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Google-a-gram? Insta-oogle? Google-Shop?

Do you like pictures? Pretty pictures?

Google just purchased an online graphics startup called ‘Snapseed‘, adding the outstanding features of it’s tools to Google’s already growing list of image editing options.
A photo of Blueberries with the Google logo hidden in the middle
While we like to get people’s attention, this news does not require Snapseed to suddenly be elevated to the status of ‘Instagram rival‘ just for the sake of writing an article.

In fact Snapseed was popular with photographers, not just ‘people taking pictures of their cats’; Something which already declassifies it from comparison to Instagram; Above and beyond the fact that photographers actually paid for Snapseed’s services.

In fact I don’t even need to pretend that:

Google and Facebook Inc are locked in a battle for social network followers

..to bolster this article either, but thanks for your attempt at ‘journalism’ Reuters.

The truth is that G+ isn’t for the MySpace holdouts, nor has it been designed to force people off of FB.

Heck I’m sure there’s users of both systems who will never make the switch and I’m just as sure that the developers working on G+ are fine with that.

You heard it here folks:

  • Google+ is not Facebook.
  • Does Facebook allow me to video chat with my GMail contacts?
  • Can anyone guarantee efforts on Facebook will always be favored by Google?
  • Do FB business pages give me the same professional exposure that a company page on G+ would provide?
  • Would it be worth it to setup rel=author links for employees FB profiles when G+ is far more business worthy?
  • Etc.. etc..

People keep saying things like, “Google is playing catch up in social…“, which is true if you completely ignore the innovations and ways that they are leading social tech.

Google already has some great graphics options like SketchUp:

[iframe alt="Google SketchUp Model of heavy equipment" src="http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/mini?mid=c56ccf59ab91137f10791b853e07f3d7&etyp=sw&width=550&height=413" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" width="550" height="413"]

.. and SVG Edit which is great for HTML5 authoring:

(This is a 3kb SVG script)SVG Edit Logo in SVG Format

.. and Picasa for photos:

Picasa logo

Oreo the Cat - Politely explaining his deepening interest in eating some of his owner's food.
(Which in version 3.9 has a lot of image filters already!)

Heck, speaking of Picasa and Google+, with Picasa installed locally I can organize/edit photos on my desktop and have that organization flow seamlessly to email contacts/friends/public.

With multiple PCs at my disposal, having my efforts tied to a single online sharing point is ‘huge’ to say the least.

In fact, some tools, like SVG Edit, are directly available online, making it a very accessible tool for quick web design work on-the-fly.

If Nik Software’s Snapseed adds even more options to the process then I’m super happy to be a G+ user.

Thanks for all the free love Google!

SEO news blog post by @ 12:43 pm on September 18, 2012


 

You don’t want the next Penguin update…

Scary Matt Cutts

Is Matt Cutts just goofing around or is he really trying to scare us?

The statement in the title of this article, from Matt Cutts, has the SEO world looking for further information as to just how bad the next Penguin update will be.

During the SES in San Francisco this week Matt Cutts got a chance to speak about updates and how they will effect SEOs. One of the things he was quoted as saying really caught my eye:

You don’t want the next Penguin update, the engineers have been working hard…

Mr.Cutts has recently eaten some words, retracting his statement that too much SEO is a bad thing, and explaining that good SEO is still good.

Even with attendees saying that he spoke the words with no signs of ominous intent, how do you expect the SEO world to take follow up statements like:

The updates are going the be jarring and julting for a while.

That’s just not positive sounding at all and it almost has the tone of admission that the next updates are perhaps going to be ‘too much’ even in Matt’s opinion, and he’s one of Google’s top engineers!

My take is that if you are doing anything even slightly shady, you’re about to see some massive ranking spanking.

Reciprocal links, excessive directories, participating in back-link cliques/neighborhoods, pointless press releases, redundant article syndication, duplicate content without authorship markup, poorly configured CMS parameters, etc.. These are all likely to be things, in my opinion, that will burn overly SEO’d sites in the next update.

