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Jay Harris

Jay Harris

 Google Trends is a unique and useful tool for journalists to keep track of what people want to know about. But it’s also invaluable for companies watching their brand health and analyzing consumer interests for the purposes of content creation – even though most users only scratch the surface of the wealth of information Google Trends has to offer.

That being said, here are seven ways to use Google Trends you’ve never thought of before, leveraging some of the service’s newly released and often-underused features:

Dig deeper into trending topics

Google Trends now boasts a “story-centric” homepage, where it aggregates data from Google Search, YouTube and Google News and ranks the most searched for stories. This is by far the most comprehensive trends aggregate you’ll find on the web.

So if I click on iOS Apple Inc., which is number 3 on the trending list above, I’m taken to a dashboard about the story everyone’s talking about: a security flaw in iOS 9 & iOS 9.0.1.

The dashboard shows me the relevant articles on the topic, a trending video, as well as changes in interest in the topic over the past few days

trending list

If your business is in the tech niche, then this would be a great opportunity for content creation – posting a piece on a widely trending topic will help draw traffic to your site. You can even make sure that you capitalize on the topic when you see evidence that interest is growing.

Find real-time marketing opportunities

Google Trends is now offering minute-by-minute, real-time data from more than 100-billion searches through the engine monthly, which allows you to evaluate search trends during different times, or even at major events, such as the Oscars or the World Cup. You can choose any time period from the past week to see the minute-by-minute data.

So how can you use this data for real-time marketing? By watching spikes in search terms during major events, you can quickly determine what topics are grabbing people’s interest.

A classic example of real-time marketing using Google Trends information comes from Oreo’s timely tweet during Super Bowl in 2013, when the lights went out in the New Orleans Superdome for 34 minutes.

Oreo’s marketing team threw this ad together on the fly. Twitter users loved it and shared it — the single tweet has had more than 15,000 retweets up to today.

Think about events that would be a good marketing venue for your brand and look for fast opportunities to employ real-time marketing to increase your brand’s reach on social media.

Research niche topics by geography

Now, you can search for just about any topic in Google Trends and see the popularity of the topic in searches by geography. If you haven’t started a local marketing campaign yet, this is a great place to begin. If you’re hoping to expand or improve it, this is also a great resource.

Let’s say I’m an organic chicken distributor looking to expand my business. Where should I set up shop?

Just type “organic chicken” into Google Trends and it comes up with helpful data about regional interest in the search term, including a ranking of search by city.

Google Trends

So if I already have locations in Vancouver, Portland and Seattle, San Francisco might be a viable option for me.

I can also dig deeper by scrolling down and looking at the related searches that might apply to my product (such as “buy organic chicken”) or other products I offer (“organic chicken food”).

google trends 2

Click on any of these items to see their niche topic details, including super-helpful geographic data.

Research brand health

Google Trends is a great way for larger brands to understand their brand health compared to their competitors. This kind of information can help inform where companies need to work harder to increase their influence.

Let’s say I work with Nissan, and I want to see how our brand measures up to other auto companies in the state of Florida. I just set the following terms on my Google Trends search:Google Trends search

Google Trends search

And instantly, I can see the top auto/vehicle queries for Florida in the last 30 days.

Looks like Ford, Honda and Toyota are doing better in this state, so I know I’ve got some work ahead of me. Depending on the goals you have for your brand, you can also search by certain city in Florida, by the entire US, by a different country, or worldwide.

Research local shopping trends

Another great (and underused) feature of Google Trends is the ability to search for shopping trends in isolation. This data will show you consumers’ purchasing intent for different searches. If you’re a realtor, or looking to be one, this kind of information can be very valuable.

Check out this map put together by Benjamin Spiegel from Marketing Land:

To create this compelling graphic, he searched Google Shopping for the highest purchase intent for beauty products for each state last February. The resulting map shows us the products people most want to buy in these states.

If you sell beauty products, this data could show you where you’ll get the most value for your advertising spend. Adjust your marketing and content campaigns to match the demand in each market.

Brainstorm content with Google Correlate

Google Correlate can help you figure out what topics people want to read about, which can ultimately help you figure out what topics you should be writing about, or how to relate a topic to others that people are interested in.

Using Google Correlate, you can find associations between search trends and any other data point that you want to write about. It’s the only tool on the internet that can do this with search data, yet it goes largely unused.

The Google tutorial explains that Correlate is like the opposite of Trends:

Google Correlate is like Google Trends in reverse. With Google Trends, you type in a query and get back a data series of activity (over time or in each US state). With Google Correlate, you enter a data series (the target) and get back a list of queries whose data series follows a similar pattern.

Let’s say I run a niche blog for baking recipes, and I want to draw more traffic to my site. I can type “baking” into Google Correlate:

And I see instantly that baking has a pretty high correlation with the search terms “egg free,” “sausage,” and “broccoli.” Knowing this, I might decide to write up some new recipes with these ingredients in mind, since that’s where search interest lies.

If you’re statistically inclined, Google Correlate even allows you to upload your own dataset to see what search terms correlate with it. Just click the “Enter your own data” link next to the search bar and upload your Excel file.

Let Google do the analysis for you

In a recent change to Google Trends, the Google News Lab has begun doing their own analyses of trending stories every day and offering useful information about the topics, which you can download from the Google Trends Datastore. If you’re a journalist or content creator, or if you have one on your team, this can be an invaluable tool.

What if I’m writing a story about the latest GOP debate? I can use this tool to find data about the most searched for GOP candidate by county, the debate issues ranking by minute, and the candidates’ rankings post-debate, among many other relevant topics that can serve as useful statistics to add meat to the story.

This is a great way to add credibility to what I’m going to say in a written piece about public interest, without waiting for the next Gallop Poll.

So those are my favorite seven new or underused features of Google Trends that you can use to develop a marketing strategy, improve your SEO, or brainstorm content.

It might be difficult to visualize how exactly you can apply these tools to your own business goals, which is why I recommend trying them out and checking back often – opportunities will arise and the ways to stay on top of the game are endless.

Have you ever experimented with these Google Trends features? Have another great tool to share? Leave me a note in the comments section below:

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Aaron Agius

Source: http://www.advancedwebranking.com

Thursday, 08 December 2016 17:20

The Dark Net: SA's market place for sin

It looks innocent enough, that little green "g" icon in the top corner of your computer screen — exactly like the old Google one. Except, it isn’t. On it you’ll find another world — a mire of avarice and lust, wrath and envy.

This is the Dark Web, or Dark Net, a manifestation of forbidden fantasies in pixels and binary coding, a search engine for sin.

Want to ferret money offshore illegally? Indulge sexual proclivities that aren’t discussed in polite society? Need a guy to do you a favour involving some kneecapping? The Dark Web offers it all, though clunkily.

In this case, that "g" refers to "Grams" — a search engine on the Dark Net, for all the different marketplaces that exist in this more open but hidden corner of the Internet.

