Browsing "internet news"
An advertising metric which has become more and more available for business owners to use has been social search. Facebook, MySpace to a degree, and mobile access to these online communities comprises a network of millions of people; both locally and beyond. Google is by far the king of search online, but Facebook recently has put a twist on the angle of social search. In October of 2004 Facebook applied to patent what was called “curated search” but for all intent and purpose is social search. As of this past February, the patent was granted.
The language of the filing is as such: “Visual tags for search results generated from social network information.”
If that seems somewhat broad and far reaching, you’re not alone. Digging through the information contained within the patent application it’s explained more thoroughly. Here is the definition of search via Facebooks patent application:
“A key metric in evaluating the performance of search engines is relevance of the search results. Search engine developers are always striving to deliver search results that are relevant to the search query being processed. A frequently used technique is analyzing how web pages link to each other. A web page gets a ranking boost based on the number of other web pages that are linked to it. Click-through rates of search results are analyzed in some search engines. The general rule is: the higher the click-through rate, the higher the ranking.”
And their definition of social search is defined as well.
“According to an embodiment of the invention, search results, including sponsored links and algorithmic search results, are generated in response to a query, and are ranked based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation from the member who submitted the query.”
The idea is that relevance is dependant partly on the number of clicks your friends give to links, as well as how closely tied you are to your friends. The awarding of the patent likely won’t vastly alter the social search game, it does prove however that Zuckerberg had search in mind the entire time for Facebook; the company was launched in February of 2004, the application made only a few months later in October.
And the winner is? Mozilla and Chrome browsers at last weeks Pwn2Own web security conference. Internet Explorer 8 as well as Safari web browser were hacked within the first few days of the contest which tests browsers and internet security. Neither the Chrome browser nor the Mozilla Firefox browser were breached as teams who signed up to tackle the browsers withdrew as they failed to come up with a technique to exploit them. It’s Firefoxs first “win” at the event and Chromes third year of survival.
Both surviving browsers: open source, have bounty programs, have embedded security teams, better at faster fixes. Co-incidence?
via Chris Evans Twitter, a Chrome security engineer
Mobile browsers were also targeted and all fell to the exploits which researchers found, Google however was the first to offer a fix for the exploit which was addressed.
The contest doesn’t mean that you’re completely unsecured using IE 8 as your dedicated browser, or that by using Chrome and Firefox you’re completely protected from malicious attempts at snagging your data. The researchers at the Pwn2own event dedicate a fair amount of time and resources into breaking or hacking a specific browser, all with the intent of passing on their methods and thinking to the manufacturer so they can be patched.
So there’s this thing called the internet and people are able to create their own little slice of it to tell their story or maybe even to sell themselves! It’s an amazing tool, sadly it bears the responsibility of granting anonymity to those using it, and as such it’s becoming more and more crowded with imprudent users. Massive sites of good, bad and just plain terrible information. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you want to find, you can’t help but have dozens of trash and spam results to filter through to find those nuggets of wisdom.
Well, Google has listened to your cries for spam control. And with their recent Panda (Farmer) update, it’s helped clean up as much as 12% of the overall searches performed with the service. When you’re talking in the billions of searches per month, 12% turns out to be a rather significant number. And yet, that still leaves 88% of the searches performed which may still be plagued by spam sites, scraper sites and poor quality sites. Well, Google has listened again, and now even more control of your personal search experience has emerged.
Now as you perform a search, a new option to shape your experience, block all results has been implemented. It may sound like it’s just too simple, but it does in fact allow users to form their own modified algorithm of sorts. Not interested in E-How.com? You can now choose to block those results from your searches. After you’ve blocked a url, simply reenter your search terms and voila! Cleansed and purged from your future results.
The search engines are in the business of bringing you, the user, what you want from the web. The added amenities that they provide, whether it be maps, documents, pictures, or Facebook integrations are bonuses designed to help further shape and enhance your user experience. Just like the new feature of blocking searched sites with Google.
