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Game on! See the power of apps in the Ping-Pong Hangout

Google and Your Business - Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:58
Looking to add a little spice into your social media presence on the web?

Last week at Creative Sandbox NYC, which celebrates how technology is shaping culture and storytelling, we announced the launch of the Ping-Pong Hangout brought to you by Google+. This Hangout app allows users to play a game of Ping-Pong with an opponent by using their faces to control the paddle.



As fun as the Ping-Pong Hangout is, we’re most excited about what’s behind it: The Google+ Hangouts API. The API can help you to build deep, engaging and unique experiences for Hangouts. Just take a look at:

For more examples and info, see the Hangout Apps Showcase, check out the recording of our Hangout with the agencies behind the game, flip through our Getting Started guide or ask questions of the Google+ Developers team via Hangout Tuesdays at 2:30pm PT.

What could a Hangout App do your business? How might you use one to add your character to video chats and broadcasts, or to provide more information to users? Head on over to the site to get inspired.

Posted by Lindsay Rumer, Google+ Team

Under the AdWords Hood: Breaking Down Ad Rank

Google and Your Business - Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:01
AdWords Specialists Courtney Pannell, Philip Stern, and Sarah Claxton Deming hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the second installment in the “Under the AdWords Hood” series.

During the Hangout, the AdWords experts discussed the basics of ad rank, like how bidding and quality score factor into determining the positioning of your ads. Specifically, Phil shared his best practices for bidding to achieve your optimal ranking, and Sarah discussed how quality score is calculated.

You can watch the full 25-minute Hangout on Air below, or on the Google Business YouTube channel:


To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.
And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, Thursday February 7, when we discuss remarketing tips.
Stay tuned!
Posted by Courtney Pannell, AdWords Team

Using 1:1s to communicate with your employees

Google and Your Business - Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:00


Editor’s note: In this post, we’re featuring a management technique that we use at Google, which might be useful at your business.

As a manager or the owner of a business, how often do you get to interact with your employees on an individual basis? With busy and conflicting schedules, it can be hard to find times outside of team meetings or performance evaluations to talk more generally to an employee.

To help make sure that employees always have an open channel of communication with managers, we have weekly 1:1s, which is a 30-minute block of time for a manager to meet with just one person. The purpose of 1:1s isn’t evaluation or getting assignments, although those might be outcomes. Instead, it should be an chance for an employee to share projects, questions, concerns, and anything else with his or her manager.

Because the intention of a 1:1 is to have easy communication across levels, the employee should be the person leading the meeting, not the manager. Employees should provide the agenda and direct the discussion, while managers should make sure to listen and provide constructive feedback. Here are a few other tips to get the most out of 1:1 time:
  • Prepare and share an agenda in advance to keep the meeting efficient.
  • Use a running document to keep your agenda and notes in to refer to later, and make sure both the employee and manager can edit it.
  • Discuss career development more broadly, and what skills you can gain at work outside of your core job.
If weekly 1:1s seems too often, try bi-weekly or maybe even monthly. You could also try scheduling a regular office hour on your calendar where employees can just drop in to talk. Does your business have another strategy that helps with communication? Share them with us on Google+ and tag #smbtips!

Posted by Jacinth Sohi, Google and Your Business Blog Team

Help Desk Hangouts: Going Google

Google and Your Business - Fri, 01/18/2013 - 19:39
Editor’s note: On the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we chatted with the Going Google team, who showed us a guide to help businesses transition to Google Apps. We walked through the Going Google guide, learning about change management and how it can make the transition to Google Apps for any business much smoother. The guide’s got training resources, checklists, and tips to help businesses manage the transition timeline.

Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.


Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

Who is the guide intended for? Is it free? 
The guide is a free resource available on our Google Apps Documentation and Support site. It is intended for anyone who is helping an organization evaluate Google Apps or make the switch to Google Apps. The guide is targeted to organizations with 250 users or more, but parts of the guide are relevant to smaller organizations too. We also have a guide focused on smaller businesses here.

How does the guide recommend you approach Going google? 
At Google, we have a user focus in everything we do. We recommend you have a focused approach to your users' transition to Google Apps. We've created a simple and flexible, three-step model you can use to plan your change management approach when you switch to Google Apps: (1) Get ready, (2) communicate, and (3) train.

Will the guide be updated as Google Apps is updated? 
Yes, the guide will be updated on a regular basis. Throughout the year, we will add new stories from customers and partners about their change management approach for switching to Google Apps. The guide will also be updated as our Google Apps services are updated.

