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Search giant was under fire for search results dominated by neo-Nazi white supremacist sites
Online search giant Google has tweaked an algorithm to ensure that Holocaust denial sites are not the top results when someone asks whether the Holocaust occurred, Digital Trends reported on Sunday.

“We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web,” a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends when asked about the topic. “We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges.”

 

Google recently faced criticism after journalists noted that the top results for queries about the Holocaust's legitimacy were all links to anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi sites.

Experts have recently said that far-right groups have been using methods to manipulate search algorithms and push their propaganda higher up Google's search rankings.

While Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi sites have not been banned from Google, they are now far less prominent in search results. A link from the neo-Nazi site Stormfront was previously consistently the top result, but now appears far down the first page of results or on the second page – if browsing in "incognito mode", which does not take a user's search history into account when weighing results.

Anti-hate groups have warned of a rise in online incitement this year, with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) telling the Israeli parliament this year that there has been an "explosion of hate online."

"Online hate is particularly disturbing because of the ubiquity of social media and its deep penetration into our daily lives, plus the anonymity offered by certain platforms which facilitates this phenomenon," ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said.

Earlier this year, Google removed an extension on its Chrome browser which allowed users to identify and track suspected Jewish members of the media and entertainment industries.

While it was active, Coincidence Detector identified suspected or confirmed Jews by adding triple parentheses to their names wherever they were referenced online. According to Mic, the extension had been downloaded more than 2,700 times and had a database of 8,700 people at the time it was removed and had a five-star rating.

Source : http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/technology/133654-161227-google-reportedly-tweaks-algorithm-over-holocaust-denying-search-results

Categorized in Search Engine

With Yahoo dead, every Google lover is more convinced that Google is indeed the top search giant. We never doubted that for a second but sometimes, it can be a bit confusing with the algorithms changing from time to time. Web marketers dread those times when they have to change strategies just so their sites would come up on top of the search engine results. That problem is usually on the part of the website owners. But for us lurkers stalkers searchers, an interrupted search is a bit of a problem.

For people using the Android version of the Google app, here’s some good news: Google will immediately show search results as soon as connected to the Internet if and when a search fails for the first time. There will be moments that search is interrupted especially when you’re out, no thanks to unreliable mobile Internet or WiFi. Google made some enhancements to the Google app as it will soon deliver search results.

Feel free to continue searching with a single tap on the updated Google app. Spotty connections should no longer be a nuisance. What the app will do is save search results once retrieved. Even if you don’t get to see them because of failed connection, the app will show the results once completed and once there is Internet access.

Google streamlines search results pages so you don’t have to worry about excessive data charges or battery drain.

Author : Rei Padla

Source : https://androidcommunity.com/google-app-saves-search-results-delivers-once-connection-is-available-20170118/

Categorized in Search Engine

Someone else who doesn't understand Section 230 of the CDA is suing search engines for "refusing" to delist revenge porn. The short complaint -- filed in New York and spotted by Eric Goldman -- is signed by an actual lawyer, but the complaint is so devoid of legitimate (or any) legal arguments, it could be mistaken for a pro se attempt.

According to the complaint, a number of sexually explicit videos were posted to porn websites after a relationship went bad. The plaintiff contacted the websites and had the videos removed, which would seem to have solved the problem. But it didn't. According to the plaintiff, Yahoo, Bing, and Google searches for her name still bring up websites containing the explicit videos. Here's the wording used in the complaint [PDF]:

5. That Plaintiff contacted Defendants, Google, Yahoo, and Bing to remove the name ANGELE BRILIHON BOLOU ABODO from Defendants' web search engine.

6. That the search Plaintiff's full name on Defendants' website led and still leads to pornographic videos of the Plaintiff, and other derogatory comments aimed at the Plaintiff and containing Plaintiff's full name.

 

A search for her name does pull up everything she complains of. According to Abodo, these search results have prevented her from getting a job and have tarnished her reputation.

