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Fascinating Finds from the Web Graveyard

We SEOs work with the World Wide Web and the Internet every single day, and probably spend a great deal of our off time on it as well. One of the brilliant things about today’s technology is that we’ve become used to its rapid evolution and continuing changes, even when it means our jobs get a little more challenging. When I joined Beanstalk twenty months ago, we were at the very end of an era —Google’s Panda had literally just been released, causing SEOs all over the world to rework their strategies. This year’s Hummingbird has required another alteration to the way we work with our clients and the web in general.In the perpetual race to out-puppet the puppetmaster that is Google, we have come to assume that many things are concrete: the importance of certain social media properties, a set of specific tools to be used to gauge your success, and a general sense of what Google deems important in the rankings race. But the wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is anything but concrete; in the three or so decades of modern browsers, the Internet has grown exponentially and for every successful website or product there are handfuls of other tools that didn’t work. It’s fascinating to go back through history and imagine what could have been if these sites had won the race to the top. In the spirit of Halloween, I took a stroll through the graveyards of a few choice sites and tools to dig up some of the oddest web products now laid to eternal, irrelevant rest.

Google Lively

 Courtesy of http://news.cnet.com/i/bto/20081119/google_lively_screen2_560x392.JPGGoogle didn’t become the most successful web company on the planet by playing it safe; it’s widely known that its employees can spend 20% of their time on developing crazy projects. If you have a news alert for ‘Google patents’ you’ll inevitably find that the company is always filing the weirdest claims on technology that isn’t even possible yet — or, weirder still, releasing news related to a brand new piece of tech which was patented years before being realistically viable. But you don’t get to the summit of Mount Everest without encountering a few frozen corpses (they serve as landmarks), and you don’t become Google without some flopped experiments.

One of the most fascinating of Google’s discontinued products is Google Lively. It was an online 3D social arena which looked a great deal like Second Life, except that it was integrated with the Internet and accessible from one’s browser. You could explore a three-dimensional realm and chat with up to 19 other people in the same room. You could also hang Youtube videos on the “walls”, embed your personal Lively area to your blog, and read your email. Second Life users disliked the non-customizable realm and the lack of virtual commerce, and Google quietly shuttered Lively after only six months of life.

Jaiku

Right now we all rely on Twitter — for news, for gossip, and for collectively sharing how awesome the last season of Breaking Bad was. But before our beloved little blue bird there was Jaiku, a Finnish-based micro-blogging service that took its name from a play on the Japanese haiku. Released in 2006, Jaiku was compatible with Nokia phones and allowed users to post short messages, similar to how Twitter works right now. The company was acquired by Google to open-source the product; in 2009, Jaiku re-launched on Google’s App Engine. But the little bluebird had taken over the world by then, and Jaiku became defunct in 2012.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:37 pm on October 23, 2013


 

Google+ Cover

Today we’ve got just a very quick blog post for you to let everyone know of a couple changes to Google+. Now you may be saying, “Google+? Why should I care?” I’ll leave that debate you your own mind save to say, if Google asks you to drink some Kool-Aid, just hope it’s a flavor you like. It’s become very clear over the past couple year that not only is Google not going to let Google+ go the way of Google Wave or the litany of other failed tests, they’re making moves to insure that it thrives or at the very least becomes the control mechanism for your other activities to a point where it doesn’t matter if you use Google+ … you’re information is being stored there regardless.

But today I’m not discussing the benefits of Google+ specifically, just covering a few key updates. So let’s get to that.

Changes To Google+

As of the morning Google has announces that they’re rolling out some changes to how your profile functions/appears.  They are:

  • The size of cover photos has increased to 2120px by 1192px.  To me this doesn’t make a ton of sense as it pushes the actual information down the page requiring more scrolling on all but the largest monitors but I can see applications of it for photographers and designers.  While I may not entirely believe this max resolution is ideal, I highly recommend toying with different images and this definitely provides a wide-range of options.
  • A tab for reviews.  They’ve added a tab when users can see all the reviews you’ve done.  You may want to scan through your reviews and make sure they match the image you want to send publicly.  One might argue you should be doing this all along but I know I looked as soon as the announcement came.
  • Editing your info get’s easier.  They’ve made the interface for editing your information a bit clearer and easy to use.

They did note that things are rolling out gradually so if you don’t see it yet, check back soon.  This writer doesn’t expect it to be a long rollout as it’s a Google+ change and they don’t want people to check, see they can’t play around, and forget to come back.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:56 am on March 6, 2013

Categories:Google,Google+

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

There seems to be a lot of spam vs. turkey this year, but we still have plenty to be thankful for!

