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Pipl has raised $19 million from IGP. Founder and CEO Matthew Hertz tells "Globes" about the search engine's ability to find people.

On November 15, 2016, the Detroit Police Department was notified that Savannah Rayford, an 11 month-old baby suffering from life-threatening anemia, had been kidnapped. The kidnapper was known: Marquita Dupree, her biological mother, who was deprived of custody because of her mental state. Dupree got on line to see the doctor to whom Savannah's adoptive mother had taken him, and took advantage of the car stopping on the return journey to grab the infant and escape.

The Detroit police were in a race against the clock. The main clue for finding the mother quickly was the mobile telephone number that she used from time to time, but it was not registered in her name. The police investigators fed the number into Thomson Reuters Clear online investigative computer program, and located several addresses linked to the owner of the telephone number. The mother and baby were found within a few hours at one of these addresses.

The event in Detroit is one of many that has made Clear very popular with the FBI, many US police units, the tax authorities, and other government agencies. Feeding an item of information into the program, such as a telephone number, accesses a full portrait of the person linked to it: residential addresses, e-mail addresses, businesses, relatives, social network profiles, and criminal records. In 2015, the program helped bring about the arrest of a former member of the armed forces who threatened to shoot up a school in San Bernardino, California, and a wanted sex offender in Vermont was caught by using the program.

US law enforcement authorities are probably unaware that a large proportion of Clear's database was created in the Petah Tikva industrial zone at a company named Pipl. Company founder and CEO Matthew Hertz have taken great care to stay under the radar since founding the company in 2005. "I like anonymity," he explains in his first Israeli media interview.

"I agreed to this interview only because I realized that the company is paying a price for its anonymity. Most of our customers in Israel didn't know that we were here before they started working with us. Now that we are trying to recruit employees here in competition with companies like Google and Facebook, we need people to know who and what we are; otherwise, it will be hard for us."

"Google doesn't know how to find people"

Anyone who has tried using Google to search for particulars about another person through a telephone number or e-mail address knows how useless the effort is. Hertz spotted this weak point already in 2005 and decided to build a search engine that would do more thorough work. He was only 27 years old at the time but was already an experienced entrepreneur who had sold two companies. "This was a difficult development project. I took my time at first. After two exits, I thought that I would work part-time - only 30% - but it quickly became interesting, and since then, I have been working time and a half."

Pipl's main asset is a focused identities search engine that has generated profiles to date for over three billion people with some online presence. In addition to the information gathered from open online sources, the profiles are enriched with billions of information items from offline sources, such as telephone directories and lists of professionals. "We thought that we would make a depth engine for everything that Google doesn't find, but we very quickly realized that the product was excellent mainly in finding people. We were far beyond the technology that people expected at the time, and we found things that no other engine found. Google has made no progress in this area, called deep web, or in searching for people, for the past 10 years. You will never be able to get such profiles on Google."

The beginning was modest. "We started as three people, and simply sat down and concentrated on development. Once we came out with the product, we very rapidly reached millions of users. We didn't spend a shekel on marketing, but there was exposure through TechCrunch, and things spread by word of mouth. In late 2007, less than a year after we came out with the product, we were breaking even financially. It turned out it not only worked, but that a lot of people wanted it, and as soon as you have five million users, advertisements generate a significant amount of money," Hertz recalls.

Over the years, the company continued to attract relatively little public interest. Pipl yesterday announced that it had completed a $19 million financing round from the Israel Growth Partners (IGP) fund, which invests in companies with at least $10 million in revenue. Following this investment, IGP general partner Moshe Lichtman and partner Assaf Harel will join Pipl's board of directors. This is the first substantial investment in Pipl, which Hertz has financing almost by himself to date, with a little help from family members. Hertz plans to leverage the money raised in order to increase the number of the company's customers from 1,000 to 5,000 this year, and to diversify its products. As of now, Pipl has 75 employees in its development center in Petah Tikva and 30 more in Idaho, where Piple is incorporated for tax reasons. Hertz, who still interviews every new employee, plans to reach 300 employees within a year and close to 1,000 within two or three years.

"How we discovered jewelry fraud"

Like other companies in its sector, Piple's model raises quite a few troublesome questions about privacy. Not everyone wants strangers to know where they live, their telephone number, and their children's names, even if this information is circulating on the web. The combination of such databases with government agencies, despite its contribution to crime prevention, is likely to make people shudder. Many people are unaware of the existence of Pipl and services of this type, and in the post-Edward Snowden era, with Facebook and Google having to deal with the question of their effect on privacy, Pipl's product may be effective, but it is also causing alarm.

