Google admitted they’ve made a mistake, they apologized, and worked with a few countries to handle and destroy the mistakenly corrected data. The biggest impasse however, is still with their collection of data in Germany.
Google was given a deadline for handing over a hard drive with the data collected, so that it could be analyzed and determined the severity of the charges; if any, are brought against Google. They even tried to stave off the deadline by using Germanys own laws against their demands, citing that to turn over the hard drive, would be breaking their laws. But, an agreement has been reached, and the data will be turned over for inspection.
Google plans to publish the results of an audit into the street view gathering practice, and made note that the erroneous code snippet which captured the data may have been a 20% time project by an employee. Their Street View code was orginally built while driving around the Stanford University campus checking for WiFi connections. Googles “20% time” block, which is basically free work time for their employees to work on projects of their own, will remain, and there are no current plans for an internal audit of current projects.
CEO Eric Schmidt said: “It would be a terrible thing to put a chilling effect on creativity”
If the code was accidentally left in, which was developed within the guidelines of the free work period for Googles employees, it may be a tiny enough loophole for the company to squeek through. I wonder how much 20% is worth these days..
Google has been blessed by the FCC, and purchased AdMob to setup advertising for smart phones. Initially, it looked as if the FCC may try and block the purchase, as the acquisition of AdMob may have given Google to firm an upper hand, but after speaking to the other players in the industry, decided to allow the union.
There’s some real marketability soon to come for users of AdSense for mobile apps. With the format of “click-to-call” as the framework, it will make the use rather simple.
“It’s clear that mobile advertising is becoming a much larger part of our clients’ and partners’ strategies and with this acquisition, it’s now a central part of our own business,” said Susan Wojcicki, vice president of product management for Google.
Advertisers may use click-to-call ads to include a local business or national phone number directly in their ad text. Users can then click to call the business via phone.
Simple isn’t it? You write compelling ad text, pay for your shot at coming up in mobile search results much like an AdSense format, and voila! Instant business generation. How trendy are you? If you want to cover all your bases, and use both Googles mobile advertising model, and Apples version (iAd), early indications point to Apple charging upwards of $1 million for an iAd campaign. It’s your advertising dollar, how will you spend it?
In an article I read some time ago, and has been debated, recycled, and somewhat scoffed over, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz uttered the memorable words :
Google is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search…It is only half our business; it’s 99.9% of their business. They’ve got to find other things to do..
It’s a rather bold statement made from one of the most unlikely sources, but it’s been said.
Every user has their own style and use for the internet. Some where along the way, you will need to look for information. Now, whether or not you use Yahoo, Bing, or Google to perform your search, you will try and find the answers which suit you best. Google just happens to be the best at search. It’s what their business was started on, and as per Google’s President of Global Sales Operations Nikesh Arora retort to the comments:
If we are a one trick pony, we have a pretty good trick.
But just because they built their house on search, that by no means has been their only business venture. Youtube, Gmail, Adwords, cloud computing, cell technology, fibre optic technologies, are just a handful of the offerings which Google brings to the world table in terms of ventures.
It was put into perspective best perhaps, by a chart constructed by Nick Bolton of the New York Times. Looks like Google actually has more pies in the oven than Yahoo does, and who is it that needs to diversify?
On the web, there’s a fairly basic rule of survival; adapt, or disappear. It would stand to reason then, that one of the biggest names on the net, Google, could be viewed as the kings of change, as well as search. And, well.. they’re doing it again.
With more feathers in their cap than most birds have on them, Google is adding a few more tricks up it’s sleeve. Some of the bigger ideas being brought forward are their contributions and innovations into web video and television. The business model idea which Google uses, provide the a paid service, for free, has fed them well since their birth. It stands to reason that their new toys would allow the same.
The jewel making the most buzz during their conference, would have to be their own offering of a video playing software, as an alternative to the sometimes sketchy performance of Flash. The Google variant, dubbed VP8, is being provided as an open source alternative, with royalty free use, all rolled up with an open source audio platform to boot. Currently, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera support the format, but IE and Safari, do not. Flash however, can still play the content generated, a new WebM standard, so the browsers aren’t totally in the dark. Only iPhone and iPad users who won’t have the option of having Flash on their devices, will be left in the lurch.