Posted by Jade Wang, Google+ Local Community Manager

Let Customers “See Inside” Your Business with Google Business Photos

Google and Your Business - Tue, 01/15/2013 - 18:32
Since the official launch of Google Business Photos in January 2012, over 100,000 businesses have used the feature to virtually invite customers inside their doors. With the use of high-quality panoramic imagery and Street View technology, businesses have been able to offer customers an interactive tour without physically setting foot inside - perfect for showcasing the ambiance of a wine bar or the layout of a gym.

Check out our new video to see what Business Owners are saying about Google Business Photos:




Over the past year, Google has made it even easier for customers to find Business Photos on Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ Local; with just one click, you can now “See Inside” businesses from a computer or tablet.



Or, from your mobile phone click “See Inside” on the Place Sheet.

Google Maps on Android Google Maps on iOS
If you would like to feature your establishment on Google with Business Photos, please visit our website for more information. You’ll have the opportunity to select from a list of Google Trusted Photographers in your area. You can contact a photographer to negotiate a rate and schedule a time for a photoshoot.

Google Business Photos is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. We are working to expand the service to more areas so that more businesses can reach more customers.

Posted by Shailesh Nalawadi, Product Manager, Google Maps

Under the AdWords Hood Series: AdWords Policy

Google and Your Business - Sat, 01/12/2013 - 00:53
Director of Engineering for Advertising at Google, David Baker and AdWords Specialist Lindsay Brownell hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the first installment of the four-part “Under the AdWords Hood” series. This series sheds light on topics that you chose in a vote on the Google Ads page!

David and Lindsay broke AdWords Policy down into and delved into three areas:

  1. Ad Policy
  2. Landing Page Policy
  3. Account Policy
You can watch the full 30-minute Hangout on Air below, or on the Google Business YouTube channel.



To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.

And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, January 24th 2013 when we go Under the Hood and learn all about Ad Rank.

Posted by Courtney Pannell and Divya Vishwanath, AdWords Support Team

Insights for 2013: Understanding Your Customers & The Full Value of Digital

Google and Your Business - Thu, 01/10/2013 - 23:30

(cross-posted from the Analytics blog)

We’re just a week into 2013, and we’re undeniably living in the new multi-screen age. Our day-to-day interactions with technology—and our expectations—have increased dramatically. We’re no longer content to wait until later to buy shoes or schedule travel or find a hot spot to eat. Technology lets us act now, and we expect reliable results. In fact, we’ve become so dependent on being connected all the time that 43% of U.S. adults would be willing to give up beer for a month if it meant they could keep accessing the Internet on their smartphones, and 36% said they’d be willing to give up chocolate.*

What does this mean for you? Many businesses have fallen behind consumer behavior—in a world where people look first to mobile devices and real-time streams, the digital journey has grown more complex, and it’s become more challenging to gain a clear picture of these interactions. As a marketer or analyst, your success depends on adapting to this new reality. We’re working to provide tools that let you connect the dots, so you can regain visibility into your customers’ preferences and behaviors and take advantage of the full value of digital.

Holistic Measurement: Capture the full customer experience
Your customers are active all the time and everywhere, so you should be as well. To truly win moments that matter across all screens and situations, you must acknowledge, and measure, all relevant touch-points. For example, are you running related marketing efforts across email, display, and search ads? Do you see customers performing some tasks more frequently on smartphones while other tasks are more common on laptop? Rather than evaluating these programs and behaviors separately, your measurement strategy should focus on connecting the dots between these consumer moments. Consider your overall business goals and then measure the role that each touch-point plays in achieving those goals, keeping in mind the complementary effects of multiple channels and devices.

Active measurement: Plan ahead and optimize throughout
Harnessing the power of location, intent and social connections is possible today, and smart marketers are always on, always optimized—using customer signals to create winning experiences for their brand. Active measurement is about quickly acting on the insights you uncover as you go, but more importantly, it’s about good measurement planning. This proactive piece is often overlooked, even by the savviest marketers and analysts. To effectively measure, you must define expectations about how your customer will interact with your brand before you look at the numbers. Then, question any surprising results. Is it normal or strange for your business to have a 3% conversion rate? Is it good or bad if event tracking shows that 3,000 people view a video on your homepage in a single day? Are your TV spots driving viewers to your website in Real-Time, or do you see more traffic at other times? Are you bringing together data sources and devices holistically? Active measurement means examining real human behavior and influences instead of reporting the same old data on clicks or bounce-rates.

