Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beyond Claiming Your Place Page

(Cross-posted from the Google Places Blog.)

Last week, we invited a group of public relations and social media professionals to Google Austin to introduce them to the range of features offered as part of Google Places. Most of the attendees were experts on the basics (for instance, claiming a Place page), but many were surprised to learn about the other ways Google Places can help them connect with their customers.

The Dashboard

Once you’ve claimed your Place page, you can see detailed analytics on a handy dashboard, including information on the number of time your Place page was viewed (impressions) and the search terms your customers use to find you:

Ratings and Reviews

Customers can rate and review the places they go through Google, offering valuable feedback about what they liked and didn’t like about their experience. This information appears on the Place page for a business. Business owners also have the ability to respond to those reviews publicly — a great way to engage with customers and show you’re listening to their feedback. Once you claim your Place page and you’re logged in, you’ll see the option to respond to individual reviews.

Sharing Your Expertise

Beyond encouraging customers to rate and review their businesses via Google Places, attendees at our Austin Tech Talk also discussed how they could set up their own Google Places profile for their business to rate and review, as a way to show their community involvement and local support. Here’s what came out of a brainstorming session:

  • Restaurants could rate and review local farms, farmers markets, and artisans to show that they are using local ingredients.
  • Hotels could rate and review local attractions that may be of interest to their guests, or use their profile to provide their concierge with a “cheat sheet” of useful info.
  • Gyms could rate and review local restaurants to point out the healthiest menu items for their members so that they can reach their fitness goals.

These were just some of the many ideas that were shared!

Google Places Business Kit

The most talked-about topic of the night was the Google Places Business Kit, a box of info and schwag that business owners can request, detailing how they can better interact with their customers on Google. Some of the items a business owner can request include after-dinner mints and Place pin–shaped coffee stirrers, to remind and encourage customers to rate and review that business on Google.

What are some of the ways you’re using Google Places to connect with your customers? Learn more by visiting our Google Places Help Center.

Posted by Whitney Francis, Austin community manager

Monday, April 25, 2011

Show Some Bloggy Love

The other day I ran across a 'new-to-me' blog called

Mom Seriously, Rebecca Ingram Powell

I was immediately drawn in. You guys know my stance on God and Christianity, so I was so happy to find this blog. I am even happier to share it with you all.
The first post I read was, How Do I Explain Modesty to my Young Child?
Um, hello! This is something that I am definitely interested in, especially having a little girl. It's already hard enough to find appropriate clothing for my 3 year old. A lot of the dresses and shirts are made just like adult clothing..i.e. halter tops and spaghetti straps.
That's one of the reasons I make S.R.'s clothes. 
I have truly been uplifted reading Rebecca's posts, and I think you will too.
So when you get the chance, take the time to visit
Mom Seriously
and show her some love by becoming a follower:o)

Friday, April 22, 2011

E's Easter Party

Yesterday was E's Easter party, and I was one of the helpers. I'd like to say that it went off without a hitch, but that's not true. It was slightly underwhelming, and of all things, we forgot to bring drinks...DUH!
BUT, I got to witness E's very first program at school, and it was so exciting for wasn't spectacular by any means, but it was a "First" for him, and I got to witness it. I even got a little misty-eyed at the beginning. I am really proud of him..he's a good boy:o)

I spent Wednesday getting ready for said festivities. After I got home from church, I whipped up this shirt for E.
 The inspiration came from THIS post. I just made it a little more masculine:o)

For teachers' gifts, I found some jars (50% off at Hobby Lobby this week) and filled them with candy. I found the printable from THIS post.
 These are the CAKE POPS that I made for the party. They are supposed to be Easter Eggs:o) Most everyone seemed to really like them. Just a little side note, the actual cake part needs to be frozen for 2 HOURS or the melted chocolate will not harden fast, and it becomes a drippy mess. 
They are delicious though:o)

Aren't these little bunnies the sweetest thing? E's teacher made them for all of her students. 

