Browsing "internet news"
The most recent effort to introduce a bill aimed at placing the responsibility of policing the internet, of sorts, and it’s content has been blocked by Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.
The PROTECT IP Act was layed out and written in such a fashion that it would fall to internet service providers and search engines to essentially censor the internet. The proposed aim was to reduce the flow of business to websites selling counterfit name brand products. And while the goal is a noble one, the powers granted to the government over the ISPs and search engines if they didn’t comply with their directives was too far reaching. Basically any business could rat out another to the government, who would then turn around and say “Block this website” to the search engines and service providers. If they didn’t comply, they’d be subject to the whims of the body put in place to oversee their actions.
The largest issue with the bill and the way it was written, the burden of proof was placed on the accused, not the accuser. In essence, if you wanted to stop a competitor from advertising on the web and placing within the SERPs, all you would need to do is accuse them of infringing on your copyrights. The burden of proof would then be placed on the accused and they would be basically blacklisted to the corners of the internet.
A strong advocate of the bill had his own take on the necessity of the bill:
“American consumers are too often deceived into thinking the products they are purchasing at these websites are legitimate because they are easily accessed through their home’s Internet service provider, found through well known search engines, and are complete with corporate advertising, credit card acceptance, and advertising links that make them appear legitimate”- Senator Patrick Leahy
It’s easy enough to debate his comment however with just the simple statement, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re looking to buy a Rolex and you stumble upon that “hidden” gem online where you can buy one for a 10th of the retail cost, I would bet you’re buying a counterfit. Big business has a problem with the counterfitters namely because they’re almost entirely fly by night. They’ll engage in ruthless cut throat, black hat SEO tactics to continually rank above them in the SERPs to gain the visibility. The most consistent way to “win” the counterfit war is to simply rank above the gamers of the system. Investing in your website, investing in organic SEO and most importantly, investing in your brands online visibility.
The web is an amazingly powerful tool used everyday by billions of people around the world. Searching, blogging, creating all manner of art, researching and changing the world one bit at a time. At the center of the chaos are the search engines, working to try and bring some order to things. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask they all work in a similar manner to try and serve up the web for it’s users. But an always interesting thought, what would the web be like without the search engines trying to organizing things?
Users of the web like to complain that the results aren’t what they’re looking for or that it’s crowded with ads. Accessing the web without any kind of a search tool or a way of organizing it would be much like being dropped into the wilderness without any clue of direction or means of survival. Hunting for pages based on referral links and word of mouth would be the only real way to find your way around the trillions of pages of the web. We wouldn’t have the massive marketing tool with the search engines, there wouldn’t be ideas shared, knowledge exchanged or any of the fuzzy feel good that comes from global collaboration.
As much as the SERPs seem terrible, as often as it feels like someone somewhere is trying to move in on your privacy, without the search engines the web would be a complete shambles.
On an unrelated note, Fresh Traffic was named Tenant of the Month at 201 Portage this month! We have cake if you want to drop by and nab a piece.
A trending topic for the last 6 weeks or so online has been the SEO changing Panda updates. Both the original and the latest versions of the algorithm updates. Some website owners have laughed, some have cried, but all of us in the SEO industry have had to adjust some to compensate for the changes.
A new twist on the update discussion that has been gaining traction as of late is the thoughts of the increased diligence that as SEO experts, we will be conducting when picking up new clients. Scouring the content, links and the structure of the site were always paramount to success, checking the backlink structure however was often just glanced at. With the scare which Panda has brought into the spotlight of using content farm back links or having a link farm tied to your site, checking on a deep backlink history for clients new and old has become a priority. The fear that snagging that new massive deal, be undermined because of shady link building practices in the past has elevated the concerns of the search community.
It has also raised another question about the discovery of link farm back links and paid link building schemes to boost clients page rank. The Panda updates and the Google algorithm in general, have often caught the ire of the masses as being poor and best and out right failing at worst. Being that anyone can check any websites backlink structure and history, the development of a built in website reporting widget for your browser from Google and it seems that the industry is due to become full of vigilantes. Imagine the scenario, while checking on a niche competitors backlinks you discover that they’ve been buying thousands of links to boost their page rank and SERPs standing. With just a quick click of your mouse and a short form filled out, you’ve essentially neutered your competition and kicked their feet out from under them in one efficient motion.
This could lead to a massive amount of finger pointing and name calling in the SEO community. But at the same time, it’ll help reinforce the organic search experts position in the field. Never forget the basics, always keep it simple, don’t buy into link schemes which claim to guarantee page rank and SERP position and always do your due diligence.
So this new bill being pushed in California is supposed the be in place to protect your privacy online. Okay, I have no issues with that, but there is something that strikes me a little odd personally. Not only does the proposed bill say that social networking sites would automatically have heightened security, but it places tighter controls in the hands of parents of minors who use those same sites.
This is a personal opinion of course, but the only real change that social sites online should adopt at present would be a new mantra. Allow your consumer/user base to opt-in to innitiatives instead of opt-out of them. Just because you make a small tweak to a random section of the security settings doesn’t mean you flag everyones profile as open and public as default either. Leaving the power of privacy in the hands of the users is a stronger stance than placing the onus on the company.
