Monthly Archives: July 2014

House of Lords Sides with Google

Posted on July 31, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Just when it seemed like all of Europe was on the same page, a wrench was thrown into the plan. It all revolves around the “right to be forgotten.” Let’s back up.

House of Lords still thinks it's 1684.

House of Lords still thinks it’s 1684.

Residents in Germany and Belgium (among other places) have filed lawsuits over the past decade concerning what appears on search as it relates to their public image and profile. In some cases the images that showed up were of the wrong person, insinuated certain things that weren’t true and/or they actually happened, but the individual wanted to be able to move on in their life, but can’t (they argue) because of the content that appears online through the Google search engine.

Now, we are not here to debate the rulings. They happened. The European courts decided time and time again that Google needs to remove the old images if the person submits a request and the content falls under the category of “defamation of character.” In other words, the courts have said you have a “right to be forgotten.”

Enter England. A committee from the House of Lords verbally lashed out against the judgments, calling them “wrong” and “unreasonable.” Initially, many people thought that it was an emotional response to England getting knocked out of the group stage while fellow Europeans Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands and Greece all made it out. But the comments didn’t stop.

“It is crystal clear that the neither the 1995 Directive, nor the CJEU’s interpretation of it reflects the incredible advancement in technology that we see today, over 20 years since the Directive was drafted,” said committee chairman Baroness Prashar.

The rest of England and the world had this response: “The House of Lords holds no power, other than the capitalist control it has been desperately clinging to since the Tudor Period. If we want figurehead statements we’ll talk to the Queen. Maybe you should run for parliament, but then again, that would go against the whole ‘work for nothing and just rely on inheritance’ philosophy from which your house was built.”

Until the judicial system completely collapses, looks like we’ll have to just respect real authority.

Google Must Pay Display Tax in Spain

Posted on July 30, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Here’s a debate and let us know what side you are on: 1) Google displays news information from millions of sources, reaps all the benefits, but is not required, but law, to give anything back in return, such as funds or services. Or 2) Google simply shows you where to find the answers, and directs traffic to the actual sites, helping them with leads and conversions.

The Spanish Congress ruled Google will have to pay a tax.

The Spanish Congress ruled Google will have to pay a tax.

As far as the Spanish courts are concerned, it doesn’t matter what side you have come out on, they have made a ruling and it will be enforced.

“The Spanish are the latest to promote a “Google Tax” that would benefit news publishers. One house of the country’s Congress has already passed legislation, with the other poised to do so,” reported Greg Sterling.

Basically, Google will be charged and must pay any publisher from which they displayed content. The logic behind the law is that even though Google is just showing web results, those snippets have enough information that the user doesn’t need to click on the actual site. The Google platform is engaging in a form a plagiarism, the court argues, where they display content without permission or payment in order to make money. Google doesn’t create the content but displays it, so they are violating copyright law as well, the court found.

Could this be the end of search? No, but just imagine if the crawlers had to pay for every single result they displayed? Maybe it’s time for the search engines to switch to a non-profit format.

Go to the Stadium From Your Couch

Posted on July 29, 2014 by - Uncategorized

It’s getting harder and harder to attend live sporting events. Or at least this tirade is pretty popular on the afternoon drive sports radio show: “I can’t go to the game. The tickets are so expensive because we pay the players so much and constantly build new ballparks and stadiums, then you have to pay to park, food and drinks cost a million and the seats aren’t even that good—I have a better view from my couch.”

A baseball team in South Korea is trying to change all that.

(Now, it should be stated that we, for the purpose of this blog, won’t go into the argument about how amazing the stadium experience actually is—the sights, sounds, smells, bonding with friends, the ability to heckle a player and to get escorted out while in your college days.)

The pro team, The Hanwha Eagles, has replaced sections of their seating with “fanbots,” robots that have your digital image and can stand up, clap, hold up signs, etc. (Just a thought, but I hope eventually there are fanbots for every human experience a human wants to replace, especially eating and breathing.)

