Take Time to Recharge

There's a relationship between working and the capacity for more work that works like a battery. Hard work requires time off or you'll become much less efficient in what you're doing. Stephen Covey called it production and production capability. We often focus so much on producing, and yet we rarely take time to actively relax.

Take a few minutes to recharge and share a sunrise with me that was recorded via a Google+ Hangout this morning from Carolina Beach, North Carolina. (I'm personally doing some recharging of my own on vacation with Emily and her family.)

Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace

Squarespace Google+ HangoutA few weeks ago I received an email from Carlus Gupton asking for some advice about search engine optimization (SEO) on Squarespace. Since I don't have much extra time for consulting these days, I told Carlus that I wanted to figure out how to help him out while not letting any of my other responsibilities slip. Turns out, Google had the answer in their new Google+ Hangouts. Hang out with me while I cover Carlus's SEO questions, and let's chat about Squarespace, online marketing, and SEO.

A Google+ Hangout About Squarespace

On Thursday, June 28 at 7pm CDT (8pm EDT/6pm PDT) we'll be hosting our first ever Google+ Hangout, and you're invited to participate. We're calling it Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace, and it might just turn into an ongoing series about online marketing with Squarespace.

The topic of this first show will be Squarespace and SEO. We'll be exploring the best way to organize your website, how to perform keyword research for your website, and the do's and don't's of SEO on Squarespace.

Google+ Hangout Features

Up to nine people can be a part of a Google+ Hangout at any one time. That's 3/4 dozen people asking questions, sharing knowledge and showing off their Squarespace websites. Claim your spot in the Hangout early by dropping me a line and telling me that you're interested.

What do you need to hang out with us? A computer with a microphone, webcam, and Internet connectivity is required. It also helps to have interest in how to market your Squarespace website online, but not necessarily any direct knowledge.

Google+ Hangout features

We'll also be inviting people via Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Plus, we'll be streaming live on YouTube, thanks to the new Hangouts on Air functionality Google released in May. Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace will be published on our currently sparse YouTube channel after the live event has concluded for those who can't attend in person. 

Don't miss your chance to be a part of the first Google+ Hangout about Squarespace with our Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace series starting on June 28. Drop me a line now to secure your spot during the live event. You can also submit your ideas for future show topics too!

How to Add Google Webmaster Tools to Squarespace

Squarespace and Google Webmaster ToolsYour strategy for adding new content to your blog or website should constantly be evolving. The web is measurable, so why continue to blindly do things the same way? Why not see how people react to the content you create using web measurement tools and then leverage those insights to drive future content creation projects? Google Webmaster Tools is one such measurement tool. Let's take a look at the benefits of Webmaster Tools and how to install them on Squarespace.

What is Google Webmaster Tools?

When you think of online measurement tools, you probably think of web analytics tools such as Google Analytics that measure the traffic you get to your website. These tools are important, but can only do so much. Google Webmaster Tools shows how Google sees your site on the web and provides a handful of reporting and administrative tools that provide many benefits to webmasters that use the free service.

Installing Google Webmaster Tools on Squarespace

If you use Squarespace to manage your blog or website, follow these simple steps to claim your website on Google Webmaster Tools. If you use something else, the steps are similar but slightly different for most web publishing tools, so it can't hurt to follow along.

Start by heading over to Google Webmaster Tools (you'll need to log in or create a Google account). Find the link to Add a site and enter the website you wish to claim (e.g., Select Continue.

Add a site to Google Webmaster Tools

If you're using the same Google account for both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, you can simply select the Verify option within the Recommended method tab. If not, click on the Alternate methods tab.

Verify GWT through Google Analytics

Select the option to Add a meta tag to your site's home page and copy the verification code within the block of text that appears in the instructions.

Google Webmaster Tools header code snippet

Now log in to your Squarespace website and select Website Settings from the Website Management menu.

Squarespace Website Settings menu

Click on the Code Injection tab and paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code in the code injection text box for your website header code. Hit Update Information to save the changes.

Squarespace and Google WMT Code

Go back to your Google Webmaster Tools window and press the Verify button. You should see a screen like this.

Google Webmaster Tools successful verification

Select the Continue link to visit your Google Webmaster Tools menu and begin supplementing your web analytics data with the extra insights GWT provides.

Google Webmaster Tools can show you which search terms drive traffic to your site, which sites on the web are linking to you, and many, many more insightful nuggets for improving the content of your website or blog. Spend a few minute installing Google Webmaster Tools on your Squarespace site, then come back and share your thoughts on Google tool for website owners in the comments.

How to Use Google Docs to Automate Nearly Anything

Automating Tasks with Google DocsYou've probably heard of Google Docs. Chances are, you even use them. But how well do you really know Google's cloud-based suite of Office-like software? I recently discovered a powerful feature of Google Docs that will allow me to automate many of my monthly tasks and, as a result, save me scores of hours each year. Read on to learn how you can use Google Docs to automate nearly anything on the web.

The Secret to Saving Time Through Automation

The secret to saving time with Google Docs is through automation with APIs (application program interface). An API is a way to use simple programming building blocks to pull information or perform commands with an application.

For example, each month you may like to know how many Likes your blog posts have received. You could manually tally the Likes for each post at the beginning and end of each month and subtract the difference, but this would take time. Or you could use the Facebook API and a Google Docs spreadsheet to create a list of your blog posts and pull in the corresponding number of Likes in a matter of minutes. 

