Tag Archives: Google

Google + may charge you for your custom URL

Google has started rolling out custom URL’s for its Google plus profiles and pages. Now you can own URL’s  that look intuitive and are easy to remember such as: instead of the hard to remember profile URL: https://plus.google.com/118284496967520777039


Some people have received emails about this feature, others night have noticed a black bar at the top of their Google + page inviting them to confirm their custom URL. le

You need to be eligible to get a custom URL.  For personal Google+ accounts you need to have:

  • 10 or more followers
  • Your account is 30 days old or more
  • A profile photo

If you would like to claim your own Google+ URL, here’s how to find it.

  1. Go to "About" tab on your Profile
  2. Click on the "Claim" link located under your Google+ URL.
  3. You’ll see the URL for which you’re approved. You may see more than one option. In this case, select the one that you like best.
  4. Tick the box to agree to the Terms of Service.
  5. Click on Change URL.
  6. You may be asked to verify your account by mobile phone number. A box will pop up asking you to do so.
  7. Check your phone for the code that was sent to you, Enter the code in the box. Click on Verify.
  8. Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so make sure that everything is exactly the way you want it.
  9. Once your URL has been approved, you cannot request to change it. When you’re sure, click on Confirm.

Google says that its custom URL’s are “free for now”, but it states that it “may start charging a fee for them”. Google will let you know before it starts charging for its custom URL’s to give you the choice to stop participating and go back to your old URL.

If you want a customised URL and do not want Google to be in control of your chosen name try gplus.to.  This service acts as a redirection service for Google so that http://gplus.to/eileenb takes me straight to my Google + profile

Google has also stated that it “reserve(s) the right to reclaim custom URLs or remove them for any reason, and without notice”. Your amazing customised URL might be yours for less time than you think…

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.


How to get the best out of Google+

Eileen Brown ZDNet Magic wandI read an article the other day about the Financial Times which has over 1 million followers in its circle on Google+ 

Brand pages were introduced in November 2011, so to get to 1 million followers in this time is a really good achievement.

How did the FT manage to gather so many followers? Here are some tips gleaned from both the FT and Time magazine which has 1.2 million followers on Google+


  • Segment  your circles and post relevant content to each topic area so that users can get highly personalised content and not just information from the main feed
  • Search features enables content to be discovered more readily compared with Facebook. Make sure your post titles contain information that makes your post discoverable
  • Hangouts enable quick webcast type updates.  Connect with your audience with open forums, discussions and information
  • Give your users the ability to be able to read posts when and where they like.  they can do this via social reader apps such as flipboard which gets content to the reader wherever they happen to be, on whatever device they choose
  • Encourage sharing via the +1 button on posts, and embed the Google+ button onto blogs and websites
  • Ask the audience questions for better audience insight

Involving the audience gives much better participation and insight. Posting in depth articles as well as sharing lighter topics will enable you to gauge which resonates best.  Sharing links, images and videos works well in Google+ and brings a good vibrancy to the page.

You might not get to 1million followers, but by following interesting people and sharing stories with your audience – that get re-shared — you are adding to the big conversation and contributing socially.

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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Google’s patent filing gives us ultra targeted ads

Google has filed a patent giving it an insight to where we are when we use our mobile phones. 

Ear we go: Adverts could soon be produced according to environmental conditions such as background noise, if Google's patent becomes reality

According to the Mail, this technology could glean information from the background sounds in your environment and use this to deliver more targeted advertising to you

The patent ‘describes using ‘temperature, humidity, light and air composition’ to produced targeted adverts’.  There are some huge possibilities here for advertisers if Google decides to go ahead and develop a sensor from this…

One one hand this could really benefit consumers.  They get ultra targeted ads, relevant to the time of day, weather, humidity, or local conditions.  It could be an ad mans dream.  But there could be other, less desirable outcomes…

According to Ofcom, 22 per cent of adults and 47 per cent of teenagers use our phones in the bathroom. Goodness only knows what sort of ads Google would be sending us based on the data it gathers there…

Certainly one to watch – when – or if it ever makes it off the drawing (patent) board…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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25 ways to improve your online SEO

imageI’ve decided to choose different resolutions this year – just to be different. 

This year, I’m focusing on my online activities and trying to improve what I do online.

Hints and tips for online activity are all well and good – but they’ve got to be achievable.  Unrealistic targets just demotivate people and defeats the objective. 

I hope that these changes I’ll make will improve my online SEO. Looking at the statistics from last year, my blog is getting found for different reasons.  This year, I want to target how readers land on my blog pages.  i want them to arrive here because of social media content, not because of hamsters and kittens as my blogging 2011 year in review indicated

So my 2012 resolutions are easy to keep – hopefully:


Blog https://eileenbrown.wordpress.com:

  • Blog regularly – at least twice per week. 
  • Use lots of white space in blog posts for better SEO
  • Use relevant and useful anchor text links
  • Divide posts up into sub headings for better SEO
  • Use SEO friendly blog titles.  For example the initial title of this post was ‘Improving online SEO’ which I changed as the post evolved

Twitter http://twitter.com/eileenb:

  • Use the 80: 20 rule.  80% relevant, interesting work related tweets, 20% home related or observational personal tweets
  • Use the automatic retweet feature only when the original tweet is too long to use the RT feature, or wouldn’t make sense if shortened
  • Don’t start reply tweets with the @name response.  Adding text in front of the @name brings all of your followers into your conversation
  • Try to tweet daily. Keep things interesting
  • Respond to tweets and direct messages promptly, with humour and kindness

Facebook http://facebook.com/AmastraUK :