The fanbots can be operated by any mobile device or Internet-supported machine. And that’s kind of the main point—mobile technology is increasing at such a rate that you can now attend live sporting/theatre/promotional events from your smartphone.

The human experience is trending toward no experience at all.
screen shot 2014-07-27 at 8.22.29 am

Another Algorithm Change

Posted on July 28, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Thank goodness, it had been over two months—we were starting to get worried about you, Google. But fear not, Google has once again updated its algorithm to enhance search and confuse users (at least in the description).

Google's Pigeon update is now live.

Google’s Pigeon update is now live.

The search engine optimization (SEO) world has seen Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, updates to all of those, and now the latest update, Pigeon.

“Google has released a new algorithm to provide a more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals. The changes will be visible within the Google Maps search results and Google Web search results,” reported Barry Schwartz.

Basically, what you need to know is how this change will affect your online presence. For starters, local search results and Hyper Local SEO efforts will be altered. Where you used to end up on the results page may not be your spot anymore.

“Many SEOs and webmasters noticed significant changes in rankings. I shared some examples, including this one comparing a search for [ice cream] from earlier this week to today, clearly showing completely different organic local results,” reported Schwartz.

If you notice any difference in your rank or page position, enhance your SEO immediately.

The Pigeon update also fixed the “Yelp” problem. Users accused Google of tampering with results because Google results would show up ahead of queries that had the word “Yelp” in it.

Hackers Being Paid By Computer Companies

Posted on July 25, 2014 by - Uncategorized

“Hack the planet!” was the mantra from the 90s movie, Hackers, where a group of “misunderstood” youngsters banded together to fight corporate greed, lying and theft. Although quite the entertaining film, real hackers come in all shapes and sizes and are motivated by greed, disruption and/or boredom.

Five years ago, a cyber software company had a brilliant idea: what if we got the hackers to work for us? Well, wouldn’t that go against the fake hacker code? (See motivation one—greed.) Instead of putting the code jammers on the payroll, it was a set up like a lost wallet. Bring it to my attention, and I will give you more than what’s in the wallet.

It didn’t take long for other companies to see the value in paying for security breaches and identifying problem areas and bugs. Now, in 2014, hackers are welcome throughout the digital universe. Microsoft openly invites malware manipulators and the like to try and attack their operating system and online functionality. Find a bug, and the payouts start at $25,000.

“Google has now announced that it has increased the available rewards for reporting bugs to as much as $20,000 per bug,” reported Shane McGlaun for Forbes. And that’s just base pay. For a “well-crafted hacking technique,” you can be rewarded more than $100,000, Forbes reported.

The grey area is when the hacker is actually doing their “job.” Get caught before you submit your bug ID, and you could be accused of illegal hacking and could face jail time and fines. Happy hacking.

Future of Mobile Ads

Posted on July 24, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Accessing the Internet is being completely taken over by mobile devices. They are cheaper than laptops and desktops, more portable and apps have managed to fill whatever gap remained in the area between the front lobe and the rear cortex.

Advertising used to be a lot simpler.

Advertising used to be a lot simpler.

As a result, advertisers and marketers are having to play catch up—constantly trying to stay on top of the consumers’ minds and eyes. Digital music is a perfect example. First, there was Napster and other free-sharing websites that you could basically get any song for free. Ironically, it was the billionaire soft rock (anymore) band Metallica that lead the fight for pay-to-hear music.

Napster evolved into iTunes, Spotify and Pandora. With iTunes, it’s a simple exchange of cash for songs. Spotify is subscription based where a monthly fee will allow you to have access to millions of songs. With Pandora, however, making money off of the ears’ enjoyment got a bit trickier.

Pandora controllers began placing advertisements in between songs, along with banner ads and scrollers that the user would have to click off in order to see their intended screen. That same creative implementation is going into mobile devices soon.