The discussion also made it’s way to the issues with Twitter data feeds. Essentially since Google and Twitter no longer have an agreement, Google is effectively ‘blocked’ from crawling Twitter.

Dead twitter bird

On the topic of Twitter crawling Matt Cutts was quoted as saying:

..we can do it relatively well, but if we could crawl Twitter in the full way we can, their infastructure[sic] wouldn’t be able to handle it

 

Which to me seems odd, since I don’t see any other sites complaining about how much load Google is placing on their infrastructure?

Clearly the issue is still political/strategic and neither side is looking to point fingers.

With Twitter’s social media relevance diminished you’d think +1′s would be a focus point but Matt Cutts also commented on the situation stating that we shouldn’t place much value on +1 stats for now.

A final point was made about Knowledge Graph, the new information panel that’s appearing on certain search terms.

Since the Google Search Quality team is now the Google Knowledge Graph team Matt Cutts had some great answers on the topic of Knowledge Graph, including the data sources and harm to Wikipedia.

There had been a lot of cursing about Google simply abusing Wikipedia’s bandwidth/resources but it was made clear during the session that Wikipedia is not traffic dependent because they don’t use ads for revenue.

Essentially, if Wikipedia’s data is getting better utilized, and they haven’t had to do anything to make it happen, they are happy.

If you wanted to get more details there’s lots of #SESSF hashed posts on Twitter and plenty of articles coming from the attendees.

I’m personally going to go start working on a moat for this Penguin problem..

SEO news blog post by @ 11:56 am on August 16, 2012


 

Google Advisor: Where have you been all my life?

Admittedly, when I read the announcement that Google Advisor was here to help me manage my money the first thoughts were about privacy and that last bastion of private information Google hasn’t touched yet: Banking.

Gloved hand that is reaching for banking and credit info

Being wrong never felt so good!

Google Advisor is not (at the moment) a way to suck more private information from you, it’s actually more of a consulting service for comparing bank accounts, credit cards, certificates of deposit, and more.

Google Advisor

As someone who’s setup review sites for various services/offerings I can tell you how handy/popular it is to break down competing services so the consumer can select something that meets their exact needs.

Google Advisor claims that the information it’s showing is based on my data, but a 0% intro rate on transfers for 18months? If that’s really available to me I’m going to have to send Google some chocolates.

Google bought QuickOffice

QuickOffice Logo

Google bought the mobile office suite ‘QuickOffice‘ which allows ‘App-Level’ access to office documents for mobile devices based on Android/iOS/Symbian.

This move seems redundant with Google’s ‘Docs’ suite offering even more connectivity to your documents/spreadsheets/presentations, but that is just a cloud service, not an ‘App’ and you can have more offline control of your work if you have an ‘App’ vs. a cloud service.

Plus you can’t argue with the users, they want ‘Apps’ and will pay for them.

Google bought Meebo

Meebo Logo

I’m not sure if this was related to Yahoo’s ‘Axis’ bar plugin that came and went with zero fanfare, but it’s an interesting purchase for SEO interests.

Meebo is a handy social media tool with some great options for ad placement and on-line marketing. SEOs not already dabbling with the tool should take a look, like yesterday.

If you’ve been managing your Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.., profiles without a management tool, aggregation sites like Meebo are really what you’ve been missing out on.

We know that Google owned properties have more relevance and trust on the web than similar services/products. After all, if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

So if you were using some other social aggregation tool, and were doing it solely for SEO awareness, you can safely assume it’s worth the effort to try out Meebo for a potentially improved result/relevance from your efforts.

We will be doing some testing (as we always do) and will blog about our results to further expand on what the service offers over others. This may even warrant an article or two?

SEO news blog post by @ 12:42 pm on June 5, 2012


 

It’s all coming up Google?

When it’s my turn to tackle the SEO news for our blog I first look specifically at ‘technology’ news headlines for relevance, and then I usually filter it out a bit to nail a topic that our readers can relate to/find useful.

Today’s news feed looks like I just went to Google’s news blog and did a copy/pasta, yet in reality Google WAS the news this morning.

