Google+ Integrated into Google Apps, Huh?

This morning I envisioned a headline on Mashable that could, someday, read: “Finally…Google+ Integrated into Google Apps”. The Enterprise Google Apps community has been waiting months for this to happen.
Google+ surfing in an ocean of business
Surf with Google+
And still…we…wait. Once this happens, though, here are some ways Google+ will rock my business world:
  • Allow me to use one network (rather than several networks) to communicate with nearly 2,000 sales associates. This necessarily will increase my personal productivity. And with this productivity increase I’ll have more time to focus on providing more value to these 2,000 sales associates.
  • Give these nearly 2,000 sales associates one network to use (rather than several networks) to collaborate, share ideas, and help each other. They are THE community. Google+ in Apps will further unleash the collective brilliance of this community.
  • Leverage the Google+ social nervous system to achieve several business objectives by aligning fundamental community management concepts, principles, and processes within a social business ecosystem (as brilliantly illustrated by @davidarmano).
The tectonic plates of Google’s product development teams need to align and unleash the Pangaea of a social business platform for its Enterprise clients. Sooner rather than later, please, Google. Opportunity awaits us both.
Photo credit: gordontarpley

Google Chrome Cr-48 Notebook Chapter 1

Using a Chrome Cr-48 Notebook is a bit like skiing powder: it’s a little weird at first, if one is used to groomed slopes, but once you’re used to skiing in powder snow it’s a seriously cool experience.

Sublime. Zen.

These are the words I routinely use to describe my powder skiing experiences. Similarly, using a Chrome Cr-48 Notebook approaches these experiences. What I will focus on in Chapter 1 is the initial experience of getting started with the Chrome Cr-48 (which is very “un-Apple” in a fun way).

First, you receive a cool geek cardboard brown carrying case with a funky-cool graphic screened on the front…
…then you open the box and find a simple activation schema…

…then you unwrap the battery back from the bubble wrap and place it in the notebook and begin charging the battery…

…then you add stickers…

…then you join the Cloud.

Easy. And you’re “in”.

The first thing I realized using the Chrome Cr-48 was that I never fully worked “in the Cloud”. Rather, I have been operating as some type of Cloud-borg: half-in (operating in Google Apps word), half-out (using a notebook to do things such as load docs to “the Cloud”, rather than creating and storing files solely while working within “the Cloud”).

With the Chrome Cr-48, one must fully commit–there is no desktop/laptop option, per se. Consequently, I am completely rethinking file management, creation, access, and storage. And I must say I am loving the challenge, so much so, that when I use my “other” computer it feels like I’m skiing on 1960’s era wooden skis, rather than the modern fat Icelantic Nomads I use to surf the powder and carve it in the trees.

There have been interesting cases where I’ve had to redeploy “the old one” to execute a routine task: adding a dual monitor did not work on the Cr-48 (i.e., “no signal found” by the monitor, a known issue in the Chrome forum), and my Android phone was not recognized when I “mounted” it to the Cr-48 via the single USB port, another known issue in the Chrome forum). I’m sure I’ll find other bugs, but that’s part of the early-adopter life-cycle.

Regardless, the Cr-48 is easy to set up, easy to use, and seamlessly integrates with Enterprise Google Apps. Given this synergy, I feel my productivity has not taken a hit and in some cases has increased. I am really looking forward to the next chapters.

Future of search and search engines

Here’s an article that details some interesting issues relative to search, recapping a Xconomy Forum on the Future of Search and Information Discovery panel recently held in Seattle. On the dais were Microsoft, Google, and a couple of University of Washington professors. Here’s some salient take-aways:

  • It’s still unresolved whether vertical search will significantly impact general search
  • The nexus between real-time search, consumer intent, and semantic search is where the search gold resides
  • Hurricane Katrina taught Google a lesson about relevance and real time results
  • Opportunities to compete with Google and Bing exist, but only on the edge or fringe such as applications that bypass search engines, employ automated content discovery mechanisms, use semantic search, or perfect mobile geo-search

Interesting quotes:

Google is like smoking cigarettes, it’s a habit that’s going to be difficult to give up. So what can you do? You have to think about the problem space. Google’s approach is to get people in and out of search engine quickly with their result. Not the right way to think about it. Right way to think about it is to think about minimizing time of completing a task, not minimize the amount of time to match a query with a url.

[O]rganize the information in a way that synthesizes the task that you want to accomplish.

Mobile is huge. Apple is the big fish at the moment. Android coming on strong. Won’t hold my breath on Microsoft.

Two things which potentially threaten us. [1] As we become bigger and older, it could become more difficult for Google to innovate…[2] Also worry about diminishment of sense of entrepreneurship.

Foreclosure Searches on the Rise

Hitwise and Google show that foreclosure searches are creeping up on “traditional” searches regarding properties for sale. UPDATE: RealtyTrac reports a 6% rise in foreclosures in February 2009 over January 2009, with a 30% increase over February 2008. On March 12, 2009, Hitwise reported that foreclosure searches are on the rise.

