Your Brand and the New Google+ Cover Photos

If you’re not on Google+ yet, you should be. If you recall in a previous article, I mentioned the reasons why Google+ is an important social media network to be on in 2013, and with recent changes to their platform, there’s no better time than now to jump in. One of the most recent changes you might notice is the increased size of cover photos on profile and business pages. Rather than the previous 180 px cover photo size, they are now sized at 2120 x 1192. While this dramatic size change is forcing brands to replace their old images with new ones, finding the perfect image to fill this rather large space is important for your brand. Make the most of your Google+ cover photo by following the tips below.

Show off your company

As a consumer, when you’re looking to use or purchase from a company or business, what’s important to you? When it comes to their online presence, people love to see businesses that are active on social media who show their personalities through content and visuals. Personally, when I see a company promoting employee satisfaction and showcases a positive working environment, it correlates to a higher level of trust with the brand.

This is why the new Google+ cover photo size is perfect for showcasing your employees. Whether it’s a team picture with everyone wearing the same t-shirts or a goofy picture showing a peek of the brand culture, use this cover photo to paint a positive image of your company and the people who work there.

Highlight services or products

Another great option when coming up with ideas for your newly sized Google+ cover photo is to highlight the products or services that your company offers. This is a perfect opportunity to draw attention to something your company is most proud of or the newest product you’re currently working to promote. It doesn’t have to be a single product either. A personal favorite of mine to follow on Google+ is Taco Bell who kills it with their social media marketing, especially when they have a new menu item coming out, such as the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco.

Announcements

Because the new cover photo is so large, brands have the opportunity to really get creative with imagery. Teasers and announcements are some of the best ways to make use of this additional space, especially if you need to include a short message or tag line. Announcing something visually is perfect for anything from an upcoming album release, new product introduction or even a highly anticipated event announcement. If this is the route you plan on taking, just be careful of one thing – once your event or announcement is over, don’t forget to take down the image and replace it with something more relevant and timely.

Brands that take advantage of the massive real estate space that Google+ now offers in their profiles are definitely doing it right, and it’s evident with their fan base. As Google+ is growing at a rapid pace, being ahead of the curve is going to help you succeed in your efforts to engage and interact with your target audience and demographic. By following the tips above, you have a fighting chance to have a seriously awesome Google+ profile. Remember to be creative, be relevant and showcase your company as positively as you can and you’ll see the positives that can result from it.

Share Button

Introducing the Web Payment Software Card Swiper App

Picture this: you’re out at a trade show or convention, selling your products or services to the thousands of people walking past your booth, when finally a customer approaches you with a serious inquiry into what you’re selling. They’re more than interested – they actually want to buy, right then, right there. They pull out their wallet only to ask you if you accept credit cards because they don’t carry cash, and what can you say, other than, “I’m sorry, we don’t have the capability of accepting credit cards on the go”?

Web Payment Software can now help change all of that for you. Whether you’re an existing WPS customer or you need a new account to accept mobile payments, the new WPS Swiper App is built to handle commerce on the go across any and every industry. Mountain Media is proud to announce the launch of this new Web Payment Software app that is now available on the iTunes store.

How it Works

Once you sign up for a Web Payment Software merchant account, using the new Swiper App is easy. With your new account, we’ll send you an iMag Pro Mobile MagStripe Reader that plugs directly into the dock connector of any iOS device, including iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone, prior to iPhone 5 (iPhone 5 support is coming soon – this card reader will plug into the headphone jack of the new iPhone 5 devices).

From there, you simply log in to your account from your iOS device and you can begin accepting credit card payments using the app. Enter the amount for the transaction and run the customer’s credit card through the swiper mechanism on the bottom of your iOS device. The card reader will automatically pull the information off the credit card and bring you to a screen that allows your customer to sign to authorize the payment. They can then opt to have their receipt emailed directly to them.

It’s as easy as that – accepting payments on the go has never been more fast and easy, and now every retailer can accept credit cards anytime and from anywhere.

The Benefits

For starters, the major benefit of this app is that it’s free to download, plus with the Web Payment Software transaction fees currently in place, you won’t be overcharged for any transaction made through the WPS Swiper app. Our fees are lower than PayPal and our other competitors, plus, you get more one-on-one merchant support from our developers and programmers should you ever run into any issues with your account.

