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[Source: This article was Published in techcrunch.com By Catherine Shu - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

Earlier this week, music lyrics repository Genius accused Google of lifting lyrics and posting them on its search platform. Genius told the Wall Street Journal that this caused its site traffic to drop. Google, which initially denied wrongdoing but later said it was investigating the issue, addressed the controversy in a blog post today. The company said it will start including attribution to its third-party partners that provide lyrics in its information boxes.

 

When Google was first approached by the Wall Street Journal, it told the newspaper that the lyrics it displays are licensed by partners and not created by Google. But some of the lyrics (which are displayed in information boxes or cards called “Knowledge Panels” at the top of search results for songs) included Genius’ Morse code-based watermarking system. Genius said that over the past two years it repeatedly contacted Google about the issue. In one letter, sent in April, Genius told Google it was not only breaking the site’s terms of service but also violating antitrust law—a serious allegation at a time when Google and other big tech companies are facing antitrust investigations by government regulators.

After the WSJ article was first published, Google released a statement that said it was investigating the problem and would stop working with lyric providers who are “not upholding good practices.”

In today’s blog post, Satyajeet Salgar, a group product manager at Google Search, wrote that the company pays “music publishers for the right to display lyrics since they manage the rights to these lyrics on behalf of songwriters.” Because many music publishers license lyrics text from third-party lyric content providers, Google works with those companies.

 

“We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics. The lyrics you see in information boxes on Search come directly from lyrics content providers, and they are updated automatically as we receive new lyrics and corrections on a regular basis,” Salgar added.

These partners include LyricFind,  which Google has had an agreement with since 2016. LyricFind’s chief executive told the WSJ that it does not source lyrics from Genius.

While Salgar’s post did not name any companies, he addressed the controversy by writing “news reports this week suggested that one of our lyrics content providers is in a dispute with a lyrics site about where their written lyrics come from. We’ve asked our partner to investigate the issue to ensure that they’re following industry best practices in their approach.”

In the future, Google will start including attribution to the company that provided the lyrics in its search results. “We will continue to take an approach that respects and compensates rights-holders, and ensures that music publishers and songwriters are paid for their work,” Salgar wrote.

Genius, which launched as Rap Genius in 2009, has been at loggerheads with Google before. In 2013, a SEO trick Rap Genius used to place itself higher in search results ran afoul of Google’s web spam team. Google retaliated by burying Rap Genius links under pages of other search results. The conflict was resolved after less than two weeks, but during that time Rap Genius’ traffic plummeted dramatically.

 

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in searchenginejournal.com written by Matt Southern - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jeremy Frink]

Google published a 30-page white paper with details about how the company fights disinformation in Search, News, and YouTube.

Here is a summary of key takeaways from the white paper.

What is Disinformation?

Everyone has different perspectives on what is considered disinformation, or “fake news.”

Google says it becomes objectively problematic to users when people make deliberate, malicious attempts to deceive others.

“We refer to these deliberate efforts to deceive and mislead using the speed, scale, and technologies of the open web as “disinformation.”

So that’s what the white paper is referring to with respect to term disinformation.

 

How Does Google Fight Disinformation?

Google admits it’s challenging to fight disinformation because it’s near-impossible to determine the intent behind a piece of content.

The company has designed a framework for tackling this challenge, which is comprised of the following three strategies.

1. Make content count

Information is organized by ranking algorithms, which are geared toward surfacing useful content and not fostering ideological viewpoints.

2. Counteract malicious actors

Algorithms alone cannot verify the accuracy of a piece of content. So Google has invested in systems that can reduce spammy behaviors
at scale. It also relies on human reviews.

3. Give users more context

Google provides more context to users through mechanisms such as:

  • Knowledge panels
  • Fact-check labels
  • “Full Coverage” function in Google News
  • “Breaking News” panels on YouTube
  • “Why this ad” labels on Google Ads
  • Feedback buttons in search, YouTube, and advertising products

Fighting Disinformation in Google Search & Google News

As SEOs, we know Google uses ranking algorithms and human evaluators to organize search results.

Google’s white paper explains this in detail for those who may not be familiar with how search works.

Google notes that Search and News share the same defenses against spam, but they do not employ the same ranking systems and content policies.

For example, Google Search does not remove content except in very limited circumstances. Whereas Google News is more restrictive.

Contrary to popular belief, Google says, there is very little personalization in search results based on users’ interests or search history.

 

Fighting Disinformation in Google Ads

Google looks for and takes action against attempts to circumvent its advertising policies.

Policies to tackle disinformation on Google’s advertising platforms are focused on the following types of behavior:

  • Scraped or unoriginal content: Google does not allow ads for pages with insufficient original content, or pages that offer little to no value.
  • Misrepresentation: Google does not allow ads that intend to deceive users by excluding relevant information or giving misleading information.
  • Inappropriate content: Ads are not allowed for shocking, dangerous, derogatory, or violent content.
  • Certain types of political content: Ads for foreign influence operations are removed and the advertisers’ accounts are terminated.
  • Election integrity: Additional verification is required for anyone who wants to purchase an election ad on Google in the US.

Fighting Disinformation on YouTube

Google has strict policies to keep content on YouTube unless it is in direct violation of its community guidelines.

The company is more selective of content when it comes to YouTube’s recommendation system.

Google aims to recommend quality content on YouTube while less frequently recommending content that may come close to, but not quite, violating the community guidelines.

Content that could misinform users in harmful ways, or low-quality content that may result in a poor experience for users (like clickbait), is also recommended less frequently.

More Information

For more information about how Google fights disinformation across its properties, download the full PDF here.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in searchenginejournal.com written by Dave Davies - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

Let me begin this with a full disclaimer. I begin each day by ransacking the news to make sure I know what’s going on in the search world around me. Follow me on Twitter and at some point, in the morning you’ll find a flurry of Tweets – that’s when.

