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[This article is originally published in searchengineland.com written by Greg Sterling - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Eric Beaudoin]

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment in federal court in New York, Judge Katherine Forrest found that embedding a tweet containing a copyrighted photo (of Tom Brady) could create liability for copyright infringement.

The case, Goldman vs. Breitbart, is still in process and cannot be appealed until final, but the judge’s ruling has potentially far-reaching implications. She explicitly rejected the argument that the ruling could have a chilling effect on linking across the internet.

The Judge’s opinion and order (embedded below) say:

Here, it is undisputed that none of the defendant websites actually downloaded the Photo from Twitter, copied it, and stored it on their own servers. Rather, each defendant website merely embedded the Photo, by including the necessary embed code in their HTML instructions. As a result, all of defendants’ websites included articles about the meeting between Tom Brady and the Celtics, with the full-size Photo visible without the user having to click on a hyperlink, or a thumbnail, in order to view the Photo

 

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it, “If adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.” While there might be defenses (e.g., fair use), it would chill linking (at least involving embedded content) because large and small publishers would simply seek to avoid potential liability.

Getty Images backed plaintiff Justin Goldman in the case. That’s because Getty stands to directly financially benefit if Judge Forrest’s interpretation of copyright law becomes more pervasive. The company has a long history of aggressively litigating copyright claims against small publishers and bloggers.

Judge Forrest’s decision is contrary to existing precedents coming out of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that parties linking to infringing content hosted elsewhere are protected under the doctrine of fair use and not liable. District court decisions have limited value as precedents versus appellate court decisions, but this case creates potential confusion and would give rise to additional lawsuits.

The judge qualified her ruling, which is an interim decision (partly in an effort to mitigate criticism), by saying that there may be various available defenses to liability in this case:

In this case, there are genuine questions about whether plaintiff effectively released his image into the public domain when he posted it to his Snapchat account. Indeed, in many cases there are likely to be factual questions as to licensing and authorization. There is also a very serious and strong fair use defense, a defense under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and limitations on damages from innocent infringement.

However, the rationale and logic behind her ruling are troubling.

goldman v breitbartopinion

Categorized in Internet Privacy

What are the differences between branded and non-branded local packs in Google, and how might ranking factors be weighted differently for each? Columnist Joy Hawkins shares her observations.

I had a unique experience a couple months ago that confirmed that Google weights local ranking factors differently for branded search terms than they do for non-branded ones.

Before I explain what happened, I need to first clarify that there are currently two different kinds of local 3-packs (branded vs. non-branded), and my conclusion is that the ranking factors for these are not the same.

Branded vs. non-branded 3-pack

The branded 3-pack is generally what you get when you search things like “sears dallas” or “starbucks seattle” or “state farm chicago.” (However, I frequently see Google showing branded 3-packs for non-branded queries. I’ve always concluded this means that Google somehow “thinks” the query is a branded search when it’s really not.)

You’ll get a non-branded 3-pack when you search generic categories like “shopping mall chicago” or “auto insurance baltimore.”

 

What’s different?

There are some notable differences between the branded and non-branded 3-packs, which are as follows:

The branded 3-pack has an ABC labeling on it; the non-branded 3-pack does not.

The non-branded 3-pack shows reviews/rating stars; the branded 3-pack does not.

The non-branded 3-pack shows the primary category for the listing (e.g., “Insurance Agency”); the branded 3-pack does not.

branded-non-branded-local-pack

I honestly have no idea why Google decided to remove reviews for branded queries. I think it’s kind of dumb, but it happened when they rolled out the 3-pack in August of 2015.

Ranking factors for the two types are weighted differently

I came to this conclusion when, one day, a client of mine popped into the 3-pack suddenly. He had previously not even been in the top seven for this query due to his physical address not being within the city limits. So when the ranking tracker suddenly showed that he was now second in the 3-pack, it was something I definitely had to investigate.

Imprezzio Marketing (my company) has a subscription to BrightLocal‘s tools, which frankly is the only reason why I was able to catch this. We have a ranking tracker that scans daily for each client and also takes screen shots of the SERPs. I went and looked at the screen shot for that day and compared it to the screen shot for the previous day, and here is what I found.

 

Previously, “Handyman Tampa” had always returned a branded 3-pack (even though this isn’t a branded search). My client, The Handyman Company, was nowhere in this 3-pack. However, the day he started ranking, Google changed the search results to show a non-branded 3-pack for this search term. Suddenly, he was in the second position.

Handyman Tampa Non-Branded

I double-checked the organic results. Nothing had changed in that section that could have impacted the local ranking change.

The businesses that ranked in the new non-branded local 3-pack were very different from the businesses that had previously been ranking. About a week later, the 3-pack flipped back to being branded, so this period of several days allowed me to collect information about the new businesses that were ranking, which I stored in a spreadsheet you can download here.

Based on the differences, these were the main things I noticed:

Keywords in the domain matter more for non-branded 3-packs. The top 3 listings for the non-branded pack all contained the word “handyman” in the domain.Organic ranking factors matter more for non-branded 3-packs. When clicking through for more results on the branded 3-pack, three of the top seven listings didn’t even link to a website, so organic factors couldn’t have come into play for them.

 

Hidden addresses may hinder ranking for a branded 3-pack. This was a really small sample size, but I did notice that all top five listings for the branded 3-pack didn’t have hidden addresses, whereas the non-branded pack included many. If this is true, it would make sense, since brands often are not service-area businesses. A simple way to test this would be to unhide the business address to see what the impact is. I have done this for a client in the past and noticed a ranking spike (only once).