Media-Agnostic Measurement: Give credit where it’s due
As technology usage has expanded, patterns of research and influence have become more diverse (with many consumers consulting 10 or more sources before a purchase)*—but also more identifiable. In the new digital age, it’s no longer realistic or smart to judge campaigns solely by the final interaction using a last-click model, or to think only about single-device or single-session interactions. Customers move fluidly across channels and devices. To truly understand the value of your digital investments, you have to overhaul your conversion goals to capture all the large and small behaviors that lead to business success. Once you have visibility into the customer journey, you can begin assigning credit with attribution models to determine your best channel and investment mix. Next, optimize your programs and run controlled experiments to see how you could improve your results even further. It’s an active, ongoing process.

So, make a New Year’s resolution to take a more proactive approach: consider and give credit to all the interactions in the customer journey, and act on your measurement insights. Throughout 2013 we’ll be sharing practical advice to help you dive in and join your customers in the always-on world. Good luck!

Posted by Paul Muret, Director of Engineering, Google Analytics

*Source for statistics in this post:
http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/facts/marketing-objective/

Make some New Year’s resolutions for your business

Google and Your Business - Fri, 01/04/2013 - 00:30
Cross posted from the Official Google Blog.

When Melodie Bishop heard about our Get Your Business Online program (an initiative that makes it fast, easy and free for U.S. businesses to get online), she jumped at the opportunity to turn her hobby of creating Chicago-themed gift baskets into a full-time business. Since launching her website, Send Them Chicago, this past summer, Melodie has seen a 70 percent increase in new customers.

Melodie Bishop with one of her gift baskets

As the holidays wrap up and the New Year starts, millions of business owners just like Melodie are thinking about how they can grow in 2013. For many, this means getting found and connecting with customers on the web.

Yet often, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’re helping business owners create a list of New Year’s resolutions for 2013.

Let us know what you hope to accomplish in the New Year. Do you want to get your basic business information online? Or do you already have a website and want to reach more customers? Once you select your goals, we’ll create a customized list of resolutions with resources to help you stick to it.

In the U.S., 58 percent of small businesses don’t have a website, but 97 percent of Internet users look online for local products and services. So it’s not surprising that businesses with a web presence are expected to grow 40 percent faster than those without. Creating a list of resolutions for your business may just be one of the easiest things you can do to help your business grow.

We’ll see you on the web.

P.S. If you aren’t a small business owner, it’s not too late to give that business you know the gift of a free website.

Posted by Aditya Mahesh, Product Marketing, Get Your Business Online

13 business tips to countdown to 2013, Part III

Google and Your Business - Tue, 01/01/2013 - 16:46


Happy 2013! Over the past 13 days, we've been posting one tip daily on the Google+ Your Business page to countdown to January 1st and get your business ready for the new year. We previously shared our first and second set of five tips, and our final three of our top 13 tips are below. Now you can turn some of these tips into New Year's resolutions for your business!

Tip #11: Schedule due dates for tasks in emails on Google Calendar
When your inbox is overflowing, you don’t always have time to follow up on tasks discussed in emails immediately. And since you’ve already seen the email, you might not want to mark it as unread.

Make your workflow easier by saving emails that you need to follow up on in your Gmail Tasks list. When you have the email open, just click More > Add to Tasks and it will be automatically added to your list. Click “Related email” under the task to open the email whenever you need.

You can even schedule a due date--click on > next to the task then on the Calendar icon. When you select “Back to list” the date will be saved on the list and you’ll also get a reminder in your Google Calendar so you don’t miss a deadline!

Tip #12: Save online images right to Google Drive
Summarized from the Google Drive blog

If your business ever saves files from websites, you know it can cumbersome--right click on an image, download it to your computer, open it and rename it, save the file, and maybe even attach it to an email.
Instead, streamline the process with the Save to Drive Chrome extension, which lets you capture content from anywhere on the web and store it neatly online in Google Drive. Once you install the extension, just right click on the file or click on the Drive extension icon to save:
  • an image of an entire page or an image of the visible page
  • the HTML source code
  • a Web archive (.mht)
After you save with the extension, you’ll see options to immediately open the file in Drive, rename it, or view it in your Drive list, where you can do things like add it to a folder or share it with others. You can install it from the Chrome Webstore.

