Tag Archive | "Down"

Google co-founders step down, Sundar Pichai to lead both Google and Alphabet

Page and Brin will remain as board members.



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FTC smacks down anti-review ‘non-disparagement clauses’ in form contracts

Make sure your contracts don’t have terms that violate the CRFA.



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Permission to Slow Down

A few months ago, I had the immense good fortune to get invited to display my first motorcycle project at…

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50 Million Google+ Accounts Compromised in Latest Data Breach, Platform to Shut Down Earlier Than Planned

The discovery of another privacy flaw has pushed Google to shut down Google+ much earlier than expected.

Google announced on December 10 that it had discovered a security issue that potentially left more than 50 million accounts vulnerable in November. The revelation came shortly on the heels of a previous admission that a security lapse in March also affected thousands of users. Because of this, the company says Google+ will be shut down by April 2019.

Google initially planned to sunset the platform by August 2019. The company made the announcement to close its Google+ network in October, after it admitted that an earlier breach affected 500,000 users.

The latest bug was said to have been inadvertently created by a software patch that Google developed last month. It reportedly gave third-party apps access to account users’ profile data and exposed even information that wasn’t made public. It took the company six days to notice it and find a solution.

In a blog post, Google’s Vice President of Product Management, David Thacker, shared that “No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.”

However, the bug made it possible for apps where users willingly shared their Google+ data to also access their friends’ profile or those of people who shared data with them. Google gave assurances though that it did not expose any passwords, financial data, or other sensitive details that could be used in identity theft.

The Alphabet-owned company had also suffered a security breach in March. That particular bug placed tens of thousands of users’ personal information at risk. The company waited half a year before it admitted to regulators and the public that there was a problem. The breach happened around the time Facebook was embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica controversy. Reports stated that Google delayed revealing the problem partly to avoid regulators from scrutinizing the company.

The admission that there was another security issue couldn’t have come at a worse time for the company. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, was set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on December 11 to be grilled about the company’s data practices.

Google+ will be shutting down all its APIs for developers within three months. However, the platform’s enterprise version will remain functional. Google also acknowledged on Monday that Google+ had a low number of users and that there were major obstacles to turning it into a successful product.

[Featured image via Google]

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Why We’re Doubling Down on the Future of SEO – Moz + STAT

Posted by Dr-Pete

Search is changing. As a 200-person search marketing software company, this isn’t just a pithy intro – it’s a daily threat to our survival. Being an organic search marketer can be frustrating when even a search like “What is SEO?” returns something like this…

…or this…

…or even this…

So, why don’t we just give up on search marketing altogether? If I had to pick just one answer, it’s this – because search still drives the lion’s share of targeted, relevant traffic to business websites (and Google drives the vast majority of that traffic, at least in the US, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe).

We have to do everything better

The answer isn’t to give up – it’s to recognize all of this new complexity, study it, and do our jobs better. Earlier this year, for example, we embarked on a study to understand how SERP features impact click-through rates (CTR). It turns out to be a difficult problem, but even the initial insights of the data were useful (and a bit startling). For example, here’s the average organic (SERPs with no features) curve from that study…

Various studies show the starting point at various places, but the shape itself is consistent and familiar. We know, though, that reducing everything to one average ignores a lot. Here’s a dramatic example. Let’s compare the organic curve to the curve for SERPs with expanded sitelinks (which are highly correlated with dominant and/or branded intent)…

Results with sitelinks in the #1 position have a massive 80% average CTR, with a steep drop to #2. These two curves represent two wildly different animals. Now, let’s look at SERPs with Knowledge Cards (AKA “answer boxes” – Knowledge Graph entities with no organic link)…

The CTR in the #1 organic position drops to almost 1/3 of the organic-only curve, with corresponding drops throughout all positions. Organic opportunity on these SERPs is severely limited.

Opportunity isn’t disappearing, but it is evolving. We have to do better. This is why Moz has teamed up with STAT, and why we’re doubling down on search. We recognize the complexity of SERP analytics in 2018, but we also truly believe that there’s real opportunity for those willing to do the hard work and build better tools.

Doubling down on RANKINGS

It hurts a bit to admit, but there’s been more than once in the past couple of years where a client outgrew Moz for rank tracking. When they did, we had one thing to say to those clients: “We’ll miss you, and you should talk to STAT Search Analytics.” STAT has been a market leader in daily rank tracking, and they take that job very seriously, with true enterprise-scale capabilities and reporting.

For the past couple of years, STAT’s team has also been a generous source of knowledge, and even as competitors our engineering teams have shared intel on Google’s latest changes. As of now, all brakes are off, and we’re going to dive deep into each other’s brains (figuratively, of course – I only take mad science so far) to find out what each team does best. We’re going to work to combine the best of STAT’s daily tracking technology with Moz’s proprietary metrics (such as Keyword Difficulty) to chart the future of rank tracking.

