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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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May 17, 2013

Thinks Out Loud Episode 27: The Future of Search

May 17, 2013 | By | 2 Comments

Focus

Headlines

The full Google I/O Keynote is available here:

And here’s the Verge’s “supercut”:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 58s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google’s killing Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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January 23, 2013

The One Thing You Don't Want to Change in 2013

January 23, 2013 | By | One Comment

What not to changeHere’s a tip you won’t often get: Don’t change what you’re doing.

You’re probably asking, “What is he talking about? Isn’t trying new things, learning from your mistakes, and moving from test to test a core part of digital marketing?”

Yes, it is.

And you should do that.

But you should focus your attention on the biggest areas of growth for your business. So forget Facebook’s Graph Search for a moment (if you’ve even started to think about it). Don’t worry about “what’s next.” At least not yet.

It’s more important that you pay attention first to the biggest opportunities out there. And until you’ve mastered those, don’t get distracted by items that won’t move the needle much.

So what’s the biggest area of focus? Search, generally, and Google specifically.

I’ve mentioned before that more people own mobile phones than own toothbrushes. Well, Google is feeling the pinch from that change. The company has noted that it thinks of itself as a mobile first company (I think you should do the same). They’re moving that way because, as they acknowledge, their search advertising business has taken a hit due to the growth of mobile search.

That would scare the hell out of most companies. I know it would scare me.

Of course, Google’s not most companies.

For one thing, let’s not forget that Google owns a mobile operating system (which, in itself should tell you something about where Big G thinks the market is moving). They also make a popular browser (Chrome) available for desktop and most mobile platforms (I’m running it on my iPhone, for example).

For another, no one’s better positioned to take the lead from Google in mobile search. At least not yet, anyway. The big players to watch are, for the moment, Apple (Siri), Facebook (Graph Search), and Yelp. Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, and scores of small app providers lurk just over the horizon, potentially stealing search share from Google and threatening their business model. But Chrome is available (and very popular) on competing mobile platforms. And their new voice search is extraordinary, putting Siri to shame.

Finally, Google+ continues to pick up share, particularly among thought-leaders and influencers. Facebook’s Graph Search, by contrast, isn’t available to most users yet and remains an unknown. While it’s no secret I haven’t been the biggest fan of Google+, there’s no question Google+ benefits your content marketing and that you likely should use it, whether you want to or not.

In content marketing, mobile, and social, Big G remains at the center of the universe. Which means Google should remain at the center of your digital marketing strategy for 2013, too. Changes are coming in the marketplace. There’s no doubt about it. But most of those changes will continue to depend on your content, linked to and shared by your potential customers and the people who influence them. And while it’s still true that Google worries about its brand first, the customers it attracts help you grow yours.

So, do the right thing for your brand and your business:

But while you do that, remember that it’s Google’s world and we just live in it. And until that changes, don’t change what you’re doing to work well in that world.

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter and get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy.


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Tim Peter

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December 19, 2012

Why Google+ Matters to Your Content Marketing

December 19, 2012 | By | No Comments

Whats up with gplusAfter putting together the list of the most shared posts in 2012 the other and trying to figure out what that says about 2013, I noticed a weird pattern. It seems that you shared the same posts most often across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn… but not Google+.

In fact, 4 posts from last year were very popular on Google+, but almost nowhere else in terms of social sharing. First, here’s the posts:

  1. Why You Have To Use Google+. Whether You Want To Or Not.
  2. Where Are Social and Mobile Heading? 8 Things to Know.
  3. http://www.timpeter.com/blog/2012/06/22/why-content-matters-for-your-marketing-small-business-link-digest-june-22-2012/">Why Content Matters for Your Marketing.
  4. What You Can Learn from Apple’s Maps Mess.

OK… why the discrepancy? What does the popularity of these posts on Google+ tell you about marketing your content on Google’s social site (or anywhere else for that matter)?

Well, the first one’s easy. It’s not a big surprise that content about Google+ would be popular on that network, now is it?

