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Have you ever had a bunch of tabs open, decided to turn on your speakers/put on your headphones, only to find out that there’s something unexpected making sounds but you don’t know what?
Most annoying demonstration possible..
Viola! When you play HTML5 audio in a tab the browser animates the favicon to indicate this. (No, this doesn’t mean Chrome supports animated favicons yet, that’s still not working.)
Now I cheated and used a ‘canary build’ of Chrome to accomplish this, but really, other than working on cleaner animations/UI, this is a ‘must have’ option for all browsers!
I also took the time to show that it’s not ‘visualizing’ the audio in the tab (that would suck up too much CPU resources) but merely drawing on the favicon to indicate that the tab was recently attempting to play audio.
The new build of Chrome apparently also has an icon to indicate when a tab is recording, but I didn’t have any easy examples for demonstrating that option.
One of the things I stumbled on in the process of making this post was too note-worthy to not include in this post.
The ‘canary build’ of Chrome doesn’t use your default Chrome profile, and it can run side-by-side with your currently installed ‘stable’ version of Chrome with no cross-talk.
This meant that I was plopped into the YouTube TV/Movies when I went looking for a video to play, and I stumbled on this bargain:
Clearly YouTube needs to work out some pricing errors because I could get a blu-ray of Red Dawn for $20 brand new, and they go for $8 used online. Seeing that the HD version is $5 more really leaves me wondering how the error was made..
Is it possible there’s a Patrick Swayze fan on the YouTube Movies team?
“Nobody put’s Red Dawn in the discount corner!”
UPDATE: Apparently someone DOES read this, and apparently I am not keeping up on movie releases. This is the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’, a REMAKE of the 1984 original, where the reds are North Koreans, and the plot involves an EMP attack that makes a ground invasion a ‘teeny tiny’ bit more plausible.
If you’ve become accustomed to seeing your charming mug in the SERPs when you are Google’ing your keywords, it might be rather unsettling to see those images suddenly disappear.
Fear not! This isn’t something you have done, or not done, this is actually kicking up a bit of fuss on the SEO forums/discussion areas today and clearly looks to be an issue on Google’s end.
In fact if you were in need of reassurance, all you have to do is hop into your Webmaster Tools account, and visit the ‘Rich Snippets Tool‘ to get a preview of what your SERPs would normally look like.
If you are sure that you’re not part of the current issue, or you’re just curious what we’re talking about, the Troubleshooting Rich Snippets page is a great resource to tackle possible problems.
Google invests another $200,000,000.00 in renewable energy..
I could have written .2 billion, or 200 million, or even 200 thousand thousands, but why play with such a large sum of money?
Google certainly isn’t playing around; With this latest investment Google’s grand total in renewable/clean energy is over $1 billion US and growing.
This isn’t just charity either, some of these investments are just smart business because the returns are very fixed and low risk.
Being honest about pollution is brave, and bragging about your low footprint is begging for trouble, but Google marches on stating:
“100 searches on Google has about the same footprint as drying your hands with a standard electric dryer, ironing a shirt, or producing 1.5 tablespoons of orange juice.”
You can read more about Google’s efforts to reduce, eliminate, and assist others with power consumption/carbon footprints, over on the Google Green Pages.
It may look like we’ve been loyal to the Mayan calendar, but we’ve just been busy internally over the holidays and didn’t blog.
This announcement has been subject to both good and bad press, typically depending on the technical skills/depth of knowledge of the story writer.
Most writers looking for the worst possible scenario chose to doubt Google’s privacy controls, and boldly suggest there will be problems due to data aggregation.
Google’s DoubleClick service explicitly states:
“Advertisers are prohibited from sending personally identifiable information using this feature, as outlined by the Terms of Service for the API.”
Further to that there are lots of assumptions being made about who can supply data, who has access, and what data is relevant. In one article they just tossed in a mention that the data could be ‘decrypted’ by 3rd parties/or government agencies with nothing to back that claim up.
To help understand the role of this service lets look at a typical use case:
You sell widgets.
Your website has online ordering.
You also have a physical store.
Clients are finding items online, but buying them in person.
So if you are basing your promotion efforts on Web based analytics, you will be in the dark as to what promotions drove the clients to come to the store and make a purchase.
Unless Google gave you an interface with which to send them transaction info on offline sales?
Lets see how that would work:
A Google user is searching for widgets.
Google puts a PPC Ad on the page promoting your widgets.
The user clicks on the Ad, and looks up ‘Blue Widget # 42′.