Type in an innocuous word such as "light", and these are the results: a bargain rate on 1g of light brown heroin (from a trusted dealer in Norway), or an LED lamp guaranteed to help you clone credit cards.

If you’re looking for something specific — say, cocaine, heroin, fake IDs, stolen bank cards,  counterfeit money, or even prescription drugs — it’s all here, accessible even from the southern tip of Africa.

On one level, the Dark Net is a libertarian’s dream, a thumping triumph of free-market principles unfettered by nosy government or any other intervention whatsoever. Only, put this argument under a microscope, and it starts to unravel.

On some Dark Net sites, it’s a bit of a Kafkaesque twist on Amazon.

Marketplaces with names like Agora, The Majestic Garden, Oasis, AlphaBay and Hansa offer anything from a tutorial on how to become a fake Uber driver (only 99c), instructions on how to make a bomb to a how-to on forging a UK passport.

Is the new guy in the office stealing your thunder? Is a politician stressing you out? No problem — hire a hitman, who’ll break bones to specifications — US$3,000 to maim someone, $10,000 to assassinate him. Up to $180,000 if he’s high-profile.

There are other, perhaps more surprising, criminal activities.

For example, company officials sell information to traders, which allows them to make a killing by insider trading. (Imagine, for example, what those who knew of Nhlanhla Nene’s sacking weeks in advance could have made?)

While you might think SA is so far behind the digital curve that this is purely of academic interest, many of these services are available in this country. And the Dark Net provides an equally alluring avenue for SA’s crooks to peddle their products — extending their reach globally to make a killing.

The Hawks, the priority crime directorate inside the SA Police Service, told the Financial Mail that between 8,000 and 9,000 South Africans routinely use the Dark Net. And that number is growing.

"Especially when you consider the sort of crimes, it’s heinous. It’s not petty theft, it is all your socially damaging crimes — child pornography, drug trade, human trafficking, renting a hitman," says one officer.

This increase in SA means the Dark Net is "starting to look like a threat" to society, the Hawks add.

To get a better understanding of how real this threat is, the Financial Mail spent the past month trawling various websites inside the Dark Net. What we found was alarming.

On the Hansa marketplace, you’ll find a vendor selling a strain of weed called Royal Swazi, shipped from SA.

There, 60g will set you back $150 (R2,100), which is many times what street dealers would get locally.

An Amazon-style website provides a detailed description of how it is grown near Piggs Peak in Swaziland, and a list of terms and conditions that seem rather odd for a website operating on the fringes of legality.

As an evidently civic-minded dope dealer, for example, it specifies "no under-21s", and asserts the "right to cancel" any order — though one wonders which court it would approach to invoke that right. And it promises to deliver within 35 days.

As data intelligence consultancy Terbium Labs explains in a report this month: "The Dark Net drug trade, if we can call it that, is far more organised and mundane than you might expect ... reviews follow a standard template, where users rank the stealth, shipping time, purity, high, and overall experience."

Surf over to another website, and an SA vendor offers to ship 20g of amphetamine sulphate (a variation of "tik") for $285. Like a traditional Amazon webpage, the feedback section has gushing reviews from users.

Evidently, some SA merchants are now making a killing thanks to the Dark Net. On the other side of the coin, experts say a large number of South Africans are using the Dark Net to buy products too, including drugs.

This isn’t as difficult as you might think. You use special software and a special Web browser (usually Tor) to mask your identity and location.

From there, it’s easy pickings.

Most websites say they deliver worldwide. Vendors who deliver to SA include companies that peddle MDMA (ecstasy), fake €50 notes, drivers’ licences and ID cards for most nationalities, and fake credit cards.

In other instances, SA-issued bank cards, with their pins, are being sold, listing the amount available in the account for criminals seeking to duplicate the cards. [Typically, you pay 10% of what’s in the account].

While "assassination websites" aren’t hard to find, it’s unclear whether these "hits" are actually carried out. The "Besa Mafia" site, which offered to "kill people or beat the shit out of him", turned out to be an elaborate scam to swindle Bitcoins.

However, at least one other assassination website offered its services in SA, though it warned it didn’t offer an "extensive service" in this country.

The man behind the largest search engine on the Dark Net, who spoke to the Financial Mail (but who asked not to be named), says the amount of money being spent on the Dark Net makes it a huge global market.

"These dark markets are serious players. When you are dealing with seven or eight-figure dollar values — more than $1m — and (the markets are getting between) 5% and 10% commission, that’s significant money."

SA, he says, is still far behind other global destinations for Dark Net commerce, with not too many SA credit cards being found on the websites.

One reason, he says, is that shipping to and from SA is more risky. "It is very difficult to participate in these dark markets [as an SA] merchant, but as a buyer there is this total problem [that] shipping to SA sucks — it’s awful and that in a way has protected it."

In the US, he says, shipping happens through private agencies like FedEx.

"Now if you ship to SA, no-one is going to pay the overhead of shipping, so they will put it in a standard box and send it. But now you are entering the government space [as the Post Office is state-owned]," he says.

So what, in fact, is the Dark Net?

Perhaps most literally, it is the Internet below the Internet you know. Most people don’t know it, but the Internet they use — Google, company websites, news sites or banking sites — represents just 1% of the entire Internet traffic out there.

Prof Martin Olivier from the University of Pretoria’s computer science department, compares the traditional World Wide Web to driving around Sandton: you see the corporate headquarters of SA’s top companies but you know that inside those buildings are areas that are access-controlled, which you don’t see.

Those access-controlled areas are a deeper layer most people don’t see, known as the Deep Web. One layer below that, even more hidden, is the Dark Net.

Olivier says the Dark Net is like islands in the sea of the Internet, unlinked to anything else, a perfect place to hide anything known only to the person who hid it and whoever he shared it with. "It is like any secret place: what you do with it depends on what your motives are."

For criminals, the attraction is obvious.

As Troels Oerting, a director of European crime fighting agency Europol, told Jane’s Intelligence Review in 2014: "[Buyers can] get the illegal commodity delivered risk-free to a place of their choice by the mailman or a courier, or maybe by drone in the future, and can pay with virtual currency and in full anonymity, without the police being able to identify either the buyer or the seller."

What makes the Dark Net dark is the hidden service protocol, which lets anyone make a website or messaging server to communicate anonymously. Normally an authority can take a website down for breaking the law, but on the Dark Net a site remains up because there is no central figure with the power to take it down.

On any given day, there are about 4,000 hidden services available on the Dark Net, 40% more than four years ago. But Dark Net sites are ephemeral — on and off constantly, never all on at the same time. Tor is used by about 2m people a day while about 250,000 people a day make use of the hidden services search engine, says one Dark Net operator.

By sharing your site’s public key, a 16-digit address made up of numbers and letters, you invite people to your site. For example, journalism service ProPublica (which is legal) uses the key: propub3r6espa33w.onion.

While the hitmen, drugs and porn dealers are obviously the most eye-catching corners of the Deep Web, not all of it is illegal.

