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Anna K. Sasaki

Anna K. Sasaki

Tuesday, 18 September 2018 11:47

DuckDuckGo Takes On Google Search

Think of online privacy as a race.

With consumers increasingly focused on how their data and web personas are used by eCommerce and other digital organizations, regulators and lawmakers are moving to get ahead of that political and cultural wave. Payments, commerce, and tech companies, meanwhile, are trying to stay a step ahead of regulators and lawmakers, and tweak or refashion their brands and reputations so they can boast about privacy protections and reduce the risk of losing profit as customers rethink their loyalties.

DuckDuckGo, the no-tracking search engine with a name that reflects a childhood play activity, intends to make the most of the ongoing privacy backlash from consumers. It has raised $10 million in fresh capital — only the second funding round for the 10-year-old, Pennsylvania-based operation —  and has plans to better promote itself to a global audience, while also offering other privacy-protection technology.

It seems foolish to even fantasize about the search engine ever catching up with Google. However, in a new PYMNTS interview, DuckDuckGo Founder Gabriel Weinberg said that, in the coming year, it could end up accounting for a double-digit chunk of search activity.

Optimistic View

His optimism stemmed in large part from the search’s engine growth: Use is up at least 50 percent over the last couple of years, with more than 5.8 billion direct search queries in total so far in 2018, compared with nearly 6 billion for all of 2017. The site’s daily direct traffic averages about 26.2 million. The United States stands as the largest source of DuckDuckGo traffic, followed by such countries as France, Germany, and Canada.

Of course, Google has numbers that dwarf that: about 3.5 billion searches per day. Though DuckDuckGo does not engage in tracking the behavior and habits of consumers online, it does make its money via ad offerings based on the keywords entered by users when searching for something — just as Google does. A consumer on either search engine might type in “car insurance,” for instance, resulting in relevant ads being served up, which in turn can result in revenue for that search engine.

The difference is that DuckDuckGo stops there — it does not sell search data to third parties for advertising (which, of course, cuts out a lucrative source of revenue). The search engine does not store users’ search histories, either.

That limit stands as a big part of the search engine’s appeal in these privacy-sensitive times, according to Weinberg. The search engine, its results compiled from more than 400 sources and its own web crawler, earns revenue from serving ads via the YahooBing network and affiliate relationships with such eCommerce operators as Amazon and eBay. For each user who buys a product that originates with certain DuckDuckGo searches, the site earns a commission on that transaction.

“We are definitely small,” he said, acknowledging the obvious. However, the company turns a profit and has yet to do any major marketing. So far, DuckDuckGo has benefited from word of mouth, essays, blog postings and question-and-answer content published and distributed on Quora and social media sites, he said.

New Funding

The new capital, from OMERS Ventures, a Canadian pension fund, will enable DuckDuckGo to beef up its marketing, among other areas. “We’re not sure what kind of marketing yet,” Weinberg said. “We’re running different kinds of experiments to figure out what works the best.”

DuckDuckGo last raised capital in 2011 — $3 million in seed funding. Since then, the digital landscape has significantly changed, which attracted OMERS. “Issues of privacy and security in the digital world have become increasingly topical and controversial,” the firm said in explaining its investment. “In 2018, these concerns have risen to the forefront of public consciousness. Users are becoming more aware of their personal data and are increasingly concerned with protecting it.”

DuckDuckGo aims to go beyond online searches in further building its pro-privacy brand. It recently launched what OMERS called “a mobile browser and desktop browser extension to their product mix; these products include built-in tracker blocking and smarter encryption.”

Facebook Example

Recent data and consumer trends support that path, Weinberg told PYMNTS. Like others in the space focusing on privacy (or worried about the consumer backlash), he used Facebook as an example.

For those who’ve enjoyed the luxury of a news-light summer away from digital leashes, the story goes like this: The social media platform needs to maintain — or even win back — the trust of consumers who were either shaken by the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal or are just increasingly wary of sharing too much information online with a massive corporation. In fact, Pew Research recently reported that 42 percent of Facebook users have taken a break from the platform during the past year, while 54 percent of those 18 and older have adjusted their privacy settings during that time frame. Additionally, 26 percent of U.S. adult consumers said they deleted the Facebook app from their smartphone.

“Awareness is really high,” Weinberg said about online privacy, adding that the company’s own surveys echo findings that a good chunk of consumers are having second thoughts about how their data is used by digital service providers. “People are trying to figure out how to protect themselves online.”

Figuring out answers is taking on an almost existential flavor in digital payments and commerce (which is to say, most of Western daily life). A recent discussion between PYMNTS’ Karen Webster and Sunil Madhu, founder of identity verification and fraud prevention services provider Socure, dug deep into those questions and featured a debate about how much Facebook really has to worry about and analysis of what makes a solid digital ID.

The consumer focus on privacy, and the ongoing backlash — demonstrated in part by Europe’s GDPR and other laws — is no flash in the pan, Weinberg said. This moment of privacy protection effort represents, perhaps, the best opportunity for DuckDuckGo — one that could propel it to capture 5 percent to 10 percent of searches, he said.

Historians will have to figure out and define the various phases of internet development and digital economy growth, and trying to anticipate what they will say is a fun game, but often ends up as a reckless intellectual endeavor. That said, the last few years — don’t forget the Edward Snowden NSA revelations, because Weinberg and other students of online privacy sure don’t — are shaping up as a turning point in how online consumers view privacy.

That will, no doubt, provide an opportunity for a host of businesses — not just DuckDuckGo.

Source: This article was Published pymnts.com

Google is working with publishers to make it easier to view data journalism in search results, as announced on its blog today. It’s one of the steps Google News Initiative is taking to make data journalism more visible, with the field quickly growing across media. Over half of all newsrooms now have dedicated data journalists, and this feature aims to pinpoint the most useful results from pages containing data tables.

“Data journalism takes many forms, and it’s not always clear from the headline that there is potentially useful data within that document or story,” Google News Lab’s Simon Rogers wrote in today’s blog post. “It isn’t always easy for Google Search to detect and understand tables of data to surface the most relevant results.”

News organizations have the option to add additional structured data to note which parts of their page will be the most relevant in search results. Adding this structured data to the existing HTML of their page, they’ll be able to control how the tables will be presented to readers when searching. One of the early participants is ProPublica, which has been testing the feature with its interactive databases like the Nonprofit Explorer.

The feature is currently in pilot, so search results may not frequently turn up datasets just yet. Developers can look into how to make their datasets more discoverable here.

Source: This article was published theverge.com By Dami Lee

Google is now rolling out new features, announced last month, which make it easier for users to find local restaurants and bars that match their tastes.

The majority of these new features exist in the redesigned “Explore” tab.

New “Explore” Tab

When viewing a location in Google Maps, users can tap on the “Explore” tab to get recommendations for restaurants, bars, and cafes within the area.

Top Hot Spots

A new section, called “The Foodie List,” will rank the top spots in a city based on trending lists from local experts as well as Google’s own algorithms.

“Your Match” Scores

When viewing the listing for a restaurant or bar, a new feature called “Your Match” will provide a numeric rating that tells a user how likely they are to enjoy a place based on their own preferences. This is determined based on previous reviews and browsing history.

