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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Introducing...Google User (or not)

Seems like Google is trying to bend over backwards to prove its services are really all about the user experience.

A few days ago, they invited Philipp Lenssen to write about '55 Ways To Have Fun With Google'. In one fell swoop, they pretty much promoted everything about their business through a custom-written user testimonial. Will Philipp sell a few more copies of his book? Probably.

The Google Enterprise Blog featured a Map of Whole Foods. Talk about some major exposure. Okay, maybe a lot of people don't read the Enterprise Blog, but it's the flagship of the Google star fleet (how could I let an opportunity for a pun like that pass me by?).

The Whole Foods app entry should drive some curious traffic to the company's Web site. Maybe a lot of those people will be interested in organic foods. I don't know. But it's exposure that is hard to get in today's search-dominated Web.

Google Book Search, possibly the most innovative blog in the Google stable, has announced that you can now add Google Booksearch to your site. Folks, this is a significant tool that many hobbyists will latch on to. Business sites will eventually figure out ways to use it, too. I've already got some ideas rolling around my head. I just need time to site down and play with it ("site down" is not a typo).

An earlier blog post from Google Books a couple of weeks ago also has me thinking. They announced Authors@Google. You know, anyone with a video camera can now create a featured speakers program that is hosted by YouTube, Google Video, and similar services. Just stick your company logo on a wall somewhere, stand in for a minute to introduce your guest speaker, and then let him or her plug a book, business, or concept.

Did I say that Google Book Search is the most innovative of the Google blogs? Let me put this as delicately as possible: if you're an SEO and you don't read this blog, you're an idiot. There, I've said it. Many SEOs think I believe all SEOs are idiots. Well, that's not true. Just SEOs who think PageRank converges to an average of 1 and SEOs who don't have sense enough to read Google Book Search. You don't stay ahead of the pack by running with the crowd. Get out there in front and take some chances. Read things the other people don't read.

Speaking of Google Book Search, Philipp Lenssen's guest post on the official Google blog got me to thinking about Google's Public domain treasures, where you can download public domain books. A savvy Web marketer would publish a book and make it freely available for download from Google Books. It should not be long before we see books promoting "Buy my services!" on every page becoming available on Google Books. If only I were as smarmy as some of the other Web marketing gurus out there.

When Google renamed Site Maps as Webmaster Central, I noticed a lot of snickering among SEOs because it just didn't seem like a Webmaster Central type station. Nonetheless, Vanessa Fox is posting some great content on the Webmaster Central blog. Her article on how accented characters and interface languages impact search is a must read for anyone dealing with international language sites (and custom language sites, assuming you want to optimized for constructed languages that use accented characters).

A lot of recent Google blog posts have emphasized the user experience and how users can benefit from Google's services. What we can take away from this sampling of posts is that any business with a service or product can enhance its visibility and traffic by providing insightful, innovative, and intriguing tips and suggestions on how to utilize those services and products.

And for those of you still living in the SEO dark ages: such content produces a lot of linkage.

Remember: it's all about the user experience. Make that a good experience, and the users will love you.


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