And just because you don’t think of them enough, there’s Google TV in the works. A new set top type box from Sony HDTV’s and Blu-ray players, and Logitech set top boxes, will let you search cable, internet or satellite than a normal program guide can. It uses the Chrome web browser (Flash enabled), so it can play pretty much all video content currently available on the web, Hulu included; provided Hulu doesn’t block out the browser. Tie into that it’s powered by the Android software, and you can incorporate the apps, current and future, into your use. Is this the Google way to shake things up in the television market like they did webmail? Time will tell.
Google video, Google TV, Google cell phones, Google Google Google.. Interesting thought; Google plus WalMart teaming up to provide consumer goods..
Been a rough week for Google and their Street View app they’ve been working on pushing out in Germany. After being found of having collected wi-fi data from unsecured networks (keyword being unsecured), and been given the proverbial swat on the nose with a newspaper, things are heating up back home in the USA.
Only this past Wednesday did the US government start to show signs that they’ve noticed what Germany, Ireland, France, Italy, and Ireland have been calling out about Googles data collection.
Germany wants an untouched hard drive, data intact, just to see what, and how much Google collected from the networks scanned. Big G has until May 26th to comply. France and Italy have both started their own investigations into the matter, France is reviewing the matter before proceeding and Italy wants to know the when and the why of the matter, and if any of it has been sold. Ireland has passed on the matter, being content in the fact that Google has deleted the data, destroyed the hard drives, all while under the watch of a third party, as has the U.K.’s Information Commissioner.
So now that the FTC is involved in the case back in the States, what is their stance? As from Reuters :
Both the FTC and the Justice Department are reportedly “interested in looking into the data collection”
Not exactly knock the doors down and seize what’s going on in hand. Maybe it’s more of a “let’s see if maybe this isn’t such a bad thing..” move?
Was it a mistake to collect the data? Was it on purpose and Google got caught with their hand in the cookie jar? Only they really know. I do have to admit, the most interesting point of the article to me, was how with all of the countries mentioned : Italy, Ireland, France, UK, Germany, and the US, it sure looks like home.
Coding websites, debugging pages, with thousands upon thousands of lines of code is a pain staking process and it’s rather easy to miss things from time to time. In the biggest example to date of this, is Googles most recent roadblock to Street View.
Google’s Street View cars were collecting more than images and coordinates for its sophisticated GPS site. As much as 600GB of data from Wi-Fi networks — in more than 30 countries — has been snagged in Google’s fishnet.
It was picked up by the Data Protection Authority in Germany, when they asked for a sample of the wi-fi data collected by their Street View cars. Upon closer inspection of the data collected, it was found that the information collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks did contain fragments of payload data.
Why mention debugging code? Google’s response to how this happened:
In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data.
And long story short, it was never removed. Part of an idea, never fully finished, and never removed, was a huge cause for privacy concerns as of late for the big G.
The Street View cars were programmed to scan up to 5 different channels per second on Wi-Fi, and in order for them to actually nab data of any kind, you had to be on an open, unsecured network and actively using it. Their fix they’ve implemented now is all the Street View cars are grounded until debugged, and the data collected has been segregated and they’re working with privacy agencies on how best to handle it.
What’s next for Google? Well, Gmail was encrypted for protection earlier this year, and now next week; they’re going to try out encrypted Google searches. Time for another roller coaster ride on the SERPs!
M – “I started dating this girl, and I want to Google her because she said she’s done some modelling, what do you think?”
W – “You could check Facebook first and see if she’s on there, and what her friends are like.”
M – “Yeah, that’s a good idea I guess. My boss was asking me today if we should try search engine optimization on our site.”
W – “We’ve been looking at it too, the web guys are trying to decide who we should talk to about it, or just do it ourselves.”
A very generic, not so surprising conversation today, but what if you heard it 6+ years ago? You’d have thought they were nuts, and using language and words that had no meaning or bearing on the world today. Google. Facebook, search engine optimization, all everyday terms in normal conversation between two people buying coffee in the morning.
The internet has become so entwined in our everyday lives, that it would be completely strange, to not talk about using it in some way or another in our day to day. In the conversation above, two references to online marketing were used within the span of a few seconds of conversation. Don’t see it? Googling a persons name just to see if they come up, and a brief conversation about how their business is contemplating the use of search engine optimization for their website.
Social media, Google, SEO.. they’re not passing trends. They’re not fly by night, and they’re not going to disappear or magically stop working. They are topics which get discussed over the morning coffee run by the interns. The choice you need to make as a user, or business, will you have the tools work for you, or against you.