  And here are the
put to use.
One of the other mothers helping with the party put 3 Peeps in a sammy bag and tied it off with curling ribbon. Then we attached the little Peeps tag. Turned out cute:o)
So obviously with all of this sugar, I had some WILD children when I got home. 
There were delayed naps, an incident involving mud on my floors AND a wall, a "come-apart" performed by yours truly, and a poopy "event" with the puppy which involved scrubbing the dickens out of his little hind parts(that had to be one of the grosser things I have ever had to do).
Needless to say, yesterday wasn't what I had planned, but I survived....and isn't that what it's all about anyway?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Free Easter Printable

Two posts today...weird I know. I am in the middle of helping with E's Easter party, and I had a free printable I wanted to share with you. This is sort of a last minute thing. The other day I ran across THIS post over at Joy Ever After. She had this really cute idea using peeps, and tags. I thought, PERFECT! We can use these printables as party favors for all of the little ones. But then I realized it was for the cards and not the tags that were available for printing:o(
So I just spent the last little bit making these. 

They are similar, and they will definitely do the trick.
To download this printable, go
 I'll share the little baggies that we are attaching these tags to tomorrow.
You can find a picture of how we used these tags

Next Stop: San Diego, California

(Cross-posted on the Google Places Blog.)

Every day, more and more users are looking online for local information — where to eat, where to stay, where to shop. Online is where business owners need to be too. So for the past several months, we’ve launched marketing campaigns promoting our core local product offering Google Places in five cities: Portland, Austin, Las Vegas, Madison and Charlotte. In each of these cities, we’ve been working closely with local business owners, showing them how Google Places can help them get found on Google and connect them with their customers.

We’re excited to announce that the next campaign is hitting San Diego, California, today — our largest city to date!

With more than 77,000 local businesses, San Diego is the perfect next city in our campaign to help local businesses get noticed on Google. Plus, with nearly three million residents and more than 30 million tourists visiting the city annually, we see a great opportunity to help locals and tourists alike share and discover great San Diego businesses online.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be working with business owners in a bunch of ways:

  • A team of Google reps will be visiting businesses with information about how to claim their Place page and keep their information up to date. They’ll also highlight how business owners can encourage their customers to rate and review their business on Google and share those recommendations with their friends.
  • Business owners who have verified their free Place page can request a Google Places starter kit. Visit for more information. Part of this kit is our “Recommended on Google” sticker, which utilizes NFC technology to enable users with smartphones, such as the Nexus S, to see more information about that business and easily rate and review it right then and there.
  • Businesses eligible to participate in a beta for Google Boost — our online advertising program — will receive $100 coupon offers to get started.

If you see us around town, say hello! We look forward to working with San Diego’s amazing community of business owners.

Posted by Sameer Mahmood, Local Marketing Team

Helping America’s startups grow

[Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog]

Every business starts out small—whether with an idea or the hanging of a shingle outside an office or storefront. Even Google was once a small business, operating out of a garage in Menlo Park, Calif. We’re proud of our success, but we’re even more proud of the role we’ve played helping a lot of other businesses grow. In fact, in 2009 Google search and advertising tools
generated $54 billion of economic activity in the United States.

To further help new American businesses create economic growth, today we’re announcing a commitment of up to $100 million to the
Startup America Partnership—an alliance of the country's most innovative entrepreneurs, corporations, foundations and other private sector leaders—for companies to promote their business with Google advertising over the next year.

Startup America participants will be able to use Google advertising platforms like
AdWords and Boost and receive a $1,000 Google match for $1,000 spent between June 1, 2011 and June 1, 2012. Our chief economist Hal Varian has calculated that businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords, so we think this commitment will be especially powerful.

If you are (or know of) an entrepreneur that’s interested in getting involved with the Startup America Partnership, you can visit its
Resource Center for more information. Our goal as a participant in this national initiative is to help entrepreneurs grow amazing businesses, and we believe our commitment will help them do it.

House Cleaning

Yesterday I spent the better part of  nap time doing a little house cleaning...not my actual house, which desperately needs it, but on my blog.
I made a new header and created a new button...