For a slide deck, I had put together recently, I decided to publish each change in the SERP (search engine results pages) layouts for the month prior. There were 18 slides in that section. And that was just for February 2019.

I want to stress this point, a point we will come back to later. It’s important.

But for now, all we need to keep in mind is that there is a good chance that between the second this piece is published and the time you are reading there may well have been changes.

Actually, there’s a very likely chance that between the time I finish writing it, it gets edited, and publishes, there may well have already been changes.

Yes, the pace of change in the SERPs is that fast.

They may not be huge… but they’re there and through more than a dozen per month, over a year even that small once create dramatically different experiences.

So, what we will focus on here are the main blocks and some of the elements on them. That is to say, the main areas, where the data is gathered to produce them and what that means for you.

 

Generic SERP Layout

Let’s start by looking at a pretty generic SERP layout:

Generic SERP Layout

This isn’t the only layout as we’ll see below but it’s likely pretty familiar to you.

So, what are these sections?

A: Featured Snippet / Answer Box

This is the section above the organic results that attempts to answer a user’s complete intent.

As we can see in the example above, if the only intent is a simple answer, this is where it’ll likely (though not exclusively) be.

Importantly, structuring your content in a way that produces the answer box often results in the answer for Google voice search as well. But not always… as with the example above. More on that below.

B: Knowledge Panel / Graph

For business or known human entity queries, this generally contains a summary of the information Google views as core to their identity. That is, key information a searcher would likely be interested in knowing.

For more general queries, however (like the civil war), we find key facts and images, generally with links to other relevant events or entities.

I noted above that voice search results don’t exclusively come from the answer box.

If there is a knowledge panel the voice result will generally come from here. In fact, I’ve yet to find an exception though it may be a truncated version.

C: People Also Ask

Exactly as the name suggests, this section contains a list of questions that relate to the initial query.

This section is generally triggered when the initial query implies that the user is seeking information on a topic.

The list of questions relates more to the query itself than search volumes. That is to say, these are not necessarily the top queries around an entity but those questions that relate to the initial question.

When a result is expanded, an answer for the query is given with a link to the site the answer was drawn from as well as a search result for the query with additional details.

Interestingly: The answer is given on the initial results page:

serp layout people also asked

Differs from the Answer Box result on the results page if clicked:

serp layout people also asked 2

Likely they are assuming that the user’s intent differs when the query is being directly searched vs. tacked on to the previous.

D & D2: Organic Results

Technically everything on the page above is an organic result.

As everyone reading this article is most certainly aware, these are produced based on a combination of very sophisticated algorithms over at the Googleplex(es) and are ordered based on those algorithms – designed to produce the top pages to satisfy a user’s likely intent(s).

I’m not going to attempt to dive into what signals are used right now as that’s not the purpose of this article.

When there are popular videos that attempt to answer a query, they are often displayed in a carousel.

Alternatively, if the query inspires Google to believe that the user intent would be met with the addition of images we’ll find:

E: Video Results (Alternate: News or Images)

serp layout

Or if the query triggers the likely intent that the user may be looking for news:

serp layout video news

F: Related Entities

In section F above we find a row of related entities based on a core characteristic.

In the query used as an example, we were seeking information on a major military conflict. Google has determined that “military conflict” is the entity association most relevant to the searcher and thus listed others.

 

There can be more than one such row of results at the bottom of the page though I’ve yet to see more than three.

G: Searches Related to…

At the bottom, we find the related searches.

They differ from the “People Also Ask” in that they don’t have to be questioned (though they can be). As such, there can be a bit of overlap, but not necessarily.

Generally, these are generated by searches that people who searched for the present query have also searched.

Local SERP Layout

Oh, wait… Google hasn’t monetized yet and there are some SERP features that are missing.

OK, let’s try again.

As it’s almost lunch as I write this, let’s look up pizza near me. We get:

serp layout local.fw

H: Snack Pack / Map Pack / Local Pack

For anyone familiar with local in any way or anyone who’s ever done any type of query with local intent, you’ll be familiar with the map pack/snack pack / local pack. Wow, that’s a lot of names.

Terminology Lesson: For folks newer to SEO, until August of 2015 there were 7 results in the map pack. On August 7, Google reduced that number to 3.

As everyone was familiar with 7 being the map pack and this was a far lower number, it became referred to as the snack pack.

If you run a local business and want in the map results, here’s a guide on Local SEO.

I: Discover More Places

This section of the SERPs can be a bit confusing until you really think about it.

  • I ran a query for pizza.
  • I looked through a variety of results.
  • I hit the bottom of the page.
  • They’re showing me things related to the high-level category but not necessarily related to pizza.

At the bottom of the page, Google has added a section to help me either refine my search, focus it more on sub-categories like delivery, or change gears altogether.

If I hit the bottom of the page, they’re assuming I might not have been specific in my desires or even known them and so they’re providing new options.

Talk about making page 2 irrelevant.

 

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SERP with Google Ads

Right… all this and we still haven’t seen much in the way of ads. So, let’s kill two birds with one stone and look at the SERP:

SERP with Google Ads

I & I2: Ads

I don’t think any of us really need any insight into what this section is for.

It’s what pays for all that Google is and let’s then do things like buy Burning Man.

J: Shopping Results

Sometimes they’re tucked away at the right, sometimes they’re placed in a carousel within the results themselves but at its core, the shopping ad units are simply Google Ads power by product-specific data.

If you sell products, have them in a database, invest in Google Ads and don’t have a shopping feed set up to power their shopping ads, it’s definitely something to look into.

K & K2: Related Searches

Once again, we see Google dropping a couple of rows of images to distract us from page 2.

These lists are based on entity association on a topical level.

All of the books in the first list relate to the topic of the civil war and the status of being nonfiction. The second list is also related to the topic of the civil war but the status of fiction.