We’ll also be working together to redefine what “ranking” means, in an organic sense. There are multiple SERP features, from Featured Snippets to Video Carousels to People Also Ask boxes that represent significant organic opportunity. STAT and Moz both have a long history of researching these opportunities and recognize the importance of reflecting them in our products.

Doubling down on RESEARCH

One area Moz has excelled at, showcased in the launch and evolution of Keyword Explorer, is keyword research. We’ll be working hard to put that knowledge to work for STAT customers even as we evolve Moz’s own toolsets. We’re already doing work to better understand keyword intent and how it impacts keyword research – beyond semantically related keywords, how do you find the best keywords with local intent or targeted at the appropriate part of the sales funnel? In an age of answer engines, how do you find the best questions to target? Together, we hope to answer these questions in our products.

In August, we literally doubled our keyword corpus in Keyword Explorer to supercharge your keyword research. You can now tap into suggestions from 160 million keywords across the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.

Beyond keywords, Moz and STAT have both been market leaders in original industry research, and we’ll be stronger together. We’re going to have access to more data and more in-house experts, and we’ll be putting that data to work for the search industry.

Doubling down on RESULTS

Finally, we recognize that SERP analytics are much more than just a number from 1–50. You need to understand how results drive clicks, traffic, and revenue. You need to understand your competitive landscape. You need to understand the entire ecosystem of keywords, links, and on-page SEO, and how those work together. By combining STAT’s enterprise-level analytics with Moz’s keyword research, link graph, and technical SEO tools (including both Site Crawl and On-demand Crawl), we’re going to bring you the tools you need to demonstrate and drive bottom-line results.

In the short-term, we’re going to be listening and learning from each other, and hopefully from you (both our community and our customers). What’s missing in your search marketing workflow today? What data do you love in Moz or STAT that’s missing from the other side? How can we help you do your job better? Let us know in the comments.

If you’d like to be notified of future developments, join our Moz+STAT Search Analytics mailing list (sign-up at bottom of page) to find out about news and offers as we roll them out.

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Twitter Gets Rid of 70 Million Fake Accounts in May and June, Cracks Down on Trolls

Twitter has been aggressively suspending false accounts in a bid to curtail the spread of fake news. The company’s massive crackdown on trolls and bots have resulted in one million dubious accounts being deleted or suspended per day.

According to the Washington Post, Twitter has been coming down hard on fake accounts, trolls, and bots since late last year. The purge of these accounts was reportedly brought about when testimonies from Google and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter revealed that millions more Americans were exposed to fake news than previously estimated.

Fake Accounts But Real Damage

Fake accounts with links to Russia are said to have tweeted false information in an attempt to affect the 2016 US presidential elections. This disinformation campaign involved a troll factory based in St. Petersberg that used state-of-the-art technology to fool voters and exacerbate the tension in the already worsening political and social environment.

Data compiled by the Post revealed that Twitter got rid of more than a million accounts per day in the past several months. The company reportedly suspended 70 million or more accounts in May and June. The purge apparently continued until July.

Twitter’s aggressive steps to shut down these malicious accounts could lead to a major backlash against the company as it could result in a decline in monthly users. But the company appears unfazed as it continues its campaign against the bots and trolls responsible for the propagation of false news.

Taking a Stand Against Fakes

Twitter has repeatedly garnered criticism for failing to control the spread of bots and trolls that were created with the sole purpose of spreading disinformation. But the social media platform’s new and harsher stand against fraudulent accounts shows a clear shift in the company’s ideology. Twitter had previously refrained from checking possible abuses with regards to tweets due to free speech.

The company’s Vice President for Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, revealed to the Washington Post that they are changing their stand on “balancing free expression versus the potential for free expression to chill someone else’s speech. Free expression doesn’t mean much if people don’t feel safe,” Harvey explained.

While a lot of Twitter users applaud the company’s move to delete fake accounts, President Donald Trump has taken to the platform to tweet about getting rid of the accounts of news organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

While the two companies’ accounts are legitimate, Trump has been blaming them for the spread of fake news or at least news that paints him in a negative light.

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Chatter, AdWords Shutting Old Down, AMP, Search Console, Bing, Assistant & More

There was even more chatter of Google algorithm and ranking changes this week…


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Google Shutting Down Old AdWords Interface On July 10th?

