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July 24th, 2012

One of the most useful features of a Web browser is the ability to search the Internet through the use of a search engine like Google. To the user, Google is a simple search engine, nothing could be further from the truth. Google relies on a complicated algorithm that ranks websites, and in turn this algorithm can be influenced to have websites, like yours, show up higher in results. This algorithm has been recently updated and many businesses have seen their ranks slide, was your one?

In order to make your website, its pages, links and keywords within them relevant, while ranking them by importance to related search results, Google uses advanced algorithms that assigns a numerical weight to keywords and then ranks them. The better the total rank, the higher your page will be on relevant search results.

Companies that take advantage of this algorithm and keywords to get their website to show higher in results are engaging in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In order to ensure better, more relevant search results, Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm. These tweaks could be a big thing for your website as they could force it to show up higher/lower in search results. A recent update, Penguin, has many businesses confused as to why their ranking has suddenly dropped.

About Penguin Penguin, an update to the Google algorithm was released in April 2012. Its goal is to update page rankings, and decrease ones that don’t meet Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. In layman’s terms: If your website doesn’t meet the established guidelines, it will show up lower in search results.

There are three things about Penguin website owners should be aware of

  1. It’s not out to harm all websites. As Penguin is an update and some websites will receive a lower rank, Google doesn’t mean for this to be a punishment, rather a correction and update to bring more relevant search results.
  2. Certain links are harmful. If your website has site-wide links - A link or links that appear on every page of your website, referring to another site. These links often appear in the header and footer of webpages, and serve no other purpose than increasing page rank (more links with keywords = better ranking). - your rank will fall.
  3. Websites can recover. The good thing about Google’s analytics is they’re dynamic. If you’re Web page drops in rank, you can act to improve it. In fact, Google will email you notifying you about the links. Google will also contact you if you have too many links from low-quality websites/networks (Google considers low-quality to essentially be spam).
If you’re unsure about your SEO ranking, and would like to see your website feature higher in search results, please call us, we may have a solution for you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
July 17th, 2012

There are normally a limited number of ways your employees’ skills overlap, some may be great with customers, while others are more suited to working with numbers. There is one area that all employees, regardless of rank, are somewhat equal; using the Internet, or more specifically Google, to search for information. While they may be comfortable with the basics, they could probably use some power searching tips.

Starting July 9, 2012, Google has a course to help your employees sharpen their Internet searching skills. Power Searching with Google is a course that aims to teach users about the more advanced features and shortcuts of Google Search.

The courses will take place over six sessions, each lasting around 50 minutes and will be conducted online using Google Groups and Hangouts On Air - a live broadcast using Google’s online video conferencing tool. These courses are comprised of traditional assignments, interactive searching and group sessions that allow you to communicate with other “students” and staff from Google.

After you’ve completed the course and passed the final assignment, Google will email you a printable certificate of completion. If you’re interested, or feel your staff could use a boost in their searching abilities, registration is open now. Why should you register you ask? Well, the first reason is because it’s free. The second reason is because this could really help make you and your employees more efficient at finding the information they need.

To sign up for the course, visit Google’s Search blog and press Register. If you’d like to know more about Google’s products and how your company can benefit from them, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
July 10th, 2012

June has become one of the best months of the year for technology, it’s the month when the vast majority of tech companies introduce new products and software they’ve been developing. Last week, Google had their turn, and had some big, potentially game changing, announcements that have many businesses excited.

Across the conference, Google had three major announcements:

  1. A Nexus Tablet. As most Android users know, Nexus is Google’s line of mobile devices, they’re what Google thinks of as the benchmark Android system. This year the big announcement was a USD $200, 7 inch tablet, the Nexus 7. With a superfast 1.3 Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM and up to 16GB of storage all in a thin - 10.45mm - body, this tablet gives the iPad a serious run for its money. At half the price of the cheapest iPad, it’s more affordable for nearly all small businesses.
  2. Jelly Bean. Google likes to give sweet - literally - code names to different versions of the Android operating system. The newest version, 4.1 Jelly Bean, has some great new features including the ability to use voice to search, a new location based feature that keeps you updated about what's going on around you, and a faster interface. 4.0 users should see the update in the near future.
  3. Google Glass. Announced a few months ago, Google officially introduced their take on augmented reality, Google Glass, a hybrid mobile device/eyeglasses system. Users wear them as they would any other pair of glasses and interact with their environment through the system. They can record their daily lives, look up addresses and maps, etc. This disruptive technology could change the way businesses interact with customers.
Google has announced some intriguing devices and updates that could help improve the way small businesses operate. The most intriguing device is the Nexus 7 tablet, which could prove to be the best tablet solution for small businesses. If you’d like to learn more about Google’s I/O or any of Google’s other services, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
July 3rd, 2012

Google has some great software that businesses have been adopting in droves. One of the most popular pieces of software is their Internet browser - Google Chrome. Chrome is a sleek and simple browser with basic functionality when first installed, but, for your business to really get the most out of it you need to install apps.