A study released this month by Terbium Labs that looked at 400 sites shows that 54.5% of all content on the Dark Net is legal: security warnings, political party activism, community groups for people who distrust the authorities.

Some more notable sites include WikiLeaks (a legal site) or Sci-Hub (less legitimate, if more benign than some), which provides 58m academic papers free-of-charge, which were taken from institutions. Surprisingly, the Dark Net has extensive eBook libraries on subjects as un-criminal as investigative journalism.

Of the rest, illegal drugs accounted for 12%, pharmaceutical drugs (like human growth hormone) 3%, illicit marketplaces (where anything from drugs to porn are sold) 6.5%, hacking (selling ransomware kits or other tools) 1.25% and another 1.25% are concerned with outright fraud (selling bank accounts, for example).

Then, most distressingly, 1% involves a category called "exploitation" – sites targeted at children. "This is a legitimate and real concern on the Dark Net and is not as infrequent as you might hope it to be," say the Terbium researchers.

The paedophiles are, with good reason, the most reviled of the Dark Web’s communities, serving an estimated global network of 500,000 people.

Says one Dark Net operator: "These guys have serious emotional problems.

"They have all these levelling systems [which measure trust between users] and they are creating original content. They are serious producers of child pornography and they charge a lot of money."

This, to many, is the real disease of the Dark Net. "It is overwhelmingly infested with the dregs of society, looking for children in pain, and that is the hardest thing to come to grips with: that the majority of users are looking for abused children," he says.

The libertarian notion that the Dark Net is simply about free "choice" is demolished by the fact that it is largely a refuge for some of the most wicked elements of society.

Stock manipulation is also a growing market. On one site, says the operator, you would pay a buy-in fee to collude with other traders to pump and dump stocks.

The Hawks, which has a cybercrime unit dedicated to trawling the Dark Net for illicit behaviour, believes a large number of the 8,000 to 9,000 South Africans who use it do so for criminal purposes.

Brigadier Piet Pieterse, head of the Hawks unit, says that in SA the Dark Net is mostly used to share images of child pornography, mass marketing fraud, sell drugs and barter illegally obtained credit card information.

Pieterse says the applications of what the Dark Net could be used for are endless. It could hypothetically disrupt SA’s already fraught government tender processes, giving buyers an advantage.

Other policemen say it is surprising how often classified government documents are posted on the Dark Net.

An officer in Pieterse’s unit (who did not want to be named as it could compromise his investigations) says many people — even in government — just don’t understand the threat the Dark Net poses for SA.

"No-one really understands what it is about and the impact it has," she adds.

Either way, the Dark Net has the potential to do deep damage in a society where the law-enforcement authorities are already struggling to investigate and hold criminals accountable for crime in the physical world.

Incidents of South Africans seeing their computers "hijacked" and then "ransomed" back to them by hackers are also becoming more common.

Typically, the computer freezes and a message pops up saying that if the users want all their files to be "released", they need to pay a specific amount in Bitcoins to a specified e-wallet. These ransomware kits are frequently sold on the Dark Net, often by Russian or East European hacking outfits. As Time magazine reported, these hackers are not going after the heavily fortified systems of banks or corporations but "straight for easy targets: small businesses, schools, hospitals, and computer users like us".

How are they getting away with it?

What’s most extraordinary about the Dark Net is that this illicit trade is being conducted under the noses of law enforcement agencies across the world, who seem powerless to stop it.

Intuitively, you’d imagine police should be able to track purchases and effect arrests down the supply chain. But it’s not that simple. Sellers post goods using vacuum-sealed fingerprint-free bags (often dipped in bleach as a further precaution), with printed labels. About 90% of shipments get through, The Economist has estimated.

For extra security, merchants change their Web addresses from time to time to keep unwarranted snoops (journalists or cops) away. The URLs aren’t straight-forward, using a jumble of letters and numbers.

The Tor browser, which hides the user’s location and masks what someone is searching for, introduces an added challenge for the police. Olivier uses the analogy of passing a letter in an envelope around a circle of anonymous people in different locations in which each person puts the letter in another envelope – making it impossible to tell where it originated from.

The distribution network works so well because it relies on a system of favours and trust – the old "honour among thieves". Criminals feel comfortable there, say the Hawks, because they "trust each other".

So, someone can order cocaine from one of the US marketplaces for delivery in Johannesburg. Payment is made through a crypto currency — most often, Bitcoins, which is a decentralised, anonymous and reputable transaction gateway which isn’t controlled by an accountable central institution. Bitcoins are then deposited into a seller’s "virtual wallet" and within a short time the drugs are delivered.

Says a Hawks officer: "The guy delivering the drugs is unlikely to know what he is dropping off or why. He most likely doesn’t have criminal intent but he got a call asking him to make the delivery if he wants his debt forgiven."

Yet the Dark Net isn’t entirely accountability-free, as the case of Silk Road illustrates. Silk Road was the most popular black market website, flogging everything from drugs to hitmen.

But in 2013 its founder, Ross Ulbricht (pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts), was arrested, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He later claimed his motive with Silk Road was "about giving people the freedom to make their own choices".

Today, if you link to the original Silk Road, all you see is an image stating "the hidden site has been seized" and the FBI logo.

Interestingly, not every illicit marketplace is utterly without conscience. Silk Road, for example, said it would sell only "victimless" contraband, while other sites refused to sell weapons or poison. One marketplace, Evolution (which has also closed), refused to sell "child pornography, services related to murder, assassination, terrorism, prostitution, Ponzi schemes and lotteries", reports Wired magazine. Yet it did allow credit-card data to be sold.

All of which leaves SA’s law-enforcement authorities, who these days seem caught up in playing politics, quite jittery. The State Security Agency (SSA), like the Hawks, has been trying to keep an eye on the Dark Net. But, says spokesman Brian Dube, it’s tricky to trace shady transactions that use Bitcoins.

Quite how much money is involved is unclear. But one company that conducts research into the Dark Net, law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, estimates it could run into billions of dollars.

Dube says the SSA monitors channels used on the Dark Net to look for any mention of terrorist attacks planned against SA infrastructure. This isn’t so far-fetched, he says, as there are certain sites that offer services for terrorist organisations. Most simply spread propaganda and act as a communications hub — a kind of Facebook for terrorists. But terrorist cells are increasingly recruiting through the Dark Net.

Equally, the classified documents posted online — often obtained through hacks, theft, or disgruntled employees — are often impossible to remove.

"As soon as the information is made public this ‘confidential’ information is copied, saved and viewed by thousands of people, making the managing of this type of information leak impossible," says Dube.

This is perhaps one of the more benevolent uses of the Dark Net – a safe place for whistle-blowers to post documents without fearing recrimination from zealous politicians seeking to target them.

Prof Basie von Solms, director of the Centre for Cyber Security, says if you are a whistle-blower the Dark Net is the safest bet. "That is the place you will probably make it available or even put it up for sale and make a buck," says Von Solms.