Hitwise: Forclosure Searches on the Rise
Hitwise: Forclosure Searches on the Rise

For fun I ran the top five Hitwise searches in Google Trends to see the differences between the search reporting engines. Google had slightly different data.

free foreclosure listings, foreclosure listings, foreclosure homes, foreclosure, foreclosure.com

Foreclosure searches: Google vs Hitwise

Next I compared the search term “foreclosures” against search terms “homes for sale” and “real estate for sale” over a 12 month period. Here’s what I found:

foreclosures, homes for sale, real estate for sale, US, Last 12 months
Google searches: foreclosure, homes for sale, real estate for saleThen I focused on Nevada for the same search phrases: forclosures, homes for sale, real estate for sale, NV, Last 12 months
Google searches: NV foreclosures, homes for sale, real estate for saleFinally, I narrowed the searches down to Las Vegas: foreclosures, homes for sale, real estate for sale, LAS VEGAS, NV, Last 12 months

Google searches: Las Vegas foreclosures, homes for sale, real estate for sale

Google personalized search

Ever wonder why anyone tries to “out-game” Google? I’ve always argued it’s futile to try and out-think hundreds of PhDs working in a university atmosphere where they have relatively free-reign to explore their research-oriented whims, and where they’re all pretty much singularly focused on studying one thing: us. Oh, and they likely get paid extremely well for what they do.

A question I have after watching the video below: How can anyone “out-game” this? Which likely also supports Google’s universal search platform. That is, it’s not a stretch to assume that Google employs insights derived from the user base that’s signed up for Google’s personalized search service to refine the primary algorithm(s) used by Google’s general audience to deliver more and more “relevant” results to this general audience.

Accordingly, when it comes to SEO I always advise taking the “high road” and write original content, update your site(s) frequently with this original content, build relevant in-bound links over time, create an easy to navigate (and spider) website, and focus on your niche expertise.

Long tail search data

Despite the sentiments expressed by Google’s CEO about long tail search (see previous post), Bill Tancer of Hitwise presents an intriguing alternative view. Tancer shows that despite brand-centric search saturation in the head, the long tail presents a panoply of opportunities to online marketers willing to invest the strategic and tactical resources necessary to leverage such.

Top 100 Search Terms by Percentage of All Search Traffic

And, according to the New York Times real estate blogs offer consumers some of the best information available about real estate.

For brokers, blogs are, of course, a handy marketing tool: they’re economical, practical and easy to update. But for prospective buyers, a sophisticated blog — one with more than an agent’s plea, “check out my new listing” — can help potential buyers forge a connection to a faraway community, learn the landscape of an area and, ultimately, make informed purchasing decisions.

Since blogs are long tail feed machines, real estate professionals ought to embrace blogging as a viable online marketing channel.

Long-tail in a multi-channel strategy

McKinsey & Company Consulting interview of Google CEO discussing long-tail search viability.

This is a great video interview of Google’s CEO by McKinsey & Company Consulting. Read this definition of Zipf’s Law first, however, if you don’t know what Zipf’s law is. What’s especially intriguing is the interview segment that discusses the long-tail versus the head. Schmidt does not dismiss the long-tail as a search marketing strategy, but he does implicitly decry its value. My take-away from his comments, however, is that no single strategy is the marketing silver bullet; rather it’s a blending of marketing strategies that makes sense. Abandon the long-tail as a strategy? No. Augment your firm’s short-tail and primary brand promotion strategy with a concerted long-tail marketing strategy powered by blogs? Absolutely. This study leads credence to this augment, where it states that blogs have just as much reach as mainstream media.

Wikia Search versus Google Search: Round 2

After a couple of months, I decided to give Wikia another test. The theme this time is “golf course homes”:

“golf course homes for sale columbus ohio” Google Wikia Winner is Google because it lists relevant, real estate oriented blogs with posts focusing on the specific search query.

“golf course homes sanibel florida” Google Wikia Winner is Wikia because there were more real estate firm sites returned than on Google.

“villas for sale on golf courses valencia spain” Google Wikia Winner is Google because Wikia’s results did not center exclusively on property for sale, while Google’s results did.

“finger lakes ny real estate for sale on golf course” Google Wikia Winner is Google because many search results returned focused exclusively on Finger Lakes real estate firms, whereas Wikia’s results were limited to six results with the first talking about the Sopranos.

Wikia Search versus Google Search: Round 1

Test of which service gives a more relevant result for typical real estate searches (of course, relevancy is subjective). For this test, I am defining relevancy as routing me to the local market expert real estate firm or agent in the most expeditious manner.

  • “columbia south carolina real estate for sale” : Wikia Google : Winner is Google. The top search results on Google take me to South Carolina.
  • “60647 condos for sale” : Wikia Google : Winner is Google since the top search results take me directly to that zip code. Wikia delivered one result.
  • “lincoln park luxury homes” : Wikia Google : Tie. Both services presented me with similar results. Wikia was a little scattered in that it showed “lincoln park” results from around the country. Whereas Google directed me mostly to Chicago websites (which was my intent). Interesting note: When I added “illinois” to Wikia, it did not change the results much, and doing so on Google muddied the results (on Google, lots of optimization going on for the combo “lincoln park” in conjunction with “illinois)