But what about the other three? Each talks about something different: social/moblie trends, content marketing, product management (though each falls broadly into digital marketing).

What do those three (or four) have in common?

I actually think the answer is hidden in the question. I think the three are popular on Google+ because… they’re popular on Google+. Now hang in there for a second and I’ll explain what I mean.

Twitter and Facebook are two of the most popular sites on the Web, drawing hundreds of millions of users every day. Supposedly, so does Google+. LinkedIn attracts a very different crowd, consisting almost entirely of business users. But when I use these sites, or watch others use them, I see very different behaviors among their users.

Twitter and Facebook attract “general” users, people just going about their ordinary day-to-day lives. LinkedIn, to a lesser degree, does the same (albeit professional types). Many consumers seem to segment their lives, using Twitter and/or Facebook to keep up to date with “real” friends and LinkedIn for keeping in touch with business associates.

But Google+ seems to attract a different type of crowd altogether. Instead of communities of friends, family or colleagues, Google+ seems to be more about communities of interest. Its users share and discuss content they find interesting, educational or enlightening (not that there aren’t “I can haz cheezburger,” LOLcats-type posts on Google+, too).

So my theory is that the people on Google+ are different than the folks on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. The content that gets shared there does so because it appeals to a different audience than the more “general purpose” Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn triumvirate.

At least, that’s what I think.

What about you? Am I missing something obvious? Is there more to this than meets the eye? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment about what you think is happening here.

Oh… if you’re interested in 2013 trends register for my upcoming Biznology Webinar: “It’s All E-commerce: How the Social, Local, Mobile Web Affects Sales Online and Offline.” It should be worth sharing with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.


If you can help those dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy, please visit the American Red Cross.

Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

Tim Peter

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October 25, 2012

Thinks Out Loud Episode 7: Should You Still Like Facebook?

October 25, 2012 | By | No Comments

Should You Still Like Facebook?Headlines:

Tip:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 10m 13s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed or download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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October 10, 2012

When Google+ is a Minus

October 10, 2012 | By | One Comment

Google Plus LogoI’ve talked before about why Google+ is not a blog and what to do when your blogger leaves your organization. Well, MarketingLand reports the WNBA’s (defending champion and playoff-bound) Lynx learned some hard lessons in both these areas. As MarketingLand notes:

“…their verified Google+ page with more than 30,000 fans disappeared.

It turns out that even though the Minnesota Lynx had multiple page managers, the Google+ user that set up the account left the organization. The email of the user was out of the Lynx’s system (Google+ was not available for Google Apps until 4 months post-launch,) giving the Lynx no options for bringing the account back.”

Um… whoops.

The article continues:

“Hopefully this will shed some light on an obvious problem area for Google+. What’s most concerning is how easily this prominent professional team lost a verified Google+ page over an email address and the ‘start over’ advice provided. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you — check the account tied to your page and be cautious with all those tied to it.”

I’ve softened my original stance on Google+ and now believe you should have a Google+ page for your business. But, as I noted in my original linked posts, make sure you learn from the Lynx and have the right steps in place to make sure your followers don’t follow your employees out the door.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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Tim Peter

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July 19, 2012

Why Does Google Hate Data?

July 19, 2012 | By | No Comments

I know, I know. You’re shocked. After all, what could I possibly mean when I ask, “Why does Google hate data?” Don’t they live and die by data? Don’t they do crazy things like test 41 different shades of blue?

Yep.

So why do I ask whether they hate data?

Here’s why. Earlier today I was looking at my web stats for the week and I noticed a funny jump:

Dod visits google plus

That’s right. Comparing yesterday to today, my visits had gone up a remarkable 59% (this, by about 11:00 AM, by the way; it’s now up about 200%).

Wow, right?

Well, like any good analyst, I wanted to see where the traffic came from, so I headed over to my handy-dandy referral report, which told me this:

Google plus top referral

Cool! Someone popular on Google+ must have posted a link to my site. But who? And where?