One policewoman who spoke to us anonymously says the growth in the Dark Net in SA is a reaction to government’s desire to impose more controls on the Internet by policing it more vigorously. The more draconian these laws become, the bigger it will grow. "You limit freedom and people will always seek out places to live out those freedoms, whether criminal or not."

It’s a noble sentiment, suggesting a higher raison d’être for the Dark Net. But the most depraved fringes of this hidden Internet world make it more of a menace than a saviour right now.

What it means: The "free choice" notion is demolished by the fact that it is a refuge for some of the most wicked elements of society.

Source : http://www.financialmail.co.za/

THE HAGUE: A British-Dutch project aiming to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 has announced that the shareholders of a Swiss financial services company have agreed a takeover bid.

“The acquisition is now only pending approval by the board of Mars One Ventures,” the company said in a joint statement with InFin Innovative Finance AG, adding approval from the Mars board would come “as soon as possible.”

“The takeover provides a solid path to funding the next steps of Mars One’s mission to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars,” the statement added.

Mars One consists of two entities: the Dutch not-for-profit Mars One Foundation and a British public limited company Mars One Ventures.

Mars One aims to establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet, and is currently “in the early mission concept phase,” the company says, adding securing funding is one of its major challenges.

Some 200,000 hopefuls from 140 countries initially signed up for the Mars One project, which is to be partly funded by a television reality show about the endeavour.

Those have now been whittled down to just 100, out of which 24 will be selected for one-way trips to Mars due to start in 2026 after several unmanned missions have been completed.

“Once this deal is completed, we’ll be in a much stronger financial position as we begin the next phase of our mission. Very exciting times,” said Mars One chief executive Bas Lansdorp.

NASA is currently working on three Mars missions with the European Space Agency and plans to send another rover to Mars in 2020. NASA has no plans for a manned mission to Mars until the 2030s.

Source : http://arynews.tv/

Auhtor : AFP

Saturday, 03 December 2016 16:57

50 Ways to Make an Extra $100 Today

If I offered you an extra $100 today, would you take it? I know I would. Extra cash always comes in handy.

American budgets across the country could use a cash influx. Last year the average American spent $805 on holiday spending. Coming up with an extra $100 today is a great way to ease holiday costs or beef up savings.

Many people focus on saving money, but increasing your income is the other side of that coin. You can utilize your skills, your social media or your free time to make a little extra green today.

Put social media skills to work

Sell photos: If you’re big into Instagram, try selling some photos. Stock photo sites hire photographers.

Sponsored posts: If you’ve got a large following, brands will pay to get access to them. You can charge per post, or set up a long-term agreement with a company.

Host an event: Sell tickets to an event where you help people build their social media followings. If you’re a whiz, people will pay for your knowledge!

Work as a freelance virtual assistant: You can use your skills to build a company’s social media. You can charge $30 an hour easily, and make $100 in less than four hours.

Do a social media audit: Charge a flat fee to examine a person or company’s social media accounts and suggest ways for them to grow. Give them detailed feedback, and hard data to really provide value.

Take care of someone

Babysit: Babysitting is cold, hard cash just there for the taking. You can find families that need a sitter by asking friends, or joining a site like Sitter City. Six and a half hours at $16 an hour gets you to $100!

Housesitting: Similarly, housesitting can be a way to score a bit of cash. Ask co-workers or friends if they need a housesitter, or check out websites like Caretaker.org.

Pet sitting: People love their pets, and you can turn that love into a career. People make full time salaries from pet sitting. 

Dog walking: Spend some time with cute dogs, get some exercise and get paid. Dog walkers make an average of $10-$30 an hour.

Mover: Everyone hates moving. I know I’l pay a premium to not have to do all the lugging myself. This is a great way to get some serious exercise and make some extra cash.

Host family: Become a host family for a foreign exchange student.

Make shopping work for you

ReceiptHog.com: This company will pay you to shop literally anywhere. Take a picture of the receipt and submit it. They use the data for market research and you make money.

Ebates.com: Ebates will also pay you for shopping. Shop at a store through their links and you’ll earn a percentage back. Percents can range from 2 percent to 12 percent, and they often do double cash back deals

Swagbucks.com: On the internet all day? (Who isn’t?) Swagbucks will pay you to take surveys, watch videos or shop. Get paid while feeding your internet addiction.

Surveysays.com: Take surveys and get paid!

SurveyJunkie.comOpinionated? Here's another site that will pay to hear your thoughts.

Research studies: One of the most popular ways to make extra cash is to participate in research studies. What you make can range hugely. You get more for overnights, even into thousands. Robert Rodriguez partly financed his first film with money from medical research.

Sell unused gift cards: Sites like cardwoo.com will buy gift cards with at least $20 on them for cash.

Secret shopper: One of the best ways to make money on the side is to be a secret shopper. You’ll provide feedbak on employees, store cleanliness and apparel, and get paid for it.

Instacart: Deliver food with Instacart. You’ll take a mini quiz and go through a phone interview, and then you’ll be a one person food delivery truck.

Work online

There’s a lot of ways to make money online. Find your strength and play to it.

Freelancing: Offer freelance services for something you’re good at. Photography, writing, editing can all be done online. Freelancing means you can set your own rates, so you can make that $100 with one project.

Raise your rates: Already a freelancer? Raise your rates. You should do this annually with each client. It’s a simple way to put more cash in your wallet today.

Rent out your car: If you’re not a big driver or have a second car, you can rent it out on sites like Turo. It’s like Airbnb for your car.

Sell your crafts: Make money off your art! You can open a whole store on Etsy, or you can simply list your items on Craigslist.

Fiverr: A very popular way to sell services online is Fiverr. You can offer design, editing, music, animation…if you’ve got a skill, you can sell it on Fiverr.

Write: If you don’t want to go freelance full time or build a side business, you can still make some quick cash by writing occasionally. For example, the book series Chicken Soup for the Soul pays $200 per selected story. 

Old school money making ideas

The great thing about these ideas is that you can set your own price on your labor or your things.

Rake leaves: People will pay good money not to have to rake, bag and cart off the leaves that pile up from those trees this time of year.

Shovel snow: Similarly, if it’s snowing in your area already, grab a shovel and clear some driveways.

Clean out the closet: Sell your gently used clothes to second-hand stores. You’ll create space and generate some cash.

Have a yard sale: If you want to get rid of more than just clothes, have a good old fashioned yard sale. Invite your neighbors to take part to increase your visibility and get more people to stop.

Clean gutters: Another seasonal side hustle is cleaning gutters. People hate to do it themselves, and it’s the perfect time of year to get it done.

Rent your driveway: Small living is very in at the moment. Someone with a tiny house or living in an RV will pay you to keep their home in your driveway.

Rent your garage: If your garage is just playing host to your old junk, put that space to work. People will pay to store their cars there, or to use it as an office if it has electricity.

