The company behind two of the most highly rated smartphones (big and small), the leading smart thermostat, a super high-end laptop, a 2-in-1 tablet, a Wi-Fi camera, streaming audio and video players, a sexy router and a smart smoke detector ... is Google?

 

It's strange but true. Google (GOOGL, Tech30) is synonymous with search and Internet apps, but it has quietly built itself a very respectable gadget business. Google has come a long way since its first Nexus smartphone launched in 2010.

 

The Nest is a top-seller. The Chromecast is a big hit. The Nexus 6P is one of the best-reviewed smartphones ever. And Chromebooks are quickly becoming the standard education laptops for K-12 students.


Google appears unsatisfied, however.


Its portfolio of gizmos is expected to expand at the Google I/O developers conference next week. Google is rumored to be unveiling two brand new gadgets at I/O: A virtual reality headset and an Amazon Echo competitor.


Google's new virtual reality gizmo is expected to be a standalone gadget, running Android (no smartphone required).


VR isn't new to Google, though its current offering is kind of a joke. "Cardboard" is its $15 VR viewer that is literally made out of cardboard, Velcro and plastic lenses. It doesn't do anything on its own: You have to stick your smartphone inside a cardboard flap.


Google's new Echo competitor is expected to be a tall Internet-connected speaker that can play music, read your emails out loud, tell you the weather and do all the tasks that virtual assistants do. Like Amazon's Echo, it will respond to voice commands ("OK Google," not "Alexa"), but it will have Google's giant search engine to pull information from.

 

Why the big gadget push?


Google thrives on data. Its mission, after all, is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."


There's a tremendous amount of information that can be learned from Google's gadgets: how you use energy, connect to the Internet, and what media you stream. By better understanding its customers' behaviors, it can offer ads and services that are tailored to them.


Plus, VR and the Internet of Things are the buzzy, potentially groundbreaking ways we might interact with the Internet in the future. Google wants to ensure it isn't left out. If Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or any other competitor beats Google to the punch, Google could lose out on a massive amount of important information about their customers.


And if Google doesn't control the gadgets that you use, there's no guarantee you'll use its services. For example, Android promotes Gmail, YouTube, Google search and Google Maps at launch (something the company is currently being investigated for by the European Union).


By making gizmos and devices that its customers want to use, Google can continue to lock people into its services and searches, collecting their data and serving up more relevant ads.

 

Source:  http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/12/technology/google-gadget/index.html

Categorized in Science & Tech

Has your business listing in Google been suspended? Not sure what happened? Columnist Joy Hawkins discusses the likely causes and how to address them.

I see threads over at the Google My Business forum all the time from panicked business owners or SEOs who have logged into Google My Business to see a big red “Suspended” banner at the top of the page. The Google My Business guidelines have a very long list of things you shouldn’t do, but some offenses are much more serious than others.

Before I get into which rule violations lead to suspensions, it’s important to know the facts around suspensions.

Google won’t tell you why you got suspended

A Google employee will rarely tell you why your account got suspended.

Business owners often want Google to spell out what rule caused their suspension, but Google isn’t about to help rule-breakers get better at doing it and avoid consequences.

There are two different types of suspensions

The first type of suspension is what I refer to as a soft suspension. This is when you log in to Google My Business and see the “suspended” label and no longer have the ability to manage your listing. However, your listing still shows up on Google and Google Maps/Map Maker.

In this case, the listing has really just become unverified. Since you broke Google’s guidelines in some way, they have removed your ability to manage the listing, but the listing’s ranking is rarely impacted. I once worked with a locksmith who ranked first in a major metro area; even after his account got suspended, his ranking didn’t decline.

To fix this type of suspension, all you need to do is create a new Google account, re-verify the listing and stop breaking the rules.

The second type of suspension is what I call a hard suspension. This is very serious and means your entire listing has been removed from Google, including all the reviews and photos. When you pull up the record in Google Map Maker, it will say “removed.”

In this case, your only solution is to get Google to reinstate it; however, the chances of that are slim because this generally only happens when Google has decided the business listing is not eligible to be on Google Maps.

Following are the top nine reasons that Google suspends local listings:

1. Your website field contains a forwarding URL

I dealt with a case last year where I couldn’t figure out why the listing got suspended. Google was able to publicly confirm that it was because the website URL the business was using in Google My Business was actually a vanity URL that forwarded to a different domain.

