Google Tests More Personalized Version of Google Now

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for weather alerts, flight information, stock updates or just want to know how your favorite team played last night, Google Now can do it all. Google Now, is the virtual personal assistant that has become a part of Android and Google’s search application. Despite this virtual assistant being capable of bringing you a number of alerts, scores and other useful tools, it lacks customization opportunities for users.

Google is testing a new feature called “Explore Interests” which will give users a more personalized experience when it comes to what kind of information Google will track. As of now, the only customization that can be done is through Google Now’s app settings by selecting certain on/off toggles switches. By switching those toggle switches, you are only able to tell Google that you are not interested in a particular news or entertainment source.

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The “Explore Interests” feature will make it easier for Google to tell what type of information users are the most interested in viewing, instead of basing it off of user’s history and location. Users will have six different categories to explore; sports, TV, movies, musicians, people and stocks. Once users select a category, they can sift through a variety of subcategories that contain individual cards that they can select. By selecting these individual cards, users are able to tell Google they want information on that particular topic on a regular basis.

For example, users who select the “people” category will be shown cards of politicians, actors, athletes and other public figures that they can follow. Not only will users have the capability to choose what interests them the most on a national level, they will also be able to see topics that are locally popular by exploring the “Popular in Your Area” tab.

This “Explore Interests” was first noticed by the Android Police blog, which noted that this feature may be slowly becoming available. However, according to a TechCrunch article, “a Google spokesperson confirmed ‘interests’ is an experiment that the company is testing with the look-and-feel of the product.” The Google source concluded by saying Google had nothing to announce at this time.

How to Optimize Your Company’s Social Media Outlets

When it comes to optimizing your company’s social media outlets, it doesn’t take up too much time and is easy to maintain, despite social media outlets constant evolution. Are you not sure if your company’s social outlets are up to snuff? Read on for a few recommendations that will not only help your company stand out, but will also help create a strong first impression.

Publish Custom Cover Photos & Company Images

One of the best aspects of your company’s social media outlets is that you can make them as unique as your company. By having custom cover photos and other personalized profile images that are showcasing your company’s colors and message, you are effectively promoting your brand for free. A good rule of thumb is to keep logos or images you are using to promote your brand on social outlets uniform in order to establish a strong brand presence.

Even though publishing a cover or profile picture on these social outlets seems like a no brainer, it is important that you remember to create an image with the correct dimensions in order for it to look its best. Since your profile images are some of the first things visitors see when they visit your page, you want to make sure they get a solid first impression. The last thing you want is to have your company logo distorted and not easily recognizable. Since the dimensions for every social media outlet vary, be sure to check out Hubspot’s Ultimate Cheat Sheet for the latest social media network dimensions.

Here is an example of an effective Facebook page managed by an Omaha-based company, Medical Solutions. Their message is clear and their logo is easily recognizable:

Keep Your Company Profile Current

When it comes to optimizing your company’s social media outlets, one of the most important things you can do for your company is to keep all of the information current. Has your company recently had a change of address or get a new phone number? Be sure to check that all of that information has been updated on your social networks so your clients know exactly how to find you.

Other than ensuring that the contact information on your social outlets is current, it is important to stay active and promote engagement on the platforms your company has decided to utilize. Publishing images, blog posts or industry updates on a daily or weekly basis is also a fun way to keep your company profile current. By making images an aspect of your company profile, you are giving your target audience a chance to see your company’s culture, in-house news and milestone celebrations. Not only do images promote your company’s culture, they have also proven to increase overall social engagement. According to a study Hubspot published in January, visual content is more than 40x more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. In the same study, it was shown that even Facebook posts with images see 2.3x more engagement than those without images.

Link to Other Company Social Profiles

With so many social networks available these days, it is important that you make it easy for your current and potential clients to find all of the networks your company uses for promotion. Facebook has made it easy for companies to showcase all of the networks they are actively using by introducing app links. With these app links, it is easy for clients to see where your company publishes important updates, pictures and news. Having your clients know where to find you in this ever-growing mobile era is key. Do you want to learn more about Facebook app links? Be sure to check out this app link overview.

Other than using the apps on your company’s Facebook page, it is important to also list them within your company’s contact information section on Facebook in the “About” section. Other social networks such as Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube also allow you to connect all of your social outlets on your company’s account.