Last week we showcased five great apps for Google Chrome. Because there are so many useful apps on the Chrome store, we decided to showcase five more.

  1. Write Space. Write Space is an app that’s a hybrid between Google Docs and Microsoft Office. The app allows users to write in a customizable space with or without an Internet connection. The coolest feature of this app is that it saves automatically, no more losing content when you lose Internet connection or your computer crashes.
  2. Springpad. Springpad is a notebook tool that allows users to collaborate on projects from a number of devices. Employees can use it to share ideas and information while being able to comment on each other’s ideas. Combine it with the Springpad extension for Chrome and users can clip articles, pictures or text from Chrome, and paste it into Springpad for others to view. A great tool to encourage brainstorming.
  3. Offline Gmail. While it would be great if we were connected to the Internet 100% of the time, that’s not the case for the majority of small business owners. If you use Gmail, you know that you can’t access it when you don’t have an Internet connection. With the Offline Gmail app, you can access your inbox, read and reply to messages which will be sent when you next connect to the Internet. A great tool for those on the road a lot.
  4. Aviary. Eventually you will need to edit an image and can’t afford to wait on a designer. Aviary is essentially a free version of Adobe Photoshop. With a ton of similar features, there’s no need to invest large amounts of money when you can do the same thing for free.
  5. Lucidchart. Lucidchart is an app that allows users to collaborate, in real-time, on charts. If you have a presentation to make and need a colleagues help to get it done, the two of you can work on it together and get the task done faster. What’s cool about this app is that it syncs with Google Drive, so your charts are available anywhere. You can also export your work as a .PDF or .JPG.
How to install the apps All these apps can be found for free on the Google Chrome Web Store. To install an app, open the Web Store and search for the app by its name. Click on the name of the app to open a new page that has more information, reviews and similar apps. To install it, press + Add to Chrome, the app will be automatically added to Chrome. You can access the apps you have installed by pressing the wrench icon at the top right of the window, selecting Settings followed by Extensions.

These apps can help tailor your browsing experience to your needs, and give you a better overall browsing experience. If you’d like more information on apps for Chrome, or other ways you can use Chrome in your business, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
June 26th, 2012

As technology becomes more advanced and integrated with day-to-day business, the Internet browser has become the hub of nearly all business activity. The only problem with browsers, more specifically Google Chrome, is that they’re, at first glance, missing functionality that businesses need. To add more functionality to Chrome, you can install apps.

Here are five useful business apps for Chrome.

  1. Google Mail Checker. If you use Gmail and like most people, have it open in a tab but aren’t looking at it, you may miss an important message. This app aims to prevent this by adding a Gmail link beside the address bar of Chrome that notifies you of how many unread emails you have in your inbox. Clicking on the icon will open Gmail.
  2. StayFocused. Having trouble staying productive while using the Internet? StayFocused is an app that can help. It works by allowing you to set and restrict the amount of time you spend on non-work related websites. Once you’ve gone over the allotted time, the app will block access to that website for the rest of the day. You can even go so far as to block the browser from loading websites for a period of time.
  3. AdBlock. On many popular websites there are ads that can get annoying, or cause your browser to slow down. AdBlock is an app that will remove banner ads (the ads at the top and side of a website) on nearly every website, including Facebook.
  4. SlideRocket. This is a good app for managers who give lots of presentations, but don’t want to carry a laptop with them. SlideRocket allows users to upload and present PowerPoint presentations. Beyond that, you can also collaboratively create presentations which are stored on your Google Drive and can even be accessed on a smartphone. This means you can access your presentation wherever you are.
  5. Scratchpad. Think of Scratchpad as the digital version of the notepad many business owners keep by their computer for writing ideas, messages and notes down on. When you install it, you can either keep it open as a tab in Chrome, or a separate window. The interesting thing about this app, is that you can use it while offline. When you do go online, it syncs with your Google Drive to keep everything up-to-date.
How to install the apps All these apps can be found for free on the Google Chrome Webstore. To install an app, open the Web Store and search for the app by its name. Click on the name of the app to open a new page that has more information, reviews and similar apps. To install it, press + Add to Chrome, the app will be automatically added to Chrome. You can access the apps you have installed by pressing the wrench icon at the top right of the window, selecting Settings followed by Extensions.

These are just five of the useful apps we’ve found that many businesses will benefit from using. If you’d like to know about more useful apps for your business, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
June 19th, 2012

One of the problems with searching for a business on the Internet is that the results often return a static page with a business’s information and maybe some pictures. In general, nothing compelling a user to find out more about the business. Google has introduced a new feature to its social network, Google+, that gives businesses the opportunity to be more social.