Just think of all the places. If you open an app, you see an ad. Hit a search button, there’s an ad. How about not being able to open a browser until you type the word “Pepsi” into a box? But advertisers know they can’t push too hard. Pandora lost a lot of listeners when they switched formats. But as soon as everyone else does it, it becomes accepted and almost expected.

Professional sports stadiums used to bear the name of the city, culture or area, like the old Cleveland Browns Stadium, Columbus Crew Stadium, Ohio Stadium, etc. You used to able to watch a dunk without the dunk being brought to you by so and so and such and such a product. But now no one notices. See you at the stadium, err, see you at First Energy Field.

New comScore Stats Show State of Search

Posted on July 23, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Every month around this time, digital marketers and search engine optimization (SEO) gurus huddle around computers and mobile devices eagerly awaiting the release of the new comScore digital statistics.

ComScore_top_sites_-_entries_from_Google_properties

Let’s back up…comScore self defines itself as, “A leading Internet technology company that measures what people do as they navigate the digital world—and turns that information into insights and actions for our clients to maximize the value of their digital investments.” Basically, because of their history, accuracy and legitimacy, comScore is the authority on search rankings and associated stats.

The new June 2014 report has been released, and let’s look at some numbers starting with U.S. Search Engine Rankings. To begin with, it’s no surprise that Google sites are still #1, taking a 67.6 percent share. Second on the list is Microsoft sites, with an 18.8 percent shares, followed by Yahoo with 10 percent, Ask Network with 2.3 percent and AOL with 1.3 percent.

Those numbers illustrate what we already know—Google dominates when it comes to search. You’ll hear people say, “Google it” or “Search it,” but hardly ever hear users suggest that you, “Yahoo it” or “Microsoft it.”

comScore also released the top 50 desktop web properties. The ones at the top don’t come as much of a surprise, but some of the websites in the middle may be completely new to you. Here’s the list:

comScore Top 50 Properties (Desktop Only)
June 2014
Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations
Source: comScore Media Metrix
Rank Property Unique Visitors(000)   Rank Property Unique Visitors(000)
Total Internet : Total Audience  227,858    
1 Google Sites 189,712 26 Adobe Sites 32,848
2 Yahoo Sites 171,246 27 Wal-Mart 32,433
3 Microsoft Sites 164,194 28 Viacom Digital 32,144
4 Facebook 141,377 29 WebMD Health 31,103
5 AOL, Inc. 107,165 30 Dropbox Sites 30,607
6 Amazon Sites 92,506 31 YP Sites 30,301
7 MODE Media (formerly Glam Media) 71,170 32 Time Inc. Network (partial) 29,088
8 Turner Digital 68,190 33 Netflix.com 28,647
9 Apple Inc. 60,474 34 New York Times Digital 27,415
10 CBS Interactive 58,682 35 Fox News Digital Network 26,488
11 eBay 58,472 36 Defy Media 26,258
12 Weather Company, The 57,499 37 Conde Nast Digital 26,246
13 Wikimedia Foundation Sites 54,152 38 Pinterest.com 24,902
14 Gannett Sites 48,966 39 BuzzFeed.com 23,612
15 About 48,438 40 T365 – Tribune 23,600
16 Ask Network 46,256 41 Meredith Digital 23,307
17 Comcast NBCUniversal 46,212 42 Tumblr.com* 23,139
18 Linkedin 43,793 43 Gawker Media 22,855
19 craigslist, inc. 38,838 44 Ziff Davis Tech 21,973
20 Twitter.com 38,761 45 AT&T, Inc. 21,911
21 Yelp 36,148 46 JPMorgan Chase Property 21,871
22 Demand Media 35,841 47 Purch 21,630
23 Hearst Corporation 33,902 48 WorldNow Sites 21,430
24 Answers.com Sites 33,707 49 IDG Network 21,145
25 ESPN 32,945 50 Verizon Communications Corporation 20,831

 

Hummingbird Almost a Year Later

Posted on July 22, 2014 by - Uncategorized

In September of 2013, the SEO world was running around setting offices on fire, burning desktops and charging the outer walls of the Google, Inc., headquarters with pitchforks and torches. Why? Because SEO-ers and social media strategists were going to have to change, evolve and adapt, again.