Well, that’s easy. You see, in the Referrals report in Google Analytics, you just click on the referral domain shown and you can see the Referral Path that brought the visitor to your site. For instance, these are the pages on Invesp.com that link to me:

Invesp blog rank referral

So, imagine my surprise when I clicked on “plus.url.google.com.” Instead of seeing where on Google+ someone linked to me, I saw this:

Google plus referral

Yep. Google hides the referral URL from Google+. You have no easy way to find out who’s linking to you, or why, or when. WTH?!?

Now, Google claims to do this to protect user privacy. Which, in of itself, is an admirable thing to do.

But here’s the problem. I searched on Google+ for the URL to my page getting all the traffic (as it happens, the post about Google testing 41 shades of blue I just mentioned) and found that it was in a comment on a Danny Sullivan post. Danny, as you might know, is the editor of (2012 Marketing and E-commerce All-Star) Search Engine Land. He’s a fairly public figure. And, in fact, his post on Google+ was also listed as public. How, exactly, is his privacy at risk here?

Ironically, Danny wrote a somewhat scathing piece taking Google to task for this “mixed privacy” message when they stopped sending keyword data to sites. It’s not clear what their motivation is here, but privacy protection isn’t it.

Nope, we all thought that Google loves data. But that’s not true. Just as they showed with restricting keyword referral — and now Google+ referrals — they really love the data that only they can see. When other people have access to data, though? Google hates that.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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June 26, 2012

Facebook and Google+ Are Not Blogs

June 26, 2012 | By | 3 Comments

Social media blogging on Facebook and Google+A client of mine and I have been developing their content strategy and we’ve come to the point of setting up a blog for their business. After talking through options for where to host their blog, I was surprised when my client asked, “Can’t we just blog on Facebook?”

It’s an excellent question.

Can’t you just blog on Facebook? Or on Google+ for that matter?

I’d suggest you can’t.

But why?

If you think about the 4 “P’s” of marketing, your blog content — actually, all of your content — represents one of your products. Your content exists to address customer needs.

Facebook and Google+ represent either a marketing channel (promotion) or distribution channel (place) for that product. (Of course, the only practical difference between a marketing channel and a distribution channel online is whether there’s a “Buy” button). So, in theory, there’s nothing wrong with using Facebook or Google+ as your blogging platform.

In practice, however, they’re another matter.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. It’s unlikely all your customers have a Facebook or Google+ account. While this is particularly true for Google+, there are still plenty of people who aren’t on Facebook. Additionally, there’s a big difference between having an account and using it actively.
  2. SEO of Facebook pages is, um… interesting. Google clearly indexes some content within Facebook. But not all of it. How Google indexes Facebook has changed several times (and will likely change more going forward), based on Google’s algorithm, Facebook’s privacy settings, the relationship between the two companies, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…
  3. Google and Facebook can change their rules at any time. For me, this is the biggie. Your content needs to be the hub of your customer interaction, the one true place your customers can find that helps answer their questions. And while Facebook and Google+ make it somewhat simple today to tell your brand story on their platform, there’s no guarantee they’ll make it equally easy tomorrow.

Despite these reasons, I still highly recommend using Facebook and Google+ to promote your content. After all, lot’s of customers do have accounts on Facebook and an interesting group of people have accounts on Google+. Google+ pages absolutely have search engine value. And FB and G+ undoubtedly want to attract brands to their platform.

But for the reasons I mentioned above, I wouldn’t recommend putting all your eggs in Google or Facebook’s baskets.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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Tim Peter

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June 18, 2012

A dozen useful content marketing best practices worth reviewing

June 18, 2012 | By | One Comment

Content marketing tipsTake a look at these items and think about they have in common:

  • Posting on your brand’s blog
  • Updating your brand’s Facebook page
  • Sharing an image on Pinterest
  • Retweeting a fascinating tweet on Twitter
  • Posting an image to Instagram
  • Commenting on a Google+ stream

Answer? They’re all forms of content marketing, designed to attract likes and links, friends and followers, comments and customers. Regardless of the channels you’re using, many of the same principles of content marketing apply. Check out the following articles collected from the Thinks archive and across the web to point you to content marketing success:

Content marketing tips

  1. Before beginning with any content marketing, you should give some thought to what your brand story is. Then check out these tips on how to build your brand story online.
  2. Blogging is a big part of content marketing, whether posted on your brand’s blog, your Facebook page or on Google+. This next post outlines 4 steps to creating great content for your blog. And, while it mainly talks about blogging, the tips apply equally well to your other content marketing channels too.
  3. Of course, you’re not responsible for creating all the content you share with your friends, fans and followers. You can use these 5 tools to help you curating great content.
  4. In fact, if you’re going to do more curation than creation, check out SEOmoz’s great guide to content curation for SEO.
  5. Learning from others is a great way to build your content archive. So you will probably enjoy these 8 cool content marketing tips from the HEDNA conference.
  6. A number of resources out on the web contributed to these7 tips to build a better blog. And they apply almost equally to just about any other part of your content marketing.
  7. If you’re posting to Pinterest, you might find this marketer’s quick guide to Pinterest useful, as well as our entire Pinterest tips roundup.
  8. Now, content marketing is really just another form of marketing itself. So take a look at these 5 common mistakes killing your online marketing and apply them to your efforts.
  9. I’m often asked to assess how well various efforts work for my clients. These simple tips for measuring the value of your blog content can help you answer at least one of those questions for yourself.
  10. With the rise of other social media channels such as Facebook and Google+, I’m often asked, “Is small business blogging still relevant?” I think it is. But check out the article and decide for yourself.
  11. And, of course, I recommend checking out our guide on how to build your small business blog. It applies to non-business (i.e., non-profit) and personal blogs, too.
  12. Finally, interacting with your customer is a crucial component of content marketing. Check out this story to see why you must respond to negative comments in social media.

Crafting a consistent brand story and the content to support it online isn’t always easy. But check out the tips above and you may find it’s a lot easier than you thought.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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April 13, 2012

What's going on with Google+, Facebook and Pinterest? (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – April 13, 2012)

April 13, 2012 | By | No Comments

Lots going on in the social sphere this week, so I’m not going to waste your time with a lot of build up. Instead, let’s just look at the latest on how you can Google+, Facebook and Pinterest work better for your business:

How to get more Pins and RePins on Pinterest

Have a great weekend, Big Thinkers. See you back here next week.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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April 11, 2012

Is it time to reconsider Google+?

April 11, 2012 | By | No Comments

Earlier this week, we looked at what Google wants search to be going forward. And today, they keep the hits coming, launching a redesigned version of Google+. Which begs the question: is it time to reconsider Google’s fledgling social network?

In a word, no. Though the longer answer is a bit more complicated than that.

The answer to whether Google+ is right for you or not depends on whether you’re coming to the site as a marketer or as a consumer.

If you’re a marketer, you have to promote your brand on Google+ and promote Google+ for your brand. Google increasingly uses data from the social service to determine rankings in its search results. If you’re not getting friends and followers, likes and links within the site (technically called “Plus’s” and “Shares” on G+), you risk losing ranking in the search results. Sad. But true.

But, try as I might to get into Google+ as a consumer, I’m still not sold on it. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love a great social network as much as the next guy. But Google+ lacks the network of “Muggles” so common on Facebook (i.e., non-techy types like parents, siblings and old high school chums — though, I admit, some see that more as a feature than a bug).

Google+ lacks the continually updating stream of information from Twitter (not that it doesn’t try). It lacks the wit and whimsy of Tumblr. I’m not sure what it’s offering that would make it compelling for my circle of friends, fans and followers everywhere else.

In short, it lacks the people that make those other social sites so central to my day-to-day. Social is people. Period. Google+ has attracted an interesting bunch of folks. Just not the ones that draw me back repeatedly throughout the day.

So, yes, I like the redesign. And I’ll continue to use the site. But I’ll use it for much the same reason I started eating low-fat frozen yogurt instead of luscious, rich chocolate ice cream: because it’s what I’m supposed to do, not what I would choose.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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