Browsing "internet news"
So what was it this year that tickled your fancy? The year is always ending just when it feels like you get into the groove of things, so it’s no real surprise that you may not remember what you were interested in 11 months ago. But that’s okay, because Google has just released their Zeitgeist of search. The flow of the year, as told by the trends of the internet and it’s users.
Whether it came to being hit with a bottle, or some other claim to additional fame, Justin Bieber beat out the likes of Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Shakira and even Netflix to become the fastest rising searched person and entertainment star. At no surprise however, the iPad and iPhone4 dominated the electronics trends, although as the fastest rising search trend in general, the award goes to Chatroulette, the instant, random face to face messaging service.
The fall from grace is never enjoyable, yet Susan Boyle felt it on search this year along with the movies New Moon and Slumdog Millionaire, and the global health concern of Swine Flu. Unfortunately as well however, the tragedies which shape us can be found in the daily headlines as well. At no surprise Haiti dominated the news trends as well as being the number one search term under humanitarian aid with donate to Haiti; followed closely no doubt by donate to Pakistan.
In the end the top 10 fastest rising queries was led by chatroulette, iPad and Justin Bieber, with Twitter, Gamezer and Facebook carrying the backend. The results do need to be taken with a grain of salt of course, as just because Chatroulette enjoys the crown of fastest rising search, it had an equally fast drop off. Facebook by contrast, is enjoying a steadily rising search trend as the leader in social networks. An interactive chart of the year can be found here for the most curous.
There’s been some talk lately about a story that the New York Times did recently about how Googles ranking algorithm didn’t work right, or isn’t, when it allowed an unscupulous business to list highly in the SERPs for multiple terms. As a bone of contention, I’ll first toss in the black hat argument, that any search can be “gamed” if the long term is unimportant. But secondly, the “SEO experts” commenting on this story are frustrating to in the way their articles have been written.
First off, SEO is not an exact science. There’s no specific do this and you get number 1 formula, as each search, each niche, each query is different for each person using Google/Bing/Yahoo etc. There is the best practices of course, which the search engines have available on their sites for your reading pleasure, but there was a string of, ‘evidence’ I’ll call it, by one of the SEOs that I need to rant about.
Search, for it’s simplicity, is a complicated beast. With Google continually tinkering with their algorithm, Bing doing their own changes and manipulations and who knows what else going on around the globe, it can seem like you’re using a firehose to put out birthday candles sometimes. And the article that irked me the most, used a string of searches to ‘prove’ their point. Using screenshots, arrows and breaking down the results page each time to prove that if only Google did it their way, search would be better for the shopping inclined. My issue with the article comes from the searches performed that were used as proof. In one shot for example they were looking for ‘mechanics in winnipeg’ and in the second they looked for ‘mechanics winnipeg’, after which you can include arrows and screenshots to show “See now if you only did it my way..” The issue is, those are two very different searches that were performed. Those weren’t the searches used of course, but being that Fresh Traffic is located in Winnipeg, I took some liberty, just as they did, to prove my point. Those two searches, return two different SERPs, and two different amount of results numbering in the thousands. When you add the ‘in’ operator to a Google search, the engine defers to it’s newer Google Places product, and tries to give results more akin to a shopping or services directory. with reviews, phone numbers, addresses and Maps pinpoints. Performing the search without the ‘in’ operator gives you a mix of organic results and Places results mixed in, more of a thrown together guess from Google of what you’re looking for.
So as for being creative on how you tried to prove your point, I guess kudos for displaying a poor SEO skillset to those who don’t know any better. But there are those of us in the industry who know better, and despite all intents and purposes your hat is a shade darker today.
At what lengths do you go, to save yourself or your business some cash? Where do you decide to trim your budget. Production? Acquisition? Marketing? Development? Depending on your niche and business model there are many more to add to the list I’d wager. So when it comes right down to it and you need to find some money, where do you trim, all too often the budget cuts fall on the marketing angle. And the first place that gets the shaft, is online marketing more than not.