However, her complaint demands the removal of her name from search engines, which is an impossibility. She obviously wants the search results for her name removed, but hasn't actually asked for that in her complaint.

This filing will be sent back for amending as soon as a judge reads it, but applying some fixes to that particular language won't turn this into a winnable case. Her other efforts -- contacting websites to have the videos removed -- is something she's had some success with. It won't work with every site and there's almost no chance the "derogatory comments" scattered around the web will be removed, no matter how much she petitions these websites. But that's going to be far more productive than this litigation will be.

 

Section 230 gives the sites immunity for users' comments. It's also the reason targeting search engines isn't likely to result in delistings. Search engines return search results. They're in no way responsible for the content contained in the search results.

This is the easiest route -- far easier than tracking down those making the comments or posting the videos -- but it has about the same chances for success. Even with the damage being done to Section 230 by courts recently, it's going to take far more than this bare-bones pleading to even begin to mount a successful legal battle over unflattering search engine results.

But this short filing does lie at the crux of an issue where Section 230 is likely to receive the most collateral damage: revenge porn. Legislative efforts have been made in many states and, with almost no exceptions, the efforts include language that undermines the protections of Section 230 by attempting to shift some degree of culpability to service providers. The same sort of damage could result from a precedential ruling in a federal court if any revenge porn-based case makes it that far.

The underlying activity is horrendous and does a significant amount of damage to victims, but shifting the responsibility anywhere but the person posting the content poses the risk of opening up service providers to criminal charges and/or civil litigation -- something that would do tremendous harm to openness and freedom of the internet.

This isn't the case that's going to start that ball rolling, however. The actual perpetrators aren't listed as defendants, which means this is nothing more than a low-cost Hail Mary by Abodo and her legal rep.

Author: Tim Cushing
Source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170106/11431736420/destined-failure-woman-sues-search-engines-over-revenge-porn-search-results.shtml

Categorized in Search Engine

Google launched a new way to find new recipes for your New Years feast. The new recipe results are seen on mobile search.

Google has launched a new look and feel for the recipe search results done over a smartphone device. Alex Chitu first noticed the change that shows richer images and content for recipe-related queries.

The results show various recipe cards, with a link to “view all.” When you click on that link, it takes you into a deeper view of recipes that you can then filter more based on these bubble filters at the top of the search results.

Here is a screen shot showing the main results page on mobile:

google-mobile-recipe-main

Here is what happens after you click on “view all”.

 

google-mobile-recipe-results

And here is what happens when you activate the filters at the top:

google-mobile-recipe-filters

To compare, here is a screen shot I took earlier this month showing the old recipe results:

google-recipes-related-1480941617

Author: Barry Schwartz
Source: http://searchengineland.com/google-launches-new-look-recipes-mobile-search-results-266674

Categorized in News & Politics

Presidents are men, nurses are women. Preschool teachers are female while engineers are male. Or at least that is what the image search results would lead online searchers to believe anyways. But a simple search engine plug-in is helping to fight those gender stereotypes — Re-Search displays gender-balanced search results alongside that page of female nurses or male photographers Google just turned up.

Re-Search is a beta version plug-in by Semcon. Installed on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari, the plug-in will display a more gender-neutral image search right alongside the results from the usual favorite search engines.

The plug-in only works for career image searches and so far for only a small list of them from astronaut to truck driver, but it is the reasoning behind the technology that sets Re-Search apart.

 

“When we choose a profession, our choices have already been narrowed down based on images we have seen in the media, advertising and popular culture,” Semcon wrote on its website. “With the internet, many of us hoped we would get access to a more diverse set of images of different professions, and there is no question that the non-stereotypical images are out there. The problem is that they don’t show up in the search results, unless you search for them specifically.”

The company says that the plug-in is designed to be a first step toward showing better role models and more balanced professions online. Semcon, an international technology product company, said it needs more female engineers — and so it is starting with better role models. The company’s goal is to have a male-female ratio between 40 and 60 percent by 2022.