Tip #13: Use Google Maps on your website
Bring the power of Google Maps directly to your website! You can embed a simple map, a set of driving directions, a local search result, or a My Map (http://goo.gl/CcWDN) created by another user. Here's how:
  1. Ensure that the map you'd like to embed appears in the current map display.
  2. Click the link icon at the top of the left panel.
  3. In the box that appears, copy the HTML under 'Paste HTML to embed in website,' and paste it into the source code of your website or blog.
If you'd like to adjust the size of the map before you embed it, click “Customize and preview embedded map”, select your preferred size, and take a look at the preview map. Once you're happy with what you see, copy the HTML that appears in the box at the bottom of the window. For more advanced maps, learn about the Google Maps API: http://developers.google.com/maps/

Posted by the Google and Your Business blog Team

Year in Review: Top 3 Posts - 1st Place

Google and Your Business - Tue, 01/01/2013 - 02:39


Happy New Year! We've been looking at our top three most popular posts from 2012, and we're at number 1! And the winner is...Measurement Mondays and measuring online marketing. Previously we reshared our third place winner, 10 in 10: Google Chrome, and our second place post, 10 in 10: Google Calendar. Enjoy the end of 2012!

*      *      *
A few weeks ago, I shared some basic tips on how to measure your online marketing efforts. Today we’re taking a deeper look at how to measure the effectiveness of your website. Think of your website as your “Open For Business” sign on the web - but unlike your business, your website is open 24/7. So it’s important for you to measure how well your site is achieving your business goals. By using free tools like Google Analytics, you can see how visitors are finding and interacting with your site, which can help you improve your customer experience and potentially drive more sales.


Here are five things that every business should consider:
  • Identify your goals and track them correctly: Think about the ultimate business objectives of your website and identify specific visitor actions that indicate success, like finishing a sale, signing up for a newsletter, or viewing an important page. Then set up goal tracking to see how visitors are reaching those goals. You can also assign a dollar value to each goal to see how it’s impacting your bottom line, or set up ecommerce tracking to integrate online sales data.
  • Become a conversion detective: Businesses spend a lot of effort getting people to visit their site, so if your visitors aren’t converting or achieving your goals, it’s important to figure out why. There could be a variety of factors, like too many required steps to request a quote, call-to-action icons that are too small, or poor placement of your email list sign-up button. See what conversion metrics need a boost, and experiment with your site’s content and layout to see what works best.
  • Get to the bottom of your bounce rates: Bounce rates represent the people who are visiting one page on your website and then leaving immediately afterwards. This could signal that they’re not finding what they need right away. Think about what information your customers might be seeking, like contact information or links to promotions, and make sure it’s front and center on your site. Bounce rates can also show you how effective your marketing campaigns are. For instance, if you’re running an email marketing campaign but find that they’re resulting in visits with high bounce rates, you could be wasting time and money.
  • Discover important audience locations: The Internet can introduce even a small town business to potential customers around the world, so you might be surprised at what audiences are most interested in your products or services. Take a look at the countries, regions and provinces where your website visitors are coming from - it just might inspire you to run an ad campaign targeted to reach shoppers in France, or start a special promotion for your fans in Canada.
  • Make the most of mobile traffic: More and more consumers are browsing the web on the go with their smartphones, so spend some time discovering how many of your site’s visitors are coming from a mobile phone. Are they viewing multiple pages, staying for a long time, or bouncing away quickly? A local restaurant might want to know whether mobile visitors are quickly finding information like hours of operation, menus and address - because if they’re not, they could be going elsewhere. If you need help making your website mobile, you can find a ton of resources at www.howtogomo.com to help you get started.
There are a lot of things that you can learn when diving into your website analytics, and I know that sometimes it can feel like an overwhelming amount of data. The important thing about measurement is to just get started and keep experimenting. You’ll begin to see what works for your unique site and business, and may even find unexpected areas for growth. Happy measuring!

Posted by Francoise Brougher, Vice President of SMB Sales and Operations

13 business tips to countdown to 2013, Part II

Google and Your Business - Fri, 12/28/2012 - 18:59


With 2013 around the corner, we’ve collected the top 13 tips for you to get your business ready for the new year. We've been posting one tip each day on the Google+ Your Business page, and previously we shared our first five tips here. Check out our next five tips, and keep an eye out for our last three as we countdown to 2013!