Of course there are those heralding the bill as a great idea, that it provides protection against personal information being tracked and sold to third parties online. To that I say ‘Learn to read’. The security settings aren’t difficult to understand in any network I’ve been involved in and they’re always in an out of the way place. You don’t login to a social network to be bombarded with ‘CHECK YOUR PRIVACY!!’ you login to see what your circle is involved in at the moment, to create or strengthen business ties, or maybe even to just talk to your aunt or grandma who lives across the country.
Just as the saying goes ‘If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen’ if you can’t be arsed to manage your own information, don’t expect the web to do it for you. Information is bought, sold, traded and stolen every second of every day online, if you’re only waking up to that now that’s not the internets fault. PEBKAC.
There are risks and rewards to be found for your business in any advertising avenue, when you get to the bottom line you need to weigh the costs versus the return on the investment. And while some of the oldest marketing tricks in the book still work, like television, radio and newspaper. The simple truth is, less and less people are buy newspapers, watching television or listening to the radio.
Consumers are beginning to PVR their favorite shows, skipping the commercials and spending their time watching the content they want to see. Newspapers, once one of the largest staples of information, readership has been steadily dropping as more and more people get their news from an online source whether it’s via their computer or even a smart phone. Radio is starting to show some declines as commuters plug in their portable music devices and tune into their own music libraries. Online advertising is still in its infancy here in Canada especially and it’s painful to see when businesses and organisations just flat out refuse to listen to the evolving market.
Here in however, also lies a problem in and of itself. When you’re making that step online, who do you turn to for help? There’s no SEO club, there’s no secondary education available in a formal schooling to teach people how to effectively code online for optimization. We don’t carry cards, we don’t have a monthly news letter and we most certainly do not all fit into the same basket. So what is there you can do to ensure that the “expert” that you’ve hired is the real deal?
You can start at the beginning, asking for such things as previous clients and how their rankings were affected. You can search for their website using keywords you would expect them to be optimized for. Touting themselves as a PPC expert? Google them. Search for them on Bing, Google, Yahoo, pick your engine and scour away. If you’ve found that you’ve hired someone selling themselves as an expert and all they do is build you a Facebook account and a Twitter account, then don’t worry you still have time to get into the game. But don’t be fooled, your competitors are playing the same game as you, and if they started before you, they have the lead however temporary. To catch up, you’ll need to play harder, faster and better than everyone else.
There are some interesting threads around the web at the moment around the recent global Panda roll out. Some websites are noticing that when the initial introduction came out a while back and they were dropped from the engine, their traffic is starting to return to previous Panda metrics. It would have been frustrating for sure to have to deal with the not knowing if you had in fact been in breach of scraping content, or been penalized for it when you hadn’t done anything wrong. It’s an anxiety which Google could have eliminated with even just a quick little post along the lines of “We’re addressing your concerns in an upcoming roll out, please be patient with us” as opposed to staying quiet.
Anyhow, the global roll out has occured and it looks like for the moment the farmers have been hit with a drought. The initial numbers have started to appear on various communities online and there are some familiar names in the list with some big losses in ranking. And what seems to be a long time coming, ehow.com has received their penance. Long touted as one of the worst offenders for aggregating content, the site was left virtually untouched in the preliminary Panda roll out. It seems however, that what ever loop hole they slipped through the first time, it snagged them on the second pass. Initial reports are showing a drop of over 80% representation in search results for the site. Other sites which were hit hard were live123.com, findarticles.com and associatedcontent.com. No real surprises there.
And just to mention something which is a little of a pet peeve of mine, the over thinking, or sensationalizing of somewhat arbitrary numbers on the internet. It was a thread I had been following for a few days in which the discussion was centered around the idea of what could be considered Google’s biggest threat to their online presence. The top three came back at no real surprise with Bing, Facebook and Google themselves, all being the threats to the giant.
The part of the discussion which really made me question the reading comprehension of the poster, was that because Facebook is most likely going to become public, that automatically makes them the biggest threat to Google full stop. Their resoning was based around an online tool in which they showed that Google had dropped 2.5% in their yearly traffic and Facebook had grown by 15%!! That clearly said to them that Facebook is the winner in the dominance race.
My issue with their reasoning, besides the point they were spouting their opinion as fact, was they never compared the metrics used to reach those percentages. Problem number 1, Google and Facebook are two different online tools. One is social, one is search. Only if and/or when Google becomes more social, or Facebook focuses on search, can comparisons begin to be drawn. Problem number 2, in comparing apples to oranges the numbers will always be skewed, yet that was ignored. Problem number 3, Bing was unfairly ignored in the comparison. Throwing Bing into the mix really tosses a monkey wrench into the comparison, as they experienced a 44%!!! growth from April 2010 to February 2011. In following with comparing apples to oranges, I contend that Bing is actually Facebook’s largest competitor, excluding the fact that they have an online partnership.
Yesterday was an interesting introduction for Wall Street, Larry Page made his first appearance as Google CEO. It wasn’t an unexpected move for him to be in this position, in fact we knew about it months ago, what was a surprise though was how just how the market reacted. The market shunned Google at present, dropping the stock by 5% of it’s value. But what was it that happened?
