Monday, December 30, 2013

Navigating Social Media in 2014


10 Social Media Practices to Focus On in 2014


My top ten list of social media practices to utilize in the upcoming year.
  1. Publish often - Daily or weekly if possible
  2. Listen and respond - Let your customers know that you care
  3. Don't talk down to your audience - Be clear and succinct
  4. Integrate with your core website - Hook into existing streams and feeds
  5. Experiment - Try social networks you have not yet used (Tumblr, Instagram, etc.)
  6. Hash it out - Use hash tags to help people find your content #ilovehashtags #organizeandtag
  7. Comment and reply - Converse about things you are passionate about
  8. Be generous - Share your knowledge
  9. Establish authority - Own your niche
  10. Be thoughtful - Humility and kindness go a long way
Happy and prosperous 2014 to all!


Patrick LaJuett
Patrick LaJuett manages a website design agency: + LaJuett.com, where he supports clients as a Web technology consultant and search marketing strategy adviser.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Google Maps Engine Pro - Test Drive

Google Maps Engine Lite/Pro Demo

Google Maps Engine allows you to layer your data on top of Google’s base map and create your own maps.


Google Maps Engine Lite and Pro help you create interactive custom maps to share and publish to the web. You can map data such as store locations, to showcase and advertise your business. Import location data from a spreadsheet, add layers to visualize different types of content, or add places, lines, and shapes.

Key Features

  • Draw - Add lines, shapes, or place marks on the map.
  • Import - Add a CSV file, XLSX file or spreadsheet from Google Drive with geographically-specific data including addresses, place names, or lat/longs.
  • Layer - Hide or show different content to better understand your map.
  • Style - Make your point visually with different colors, place-mark icons, and line widths.


Going Pro

For commercial purposes, I upgraded to Maps Engine Pro.  This allows me to embed the interactive maps on my client websites.

Demonstration

The demo map below is for recreational purposes.  I'm mapping all known locations of rare Willys Jeep forward control vehicles.

Animated GIF showing some of the functionality of Google Maps Engine Pro.
Here's a quick run through of some of the common mapping functions: Adding locations, linking to images, editing data, etc.
Demo created using LICEcap simple animated screen capture app.

Embedded Google map (click to view)
Custom Google Maps can be easily embedded on websites via copy/paste iframe code.



More Information

Google Maps Lite - Introduction video on YouTube
Watch a short Google Maps Engine Lite overview video on YouTube.




Patrick LaJuett
Patrick LaJuett manages a website design agency: + LaJuett.com, where he supports clients as a Web technology consultant and search marketing strategy advisor.

Monday, December 16, 2013

New WordPress 3.8 UI Design

Customize Your WordPress 3.8 Admin Screens

WordPress has gotten an overhaul. WP 3.8 brings a modern new look to the admin dashboard.
New WordPress 3.8 features:
  • Updated UI design
  • Open Sans font for better readability
  • Responsive for viewing on mobile devices
  • Faster load times
  • Customizable admin themes
Learn more about WordPress 3.8: http://wordpress.org/news/2013/12/parker/

Patrick LaJuett
Patrick LaJuett manages a website design agency: + LaJuett.com, where he supports clients as a Web technology consultant and search marketing strategy advisor.

Season's Greetings!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

1959 Jeep FC-150 rendering done in Google Drawing. GooglePlus auto-awesome snow effect applied.
One of the real joys of the Holiday Season is the opportunity to say Thank You for our acquaintance and to wish you the very best for the New Year!

Patrick LaJuett
Patrick LaJuett manages a website design agency: + LaJuett.com, where he supports clients as a Web technology consultant and search marketing strategy advisor.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Google Snippets in Search Results

Google Snippets in Search Results

Snippet Discovery

I recently discovered a unique occurrence of Google snippets that appeared in a Google search engine results page (SERP).  It happens to be one of my portfolio pages, so naturally, it peaked my interest.
A Google snippet is a description of or an excerpt from the webpage.  A snippet refers to the description portion of a Google search listing.
Take a look at the SERP snippet below:


Note, the snippet is made up of an element count (40+ items), the meta description, and four excerpts from the page.