The feature, called Google+ Local, has replaced the Google Places page for nearly 80 million businesses. While the page name has been changed, the important business information like address, website and phone number have not been changed.

The changes do go beyond the name and include:

  • A “Local” tab will appear on every Google+ users’ page. Clicking this will bring you to a business oriented section with recommendations made by other users, and the ability to search for businesses.
  • A modified layout to a business’s Places page with photos and reviews prominently shown.
  • Google’s star ranking system has been replaced by Zagat ratings which are rated out of 30.
  • Google+ Local pages have been integrated with Google’s other major services including search, Maps and mobile platforms. When a user searches for a business, the same page and information will be shown regardless of the medium used to search.
What this does for your business is change your Places page into a more social offering that allows you to interact with your followers. Everything you can do on Twitter and Facebook - post content, interact with and develop followers - can now be done through Local.

There is one major benefit to this, and that comes from integration with Google's other services. When a user searches for a business using Google Search, Maps, or a mobile app, the results will be returned with businesses that have a Google+ Local page first. And for many, if the business is near them, it will be the first place the user visits. This means more business for you.

There is one downside to this though. If you have a Google Places page, but don’t use social media, you will be now. Google has noted that you can still continue to manage your Places page. This is temporary, and you’ll eventually be forced to manage your information through Google+. If you don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of yet another social media service, why not give us a call, we can help you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
June 13th, 2012

If you’re like other managers, you sit down each morning, turn the computer on and check your email, and continue to check it throughout the day, often receiving up to 100 messages or more. Over a year, that’s 365,000 emails, and if you use Gmail, all of them are sitting in your inbox creating a bit of an unorganized mess, and you probably don’t have the time to clean it up.

Here’s how you can quickly organize your inbox using Labels, filters and archive. What are Labels and filters? Many users are used to storing their documents and information in file folders on hard drives. The same goes for email, they want to be able to put emails into folders for organization purposes. With Gmail, you have the inbox and other folders provided by Google, but you can’t add more. Google’s solution to this is Labels.

Labels essentially replace a file system by following the same idea as a filing system with an added benefit. As with files, you can sort and and store emails using Labels. Unlike files, you can attach different Labels to the same email, allowing you to organize, and easily search for emails that might fit into different categories.

Filters allow you to tell Gmail what you want it to do with emails from a specific sender. You can set up a filter that tells Gmail to apply an urgent Label to emails from a certain client, or to send Facebook notifications to archive without the email going to your inbox.

How to create and apply Labels To create a Label:

  1. Open Gmail, and from the main screen press the Labels button, located above the center panel and below the search bar.
  2. Click Create New.
  3. Enter the name you’d like to apply. If you click Nest label under, this will put the Label in an already established Label. i.e., in Reply Later.
To apply a Label to an email you can either:
  • Select an email by clicking on it so it changes color. Click on the Labels button above the email pane, and select the Label name from the dropdown list. Or,
  • Select a Label from the left hand side of the window and drag it to the email you want to apply the Label to.
When you apply a Label to an email, you’ll see the Label’s name in the subject of your email. You can change the color and characteristics of a Label by clicking on the arrow beside the Labels’ name on the left hand side of the window. How to apply filters When combined with Labels, filters are a great way to rapidly organize an out of control inbox, or ensure future emails go to the right place. You can apply filters to an email by:
  1. Selecting the email you’d like to filter and clicking on More above the email pane.
  2. Clicking Filter messages like these from the drop down menu.
  3. Entering the information in the window that pops up. There are numerous options on how you’d like to filter email. For example, you can set Gmail to filter all emails with the subject line: “Complaint.”
  4. Pressing Create filter with this search. A new window will pop up with options on what you want Gmail to do with email with the previous info. You’ll notice that in the background, Gmail has listed all the emails with the info you entered from step 3. If you’d like Gmail to apply the same filter to all related emails, press the button besideCreate Filter.
  5. Pressing Create Filter.
When you do this, all related emails will receive the same filter. Explore the options a bit, and come up with a system that fits you, there’s thousands of options to choose from. If you make a mistake, simply select the email and press the Gear Icon (above the email pane) and select Settings followed by Filters. You’ll be given a list of filters and can select to either edit or delete.

To the archives! To go one step further in your "clean the inbox campaign", you can add a filter option to Send Directly to Archive. This will tell Gmail to archive all related emails so you can look at them at a later date. You can also archive emails individually by selecting them and pressing the button that has a file with an arrow pointing down on it, located above the email pane.