Here’s the list of headlines:

    • Google places is gone and now merged with Google+ Local
    • Google Plus places now features Zagat review information (Kyle mentioned this in yesterday’s blog post)
    • Facebook drops Google chrome as a recommended browser (and then removes the whole page)
    • Google’s new ChromeOS Chromebox is available for purchase
    • Google’s not yet available ’5-core’ Nexus 7 tablet makes a sneaky appearance a few days early on a benchmarking website
    • And a new Google World of Wonders video from Japan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u58wgeS-jC4

Google+ Places

First impression?

“Pretty cool, and very personalized information about locations in my area.”

Right off the bat it told me where Dave likes to eat..

Which was funny because he’s recommending a restaurant that’s famous for either utterly ruining every aspect of the dinning experience or totally nailing it.

Google Plus Places
Dave must be lucky. ;)

So like anything on-line:
Zagat reviews aren’t perfect.
Everyone has an opinion.
People have unique interests.

At least this is Google, so we know that it’s trying as hard as it can to learn and suggest things to ‘me’ based on personalization.

So if the first visit doesn’t introduce you to your new favourite restaurant/pub/coffee shop, I wouldn’t write it off, just try it again later.

Stock isn’t the only thing dropping over at Facebook

This image has been popping up in Google/Technology news all morning:
Facebook Unsupported Browsers

Since Chrome and Safari both share the ‘webkit’ engine, there’s almost zero possibility that Facebook is dropping support for Chrome.

In fact I would say this is more about making Opera stand out vs. dropping support for Chrome. Especially since the FB developer page used to recommend Chrome!

Given that FB pulled this link down completely, I’m going to venture a guess that this was even possibly a mistake.

Chromebox for Sale

The Chromebox is a cute little SFF (small form factor) PC from Samsung with the ChromeOS preloaded and ready to go.
Google Chromebox
You can pick one up today for $329.. However if you don’t want some extra hardware, or wait for something to ship, you can download and install ChromeOS on an old laptop, or inside a virtual PC, to give it a try and see what’s good/bad about it before investing.

Thanks for going open source Google, we love you, again. ;)

Google Nexus 7 Tablet?

June is on my calendar for a ton of reasons, one of which is that it’s ’6 months’ from the date that Google said they were planning to launch a tablet ‘in six months’. :)

Asus is apparently the manufacturer, so the tablet will be sturdy.
NVidia’s ’5 core’ Tegra 3 Processor will be doing the thinking, so it will be fast and power smart.
NVidia also supplied the ULP GeForce graphics processor, so 3d graphics/games are supported.

Beyond those stats we’re really guessing based on this leaked info:
The unit that popped up on the benchmarks was running Android 4.1 JRN51B, at 1280×768 resolution, had 1GB of RAM installed, and 16GB of local storage.

So for now this is just a huge teaser and we’ll have to wait for a more official announcement.

Last day for Beanstalk Minecraft Map Submissions!

LAST DAY TO ENTER!

 

If you didn’t already know, we’ve been running a Minecraft Map Contest for the last two months and this is the final day for entries!

SEO news blog post by @ 12:56 pm on May 31, 2012


 

Google+ Goes Local With Zagat

Google Local

Today Google launches Google+ Local. Google has integrated local Zagat scores and recommendations from your Google Circles and integrated the results into Search, Maps, and mobile and is available as a new tab from your Google+ screen.

You can search for specific places or look for new ones to fit your mood. When you click on a link, you will be taken to the appropriate local Google+ page that will include photos, friends reviews, their Zagat score along with pertinent information such as addresses, business hours and locations. Google has made this service available for Android and will be making it available soon for iOS devices.

Check here for more stories on the launch of Google Local:

SEO news blog post by @ 10:44 am on May 30, 2012

Categories:Google+

 

Search Engine Experiment in Spam Surfing

If you took a very heavily spam-influenced search engine like Bing for example and removed the first 1 million results for a query, how good would the result be?

How about doing the same thing to the best filtered search engines available?

Well someone got curious and made the million short search engine.

What this new service does is remove a specific # of search results and show you the remainder.