It was frustrating to say the least because my computer skills are less than mediocre, but I got it done.
 Now whether the button is right....who knows??? Let me know if it works....if it doesn't, I am going to go crawl in a whole and lay in the fetal position and suck my thumb...:o)

My button does not work...waaaaah:o( Gotta figure out what is going on..stay tuned:o{

Major house cleaning today since I have a few clients coming this afternoon and tomorrow. I am desperately wanting to repaint the dining room...shhhh! Don't tell the hubs;o)

And I have to help with E's Easter party tomorrow, so I will be making cake pops today. So much to do, so little time.
Have a fantastic Wednesday!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PBK Inspired Bed Skirt

A very dear friend of my mine is expecting her second baby, and Baby Girl should be here in about a month. So momma bird is nesting:o) She found this beautiful bed skirt at Pottery Barn Kids and fell in love with it, but they don't offer it in the crib size. Plus the twin size is $149.00...YIKES!
So I told her I would make it for her:o)

 (picture credit to Pottery Barn Kids)

And this is what hers looks like:
(please excuse the flash photography...the room was dark)
It was actually pretty easy to make, and a lot cheaper than trying to get it from Pottery Barn Kids. Momma Bird was thrilled with the results, and so am I:o)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Busy Sewing Day

I missed out on some major yard sales today b/c I have a mission...
.plus I don't have any money:o) 
This mission WILL be accomplished TODAY. 
I have 4 dresses that need to be made for some bridesmaids. The wedding has a vintage feel to it, and from the sound of it, it's going to rock!
 Here are the dresses that I am making:
The blue one on the far's reeeeeally cute:o)

And this pattern:

These dresses are fairly simple in construction, and I won't have to finish them completely since I will need to do a fitting, but THEY GOTTA GET DONE!!
I can't wait to see them completed:o)
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend...I really want to start fixing up all of my yard sale finds from last weekend, but these dresses have to take priority.
Wish me luck;o)
b.t.w....this is day 4 of not having Facebook....I feel sort of cut off from the world...but I am trying to be free;o) If I weren't so stinkin' nosy, it might not be as!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Update on Tags

[Cross-posted from the Google LatLong Blog]

As users increasingly rely on tools like Google Maps and Places for information about the world around them, we're working hard to develop products that help local businesses highlight themselves and their offerings.

Last year, we introduced our trial for Google Tags, a way for businesses to highlight their organic Google Places listing with a yellow tag that showcases offers, photos, videos, menu, and reservations for a flat monthly fee.

Since that experiment began, tens of thousands of businesses have used Tags to help potential customers make easier, more informed decisions when searching. Throughout this period, we monitored Tags closely to learn more about our users' business needs and how they used the product.

We’ve made a decision to shift our efforts toward other present and future product offerings for local businesses, and will be discontinuing this trial. To that end, we’ve now halted new signups and will be working with existing participating businesses over the coming weeks to help them meet their marketing needs with other Google products where possible.

We’ve learned a lot from our Tags trial and will take that knowledge into account as we continue to find the best ways to serve users and local businesses alike. Lastly, we want to thank all of the businesses that were part of our Tags trial, and we hope we can meet their advertising needs with one of our existing products.

Posted by Shalini Agarwal, Product Manager

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yard Sale Love

Last weekend we had several neighborhood yard sales just down the street from us, so you can imagine how pumped I was. I came back with so many goodies! I had to call it quits b/c I ran out of room in my van:o)
Here are some of the big items that I brought home:

A Sofa Table..
I was using the drawers to hold down some plastic in plcae while spray painting another project

 A small needs some major love:o)

An oak rocker. This chair has perfectly worn arms on it. I was so happy to find it and at such a good price. This guy will be getting a new seat. I have already ripped out the stuffing...which was original...blech!

A sweet little pillow form. I have this for sale in my Etsy shop. If you are interested in it, just click on the link in the upper right hand corner on this page.

And a small strainer...also for sale in my Etsy shop.

