Another way to get questions answered if Google Search doesn’t give you what you need.

A new feature has quietly appeared in the last few days in Google Search which allows you to ask a question on Google+ for something you are looking for.  You have to be logged in to your Google account to be able to see this option otherwise you’ll just see the regular results appear.

So for example let’s say that I’m looking for ideas on sighseeting in New York and I type this into Google Search. At the bottom of my results page I will see this feature which will say “Want to ask your friends about new york sightseeing? Ask on Goole+

Want to ask your friends about new york sightseeing? Ask on Google+

 When you click on the Ask on Google+ link it will create a Post with some text conveniently filled in for you that you can add to and then you can click on the Ask button when you’re done.  You fill in the post as you would do any others deciding which Circles you want to ask this question to etc.

Are you seeing this yet and have you tried it?  How has it worked out for you?

Join Google+ Hangouts from your iPhone

Did you know that you can join Google+ Hangouts from your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad etc) making this feature even more accessible and allowing you to interact with people even when you are out and about.  If you are not familiar with Hangouts then have a quick look at this short video.

Google+ Hangouts is one of the best of things about connecting with people socially as it takes the interaction to another level with the ability to connect with multiple people face-to-face and being able to do this from you iOS device is a welcome feature.  Not only does this work over WiFi but it also works well over 3G connectivity.

At present you cannot start a Hangout you can only join an existing one.  So as you’re scrolling through the posts in your Google+ stream you may see the Join This Hangout button – go right ahead and jump in if you want to and see it for yourself.

Let me know if you want to take part in a Hangout and I might just arrange one for everyone to test out.

Keep Calm – Google changed their Search Algorithm!

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Last week Google announced a change to their Search algorithm which caused a bit of a panic amongst some people.  Let me tell you why you should not panic and worry about it.  Google are always striving to provide people with the best search results fast and having used it since its early days I believe they’ve done a great job which is why they are where they are today. The problem they have been seeing and getting reports from users on is that often they will click on a link from the search results and the site they visit is full of too many ads above-the-fold which makes it difficult to find and see the actual content they are looking for. This is not a great user experience and I’m sure many of you like me have been there and understand how frustrating this can be.

What Google are NOT doing with this change is penalising people for having ads on their sites and ranking those sites with no ads higher in the search results.  I really wanted to make sure this is clear as this perception is what caused some people to panic.  Instead they are really looking to give people results which contain a reasonable amount of ads and provide the content for which they have been ranked and returned in the results.

Their focus for making this change is to improve the user experience and this is an important point to bear in mind to understanding why the change is being made.  If you are committed to providing good quality and relevant content without filling up most of the page with ads then this change should not affect you unfairly. I for one welcome this change as I think most users want to find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily and support what Google are doing to continue to make this experience better and better.

Keep Calm – don’t get stressed by this change and continue to focus on providing good quality content.

Is your blog popular? Tell everyone about it!

This week I got a few Likes on my blog posts from Lesley Carter so I went to have a look at her blog. I enjoy travelling so the blog appealed to me and I’m so glad I checked it out because I found some impressive blog stats – almost 8,000 followers and over 290,000 hits in less than 6 months !!

One of the things that Lesley has on her blog which I recommend you also include if you’ve got a lot a good number of followers and/or get a lot of hits is to show these statistic off.  Here is how it’s displayed:

This is what is known as Social Proof.  It’s like when you go to a restaraunt and depending on how empty or full it is your decision to eat there or not is influenced.  The same goes for things in the online world where if you see these kinds of statistics you’re more likely to follow since so many other people are doing so and this has a snowball effect which is very effective. 

So my call to action to you is simple – if you have a good amount of followers and/or get a lot of hits then you should display this prominently and proudly as it will definately help influence others who visit your blog.

Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think it’s harder these days to get people to engage and leave comments on blog posts.  Best practice recommendations include having at the end of your blog post a call to action which may include a request to leave a comment which is fine but what if your blog post is one where you want someone to go away and do something?  And really ending all of your blog posts with a line that invites them to leave a comment is going to make your blog posts boring so you want to have the freedom to end in different ways.

The standard text that is above the comment box in WordPress simply says Leave a reply.  Not exactly inspiring is it?  Well – you can actually change this and make it a bit more exciting and compelling for people to leave comments on your blog posts.  Maybe you want to use the line that this blog post is titled “Leave a comment – please please please….you know you want to!” but I think that may sound a little desperate and other than the people who might feel sorry for you I’m not sure it’s going to work.

I’ll let you decide what works best for your blog and your audience but I just wanted to share with you the fact that you can change this if you wanted and weren’t aware of it.  So how do you do it? Well from the Dashboard select the option for Settings which will then open up a page with a lot of different things you can alter and set.  Right down at the bottom of the page there is a section titled Comment Form and there it display the current uninspiring Leave a reply which you change.

So now my call to action – I challenge you to go and change your prompt to something more interesting and compelling.  Surely you can do better than my What do you think?

Tags, Tags, Tags and more Tags

In a previous post I talked specifically about how and why you should use Hashtags on Twitter to raise your visibility and get discovered by others – which is especially important if you don’t have too many followers.  This isn’t restricted to Twitter and in fact it holds true for any social media and blogging platform you use that has the capability to allow you to do this.

For example let’s take WordPress – when you create a post you have the option to add Tags to it and this works along the same lines as the Hashtags in Twitter that I mentioned.  Let’s say I have a blog post that I’ve tagged photography not only will people who visit my blog be able to find all my post tagged with photography but it will also allow anyone visiting the WordPress site to click on this tag on the Popular Tags page.  This will show all posts that have been tagged with this so again someone may discover your post and your blog as a result of that giving you more visibility than you would normally have.

Similarly you can add Hashtags just as you do on Twitter in Google+ posts and people can either do a search within Google+ to find posts that have this tag or they can click on the tag from an existing post and see all other posts with that tag.  I really saw the power of hashtags over the last week on an iPhone photo sharing app that I use called Instagram where I had been posting pictures I’d taken and sometimes didn’t tag them and if I did I’d just use one tag to describe the photo. A new follower who came across a photo of mine told me to “start tagging” and when I looked at her photos I saw a lot more tags than I’d been using.  As soon as I did this the amount of new people who were now discovering my photos, leaving comments and following me increased dramatically.

So if you want to increase your visibility on blogs, social media and even apps look out for opportunities to add tags and I will leave you with the advice that I got that worked well “start tagging!”.

Bragging using your Favourites

Favourites on Twitter are to mark those tweets from other people who you’ve found interesting, useful, funny etc right?  Well that’s one way you can use them however I’m going to suggest you use them in another way that helps to add credibility to you and your business and act as testimonials – or put another way Bragging using your Favourites.

How often have you served your clients and they’ve been really happy with your service/product and have taken the time to send a tweet about it.  Instead of just feeling good about how satisfied your customer is and hope others were watching when that person tweeted it why don’t you add these to your Favourites.  What better way for someone who may be thinking of using your service/product to see tweets from other satisfied customers which helps break down one of the barriers to the sale if they can see lots of regularly satisfied customers.

This is not a million miles away from how when we are buying anything these days we look them up on the internet and look at what others are saying about the  product/service in the testimonials be they on Amazon, Ebay or TripAdvisor.

So do yourself a favour and when someone tweets you a nice message add this to your Favourites.  Of course you can ask your satisfied customers to tweet you if they’re happy and you could also initiate this conversation by thanking them for the business in the first place.  Go on what do you have to lose?