2 hours later, your in-store till sells 2 ‘Blue Widget # 42′s.
The till sends “2 x Blue Widget # 42″ to Google as ‘sold’.
That’s it, Google now can relate the pay per click advertisement as relevant to the sale of the widget, and you have more info on how well that advertisement worked.
This also works very well with telephone based sales, especially if you are in a position to use specific phone numbers, or extensions, to narrow down how the call came about.
So while some folks are very concerned about how much companies will know about them when companies start comparing notes, that’s not the situation here at all.
Companies have been comparing notes for years, without the help of Google. Just think about the shopping trends that you reveal when you use an Air Miles card?
Google only wants to help reduce unwanted/ineffective advertising and reduce the amount of money businesses spend to reach potential clients.
You may want to re-think that decision, perhaps even focus on a ‘mobile’ provider for your site, or an Android app instead of one for Apple’s store.
Why? Well lets list the reasons:
- Android OS is shipping on more phones currently than any other mobile OS
- 2013 should be the year that Android overtakes iPhone in subscriber #s
- A mobile ‘face lift’ should load on any phone/browser
- Apple is cracking down on all ‘Apps’ that generate revenue outside their store..
The last one is a real kicker, especially for Microsoft who is currently unable to update their SkyDrive app after Apple realized it was handling in-app purchases without going through the Apple Store.
Essentially Apple is rejecting all Microsoft app updates and 3rd party apps that communicate with SkyDrive until Microsoft has a solution to Apple’s need for a 30% cut of all transactions done through it’s App Store.
So if you made an Apple Store ‘App’ for your site, all you can do with the ‘App’ is browse information and provide free resources, since any attempt to engage in a financial transaction would require the Apple App Store to participate, at a 30% margin.
That’s just.. wait for it.. rotten.
Making Easy Money by Ignoring Copyright Infringement
On the surface, it may seem counter-intuitive to your profit margin, but not letting people steal your content could be what’s stopping you from getting rich.
PSY, the chubby Korean behind the most popular YouTube video to-date, is raking in the profits from his ‘Gangnam Style’ video, and it’s all because he didn’t censor his own work by chasing copyright violations.
If you look at TV commercials, ad revenue, product endorsements, and other direct revenue from his popularity, PSY is making over $8 Million in 2012 alone.
Clearly there’s a trade off between copyrights and profits that doesn’t favor always locking down your content.
I’m wondering though, once fame has taken hold, if next year we’ll have a story about PSY suing people for copyright infringements?
Every once in awhile it would be nice if there was some construction on the information superhighway.
Some road work that caused folks oblivious to our websites to detour?
We all want some traffic to take a pass through our pages, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Ideally we’d want the detour sign to read:
“Turn here for great deals on XYZ!”
…but more often than not folks go for something a bit more catchy like:
“If you like kittens and free bacon turn now before it’s too late!”
The problem with the former is that people don’t respect honesty as much as they should, after all, everyone has something for sale, tell us something we didn’t know.
The problem with the latter is that while totally successful, the traffic driven to the site won’t be on target at all, will likely bounce, and the best anyone can hope for is brand recognition. Unless the site actually has kittens and free bacon, but who would be reading this if they had all that? (Note to self, make a site with endless kitten pictures where the uploader is paid in bacon.)
Ideally we wish to find a ‘Goldilocks’ approach where we aren’t too off-putting with boring honesty, nor are we luring in people who have zero interest in the site.
So lets take a moment to look at two common approaches for traffic generation that I don’t see discussed often, one is very timely.
Google just launched a massive ARG called the Niantic Project and I am already 7 13 days behind on the clues/feeds..
The idea is that you become very curious about the game and subscribe to the daily clues. With luck this catches the eye of your friends, they get curious and sign on too. By the end of the game Google should have a large subscriber group waiting anxiously for their announcement.
Speaking of clues, one thing I seem to have discovered ahead of the crowd is the Interactive global Niantic XM (Exotic Matter) POI map that Google built:
If this game is an introduction to the recently released Google Field Trip app, then is it possible that Google associates have taken the time to embed ‘clues’ into major landmarks around the world that need local residents to ‘discover’ using an Android device and the Google Field Trip application.
With any luck Google will use Niantic to reach more people than they normally would, and the more people who know about field trip, the better/more interesting it will be.
Think Outside the Box
In this case, the box, is the web/online and thinking outside means creating web content that people will want to print/download and share.