The argument usually heard is that it’s not tangible, you can’t track any results or gains with it. The internet is a virtual world of switches, capacitors and electrical connections, so in a touchable tangible sense it’s not “real”. The numbers however, the web is full of numbers which are very easily countable. That machine you use on your desk at the office and at home everyday is, at it’s core, an overgrown calculator. Traffic, sales, visitors and unique first time viewers are all metrics easily tracked by the software that expert SEOs use to demonstrate to clients that what we do works like gang busters.
And a question that we are asked time and time again is: “Why should I retain you on a contract if the guy down the street says he can do the same for me for only $300?” And since people keep asking, the simplest and honest to god answer is maintenance. See, the internet never sleeps, never rests and is always changing. Google, the king of search and search marketing is the same. Always changing the algorithm, making it faster, smarter and it can throw the entire results page into disarray when they make a number of changes at once. Retaining your position on the SERPs in the midst of these changes is why we’re the best. And it’s why we can command the costs required for the care we give to your online marketplace. Now, if you’re still unsatisfied that this is the case, a simple analogy for you in easy to understand terms.
Your website is a car and Google is it’s engine. The internet are the roads you travel endlessly. Knowing you need a tune up (SEO) you look for a mechanic to tend to your car, and decide to settle for the budget variety to save a few dollars and settle in for a rest. Waking up, you find out that your Google engine has decided that it doesn’t like unleaded fuel anymore and instead wants diesel. So back to your mechanic who tells you ‘Sorry, I don’t know what I need to do to work with diesel’. And instead of driving your way to the top, you’re stuck, stranded on the side of the road with a stalled site (car), and work done on your engine that no longer works.
If you need to save some budget dollars and decide to focus on marketing, then trim your budget in the old, untraceable metrics like television, radio, newspapers and billboards. Playing catch up on the web is an exponentially more difficult game the longer you wait Winnipeg, time to get a move on.
Lots of news came out of the Web 2.0 summit, and there was an interview hosted by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle where they spoke with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. They touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the new Facebook Messages service, to privacy and on to opinions and thoughts of “what’s next?” for the web.
Zuckerberg said that initially the idea of Messages came to him when having a conversation with a high school student who lamented that email is “too slow”. Taking the idea to the drawing board, the development team decided that they could lose certain aspects which makes email a “slow” medium of conversation. Things like the subject line, multiple paragraph letters and formal signatures. Messages aims to streamline communications between instant messaging, SMS (simple messaging service) and email.
When Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook and some of the privacy concerns, as well as the seeming mantra of “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” he deflected the conversation within a sentance or two back to the Messages service. Mark made the point that even though Facebook allows the friendship relationship to share information across wide groups, he made the point that “I don’t know that we’re 100% right about it”. Also admitting that Facebook is often in the crosshairs of privacy watchdogs because “Facebook is at the forefront of the internet privacy issue, and are trying to come up with solutions” Getting everything right, everytime isn’t a possibility for any company on the web, but it’s perhaps the two values being pressed to development teams at Facebook that keeps it in the privacy limelight; move fast, and be bold. If an idea is fleshed out, take the chances and move fast on it and let it into the social world. Change is always scary, but it’s also the quickest and surest way to grow and adapt.
A rather pointed question about competition was directed about the ad network on Facebook, in the form of being socially driven. Zuckerberg somewhat deflected this question as well, stating that he’s not sure it’s the right direction right now, and that there’s still a lot of work left to do on the web. When it came to the user base of Facebook, the metric which was given was that “50% of user accounts on Facebook are active everyday” and in the next 5 years or so, we’re going to see the internet moving into a more socially interactive model. Seeing as how Facebook is *the* social place to be online right now, the question was asked if there will be other social graphs to make an appearance and gain importance. In answer, Zuckerberg showed that a few years ago, app developers wouldn’t have contributed to the web space mainly because the user base wasn’t centralized. Now that developers can safely assume that 60% of their userbase are Facebook users and are “socially enabled” it allows companies and businesses to develop apps and services that even just 2 years ago didn’t make sense. The expectation is there will be various social graphs online, and they will all be able to work together.
