Why Choose Google?

October 23, 2014

Over the past few years we have been slowly making the transition to Google’s business class services, Google Apps for Work, here at Sephone.  We have become a Google Apps Authorized Reseller, and work with our clients to help provide them with Google’s full suite of cloud based services.  These services include things like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and more.  As an authorized reseller we work with Google to provide you with these services. So what does that mean for you?  Well, you get better services backed by Google, and the same awesome customer service you have become accustom to from Sephone.

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Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.

Should you join Google+?

July 22, 2011

As you may have heard, Google recently launched a social network of its own called Google+. While it’s not exactly like other networks you may know and use like Facebook and Twitter, they’ve incorporated a lot of the features of these other sites to try to make social networking easier to use and understand.

That’s all great, but let’s be honest: should you join?

How Google+ is different

Google+ revolves around the concept of “circles”, or groups of friends. Circles take the idea of friend lists on Facebook and make them a lot easier for normal people to understand. When you add a new connection on Google+, you’ll be asked which circles you’d like to associate with that person. You can make as many circles as you want, and you can make a circle for anything: “Friends”, “Family”, “Backpacking”, “California”, “Sales Prospects”, or anything else.

Circles really come into play when you share something new. Every time you add something, you can tell Google+ only to show the post to certain circles. If you want to share a post about a new industry development to your co-workers or clients, add those circles. If you shot some photos of your nephew’s wedding and want to limit who sees them to your family members, no problem. It’s really easy to make sure only the right people see what you want to share.

Google’s also added two new areas called “Hangouts” and “Sparks”. In a Hangout, you can have a group video chat with your friends (kind of like you can do on Skype or iChat, only right in your web browser). Sparks are similar to a search on Twitter; choose a word or phrase, and Google+ will keep you up-to-date with the latest content that matches that phrase.

How to decide if you should join

Even with the new features in Google+, there’s really nothing you can do there that you couldn’t do somewhere else (either Facebook, Twitter, or Skype/iChat). It seems like Google+ expects people to enjoy the convenience of having all of these features all in the same place, or they just want to highlight easier sharing, better photo viewing, and more as compared to the other social networks. Right now, Google+ is still in its infancy, and it’s tough to tell if it will grow anywhere near the size of larger networks like Facebook and Twitter.

If you enjoy testing out new technologies, or if you want a new way to connect to more people online, check out Google+. But if you’re still new to social media or have trouble keeping up with the networks you already use, you may want to wait to see how it grows before you join. We believe social media shouldn’t feel like a chore; to be the most effective with online tools, you should really enjoy interacting with your connections. Join the networks that you feel will be the best bang for your business’s buck.

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Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

How do I add my business to Google Maps

January 30, 2008

With the growing features of Google Maps and the interest it is generating, we have been asked “How to get added?”- Here are the instructions, straight from the mouth of Google!

We gather business information from numerous websites, Yellow Pages directories, and other sources to populate Google Maps search results. If you’d like to be included, you can easily enter your information into our online Local Business Center for free. Here’s how:

  • Visit the Local Business Center.
  • If you already have a Google Account, sign in with your email and password.
  • If you don’t have a Google Account, click Sign up for an account now.
  • Follow the instructions to create a listing.

Please remember these points:

  • The street address you enter will be shown in the Google Maps search results.
  • If you already have an AdWords login address and password, you can use it to log in to the Local Business Center.
  • Once you’ve submitted your business information, you’ll need to verify the listing before it goes live. You can verify using a touch-tone phone, SMS, or a PIN that will be sent via regular mail to your business address. Once the listing is verified, your information will normally appear in our results within six weeks.
  • You must be able to receive regular mail at your business address if you are unable to verify by phone or SMS. A post office box can be used to register. The address you enter in the Google Local Business Center will be the address to which your PIN mailer is sent, and it will also be the address displayed in Google Maps results.

Want to add more than 10 business locations? You’re welcome to submit your information as a bulk upload through the Local Business Center. For information on creating a bulk upload, please select ‘Upload a Data File’ in your Local Business Center account and then follow our bulk upload instructions.