I became immediately curious about a few things:

  • Where are they getting their crawl data from?
  • What are they doing to searches where there’s only a few hundred results?
  • Where is the revenue stream? I see no ads?

Given the lack of advertising I was expecting them to be pulling search data from another site?

There’s no way they are pulling from Bing/Yahoo, there are 14+ sites paying for better spots than we’ve earned on Bing for our terms..

And while the top 10 list looks a bit like DuckDuckGo, we’re seemingly banned from their rankings, and not at #6 at all. It’s funny when you look at their anti-spam approach and then look at the #1 site for ‘seo services’ on DDG. It’s like a time machine back to the days of keyword link spam. Even more ironic is that we conform to DDGs definition of a good SEO:

“The ones who do in fact make web sites suck less, and apply some common sense to the problem, will make improvements in the search ranking if the site is badly done to start with. Things like meta data, semantical document structure, descriptive urls, and whole heap of other factors can affect your rankings significantly.

The ones who want to subscribe you to massive link farms, cloaked gateway pages, and other black hat type techniques are not worth it, and can hurt your rankings in the end.
Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, is probably is. There are some good ones, and also a lot selling snake oil.”

We know the data isn’t from Google either, we have the #1 seat for ‘seo services’ on Google and maintain that position regularly.

So what’s going on?! This is the same company that gave us the ‘Find People on Plus‘ tool and clearly they know how to monetize a property?

My guess is that they are blending results from multiple search engines, and likely caching a lot of the data so it’d be very hard to tell who’s done the heavy lifting for them?

All that aside, it’s rare to see a search engine that blatantly gives you numbered SERPs and for now MillionShort is, on the left side-bar, showing numbered positions for keywords. That’s sort of handy I guess. :)

You can also change how many results to remove, so if your search is landing you in the spam bucket, then try removing less results. If your search always sucks, and the sites you want to see in the results are on the right, you’ve apparently found a search phrase that isn’t spammed! Congrats!

Weak one: Google Drive

Well my enthusiasm for Google Drive just flew out the window on my second week using it.

UPDATE: Turns out the disk was full and Google Drive has no feedback at all. Thanks FireFox for telling me WHY the download failed. Oh man.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:01 am on May 1, 2012


 

Google Drive is going nowhere but is still moving

I swear there’s Google staffers who are so devoted to the projects they are working on that they don’t know what the rest of the company is developing.
One hand does not know what the other is doing.
If I was working on self driving car technology I think that the last thing I’d do is call my on-line storage solution ‘Google Drive’, but that’s exactly what they are doing and it’s coming out next week.

For old-school nerds, this might seem boring. GMailFS came out years ago an it allowed GMail users to add a ‘GMail’ drive as a file system in your PC. Anything you drag over to the GMail drive would be uploaded to your GMail account as hidden email messages with attachments. Browsing the GMail drive on any internet connected PC would show you all your files and you could copy/delete/upload from any location. It was actually pretty handy.

Sadly GMail’s technical staff saw the potential nightmare that would arise if something changed with these ‘special hidden messages’ and quickly moved to block the GMailFS tool from working before it became too popular.

Everyone using GMailFS knew it was a hack, against the EULA for GMail, and so the move to block it wasn’t a big stink, more of a ‘bummer’ moment like when they realize they forgot to increase the price of your favourite soda in the school’s vending machine and then fix it.

Also, while Gmail offers almost 8GB of storage, using it for files could cause mail interruptions if you were to max it out trying to copy some files between machines. Plus all your mail eats up your storage, and in my case, that means only 3486MB of storage not 5GB.

While prices aren’t available, we know all Google storage limits are expandable for paid accounts. It would only make sense, given the processing needs of email, that Google Drive will allow you to add more space to your drive for less money than you’d pay for the same storage in GMail.

Speculation is that Google Drive will have desktop integration on Windows, Android, and Mac meaning it should be as easy to use as a USB drive yet you only need to pack around your username and password.

Other operating systems will obviously have web access to the drive, that’s a “no brainer“, so even obscure versions of Linux and potentially even appliances like WebTVs will have limited access to your shared files.

