Google

4 Must-Haves to Fully Benefit from Google Chromecasts’ Service

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Chromecast_dongleWhen Google came out with Chromecast in July 2013, many people likely did not know what to do with it. The whole idea seemed foreign: a cast a browser tab from Google Chrome and pay $40-50 for that.

After receiving it as a gift recently, I’ve since been using it and found it to be indispensable. Here are the items you need in order to get the most benefit from this device.

1. A Chromecast Device

This one is obvious. Without it there’s no point to this post.

2. TV with an HDMI port slot and USB

lg-tvIn order to view the Chromecast, you need a TV with HDMI capabilities. HDMI as a technology came out in 2002-2003, and only really started being mainstream in TVs since 2008. While that doesn’t seem so long ago, if your TV doesn’t have HDMI it’s likely at least 7-8 years old. At the low cost of HDMI flat-screen TVs, this is a must.

Even newer TV’s have a USB port. This isn’t necessary but is a huge help. Without the USB port, your Chromecast will need to be charged using an outlet, which can be a pain. The USB essentially “powers” the Chromecast while it’s doing its job.

3. Specific Devices with WiFi Capability

Courtesy: v3.co.uk

Courtesy: v3.co.uk

Once you have Chomecast set up on your TV, you need a device to “cast” it to. This can be done from a Mac/PC or a phone/tablet with iOS or Android utilizing WiFi capabilities. If you have a desktop that doesn’t have WiFi, it won’t work. Tried that. Alternatively if you’re a tech geek running Ubuntu with Chrome, it should work as Chrome apps like “Google Cast” should be installable regardless of the system.

If you have a tablet that’s not running iOS or specific Android systems, it won’t work. This is a shame as high-end devices like the Kindle Fire don’t have the capacity to have Chromecast installed where it can properly integrate with apps like Google Cast and place the option in its own version of Netflix and YouTube.

4. Netflix/YouTube

This is also a must for TV junkies. With Netflix/YouTube you can cast these videos from any tablet or phone. From a Mac/PC there are ways to cast a video straight from the Chrome Browser. For file types that are not MP4 or FLV there is an extension called “Videostream for Google Chromecast” which pretty much streams any filetype.

5. Wireless Gigabit Router with High-Speed Internet (optional)

While this is optional, if you want optimal viewing performance without hogging everyone else’s internet usage, invest in the Gigabit router over an ethernet router. Most Gigabit routers today are optimized for Netflix/YouTube streaming, though you should first check if this is specified. The WiFi difference between 54 MbPS and 300 MbPs is very significant.

The high-speed option is for the same reason. If you can find an internet provider that offers competitive flat rates without overage charges, go with that. It’s worth it as you don’t need to pay “through the roof” for a quality internet experience.

Google Data Centers – When You “Google It”

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When you log onto Google, ever wondered who/what you’re connecting to?…
Ever wondered if it’s a place, a factory, an entity
Or just some kind of ubiquitous, global, everywhere-on-the-net kind of thing?
This gives you an idea of what’s behind something we take for granted nowadays…

EVER WONDERED WHERE & HOW BIG GOOGLE IS?

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The Dalles, Oregon – Google’s data center in the Dalles, Oregon sits on the banks of the Columbia River. Here their team members enjoy rafting, wind surfing, fishing and hiking.

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Council Bluffs, Iowa – Google’s Council Bluffs data center provides over 115,000 square feet of space. They make the best out of every inch, so we can use services like Search and YouTube in the most efficient way possible.

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Douglas County, Georgia – Thousands of feet of pipe line the inside of Google’s data centers. We paint them bright colors not only because it’s fun, but also to designate which one is which. The bright pink pipe in this photo transfers water from the row of chillers (the green units on the left) to a outside cooling tower.

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Douglas County, Georgia – Blue LEDs on this row of servers tell us everything is running smoothly. We use LEDs because they are energy efficient, long lasting and bright.