In addition, users can tell Google Maps about their food and drink preferences so the app can surface better recommendations. This can be done from the “Settings” tab, where users can select the types of cuisines and restaurants they like.

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Personalized Recommendation Hub

A brand new “For You” tab will keep users informed about everything happening in areas they care about. This could include areas near their home, work, or a city they visit frequently.

Users can also follow a particular neighborhood to instantly see if there’s a hot new restaurant in the area, a new cafe that’s a perfect match, or if a favorite dining spot is in the news.

Android Exclusive Features

A feature exclusive to Android will let users automatically keep track of how many of the top-ranked spots they’ve visited.

Also exclusive to Android is a feature that will surface the top events and activities happening within a particular area. Users can see photos, descriptions, and filter by categories like “good for kids,” “cheap” or “indoor or outdoor.”

To start using these new features, just update the Google Maps app from the App Store or Play Store.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern

Google has been the biggest name in the search for so long, it’s a household name. For the past several years, though, Microsoft has been trying to compete with Bing, its own search engine. Today, Microsoft is announcing that Bing can now use Visual Search, just like Google Lens.

Revealed in a blog post today, Visual Search is coming to Bing. Available in the Bing app for Android or iOS as well as the Microsoft Launcher on Android, this new Visual Search tool works a whole lot like Google Lens.

Simply tapping the camera button opens up a live viewfinder which users can then use to take a photo and have Bing use AI to recognize objects within the photo. Obviously, it’s not a new technology, but Microsoft is definitely making it easily accessible to users. Whether or not it turns out to be more capable than Google Lens remains to be seen, but Microsoft says it can identify things such as landmarks or flowers and can help with shopping too.

For example, imagine you see a landmark or flower and want to learn more. Simply take a photo using one of the apps, or upload a picture from your camera roll. Bing will identify the object in question and give you more information by providing additional links to explore.

You can even shop from your photos for fashion and home furnishings. Let’s say you see a friend’s jacket you like, but don’t know its brand or where to purchase. Upload a pic into the app’s search box and Bing will return visually-similar jackets, prices, and details for where to purchase.

Source: This article was published 9to5google.com By Ben Schoon

OTTAWA - The federal government unveiled its plan to bolster Canada's defences against nefarious online attacks and crime Tuesday, even as it acknowledged a shortage of skilled cyber-warriors to meet the country's needs.

Backstopped by more than $500 million in new funding over the next five years, Ottawa's newly released cybersecurity strategy lays out a range of initiatives to help Canadians, business, and the government better protect against cyber threats.

The strategy was the result of nearly two years of consultations with industry, academics and other experts, and updates the first such plan released by the Harper Conservatives in 2010.

It comes as the internet and digital technology play an increasingly important role in every aspect of life, making many functions easier and leading to new economic opportunities — but also opening the country and Canadians up to new risks.

And those risks appear to be increasing: The RCMP says that police services across the country received 24,000 reports of cybercrimes in 2016, which represented a 58 percent increase over the previous two years.

There are also growing concerns about the threat posed by foreign states, terrorist groups and others who may try to target the country's electricity grids, banking services, hospitals and election systems.

The new cybersecurity strategy does three things, starting with an increased emphasis on detecting, deterring and prosecuting cybercrime, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told a news conference on Parliament Hill.

"We must substantially strengthen Canada's cybersecurity capabilities to better protect ourselves and our systems against evolving cyberthreats," he said, "while also enlarging our capacity to combat cybercrime and prosecute offenders."

To that end, the RCMP will add new cyber-investigators and become the main focal point for police across the country to report illegal activity online. It will also liaise with foreign partners to identify potential threats and crack down on criminal networks.

The strategy also brings the various cybersecurity efforts underway in different federal departments under a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Goodale said, which will be housed at the Communications Security Establishment and open in the fall.

And it will attempt to help the private sector, especially small businesses, which officials say were the victims of 71 percent of data breaches, better protect themselves, including through a voluntary certification program.

"They comprise a huge chunk of the Canadian economy," Goodale said of small businesses.

"And they are as interconnected as the rest of us to their suppliers upstream and to their customers downstream, so if they have a cyber problem, that whole network could be infected."

Yet it wasn't immediately clear how the government intended to address what will be one of the biggest hurdles to successfully implementing the plan's ambitious goals: a shortage of cybersecurity specialists, both in Canada and around the world.

"A shortage of cybersecurity talent makes it difficult for the organization — including the federal government — to attract and retain the people they need to improve their cybersecurity or to disrupt cyber threats," the new strategy reads.

Goodale described the shortage as "a huge challenge and a huge opportunity," noting that the cybersecurity industry in Canada already supports an estimated 11,000 jobs and generates $1.6 billion in economic activity — numbers the government hopes to grow.

"The world will be demanding people with these talents and skills who understand cybersecurity and can deliver the goods for their employers," Goodale said, "whether they are in the private sector or the public sector."

But while the most recent federal budget set aside $8 million for up to 1,000 student work placements in cybersecurity, the strategy doesn't include a dedicated focus on skills training or set aside funding to help grow the industry.

"It's disappointing to see a lack of commitment to build Canada's cyber sector," said Benjamin Bergen, executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators, which represents many of Canada's tech companies.

"Cyber is the fastest growing ICT sector in the world and domestic innovators present an opportunity for our government to grow our economy and deploy world-class technology solutions for protecting Canada's digital borders."

The plan was also largely silent about foreign-owned telecommunications companies such as Huawei, which intelligence chiefs in the U.S. have identified as a national security risk, and made no mention of encrypting personal communications.

The latter has been a contentious issue between privacy advocates and law enforcement, who have argued that such encryption poses a barrier to investigations.

Goodale acknowledged the debate, saying that while it is obviously important for online banking and other commercial activities, "there are important questions about law enforcement and national security being able to properly conduct investigations."

Source: This article was published winnipegfreepress.com By Lee Berthiaume

Mention the term Keyword Research Tools to any blogger, and they’ll most likely think of the Google Keyword Planner.

It has Google on the label, so it must be good, right?

Well, it’s worth checking and using for initial keyword research, but remember that the tool is, and always was, intended for Google Adwords campaigns.

So, while some of the data is useful, most is irrelevant.

And since Google made it even harder to get accurate data by introducing search volume ranges and grouping keywords with similar meaning, you should consider looking elsewhere.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at five other Keyword Research Tools. Some are lightweight and budget-friendly, while others are heavy-weight and more expensive. So wherever you are on your blogging journey, you’ll find a tool that suits you.

Before we look at the tools, let’s cover a few essentials:

The two methods of keyword research

The primary objective of keyword research is to find keywords that you can rank for in the SERPs; i.e. the Top 10 search results for your term. Why? Because if you’re in the Top 10 search results for your target keyword, then you’ve got more chance of getting the right traffic to your site.

There are two methods of keyword research used in the tools:

Traditional keyword research tools let you enter a ‘seed’ keyword, and then they return a load of keywords. From there you evaluate how difficult it will be to rank for each suggestion.

Competitor-based keyword research tools use reverse-engineering. They assess what keywords your competitors are already ranking for and evaluate if you could do better.