Page didn’t pull up stakes on the company, he didn’t outline a plan in which everyone will be living in tents in 5 years. What he did do however in his short time at the helm, is to steer the megolith at a very huge target, the social audience. When you think of anything social on the web, it’s near impossible to leave Facebook out of the equation, so is this the first (real) volley of fire in the Google versus Facebook battle?
It’s starting to look like it at least. Page increased overall spending, and hired more employees for Google, and has challenged all of the engi-nerds to “integrate relationships, sharing and identity across our products” A.k.a – lets get social.
On the whole, even though the marketers may be fretting how things look initially for the search giant, on the whole focusing the company in a new direction is a positive move. Change is good in general, and competition feeds innovation. With Larry Page pointing their guns at a specific prize it leads me to the conclusion we’re going to be in for a hell of a ride.
So they’ve said they’re not in it for the money, that its relevance that counts and when you boil it all down content is king. But a judge who heard arguments in class action lawsuit versus Google, has handed down judgement that the giant needs to reveal the metrics behind some of its AdSense pages.
To clarify a little, the data in question is part of the parked domain, or error page “websites” which have only ads on them and no real content. The issue it seems stems from the problem that these never ending looping AdSense clicks rank better in the AdSense network than some legitimate ad placements. And as per the court order, Google must reveal the “conversion score value of the property source” — defined in the court order as “a metric Google uses to price clicks from Web sites contained in its network.”
This entire chain of events began a few years ago in 2008 when some advertisers noticed and complained that their ads were being placed in a specific AdSense category, AdSense for Domains and AdSense for Errors. These specifically return search results with typos in them, most often visited by accident and left as soon as you notice. The complaint argued that because of the low quality, their ads weren’t generating the revenue and sales which were due, and were unlikely to actually make back their placement cost.
Perhaps part of the reason Google is being told to turn over the data, was their counter argument that the ads served on those pages performed just as well as ads placed on proper sites. Previously Google tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, but they lost that bid as well as the actual case. It’s time for the AdSense giant to please stand up and provide the answers. This should get interesting I think.
Since Mr.Page has taken hold of the reins of the Google ship, he’s made some clear moves to date. Appointing 7 executives who he can deal with directly in order to steamline any changes in their products, and to serve up a Google wide memo to prove just how serious they are about getting social.
Pages memo is quoted as: “strategy to integrate relationships, sharing and identity across our products. If we’re successful, your bonus could be up to 25% bigger. If not, your bonus could be up to 25% less than target.”
So it’s time to take that 20% free initiative time and develop the next social step stone at the Google Plex. It’s interesting, and a little scary to see Page directing so much development power towards a single goal with the Google engineers, it’s going to be an interesting year in the social market I’d bet.
And as if not to play any favorites, the Department of Justice has decided that yes Google can have ITA, but we get to watch what you do with it. Oh and also, you need to share it with everyone. And development? You can’t put anymore money into it than ITA already has.
Those may come across as negative points, but on the whole they’ll help foster a more powerful travel search feature across multiple platforms. Everyone is a winner, Google gets what they want, and the travel industry gets to share on the level of innovation that is developed from becoming part of the Google machine.
If you think of the internet as the wild west, then it’s safe to make the correlation of there being good guys, bad guys and everyone else.
Using this basis of comparison, who fits into what category is a completely arbitrary decision that changes between people and organizations. The search engines for example, Bing, Google, Yahoo etc, are they the good guys because of the services they provide? Or are they the bad guys because they can provide you with a basicly clear window to the internet? What about the RIAA, FCC and those of the same ilk. Are they good or bad because they want to be able to monitor online content, filter it according to rights and punish all who may dare to break their rules.
It’s a new age of content creation, distribution and monitoring, so I find it a little strange that the policy makers are pointing fingers at the big guy, Google. Their claim as a part of the proposed Web Censoship bill, is that Google (in a nutshell) is responsible for policing the internet and what their searches turn up. A spokesman for Google, Kent Walker was plain in his answer in saying that if this bill were to pass, then private companies will have a tremendous amount of power over Google and it’s behaviour. He also pointed out that there are flaws in any system, and that the bad eggs are out there specifically working on gaming the system and that just because a website has a link to content which may not be hosted by them, they shouldn’t be punished.
Because let’s be honest, as any web designer can tell you, a site can be created in about 20 minutes and uploaded and active online in 30 total. That site will then be crawled and placed in the index as appropriately as possible. Now the people trying to game the censorship system, all they have to do is create site after site, after site. The pages will be up and indexed faster than they could ever be taken down, any one with even half of an idea as to how the web works knows this.
If the bill should pass, it will mean new stringent guidelines to be adhered to and that god forbid you post something that becomes unliked by someone in power because you may just find yourself invisible in search no matter what you do. It’s an authoritorian rule, managed by those with the most power. And Scarface said it best:
In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power.
For further information and reading, you can find both sides of the argument at ArsTechnica. Both sides of the argument are discussed, those for the bill, and those against the bill.