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Drive More Business With Pokémon Go

So you’ve heard all of the buzz about the new Pokémon Go app, or you’ve seen all of the people staring at their phone screens and promptly running towards non-existing objects. However, not all of us were born in the 90’s and grew up with Pokémon to know just how big this phenomenon is. So we are here to fill you in on all the fun and offer you ways to capitalize on this movement and benefit your business without too much time and/or money.

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is a mobile application that allows users to interact in virtual reality. The ultimate goal of the game is to catch Pokémon while using an interactive map to find the characters. Currently, these maps and locations are set by the creators of the app and cannot be changed. The game has three major features (1) hunting for Pokémon, (2) visiting Pokéstops and (3) gym battling.

How does the game work?

Hunting for Pokémon. Once users have downloaded the app, the main goal is to catch Pokémon. In order to catch them, you have to hunt for them by walking around. They can appear anywhere from on your couch, to on the bench at the park down the street.

Hunting Pokemon

Hunting Pokemon

Visiting Pokéstops. In order to catch Pokémon, you need to have Pokéballs. You toss these balls at the characters in order to catch and secure them. Pokéstops are places users can go and get more Pokéballs. These places are static and the locations are set by the creators.

Visiting Pokestops

Visiting Pokestops

Gym Battling. At level 5 of the game, you choose a team and begin battling at gyms. Gyms are locations in the game that are typically matched with real-world landmarks and larger locations. At these locations, users can battle their Pokémon against other users Pokémon.

Pokemon Gyms

Pokemon Gyms

How Can My Business Benefit From it?

It’s up to you to take the initiative to make this virtual reality game worthwhile for your business and be among the first to benefit from the latest trend. Here’s a three-step process your company can use to make the most out of Pokémon Go.

  1. Check for nearby Pokéstops or Gyms. As stated before, the location of Pokéstops, gyms and Pokémon are set by the creators on a static location map. You might be lucky enough to be at or near one of those locations. You’ll want to know this because you can use it in step three to bring the customers to you. Google Maps has some user-created Pokémon Go Maps for your reference (here is an example of the Las Vegas map), but the easiest way to know is to download the game yourself and look at your surrounding area .
  2. Bring the Pokémon to you. Although you can’t change the maps to manipulate the location of Pokémon, Pokéstops or gyms, you can drop what’s called a “Lure” to attract more Pokémon to your respective area. Lures are purchased in the in-game store and can cost as little as $1.19 per hour. Where there are Pokémon, there are Pokémon hunters which can drive a surplus of foot traffic to your store.
  3. Create a Pokémon promotion. Promotion implementation is going to be an integral part in this strategy. Use social media platforms to market the fact that you have a just dropped a lure, or you that you have a Pokéstop or Gym nearby. Using this tactic to get people in your location won’t be enough; once you have them, keep them with offers and promotions. For example, create a deal where everyone level 5 and up gets a discount on a product. You can also offer free giveaways to Pokémon hunters if they complete a small task such as post on their social media account about a Pokémon they found in your store or write a yelp review about your business.

Pokémon Go did the work by creating the app, now all you have to do is (1) check for gyms or Pokéstops near you, (2) fill your store with Pokémon and (3) offer a promotion or giveaway event. They did the hard stuff, so sit back, relax and reap the rewards. Who knew a simple game could have so much influence or not only its users, but on businesses alike?

Introducing Gboard: All the Power of Google Right From Your Phone’s Keyboard

Google has done it yet again – they’ve created an ingenious, super convenient, all powerful app. Say hello to Gboard – Google’s newest iPhone keyboard app (sorry Android users, currently it’s only available on iOS at the moment). Gboard takes all the search capabilities Google offers and compresses them into a neat little package that lives in your phone’s keyboard. Search for images, addresses, GIFs, (even emojis!) right from the little Google icon – it’s literally one tap away.

 gboard-2

We’re all familiar with the annoyances of having to switch apps all the time just to accomplish one silly task such as finding the perfect cat GIF to send your best friend. Previously, you would need to exit the texting app, open up Google, search for said GIF, save it, and then go back to the texting app to finally send it. Or what about looking up an address to send to your friend so you can meet up for dinner later? Same story – exit the texting app, open up Google maps, search for the address (and get the wrong one a few times), copy, go back to the texting app, paste, and THEN send. Pain in the butt right? Well, good news – Gboard eliminates all of that nonsense. Now you can find all the cat GIFs & restaurant addresses your little heart desires without ever leaving the texting app.

Simply tap the Google icon (right underneath your camera icon on the left) and enter whatever it is you’re searching for and the results will pop up right in your keyboard underneath the search bar. Think of your keyboard as your new direct portal to Google – convenient, fast, & simple. Think of all the possibilities! Think of all the time you’ll be able to save not having to switch between apps all the time. Plus, Gboard follows you into all of your apps – email, texting, YouTube, etc. It’s never been so easy to search & share information.

On top of all of the magic listed above, Gboard also offers the Swipe function, something iPhone owners previously have been forced to go without. Now you can type out a word in a single swipe instead of having to tap each little letter. But wait, there’s more! You can also search for emojis now instead of swiping right 500 times just to find that stupid little pizza emoji you know your brother loves. Now you can simply search ‘Pizza’ and the pizza emoji will pop up as the first result (to the left of the Predictive suggestions).

gboard-1-small

There are a few cons to this wonderful new app however. For one, there is no Ok Google built into the app so users who are accustomed to using that feature might not be too pleased. Also, if you’re not a big fan of Predictive Text being on then this app might be more of an annoyance than a blessing to you. Unfortunately Gboard only works with the Predictive Text function on and there is no way to shut it off. And the last one has already been touched on – currently it is only available through iOS which is eliminating a large portion of mobile users.