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The Dalles, Oregon – In an unoccupied area, motion sensors automatically switch off the main lighting to save power. The result is the dazzling glow of the world’s data filtered through multicolored LEDs. It’s like holiday lights year round.

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Mayes County, Oklahoma – A rare look behind the server aisle. Here hundreds of fans funnel hot air from the server racks into a cooling unit to be recirculated. The green lights are the server status LEDs reflecting from the front of Google’s servers.

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Council Bluffs, Iowa – Inside Google’s campus network room, routers and switches allow their data centers to talk to each other. The fiber optic networks connecting their sites can run at speeds that are more than 200,000 times faster than a typical home Internet connection. The fiber cables run along the yellow cable trays near the ceiling.

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Mayes County, Oklahoma – Each of Google’s server racks has four switches, connected by a different colored cable. They keep these colors the same throughout their data center so they know which one to replace in case of failure.

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Berkeley County, South Carolina – This is a closer view of the backup tapes in Google’s tape library. Each tape has a unique barcode so their  robotic system can locate the right one.
In case anything should happen to Google’s data, they have it all backed up. One of the places they back up information is in their tape library. Robotic arms (visible at the end of the aisle) assist in loading and unloading tapes when they need to access them.

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Berkeley County, South Carolina – Storage tanks like these can hold up to 240,000 gallons (900,000 liters) of water at any given time. This insulated tank holds water that they’ll send to the heart of the data center for colling.

)

Google Chrome Browser – How to Change New Bing Tab Page

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One thing that has been bothering me recently has been the Bing tab I’ve been getting in Chrome when hitting “New Tab.” Why I can’t modify what’s shown when hitting “new tab” defies my logic. I installed Chrome because I did not want to install Bing!

However, I recently found the answer.  Apparently, when installing a program, I mistakenly allowed Conduit to install on my machine and hijack my browser’s search bars, home page and New Tab page. When I uninstalled “Conduit,” I forgot one detail: Under Programs and Features (or Add/Remove Programs) in the Control Panel there is a program called “Search Protect.” Uninstall that and when the option to “revert to original browser settings” appears, just select that. That should do it.

Remember, Conduit is most likely doing this. The little bugger comes in all shapes and forms 🙂

How to Grab a Video from Facebook with Google Chrome

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Simple:

1. Go to the page where the video/comments are displayed.

2.Hit F11 on Windows (Command+Shift+I on a Mac, I think) to display the elements screen.

3. Go to the “Network” tab, then sort by “Type.”

4. Navigate to the bottom (or top) and look for “video/mp4.” If you don’t see it, refresh your browser page and then hit “play” on the video.

5. Once that’s done, go to the video/mp4 “file” on the left side and right-click “open link in new tab” (see screenshot).

facebookvid

6. Once the link is opened in a new tab, hit CTRL+S and save the video. You have it!

facebookvid2

 

I’ve already done this with a hilarious video where a father is playing “mission impossible” with his baby. This has been embedded into the post. Enjoy!

[jwplayer mediaid=”2094″]

How to Build a Chromebook on Hard Disk Using Windows

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Building a Chromebook containing Google’s OS is a very messy process. I have seen many sites and YouTube videos explaining how to do so, but all of them involve having Hexxeh’s Vanilla OS installed on a USB key and booting from there. What if I wanted a “true” Chromebook?

I finally found an article that explains what to do. My head already is spinning and I’m debating whether or not an all-internet based operating system has real advantages over a Windows XP installation, which from experience works very nicely on slower netbooks. Nevertheless, here’s an excerpt from the article.

How do I Install Chrome OS on the Harddisk?

Guide to Dual-Booting Chrome OS with Windows

How To Dual-Boot Chrome OS with WindowsIf by now you have managed to get it working off of a USB stick, you might be wanting a more permanent solution. Installing Chromium OS on to your hard disk is much trickier, especially if you want to keep your existing OS.

Depending on your current setup, there are a number of methods that you can use. The most likely scenario is that you have Windows as your main OS, and you want to have Chromium installed for quick access to the web.