Location mattered more for branded 3-packs. For the non-branded 3-pack, many of the top listings were not within the Tampa city limits. The map was also zoomed in more for the branded 3-pack. This is typical of brand searches; I often see they have tighter centroids, especially in big cities.

Keywords in the business name mattered more for non-branded 3-packs. This was the opposite of what I was expecting; there were many businesses that ranked in the branded 3-pack which didn’t contain the word “handyman” in their business title, whereas all the listings in the non-branded 3-pack included it.

Using the proper primary category mattered more for branded 3-packs. For the non-branded 3-pack, there was one listing without the category “handyman” and one listing that had it, but not as their primary category. For the branded results, every listing in the top seven had “handyman” as the primary category. I believe the idea here is that Google most likely associates one (or multiple) categories with a specific brand/keyword, and if your business doesn’t contain it, it could hurt ranking.

In summary, I realize this is a small sample size but wanted to report the findings based on the accuracy of the data. Other than this example, I’ve never seen Google do this before where every other factor remained exactly the same. I have also never seen them flip from a branded to non-branded 3-pack for a given query.

See any patterns I missed? I’d love to hear about it!

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/local-seo-ranking-factors-different-branded-queries-251124

Categorized in Others

You want your business to grow (more leads, more sales, more traffic) – and you realize SEO is a great strategy. Which means it’s time to hire an SEO firm right? Unfortunately, many companies don’t know the first thing about SEO, which leaves them open and vulnerable to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous firms. If you want to end up on the first page of Google’s search results, you need to take a very disciplined approach to finding the best SEO firm possible.

This means knowing what warning signs to beware when shopping for help with your company’s SEO efforts. Here are eight clear warning signs the SEO firm you’re considering isn’t the right bet:

1) They Buy Backlinks: You’ve heard that getting sites to link to yours helps, but you certainly don’t want it like this. An SEO firm which buys backlinks from unreputable services is likely to give your company low quality and automated backlinks. Many of the pages these links appear on are called “free for all” pages, because they’re full of totally irrelevant and unrelated links. Plus, seeing as buying backlinks is completely against Google’s policies, this is a sure way to get penalized by Google. Even big companies are penalized by Google for this practice, like the BBC and Mozilla.

2)They do SEO Copywriting: If a potential SEO firm offers “SEO copywriting,” run in the opposite direction. Google has changed the algorithms it uses to rank content, which means practices like keyword stuffing and writing specifically for search engines is a dying art. Instead SEO firms should be going back to marketing 101, instead of trying to game the system. No more misspelling key terms in an effort to rank higher, no more unnatural text just to include more search terms.

Firms need to know your audience, write consistent to the tone of your brand, and tell a compelling story, all while using proper grammar and spelling (hey, it’s worth pointing out seeing as it’s not always the case!). Also important to note, “sticky sites”, those with a low bounce rate, now get ranked higher. So if you tell a compelling story that resonates and keeps your audience reading and engaged, your bounce rates will improve and inturn your rankings will also. 

3) They Promise Fast Results: SEO isn’t only a science, it’s also an art. This means any firm promising you results in a week or a month is one to be avoided. The sneaky way to get fast results is to employ “black hat” techniques. While these shortcuts might seem like a quick pay off, they’re a sure way to get your business in the penalty box with Google. SEO takes time, and it’s an ongoing promise. As the results continue to improve, the right firm will continue to keep yielding positive results month over month, year over year.

4) They Have “Special Tools”:  As you talk with a potential SEO firm, you find yourself impressed with their secret sauce. They tell you all about their special automated processes and proprietary tools sure to get you ranked fast. Where do you sign up? Before you hand over your first check, take a step back. SEO is no longer a hackerspace since Google has cracked down and changed its algorithm to focus on natural and organic content. Now it’s a marketers space, and these “special tools” will surely backfire. Not to beat a dead horse, but many will get you blacklisted and many of these tools won’t be around long because they probably violate Google’s policies.

5) They Want To Lock You In: If the SEO firm you’re talking to wants to lock you in immediately, take a step back. If they want to get you tangled in a 12 month or longer commitment, ask yourself why. Maybe it’s so you can’t drop their services once you figure out they’re not delivering on their promises? If they’re really that good, why would they need that long-term contract?

6) They Don’t Have A Long History: There are plenty of great SEO firms opening every day, and plenty of smart entrepreneurs and business leaders getting into the industry. That said, you should probably wait until a business has a little experience under its belt before signing on. You don’t want to be the first client of a firm still trying to iron out the kinks of a new business. Especially when it’s a service where the wrong techniques can have a long-term damaging effect on your business.

7) Their References Don’t Exist: One of the most essential steps you should take before hiring an SEO firm is to talk, at length, with clients and other references. If references don’t exist and aren’t readily available upon request, it’s time to cross this particularly firm’s name off your list. The only reason not to provide references is because they don’t have any satisfied customers to direct you to.

8) Their Packages Are One Size Fits All: Every business has a different website. That means different needs, goals, target audience, and overall specific reasons to jump into the SEO game. If you’re talking to a firm and their packages are “one size fits all,” go look for a better fit. Good firms need to really study your business, understand your objectives, research your competition, analyze your website, and only then can they put together a solution. Beware of firms that have ‘packages’ and sell you into one of them before doing a deep-dive into your business.

Sometimes the first step to finding the best firm for your needs is knowing which companies are all wrong for the job. By paying attention to these eight warning signs you can save yourself a lot of trouble, and avoid risky companies that have a good chance of not only getting you poor results, but getting your website penalized with the search engines.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ilyapozin/2014/09/15/8-biggest-mistakes-in-hiring-an-seo-company/

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