These are just a few of the things that I rounded up for the day. I found so many more treasures. The kids were super pumped about the air hockey table that I got for them for $10. They have had so much fun with it.
 I am definitely going to have a busy weekend finishing up all of my projects that I purchased. I have a few other pieces to share, but I am saving that for a special post:o)
Oh, and for all of you out there who were friends with me on Facebook....I deactivated my account. Yep, I took the plunge and I am not sure how liberated I feel:o) I am starting to purge things from my life that are taking attention away from my family. Getting rid of Facebook seemed like a good place to start. So if any of you guys need to get in touch with me, you will either have to email me or contact me through this blog.
Have a fantastic day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Skip To My Loop Skirt

We had a birthday party to attend this weekend and it was so much fun! Cinderella made an appearance at the party, and S.R. was IN LOVE! She was Chatty Cathy once Cinderella walked thru the door. I really wish I had brought my camera:o/
Anyway, the Birthday girl needed a gift, and being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't have a gift for her. Saturday night I was racking my brain as to what I could make that would be super fast, but still be super cute...this is what I came up with:
This is 100% designed by me...if there is another skirt out there just like it, I promise I haven't seen it.
I came up with this particular design because I always have the hardest time judging how long to cut the elastic. Sometimes it's too small, sometimes it's too big, and every now and again it's just right...sounds like something out of the Three Little Bears, right?
The waist has button holes and a belt laced thru it. Problem solved:o) You can tighten or loosen to your heart's content.
S.R. was a little upset that she couldn't keep the skirt on for the party, but I had to remind her that we were giving it to her friend as a birthday gift. 3 year olds...I tell ya;o)
I will be making a pattern and tute soon, and it will be available in my Etsy shop.
In other news...I had a fantastic yard sale weekend. I will share with you guys my great finds in the next few days.

Participating in:

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A new way to share local product availability with your customers

[Cross-posted from the Google Merchant Blog]

If you've ever spent your Saturday calling different stores or driving around town in search of one specific product, then it probably occurred to you that there must be a better way. Today we're announcing Local Product Availability on Google Place Pages - a new feature that automatically brings your offline catalog to the web, letting customers view your products and search your local inventory on your Place Page before visiting your store.

When you provide Google with local product availability data, your Google Place Page will now automatically include a new section, ‘Popular products available at this store’, featuring five popular products along with price and local availability. For shoppers unfamiliar with your business, this section shows the types of products available in your store.

If shoppers are looking for a specific item, they can click ‘Search within this store’ to search your product inventory to see if a particular item is in stock nearby.

Getting started
To automatically display local product availability on your Google Place page, you’ll need to first share local availability data with Google through a Merchant Center account and claim your a Google Place page. For instructions on sharing local product availability with Google, read this Help Center article. Learn how to claim your Google Place page here.

Posted by Paul Lee, Senior Product Manager, Google Product Search

A Dress, Some Fun, and a New Adventure

Yesterday I made this dress for S.R. I have been in sewing mode here lately and it's been so much fun!
She looked so sweet in it last night at church and had so many compliments.
I got to do something even funner than sewing yesterday as well (yeah, I know funner isn't really a word, but that's how much fun it was;o). I got to rearrange my friend's living room. She bought an ottoman, and didn't know where to put it. One thing led to another, and I ended up shopping her house and completely redoing her living room. It turned out so awesome! She was really excited about it as well. So if any of you out there need someone to come rearrange your house...I'm ya girl!;o)
In other news...
I finally bit the bullet and opened up an Etsy Shop...yep, I caved:o) I have fought the idea for a while now, but with the government furlough approaching, we might need the extra income...just in case. I only have a few items listed, but hoping by the weekend to get a few more up. Look over at the right side of the page and you will see some of the items I have for sale. Just click on the pics:o)
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. I have lots of plans for the next few days.
See ya'll back here on Monday!

Google and Ink from Chase launch 5-city seminar series for SMBs

Every day we hear from business owners who think they need special skills to reach new customers online. Often they’re just overwhelmed by the seeming complexity of online marketing options. So they sit on the sidelines, eager to get in the game, but confused about where to start.

Sound familiar?

Google and Ink from Chase have teamed up this year to help small business owners get off the sidelines and into the game! As part of this commitment to helping small business owners, we jointly hosted the first Google-Ink from Chase ‘Grow Your Business Online’ event on March 15, 2011 at the JP Morgan Headquarters in New York City.