What you will need

  • A netbook or laptop running Windows.
  • A USB memory stick with Chromium loaded on it (see above).
  • Another USB memory stick, hard disk or CDROM drive.

IMPORTANT!

Here be dragons!

How your computer is actually setup will change the steps you need to make Chromium OS work from the harddisk. You might already have some extra partitions on the disk, or your devices might appear in a different order. I recommend you take the time to become familiar with the tools you’ll be using and how your computer works.

Be sure to double-check everything before making changes.

Phase 1: Preparing the GParted Live Boot Disk

Once you’ve got Chromium OS working off of the USB stick, we need to go through a few hoops to get that copied on to the hard disk. For this you’ll need another bootable storage device, either a USB flash disk, USB hard disk or a CDROM drive.

Note: resizing and adding partitions on your hard disk is an advanced topic, and not for the faint hearted. If you’re not comfortable messing with the disk partitions then this might not be for you.

Warning: There is a reasonably high chance that you will break your Window installation if you don’t do this right. Make sure you have backed up all your important data first.

  1. First, download a copy of GParted Live. Make sure you get the .zip version if you plan to boot from disk, and the.iso version if using a CDROM. Follow the instructions on that page on how to make the disk bootable.
  2. Reboot the computer, with the bootable drive or CD connected. Hopefully it will boot up into the GParted Live system. It will ask you a few questions, and the default answers will probably be fine.
  3. Once you have GParted running, the first thing you will need to do is make some space for two new partitions. This is done by selecting the last partition, and reducing its size by 2 or 4 Gb. [see Image 1] Having done that, click on the Apply button.
  4. Switch the device (button in top corner) to the flash disk you installed the OS on to. You will see very many partitions, but the only two you are interested in are the ones labels C-ROOT and C-STATE. Make note of the exact sizes for these two paritions. [see Image 2]
  5. Switch back to your main disk device, and create two partitions C-ROOT and C-STATE with the same sizes as you noted down above. Click on the Apply button to make the changes happen.
  6. Go to the flash drive, select the C-ROOT partition, and click on the Copy button on the toolbar. Then switch over to the main hard disk and select the new C-ROOT and Paste. Repeat this step for the C-STATE partition too.
Double check that the pending actions are correct, and click Apply.

Screenshots from GParted

  •  

    Image 1: Reduce size of main partition on main hard disk to make space for Chromium OS.
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    Image 2: Make note of the sizes of C-ROOT and C-STATE partitions on the flash disk.
Phase 2: Getting Chromium OS to Boot

Now that you have successfully copied the OS to your hard disk, the next challenge is getting it to boot. The following instructions are specifically tailored to Windows users who want to minimise the impact on their existing configuration. This method won’t touch the MBR, nor will it change how Windows is booted.

Note: All settings and data within Chromium OS will be wiped.
(Seeing as all your data is stored in “the cloud”, this shouldn’t be a problem.)

  • First, download a copy of Grub for DOS (most recent is grub4dos-0.4.4-2009-06-20.zip). From this zip file you just need the file called “grldr”. Copy this to your C:
  • Create a file in C: called “menu.lst” with the following contents:

    timeout 0

    title Chromium OS
    root (hd0,2)/boot/vmlinuz quiet console=tty2 init=/sbin/init boot=local rootwait ro noresume noswap loglevel=1 noinitrd root=LABEL=C-ROOT i915.modeset=1 cros_legacy BOOT_IMAGE=vmlinuz
    You’ll need to change (hd0,2) to point to whichever partition is C-ROOT. In this example, (hd0,2) is the 3rd partition on the 1st disk (counting from zero).