What’s interesting is that Google doesn’t assume from a click in this zone that you’ve actually found what you wanted in the first place but rather are inviting you down a different path.

If I click “The Civil War: A Narrative” I am taken to the page:

sej serp layout civil war book

A carousel at the top displays an expanded version of the list from the previous page. Of course, they take the time to toss in another ad in case I’d like to purchase it.

There’s a knowledge panel as this is a specifically defined entity and then there are organic results.

Additional SERP Layouts & Features

While I will publish this knowing full well that I’m going to miss some due to the sheer volume of different permutations, layouts and sections, here are a few of the more interesting layouts the occupy zones listed above:

Events

Events

Google has added events into the featured snippet area we discussed above as Section A. This just happened last February though it was on mobile prior to that.

So … get your event schema up-to-date.

And if we’re going to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo we probably need a place to stay.

 

Travel

If you run hotels or are just looking for a place, a quick query on Google and you’ll find in the layout:

sej serp layout hotels

A carousel and map lend the familiar options and you’re guided down the path towards a conversion.

While this is similar to the traditional map layout, the volume of filters and options make it a massive threat to those in the travel sector.

The way into this section is paid via Google Hotel Ads.

Twitter

For topics that are trending we see:

 sej serp layout joker

Where Google is pulling in tweets from fairly strong Twitter accounts right into the search results.

And More…

As noted above, I know I’m likely missing many.

In future pieces, I’ll be diving into some specifics on news, maps, images, and video but if you can think of any content blocks or zones I left out… please don’t wait until then.

We’d love to see them posted on our Facebook post on just this subject, which we’ve set up here.

Why Does This Matter?

You may be wondering why it matters. You’re focused on the top 10 organic links or maybe the featured snippets so why does any of the rest concern you?

The first and most obvious answer is that knowing the various zones and elements on the page informs you as to the opportunities there. In fact, for the first query I entered above there are many opportunities buried in there.

Think about the query and the layout and question always whether there are elements on the page that would steer the users to subsets.

I asked, “what is the civil war”. Might I be sidetracked by a “People also ask”?

Could I get pulled into YouTube? What suggested searches might I click as Google tries to keep me from journeying to page 2?

In these are hidden opportunities.

But there’s more than that.

Within many of these sections, you’re being told specifically how Google is connecting the dots on your topic.

For broad topics think of what the “Searches related to” (G) section is telling you. Think about what the Related Entities (F) mean and how they relate to the content you should be including on your site.

For narrower topics think about what the “People also ask” (C) and Knowledge Panels (B) are signaling.

If people are “also asking” question that Google has deemed relevant to the questions you ask, should you not be answering them too?

Do the “Related Searches” (K) not tell you what entities Google considers related? Heck, they say so right in the naming of the section.

And of course, look to the formats. If Google wants to provide results in specific formats for specific queries, it’s likely that the searchers and responding to them. That means they’ll respond to you if you produce it.

Looking at the SERPs can tell you a LOT about how Google is connecting entities together and if they are, then doing the same can’t help but send a strong signal of relevancy.

When thinking about your content strategy… look to the SERPs.

Not to Mention Mobile SERPs

I’ve used a lot of examples here and they’ve all learned on the desktop. What can I say, I had to choose one and it was easier to get screenshots.

The same basic elements exist on mobile, but you will often find them arranged in a different order.

Pay attention to this of course as it tells you how relevant each zone is on different devices. If you’re ranking highly in organic on mobile, you may be buried beneath more videos and carousels than on desktop.

Knowing this will help you understand your traffic and where to put your efforts based on where your market conducts their queries.

What it tells you about your subject however remains constant, however, it may advise you on how that content is formatted.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in thenextweb.com written by Abhimanyu Ghoshal - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Carol R. Venuti]

The European Union is inching closer to enacting sweeping copyright legislation that would require platforms like Google, Facebook to pay publishers for the privilege of displaying their content to users, as well as monitoring copyright infringement by users on the sites and services they manage.

That’s set to open a Pandora’s Box of problems that could completely derail your internet experience because it’d essentially disallow platforms from displaying content from other sources. In a screenshot shared with Search Engine Land, Google illustrated how this might play out in its search results for news articles:

google
An example of what Google’s search results for news might look like if the EU goes ahead with its copyright directive

As you can see, the page looks empty, because it’s been stripped of all copyrighted content – headlines, summaries and images from articles from various publishers.

 

Google almost certainly won’t display unusable results like these, but it will probably only feature content from publishers it’s cut deals with (and it’s safe to assume that’s easier for larger companies than small ones).

That would reduce the number of sources of information you’ll be able to discover through the search engine, and it’ll likely lead to a drop in traffic for media outlets. It’s a lose-lose situation, and it’s baffling that EU lawmakers don’t see this as a problem – possibly because they’re fixated on how this ‘solution’ could theoretically benefit content creators and copyright holders by ruling that they must be paid for their output.

It isn’t yet clear when the new copyright directive will come into play – there are numerous processes involved that could take until 2021 before it’s implemented in EU countries’ national laws. Hopefully, the union’s legislators will see sense well before that and put a stop to this madness.

Update: We’ve clarified in our headline that this is Google’s opinion of how its search service will be affected by the upcoming EU copyright directive; it isn’t yet clear how it will eventually be implemented.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in blogs.scientificamerican.com written by Daniel M. Russell and Mario Callegaro - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Rene Meyer] 

Researchers who study how we use search engines share common mistakes, misperceptions, and advice

In a cheery, sunshine-filled fourth-grade classroom in California, the teacher explained the assignment: write a short report about the history of the Belgian Congo at the end of the 19th century, when Belgium colonized this region of Africa. One of us (Russell) was there to help the students with their online research methods.