Hertz, of course, tries to soothe the criticism. He says that he has refrained from selling advanced functions of systems to dictatorial regimes, carefully selects his company's business customers in order to prevent misuse, and adds that the company refrains from displaying especially sensitive information, such as criminal records that do not appear on the Internet. "We're very aware of the fact that despite all the open sources, in the end, this is information about people, and there has to control over it. If someone wants to remove information, we'll do it, for example, to disconnect a Facebook account from his profile. We explain, however, that such removal has a price. If a risk management company or a company that wants to prevent financial fraud uses our services, certain deals you make are liable not to pass," he warns.

"Globes": How many people ask you to remove information?

Hertz: "Maybe 10 a day."

Up until 2014, the company generated most of its revenue from the version of its search engine open for public use, which includes only basic profiles. Since then, however, it has accumulated nearly 1,000 business customers that generate over 95% of its revenue. The customers use Pipl's engine to verify identities, prevent eCommerce fraud, enrich information in customer relations management (CRM) systems, conduct inquiries, provide financial services, and recruit personnel. In addition to the US government, many other governments use the system, among other things through the company's strategic partnership with Verint Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: VRNT) (when we asked about the Israeli government, Hertz refused to answer). In the business sphere, nearly 200 online websites use the product, in addition to companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Walmart, eBay, Twitter, BBC, and Oracle.

"In the past, when you ordered a delivery from overseas, and the address you gave was different from the credit card company's address, the delivery was stopped in most cases. They had to call you or the credit card company in order to add the address - a complicated process that caused a huge loss. This almost never happens now, for a simple reason: as soon as you type in your telephone number, they know who you are, and realize that the address is your work address or your mother's address. All of this takes place behind the scenes. An enormous number of transactions went through us on Black Friday," Hertz says.

The use of the system to prevent fraud is not confined to verifying the purchaser's identify on the web. Hertz mentions cases in which swindlers saying that their credit cards were used without their permission and demanding a refund were caught by cross-referencing information. In one case, customers claimed that the jewelry that they bought had not reached them, but the program found a photograph of the jewelry on one of the social networks. In another case, a person was photographed in the Caribbean Islands who claimed that someone else had used his card to order a plane ticket.

Another use of Pipl is in customer management systems. Companies like American Airlines and Oracle use the system in order to discover whether a new customer is a young student or an employee of a large company, to whom an experienced salesperson should be assigned. Among other things, Twitter uses Pipl's technology to obtain information about users behaving like trolls or threatening their friends.

"I studied in yeshiva, and then I cooked shrimp"

Throughout the conversation, Hertz tries to avoid talking about himself but gives in after several attempts. "I come from a haredi family in Bnei Brak. We are nine brothers and sisters. I'm the middle one. Several of my siblings are no longer religiously observant. My older brother is a brain surgeon. My younger brother worked at Pipl when he was a student at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and built the previous version of the search engine. I'm not concealing this. Everyone around me knows where I came from, but it is very easy to make this the main story, and I don't want that."

Hertz left the yeshiva (Jewish religious seminary) and religion when he was 17. He moved to Tel Aviv and studied for his matriculation exams. "I learned nothing in the haredi education system, but my mother was an enlightened type - one of the few haredi women with a degree at that time, and I learned a lot by myself from books with her help. I was exposed to geography and mathematics. I became a child who asked questions. She taught me to think. My first job after I left yeshiva was an assistant chef in a French restaurant because I knew how to cook. I spent time in the kitchen with my mother since I was nine years old."

Was the restaurant kosher?

"It wasn't. They had shrimps and steak in cream sauce. It was the Tamara restaurant."

That is a big change.

"It was something that I had been thinking about for a long time. At age 12, I already had questions and doubts. And you know, there is no answer. You can put it off again and again, but in the end, a point will come when you can stand on your own two feet. While I was still at the yeshiva, the IDF decided not to draft me. They considered me to have only four years of schooling, and considered putting me in a unit for dropouts."

Just before his 19th birthday, Hertz decided to study computer science at the Open University and to work as a salesperson for human resources management software. At one of his work meetings at Flying Cargo, when then represented FedEx in Israel, he thought about founding an e-commerce website for deliveries in Israel, on which the delivery companies would compete for offering the best price. He managed to get to the global IT manager at UPS and raised a little money from the companies, but gave it back after he discovered that there was not enough activity to justify the website's existence. "Keep in mind that this was in 1999. Internet then was like bitcoin is now - you got money right away. When I look at this now, it really wasn't logical to give a 20-year-old entrepreneur money on his first attempt."