One of the better questions pose was in terms of with Facebook becoming such a giant in the social space, is Facebook aiming to be the prime destination online, or is Facebook wanting to be an enabler for the web. Unexpectedly in a sense, Mark made the admittance that Facebook will be more of an enabler of the web as we move forward. There was a graphic at the summit, outlining the web in different countries in a way. At the end of the interview Zuckerberg pointed out that the image should be changed. As the graphic detailed the internet and online industry in a “zero sum” fashion, as in no room to grow or change other than taking anothers place, the image should be comprised primarily of an undetermined space. It’s the skewed view of the media, and a great many industry analysts that the web is a defined space, that leads to the headlines of “Facebook declares war on Google” and so on.
It was a good interview to listen too, and Zuckerberg had some interesting points to share on the web industry as a whole. Have a watch for yourself and see.
In the world of SEO, there’s the good guys and the bad guys. It’s discussed in great detail on a lot of websites, blogs and forums. So to contribute to the trend, I’ll briefly touch on the subject as well.
The big news as of late to hit the news reel is the royal engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it’s been in print, online, I’m certain it’s been on television and the radio by now as well. But before you run off and hit the web to find all the latest gossip about the couple, follow a few simple rules first.
1) Know full well, that with news which floods the web like this engagement, it’s a prime target for black hat SEO. What black hat is usually associated with are all of the wonderful malware infections which keep computer repairmen in business, and shady companies in cash. What happens is the black hatters pick a hot, fast rising trend, and “poison” the search results. With hundreds of millions of people using search daily, it’s easy to pull in a few unsuspecting curiousity seekers.
2) Don’t click a link, if you don’t recognize the url. When you perform a search in Google, you’ll have the blue link headline, the black description text, and a green url. If that green text is not a website you recognize easily (such as cnn.com or bbc.com for example) take a pass on the link! It doesn’t matter if the description says it has the latest on the wedding, your hard drive and OS will thank you later.
3) The easiest way to gather information via search is built right in now thankfully. All of the major search engines return relevant real time results as well as part of a search. If a topic is trending well, and people are posting about it, there’ll be social and real time search listings.
Do yourself a very big favor when it comes to search, just because the websites which rank in the top 5 say they have the dish on all of the secrets, think first and click later. Malware has larger implications than just slowing down your computer and providing nagging pop ups. It can start there, and go all the way up the ladder to identity theft, password stealing and/or keylogging.
So the big day has come and gone, Facebook talked about it’s new messaging service, and the web has been a cacophony of “Gmail killer” and other wild statements to that effect. And one of the funniest points I picked from all of the coverage of the day, was that Schmidt and Zuckerberg were almost playing nice, to a point. With their statements coming out generally like Schmidts “I’m glad they’re launching a service” And Zuckerbergs “Gmail and Gchat is an amazing service”, it’s almost like an unofficial truce of sorts.
I did however, come across a post detailing the top reasons why the new Facebook service will be “Facebook E-Mail Is Google`s Biggest Threat” and I had a really hard time making it past the second item on their list. I’m only going to share the headings of the points they’ve come up with, as the text that followed was almost uncomfortable to read. So headfirst we go:
Gmail means a lot – Okay great, Gmail means a lot. The text which followed that they used to back up their claim, was based on the idea that without Gmail, people wouldn’t use Google. And when I hit that sentance, I had to stop.
Search capabilities are there – And then unfortunately, I came to their second point. I had a hard time trying to wrap my mind around their claim that while Facebook’s search features are “primitive”; non-existant is a more accurate term, to think that they could come close, in the game that Google essentially owns, was ludicrous to read for me.