In fact just today I was reading about how Google is thanking Maps contributors with ‘Badges‘!

If you login to Google and head on over to the Map Maker section of Google Maps you can get started on either reviewing changes that need to be approved/disapproved, or make your own.

[iframe width="550" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/n8XVk1hWWok?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

The badges are apparently awarded as follows (stolen from IBF):

List of Google MapMaker badges

So Thanks Google, for being Thankful! This is going to work very well for trust factors on your G+ profile, which as we pointed out many times now, should also be the author link for your site content.

In Other News..

DuckDuckGo was trying to prove they could deliver better search results without learning anything about the user.

It would have been neat if it were possible, but I wouldn’t send a stranger out to buy me new shoes, and I don’t want a web search that doesn’t know me either.

At this point DuckDuckGo have been reduced to complaining about Google not selling them cool domain names like “duck.com”, and how many extra clicks it takes to change the search engine in Chrome vs. Firefox.

While I agree that making use of duck.com as a 301 to google.com is a bit ‘cruel’, my guess is that nobody offered Google a fair price for the domain, and it’s not bad business to improve the value by holding onto the name until a valid offer comes along.

If DuckDuckGo wants to disclose how much they offered Google, I may change my opinion, but for now this is just ‘big business’ vs. anything ‘anti-competitive’, and if this is the absolute worst mud that DDG can sling at Google then they have little to complain about.

Google Music Translate

While I have been eager to see someone like Wierd Al tackle the song Gangnam Style with some English lyrics, I am not sure I’m eager to see this ‘project’ come to life:

[iframe width="550" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0xchllP1W7g?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]
Heck this was meant to be a joke, but Google is so spooky with it’s tech that this is totally plausible?

Indeed some news sites this morning are actually getting flamed for discussing this as if it were a real service offered by Google.

Well ‘played‘ sirs.. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:53 pm on November 22, 2012


 

Google Ingress – Niantic’s Project

Google's Niantic ARG Logo

My post about creating traffic detours on the internet had a blurb about the Niantic Project where I was speculating that it was indeed a Google Field Trip promotion where you play the game by visiting landmarks to view clues.

I wasn’t too far off with my speculation, today is day 1 of the closed beta for Ingress, a ‘Niantic Project’.

[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/92rYjlxqypM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

The video gives us a pretty good idea that this will a modified version of Google’s Field Trip app with extra options to interact with both the landmark clues but also potentially other players of the game.

Essentially it looks like the goal is to get enough people from all over the world working together to solve/hack enough of the important clues to solve the mystery.

Clues appear to be well placed so that you get an idea that something is going on with a landmark, but until you find the right interaction with the landmark the information is locked.

From the screen shots we can see there’s a level meter tracking your progress as a player, an energy meter that likely limits your ‘moves’ in the game, and a GUI that was developed specifically for this game.

Right now you can’t join in and play, but you can sign up for the closed beta on the Ingress Homepage.

My guess is that you’ll have to be patient in waiting for a reply to the beta signup. Not only will there be a lot of interest, I’m betting that the team wants to approve people in an even distribution globally.

Picture what would happen if they let people sign up at random. Due to the per-capita density of nerds/landmarks, Canada would solve all it’s clues too soon and try linking it’s gates before any of the other countries are ready to link up.

Back over on Nianticproject.com we have an exotic interactive screen that requires a password with the clue “CLASSIFIED _ _ _ _ _ _ matter” implying that the password is 6 letters long, which fits none of my guesses!

Even getting past that clue leads to more clues, so the game is clearly not going to be solved or won by one person.

Brandon Bager is apparently trying to make me look like a bad guesser. He’s confirmed that at 9:33am the invite script was on the letter “B” for invites.

Perhaps I should go back and add another email address that doesn’t start with an “A”?

Patience!

SEO news blog post by @ 10:54 am on November 15, 2012


 

Google’s New ‘AuthorRank’ Bigger than Panda and Penguin Combined

If you are in the SEO industry, you have probably a new buzz word floating around the water cooler; “AuthorRank.”
AuthorRank signals image
In August of 2005, Google filed a patent for a technology dubbed Agent Rank in which ranking ‘agents’ use the reception of the content they create and the resulting interactions as a factor in determining their rankings. The patent goes on to suggest that more well-received and popular “agents” could have their associated content rank higher than unsigned content or the content of other less-authoritative “agents”.

After adding a continuation patent in 2011, Google is now able to attribute content to specific agents and can now rank these agents thanks to platforms like Google+. AJ Kohn goes into much detail about AuthorRank and why he feels it will be bigger than Panda and Penguin combined. AuthorRank will not be a replacement for PageRank, but will work in conjunction with it to enable Google to rank high quality content more appropriately.