Tip 6: Use Google Sheets
Use Google Sheets for all your business’s spreadsheet needs, such as keeping lists, tracking projects, and analyzing data and results. Collaborate with co-workers by sharing editing rights, commenting on files, and chatting with other viewers in real-time. Learn more

Tip 7: Create duplicate Google+ Events
Does your business Google+ Events to host regular events? Now you can easily turn your last sale, customer meet-up, or Hangout on Air into a monthly or quarterly affair by duplicating the event. Open up your last event and select Actions > Duplicate event. Google+ will pull in all the important details, so you don’t have to start from scratch.

Tip 8: Try a Hangout on Air
Is your business looking to reach more customers with engaging video content? With Hangouts on Air, you can record your live hangout, so the video is available to share with everyone. Does your business have a new product to unveil? Invite your circles or a few select customers to join you in your Hangout on Air, and then broadcast it! A live player of your hangout will be posted on your Google+ page and on your YouTube channel. Once the hangout is over, your video is available publicly on your +page, and you can make edits to it if you like. Learn more

Tip 9: Add fun fonts to docs
Use Google Docs to create rich documents in your business’s style. Customize your files by changing and adding fonts. The default font is Arial when you create a Google Doc. To change the font, click on the drop-down menu. You can even add fonts to your font list. At the bottom of the font list, click “Add fonts” to search for web fonts for use in your business’s documents. Learn more

Tip 10: Start a Google+ Community 
With Communities, the newest feature in Google+, you and your business can connect with customers and followers in new ways. Search for communities that represent your interests, and see what’s trending in that space. Have a cupcake shop? Join a foodie community and see what’s popular among dessert lovers on Google+. Have a particular interest that you’d like to share? Start your own community!

Here are some of the features of Google+ Communities:
  • Public or private membership to support all kinds of groups—from topics and interests to local neighborhoods to regular poker nights
  • Discussion categories to find the conversations you care about most
  • The option to start hangouts and plan events with community members
  • The ability to share with your community from any +1 button across the web
Posted by the Google and Your Business blog Team

13 business tips to countdown to 2013, Part I

Google and Your Business - Wed, 12/26/2012 - 16:10


With 2013 around the corner, we’ve collected the top 13 tips for you to get your business ready for the new year. We've been posting one tip each day on the Google+ Your Business page, and we've collected the first five tips here. Start getting your business ready for 2013 now, and stay tuned for the next set of tips!

Tip 1: Create new holiday promotion ads in AdWords
It's the busy holiday season and we want your customers to find you online! Often, businesses that advertise with Google make edits to their ad text to promote a holiday sale or deal to bring customers to their website. While we recommend advertising these promotions, here's a little tip we want to highlight:

Don't jump straight into your ad that you have running and click to edit that ad. Saving changes to an existing ad causes the ad to go under review which, depending on the number of ads that you have in your account, can cause an interruption in your ad delivery. Instead, we recommend creating a new ad with the holiday promotion in addition to the generic ad that you already have. Once the new ad gets reviewed, you can pause your generic ad and let the holiday one run -- delay avoided!

Tip 2: Use referrals data in Analytics
If your business has a website, do you know how your customers are finding it? You can use referrals information in Google Analytics to see how people got to your website.

Analytics shows traffic coming from around the web, so not just other websites but from social media as well. Is a lot of your traffic coming from one social media channel? Maybe you want to spend more time posting there. You can also see how many new visits came from a certain source, if you want to target customers by using different content depending on the channel.

To find data on referrals, just sign in to Google Analytics then click Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals. Don’t have Google Analytics set up yet? Learn how to get started at http://www.google.com/analytics/

Tip 3: Track packages in Google Search

Does your business receive lots of packages? Don’t worry about wasting time going to multiple websites to track them. You can find out where FedEx, UPS and USPS packages that you've ordered are by typing the tracking number into Google. Simply enter the tracking number into the Google Search box and when you click enter, you'll see updated shipping information for your packages.