In that same period, during which he spent a large part of his time in the US, he changed his name from Moti to Matthew. While going back and forth between Israel and the US, he completed his degree in computer science at Tel Aviv University. He founded his first mature startup, Ombek when he was 23. The company developed a service for transmitting SMS messages between different networks at a time when it was not yet taken for granted. "The exit was a merger into WSC, and it later underwent more mergers and acquisitions. We succeeded in reaching three mobile providers in the US three or four months after launching the product. When I left, it was installed in Sprint, Nextel, and other companies."

He founded his second startup, Mail-Info, together with former ICQ CEO Ariel Yarnitsky. The company developed a product capable of determining whether an e-mail sent was received or rejected as spam. The company was acquired by Speedbit in 2005.

You said that you couldn't be an employee. Why is that?

"Being an entrepreneur is not being a soloist. I'm still in a company, and I can't things by myself. But if things have to move, then they move. If you have a dream and you want something to happen, you don't have to persuade a great many people who may or may not agree. You simply go to the end with your vision and make things happen, even if they laugh at you and tell you to stop smoking whatever you're smoking."

 Source: This article was published globes.co.il By Nati Yefet

Published in Search Engine

Chinese search engine Baidu has created a blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) open platform.

Baidu is one of the largest Internet companies and one of the premier artificial intelligence (AI) users in the world. In December 2016, Baidu ranked 4th overall in the Alexa Internet rankings. The company was an early adopter of bitcoin. In 2013, it announced that it would be accepting bitcoin payments for its Jiasule security service. In October 2017, Baidu joined the Hyperledger Project, a Linux Foundation-led project of open source blockchains and related tools started in December 2015.

The new blockchain platform, called Baidu Trust, is a self-developed project based on blockchain technology. It uses the company’s technology to conduct and trace transactions through use cases ranging from cryptocurrency and billing to insurance management financial auditing. The company touts its “openness” and “customizability.” Registrations are open to the public and blockchain nodes are available to customize and deploy.

The BaaS platform has been operational since July 21, 2017. Baidu said that the technology has already been successfully applied for asset securitization and asset exchange. The company claimed that it has contributed to the “first asset-backed securities exchange products using blockchain technology in China.”

The BaaS platform launch is viewed as a move to compete with Chinese Internet conglomerate Tencent, which released its own suite of blockchain services in November 2017. Called “TrustSQL,” it offers digital asset management, authentication, and “shared economies,” among other services.

Source: This article was published blocktribune.com By Maricel Custodio

Published in Search Engine

The photo suggests website selling IT products "on consignment" for international joint ventures.

A North Korean agency has launched an updated search engine for the country’s intranet, equipped with an online store selling specialized goods for scientists and technicians, state-run outlet DPRK Today reported on Tuesday.

The Central Information Agency for Science and Technology reportedly developed the “information retrieval and management system ‘Kwangmyong’” — which can be translated into light or bright future — to meet the demands of the country’s growing knowledge economy.

“Kwangmyong is greatly favorably received from scientists and technicians due to the abundance of data, speed of search, and accuracy rate of searching literature,” the DPRK Today reported.

“The project of providing technical information for science research institutes, factories, and industrial establishments through Kwangmyong substantially.”

The website features “hundreds of millions” of scientific and technological articles translated from various languages, according to the report, in fields including basic and applied science, biotechnology, and medical science.

A photo of the homepage provided by DPRK Today suggested that membership is required to use the website

The navigation bars are comprised of eight sections: homepage, new technology news, periodicals, “distribution of science and technology,” a database, the online shop, and the Kwangmyong card.

A photo obtained by NK News in September 2017, which appears to be taken before the website redesign, suggested that visitors can purchase IT products on the website.

The photo particularly suggested that website could be selling IT products on behalf of international joint ventures and other companies.

“We inform about the sale of the information technology by an agent and on consignment,” one notice, published on July 13, 2016, read.

Joint ventures — which included the Korea Kwangmyong Joint Venture (JV) Company and the Achim Computer JV Company  — were listed in the section “introducing new products.”

Products from an “agent branch” of the company from Hong Kong were also on sale at the website, thought the name of the corporation was unclear.

New IT goods developed by the Central Information Agency for Science and Technology are also promoted in the same section, with another part of the website suggesting that customers could purchase products online using the “Kwangmyong” card.

Photo of Kwangmyong website before redesign

Among the IT products visible in the photo is software including a “handbook of healthy food, picture encyclopedia on science and technology,” a Chinese – Korean language translation program, and various sports games.

It also provides “new tech news” including updates on “techniques for cultivating papaya tree… in a greenhouse.”

Information on scientific techniques such as “development trends in recent machine manufacturing technology” and “techniques for breeding mudfish” is also offered to users.