As per the guidelines, “Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or ‘refer’ users to landing pages.” This often results in a soft suspension.

2. You are adding extra keywords to your business name field

As per the guidelines:

Adding unnecessary information to your name (e.g., “Google Inc. – Mountain View Corporate Headquarters” instead of “Google”) by including marketing taglines, store codes, special characters, hours or closed/open status, phone numbers, website URLs, service/product information, location/address or directions, or containment information (e.g., “Chase ATM in Duane Reade”) is not permitted.

This often results in a soft suspension, since the business is still eligible to be on Google Maps but just has a different real name.

3. You are a service-area business that didn’t hide your address

According to Google’s guidelines on service-area businesses, you should only show your address if customers show up at your business address. Whenever I’ve seen this, it was a hard suspension, since the listing was not eligible to show up on Google Maps based on the Map Maker guidelines.

It’s extremely vital for a business owner of a service-area business to verify their listing, since Google My Business allows them, but Map Maker does not. This means any non-verified listing that appears on Google Maps for a service-area business can get removed, and the reviews and photos will disappear along with it.

4. You have multiple verified listings for the same business

According to the guidelines: “Do not create more than one page for each location of your business, either in a single account or multiple accounts.”

Google will often suspend both listings (the real one and the duplicate you created) but will un-verify the legit one (soft suspension) and remove the duplicate (hard suspension).

5. Your business type is sensitive or not allowed on Google Plus

This one is new to me, but recently Google suspended (soft suspension) a gun shop and claimed the business type is not allowed on Google Plus. Since every verified listing is automatically on G+, the only option is for them is to have an unverified listing on Google Maps.

According to the Google Plus guidelines, regulated goods are allowed if they set a geographic and age restriction, so the jury is still out on whether Google will reinstate it or not.

6. You created a listing at a virtual office or mailbox

Google states:

If your business rents a temporary, “virtual” office at a different address from your primary business, do not create a page for that location unless it is staffed during your normal business hours.

I often see businesses creating multiple listings at virtual offices because they want to rank in multiple towns and not just the city their office is actually located in. If Google catches them or someone reports it, the listings will get removed (hard suspension).

7. You created a listing for an online business without a physical storefront

The first rule for eligible businesses is that they must make in-person contact with customers. Since online businesses don’t do this, Google specifies that they are supposed to create a G+ brand page instead of a local page, which means they won’t rank in the 3-pack or on Google Maps.

I was once helping out a basket store in Ottawa on the Google My Business forum that creates custom gift baskets that you can order online. When I escalated it to Google to fix something, they unexpectedly removed her listing completely (hard suspension) because she ran an online store.

8. You run a service or class that operates in a building that you don’t own

For example, my church has an AA group that meets there weekly. They would not be eligible for a listing on Google Maps. According to the guidelines, “Ineligible businesses include: an ongoing service, class, or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent.”

9. You didn’t do anything wrong, but the industry you are in is cluttered with spam, so the spam filters are tighter

I commonly see this most often with locksmiths. I have run into several legitimate locksmithswho have had their listings suspended (hard suspensions, usually) because the spam filter accidentally took them down.

In this case, I would always suggest posting on the Google My Business forum so a Top Contributor can escalate the case to Google.

Conclusion

Has your listing been suspended for reasons I didn’t mention? Feel free to reach out to me or post on the forum and share your experience.

Source: http://searchengineland.com/top-9-reasons-google-suspends-local-listings-247394

 

Categorized in Search Engine

Ads now appear in Local Finder results, plus ads display differently in Google Maps.

Google has made changes this week to local search results and Google Maps that will impact retailers and service providers with physical locations.

 

Ads in Local Finder results

Local SEO specialist Brian Barwig was among those who have noticed the ads appearing in the Local Finder results — reached after clicking “More places” from a local three-pack in the main Google search results.

map

The addition of the ads (more than one ad can display) in the Local Finder results means retailers and service providers that aren’t featured in the local three-pack have a new way of getting to the top of the results if users click through to see more listings. (It also means another haven for organic listings has been infiltrated with advertising.)

The ads in the Local Finder rely on AdWords location extensions just like Google Maps, which started featuring ads that used location extensions when Google updated Maps in 2013. Unlike the results in Maps, however, advertisers featured in Local Finder results do not get a pin on the map results.

