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Google Car Doesn’t Need Humans

The biggest problem on the road?  All those pesky people.  It seems that Google has isolated the same problem with their car as they have with their algorithm and are working to deal with it in much the same way … take all those unpredictable humans out of the equation.

To do this Google announced yesterday that they are building their own vehicles (about 100 to be specific) and here’s the kinda-creepy part, the only human-interaction component is a red emergency button to stop it.  No steering wheel, no brake or gas pedal.  Nothing. The argument is that human interaction is more likely to cause an accident than an automated system.  Are they right?  Well, there’s obviously no large-scale evidence to support or refute the claim but with the large number of robotic acquisitions Google has been making of late, they’re certainly well positioned to give the effort a solid run.

One of the interesting features of this technological move is that the car can be requested from any Android phone and with the destination also programed from the phone meaning getting your car with arms full of shopping just got a whole lot easier as it would exit the parkade and meet you in front of the store with the click of a button or (presumably) a voice control.

There isn’t a whole lot of detail out on the car yet but here’s the fuzzy-little video put out to promote it.

I’ve got to say, with the number of less-than-qualified drivers I encounter on the road I hope sincerely that it works and can imagine the mobility it will lend to people who otherwise cannot drive themselves.  While I find it a bit odd, I’m sure there was a time when fire did too.

And Facebook Eavesdropping

And speaking of things you can do fro your phone, Facebook will be adding a function that allows them to listen in while you’re updating your status.  They will be listening to the background noise to enable you to share what you’re watching and/or listening to.    Now you might be thinking, “If I wanted to share what I’m watching I’d simply include that in my status update.”  Interesting thought but apparently Facebook is pretty sure you might not know you want to share this enormously invaluable piece of pop culture with all the folks you know.  I mean, if I can’t know which of my friends is watching Honey Booboo or listening to the latest by Justin Beiber how am I to know who I should unfriend?

Think of it as a culture-based filtering.  Perhaps they could add a feature to automatically unfriend people who have horrible taste, put them all in a driverless car and send them all to a cave so they don’t have cell phone access.

Google & Facebook: Together to make the world a better place.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:49 am on May 28, 2014

Categories:Facebook,Google

 

 

Google stock soars: Titan Aerospace + Public Glass Explorer

It would take a lot of thunderbolts and lightning to frighten a company as resourceful as Google.

After some of the bad news earlier this month, Google had a very good day on the stock market and is soaring high on several big announcements.
 

Google
NASDAQ: GOOG – Apr 15 6:13 PM ET
536.44 +3.92 (0.74%)

 
As of today, April 15th, starting at 6am, Google started taking public orders for the Google Glass Explorer product.

What’s the catch? You have to be a US citizen because the Glass Explorer program is focused on the US and doesn’t have a lot of support for other countries yet. D’oh!

Also, at $1,500, you probably need to have a solid bankroll or a game plan to make the money back by producing videos and taking images that you can promote as ‘through glass’.

The official post on Google Plus took several minutes to finish loading thanks to the comments from people who range from excited, to angry, depending on their global location and access to the needed funds.

There’s no mention of the public access to the Explorer Glass Edition on the official Google Blog, but last week they had Dr. Jane Goodall discussing the tools she used to document and learn about chimpanzee behavior.

When I consider the additional images/video Dr.Goodall would have been able to collect and share if her studies were done with today’s technology/tools, it really boggles my mind.

Still, I don’t have US citizenship, or $1,500 laying around, so all I can do is write with jealousy. :)

Speaking of funds, Google also just purchased Titan Aerospace, the same company that has successfully built self-powered gliders that can sustain an altitude of 65,000 feet for up to three years.
 
Photo of the Solara 50 self powered glider.
 
The only figure that news sites will quote is the $60 million US that Facebook had previously offered to purchase Titan Aerospace, and the assumption is that Google obviously offered even more.

How much is it worth to Google to be able to update Google Maps image data without sharing the cost of satellite images? Millions.

What’s the value of traffic and exposure if Google’s drones can provide near real-time updates of forest fires and other large disasters? Priceless.

These self-powered gliders can apparently supplement Google’s Loon Project which provides internet access to low density population areas using ‘smart’ balloons that use the various wind layers to control their location.

If a balloon is going the wrong direction it can raise or lower to get into a different layer of wind for some limited control of it’s travel. When a balloon needs maintenance it can be deflated slowly to bring it back to ground safely, and in the event of a malfunction there’s a parachute in each balloon.