The DPRK Today reported on Tuesday that a scientific institute was able to complete the research on the protection and proliferation of forest resources “within a short period of time without using a large amount of reagent and expensive equipment” thanks to the resources.

The photo was taken at an e-library in Chongjin city last year, with a North Korean who used the library “at least twice a week” telling the photographer that it features “books from all over the world.”

The source reported being unable to find any publications by Indian authors, however. 

The two-story library —  used by both students and military personnel —  is open to the public during on weekdays between 10 am and 5 pm.

“I was told that it is connected via the intranet to Pyongyang, so what is available there is also available in this library,” the photographer, who asked to remain anonymous, told NK News.

“Long distance learning opportunities with Pyongyang is also available,” they added. “In one classroom, students attended a CAD / Photoshop course.”

They also said there are “approximately 300 computers in the library” using the Windows platform, adding some computers are manufactured by the U.S. corporation Dell and others were produced by the AOC  headquartered in Taipei.

North Korea’s e-commerce industry has visibly grown in the past year. December saw the Arirang-Mearireport on the online store “Abnal” (앞날), which can reportedly deliver goods within 24 hours.

The Manmulsang website also provides the platform for the North’s businesspersons so that they can promote their products online to customers.

Source: This article was published nknews.org By Dagyum Ji

Published in Search Engine

Searching video surveillance streaming for relevant information is a time-consuming mission that does not always convey accurate results. A new cloud-based deep-learning search engine augments surveillance systems with natural language search capabilities across recorded video footage.

The Ella search engine, developed by IC Realtime, uses both algorithmic and deep learning tools to give any surveillance or security camera the ability to recognize objects, colors, people, vehicles, animals and more.

It was designed with the technology backbone of Camio, a startup founded by ex-Googlers who realized there could be a way to apply search to streaming video feeds. Ella makes every nanosecond of video searchable instantly, letting users type in queries like “white truck” to find every relevant clip instead of searching through hours of footage. Ella quite simply creates a Google for video.

Traditional systems only allow the user to search for events by date, time, and camera type and to return very broad results that still require sifting, according to businesswire.com. The average surveillance camera sees less than two minutes of interesting video each day despite streaming and recording 24/7.

Ella instead does the work for users to highlight the interesting events and to enable fast searches of their surveillance and security footage. From the moment Ella comes online and is connected, it begins learning and tagging objects the cameras see.

The deep learning engine lives in the cloud and comes preloaded with recognition of thousands of objects like makes and models of cars; within the first minute of being online, users can start to search their footage.

Hardware agnostic, the technology also solves the issue of limited bandwidth for any HD streaming camera or NVR. Rather than push every second of recorded video to the cloud, Ella features interest-based video compression. Based on machine learning algorithms that recognize patterns of motion in each camera scene to recognize what is interesting within each scene, Ella will only record in HD when it recognizes something important. The uninteresting events are still stored in a low-resolution time-lapse format, so they provide 24×7 continuous security coverage without using up valuable bandwidth.

Ella works with both existing DIY and professionally installed surveillance and security cameras and is comprised of an on-premise video gateway device and the cloud platform subscription.

Source: This article was published i-hls.com

Published in Search Engine

Google has published a set of guidelines for its quality raters to follow when evaluating voice search results. A similar set of guidelines exist for rating the results in Google Search, this marks the first time guidelines have been put in place for rating results returned by Google Assistant.

More specifically, this document deals with results returned by an eyes-free voice assistant such as Google Home. It does not refer to results delivered on a device with a screen, such as the Google Assistant smartphone app.

Therefore, it’s the quality of spoken results that are being reviewed. Results are evaluated with ‘needs met’ and ‘speech quality’ ratings.

Needs Met Rating

Spoken search results are evaluated based on the following ‘needs met’ scale:

  • Fully meets
  • Highly meets
  • Moderately meets
  • Slightly meets
  • Fails to meet

If a spoken response fully meets a user’s query it will receive a rating of “fully meets.” Ratings go down based on how much additional information would be needed to fully satisfy the query.

For example, if a user asks for the weekend forecast and the device responds with the current temperature, then needs would be moderate to slightly meet. The user received partial information but would have to conduct another search to get all of the information they’re looking for.

Of course, if the query is not answered at all, then it would receive a failing grade.

Speech Quality Rating

In addition to rating the accuracy of the response, answers are also rated based on the following elements of speech quality:

  • Length: Was the length of the response appropriate considering its complexity? Should it have been more concise or more detailed?
  • Formulation: Was the response grammatically correct? Did it sound like something a native speaking human would say?
  • Elocution: Was the pronunciation, intonation, and speed of the spoken response appropriate?

All three of these elements are rated individually for each response, which produces an overall rating for speech quality.