In a little shown display of power, Google excercized it’s mobile muscle on it’s Android operating system over the last few days. It came to the attention of the mobile team of malicious software being made available on the market, and they quickly stepped in to isolate and destroy the offending apps.
What they did next, was show how much control that they have remotely to your Android software. I’ve read estimates that tens of thousands of users were affected by the software, and with the flick of a switch, Google removed the software from the infected devices. They remotely uninstalled the software from the handsets and for a final resolution recommend resetting the phones to factory default for good measure.
It’s another case of the copycat, not that it should be any surprise online, but Bing Deals has broken into the realm of online deal makers.
I guess it’s kind of a stretch to throw them in with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial, because what Bing is doing is actually a little different. The way they said it, would probably be the best way to share:
“The value is that we’re aggregating these for you, bringing these all together so that you don’t have to go to all of these other places”
So Bing has taken the time to write the lines to mash all of the deals together in one place for thrifty shoppers out there. No need for an account to use the service, no spammy emails about deals locally, just a big old coupon book for you to browse. To pay, your information would be used on the vendors site. Simple enough really.
And to make things a little spicier and enticing again, Bing partnered up with a company called The Dealmap, which bills itself as the best place online to find local deals with over 200,000 unique offers across the US on your mobile device.
“The Dealmap is a leading source for people to find and share the best local deals, so naturally it made sense for us to team up with them to bring you the best experience.”Andy Chu, director of Product Management for Bing Mobile.
So it’s not quite copycat, but it’s Bing bringing to bear their own take to online shopping and local search incentives. A good idea which will attract a fair share of attention as it grows in offerings and popularity.
In the last few days there’s been a small problem for some Gmail users, as we’ve mentioned here. And Google has come out and said “Oops, our bad” and are working on correcting the error. In the last couple of weeks in addition, the search algorithm driving the Google machine was tweaked to try and clean up the search results.
The tweak, nicknamed “Farmer” is basically designed to begin weeding content farm, scraper sites and spam sites from the search results. These websites typically abuse the current hot trends on line to drive false SEO campaigns to themselves and/or their clients for visibility. The coding change however, has had a rather unwanted side effect as well however. There’s a handful of sites which have been mistakenly affected by the new algorithm change. And again, Google is saying “Oops, our bad” and manually correcting any mistaken rankings changes. So if your site has been affected recently, say the last 2 weeks or so, by the algorithm shift, it may be worth your while to hit your webmaster tools and submit for a reconsideration.
In a recent case of the big kid throwing their weight around, Yelp has spoken out against Google Places pages, saying that it’s in direct competition with Yelps services. Now in the past, Google tried to snatch up Yelp for a cool $500 million, and after they declined Google went out and voila! Google Places makes it’s appearance. The way it works currently, is on Google Places you’ll find Yelp reviews, properly linked back to their site and Yelp hasn’t said anything about it. But Google as of late (according to Yelp) has decided that it’s not enough and have decided to invoke the playground rule of “play my way, it’s my ball”. So as of this writing Yelp faces the possibility of being taken from the index, Google Places listings and all, unless they bow to the Google Giant. The most troubling part about the whole affair however I think, is with everything considered Google will be completely crushing it’s own mantra of “Don’t be evil” by kicking a valid competitor from the index. Here’s hoping they actually decide to take the high road and get that stick out of their you know what.
J.C. Penney has had their hand slapped obviously since they were caught breaking the good guy rules, as they should have. But it’s like there’s a white elephant in the room, that topic that no one wants to talk about. The ‘but how couldn’t they know’ side of the equation of their online marketing strategy.
It’s a dangerous loop to become trapped in when there are too many channels for information to pass through. And just like the game of Telephone when you’re a child (the passing of a phrase down a line of people), the message becomes lost in the end. The higher ups in the J.C. Penney organization deny that they knew of any shady business from their search engine marketing company and because of the way information travels it’s (unfortunately) probably true. The most unfortunate part of their whole marketing debacle is it’s just going to encourage the chain to bring all of their SEO efforts in house.
