Google Chromebook goes green

A big huzzah for our client Be Green Packaging. They’ll be manufacturing packaging for Google’s Chromebook, the amazing $279 laptop.

Be Green’s innovative technology, which allows them to create near-vertical draft angles in a molded natural fiber container, makes them a perfect choice for crisp, high-tech products like this. One more company doing one more thing to keep global warming at bay, and reduce the Texas-sized slurry of plastic particles in the middle of the Pacific Ocean by at least a bit.

Curious to read the whole story? Check it out here:

Google Chromebook Goes Green: New Laptop Packaging Made From Blend of Sustainable Plant Fibers | Be Green Packaging LLC.

Dear Google: It’s not working

Just a quick follow up to my previous post. Yes, communication works better than no communication to let the steam out of the microwavable bag of opinions, rants and whining that is an Internet forum.

But you also have to get real. And repeatedly saying “We’re working on it, but we can’t tell you what’s wrong or when it will be fixed or why we decided to launch a service that will screw up all your calendars” is not really an answer.

If Google were a little more transparent about what it’s doing here — letting us peek behind the curtain at the real, live, concerned humans who I’m sure are in fact working on a fix — they’d incur less damage to their brand, and less wrath from their customers.

If this were an IOS problem, I’d think they were actively trying to discourage iPhone and iPad users so they’d switch to Android. But it’s a Mac thing. I’m not sure the Mac platform by itself has all that much impact on Google.

Apathy? More likely. But meanwhile, if the Forum comments are any indication, Mac users of Google Calendars are switching to iCloud, which seems to actually work.

Dear Google: Talk to us

Dear Google:

A couple of weeks ago, my Mac’s Calendar app started to go crazy. Duplicate events littered my display. Multiple reminders started popping up in long columns on my screen. As I clicked to dismiss them, another swarm would surface. It was like playing Whack-a-Mole.

It turns out I was not alone.

Google Calendars, which we use to manage our shared events around here, was introducing a new syncing system and let’s say there were (are) still a few bugs. Big, hairy ones with long feelers and self-satisfied smirks on their mandibles.

And there were a LOT of angry customers on the Forums talking about this. The rants started escalating, the rhetoric was flying. Everyone was getting more and more irritated.

Fortunately Google was actually listening. Two of your customer service folks were monitoring the web and took the time just to say, “Hey, we know about it and we’re sorry. We’re working on it. Hang in there.” Suddenly the problems seemed less severe and the rabble (us) were calmed.

There’s a huge lesson to be learned here — for Google and all of us. Communication works. When Katherine and Alice posted on the forum, even if they said “We’re not sure when this is going to be done” we knew someone was listening and we weren’t just baying at each other. It calmed things down and bought Google a little more time. As huge as your system is, I can imagine teams of coders working frantically at their cubicles to fix this and not really knowing how long it will take. But keeping us up to speed as they progress toward a fix is truly helpful.

We like Google and we like our Macs, and we’re not a bunch of unreasonable jerks. But when things go wrong, it’s damned annoying. To paraphrase Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, “We’re working here!” We don’t want, can’t afford, to have our day interrupted constantly. We just want to get back to our lives.

So, Google (Alice and Katherine, I’m talking to you), keep on keeping us in the loop. And I’ll try to remember to do the same with my own clients. Thanks.

(Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.)

Google adds Disavow Links. How will this affect your SEO?

Giant anchor chain with two sailorsI was at a workshop yesterday and met some folks (not shown here) who have been developing websites for 12 years. “Old hands” like them know a lot about the Web, and they are very skeptical about the value of Search Engine Optimization. My developer associate Chris seems to feel pretty much the same way. Unless you are a truly Internet-driven business (a la Ebay or Zappos — and even then) it’s nowhere near as important to your site’s success as creating great content. And doing SEO well is an art form that not many people have the skill, the patience or the budget to practice.

What’s more, if you overdo your SEO, you can end up with text-heavy, unreadable copy —  a site that’s so dense with search-friendly keywords that nobody will want to read it. Visitors might show up, but they will leave just as quickly to find a site that’s more usable. That’s not what you want.

In addition, many so-called SEO “experts” use techniques that are manipulative and shady. But now it seems that Google is onto them. Again.

Google’s whole focus (in addition to making money hand over fist) is in generating real, useful results for your searches. They have legions of very smart people who do nothing but find ways to undermine and sabotage the SEO scam artists. They want to give users results that are actually useful. So if you have a bunch of stupid, auto-generated links to your site from blogs that have been mined by robots, your website traffic is about to crash and burn.

Eugene Ware, the CEO of Noble Samurai software. has written a pretty clear explanation of this latest development on his company’s blog. Check it out if you want to know more. (Note: I tried to link you directly to the article, but Ware seems to have moved it around. So I linked to the home page of his blog instead. Look for the article called “Google Changes SEO Forever with its Disavow Link Tool – What You Need to Do Right Now…”)

Meanwhile, my expert buddies suggest you focus on making your site useful and informative. If you do, Google will love you. And so will your customers.

Where’s Google heading Now and why should we care?

Ed Dale is an Australian internet marketing expert, a prolific emailer and blogger, and a predictor of the direction of All Things Web. He’s just posted an insightful article called:

A Pig Just Flew By And He’s Belting Out “Hollywood Nights” 

If you want to understand why SEO based on links is about to go the way of the dodo, why Siri is Apple’s ace in the hole for far more than just selling phones, and why Google+ is not a social network,  you’ll want to read Ed’s post.  To quote Mr. Dale himself:

I’m declaring something a Game Changer.

It will shock you.

Grab a coffee and read this now.

Seriously, read it now.