people are competitive or anything, but there’s always an underlying urge to identify the most *something* for any given metric.

Google+ pages may be only six weeks old, but there’s already an easy method of identifying who has:

  • the most followers
  • the highest engagement rate
  • best activity count
  • best plus one count
  • highest share count
  • the most comments

And these numbers can be segmented by country and by broad Google+ category (local business, product/brand, etc).

Where do you find all these magic numbers?

ZoomSphere.

Just to whet your appetite, some key statistics. First, let’s take a look at the world’s most popular Google Plus pages at the moment we write this:

An important point to note: ZoomSphere tracks Google+ pages, not profiles, so these results don’t represent the most popular individuals on Google+. For that data, head to SocialStatistics, where you’ll find Britney Spears hanging out with Larry Page, Snoop Dogg and Tyra Banks (unlikely bedfellows, if you’ll pardon the expression).

One last set of numbers to share: how Google Plus pages have been adopted so far around the world. The top twelve countries by Google+ pagecount, according to ZoomSphere:

  • 12,296 United States
  • 5,936 Germany
  • 3,703 United Kingdom
  • 2,860 Ireland
  • 1,866 France
  • 1,595 Czech Republic
  • 1,528 Australia
  • 1,255 Spain
  • 1,190 Canada
  • 1,025 Netherlands
  • 928 Italy
  • 820 Japan

Clearly some of us have a little bit of catching up to do …

Dec
21

How to add Managers to your Google Plus Page

Now that Google had added multiple administrator capabilities to Google Plus pages, we’ve put together a video that tells you everything you need to know about this new facility:

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Dec
20

Are Google Plus users smarter or just better readers?

Neil Vidyarthi tries out an interesting angle at Social Times with his latest posting “Do You Dumb Down Your Posts for Facebook? Google+ May Be for You”.

Ironically, Neil offers up a Facebook post in support of his thesis:

We suspect that some of the answers to Neil’s tongue-in-cheek lurks within his article’s fourth paragraph:

This may be attributed to the fact that Google Plus enables longer posts, as can be seen by Sergey Brin’s recent rant against SOPA.  The resulting post was fully formatted with links, and more resembled a blog post than a regular status update.  This is a serious advantage to those who want to communicate with their friends in a longer way.

In any event, here’s our two cents’ worth on the topic:

Google Plus attracts longer posts simply because it can carry longer posts. The jury is still out as to whether those longer posts are better read — or simply reflect their authors’ tendency towards more rather than less.

Research on Facebook posts clearly indicates that short posts attract more engagement than longer ones. We don’t believe that’s an IQ indicator — merely a reflection of the time users have available to consume media.

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