Currently the Loon project is focused in New Zealand with a future goal of establishing a contiguous ring of balloons around the 40th southern parallel that will provide uninterrupted internet access for anyone living in the 40km range of the ring.

With the purchase of Titan Aerospace and it’s gliders, Google has even more options and folks are already starting to wonder about a hybrid balloon using some of the glider technology that Titan Aerospace is bringing to the table.

Honestly, between selling connectivity and providing discounted image data for Google Earth, this purchase unlocks a ton of potential and could easily pay itself off in short order because Google’s in a great position to actually use the technology.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:00 pm on April 15, 2014


 

Is your business wearable aware?

Has your SEO been mentioning Mobile/Tablet apps and designs a lot?

SEO Concerns for Mobile Websites – August 16th, 2013

Google Q3, Mobile Ads & Hummingbird – October 21, 2013

I For One, Welcome Our Google-Android Overlords! – May 3, 2011

Who needs a mobile website? – June 23, 2009

It seems like YEARS of nagging, so why haven’t you made the moves? Are you waiting for the mobile fad to die?

In 2012 Google dropped the bomb that Android installations had hit the 400 million mark with a pretty snazzy video:
[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1UhGM2us8eA?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

Then in 2013 Google did another high-def video announcing they more than doubled the install base in just one year to 900 million installs:
[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1CVbQttKUIk?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

While I haven’t seen a video for 2014 yet, I can only imagine that we are in the billions of installs now and here I am still trying to get business owners to see that even if this was a fad, it’s worth being part of, in a big way.

Need more ammo to dig into the mobile ‘fad’? How about Google going public with the Wear SDK for Android?

On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, the Offical Google Blog published:

Today we’re announcing Android Wear, a project that extends Android to wearables. And we’re starting with the most familiar wearable—watches.

Google is not only ‘gearing up’ with the recently acquired Motorola Mobility division, but it’s also working with hardware partners like Samsung, LG, HTC, Asus, and major brands in the chipset manufacturing/fashion industry to make sure that top tier products will soon be available from multiple brands, with high tech and high fashion rolled into a desirable wearable.

The ‘Information that moves with you’ video, aimed at consumers, is a bit ‘goofy’ and the shrug at the end sums up how I feel about these demonstrations of fledgeling hardware innovations.

However the developer preview video is where I would like business owners to focus their attention:
[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0xQ3y902DEQ?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

This video is FAR more interesting in that what we want to do is get behind this tech before our competition, supporting not just early adopters, but also getting the recognition that comes from being first to market with a solution.

As an SEO, Beanstalk has to constantly monitor and appraise site health and rankings for a number of our client websites. Right now we’re just testing our automation and only publish monthly reports focused on key areas of interest, but that’s going to change as we push our abilities.

Worried about negative SEO tactics? Very soon we should be able to offer a unique level of protection for our clients with respect to instant alerts for a spike/drop in backlinks/no-follow flags on backlinks. If you suddenly lost 100s of backlinks overnight and there was a spike of backlinks becoming no-follow, wouldn’t you want that info immediately?

Want to watch for syndication of an article or keyphrase with some special criteria? We would be able to get that outreach info to you instantly on the Wearable SDK thanks to the scripts and tools we’ve purchased and developed for maintaining our client’s web rankings.

Obviously our client’s core SEO needs always come first and we’re in the midst of a server hardware rollout so I can’t say “check back next week” but I can say to expect more from us soon!

SEO news blog post by @ 2:08 pm on March 19, 2014


 

Google Doodles For Gay Rights

Google diidle for gay rights.
In what I consider to be a very bold move on Google’s part, their UK Google Doodle (the image that shows their name on their homepage) today acts as a protest of the Russian stand against homosexuality.  The doodle, which displays various athletic events, is colored in the trademark rainbow used to represent the gay rights movement worldwide.