Track your competitors' social media campaigns with APIs. Combine data from Google Analytics and SEOmoz with APIs. Track prices of products with APIs. Build prototype web tools with APIs. Basically, a life of automated information glory awaits those who master the API.

Why spend hours each month with boring, repetitive tasks when you can set it up once through an API and spend all that time on more productive tasks? Thankfully, it's now a lot easier to break through the API learning curve with Google Docs. And Google Docs Unleashed is the perfect way to get started.

From Zero to API with Google Docs Unleashed

Up until a few days ago, I knew about APIs but had no idea how to use them. Then I found Google Docs Unleashed through a recent AppSumo deal. (If you didn't know, AppSumo is a popular daily deal site for software. Just provide your email address and you'll get access to ridiculous deals on cool products such as Google Docs Unleashed.)

Google Docs Unleashed is a series of brief web videos that explains the basics of using APIs with Google Docs, produced by AppSumo and Tom Critchlow, Vice President of Operations at SEO consulting firm, Distilled. The beauty of these videos is that you can use Google Docs to do your API dirty work instead of requiring a complicated architecture of web servers and code.

Google Docs UnleashedThe screenshot above from Google Docs Unleashed may seem intimidating, but each step is easy to understand with the helpful visual format of the video.

Tom walks viewers through each step in the process, highlighting and explaining the actual code and what it means. Everything from his screen is captured in the video, so you can pause, replay and analyze any part of the process in full detail.

You don't have to be a developer (not by a long shot) to use the tips presented in Google Docs Unleashed. APIs require combining simple building blocks of code, and Tom breaks this process down step-by-step. I can't imagine learning more about APIs in such a short amount of time.

A Stitch in Time...

Inefficiency is like nails on a chalkboard to me. If I can spend an hour or two today to save me dozens of hours in the future, I'm there in a heartbeat. That's why Google Docs Unleashed appealed to me so much. I spent an hour learning some API basics and gained an hour back each month for the foreseeable future. Efficiency like this helps me scale my efforts and be more successful overall.

What tasks would you like to automate using APIs and Google Docs and how much time would it save you? Let's chat about it in the comments below.

(Disclaimer: There were affiliate links for AppSumo and Google Docs Unleashed in this article. I only use affiliate links with products I recommend personally).

10 New Things from Google (that aren't Google Plus)

new Google productsSummer always seems busy. And if you work at Google, this summer has been especially busy. Obviously, Google+ (aka Google Plus) has been the Google news item of the summer. The new social media network has charmed many who have tried it. Maybe it's the cool features like Sparks, Circles and Hangouts. Or maybe people are just looking for a Facebook alternative. Either way, the Google Plus splash has stolen the thunder from other new features from Google.

So what has Google done lately other than Google+? Here are ten things Google has released this summer that aren't Google Plus.

10 New Things from Google (that Aren't Google+):

  1. The big Google re-design. Google is re-designing a lot of their products to have a consistent look and feel. Everything from Gmail to search to Google+ will soon have a similar design. This is a big change for a company that has traditionally and very famously been machine-driven instead of by human aesthetics. 
  2. Google Places reviews get personal. As part of the Google interface re-design efforts, Google Places announced changes that will emphasize the reviews of individuals and throw out third-party reviews. Look for Google Places and Google+ integrations in the future.
  3. Google Translate now servicing India. Google's main business goal is to get more people to use the web so Google can advertise to them. Google's translation service began translating five new Indic langauges this summer. With a  combined 500 million speakers, Google Translate just added another large number to Google's global audience.
  4. Google Voice Search for your computer. Google released a voice-powered search engine for your desktop computer. Today it's search, but what does tomorrow hold? Will Google be smart enough to take our commands and perform our daily tasks in the near future?
  5. Google will help you refinance. Google Advisor takes Google's ability to organize and extends it to the world of mortgage refinance, checking accounts and other financial matters.
  6. Google Offers eyes local deal market. The local deal market is hot right now. Groupon, Living Social and others give businesses a way to attract new customers with deep discounts. Google could buy any of these services if it wanted, but instead they created Google Offers.
  7. Nevada legalizes Google's driverless cars. Google has perfected the world's first commercial driverless car. Thought to be able to increase traffic capacity by a factor of two or three in addition to saving lives, Google's machein-driven cars are now legal to own in Nevada.
  8. Google is the new wallet. Google recently hosted a demo of Google Wallet, a tool which will allow you to make payments with your smartphone. There may be a day soon when a lump of paper and leather in your back pocket is no longer an everyday occurance.
  9. Google has a music service too. It seems like everyone is getting into the music space this summer and Google is no different. Google Music beta launched earlier this summer at Google I/O to compete with Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and a guy named Hank.
  10. Display advertising as Google's next big money-maker. Ever since buying Doubleclick four years ago, Google has been a major player in the display (aka banner) advertising space. Recently, Google purchased Admeld, a service that helps select ads and simplifies the advertising experience for web publishers. It'll be interesting how Google incorporates Admeld into their display advertising product to continue their growth in this ad space.

What Google news item did you find interesting? Was it a recent effort in their core web/search business or in an entirely new space for Google that got your attention? Should Google offer such a wide product portfolio or should they focus on fewer, more related products? Leave your thoughts on these and other Google topics in the comments below. (P.S. Thanks go out to Kareem Ahmed for suggesting today's topic!)