Link to Your Company’s Main Website

Speaking of contact information, it is important to be sure you are listing your website or blog URL on your social channels. This will not only assist your company with its branded image, but it will also help your clients know that your social platforms are authentic, official representations of your company.

Other than including your company’s main website on your company’s social media outlets, it is important that the content used to describe what your company does or sells is similar. It doesn’t have to be word for word, but focusing on the same keywords will help you market your services to current and future clients.

With so many social platforms out there at everyone’s disposal, that doesn’t necessarily mean your company needs to create an account with everyone. It is important to get to know what each social outlet can offer as far as free and paid promotion. By ensuring that your company is represented well on a social platform that showcases what you do best as a company, you are sure to reach your desired audience.

Google Releases AMP Case Study

Google recently released information that they collected during an AMP HTML case study involving the Washington Post, one of the nation’s leading news sources. The Washington Post first became involved with the creation of the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project back in June 2015.

“With nearly 55% of their traffic coming from mobile devices, The Washington Post knows that providing a great reading experience on mobile devices is critical to their long-term success,” according to the Google Developer post.

Here are the results that the Washington Post AMP HTML case study revealed:

  • 23% increase in mobile search users who return within 7 days
  • 88% improvement in load time for AMP content versus traditional mobile web
  • 1,000+ AMP HTML articles are published daily by The Washington Post

The Washington Post has been dedicated to improving the overall load time of their website. Previous studies has shown that consumers will leave a website if the website takes longer than three seconds to load. By ensuring that those articles are AMP HTML constructed, the Washington Post is keeping consumers focused on their mobile content longer.

“We have seen load times average 400 milliseconds, an 88% improvement over our traditional mobile website. This has made readers more likely to tap on Washington Post stories because they know our articles will load consistently fast,” says David Merrell, Senior Product Manager at The Washington Post.

Merrell concluded with expressing how easy it was to get the Washington Post started on AMP HTML since it was built on an existing technology and is not a template based system.

“Since AMP is not a template based system, we were able to host our content, style it as we see fit, and easily integrate our existing advertising, analytics and other business tools,” Merrell said.

Do you want to learn more about AMP HTML? Be sure to check out the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project homepage.

How Local Businesses & Landmarks are Utilizing Pokémon Go

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week, you have probably seen or at least heard about the Pokémon Go phenomenon that has taken the nation, and everyone’s battery life by storm. This revamped video game that first emerged in 1996 as a popular game for the Gameboy system has everyone talking and playing, and local businesses are taking note. With Pokémon Go utilizing Google Maps’ algorithm, popular locations and landmarks are seeing a lot more foot traffic due to their address being considered a hot spot to snatch up more Poké Balls.

So, how exactly are local businesses and landmarks in the Omaha and Lincoln area utilizing this new found popularity that comes with Pokémon Go? Read on to see how five areas in Nebraska are promoting their brand or increasing community engagement using Pokémon Go.

1) University of Nebraska-Omaha
With approximately 500 acres to explore and free Wifi, what more could Pokémon Go players need? The University of Nebraska-Omaha has promoted areas of their campus by telling players where to find the 35 Pokéstops and five gyms that are located throughout their three campuses. By telling players where to find these important check points, the university has in turn also promoted other fun events or displays that are going on in the Criss Library, Osborne Family Gallery and the Henningson Memorial Campanile. Not only can players enjoy an afternoon of gaming, but they can also be quickly immersed in what UNO has to offer students and alumni. The university even created a Pokémon Go map for players to review! You may even have the chance to win some Maverick merchandise at particular Pokéstops.

2) University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Much like the University of Nebraska-Omaha, UNL and Memorial Stadium are following suit when it comes to engaging with the community. The release of Pokémon Go has given the University of Nebraska-Lincoln another way to appeal to potential incoming students and welcoming alumni back for a day of fun! Not only is UNL promoting places like the International Quilt Study Center and Museum using Pokémon Go foot traffic, they even planned a special event at Memorial Stadium. The gates to this Nebraska landmark were opened for two hours on July 14th for Pokémon Go players to explore the area and add to their Pokémon collection.