  • The Google Local Business Center is currently available only for businesses in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan.
  • For information about adding your website to Google, please review the Webmaster Help Center.
  • There’s no charge for Local Business Center listings. Google doesn’t accept payment to include listings or sites in our search results. However, we do offer locally-targeted advertising through our AdWords program. With AdWords, you can run your paid ads near our unpaid search results, and your ads will be clearly marked as sponsored advertising.
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In addition to being a partner at Sephone, a Bangor, Maine-based web solutions provider, Joe is a father of two and active in little league, soccer, hockey and gymnastics. By being active is meant 'a proud supporter'. Skiing, reading and movies are his hobbies.

Search Engine Marketing Tip: Content

January 30, 2011

Let’s face it. Google won. Google is King (or Queen depending on your point of view). Google IS search. In the U.S. Google holds a 66% market share with Yahoo a distant second with 17%, Bing, Ask and AOL pretty much fill out the rest. And let’s not forget that “google” is now officially a verb —  “Thank You” Oxford English Dictionary.

So it is no surprise that when clients, or students, or workshop attendees ask me how to get their website to perform better in online search they are asking “how do I get on page one of Google?” or “How do I Google better?”. Well, the answer to this is not exactly straight forward. There are many parts that all work together to contribute to a better ranking in Google and Google of course does not tell you exactly what to do because that would undermine their business model (and if you haven’t noticed recently — they are doing pretty well).

As search engine marketers we know a fair amount about what goes into Google’s algorithm, and when we make changes to improve on-site optimization or off-site optimization we can see results. What we don’t know is exactly how Google’s algorithm works, an algorithm that has potentially hundreds of variables.

So the answer to the question is not simple and unless your website is by some good fortune wildly popular, a good ranking will require some hard work or a budget if you want someone else to do the hard work for you. I think it’s important to remember Google’s core goal which is to provide the best possible set of search results — the most relevant search results — based on what the searcher puts into that lonely box on google.com and clicks “Google Search”. This core goal is important because relevant search results rely on content and content is what the Web is all about. So if you think about it, providing good content is what Google is really after it does that by reporting and ranking websites that have good content — relevant content — in it’s search results.

So, in my view, the simplest thing a website owner can do to help Google rank them better is to provide good content. This is content that accurately describes what the website is all about — not content that relies on marketing tag-lines, overloads the content with keywords or buries the content in fancy images. Of course, marketing language, keywords and beautiful design are all essential to a successful website and are all part of a successful online strategy so it is a bit of balancing act but that is exactly what good search engine marketers can help you do. But remember, in the absence of time or a budget… rely on good, honest content. It will help.

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In addition to working with clients at Sephone Interactive Media, Scott also teaches Search Engine Marketing and other WebMedia courses at the New England School of Communications.

My Old Friend Google Earth

October 2, 2015

Unlike most Google Earth Logoeveryone else at Sephone, I own a phone with an Android operating system and not an iPhone.  Every time I get a new phone I manage to leave several “apps” that I have tried and no longer use on my phone. They get carried over from phone to phone, I seldom seem to uninstall anything unless I really don’t like it.  One of these apps I had not used in a very long time was Google Earth.

I love Google Maps and I have lots of Google apps naturally, because of the Android operating system on the phone itself.  But Google Earth seemed to get lost in the shuffle.  (As I swipe and swipe past it on my screen 100 times a day.)

Recently, I was hiking and scouting an area of Maine and my GPS was less than helpful,  the GS sheets I had and could find were several years (some more than 10), old.  Given this area is shared by loggers and logging operations, roads are changed all the time.  This summer, the local ATV, snowmobile and bike clubs have been in the area blazing trails for their users – it seemed pretty hard to figure out where the trails were, where they went and most importantly how not to get lost!