Clean houses: House cleaning is a task many people outsource, so there’s lots of demand. If you don’t mind the dusting and scrubbing it entails, you can easily make $100 to clean one house.

Fix cars: Become your neighborhood mechanic and fix neighbors' and friends' cars. 

Event planning: Putting together an event is no joke, and you can charge accordingly. Birthday parties, retirement parties or even big weddings will make you plenty of cash.

Teach others

Have a skill that other’s are dying to learn? Put that to use and make some cash.

Tutor: Set up hours at a local library and advertise online and with fliers. Tutors can make $25-$35 easily.

Coach: Contact local high schools and see if they need a sports coach. They usually come with a monthly stipend, but some places will pay hourly.

Referee: Becoming a certified referee usually takes some cash upfront, but you can make a wonderful hourly rate being a ref.

Teach English: You can offer private English lessons to people who want to improve their skills.

Edit: You can edit students' papers for a fee. Some consultants make upwards of $50/hr.

Music lessons: If you play an instrument you can charge anywhere from $25-$50 an hour for lessons.

Cooking lessons: If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, offer small cooking classes at your home. Or you can offer private cooking lessons. Especially around the holidays, people will pay to know how to make a turkey and a pumpkin pie.

Miscellaneous ideas

Sell your stuff: You can sell clothes, furniture or books pretty much anywhere. Ebay and Craigslists are classics but try the new app letgo. Just upload a photo of your item and let people come to you.

Write to Congress: You can get paid to write letters to Congress! If you have good writing skills and a passion for it, this is a great side hustle.

Mock juror: I know people hate jury duty, but you can make between $10-$60 an hour to serve on a mock jury.

Handyman (or woman): If you’re handy around the house, sell your skills to the world.

Organize: Similar to cleaning someone’s house, some people will pay for you to organize them. If you’re a neat freak, put those skills to use.

Lemonade stand: Or a water stand, or a tea stand! Better with cute children, but not impossible for adults. Sell water at a stadium on game day and capitalize on the hoards of people.

Sell ads on your car: We’ve all seen the cars with the ads plastered on them. If you’re fine with it, you can make $200-$400 a month just for driving around.

Session musician: Recording artists need musicians to play at their studio sessions. If you’re talented and happy to play someone else’s music, this can be a very lucrative gig.

Sell your jewelry: Precious metals and stones are always in demand. Turn those pieces of jewelry that you never use into cash you can use today. Pawn shops and jewelry stores are good places to start.

Write resumes: You can charge a flat fee to help people get their resumes looking professional.

Use your trivia knowledge: Some cities or companies host trivia nights that reward you with cold, hard cash. The Big Quiz in NYC offers $100 and $200 in prizes.

As you can see, there’s always a way to make a little extra cash. Turn your skills or your stuff into extra money today.

Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com

Friday, 25 November 2016 12:53

India’s tech bubble is about to burst

The Silicon Valley “tech bubble” is a popular topic of discussion among business pundits, entrepreneurs and analysts who have dissected and predicted the upcoming “burst” for nearly the last decade. For all the talk of winter is coming and a slowdown in private capital markets, it’s hard to say if, or when, this will ever come to a head — at least in Silicon Valley.

But there’s no question a tech bubble is emerging, just not where you might think.

India’s tech bubble

Overvalued startups focused on growth over revenue are a problem that stretches far beyond U.S. borders, and it’s an even bigger problem in India. Granted, a tech bubble bursting in India isn’t going to send shock waves through the ecosystem worldwide, let alone the public markets in that country, as it would in the U.S. However, it will impact the pace of innovation and investor risk appetite in the short-term in India and other emerging markets (other than China, the behemoth outlier) who share similar market characteristics (like Brazil, Indonesia and Nigeria).

The successes — or failures — from what works for the Indian consumer in their home market translates to the rest of the world significantly more so than following the successful models of companies like AlibabaTencent and others in China. Even if you don’t care about other emerging markets, experts agree India will soon be the most important economy in the world.

Rural India goes mobile

Much of India’s future success depends on whether the government can leverage its demographic potential by training its workforce and providing adequate infrastructure for businesses. This challenge is compounded by where the growth in mobile consumers is occurring. According to The Economist, India will see more people come online in the next 15 years than any other country, with the majority of that growth coming from rural, not urban areas.

These new mobile consumers will generally be poorer and lack the purchasing power needed to support a booming tech sector. While India’s internet and smartphone penetration is growing incredibly fast, this does not directly translate either into users having the ability to buy voraciously like their Chinese counterparts or new companies able to deliver goods in a timely fashion to rural communities.

More to the point, mobile data plans in India, like other emerging markets, do not make the robust use of the internet possible for the vast majority of people. That is not a simple problem to fix, but it is certainly easier to resolve than trying to improve livelihoods and logistics from the top down. Plus, the regulatory context in the country leaves a lot to be desired — just ask Facebook about “digital colonialism” related to its “Free Basics” initiative.

An inevitable burst

Morgan Stanley released a report earlier this year estimating e-commerce sales in India of $119 billion in 2020 — a seven-fold increase from its 2015 prediction. Travel is expected to account for 60 percent or more of e-commerce, with electronics coming in at 30 percent, according to the Boston Consulting Group and Retailers Association of India. A four- to seven-fold increase in market size does not seem too crazy — until you pair it with e-commerce startup valuations in India.

Look at the top e-commerce company in India — Flipkart, most recently valued at $15 billion. That is just shy of Morgan Stanley’s estimate for the entire e-commerce market in the country, and does not even include the next two competitors, Snapdeal and Amazon India. Flipkart has approximately 45 percent market share, which means the company should have roughly $7 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) in 2015 using Morgan Stanley’s calculations. So the company is basically valued at more than two times its GMV. But GMV is not sales or revenue to Flipkart; it is total sales of online products.

Another reason for the flood of investment into India is the fear of missing out — or FOMO.

Flipkart likely takes a nominal revenue share or take rate like Amazon does, but they also must shoulder significant user acquisition costs, meaning they are losing money on every transaction for the foreseeable future. Granted, this is not unlike Amazon’s past strategy, but Amazon was never valued at equal to the entire market’s value either. Add on the fact that approximately 40 percent of the market is non-travel and you have to wonder how these numbers add up. It is no surprise that Flipkart saw its valuation marked down by almost a quarter by three fund investors.

Another reason for the flood of investment into India is the fear of missing out — or FOMO — on something akin to China’s enormous success. In one camp, you have investors Naspers and Softbank whose portfolios include very successful bets in the Chinese and Indian markets (JD.com, Tencent and Flipkart for Naspers, and Alibaba and Snapdeal for Softbank). In the other camp, you have the investors like Amazon who misfired on Chinese growth and do not want to repeat past mistakes. Beyond that, there are local and international VC firms like Sequoia and Accel, as well as more opportunistic investors like Tiger Global that sense opportunity and do not want to be left out.