The ability to accept credit cards from any location at any time can be hugely beneficial to your business as it allows you the ease of selling everywhere you go. Whether you’re heading to a trade show, a farmers’ or flea market, a convention or otherwise, you will no longer have the worry of attracting a customer who only carries plastic in their wallets.

So head on over to the Web Payment Software website to find out more or sign up online for a new account, then download the Swiper App and start accepting mobile payments right away! Be sure to check out our introductory app video, as well, before you begin using the Swiper App:

Share Button

The Basics of Google Authorship Markup

With another impending Google update seemingly just around the corner, Internet marketers worldwide are now scrambling to see if they can’t figure out what the “next big thing” in SEO will be. It seems to most web professionals that Google is working to maximize their own social media platform use by incorporating Google Authorship signals into its algorithm when determining search engine rankings. So, what does this mean for small businesses, bloggers and webbies alike? It means we better get familiar with Google Authorship, and we better get familiar with it now.

What is Google Authorship?

Google Authorship is basically Google’s way of making their social media platform more significant to search engine results than any other social platform. It’s also a way for Google to identify “authors” with authority. What Google Authorship does is identifies an actual human being associated with a page or blog post on a website. And since Google loves humans and users, of course this is going to quickly become a major factor in signaling a “good” page to Google. The fact is, if a real person is associated with a page in cyberspace, it’s likely to be more reliable than a page without the author linking, as those pages might as well be run by robots as far as the search engines are concerned.

So in a digital world of user-friendliness, it actually makes a lot of sense that Google’s next update would put a shift in focus much heavier on the actual users themselves. Visitors to websites want to see content and read words written by humans. Google Authorship is Google’s way of identifying those pages that comply with this idea.

How do you implement Google Authorship?

There are a few basic steps to follow to make sure you implement Google Authorship markup correctly. First, you need to decide where you’ll be implementing the authorship markup – will it go on a page of your website or on a post on your blog? Using Authorship markup on a blog is probably the easiest way to start, as it will identify the actual author of each and every blog post and put more trust in that post when it appears in search engines. Each author who writes for your blog should have their own Google+ account, complete with a photo of themselves that’s simple and professional (the photo itself will actually show up in search results if the markup is implemented correctly).

If you’re going to associate Authorship with a page of your website, you need to choose someone to be the “face” of your company, or choose a photo that reflects your brand. This person (don’t use a company page – I’ll explain why in a moment) should have a Google+ page that they are comfortable associating with your entire website.

The next step is to link the Google+ profile of your author to your actual blog or website. This part is easy – just log in to your Google+ account and click through to your “About” section. There should be a box labeled “Links” that gives you an opportunity to link to other profiles of yours, websites that you own or pages that you contribute to. Click “Edit” in this box.

You’ll want to focus on the “Contributor to” section of the next edit screen. If you’re an author for a blog, just enter the blog’s name and its URL path.

Save changes, and your Google+ profile is now linked to the blog for which you are an author.

Implementing Authorship Markup

The next step gets a big technical, and that’s why I thought it would be important to outline it in an easy way to understand. Now that your Google+ profile is connected to the site to which you are contributing, it’s time to add Authorship markup to the post itself that you’re linking your author profile to.

It’s easy on most blogs – all you have to do is include a link to your Google+ page at the end of your blog post. Here at Mountain Media, we like to add a little line at the bottom of each of our blog posts that simply says “Connect with [author name] on Google+!” Of course, you could get more creative or more in depth by adding links to your other social profiles (namely Facebook and Twitter), as well, but we like to keep things simple.

In order to add the Authorship markup to this statement, you need to switch to the HTML editor of your content management system for your blog and enter the following code:

Except instead of using the link that’s in this image, insert the link to your Google+ profile that’s connected to your blog. Change it to your name and you’re all set. This is called a <rel=”author”> tag, as it’s simply an HTML link that contains a tiny bit of additional markup to signify that the author of the post is also on Google+.

The Result

After you’ve linked your Google+ profile to the page you’re contributing to and you’ve implemented your rel=”author” tag, here’s what a standard search result for which your blog post is found will look like:

That’s considered a rich snippet search result, and it might soon become the most important type of rich snippet result you can implement yourself with the next Google algorithm update. It shows that I’m the author associated with that particular post, which signifies to Google that the post is trustworthy and truly written by a human.