Page Rendering in Browser

Here's what the portfolio page looks like when rendered in the browser:


Underlying Page Code

In this case, it appears as though the Google bot has gone into the page code, and parsed out the top four image descriptions.  What's interesting is that the page contains an html table with alternating rows.  Images, followed by the company name and location.

Consistency and Stability Rewarded?

Other than minor updates consisting of adding new rows (images, links, and text) which follow the same pattern, the overall page structure has remained very consistent for 5+ years.

My Conclusion

Having established web pages with consistent code patterns must be easier for Google to understand.  I guess using html tables is not always bad thing. :-)

Have you come across similar snippets? If so please let us know.

Patrick LaJuett
Patrick LaJuett manages a website design agency: + LaJuett.com, where he supports clients as a Web technology consultant and search marketing strategy advisor.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Social Media for Small Business

Social Media for Small Business - Don't Over Complicate Things!

Social Media for Small Business


I get a lot of questions from customers regarding social networking. The majority of them feel it is something they should be doing.  But many have a fear of taking the plunge... due in part to concerns with not having enough time.

Being active on social media doesn't have to be overly complex.  A few minutes a day can get the job done for 99% of the small businesses out there.  Here are some thoughts on how a small business can benefit from being "social".

What Is Social Media?
According to Wikipedia, "social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. It introduces substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals."

Why Small Business Should Incorporate Social Into their Marketing Efforts
Audience Reach + Relationship Building = Establishing Authority
"Social media give us the opportunity to create relationships, foster communication, & build trust."
Which Social Networks are Best Fit?
  • Facebook - Business pages on FB are a way to connect with folks on a personal level.  
  • Twitter - Good for promoting events, news and specials (i.e., restaurants).
  • Pinterest - Pinning is a simple sharing tool for retailers/manufacturers whose brands lend themselves to images.
  • Google+ - A way to reach a professional or technical audiences that might shy away from the other social networks. Myself included ;-)
  • LinkedIn - B2B companies who cater to the professional market.
     
Managing Content Doesn't Have to be Time Consuming
Of course this depends on how often you want to engage with your audience.  But a few updates per week, to show that you are active, can go a long way.  You should always be listening and responding to questions and comments.

Time saving social sharing tools such as Hootsuite, can help you author once, and publish many.  A single post can be shared across all of your social networks, with the click of a mouse.

Measuring ROI
You can measure "social signals" (likes, plusses, favorites, comments and shares).  Don't be afraid to ask customers how or where they found out about your company.

How To Get Started
  1. Claim and Verify - I recommend, at minimum, customers claim their business pages on all of the major social sites listed above.  They should be reviewed for accuracy and consistency.  Things like phone number, address, hours of operation, should all be verified.
  2. Publish - Post updates or share links a few times per week...industry news, tips and tricks, product announcements, etc.  This will help establish credibility and authority on a particular subject matter.
    For example, if you sell or fix widgets, let folks know about innovations, trends, and success stories.
  3. Listen - Social networks are set-up to notify you (email or SMS) when someone sends you a message, leaves a comment or replies. It's important to respond in a timely manner.
  4. Adapt - You may find that your target audience is more active in one particular stream. If most people are engaging with you via Google+ or Pinterest, then you might want to focus more effort there.
Summary
Most small business owners (like myself) are juggling numerous tasks. Adding social to the mix can sound daunting.  But social media doesn't have to consume hours of your day.  A few minutes per morning is often enough time for you to stay connected with your "followers".

A successful social media campaign doesn't happen overnight.  It takes time to build trusting relationships.  However, if you OFFER your target audience VALUE, being "social" can help bring in a completely new channel of business.

Patrick LaJuett
Patrick LaJuett manages a website design agency: + LaJuett.com, where he supports clients as a Web technology consultant and search marketing strategy advisor.

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