Each method has its benefits, and if possible, you should consider using both when researching your keywords.

Keyword difficulty rating explained

Most keyword research tools now include a keyword difficulty rating. The idea behind this metric is to let you spot low-competition keywords that you can out-rank.

The problem is that most vendors don’t always explain what their rating means in understandable terms. And each vendor calculates their keyword difficulty score differently.

As you check the five keyword research tools below, you’ll see that they returned different scores for our test keyword. We’ve included some notes along the way to help explain the scores.

5 powerful keyword research tools (Google Keyword Planner alternatives)

There’s been plenty written about how to use the GKP for keyword research. Most times it involves downloading data into a spreadsheet, and then sifting and sorting until you have some meaningful outcome.

But with these five keyword research tools, you can do all your searching and filtering inside the tool and then save or download your results as you wish.

Note: Each tool lets you search data from different countries, but to keep things consistent I’m using the google.com US data and the keyword: herbal remedies.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public is a handy tool for those looking to get started without spending anything.

The idea behind the tool is to compliment the auto suggest results you see in Google and Bing with some relevant words.

Appending a search term with words like “for” or “with” gives a much richer starting point for content ideas.

Let’s take a look.

When you arrive on the homepage, you’re greeted by the Seeker. He’s a bald, white-bearded, impatient-looking bloke who’s waiting for you to enter your keyword idea and your location:

1a AnswerThePublic Seeker

When you enter your keyword, the Seeker returns with some content ideas, divided into three categories:

  • Questions – what, where, why, which, how.
  • Prepositions – with, to, for, like.
  • Alphabetical – a, b, c, etc.

For example, I entered “herbal remedies” and got these results – Questions (42), Prepositions (48), Alphabetical (101):

1b AnswerThePublic Results

You can download the complete results in a CSV file, using the button in the top-right corner. But if you scroll down the page, then you’ll see the results presented in two easier-to-read formats.

The first one is a one-page visualization of the results:

1c AnswerThePublic Question Visualisation

Or you can switch to Data to see the results listed in sections:

1d AnswerThePublic Preposition Data

Pros

  • Free tool
  • Excellent visualization of content ideas

Cons

  • No keyword difficulty score

Go To Answer The Public

Serpstat

Serpstat is an all-around SEO tool with some great features and affordable entry-level pricing.

The all-in-one platform started in 2013 as a Keyword Research Tool. Now it contains four more modules covering Competitor Analysis, Site Audit, Backlink Analysis and Rank Tracking.

Keyword research

When you enter your keyword into the search bar in Serpstat you’re presented with the Overview report:

2a Serpstat Keyword Research Overview

The Overview provides a taste of what’s contained in the four categories listed in the left-hand menu:

  • SEO Research – Includes Keyword Selection (matched keywords), Related Keywords (LSI keywords), Search Suggestions, Top Pages, and Competitors for the keyword.
  • PPC Research – Includes Keywords, Competitors, Ad Examples, and Ad Research reports.
  • Content Marketing – Shows Search Questions (interrogative questions like Ask The Public)
  • SERP Analysis – Shows you the Top 100 Google Results in organic and paid search for the keyword.

For this review, we’ll focus on the organic results from the SEO Research section.

  1.  Keyword Selection returns all the keywords related to your query.

2b Serpstat Keyword Selection

The key metric in this report is Keyword Difficulty. Serpstat grades your chances of your keyword getting in the Top 10 (Page 1) of Google as follows:

  • 0-20 – easy
  • 21-40 – medium
  • 41-60 – difficult
  • 61-100 – very difficult

So, in our example, herbal remedies is rated at 16.55, meaning it should be easy to rank in the Top 10.

Other metrics on this screen include:

  • Volume Google – The average monthly search volume for the keyword over the previous 12 months
  • Volume (last month) – The number of searches for the keyword over the past month
  • Results – The number of documents returned by the search engine for the query
  • Social domains – Social media domains that come up in search results for the keyword

The small icons to the right of the keyword show that the search results contain some rich answers like images, videos, maps, knowledge graphs, etc. For example, if you search for “herbal remedies” in Google you may see this in the results:

2c Serpstat Keyword Rich Image Results

Note:You may see something different due to personalization and a bunch of other factors.
  1.  Related Keywords returns a list of all keywords semantically related to your query.

2d Serpstat Keyword Related Keywords

Here you can see related keywords like herbal therapy and herb remedies. For each related keyword, Serpstat provides the average monthly search volume, plus some other PPC data.

  1.  Search Suggestions are the popular search queries that you see under the search bar as you start typing a query in Google.

2e Serpstat Keyword Search Suggestions

At the top of the screen, you can see the most popular words. When you click on one of these buttons, Serpstat does another search. For example, if you select the ‘anxiety’ button, Serpstat now searches for the keyword: herbal remedies anxiety.

To the right, there’s another option: Only Questions. The Only Questions filter will return the interrogative forms of search suggestions like what, where, how, etc.

2f Serpstat Keyword Search Questions Only

  1.  Top Pages gives a list of all pages ranking for at least one keyword related to your query.

2g Serpstat Keyword Top Pages

For each page, Serpstat provides the number of organic keywords. In the first line of our example, if you click on ‘101’ in the organic keywords column, you’re directed to the page analysis listing all the keywords:

2h Serpstat Keyword URL Analysis Position

This is a great way to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for.

As well as the organic keywords, Serpstat displays the number of social shares each page has received. So, like Buzzsumo, you’re able to get an idea of how popular a piece of content is.

  1.  Competitors is a list of the domains that are ranking for a large number of keywords related to your query.

2i Serpstat Keyword Competitors

So, as you might expect, you can see webmd.com at the top of our Competitors list as it’s a well-established medical site.

For each competitor’s page, Serpstat lists:

  • Common Keywords – The number of keywords related to the researched query.
  • All Keywords – The total number of the domain’s keywords
  • Visibility  – The domain visibility score

Serpstat also allows you to filter your queries and download your data.

Other Serpstat features

  • Competitor Analysis – Automatically identify and research your top competitors
  • Backlink Analysis – Monitor the backlinks of your and your competitors’ websites
  • Rank Tracking – Monitor your and your competitors’ webpage rankings
  • Site Audit – Perform an in-depth analysis of your web pages

Pricing

You can use Serpstat for free. The Freemium model allows you to research keywords and analyze competitors but is limited to 30 searches per month.

The Premium subscription plans start at $19 per month, but you can get an excellent discount by switching to the yearly subscriptions; e.g. 1-year (-20%),  3-year (-40%).

  • Prices start from $29/month or $182/year

Pros

  • Free starter plan
  • Affordable monthly subscription
  • Easy to navigate
  • Includes a keyword difficulty score
  • Provides additional insights in the SERPs like rich data and social shares

Cons

  • The Keyword Difficulty score is a new metric in Serpstat and seems slightly skewed compared to other tools.

Get Serpstat

KWFinder

KWFinder is part of the ‘juicy’ Mangools SEO suite, which also includes SERPWatcher, SERPChecker, and LinkMiner.