What’s next for unicorns in India

So what does this mean for the other unicorns in India? Investment in Indian startups decreased in the first half of 2016 to $2.1 billion, a 40 percent decline from the same period in 2015, when startups raised $3.5 billion. Anecdotally, it seems as though this retrenchment is not due to a reassessment of the startups in question but is part of a global reassessment of investor appetite for tech startups worldwide. It is likely that market leaders like Flipkart, Ola and others will get devalued markedly, but will continue to receive investor interest due to FOMO.

This does not portend well for the rest of Indian startups that are not No. 1 or No. 2 in their market segment. In addition, for some companies, it may be too early to dive into a fledgling market that lacks a needed expansion of the middle class. While e-commerce retailers and marketplaces can leverage technology to achieve low capital costs up and down the value chain, this is less true for food or grocery delivery companies that have to contend with India’s poor infrastructure.

When the number of turns per hour is the key metric for success and profit, logistics is critical. Add to that high user acquisition and retention costs thanks to innumerable discounts and subsidies, and it is hard to believe these burn rates can last much longer given the poor unit economics. Consider food delivery startup TinyOwl’s recent termination of 100 employees, shutting down operations in smaller cities and raising prices — that is likely just the beginning. When asked about those changes, TinyOwl CEO Harshvardhan Mandad said earnestly, “The market dynamics changed. People now want to invest in sustainable businesses.” When do they not?

Looking ahead

A potential bright spot is the crop of Indian startups that are taking the learnings from their home market and applying it to other, more mature markets while waiting for India to become viable. Zomato, for instance, a listings service for restaurants, expanded overseas from its New Delhi headquarters because the Indian market was too limited. Most of India’s restaurants are extremely inexpensive and a customer’s average ticket is too low to justify the support, whereas other parts of Asia and even Europe are much more ripe for the pickings. InMobi, a mobile advertising platform headquartered in Bengaluru is another Indian startup with substantial operations overseas, including the United States. Their motivation is simple: The mobile ad market is bigger outside India.

So how bad is the bubble in India? Is it at the point where Silicon Valley was in the dot-com bubble from 1999-2001? No. This is private market overvaluation, not public markets. But compared to the “bubble” we have in Silicon Valley, it is undoubtedly worse.

All said and done, India will be one of, if not the biggest, internet market of the future, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening anytime soon.

Source : https://techcrunch.com

Author : Dileepan Siva

Sunday, 20 November 2016 22:23

19 Confirmed Google Ranking Factors

For many websites and businesses Google continues to provide more traffic to their website than any other channel: more organic visitors than paid search, social and even direct traffic.

With that in mind it’s certainly worth keeping up-to-date with what works, what doesn’t work, what Google has said and how to avoid a dreaded penalty.

This article looks at the ranking factors Google has confirmed in the hope of helping to increase your business’ prominence on the web.

Positive Factors:

No one will be surprised to see links make it on the list. Link building has been a big business for many a year now.

Earlier this year, in a Q&A with Google, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google Andrey Lipattsev confirmed that two of the top three ranking factors were ’content’ and ’links’:

“I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site.”

So what specifically is it about content and links that helps ranks your website in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)?

Links

Quality

The quality of your inbound links is a huge factor with Google. A company or website with a small backlink profile can see a huge boost from just one link from an authoritative page on an authoritative website.

Google PageRank died in importance some years ago. These days I use Majestic’s Trust Flow score as it gives us a greater idea of authority sites from the regular sites. Or the difference between regular sites and the low-quality and spammy sites.

Quantity

It’s all well and good getting a link from one authoritative site but the more you get the better your site will rank.

This is not suggesting build links for the sake of numbers – I certainly wouldn’t recommend directory links or junk comments for the sake of increasing the number of links. However, if you had one link from a news story from an authoritative site recently, such as a news site, it may naturally be picked up by other sites, but also it presents you with an opportunity to get links from smaller news sites, publications and blogs from the same story.

And just because you got a story in a certain publication once doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t go back to them in the future.

Anchor Text

Anchor text used to be the be-all-and-end-all of ranking a website many years ago, as stated in Google’s original algorithm:

“First, anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves.”

Whilst anchor text isn’t as strong a factor as it was a few years ago, it does still play a big role in ranking websites and webpages. One expects this to lessen over time but for now it’s still important to get some anchor text links to your website.

Don’t overdo it though – a natural backlink profile is made up with a majority of brand name and URL anchor text links.

Here’s an example of a keyword jumping from page 10 to page 2 off the back of one anchor text link in September 2016:

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Screenshot of Authority Labs data showing a keyword jumping from position 99 to 18 and maintaining that ranking

Internal Links

Internal links also play a big role in your rankings. If you have lots of good links pointing to a specific page, or a number of pages, you should consider passing this onto your product pages if they need a boost in the SERPs. Though please do make it user-friendly.

Last month we shot up from page 4 to position 7 (page 1) for our own website by adding a couple of internal links from popular, relevant blog posts on our website. Though it has since dropped down to page two:

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Looks like we need some external links pointing to this keyword!)

Content

Andrey Lipattsev also mentioned content as one of the top three factors when Google comes to ranking a site.

Getting the content right on your page can certainly play a big role in where you rank in Google’s SERPs so here are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to content as a ranking factor:

Title Tag

It’s still a very important ranking factor to have your keyword(s) in the title tag. Not only because it weighs heavily when Google is determining where to rank your site for specific searches, but also to help attract click-throughs to your website. Someone that has searched your target keyword and sees it in your page title, particularly at the beginning, is more likely to visit your website than if it wasn’t there at all.

We switched focus on our target keywords last month and here is one of the results we achieved just by changing the page title:

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Screenshot of Authority Labs data showing a keyword jumping from position 54 to 5 after changing page title

Heading Tags

Heading tags also have some weight when it comes to ranking your website and it’s important to get your keyword(s) in the H1 where possible on your pages.

It is recommended that you only use one H1 per page though there is no harm in using H2s, H3s, etc. as well.

Content Length

Since the Google Panda algorithm update back in February, 2011 it became very noticeable how seriously the search engine takes the content on a given page.

Those of you who were working in SEO six or more years ago may remember how you could rank websites and webpages with thin content thanks to their backlinks. It’s not the case these days.

It’s more and more the case now that the top results in Google are in-depth articles. An interesting result I came across for ‘fx trading’ recently is that most of the top organic results are information pages and not the homepage or target page that fx companies would aim first-time users to land on:

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This is a keyword that Google suggests bidding £38.98 ($65 CAD) in AdWords!

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URLs

Making sure to include your keyword in the URL slug of your page also helps with ranking. If your keyword is already in the page title as advised then there’s no reason why you won’t have it in your page URL too.

Google continues to bold keywords within your URL that match search queries which help your listing stand out:

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RankBrain

Completing the top three ranking factors in Google SERPs, a news piece published by Bloomberg last October quoted a Google senior research scientist, Greg Corrado, confirming RankBrain’s importance:

“RankBrain is one of the ’hundreds’ of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results appear on a Google search page and where they are ranked,” Corrado said. “In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.”

