Category Archives: Google

Fishing with Google

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!

Morning Coffee

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.

NEW Google!! (not really)

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.”

Google to Enter SEO Business

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.

Locally Yours?

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.

All that Gwitters..? Twoogle it.. ?

Tuesday Twitter announces their new business model of Promoted Tweets to help the company generate revenue to help with the costs of running their equipment.

On Wednesday, Google announces the arrival of the ability of searching past Tweets, in an index of sorts of the history of Twitter.

Twitter, is taking a page from the Google playbook with ad generating tweets (AdWords anyone?), and Google is working it’s way into the real time search areana by including the newest Tweets, and now indexing all of the past ones up to the companies beginning.

In the strictest sense of the word, they’re not true competitors, as they provide different services to users. Google, returns relevant search results to users who search for specific strings. Twitter, is a real time account of the world. It’s a play by play of the world, as it happens.

A thought which has surfaced, and gained some momentum in discussion, is the idea of Google and Twitter joining forces, as opposed to outright confronting each other. In a sense, it would combine the best of real time accounts, with the worlds most powerful search engine; a very potent mix.

But, now that Twitter has developed it’s own revenue model, which it’s still working on, is it enough to keep its solidarity? Or will Google find a way to gobble it up, time will tell. If that happens, what’s the new term to be?

Gwitter?

Twoogle?

Buzz(ing) Facebook?

Facebook, if you live in a cave then there’s a chance you might not have heard of it (a small chance however). If it were a physical community, it would be the worlds fourth largest country at more than 400 million active users, 50% of which are logging in on any given day.

Why is Facebook so popular? Why was it picked up by everyone, and yes in some cases their dog too! It doesn’t make you money, it doesn’t put food on your table, it doesn’t fulfill some of the very basic necessities to live. But, it does fulfill some basics of life. Two different points, both with different needs.

Live
You need food. You need water, shelter, some form of clothing on your back to protect you from the elements. Facebook provides none of these for it’s 400 million users, and yet people flock to it in droves, daily, in the millions.

Life
People are pack animals, you don’t need to look further than the idea of towns and cities to see that. We like to be connected, we like to feel like we’re part of something, we like to know that someone, somewhere, cares to know who we are. It’s added bonus of being able to be in communication with your long lost friends and family is just icing on the cake as far as communication goes. You can send out a letter telling everyone in your life about your new clogs, or your dogs operation, or the newest addition to your family. How many have gotten a friend request, from someone they haven’t spoken to in 10+ years, because they were a friend of a friend of a friend.

Some in the press touted Googles foray (Buzz) into social media a Facebook killer, when in fact Buzz is just the same as all the rest. One of the bigger differences being in this case, your friends list was initially automatically populated for you. Because of the sheer size of it’s client base, somewhere in the neighborhood of 146 million users, if I read correctly, Buzz experienced some very sharp growing pains at it’s indiscretions of privacy and the way it launched itself into the public spotlight.

There was a time when MySpace was the social media phenomenon, and then Facebook arrived and MySpace was left in the dust. Is there a Facebook killer in the weeds, just waiting for it’s chance? Maybe, but the idea that it will happen anytime soon is as probable as the dark horse coming that’s going to topple Googles search dominance.

Google and its "Partners"

There’s a number of facets to successful online marketing. Being able to recognize those which are worth the time and effort and which are best left on the wayside can mean the difference of long term financial freedom, or scraping the insides of your food tins.

Ok, perhaps I went a little dramatic with the variance, but to expand on the metaphor, online advertising techniques range from as complex and involved as organic search engine optimization (SEO), to the relentless upkeep of social media marketing, and the immediate exposure capability of pay per click SEM (search engine marketing) campaigns.

The following excerpt is old news::
“Yellow Pages Group has entered into a new strategic agreement with Google to become the first Canadian based reseller of Google AdWords. Under the agreement, Yellow Pages Group will be able to provide its 425,000+ advertisers with setup and consulting on Google AdWords campaigns.” 10/2007
but I mention it because of some of the points made within the statement, that while aren’t untrue, aren’t entirely transparent in meaning.

To summarize the paragraph, what’s being said is basically Yellow Pages Group set up an agreement with Google, to sell Adwords ads. That’s it. Nothing fancy about it, no consultancy with Google, apart from their own staff writers at Yellow Pages, no partnerships with Google or the like. The way it would work is fairly basic, you call Yellow Pages, tell them the adwords you would like to target, and they tell you the cost per click (CPC); say $5 for example. If your ad copy is better than the others, and someone clicks your ad, you pay $5 for that click through. Ideally of course, at that point the visitor buys what ever product they’ve clicked through to see, and you can recoup your CPC. If they don’t buy, well you need to break some eggs to make an omelette right?

Adwords programs are fairly easy to setup, but require consistant upkeep. CPC can fluctuate day to day, depending on the news, product availability, or niche marketing just for example. Resellers are in the business of making money at what they’re selling. That $5 Yellow Pages Ad they may have only paid $2 for to Google as an example.

There are banners, web page logos, designs, etc which some have used to try and label themselves as Google partners. To be very clear, if Google likes what you can do, they won’t partner with you. Sorry to burst the bubble, but if you’re that good at what you do, and you spark Googles interest, odds are high that you’re going to be having a nice, long, paid vacation.

Pay per click advertising is a quick way to brand a new website, provided you have a competant person at the helm to maintain your account. The force behind Freshtraffic, had his hand in developing the PPC/Adwords system, if ever there was a time to use the term Google Partner, this would be the closest instance to which it would apply.

I can see the (Google)light

Google, the search giant who’s developed a slew of services and products, the majority of which are free, are again trying to up the bar in it’s seemingly endless pockets of services.

The newest information to come down the wire from G:
“..it will offer the service at a “competitive price” to at least 50,000 people and potentially as many as 500,000. Google wants to use the networks for applications that consume lots of bandwidth.”

A full fibre network, with the beginning roots going outwards to subscribers allowing badwidth of up to 1 gigabit per second, for comparison speeds, Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast offer speeds of 50 megabits per second cap currently. If you were in a car, it would be like travelling (quickly mind you) at 50 mph, and hitting the Google road, all of a sudden flying along at 1000 mph. Gives the term, free information exchange, a whole new meaning. Additionally, offering a speed of 1 gigabit would ideally lead to the realm of online 3d viewing, taking online interactivity to a whole new realm as well.

The starting point, being those cities which would benefit the most from the fibre upgrade, and would allow the company to plan out where to extend the service where it would be most beneficial. Is this the future of the internet? Long term, light speed information exchange on a Google thread?