I watched in dismay as a young student slowly typed her query into a smartphone. This was not going to end well. She was trying to find out which city was the capital of the Belgian Congo during this time period. She reasonably searched [ capital Belgian Congo ] and in less than a second, she discovered that the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Kinshasa, a port town on the Congo River. She happily copied the answer into her worksheet.

 

But the student did not realize that the Democratic Republic of Congo is a completely different country than the Belgian Congo, which used to occupy the same area. The capital of that former country was Boma until 1926 when it was moved to Léopoldville (which was later renamed Kinshasa). Knowing which city was the capital during which time period is complicated in the Congo, so I was not terribly surprised by the girl’s mistake.

The deep problem here is that she blindly accepted the answer offered by the search engine as correct. She did not realize that there is a deeper history here.

We Google researchers know this is what many students do—they enter the first query that pops into their heads and runs with the answer. Double checking and going deeper are skills that come only with a great deal of practice—and perhaps a bunch of answers marked wrong on important exams. Students often do not have a great deal of background knowledge to flag a result as potentially incorrect, so they are especially susceptible to misguided search results like this.

In fact, a 2016 report by Stanford University education researchers showed that most students are woefully unprepared to assess content they find on the web. For instance, the scientists found that 80 percent of students at U.S. universities are not able to determine if a given web site contains credible information. And it is not just students; many adults share these difficulties.

If she had clicked through to the linked page, the girl probably would have started reading about the history of the Belgian Congo, and found out that it has had a few hundred years of wars, corruption, changes in rulers and shifts in governance. The name of the country changed at least six times in a century, but she never realized that because she only read the answer presented on the search engine results page.

Asking a question of a search engine is something people do several billion times each day. It is the way we find the phone number of the local pharmacy, check on sports scores, read the latest scholarly papers, look for news articles, find pieces of code, and shop. And although searchers look for true answers to their questions, the search engine returns results that are attuned to the query, rather than some external sense of what is true or not. So a search for proof of wrongdoing by a political candidate can return sites that purport to have this information, whether or not the sites or the information are credible. You really do get what you search for.

In many ways, search engines make our metacognitive skills come to the foreground. It is easy to do a search that plays into your confirmation bias—your tendency to think new information supports views you already hold. So good searchers actively seek out information that may conflict with their preconceived notions. They look for secondary sources of support, doing a second or third query to gain other perspectives on their topic. They are constantly aware of what their cognitive biases are, and greet whatever responses they receive from a search engine with healthy skepticism.

For the vast majority of us, most searches are successful. Search engines are powerful tools that can be incredibly helpful, but they also require a bit of understanding to find the information you are actually seeking. Small changes in how you search can go a long way toward finding better answers.

The Limits of Search

It is not surprising or uncommon that a short query may not accurately reflect what a searcher really wants to know. What is actually remarkable is how often a simple, brief query like [ nets ] or [ giants ] will give the right results. After all, both of those words have multiple meanings, and a search engine might conclude that searchers were looking for information on tools to catch butterflies, in the first case, or larger-than-life people in the second. Yet most users who type those words are seeking basketball- and football-related sites and the first search results for those terms provide just that. Even the difference between a query like [the who]versus [a who] is striking. The first set of results are about a classic English rock band, whereas the second query returns references to a popular Dr. Seuss book.

 

But search engines sometimes seem to give the illusion that you can ask anything about anything and get the right answer. Just like the student in that example, however, most searchers overestimate the accuracy of search engines and their own searching skills. In fact, when Americans were asked to self-rate their searching ability by the Pew Research Center in 2012, 56 percent rated themselves as very confident in their ability to use a search engine to answer a question.

Not surprisingly, the highest confidence scores were for searchers with some college degrees (64 percent were “very confident”—by contrast, 45 percent of those who did not have a college degree describes themselves that way). Age affects this judgment as well, with 64 percent of those under 50 describing themselves as “very confident,” as opposed to only 40 percent older than 50. When talking about how successful they are in their searches, 29 percent reported that they can always find what they are looking for, and 62 percent said they are able to find an answer to their questions most of the time. In surveys, most people tell us that everything they want is online, and conversely, if they cannot find something via a quick search, then it must not exist, it might be out of date, or it might not be of much value.

These are the most recent published results, but we have seen in surveys done at Google in 2018 that these insights from Pew are still true and transcend the years. What was true in 2012 is still exactly the same now: People have great confidence in their ability to search. The only significant change is in their success rates, which have crept up to 35 percent can "always find" what they're looking for, while 73 percent say they can find what they seek "most of the time." This increase is largely due to improvements in the search engines, which improve their data coverage and algorithms every year."

What Good Searchers Do

As long as information needs are easy, simple searches work reasonably well. Most people actually do less than one search per day, and most of those searches are short and commonplace. The average query length on Google during 2016 was 2.3 words. Queries are often brief descriptions like: [ quiche recipe ] or [ calories in chocolate ] or [ parking Tulsa ].

And somewhat surprisingly, most searches have been done before. In an average day, less than 12 percent of all searches are completely novel—that is, most queries have already been entered by another searcher in the past day. By design, search engines have learned to associate short queries with the targets of those searches by tracking pages that are visited as a result of the query, making the results returned both faster and more accurate than they otherwise would have been.

A large fraction of queries are searches for another website (called navigational queries, which make up as much as 25 percent of all queries), or for a short factual piece of information (called informational queries, which are around 40 percent of all queries). However, complex search tasks often need more than a single query to find a satisfactory answer. So how can you do better searches? 

First, you can modify your query by changing a term in your search phrase, generally to make it more precise or by adding additional terms to reduce the number of off-topic results. Very experienced searchers often open multiple browser tabs or windows to pursue different avenues of research, usually investigating slightly different variations of the original query in parallel.

You can see good searchers rapidly trying different search queries in a row, rather than just being satisfied with what they get with the first search. This is especially true for searches that involve very ambiguous terms—a query like [animal food] has many possible interpretations. Good searchers modify the query to get to what they need quickly, such as [pet food] or [animal nutrition], depending on the underlying goal.