Tip 4: Get you daily agenda in your email
You may not have a personal assistant, but you can still have your agenda delivered straight to your email with Google Calendar. To receive the daily notification, go to Calendar and select “My calendars.” Click on the dropdown button next to the calendar you want to receive an agenda for, and then select “Reminders and notifications. Check the email box next to “Daily agenda” then “Save” and you’ll start to receive a overview of your day to your Gmail address every morning! Learn more

Tip 5: Import slides into Google Presentations
Just because your business has old Power Point slides that you need doesn’t mean that you can’t use Google Presentations. All you have to do is import the file and you can transfer whichever slides you want into the presentation. When you have a Google Presentation open, go to Insert > Import slides... > Upload to add files from your computer. Or, instead of Upload select Presentations to copy slides from an existing Google Presentation. Learn more

Posted by the Google and Your Business Blog Team

Year in Review: Top 3 Posts - 2nd Place

Google and Your Business - Thu, 12/20/2012 - 22:52

Our year in review continues, where we're looking at our top three most popular posts from 2012. Last week we reshared our third place winner, 10 in 10: Google Chrome. Coming in second is another piece from our 10 in 10 series, this time our tips for using Google Calendar.

*      *      *
The daylight hours are getting shorter, but the work day is as busy as ever. If you use Google Calendar to schedule your business’s days, weeks, and months, check out our tips for organizing and using your calendar more efficiently.
  1. The Google Calendar Android app lets you manage all your calendars in one place--including those from your Google accounts and other synced calendars--right from your mobile device.
  2. Use keyboard shortcuts to make and manage your events quickly. For example, when you’re on your calendar, try typing c to create a new event, d to display your calendar in day view, or n to see the next date range.
  3. Collaborating on events with co-workers using Google Calendar? Pass on the torch and transfer ownership of the event to the new coordinator. When you're editing event details, visit the "More Actions" dropdown then click “Change owner.” You'll have the option to send them a note letting them know this change is effective now.
  4. Unclutter your calendar by auto-hiding events once you've declined them, letting you to focus on the more important parts of your day/week/month. Just click the gear icon at the top of any Google Calendar page, go to Calendar settings, and then the General tab. Select "No" in the “Show events you have declined” section and then save.
  5. Tired of the white grid look on your calendar? Add a photo to personalize your background.
  6. Planning on meeting with people in another time zone? Enable the world clock in Calendar Labs to find a convenient time. Out of town and not by your computer? You can automatically decline events during times when you’re busy. Check out other Labs features you can try.
  7. Create a to-do list that will appear right next to your calendar. You can even assign calendar dates to tasks, and then sort by the due date.
  8. Want to share special events happening at your business with your customers? Create a separate calendar and then embed it on your website.
  9. Customize your notification settings for events. You can choose to get reminders between 5 minutes and 4 weeks before your event, and pick whether you want the reminder delivered as a pop-up notification, email, or text message. You can also add multiple reminders for an event.
  10. Organize your calendar by color-coding different events or calendars and make it easier to get an overview of your schedule with a quick glance.
Find even more tips on ways to use Google Calendar by checking out the help center!

Posted by Katherine Gramann, Google Calendar Team

The Perfect Gift for that Business Owner on Your List

Google and Your Business - Wed, 12/19/2012 - 18:15
Here in the US, 58% of small businesses do not have a website. These business owners could be your uncle, your cousin or your best friend. This holiday season, a website may just be the perfect gift for that small business owner on your list.



As part of our Get Your Business Online program, small businesses in the US can get an easy-to-build Intuit website, a custom domain name and web hosting. All free for a year. Why not invite that business you know to get online? To get started and send the gift of a free website, go to www.gybo.com/gift where you can find that business and send them a personalized invitation. It’s fast, easy and free.

With 97% of internet users looking online for local products and services, it is not a surprise that businesses with an online presence are expected to grow 40% faster. (BCG Report, “The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity,” March 2012) We all want to see our favorite small businesses succeed and getting them online may just be one of the easiest ways to help them grow.

Happy Holidays!

Posted by the Get Your Business Online Team

Leekes attracts new customers into its home department store with Google Business Photos

Google and Your Business - Tue, 12/18/2012 - 18:47
Leekes is an independent, family-owned business that has been around for 115 years. They operate 5 home department stores throughout the UK, offering quality home furnishings. They recently expanded into Coventry, UK, and wanted to build brand and location awareness. Leekes decided to use Google Business Photos to attract new customers by allowing them to virtually tour their new location.



Google Business Photos stitches together HDR panoramic images into a Google Maps Street View-style virtual tour. The 360°-degree panoramic tour offered by Google Business Photos has allowed customers to visit Leekes from the comfort of their own home, tablet or smartphone.

A high-quality, smooth interactive tour of Leekes’ interior can easily be found on Google Search, Google Maps and Leekes’ Google+ Local page. Once inside the virtual tour, users can “walk around” and explore the store and its many departments.