  • Finally, add Grub for DOS to the Windows boot.ini file. The method varies depending on which system you have:

    Windows 2K, XP: Add the line below to your C:boot.ini

    c:grldr=”Chromium OS”
    Windows VISTA: Open notepad as administrator and create “C:boot.ini”:

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    C:grldr=”Chromium OS”
    Windows 7:
    Open command prompt as administrator. Use bcdedit to create a boot menu entry.

    bcdedit /create /d “Chromium OS” /application bootsector
    This prints a long number with { }. This long number is called “id”.
    Replace the “id” with your number in the following commands.

    bcdedit /set {id} device partition=C:
    bcdedit /set {id} path grldr
    bcdedit /displayorder {id} /addlast

  • Cross fingers, remove all USB devices and reboot computer. If successful, you will see Chromium OS boot up.
  • The first thing it might do is display the message like “Chrome OS is missing or damaged” or something similar. The it will enter Recovery Mode and rebuild the installation of the OS on your hard disk, which will take a few minutes. When it is done, reboot the computer.
  • It will be necessary to reconfigure the system, as Chromium OS will have wiped all your previous settings and data. This is a minor annoyance, but you should be back online in no time.

    Now that this is complete, you won’t need that USB stick any more…

     

    Update by kthejoker:
    “So perhaps an update is in order, since the build state of hexxeh’s Chromium builds has changed a bit …
    This is what I had to do to get it working:
    1) I used a free tool called MiniTool Partition Wizard to make my partitions. You can make these partitions in Windows without having to create a separate boot disk for GParted or any of that. As long as you have free space sitting at the end of your drive, creating partitions with this tool is a snap.
    So open up the Partition Wizard with your USB drive in the slot. Reclaim 4 gigs of space from the drive you want to install Chromium on. Then just copy the two partitions ROOT-A (formerly known as C-ROOT … catch #1) and STATE into your newly unallocated space. This will copy their size and state exactly. If you’re applying these to the same partition Windows is running on, you’ll have to restart for the tool to do its thing (ie it basically replicates GParted’s functionality.)
    2) Just like the instructions, download Grub4Dos. All you need is the GRLDR.MBR file on the root drive of your Windows partition.
    3) My menu.lst file looks like this:
    timeout 0
    Chromium OS
    root (hd0,1)
    kernel /boot/vmlinuz quiet init=/sbin/init rootwait ro noresume noswap noinitrd root=/dev/sda2 i915.modeset=1 cros_legacy BOOT_IMAGE=vmlinuz.A
    So 1) I couldn’t get it to use the ROOT-A label to load the kernel. If I run findfs, I clearly see that /dev/sda2 is my ROOT-A partition, but God help me, when you run the kernel bootstrapper, it just hangs or errors out every time. So I had to explicitly set the root to the right partition.
    To find my partition, I had to boot into Chromium US via the USB stick and run mount to see where it mounted all my dev partitions and then open each one till I found the one with ROOT-A’s folder structure (sbin, boot, etc.) I’m sure there’s a faster way, but I don’t know enough about Linux, so there you are.
    3) The biggest challenge: modifying the chromeos_startup file in /sbin. You know that init=/sbin/init command in your kernel bootloader? It kicks off chromeos_startup, and chromeos_startup thinks the stateful_partition (ie the STATE partition) is always located at partition 1 … except it’s not. Mine is /dev/sda5 (found the same way as the ROOT-A partition.)
    So if you go into the chromeos_startup file using vi, you can see a line in there that says
    STATE_DEV = {$ROOT_DEV}1
    Change that 1 to whatever partition your STATE partition is.
    Again, I had to boot into my USB stick to edit this file because Windows can’t mount those partitions. Maybe there’s freeware to mount and edit those files within Windows, I’m sure there is. Anyway, I just used vi at the shell prompt to edit it. Ask a Linux friend, they’ll know how to edit it.
    So in conclusion: different menu.lst entry, explicit root partition, edit chromeos_startup. If you have any questions, hit me at my username at google’s popular mail service.”

     

6 Free Google Docs Every SEO Needs To Have

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One of my favorite parts of being in the online marketing community is how people within the community are so generous in sharing tips, strategies, and tools to do your job better.