RankBrain is Google’s AI system that helps it process search results to provide more relevant results for its users. It works by guessing what words might have a similar meaning so it can filter the results according.

Other Positive Ranking Factors

Google has confirmed the following ranking factors. Although they are not in the top three we certainly believe these have a big influence on your rankings and should be taken into consideration when optimising your website:

Page Loading Speed

All the way back in April, 2010 Google confirmed that page loading speed was one of their search ranking factors; how quickly a website responds to web requests.

This isn’t just useful for helping your site rank better but for the users’ experience too. Ever been frustrated over the time it takes a website or webpage to load? Imagine your website loading slowly for first-time users and how this could put them off making a purchase or enquiry to your business?

Secure Website

In August, 2014 Google confirmed it was starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. Since then the web is now fill of https:// websites. How significant a factor it is as a ranking factor is anyone’s guess but Google claimed two years ago that they were seeing positive results following a test.

A secure website is also a trust signal to users. They are more likely to place an order through your website if you have a secure site than with a non-secure site.

Negative Ranking Factors

As well as proving that some of our efforts are positive towards ranking a website highly in Google, the search engine giant has also been able to confirm other factors that may have a negative effect on your positions within the results:

Manual Penalty

Manual penalties are Google’s way of removing or demoting your website or individual webpages. Those who have suffered a manual penalty from Google are notified via a message in Search Console if they have it set up.

These penalties are not related to algorithm additions such as Penguin or Panda but are Google manually judging and punishing websites themselves. This is usually a result of underhand behaviour such as trying to manipulate Google’s SERPs.

In September, Search Engine Watch published a list of 12 well-known businesses that have been hit with a manual penalty from Google over the years. When the Washington Post, WordPress and BBC are being hit by penalties from Google, no website is safe!

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Penguin Penalty

Google first introduced the Penguin algorithm update in April, 2012 to devalue the impact of low-quality backlinks. This resulted in some websites and webpages being demoted in Google’s SERPs and some even being kicked out altogether.

For the nearly four-and-a-half years of its existence, websites could only recover from Penguin after both cleaning up their backlink profile and waiting for Google to manually refresh their results. As of 23 September, 2016 Penguin is now real-time meaning you can be hit or recover within days.

It has been questioned whether sites ever fully recover from a Penguin penalty so it’s certainly worth avoiding any underhand activity to put yourselves at risk – no one wants their website or business kicked out of Google.

Panda Penalty

The Google Panda update was released in February, 2011 with the aim of hitting sites with low-quality or thin content. This was the start of a big shift with Google providing higher-quality results and not just those with a large number of links.

Shortly after the algorithm was rolled out Google received lots of questions on their support forum, which may have resulted in them releasing a 23-bullet point guide on building high-quality sites.

The quality of content and the length of content for sites ranking at the top of the SERPs for popular keywords has noticeably increased over the past couple of years following the original Panda rollout.

Buying Or Selling Links

Google lists “Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link” on its Link Schemes page.

I’ve certainly heard of more and more websites getting messages from Google about unnatural links within their content. Here’s an example of the message some webmasters have received in their Search Console accounts:

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Reciprocal Links

Google has stated that “Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking” are to be avoided.

You’re taking a big risk by having a ‘links page’ on your website these days: something that was common more than five years ago was for sites to exchange links with each other.

Article Marketing

Also on the Google Link Schemes page is: “Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links”.

At the start of 2014, then head of the Google web spam team, Matt Cutts published a blog on his website announcing the decline in the benefit from guest posting. Within his article Mr Cutts went on to explain how guest posting had turned from something respectable into pure out spam solely with the intention of increase your website’s rankings within Google.

Press Releases

Press releases aren’t a no-no, but Google has stated that you should avoid any optimised anchor text links within them.

Submitting a release to the wire with optimised anchor text links is straightforward for Google to pick up.

Directories And Bookmarks

The search engine giant disapproves of ’Low-quality directory and bookmark site links’.

These link building methods remain popular though, perhaps because they’re cheap and used to work. I certainly wouldn’t advise this approach in the year 2016 or beyond.

Widgets

Optimised anchor text links on a widget should also be avoided if you want to avoid the wrath of Google.

Footer Links

Google doesn’t react too kindly to “Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites” either.

Forum Comments

What used to be a popular link building tactic, Google acts negatively on “Forum comments with optimised links in the post or signature.” Presumably the same can be said of optimised anchor text left in comments on websites too.

Interstitials Or Distracting Ads

As of 10 January 2017, Google will start to demote pages that display intrusive interstitials and annoying ads on mobile devices. The theory is that they provide a poorer experience to users.

Whilst this is initially rolling out on mobile you can expect it to negatively affect desktop sites as well later in the year.

DMCA Complaints

Since August, 2012 Google has been lowering websites in their search results that they have received valid copyright removal notices for. Their official word back then was “Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results” but Google now removes pages entirely, though does still display a message to notify the search user:

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Duplicate Content

Google states that: “In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we'll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved.” Basically, your site won’t appear in their results if they believe you were intentionally duplicating content to rank.

Google provides plenty of useful documents containing advice and support to give you an idea how to drive organic traffic to your website and also helping you to avoid making any bad choices when attempting to rank your website within their search engine.

The Webmaster Support pages also have plenty of useful advice and a link to Google’s popular support forum where webmasters and such try to offer advice and help of their own.

Author:  Barrie Smith

Source:  http://www.searchenginepeople.com/

The Washington Post reports that a new search engine called Omnity is on the way, which is targeted at researchers and students. Not only is it being recognized for unique features that Google doesn’t offer, many publications are calling it “smarter than Google.”

Reports indicate that Omnity separates itself from the pack by serving up results which best match the search term entered in. There’s also the added capability of indicating how those results relate to one another.

If you’re researching a subject you know little about, for example, you can type it in as a search term and immediately see which resources are getting cited the most.In addition you can see who has conducted the most influential research on the subject as well as which university is leading when it comes to research on that subject.

Omnity will pull information from a variety of sets of data including: SEC filings, publicly available news, organizational reports, scientific journals, financial reports, and legal histories.

Alternatively, you can input your own data sources. For example, you can upload a piece of your own research, or some research papers found elsewhere, and the search engine will return the links to other resources that are relevant but not directly cited in sources you’ve uploaded. With this feature, you can easily find you can find unique sources of information to add to your research.

The Washington Post argues that Omnity overcomes one of the problems of modern search engines, which is the fact that today search engines are based on keywords. With that being the case, today search engines can only return results if the keywords in the title of the page match what’s being search for.  Omnity improves on the current search model by scanning through the entirety of a document.

The Post concedes that Omnity is not likely to overtake Google at any point in time, but niche search engines still have a place in the market. As search  continues to evolve, we may see Omnity being used in a way we can’t predict at this time. The Washington Post gives the example of niche search engine Wolfram Alpha, originally marketed as a computational search engine, now helps to power a search giant known as Siri.

