Small Business Search Using Google Local

I’ve posted here before on the subject of Google Local Search.  Rather than go into too much detail again, you can review Free Advertising for Your Small Business.

But, here’s a video from Google that might help you, especially if you haven’t listed your business yet.

Thanks to Krishna De and her guest, Ken O’Connor, for pointing out this resource on Krishna’s Business Growth Live podcast.

Mea Culpa

One thing about the Internet, when you suck it’s right there for everyone to see.  Frankly, this has been a terrible blogging week.  There have just been too many things going on.  For starters, the weather here in the heartland has been awesome.  It’s been in the 70s with sun most of the time.  I haven’t been able to resist putting some serious (for me) miles on the bicycle.  It’s been a great chance to catch up on my podcast listening but it’s seriously cut into my writing time.

It’s also been a week of strange computer issues.  I can’t get onto Facebook and repeated requests for tech support have gone unanswered.   Then there’s TweetDeck.  I love TweetDeck.  It’s a neat way to access your Twitter feeds and frankly it’s spoiled me.  So, when a new version of the program came available, I jumped right on it.  Unfortunately, the new version doesn’t work on my machine.  Like the Facebook issue, I’ve tried several times to get help from TweetDeck tech support with no success.

None of these things is an excuse for not providing better content this week to you, my faithful readers and I promise to do better in the future.  But it does show how easy it is to get caught up in day-to-day stuff and get distracted from the important things.

But it also shows that social media isn’t the only thing in life.  Maybe it doesn’t hurt to step away once in a while to smell the roses, to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, or to curse the gremlins that sometimes live inside our computers.

Let me leave you with something neat before we head into the weekend.  I received a notification this morning that KMZU Radio is following me on Twitter.  I tweeted them a thank you message and got the following message back:  Thank You, too, Mike Buckley! May the BLESSINGS truly Be! Have a great day.”

What a great, positive message.  We can all use more blessings and this one was greatly appreciated.  Another lesson learned from an unlikely source. 

To all of you, may the BLESSINGS truly Be!  Have a great day and weekend!

PS.  I spent a lot of time in my car during my days as a traveling salesman and I fell in love with small- to mid- market radio.  Just for fun, here’s a KMZU TV spot.

April Fool? No Apparent Ill Effects from Conficker

According to CNET there is no visible sign that Conficker has done any damage so far today.  AP reports that the worm may have gotten more aggressive in trying to contact it’s maker but that so far there have been no visible problems.

The April 1 date written in the code may have been a red herring to get everybody all excited.  When we’ve seen that nothing happened we may let our guard down for an attack at a later date.

It’s also possible that the worm might not show itself while it’s silently stealing all your valuable information or using your machine as a “bot” to send thousands of emails without your knowledge.

Several sources are reporting that infected machines have been trying to contact their “masters” for further instructions, but that they don’t seem to be getting an answer.  However, they will keep trying until they do.  That could happen yet today, tomorrow, or at some other future date.

The worm is still out there.  Millions of machines may be infected.  And the worm is still capable of spreading.  Whatever you do, don’t let your guard down.  Quoting the CNET article:

“The funny thing is that every one has these expectations that come to them from science fiction viruses. In the movies they blow up the terminal, tip over an oil tanker and bring aliens out of the sky,” said Perry [David Perry, global director of security education at Trend Micro]. “In reality, the kind of thing a botnet does is much less visible. It’s a lot more insidious of them to steal your bank password than to blow up your computer.”

Here’s the bottom line:  Keep your software up-to-date.  Use Windows Update to keep your operating system current.  Install and use a good anti-virus software.  And whatevere you do, backup your critical files.

You wouldn’t leave your paper files lying around where anyone could see them.  You’d keep them in a locked cabinet.  Most likely you’d keep a duplicate set at another location for protection against a fire or other disaster.  You should do no less with your digital files.

The CNET piece is short but informative.  Take a few minutes to read it and listen to the related podcast.

What’s Your Web Site Trying to Do?

As you're reading this, I'm on my annual Christmas pilgrimage to Branson, MO.  As many times as we've been there, we've never gone to the Andy Williams Christmas Show.  Before we left, I decided to check it out on the web.  There's a web site with information on all of the different shows that the theater offers throughout the year.  In fact, there's a separate page for each show.  Here's part of the page for the Christmas show.  What you're seeing is just under half of the page.

Andy_williams

Here's the thing.  What's the point of this page?  I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it's probably to sell tickets.  What's the least prominent thing on the whole page?  It should be easy since I circled it.  SELLING TICKETS!  There is no reason for this page to exist except to get people to buy tickets.  So why is the "Buy Tickets Now" link so gosh-darned small?  It should be the biggest thing on the page.

This is where a lot of businesses get into trouble on the web.  You pay a high-priced web designer to do the page for you.  He or she creates a thing of beauty.  The colors are great.  The pictures jump off the screen.  There's audio and video, java scripts and flashing lights, but the potential customer can't figure out how to do business with you.  It's like having a retail store where the customers can't find the cash register.

BUY_TICKETS_NOW
The heck with aesthetics, Williams' page should have a giant red button that says "BUY TICKETS NOW!"  Pretty?  No.  Effective?  Yes.

The bottom line is this.  If you're going to have a web page, before it goes live have a real person look at it.  Is it easy to navigate.  Does it give the important information like store hours, address, phone number, and all the other things your potential customer is looking for.  Most important, if you want the customer to take action, make it so easy that a cave man can do it.