3) Nebraska Humane Society
The Pokémon Go craze has given the Nebraska Humane Society a fun new way of promoting pet adoption. By referring to their canine residents that are ready for adoption as the “brand new Pokémon to catch” and editing the images on their social outlets to look similar to how the popular mobile-based game looks, even man’s best friend can get in on the fun. Be sure to check out the pup’s “Pokéstats” on their bio to learn more about their likes and dislikes.

4) Old Market and Aksarben Village
Ever since Pokémon Go was released, the Old Market and Aksarben Village in Omaha have seen a lot more foot traffic during the week due to many restaurants and shops being designated as a place to restock your Poké Balls or hatch Pokémon Eggs. With more people flooding the streets of these popular shopping centers, businesses like Voodoo Taco are joining in on the fun by hosting a Lure Party on July 26th. Voodoo Taco will be setting off two lures near the Aksarben location every 30 minutes during the event. Voodoo Taco is ensuring that you can catch them all by promoting “Pokéspecials” for food, offering free Wifi and offering random prizes to those who share on social media that they are at their party.

5) Omaha Public Library
Is your battery running low? If you have busy battling all afternoon, chances are you are at that dreaded 10% warning. The Omaha Public Library has not only been sharing confirmed Poké Stops at their different locations on social media, but they have also encouraged the public on their Facebook page to stop in to use their available phone chargers and outlets when you find yourself in a pinch.

Do you have a favorite spot to play Pokémon Go in Omaha or Lincoln?
Let us know!

Twitter Introduces New Sticker Feature

Using hashtags to search popular topics in order to contribute to a larger conversation is something many social media users have become accustomed to over the years. Even though hashtags help us track down important conversations and events happening anywhere in the world, they are not a visual aspect of social media and can become long-winded.

Twitter recently announced that they will be launching #Stickers on the popular social media outlet. Don’t worry, the hashtag isn’t going anywhere. Since this new feature is not yet available to everyone, think of these new stickers as a more visual hashtag. These new stickers will not only make searching for important conversations and events more of a visual experience for users, but it will also allow for more graphic and creative opportunities on your personal photos and timeline.

“Soon, you can browse our rotating sets of stickers to join in on real-time conversations, and select from the library of hundreds of accessories, emoji, and props to make your photos more fun,” according to a recent Twitter blog post. “Use them to share what you’re doing or how you’re feeling, to show support for a cause, or to just add some flair.”

Once you tweet a photo that has a sticker on it, your image becomes searchable through the sticker(s) you used.

“Tapping on a sticker in a tweet takes you to a new timeline, where you can see how people all over the world use that sticker in different ways,” Twitter said.

If these new stickers develop the capability of being sponsored, it could open a new way for marketers to reach their target audience and encourage engagement. This idea would be very similar to how Snapchat filters can be sponsored by different brands or events. If a brand sponsored a particular sticker on Twitter, they could then use that engagement to retarget those Twitter users with ads. Those ads would then promote a product(s) that correlate with that particular sticker.

Twitter said that users who are using Twitter on iOS and Android devices should expect to see this new feature in the next few weeks. Users will also be able to review stickers on

Do you want to learn more about the new stickers and the other photo options available on Twitter? Be sure to check out Twitter’s Help Center for the latest updates.

New Security Notifications Added to Google Analytics

Earlier this week, Google announced that they are going to be expanding their set of alerts within Google Analytics. This new addition will include notifications for sites that are hacked for spam purposes, which is in clear violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. In the event your website was ever hacked by a third party, the new alert would flag the affected domain within Google Analytics UI and would send webmasters the necessary information to address the issue.

Security is something Google has always taken very seriously. Google reported in September 2015, that they had seen a 180% increase in websites being hacked for spam purposes compared to the previous year. Google said that this new alert within Google Analytics will give them another way to notify webmasters that their site may have been tampered with.

Another way to ensure that your website is protected is to verify it within Search Console. The security features tool will notify you when issues arise on your website. This tool is able to pin-point the exact issue your website is experiencing. This tool also provides detailed instructions to help webmasters recover the website in question in a step-by-step guide.

Want to know what else you can do to help prevent your website from being compromised? Check out this list of tips and best practices that was published last year on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.