Monthly Archives: January 2014

Google Places, Pages, and Profiles (Just Shoot Me)

Google+ Local is merging with Google+ Pages and this is a critical change for your business. Learn how to transition your prior pages to Google’s new Google+ Business Pages.

What dealing with Google Places, Pages, and Profiles does to you.

Yep – that was me today. Full blown face slam into my desk after spending an eternity trying to figure out how to merge my Business Page with my existing GSD Google+ page I set up 2 years ago. As I was doing this, I thought some of you might appreciate the information I trudged through.

Thankfully, there were a ton of good articles written by good folks who served as ice packs when I was about to kick Google+ in the screen.

The basic jist is that back in May 2012, Google Places listings, those listings that appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) with the orange bubbles, became Google+ Local. The move was a good one and a lot of nice features were added for local businesses.

In the meantime, good businesses everywhere were listening to Google and other folks and started setting up Google+ accounts (profiles) for themselves and Google+ pages for their businesses. Google+ Pages are almost always associated with the account.

Fast forward to now, for the US. Google has been slowly auto-upgrading users Google+ Local listings to what they call Google+ Business Pages. This article from the Google Forum details the rollouts and answers many questions.

Admittedly and honestly, I have ignored, as deeply as I could, having to deal with a Google+ business page. I have a blog. I have a FB business page. I have a Google+ account that I set up for the business, under an email address, nearly 5 years ago, and all my circles and contacts are there. I have many customers I need to service and I just didn’t want to have to deal with yet another page. Oh boo-hoo. Right? Yeah, I know. Suck it up buttercup, it’s the way things are now….and that became clearer this week.

In addition to the Google+ Page you might have for your business, Google Local+ is now automatically creating yet another Google+ Page for your business that is different (and probably empty and dark, like mine was). This new Google+ Business Page is what Google is now using when people search for you locally. Your business hopefully pops up with a little orange map balloon, but guess what? The Google+ page link takes the visitor to an echo-ey, empty, boring Google+ page – NOT the one you’ve been building up for the past few years.

Lovely, yes? Thanks Google.

So I immediately had questions for my own business. How do I transfer over my circles? I didn’t have any posts or anything (because I had so dutifully been pretending it didn’t exist), but many of you have reviews, posts, comments. What about those? What about my other pages? I don’t want 3 other Google+ pages running around (Google+ pages are worse than rabbits…)

I spent a number of hours digging and searching for answers to these questions and I came upon a few good resources. No need to reinvent the blog-writing wheel here, so I will gratefully share these with you in the hopes that it helps. Thank you to the many folks who took time to write these articles.

That’s probably enough to make your head spin.

Here is Google’s support document on how to transfer Google+ circles and connections between accounts.

Here is Google’s Takeout Tool, which will allow you to make data transfers pretty easily.

And lastly, here is a good Google Takeout Tutorial.

So there you have it my friends. Like it or not, if you had a Google Places account, which is now Google+ Local, you also have, by default, a Google+ Business Page that Google lovingly created for you.

It behooves you to use that account, as it is tied to your local business listing, and the number of connections that you have there, as well as your routine posting activity, and the reviews you receive will impact your Google+ Local rank in organic listings.

And you know, all this change can be painful. Usually (optimist that I am) the change is for the better. I don’t necessarily like being shoved in any direction like Google seems to like to do. But I have hope that all this screen-kicking and head-banging is worth it.

Neon Tetra with Swim Bladder Disease

Poor neon tetra with swim bladder disease

I woke up this morning to find my little guy here swimming with his tail up, struggling to stay down in the water and gulping a lot. A quick Google on this behavior points to something called Swim Bladder Disease.

The cure, they say, is to do the following things:

  1. Move the fish to a “recovery tank” by himself to avoid other fish picking on him (other fish know when a fish is sick and they can become cannibalistic).
  2. Make sure the water is about 80°
  3. Leave 2-3 inches at the top of the tank to make it easier for the fish to move up and get air.
  4. Don’t feed for 3 days.
  5. When you do feed on the third day, give the fish a de-skinned pea to help flush out the digestive system

I’ve read quite a few articles at this point and they all seem to agree that if you catch it earlier enough and treat properly, most fish will recover.

The causes?