Geraint Martin, head of e-commerce at Leekes states, “We need to quickly give people an understanding of what the Leekes brand is about...and there is no better way to do that than through imagery.”



You can read the Leekes Google Business Photos case study in its entirety here.

If you are a business owner and would like to create and publish a virtual tour of your business, learn more at http://maps.google.com/help/maps/businessphotos

Posted by the Zach Bruce, Google Business Photos team

AdWords Express holiday offer extended for a limited time

Google and Your Business - Mon, 12/17/2012 - 21:55
(Cross posted from the Inside AdWords blog)

Still scrambling to stay ahead of the holidays? We want to help you make the most of the last 2 weeks of the year, so we’re extending our offer to double your AdWords Express investment. Just start using AdWords Express to attract new customers to your U.S. business, and you'll get a free advertising credit in January worth what you spend on AdWords Express ads between now and December 31, 2012.*


Reaching potential customers online is a snap with AdWords Express. Just select your business category, write an ad, and set your budget. Where and when your ad appears is managed automatically, and you only pay when potential customers click on your ad for more information. And in mid-January, you’ll receive a free advertising credit for that amount you spent on AdWords Express ads in December.*

Get started today at http://www.google.com/adwords/express/.

Posted by Richard Holden, Product Management Director, AdWords Express

*Terms and conditions

HOAliday Series: How to Create Stand-Out Ads During the Competitive Holiday Season

Google and Your Business - Fri, 12/14/2012 - 17:51


AdWords Specialists Divya Vishwanath, Alec Fox, and Lauren Maten hosted a Hangout on Air yesterday as the second installment of the three-part HOAliday series.

To help you in this busy and crucial time of year, we shared tips on...
  • Ad copy optimization (don’t forget to share your holiday promotion!)
  • Various ad extensions to make your ads stand out
  • How to set up an experiment to see exactly what changes are making the account successful
You can watch the full 25-minute Hangout on Air below, or the Google Business YouTube channel.


To learn more about how to get started with AdWords, visit our Help Center, check out the AdWords Community forum, or call us at 866-2-GOOGLE if you already have an AdWords account.

And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout on Air at 11 a.m. PDT, December 20th, when we discuss how to keep the holiday momentum going in the new year.

HOA HOA HOA and to all a good day/night!

Posted by Courtney Pannell and Divya Vishwanath, AdWords Team

12 Google+ Events Tips for 12/12/12

Google and Your Business - Wed, 12/12/2012 - 20:12
Today, on 12/12/12--the last time this century that the day, month, and year are all the same--we’re bringing you and your business 12 tips on using Google+ Events. From the employee holiday party to your business’s New Year’s sale, check out ways that you can use Events not just to be a party pro, but also to engage your guests before, during, and after your event!
  1. Use Google+ to create an event that takes place either offline (such as an event in your store) or online (like a virtual meet and greet with your ownership team).
  2. Invite anyone you like. Guests who don’t use Google+ will be able to view and respond to the invitation. Guests who do use Google+ will be able to comment, invite others, and add photos, unless you disable these features.
  3. Choose a theme to add flare to your event and represent your business’s personality. Hosting your yearly company party? Having a holiday sale? Choose the theme that best fits your event.
  4. Manage your guest list by adding or removing invitees at any time. You can change guests’ rights, such as whether they can comment, add photos, or invite more people to your event by using the Actions menu.
  5. Add photos and videos to your event to share a collection of media with your guests before and after an event. By default, all guests can contribute to an event’s photo collection. For public events, anyone can contribute photos.
  6. Enable Party Mode so that Android mobile users can automatically upload their photos to the event page while the event is in progress.
  7. Add a hangout to your event so you can video chat with customers or co-workers before or during the event.
  8. Use Events on mobile for your Android phone to create and moderate your events, share photos and comments, and get directions to events, all while you’re on the go.
  9. Make your event public to increase visibility and allow more potential customers to find it and interact with the event’s page. For public events, anyone can say they’re going, add comments and photos, and invite others, unless these settings are disabled.
  10. Host an Event on air so that anyone can find and view your event, but the event page itself is more . Events on air have a limited guest list, and only invited guests can add photos and comments (unless this setting is disabled).
  11. From the Events homepage, click Find more events to browse public events and get ideas for yours. If you make your event public, others will be able to find your event this way as well.
  12. You can add additional information fields to your event, like a link to buy tickets, your business’s website, or a YouTube channel. When you’re creating your event, just click Event Options > Advanced > Show additional fields.
To learn more about Google+ events, visit the Help Center!