It’s where the users are – Granted now, Facebook is starting with a userbase of 500 million, definitely not a small number. But, if all you want to count are users, then if you want to include actual numbers, you’d need to include the average user base of Google to compare the two services. The point that made me chuckle here, was the assertion thatusers “spend over 700 billion minutes per month” on Facebook. That’s a whole lot of Farmville! And Googles aim? Speed up the web and it’s usage, not tie you in place.
Video – 500 million users, compared to Youtubes userbase, and the point was Facebook between June and July, Facebook saw unique viewers increase by three million, and total videos watched by 22 million. Funny thing is, all the videos I happened to see were hosted on Youtube..
Ads, ads, ads – I honestly can’t even go here.
The world, and especially the web are constantly growing and changing. It’s when things stay the same that they lose their appeal and die. Schmidt even made the point that it’s not that Google and Facebook have ever openly competed, but the media loves to drum it up that when any company launches any service, they’re competing with someone. When in fact what really ends up happening, is we all get the better end of the deal, new services, new ideas and most importantly, a choice as to which you’ll use. Me, I’ll stick with my Google and my Gmail.
There’s been a great deal of speculation about the Facebook media event on Monday. As many are expecting Facebook to announce the launch of it’s very own Facebook email client. It’s not a terribly surprising step for the social media giant, however seeing the terms “Gmail killer” in news headlines is over reaching.
Being mired in their own personal sea of privacy concerns, the idea that every single Facebook user, around the 500 million mark, would use the service as their email client of choice is somewhat laughable. One of the better comments I’ve personally seen about the idea was summed up as “Facebook is going the way of AOL, making the web dumber to use”. But personal opinions aside, a Facebook email client just isn’t attractive to use.
The major strengths of the feature were listed around the “potential” strength of inbox control, seeing as Facebook would intrinsicly know who you contact the most. Funny thing is, if you’ve used email for more than a month or two, you know how to setup sorting and labelling in your client anyways. No need to have a service do it for you. So that more or less equals out, also deemed to be a strength is the Facebook webmail client could be used to display information from all of the messages you receive from your friends via games, or payments of Facebook credits. Seeing as how you already login to Facebook with an email address, and you receive notice (by default) of all of these events anyways, again they equal themselves out.
The biggest positive I can see about having a Facebook email address myself? It’s a great way to keep all of the Facebook spam in one central place, and out of my normal email provider.
The larger a company gets, the more you can always find to read about it. Good information, bad information, skeptics, paranoid people, the bigger the target, the more shooters so to speak. So it’s really no surprise that Google has a great many people always supporting them, digging at them, or making some interesting claims.
Googles latest news happens to be centric to the Instant feature they rolled out last month, it’s previews which have been added. A small magnifying glass which will basically give you a site preview before you visit it. Nay sayers and the Bing users and/or supporters may huff and say “We already do that”. All fine and good to fluff, but Google’s roll out has actually added test data into the mix, in saying that by using Previews, searches occured 5% faster and people were more satisfied with their search.
When you complete you search, which is instant for you now should you have it enabled, you’ll soon start to see a magnifying glass next to your results. Clicking it, you’ll see a screenshot of the page where the result was found, giving you a glimpse as to whether or not it is what you’re actually looking for. The big thing is that you’re seeing the location and context of your search without having to navigate from your results list.
Ben Gomez, engineer:
“This is the next evolution of finding a result on a search engine results page”
So to the Bing’ers and other search engine users out there, I say great that you enjoy different, most times inferior results, more power too you. But Google has just taken the idea of search previews, added it to their already successful mix, and made search better on the whole.
The internet is a daily portion of nearly everyone’s modern workday. Email, video, web content creation, surfing as a distraction, Facebooking.. the list is nearly endless to what you can do online. And then when you’re reading the news, all of those little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Another story about Facebook privacy issues, Google data collections privacy cries. How much does Google know about you as a user? How much of your personal browsing and search history is obtainable to those who know?
