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Are Users Happy with Their Google Search Results with Google+ Integration?

March 30, 2012

In January of 2012, Google announced Search Plus Your World, a major search enhancement that integrates activity from Google+ into the search results. So for example, when logged into the social network, if you type “skiing” into the field, you may see the photos you recently uploaded of yourself and friends from last year’s ski trip. While some users are finding the feature to be incredibly useful, others find it unnecessary and intrusive. Needless to say, the reception of Google+ integration in the search results has been a mixed bag of sorts.

Another Controversial Move By Google

No matter the opinion of individual users, most will at least agree that Google Plus Your World is nothing short of impressive. In the past, Google has tried to index content from its two main rivals in the social space, Facebook and Twitter, but things just didn’t work out. While both have refused to provide access to fully crawl their sites, Twitter has been the most cordial. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that we were seeing updates from the microblogging service being displayed in Google’s real-time search section. That stopped in the summer of 2011 when the two sides failed to renew their agreement.

Seeing how ugly things turned out, it was not all that surprising when Twitter came out and voiced its displeasure about Google integrating Google+ activity in the search results. In a statement made not too long after the launch of Search Plus Your World, a representative from Twitter said the update would make it harder for users to find information in the listings. This statement was presumably made because the enhancement ranks the activity from Google+ above the standard results. The other part of it relates to Twitter’s content specifically being pushed further down the page. Google didn’t seem very broken up about this as it replied by basically saying Twitter only had itself to blame.

Impact on SEO

Google’s decision to complement the search results with content from Google+ has some pretty big implications, especially from an SEO perspective. Initially, some were even concerned that Search Plus Your World could potentially spell the end of SEO. Search engine optimization will continue to be important as long as people rely on search engines to find content on the web, but the enhancement did cause some marketers to rethink their strategy. With the update in effect, more brands have come to realize that being active on Google+ could be vital to increasing their search visibility.

Due to all the fuss that has been made over Google’s Search Plus Your World, it is easy to lose sight of one of the most important components of the update, which in this case, refers to it being an optional feature. If a user wants to receive personalized results fueled by Google+, they can turn the feature on, and easily turn it off whenever they have a change of heart. This control alone probably made a lot of users happy.

Guest post by Edith Li – A freelance writer and a consultant for an online provider of email templates.

Top 5 Ways to Stay Focused While You’re Working from Home

March 15, 2012

You can make a lot of money working from home if you stay focused. Unfortunately, staying focused at home is a little more difficult than staying focused in a structured office environment. Your dogs, kids, and TV can all be major distractions. Plus, your nice, warm bed can be a temptation that’s sometimes too difficult to resist, especially if you’re sleep deprived. If you’ve just started working at home, the transition can be tough. You have to develop new self-motivation skills that you may not have needed to have in the past. Here are some tips to help you stay focused, productive, and successful at home:

1. Don’t abandon your daily morning ritual.

It’s tempting to just roll out of bed and start working in your pajamas. However, it’s better for you to maintain some kind of structured morning ritual. Taking time to get ready for your day will help get you in a productive groove. So, take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, and be sure to eat some breakfast to get your energy levels up.

2. Put on some headphones.

Listening to music and tuning out the rest of the world while you work can keep you motivated and focused on what you’re doing. Listening to music does, however, distract some people. If you know it will distract you, consider putting in some earplugs. The point is to tune everything that’s going on around you out.

3. Take short breaks.

If you try to work non-stop for eight or more hours, you’re probably going to burn out and begin to feel unmotivated. So, take a ten-minute break in the morning, take some time to eat lunch, and take another ten-minute break in the afternoon. You’re probably used to taking breaks at work, and you’ll find that they’re very beneficial when you’re working from home. Your brain can only handle so much, so give it some time to rest each day.

4. Sit at a desk in an office chair, if possible.

Slouching on the couch isn’t going to keep your energy levels up. It’s going to make you want to take a nap. It’s a better idea to sit in an office chair at a desk, if you have these things. And it’s generally a good idea to try to sit up straight. Having good posture helps keep you alert and more focused on the tasks at hand.

5. Get some fresh air and sunlight.

For an hour or two every day, you should consider working outside (if you have a laptop you can take with you outside). Being able to work outside is one of the major perks of working at home. Exposing your body to some fresh air while you work will help keep your brain working optimally. Plus, sunlight will help keep your mood high, and being in a good mood is always good for productivity.

Author’s Bio: Carolyn is a guest blogger who often writes about working at home, small business management, and inventory management. In her spare time, she likes to research ecommerce trends and the stock market.

21 Expert Small Online Business Start-Up Tips

March 14, 2012

Are you thinking about starting an online business? Here are 21 online business start-up tips to get you started on creating your own online business.