“If engineers are portrayed as men in yellow helmets, how can young women feel that the job might be of interest to them?” said Anna Funke, Re-Search project manager. “Role models are important when people are thinking about their career choices and the internet is the first place many people look for information.”

After the beta version launched at the end of November, Semcon’s video promoting the search engine add-on topped YouTube’s top 10 list after 24 hours.

While still in beta, the free plug-in will launch working with 65 different professions for English searches. The beta version is available to download at the Semcon website.

Author : Hillary Grigonis

Source : http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/re-search-image-plug-in/

Categorized in Online Research

Searchmetrics’ annual study of top Google ranking factors undergoes radical format shift to match industry-specific needs and results.

SAN MATEO, Calif., December 13, 2016 ‒ Today’s search results are shifting dramatically to match answers to the perceived intent of a search, as Google and other search engines increasingly employ deep learning techniques to understand the motivation behind a query, according to key findings in a new Searchmetrics study.

Findings from the latest Searchmetrics Ranking Factors study, “Rebooting for Relevance,” suggest marketers face new challenges as Google deemphasizes traditional ranking factors such as collecting more backlinks and employing enough focus keywords in text. As technical SEO factors become table stakes in online content strategies, marketers in various industries will be forced to adopt new techniques to succeed,” said Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics founder and CTO.

“Google revealed last year that it is turning to sophisticated AI and machine-learning techniques such as RankBrain to help it better understand intent behind the words searchers enter, and to make its results more relevant,” Tober says. “User signals such as how often certain results are clicked and how long people spend on a page help the search engine get a sense of how well searchers’ questions are answered. That allows it to continually refine and improve relevance.”

The findings come from Searchmetrics’ annual study of Google ranking factors, which analysed the top 20 search results for 10,000 keywords on Google.com. The aim of the analysis (carried out every year since 2012) is to identify the key factors that high ranking web pages have in common, providing generalized insights and benchmarks to help marketers, SEO professionals and webmasters.

“The most relevant content ultimately ranks by trying to match user intent - whether a searcher is looking to answer a question quickly, shopping or researching,” Tober says.

“Someone who types ‘who won Superbowl 50?’ wants a single piece of information, while a query like ‘halloween costume ideas’ is most likely to best feature a series of images,” Tober explains. “A query on ‘how to tie a Windsor knot’ might be best served with video content. Our research suggests Google is getting better at interpreting user intent to show the most relevant content.”

Here are five indications from this year’s study that suggest Google is getting better at showing the most relevant results:

1. High ranking pages are significantly more relevant than those that appear lower

Higher ranking search results are significantly more relevant to the search query than those lower down, according to the study, an indication that Google recognises when content is more relevant, and then gives it a rankings boost. It’s also clear it is not simply based on a crude analysis of the number of times web pages mention keywords that match those entered in the search box.

In this year’s study, Searchmetrics has used Big Data techniques to calculate a Content Relevance score[1], a new factor that assesses the semantic relationship between the words entered in search queries and the content shown in results; in effect, it measures how closely they are related. To make Content Relevance more meaningful, its calculation actually excludes instances of simple keyword matches between search queries and search results.

 

In general the Content Relevance scores of results positioned near the top are higher, suggesting that Google knows when content is more relevant and then places it more prominently. This rule does not apply to results found in positions 1 and 2, which tend to be reserved for top brand websites - presumably because Google considers content from more recognisable and trusted brands will better serve searchers’ needs than non-brand pages that might have slightly more relevant content. Results with the highest Content Relevance scores appear in results found in positions 3 to 6.

2. Word count is increasing on pages that rank higher, while keyword mentions fall

The number of words on higher ranked pages has been increasing for several years now, and this trend is continuing. According to Searchmetrics, this is because top performing results are more detailed, more holistic (cover more of the important aspects of a topic) and are hence better able to answer search queries.

But interestingly, even as text grows longer, the number of keywords (words that match the search query) on higher ranked pages is not increasing. This is because Google is no longer just trying to reward pages that use more matching keywords with higher rankings; it is trying to interpret the search intention and boosting the content that is most relevant to the query.