It’s worth keeping an eye on new search engines like this because it’s an indication of where other search engine's might be going. It also demonstrates how our search habits are changing over time.

Author:  Matt Southern

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 21:39

Do You Search in the Singular or the Plural?

A Hitwise post digs into the behavior of searchers and sees whether they prefer searching in the singular or plural. Using the term "laptop" versus "laptops," it is clear that "laptops" is the winner in search. When investigating nine other terms, the following was discovered:

[W]hile the results are not conclusive, it does seem that plural terms are better at sending traffic to retailers than singular terms. Two thirds of the products tested performed better as plurals, with technology products in particular skewing in favour of an added ‘s’.

Of course, as one member on Sphinn notices, this is specific to traffic, not necessarily conversions. However, it's a good first stop. Now can someone compile a report on the conversions? ;)

Forum discussion continues at Sphinn.

Source:  seroundtable.com

Experts from all over the world have been pointing out the dark side of the deep web for quite some time now. However, new research goes to show there are plenty of legal reasons to use the darknet, as the number of legitimate sites far outpaces the number of underground marketplaces. This is quite a surprising outcome, although it will not put government’s minds at ease by any means.

The Darknet Is About More Than Online Crime

The research unveiled by Terbium Labs is quite interesting to take note of. Most people only know the deep web for its criminal activity, and law enforcement is cracking down on these illegal trades. But every story has two sides to it, and it turns out the number of legitimate deep web sites is far bigger than most people give it credit for.

The deep web offers users an additional layer of anonymity and privacy, which is often associated with online crime.However, there are other reasons to demand more privacy when browsing the Internet. Although the research only pulled data from 400 different sites, it goes to show there are multiple legitimate use cases on the deep web.

As one would come to expect, the results showcase there are many different categories of content to be found on the darknet. Drugs, Fraud, Counterfeits, and Hacking are all prominent site directories, but they only represent a small portion of all onion-based platforms. In fact, 6.8% of all search results returned adult content, which is also deemed as “legal.”

Other legal content one can find on the deep web ranges from hosting Facebook – which is often accessed through the Tor browser – to graphic design firms, political parties, and regular forums to discuss IT-related content. All of this content could easily exist without Tor, were it not for the software to offer more privacy and anonymity.

The research also highlights some worrisome development in the “illicit content” category, though. Even though most deep web discussions revolve around drugs and weapons, they only represent a fraction of what is going on among criminals. Exploitation is a serious offense, and it is becoming more prominent on the darknet than ever before. Exploitation ranges from pornographic, violent content, or any other type of illegal activity involving children.

Weapons of mass destruction are notoriously absent from this darknet findings report. Although exploring 400 web sites may not be the best way to target discussions about WMDs, it goes to show biological agents have not found their way to “traditional’” deep web platforms just yet. But that doesn’t mean it is not there for those who know how the look for it.

The main thing to take away from this research is how one cannot classify the deep web as just a place for criminal activity. However, since no one can grasp the full complexity of the darknet, to begin with, further research is warranted. For now, there is no reason to dismiss the positive side of the deep web, as there are more legitimate use cases than assumed at first.

Source:  livebitcoinnews.com

First there was Panda and Penguin. Now, Google will release a Google mobile update on April 21. This update promises to be even wider-reaching than both of the “bird-inspired” updates that valued high-quality content.

Writing For Google's Biggest Algorithm Update Yet | SEJ

Understanding the Scope of Google’s “Mobilegeddon” Update

Google’s new update promises to be a game changer. The algorithm will rank mobile-friendly sites higher than non-mobile-friendly ones. Many webmasters from around the world are (rightfully) anxious about its release since it could significantly impact traffic.

From a writer’s perspective, the update gives us something to think about as well. Does this mean we need to learn a whole new way to create web content?

There is no getting around the fact that your website must be mobile.

Before Panda and Penguin made their debuts, it was fairly easy to rank a website at the top of the search result by indiscriminately stuffing a particular keyword. These updates crippled a number of websites because they depended on that tactic to gain traffic.

The Mobilegeddon promises to do the same for webmasters who have neglected optimization for mobile browsers. This could be potentially devastating to some reaches of the Internet. Google has already stated that there will be no middle ground. Your site will either be mobile friendly or not. This could mean an entire reworking of site architecture and the content contained therein. This is of utmost importance to us as webmasters, writers, and marketers.

Content Production for the Mobilegeddon

Get ahead of this potentially game-changing update. Although it isn’t in effect yet, estimate how writing for a mobile site differs from writing for PCs. There is going to be a series of changes that content producers should aim to heed if they intend to keep producing high-quality, compelling content after the update has rolled out. Read this Search Engine Land post that offers three actions to prepare your website for the impending update.

From what we know about the update, it’s likely that we will have to make changes to our content production habits. Here are a few tactics that will help:

1. Curtail Headline Length

User experience on a mobile device is different than a desktop browser. One of the most obvious differences is the change in screen size (and the amount of usable real estate). Currently, a headline can stretch across the full banner-length of a browser, but mobile screens change the game when it comes to headline width.

 

What this Means for Us: Create shorter headlines. For Twitter users, it just means that you can practice your 140-character limit more often. For those of us who don’t use this particular social media network, now is a good time to start. We need to learn how to condense page-width headlines into more bite-sized chunks, without sacrificing the impact potential of our headline.

2. Make Shorter Paragraphs

“Snackable content” is something that content producers are all too aware of, but is especially important for mobile optimization. Create content that the user can consume in one sitting. However, the format in which we present this content is likely to be as bite-sized as the content itself. Because of short attention spans and aversions to “walls of text” it’s likely that mobile users would feel put upon when it comes to dealing with paragraphs that fill their entire screen.

What this Means for Us: Learn to summarize your ideas. Keep to the point and make your copy more targeted in nature. In some cases, such as home pages, reduce the amount of copy there altogether. Increased copy gives the user a hard time and makes for difficult reading, especially on a tiny display. Get your message across in short bursts.

3. Less Words, More Action

In Orwell’s 1984, he invented a form of the English language called “newspeak” where words were combined, removing unnecessary and frivolous ones and replacing the others that didn’t serve a purpose. This mobile update is likely to make content producers do the same, paring content down to be less wordy while at the same time interspersing calls to action. Condensing content will require us to consider what we write and distill the message in as few words as possible.

What this Means for Us: Rethink the methodology for creating content. In addition to making content compelling and benefit focused, we must also now take a look at the amount of words we use and how often we call to action. It could possibly mean a change in the basic tenets of web writing.

The exclusion is blog content– they will always rank and read better in long form – but for your home and main pages, less content means a better mobile experience, and happier readers.

 

Preparing for the Mobilegeddon Now

Luckily, this change does not require us to find a fallout shelter to survive. Writing habits just need to be carefully considered.

You may need to review web writing and revamp some marketing approaches accordingly to align to with what is expected from mobile friendly sites.

Source : searchenginejournal

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