Gutenblog: Google

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June 2014

Businesses need to make sure they have taken every step to be found online. This means having a beautiful, SEO optimized website, having a presence on the social media platforms where your customers frequent, and also being listed in appropriate business directories such as Google maps.

The problem is, as the online gatekeepers evolve, their recommendations for businesses change. All the time. Recently, I discovered Google had lovingly converted Gutensite's Google Places profile (the old business listing recommendation) into a lonely, empty, shell Google Plus profile, with no followers, not posts, etc. So we suddenly had two Google plus social pages for our business: our regular Gutensite page and another empty page that was the "verified" business listing, which is what shows up on Google Maps, and as the local business information in the right sidebar if someone searches for Gutensite.

This is confusing for visitors, and becomes redundant, splitting our followers across two profiles, each functioning as half of a total solution. Surely there must be some way of merging these accounts.

I spent hours over several weeks, looking for answers. But all I ever found were a lot of complaints and images of people banging their head against their keyboard. I was finally able to get in touch with a Google support person, who initially appeared as confused as the rest of us. He didn't seem to understand why it was problem, and he didn't know of anyway to "merge" the two accounts.

But I am happy to share that after a lengthy phone call, and several emails back and forth, he located a fantastic support document that explains how to merge your business' Google Plus Social profile with the Google Plus Local profile. The title of this document, "Connect a Page to Google Maps" is not ever going to help people solve the problem because it's not intuitive how that relates (but it does).

So if you haven't checked recently, you log into Google Plus, and look at "all pages" see if Google has created a second profile for your business as well (they supposedly converted everyone automatically). If it hasn't, you'll probably need to first convert your Google Places profile to a Google Local profile (good luck), and you'll want to "verifiy" your address (they send you a code in the mail). After that, the instructions for merging the accounts should help.

March 2012
Store Ecommerce Tracking

We are in the process of adding more features to integrate your site with Google Analytics' powerful tracking capabilities. We've just added some standard conversion tracking for account creation, store sales, and form submissions, as well as Split A/B testing. We'll blog about that more shortly.

But we realize that we have a lot of analytics functionality already available that most people don't know about. In particular, you should be aware that Gutensite has direct integration with Google Analytics' Ecommerce Tracking system.

View our FAQ to read the super easy setup instructions. Once you've got it setup, the data will start pouring into Google Analytics and you can create Custom Segments, Conversion Goals, and various filters and reporting to help you improve your marketing and reach your goals.

Happy analyzing!

February 2012

I recently discovered that the custom markers on a Google Map I created ( were being hidden behind the the map tiles (this is fixed now). If you look at the first image in the slideshow, you can clearly see the edge of the grid where the markers are being cut off.

We are using Google's latest Google Maps API Version 3.8. We discovered that this is caused by the new Canvas tiles that are used to optimize how Google Maps display. If you inspect elements, you can see that the markers are actually tile layers. If I turn off 'optimized' (see code below) the markers display correctly!

var point = new google.maps.Marker({
'position': position,
'icon': marker_data.custom_icon,
'title': marker_data.title,
'optimized': false

What is interesting is that if you use the default markers, the tiles do NOT hide the default markers (code below).

var point = new google.maps.Marker({
'position': position,
'title': marker_data.title

The reason for this, is because somehow Google seems to be creating the canvases differently for their default markers. When a marker overlaps a tile they make sure that part of it shows up on each adjacent canvas.

I inspected the elements and deleted certain tiles, and you can see that the other half of the default marker still is shows up on the adjacent tile.

Does anyone knows a better solution? Or can you point out something I am doing wrong that is causing Google Maps API to treat my custom markers inferior? Or is this just a known/new bug?

January 2011
Chrome Logo

Oh Joy, let the licensing wars begin.

You may be wondering how Google Chrome's recent decision to abandon MP4 affects us? No one knows.

Chrome is still a small percent of the browser market, but we would still like to support Chrome if we can. However, there is not a good alternative to MP4 that has universal support, so web developers' options are limited. Their WebM format will not play on mobile devices yet, so unless a site offers both MP4 and WebM formats, mobile browsers won't be able to play the videos! Unfortunately it is not cost effective for small content providers to double encodes every video for WebM and MP4.

It's a bad move on Google's part because the internet cannot upgrade all it's video to WebM in the amount of time Google has allowed, so Chrome users are going to start complaining that they can't watch videos and they may abandon that browser. Yes, Google should encourage a move toward open source codecs, but in an industry that has so few "standards" they shouldn't just abandon de facto standards cold turkey. It presents an onerous burden on small content providers that don't have the resources that Google has to just re-encode all their videos or encode multiple versions (just imagine how much storage space and processing power will be required for Google to re-encode all their YouTube videos into another alternative format, they already have FLV and MP4 versions in multiple resolutions sizes up to 1080p HD video).

The history of the problem is that MP4 requires a license and some open source browsers don't want to or can't pay that fee (Opera, Firefox and Chrome), so they don't support MP4 in their <video> tag. Unfortunately the license holders won't make the codec free to decode. The ridiculous part is that content providers already pay licensing fees to encode the video in the first place, so you shouldn't have to pay a second fee to decode it. It's like an airport storage locker, you put in a quarter and take the key. You shouldn't have to put another quarter in to get your stuff out.

MP3 had similar problems, but some of the patents have expired and the same license holders have basically just stopped pursuing use violations. So effectively it's become a de facto standard for audio. We can hope that the same thing happens to MP4 eventually. The owners of the license are being very short sighted and they are going to lose the game if they don't become more flexible, because MP4 will be abandoned in favor of more open source options if a solution is not found. Unfortunately MP4 is superior to WebM in quality and size, so it would be a loss for everyone.

In the end, we'll see how it plays out.