While only visible as a doodle in the UK, worldwide they have included the following quote beneath their search box:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” –Olympic Charter

My only critique of the effort is that they are putting dollars ahead of their principles by not rolling out the same doodle worldwide.  This is clearly a reaction to the 88% acceptance of homosexuality in Britain vs 60% in the US.  Nonetheless, it’s great to see a company visibly convey their corporate ethics to the world.  This is true regardless of what the stand of that company are.  If you dont’ feel comfortable stating what your views are, then it’s time to re-evaluate what they are to begin with.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:37 am on February 7, 2014

Categories:Google

 

How Rap Genius Pulled a Dumb Move

I’m a radio host on the weekends, and one of the genres that fascinates me most is the rap coming out of the underground, social justice, and queer circles—people like Angel Haze, Le1f, and Blue Scholars. These artists use rap as the medium for some incredibly well-written messages. The best rap is filled with double entendres, setups and punchlines, and phrases with multiple meanings; Blue Scholars’ “North by Northwest,” for instance, features the lyric “It’s two types of crack, one legal, one felonious/
The lumpenprole push keys like Thelonious.” Lumpenprole is a term coined by Karl Marx to describe the lowest stratum of the proletariat—criminals, vagrants, and tramps. Pushing keys is a reference to jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, but also to the common slang term for ‘kilogram’ used by drug dealers.
dunce cap
How do I know all of this? Because I looked it up once on RapGenius.com, a lyric site which includes an innovative annotation system which allows artists and fans to analyze the content of rap lyrics to explain the references and reveal the deeper meaning behind the song. But if you search for ‘rap genius’ in Google, you won’t find it; the closest you’ll see, at the time of this writing, is their French site, rapgeniusfrance, buried on Page 5. On Christmas Day, Google hit Rap Genius with a massive penalty, after they were caught trying to recruit bloggers with spam SEO tactics; the company, which recently received a massive $15 million investment from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, has effectively been wiped from the map.

Web entrepreneur John Marbach exposed Rap Genius’ growth hacking attempts shortly before Christmas. In a blog post, he details how he responded to a call for affiliate bloggers that went out on the Rap Genius Facebook fan page; when he sent an email to inquire about the opportunity, site cofounder Mahbod Moghadam responded with instructions that Marbach should include a set of HTML a href links on the bottom of one of his blog posts. The links were for each of the songs on Justin Bieber’s new album; Moghadam promised to tweet out any blog post which included the HTML, assuring massive traffic increases for both sites.

Anyone with even a slight idea of how SEO works (and how it shouldn’t) will shudder at the thought. Rap Genius was caught red-handed attempting to engineer a huge link scheme with tactics so old-school that they might as well come with corporal punishment and inkwells. After Google zapped them from the SERPs, Quantcast estimates show that Rap Genius’ traffic plunged by 60% the first day after the penalty, and another 52% the day after that. The fact that Rap Genius asked for anchor text links from a blogger is almost quaint, and everyone from Barry Schwartz to Eric Ward has weighed in on the site’s penalty and why things unraveled the way they did. Ward’s analysis was particularly poignant; he expresses sympathy for the site, which wanted what every site wants: more traffic based on links from high-ranked blogs. But, he says, the mistake wasn’t in trying to get bloggers to link to Rap Genius, but rather demanding anchor text from them rather than just letting the content creators create the links more naturally.

Rap Genius has been controversial before; its founders have been in the news for foul-mouthed and explicit behaviors, but the site was rising in the ranks for a long time. Recently they were featured in a New York Times article for their participation in a unique education program designed to teach science through hip-hop. For a while, it seemed like they were destined to reach the top quickly despite being a relatively young site; but the fact is, no one knows exactly what Google wants out of a site, and no one can game the system without risking penalty. While Rap Genius has confessed their mistake and promised to fix it, and the penalty may be fixed sometime down the road, this case is yet another clear reminder that quick schemes will land you in hot water more often than not.

SEO news blog post by @ 3:13 pm on December 31, 2013


 

Blogcology Dec 19, 2013

Davecology

Dave Davies’ recent Search Engine Watch article takes us back in time by reviewing Google’s methods of madness from 2013. What was great about this article is that it makes sense of Google’s events and algorithms as far back as 2012 and how it all came together for the present day. He discusses on the show that 2012 was a case of tearing off the band aid where 2013 was more about learning to adapt to the changes.

His 2014 forecast was intriguing as he sees Google continuing pursuit of a mobile search environment. Since they own a majority of the OS market this makes sense that their direction increases their focus on communications between desktop and mobile.

Dave’s projection for Google technology acquisitions in the New Year will be primarily on advertising. With a rumor of a gaming console he seems to think could deliver convenience through offering live time shopping from the television or console. Like ordering a pizza while playing a game or watching TV without shutting the entertainment down to do so.