A common way that a lot of online marketers use to build helpful tools is Google Documents. Using Google Docs is ideal because it’s free, flexible, and easy to share with others.  Hopefully with these documents you will help you to work more efficiently as they have for more life.

Hundreds Of  Tools For Marketers

annie cushing

By  Annie Cushing 

(Link to document)

Document Summary: Do you wish that you could have an organized list of nearly every tool for keyword research, seo analysis, competitive analysis and many more sections. Annie has done the amazing task of creating this list that I go to first when I’m looking for a tool to tackle a new task or problem.

SEER Interactive SEO Toolbox

Chris Le Photo

by Chris Le

Link to document )

Document Summary: Now that you’ve seen how  many tools and the amount of information that is available the problem isn’t obtaining the data. Instead the problem is finding a way to aggregate all of this information into one place and be to understand it. This is what makes Chris’s tool great because it allows you to pull data from SEOmoz, Google Analytics, Twitter, and more into one Google Document.

Ultimate Link Building Query Generator

Stoked SEO

by Stoked SEO

Link to document )

Document Summary: For most SEO’s,  link prospecting begins with a string of search operators that will hopefully retrieve you  the best possible opportunities of sites to work with. What I like to do is test a few of these queries and if the initial results are good I will put them into the Link Prospector tool to effectively scale the prospecting.

Content Strategy Generator Tool

SEO-GADGET

by SEO Gadget

Link to document )

Document Summary: I often get stuck brainstorming content ideas when dealing with industries that I am not familiar with. With this document I can see what is popular and being talked about right now across several different types of sites, which often leads to inspiration of what I should do.

Managing Projects in Google Docs

Alex Moss

By Alex Moss

Link to document )

Document Summary: This post and document really expanded my mind on how much a Google Document could help in managing and running a clients projects. The tutorial over at SEOmoz is very well done.

Find Local Nearby Locations

James Agate

 

By James Agate

Link to document )

Document Summary: Here is a tool that is so simple but is really helpful when dealing with states or countries that I am not familiar with. James explained that when they target media outlets for the big cities that they were not as receptive as those from smaller surrounding cities.

For example reaching out to Phoenix media outlets could be a lot more difficult then connecting with outlets for other Arizona cities like Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, etc.

 

Posted by Benjamin Beck on February 2013 here: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/6-free-google-docs-ever-seo-needs-to-have/59644/

Editor’s Note: Due to my paranoid nature that one day some of these docs will be taken off, I took the liberty to download them and offer it as a zip file: 6-seo-docs-everyone-must-have

WebP – Google’s Image Extension for Web Internet Browsers – How to Properly Use

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webplogoRecently, when I launched a new design for a website, one of the biggest features was a photo gallery. This photo gallery was calling a number of high-res PNG files, which was a big part that caused the home page to load slowly. Seeing few options for the same quality images at a smaller file size. I then recalled a couple of years ago when Google announced a new image format specific for web browsers. That format is WebP, and for all intents and purposes it’s the same as a PNG file at 1/5th the size, allowing for faster loading.

I immediately jumped at the chance to convert my PNG files into WebP images, and was more than pleased at the results. However, imagine my chagrin when I realized that WebP can only be used by Google Chrome and no other browser! What to do?

The simple answer seems to be that for now, make image loading browser specific, at least until all other browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.) get up to speed. It’s a shame as WebP loads lightening-fast, but that what cross-browser compatibility is all about. If the browser is Chrome, then unleash the WebP goodness it has to offer. Else, load the slow-loading PNG files. But how?

Looking at browser-specific CSS rules, I realized then and there that from a CSS perspective, you cannot isolate Chrome from Safari, Chrome from Opera, etc. The only two ways are server-side or JQuery.

Since too much Javascript is never a good thing, I did the responsible thing: I hard-coded a condition in PHP:

if (strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'Chrome') !== false)
{
    // User agent is Google Chrome
    // Output WebP background CSS file
}
else{
    //Output slow-loading PNG background CSS file
}

And voila! It worked!