Choosing the best way to phrase your query means adding terms that:

  • are central to the topic (avoid peripheral terms that are off-topic)
  • you know the definition of (do not guess at a term if you are not certain)
  • leave common terms together in order ( [ chow pet ] is very different than [ pet chow ])
  • keep the query fairly short (you usually do not need more than two to five terms)

You can make your query more precise by limiting the scope of a search with special operators. The most powerful operators are things such as double-quote marks (as in the query [ “exponential growth occurs when” ], which finds only documents containing that phrase in that specific order. Two other commonly used search operators are site: and filetype: These let you search within only one web site (such as [site:ScientificAmerican.com ]) or for a particular filetype, such as a PDF file (example: [ filetype:pdf coral bleaching ])

 

Second, try to understand the range of possible search options. Recently, search engines added the capability of searching for images that are similar to the given photo that you can upload. A searcher who knows this can find photos online that have features that resemble those in the original. By clicking through the similar images, a searcher can often find information about the object (or place) in the image. Searching for matches of my favorite fish photo can tell me not just what kind of fish it is, but then provide links to other fishing locations and ichthyological descriptions of this fish species.        

Overall, expert searchers use all of the resources of the search engine and their browsers to search both deeply (by making query variations) and broadly (by having multiple tabs or windows open). Effective searchers also know how to limit a search to a particular website or to a particular kind of document, find a phrase (by using quote marks to delimit the phrase), and find text on a page (by using a text-find tool).

Third, learn some cool tricks. One is the find-text-on-page skill (that is, Command-F on Mac, Control-F on PC), which is unfamiliar to around 90 percent of the English-speaking, Internet-using population in the US. In our surveys of thousands of web users, the large majority have to do a slow (and errorful) visual scan for a string of text on a web site. Knowing how to use text-finding commands speeds up your overall search time by about 12 percent (and is a skill that transfers to almost every other computer application).

Fourth, use your critical-thinking skills.  In one case study, we found that searchers looking for the number of teachers in New York state would often do a query for [number of teachers New York ], and then take the first result as their answer—never realizing that they were reading about the teacher population of New York City, not New York State. In another study, we asked searchers to find the maximum weight a particular model of baby stroller could hold. How big could that baby be?

The answers we got back varied from two pounds to 250 pounds. At both ends of the spectrum, the answers make no sense (few babies in strollers weigh less than five pounds or more than 60 pounds), but inexperienced searchers just assumed that whatever numbers they found correctly answered their search questions. They did not read the context of the results with much care.  

Search engines are amazingly powerful tools that have transformed the way we think of research, but they can hurt more than help when we lack the skills to use them appropriately and evaluate what they tell us. Skilled searchers know that the ranking of results from a search engine is not a statement about objective truth, but about the best matching of the search query, term frequency, and the connectedness of web pages. Whether or not those results answer the searchers’ questions is still up for them to determine.

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in 9to5google.com written by Abner Li - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Dorothy Allen]

Since the European Union Copyright Directive was introduced last year, Google and YouTube have been lobbying against it by enlisting creators and users. Ahead of finalized language for Article 11 and 13 this month, Google Search is testing possible responses to the “link tax.”

Article 11 requires search engines and online news aggregators — like Google Search and News, respectively — to pay licensing fees when displaying article snippets or summaries. The end goal is for online tech giants to sign commercial licenses to help publishers adapt online and provide a source of revenue.

 

Google discussed possible ramifications in December if Article 11 was not altered. Google News could be shut down in Europe, while fewer news articles would appear in Search results. This could be a determinate to news sites, especially smaller ones, that rely on Search to get traffic.

The company is already testing the impact of Article 11 on Search. Screenshots from Search Engine Land show a “latest news” query completely devoid of context. The Top Stories carousel would not feature images or headlines, while the 10 blue links would not include any summary or description when linking to news sites. What’s left is the name of the domain and the URL for users to click on.

 

This A/B test is possibly already live for users in continental Europe. Most of the stories in the top carousel lack cover images, while others just use generic graphics. Additionally, links from European publications lack any description, just the full, un-abbreviated page title, and domain.

Google told Search Engine Land that it is currently conducting experiments “to understand what the impact of the proposed EU Copyright Directive would be to our users and publisher partners.” This particular outcome might occur if Google does not sign any licensing agreements with publishers.

 

Meanwhile, if licenses are signed, Google would be “in the position of picking winners and losers” by having to select what deals it wants to make. Presumably, the company would select the most popular at the expense of smaller sites. In December, the company’s head of news pointed out that “it’s unlikely any business will be able to license every single news publisher.”

Effectively, companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers. Online services, some of which generate no revenue (for instance, Google News) would have to make choices about which publishers they’d do deals with. Presently, more than 80,000 news publishers around the world can show up in Google News, but Article 11 would sharply reduce that number. And this is not just about Google, it’s unlikely any business will be able to license every single news publisher in the European Union, especially given the very broad definition being proposed.

Google will make a decision on its products and approach after the final language of the Copyright Directive is released.

Dylan contributed to this article

Categorized in Search Engine

[This article is originally published in programs.online.utica.edu - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

For today's students, research methods are less about libraries and more about what can be found on laptops. A Pew Internet study reveals that 94 percent of teachers find students are most likely to use Google as their primary research tool and three-quarters of teachers witness students turning to Wikipedia for information.

The wealth of Internet information available is both a blessing and curse for student researchers. For every authoritative peer-reviewed journal, there are an equal amount of poorly developed, inaccurate content farms. The same Pew study also found that teacher’s estimate only 40 percent of students can accurately judge the quality of online research information as many are unaware of the benefits of utilizing advanced research techniques to navigate search engines and databases to find the best resources.