400px-Colibri-thalassinus-001-edit

On one hand, that is the nature of the profession. Search Engine Optimization is theory, insight and algorithm knowledge all mixed together to put your website on the first page of the SERP (search engine results page). You won’t find the formula in the laws of physics. It’s a science, but far from an exact one. So when one of the major elements changes, such as the algorithm, the chemists have to go back to the lab to get a new formula or to tweak an old one.

On the other hand, it sure would be nice if the web crawlers would let us know what specifically they look for to determine the best sites having the best information. But where’s the fun in that?

So here we are, almost a year later, and what has changed and what has Hummingbird shown us? For starters, keywords matter, but they don’t rule like the days of old. You used to be able to just put your product or service, the city and as long as it appeared numerous times, you were good.  Keyword stuffing is gone and replaced by quality content, but you still have to have copy that shows what you have while getting the search engine’s attention.

“Bottom line, Hummingbird was a rewrite of the search platform designed to allow Google to process new types of signals in new types of ways. Panda, Penguin, and link signals are all examples of signals that “plug in” to the Hummingbird platform, just as they did Google’s prior search platform,” reported Eric Enge.

What we’ve learned is that Blackhat SEO is almost dead, and the more real and relative your site is the more you will be rewarded by the crawlers.

Online Reviews Matter More Than Ever

Posted on July 21, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Word of mouth is alive and well—it’s just in the form of digital reviews these days. And those reviews have a huge impact on the traffic and conversions you receive through your online interactions.

Just think about how most Americans find out information—they do a search. That search leads to results. But the results don’t stand alone. They come accompanied by stars, likes, reviews, etc. Even quotes and testimonials. And what a complete stranger says about an establishment matters—mostly because you are listening.

“82% of consumers surveyed considered user generated reviews ‘extremely valuable’ or ‘valuable,’ reported the Digital Marketing Depot.

Why are online reviews so impactful? One, the consumer doesn’t have time to ask a bunch of friends or co-workers about the place. Two, for the most part, people aren’t just lying for no reason when they leave reviews. Generally, they are simply writing about an experience so you can use that information to form your own opinion.

Toxin_reviews

What does this mean if you are a business owner? The obvious answer is, generate more positive feedback about your operation online. But that can be confusing and convoluted. Instead, go after one area, complete your goal and then move on. You don’t have to be dominant on all the platforms. Go after some 5-star ratings, then move to managing comments and responding, then focus on likes, then boost more with on-page ads, etc. Whatever your plan of action is, just make sure consumers can read positive information about you online, or they will be going with the competitor.

Search and School Rankings Come Together

Posted on July 18, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Couple of rants about education before we get started: there’s no point in being nationalistic, patriotic or fly an American flag if you’re not concerned about how the future generations are being educated.

Aryans_Engineering_college

Without grown up humans living within a border, you don’t have a country. And without our youth being taught the value system along with advanced concepts, there will be no America, as it stands now anyway. (And if you have a problem with how schools are being funded, with property taxes for example, then the issue is with funding, not with accepting the fact that we simply have to provide America’s youth with the absolute best educational opportunities.) And now search wants to make sure you are sending your children in the right direction.

The search engine Bing, controlled by Microsoft, just announced they will be adding education rankings to results.

“They’ve added school ratings, rankings and academic indicators directly in Bing Snapshot. Microsoft says this works for searching for schools from elementary to high school to higher education. Bing displays how they rank nationally, within the state and their STEM rating. They also show nearby schools in the area and how they rank compared,” reported Barry Schwartz.

The upgrade to the web crawler will be able to assist local residents as well as those that are thinking about moving their families to the area. It also works for higher education. So now, with a simple search, parents can get a better understanding of the facility and how the students do on test scores.

The rankings, however, offer no solution as to how to improve the schools with bad results and scores.