Here is an example of what a quality rater might see when evaluating a spoken result. In this screenshot, the quality rater is evaluating two responses side-by-side.

 

Published in How to

Sales of Google Home smart speakers are considerably smaller.

Google said in a blog post this morning, “The [Google] Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices.” When Google says “devices” it’s including Android smartphones, tablets, TVs, headphones . . . and Google Home smart speakers.

What we don’t get from the post is how many Google Home, Mini and Max speakers were sold in 2017. Four hundred million is a massive number but it’s going to be mostly Android smartphones. If Google were really psyched about the Home figures it would have called them out specifically.

We can make a crude estimate of how many Google Home devices there are in US households. Based on a review of data from NPR, Strategy Analytics, and Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, it appears that Google Home has roughly a 25 percent share of the US smart speaker market. Specifically, Strategy Analytics estimated that Google’s share of Q4 smart speaker sales was 24 percent.

Walker Sands (“Future of Retail 2017“), in a survey of 1,622 US adults, found that about 23 percent of respondents owned a smart speaker. If the results can be generalized to the broader population, then something like 56 million assistant-powered speakers are in US homes today. The survey was conducted in late Q3 or early Q4, before Christmas.

The 56 million number, therefore, feels too large. But let’s assume, post-holiday, that there are now roughly 45 to 50 million smart speaker units in US households (Alexa + Google Assistant). Using the market share estimates above, it would potentially mean there are about 12.5 million Google Home devices in US households. That may be too low, but Google Home sales in the US probably don’t exceed 20 million to date.

Google was forced to price match with Amazon, which had aggressively discounted the Echo Dot, Echo and Echo Show for the holidays. Accordingly, Google Home was selling for $79 (vs. $129) for much of the pre-holiday shopping season to match the Echo’s price of $79.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Greg Sterling

Published in Search Engine

OK, Google, why should I be optimizing my website for voice search?

Whether your potential customers are asking Google, Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, trust me—you want to be the answer. Google says that 20% of all searches are voice searches and I’m certain that number will only continue to skyrocket in the coming years.

Are you ready to claim a spot in that 20%? Are you even convinced that you should be doing whatever you can to benefit from that 20% statistic? Or perhaps—even if you’re already convinced of the importance of getting in the voice search game—you don’t even know where to start.

Let’s talk it all out. Let’s talk the what, why, and how of voice search SEO.

What Is Voice Search & How Does It Work?

As far as SEO jargon goes, voice search is probably the easiest to understand. Voice search is simply any search a person performs on the internet using a voice command instead of typing or text.

But you probably knew that. Heck, you probably already do it yourself. Maybe you’ve even performed a voice search today. (“Hey Siri, is it 5:00 yet?”)

Even if you do know what voice search is, I’m guessing that—like most people—you’re not entirely clear on how it works.

I don’t want to get too far into it, but I do think a basic breakdown of how things work will be handy before we dive in. Put simply:

  • A user initiates a voice search by pressing a button or addressing the device’s voice assistant with a pre-programmed voice command (“Hey Siri”, “OK Google”, “Alexa,”, “Hey Cortana”)
  • The user asks a question or gives a command, such as, “When Does SEO The Movie Come Out?” or “SEO Movie Release Date”
  • Depending on what kind of technology the voice search system uses, it’ll pick up on little packets of sound—whether those packets are individual syllables, words, or entire phrases and sentences
  • The voice search system will then translate these units of sound into text (using at least 1 of 4 methods) and then initiate that search just like it would a text search.

Whew! The good news is that we don’t need to worry about that too much. But isn’t it cool to know what goes on behind the scenes?

How Voice Search Affects SEO

Voice search is changing the way we use search engines in huge ways.

In short, voice search makes search inquiries way more conversational in nature. Which makes sense, since so many of the digital assistants who aid in voice searches make it feel like we’re talking to actual people sometimes.

This affects our voice search strategy in a number of ways, but we’ll get more into that below.

By 2020, voice search will account for 50% of searches

But that’s not all—voice searches also tend to change the nature of keywords themselves, including question words like what, how, when, and why.

Oh, and one last thing we should keep in mind: most digital assistants answer voice searches solely with—well, their voices. With the spoken word. Which means—for those of us in industries of a more visual nature like art or fashion—we’ll need to get clever about how we’re creating and describing our content.

Let’s get into it!

Use These Tips For Your Voice Search SEO Strategy

So how do we take advantage of the search landscape that’s resulted from an explosion in voice search? With these 5 tips, of course.

1. Use Microdata

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By using microdata, your site can feature rich snippets/cards like those above and can also help Google better understand what your site/content is all about!