Some Google AdWords advertisers are getting notices that the old AdWords interface will be completely unreachable starting on July 10, 2018…


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How to Break Down Your Big Idea and Make Your Next Move

You know when you get a Big Idea for a project that lights you up and derails your to-do list for the day? It could be a content series or a whole new business concept. You might even spend a few hours writing down why you’re qualified to do it and who it will help.
Read More…

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Left is Right & Up is Down

Probably the single best video to watch to understand the power of Google & Facebook (or even most of the major problems across society) is this following video about pleasure versus happiness.

In constantly seeking pleasure we forego happiness.

The “feed” based central aggregation networks are just like slot machines in your pocket: variable reward circuitry which self-optimizes around exploiting your flaws to eat as much attention as possible.

The above is not an accident. It is, rather, as intended:

“That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever … It’s a social validation feedback loop … You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology … [The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway.”

  • Happy? Good! Share posed photos to make your friends feel their lives are worse than your life is.
  • Outraged? Good! Click an ad.
  • Hopeless? Good. There is a product which can deliver you pleasure…if only you can…click an ad.

Using machine learning to drive rankings is ultimately an exercise in confirmation bias:

For “Should abortion be legal?” Google cited a South African news site saying, “It is not the place of government to legislate against woman’s choices.”

When asked, “Should abortion be illegal?” it promoted an answer from obscure clickbait site listland.com stating, “Abortion is murder.”

Excellent work Google in using your featured snippets to help make the world more absolutist, polarized & toxic.

The central network operators not only attempt to manipulate people at the emotional level, but the layout of the interface also sets default user patterns.

Most users tend to focus their attention on the left side of the page: “if we were to slice a maximized page down the middle, 80% of the fixations fell on the left half of the screen (even more than our previous finding of 69%). The remaining 20% of fixations were on the right half of the screen.”

This behavior is even more prevalent on search results pages: “On SERPs, almost all fixations (94%) fell on the left side of the page, and 60% those fixations can be isolated to the leftmost 400px.”

On mobile, obviously, the attention is focused on what is above the fold. That which is below the fold sort of doesn’t even exist for a large subset of the population.

Outside of a few central monopoly attention merchant players, the ad-based web is dying.

Mashable has raised about $ 46 million in VC funding over the past 4 years. And they just sold for about $ 50 million.

Breaking even is about as good as it gets in a web controlled by the Google / Facebook duopoly. :D

Other hopeful unicorn media startups appear to have peaked as well. That BuzzFeed IPO is on hold: “Some BuzzFeed investors have become worried about the company’s performance and rising costs for expansions in areas like news and entertainment. Those frustrations were aired at a board meeting in recent weeks, in which directors took management to task, the people familiar with the situation said.”

Google’s Chrome web browser will soon have an ad blocker baked into it. Of course the central networks opt out of applying this feature to themselves. Facebook makes serious coin by blocking ad blockers. Google pays Adblock Plus to unblock ads on Google.com & boy are there a lot of ads there.

Format your pages like Google does their search results and they will tell you it is a piss poor user experience & a form of spam – whacking you with a penalty for it.

Of course Google isn’t the only search engine doing this. Mix in ads with a double listing and sometimes there will only be 1 website listed above the fold.

I’ve even seen some Bing search results where organic results have a “Web” label on them – which is conveniently larger than the ad label that is on ads. That is in addition to other tricks like…

lots of ad extensions that push organics below the fold on anything with the slightest commercial intent
bolding throughout ads (title, description, URL) with much lighter bolding of organics
only showing 6 organic results on commercial searches that are likely to generate ad clicks

As bad as either of the above looks in terms of ad load or result diversity on the desktop, it is only worse on mobile.

On mobile devices organic search results can be so hard to find that people ask questions like “Are there any search engines where you don’t have to literally scroll to see a result that isn’t an advertisement?

The answer is yes.

DuckDuckGo.

But other than that, it is slim pickings.

In an online ecosystem where virtually every innovation is copied or deemed spam, sustainable publishing only works if your business model is different than the central network operators.

Not only is there the aggressive horizontal ad layer for anything with a hint of commercial intent, but now the scrape layer which was first applied to travel is being spread across other categories like ecommerce.

The more of your content Google can scrape-n-displace in the search results the less reason there is to visit your website & the more ad-heavy Google can make their interface because they shagged the content from your site.

Simply look at the market caps of the big tech monopolies vs companies in adjacent markets. The aggregate trend is expressed in the stock price. And it is further expressed in the inability for the unicorn media companies to go public.

As big as Snapchat & Twitter are, nobody who invested in either IPO is sitting on a winner today.

Google is outraged anyone might question the numbers & if the current set up is reasonable:

Mr Harris described as “factually incorrect” suggestions that Google was “stealing” ad revenue from publishers, saying that two thirds of the revenues generated by online content went to its originators.