Over 200 Ink small business customers attended the program, living proof of how an incredibly diverse array of small business touch our lives every day - from chocolate shops to online gaming and private medical practices. The evening featured welcome comments from Richard Quigley, President of Ink from Chase, expert advice from AdWords evangelist Frederick Vallaeys on four ways for SMBs to market their business online and also included the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s executive director, Daniel Gallant, talking about how online advertising helped their business grow.

One small business owner remarked that the tools and tips from Google experts on how to market small businesses online gave her “a new perspective of how to reach out to customers.” Another attendee found the Google Places page so compelling he went back to his business afterwards and “immediately verified my business’ Google Places page.”

Interested in learning more about how to get your business online? Check out our Small Business Online Marketing Handbook to get started.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Click. The AdWords newsletter: April 2011

The world has gone mobile. From smartphones to tablets, mobile devices are quickly becoming the best way for people to find products and services when they're on the go. Read on to learn about how you can take advantage of the mobile opportunity with AdWords and drive mobile customers to your business.

Happy reading!
The Google AdWords team

P.S. Have some feedback about this newsletter? Please let us know what you think.
In this Issue
APRIL 2011, VOL 2

A growing mobile opportunity

Design a mobile-only campaign

Bringing customers to the table

Art Project

Your AdWords Account
A growing mobile opportunity
In the past year alone, the number of Google mobile searches has quadrupled. In fact, by 2012, more people will connect via a mobile device than a computer.* How can your business benefit from this trend? Here are three ideas:

Make it easy to call you
People on the phone are looking for immediate answers. So it makes sense that many smartphone consumers call the businesses that they find after a mobile search. Encourage new customers to call you with AdWords Click-to-Call, which displays your business' phone number as an additional line of text on your ad. Google research shows that click-to-call ads drive a 6-8% average increase in clickthrough rates.

Make it easy to find you, too!
If you're a local business, mobile users are especially important, because one out of three searches on a mobile devices has local intent. And, according to a recent survey conducted by eMarketer, 58% of smartphone owners say they use their phone to find store locations. In AdWords, you can use Location Extensions to display your business' address and its location on a map. Once you have Location Extensions enabled, you can automatically take advantage of the new Hyperlocal feature. Hyperlocal shows your potential customers distance information, so they can see how close they are to your store!

Customize your ads for the mobile user
The eMarketer study also shows that people commonly use their phones to compare prices, find discounts and check product availability. Consider writing ads especially for smartphone users, keeping in mind what people want when they're on the go. You can actually create a separate AdWords campaign just for mobile. Check out AdWords Insight, below, for detailed instructions on how to do that.

ADVANCED TIP: What happens when someone wants to find out more about your business, and clicks to your website? Does your website load quickly enough for smartphone users? Take a few moments to see if your website passes the test. If it doesn't, there are a range of options to help you optimize your website for mobile devices.

*Source: Meeker, Mary; Morgan Stanley. "Ten Questions Internet Execs Should Ask & Answer." Business, November 16, 2010.
Design a uniquely mobile campaign
Google Research shows that mobile-only campaigns help drive higher mobile clickthrough rates—11.5% higher on average. Why? With a separate mobile campaign, you can set the bids, budgets, keywords and ad text that work best for mobile customers.

  1. Create a new campaign in your AdWords account.
  2. Find the "Networks and devices" section in your Campaign Settings, and under "Devices" click "Let Me Choose".
  3. Un-select "Desktop and laptop computers," so you are only targeting "Mobile devices with full Internet browsers."
  4. Select keywords and create ad text with your mobile customer in mind.

Bringing customers to the table
Can your customers find you when they need you most? Roy's Restaurants shared the success of their hyperlocal mobile-only campaign: "Mobile searchers looking for dining options could effortlessly see how close they were to a nearby Roy's restaurant and the click-to-call function allowed for instant reservations." This campaign drove a 40% increase in calls, while the cost-per-click was 67% less than desktop ads. As a result, the campaign's overall return on investment was 800%—double the ROI of their blended mobile/desktop campaigns. Want to try it for your business? Learn about the strategies Roy's used.
Picture this with the Art Project
Want to visit the world's most magnificent museums and masterpieces? Art Project, powered by Google—collaboration with 17 of the word's most acclaimed museums—lets you walk through museum wings to explore the world's most precious works of art. From Van Gogh's Starry Night to Botticelli's Birth of Venus, zoom in to discover striking details like brushstrokes and aging signs, all without leaving home.
Posted by Jenn Karakkal, AdWords Small Business Team