KWFinder is a keyword research tool to find you hundreds of long-tail keywords with high search volume and low SEO difficulty. It’s really easy to use, with a user-friendly interface, and most importantly, with metrics to provide an instant help to your SEO efforts.

Let’s get started.

Keyword research

When you log into your account you’ll see a simple search bar waiting for you to input your keyword:

3a KWFinder Search

There are three keyword research options:

  • Suggestions is the primary keyword research method that we’ll take a look at in a minute.

3b KWFinder Suggestions

  • Autocomplete uses the Google Suggest feature to prepend and append your keyword with different letters or words. For example, herbal remedieslooks like this:

3c KWFinder Autocomplete

  • Questions is similar to Autocomplete and will prepend the main seed keyword with question words. For example, with herbal remedies, you get questions like how much herbal medicine, what herbal remedies are good for anxiety,

3d KWFinder Questions

Metrics

The screenshots above are from the left-hand panel of the screen only. Here’s the full picture to give you an idea of the overall data in KWFinder:

3e KWFinder Metrics

Let’s look at the metrics in detail.

On the left panel, you can see the list of suggestions based on your main keyword. Next to each suggestion are the following metrics:

  • Trend – The trend of search in the last 12 months
  • Search – The average monthly search volume (exact match) in the last 12 months
  • CPC – The average cost per click of the listed keyword
  • PPC – The level of competition in PPC advertising (min = 0; max = 100)
  • DIFF – The SEO difficulty of a keyword, based on SEO stats from Moz (DA, PA, MR, MT) of the URLs on the first Google SERP (min = 0; max = 100)

On the upper-right panel, you can see an enlarged SEO difficulty score and a trend graph of search volumes during the last 12 months.

Underneath you can see the Google SERP statistics and other important metrics calculated by Moz.

  • Google SERP – These are the top results from Google search for your selected keyword
  • DA – Domain Authority predicts how well a website will rank on search engines
  • PA – Page Authority predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines
  • MR – MozRank of the URL represents a link popularity score
  • MT – MozTrust of the URL measures trustworthiness of the link
  • Links – The number of external authority-passing links to the URL
  • FB – The number of Facebook shares for the URL
  • G+ – The number of Google+ shares for the URL
  • Rank – SEO competitiveness rank – the higher it is, the harder it is to compete. (min = 0; max = 100)
  •  Visits – The estimated visits per month on this SERP position

Note: You can get more detailed information about your competitors’ SEO metrics in the Google SERP using the SERPChecker Tool.

The Keyword Difficulty metric is the first one to check as it gives an early indication of whether you stand a chance to rank for your keyword. Here’s the full range of the KWFinder Difficulty Score:

3f KWFinder SEO Difficulty Range

In our example, herbal remedies is rated at 52, meaning it’s possible to rank on Page 1.

But it’s important to remember that keyword difficulty is not the only factor, and you should weigh up the other metrics too.

Other features in KWFinder

There are three other features inside KWFinder worth mentioning.

  1.  Keyword lists management

Lists allow you to keep and categorize the data you find from your keyword research. You can check each suggestion you want to keep and add it to a new or an existing list.

  1.  Import your own keywords

You can import your own lists of keywords into KWFinder in various ways:

  • Write the keywords as separate tags
  • Upload your TXT or CSV file
  • Drag-and-drop your file
  1.  Export your results

You can also export your keywords from either the “Suggestions” table or your keyword lists. You have the option to export to a CSV file (with or without metrics) or copy to the clipboard.

Other tools in the Mangools Suite

Mangools also includes three more SEO tools that integrate with KWFinder and are included in the price (see below).

SERPChecker is a Google SERP and SEO analysis tool. It includes a choice of 49+ SEO metrics and Social metrics. The tool lets you analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors to help you rank higher.

SERPWatcher is a rank tracking tool, and like KWFinder, it’s easy to use. You can track keyword positions on a daily basis. If you head over to the demo page you can see app tracking some domains and keywords.

LinkMiner is a backlink analysis tool. Use this tool to discover which links are pointing to your website. Metrics are given for each link and you can see a snapshot preview of the website on the right hand side. Great for auditing backlink profiles and competitor research.

Pricing

The Mangools freemium model includes a limited free plan and a choice of monthly subscription plans. There’s also a healthy 50% discount when you opt for the annual subscription.

  • Prices start from $49/month or $349/year

Pros

  • Free starter plan
  • Affordable monthly subscription or discounted annual plans
  • Superb user interface
  • Includes a well-explained keyword difficulty score
  • Integrates well with other tools in the Mangools suite

Cons

  • If you need to gather a lot of data on a daily basis, the Agency plan is expensive compared to the Premium and Basic plans.

Get KWFinder*

SEMrush

SEMrush* is another great all-around SEO tool that supports both traditional keyword research and competitor-based research methods. SEMrush caused a stir in the market when it launched in 2008 as it was the first competitor-based SEO tool.

Lewis from Authority Hacker explains competitor-based research with this analogy:

Instead of looking for the needle in a haystack, it allowed you to find the right haystacks with the right needles.

Competitor research

Because SEMrush is primarily a competitor-based research tool, we can’t follow our example of entering our trial keyword herbal remedies. Instead, we have to flip things around and search our competitors to see what keywords they are ranking for.

For this example, I’m using healthline.com as our competitor.

Note: If you’re not sure who your competitors are then you can always enter your own domain first:

4a semrush organic competitors

And from there, you can click each domain to start checking their keywords.

When you enter your competition domain, SEMrush returns a load of data. For instance, this is just the top part of the Domain Overview screen:

4b semrush Domain Overview

Remember this is an all-around SEO tool, so we’ll ignore most of the information now and focus on the Organic Search Positions feature.

Here you can see that SEMrush has found 4,863,217 keywords that our competition domain (healthline.com) is ranking for:

4c semrush Organic Search Positions

SEMrush automatically sorts the results by Traffic% as these are the keywords that are likely to attract the most organic traffic. From here you can start to reverse-engineer your competitor’s best-performing keywords.

Here are the other metrics for each keyword:

  • Position – Where the URL currently ranks in the SERP, and their position from the previous update.
  • Volume – The estimated monthly traffic generated from these keywords (i.e. how many times people search for them).
  • KD – Keyword Difficulty – the higher the number, the harder it is to rank for these keywords.
  • CPC – The average Cost-Per-Click if someone advertised based on this keyword.
  • URL – The web page generating the traffic.
  • Traffic % – The average percentage of all traffic the website is getting from this keyword.
  • Costs % – The share of total traffic cost driven to the website from the keyword over the specific time frame.
  • Competitive Density of advertisers using the given term for their ads.
  • Results – Number of search results in the database.
  • Trend – The changes in interest for the given keyword over 12 months.
  • SERP – A snapshot of the SERP source where SEMrush found the result.
  • Last Update – The time when the given keyword was last updated in our database.

Filters

Using the filter, you can enter your keyword; e.g. herbal remedies, and narrow the search further:

4d semrush Organic Search Filter

Traditional research

If you don’t like the look of competitor-based research, then SEMrush also has a traditional research tool. This is how it works:

4e semrush Keyword Magic Works

Keyword Magic Tool

Start by entering your keyword into the Keyword Magic Tool search bar:

4f semrush Keyword Magic Tool

SEMrush returns the results.