Quality Sources Are Everything

Students can find a multitude of websites offering information that may sound good but offer little in the way of legitimacy. The source of the information can help determine its accuracy, depth, and integrity. Wikipedia can be a useful starting point to gather general knowledge on a topic but it tends to go against the research principle of finding primary resources. As a melting pot of secondary information, Wikipedia runs the risk of providing errors.

Blogs can render mixed results of information; while some offer excellent insight and original research data, others are driven by the commercial interest of their associated organizations. For students seeking the best primary resources, consider information from peer-reviewed journals, government agencies, or reputable news publications. Scientific databases offer specialized information on research topics, which can make finding information easier but may also require students to look elsewhere to expand in an unbiased manner on topics.

 

Quality Resources to Launch Search Efforts

At the heart of academic-worthy resources, students will find the most accurate, comprehensive information. These resources focus on peer-reviewed studies and government-funded efforts while also seeking to bring public online access to published works found in brick-and-mortar libraries.

Library of Congress

The wealth of quality information offered by the Library of Congress is unparalleled. Its collection based in the nation’s capital provides thousands of resources online for students. The online Library of Congress is an excellent starting point to find book titles for specialized topics. Use the online librarian tool for extra guidance.

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)

This digital library centers on educational research. Use the Education Resources Information Center database’s advanced search tool to narrow down keywords, publication type, and education level to find educational literature from 1966 to the present.

PubMed

PubMed is provided by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. It gives access to millions of full-text articles as well as abstracts by NIH-funded projects and other free content. Topics archived in PubMed focus on the biomedical field.

BioMed Central

Another excellent resource for peer-reviewed information on life sciences is BioMed Central. This publisher provides free access to all articles. Journals featured in BioMed Central are categorized to help researchers better determine the primary source of the information.

Scirus

Using a simplistic interface, Scirus is a research database offering advanced search options that enable resource arrangement by publication date, information type, file format, journal source, and subject matter. Scirus combs through half a billion online scientific resources to find scholarly articles and reports.

 

Using Google for Good

While it’s easy to find poor research at the top of Google’s search results, students can use a few techniques to weed out the bad and allow specialized, authoritative resources to rise to the top.

Employing Google search operators is like a keyboard shortcut to advanced search results:

  • ::  A tilde (~) in front of a word will render a search for common synonyms.
  • ::  An asterisk (*) enables Google to fill in the blank for an unknown, tip-of-the-tongue word.
  • ::  Quotation marks allow the search for an exact phrase, which can be convenient to find a study title.

Google Scholar operates like a database that pulls specialized literature from their main engine to provide bibliographical information and links to peer-reviewed research. The database also shows how frequently users have cited an article. The scholar does not guarantee access to articles on research topics that are subscription-based. However, Google Scholar conveniently offers advanced search options based on publication date and shows related articles to further enhance research.

Writing Resources:

Applying the APA writing style to your written assignments.

APA Style Guide Website     http://www.apastyle.org/
APA Style Tutorial http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
6th Edition Tutorial http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/whatsnew/index.htm

Useful Videos:

For students using Online Utica courses to expand their knowledge and increase their marketability in their chosen fields, effective research is a necessary building block for success. Let the credentialed instructors of Utica College’s Employer-trusted programs demonstrate how advanced research techniques can positively impact students’ futures.

Categorized in Search Techniques

Source: This article was Published computerworld.com By Mike Elgan - Contributed by Member: Dorothy Allen

If you think a search engine exists as an index to the internet, it’s time to update your thinking.

This column is not about politics. It makes no political judgments and takes no political positions. No, really! Stay with me here.

President Trump this week slammed Google, claiming that the company “rigged” Google News Search results to favor stories and news organizations critical of the president.

To drive home his claim about bias, Trump posted a video on Twitter this week with the hashtag #StopTheBias (which, at the time I wrote this, had 4.36 million views), claiming that Google promoted President Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses, but stopped the practice when Trump took office.

 

In a statement issued to the press, a Google spokesperson said that the company did not promote on its homepage either Obama’s or Trump’s first “State of the Union” addresses because technically they are considered mere “addresses to a joint session” of Congress, the idea being that brand-new presidents are not in a position to reveal the “state of the nation.” Google also claimed that it did promote Trump’s second and most recent State of the Union, a claim that screenshots found on social media and pages captured by the site Wayback Machine appear to confirm.

The facts around this incident are being funneled into ongoing, rancorous online political debates, which, in my opinion, isn’t particularly interesting.

What is interesting is the Big Question this conflict brings to the surface.

What is a search engine?

A search engine can be four things.

  • An index to the internet

When Google first launched its search engine in 1996, it was clear what a search engine was: an index of the internet.

Google’s killer innovation was its ability to rank pages in a way that was supposed to reflect the relative relevance or importance of each result.

Both the results and the ranking were supposed to be a reflection or a snapshot of the internet itself, not an index to the information out there in the real world.

  • An arbiter of what’s true

In this view, Google Search would favor information that’s objectively true and de-emphasize links to content that’s objectively untrue.

  • An objective source of information

The objective source idea is that Google makes an attempt to present all sides of contentious issues and all sources of information, without favoring any ideas or sources.

  • A customized, personalized source of information

The personalized source concept says that a search engine gives each user a different set of results based on what that user wants regardless of what’s true, what’s happening on the internet or any other factor.

This is all pretty abstract, so here’s a clarifying thought experiment.

When someone searches Google to find out the shape of the Earth, how should Google approach that query? It depends on what Google believes a search engine is.

(Note that it’s likely that flat-Earth proponents generate, link to and chatter about the idea that the Earth is flat more than people who believe it’s spherical. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that, objectively, the content and activity on the actual internet favors the flat-Earth idea.)

If a search engine is supposed to be an index to the internet, then search results for the shape of the Earth should favor the flat-Earth idea.