A Google spokesperson didn’t offer further details other than to say, We’re always testing out new formats for local businesses, but don’t have any additional details to share for now.”

Google Maps is no longer considered a Search Partner

Google has also announced changes to how ads display in Google Maps. Soon, Google will onlyshow ads that include location extensions in Maps; regular text ads will not be featured. The other big change is that Google Maps is no longer considered part of Search Partners. Google has alerted advertisers, and Maps has been removed from the list of Google sites included in Search Partners in the AdWords help pages.

This change in Maps’ status means:

1. Advertisers that use location extensions but had opted out of Search Partners will now be able to have their ads shown in Maps and may see an increase in impressions and clicks as their ads start showing there.

2. Advertisers that don’t use location extensions but were opted into Search Partners could see a drop in impressions and clicks with ads no longer showing in Maps.

The move to include Maps as part of Google search inventory will mean more advertisers will be included in Maps ad auctions. The emphasis on location extensions is in line with Google’s increasing reliance on structured data and feeds, as retailers participating in Google Shopping can attest.

 Source: http://searchengineland.com/google-ads-local-finder-results-maps-not-search-partner-247779

Categorized in Search Engine

Wikipedia has begun naming links to its online encyclopaedia that have been removed from EU search results under "right to be forgotten" rules.

The deleted links include pages about European criminals, a musician and an amateur chess player.

The Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the site, said the internet was being "riddled with memory holes" as a result of such takedowns.

The action follow a European Court of Justice ruling in May.

The judges involved decided that citizens had the right to have links to "irrelevant" and outdated data erased from search engine results.

Wikipedia is publishing copies of the removal notices it has received
A fortnight ago Google briefed data regulators that it had subsequently received more than 91,000 requests covering a total of 328,000 links that applicants wanted taken down, and had approved more than 50% of those processed.

The search engine is critical of the court's decision, but has set up a page that people can use to request removals.

At a press conference in London, the Wikimedia Foundation revealed that Google had notified it of five requests involving Wikipedia that it had acted on, affecting more than 50 links to its site.

A dedicated page on Wikipedia states that they include:

  • An English-language page about Gerry Hutch, a Dublin-born businessman nicknamed "the Monk" who was jailed in the 1980s
  • A photograph of a musician, Tom Carstairs, holding a guitar
  • An Italian-language page about Banda della Comasina, the name the media gave to a group of criminals active in the 1970s
  • An Italian-language page about Renato Vallanzasca, an Italian who was jailed after involvement in kidnappings and bank robberies
  • Dozens of Dutch-language pages that mention Guido den Broeder, a chess player from the Netherland

"We only know about these removals because the involved search engine company chose to send notices to the Wikimedia Foundation," the organisation's lawyers wrote in a blog.

"Search engines have no legal obligation to send such notices. Indeed, their ability to continue to do so may be in jeopardy.

"Since search engines are not required to provide affected sites with notice, other search engines may have removed additional links from their results without our knowledge. This lack of transparent policies and procedures is only one of the many flaws in the European decision."

EU regulators have expressed concern that Google is notifying website administrators of the links it removes, suggesting this undermines the point of the law.

While the links do not appear on Google.co.uk and other versions of the search engine created for specific EU countries, they do still appear on Google.com, which can be accessed in Europe.

 

Data requests

The Wikimedia Foundation has also published its first transparency report - following a similar practice by Google, Twitter and others.

It reveals that the organisation received 304 general content removal requests between July 2012 and June 2014, none of which it complied with.

They included a takedown request from a photographer who had claimed he owned the copyright to a series of selfies taken by a monkey.

Gloucestershire-based David Slater had rotated and cropped the images featured on the site.

But the foundation rejected his claim on the grounds that the monkey had taken the photo, and was therefore the real copyright owner.

The foundation also revealed it had received 56 requests for data about its users.

It said it had complied with eight of these requests, affecting 11 accounts. All of these resulted in information being passed to US-based bodies.

"If we must produce information due to a legally valid request, we will notify the affected user before we disclose, if we are legally permitted and have the means to do so," the foundation said.

"In certain cases, we may help find assistance for users to fight an invalid request.

Source: http://www.bbc.com

Categorized in Online Research

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