Oh, before I finish, here’s a way to slightly reduce the size of your PNG files. It’s called PNGCrush and should reduce the image size by up to a quarter of what it was before. Enjoy!

Note: Being lazy, I’ve been using TinyPNG, a user-friendly PNG resizer that doesn’t compromise the size or quality of your PNG images.

 

Has Google Finally Grown Too Large and Evil? Could Google’s Greed Be the Beginning of the End for Their Mighty Empire?

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(Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

(Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Note: This is possibly my most controversial, yet gutsy, post as of yet:

Google. The very name evokes the word search, and has been used as a substitute in sentences, such as “I Googled this” and “I Googled that.” Nothing can take that away from them – they earned their success for the most part. However, when conducting mergers and acquisitions of larger companies, it’s very easy to get so large that it’s no longer one unit, rather it’s a jumble of companies and partners mixed together. Also, when the number of partners increase, so do the number of opinions, which in turn mean longer time for decision-making. Also, “don’t be evil” ceases to exist when a company becomes more money-centric rather than simply a service that happens to also make money. That said, please don’t try to philosophize with me that “to be” is different than “to do;” I can tire the best of them with my philosophical rantings.

In any case, this I believe has happened with Google. I’ve been a huge fan of Google when it came to search, was one of their first GMail users way back when in 2005 (when you needed an invite and one could only email up to 6 people – total), widely embraced Google Docs/Wave integration/Drive, loved Google Maps and it’s API to connect to, and was seriously debating on whether or not to obtain a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, which is widely accepted as Google Android’s flagship device.

That debating ended when a) I noticed flaws on the phone, and b) Google’s policy changes in the name of money. Look, I understand that a company needs to make money to survive, but there needs to be a line. I believe that Google has had it’s biggest success when it offered tons of free products in the name of the expansion of knowledge and innovation. It “just so happened to make money” by:

1. Adwords Ads,

2. Adwords certification exams ($50 a test, each of which changes every 2 weeks),

3. Google Apps for Business for anything over 10 users (minimum $5/user/month), and

4. Royalties based on the Android operating system which strongly promotes Google’s brand.

“Just so happening to make money” while running a service to improve the internet world was what caused me to be enthralled by what Google stood for, and to use their products over any other.

 Google Changes that Honestly Pissed Me Off

However, I noticed a few changes over the last little while that, in all honesty, has pissed off even a dedicated Google user like me. These are:

1. Google Apps for Business (and Business Emails) No Longer Being Free

Google possibly noticed that their Apps for Business model was possibly exploited by up-and-coming small businesses, especially some SEO companies registering hundreds of domain names along with free Google Apps Business accounts since one formerly could get up to 10 email accounts, and at one time up to 50. Google made a controversial decision to close down the free accounts and only leave the paid services up. This is a problem because this translates into a minimum of $5/user/month! While I maintain that Google has perhaps the best email servers in the world, this is a big problem for small businesses wanting to start out with the Google experience and simply cannot afford it. Also, this was made off-the-cuff by Google with only 2 days notice. On Thursday, December 8, 2012 the notice went up only on Google’s private blog, and the change was made on Saturday, December 10, 2012. For many, this took us completely by surprise. This annoyed me greatly as I had promised a couple of clients to move them over to Google Apps for Business that weekend. On a side note, Google’s new greedy angle had eased my decision into choosing purchasing the Apple iPhone 5 over a Google Android phone (which basically copied Apple’s patented iPhone idea).

2. Google Killed Search with Panda and Other Link-Killing Algorithms

Google in many ways killed search, in my honest opinion, for many companies with its Panda algorithm update last April, 2012. Their objective was simply to de-rank websites with spammy backlinks. While this makes sense for sites that illegitimately are getting onto Page 1, it doesn’t for many innocent businesses hiring white-hat SEO companies, that in some cases now need to restructure their entire on-line business model thanks to Panda. Google’s answer to businesses that have been wronged was for webmasters to submit spreadsheets of removed links through Google Webmaster Tools, and also to provide feedback using a form they created in Google Docs. In effect they multiplied their workload exponentially by now needing to fire-fight hundreds of millions of websites!