If a search engine is supposed to be an arbiter of what’s true, then search results should favor the spherical-Earth idea.

If a search engine is supposed to be an objective source of information, then search results should provide a balanced result that equally represents both flat- and spherical-Earth theories.

And if a search engine is supposed to be a customized, personalized source of information, then the results should favor either the flat-Earth idea or the spherical-Earth idea, depending on who is doing the searching.

I use the shape of the Earth as a proxy or stand-in for the real search results people are conducting.

For example, searches for your company, product, brand or even yourself are still subject to the same confusion over what a search engine is supposed to be.

When your customers, prospective business partners, employees or future prospective employees and others search for information about your organization, what results should they get? Should those results reflect what’s “true,” what’s false but popular, or what’s neutral between the two? Or should it depend on who’s doing the searching?

The truth is that Google tries to make Google Search all four of these things at the same time.

Adding to the complexity of the problem is the fact that search engine results are governed by algorithms, which are trade secrets that are constantly changing.

If you were to ask people, I suspect that most would say that Google Search should be Model No. 1 — an index to the internet — and not get involved in deciding what’s true, what’s false or what’s the answer the user wants to hear.

 

And yet the world increasingly demands that Google embrace Model No. 2 — to be an arbiter of what’s true.

Governments won’t tolerate an accurate index

Trump has claimed repeatedly that, in general, news media coverage is biased against him. If that’s true, and if Google News Search was a passive index of what the media is actually reporting, wouldn’t it be reasonable for Trump to expect anti-Trump coverage on Google News Search?

By slamming Google News Search as “rigged,” Trump appears to reveal an expectation that Google News should reflect what’s happening in the real world as he sees it, rather than what’s happening on news media websites.

Or it reveals that regardless of the weight of activity in favor of news sources Trump believes are biased against him, Google News Search should provide a balanced and neutral representation of all opinions and sources equally.

The rejection of the search-engine-as-internet-index model is common among governments and political leaders worldwide.

One famous example is the “right to be forgotten” idea, which has been put into practice as law in both the European Union and Argentina. The idea is that information on the internet can unfairly stigmatize a person, and citizens have the right for that information to be “forgotten,” which is to say made non-existent in search engine results.

Let’s say, for example, that a prominent person files for bankruptcy, and that 100 news sites and blogs on the internet record the fact. Twenty years later, well after the person has restored financial solvency, the old information is still available and findable via search engines, causing unfounded stigmatization.

A successful right-to-be-forgotten petition can remove reference to those pages from search results. The pages still exist, but the search engines don’t link to them when anyone searches for the person’s name.

The advocates of right-to-be-forgotten laws clearly believe that a search engine exists to reflect the real world as it is, or as it should be, and does not exist to reflect the internet as it is.

Google was recently caught in a controversy over an assumed return to the Chinese market with a custom China-only search engine that censors internet content in the same way that domestic sites are required to by the Chinese government. Hundreds of Google employees signed a letter in protest.

Google wants to “return” to the Chinese market. The Chinese government would not allow Google to operate a search engine accessible to Chinese citizens that accurately reflected what’s actually on the internet.

 

The examples go on and on.

What governments tend to have in common is that in political circles, it’s very difficult to find people advocating for the index-to-the-internet conception of what a search engine should be.

Why the search-engine-as-index idea is dead

Google’s self-stated mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Nebulous, yes. But for the purposes of this column, it’s telling that Google says that its mission is to organize, not the internet’s information, but the “world’s.”

The reality is that people search Google Search and other search engines because they want information about the world, not because they want information about what the internet collectively “thinks.”

And, in any event, the point is growing moot.

What the internet “thinks” is increasingly being gamed and manipulated by propagandists, bots, fake news, trolls, conspiracy theorists, and hackers.

Accurately reflecting all this manipulated information in search engines is valuable only to the manipulators.

Also: With each passing day, more information “searching” is happening via virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa.

In other words, virtual assistants are becoming the new search engines.

With augmented reality glasses and other highly mobile sources of information, search engines such as Google will have to increasingly become arbiters of what’s true, or supposed to be true, because the public will increasingly demand a single answer for its questions.

That’s why the old initiatives for your company’s presence on the internet — SEO, marketing, social media strategy and all the rest — have new urgency.

With each passing day, search engines exist less to index the internet and more to decide for us all what’s “true” and what’s “not true.”

It’s time to redouble your efforts to make sure that what Google thinks is true about your company really is true.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published business.com By Katharine Paljug - Contributed by Member: Grace Irwin

Good content marketing, which makes use of long-tail keywords, can be key to making sure your small business ranks well on Google.

As the internet continues to change consumer behavior, more marketers are turning to content marketing to reach customers. But the rules for this new form of consumer outreach are different than those of traditional ads. Rather than creating a slogan or image to catch customers' attention, content marketing requires the careful use of long-tail keywords.

What are long-tail keywords?

Trying to figure out long-tail keywords can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren't a marketing professional. For instance, a simple Google search for the phrase returns more than 77 million results. At its core, long-tail keywords refer to a phrase or several words that indicate precisely what a user has typed into Google. If you tailor your SEO properly, you will rank high in the search results for the phrase that directly corresponds to what your customers are searching for online as it related to your business. 

 

For example, say your Atlanta-based company makes doodads that are only meant for use within restaurants and bars. Someone looking to buy those doodads might search for "where to find doodads for restaurants in Atlanta." And if you're positioned well in search results (because you've made effective use of that long-tail keyword phrase on your website), you may show up in the first- or second-page search results. 

To use long-tail keywords, you don't need to know everything about them. You just need to understand six things about the changing world of marketing, how long-tail keywords fit in that picture and where you can find them. The answer, generally speaking, is content marketing.

Content marketing has a low cost and high ROI.