The emails will be moved out of your inbox, and into the archive folder, so don’t worry when they disappear. You can view what you have moved by pressing All mail on the left hand side of the window. If you can’t see it, press more. When you press All mail, you’ll notice your inbox will now be showing every email. If you’ve applied a Label to archived emails, you can also view them by clicking on the Label name on the left side of the window.

By using these three methods, you can organize your inbox making it easier for you to find important information without having to scroll through thousands of emails. If you’d like to learn more interesting Gmail features, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
June 7th, 2012

Search engines generally match results with seperate keywords. If you search for “computer monitor” using Google, the words will be treated as separate and results will be returned for both computers and monitors. This can be frustrating when you search for something and the results aren't what you're looking for. To make searches more accurate, Google has introduced Knowledge Graph.

Knowledge Graph is Google’s attempt to make search results more relevant to the initial queries - what was entered in the search bar. If you type in an ambiguous term like “flames” which could mean fire, software or a sports team, Google will return results on all things related to flames, leaving you to wade through results to find what you need. With Knowledge Graph, Google will intuit what you mean and provide the relevant information.

For now, Knowledge Graph results will show up as a pane to the right of the search results field and will show up when things, people or places are searched for. According to Google this means, “landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more.” When you search for something in one of these categories, Knowledge Graph will try to figure out what you’re searching for, and provide related results and information.

This information comes from a number of sources including Wikipedia, CIA Factbook and freebase, and could change the way we view information. No more having to click on 4-5 different links to get the information we need, a summary of the search topic will be shown in the search results.

At this time Knowledge Graph will be available for American English users, and will be rolled out to all users over the coming months. If you’re interested in learning more about Google’s products and how to use them in your business, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
May 22nd, 2012

If you do a lot of emailing, you probably have to give the same response over and over again. Re-typing the same thing can get a bit tiring, not to mention take up precious time. The most common solution for this is to develop a standard response. Gmail has a feature - Canned Responses - that allows you to do just that.

Canned Responses are a form of template that you can use to quickly reply to common emails. This feature is useful if you find yourself short of time and having to give the same reply numerous times e.g., inquiries about service hours.

How to set up Canned Responses in Gmail To set up Canned Responses:

  1. Open Gmail in your browser and click on the Gear image beside your picture in the black bar at the top of the window.
  2. Select Labs. If you don’t see Labs, select Mail Settings followed by Labs, located in the white bar at the top of the window that opens.
  3. Scroll down to Canned Responses and select Enable. Navigate to the bottom of the page and select Save Changes. The page will refresh, and Canned Responses will be enabled.
  4. Click Compose and enter a response in the text-body of the email. Don’t hit send.
  5. Locate Canned Responses below the Subject line. Select New Canned Response from the menu that drops down. Enter a name for the response.
To use the response you’ve just set up, click on Canned Responses and select the response from the dropdown menu. Note: pick the response from under Insert(in grey). To edit a response, simply follow steps four and five above, instead of selecting New canned response, select the name of the response you’d like to edit from the Save sub-header.

If you spend a lot of time answering the same email and would like to save a bit of time, Canned Responses are a good idea. Just be sure to be judicious in their use, if the email is in response to a serious situation, best not to use one. For more tips and tricks on Google’s products, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps
May 19th, 2012

For many Gen-Y who have grown up with the Internet, searching for something online is second nature. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are all search wizards. In fact they are probably just as effective at finding information as any other employee. What they do know, is how to use Google search to more easily find desired results.

Here are seven tips to help you Google like an expert.

  • Exact phrase. If you’re looking for a specific topic, Mobile Internet for example, it’s easier to put the search into quotations i.e., “Mobile Internet”. This will tell Google to return results that match the words.
  • Exclude words. When you conduct searches for general information, you’ll often get unwanted results. Let’s say you are looking for marketing information and don’t want results that have the term “sales” in them. Type in Marketing -Sales, and Google will return marketing results without sales. Note: don’t have a space between - and the term you want to exclude.
  • Search similar. If you’re looking for a topic and would also like to search for similar words, put a ~ in your search. e.g., “~Business”. Google will return business results as well as results for synonyms.
  • Search between dates. To find results for something over a period of time put the dates separated by “..” (two periods) e.g., “1999 ..2012”
  • Wildcard search. A wildcard is used to substitute a word in your search. Google has designated * as the wild card. When you enter a wildcard, Google will essentially fill in the blank.
  • Define:. For words you don’t know the meaning of, you can have the definition comeback as the number one result by entering “define: word”.
  • Think like a website. It’s best to not ask questions when you’re searching for something. Rather, look for the results. If have back pain and enter, “My back hurts. What’s a good pain reliever?” You’ll find the result, but it may take a few pages of searching. You should instead enter: “Back pain reliever”.
With these search methods you’ll be able to find the information you want quicker. For more tips on how to use Google Search, and other Google apps, to their maximum potential please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google Apps