Why not sign up a few friends using a DropBox referral ID and get 15GB of free space? Well if you want to use your friend’s info like that, you either hate your friends or they are really understanding. Plus DropBox doesn’t have the best track record of privacy and security; in fact it seems like the hackers lay off DropBox just long enough for it to become a ripe target and then they hack it again.

Even without the historical issues surrounding the competition, this is going to be just like G+ vs. Facebook, Skype vs. Google Voice:

  • If you use GMail you already trust Google with your most private assets, using them for files is no extra risk.
  • Google is a hardware and software solutions provider. Anything they deliver will be more advanced than the competition.
  • Google has a much larger exposure base than the competition yet a much better track record on security and data integrity.

Personally, to me this is a no-brainer, and the only questions I have are how awesome the integration will be with other services?

  • If I upload a music folder with a playlist so I can put my music onto my car-pc, can I open the playlist and stream my tunes from Google Music on my work PC?
  • If someone emails me a file and I wanted to share it with my co-workers, will GMail let me save the file to a shared folder in Google Drive?
  • If I put a huge RAW image from my DSLR camera on my Google Drive, can I open it in Picasa and share a thumbnail on G+ without making 5 copies of the same picture?
  • If something crazy happens while I’m in a Google self-driving car, can I save the last 5 minutes of exterior video to my Google Drive and then later share the pertinent time-segment of that clip on YouTube without having to upload/download?

;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:13 pm on April 17, 2012


 

Another Pleasant Google Plus Refresh

Much like keyword rankings on Google, it’s not a matter if things will update, it’s more a matter of when, how much, and if it’s going to make your life better.

Sounds relatively subjective? Well that’s because while the folks at Google are definitely trying to make a ‘please everyone’ interface for all products, and Google Plus is the latest to get some love, nobody is perfect and everyone is different.

The following video is a bit heavy on the ‘promotion’ and a tad light on the ‘features’ so if you are details oriented you can skip it:

Obvious Changes:

Better use of wide screen format:

  • The left side bar has been iconized with short text labels below the icons.
  • Not only are the icons very easy to see, but they are very easy to arrange/remove.
  • Full drag and drop support for icons makes touch operations much easier.
    ie: You can finger drag someone to a circle without needing a right-click.
  • Having your chat contacts on the right makes good use of wider screens.
  • Larger photo thumbnails are a nice improvement and more modern.

Sharing option is very obvious now:

  • The improved share input area is really easy to understand.
  • Minimalists can still use the old pop-out Share menu linked to your profile image.

Focus on Chat

  • Because your contacts are visible on the left chat is icon-less
  • Removing the icon has removed the useless indent in the chat window:
    New Google Plus chat UI
  • If you liked staring at your profile image you can always switch back to GMail and chat there.

On the BAD side of things:

I was shocked at what you can’t drag to the side bar. If I want to play a single game, I’d rather have it than the ‘Games’ link?

Lonely neck-beards all over Reddit have been mocking the extra space on their wide screens with 16:9 ratios.

Thing is that the chat windows fill that space if you have 2 or more people you chat with constantly, and most people do. Sadly the meme is so popular that #usesforwhitespace is actually a trending topic and leaves me doing my best impression of Jean Luc.

Does this do anything for the folks who see G+ as the arch-nemesis of FB? Heck no!

In fact there’s a fresh batch of very pointless debates raging about how ‘G+ is unwilling to post user statistics because it’s an embarrassment.‘ which is another face-palm because they publish that info all the time (currently @ 170 million active Google+ accounts, 90 million accounts were created in the last 2 months alone) but unlike FB it’s not a bragging point since Google is clearly not interested in user counts.

If Google+ cared about user statistics they wouldn’t care if the accounts were active or not when publishing their stats, and they wouldn’t have worked so hard to allow people to use the system without making accounts (unlike Facebook/Twitter).

To quote John Lydgate:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

The whole self mockery reminds me of this awkward/embarrassing clip demonstrating the temple of promotion that is ‘Hawaii Five-O’ attempting to establish a new ‘slang phrase’for Microsoft while showing off a Windows 7 phone :

Amazingly bad..