Though you can still purchase ads online, one of the most cost-effective and valuable ways to reach customers is through content marketing. That involves creating online material, such as blog posts, website pages, videos or social media posts, that do not explicitly promote your brand. Instead, the messaging stimulates interest in your business and products by appealing to the needs and interests of your target customers. 

Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing, bringing consumers to you and gaining their trust and loyalty. It generates more than three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing while costing about 62 percent less. 

However, blogging and other forms of content marketing aren't effective unless you make effective use of keywords, particularly long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are essential to content marketing.

When creating online content, you want customers to be able to find it. The most common way that customers find content online is through search engines. The average business website receives more than three-quarters of its traffic from search, but that level of traffic is impossible without using keywords. 

When you incorporate relevant keywords in your content, you optimize your website for search, making it more likely that customers searching for the keywords you have used will find your business. This search engine optimization, or SEO, increases your web traffic and exposes new audiences to your brand. 

Just using keywords isn't enough. To create effective content that makes it to the top of a search engine results page, you need to use a specific type of keyword known as long-tail keywords.

 

Long-tail keywords attract customers who are ready to buy.

Long-tail keywords are phrases of three or more words, but their length isn't where the name comes from. Long tail describes the portion of the search-demand curve where these keywords live. 

In statistics, the long tail is the portion of a distribution graph that tapers off gradually rather than ending sharply. This tail usually has many small values and goes on for a long time. 

When it comes to online marketing, a small number of simple keywords are searched for very frequently, while keywords that fall into the long-tail are searched for more sporadically. For example, a simple keyword that is searched for hundreds of thousands of times would be "fitness." A long-tail keyword would be "dance fitness class in Boston." Because the tail is so long and there are so many of them, these keywords account for about 70 percent of all online searches, even though the individual keywords themselves are not searched as often. 

Long-tail keywords are not searched for as frequently as simple keywords like "hotel" or "socks," because they don't apply to everyone. They're what a customer plugs into a search engine when they know exactly what they want and need an online search to help them find it. These search terms communicate a consumer's intent – especially their intent to buy – rather than their general interest. 

This means that when you use the right long-tail keywords, you appeal directly to customers who are looking for what you are selling. You want to determine what your audience might be searching and then work those phrases into your content marketing.

Look for high search volume and low competition.

Because long-tail keywords are so niche, there is much less competition for them. If your long-tail keyword is "dance fitness class in Boston," you aren't competing for search traffic with every dance class out there or even every gym in Boston. You are only competing with Boston studios that offer dance fitness classes. That is a much smaller field. 

 

However, you still need enough people to search for your keywords for your investment in content marketing to be worthwhile. The best long-tail keywords are low in competition but higher in search volume. High volume in this context doesn't mean thousands of searches every day. But several dozens to a couple hundred searches shows that many of your potential customers are actively searching for that keyword.

There are many tools to help you find long-tail keywords.

The best way to find low-competition, high-volume long-tail keywords is with a keyword tool. These tools allow you to plug in a seed keyword related to your business or audience, and they will return relevant long-tail keywords. 

Keyword planners, such as Answer the Public and Keywords Everywhere, are free, though the number of keywords and the information they provide about them is limited. You can also plug seed keywords into a Google search and use the auto-complete and related search term features to find new long-tail keywords. 

Paid keyword research tools, such as LongTailPro or Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, return not only thousands of relevant long-tail keywords but also statistics on the number of monthly searches and the level of competition for those keywords. They also include tools for project planning, search filters, and additional traffic stats. However, these tools can be expensive, costing several hundred dollars to use. 

The type of tool you select depends on your budget and the scope of your content marketing, and the keywords that get you the best results depend on your business and your customers.

Long-tail keywords tell you what content to create.

If you know who your target customer is, you can use their interests and concerns as seed keywords to find related long-tail keywords. For example, if you know that your customers are interested in travel, you can search for those words to find related keyword such as "which travel insurance is best" or "tax deductible travel expenses." 

Once you have a list of these high-volume, low-competition keywords, they provide you with ideas for blog posts, social media, video content, web pages and more. You can create a series of blog posts comparing kinds of travel insurance. You can make an infographic about tax-deductible travel expenses. Rather than wondering what content to create, the long-tail keywords themselves can serve as your topics. 

Creating content around these relevant keywords automatically optimizes your web platforms for search. And since your initial seed keywords were based on what you know about your target customer, you are designing content that directly appeals to the people searching for a business like yours. Using long-tail keywords effectively works with search engines to bring customers directly to your website, rather than hoping that they see an ad and decide your business is worth visiting.

Categorized in Online Research

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz - Contributed by Member: Jennifer Levin

New markup from Schema.org including HowTo, QAPage, and FAQPage can be used to potentially show your content in Google in a brand new way. Google previewed this in Singapore a couple weeks ago.

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it has been testing for the past several months a new form of search results snippets — the way the search results appear to searchers. These new search snippets are in the form of FAQs or frequently asked questions, Q&A or question & answers and How-Tos.

 

Akhil Agarwal notified us about this feature on Twitter, and Google has just sent us a statement explaining the test. Here is the screenshot presented at a recent Google event in Singapore:

A Google Spokesperson told us:

We’re always looking for new ways to provide the most relevant, useful results for our users. We’ve recently introduced new ways to help users understand whether responses on a given Q&A or forum site could have the best answer for their question. By bringing a preview of these answers onto Search, we’re helping our users more quickly identify which source is most likely to have the information they’re looking for. We’re currently working with partners to experiment with ways to surface similar previews for FAQ and How-to content.

These new snippet features give more insights into what the searcher can expect from that web page before deciding to click on the search result. Webmasters should be able to mark up their content with structured data and to have their search results be eligible to have the question and answer previews shown. Similar to how supporting metadata around the number of upvotes and the Top Answer feature works.

Google will soon open up an interest form to allow publishers and webmasters to participate in the FAQ and How-to formats shown in the screenshot above.

Categorized in Search Engine
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