All of our team is doing on-page optimization training so that all of us have some skills with on-page SEO. Even if we can’t have each member doing live A B tests and such, they should know why you would run one and be familiar with the current standards.
This means that each of us has an SEO cheat sheet pinned to our cork boards and each of these has branding on them that we’re fine with. In fact I’m very tempted to promote these as something all of you should print for your daily SEO but I need to check and see if they are still available to the public.
If your company has info pages that are getting a lot of traffic, I’d look at pulling together a PDF of the content for download with a quick-reference for printing.
Getting your brand out there and helping potential clients is a win win for you if the market you are in is something that you want to be recognized for.
Giving it Away
If you felt like making a resource and simply giving it away was too much for your time/budget, then you’ll be shocked by the next suggestion:
Give something substantial to a charity, preferably an example of your trade.
As an example: If you sell shoes and there’s a drive for winter shoes for the homeless, putting free footwear on people that cannot afford your product won’t cut into potential customers/sales, and it will remind people where to get shoes, and that winter is coming.
If there’s nothing you can do for charity that lines up with your company, you can always just give some money away, many sites thank donors with an ad or a link, and even micro loans are a nice way to help out with friendly options to get you started.
There’s a ton of ways to get unexpected traffic to your site in a manner that will have the visitors eager to explore, and potentially buy your product. Anything else and you risk the traffic bouncing off your site and telling Google that you aren’t offering interesting content.
Today’s Google Doodle
It’s with pride that I re-share the daily doodle for the Canadarm!
Google is celebrating 31 years of Canadarm use today with the above doodle.
After 90 missions the Discovery and Atlantis Canadarm installations will be retired with the shuttles for museum display. The Canadarm that was fitted to the Endeavour was given back to the Canadian Space Agency and it is currently on display in the Quebec headquarters.
An observant reader may wonder why the PNG with ‘poor’ compression is smaller than the JPG? The answer is that it’s transparent, and the PNG is only saving image data (compressed losslessly) for the visible pixels vs. JPG which has to save the additional information that ‘these pixels are white’.
Also keep in mind that we used really small images to keep this page loading quickly, the larger the image, the more of a difference compression quality can make.
The phrase ‘resolution’ has so many variable definitions that I would need to resolve the idea of this as a post vs. an article.
For the context of this discussion I’m speaking of the image dimensions, not the pixels-per-inch.
As an SEO blog I’d have to be really lazy to not mention the issue of image placement/size on a site when we know that Google has a clear concept of what’s most visible to your audience.
When I say ‘your audience’ it is not just a buzz-word, I really mean that Google looks at it’s analytics data and the browser window size of your traffic and actually knows when a site is delivering the right content for the majority of it’s user base.
So if your website is plastered with images that force the user to look for your content, and your content isn’t images, then that’s actually a problem in terms of SEO Optimization.
In fact Google’s just in the middle of moving it’s ‘Browser Size’ tool into the Google Analytics suite.
As you can see in this example of jQuery Mobile in the Browser Size tool, the existing results are generic and dare I say “unprofessional” looking?
In the above image we can see what % of general web users can see the elements of the page.
I would show off an example of the same page using the new tools, but Google Analytics is only for sites you own, and the new version is still in beta, throwing out ‘Not a Number’ (NaN) errors regardless of your choice of browser.
What you want to end up with, regardless, is a site that fits the screen size of your audience. So if you are running a forum that reviews ‘apps’ you probably want to aim for a design that will fit you most important content above ‘the fold’ with mobile browsers (at least the current generation of mobile browsers).
Image Site Maps
Site Maps are typically an XML format document that explains your website’s pages to Google in a more technical manner.
An image site map is specifically for explaining the images that are on your site.
An image sitemap’s XML structure lets you clearly spell out each image with options like:
loc: The full URL for the image
caption: Description of the image
geo_location: Physical location ie: British Columbia, Canada
title: Title of the image
license: URL pointing to a license for the image
Since each entry is related to a <loc> URL if your image is remotely hosted that’s fine, Google understands the need for CDNs, but that remote site needs to be registered in Webmaster Tools for proper indexing of the images.
Once again I’ve gone a bit too far on the topic for a first round, but I will return with a deeper look beyond the surface of the issue in a part 2 post.
Heck looking at this thing’s sensor list (5mpx front Camera, 2mpx rear Camera, Microphone, Accelerometer, Compass, Ambient light, Gyroscope, Barometer, GPS), all it’s missing is the ability to taste.