Thankfully, there are steps to deal with your fears and alleviate concerns. Google as a base company is really quite basic and infantile in nature, it just indexes the web and everything on it. No inhibitions, no bias, just indexing. And as a general rule, Google doesn’t like to remove that information, namely because it’s helped them build the index that the world has come to get used too. There are some hoops however, that you can jump through if you’re genuinely bothered about data collection.
The best starting point of course, is if you have information you want to be private, make sure it’s set as such so that Google and other search engines don’t find it in the first place. Take Facebook for instance, you wouldn’t want the world to know that you’re going on a month long trip and that there’s no one taking care of your home, that’s just an open invitation to be alleviated of your materialistic burdens. Pointing your browser through the following Facebook settings : “Account > Privacy Settings” you can then customize the settings from different aspects of your account, such as photos of you and your address. “Friends only” keeps them from being indexed by search engines.
Now that only works on the largest social network out there at the moment, but what if you’ve slipped up already and your information is “out there”? Your first choice is to ask the website owner to remove your information and then try the following:
Access Google’s public removal tool
Choose “New removal request”
Enter the URL of the page you’d like removed from Google.
Additionally, if the information is of an extremely sensitive and personal nature, it’s highly likely that it’ll be dealt with swiftly as privacy has become a very large concern.
Out of any Google owned products thankfully, being removed from the service is typically just a link and an email away. After a few days of waiting, your name and personal information will be removed from services like Maps, Blogger, Youtube and Street View. Privacy is a huge concern for many people now a days, however he was received I do believe Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said it best, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it (publicly) in the first place.” View the internet as the largest glass house ever constructed, and conduct yourself accordingly.
So Google was given a bit of a tap on the wrist after the whole Street view debacle. It’s ended up seeming like the agencies in charge of investigating the search giant on the privacy charges have taken them at their word when they say “We’re sorry, we didn’t mean it.”
Taken a step further yet, it’s surfaced that while you can opt out of having your home, face or anything else blurred or removed, you don’t even technically need to have a stake in the location. If you search an address on Google Maps, use the street view option, on the bottom of the page there’s a tiny grey text link stating simply “Report a problem”. Now clicking this link, will open a new page for you, where in you can describe the problem you’ve encountered in a neat little form. It could be a privacy issue, an inappropriate picture or the ubiquitous “other”. Upon filling out the few fields of informations, selecting the image you have a “problem” with, Google sends you a confirmation email and that’s that. In a few days, the site disappears; interestingly enough, there’s no corroboration as to whether or not you have any claim on the image you report. Possibilities abound.
More from Google and privacy? Okay! Anyone remember Google Buzz? Wouldn’t surprise anyone really I think if there wasn’t much mention of it, it was rather short lived in the social media sector. When Google flipped the switch on Buzz, they made a life ending (for Buzz) mistake; they exposed peoples Gmail contact lists. It didn’t take them long to fix it, but in the instant it was discovered, it doomed the idea. And because we all have something to hide, a class action was brought against the company stating in essence that “..Buzz publicly exposed data, including users’ most frequent Gmail contacts, without enough user consent.”
The courts have reached a resolution in the matter, and in the end US based Gmail users get nothing. In their email to users Google stated: “The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users’ concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be. Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011.”
And to put a final twist on the Google of today, they want you to hack them! From their security blog posting “Today, we are announcing an experimental new vulnerability reward program that applies to Google web properties. We already enjoy working with an array of researchers to improve Google security, and some individuals who have provided high caliber reports are listed on our credits page. As well as enabling us to thank regular contributors in a new way, we hope our new program will attract new researchers and the types of reports that help make our users safer.”
As was evidenced by all of the closed testing they could muster (Buzz), nothing can substitute for opening up the gates to the world and saying “Break it if you can so we can fix it!” It’s all laid out in their post here, and who knows, if you’re good enough you may receive their top pay of $3,133.7.. those who know, know.