Adding microdata like location, phone number, pricing, menus, and operating hours for search engines was crucial before, but it’s even more crucial now with voice search and SEO. Microdata helps search engines understand what is on any given page which is key for Voice Search.

How do digital assistants find this information from your site? By you having an organized and easily readable sitemap. Include all this information in pages labeled on your sitemap to make sure search engines know exactly where to find your microdata. You can also test your microdata with Google’s handy Structured Data Testing Tool.

Not sure what microdata you should cover or how to implement? Check out this guide from Search Engine Land.

2. Talk Like Your Customers Would

It’s not just about keywords anymore (not that it has been for some time anyway). It’s not just about robots and algorithms anymore, it’s about people and how people actually talk (Natural Language). That’s what Neil Patel recommends when it comes to voice search: “Think like a human.”

People aren’t searching for “Amazon Echo” anymore.

They’re searching for “where to buy Amazon Echo near me”, and “best prices on Amazon Echo”, and “Google Home versus Amazon Echo.”

The trend is shifting from short and stiff keywords to more human, more specific, and longer-tail search terms.

In short: phrases and longtail keywords are the way to go. Keep this in mind when you’re creating content and using keywords on your site pages. We’ll have to be mindful now more than ever to be genuine and specific in our keyword use.

3. Ask The Questions Your Target Customers Would

Again, it’s all about keeping language natural here.

It’s not enough to just figure out what your target keywords are and match them up with their longer-tail counterparts. You’ve got to make sure you know what kinds of questions those keywords will be hidden in, too.

What questions will your customers need to ask to find you? That’s what we need to figure out, and those are the keywords and phrases (or actually, questions) we need to include in our site content. (FAQ pages are great for this.)

How do you figure out what questions your target customers are asking? I recommend by starting with a tool called Answer the Public, in which you can type in short and simple keywords and get back data on how those terms fit in with search queries around the web.

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Let’s say you offer content marketing services. How do you find out what potential customers are asking about content marketing? Answer The Public has a few ideas.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

clip_image010Image SourceWay to go Wikipedia! Isn’t it nice to know that Google really just wants to help you succeed, and at no cost to you? Their free tool will grade your site and even point you in the right direction for how to go about improving your scores.

I mean, you should be doing this already. But the rise of voice search makes having responsive web design more important than ever.

That’s because more voice searches are initiated from mobile devices than from desktop computers, and that’s probably because—well, what do you usually carry with you wherever you go? Right—probably not your laptop.

Your first step is to find out just how mobile friendly your website already is, and you can use Google’s free tool Test My Site for that.

The report you get back will help you be able to hone in on exactly what you need to do to improve your mobile friendliness. If you’re really starting from scratch on the mobile responsiveness front, I recommend tackling the basics first.

5. Dive Deeper With Semantics

Semantics may sound like this big, abstract thing, but all it is is the deeper “why” behind what searchers are saying.

For example, you may just be asking Alexa how much Nike Flyknits cost, but Alexa won’t just answer your question with a price tag and leave it at that. She’ll also probably be thinking about your question and learning things about you, namely that you’re in the market for shoes and you’re willing to pay a premium price for them.

Another way search engines use semantics is by making inferences when you ask questions, which is demonstrated fantastically by Wordstream’s in-depth study on semantics in voice search.

To take an example from their study, using semantics in search is like asking, “What planet is Gamora from?” without first having to let your digital assistant know that you're referring to Zoe Saldana’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy.

What does Google’s focus on semantics mean for you? It means that you should not only be focusing on the literal content of search queries but also on the intent behind the search inquiries.

Why are people searching what they’re searching? It’s not enough to know what questions they’re asking—we also have to ask ourselves why they’re asking the questions they’re asking.

If you can dive deeper into this why and weave it into the fabric of your website, you won’t have to worry as much about keyword use. Because—if you can offer valuable content that’ll answer your readers’ questions with authority and a genuinely helpful attitude—Google will recognize that your site is the answer on the most organic level.

Hey Siri, We’re Ready To Win At Voice Search Now

Do you have enough to add to your SEO to-do list now?

I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me—the dividends you’ll get back over time are totally worth the upfront work. If you can, try adding just one of these 5 tips to your to-do list each week and tackle them one by one, starting with the least advanced and abstract (using microdata) and ending on the more complicated stuff (responsive design and semantics). And then cheers yourself with a drink.

On that note, let me wrap us with one final question—a question not for Siri or Alexa, Google or Cortana, but for you: Hey Reader, how will you make voice search SEO a priority this week?

Source: This article was published searchenginepeople.com By Sam Algate

Published in Search Engine

Google has quality raters specifically for voice search-related search results. These raters look for information satisfaction, length, formulation, and elocution.