1. Choose the right structure for your business. Deciding whether your business will be structured as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation is one of the most important decisions you will make. The business structure determines how you will pay taxes, so choose carefully.

2. Choose a name for your business that will help customers find you online. A good online business name describes what the business does.

3. Spend time on your business plan. A business plan is a fluid document, so revisit it periodically and make changes as needed.

4. Visit for information on starting and running a business. The Small Business Administration has a lot of information and resources that are helpful to people starting an online business.

5. Define your target market. Once you decide who you want to sell your product or service to, you can focus your advertising on that specific demographic.

6. Realistically calculate your start-up costs. Online businesses naturally cost less to start than brick and mortar stores. However, there are still advertising and website expenses.

7. Order professionally designed business cards. Business cards are important, even for online businesses. They convey professionalism when you give them to people you meet in person.

8. Invest in professional web design. Your home page is the first impression visitors will have of your business.

9. Set up accounts for your business on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Post to these accounts on a regular basis.

10. Set up a blog on your site. A blog is a way for you to interact with customers through your website. Blog posts are personal, between the business and the customer, so they add a human feel to an online business.

11. Choose advertisers wisely. If part of your business plan is to make money from selling advertising on your site, make sure the products that are sold are in line with your business model.

12. Learn SEO. The key to getting new visitors to your online business is being recognized by the search engines.

13. Use a reliable web hosting company. The web host should be able to handle the amount of traffic you want to have on your site, even if you don’t have that much traffic yet.

14. Be patient. Success doesn’t normally happen overnight.

15. Set up a mobile website and an app. Most people access the internet from their smartphones. If you do not have a mobile site, they may never find you.

16. Make your site interesting with videos. Like a blog, videos add personality to your online business.

17. Get involved in your community. Businesses that are active in their community, sponsoring events or donating goods or services, get free advertising.

18. Keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. Invest in good accounting software. This is a general business rule, but it is especially important to remember if you are working from home.

19. Choose the right business for your skills and experience. Many people convert their hobby into a business. However, if you do not have a lot of experience in the field, spend time learning about the market before you open your virtual doors.

20. Know your competition. There are a lot of online businesses and some of them may be courting the same customers as you. Analyze these businesses to find out what they are doing that is and isn’t working.

21. Get a mentor. If you do not know someone who can help you, contact SCORE. A mentor can provide invaluable advice and encouragement.

That should get you in the right mindset to get your business up and running! Good luck!

3 Unusual Online Money Making Methods That Work

March 6, 2012

There are a number of ways to make extra cash online. Whether you are interested in starting a new small business or want to get ahead on your car or mortgage payments, you can earn money easily. It is important to set goals and have a place to save up the money you earn utilizing these methods. If you have a goal to follow, then you will be better organized and can monitor progress so the funds go to the right place. The following three methods are simple and can help you achieve your financial goals!

Method 1: Auction Off Your Unwanted Belongings On Ebay or a Similar Site

Thousands of internet users have bought or sold items on auction websites like eBay. This can work for you as well. Some online auction sellers manage ongoing web stores that restock items. You don’t have to work with a supplier or make a product to sell. Instead browse your home for items you have not used in a long time. Anything that you haven’t needed in the last year or two can probably be safely unloaded.

Remember to check for similar auctions to get a feel for a realistic starting and/or buyout price. An item priced too high won’t sell. A cheap item might sell faster, but you could be losing out on the transaction. Also read through the user terms and all associated fees for the site and the payment service. Services like PayPal tack on a small fee when you withdraw or transfer funds. You can save up extra money while clearing out the attic, shed or basement!

Method 2: Get Involved with a Crowd-sourcing Website to Fund Your Goals

Crowd-sourcing has become a big deal on the web. Many projects have been completely funded by loyal followers. The term refers to a fund-raising effort that is focused on other people contributing a small amount. A few dollars here and there can quickly become hundreds or even thousands. Crowd-sourcing websites have been popping up everywhere and provide an easy way to manage your fundraiser. Some also ask the person receiving donations to give something back, such as a small gift or reward related to the project or goal. This is left up to you.

This method works best for anyone who has a goal they don’t mind sharing publicly. Some sites offer general crowd-sourcing, so you can work towards funding just about anything. You must have a single goal in mind and be willing to share details and promote your fundraiser online.

Method 3: Try a Hassle-free No Fax Cash Advance to Cover Debts

The no fax cash advance is a third option that is better for anyone who doesn’t have a larger public goal in mind. If you need some extra money to pay a bill or cover an unexpected expense, like a car repair, then this is a good way to go. Before taking out a cash advance, make sure you can pay the amount back when the time comes. Doing so will keep you in good standing with the lender and make it easier to obtain funds in the future. A no fax cash advance can help you avoid late fees and a lowered credit score.