Posted by Abby DeBellis, Google and Your Business Blog Team

Highlight Your Events on Google

Google and Your Business - Wed, 12/12/2012 - 17:22
(summarized from the Webmaster Central blog)

At Google we’re making more and more use of structured data to provide enhanced search results, such as rich snippets and event calendars, that help users find your content. Until now, marking up your site’s HTML code has been the only way to indicate structured data to Google. However, we recognize that markup may be hard for some websites to deploy.

Today, we’re offering webmasters a simpler alternative: Data Highlighter. At initial launch, it’s available in English only and for structured data about events, such as concerts, sporting events, exhibitions, shows, and festivals. We’ll make Data Highlighter available for more languages and data types in the months ahead.

Data Highlighter is a point-and-click tool that can be used by anyone authorized for your site in Google Webmaster Tools. No changes to HTML code are required. Instead, you just use your mouse to highlight and “tag” each key piece of data on a few typical event pages on your site. Data Highlighter learns to recognize the formatting pattern of your site’s data, so when Google crawls your site, all your latest event listings become eligible for enhanced search results. This short video explains how the process works:


To get started with Data Highlighter, visit Webmaster Tools, select your site, click the “Optimization” link in the left sidebar, and click “Data Highlighter.”

If you have any questions, please read our Help Center article or ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum. Happy Highlighting!

Posted by Justin Boyan, Product Manager

Steel + silicon = business success in Detroit

Google and Your Business - Tue, 12/11/2012 - 17:25
Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.

From time to time we invite guests to post about items of interest and are pleased to have Linzie Venegas join us today. Linzie is head of sales and marketing for Ideal Shield, a manufacturing company in Detroit, Mich. that specializes in bumper post sleeves. Based in a city forged in tradition and steel, Ideal Shield has seen great success on the web—a story Linzie tells us in this post. -Ed.

When my great-grandparents moved from Mexico to Detroit in 1917, they were looking for a better life. They had no idea that one day their grandson, my father Frank Venegas, would invent a product and start a business that would help transform their adopted hometown. Thanks to my dad’s hard work and a little help from the web, that’s exactly what Ideal Shield has done.

Ideal Shield specializes in manufacturing bumper post sleeves. You may have seen these around—they’re colorful covers that slide over the steel pipes that keep cars from running into buildings. As a young child, my first job at Ideal was to assemble mailers for potential customers. Our mailers were unique—I would place a pack of jelly beans into each envelope. Talk about a great way to get a high “clickthrough rate!” Today, I head sales and marketing for the company, and we’ve taken our family business online with phenomenal results.


Ideal Shield’s father-daughter team Frank and Linzie Venegas in the factory surrounded by bumper post sleeves and guard rails. We began using Google AdWords in 2004 to help potential customers find our product because many people didn’t know what it was. We were drawn to AdWords because everyone could see our ads—but we only had to pay for the customers who clicked through to our website. We also found that the leads were very qualified and had a higher close rate than leads from other sources. So far this year, for every $1 we've spent on AdWords we’ve gotten back $22. We’ve been able to have great success—without jelly beans!—using Google AdWords.

The energy we’ve put into our online presence has produced tremendous growth for our business; we’ve been able to grow our workforce by 20 percent. We’ve also focused on building our local community of Southwest Detroit. Each year we hire many interns from the local high school, Detroit Cristo Rey, and teach them skills that will last a lifetime. We’ve outfitted the junior and senior classes at Detroit Cristo Rey with Chromebooks so that they’ll have access to the power of the web anywhere, and many teachers there use the free Google Apps for Education suite with their students. This year, we were proud to hear that Detroit Cristo Rey achieved a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. We also work with the Michigan Minority Business Development Council to teach other small businesses in the community the importance of an online strategy and how the web can help small businesses thrive.

My dad started Ideal with himself, my mother and a couple of laborers; today this family business has more than 35 employees and annual sales of $14 million. With help from the web, his hard work, determination and “out of the box” thinking have made Ideal a symbol of strength and renewal in Southwest Detroit. My father has always told me that if you take care of the community, the community will take care of you. Detroit is our community—it’s our heart, it’s our home. We’ve been surprised and delighted at how much the web has contributed to Ideal Shield, and we’re happy to share that success with Detroit. We can’t wait to do more!



Posted by Linzie Venegas, Head of Sales and Marketing, Ideal Shield Detroit

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