… and removable storage?! I find it very odd there’s not one mention of what sort of interface the tablet has for removable storage, though I’d be really shocked if it didn’t support MicroSD cards.
The price is almost as shocking, with the 16GB selling for $399US, and the 32GB version selling for $499US. Both models should be available on the 13th of November, which is also shocking because it’s a bit early for an xmas promotion, but that’s Google for you.
The Nexus 7 sports many of the same sensors as the Nexus 10, but it’s single 1.2Mpx camera is clearly just for web-chat/video calling.
The $299 Nexus 7 has fully unlocked HSPA+ support which I am almost certain will be used for more than just web-surfing given the available internet telephony options.
Last but not least is the latest cell phone from Google, the Nexus 4. In fact I seem to have saved the best for last.
This is way more than a phone at this point, we’ve really got to start looking at these devices as mini-tablets because the Nexus 4 has better features and functionality than most existing tablets.
The price gives the Nexus 4′s secret goodness away, the 8GB version goes for $299US, and the 16GB retails for $349US, both of which are unlocked/contract free. That’s not a typo, if you spent $799(CAN) on an unlocked 32GB HTC One X, which has inferior screen hardware, you might want to sell it, quickly.
According to Google’s blog:
The 16GB version will also be available through T-Mobile for $199, with a 2-year contract (check here for more details).
In a nutshell it’s 4.7″ display, at 1280 x 768, has got the highest pixel density (320ppi) of any device in it’s class.
Indeed, if the world were to switch to this grade of phone and/or tablet hardware the concept of a ‘mobile version’ of your website would be pointless since this hardware has more than sufficient resolution to display a desktop style website.
At these prices the idea of the world switching to Nexus isn’t too far fetched either. I know I’m in the market for a better phone and I’m so glad I went with a standby device and waited for something this good of a value to come out.
While the topic of this post is “quality guidelines” it is perhaps the most misunderstood part of the webmaster guidelines as it is open to interpretation; however, the core of the guideline remains the same:
“Don’t engage in tactics that are questionable. If you would be hesitant to explain your actions to a competitor or to Google”
“How would you build and promote you site if there were no search engines?”
While I could go in to specifics on each point, this is an instance where it is best to get the information directly from the source. Google has not really updated anything here, but do state the following suggestions:
• Make your webpages for your readers; no for Google or other search engines
• Do not deceive your visitors
• Avoid tricks/schemes designed to improve you rankings.
• Focus on what makes your site unique, valuable, or engaging and make it stand apart from others in your field
• Actively monitor your site for hacking and remove hacked content as soon as it appears
• Prevent and removed user-generated spam from your site.
The clearest recommendations that Google makes to avoid the following practices:
• Automatically generated content
• Link schemes of exchanges
• Cloaking/hidden text or links
• Suspicious redirects
• Doorway pages
• Scraped content
• Load pages with irrelevant keywords
• Abusing rich snippets markup
• Send automated queries to Google
Once you have repaired your site and corrected and errors or errors, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google:
This is part 2 of an in depth look at the newly revised Webmaster Guidelines from Google. Google has recently updated their list of best practices and suggestions for site development. To give your site the best chance of ranking well, and to keep a competitive edge, the Google guidelines should be read like the gospel.
• Did you ever wonder how Google processes your site to determine its focus and content? Try using a text-based browser like Lynx to understand what Google is using to interpret your site.
• Check to see that your web server supports the “If-Modified-Since” HTTP header. This tells Google if your content has changed since it last crawled your site, saving bandwidth and overhead.
• Use the robot.txt file to exclude directories that do not need to be crawled from Google. Keep it updated in your Webmaster Tools account and ensure that you are not blocking Google bot from crawling your site by testing it in Webmaster Tools.
• Keep advertisements (such as Google’s AdSense and DoubleClick) to a minimum and ensure that they are not affecting your rankings by making sure they are excluded in your robots.txt file.
• If you use a content management system (CMS), makes sure that it support seo friendly URL structure and is easily crawled by bots.
• Test you site in several browser’s (IE, FireFox, Chrome, Lynx, Opera, Safari) at different resolutions.
• Use tools to monitor page load speeds. This is becoming an increasingly bigger factor for rankings. Use Google’s Page Speed, or Webmaster Tools Site Performance Tool to gain insights on how to boost you page loads speeds.
• Make use of the robots.txt file to keep your site accessible to the Google bots
• Block unneeded/irrelevant content from
• Use SEO friendly urls and move away from parameter-based urls
• Monitor your page load speed and take steps to improve it.