While I understand their objective, they should have tested it further and considered the repercussions. I don’t feel that they did that, and it makes Google look amateurish. So much so that it  makes one wonder if right now Google even knows what it’s doing, let alone the rest of us!

To add insult to injury, Google’s now furthered their link-killing campaign by penalizing advertorials. At the same time Google will give credit to itself, lending to the idea that there may be a double standard invoked by Google.

These are big strikes against Google when:

1. Facebook is boasting that their search engine is better than Google’s because while Google relies on artificial intelligence, Facebook can leverage real human intelligence to give users what they want, and

2. Yahoo is being successfully run (so far) by Marissa Mayer, one of Google’s original employees and the brains behind many of Google’s most innovative features, including GMail.

This is also a big problem for SEO companies when almost every linking strategy that’s thought of is being put down by Google. How are SEO companies to know what works/doesn’t work for Google/Panda when it seems like Google even doesn’t?

3. Google Places or Plus Business Pages – Which is It?

From the beginning I said that Google Places (formerly Local Business Listings) was operated with a Wild West mentality. Fast-forward 3 years later, I still maintain that stance. While Google has made a valiant effort to integrate all of their products into one unit, they have failed to do the same with Google Places, which is a shame as it ties in with Google Maps.

For example, some glaring problems with Google Places are:

1. Lack of multiple accounts.

One is unable to share a Google Places listing with multiple accounts. If an account is made with one email address, it cannot be moved. You need to re-create the listing, but that also means that reviews will need to be re-created from scratch.

2. Post-card Verification Only

The only type of verification today is through a post-card mailed in within 2-3 weeks of registering a “place.” This is surprising considering how everything around us is going paperless and all one needs is for a negligent mailman to drop the card somewhere in the street.

3. No way to claim an already-claimed listing

If one wants a listing showing ones own business changed or taken off but the listing is owned by a different email address, good luck in changing that.

4. No Phone Support

Google does not provide phone support for Places. This is a problem as Places is tied into everything including Adwords. However, Google will provide support for Adwords but not Places or any other service. Again, it’s all about money as Adwords is the primary money-maker for Google.

Meanwhile, Google Plus, a completely different script, has Business pages that also integrates with Google Maps. Google Plus pages is much more robust and allows for multi-account administration, no verification and more, so it’s easy to see that this is the direction that Google seems to be taking. However, the transition between these two still-very-different interfaces is a pain.

 

So what’s next for Google? Are they phasing out more products, or looking to restructure? All I can say is, if Google continues to annoy more people with their policies, people will gradually opt out of Google until there’s not much left.

People say that accusing people or places of being evil is the direct result of ignorance. With Google, I will admit that I like many other SEO’s are ignorant/unaware of what thinking is going on in Google’s GooglePlex. Somehow I believe that even Google doesn’t know what it’s thinking! It’s grown so large and confusing that finding it’s own brain would involve a treasure hunt.

Google Apps for Business No Longer Free – This Cruel, Mean Outrage “Puts a Wrench” in Small Businesses

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This post comes from the heart.

I recently checked my email which is currently hosted on the now-former Google Apps for Business Free account.  I received an email from a Google address with a message that I initially thought to be a prank. It read:

Hello from Google,
Here’s some important news about Google Apps—but don’t worry, there’s no need for you to take any action. We just want you to know that we’re making a change to the packages we offer.

Starting today, we’re no longer accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps (the version you’re currently using). Because you’re already a customer, this change has no impact on your service, and you can continue to use Google Apps for free.

Should you ever want to upgrade to Google Apps for Business, you’ll enjoy benefits such as 24/7 customer support, a 25 GB inbox, business controls, our 99.9% uptime guarantee, unlimited users and more for just $5 per user, per month.