All you have to do to get this wonderful app is open up the App Store and download it. All of the instructions & details on how to set it up are within the app and it even links you to the correct places within your Settings so you don’t have to spend 10 minutes trying to find the right section. Go download it – you know you want to.

Still curious? Here are a few other articles all about Gboard:

Google Makes Major Shift on Search Results Pages

You may not have noticed it, but Google made a major change to the way it displays search results.  Google recently removed all pay-per-click ads from the right side of it’s search results pages.  After more than ten years of Adwords pay-per-click results taking up both the top 1-3 spots and the entire right column being a long list of ads, this is a significant shift in how Google is going to provide “answers” to search queries.So why did Google remove a major source of revenue on the right column of its search results?  The answer is almost certainly a result of testing and monetization.  Google thinks it can provide a better user experience, and make more money, by using that space more wisely.  But what is going to go there?  To learn where Google is going, you have to be fully immersed in the world of all things Google.  Luckily for you, that’s pretty much all we do. 🙂

Over the past few months, the team at VenturaU (and also Ventura Web Design) has noticed that there are many queries that bring up a special box called a Knowledge Panel on the right with relevant info about your search.  While the knowledge box itself is not new, how it displays specific information about medical searches is very interesting.  Look at the results for “hay fever”:

You can now learn about symptoms and treatments directly on the search results page, without leaving Google.  This content includes information from medical doctors about how common a condition is, whether it’s critical or contagious, typically affected age group(s), and more.  The knowledge box includes tabs for an Overview, Symptoms, and Treatments for that ailment.
The information comes from a variety of sources, including the NIH, CDC, FDA, WHO, and more.  Google has also partnered with organizations such as the Mayo Clinic, Apollo Hospitals, Lumiata, and VoxHealth.  The source of the information in the past was quoted very prominently and the goal of Google was to help you go from Google Search Results to the website with the answer to your query.  As you can see from the search result image above, that “goal” seems to have changed.

Even the knowledge box is styled and looks nothing like any other knowledge boxes.  Google commissioned illustrations from licensed medical illustrators for use here.  The colors and attention-grabbing layout differs greatly from what Google has provided in the past.

This is a major shift in Google’s philosophy.  This layout shows the direction Google is heading: to a more display driven layout, rather than its historically text only layout.  Remember when Google’s single goal was to get you OFF of their website and on to what you’re seeking?  Google is now answering a question without linking away.  But more importantly, Google is now in the content creation business.  This is a major historic shift for the search leader.  Think about that for a moment.  Google is using the power of all the data it has access to, that you no longer have access to via Google Analytics, to guide its own decision making on content creation.

From the Google perspective, this new direction improves the user experience by providing “quality” answers even faster than before.  Google’s stated mission is to answer the question you have, before you’ve even fully typed the question in to the search box (instant search (link:https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/186645?hl=en).

The knowledge box is a function of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which launched in May 2012.  it’s used both by Google itself to improve search relevancy and also to present the knowledge boxes that provide facts about people, places and things alongside regular results. Google reports it has over 3.5 billion facts, including information about 500 million entities, including movies, museums, bodies of water, music, astronomical objects, buildings, sports, medical ailments, and more.  Similar to how Google uses a link graph to model how pages are interlinked to and which are relevant for searches, it uses the knowledge graph to determine relationships between entities and report facts about them.  If you currently have a knowledge graph card and want that information to change, you need to request a change from Google.  Here is the link for more information on changing knowledge graph cards. (link: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/6325583?hl=en)

There is currently no mechanism to include yourself or your site as part of the Knowledge Graph.  If you run a blog all about movies, there isn’t a way to be listed as a suggested source for information.  Tagging information on your landing pages with rich snippets can be helpful in the long run, though it’s no guarantee of inclusion.  This is where good SEO efforts can help.  Your goal, as a website owner, is to have Google view your site as the leading authority of information on a particular topic.  If Google determines that your topic is popular enough, it may create Knowledge Cards and include a link to your site or information in that card.

In an interview with Search Engine Land, the Google’s Former Head of Search, Amit Singhal, noted that the facts come from publicly available sources like Wikipedia, the CIA World Factbook, and Google Books.  They also license data from other sources.  “Whenever we can get our hands on structured data, we add it,” said Singhal.  This is incredibly important to online store owners, as Google has said for years that structured data is important to being able to categorize product listings and display them in a relevant way.  While knowledge boxes currently lack the ability to take action on most of their listings (you can learn about the Tower of London but there is no option to buy tickets to a tour), that functionality is coming.  Amit recently left Google to pursue philanthropic efforts.  (http://searchengineland.com/amit-singhal-the-head-of-google-search-to-leave…)
To make room for the knowledge box on selected queries, Google removed the ads on the right column.  While this will limit the amount of adspace available and possibly drive up the cost of adwords campaigns, the side and bottom ads never did amount for the majority of click volume.  According to a study of January 2016 desktop paid clicks by position, only 14.6% were from the side and bottom, so the change is not decreasing revenue by any appreciable amount, only ad impressions.
However, it does allow for more Google PLAs (Product Listing Ads) on the right column, which is a benefit for online stores that offer a product feed to Google Shopping.  Also, if users grow to depend on Google being an authority rather than merely a portal, PLAs will be more trusted and therefore effective.  Overall, this is a good move for Google, its users, and those that advertise on it.