  1. [Rarely] – they are born with a defect
  2. They’ve been gulping air or eating too much too fast (You know, my neons like to play in the bubbler bubbles in the tank….hmmmmmm). A tip I read in a forum said that if you feed your fish only once a day and you notice a higher incidence of swim bladder going on – maybe they are just hungry and when they are fed, they gulp. The answer here is to try feeding lesser amounts 2-3 times a day (pinch here, pinch there – one flake feeds 1 fish) and see if that helps.
  3. Environmental conditions in the tank are poor or not consistent (like allowing the water temp to go down or letting nitrates build up to too high a level)
  4. And as you might expect, there are lots of other theories.

Keep your fingers crossed! I hope my little guy makes it. I’ll keep you posted!  Hey, now that was funny – posted on a blog 😉

Don’t know what to write about? Think you have nothing to share? Think again.

What To Write About

A great question from a client of mine promoted this post today. She owns a family business and is an expert at her craft – and she struggles with topics to write about for the new email program we have going.  I encouraged them to begin their emails with a small intro, written by the owner and signed with her signature that relates to the products they choose to highlight. Next week’s email is on seed starting, a topic certainly near and dear to my heart. She said to me “I need your guidance on what to write about.” Woooo! Let the thought-gates open!

Here is what I shared:

1. VALUE: You are selling something that a person could either find in duplicate on Amazon.com or find something very, very similar to what you sell that is cheaper and within driving distance. Why should they buy it from you and pay shipping to boot? Value, quality, expertise, relationship.  Speak about your experience. Speak about your passion.  Speak about the notion that your business was started with a desire to invest in the success of your customers. That’s why it’s worth buying from you versus a big box store or online-only entity. Anytime I think of value, I think of Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  They do an incredible job communicating what they bring to the table (other than great food from your garden) in all of their communications and their catalog.

2. HOW-TO: Anticipate your customers’ questions, concerns, fears. Yes, downright FEARS! The #1 reason I heard while working Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine why people didn’t bite on a seed starting email is because they were convinced they had a black thumb, kill everything they try to grow, and they didn’t want to be responsible for killing a living thing! The problem here isn’t a lack of potential skill. It’s a lack of current knowledge. You, the expert, can share your brain with your customers and share your experiences, hints, tips, tricks. You can educate them in a 1-2-3 way that’s easy to digest and not too scary to try. So think like your customer – and out yourself in their shoes at different levels of expertise or at different stages of a process (like growing plants). Heck, go to Google and try some keyword search that ask why, how, and when around your particular product or service and see what you come up with. The Tasteful Garden does an excellent job of this in their emails and they have a wonderful online resource center to back it up as well as a blog where they are active. They leverage their content in multiple places.

3. CURRENT EVENTS: Even if you sell seeds, there are events in the industry that affect your business, your relationships with others, news that sits in your customers’ minds that they wonder about. Do not be afraid to take a stand on an issue or respond to something happening in the environment. It shows you are aware. It shows you care. It shows your business has a plan for dealing with the ups and downs that can affect a business. Now, you may not want to necessarily email about this, especially if it happens sporadically, but you could certainly get it out on social media or blog about it. And once that content is created, you can leverage it in other spaces as you wish.

4. RELATIONSHIPS: You don’t always have to talk about you, you know :-) Sheesh! Talk about your customers. Talk about your vendors/suppliers. Encourage your customers to participate in surveys or contests (photo, video, etc.) (Hey – Facebook is a great place to do that!) and talk about your “customer of the month”, “retailer of the month”. Earthbox.com does an awesome job of this in their emails. I read every single one. I always learn something from them. Their monthly newsletters are a great combination of “you could buy this”, but they do a spectacular job of saying “and here is how you do this or can use this”. Priceless.

You have things to talk about.

Stop shaking your head. Yes, you do.

It just takes some thought about your business, what you sell and provide, getting it down on paper, and simply doing it. And it’s important to do write more personally, I believe. People gets thousands of marketing messages shoved at them every day – do this, buy that – order now…and particularly in emails, its all promotional. No personality really. No investment. Just shove products in  and get it out the door. I would encourage all of you to write a little more – an intro paragraph – doesn’t have to be long – but it’ll be all YOU. Connect with your customers. Share something of yourself and your business. Inform, guide and teach as well as sell. I bet you’ll find that your business thrives because of it. And so will you.