You can learn more about this change in our Help Center or on the Enterprise Blog.

Thank you for using Google Apps.

Clay Bavor
Director, Google Apps”

But don’t worry, there’s no need for you to take any action. We just want you to know that we’re making a change to the packages we offer.” Yeah, right. Nice way to put the wrench in new small businesses with practically no prior notice!

In the past, I have recommended a sizeable amount of clients from utilizing emails that would tie you into domain companies like GoDaddy and even in some cases from private, 10-year old Exchange servers. The logic was simple: Google has some of the most powerful servers in the world and, while they sort of “own” your data, they are merely using it to improve Google search results, which is only a good thing. And, there are so many Google accounts that the chances of them zeroing into your account is like a needle in a haystack.

Also, the logic was that for Google, the very data they gather is money. This data would help them leverage with other revenue-generating services like Adwords. The paid accounts would be a bonus for Google’s large wad of pockets.

Until yesterday one could sign up for up to 10 free accounts, and as of 2007 one could sign up for 50 user accounts. It was an amazing way for Google to provide a service in exchange for data.

Apparently, they no longer seem to need the little guy. They clearly have all the data they need.

According to Techcrunch,

Mountain View says it’s making the change to simplify its offering to ensure a better fit for both groups of users, individuals and business, noting in its blog;

When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.

Google is still offering a free product for schools and universities: Google Apps for Education. It will also be continuing to offer Google Apps for Government for $50 per user, per year.

Let’s see here: “…but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version.” Bull! Most businesses stay small business for at least 3-5 years, assuming they even survive that long. And many that last longer stay small businesses. I guess the term “quickly” is all relative in terms of time.

Think of it this way. Let’s say one wanted to create a 10-user account now and use up all 10 users. Before, it was great – you could get it for free. Now, for 10 accounts, at $5/user/month, that translates into $50/10 users/month or $500/10 users/year! A start-up now paying Google $500 a year for something that was free 24 hours ago is outrageous! What a mean, cruel joke on the little guy!

But this is not a joke. This is reality, sweetie.

Other Email Options

It will now take new start-ups new, creative ways for cheap email. Some existing solutions are:

1. Fusemail

URL: https://www.fusemail.com/solutions/small-business/

Pros:

  • The low cost is better than Google’s.
  • Mailboxes are 10 GB in size
  • Phone support exists.
  • You can actually consolidate your mailboxes.
  • Excelent spam/virus protection.
  • IMAP and SMTP services
  • A competitive Calendar service exists.

Cons: N/A

Cost: $2/user/month

2. Yahoo Business Email

URL: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/email/compare-plans

Pros: It comes out to $2/user/month akin to Fusemail.

Marissa Meyer’s appointment to Yahoo a few months ago still may hint at new life for Yahoo.

Cons: POP email only, no IMAP

Cost: $10/10 users/month + $25 setup fee

3. Hotmail/Windows Live Business Emails

URL: http://domains.live.com/

Pros: I haven’t tried it yet, but from what I see it’s free.

Microsoft is still Microsoft, love or hate it. From a business perspective they’re still amazing.

Cons: N/A

Instructions can be found on ceveni.com, which also says it best that “google is becoming too weird now days it has proceeding from “User Centric” to  “Business Centric” forcing small business and organizations to buy their email service which was once free.” I love it when someone speaks his mind!

Cost: Free*

The above having been said, I see this as an amazing opportunity for a young start-up to come out with free IMAP-based email that will make Google’s current business email data archaic. Perhaps then will they show some remorse and retrieve even part of the “free” plan back. Not that they care “at this time,” though.

Final Thoughts

I know that many are very angry about Google’s drastic move, complaining about the lack of notice (Google’s own blog only mentioned this 2 days ago). Some doom-and-gloom people said that this was only a matter of time before this happened. I for one am not happy and am open to other free or low-cost email suggestions moving forward.

Comments and suggestions below are more than welcome.