Definitely an entertaining read that places the pieces to the puzzle in subsequent order and paints the perfect possible future for Google.

Faceology

These days’ people aren’t seeing the usual views from friends that they might be used to. According to Jim he sees Facebook as a “liberal echo chamber” because of the limiting results of visual updates. The new algorithms give you what you think you want to see but leaves out what it decides are not of interest of you. Jim made a point that the washed out delivery of content is making this social platform a less interesting environment. Dave referred it to “filtering to placate” a trend that not only Facebook has followed but Google as well. The lack of debatable posts is less engaging but it’s also creating less time on site. A benefit for Facebook users but a considerable loss for the social giant.

Googecology

The boys were discussing the blunt warning from Google to spammers. Pugnacious, was the word Jim used to describe Matt Cutts latest video thwarting off the evil of spammers. This takes place of after a massive spam hunt on link networks such as Anglo Rank. Matt laid down the law and showed muscle behind Google’s intent to end dishonest work on the web. I would have to definitely agree with this bold move from Matt and think that this could end up being the year that spammers lie six feet under.

Sumcology

• You could be ordering pizzas while shooting zombies
• Facebook -  we want the good, bad and ugly
• Filtering to placate can result in boredom
• Pugnacious, is just fun to say

SEO news blog post by @ 1:30 pm on December 20, 2013


 

Google Busts Anglo Rank, Anglo Rank Keeps Trucking

On December 6, Google’s Matt Cuts sent out this cheeky tweet: “’There are absolutely NO footprints linking the websites together.’ Oh, Anglo Rank.” This was effectively an announcement that Google had busted the paid link service; when Search Engine Land’s EIC Matt McGee theorized that the network was “torched,” Cutts confirmed that Anglo Rank had indeed been penalized and that Webmaster Tools would be sending out a lot of penalty notifications in the near future. He also told Barry Schwartz that Anglo Rank was far from the only network that was being targeted by the latest raid and update.

This isn’t the first link network that Google has gone after in the past year, but they’ve been taking them down with greater speed and frequency as their algorithms increasingly demand high-quality, honest link strategies from sites in order to get them anywhere near the top 10. In contrast to all of the quality, content-focused work that we SEOs have been doing in the wake of Hummingbird, Anglo Rank’s listing on Black Hat World appears almost delightfully quaint; it promises English-language links from high-PR sites on top-level domains, and boasts that the network builds enough anchor and link diversity to ensure that Google won’t flag the links as spam. Cutts quoted a piece of their sales pitch in his tweet; Anglo Rank promised that there was no way that Google would see that you were participating in a linked network of sites. Clearly, that’s no longer the case.

What I find personally fascinating is that the report of Google’s bust has done anything but shut Anglo Rank down; its thread on the Black Hat World forums has reported Cutts’ tweet, but the requests for sample links and packaging prices have only increased as a result. The sellers have actually reassured interested webmasters that the network has barely been touched, and any attempts to warn potential new customers away have been met with hostility and accusations of being a Google spy.

It’s actually a little amazing to see the black hat side of this story; while most of us would assume that having a link network busted would result in a mild scramble to rework strategy, it seems that Anglo Rank is still running under business as usual, and webmasters see Cutts’ announcement as more of a challenge than a threat.

For dedicated black-hatters, things like this are just dust in the wind; it’s all a part of the game, and there are plenty more churn-and-burn sites and underground link purchase networks to exploit. But it’s also a potent reminder to everyone with a good website that they can’t afford to lose; never trust someone who promises quick results and bulk link quantities; while the black-hatters may know exactly what they’re doing, if you are their client then you may end up bearing the brunt of the penalty. Good SEO requires patience, hard work, and a lot of give-and-take; Anglo Rank isn’t the first network to get busted by Google, and it won’t be the last, but we are in the final days of these Wild West tactics and they are not going to produce good long-term results.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:59 pm on December 10, 2013

Categories:Google,link building

 

Yellow Advertising: Will Google’s New Labels Transform PPC?

I took last week off to volunteer for a friend’s charity drive, which generally meant trying to be funny on a live webcast at 4 in the morning. So needless to say, getting back into the swing of things at work was a process. Yesterday, as I was catching up on what I’d missed during my vacation and doing a little bit of research, I noticed something very interesting: the Google paid advertisements in Chrome’s SERPs had bright yellow labels on them which blared the word “Ad.” This is a test being run by Google on their AdWords search results. As Jennifer Slegg reports on Search Engine Watch, the labels are one option being considered to clarify the difference between paid and organic results, in wake of an FTC guideline update which requires search engines to clearly mark what is an advertisement and what is not.