I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on AuthorRank and in fact am only learning about it as I write this. What I did learn from the information I read is that content has and will always been key to the success of any website. Google’s mantra to publishers has always been that “content is king”; provide high quality content and the ranking, and followers will follow. This new signal will be in place soon as a final coup de grace to those still stuck in antiquated methods of content creation and syndication.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:59 am on November 14, 2012

Categories:Google,Google,Google+

 

The Ever-Changing Face of Google

New Gmail message screen
If you haven’t noticed it already, Google is making some sweeping changes to the look and feel of their Gmail service. Probably the next time you sign in to your Gmail account, you will receive a prompt informing you of the changes to the compose message interface.

Google has continued to implement a minimalist, streamlined interface across their properties. The new compose window is very reminiscent of a social chat window. The new window sits on top of the screen rather than opening up in a new window. Users can now compose a message without leaving their inbox and now have the ability to edit more than one message at a time.

This is an ongoing move by Google into a more ‘social’ source of revenue due to a failing business model that targeted click ads for revenue. It is also part of a larger rollout of sweeping changes being made to Google properties such as Gmail, Search, News and Google Docs (now called Drive) by integrating more of a consistent G+ social feel to them. It may also be an attempt to familiarize people to the G+ interface by bring the look and feel of the fledgling G+ platform to the user, in order to make the transition more seamless.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:53 am on November 5, 2012

Categories:Facebook,Google,Google+

 

Time to look at your Google Calendars (Again)

October is a trade off between birthdays (New-years babies unite!), feasting, and parties, vs. bearing witness to the lament caused by waking up in the dark, low energy, and the changing seasons.

Google can’t change the position of the sun, but it could improve your mood by helping quickly add events to your calendar.

Example of a Google calendar with more calendars added to it.
I tried to get a screenshot of the weather feature but only so much fits in 550px

 
To get more events on your calendar, without importing or adding them one at a time you need to ‘subscribe’ to additional calendars.

The first step, after getting logged into a Google account is to click on the Other Calendars menu and choose the “Browse Interesting calendars” option:

The Other Calendars menu in Google Calendars.

 
On the next page you should see three tabs, “Holidays”, “Sports”, and “More”.

I’d say everyone should add their national holidays, even if you’ve done this before, take a moment to preview the official calendar for your country, as the official version is likely a lot better than what you’ve been subscribing to.

The sports tab is pointless, since we’re nerds, and there’s no WRC/Drifting events in the list. (I kid, I kid.. No, not really.)

Finally the ‘More’ tab is where the magic happens.

Under the ‘More’ tab you want to seek out: “Contacts’ birthdays and events”

Subscribing to this calendar and allowing it to show on your main calendar will help you track all those birthday parties that will help get you through this dreary fall season.

Keep in mind however that subscribing to a calendar does not modify your calendar, nor does it add notifications or alerts to your calendar.

If you want to be reminded a week ahead of your best friend’s birthday, you should go make that event manually.

If you just want to know on the day of his birthday that you forgot, then you can simply click on the birthday’s calendar item and then click on “copy to my calendar” to get that event on your personal calendar.

All my friends use FB not G+ so who cares?

Well, at least in New Zealand, G+ user interest is actually passing Twitter/Linked In for new users, and making up ground quickly on Facebook.

Illustration of the user growth in major social media for the NZ area.

Roy Morgan’s analysis of Social Media trends in NZ is a bit hard to look at (even upsidedown) but his data is very telling of the growth that G+ is getting from the adoption of Android phones and other Google products.

I’d love to say that G+ is just more social/edgy/trendy than FB but that’s never what it’s been for/about.

If you’ve read any of my rants about comparing the two social networks you’ll know I look at it like replacing a banana (FB) with an orange (G+).

On one hand, a banana can be fun, especially if you’re care-free about discarding the peel, but an Orange has some serious potentials that a Banana lacks, especially in clean presentation.

Ultimately as SEOs we would advise paying respects to both networks as each has it’s perks, though G+ hasn’t made news this week for app developers selling 1 million user profiles for $5 US.

TL;DR: Man buys 1 million user data records (mainly First/Last Name, Gender, Age, Email, Phone #,etc.. data) for $5 and FB thanks him by telling him not to talk about it.

So really, enjoy your access to private data while it lasts, build those calendars while it’s easy, because if we have app developers selling a million user data records for $5, you can be sure people won’t want to share valid info with insecure sites. In fact due to this, it’s better to put in intentionally incorrect info and only trust services with solid security reputations.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:47 am on October 25, 2012


 

Google Rickroll’d the Internet

So Google has time for more than attacking your websites with black and white animals. They recently did a virtual ‘street-view’ tour of a Google data center in Lenoir, North Carolina, and managed to include some ‘easter eggs’ in the process.