Additional Things to Remember

While this is considered Authorship in its most standard and basic form, there’s a lot more to it than just linking your Google+ page to your blog or website. For starters, the more Author Rank you can build, the more trustworthy the posts with which you are associated will become. That means that if people +1 your posts, share your posts and interact with your Google+ page on a regular basis, your Author Rank will improve. Make sure you stay an active user on Google+ if you want to improve your Author Rank.

Additionally, Google doesn’t exactly allow you to link a brand to a blog post or web page as easily as they allow you to link a person. In order to link a business Google+ page to a post or page, you’ll have to implement a <rel=”publisher”> tag, which, at the moment, isn’t quite as powerful as a <rel=”author”> tag. Remember, Google likes people. So, if you wish to associate your brand page with your website, just remember to use <rel=”publisher”>, but for a more powerful “human” link, try to choose an individual person to represent your company that will link their own personal page to your blog or website.

If you’re implementing <rel=”author”> on a blog, make sure each author, or contributor, to the blog has their own author page. With WordPress blogs, this is easily accomplished and simply requires each author to have their own unique login information to the blog. That way, when each author’s posts appear on the blog, if you click on their name in the byline, you’re directed to a page of posts authored by that contributor only. This helps Google distinguish between authors on your blog and helps strengthen the link between your authors’ Google+ pages and your blog.

So fear not the impending Google algorithm change! Just be sure to be aware of and familiar with Google Authorship, what it means and what it does. We’re still conducting research into the topic here at Mountain Media, and we have to say, the best way to learn something new such as this is to just try it. See how it works. Then research a bit more and tweak your approach from there.

This should help you get started using Google Authorship linking and markup, so pick a page on your website or a post on your blog and get started experimenting before the next Google algorithm hits!

Share Button

5 Steps to Writing Read-Worthy Content

It’s easy to call yourself a writer these days, especially when almost everyone is a blogger which as we all know, doesn’t require any technical writing skills in order to be published. When it comes down to it, what sets a good writer apart from the rest of the population is the ability to be captivating with your words, and to understand that it’s more than just knowing how to put sentences together.

If you want to make a difference in the world of writing, it’s imperative to know and understand the steps that are required to have engaging, read-worthy content that people want to talk about. Here are five steps worth taking that will lead you to writing success, regardless of your writing experience.

Relevancy

It’s not uncommon to see an article every now and then reflecting back on something that happened a couple of weeks ago, but most of the time, people don’t care about old news. If you want to be a good writer with engaging content, you have to be relevant and write about the now. Whether it’s politics, restaurants, or celebrity gossip, make it current and make it something that people can talk about.

Single idea paragraphs

It’s okay to be excited about a topic, especially if it’s really juicy, but before you start writing, remember that it’s always a bad move to mix multiple ideas into the same paragraphs. Just like writing a run-on sentence is a big no-no, it’s just as bad to mix multiple ideas into the same paragraph. This is because people’s attention spans are short and if you don’t cut your topics into sections, a readers’ overall focus can get lost.

Include sub-headings

Adding another visual item to the list, sub-headings are an important factor in writing read-worthy content. While sub-headings don’t have much to do with your grammar or writing style, including sub-headings in an article will keep your ideas organized and will be much easier for the reader to follow.

Use personality

One of the most important steps to writing something that other people want to read is to include personality in your writing. As opposed to reading something where you write with proper grammar and refuse to use conjunctions, wouldn’t you rather read something that flows just the way it would if you were listening to someone speak? Don’t be afraid to throw your opinion in there, be creative with your vocabulary and author something that you yourself would want to read.

Proofread

I can’t stress this step enough. Proofread, proofread, proofread! After you write an article, look over it at least three times before hitting publish. Putting out content that isn’t 100 percent makes you look lazy and unprofessional, and catching a type-o in someone else’s work makes their content and the research they put into the article less reliable. Always check for errors and this way, you can be totally confident in the work that you’re putting out to the public.

In order to be an effective and successful writer, these five steps will certainly help get you started. Don’t forget to be yourself and make sure that your passion for the subject matter reflects in your writing. Produce content that you’re proud of and chances are, others will enjoy reading what you have to say as well!

Share Button