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The past several days have seen several Google announcements.
Here's a run-down on the most important.
Now Hiring: Google Apps Resellers
Google's 'software-as-a-service' offering for email, information sharing and security, Google Apps, can now be sold by third parties as part of Google's new authorized reseller program. Resellers will receive a 20% discount off the Google Apps list price of $50/user/year and can resell at any price they desire. Google will still host Google Apps and provide reseller training but is leaving the reseller to manage the relationship with its customers, including support and billing.
The Google Apps reseller program is ideally-suited to IT service providers who already have a client-base and who can incorporate the Google Apps into their offering. It also provides an opportunity for firms that can provide value-added services, such as around-the-clock support and data migration. Resellers looking for an edge can leverage Google App Engine or Google Sites to customize their offering. This may be a viable strategy for resellers serving specific niche markets with specialized needs.
Google claims that 1 million businesses use Google Apps, including major companies like Genentech, and while most of the Google Apps features are available for free, not all companies are capable of setting Google Apps up and managing it.
Google Offers Its Own Sitemap Generator
If you're not using Sitemaps as part of your SEO strategy, you need to consider it. One SEOmoz user recently reported dramatically improved crawl times by using Sitemaps and submitting them to Google and Yahoo.
Now, Google is offering its own tool for generating Sitemaps. As per its announcement:Our new open-source Google Sitemap Generator finds new and modified URLs based on your webserver's traffic, its log files, or the files found on the server. By combining these methods, Google Sitemap Generator can be very fast in finding these URLs and calculating relevant metadata, thereby making your Sitemap files as effective as possible.
The Google Sitemap Generator can create three types of Sitemap files - XML (for websites), Mobile (for mobile websites) and Code Search (for source code made available publicly).
Google Sitemaps Generator is available for Linux/Apache and Microsoft IIS Windows-based servers.
Google Adding New Features to Local Business Ads
If you're using AdWords local business ads, Google is releasing two new features that may be of interest.
Today, the info window that opens when a user clicks on your organic search listing or sponsored search listing includes within it links for "Get Directions", "Street View" and "Save to My Maps". Soon, a "Send" link giving them the ability to send your business information to their email or mobile will be available as well. This new functionality is free.
Additionally, Google will be adding new reporting functionality for local business ads that enables advertisers to measure how users interact with the info window, including how many times the new links discussed above are clicked. Google believes this will help advertisers better gauge the ROI from their local business ads.