“I’ve heard lots of people say that Google and Facebook are “ruthlessly stealing” all the advertising revenue that publishers hoped to acquire through online editions,” he told the gathering.

“There is no advertising on Google News. Zero. Indeed you will rarely see advertising around news cycles in Google Search either.

Sure it is not the ad revenues they are stealing.

Rather it is the content.

Either by scraping, or by ranking proprietary formats (AMP) above other higher quality content which is not published using the proprietary format & then later attaching crappier & crappier deals to the (faux) “open source” proprietary content format.

As Google grabs the content & cuts the content creator off from the audience while attaching conditions, Google’s PR hacks will tell you they want you to click through to the source:

Google spokeswoman Susan Cadrecha said the company’s goal isn’t to do the thinking for users but “to help you find relevant information quickly and easily.” She added, “We encourage users to understand the full context by clicking through to the source.”

except they are the ones adding extra duplicative layers which make it harder to do.

Google keeps extracting content from publishers & eating the value chain. Some publishers have tried to offset this by putting more ads on their own site while also getting further distribution by adopting the proprietary AMP format. Those who realized AMP was garbage in terms of monetization viewed it as a way to offer teasers to drive users to their websites.

The partial story approach is getting killed though. Either you give Google everything, or they want nothing.

That is, after all, how monopolies negotiate – ultimatums.

Those who don’t give Google their full content will soon receive manual action penalty notifications

The value of news content is not zero.

Being the go-to resource for those sorts of “no money here” news topics also enables Google to be the go-to resource for searches for [auto insurance quote] and other highly commercial search terms where Google might make $ 50 or $ 100 per click.

Every month Google announces new ad features.

Economics drive everything in publishing. But you have to see how one market position enables another. Google & Facebook are not strong in China, so Toutiao – the top news app in China – is valued at about $ 20 billion.

Now that Yahoo! has been acquired by Verizon, they’ve decided to shut down their news app. Unprofitable segments are worth more as a write off than as an ongoing concern. Look for Verizon to further take AIM at shutting down additional parts of AOL & Yahoo.

Firefox recently updated to make its underlying rendering engine faster & more stable. As part of the upgrade they killed off many third party extensions, including ours. We plan to update them soon (a few days perhaps), but those who need the extensions working today may want to install something like (Comodo Dragon (or another browser based on the prior Firefox core) & install our extensions in that web browser.

As another part of the most recent Firefox update, Firefox dumped Yahoo! Search for Google search as their default search engine in a new multiyear deal where financial terms were not disclosed.

Yahoo! certainly deserved to lose that deal.

First, they signed a contract with Mozilla containing a change-of-ownership poison pill where Mozilla would still make $ 375 million a year from them even if they dump Yahoo!. Given what Yahoo! sold for this amounts to about 10% of the company price for the next couple years.

Second, Yahoo! overpaid for the Firefox distribution deal to where they had to make their user experience even more awful to try to get the numbers to back out.

Here is a navigational search result on Yahoo! where the requested site only appears in the right rail knowledge graph.

The “organic” result set has been removed. There’s a Yahoo! News insert, a Yahoo Local insert, an ad inviting you to download Firefox (bet that has since been removed!), other search suggestions, and then graphical ads to try to get you to find office furniture or other irrelevant stuff.

Here is how awful those sorts of search results are: Yahoo! was so embarrassed at the lack of quality of their result set that they put their logo at the upper right edge of the page.

So now they’ll be losing a million a day for a few years based on Marissa Mayer’s fantastic Firefox deal.

And search is just another vertical they made irrelevant.

When they outsourced many verticals & then finally shut down most of the remaining ones, they only left a few key ones:

On our recent earnings call, Yahoo outlined out a plan to simplify our business and focus our effort on our four most successful content areas  – News, Sports, Finance and Lifestyle. To that end, today we will begin phasing out the following Digital Magazines:  Yahoo Food, Yahoo Health, Yahoo Parenting, Yahoo Makers, Yahoo Travel, Yahoo Autos and Yahoo Real Estate.

And for the key verticals they kept, they have pages like the following, which look like a diet version of eHow

Every day they send users away to other sites with deeper content. And eventually people find one they like (like TheAthletic or Dunc’d On) & then Yahoo! stops being a habit.

Meanwhile many people get their broader general news from Facebook, Google shifted their search app to include news, Apple offers a great news app, the default new tab on Microsoft Edge browser lists a localize news feed. Any of those is a superior user experience to Yahoo!.

It is hard to see what Yahoo!’s role is going forward.

Other than the user email accounts (& whatever legal liabilities are associated with the chronic user account hacking incidents), it is hard to see what Verizon bought in Yahoo!.

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