So Google has gone and changed the game a bit again. This time, they’ve changed the look and feel of the results page. In the last couple of days there’s been a blog here, a comment there, how Google “must have been scared” or “taking a page from Bing”. To see and read such comments, actually made me shake my head.
Jon Wiley, Senior User Experience Designer
“We’ve been creating mocks of left-hand panels since the earliest days of Google and have tested these designs with users as far back as 2006.”
In 2006, Google threw a number of changes in the user experience at Googlers, such as search within search (refine your search), left hand nav bar that has been part of the search site since May ’09 (just closed by default), and by trying an option to remove a result from your (personal) results.
No just in relation to the left hand nav bar, it changed a fair amount from design to implementation. Greatly cleaned up to make it easier to use, and persistently open on your results page to help you sort and find what’s relevant to you as a user. It’s just been about helping you find, what you want. As quickly, efficiently, and painlessly as possible.
There have been other changes as well, although they’re more on the aesthetic side of the spectrum. The logo has been flattened, and lightened in color, and the footer has followed suit. The internet is in a constant state of change, and when you try and remain motionless, changeless, and don’t adapt to it, you’ll be lost in the hundreds of millions of pages available. Google, has always tried to bring something new, useful, or sometimes just pleasantly looking to it’s users. For your viewing/nostalgic enjoyment, you’ll find a couple of examples below.
Blue Homepage Self explanatory
Universal bars “This design emphasizes different types of results with labeled blocks in the main results pane, such as books, news and shopping.”
In late March 2010, rumors were swirling that search engine giant Google, Inc. was preparing to launch its own SEO (search engine optimization) firm. In early April, Google put an end to the rumors and unveiled a plan to open the SEO agency as early as May. Apparently, this project had been in the pipeline for quite some time and Google had done an excellent job of keeping it secret. In light of that, it is easy to believe that those March rumors were in fact Google manipulations, at least an attempt to test the waters before a formal announcement.
Now, Google is assembling a Google SEO team of approximately 100 employees. The company professes that their intentions are noble. Google wants to set the standard for an industry that outsiders so often criticize. Google SEO promises to use only the most ethical practices to increase a client’s PageRank™, and they promise to do it without adding to the spam glut that currently exists on the Internet. However, the fact remains that Google SEO will be the only SEO agency in the world that can guarantee first page rankings because they are the only company that will have access to the algorithm that dictates it.
In addition, early estimates place the cost of this service in the neighborhood of $25,000 per month. Not only does Google have a monopoly on the search engine optimization, they will be fostering an environment of exclusivity. Google will cripple the thousands of small Internet business vying for your attention. That is not to say that it is currently easy for small business but at least they have the opportunity.
So consider the situation where a firm owns the audience and owns the power to give or take away visibility from a business. Now imagine that they offer you the path to greater visibility, at a cost. The nonprofessional might not know the intricacies of antitrust laws but he or she knows a racket when they see one and this is, at least potentially, a racket. Again, Google promises to do the ethical thing but it begs the question, do we want to trust a corporation to do the ethical thing or do we want to legislate law that mandates it?
Are you worried? Well I’m not, maybe knowing Google as well as I do, remember I sold my company to them, I know how rank page 1 for what we want, but it might well put paid to the cowboys out there.
A new’ish trend in search would have to be the local aspect. Building your site with the idea of attracting local clients, is getting to be a very lucrative market, namely because if people can get what they want just around the corner, why order online and wait a couple of weeks?
Now the question is; what to do to be found locally? There is a derth of information out there in what to do and what to avoid, and in all the noise there are a few gems which should be the highest on your list of “to do”
1) Google map listing : While this is a fairly straight forward process to set your listing up and be found, optimization does in fact play a part in where you will list in this area as well.
2) Local SEO onsite : On page optimization is huge in being able to generate quality content to compel visitors to link to / remain on your site. Being able to have that type of content *and* be locally optimized is a delicate touch, so as not to upset your balance. And as always, just adding a bunch of local addresses or slang to your pages doesn’t help your case, so much as damage it.
3) Social Media? : If you have a Facebook/Twitter account, and chances are you do, you can and will benefit by including as much localization to your profile as you can muster.
There is so much more than just these few tips to bear in mind as you gear your site for local dominance in the organic search results.