There’s two sides to this issue of course, and both have their pros and their cons. Bringing all of the tech and knowledge in house provides an exceptionally high level of control over the execution of their SEO strategy and much faster implementation of any changes they may desire. Out sourcing has the added benefit of not having to add to your staff and the cost can be offset to marketing, or worse, place the hands of your companies SEO into someone who thinks they can handle it. The very real, and unfortunate result of placing SEO into the hands of someone already within the company who only has an idea as to how best proceed is the likely outcome.
JCP is having their website manually checked on because they broke the rules of the search game. There’s going to be a lot of eyes on their website for some time to come I would imagine. But the violation which put them into this position, would have a very real chance to happen again if they should go the route to bring all of their SEO in house only and delegate it to a current employee who has an inkling of an idea.
Because when you take it down to brass tacks, the real SEO experts aren’t for hire by one company to stake their claim in one place. And a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing to have.
Since it’s all over the news and has been talked about since word broke, here ‘s just another take on the J.C. Penney search gaff. The NYTimes did a piece titled “The dirty little secrets of search” and in it was outlined how J.C. Penney gamed Google into listing them for all sorts of terms, applicable to their stores, but always listing at the top irregardless of the search.
The chief way this occurred was through the value of backlinks coming into a site. When your search engine optimization expert does their work properly, the value of the backlinks coming into your site will be categorically relative to your site. J.C. Penney however had links for all sorts of things on what seemed like any kind of website. When it comes to broad analysis of buying links to link back to your site, Google frowns heavily on the practice and often the links are devalued, or even negatively valued, and your site can be negatively effected in such cases. Matt Cutts was questioned on the occurrence and admitted that although JCP.com was already dealt with three times previous, the most recent and wide reaching offence hadn’t been noted.
Some have said it’s because JCP spends so much money on AdWords, others have said it’s sloppy policing on Googles part. One thing that the NYTimes piece did however, was contact a black hat SEO marketer directly and asked their opinion on the matter, and I believe they hit it on the head the best. Think of search not as a one type tool (search) but as a dual purpose technology; informational and commercial. And while the black hat lauded the strength of Googles informational capabilities, he readily admitted that commercially the results were lack luster, a cess pool was the term used. The Google team has admitted fully that there’s a relevance problem as of late, which has become more pronounced with the advent of both Caffeine and Instant technologies into the Google search algorithm. It also needs to be noted however, that spammers didn’t all of a sudden triple their output, the right set of adjustments just haven’t been found yet to exclude them from the relevant results. Additionally since no one has thought to bring it up, the same (gamed) results would have shown up in Bing or Yahoo as well as they did in Google.
JCP is about to go through some growing pains, and will most likely learn a valuable lesson in search; always make a point to be aware of your hired SEOs track record . You may find yourself on the receiving end of a swat on the nose from the Google team.
In a bit of a change of pace, just a reminder that there are a few key points which need to be considered when working online whether as a new website owner just getting into the search marketing side of business. Or a long trusted brand both on and offline, that’s looking to stake a claim, or reinforce a position online.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly) – Keep your website simple in appearance, construction and use. That doesn’t mean like a printed sheet of paper, but flashy ads, a video clogged front page or fancy fly away graphical menus don’t help your position in the search world. All of the above technologies, without a lot of back work, can actually hurt your online marketing performance.
Relevant Content – Keep your copy relevant and consistent to what you want to be known for. If you’re a plumber, write about plumbing trends, technologies and concerns. If you’re a tailor, writing about style trends, materials and new patterns is helpful. As a carpenter you wouldn’t want to write about small engine repair or microwave ovens, it’s simply not pertinent to your business or your website.
Budget – Ahh money, the one aspect of the business that always seems to surprise people. The thing about advertising, is that advertising in earnest, with the idea to make contact with your customers or clients to earn a living, will cost you money. In North America, Canada especially, online marketing budgets are significantly below what they need to be to see the real rewards capable from high quality, skilled search optimization. It still makes no business sense how a company can have no problem throwing away thousands of dollars per month on a marketing metric which is untrackable (newspapers/radio), versus a significantly lower cost for a completely trackable one (SEO).