SEO news blog post by @ 11:57 am on April 12, 2012


 

Google+ Phantoms!

It seems that Google is trying to breathe life into its failing Google+ social network with a new patent on its System and Method for Generating a Ghost Profile for a Social Network.

google phantom

Considering the waning popularity of Google latest social platform, it seems that they are desperate to get anyone they can use it. Google+ hopes that by non-users being able to create an unsearchable ghost profile they can get &non-believers" (yikes! their words not mine) to participate in social networking without providing any end-user information.

The abstract for the patent reads:

The ghost profile allows a user to use certain features in a social network without converting to a social network profile. Specifically, the ghost profiles are unsearchable and comments that originate from a ghost profile user are displayed as partial names.

The ghost profile is generated when a member of the social network invites a user to join. In one example, the member is automatically added as a friend to the user’s ghost profile.

The premise is that some people are opposed to using social networking. When a user of a social network has a friend that is not on the network, or is opposed to or otherwise has no interest in social networking, the second group misses out on an important social component. If the friend on the network site wants to share some photos with this person, the other is forced to either join the network to view them or simply miss out on being able to view them.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:14 pm on April 2, 2012


 

Google Places Failure

I am usually not one to rant about things that frustrate me but I would like to relate my recent experience trying to maintain a Google Places account. I have used the Places service many times to create profiles for business as part of an overall marketing strategy. It was not until I needed to edit the listing for our customer that I noticed some really infuriating flaws with the platform.

Google Rant

Google places only allows you to edit the listing with the account used to sign up. What if you want someone else (like your SEO) to edit your listing? If you happened to sign up with your personal Gmail account, then you are effectively granting access to all of your mail. Most people are honorable, but do you really want to take that chance? Google absolutely needs to let the owner assign other administrators with separate login IDs.

In this case, the client did not feel comfortable, granting access to his Gmail account in order to edit his Places listing. Since the client was not very technically savvy, I informed him that the only other option was to delete the listing and let me recreate it with a new Gmail account that would only be used to maintain the listing. Not only is this time consuming for us as a business, it is also a waste of the clients money.

I told our client that I would provide a small video clip showing him the process to make it easier for him to delete the listing. After several attempts to show an easy way to do so, I finally gave up. Eventually I found where to go to delete the listing, but only after jumping through hoops and being led around in circles for way too long.

My question to Google is this: If it took someone like me who is quite technically savvy no end of frustration to do something this simple, then how is the average user going to fare when editing their listings and edit other Google properties they belong to?

Granted not all Google products are as inept, but they seem to have neglected one of the most important things; they need to make things intuitive and easy to use for the end-users. I get the feeling that the employees of Google are trapped in a techie biosphere of their own design and have forgotten how to make the services appeal to the masses and to make them as intuitive as possible.

I refer you to this recent rant from Michael Gray’s blog post titled: The Epic Failure of Google+ in which he expresses his dislike for Google+ and Google’s practices. He describes the search giant as follows:

In the past, I’ve not been shy about hiding my dislike for some of Google’s practices. In fact, I’ve called them everything from an arrogant bully to an incestuous circle jerk, trapped in a filter bubble world . But recently I’ve been reading all of the press and counter press about how Google+ is growing faster than the waistline of your average McDonald’s customer along with the incessant blood sucking social media guru’s top ten posts about how to leverage Google+ for everything from attention, mindshare, links, SEO, and Fritos covered with caviar. It’s all a bunch of BS: Google plus is doomed to fail. The only people too blind to see it are the techno-weenies, social media charlatans, or any other clueless half wits who think getting on the homepage of techmeme is a meaningful goal worth achieving.

I have never been one to be overly concerned about the way Google operates and have even advocated on their behalf. But combined with the epic failure of Google+, I have to agree with Mr. Gray. Unless Google can really turn this all around, we will soon be witness to the imminent demise of yet another Google property.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:26 pm on March 7, 2012

Categories:Google,Google+

 

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