In fact, the top 20 results include 20% fewer matching keywords (on average) in the copy than in 2015. Also in 2016, just 53% of the top 20 results have the keyword in the title (compared with 75% in 2015). Less than 40% now have the matching keyword in H1 title tag (usually used in the HTML of web pages to tell search engines what the page is about).

On average, pages appearing in desktop results are a third longer than those appearing in mobile search results.

3. User signals suggest Google increasingly guides searchers to exactly the right result

If Google was presenting precisely the right results to answer searchers’ queries, then more of them would visit those pages, take in what is there and leave without having to look elsewhere (having found exactly want they were looking for).

That is just what seems to be happening. Searchmetrics’ analysis of user signals indicates that bounce rates (when a searcher visits a page and leaves without clicking more pages on the same site) have risen for all positions in the top 20 search results, and for position 1 have gone up to 46% (from 37% in 2014). This is not because more people are bouncing away from pages immediately - having found that the content does not answer their question. Because time-on-site has also increased significantly over previous years, with people spending around 3 minutes 10 seconds on average when they visit pages listed in the top 20 results.

4. Backlinks: The rise of mobile search is making them less important

 

The number of backlinks coming into a page from other sites has always been an important common factor among high ranking pages. It still has a strong correlation with pages that rank well. However, it is on a downward trend as other factors such as those related to the content on the page become more important.

As well as the growing importance of content related factors, backlinks are becoming less important because of the rise of mobile search queries: pages viewed on mobile devices are often ‘liked’ or shared but seldom actively linked to.

5. Google shows longer URLs to answer search queries, not just optimised short-URL home and landing pages

Until now, marketers and SEO professionals have been able to use optimization techniques to help their site’s homepage or favored landing pages rank higher. But the study shows that the URL addresses for pages that feature in the top 20 search results are around 15% longer on average than in 2015. Searchmetrics’ hypothesis is that instead of the highly optimised home and landing pages that marketers might prefer to appear in searches (and which tend to have short, tidy URLs), Google is better able to identify and display the precise pages that answer the search intention; these pages are more likely to have longer URLs because they possibly lie buried deeper within websites.

Other important findings include:

  • Technical factors such as loading time, file size, page architecture and mobile friendliness are a prerequisite for good rankings, as these factors help to make web pages easily accessible and easy to consume for both humans and search engines. They lay the foundation for breaking into the top 20 search results with the quality and relevance of the content enabling further rankings.
  • There are significant differences between high ranking content on desktop devices and that which appears on mobile devices. For example, high ranking mobile results tend to have faster page load speeds, smaller file sizes, shorter wordcounts and fewer interactive elements such as menus and buttons.

For marketers and SEO professionals the advice from the study is clear, Tober says:
“Since Google is becoming much more sophisticated about how it interprets search intent and relevance, you also need to work harder and be smarter at understanding and delivering on these areas in content you put on your websites. You need to use data-driven insights to analyze exactly what searchers are looking for when they type specific queries in the search box, and make sure your content answers all their questions clearly and comprehensively in the most straightforward way – and you need to do it better that your competitors.”

Google’s application of machine learning to evaluate search queries and web content means that the factors it uses to determine search rankings are constantly changing. They are becoming fluid and vary according the context of the search (is it a travel search? An online shopping search? etc.), and according to the intention behind each individual query. Because of this, Searchmetrics will in future no longer be conducting a single generalized universally applicable ranking factors study. Instead, in the coming months, it will be publishing a series of industry-specific ranking factors studies focused on verticals such as ecommerce, travel, finance and more.

To download the new Searchmetrics Ranking Factors whitepaper, please visit: 
http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

[1]Content Relevance is based on measurement methods that use linguistic corpora and the conceptualisation of semantic relationships between words as distances in the form of vectors. For the semantic evaluation of a text, this makes it possible to analyse the keyword and the content separately from one another. We can calculate a content relevance score for a complete text on a certain keyword or topic. The higher the relevance score, the more relevant the content of the analysed landing page for the given search query.