A Call to Action – Often the missed point of a newer website owner, a call to action for your visitors is a required point of your website. A qualified and capable search engine optimization expert can bring you traffic, but if your website doesn’t direct your visitors what to do, they will leave until they find a site that does. If the point of your website is to sell, ensure you have a way to sell to your visitors with a Buy Now button, or a catalogue to order. If your desire is to attract people to sign up for your newsletter, make sure it’s prominently displayed as such.
Time – One of the most important requirements for SEO is time. Time for your website to be crawled and indexed, time for Google, Bing and Yahoo to place you within their index and the time it takes to balance your website versus the millions upon millions of pages also within your sector. It all takes time in the end, and if you try to circumvent the time component and go quick and dirty like J.C. Penney did? You’ll get caught, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you’ll be caught.
The newest hype to hit the tech wire would have to be the talks which have been occuring with Twitter, Facebook and Google. Rumor has it that the seriousness of the talks hasn’t reached a fevered pitch as of yet, but that Twitter is courting the two giants is enough to make the industry ears twitch.
The current evaluation of Twitter is somewhere in the $10 billion range, a solid improvement from it’s worth last year being tagged at just short of $4 billion. Whether or not the search, or social media giant will actually pay this amount is in doubt. Twitter has tried only a handful of money making schemes, but on the whole the media which Twitter introduced to the world doesn’t have a lot of marketing punch. It’s a useful tool for some industries and aspects of day to day interaction, but with having to reduce your world to 140 characters at a time, it can leave you short on the information side. Speculation around the talks has been springing up which supports the idea that because Twitter is running out of ideas to market itself and make it’s own money, it’ll instead sell it’s idea and worth to continue on.
Which giant could benefit the most from the purchase of Twitter isn’t a question, as Facebook already has it’s own micro-blogging idea built in in status updates. Google most definitely would have the most to gain with the purchase of the site, it might even provide the search giant with the social boost it needs to begin carving it’s own tiny niche in the social arena.
There’s a massive amount of information on the Internet on absolutely everything, the downside of this of course is the (seemingly) even larger amounts of mis-information. This holds true in any industry, but when it comes to the topic of search engine optimization, it often seems that it’s not so much the fact and fiction mixed up. It’s more akin to the information being tossed in a blender and spread in a mess.
The most antagonizing part of all of the information out there, is that people who partake of what makes the most sense to them, claims to make them experts in the field. It’s from these same sources that the newest experts don’t even learn how to properly 301 a website, or are unable to tell the difference between paid links and paid advertisements. Some of the latest crop have seemed to be of the belief that building websites to rank for obscure long tail terms, is the same skill as being able to rank a client for their desired and preferred terms.
The whole idea about marketing your business is about driving qualified visitors to your website, where hopefully your SEO company has advised you on how to build your site to facilitate conversions. Whether it’s convincing visitors to sign up for your news letter, or to buy your product, or sign up for your discussion forums, the idea of pushing and marketing your site is to increase your bottom line, what ever it may be. Say for example your business is in making shoes, and your website has a built in shopping cart so your customers can buy custom footwear direct. Along comes the newest ‘expert’ in SEO and builds your site around a long tail search along the lines of ‘custom designed walking equipment’. You may shake your head an scoff at the idea, but it happens, and happens far too often.
No, this doesn’t mean that long tail searches are dead in any way, there are users out there who don’t use the Google Instant feature, or simply type out their entire query. But the point of my description was to drive home the idea that search engine optimization isn’t about tricking the search engines, isn’t about spamming on blog comments and posts and it isn’t about tricking visitors into visiting your website. It’s about driving qualified traffic to your site with the decision to purchase your product, or sign up for your newsletter or become involved in your community. Real SEO performed by the real SEO experts drives measurable, qualified traffic to your website to make your bottom line better.