Articles written in February, 2009

February 27 2009

Google Maps Enhances Results


Have you noticed anything different about Google Maps recently?   If you have searched for something in Google Maps, you may have noticed the small sized map markers that are appearing in addition to the usual top 10 listed. This new layer of results enables you to have information about additional business locations relevant to your search, near your area of interest. The normal top 10 listings remain on the left side of the page and have the corresponding larger marker on the map. The addition is the smaller red markers, which represent more locations pertinent to your search.   When you click on the small markers, additional information about that result will appear, just as it will when you click on the larger markers.

For example, when doing a search for “Grocery Store, Boca Raton”, you will see something similar to the screenshot below.   This new feature eliminates the need for the searcher to scroll through multiple pages of results to see additional listings.  


This can be beneficial, as it may alert you of locations that are closer to you than expected.   In areas where there may be numerous relevant results, wouldn’t it be nice to know what is closest, so that you don’t have to travel a longer distance than necessary?   This new feature can help point out those locations.

If you’ve ever wondered how densely populated a particular area is with a certain business, you can find out this approximate information as well.   Below is an example of a search for “Publix, Florida”.  


Currently this is only available on, but it is likely to expand to additional domains as well.

February 26 2009

Search Engines Love Sitemaps


The main benefit of a good site map is that the search engines can traverse a site in a timely and logical manner and so the user can figure out where they are. A sitemap is a page with a list of links to all the most important documents on the site and is linked to from every page. However, it’s always surprising to see how many websites are unable to implement a decent sitemap correctly. How hard can it possibly be?

Generally, a sitemap should have no more than 100 links and contain some really keyword targeted anchor text. You see, any more than about 100 links could serve in decreasing the importance of some of the more important page links on the site. Sitemaps are also effective in aiding in the crawlability of the site for the search engines. Anything a webmaster can do to facilitate the crawling process for a search engine, the better.

So, what else goes into an effective sitemap? Ensure that the general design is consistent with the rest of the site and include a brief description of the page underneath its link for the top level pages. A good sitemap is also beneficial in giving the search engines an extra place to find a text link to an important page if some links on the site are created using un-friendly SEO technology, such as Flash or JavaScript.

There is a lot of work that goes into implementing an effective sitemap. Once you think you have it ready to upload to the site, be sure it makes sense to the user and that, of course, all of the links are functional. It is imperative that if a webmaster wants any chance of a search engine indexing the entire site, a well designed sitemap is a critical first step.

February 25 2009

Giving Up Facebook for Lent and Tips for Businesses


While I was drinking my morning coffee and flipping through the morning news shows, I came across a station that was reporting that people were giving up Facebook for Lent, or at least that they were trying to.   I thought to myself about how kids are going crazy with all types of social networks. When I got into the office, I did a little research and found that it was parents and adults who said they were giving up the popular social media site for the next 40 days, not necessarily kids.   Is this site really so addictive that people are making the conscious effort to actually stay away from this site for 40 days?   As an online marketer, I thought about how if people feel they have to give it up, they must be spending an amazing amount of time there.    

The truth is that people do spend a lot of time on Facebook.   From communicating with friends, to reviewing goods and services, Facebook is becoming an all inclusive site.   More and more business pages are trying to promote their products and services in front of a new audience.   To truly utilize Facebook for business purposes, more time is required to maintain your presence than is typically required with a website.   Facebook is user friendly for even the most non-technical types, and the flow of information and discussions happen in real time.   If you manage a business’ presence in Facebook and miss an email, or reply to someone’s inquiry too late, you run the risk of showing lack of interest on your page.   To help you better manage your Facebook account for your company, here are a few simple tips.

– Login at a minimum of two (2) times a day.   By logging in twice a day you can be sure that you are monitoring what people are saying or discussing on your page.   Over time, if you find that you are getting more interaction, you may want to increase the frequency.
– Respond promptly to discussions or Facebook emails.   Good business etiquette is that you respond to inquiries within 24 hours.   The same should go for Facebook.   You can think of Facebook as just another way to disseminate information, and if people have to wait too long, they may decide to go elsewhere.
– While not required, try giving something away on your Facebook page.   I am not talking about a free product or service, but a free video, photo, or information will be sufficient.   This can entice people to become your friend or fan and keep them coming back for more.   After all, the idea is to get your consumer engaged.
– Update your Page often.   Update your status, photos and information to reflect your most recent products, services and promotions.   If people return to your page and there is nothing new, why should they come back?   A simple way to accomplish this is to feed your blog to your Facebook page via RSS.   This will ensure that every time you make a post, it is automatically uploaded to your Facebook page.

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