Google has published on the Google Research blog the search quality raters guidelines, contractors guidelines to evaluate Google’s search results, specifically for the Google Assistant and voice search results. It is similar to the web search quality guidelines, but it changes in that there is no screen to look at when evaluating such results; instead you are evaluating the voice responses from the Google Assistant.

Google explained, “The Google Assistant needs its own guidelines in place, as many of its interactions utilize what is called ‘eyes-free technology,’ when there is no screen as part of the experience.” Google has designed machine learning and algorithms to try to make the voice responses and “answers grammatical, fluent and concise.” Google said that they ask raters to make sure that answers are satisfactory across several dimensions:

  • Information Satisfaction: the content of the answer should meet the information needs of the user.
  • Length: when a displayed answer is too long, users can quickly scan it visually and locate the relevant information. For voice answers, that is not possible. It is much more important to ensure that we provide a helpful amount of information, hopefully not too much or too little. Some of our previous work is currently in use for identifying the most relevant fragments of answers.
  • Formulation: it is much easier to understand a badly formulated written answer than an ungrammatical spoken answer, so more care has to be placed in ensuring grammatical correctness.
  • Elocution: spoken answers must have proper pronunciation and prosody. Improvements in text-to-speech generation, such as WaveNet and Tacotron 2, are quickly reducing the gap with human performance.

The short, only seven-page, guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF over here.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Published in Search Engine

As conversations continue circulating around the state of online privacy and protecting personal information on the internet, the growing need for more secure web platforms is an area of concern for consumers and creators alike in the digital age.

Over the past year, an increasing number of headlines have called out global media and tech giants like Facebook and Google for using biased algorithms, promoting false news stories and being manipulated by corporate interests –there is greater skepticism surrounding these longtime sources, with individuals becoming eager to assert more control over their online experiences.

Founded in 2012, Million Short is an innovative search engine that takes a new and focused approach to organizing, accessing, and discovering data on the internet. The Toronto-based company aims to provide greater choices to users seeking information by magnifying the public’s access to data online.

Cutting through the clutter of popular searches, most-viewed sites, and sponsored suggestions, Million Short allows users to remove up to the top one million sites from the search set. Removing ‘an entire slice of the web’, the company hopes to balance the playing field for sites that may be new, suffer from poor SEO, have competitive keywords, or operate a small marketing budget.

Million Short Founder and CEO Sanjay Arora share the vision behind his company, overthrowing Google’s search engine monopoly, and his insight into the future of finding information online.

What is the void or opportunity that inspired the idea behind Million Short?

Sanjay Arora: Search is too important for a function to be controlled by a handful of companies, and I don’t believe the science and art behind searching has been perfected. There is still a lot of room for innovation in the search space – new algorithms, user interfaces, new sorting filters and much more. A tremendous opportunity exists. Why do we allow a very small number of companies to control the knowledge we can gain from the Internet? I believe the world needs options for search engines. I’m truly passionate about our mission, which is to guide people on the road less traveled by providing alternate methods of organizing, accessing and discovering the vast web of information that is the Internet.

What were some of the challenges you faced in the early stages of your business?

Sanjay Arora: The single biggest challenge with Million Short is challenging the current thinking that search is a solved problem. People generally don’t think twice about their search provider and the algorithms behind the search results they get served. However, I do, and on a daily basis. I think too much about the lack of options with a search. Most people will tell you that they are happy with Google’s search results but when you start talking to them about potential features that Google is missing, their minds open up. We receive feedback every day from our users who tell us how Million Short has allowed them to discover content on the Internet that they were unable to find using traditional search engines.

Walk through how the search engine works and in what ways it benefits users?

Sanjay Arora: With our mission in mind, we see Million Short as a deep web search. Users perform a search just as they do with traditional search engines, however, Million Short users control the nature of the search results. For example, Million Short users have the ability to remove popular websites from the search results (i.e. top million), which in turn allows them to discover authentic content which would otherwise be buried in hundreds of pages of search results.

Describe your business model and what are the core components that drive what you do?

Sanjay Arora: Determining a business model has been one of our biggest challenges. We are still ironing out the details of our business model. The obvious route would be generating revenue through advertisements. We’re okay with that, but we have other ideas for generating revenue. For example, charging B2B users for using Million Short, to licensing our API to provide Enterprise search solutions to businesses.

What have been some of the biggest blind spots in the space and how does your company solve for them?

Sanjay Arora: I think the biggest blind spots in the search space is that the lack of choice. Not only is that lack of choice reflected in the number of search engines, but the search engine results themselves. Google commands the lion share of most search markets globally, and that in and of itself is the biggest blind spot. We hope that the features and innovation we are working on will get us that much closer to the solution.