I got back to camp and looked up where I was  on Google Earth and it showed me such a better overall view of what I was actually at and where I was looking.  It gave me a new appreciation for what I originally thought of as a “cute video game.”  I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

One thing you must know if you want to use Google Earth. It’s like a compass, you need to check it before you need it.  If you are out in the wild and there is no cell signal, Google Earth cannot help you. Check before you leave or if you have a cell signal then Google Earth can find you and lead you home.

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Using Google Analytics to Track Campaigns

September 23, 2016

Every business has goals. These goals can be thought of as campaigns in Google Analytics. For example, let’s pretend you own a small bakery and are well known for your homemade pies. To welcome the fall season, your goal is to offer a 10% discount on your apple pies purchased on your website.

You know in order to reach your customers you’ll need to advertise. read more

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John is a designer at Sephone.

Google my WHAT?

September 1, 2010

I remember that a friend was making fun of a mutual acquaintance a few months ago.  (Not uncommon in my world.)  “Can you believe ‘so-and-so’ Google’s himself?”

Well normally I would chime right in and say something like, “Well you know him, he thinks he is ‘all that and a bag of chips!’ ”  BUT I actually was on the other side this time.

Google-ing yourself, your name and your company is what people do all the time.  You need to know what Google thinks of you, how it ranks you, I Googled myself one day and to my surprise Google found a white paper I co-authored back in the early 90’s!  Hey that was even before Al Gore invented the internet, right?

If you are looking for a job or your business is looking for customers, you want to make sure that you know what Google finds.  Large portal sites like Facebook, Linked-In and even Twitter can possibly be higher on the list than your own business website.  Why?  Because they get LOTS and LOTS of traffic from LOTS and LOTS of people and Google LOVES to “hang-out” with the popular gang, just like we do.

If you have a Facebook page, you’ll want to make sure that your privacy settings are set the way you want them to be, so you aren’t sharing information to people that you don’t know or don’t know you.  If your business has a Facebook FAN page,  you will want to make sure there are new posts about your business and that it presents your business just like it would if you put a new coat of paint on the outside of your building.

If you have a Linked In Page, make sure that is accurate and up to date.  Personally I don’t really use all the features that Linked In has, but I do have a profile and I do keep it as up to date as I can.

So dont think that Google-ing yourself or your business is vain.  It is the way people find people and people find businesses.  Shouldn’t you want to know what they are looking at?

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Feed Reader

February 7, 2008

How can you keep up on everything these days? With the 24 hour news cycle, your business and personal life (what’s that?) all going full tilt, how do you keep on top of it all?

As a small business owner, the thought of even having to try to learn something new is just mind boggling. EVEN if it means that in the long run you know it is a time saver.

Well, enter a “feed reader.” Rather than go to individual web sites to see what is new about them, like foxnews.com, espn.com, maine.gov, blog.sephone.com, or whatever other sites you are interested in, what if those sites came to you in one location for you to look at there new content.

That’s exactly what a feed does. A “feed” is a way for a website, to get new information to you, without plugging up your email inbox or worse your computer with junkie software.

RSS Icon

In your browser (that’s what you look at the Internet with, like Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari), have you ever seen that little orange icon that looks like the one to your right?

That little icon means that the website provides a feed for you. Sometimes you will see abbreviations like ATOM, RSS, or XML, don’t worry about what all of those mean. Sometimes the icon may even appear in your address bar, like it does for my browser.

See below:

Browser RSS Icon

Feeds are best delivered through a website that you log into, I prefer GOOGLE READER. It is what they call “web based” and it is FREE!! Enter your email address, put in a password and start grabbing information from sites you look at all ready. The reader just puts them all in one place so no more surfing, no more downloading .pdf’s, etc.

We would like you to subscribe to blog.sephone.com so you can look at our updates. AND we are not trying to sell you anything! Just as a Sephone client, as we learn, you can learn with us! Also the others, you won’t have to remember all the sites you like. The headlines are on your screen and you can manage them when you are able to catch up on the news!

Feeds are only going to grow and you can eliminate all those “newsletters” to your mailbox!

Below is a simple screencast of adding maine.gov news feed to my Google Reader.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!