If you think you’ve never clicked on a Google ad, you may be fooling yourself; research in 2012 and 2011 showed that nearly half of web users couldn’t tell the difference between a PPC ad and an organic search result, and the PPC results for high commercial intent phrases can take up as much as 85% of the above-the-fold pixels on a SERP. Google Ads account for 74% of clicks for high commercial intent searches, and a search of any of the major SEO news sites will reveal dozens of articles talking about PPC’s increasingly prominent role in our work. pale yellow bannerGoogle’s ads are typically either in a right-side column or in a light yellow banner at the top of a SERP. A few test searches showed me a listing with three paid ads at the top; on one of my monitors, I could barely tell where the pale yellow/tan background ended and the regular results began. It makes sense how some people could inadvertently click PPC listings without realizing it.

The FTC is absolutely correct in its concerns; when customers can’t tell the difference between an advertisement and an organic result, it blurs the lines of consumer psychology and leans dangerously into the field of manipulation and obstruction; people don’t like being lied to, and it’s vital to keep the distinctions clear. The new alert labels replace the light yellow backdrop, which is interesting; while they are brighter and thus draw the eye, the listings now resemble the organic results in every other way.

The concern for PPC advertisers is: will the labels increase or decrease click-through-rates? It’s an interesting question, and one that will only be answered when Google rolls out the test in full and releases its decision as to whether it’ll stick. Some are sure that the eye-catching color of the tag will increase CTR, while others are worried that seeing the word “ad” beside their advertisement will result in customers fleeing from paid results in order to avoid playing into the marketing game. We’ve been hardwired since the early days of the internet to avoid banner ads at all costs, and an increasingly tech-savvy user base responds to advertising far differently than they did twenty or even ten years ago.

ad bannerSo what will become of Google’s AdWords? I’m not sure yet. I repeated my test search for washing machines in the Chrome browser that shows the new ad labels (so far it seems to be the only place where Google is testing it out), and I personally am pleased at the new look. I won’t be clicking on the advertisements, but I know they’re there and I feel that clearly marking each listing makes it far more clear to the user where the advertising stops and the organic results begin. But then, I’m wise to the ways of SEOs and online marketers, so I’m probably not the best person to report on this phenomenon; time will tell if this will mark a change to Google’s AdWords for good, and if so, how it will affect PPC rates.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:45 am on November 27, 2013

Categories:Google,Google Chrome

 

The Curious Case of the DNS Error

While reviewing a client’s Webmaster Tools data yesterday, we came across something rather odd. WMT reported a DNS error on November 14th. A quick manual check of keyword rankings determined a significant loss, yet the analytics data showed a slight drop in organic search traffic between Nov 15th and 16th with a full recovery by the 17th, but keyword rankings are still slow to recover. We resolved to investigate the issue further and found that we weren’t the only ones seeking answers.

Fast forward to today and there’s a slight buzz in the SEO community from those who have noticed similar occurrences among their own sites. Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Roundtable wrote an article today bringing attention the issue. Although there has been little official word yet, Barry did receive a comment from Google stating that they were not seeing anything unusual.

Could it be a bug on Google’s end?

Dr. Pete over at MOZ.com has suggested it may very well be. In April 2012 there was a Google bug that affected some domains by treating them as parked domains – which resulted in devaluation. There is speculation that this may be a similar case.tin tin

In the discussion at Search Engine Roundtable yesterday over whether or not there was an algorithm update on Nov 14th that could be related to the occurrence of these DNS errors, Dr. Pete wrote:

“A DNS issue at large scale could absolutely affect the index. If Google had a technical problem that caused them to fail to resolve host records, they could interpret that as a site outage and potentially de-index sites temporarily. That’s speculative, but it’s possible. The fact that many of these warnings seem to be false alarms also indicates that something failed on Google’s end.”

At this point there are no solid answers over the cause of these mysterious DNS errors and what, if anything, it has affected. So, if you too have noticed a DNS error on your site from Nov 14th /15th, hold tight and we will report more information on the issue as it becomes available.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:52 pm on November 19, 2013

Categories:Articles,Google

 

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