How do you measure the success and impact of your company?

Sanjay Arora: Our team of developers is extremely passionate about providing the world with an alternate search engine. We consider ourselves successful and having made an impact when we receive feedback from our users as to how Million Short was able to assist them. This also comes in the form of feature improvement suggestions (happens pretty much every day!). Ultimately, increasing the number of users and of course, generating revenue and a profit would make us successful in a more traditional manner.

How has your past experience as an entrepreneur shaped your approach to building and running Million Short?

Sanjay Arora: I have been an entrepreneur for over 20 years. Both my B2B SaaS company and Million Short are based on the underlying premise of providing an alternate search mechanism and giving users control of their search results. With my first company, I’ve been lucky enough to see the benefits of working on ideas that I am truly passionate about. I’ve learned that determination, patience and surrounding myself with talented people combined with a little bit of luck leads to good things.

What are your keys to being both scalable and sustainable within such a traditional yet evolving industry?

Sanjay Arora: Thanks to the cloud, scalability with a search engine is the easy part. Sustainability though is much harder. To me the key to sustainability is agility, ie. how quickly can we develop & launch new and useful features, how well can we innovate.

How do you see your company evolving in the next 3-5 years and what impact do you hope to make in the industry?

Sanjay Arora: I see Million Short evolving in terms of features. A version of Million Short for kids is in the works – having 3 young kids of my own and seeing how they use search in the classroom, and the recent issues with YouTube have made me even more determined to launch this version. Hopefully, if we execute our development and marketing right, Million Short will become a household name in 5 years.

Source: This article was published forbes.com By Julian Mitchell

Published in Search Engine

Google may be the household name when it comes to search, but Microsoft is hoping it can make its Bing search engine the smartest. The Redmond, Wash.-based company has announced a handful of new features that it says are powered by artificial intelligence. The updates will start rolling out on Wednesday and will continue over the coming week.

The biggest changes enable Bing to be smarter about the information it chooses to display above search results in response to a query. The search engine will now be able to pull information from multiple sources, rather than just one. If a user has a question or request with opposing answers or viewpoints, Bing will be able to aggregate both perspectives and display them at the top of the page.

One example of where users might see this is when typing in a query like “side effects of coffee.” Once Microsoft’s updates start to kick in, Bing will be able to pull bits of information from more than one source and show them alongside one another above results, so that users can see both angles without having to dig through a list of links. Google currently answers this type of question with a featured snippet, which is an informational block that sums up an answer with information extracted from a web page.

Similarly, if a search query involves some type of comparison, such as “yoga vs. pilates,” Bing will surface an information box that breaks down the differences between the two terms, rather than grabbing a snippet from an article. Microsoft’s Project Brainwave initiative, a platform for boosting real-time AI performance, provides the foundation for these additions to Bing, the company says.

Microsoft is adding other features to Bing as well. One can identify individual objects within photos that appear in image search results so that users can shop for those items. Another enables Bing to offer clarifying questions based on a search query in order to help filter results more precisely.

The news comes as Google continues to frequently refine its own search engine. Just this month alone, Google updated its featured snippets section to include more images as well as launched a new program that allows celebrities to answer commonly asked questions in a search. These features may be different than the functions Microsoft is pursuing with Bing, but the two companies are undoubtedly working toward the same goal of helping provide relevant information quickly without forcing users to trove through reams of data available on the web.

Bing also only accounts for a sliver of search engine traffic: Google held 81% of search engine market share across desktop and mobile devices between Dec. 2016 and Nov. 2017, according to analytics firm NetMarketShare. Baidu placed in second with 7.82% of the market, while Bing landed in third with 5.72%. Google also has a major advantage when it comes to mobile, considering its search bar sits on the home screen of most popular Android phones, and Android is estimated to account for roughly 85% of worldwide smartphone shipments according to IDC projections. Microsoft, meanwhile, recently said it has doesn’t intend to release new Windows Phone products. Bing, however, is the default search engine on Microsoft’s Edge browser, which comes preinstalled on Windows 10 computers.

But Microsoft’s improvements to Bing are likely about much more than just trying to steal some attention away from Google’s massively popular search engine. Smarter search tools will be important as new tech platforms, like virtual assistants, augmented and virtual reality, and smart home devices continue to spread, particularly if they’re relying on search results and history to answer questions or learn more about a user’s habits. “Search is more pervasive in everything we do as we spend more time online,” says Michael Inouye, a principal analyst for ABI Research. “That digital profile that we have [online] is going to become more valuable, and search is a big part of that.”

Source: This article was published time.com By LISA EADICICCO

Published in Search Engine
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