Here’s the ‘video tour’ with nice audio explaining the various sections of the Street View tour:

[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/avP5d16wEp0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

 
Not missing a beat, Google’s G+ account noticed the recursive nature of the servers taking a picture of the servers that would then host the pictures of the servers taking pictures of the servers..

Google+ post from Google about Google Street view inside a Google Data Center that hosts Street View data.

 
Folks with a keen eye will notice some ‘odd’ images in the tour, including the world’s largest ever single Rick Roll attempt:

A Google employee casually shares the same video on two screens. Apparently he's never going to give us up or let us down, never going to run around and desert us..

 
Someone hiding in a costume that looks like an android:

A Google employee dressed as an android inside a Google Data Center.
Love the white boards! All offices need whiteboards!

 
And even an image of their on-site security team:

A Google employee dressed as a stormtrooper and a mini R2 unit stand guard inside a Google Data Center.

 
Some good humor from Google, and a really neat tour of something that is typically a very private operation.

One last ‘observation’, I also like the advice of freshly washed/sliced veggies, like celery/carrots as an item to have beside your keyboard throughout the day. As the sign says, those veggies are a good source of fiber which is really important if you give a .. darn. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:39 am on October 18, 2012


 

Dying Online, Facebook and the Digital Afterlife

From time immemorial, countless people have looked at the stars and contemplated their existence and life’s greatest questions; What happens to us after we die? What will our legacy be? What will become of my Facebook account?

dying online

In an ever increasing digital world, this is a question that has been posed more than a few times between around the water cooler here at Beanstalk. With an ever increasing amount of users employing cloud based digital assets, and engaging in social media, many people are concerned not only for the protection of these valuable assets and intellectual property, but in preserving memories for friends and family for posterity.

A paper published law professor Jason Mazzone from the University of Illinois calls for federal government to interevene and to regulate what happens to digital accounts after an account holder’s demise.

Along with an ever increasing amount of people, Mazzone argues that social platforms and other online services have policies that do not adequately protect an individual’s intellectual property or privacy after their death.

"Virtually no law regulates what happens to a person’s online existence after his or her death," he said. "This is true even though individuals have privacy and copyright interests in materials they post to social networking sites."

In an absence of any legal regulations, social sites are unlikely to adopt any policies of their own accord that will do little to protect a users account or intellectual property. Presently there are very few regulations in place, and most sites are left developing policies on-the-fl, with little regard for the user’s data.

"It’s becoming increasingly common for people to have digital assets, and some of them do actually have value," he said. "Not only are such sites repositories of intellectual property, they also are important to family members and friends. Historians of the future will likely depend upon digital archives to reconstruct the past, which creates a real problem, particularly in an age when we don’t leave diaries, and, increasingly, people don’t write books."

Facebook’s policy is to "memorialize" the deceased’s account. All content that has been uploaded (status updates, photos & videos) are removed. The user’s wall remains intact so that individuals can express their condolences to the departed. However, the user data is not deleted by Facebook. Currently, the data is archived with the speculation that it will be held for posterity by Facebook until a such time where it can be re-purposed for historical records.

There is no system in place to state your wishes for your account after your demise (similar to a living will) and no regulations in place to appoint an executor of your estate. As the population of Facebook users begin to age, Mazzone is at the forefront of a growing movement to instill federally mandated regulations to protect the billions of Facebook and social networking users worldwide.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:43 pm on October 1, 2012


 

Google Forbids Online Anonymity…While Patenting It

Recently Google stated the importance of using your real (common) name so that people you want to connect with can find you. Google goes on to say that using a secondary online identity or pseudonym on its Google+ service can result in your profile in being suspended if it does not adhere to the Google Names Policy.

dafuq?

At the same time, Google has been awarded a new patent called Social Computing Personas for Protecting Identity in Online Social Interactions.

In the patent application, Google explains to the USPTO (US Patent Office) that when a user reveals their identity on the internet that it, that “it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.” Google’s patented solution is to provide online anonymity to social networking users using an alter ego, or anonymous identity.

pop art girl image

One can only speculate why one hand of Google is warning about the folly and penalties for not following their Names Policy, while the other hand of Google says that users are at risk if they do not protect their identity with an anonymous identity.

Has Google change its official stance regarding online anonymity? Is this a case where one hand of Google doesn’t know what the other is doing? Or is Google just avoiding putting all its eggs into one basket? And what about Mary-Lou?

SEO news blog post by @ 12:03 pm on September 19, 2012


 

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