In the top half of the screen is an overview of your ‘seed’ keyword:

4g semrush Keyword Magic Tool Top

Below, SEMrush gives you a massive list of related keywords that you can break into groups by topic:

4h semrush Keyword Magic Bottom

For example, you could pick ‘pain‘ from the left-hand panel and get results like herbal remedies for back pain.

You can filter these keywords by metrics like search volume, CPC, competitive density, and keyword difficulty to get your perfect list.

Keyword Analyzer

After filtering, you can send your more focused list to the Keyword Analyzer to refresh metrics on demand. In this example, I exported our pain group and refreshed the first keyword:

4i semrush Keyword Analyzer

From here you can identify metrics like Keyword Difficulty, Click Potential and, unsurprisingly, the Top Competitors that appear on each keyword’s results page.

Other SEMrush features

  • Advertising Research – Discover your competitors’ Adwords budget and keywords
  • Backlinks – Monitor the quantity and quality of backlinks to your domain
  • Video Advertising Research – Discover the top advertisers so you can create an effective ad campaign
  • Site Audit – Find and fix your On-Page issues and boost SEO-optimization

Pricing

The SEMrush free plan limits you to a handful of searches a day. If you know what you’re looking for you can find some excellent keywords, but the results are limited. The premium plans are expensive if you’re on a tight budget and more suited to experienced bloggers.

  • Prices start from $99/month or $999/year

Pros

  • Limited free plan
  • Combines traditional and competitor-based keyword research methods
  • Excellent competitor-based research tool

Cons

  • Cluttered user interface
  • The Keyword Magic Tool is in Beta phase and still catching up with other traditional research tools.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs* is an all-in-one SEO platform that supports both traditional and competitor-based keyword research. Its background lies in backlink analysis, but it now offers a full suite of SEO tools.

Keyword research

Ahrefs released a brand new version of their keyword research tool – Keywords Explorer 2.0 – in November 2016, and they claim it’s the best:

We knew that adding a few cool features here and there wouldn’t really make a difference. The only option was to start from scratch and take a shot at creating the very best keyword research tool in the industry.

You start by entering your seed keyword:

5a Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

At the top of the results screen is the Overview panel with common metrics like Keyword Difficulty and Search Volume, plus advanced metrics like Return rate, Clicks, and Clicks / Search:

5b Ahrefs Keyword Explorer Overview

Keyword Difficulty estimates how hard it would be to rank on the first page of search results for your given keyword, using the number of backlinks that current top search results have.

In our example, the rating is 37 and suggests, “You’ll need backlinks from ~49 websites to rank in top 10 for this keyword.” Ahrefs is built around the SEO value of backlinks, so it’s no surprise that their KD metric should include this.

Search Volume shows how many searches your target keyword gets per month in a given country (average for last 12 months). Ahrefs calculates this metric by processing large amounts of clickstream data.

Return Rate is a relative value that illustrates how often people search for this keyword again. It doesn’t show the exact number of “returns” and is only useful when comparing keywords with each other.

Clicks is the total number of clicks (organic and paid) on the search results that people perform per month while searching for that keyword. Some searches result in clicks on multiple results, while others might not lead to any clicks at all. As Tim Soulo puts it:

For example, people search a lot for “donald trump age”, but they don’t click on any results because they see the answer right away.

Clicks Per Search (or CPS) shows how many different search results people click on average after performing a search for this keyword.

In the next section, underneath the Overview panel, you get access to thousands of relevant keyword ideas:

5c Ahrefs Keyword Ideas

Ahrefs estimates the Traffic potential by looking at the organic search traffic of the current #1 ranking result for that keyword.

So, in our example, they estimate that if you’re in #1 position for the keyword herbal remedies, then you’d get 1000 visits out of the total 6000 searches per month.

Like we’ve seen with other tools the keyword suggestions are split into three groups:

  • Having same terms – Shows you all keywords that contain all of the terms of a target keyword in them (in any order).
  • Also rank for – Shows you all keywords that the Top10 ranking pages for your target keyword also rank for.
  • Search suggestions – Shows you all search queries suggested via “Autocomplete” when searching for your target keyword.

You need to click the View full report button to see the full extent of the keyword ideas. Here’s an example of the ‘Having same terms’ report:

5d Ahrefs Keyword Ideas Full

Along the top are the different filters you can use to narrow your selection. For example, only show keywords with a KD score from 0 to 40.

You may have noticed that some keyword ideas have a ‘Get Metrics’ button. This means Ahrefs has the data cached and you can access it instantly.

With such a huge database of keywords, you could be hanging around a while for all the results to load, so this option means you can access the data you want when you want. It takes a few seconds for the chosen keyword data to load.

One thing we’ve not seen yet is the SERP data for the keyword. If you press the SERP button of the keyword you want, you get a drop-down display of the current Top 10 results like this:

5e Ahrefs Keyword Serp

Competitor-based research

Ahrefs, like SEMrush, also offers you competitor-based keyword research via its Site Explorer Tool.

Here you can enter your competitor and find what keywords they are ranking for. Then you can find the low-competition keywords by using the filters.

5f Ahrefs Site Explorer Example

In this example, I’ve used the healthline.com domain and added the following filters:

  • Search Position 1-10
  • Search Volume greater than 500
  • Keyword Difficulty up to 40

Like we saw on the Keyword Explorer, you can expand each line to see the full SERP analysis.

Other Ahrefs features

  • Alerts – Get notified of new and lost backlinks, web mentions and rankings
  • Content Explorer – Discover the most popular content for any topic
  • Rank Tracker – Monitor your desktop and mobile rankings for any location
  • Backlink Checker – Analyze backlink profiles and discover link opportunities
  • Link Intersect – Find the sites linking to your competitors but not to you
  • Broken Link Checker – Keep your website free from dead links

Pricing

Ahrefs offers a 7 day trial for $7. The premium plans are expensive if you’re on a tight budget and more suited to experienced bloggers.

  • Prices start at $99/month or $990/year

Note: If you can’t justify using Ahrefs on a monthly basis, you could sign up for a month, do your KW research and cancel. That said, if you can justify the monthly pricing it’s well worth keeping because you’ll get access to the ongoing functionality such as rank tracking and web monitoring. It also means there’s no need to use any other tools to track rankings or monitor mentions on the web.

Pros

  • Limited free trial
  • Reliable keyword difficulty metric
  • Largest database of backlinks and keywords
  • Greater accuracy by processing large amounts of clickstream data
  • Combines traditional and competitor-based keyword research methods

Cons

  • It’s expensive, but they claim to be the best.

Final thoughts

Now you’ve seen each of the keyword research tools in action, you should have an idea of what each one can do.

Remember, at the beginning of this article I mentioned how each tool had different results? If you’ve been taking notes you’ll have spotted some variances in the results.

The bottom line is that each vendor gets its data from different sources and calculates its metrics differently. It’s difficult to compare like-for-like. Once you’ve decided on a tool, you’ll become more familiar with how its metrics are calculated.