 

About the study

As in previous years, the study analysed Google US (Google.com) search results for 10,000 keywords and 300,000 websites, featuring in the top 30 positions. For some factors, a more in-depth analysis required the definition of specially-defined keyword sets. The correlations between different factors and the Google search rankings were calculated using Spearman's rank correlation coefficient. To provide maximum context this year’s desktop search analysis has been compared either with the equivalent desktop data from previous years or with the mobile data from 2016.

About Searchmetrics

Changing search technology has forced SEO platform providers to up their game. These changes have created an entirely new search paradigm − search and content optimization. And since search engines have put a fence around a lot of their data, SEO platforms need to bring their own rich data to the party − and powerful tools to analyze it.

There’s only one search platform that owns its data: Searchmetrics, the world’s #1 SEO and content performance platform. We don’t rely on data from third parties. Our historical database spans nine years and contains over 250 billion pieces of information, such as keyword rankings, search terms, social links and backlinks. It includes global, mobile and local data covering organic and paid search, as well as social media. We have the largest global reach of any SEO platform, crawling the Web every day in more than 130 countries.

Searchmetrics monitors and reveals the full business available to you online. We provide our customers with a competitive advantage and help them identify new business opportunities by exposing the content consumers are engaging with on industry and competitors’ sites. Our Visibility Score − trusted by reputable media sources such as The New York Times, Bloomberg and The Guardian − reliably indicates your online presence.

We provide the insights our customers need to deliver results. Searchmetrics guides SEOs and content marketers with suggestions for creating content that improves relevance and boosts conversions. It shows the connection between social media links and overall engagement. And its analytics make clear which content performs the best and how an organization’s content performs against its competitors.

With Marcus Tober, one of the top 10 SEO minds in the world, leading Searchmetrics’ product development, we have over 100,000 users worldwide, many of whom are respected brands such as T-Mobile, eBay, Siemens and Symantec. They depend on Searchmetrics and our 12 years of product innovation to maximize their online performance.

More information: www.searchmetrics.com.

Media Contacts:
Cliff Edwards
Searchmetrics Inc.
San Mateo, Calif.
650.730.7091

Uday Radia
CloudNine PR Agency
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+44 (0)7940 584161

Source : http://www.realwire.com/releases/Searchmetrics-Ranking-Factors-Rethinking-Search-Results

Categorized in Search Engine

A select number of site owners are currently being invited to test a new feature that allows searchers to message businesses directly from Google search results.

There’s a new Google My Business Help guide dedicated to the messaging feature, but it doesn’t provide much information beyond telling site owners to follow the instructions in the email.

There’s no information about how you can get invited to test the new feature, or what types of businesses are being selected at this time. Although the help guide does provide a screenshot of what the new messaging feature looks like in search results, which you can see below:

U5fvRMnllmKuRqSrhBouaB6mVsOUjKianYYw

When it comes to the actual messaging itself, businesses have two options. They can either use traditional SMS messaging, or as an alternative they can use Google Allo.

 

Be weary though, if you get an invitation to try this feature it’s not advisable to sign up unless you intend on being fairly prompt with your responses.

When a customer messages a businesses they’ll be provided with the business’s average response time. If the customer perceives the average response time to be too long, it’s possible they will move on to a more responsive business.

Google warns that it will even suspend businesses from the pilot program if their average response time becomes gets to be too long. In other words, don’t accept the invitation unless you intend to actively communicate with customers on a regular basis.

However, if you sign up and then later decide having searchers message you isn’t something you’ll be able to keep up with, you can opt out of the test at any time.

It’s interesting this news about Google’s new messaging feature comes just one day after Bing announced it is rolling out a similar feature. The key differences are Bing’s new messaging option appears to be getting a much wider rollout, and businesses have the option to chose whichever messaging service they want. Whether it’s SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and so on.

Author:  Matt Southern

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in News & Politics
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