Batman Cape

Last Saturday was my first time out this year for yard sales. I was pumped and ready to go...but apparently those needing to rid themselves of unwanted junk were not of the same mindset. I only came across 3 yard sales near us:o( I found a few things, but nothing that you would call a "treasure." Anyway, the last yard sale I went to had a lot of dress up clothes, mainly for girls, but they did have a Batman mask. I snatched that up b/c I new that E would have a fit over it.
I was right:o)
So I thought  I would make him a Batman cape to match. I got busy making it yesterday, and I was so excited to show it to him.
He was really excited to see it...and then he put it on...
He said, "Where are the holes so that I can fly?" with utter disappointment. 
I apparently told him that I was going to make little pockets for him to put his hands in so that he could spread the cape out, but the way I made the cape, it wasn't possible.
He then told me that he didn't want feelings were hurt:o( That is the very first time that I have made anything for my children that "FAILED".
 So who's wearing the cape, you ask? Why, S.R. of course:o) She even came in this morning with it on. She loves it, and doesn't care that she can't "fly" in it! It is the perfect size for a 3 year old:o) 
I guess I will be making a larger one with pockets/holes for flying. I will include a tutorial with that one as well. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Think with Google: Search Ads Affect Offline Sales, too

Do online search campaigns lead to in-store sales? Controlled studies we call ‘Online to Store’ experiments prove time and again that they do! Check out this video for results from large advertisers that tested the effects of keyword targeted products and categories, generic keywords and online coupons. Highlights include in-store sales lift, return on ad spend (15:1 in some cases) and halo effects on overall sales. Understanding the effect of search ads on offline sales is a large part of accurately defining the full value of search campaigns, beyond direct conversion. Consider these results and your own online to store testing.

Posted by: Susan Billingsley, Search Marketing Manager

Free phone support for AdWords advertisers

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

We’ve worked hard to keep in touch with our AdWords customers and we’re always looking for new ways to support you. Currently we offer email and online support, and today we’re introducing free phone support for all of our U.S.- and Canada-based AdWords customers. When you have a question about your account or advertising campaigns, you can now call an AdWords specialist if you prefer.

We’re adding phone support for a simple reason: you asked for it! You told us that while you appreciate online resources like our AdWords Help Center, you also want the option to get live, expert support when you need it. We heard you, and got to work assembling a team of AdWords experts to answer your calls.

The new phone option is one of many tools that can help you succeed with AdWords—and (most importantly!) find even more customers. You can also email us, or learn from other advertisers in the AdWords Help Forum. Our AdWords Online Classroom offers free online courses on a wide variety of AdWords topics, from the basics to great tips to take your account to the next level.

To speak to one of our specialists, give us a call at 1-866-2Google between Monday-Friday, 9am-8pm Eastern Time. This number is for current AdWords advertisers only, so please make sure you have your customer ID ready. We look forward to speaking to you and learning more about your business.

We'll roll phone support out to advertisers in other countries in the coming months.

Spring-y Dress for S.R.

Yesterday we had some nasty storms. I knew they were coming and new there was a chance of no electricity, so instead of preparing our supper early, I decided to make a dress...b/c you know a sewing machine needs electricity;o)
I had the fabric on hand, and I had an inspiration dress. To see said dress, go HERE
 The creator of the inspiration dress has her own blog, Girl.Inspired. She has so many cute ideas, and is one talented lady. I have been following her for a couple of months now, and she has given me so many ideas. Definitely take the time to check out her blog.
Here is  a close up of the top of the dress. 

When I was making the top, I thought I was being crafty in the way I was constructing the dress. However, I forgot to take into consideration that there needed to be a place for the straps to go...on the back that is:o) So I came up with a quick solution. I put button holes in the back as well, and just ran the strap thru it. Turned out cute, don't you think?

S.R. is always excited about a new dress, and I am excited for her to have something nice and Spring-y;o)