Our verdict

Each of these keyword research tools is useful in its own right. You need to choose the best one for your circumstances. Here are our thoughts:

Answer The Public is more of a content generator or keyword suggestion tool. It’s a free tool that you can use to see what people are searching for, but there’s no keyword difficulty rating included. Use it to get broader topic ideas or seed keywords, rather than specific keywords.

If you’re an up-and-coming blogger and you have a small budget, then choose the KWFinder Tool. The user interface is superb, and the keyword data seems quite accurate.

If you’re a professional blogger, like Adam, then you’ll want to invest in the best premium tool – Ahrefs*. Yes, it’s pricey, but the volume and accuracy of the data mean you’ll get a solid return on your investment.

 Source: This article was published bloggingwizard.com By David Hartshorne

Thursday, 22 March 2018 14:52

How To Create a List in Google Maps

Send recommendations to your friends in 5 easy steps

At some point of another, all of us end up offering recommendations to friends. I don't know about you but I usually just create a list for them.

Sometimes, it’s for a friend visiting from out of town who wants to know where I think they should go grab dinner. Other requests area little more elaborate, for instance, recommendations for an entire city or even country that someone plans on visiting for vacation that I (or you) just happen to be an expert (at least in their opinion) on.

For me, my superpower tends to be San Francisco breweries. San Francisco, my current hometown, is home to some amazing beer spots, and I’ve made it my own personal mission to get to know each and every one of them.

San Francisco also happens to be a really popular place for my friends and acquaintances to end up. We host a ton of different tech conferences here every year, and really, SF is a pretty fantastic place for a vacation as well. And so, each time someone visits I’m faced with the task of telling them where I think they should drink, often followed by questions like “How do I get there?” and “Is it near my hotel?”

Now thanks to a Google Maps feature, the answer can be as simple as just sending the person a link. With Lists, I can create a list of all the top watering holes in town, and then Google will plot them out on a map for me. That means that whomever I send it to can figure out where my selections are all on their own.

They can also tap into individual selections to determine things like hours, or whether or not a place sells food (no more late-night texts for me!). Lists you create within the feature can be saved as public or private. So, if you’re creating a list of bars, like me, then you can make it public so anyone can see it. If you have a list you’d rather keep to yourself, then you can choose to set the list to private as well.

Finished lists can be shared with your friends and colleagues via text, email, social networks, and most of the popular Messaging apps out there, so they can literally be shared with almost anyone. When a friend gets your list, they can opt to Follow it, which means it will be available within Google Maps for them to see and use for all eternity (no asking you for the same recs next time they’re in town – yes!).

Creating a list within Google Maps is a fairly easy process, and just requires that you (and the friends you’re sending the list to) have an Android device or iPhone, and have the Google Maps app installed. Here’s how to make it happen.

1- Find the Thing You Want To Add To a Google Maps List

The first step in creating a new Google Maps list is to find the first thing you want to add to that list. So, for me that would involve looking up a brewery I want to add to the list, just as if I wanted driving directions there. When you see the place you want in the search results, tap on it.

(In case you’ve never used Google Maps before, there’s a search bar at the top of the app when you launch it. Type what you’re looking for into it.)

Once you’ve selected a location, at the bottom of the page you’ll see the name of the location you’re looking for, as well as how long it will take you to get there if you were to leave your current location right now.

Tap on the location at the bottom of the page to bring it up to a full screen.

The company’s business page should tell you its average rating on Google, a brief description of what happens there. For instance, my search for Magnolia Brewing Company in San Francisco says that it's a "gastropub & brewery serving seasonal & artisanal American fare, plus draught & cask beer.”

Below the company’s name and above its description you’ll see three buttons: a button to call the business, one for its website, and a Save button. Tap the Save button.

When you tap save, a number of list options will pop up. You can save the location your your favorites, places you want to go, starred place, or “New List.”

You can pick any of these you want, but for the purpose of this demo we’re going to pick New List. 

5- Name Your Google Maps List

When you select New List a box will appear asking you to name your list. Give your list a name that describes what it is enough that it will be easy for you (and the people you send it to) to find it later on.

For my beer list, I’m going to call it “Emily’s Favorite SF Beer Spots.” Keep in mind that your List’s name has to be under 40 characters, so be creative, but try to not get too long-winded.

When you’ve come up with the perfect name and typed it in, click Create at the bottom right on that pop-up box. You’ll see a brief pop up letting you know that your location was saved to the list.

If you want to see everywhere you have saved, you can tap on the link within that popup to pull up your whole list as it is now.

6- Add Something Else to Your Google Maps List

That’s basically it. Repeat steps 1-4 for each item you want to add to your list, and then instead of adding a new list like we did in Step 5, select the list we just created from the menu when it app.5

 Source: This article was published lifewire.com

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:57

Advanced web search with Google operators

Google is the biggest search engine in the US, boasting a 75% share of the search market. With its simple user interface, the market leader delivers answers to search queries at the speed of light – all laid out clearly and sorted by relevance. The information you’re looking for doesn’t always appear on the first page of the results; it depends on how precise your search query is. You can thus determine how exact you want the search engine to be. What many users don’t know is that Google offers specific search operators to refine web searches. They enable you to be more specific with your search request and reach your goal faster. Read on to discover how to do this.

Basic operators

Google supports a repertoire of punctuation and symbols that you can use to make your search request more precise or exclude certain terms. These can be entered into the Google search box along with your search terms and they work to instruct the search engine on how to process the request. Note that the Google search operators will only be considered if the search mode is set to read search terms 'word for word’. If it isn’t, Google will ignore these instructions and presume it can deliver better results without the help of the search operators. All basic operators can be used separately or in combination with each other

OperatorFunction
"exact search phrase" Users who put a search term or a particular phrase in quotation marks are telling Google that they only want to receive search results containing these exact phrases. This Google search operator is ideal for those looking for quotes, song lyrics, or sections of text. Upper and lower case letters aren’t taken into account by the search engine despite being in quotation marks.
-Search term

As well as knowing what you ARE searching for, it’s also helpful if the search engine knows what you AREN’T looking for. Users often get irrelevant results especially when the keywords they’ve entered are ambiguous. In order to find the desired information more quickly, Google has a search operator that is able to exclude specific search terms; a hyphen (-) is used in combination with the search term. Google then knows to only show sites that don’t contain the undesired search terms located after the hyphen.

For example, if you’re looking for a computer mouse, you might be shown sites containing information about the animal, but with this particular operator you can block these results from being shown:

Mouse -Animal

*Search term

If you don’t want to determine the exact wording or you don’t know it, you can use the wildcard search and have Google automatically complete the search query for you. Just use an asterisk (*) as a placeholder.

This is how you can find phrases if you aren’t sure of the exact wording:

a * in the hand is worth two in the *

#Search term

Hashtags (#) can be used as an operator for trending topics. Just like with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Google users can search for specific hashtags.

#icebucketchallenge

@Search term The @ sign can be used to find social tags.

The selection of search operators has been continually adapted by Google over the years. While this has meant the tilde symbol (~) has become obsolete, the plus sign (+) has been assigned a new function. This Google operator previously acted as an 'and' to link search terms. This led to only search results being shown that contained all the entered search terms together, but this mode is now standard. The plus sign was therefore given the new task of an operator for specifically searching for pages on Google+.

