Tag Archives: google tools

Helpful Google Tools: Google Insights

Google Insights is a truly insightful tool (pun intended). This hidden gem of a tool is a bit more advanced in nature and can really assist with narrowing in on keyword selections as they relate to geography (states, subregions), category (food & drink, home & garden, lifestyles), and time frame (last year, last 2 years). Google Insights is in beta mode as of yet, but I still thank the heavens for this geeky gem because it has helped me greatly in my internet marketing work.

I work extensively with High Country Gardens. High Country Gardens is “the” source for waterwise, drought tolerant, “high country” perennial plants, low-water lawn grasses, cactus, succulents, and even yucca trees. They have a large nursery and greenhouse in Santa Fe where they grow many of their own plants and develop new varieties. I love this company. They are eco-friendly centric. They care about plants that help the earth. They adore plants that feed butterflies and hummingbirds. They sell hardy grasses for smart, low-water guzzling lawns. They are experts in replacing traditional lawns with xeriscapes, especially for the southwest where lawns don’t thrive naturally. If I didn’t live in the snow-ridden wastes of Maine, they’d be my perennial plant company. But….but….they do sell perennial varieties that will live in my area…things like Salvia, Rudbeckia, Lupine, Columbine, and many others.

High Country Gardens is a very smart company and they are just as fastidious at making their marketing dollars work as they are in providing top-quality perennials that will thrive in your growing zone. They understand that they own the southwestern quadrant of the US. It’s where most of their sales come from. Yet they do get sales across the country. With Google AdWords, it is my sole mission to ensure they the money they spend there is as profitable as it can be – and that means tailoring campaigns, ad groups, and keyword selections primarily to geography. We shouldn’t be showing ads in New Hampshire for Agave Plants. It’s akin to trying to sell meat to a vegetarian. It just doesn’t work.

Google Insights combines the technology of Google’s Keyword Tool with that of Google Maps, Google Places, and a bit of the Display Network. Talk about cross-channel marketing! For geeks like me, this tool is an Internet Kitchen-Aid.

1. I go to http://www.google.com/insights/search
2. I compare by location
3. I select the United States
4. And I filter by Web Search, the search term Agastache, timeframe of 2004-present, and Home & Garden category

and what I see is that searches for “agastache” are very seasonal and cyclical (as is true of most horticultural companies) and that the “big states” are Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, followed by California, Texas and the Great Lakes region and mid-atlantic states.

The results are very different for “agave”, “salvia”, “lupine”, and “rudbeckia”.

(and yes, I know that scientifically these genus references should be capitalized – but bear with me…)

This really lends credence to the notion that geographical segmentation by product line (oh my!) is important for this beloved customer of mine.

Now, that’s not to say to that they don’t get sales from all parts of the U.S., because they do, but there exists some level of the law of diminishing returns where we draw the line and say “It’s not worth advertising to region X or Y, because the effort and cost involved isn’t covered by the sales achieved.” And this is the internet marketer’s challenge – finding that “sweet spot” for maximizing sales given the investment – and that sweet spot changes depending on time of year, weather conditions (as I type, Maine is buckling down for a hefty Nor’easter that is about to dump a foot (or more) or heavy, wet snow on us on April Fools Day!), and product line.

As with all Google Tools, I use Google Insights for it’s richer, deeper focusing abilities, but I don’t use it in authoritative totality. Data must be balanced with experiential knowledge and gut instinct. A hard balance indeed – luckily – I excel at it.

If you are curious how search volume for keyword phrases for your products or service have varied over time, space, and dimension (why yes, I am a Trekkie), Google Insights is your Enterprise tool :-) (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Helpful Google Tools: Google Places

When I talk with companies about helping them improve the visibility of their website and I mention Google Places and what it is, the effect is like presenting a giant lollipop to a child; their eyes open wide and they get this grin on their face.

Google Places for Business is a free (yes, free) listing service provided by Google and many companies don’t know it exists. Not only is it free (did I mention that it’s free?), it is also very quick and easy to set up.

1. Go to http://www.google.com/places

2. Click on the blue button on the right called “Get Started”

3. Sign in with your Google account (and if you don’t have one, create one for your business – it’s also easy and free).

4. Click the dark blue text on the right called “List your business”

5. Type in your business phone number in the format (xxx) xxx-xxxx and click “Find business information”

6. If there is no match for the phone number, you’ll be given an empty form to fill out. Fill out as much as possible or as is relevant to your business. If it does find a match, click on the “edit” link and look at the existing listing, and make sure it’s accurate and as completely filled out as possible.

7. One of the important parts of the listing is the “Category” section. Google let’s you define up to 5 categories (and one of them must be one of their suggested categories that appears in the drop down when you start typing). So, for example, if I type in “internet” into the box, one of the suggested categories is “Internet Marketing Service”. So I pick that one. The other 4 categories I can type in something unique or I can select a “pre-filled” match.

8. Also, make sure you fill out the description field. 200 characters. Make it good and include important keywords that you can that describe your company, product lines or services. Save this 200 character description – you can leverage it at the Open Directory, the Yahoo Directory, and for your META description tag on your web pages.

9. Submit your listing and Google will give you 2 options to validate the listing. They will call you (almost immediately) at the phone number for which you set up the listing OR they can mail you a postcard to the business address you specified in the form. The phone call or the postcard will contain a PIN that you will need to complete your listing.

10. Voila! It’s done. Be there or be invisible. Your choice! And psssst – It’s FREE! What’s better than free marketing?

Having a Google Places listing places your company information near the top of the search results with a little reddish colored balloon and a Google Maps location box when someone searches for any of the categories you specified in your listing combined with your city, state or region. This is a great tool for smaller companies who depend quite a bit on local searches.

Once the listing is complete, you have the ability to edit it any time you need to (just log in with your Google account and go to http://www.google.com/places). Just keep in mind that any time you change your listing, you have to validate it again with Google, so be on the lookout for the new PIN each time you submit changes.

Helpful Google Tools: Google Dance

As an SEO & SEM marketing professional, there are a number of tools that I use to help myself and my customers. The majority of those tools are lumped under a single name: Google. I use 8 of Google’s Tools routinely in my day to day and in my work. I thought I’d embark upon an 8-day review of each of these tools, since many of them are relatively unknown!

I’ll start with the Google Dance Tool. A couple of customers I work with recently came to me and asked, “Why is it that if I do a search for XYZ on my computer at home, then I do the same search from my computer at work, the results change? I cannot find what I was looking for earlier.” Along similar lines, I’ve been on the phone with a customer, who is in another state, and been doing a search with them in Google, and we’ve both come up with different results while executing the same search at the same time.

These search results are what internet marketers and geeks call the “Google Dance“.

As you might know (or hazard to guess), Google has an insane number of servers across the universe. we also know that the machines from which people access the internet have different IP addresses and are connected to the internet in different geographical locations. Google spiders, called googlebots, index massive amounts of content on the internet each month, and as you might guess, the spiders crawl forth from their particular “server cave” at different times to index web pages across the globe, which takes several days.

When a person does a search on Google, the results are pulled from more than 10,000 servers. Since it’s not possible for all of these servers to receive the updated monthly index information at the same exact time, some servers contain the old index info while others grab the new info. Google has a much more technical explanation that you can read if you are interested. But basically, two people searching for the same query in the same town may see different ranking results because Google’s updated indexes take time to crawl to the particular data center that receives the updated index.

The Google Dance Tool allows you to see when Google is spidering the internet and, for a particular search query, it will show you when the site you are looking for will rank with Google. Of course, none of this is an exact science. So say a prayer and throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder, just for good luck :-)