  • Ask more questions on my Facebook pages.  Treat each page as a second account with its own personality
  • Cross link my book Facebook page to my company Facebook page (—done)
  • Update the pages regularly
  • Drive people to each page to encourage interaction and engagement
  • Share  interesting links I find

LinkedIn http://LinkedIn.com/in/eileenbrown :

  • Read group digest emails and respond to group discussions
  • Add an auto-signature to each message I post in a group so that I’m contactable
  • Use the remove connections link to prune LinkedIn connections who are using my network as a way to connect with new people
  • Update my LinkedIn status regularly
  • Keep the LinkedIn company page up to date

Google + http://gplus.to/eileenb :

  • Update status with blog posts and updates
  • Share Facebook interesting information with Google + followers
  • Share Google + links with Facebook followers
  • Invest more time in updating the Google + company page
  • Decide whether to prioritise activity on Google + over Facebook, or drop Google + completely

I wonder whether I’ll succeed in my goals for 2012, or whether my final score is only 10/25.

Lets see… Smile


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image Credit Search Engine People

Google favours large businesses in SEO and searches

If you’re wondering why your small business isn’t getting noticed on Google, then have a look at this infographic from SEObook.  It seems to penalise small businesses who are trying to get presence through SEO and frequently updated pages. 

Google Longtail Infographic.


You can also keep up your own brand presence by keeping up your social activities on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and your blog – to keep your visibility up as much as possible..

Or perhaps it’s time to change the way you search – or think about change your search provider?

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Bank of America gets its online branding strategy wrong

Bank of America have a Google + brand page.

So that’s good right?  You can search for them and find them on Google+


Unfortunately, it appears that they have been brandjacked by pranksters or users intending to cause harm.  Only a few days after Google announced that Pages were being made available for brands, companies such as this are being impersonated. Ed Bott  over at ZDNet, discovered their fake page earlier today – and it still hasn’t been removed as these screenshots of the page show.


The Google plus page for the brand has been created by someone who obviously isn’t the Bank of America.  rather it’s owned by someone who has created the page, populated it with images of senior members of the bank.  The About page introduction states:


I think the biggest issue at the moment is that Bank of America don’t seem to have taken any steps to remove the page.  Not enough people have clicked on the link and reported the page as impersonating the real Bank of America brand.  Representatives from the Bank haven’t contacted Google directly to have the page taken down.

So why is a reactive online branding strategy wrong?

As part of the online strategy at the bank, they should have ensured that they have created profiles on all social media sites.  If they are not currently using these sites, the brand page should be in place and be there as a placeholder until the outbound communications strategy was in place.  The bank already has an active set of Twitter accounts which are updated regularly.  They have a Facebook page – of sorts -  that has gathered thousands of fans.  Other brands would love to have that many Facebook fans, with no investment in Facebook and no activity from the brand itself.

But Bank of America seem to prefer not to communicate using all social media channels.  It seems like all online marketing, relationship marketing and brand perception are delivered using more traditional mechanisms.  But in order to stop malicious users impersonating you, it’s important that you claim all of your online personas to stop others getting there first.

Brand perception changes at the speed of a mouse click. 

Through their inaction and delay in getting the page removed Bank of America haven’t done themselves any favours.  I now wonder if they have the same sluggish response to their customer issues and service requests.

Be being reactive, then now appear to be inactive.  Not a good place to be in our real time web world…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Google + opens up Pages for brands

imageGoogle + which now has over 40 million user accounts have finally opened up the ability for brands to create pages.  when Google + was launched  back in June 2011, they had a strict policy on brands and user names.  They hit the headlines a couple of times for deleting accounts with pseudonyms and other reasons for violating their ‘real name policy’.

Brand pages weren’t allowed to create their spaces on Google + either.  Now they can.  It’s been hotly anticipated for a while.  Google have been giving teasers to online sites that Google was going to create pages for businesses and asked brands not to create profiles too early.  Google have obviously learned their lesson from Facebook who had the challenge of migrating more than 400,000 users from Apple’s group to Apples pageGoogle+ for Business is now a big push to get brands engaging socially using Google.

So what are the benefits of having your own Google + Page as a brand?

Fish where the fish are:  Brands want to be g push to get brands involved in the same social space as their customers, so it makes sense for them to gather fans and communicate with their fans on every social platform

Advertising:  Having a page on Google + means that you’ll easily be able to connect to services such as AdWords and DoubleClick from your page.  All of the search results, from your website, ads and searches will get added up and appear as a single total.

Search:  There will be search benefits for advertisers with brand pages.  With Google + entries becoming exposed in search results, brands will get extra exposure in search results for their Pages

Analytics:  You’ll now be able to get detailed data, click through and page views from Google Analytics giving a much more targeted set of results

Google has positioned Google + around sharing so that adding pages to their mix helps you share with businesses and brands more effectively.  Google Direct connect will allow you to connect with Google pages right from the search results page and add them to circles.  Bing have had social search additions allowing you to ‘like’ a  Facebook page for some time now.  There’s more info about the things you can do with Google+ on the Google blog.

If you’re looking for examples of pages  so that you can get some inspiration for your own page or to add the page to your circles, you could try Pepsi, Thomson Reuters, Amazon or BBC News.  I couldn’t find ANY Microsoft pages on the top one hundred pages at CircleCount  Hopefully they’ll put something online soon..

So will the introduction of Google +  pages be the death of Facebook and Twitter? 

I don’t think so..

Until they gain a heck of a lot more momentum, integrate other, non Google services through something similar to OAuth, and integrate with other applications that Google doesn’t own.

I think we’ll be waiting for quite a while…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.