Advanced operators

Besides the basic operators, Google search has more tricks up its sleeve to narrow search results even further. Specific commands are used to separate search terms by putting a colon in front. Note that there shouldn’t be any spacing between this Google operator and the search term. Advanced search commands can be combined with other operators.

OperatorFunction
site:

The Google search command site: allows users to view all indexed pages of a domain. Combining the command with a search term means all subpages will be shown that contain this keyword:

Edward Snowden site:nytimes.com

The example query instructs Google to search through the subpages of nytimes.com for the phrase Edward Snowden. In addition, this search command can also be used with basic operators to exclude certain domains during the search. For example, you can block Wikipedia from appearing in the results:

Edward Snowden -site:wikipedia.org

The site request is especially useful for website operators that want to optimize their project for the search engine. You can check whether all relevant pages of your website are listed on Google. The search operator also provides suggestions for internal linking since topic-relevant subpages can be filtered out by using the command in combination with a keyword.

related:

The Google operator related: doubles up as a research platform. Adding a website after this command tells Google that you’re searching for similar websites.

If you’re looking for celebrity news similar to what eonline.com offers, you will be shown sites such as radaronline.com, usmagazine.com, and tmz.com if you enter:

related:eonline.com

Website operators can also search for their competition this way.

OR

Search queries where alternative wording could be used can be linked together through the Google operator OR. This lets the search engine know that sites are also relevant if they contain any of the mentioned search terms:

Test "chrysler dodge" OR "chrysler jeep"

info:

Google users who are searching for information about a domain can use the info: command. You will get info about the web address, the cached version of the page, any similar pages, and find out about any pages that link to that site.

info:google.com

intext:

The Google search operator intext: used in conjunction with a search term instructs the search engine to only deliver links to websites that contain the given search term in blocks of text on their site.

intext:Edward Snowden

Only websites are shown that have the phrase Edward Snowden in their text element.

The Google search operator intext: used in conjunction with a search term instructs the search engine to only deliver links to websites that contain the given search term in blocks of text on their site. intext:Edward Snowden Only websites are shown that have the phrase Edward Snowden in their text element.

You can alternatively use the search command allintext:.

allintext:

The Google search operator allintext: has the same purpose as intext:, but includes all terms in the inquiry. Websites are then displayed that contain all the keywords of the search query in the text.

allintext:Edward Snowden PRISM NSA Guardian

inanchor:

While the commands intext: and allintext: target search terms in blocks of text, the Google operator inanchor: instructs the search engine to find the keyword in anchor texts.

The following request narrows down the Google search to include only websites that have apache in their anchor text:

inanchor:apache

allinanchor:

The command tells Google to restrict results to pages that contain all query terms specified in the anchor text. Use allinanchor: in combination with the corresponding keywords:

allinanchor:apache http server download

In this example, you’ll be shown pages that contain these words: 'apache', 'http', 'server', and 'download' in their anchor text.

intitle:

Google users that want documents with specific keywords in the title should use the intitle: command.

intitle:wordpress

In this example, documents would be displayed to you that have wordpress written in the title.

allintitle:

allintitle:

This Google search operator should be used when you want to search for more than one search term in the title.

allintitle:wordpress tutorial beginner

inurl:

If you want Google to look out for a keyword in the URL, this is where the operator inurl: comes into play. The search engine only displays results of websites that contain this search term in their URL. This is especially helpful if the search should be limited to certain web offers:

Audi A4 inurl:forum

This limited search will provide you with forums in which internet users swap information and chat about Audi A4 cars.

You can alternatively search this way:

[Search term] inurl:showthread

[Search term] inurl:topic

allinurl:

The URL search can be expanded to the whole keyword set:

allinurl:technical blog linux

filetype:

The search command filetype: can be used when Google users want to narrow down the search results to certain file types.

Wordpress Tutorial filetype:pdf

A request like this indicates that only results in PDF format should be included in the web search. The search engine then compiles a list of freely accessible PDF documents that contain the relevant keyword.

Additional examples of file types that Google supports include doc and jpg.

define:

The Google operator define: doesn’t just restrict the search results to definitions, but also delivers explanations for each search term.

If you write define:blog you will be provided with a definition of what a blog is.

With the link: search operator Google offers website owners an opportunity to see links that point to that URL. The list will show webpages that link to the respective domain. The operator works quite sporadically and doesn’t provide a comprehensive backlink profile. For a complete overview website operators should enlist the help of specialized providers like Ahrefs.

Source: This article was published 1and1.com

Tuesday, 13 February 2018 17:53

7 biggest privacy threats online

Being online is part of daily life, with Wi-Fi hotspots, mobile internet, and broadband connections spanning almost all of Britain, US and other developed countries.

While this gives us an overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips, it also exposes surprisingly large amounts of our personal information to the rest of the online world.

Depending on the websites and services you use, all manner of data from your browsing habits through to your birthday, address and marital status can be harvested from your online presence.

Even if websites, connections and devices you use do their best to hide your personal information, there are still a myriad of risks to your online privacy; we’ve selected seven to watch out for over the next 12 months.

Browse the web for any amount of time and you’ll notice adverts following you from site to site that are filled with products you may have been looking at earlier. That’s because you're being tracked.

Website cookies have historically been used to track web browsing via a piece of data inserted into your browser, but other techniques such as MAC address and account tracking can be used to see what you’ve been doing on the web.

While some people might not mind this, preferring to have adverts served up to them that are relevant to their interests, some may find it an invasion of digital privacy.

In the European Union, websites have to notify visitors that they’re using cookies and have to be transparent with any other methods they are using to follow you online.

But as data becomes more important to companies, developers and advertisers, there’s a lot more tracking going on by default.

If you’re concerned about online tracking, it’s always worth delving into the privacy settings of various services, apps and web browsers to make sure they’re set to give you the level of privacy you want. Alternatively, there all anti-tracking tools and browser extensions to keep your activity under wraps.

Whereas tracking might follow you in real-time, a variety of internet companies and services can collect your browsing data and share your computer or router MAC address with third-party advertisers and companies.

With this data companies, you have no direct interaction with can build up a pretty good profile of your internet habits and web browsing.

And this now extends to mobile apps, which in order to offer you their services will ask for access to your phone number, contacts, and other deeper phone functions.

Services like Google Maps can also track your real-time and historic location by default, which can be great if you want to know where you may have stumbled off to after a heavy Friday night. But to others could be seen as always being stalked by faceless tech companies.

While this can be the price people need to accept for free apps and services, some the data they potentially surrender may be pretty invasive.

Websites and online services that don’t have the latest and most robust security can effectively leave the information they might hold on you and the data flowing between your computer and a web server, at risk from hackers.

For example, websites using the now-outdated HTTP web communication standard, rather than the more robust HTTPS, lack an encrypted connection between a computer or smartphone and the website it connects to. This means the data flowing between the two points can be monitored by other companies or potentially snooped on and stolen by hackers for more nefarious purposes.

Furthermore, if the servers that support a website or online service are hacked, then you could find that cybercriminals have access to some of your personal credentials, not just infringing upon your privacy but also paving the way for fraud and identity theft.

