Last week, we hosted a Google Partners Connect simulcast event at the Centresource Lab.

One of the speakers at the event, Fred Vallaeys, Google AdWords Evangelist, outlined a handful of tools that Google provides (most are free!) that can boost your online marketing efforts. Some of these, you’re probably already aware of, and some you may not be. Here’s a quick run-down on what those tools were, and how they can be used:

  1. Google+ For Business – This one is vital if you have a physical location that you want customers to come to. By setting up your business’ Google+ page, you can claim your business address on Google Maps, add info like your company phone number or photos, and ask for customer reviews, all of which show up in Google’s search results, whenever someone searches for your business.
  2. Google Webmaster Tools – This tool is great to find out what keywords people are searching for before arriving on your site, and if you have any obvious SEO problems. If your site gets hacked, Google Webmaster Tools can alert you and help you correct it. If there are pages that are showing up in search results that you don’t want to have there, or if there are pages that aren’t showing up that should be, this tool can help you figure all that out.
  3. Google AdWords – This tool lets businesses of any size get new customers, by making sure that your site is showing up for the search keywords that users looking for your product or service would most likely be searching. Not only that, but you can also use the Google Display Network to make sure your ads show up on other relevant websites that your potential customers might be looking at.
  4. YouTube TrueView – This is a great way to show potential customers what your product or service looks like. Videos allow you to convey your passion or what makes your product superior more effectively than just about any other method. TrueView makes sure that only users that are interested in your video are seeing it, and you only pay if they view the video, not if they choose to skip it. (Need help making the video to use? Our video marketing team would love to help!)
  5. Google Analytics – If you want to know who is coming to your website, or how many are coming, or what they are doing when then are on your site, Google Analytics is your tool. This one is so crucial, we install it by default on pretty much everything we build at Centresource.
  6. Google Trends – This tool shows you what’s happening on Google worldwide, outside of your website. This reveals what’s trending in search queries over time. The data can be broken down by region, so you can see what the trends are among search queries in your region, compared to other regions.
  7. Google Alerts – Here’s an easy way to keep up-to-date on what people are saying about your business, your product or even your competitors online. You plug in your keywords and your email address, and Google emails you with regular updates on any new pages it finds that feature your keywords.

If you have comments, questions or thoughts on anything that was covered here, or anything else about how to better market your business online, leave us a comment below, or contact us here!

From working the last 6 plus years in the web industry, I’ve come to learn a good bit about working as a part of a development team. In development, a lot of thought goes into how to structure, name and organize code. When you work alone, this really becomes less of an issue. The piece of code that you leave in one place, is there exactly where you expect to find it when you come back. Working with teams brings the benefit of more horsepower, but unless you are intentional about being in sync — you run the very high risk of wasting a lot of that potential power as a team.

While writing performant code is always a primary focus, I’d argue that writing readable, quickly understandable code is almost just as important. Many times I’m faced with a situation where writing performant code is easy, but writing code with a low level of cognition is the challenging part. Here are three quick tips I’ve learned to produce easy to understand code:

1. Be Consistent

Be diligent about maintaining patterns in your code. If you decide to order your CSS attributes by the alphabet (I do), then do not break that habit anywhere. Get together has a development team to have open, inclusive discussions about the best way to write your code syntactically. Your team may have lots of differing views, but avoiding conversations about them is only going to slow your team down. Come to the table with an open mind and a goal of improving the entire team’s efficiency.

2. Provide Mental Breaks

A problem I see often is large, complex chunks of code. Whether this is a single file with 900 lines of back-to-back HTML or it’s a JavaScript function that performs six very different tasks. Consider inserting line breaks in to HTML providing a buffer between “blocks” of common HTML. Take the giant JavaScript function and split it into five or six separate functions to promote separation of concerns. There are plenty of ways to reduce the complexity of code, but looking for areas to give your fellow teammates mental breaks is a nice favor.

3. Pretend to be a Coworker

When organizing, naming and writing code, take opportunities to ask yourself “if I were to be given this code base with no prior domain knowledge, would I understand what is going on?” If the answer is no, then you aren’t doing a very good job of preparing your next teammate for success.

It’s easy to live in the moment and say “I’m the only one that is ever going to touch this code”, but nine times out of ten that I’ve said that it’s turned out to be untrue. Make attempts to push that mindset away and always be on the look out for your teammate that’s opening in your code next.

These are just a few tactic that I use when I’m writing code. What are some steps you take to improve your teams efficiency? Let me know in the comments below.