To avoid such problems, it’s worth trying to only use websites with encrypted connections and making sure you have up-to-date cybersecurity software.

And while you can’t prevent a web server from being hacked,  using tools like two-factor authentication and keeping an eye out for any legitimate warnings that alert you to potential breaches of your data will help keep your personal information safer.

Smart TVs, fridges, thermostats, and speakers might seem like futuristic tech, but they can pose a threat to privacy.

A lack of security standards around the Internet of Things, the collective name given to connected and smart devices, means some devices might not have encrypted connections to the servers that power their smart features or may be vulnerable to simple hacking techniques, making them ripe targets for cybercriminals.

Or alternatively, devices such as smart speakers could end up listening to you all the time, rather than just respond to an activation phrase, which, whether deliberately or not, would be a massive breach of privacy.

More regulations and standards are being created to ensure smart home devices are kept secure and the data they collect and use is done so in a fashion that does not infringe upon a user’s personal privacy. But for the time being, if you value your privacy, it’s worth selecting smart home tech that has strong security and is transparent on how the gadgets collect data.

With all the things we can do on smartphones these days, it can be easy to plough through mobile data allowances pretty quickly, which makes logging onto public Wi-Fi hotspots very tempting.

But the problem is they often have weak or no form of security or encryption, meaning that hackers can snoop on the data going between your device, the hotspot and the web.

Some hotspots have a web portal that requires you to part with your email or login via Facebook or Twitter, meaning you have to part with some of your personal details, potentially opening you up to email spam, or force you to provide permission for the Wi-Fi service to have access to your social media posts.

It's worth being vigilant with the data you have to part to get a taste of free public Wi-Fi and identify if a provider will track your activity and use your details for intrusive marketing purposes.

More privacy-conscious people should consider using a virtual private network (VPN) which encrypts your web traffic and can hide your machine’s MAC address, making it difficult for others to snoop on your activity when out and about.

Some governments carry out online surveillance and don’t really allow their citizens to web browse privately. In the UK, the Investigatory Powers Act allows government authorities to legally spy on the browsing and internet use of British citizens.

As such, the government can directly breach your online privacy if they suspect you may be involved in criminal activity, though they need to apply for a warrant to do so, which should mean the average person isn’t being spied on by MI5.

However, the Investigatory Powers Act forces internet service companies to collect metadata on their customers and hold it for twelve months, which with a warrant can be collected in bulk by a government authority and used to combat terrorism or stop organized crime.

This means data relating to your personal internet use could get sifted through as part of a law enforcement task force even if you’re no way related to an investigation, which can be seen as pretty intrusive to your privacy.

Again, the use of a VPN or a proxy server can help boost your online privacy by hiding your IP address from the prying eyes of government agents and the police.

An open Facebook profile is arguably a stalker’s dream, with all manner of personal details, from current city of residence to phone numbers and photos available to browse and swipe.

And on Twitter, many users regularly post pictures with their location tagged, all of which allows for people to know their whereabouts with relative accuracy, as well as let savvy burglars know you’re not at home.

Privacy settings have been boosted on various social media sites to limit personal data to only friends or select contacts.

But there’s still the problem of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers, with fewer privacy settings,  tagging you in pictures they have of you and your escapades, potentially exposing some of your personal activities, location, and information to their friends who maybe strangers to you.

While the use of social networking sites at their very core is the antithesis of privacy, the use of them can be more intrusive that you’d perhaps first realize.

So for people wanting to keep their profiles low-key, it's worth taking time to go through the privacy options menu of such sites, and be aware of what you’re posting and how some updates can contain a lot more personal information than you’d think.]

Thanks to living in an ever-more connected world we have a lot more useful services and information but a mouse click or tap on a phone away; the downside is it exposes some of our personal data, habits, and life to a wider world.

But before you yank out the router and delete your Netflix account, there are techniques and approaches you can use to keep yourself away from prying eyes and fraudsters.

From tweaking web browser extensions and settings to using VPNs and anonymous search engines; plenty of tools can help you enjoy the fruit of the internet without sacrificing your online privacy.

Protect your privacy with KeepSolid VPN (70% off lifetime offer)

Source: This article was published pocket-lint.com

Networking can feel like a bit of a minefield, especially online. Thankfully, Hays’ Jane McNeill is here to share her top tips.

Not so long ago, networking used to be fairly straightforward. It simply involved navigating a crowded room, business card in hand, while scoping out the best people to speak to and then attempting to start a meaningful conversation.

Of course, this face-to-face networking is still important, and always will be, but there’s also a new kid in town.

The rise of online networks has created real, focused, commercial opportunities to network – but there are rules to this new world, particularly when it comes to leveraging your online connections.

Maximise your presence on LinkedIn

While networking events remain important, most networks are grown today on LinkedIn. But, before you start to network online, start with the basics: optimise your LinkedIn profile.

Add keywords to your headline, summary and experience sections as they are searchable by others; add your LinkedIn URL to your email signature; review LinkedIn’s suggested connections regularly, and join relevant LinkedIn groups. Be proactive in writing recommendations and endorsing skills where appropriate.

If you’re wondering if it matters how many relevant first-degree connections you have, the answer is yes because second- and third-degree connections mean you can be one connection away from potentially millions of people. The key is to make sure your connections are relevant – quality not quantity is vital when building your network.

Get an introduction

This doesn’t mean you can automatically interact with your second- and third-degree connections. If you’d like to touch base with a second-degree connection on LinkedIn, email your first-degree contact to ask for an introduction.

Do not reach out to the second-degree contact independently; not only is it considered poor form, but people are far more likely to respond when being introduced by a mutual connection.

It’s also good etiquette to say thank you to every person who makes an introduction or helps you in some way. A brief InMail, email or phone call takes one minute.

Timing

So, you’ve just met someone who would be a great addition to your network, but you aren’t sure when to send a connection request.

How soon is too soon? Rest assured, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a request once you are back in the office after meeting the person, or immediately following a telephone or email exchange. Be sure to always personalize your connection requests, too.

Just don’t wait too long – it is standard etiquette to follow up within two days. Similarly, if you make a commitment to someone, such as sending a link or making an introduction, delivered within two days. Remember to also accept invitations in a timely manner, and send a follow-up thank you.

It’s not all one-way

Don’t pitch to new contacts as soon as you connect, though. Offer something of value first, such as a link to a relevant article.

When it comes to networking, the general rule is that you should give more than you take. As my colleague, Yvonne Smyth wrote: “Before you need them, help others get what they want first.”

Be active

Effective networking involves staying in touch, so share relevant and engaging content, like and share updates from your connections, and join and contribute to industry groups. If you have a lot of expertise in certain areas, start your own LinkedIn blog.

Be genuine, insightful and authentic; show interest in others; ask questions, and be respectful of people’s time. But don’t over-post, otherwise, your communications could be too diluted.

Finally, introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are usually cemented in person. Take the time to get to know people by attending industry events and joining an association or professional group.

With these online networking etiquette tips, you’re ready to build and leverage your connections in a thoughtful, effective and professional manner.

Jane McNeill is managing director of both New South Wales and Western Australia at Hays Recruitment.

A version of this article previously appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blogBy Jane McNeill

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